Questions and ANSWER On Antiwar Rally

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I participated in the Los Angeles version of Saturday's multi-city, ANSWER-sponsored "Global Day of Coordinated Actions on the 2nd Anniversary of the "Shock and Awe" Invasion of Iraq" rally, which could have been more appropriately and elegantly dubbed the "March Against War and for Socialism."

As many have complained, ANSWER seems less interested in creating an effective anti-war or anti-occupation coalition than having an excuse to energize a general pro-socialist coalition. The assembled speakers who blocked the (increasingly antsy–this was a pretty tough crowd for peace activists) beginning of the route in their sound trucks to remind us why we were here–you know, gay marriage, health care, women's rights, justice for Palestine, listening to some overly earnest woman singer caterwaul the (singularly inappropriate) cynically apathetic sixties classic "For What's It's Worth" ("singing songs/and carrying signs/mostly say 'Hooray for our side'"–how inspiring at a rally) and the even more perplexing "Sympathy for the Devil" (only concession to contemporary reality in the lyrics: "Nick Berg" replaced "the Kennedys.")

And, yes, a fair amount of talk on the war and occupation in Iraq, mostly playing the race and class cards: It's mostly poor people of color fighting this war. One speaker even openly wished for a draft, so that the sons of rich white people will be dying and thus end the war faster. (Just like during the draft in Vietnam, one supposes.) And yes, just like pro-warriors accuse, at least one speaker was openly approving of what he saw as brave Iraqi resistance fighters.

Single-viewpoint generalizations about the "mood of the crowd" minus an actual statistically valid sample of people interviewed are always chancy; but I'll go out on a limb and call this pretty big crowd (my unscientific guess: around 5,000, on a rare rainy LA day–other unscientific guesses include, from the police, 2,000, and from the organizers, 20,000) a pretty listless one. No chant seemed to capture more than a few dozens people at once, and never for more than 10 or so repetitions. (I learned, however, that there ain't no power like the power of the people cause the power of the people don't stop; that the people, united, will never be defeated.) We spread out over many city blocks, blunting our visual impact though making the walking more comfortable, and mostly just strolled and chatted amongst ourselves, bearing signs that, again, mostly linked the war issue to larger pro-socialist or anti-Bush concerns.

I was delighted by one trio of older folk, one man and two women, were carrying a large, professionally laminated sign, consisting merely of typescript, identifying the U.S. Constitution as the true family value. The gentleman advised me to read the Constitution again if I hadn't lately.

I only encountered one counterprotester, an earnest young man (who got surrounded by shouting protesters before I could ask if he happened to be a vet) who, flush-faced and perturbed but trying to stay respectful, asked the protesters loudly if they had bothered to ask any Iraqis how they felt about being rid of Saddam. (Had I been able to share rhetorical strategy with him, I'd have told him to accuse the protesters of being too limited in their socialism, not seeing the value of expending U.S. lives, treasure, and sacred honor in the cause of allowing Iraqis to vote.) But a refusal to engage one's opponents on their own terms certainly dominated the rally–not a single speaker, or sign, attempted to be convincing to anyone who thought, for whatever reason, that there were benefits or positive results of our recent Middle East adventures that made them worthwhile. Then again, rallies are perhaps not the place for that kind of complex discourse–but I wish I had any impression that any of the organizers would be prepared to do so under any circumstances.

Is there room for a more middle-class, single-issue, perhaps even libertarian mass movement against occupation? From a demonstrated preference perspective, there's no evidence for it. However displeased I am with the way they choose to handle it, and suspicious of the purity of their motives, only ANSWER has effectively stepped forward to do the gruntwork to provide the stage for mass public demonstrations of disaffection regarding the Iraq occupation, for which they deserve at least one full-throated "ain't no power like the power of the people 'cause the power of the people don't stop."

However, walking home on a grim and rainy Hollywood afternoon, glad for whatever reason that that I had an opportunity to publicly declare, though walking in the street rather than writing on a Web site, that I was opposed to the war and occupation of Iraq, I had to wonder how true that is, that bit about the power of the people–and contemplate the difficulties, for which America has been one long (perhaps failed) 200 plus year experiment in a solution, of figuring out exactly what the "power of the people" is, and how such a mysterious collective thing can ever be truly and justly manifest in a world of differing opinions, values, and interests. The socialists think they have mostly found a solution to that problem. And it's not a pretty one for the rest of us. Which brought me back to regretting that ANSWER was the one doing this, and then back home.

NEXT: Music Hath Charms, But They Depend On the Geopolitical Context

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  1. They replaced “the Kennedys” with “Nick Berg”!? Put aside the incoherence of that lyric in the context of the song–it doesn’t even scan.

  2. Our country has no laws and no political parties that will harm dissenters. Seems though that a harmful type of party is trying to form. ANSWER and its ilk are dangerous to all of us and our way of life. Your description of the lone counterprotester being shouted down was a sad commentary of the mentality of the “protesters” involved.

  3. Why is it that people who protest the killings of Iraqis and applaud the Iraqi resistance never recognize that the Iraqi resistance is killing more Iraqis now than we did in the past 2 years?

  4. ANSWER and its ilk are dangerous to all of us and our way of life.

    Well, that statement might be true if they actually, you know, wielded an ounce of power. Otherwise they’re just like any other fringe (and I mean fringe) group: a couple of cool-aid drinkers with all the political sensibilities of a cactus organizing the event mixed with a smattering of trust fund campus radicals, guys looking to get laid and insufferable hipster fucknuts. They’re great at marching, sloganeering and making really stupid puppet heads but sadly ineffectual at doing, you know, actual work.

    I find such gatherings pure entertainment personally.

  5. Thanks Brian.
    I am in general opposed to war. Mainly because I have dodged bullets and have seen the carnage of man killing man. There is nothing glorious about war and killing. War is horrible at its best and actual hell, if there is such a thing, on earth.

    I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq at first but was convinced by Colin Powell’s speech to the UN that such action was needed. I was never one that believed that Saddam had anything to do with the 9-11 attack although I did and still do believe Brittish intelligence reports that Saddam funded Palestinian terrorist. But Powell’s speech about the intelligence reports on Iraq’s WMD was convincing.
    As all now know no WMD’s were found.However, once the war is started it had to be conducted to a logical conclusion or else leave a tremendous political vacuum that would probably be filled by those who interests were in definite conflict withthe USA and the free world,the radical Mullahs of Iran.
    I am not at all happy with the way the war was conducted for a couple of reasons. First was the failure to secure taken ground and disarm the population. The blitz to Bagdad was right out of Hanibal and Patton’s book. But, the country is fortunate not to have met the same fate as Hanibal. A blitz to take ground is worthless unless one is able to secure and hold it.

    The second reason is that it appears that military leaders were unsure of the objective. Again the blitz was impressive but there didn’t seem to be anyone who knew what to do after Bagdad was taken. I do believe this was as much because of faulty intellegence as anything. The administration apparently believed that the Iraqis would welcome the troops with open arms and rapidly form a new government friendly to the USA. And, of course this didn’t happen.

    But, all of the above said, I still have to support the administrations efforts even though I know as well as Bush that he was mislead in his reasoning for the invasion. I don’t like the alternatives if the allied troops were pulled out before the new Iraqi government has at least a fighting chance to survive.

    Just one other thought. In the documented history of the human race no conflict has ever been solved by a peace treaty unless the losing side was brought into complete submission. The causes of conflict can never be solved by treaty, diplomacy, or appeasement. Although the loser may not be able to immediately fight back he will eventually. The conflict between Islamic and western thought has been going on for over 1500 years and I have no doubt that it will continue until one or the other is completely subdued.

  6. GUYK, I’m almost in the same boat. I figured if there really were WMDs in Iraq that we could secure a site and bring some inspectors in, but we didn’t know where any were then and don’t now.

    That’s all in the past now, and unless someone has a time machine it just doesn’t fucking matter. I laugh at the people on the street corner near campus with “Where are the WMD?” posters. It’s a useless point to make now.

    We’re in Iraq and we have to stick it out until some stable government can take the reins. Hopefully it’s a more western, liberal government, but freedom means you’re free to make bad choices too.

    I do have to disagree about your claim that “no conflict has ever been solved by a peace treaty unless the losing side was brought into complete submission.” I’d put forward the near total trampling of communism by capitalism. Some proxy wars aside, the US – Soviet deadlock was broken without bloodshed.

    I think western-style freedom and the increased quality of life that comes with a market based economy can help ‘defeat’ the militant wing of the Islamic faith.

    If nothing else, jobs would cut down on the recruit base that really has nothing to lose.

  7. The RNC protests were at least fun. You’d get to see all sorts of street theatre against Bush or corporations or billionaires or– I assume by the rockets a few cheerleaders had attached to their crotch–nuclear proliferation. And outside the UN at the rally you could buy $7 beers right in the middle of the street where some enterprising genius had set up shop.

  8. I’ve seen counter-protesters shouted out/attacked at both anti and pro Bush/Iraq gatherings.

  9. Not to parrot Nathan (more profanely), but who gives a fuck about these commies? They have no meaningful influence whatsoever. Anybody who thinks the primary internal threats to liberty in this country come from the extreme left is as fucking nuts as these historical losers.

  10. In the documented history of the human race no conflict has ever been solved by a peace treaty unless the losing side was brought into complete submission. – GUYK

    This statement is a bit too broad. Just off the top of my head I can point out that the U.S. and U.K. have never gone to war with each other since the Treaty of Ghent (1814). I don’t think either side of The War of 1812 can be said to have been forced into submission. As the specified casus belli, the British Orders in Council that authorized stopping and searching American shipping in violation of our neutrality during the Napoleonic Wars, were repealed even before Congress declared war, the regrettable conflict resulted in the status quo ante.

    Perhaps the memory of battles fought, casualties taken and our Capitol burned gave us pause when later warhawks wanted to take on the British lion over border disputes with the UK’s North American colonies, or its support for Confederate belligerance, as in the Trent affair. I usually think of the War of 1812 as a draw, while some Brits I know count it a victory for their side, if a minor one. Canadians, for whom the war is a key element of national myth, celebrate the repulsion of the Yankee invader, ignoring what may have gone on in other theatres.

    Kevin

  11. Not too long after the start of the neocon’s war based on lies, I went to an anti-war demonstration here in Denver. The crowd, and the especially the organizers, was predominantly liberal/lefty and I found myself booing parts of the speeches just as vociferously as I cheered other parts. This engendered some debate with my fellow protesters and the best that they could do was to call my pro-capitalistism views, “market fundamentalism”. I did fashion an “Antiwar.com” sign and brought it with me. I figured that some of them would visit the site and perhaps learn that you could be anti-war and pro-liberty at the same time.

    Later I walked across the park, over to a group of counter-protesters waving “Support our Troops” signs at passing cars. I positioned myself among them and held up my anti-Iraq war sign. Needless to say, I didn’t get much love over there either. At first they tried to surround me and hold there pro-war signs in front of my anti-war sign. I’m pretty tall so that didn’t work for them too well. Then they called me a “trouble maker” and I rebutted by making a libertarian case against the Iraq war. I also told them that I was a philosophical libertarian and a registered Republican. One woman told me that she didn’t care what in Hell I was, we just needed to take out Sadam so that America’s children would be safe. I asked her if she knew what a non sequitur was…

  12. …Make that:”…hold their pro-war signs in front of my anti-war sign.”

    Why don’t I ever use the Preview button? AHHhhh!

  13. The ANSWER folks are truely awful, but Stalinist Marxists always seem to be good organizers, they’re one of the few groups that can get numbers out in the streets

  14. Hey, what happened to Dan? He never comments anymore.

  15. Bush = John Wayne = Johnny Ramone.

    Anti-war protesters = The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers = Joey Ramone.

    Libertarians = Comic Book Guy = Clem Burke

  16. Brian,

    If the Klan held an anti-war rally, would you go there too? It’s one thing to oppose going to war with Iraq, it’s another to support collectivist scum to do it.

    Maybe you should think your conundrum through. It may not be the case that only ANSWER can organize a rally; it may be the case that the American mainstream is never going to support any cause championed by smelly thugs with non-ironic Che t-shirts. Don’t destroy any chance you have of convincing normal folks of the truth of your beliefs (not that I think it will be easy, because you’re wrong), by supporting anti-American cadres who are only using this issue to forward their foul, statist agenda.

  17. “Why is it that people who protest the killings of Iraqis and applaud the Iraqi resistance never recognize that the Iraqi resistance is killing more Iraqis now than we did in the past 2 years?”

    I suspect it’s because they hold America responsible for the existence of the insurgency.

    …Out of curiosity, how many Iraqis, exactly, do you think we’re responsible for killing over the past 2 years?

  18. To all of those who are “anti-war” and claim to be so concerned about Iraqis being killed: Can you honestly say that FEWER Iraqis will die if the US pulls out tomorrow? They have their first real shot at a democracy in 10,000 years, and you’re essentially calling for us to take that away from them and condemn them to decades of being brutalized by either Islamofacsists (interesting how those who are sooo worried about ‘theocons’ don’t seem to give a damn about people who are actually trying to set up a brutal theocracy) or the leftover Baathists. We’re talking people who try to MAXIMIZE civilian casualties in every attack (interesting again: why are they never lamented as ‘civilian deaths’ when the other side does it) and have a track record that makes Abu Graib look like nothing. Does this not count? Care to explain yourselves?

  19. By the way, please withold all variations of “Bushlied” as your answer. Regardless of whether that argument is true or not, it has already been pointed out that unless you have a time machine, we are talking about what to do now, not years ago.

  20. “Does this not count? Care to explain yourselves?”

    You’re not going to find many people on this site who hold the completely irrational view that “Amerika” is responsible for the insurgents who maximize civilian casualties. Anti-war, folks, yes, but not these loons that you cite.

  21. Dave, I don’t support an immediate, hasty pullout, but I do believe that we have to leave in short order, so I may be able to shed some light on the question.

    The presense of the US military in Iraqi communities, and the havoc that they cause, is the primary force driving the anti-democratic, anti-government insurgency movement. While the leadership(s) of the insurgency certainly have their own, unrelated causes (jihad, Baathism), the reason they are able to be a genuine force, one that threatens the establishment of a liberal democratic order, is their ability to tap into broader themes that appeal to significant numbers of Iraqis who probably wouldn’t be motivated just by their ideology. (Sort of like ANSWER getting democratic liberals and libertarians and isolationist conservatives to come to their rallies, now that I think about it.)

    Bush keeps saying “We’re going to stay until the job is done.” The catch 22 is, the job will never be done as long as we stay.

    To the extent the elections sapped the insurgency’s strength, it was because the new government and its security services gained legitimacy by becoming more independent of the US. Announcing a date, keeping to the schedule, and continuing the process of devolving power and responsibility to Iraqis is the necessary continuation of this trend.

  22. joe,

    Sort of like ANSWER getting democratic liberals and libertarians and isolationist conservatives to come to their rallies, now that I think about it.

    Very good point. I agree that we need to get out as soon as we can, but would you agree that to leave before the Iraqi government is capable of handling the insurgency by itself would be a bad idea? I’d hate to see our large investment go to waste by pulling out too early and having the insurgency be able to use its current momentum and by-default support from Iraqis upset with the occupation, but not necessarily in agreement with the overarching themes of Zarqawi, et al?

  23. db Concur. I hate to lose and I also hate to throw good money after bad. I understand the political issues of the situation but don’t like them worth a damn. I do believe that some changes should be made immediately. One in particular is in concert with the new Iraqi governemnt, make a house to house search and disarm the population. I do not give a rats ass about the Iraqi’s right to bear arms. They lost the fucking war and should be disarmed. Once a stable government is installed under constitutional rule then maybe the new government will want to let the murderous bastards rearm and start all over. But by then our troops will be out of there and let it lie as it may—

  24. . . . I have dodged bullets and have seen the carnage of man killing man. There is nothing glorious about war and killing. War is horrible at its best and actual hell, if there is such a thing, on earth.

    Isn’t the glory of war man’s willingness to sacrifice self for others? Don’t the horrors of war amplify its glory?

    I’m thinking of the two Blackhawk Down Delta snipers who won the Medal of Honor for going down to secure Durant’s crash site: the results were both horror and glory. To percieve the glory, you have to consider the motives and sacrifise of the two men who made the decision to defend the crash site, not knowing when relief would arrive, or how many survivors on the ground they would be defending.

  25. I do believe that some changes should be made immediately. One in particular is in concert with the new Iraqi governemnt, make a house to house search and disarm the population. I do not give a rats ass about the Iraqi’s right to bear arms. They lost the fucking war and should be disarmed.

    The problem in Iraq isn’t an armed population. It is a small percentage of the population that has terrorist ties. This small percentage will retain arms no matter what kind of effort is made to disarm the larger population.

    What needs to take place is a concentrated effort to hunt down the bad guys. Not a broad effort to disarm everyone.

    Your “solution” would do very litle to disarm those that need disarming, create widespread resentment, disarm the good people in the face of criminals and terrorists, and require massive resources. In short, it is a stupid idea, and you don’t have to even take basic rights into consideration to reach that conclusion.

  26. db, “would you agree that to leave before the Iraqi government is capable of handling the insurgency by itself would be a bad idea?” In theory, I agree. However, in practice, there is no magic day at which the Iraqi government will suddenly be obviously capable of beating the insurgency. We’re going to have some people in Iraqi uniforms, and we’re going to have some people operating as insurgents. There will never be a day that the insurgency’s defeat is inevitable, and any decision to leave carries with it some risk. Deciding not to leave (or refusing to decide, and just mindlessly “seeing it through) is a decision to never have Iraq become a soverign, independent, peaceful, democratic place, because those things are not possible in a land of military checkpoints, ongoing insurgency, and constant civilian deaths from both sides.

    “I’d hate to see our large investment go to waste by pulling out too early and having the insurgency be able to use its current momentum and by-default support from Iraqis upset with the occupation, but not necessarily in agreement with the overarching themes of Zarqawi, et al?” The insurgents’ momementum has never been as low as it is now, with the warm glow of the elections in recent memory, and the new government not yet having committed the inevitable screw-ups or atrocities that the insurgents can feed on.

  27. The Japanese were defeated only after terrible loss to a couple of atomic bombs. After total submission thus far the Japanese have established a new cultue ith the best of their old value system while incorporating some of the best ideas of the victors.

    The Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese have all proven adept at adopting some aspects of Western culture.

    However, although Germany was beaten into submission after world war one the victors did nothing to change the culture and world war two came shortly thereafter.

    The problem after WW1, at least in part, was that the Allies punished Germany too harshly; this was made worse by the fact that many German soldiers couldn’t believe they were beaten, since they had not been conclusevly beaten on the battlefield.

    The failure of WW1 was that the Allies barely pulled off victory (a victory based upon the industrial capability of the US), and then acted as if Germany was fully to blame for the conflict.

    Germany is again rebuilding and trying to establish leadership of the EU. Will the leadership be for economic leadership only or for aggression? The future will tell.

    It will be for economic leadership.

    Incidently, in WW2 Germany suffered considerably, particularly in the areas taken by the Red Army, where mass murder and rape were rampent. The Japanese only suffered onslaught from the air, not the horrors of ground combat and conquest my invaders who’s acts were reminicent of the Mongols.

    The atomic bombing of Japan no doubt helped to end the war, but the Red Army’s war against Japan no doubt was also significant. A Red invasion of Japan would have been catastrophic for the Japanese people, and their forces had already proven incapable of facing Soviet forces.

  28. While no point will give definitive measure of the Iraqis v. the insurgents, signs like this type of battle are encouraging that they are moving towards a competency that will enable them to have an upper hand. Having US back up a couple hundred kms away in the western desert wouldn’t hurt either. But then again, permanent bases rub many the wrong way, especially when the bases are not in Europe.

    “Late Monday, attackers in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, ambushed a convoy carrying security forces officials, including top police chief Brig. Gen. Abu Al-Waled (search), sparking a gunbattle in front of a main mosque. Police killed 17 militants and captured 14, said Col. Wathiq Ali, deputy police commander.

    Ali said no security forces were injured in the clash, which saw guerrillas carrying mortar launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikov rifles.”
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,151108,00.html

  29. In theory, I agree. However, in practice, there is no magic day at which the Iraqi government will suddenly be obviously capable of beating the insurgency.

    Likewise, there is no magic day when the Brits will suddenly be capable of “beating” the IRA, and the IDF of “beating” the Palastinian terrorists.

    That’s the whole point really. Hide from the army, choose when to engage, hide again. Target civilians if the security forces respond too effectively. You can keep up the fight for a very long time.

    What is obvious is that at some point, the Iraqi forces will be able to assert control when & where they want. That won’t end the insurgency, but it will prevent it from gainig control.

  30. I do not give a rats ass about the Iraqi’s right to bear arms. They lost the fucking war and should be disarmed.

    B-b-b-but I thought we had been liberating the Iraqis, not fighting them. You mean we really were fighting them all along, or our “liberation” means they actually lost, or . . . ?

  31. “Radicals” have often been the cause of positive change in America. If you want to fear a political group, fear the religious right – they have a lot more influence and a much scarier agenda.

    Over the last 100 years, “radicals” have murdered millions of people. The track record provides an ample basis for fear. Granted, they are a small, margionalized group, but much the same could have been said of the Bolseviks pre-WW1 (different circumstances, obviously–America 2004 isn’t much like Russia 1913).

    It isn’t quite clear to me what threat the religious right poses. They won’t let me marry joe? They might block the porn on my cable TV?

  32. they might invalidate your living wills.

  33. I have discovered while travelling abroad that one of the few things people like about Americans is that there are some of us who will protest the wars of the Washington regime. Believe me, we make America look good, regardless of the various ideological shades of the protesters. Brian and Angela, you did good going to that rally.

  34. . . . one of the few things people like about Americans is that there are some of us who will protest the wars of the Washington regime.

    My guess is that they are willing to support anti-Americanism anywhere, even if it means liking some Americans.

  35. Don, you must have read some different history books about WW two than I did. First, the Chinese reds were busy fight the Nationalist and had no intention of invading Japan. Second, the Soviets did not begin a fight with Japan until after the war in Europe was over and then they only invaded some lightly defended northern islands.

    As far as just a small percentage of the Iraqis being armed I supposed all of the TV images of thee Iraqis with AK 47’s busting caps into the air for damn near any occasion is just this small minority in one place for the celebration?

    I don’t claim to be an expert, just voice my opinions. However, some of what you have written smacks of revisionist history that ignores facts to support an agenda.

  36. “The conflict between Islam and the West has been going on since the event of Islam. Both Islam and Christianity are militant religions and intolerant of any that do not accept their beliefs.”

    I don’t see too many Christians hacking heads, blowing up mosques and shooting children.

    I haven’t heard that the Christian punishment for apostates is death.

    I haven’t heard too many Christian leaders calling the followers of other religions “apes and pigs” as a matter of faith.

    Where in Christianity does it require the vanquished to pay a dhimmi tax and require others to submit?

    What Christian country is a theocracy or that wants to institute a fascist order like Sharia Law?

    Don’t equate Chritianity with Islam — they have very little in common. Read the Quran and the Hadiths and see which is militant and intolerant. Better yet, just look at Islam in practice!

  37. Christianity was spread by the sword just as Islam is being spred now. Secular governments have put a stop to most og the Chrsitian atrocities of the past. It was only less than 300 years ago that Christians were burning those who disagreed with at the stake in a new colony founded because they themselves had been persecuted by other Christians.
    Of course revsionist Christion historians conveniently overlook the atrocuities commited by the inquisition. And about the crusaders who killed more orthadox Christians in Asia than they did muslems.
    Don’t try to tell me that Christianity is not a militant religion. The only difference between the religious fanatical right and the mullahs is that the mullahs have a bigger following and here our government is, or at least was, secular.

  38. Don, you must have read some different history books about WW two than I did. First, the Chinese reds were busy fight the Nationalist and had no intention of invading Japan. Second, the Soviets did not begin a fight with Japan until after the war in Europe was over and then they only invaded some lightly defended northern islands.

    They invaded Manchuria, reaching the Korean border in less than two weeks. They crushed the Japanese Army opposing them, marching some 2 million POWs off to Siberia (the end of them).

    And yes, they also invaded several small islands.

    As far as just a small percentage of the Iraqis being armed I supposed all of the TV images of thee Iraqis with AK 47’s busting caps into the air for damn near any occasion is just this small minority in one place for the celebration?

    Sorry for the confusion. Probably most homes there have at least an AK.

    My point is that only a small % of the people are insurgents, not that only a small % are armed.

    A small number of bad people, and lots of decent people with arms. Messing with the decent people would be stupid.

  39. “They” who invaded Manchuria were, in fact, the Soviets. Just in case that wasn’t clear in my last post.

  40. Don: concur. But remember the Japanese they faced were not the elite japanese troops that had been brought back to defend the homeland.

  41. I don’t know the skill level of the troops they faced.

    I read fairly detailed accounts of the 1939 combat between the Soviets and Japanese, and in this case they faced first rate Japanese troops. The Japanese were torn apart by the Soviets, and the Soviets improved much more than the Japanese did between 1939 and 1945. The Soviets had the experience of facing the German Army in a modern, motorized war. The Japanese still used 1939 era tanks, tank tactics that were poor even by 1939 standards, poor air/ground coordination, etc. Man for man, the Japanese may have been good, and they would probably prevail in a bayonet fight. They were completely lacking for the modern battlefield, and their only recourse was the bunker or the jungle.

    Keep in mind, I am talking land warfare here. Navel is a different matter.

  42. Don:
    To compare comtemporary America w/ pre WW1 Russia is a pretty big stretch. Then, as now, people had legimate reasons for trying to make change – but how this desire for change is expressed has almost as much to do with the power structure in place at the time as the radicals themselves. The more repressive the regime the more radical “the radicals” become.

    As for what good they’ve done – how ’bout the eight hour workday, end of child labor, women’s sufferage, civil rights… These were all considered radical movements in their time.

    And the religious right – just from what we’ve seen in the past coupla years – crack downs by the FCC on anything remotely considered naughty, assault on a woman’s right to choose, and, well I guess the gay marriage question doesn’t count if you’re not gay…um, trying to eliminate sex education and replace it with abstinence training (so when kids get STD’s they don’t understand how they got them), not allowing foreign aid to fund birth control programs in developing countries, and trying to inject religion into government, public schools and public places.

    That’s enough to scare me.

  43. Don: regarding disarming Iraqis. The USA was and for practical purposes still is at war with Iraq. The first rule of war that I was taught in every military school I attended was to disarm the enemy whenever possible. It is probably too late to do this now but it should have been done at the beginning. When an area was taken it should have been disarmed and secured. Protecting the flanks and supply lines are vital. As we know this did not happen.

    The blitz to bagdad was impressive. But many of us “old” soldiers were afraid of the consequences. Retired military commentators on the major networks were saying pretty much the same thing, ie, not enough troops to do the job.
    The Bush administration may be right. It is too early to tell. The fact that there was an election and a significant number turned out to vote is impressive. I have my hopes that a stable government can be formed and the troops can come home but I do have my doubts. From what I amhearing it may be at least five years before the Iraqi government is strong enough to defend itself-if ever.

  44. All I can say from my time over there is that our presence there won’t be over too soon, but that more Iraqis than not are willing to step up and do their part. Little mention is made that a carbomb at a recruiting station which resulted in many casualties saw even more recruits lined up the next day, Iraqis undeterred in trying to bring order from chaos. It is a true disservice the media does in presenting only the negative side of events in Iraq. I spent a year in Baghdad and its surroundings, but I hardly recognize it from what I read the papers from that same time period.

    As to how many insurgents have we killed? not enough, but the insurgents are less successful at striking military forces and are now striking more and more at Iraqi civilians, so whose cause do they really serve?

    Again, most of you will only know what you read in the papers and what you see on TV, unfortunately, you are not getting the whole picture. A large newspaper like the NYT doesn’t waste time on interviewing a soldier returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, if you really want to know what it’s like there, you’d be better off reading the local papers from military bases and towns that serve them, or reading Milblogs.

  45. I wish I had read mr. Doherty’s 18 March 2003 piece before my last post, I’d have added in repsonse to this: “But it will never forget what George W. Bush’s army does in Iraq…” Funny, all my uniform tags read “U.S. Army”. Don’t get me wrong, I read both Reason and Hit and Run whenever possible, but I wonder what your point was in writing this.

  46. Christian theocrats utilized every one of the atrocities attributed to Muslims by Don Miguel until they were compelled to stop by political and military force. From gruesome executions for heretics to denial of citizenship rights for religious minorities to conquest of foreign lands in the name of their God to forceable conversion to destroying other religions’ temples to killing women and children to using rhetoric that compares non-Christians to animals and devils to basing government on religious law.

    It’s really quite striking – every single charge he makes against Islam – every single one – has multiple Christian examples.

  47. Don: regarding disarming Iraqis. The USA was and for practical purposes still is at war with Iraq. The first rule of war that I was taught in every military school I attended was to disarm the enemy whenever possible.

    1) I don’t think we went in assuming that Iraqi citizens in general were the enemy.

    2) Disarming Iraqi citizens would require enormous resources.

    3) disarming Iraqi citizens would be counterproductive.

    It is probably too late to do this now but it should have been done at the beginning. When an area was taken it should have been disarmed and secured. Protecting the flanks and supply lines are vital. As we know this did not happen.

    Yes, we could have advanced 1 m a day, and we would probably be approaching Bagdad right now.

    You adovcate the kind of advance that the Brits used to such great success back in 1916.

  48. To compare comtemporary America w/ pre WW1 Russia is a pretty big stretch. Then, as now, people had legimate reasons for trying to make change – but how this desire for change is expressed has almost as much to do with the power structure in place at the time as the radicals themselves. The more repressive the regime the more radical “the radicals” become.

    I think that the history of the Russian Revolution undercuts your point. The first revolution brought in a parlamentary system and a constitution, and this was overthrown by the Bolsheviks.

    The Bolsheviks can’t blame a previous repressive regime for their actions, w/o explaigning why the SRs and others were able to remain civilized.

    The fundamental reason leftists are so vile is a collectivist ideology combined with utopian goals. At least that’s what I glean from history.

    As for what good they’ve done – how ’bout the eight hour workday, end of child labor, women’s sufferage, civil rights… These were all considered radical movements in their time.

    Actually, ending child labor came about because of advances due to capitalism. If the economic situation requires additional labor, it must be provided in some manner, and that may mean child labor. Child labor laws came into place after child labor began to pass into history (with the exception of farm labor, which was exempted from the labor laws). Similar aruments apply to the 8 hour wrk day (notice European issues with limited work weeks; it is all very fine if the economics supports it, crap otherwise).

    My understanding on the women’s vote is that all 50 states ratified a constitutional amendment. That required a lot of men voting on behalf of women’s voting rights. Very radical.

  49. SFC Ski,

    I’m curious, do you think we should disarm the Iraqis? As someone on the ground there, you have a little more insight on which to base an opinion.

  50. And, yes, a fair amount of talk on the war and occupation in Iraq, mostly playing the race and class cards: It’s mostly poor people of color fighting this war.

    It’s mostly white males from the South and West who are at the tip of the spear. Minorities make up a larger % of enlisted personnel, but they tend towards MOSs that don’t involve direct combat duty.

    In Iraq, the enemy has had the option of attacking non-frontline units, and does so by choice (our front line units tend to tear them up). So it might not be all that much more dangerous to be a white Delta Force dude than some “people of color” truckdriver.

    But I have trouble getting in a lather just ’cause some people joined the army thinking it was a stable paycheck, and belatedly discovered there was risk involved.

  51. Basically, saying disarm the Iraqis and there will no more insurgency is like saying take guns from registered users in the US and there will be no more gun crime. Disarming the Iraqis would not really keep the insurgents from having weapons. Now, I am going from memory, but I believe each Iraqi household was allowed to keep a pistol or a rifle in mostly rural areas outside of Baghdad, for the very practical and necessary reason of self/home defense. Banditry is a problem in Iraq. The problem is not with these single weapons, they are not allowed to be taken outside the home, or transported in a vehicle, if a person is stopped at a check point, the penalties are pretty stiff, so home ownership is not the problem. Small arms (rifles/pistols) are much less of a problem than the IED’s or mortars and RPG’s that are much harder to hide once used. These are not allowed to be owned or possessed by private citizens, and will get the possessor about 20 years in prison.

    The problem is the caching of weapons for use by insurgents, and weapons smuggling. Smuggling has long gone on Iraq, and in this respect the way to stop it is very much like police work, tips, informers, surveillance, etc.
    Working with neutral or hopefully friendly locals to find these caches, and killing or capturing those who would make use of them, that is the challenge. Our methods vary from making friends with the locals so they will talk to us and tell us where the insurgents are among them, establishing security in the area so they know that we will remove the insurgents, and then hitting the insurgents with enough force to neutralize them. IF you have ever read about the “3 block war” concept, that is Iraq in a nutshell.

    From my point of view, the Iraqis are willing to step up and run their country, but it won’t happen overnight. I don’t really care if invading Iraq was legally and politically right, morally it was right to remove Saddam and the Ba’athist regime, becaue the Iraqi people do deserve something better.

  52. Now, I am going from memory, but I believe each Iraqi household was allowed to keep a pistol or a rifle in mostly rural areas outside of Baghdad, for the very practical and necessary reason of self/home defense.

    All I know is what I’ve read. My understanding is that one weapon per houshold is permitted, and that is usually an AK-47.

    I recall reading about a house where our guys found an AK-47 and a .38 revolver. The .38 was confiscated, but they were allowed to keep the AK-47. Perhaps handguns–due to concealability–are not permitted. The people from the house didn’t like loosing the .38, felt its removal impacted their ability to defend themselves.

    Haven’t heard of the “3 block war” concept, something else for me to look up. However, your general description fits in with my views. Disarming ordinary Iraqi citizens ain’t the solution. I’m glad that people like GUYK are not calling the shots.

  53. To add to the above, it seems silly to worry about loosing a .38 revolver when you still have an AK-47. Unless you carry the .38 concealed for self defense when you leave the house . . .

    Probably not legal, can’t blame them for wanting to defend themselves . . .

  54. Well, walking down the street with an AK-47 will get you an awful lot of unwanted attention.

    It wasn’t really like the Wild West when I left in July of 20004, but normal boring days don’t make headlines.

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