When the Left is Not Right

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Following on from Nick's post on an Ian Buruma piece in London's The Times critical of the power worship evident in the political left, I found another, earlier piece by Christopher Hitchens, also in The Times and also looking at the poverty of the left in the face of despotism. Hitchens' article introduces something called the Euston Manifesto, drawn up by leftists disgusted with the turn the left has taken.

Hitchens sees "three explanations for this horrid mutation of the left into a reactionary and nihilistic force": first, nostalgia for the old "People's Democracies" of the state socialist era; the fact that the "turbulent masses of the Islamic world are at once a reminder of the glory days of 'Third World' revolution, and a hasty substitute for the vanished proletariat of yore." And third, "that once you decide that American-led 'globalization' is the main enemy, then any revolt against it is better than none at all."

A third entry in this catalogue of revulsion for how the left has undermined its own humanist principles comes from yours truly, published in the Daily Star last week, motivated by Noam Chomsky's irresponsible, sickening romp through Beirut. Among other things, he embraced Hezbollah's goal of keeping its weapons until a regional peace settlement (what's the hurry, right?), against the demands of the United Nations and most political forces in Lebanon. I'm reminded of a similar tour through Lebanon by Norman Finkelstein five years ago, which led to this exchange Finkelstein posted on his site.

My focus in the latest Star piece is on how the Western left has made everything secondary to its antipathy for the Bush administration when it comes to the Middle East, even as many leftists in the region (including old communists, particularly in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq) have largely embraced social democracy, catapulting any lingering Leninism (or Stalinism) they may have had, while refusing to regard the United States (despite their doubts and criticism of the American administration) as the sole benchmark for all things evil. Their benchmark is now, simply, opposition to totalitarianism.

NEXT: Thomas Friedman on Iraq: Just Wait Six Months....

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  1. The bulk of the anti-war movement also opposed the removal of the Muslim-slayer Slobodan Milosevic

    I guess it depends on the meaning of the phrase “anti-war movement.” Given that a strong majority of American citizens are now against the war, it seems a little odd to equate “anti-war” with George Galloway and the New Left Review.

    To many callow leftists, the turbulent masses of the Islamic world are at once a reminder of the glory days of ?Third World? revolution, and a hasty substitute for the vanished proletariat of yore.

    How many is “many”? I know and live among a broad sampling of what might be described as “callow leftists,” and I have never ever ever ever never ever heard a sentiment from these people that came close to expressing revolutionary optimism and/or Marxist nostalgia for the Islamic masses.

    I eagerly look forward to the day when the former members of the Trotsky Fan Club expend 1/100th of their Ramsey Clark-shadowboxing energy on an honest critique of their own past flirtations with dictator-sympathy. Until then, their attempts to equate either “the left” or “the anti-war movement” with the worst micro-strains of International A.N.S.W.E.R. will continue the sad march from unpersuasive to irrelevant to unintentionally hilarious.

  2. Ah yes, the mysterious monolith. You do realize that with disastrous one-party control, one’s own goals for human rights and democratization might be a moot point without at least divided government?

  3. My focus in the latest Star piece is on how the Western left has made everything secondary to its antipathy for the Bush administration when it comes to the Middle East

    As a Western leftist who does not embrace dictators or other forms of evil just so long as they’re not Bush, do you suppose it would be intellectually honest of me to talk about how, based on people like Judge Roy Moore, Pat Buchanan and various FOX News anchors, the Western right has made everything secondary to its antipathy to secularism, gays and non-white people? Or would this be a case of me dishonestly pointing to extremes and pretending they’re the moderates?

    The extreme left has professors like Ward Churchill, and the extreme right has Bob Jones University. Extremists suck, what else needs to be said?

  4. Yeah, that Euston Manifesto was discussed in These Hallowed Halls.

    It was fine in and of itself, but it did leave me momentarily disoriented to see people ostensibly to my left more or less supporting the war in Iraq. I mean other than Blair.

    Speaking of which, I really would like to see Blair, once he’s out of office, just come across the pond and kick Gge Bush in the sack for making him look like such a tool. Unfortunately I think he’s too much of a tool to do it.

    Actually, that leftish-guy-turned-military-interventionist make these guys the original British neocons? Not the modern version, of course, but the old-school sixties version.

  5. Dammit, the server squirrels stripped my URL. Still gotta figure out how you guys do that.

    https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2006/04/i_miss_port_hur.shtml

  6. “Among other things, he embraced Hezbollah’s goal of keeping its weapons until a regional peace settlement (what’s the hurry, right?), against the demands of the United Nations and most political forces in Lebanon.”

    (A) Why should Hezbollah be so foolish as to give up its weapons?

    and

    (B) Isn’t Reason magazine’s editorial position generally in favor of the right to bear arms?

  7. Welch is awesome.

  8. Michael,

    In a piece a while back, you listed things that Lebanon needs and among them, along with an end to Syrian meddling/domination, was protection from Israel. In the 80’s Hezbollah drove the Israeli army from Lebanon. Wouldn’t an unarmed Hezbollah increase the likelihood of an Israeli military incursion?

  9. As the Bush administration stands for dishonesty and ineptitude, doesn’t it make sense to have antipathy towards it? Doesn’t it make sense to consider it the most recent and primary example of how NOT to intervene in the Middle East?

    Also, is there anything we can accurately or legitimately call “the left” or “the right” and, if not (as is my suspicion, though I could be wrong), doesn’t it make assertions/analysis like this kind of pointless?

  10. Iraq’s transition to democracy was bound to be bloody and riven with sectarian strife, regardless of when or due to what force it occurred. George Bush’s policies in the Middle East are not a failure, just because he can’t stop people in the Mid-East from killing each other over religion and ethnicity. They have been doing that since way before the first George W was elected president.

    The fact is US interventions under George Bush have created two new democratically elected governments in the Mid-East. That is a great accomplishment. One can say it has not been worth the loss of American lives, but it is a great accomplishment never the less.

  11. The fact is US interventions under George Bush have created two new democratically elected governments in the Mid-East. That is a great accomplishment.

    That two democratic governments were created in the Middle East is nothing special. Almost every decolonized country started off as a democracy. What would be a great achievement is that they remain democratic.

  12. One can say it has not been worth the loss of American lives, but it is a great accomplishment never the less.

    I sense myself movin’ up in the eyes of the pro-Iraq War types. …Talkin’ about the loss of life used to mean I was a coward.

    I appreciate a great accomplishment as much as the next guy, but I remain skeptical that Americans will benefit from this great accomplishment. The Great Wall of China was a great accomplishment too–didn’t do much for the American people, but it was a great accomplishment nonetheless. …and isn’t that what we’re talking about here?

    I care about the victims of oppression everywhere–I really do. …and I don’t care if they’re Leninists or Stalinists or free market, pro-American capitalists–so long as they’re being oppressed, I care about ’em. …just not enough to go into a war that isn’t in America’s best interest. …and I remain unconvinced that war in the Middle East is in the best interest of the American people.

  13. Iraq’s transition to democracy was bound to be bloody and riven with sectarian strife, regardless of when or due to what force it occurred.

    I think everyone agrees with this. The question is did the administration do everything they could have, everything they were warned by many to do, to keep the blood and strife to a minimum? I think the answer is demonstrably, “no.”

    George Bush’s policies in the Middle East are not a failure, just because he can’t stop people in the Mid-East from killing each other over religion and ethnicity.

    I don’t know if that’s what people are arguing. Because the war was initiated dishonestly and because of the fact that so many parts of Iraq’s infrastructure are not functioning at pre-war levels three years after the invasion due to incompetence on the part of the Bush administration, very few people in the Middle East trust the U.S.. That is a failure any way you look at it.

  14. In another thread I said that the people who defend our policies in Iraq seem to do a good job of discrediting those policies:

    “That influx of foreign jihadis isn’t a bug, it’s a feature!”

    “Well, yeah, they aren’t exporting much oil, but what about all the good news? Like all the government schools, government clinics, and expanding public payroll?”

    “If there’s one thing that we’ve learned in the past 6 months, it’s that we need another 6 months to tell if this will work.”

    Add to that: (verbatim quote)
    “George Bush’s policies in the Middle East are not a failure, just because he can’t stop people in the Mid-East from killing each other over religion and ethnicity.”

    Explain how we’re going to succeed at establishing a liberal beacon if you view significant bloodshed as unstoppable?

    Mind you, the dumb arguments being made don’t necessarily invalidate the policy. If that were the case then I’d have to oppose drug reform as soon as some idiot stoner opened his mouth. But I certainly think that Iraq war supporters would do well to shut the hell up. If they do so, maybe it will be easier to hear all the idiots on the other side of the debate. We might even be able to hear something insightful from the smarter hawks.

  15. Rick Barton,

    I don’t recall what piece you’re referring to, but I don’t believe that Israel is particularly concerned today with Lebanon, having a handful at home. But in a nutshell, no: it’s not up to Hezbollah to protect Lebanon; that’s a job for the Lebanese national army, which has been absorbing a huge chunk of Lebanon’s budget in the past 14 years. In fact, Hezbollah, because it might choose to attack Israel in the event of an American or Israeli attack against nuclear Iranian facilities, may well increase the liklihood of an Israeli attack.

  16. Explain how we’re going to succeed at establishing a liberal beacon if you view significant bloodshed as unstoppable?

    I am not saying the bloodshed is unstoppable, just that the desire for it predates, GW Bush and in fact the existence of the USA.

    …very few people in the Middle East trust the U.S..

    Very few people in the Middle East have ever trusted the U.S., despite tons of foreign aid, big efforts to protect them from Soviet agression, and the investments of our oil companies which have created great wealth for many of them.

  17. Les, it’s mostly what Ken Shultz said. On one of the very first posts I ever made here, I mentioned that I call myself a libertarian not because I agree with y’all most of the time, but because I disagree with you less often than I do the two major parties.

  18. Very few people in the Middle East have ever trusted the U.S….

    This is true. But certainly we can agree that the fact that more people than ever in the Middle East (and around the world) trust us (and for good reason) is a serious kind of failure.

  19. I should have said, “I’m hoping we can agree.” πŸ˜‰

  20. I should have said, “I’m hoping we can agree.” πŸ˜‰

    I’m guessing you also should have said “the fact that more people than ever don’t trust us is a kind of failure.” πŸ˜‰

  21. I remember a Nation column where Hitchens quibbled over the numbers of dead attributed to Stalin. The point he was arguing: Uncle Joe wasn’t so bad. He has since flipped of course. More money in pimping for the neo-cons, I guess.

  22. “I don’t recall what piece you’re referring to, but I don’t believe that Israel is particularly concerned today with Lebanon, having a handful at home.”

    What handful do they have at home? 4-5 Israeli dead a month to political violence if they are unlucky — that isn’t a handful, like El Al airlines, that’s a hobby…Hezbollah are right not to disarm — any group willing to trust the Israelis or the Lebanese national army should have its head checked.

  23. “I care about the victims of oppression everywhere–I really do. …and I don’t care if they’re Leninists or Stalinists or free market, pro-American capitalists–so long as they’re being oppressed, I care about ’em. …just not enough to go into a war that isn’t in America’s best interest. …and I remain unconvinced that war in the Middle East is in the best interest of the American people.”

    Ken Shuzltz you should get a prize for putting forth the first honest and reasonable critique of the Iraq war ever put on a Reason thread.

  24. I remember a Nation column where Hitchens quibbled over the numbers of dead attributed to Stalin.

    I’d appreciate a link. From what I understand, Hitchens has been a virulent anti-Stalinist since he was protesting the Viet Nam war.

  25. I also think that Ken makes a lot of good comments. However, I’d like to think that there have been a few other honest and reasonable critiques of the war in Iraq.

  26. I was being flippent Thoreau, there have been, but it is rare that someone will be honest enough to admit that it was a good thing on at least some levels. Mostly you get the “things were better under Saddam” “war for oil” “war for daddy” lines or worse.

  27. “the fact that more people than ever don’t trust us is a kind of failure”

    Well, I am little scpetical of the more than ever claim. People in the Mid-East have been suspicious of the US for a long. But the facts of what Bush has done should earn the trust of rational people:

    1. He said he would kick Saddam out of power. He is gone and will be hanging from the end of a rope soon.

    2. He said he would hold elections and allow the Iraqis to select their own govenrment. It ‘s done.

    3. People accused him of going there for the oil. The oil is now in control of an Iraqi government.

    All of those things would earn the trust of rational people. But many people in the Middle East are not rational. They believe in centuries-old religions whose teachings are full of murderous gibberish. The mullahs in Iran don’t trust Bush. Do you trust them?

    Maybe trust is over-rated. The leader of Hezbollah says “We are not fighting so you will offer us something, we are fighting to eliminate you.” I believe him.

  28. I think it would be easier to have an honest debate if we all had first hand experience with the war in Iraq.

    I tried to get some first hand experience, but the Army told me that I spell too well to be a military lawyer. So that killed my plans for joining the military.

    I’ve thought about joining the 101st Fighting Keyboardists so I can blog with Michelle Malkin, but I have too much self respect for that sort of thing.

  29. They believe in centuries-old religions whose teachings are full of murderous gibberish.

    Are you referring to Christian fundamentalists? I’m pretty sure that they trust Bush.

  30. Are you referring to Christian fundamentalists? I’m pretty sure that they trust Bush.

    I don’t think the ones in the Mid-East do. Maybe Michael Young can tell us about Lebanese Crhistians and their level of trust for Bush.

    Regarding first hand experience with the war in Iraq, there are a lot of military blogs that provide it.

  31. “The fact is US interventions under George Bush have created two new democratically elected governments in the Mid-East. That is a great accomplishment.”

    Why is that a great accomplishment necessarily? As the old saw goes, democracy without a libertarian bill of individual rights, is just two wolves voting to eat the lamb. Wasn’t Nazi Germany also a democracy? Democracy is just so over-rated.

  32. privatus-

    I’d go even farther than just a bill of rights.

    You need separation of powers, both horizontal (different branches) and vertical (federalism of some sort, or at least a meaningful degree of local autonomy).

    You need true judicial independence.

    You need a private sector that is strong and competitive, and that isn’t heavily dependent on a single commodity. If all of the money comes from a single source, then it doesn’t really matter what’s written on paper as far as laws and government structures go, because all the power is coming from one place.

    You need a tolerant society that won’t either join or turn a blind eye to factional violence when the election doesn’t go their way.

    You need a private sector that features a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs, to further fragment economic power. (This cannot be achieved by fiat, however.)

    You need an electorate of people who won’t vote to oppress their neighbors and won’t put up with corruption or incompetence from members of the same tribe. (Our culture warriors, of both the red and blue persuasions, might want to take a hint there…)

    You need a military that’s under civilian control, and a civilian executive who isn’t allowed to use the military domestically. (Shannon Love, are you reading this?)

    You need a legislative branch that is willing to hold the executive accountable. (Democrats, are you listening?)

    You need reform that includes the bottom rung as well as the top rung on the government ladder. An honest man elected to serve in the capitol city doesn’t matter much if the guys at the local government office are all taking bribes and see nothing wrong with it.

    You need all this and more, and outsiders cannot impose it. Outsiders may be able to remove some obstacles, but the Iraqis will have to do the rest on their own. I wish them luck.

  33. Oh, I left out a crucial ingredient: A free, independent, and fearless press that will hold leaders accountable.

    I’m sure I left out other elements as well, but the press seemed like an especially egregious omission.

  34. Thanks to American innovations that created the blogosphere, Iraq has a free press.

    I agree that ultimately, democracy and freedom cannot be imposed. Iraqis and Middle Eastener will control their fate. If they want freedom and liberty that can take it. If they want total war with the US, it will happen.

  35. Thoreau,
    Good points all. But this one – “You need an electorate of people who won’t vote to oppress their neighbors and won’t put up with corruption or incompetence from members of the same tribe. (Our culture warriors, of both the red and blue persuasions, might want to take a hint there…)”
    should be what a bill of rights will protect us from – in theory anyway.

  36. I guess I should add that you also need the police power and the courts willing to back up these rights. I’ve lived in countries that had democracies and something resembling rights but the police basically operated like the mafia. Then again, in the U.S. some of that happens as well.

  37. my problem with the anti-Stalinist/dictator left is they seem as bad as the pro-Stalinist/dictator left — Hitchens. Raygun. Kristal. Poderetz., etc. and frankly turncoats like Horowitz were more interesting when they were leftists…

  38. Les,

    Wait until she starts discussing “Peak Oil.”

    privatus,

    Ok, let’s bust a myth here. The Nazis never received a majority of the vote in any national election they stood for. They had to rely on allied parties to get them over the 50% mark. No national election was held after they fully took control of the government. Local and state elections did continue after the they took control. The German population as a whole went along with the Nazi program generally as they saw fit.

  39. thoreau,

    That will take about 3-6 generations (and perhaps more).

  40. A good way to give yourself some perspective on the sort of progress one might expect in Iraq is to look at the experiences of the American South after the Civil War.

  41. thoreau,

    Are you referring to Christian fundamentalists? I’m pretty sure that they trust Bush.

    That’s not very nice. Anyway, I wouldn’t leave any religious group off the list of possible suspects.

  42. But the facts of what Bush has done should earn the trust of rational people:

    Lying and claiming Iraq was in possession of WMDs, and would kill us at any second if we didn’t invade them? Lying and claiming Saddam played a role in 9-11? Turning a mostly secular nation into a Shiite Islamic theocracy in the name of fighting Islamic terror? Even if Bush’s predictions had been correct and we HAD been greeted as liberators and showered with flowers, I’d still have problems with the fact that the war began on false premises. But since things are still a clusterfuck over three years later, with no sign of getting better soon, the false premises used to start the war are even more egregious.

  43. “The Nazis never received a majority of the vote in any national election they stood for. They had to rely on allied parties to get them over the 50% mark.”

    Okay, so the wolves cut a deal with the Hyenas, allowing the latter to eat the bones of the lamb after the wolves were through with the meat. Still, democratic means were used to get the wolves into power. I still don’t see how democracy is much different from a dictatorship unless its power is greatly limited by republican principles of separation of powers, checks and balances, a bill of rights, and perhaps very significantly in the case of Iraq, separation of church and state.

  44. Les-
    The Nation piece I remember reading was in the print magazine. I did a search, but could not find that particular column online. As I recall, Hitchens was reacting to ‘The Black Book of Communism’. His argument: Yeah, the commies killed some people (but can you blame them?), but the forces of reaction — the Catholic church, Reagan, Kissinger — were worse. I don’t know that Hitchens could be termed a ‘virulent’ anti-Stalinist. He wrote adoringly of Lenin and Trotsky. He didn’t like Stalin, from my reading, mostly because Stalin was just a thug, cut from humble cloth — whereas Lenin and Trotsky were murders who gave eloquent speeches.
    Perhaps the following will give you a better appreciation of Hitchens’ genius.

    http://www.amconmag.com/2005/2005_10_10/article3.html

    So far as Hitchens’ flinging poo at the left in Western Europe and the US, I think the source of Hitchens’ disaffection with such lefties is that they are all talk, no action. He wants to see priests hanging from lamp posts — and all the lefties want to do is hold seminars and sing folk songs.

  45. Jennifer,

    Lying and claiming Iraq was in possession of WMDs, and would kill us at any second if we didn’t invade them?

    Is this what Bush claimed?

    Lying and claiming Saddam played a role in 9-11?

    Again, is this what Bush claimed?

    Turning a mostly secular nation into a Shiite Islamic theocracy in the name of fighting Islamic terror?

    Iraq wasn’t a “mostly secular society” prior to the war. This is a myth. Indeed, since the end of the first Gulf War Saddam had done his best to tap into the religious elements of his society for political gain. Whatever theocratic elements that exist today in Iraq didn’t spring up because of the war; they existed long before the war started and were being courted by Saddam long before he was deposed.

  46. Some juxtaposition:

    Of course the problem with the entire “Let’s invade Iraq to defeat the Islamicists” (they aren’t fascists, and anyone who knows anything about fascism knows this) trope is that Saddam’s regime was secular. Saddam was a tyrant certainly, but a secular one. If you want to go after Islamicists, go after Saudi Arabia.

    As to the theory that they destroyed in the months prior to the invasion, as far as I can tell, there is no evidence of such, and to be frank, if they did do this, it only undermines even more the need for war – that is, if they were willing to destroy their weapons at a mere hint of war, well, a hint was all that was needed.

    Comment by: Jean Bart at October 21, 2003 11:08 AM

    versus:

    Iraq wasn’t a “mostly secular society” prior to the war. This is a myth. Indeed, since the end of the first Gulf War Saddam had done his best to tap into the religious elements of his society for political gain. Whatever theocratic elements that exist today in Iraq didn’t spring up because of the war; they existed long before the war started and were being courted by Saddam long before he was deposed.

    Comment by: Phileleutherus Lipsiensus at May 21, 2006 10:15 AM

  47. Phileleutherus Lipsiensus:

    Is this what Bush claimed?

    Yes, the Bush administration and the neocon propaganda machine engaged in elaborate duplicity to back up the false WMD claims. Remember Powell’s speech at that palace of thugs, also known as the UN? Lotsa wild lies. They also tried to raise the totally unsubstantiated idea that Saddam played a role in 9-11. It was claimed that the Iraqi regime had meetings with AQ. These “meetings” were fabricated.

    Iraq wasn’t a “mostly secular society” prior to the war. This is a myth. Indeed, since the end of the first Gulf War Saddam had done his best to tap into the religious elements of his society for political gain.

    The regime was certainly secular. And it has indeed now been turned into an Islamic theocracy

    Indeed, since the end of the first Gulf War Saddam had done his best to tap into the religious elements of his society for political gain.

    What?? He waged a brutal campaign against Islamic fundamentalists that included murder and torture.

  48. Michael Young at 06:50 PM,

    I didn’t consider your point of possible a Hezbollah reprisal attack against Israel should there be aggression against Iran. It seems that outside of this, an armed Hezbollah would certainly be a net disincentive for the Israeli government to consider vis a vis invading Lebanon, however likely, or un-likely, that is.

  49. Rick, I don’t think that it was all that secular. I mean these religios folks didn’t become religios over night. The practice of killing women who lost their virginity outside of marriage was in effect the whole time Saddam was in power.

    Saddam killed a lot of Shias, but I don’t think that he curtailed their religios practices except maybe in public.

  50. The practice of killing women who lost their virginity outside of marriage was in effect the whole time Saddam was in power.

    True enough, but back then these were mostly criminal acts kept hidden from the authorities, whereas now the religious nuts are more brazen and act more or less with impunity.

    It’s like comparing Southern American racism now with sixty years ago: yes, there are still racist bastards in the South who will murder black people, but nowadays they have to keep these acts hidden, lest they go to prison. That’s better than sixty years ago, when lynch mobs could act more or less with impunity, knowing they had no need to fear the authorities.

    Every country has evil criminals; the question is, how much do these criminals need to fear the law?

    I’m not trying to claim that Iraq under Saddam was any sort of secular paradise, but I will say that some aspects of life in Iraq–especially for women–were less odious under Saddam than they are now.

    Even if we don’t give a rat’s ass about the Iraqi people one way or the other, I fail to see how overthrowing a secularized government and replacing it with a Shiite theocracy furthers the best interests of America.

  51. Michael at May 20, 12:16 PM :

    Noam Chomsky’s irresponsible, sickening romp through Beirut.

    Chomsky is a real mixed bag. Sometimes good analysis. Sometimes total BS. (I remember when he wrote that anarcho-capitalism was “hateful”) Bur the points in the Drudge link seem ok. He observes that the definition of terrorism is: The victimization of innocent civilians. So governments engage in terrorism as well. (I’m sure that the huge bulk of terrorism is at the hands of governments.) Our government has, and the Israeli government has a long record of terrorist activity.

    This is not to take away from Michael’s strong point of the disgusting hypocrisy of the Left in focusing on abuse by the US government and its allies while not only ignoring, but actually making excuses for the abuse committed by other regimes. This is a legacy of the Left, which has its roots in their shameful apologetics for the wanton bloodshed of the Commies.

    BTW, note that the neocons, who have a lefty pedigree, are given to make excuses for state abuse of individuals. And the neocons, as opposed to real conservatives whose roots are more libertarian, are quite dismissive of individual rights generally.

  52. Jen,
    I think that the difference is that now those things can be reported on, whearas not before. Now there is a chance of exposing the crap, and maybe changing the culture, whearas not before.

  53. Michael:

    (For) many leftists in the region (including old communists, particularly in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq)..Their benchmark is now, simply, opposition to totalitarianism

    That’s good news. So they’ve become less left. Now if we can just get our western leftists to learn from them.

  54. Of course I still support the war. And I think that most suggestions of how it should have been done differently are wrong and stupid.

    But I do think that the first and most popular gulf war was wrong. And this war is the practically inevitable result of that one. Though I did support it at the time. I don’t know if that means anything.

    My faith in that it will turn out for the best here goes up and down.

    Dr T did a good one on what makes a free country. This has to come from the people. How can you determine if a people will make the right choices?

    I mean we have a failure of such in New Orleans and Chicago and such. Though not as bad as Iraq.

  55. kwais,

    I’m just saying that the regime has turned from secular to Islamic. I think that Jennifer was right except that she shoulda said “government” or “regime” instead of “society”.

  56. buck smith:

    The fact is US interventions under George Bush have created two new democratically elected governments in the Mid-East. That is a great accomplishment. One can say it has not been worth the loss of American lives, but it is a great accomplishment never the less.

    The voting in Iraq is no “great accomplishment” precisely cuz of the costs involved in terms of lives and money and also the whole enterprise was undertaken on false premises. And for how long does this democracy have to exist for you to think that it was a “great accomplishment”? Also, democracy, voting for rulers, does not guarantee individual liberty. BTW, the democracy in Afghanistan in pretty much limited to Kabul. Hamid Karzai is the most expensive mayor in the world.

    buck smith, What *likely* result in Iraq could possibly justify any more American and Iraqi deaths?

  57. Bud, thanks for the info. That’s pretty sad if he actually supported Lenin and Trotsky, very disappointing.

    That said, it’s no less sad then supporting the terrorist Contras or the genocidal Indonesian government in the name of anti-communism. It would be nice to hear of condemnations of such behavior regardless of political ideology.

  58. A good way to give yourself some perspective on the sort of progress one might expect in Iraq is to look at the experiences of the American South after the Civil War.

    In Lowndes County, Alabama, where a majority of the residents were black, there wasn’t a single, registered black voter a full hundred years after the Civil War. …or so I read today.

  59. Rick Barton,

    Lotsa wild lies.

    Were they lies? Or were they merely incorrect interpretations of the evidence?

    The regime was certainly secular.

    The regime was whatever kept it in power. Saddam’s turn towards religion was no different in purpose than Stalin’s turn towards religion and nationalism in WWII.

    What?? He waged a brutal campaign against Islamic fundamentalists that included murder and torture.

    He waged a brutal campaign against portions of the population which revolted (it didn’t matter what their religious ideas were). He also tried to cultivate relations with Islamic fundamentalists and take on the role as defender of the Islamic faith against the infidel West.

    Jennifer,

    True enough, but back then these were mostly criminal acts kept hidden from the authorities, whereas now the religious nuts are more brazen and act more or less with impunity.

    Wrong. The authorities were well aware of the practice. Read the Amnesty International reports prior to the 2003 invasion.

  60. Were they lies? Or were they merely incorrect interpretations of the evidence?

    If I could just chime in. When you’re receiving intelligence reports that doubt the existence of WMD’s (among those that do not), but you tell the world that “there’s no doubt” of WMD’s, that’s a lie.

    When you’ve received a report from the foremost experts in the U.S. that aluminum tubes couldn’t be used as centrifuges and then tell the world that they could “only” be used as centrifuges, that’s a lie.

    Greg Thielmann, a former director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office at the State Department’s Intelligence Bureau, says, “Senior officials made statements which I can only describe as dishonest. They were distorting some of the information that we provided to make it seem more alarmist and more dangerous.”

  61. Ken Shultz,

    In Lowndes County, Alabama, where a majority of the residents were black, there wasn’t a single, registered black voter a full hundred years after the Civil War. …or so I read today.

    Sounds about right. Though this shouldn’t detract from the very real progress that black people made individually and as a community from Reconstruction onward. It was in world history definately one of the more successful transitions from slavery to freedom for a former population of slaves.

  62. Les,

    If I could just chime in. When you’re receiving intelligence reports that doubt the existence of WMD’s (among those that do not), but you tell the world that “there’s no doubt” of WMD’s, that’s a lie.

    I’m not quite sure this is what people stated. Of course they may merely been doing a bit of CYA.

    When you’ve received a report from the foremost experts in the U.S. that aluminum tubes couldn’t be used as centrifuges and then tell the world that they could “only” be used as centrifuges, that’s a lie.

    From my perspective the issue is whether the Bush adminsitration was aware of dissenting opinions on the matter; this wiki article seems to raise the same concern (it is wiki, so take it for what it is worth): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminum_tubes

    Greg Thielmann, a former director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office at the State Department’s Intelligence Bureau, says, “Senior officials made statements which I can only describe as dishonest. They were distorting some of the information that we provided to make it seem more alarmist and more dangerous.”

    Or they were making statements which fit within their groupthink mentality.

    I am with Ken Shultz in arguing the competancy angle; and I think that may be a more damaging criticism.

  63. Les-

    I think why some people get hung up on the word “lie” is that it generally has a very explicit connotation: You say the exact opposite of the truth, knowing full well what you’re doing.

    “Dishonesty”, however, has a somewhat broader range of meanings. Dishonesty can refer to anything short of the full truth and nothing but the truth. Half-truths may not be explicit lies, but they certainly aren’t honest statements. Splitting hairs on definitions (e.g. “gathering threat” vs. “imminent threat”, or debating whether oral sex is really sex, or what “is” means) may not be an outright lie, but it’s surely a way to avoid telling the truth.

    The case for war was made in a dishonest manner. That much is clear. They may not have known that there were no WMD, but they knew that things weren’t nearly as clear-cut as they should be.

    Call me crazy, but I consider war to be a very drastic policy. And I believe that drastic decisions should only be made in a careful manner following an open and honest examination of the situation. They fell well short of that standard.

    The fact that the American people allowed this gang of incompetent, dishonest, and blood-stained thugs to remain in power speaks very poorly of us.

  64. Phileleutherus Lipsiensus:

    Were they lies? Or were they merely incorrect interpretations of the evidence?

    They were clearly lies cuz the neocons at the Pentagon’s OSP manufactured much of the “evidence”.

    He waged a brutal campaign against portions of the population which revolted

    Yes, but Saddam’s regime had a long record of persecuting Islamic fundamentalists whether they revolted or not.

    All of this is another example of what libertarians and conservatives have been telling us for years: You shouldn’t trust government.

  65. thoreau,

    Splitting hairs on definitions (e.g. “gathering threat” vs. “imminent threat”, or debating whether oral sex is really sex, or what “is” means) may not be an outright lie, but it’s surely a way to avoid telling the truth.

    Or it is a way to detail concerns one might have that one feels are worth the risk of war.

    They may not have known that there were no WMD, but they knew that things weren’t nearly as clear-cut as they should be.

    And how do you know this? Especially from the pre-invasion perspective? It seems to me that at best you’re reading the knowledge we have today into the pre-2003 record.

    Rick Barton,

    They were clearly lies cuz the neocons at the Pentagon’s OSP manufactured much of the “evidence”.

    On Bush’s orders? Or was Bush merely duped?

  66. My focus is on how the Western right has made everything secondary to its support for the Bush administration when it comes to the Middle East.

  67. digamma-

    Not only was your post succinct and excellent, it was also the 69th post in the thread. Well done!

  68. digamma,

    That sounds about as useful as the meme that artists and intellectuals support tyrants.

    __________________________

    I think the whole Bush was “dishonest” or “lied” line of reasoning helps anti-war types front a moral edge to their arguments. I myself don’t find the argument to be very useful, nor is it open to criticism (the latter itself being a fairly good indication that it is not a sound argument). Let’s be honest with ourselves, if things had gone off swimmingly in Iraq (not beyond the realm of possibility), we wouldn’t be having this debate. Indeed, it would be a debate which only cranks and bitter Democrats would be having. That’s why the issue of competancy is ultimately far more important than trying to tease out what was in someone’s heart when they made a decision that led to the spring invasion of Iraq.

  69. That’s a good point, Thoreau, about the semantics of “lie” and “dishonesty.”

    Call me crazy, but I consider war to be a very drastic policy.

    I always knew you were a radical!

    Let’s be honest with ourselves, if things had gone off swimmingly in Iraq (not beyond the realm of possibility), we wouldn’t be having this debate. Indeed, it would be a debate which only cranks and bitter Democrats would be having.

    I disagree here. I think the cause for war, the way intelligence is interpreted and used, and the honesty of arguments for war are essential issues that will always deserve attention. That said, I agree with you that the honesty or lack thereof of the administration (and I’m not happy to point out that Cheney actually did say “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Sadaam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” after many reports of doubt had been given to and ignored by his office) is not as important as the competency of the invasion and occupation.

  70. Les,

    I think the cause for war, the way intelligence is interpreted and used, and the honesty of arguments for war are essential issues that will always deserve attention.

    So? Even if that is the case it is unlikely that we’d be discussing those issues if Iraq had been more successful.

    I think this points to what is apparent about much of the anti-war rhetoric – that it is nearly within the range of a genetic fallacy.

  71. I think the cause for war, the way intelligence is interpreted and used, and the honesty of arguments for war are essential issues that will always deserve attention.

    Yep. Some people would say that if you orchestrate a deception, and a bunch of people die as a result, then you’ve committed a crime.

    Of course, those of us who say such a thing are usually accused of being lefty lunatics.

  72. Not only was your post succinct and excellent, it was also the 69th post in the thread. Well done!

    Do we know each other? That’s close to an in-joke I had with some friends a while back….

  73. Do we know each other? That’s close to an in-joke I had with some friends a while back….

    I don’t think so. It’s been on occasional H&R in-joke as well, although lately the practice has been slipping.

  74. thoreau,

    Stick with physics.

    Some people would say that if you orchestrate a deception, and a bunch of people die as a result, then you’ve committed a crime.

    Maybe or maybe not.

    Of course, those of us who say such a thing are usually accused of being lefty lunatics.

    Who is accusing you of being a “lefty lunatic?”

  75. On the question of whether or not Saddam’s regime was secular or religious:

    This question is relevant because of the claim that Saddam was likely to provide WMDs to Islamist terrorist, to use to strike America. In reality, regardless of whatever pandering to religious impulses Saddam undertook to boost his regime’s domestic popularity, the Islamists despised Saddam’s regime, and he viewed them as a threat.

    In Al Qaeda’s eyes, you’re on the bus or you’re off the bus. Saddam Hussein was off the bus.

  76. Phileleutherus Lipsiensus:

    On Bush’s orders? Or was Bush merely duped?

    Bush’s part in the OSP’s lies for war was somewhere in between being duped and going along with the game plan- Probably more the latter.

    …nor is it open to criticism (the latter itself being a fairly good indication that it is not a sound argument).

    That’s factually untrue and illogical.

    Let’s be honest with ourselves, if things had gone off swimmingly in Iraq (not beyond the realm of possibility), we wouldn’t be having this debate.

    Wrong. Principle matters. We were still forced to support a war based on the deception of false WMD and “terrorist connection” claims- A war whose principal motivators had the interests of the Israeli government as their primary concern.

  77. To amplify on joe’s point, the issue isn’t whether Saddam and Osama would let matters of ideology get in the way of attacking a common enemy. I have no doubt that they could put aside ideology.

    Rather, the question is whether they could put aside their mutual distrust to work together in a productive manner. If I were an evil dictator, and a fanatic who hated me offered to attack a mutual enemy, 2 thoughts would go through my head:

    1) After he uses my WMD on our mutual enemy, what’s to say that he won’t publicize evidence that he was aided by me? He can always slip into the labyrinth that is Tora Bora, but I have a capitol city that’s clearly marked on maps. And sure, I could also slip into the labyrinth, but then I’d have to leave my gold-plated palaces. Which would suck.

    2) After he uses WMD on our mutual enemy, what’s to say that he won’t keep a little bit in reserve and use it against me? Evil dictators generally have satellite TV, so the thing that would come to mind would be the scene on 24 where Bierko held one nerve gas cannister in reserve.

  78. Even if that is the case it is unlikely that we’d be discussing those issues if Iraq had been more successful.

    Well, maybe you wouldn’t be discussing those issues. There of plenty of people who don’t stop thinking about the rightness or wrongness of government actions just because a military campaign is successful. And thank goodness for it, I say.

    I think this points to what is apparent about much of the anti-war rhetoric – that it is nearly within the range of a genetic fallacy.

    Whatzawhozit? A genetic fallacy? Could you explain this? What do genetics have to do with philosophies of government responsibility?

    Also, could you explain what is fallacious about studying the efficiency of the use of intelligence or the reasons for waging war? Seeing as how these subjects are topics of study for students of history and war, how does it equal “anti-war rhetoric?”

  79. Am I the only one who finds it strange that libertarians are even debating the allegation that a politician lied? Don’t we just assume that all politicians are lying all the time?

    πŸ™‚

  80. I often see war supporters make the statement, “We can’t lose this war in Iraq. We can only lose it home.” Then they give long, angry looks at reporters.

    I think it’s still very possible to lose this war in Iraq itself, but let’s grant the assertion for the sake of argument.

    Hasn’t the collapse of the WMD argument caused people to turn agains this war? Or, given a ready-made excuse for wavering supporters to turn against it? How about the collapse of the Al Qaeda-connection argument? How about the numerous examples of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice (to name a few) deliberately misleading the American public in their efforts to hype a war?

    How about the dishonesty, the continuing dishonesty, in reporting what their military commanders were saying about troop levels? You think that might have ended up putting us in a bad spot?

    How about the dishonest attempt to pass Ahmed Chalabi off as a legitimate leader in exile, in order to make people think they had a post-war strategy when they didn’t? That would seem to have weakened us, no?

    You’ve got it backwards, Phileleutheris. We aren’t focusing on the administration’s lies because things are going badly. Things are going badly, to a large degree, because of the dishonesty that the Bush administration brought to this whole enterprise. You simply cannot separate the way the Bush administration planned and fought this war from the way they sold it to the public, and used it for their political advancement.

  81. joe,

    In reality, regardless of whatever pandering to religious impulses Saddam undertook to boost his regime’s domestic popularity, the Islamists despised Saddam’s regime, and he viewed them as a threat.

    According to this logic the Soviet-Nazi pact was an impossibility.

    thoreau,

    Rather, the question is whether they could put aside their mutual distrust to work together in a productive manner.

    There are enough historical examples (such as the one I described above) to make it a possibility. Again, stick with physics.

    1) After he uses my WMD on our mutual enemy, what’s to say that he won’t publicize evidence that he was aided by me?

    What is to say that he will. Obviously it is a fact-based choice that will depend on the circumstances.

    2) After he uses WMD on our mutual enemy, what’s to say that he won’t keep a little bit in reserve and use it against me?

    Again it depends on the situation. Trying to create general rules here is a rather foolish endeavour.

  82. “Again, stick with physics.”

    You can’t google physics facts the way you can google historical trivia. It’s the one field where you can’t to pretend to know more than you do. Sure you want him to stick to your Achilles heel?

  83. Les,

    Well, maybe you wouldn’t be discussing those issues. There of plenty of people who don’t stop thinking about the rightness or wrongness of government actions just because a military campaign is successful. And thank goodness for it, I say.

    I’d say that you are wrong. The very success of the venture would cause most critics to lick their wounds and walk off the field. This is why we don’t argue about FDR’s lies regarding U.S. involvement in WWII prior to Pearl Harbor or his claims that he was trying to keep us out of war when it was clearly his desire to get involved at the earliest possible oppurtunity (this doesn’t mean that any conspiracy regarding Pearl Harbor took place).

    Whatzawhozit? A genetic fallacy? Could you explain this? What do genetics have to do with philosophies of government responsibility?

    See below.

    Also, could you explain what is fallacious about studying the efficiency of the use of intelligence or the reasons for waging war? Seeing as how these subjects are topics of study for students of history and war, how does it equal “anti-war rhetoric?”

    I believe people are judging the merits of the campaign based on the actions of those involved in undertaking it; that is a genetic fallacy. Here’s an example: imagine if the Milosovic regime had passed a seatbelt law based on some nefarious concerns (e.g., kickbacks from seatbelt manufacturers). Would you judge the law based on the regime which passed it or its reasons for passing it? If you did you would be committing a genetic fallacy.

  84. The Peanut Gallery/Jennifer,

    My command of the historical record is not based on googling.

  85. The Peanut Gallery/Jennifer,

    Anyway, thanks for the cheapshot.

  86. I’ll post just long enough to say that the “peanut gallery” wasn’t me.

    Also, I wonder how much longer this farce in Iraq would have to go on before people lose interest in trying to defend it as a good thing. Bush has already said that Iraq is something his successor will have to deal with, which brings us to at least 2009.

  87. joe,

    Hasn’t the collapse of the WMD argument caused people to turn agains this war?

    If that were the case then Bush would have presumbly lost in 2004.

    How about the collapse of the Al Qaeda-connection argument?

    That clearly isn’t the case since I believe most Americans think that such a connection exists.

    No, I’d say that if things were going swimmingly the majority of the population wouldn’t be opposed to the war.

    You simply cannot separate the way the Bush administration planned and fought this war from the way they sold it to the public, and used it for their political advancement.

    Sure you can. The latter (if true) did not dictate the former. Hell, if lies and the like were automatically detrimental to a war many wars that were won for the liar should have been lost.

  88. Jennifer,

    Also, I wonder how much longer this farce in Iraq would have to go on before people lose interest in trying to defend it as a good thing.

    I’d say that it still possible that it will be a good thing, but that we won’t be able to determine if it is for a few generations. It is unfortunate that people want instant answers to situations that take decades to resolve.

  89. In Al Qaeda’s eyes, you’re on the bus or you’re off the bus. Saddam Hussein was off the bus

    There are a lot of Iraqi government documents that show that there was cooperation between Hussein?s government and the Taliban and Al Quaeda. You can see them at these links:

    http://blogs.pajamasmedia.com/iraq_files/2006/03/document_cmpc2003001488.php

    http://blogs.pajamasmedia.com/iraq_files/

    Regarding WMDs, intelligence and reasons for the war, Bush did not base his reasons solely on WMD. In just about every speech leading up to the war he gave other reasons including spreading democracy in Mid-East.

  90. Joe,

    Regarding troop levels in Iraq, here is an interesting thought experiment. Assume that with much higher troop levels Iraq could be stabilized sooner, but with double the number of US casualties. Is the Bush admin. wrong not to have sent more troops?

  91. This is why we don’t argue about FDR’s lies regarding U.S. involvement in WWII prior to Pearl Harbor or his claims that he was trying to keep us out of war when it was clearly his desire to get involved at the earliest possible oppurtunity (this doesn’t mean that any conspiracy regarding Pearl Harbor took place).

    I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think this is the best example because Japan actually attacked us and FDR didn’t need frighten the public into invading another country before Germany declared war on us.

    I believe people are judging the merits of the campaign based on the actions of those involved in undertaking it; that is a genetic fallacy. Here’s an example: imagine if the Milosovic regime had passed a seatbelt law based on some nefarious concerns (e.g., kickbacks from seatbelt manufacturers). Would you judge the law based on the regime which passed it or its reasons for passing it? If you did you would be committing a genetic fallacy.

    Again, I understand, but I don’t think this is a good example. Even if the Bush Administration hadn’t been dishonest in presenting the evidence of Iraq’s threat to us, even if they had merely said, “Hussein is a bad guy and if we can make a democracy in the Middle East, the region will be stabilized and our interests there would be protected,” there would have been plenty of reason to argue against invasion as a practical matter. The fact that the administration did sell the war as a necessary act to protect the U.S., and misrepresent/manipulate the evidence to support that claim is reason enough not to trust what they say about the continuing campaign.

    It is logical and reasonable to be skeptical of the plan and the competency and honesty of the people behind the plan at the same time.

  92. “I’d say that it still possible that it will be a good thing, but that we won’t be able to determine if it is for a few generations. It is unfortunate that people want instant answers to situations that take decades to resolve.”

    Of course it’s unrealistic to expect revolutions or small evolutionary changes in government to produce positive results overnight. The American government in its infancy almost went bankrupt and was in danger of being overthrown by people with dictatorial ambitions like Hamilton or Burr. It took some time for stability to occur. Yet, this revolution at least started with the right republican principles of limited government. No one was touting the glories of “democracy” back then in America the way neoconservatives and leftists are today. Conversely, the revolution in France, was based on the principles of democracy and look where that led. I submit that Iraq is and will look more like the French Revolution than the American Revolution with similar results to ensue as time passes. Perhaps if they had at least thought about establishing republican principles instead of democratic ones the results would be different. But that would only work if there was a significant percentage of the Iraqi people in favor of limited government (not likely)or a powerful and enlightened native minority with the ability to push these principles through and stick to them more or less. If those scenarios seem ridiculously naive they actually pale in comparison to the notion that merely raising one’s glass to “democracy” will create anything other than a theocracy or a continual war of bickering tribes in Iraq.

  93. “I’d say that it still possible that it will be a good thing, but that we won’t be able to determine if it is for a few generations. It is unfortunate that people want instant answers to situations that take decades to resolve.”

    Of course it’s unrealistic to expect revolutions or small evolutionary changes in government to produce positive results overnight. The American government in its infancy almost went bankrupt and was in danger of being overthrown by people with dictatorial ambitions like Hamilton or Burr. It took some time for stability to occur. Yet, this revolution at least started with the right republican principles of limited government. No one was touting the glories of “democracy” back then in America the way neoconservatives and leftists are today. Conversely, the revolution in France, was based on the principles of democracy and look where that led. I submit that Iraq is and will look more like the French Revolution than the American Revolution with similar results to ensue as time passes. Perhaps if they had at least thought about establishing republican principles instead of democratic ones the results would be different. But that would only work if there was a significant percentage of the Iraqi people in favor of limited government (not likely)or a powerful and enlightened native minority with the ability to push these principles through and stick to them more or less. If those scenarios seem ridiculously naive they actually pale in comparison to the notion that merely raising one’s glass to “democracy” will create anything other than a theocracy or a continual war of bickering tribes in Iraq.

  94. Buck Smith cites a document allegedly captured in Iraq at this link:

    http://blogs.pajamasmedia.com/iraq_files/2006/03/document_cmpc2003001488.php

    The document (CMPC-2003-001488 ) contains the following text:

    Afghani consular Ahmed Dahistani (info on him in paper slip ?2?) had spoken before him of the following:

    1-That Usama Bin Ladin and the Taliban group in Afghanistan are in contact with Iraq and that a group from the Taliban and Usama Bin Ladin?s group had conducted a visit to Iraq.

    2-That America possesses evidence that Iraq and Usama Bin Ladin?s group had cooperated to strike targets inside America.

    3-Incase Taliban and Usama?s group are proven involved in those sabotage operations, it will be possible that America directs strikes at Iraq and Afghanistan.

    My God! The smoking gun! Terror connections evidence!

    Give me a break. If this kind of evidence was credible, the Bush administration and the neocons would have publicized it till it was etched into our brains.

    I don’t know where the BS starts or stops on this one but it’s interesting that in the Army site that is the repository of the captured Documents..

    http://70.168.46.200/

    …so far I have not been able to find this CMPC-2003-001488 document

  95. Please demand that our troops be brought home now before they do anymore harm, and bring anymore shame to our precious republic. And help stop them from needlessly dying. Contact your rep and senators.

    http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

    American Gangsterism
    The U.S. is committing war crimes in Iraq

    http://antiwar.com/justin/

    For those who aren’t hep, antiwar.com is not a lefty site. It is libertarian/conservative.

  96. Rick Barton,

    Please demand that our troops be brought home now…

    No.

    Les,

    Your issue seems to be that the analogies aren’t perfect. They don’t have to be to prove my point.

  97. Phil de Blabba Blab (Sorry, I didn’t take Latin),

    “According to this logic the Soviet-Nazi pact was an impossibility.” No, not at all. There is a big difference between a nonaggression pact and a cooperative alliance. The Nazi-Soviet pact was the former, while those pushing a Saddam/bin Ladin connection are postulating the latter. I would consider it quite possible if someone asserted that the Baathists and Al Qaeda had agreed to stay out of each others’ way, as the Nazis and Soviets did.

    “If that were the case then Bush would have presumbly lost in 2004.” I wouldn’t make too much of the fact that complete political disaster was averted for a few months longer than that. As it was, Bush came closer to being voted out of office than any other wartime president in the centuries-long history of our republic.

    “That clearly isn’t the case since I believe most Americans think that such a connection exists.” Not any more, they don’t. It’s taken a while, but the truth has spread.

    “Hell, if lies and the like were automatically detrimental to a war many wars that were won for the liar should have been lost.” I’m not talking about automatically; I’m talking about these specific lies in this specific case. And for some reason, you’re not.

  98. Buck, the underwhelming evidence of that connection only serves to draw attention to its own paucity, and the desperation of the dead-enders still defending the lie.

    “Regarding troop levels in Iraq, here is an interesting thought experiment. Assume that with much higher troop levels Iraq could be stabilized sooner, but with double the number of US casualties. Is the Bush admin. wrong not to have sent more troops?” Since 90% (and rising) of the American casualities in Iraq are the result of the “instability,” you’re asking me to do the equivalent of dividing by zero. But if we modify the question to refer to “twice the casualties” refers to the number at the time of Flight Suit Day, then I would say yes, Bush should have sent the extra troops. I’ll take 700 dead and success over 2500 dead and failure any day of the week.

  99. Phileleutherus Lipsiensus,

    What likely outcome in Iraq do you forsee that would justify anymore American and Iraqi casualties?

  100. Buck Smith,

    If you can offer evidence indicating that the CMPC-2003-001488 document that you cited is not a fraud, please do so.

  101. Phil de Blabba Blab. . . .

    Phileleutherus Lipsiensis was a pseudonym used by Richard Bentley, who was, among other things, a classicist. I could be wrong–I’m sure someone else might’ve used the label in the past. Nor do I know all that much about Bentley

    Frankly, I thought the next name was going to be Max Weber–I lost $20 πŸ™‚

  102. Your issue seems to be that the analogies aren’t perfect. They don’t have to be to prove my point.

    Not at all, Phileleutherus. You’ve asserted that if all were well in Iraq, we wouldn’t be discussing the events leading up to the war. I disagreed with that based on more than just an inaccurate comparison. I actually do think that lots of people care about the decisions that lead governments to wage war and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable assertion.

    You asserted that it’s wrong to judge the war based at all on the characteristics of the administration that started and runs it. I disagreed, saying that it’s quite reasonable to criticize the implementation of the war along with the dishonesty leading up to the war (indeed, even suggesting that the two might be related).

    I’m confused by your reflexive resistance to a critical analysis of the actions and character of the government, which is all I’m suggesting. I would do the same in the case of any action of the government, whether it be the war in Iraq or farm subsidies or the war on drugs, etc.. I feel like it’s our job to be highly critical of all aspects of the government, no matter who’s in power or what they’re doing.

  103. I feel like it’s our job to be highly critical of all aspects of the government, no matter who’s in power or what they’re doing.

    Right!

    “Question Authority”

    Ben Franklin

  104. Rick,

    If you can offer evidence indicating that the CMPC-2003-001488 document that you cited is not a fraud, please do so.

    It is a document seized by the US government and released to the public. Translations have been made multiple Arabic speaker. Links are available back to the scanned source documents in Arabic. If you can offer proof that Saddam Hussein never support Al Quaeda, please do so.

    Much critical data about the war in Iraq can not be known with certainty. Judgements have to be made while facts are uncertain.

  105. Joe,

    You are not facing the facts of what it takes to overthrow a totalitarian regime. We could have tripled the troops deployed in the invasion of Iraq and we still would have had years of guerilla war after flight suit day. Because that is the strategy the baathist took to try to win back Iraq.

    The US took the strategy of keeping a small footprint, while training an new Iraqi army. That army is now fighting the Baathists and jihadis alongside the coalition and taking casualties that the US otherwise would have to take.

  106. buck smith,

    I don’t think so. It’s not in the Army site that is the repository of the captured Documents:

    http://70.168.46.200/

    I think that the document is a total fraud that has been hatched by supporters of the war.

  107. And as I said, even if the Pentagon had claimed to find this document, folks in the administration must have been dubious as to its authenticity and/or its ability to be persuasive.

    Saddam had no role in 9/11, contrary to the intimations and outright lies of the neocons in and out of the administration.

  108. Sorry, I didn’t complete my thought…

    And as I said, even if the Pentagon had claimed to find this document, folks in the administration must have been dubious as to its authenticity and/or its ability to be persuasive or the Bush administration and the neocons would have publicized it till it was etched into our brains.

  109. Pro Libertate,

    You ought to know that I have some serious disagreements and issues with large portions of the body of Weber’s work. Anyway, now that someone has drawn attention to my nick I’ve suddenly realized that I spelled it incorrectly when I first entered it. Bah.

    joe,

    There is a big difference between a nonaggression pact and a cooperative alliance.

    The Soviet-Nazi pact was a co-operative alliance; that is fairly well spelled out in the secret parts of the pact. That’s why they co-ordinated their carving up of Poland, co-ordinated the exchange of POWs, co-ordinated imports and exports from the newly occupied Poland, etc.

    As it was, Bush came closer to being voted out of office than any other wartime president in the centuries-long history of our republic.

    LBJ didn’t get the chance to get voted out.

    As to “specific lies,” you’d have to demonstrate that they are lies first.

    Rick Barton,

    What likely outcome in Iraq do you forsee that would justify anymore American and Iraqi casualties?

    I can’t say. I can say that the likely outcome if we leave is this: an even more bloody sectarian inspired civil war than already exists there.

  110. Les,

    I actually do think that lots of people care about the decisions that lead governments to wage war and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable assertion.

    Lots of people would equal a small minority. It would have exactly zero political traction if the war was going well.

    I disagreed, saying that it’s quite reasonable to criticize the implementation of the war along with the dishonesty leading up to the war (indeed, even suggesting that the two might be related).

    You need to re-read what I wrote.

    I’m confused by your reflexive resistance to a critical analysis of the actions and character of the government, which is all I’m suggesting.

    I suppose my point is that I don’t care about the “character” of government officials. As to the issue of actions, I have obviously no problem with critically analyzing those. Don’t conflate actions with the internal thinking behind them.

    I feel like it’s our job to be highly critical of all aspects of the government, no matter who’s in power or what they’re doing.

    That’s good.

  111. Looks the name of of document CMPC-2003-001488 was changed to ISGP-2003-00014127. There is a note on this here:

    http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htintel/articles/20060407.aspx

    The document canbe found here:

    http://70.168.46.200/searchResults.aspx?keyword=ISGP-2003-00014127

    I am not claiming this document proves Saddam planned 9-11, not am I claiming that it is impossible that it could be forged. How could I?

    I do think Saddam spread a lot of money around. He probably paid off lots of terrorist groups not to attack him and very well may have worked with them on attacks against common enemies. The US would be common enemy #1.

  112. buck,

    I didn’t assert that increasing the number of troops would have made the effort work. You asserted that it would not have, and I challenged your argument. Big difference.

    What might have worked is if the strategy of working with the Iraqis to build up their political and (the good guys’) security capacity before the war started, rather than taking exactly the opposite path for a year+, disbanding their army, shutting them out of government, and making the American military serve as police, border guards, and riot squads among a hostile population. Had the Crusaders for Democracy actually attempted to incorporate indigineous support into the mission from the beginning (and beginning, I mean conception and planning) rather than as a post-end stage add-on to an American military and political operation, we’d be in a better spot.

  113. Phil,

    “That’s why they co-ordinated their carving up of Poland,co-ordinated the exchange of POWs, co-ordinated imports and exports from the newly occupied Poland, etc.”

    None of these examples represent a cooperative alliance, or an agreement to carry out military action together. Once again (and I fully expect you’ll continue to dodge the issue), the question here is whether there was any likelihood of the Iraqi regime cooperating to carry out military/terrorist operations. There was not, nor was there any such cooperation between the Nazis and Soviets. Tell me, buddy, did the President threaten us with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Ladin conducting prisoner exchanges and recognizing each others’ sphere of influence?

    “LBJ didn’t get the chance to get voted out.” And my cat got bumps on his chin. So what?

  114. The way Phil dodges the central issue, and tries to turn the debate into either a semantic quibble or a factual argument over some tangential issue, is very familiar.

  115. I asked Omar at Iraq the Model who translated CMPC-2003-001488 about it. here is his reply:

    Hi,

    The document seems to have disappeared or was relocated but it’s still there if you look carefully…
    open this url: http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/products-docex.htm#iraq
    but hit “stop” once the page displayes because otherwise it will take you to the new website.
    I have attached the arabic copy of the one I translated, glad I still have it on my computer.

    if the guys you’re talking to are not convinced, I also attached a screen shot of the old database with the name of the document visible.
    (I couldn’t check the one you sent, file too big to be downloaded on the connection I’m using right now)

  116. Joe,

    I did not increasing the number of troops would not have “made the effort work” I said increasing the number of troops would result in higher US casualties.

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