Because If The New York Times Doesn't Report It, It Will Just Go Away

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Editor and Publisher reports that a military spokesperson asked major newspapers to ignore Wednesday's gruesome milestone:

Going against the expressed wishes of the Pentagon, several top U.S. newspapers treated the tragic arrival of the 2,000th American military death in Iraq as a major milestone Wednesday…

On Tuesday, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, a military spokesman in Iraq, wrote in an e-mail to reporters, "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."

Whole thing here.

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  1. He’s foolishly asking the media to be serious.

    Soap opera rules!

  2. Maybe they could focus on, you know, the actual military situation, instead of dwelling obsessively on U.S. casualties to the exclusion of all else.

    Crazy idea, I know.

    The NYT, btw, is the same paper that recently questioned the value of reporting insurgent casualties because they weren’t “significant.”

  3. “The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives.”

    Yeah, like pointing out that we’re fighting a stupid, wasteful war that we should never have started in the first place.

  4. Why do I get the feeling NYT editors would say the same thing as Akira?

  5. The military guy’s right – there’s nothing particularly magical about the number 2000. All the fuss about the 2000th death implies that 1999 deaths were acceptable, but add just one more an suddenly we have a huge tragedy.

    Now if someone – the president, say – had set a threshold limit on the number of deaths (i.e. ” We’ll stay there until 2500 of our brave soliders have been killed, then we’ll pull out.”) the number would have some significance. Obvioulsy, that hasn’t been done, nor should it be.

    2000, 3000, 4000 – where is the public’s threshold? How many is too many?

  6. Actually, Lt. Col. Boylan is right: 2,000 dead is only 0.00050025% worse than 1,999 dead. Each death is a tragic waste, but there’s nothing magic about the number 2,000.

  7. Mr. Average the problem is how to report on a persistent problem.
    Should the NYT’s lead with the number of deaths in Iraq every day? Put their names in the sub head?
    Soldiers dyding in Iraq is a very important story, and a round number is a hook for reporting on a persistent story in a periodic way.

  8. Peter K. and Mr. Average are right. The only magic number is 3,000, as in “number of people killed on 9/11,” which the Bush Administration and its apologists keep whipping in people’s faces as if it somehow justifies the Iraq War rather than, you know, catching the people responsible.

  9. The number is BIIIIGGG and ROOOOOUUUNNNNDDD. . .spooky!

    I for one, fear large round numbers. I am pretty sure the rest of America is the same way.

  10. No, Coach, the persistent problem for the media is: how best can we persuade the public to think like Akira and Peter K?

    And the answer is: obsessive focus on casualties.

  11. Phil,

    I’m fairly sure the people who did it died when they crashed the airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

    How about preventing the conditions that killed 3,000 people on 9/11, like fascist terrorist-sponsoring governments? Oh, and maybe 50 million people would enjoy liberty.

  12. Why do I get the feeling NYT editors would say the same thing as Akira?

    So what if NYT editors would say the same thing? A broken clock is right twice a day.

  13. The 2000 mark IS an artificial milestone, observed only because humans use multiples of powers of 10 as reference points. I suppose if we were born with 16 fingers instead of 10, 4096 and 8192 would have been considered important milestones and a time for the yammering idiots in the media to reflect on what it all means.

    A more appropriate time for reflection and examination would have been at the 0 casualty milestone before this whole clusterfuck got started.

  14. Round numbers are inherently milestones. Suck it up, Colonel.

  15. “How about preventing the conditions that killed 3,000 people on 9/11, like fascist terrorist-sponsoring governments?”

    And while we’re at it, lets prevent the conditions that cause violent crime (gun related crimes alone have killed more than 3,000 Americans since 9/11) here in the states: poverty and drug addiction. I say let’s spend 7 billion dollars a month on welfare, or perhaps a reparations program. Let’s throw in some gun bans (as noted, guns kill more than terrorists over time).

    Heck, there ain’t nothing a well-intentioned government can’t accomplish! Think of the possibilities!

  16. How about preventing the conditions that killed 3,000 people on 9/11, like fascist terrorist-sponsoring governments? Oh, and maybe 50 million people would enjoy liberty.

    Typical right-wing delusions. Shit and 9/11 happens. No amount of military adventurism abroad or PATRIOT Act fascism at home was going to prevent it. Also, if you think that the Iraqi will be better off under the coming Shiite theocracy that’s about to be put in place than Saddam, then you haven’t be paying attention.

  17. edit: been

  18. The President is being briefed on the situation in Iraq. As part of the briefeng he is told “Three Brazilizn soldiers are dead.”

    The President grows pale. With a trembling voice he says: “Three Brazilian soldiers? Are you sure? This is a terrible tragedy.”

    He sits at his desk, buries his face in his hands, his shoulders are shaking.

    Finally he raises his tear-streaked face, and in a trembling voice asks:

    “By the way, how much IS a brazillion?”

  19. he says “agendas and motives” like it is a bad thing. I am proud of my agendas and motive and Colonel Dickhead can go to hell.

  20. Peter K. is right, but so are Krybo, MP and theCoach. The 2000 figure is essentially meaningless compared to 1999 or 2001. But the way the human mind works, we notice these round numbers more. Any sports fan knows that. Dan Marino passes for 40,000 and all the sports pundits are a twitter. It’s not like the 40,000th showed how good he was more than the 39,999th.

  21. I’m fairly sure the people who did it died when they crashed the airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

    Say, how’s that Osama Bin Forgotten doing? Remember “Wanted: Dead or Alive?” That’s OK; neither does President Bush.

    How about preventing the conditions that killed 3,000 people on 9/11, like fascist terrorist-sponsoring governments?

    Then why the fuck invade Iraq? What did that have to do with 9/11>

    Oh, and maybe 50 million people would enjoy liberty.

    Maybe. Tell you what, Dave, if you’re going to start a private army and free all the world’s oppressed people’s, I’ll write you a check for $500 today. The army I already pay for, on the other hand, exists to protect the people and borders and property of the United States of America, not the people of Iraq. It’s a harsh truth, but that’s the way it is.

  22. Everybody here knows my stance on the war, but I also find nothing significant about 2000. Now, if we were promised a certain casualty level, a casualty in excess of that level might be significant. But simply because the number is round?

    Imagine that you’re the relative of the 2000th casualty, and reporters show up and start asking “What’s it like to be the father/mother/son/daughter/etc. of the 2000th casualty?”

    My answer would be “Just as heart-breaking as being the relative of any other casualty.”

  23. Everybody here knows my stance on the war, but I also find nothing significant about 2000.

    If there was no perceived difference between $19.99 and $20, we would no longer need pennies. Milestones are what they are. thoreau, are you one who shuns New Year’s Eve parties because there is no reason to celebrate since it is simply another day?

  24. I wonder what number Lt. Col. Boylan and TallDave would find significant?

  25. I’ll go to a New Year’s Eve party to have a good time with my friends, not because Jan. 1 is magical.

    Still, I see your point.

    I’ll say this much: I have no idea who the 2000th death was, and that’s probably a good thing. I can’t imagine that any family would want to be at the center of a media circus, since you know that some idiot would inevitably open his trap and say “This is the one we were waiting for!” No, I’m not lambasting the whole media as insensitive, I’m just saying that if the circus comes to town you’re going to find a clown. Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be any circus around the family of the 2000th casualty, and that’s a good thing.

  26. How about how we celebrated the year 2000 compared to the year 1999? Especially since it wasn’t really the beginning of the new millenium!

    Look, for any truly meaningful debate on the war, the 2000 death figure is meaningless, okay? I’ll go along with that 100%. But you’re just beating your heads against the wall to complain that it’s getting too much attention. Or at least acknowledge that it’s human nature to pay more attention to “milestone” figures when you do complain.

  27. I’m just saying that if the circus comes to town you’re going to find a clown.

    har har har!

  28. Hey- wasn’t the news on Wednesday the White Sox?

    Congrats to them.

    Fyodor: 2001 was the special new years 🙂

    Akira: 🙂 you’re fighting the good fight the past few days! kudos!

    thoreau: happy friday!

  29. I hate people.

  30. Akira: 🙂 you’re fighting the good fight the past few days! kudos!

    To be honest, I’ve been in a foul mood the last few days. I’m begining to suspect that I’m bi-polar. It’s a good thing it’s Friday. A couple of days to myself; I’ll clean up and paint my Earth Alliance fleet miniatures, touch bases with my would-be girl friend, maybe catch another showing of Serenity if it’s still in the theaters.

  31. I wonder what number Lt. Col. Boylan and TallDave would find significant?

    None. Becuase “Is it worth it” is a heretical question to them.

  32. I am a recently discharged member of the armed forces, so take all of this with a grain of salt. I am very biased.

    I do believe 2,000 is a significant number, but I understand people’s objections. Is the 2,000th death any better or worse than the 1st or 589th? No, they are all the same. And are those opposed to the war using this to buttress their case? OF COURSE. Therefore, claims that this benchmark is arbitrary are not without merit.

    However, I think it’s unfair to suggest it’s completely arbitrary. As humans we work with whole numbers all the time, both out of habit and for purposes of clarification. Nice round numbers surround us everywhere. We wake up and have one or two cups of coffee, not 2.357 cups. We live in cities that we tell others have nice round numbers, e.g. NYC has 8 million. We see it on ourselves: barring tragedy, we have a round number of fingers, toes, and limbs. Admittedly, these are slightly artifical demarcations, but the point is not necessarily how real or unreal the measurements. Thinking in whole number terms is a natural inclination that happens to make things easy to grasp. Part of the whole number phenomenon is manufactured by us and part of it is visible in reality. Regardless, we use it ALL THE TIME.

    Also consider previous tragedies. How many people died in Veitnam? 58,000, right? Well, no, but that whole number provides an easier way to understand it. How many died from the 1918 influenza? 50 million worldwide, right? Not exactly, but that’s not really important. What about 9/11? 3,000 right? Not exactly, but putting it in those terms makes the transmission and comprehension of that information easier.

    2,000 is a just natural benchmark in our minds. And here’s something to consider: 3,000 and 4,000 and 5,000 will also be benchmarks. We will be having this debate again. Round numbers help us to process the information and serve as natural demarcations, whether we like it or not.

    So yeah, the left is totally using this to buttress their cause and yeah, 2,000 is no more important a death an 1,999, but the number 2,000 is also an unavoidable line in the sand.

  33. None. Becuase “Is it worth it” is a heretical question to them.

    Of course, because the U.S. Military and those who serve in it are demi-gods that we mere civilian mortals must bow down and worship lest we prove that we are “Traitors!” as Ann Coulter and Hannity of Limbaugh proclaim.

  34. We use a base-10 number system, so 2000 is a milestone. But the question is, is it an IMPORTANT milestone? Well, it’s twice as important as 1000. Also, now one can accurately say that we have sacrificed “thousands” of soldiers for very little in return (close to nothing, I would say–close to nothing on the negative side, in fact). So the move from 1999 to 2000 IS actually of significance in describing our (their) sacrifice, and this is no small thing.

    Also, I would say that since our soldiers are being taken out in bunches there is probably no particular 2000th dead soldier.

    I seem to recall that, prior to the war, when the man on the street was asked the rather morbid question of how many US soldiers should we be willing to sacrifice to achieve our goals in Iraq, most of those asked (well, most of those who ended up on the broadcast) offered numbers far below 1000. And this was when the reason for the war was to rid Saddam of WMDs. Of course, that goal has long since evaporated. What numbers people would have given had the present reason for the war (which seems to be spite) been the original reason I can only guess, but my guess would be that they would be even lower.

  35. Shit and 9/11 happens.

    Whoa. “Shit and 9/11 happens”? Am I the only one here who thinks that losing 2000 military personnel in a 3-year war on terror is still preferable to losing 3000 unarmed citizens in the same “war”? Regardless of all the philosophical arguments we have on both sides, for the Iraq war, it seems that SOMEONE was going to have to die. Shouldn’t it be the people who have volunteered to do so so that others won’t have to?

    No amount of military adventurism abroad or PATRIOT Act fascism at home was going to prevent it.

    Akira, how exactly do you know that? If you’re this prescient, why didn’t you stop the hijackers yourself? Oh, is that maybe the 20/20 thing?

    the coming Shiite theocracy that’s about to be put in place than Saddam,

    Wow, you really CAN predict the future! Could you please tell me, will I ever have children? Oh, oh, and will the Indians ever win a World Series?

  36. I actually agree on the significance of round numbers. It’s much more useful to say “About 2,000” than “About 2,007” or whatever. In that sense I see the significance of the 2,000th casualty, in that it validates the approximation.

    My point was more about how the 2,000th casualty should be treated. No family wants to be reminded that their loved one’s death was a long-anticipated event.

    To the credit of the media, I have no idea who the 2,000th casualty was. That family should enjoy the same respect, privacy, gratitude, and sympathy as the family of any other fallen soldier. I’m glad that the 2,000th US military death was not trumpeted.

    In summary, the round number is useful, but the dead soldier behind it is the equal of every other dead soldier.

  37. Wow, you really CAN predict the future! Could you please tell me, will I ever have children? Oh, oh, and will the Indians ever win a World Series?

    My predictions are probably a lot more factual than the Bushies’ notions that Iraq, a country with no demorcratic or libertarian traditions, would suddenly flower into an American style republic. It won’t. As soon as they have the chance they will put another Saddam into power and you’ll go right back to bellyaching about “rape rooms,” “torture chambers,” and “mass murder” when this was the very bunch you cheered into power.

  38. “Akira, how exactly do you know that? If you’re this prescient, why didn’t you stop the hijackers yourself? Oh, is that maybe the 20/20 thing?”

    Actually, I think the burden is on hawks such as yourself to prove that the 2000 soldiers, as well as the approximately 30,000 Iraqi civilians, have sacrificed their lives for anything at all. By what crystal ball can you assert that they have saved any American lives?

  39. To the credit of the media, I have no idea who the 2,000th casualty was.

    If I recall correctly, the picture of #2,000 took up the front page of either the NY Daily News or the NY Post. I don’t pay much attention to the tabloids though, or to this story in general, so I couldn’t even tell you if the person was male or female. But I imagine much of the rest of NYC knows.

    hawkishlinquist,

    You have to be a realist and allow yourself to accept the fact that terrorism is not preventable. We can make things more difficult, but strict prevention is a fruitless goal.

  40. Hawkish writes:
    “Am I the only one here who thinks that losing 2000 military personnel in a 3-year war on terror is still preferable to losing 3000 unarmed citizens in the same “war”? ”

    I think most people would probably have to prefer the former, all else being equal. But, as you no doubt know, BOTH have happened. So the either/or choice has already passed us by. Are you saying that if we hadn’t gone into Iraq, we would have had ANOTHER terrorist attack that would have killed 3000 people? What is your evidence for this claim (if it’s your claim)? What could Saddam have done with his non-existent WMDs? What could Saddam have done with those nonexistent WMDs with weapons inspectors watching him like hawks? Your claim that the Iraq War and the “war” against terrorism stemming from 9/11 are the “same war” seems to have been taking it on the chin for about 3 years (or more, depending on who you were reading). Where have you been?

    Also–“Regardless of all the philosophical arguments we have on both sides, for the Iraq war, it seems that SOMEONE was going to have to die.”

    Well, yes, assuming that we choose to have the Iraq War, someone was going to die. But it is that choice that is at issue. Personally, I would rather have had us focus our resources against those who actually threaten us and who actually have attacked us. Three thousand dead is very bad, but throwing 2000 on top of it for no good reason is worse (since 5000 > 3000). Again, your assumption that we would have been the victims of a terrorist attack had we not gone into Iraq seems highly dubious.

  41. Am I the only one here who thinks that losing 2000 military personnel in a 3-year war on terror is still preferable to losing 3000 unarmed citizens in the same “war”?

    We’ve lost very few unarmed citizens in the war tha has cost 2,000 soldiers.

  42. You have to be a realist and allow yourself to accept the fact that terrorism is not preventable. We can make things more difficult, but strict prevention is a fruitless goal.

    What are you talking about, MP? WE’RE AMERICANS! We’re earthly gods who can do anything as long as the filthy, atheist, pinko-commie liberals don’t get in the way! Sean Hannity told me so, therefore it must true!

    A little hubris goes a long, long way.

  43. We’ve lost very few unarmed citizens in the war tha has cost 2,000 soldiers.

    But the Iraqis have lost many, many people, reportedly (depending on who you believe) in the tens of thousands. And there is no indication that the loss of 2000 soldiers has actually accomplished anything yet; if they have, withdraw them and see what happens.

  44. Do you guys even know the color of the horse you are beating to death? We will be in Iraq for the next ten years. Rummy was the guy who said that, wasn’t he?

    So some anti-war and/or anti-Bush people chose 2000 deaths as a rallying event. There will be other rallying events: fifth year of war, 1000th US female soldier killed, 100,000th US soldier maimed.

    The only thing of significance here is that Colonel Dipshit is being dismissive of this event. And for that he can burn in hell. Dance, colonel, dance!

  45. My most important number is 600- as in Bush sent our troops 600 miles to the north of where they should be.

  46. We live in a democracy and pay taxes. That means that we empower the individuals who choose to commit our country to war and we provide the funds to conduct that war. That makes us responsible.

    There is nothing more appropriate than making us face each and every death that is a result of our choice to pursue this policy. There is no justification for us to complain about or be squeemish when “milestones” are presented to underscore the cost of our choices.

  47. “why didn’t you stop the hijackers yourself? Oh, is that maybe the 20/20 thing?””

    check out the fast one that twaddlenock tried putting by – and shame for not calling him on it earlier!

    the 9/11 hijackers juxtaposed with the iraq war. that asshole obviously sees a connection that doesn’t exist. i’d trust the others’ soothsaying if this moron still thinks that fighting in iraq means not fighting in topeka.

    see, Akria, you’re not the only one who is grumpy 🙂

    happy friday.

  48. Perfect example:

    NYT reporting on a letter from a soldier that died:

    He wrote: “Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I’m writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I’m pushing my chances.

    What the letter actually says:

    He wrote: “Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I’m writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I’m pushing my chances. I don’t regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it’s not to me. I’m here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.”

    Just a wee difference there.

  49. What bothers me about the use of “2,000 killed (or 1,000, or 10,000,or whatever)” as a milestone is that it ignores the fact that casualties include wounded as well. The US armed forces have sustained over 17,000 casualties over the past 2 1/2 years in Iraq, a pretty signficant loss rate no matter how you slice it. In some respects, the high wounded-to-killed ratio is a tribute to modern American military medicine – a lot of guys who would have ended up dead in earlier wars are now being saved. OTOH, a wounded man has to be replaced on the line just as much as a dead one does, and those kinds of losses, while sustainable in the short term, are putting increasing strain on both active-duty forces (who are required to serve longer and longer terms overseas) and recruitment (which is down sharply for the ground-pounder branches of the military and continues to decline).

    The obsessive focus on death totals actually serves the propaganda purposes of both doves and hawks – anti-war activists can harp on the neat, round number, while proponents of the war can dismiss the figure as “much less than Vietnam” or point out that it averages to “only” 70 killed a month, while ignoring the fact that an additional 300-400 soliders are wounded each month as well. The human cost of the war in Iraq continues to be quite high, both for Americans and Iraqis, and for the majority of Americans (at least as reflected in recent opinion polls) the jury is still out on whether it’s worth the cost.

  50. So what if NYT editors would say the same thing? A broken clock is right twice a day.

    Their antiwar bias dictates what they report and how they report it. See above.

  51. ok, so i’m a bit confused.

    2000 soldiers are not a milestone?

    3000 dead civilians are?

    so is the problem with numbers or what?

    wait a minute…aren’t those…holy fuck…arabic numerals?

    i understand.

  52. Phil,

    Say, how’s that Osama Bin Forgotten doing?
    Hiding in a cave or a mud hut instead of being a de facto ruler of Afghanistan, while his proxies die by the thousands in Iraq.

    Then why the fuck invade Iraq? What did that have to do with 9/11

    9/11 was enabled by a terrorist-sponsoring state. It’s not a big stretch to realize that terrorist-sponsoring states are probably going to enable more such attacks. Add Saddam’s WMD lust, the looming end of sanctions, and the tyrannical unfree nature of the regime to the mix and it’s a no-brainer.

    Maybe. Tell you what, Dave, if you’re going to start a private army and free all the world’s oppressed people’s, I’ll write you a check for $500 today. The army I already pay for, on the other hand, exists to protect the people and borders and property of the United States of America, not the people of Iraq. It’s a harsh truth, but that’s the way it is.

    Bullshit. We democratized and/or defended Japan, Taiwan, S Korea, France, W Germany, and a slew of other nations. We did that both because exporting/protcting freedom is right and because it’s in our own long-term self-interest.

  53. Twaddle – foolish, empty talk or writing.

    Nock – a notch for holding the string at either end of a bow.

    drf, Where do you come up with these brilliant little gems?

  54. TallDave:

    1) Regarding the cliche “liberal media bias” bullshit, you do realize that newspapers only have X amount of column space to devote to any given story? Rather than whine about “bias” you may want to consider that they don’t have room to print everything your heart desires.

    Besides, where do see the rest of this letter?

    2. What does the opinion of this dead solider have to do with anything? It still doesn’t justify the war. I can’t help it if he was gullible enough to by your President’s bullshit.

  55. Edit: by=buy

  56. Akir,

    1. Oh, it’s not bias, just lack of space. And yet they always seem to find space to mention every U.S. casualty, and the running total.

    2. He died for freedom. Maybe that means nothing to you, but then what does your opinion have to with anything? Your opinion doesn’t un-justify the war. I can’t help it if you’re gullible enough to by the anti-war bullshit.

  57. And we’ve subjugated a lot of little brown folk also. Or is that just Bullshit?

  58. By subjugated, do you mean “freed from a brutal tyrant and enabled the election of a free and democratic gov’t?”

  59. 9/11 was enabled by a terrorist-sponsoring state. It’s not a big stretch to realize that terrorist-sponsoring states are probably going to enable more such attacks. Add Saddam’s WMD lust, the looming end of sanctions, and the tyrannical unfree nature of the regime to the mix and it’s a no-brainer.

    Where is your evidence that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11?

    You expect us to believe that a islamic fanatic, who called for the end of the Saddam’s regime on numerous occassions, would have a thing to do with a secular tyrant?

    BTW, where are the WMDs? Mustard gas shells don’t count, either. Where are the nukes, the biotoxins, and the chemical agents that can kill a million people with a single drop you boys claimed Saddam had.

    As for fighting tyranical regimes, when is Bush going to send troops in China? Oh I forgot, they’ve got MFN Trade Status. How about North Korea? No, they might have nukes now that George looked the other way fighting his War Against Imaginary Terrorists and making sure gay people couldn’t get married.

    Bullshit. We democratized and/or defended Japan, Taiwan, S Korea, France, W Germany, and a slew of other nations. We did that both because exporting/protcting freedom is right and because it’s in our own long-term self-interest.

    There’s that hubris again. Need I remind you that Japan and Germany had democratic traditions before the Imperialists and the Nazis took over their respective countries? France was an occupied state, so that conversion didn’t take much trouble. And Korea and Taiwan or only “democracies” in name only.

    You can only “export” freedom to those who want it.

  60. Philippines, Nicaragua. Read a history book. Sit admiringly at the feet of Hakluyt or something.

  61. He died for freedom.

    HA! I can’t help it if you are gullible enough to buy the pro-war bullshit.

  62. Dave writes — “9/11 was enabled by a terrorist-sponsoring state. It’s not a big stretch to realize that terrorist-sponsoring states are probably going to enable more such attacks. Add Saddam’s WMD lust, the looming end of sanctions, and the tyrannical unfree nature of the regime to the mix and it’s a no-brainer.”

    Notice the addition of the word “lust.” It’s not that Saddam had WMDs, it’s that he had “lust” for them. That’s a big difference (if it’s even true). The factors you list do add up to “Iraq is a problem.” But it is a big leap from that to “We should unleash a massive invasion of Iraq.” The former is the no-brainer, the latter is not warranted. The fact that a nation MIGHT have something to do with an attack that might happen someday is not a compelling reason to bomb the hell out of it.

    “He died for freedom.”

    Okay, you are just stringing words together now. This is what Mr Saw-Whet would refer to as “twaddle.”

  63. Phil,

    Where is your evidence that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11?
    Who said Saddam was behind 9/11? There were links to Al Qaeda, but I’m more concerned with preventing the next attack.

    You expect us to believe that a islamic fanatic, who called for the end of the Saddam’s regime on numerous occassions, would have a thing to do with a secular tyrant?
    LOL You really think it’s that simple? In fact Al Qaeda did arrange meetings with IIS, and they agreed not to attack each other, and several Al Qaeda lieutenants, including a 1993 WTC bomber, were sheltered in Iraq. Ideological opponents often ally. Hitler allied with Stalin too; it’s called “an alliance of convenience.”

    Need I remind you that Japan and Germany had democratic traditions before the Imperialists and the Nazis took over their respective countries?
    Need I remind you the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq was elected by plebiscite?

    You can only “export” freedom to those who want it.
    Yes, because so many are yearning for dictators to trample their rights.

  64. MP,

    Is Iraq not holding elections and referendum? You’re the one falling for bullshit.

    Ethan,

    It’s not that Saddam had WMDs,
    He clearly did have them at one point (just ask Halabja), everyone believed he still had them, and he maintained a clandestine network for producing more according to the Kay report.

    I see, dying for freedom is “twaddle” or “just stringing words together” to you. Sad, you fell the same bullshit as MP. Again, are they not holding elections in Iraq?

  65. Philippines, Nicaragua. Read a history book. Sit admiringly at the feet of Hakluyt or something.

    Well, that was a long time ago and has little to with Iraq, but remind me again whether those countries are democracies now? Oh right, they are.

  66. Yes, yes, the evil liberal media who meets in the secret sub-basement of the Washington Post each day to discuss who they’re going to spin the news to the Left. Do they also know who really killed JFK, where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, and what alien race crashed their saucer at Roswell?

    You didn’t answer my question, where did you find the alledged rest of that letter? Some right-wing blog no doubt? If so, then why should we trust your sources anymore than the so-called “liberal biased” MSM?

    He died for freedom.

    No, he died in a pointless war waged by an arrogant, stupid, Bible-beating, C-Average, piss pot of a president who needed to look tough in front of his war-mongering, jingoistic, supporters.

    Maybe that means nothing to you, but then what does your opinion have to with anything? Your opinion doesn’t un-justify the war. I can’t help it if you’re gullible enough to by the anti-war bullshit.

    Freedom certainly means a lot more to me than it ever will to you, it seems. Enough so that I don’t want to see it pissed away with meat-grinder wars abroad and police state tactics at home to fight a “War Against Terror” that this country is largely responsible for. (Who supported Saddam during his war with Iran? Who sends billions in foreign aid to Isreal? Who helped arm Bin Ladin so he could fight the Russians in Afganistan? WE DID!) I’m hardly a pacifist, but the idea of the U.S. Military is to defend the U.S. not bring “freedom” to every Third World piss hole that happens to annoy us.

    Gullible? I’m not the one who voted for Bush.

  67. Yes, yes, the evil liberal media who meets in the secret sub-basement of the Washington Post each day to discuss who they’re going to spin the news to the Left.

    No, the simpleminded liberal media that self-describes as five-to-one liberal.

    The letter came from the soldier’s father, and yes it was on a right-wing blog. Did you think it would be on an antiwar site? I didn’t say the NYT made it up, just that their reporting is biased. Right-wing sites don’t claim to be neutral observers.

    Freedom certainly means a lot more to me than it ever will to you, it seems

    Freedom apparently means very little to you, since you constantly denigrate it. How is it being “pissed away?” They are holding elections in Iraq. But you don’t care about that.

    Gullible? I’m not the one who voted for Bush.
    No, you’re the one that fell for the Michael Moore antiwar crowd’s antifreedom bullshit.

  68. (Who supported Saddam during his war with Iran? Who sends billions in foreign aid to Isreal? Who helped arm Bin Ladin so he could fight the Russians in Afganistan? WE DID!)

    1) With what? A handshake and a wink? The US supplied less that 1% of Sadddam’s arsenal.

    2) Ah yes, Israel, the only democracy (besides Iraq) in the Mideast. There’s your “support for freedom” again.

    3) As opposed to letting the Soviets have Afghanistan? Would that have been better?

  69. They are holding elections in Iraq. But you don’t care about that.

    Not really, no. Not when it comes at the cost of getting my troops killed and billions of dollars spent. So TallDave, you believe the mission of the US military is to go around the world and impose its concept of freedom on everyone?

    Freedom my ass.

  70. “Again, are they not holding elections in Iraq?”

    Dave, just because there are good things to be found in Iraq does not imply that the war was justified.

    I did not say that dying for freedom was twaddle or just the stringing together of words. I said that the notion AS APPLIED TO THE IRAQ WAR is twaddle.

    You contend “He clearly did have them at one point (just ask Halabja), everyone believed he still had them, and he maintained a clandestine network for producing more according to the Kay report.”

    Not everyone. Bush himself, before the invasion, backed off claims that Saddam actually possessed WMDs. The claim was changed to–Saddam has engaged in activities ‘related’ to WMD programs. The WMD case was argued against by many before the war. And you are overstating the Kay report conclusions.

  71. MP,

    Freedom for me, but not for thee?

    Let’s bring the troops home from S Korea and let the North have it. Let’s stop arming Taiwan. Hell, let China have Japan too. Better than our troops getting killed, right? Is it too late to give up Western Europe to somebody?

    Our “concept” of freedom? Good Lord, you sound like a Soviet apologist in the Cold War.

  72. “Let’s bring the troops home from S Korea and let the North have it. Let’s stop arming Taiwan. Hell, let China have Japan too. Better than our troops getting killed, right? Is it too late to give up Western Europe to somebody?”

    Well, your nanny-state collectivism sure sounds Soviet to me…

  73. Ethan,

    That soldier died for freedom. He died so they could hold elections in Iraq. That’s heroism, pure and simple, not twaddle or bullshit, and shame on all you who denigrate his sacrifice.

    The intel agencies all believed Saddam had stockpiles of WMD. That’s not even debatable. It turned out they were wrong, but since Saddam refused to account for them or fully cooperate with inspections, the only way we could have known for sure was to invade. And no, I am not overstating the Kay report in the least.

    I’m out. One last word for the anti-democracy crowd:

    FREEDOM MATTERS.

  74. Let’s bring the troops home from S Korea and let the North have it. Let’s stop arming Taiwan. Hell, let China have Japan too. Better than our troops getting killed, right? Is it too late to give up Western Europe to somebody?

    I’m all for it. Bring ’em all home. Let them provide their own security. I’m tired of paying for it.

    Our “concept” of freedom? Good Lord, you sound like a Soviet apologist in the Cold War.

    A Soviet apologist is one who says “well, they’re not that bad”. I’m not apologist. The Soviet system was evil. Saddam was evil. Ho Chi Min was evil. Mao was evil. Lots of evil in the world. Ain’t my problem.

  75. FREEDOM MATTERS.

    You fucking hypocrite.

    Given the Conservatives agenda (e.g. PATRIOT, attempted constitutional bans on gay marriage and flag burning, continuing the War On Drugs, putting religious kooks on the bench and in the AGs office, Intellegent Design, etc.), who the hell are you to be lecturing us about “freedom?”

  76. The number of casualties does not determine whether a war is just or unjust.

  77. –“The intel agencies all believed Saddam had stockpiles of WMD. That’s not even debatable.”

    You have made this claim before, and you obviously didn’t bother to listen to the responses at that time. It IS debatable. The Bush administration pressured the intel community to arrive at a certain conclusions, and when analysts did not do so they were ignored or told to analyse again (or their CIA agent wives were outed). The intel community is full of people who were not listened to in the run-up to the war. The case for WMDs was manufactured–THAT is why it was so pathetically wrong.

    –“That soldier died for freedom. He died so they could hold elections in Iraq. That’s heroism, pure and simple, not twaddle or bullshit, and shame on all you who denigrate his sacrifice.”

    The conduct of the war reveals that it was not undertaken to secure freedom for the Iraqi people. There was no plan for what to do after the battles ceased (and thus no personnel to do it). If the point was freedom, there would have been such a plan. Thus that soldier thought he was dying for freedom, but he was actually a pawn in the neocons’ vicious game. The point of the Iraq war was American hegemony over the Middle East. Pointing that out is not to denigrate that soldier’s sacrifice. I am very grateful that people like him exist(ed), people who are willing to risk it all in our defense–I just think that in this case that willingness has been abused by the administration. So your little attempt at a guilt trip misses the mark, I think.

  78. Ah yes, Israel, the only democracy (besides Iraq) in the Mideast.

    Tell that to the Palestinians.

  79. You know, I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: Debate is pointless, especially when your opponent has to resort to 1950s-style Red Baiting.

  80. “Freedom matters.”

    Wow, TallTaleDave really is going out on a limb with that one.

    Skeptic: “I am not sure the Iraq war was such a good idea.”

    TallDave: “Freedom matters.”

    Skeptic: “Oh, why didn’t you say so? I’m convinced!”

    Is this what he is envisioning with that nonsense?

  81. Is this what he is envisioning with that nonsense?

    No, he’s thinking that he can shame us by implying that anyone who doesn’t approve of his dirty little war supports tyranny.

  82. saw-whet:

    inspiration from the term “nerf herder” and “quibbledick”. but it just sounded fun – no wordsmithing.

    heh.

    akira: can’t argue with twaddle 🙂 when the person’s personality resembles a used diaper stuffed with indian food or smells like bigfoot’s dick, you’re only gonna get 1950s style, um, arguments.

    freedom. resolve. iraq is 9.11 can’t you see there’s no milestone there? what, would you prefer kilometer stones? or kilometre 7.4kilograms to eliminate all US or even english measurement from it? you’re a UN submissive aren’t you!!! i knew it.

    you probably didn’t cry when old Yeller died. and you thought Stripes was a tragic drama. And you laughed at the end of Silkwood and thought Ishtar was brilliant.

    HA!

  83. 2000 of our folks died in Iraq and all I got was this lousy ayatollah.

    Good thing we only have 10 more years to go, cuz its getting a little old by now.

  84. you probably didn’t cry when old Yeller died.

    Well, no, I didn’t. But I did cry back in 4th grade when my teacher got to the end of “Where The Red Fern Grows.”

    Poor doggies.

  85. I wonder what TallDave has done, today or, well, ever, to actually make any single person in any of the countries he’s harping about even one iota more free?

    Come on, Dave, you freedom-spreadin’ sonuvabitch! Get that army going and free everyone! Where do I mail my $500?

  86. I smell the acrid stench of the NRO atmosphere as they open the door to greet one of their own.

  87. If freedom matters so much, how come we seem to be reducing the amount of it available domestically?

  88. Akira:

    oooofff. Good call. incredibly sad book.

    can i also infer that you didn’t go to the parade?
    🙂

    cheers,
    drf

  89. a stupid, wasteful war?Typical right-wing delusions?.My predictions are probably a lot more factual than the Bushies’ notions?I can’t help it if he was gullible enough to by your President’s bullshit?fighting his War Against Imaginary Terrorists and making sure gay people couldn’t get married?There’s that hubris again?.Do they also know who really killed JFK, where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, and what alien race crashed their saucer at Roswell?…a pointless war waged by an arrogant, stupid, Bible-beating, C-Average, piss pot of a president?his war-mongering, jingoistic, supporters?Freedom certainly means a lot more to me than it ever will to you,?Gullible? I’m not the one who voted for Bush?You fucking hypocrite?Tell that to the Palestinians?

    Debate is pointless, especially when your opponent has to resort to 1950s-style Red Baiting.

  90. Your point?

  91. My point is that I have way too much time on my hands and nothing fruitful to add

  92. Is that you, Jeff P?

  93. everyone stop. the war was right because God told Bush it was right. that’s not even debatable.

  94. Summarizer:

    i need some help with a project on transfer function estimation – could you summarize prewhitening filters that well? our usual person will send $150 your way……..

    appreciate it!

    drf

  95. 1) You know, I’m really conflicted about the war in Iraqi. Unfortunately, I’m also really short on time today, so I may be making the following points badly.

    2) I am not only a libertarian but an anarchist. However, of all the branches and bureaus of government, I see much to admire in the military. It is the most honest, honorable, and least threatening branch of government. The people in the military are the best and most moral of all government employees.

    – The are the most honest. Government is all about the organized use of force to make people do stuff, or stop doing stuff. The military is open about this. They know it’s their job. The NEA and your local school district pretend otherwise.

    – Alone among all branches of government, the military has an explicit and detailed code of honor that they actually tried to enforce, strictly and in detail. Imperfectly, of course. But compared to what goes on in Congress or city hall …

    – Alone among all branches of government, it’s guns are pointed in the direction I prefer — away from me.

    3) Sometimes violence is necessary. I think we need an organization that does the kind of things the military does. It’s a shame that the goverment has seized a monopoly on the military, however, forbidding domestic private competitors, at least on a comparable scale. Given that, if we need large-scale military-type things done, our only choice is to rely on a large government agency, either we must make certain compromises, or we need to forego the goals that we can only obtain by military means, such as large-scale defense.

    4) This pre-emptive war in Iraq is a disturbing precendent. Especially since the connections between Iraq and the event of 9-11 are tenuous or indirect at best. However, we are entering the post-nation-state age. This is an era of “war” where the combantants’ affiliation with this or that nation-state is becoming incidental. The boundaries between “crime” and “war” are more blurred than ever. The fact that we have one state (the U.S.) claiming to fight “terrorism” by attacking another state (Iraq) is very anachronistic. But it may be the only means we have, because we have to fight this transnational violent crime, and just about the only means we have available to tackle such a job are statist agencies. Mostly. And at least for now. The US’s pre-emptive war against Iraq is a very troubling precedent, but it might be a necessary, if very clumsy, attempt to adjust to the new realities of violence in a post-state world.

    5) Also, ever since the first time I took “the smallest political test in the world” and learned I might be a libertarian, the isolationist strain of libertarianism has troubled me. Why should Americans be concerned only with the freedom of Americans? This seems like a weird kind of impacted statism to me. Why should we freedom-loving anti-statists only care about freedom within the boundaries of our own state? Are the people who live outside our government’s jurisdiction any less human? Isn’t “nationalist libertarianism” an oxymoron? Certainly “nationalist anarchism” is, for those of use who are anarcho-capitalists. Shouldn’t we be “internationalist libertarians”?

    6) The problem, of course, is that if we have to resort to violence to promote freedom outside our state, our only option is to use the military, which is owned by the state. Is that deal with the devil worth making? See also paragraphs 3 and 4 above.

    7) If I were president, my private-sector solution to terrorism would be to keep our military at home and say, “I will pay a reward of $5 billion to whomever brings me the head of Osama bin Laden.” (Or Saddam Hussein, if he’s really a threat.) I’d add, “Any death benefits or damages that must be paid to innocent bystanders as a result of your actions will be deducted from your bounty.” That would be cheaper than what we’re doing now. It might be more effective. But it would require some changes in national and international law and custom, and we’d have to give private military organizations a lot more freedom to operate than they have now.

    8) Finally, I don’t think it’s quite fair to say, “Hey, freedom-lover, what are YOU personally doing to advance freedom for others overseas?” You know that you and I are legally constrained in what we can do about such things. You can be sincerely against murder and rape and theft and crime, and sincerely pro-lawfulness, but you aren’t required to prove it by becoming a private criminal justice system. Legally, all you can do is prepare to defend yourself if the need arises — IF that. Similarly, you can be a pro-freedom internationalist even if you leave most of the work to the paid professionals, even if, perforce, your only option means relying on paid professional employees of the State.

    (That was longer than I wanted. And I could still say more if I had time.)

  96. The fact that we have one state (the U.S.) claiming to fight “terrorism” by attacking another state (Iraq) is very anachronistic. But it may be the only means we have, because we have to fight this transnational violent crime, and just about the only means we have available to tackle such a job are statist agencies

    So we’re fighting individuals by attacking states where said individuals may or may not be located? That would be like declaring war on and pulling a Fallujah in Chicago in order to defeat Al Capone and his boys. Or declaring war on Idaho and Montana to wipe out the crazy militia guys there.

  97. exactly. but if idaho or montana were actively training and sheltering crazy militia guys who were running around and attacking other states, attacking them would make sense. which is why afghanistan was a good idea, and iraq, not.

  98. “That would be like declaring war on and pulling a Fallujah in Chicago in order to defeat Al Capone and his boys. Or declaring war on Idaho and Montana to wipe out the crazy militia guys there.”

    “exactly.”

    I think the two of you, if you try real hard, can come up with a few important differences between Iraq and Chicago. Or even between Saddam and Capone.

  99. Jennifer – Yep.

    And if Illinois and Missouri were separate nation-states, and Al Capone and his boys were pulling crimes in Missouri, AND the Republic of Illinois were either unable or unwilling to apprehend and punish Capone, then a night-time bombing raid by the Missouri Air Force on Capone’s neighborhood in Chicago might be the only thing that Missouri could do — in the logic of nation-states, anyway.

  100. My point, which I’m making badly, is that if you use the tools of statism to fight something other than another state, you get a really screwy result.

    But if you’re constrained from using non-state alternatives, what do you do?

  101. Stevo–

    What else can we do? Accept that traditional war works only when you have some physical objectives in mind–to nullify Hitler, you have to get a surrender from the head of the German Army, and capture and control X parts of Germany. What we’re facing with Islamic terrorism is a different matter–it’s more of an idea that a single entity with an actual chain of command.

    You can’t defeat ideas by attacking states that aren’t even central to them. I agree with Zach’s distinction about Afghanistan versus Iraq. And if someone were trying to argue that the way to wipe out Wahhabism is to take out Saudi Arabia, I could agree to that (though whether or not I’d approve is another matter). But there’s no similar connection between Iraq and Islamic extremism.

    Well, actually, there probably is more of one now that we’ve invaded, but “foreign policy blowback” is another issue.

  102. mediageek wrote

    The number of casualties does not determine whether a war is just or unjust.

    While I do agree with other sentiments that the number 2000, other than being round enough to remember, is arbitrary in its usefulness, but the number or casualties certainly matters when asking questions about a just/unjust war.

    For instance, one wouldn’t undertake a war if it were known prior that the casualty rate would be 100%. We can’t morally send all warring soliders to known deaths.

    So maybe 2000 isn’t significant overall and a somewhat arbirtrary milestone, the number of casualties is surely worth thinking about when contemplating a just/unjust war.

    BTW – I’m not making any specifc claims about IRAQ or whether 2000 is a light or heavy cost, just firing a couple synapses about Jus ad Bellum.

  103. 1999 deaths is a tragedy….2000 deaths is a satistic 🙂

  104. “1999 deaths is a tragedy….2000 deaths is a satistic :)”

    damn i could have written that better..

    1999 deaths is a tragedy….the 2000th death is a statistic

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