Horton Hears a Junta

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I can't find the op-eds and quotes right now, but I could swear that Ibrahim al-Jafari's replacement by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was supposed to turn the corner (the final one, not to be confused with the 237 previous corners) in that country. And now I see (via Matthew Yglesias) that hawk Ralph Peters is calling for al-Maliki's overthrow.

Casting ballots alone doesn't make a democracy. The government has to function. And to protect all of its citizens.

In the coming months, we may find that the only hope of restoring order is a military government. It sounds repellent, but a U.S.-backed coup may be the only alternative to endless anarchy.

Arabs still can't govern themselves democratically. That's the appalling lesson of our Iraqi experiment. A military regime might be capable of establishing order and protecting the common people.

Peters isn't in the government—he's just an influential columnist. And his column in USA Today blows this away for sheer gloominess.

Iraq could have turned out differently. It didn't. And we must be honest about it. We owe that much to our troops. They don't face the mere forfeiture of a few congressional seats but the loss of their lives. Our military is now being employed for political purposes. It's unworthy of our nation.

Losing one House of Congress really wouldn't be the end of the world for Republicans; don't you think Peters would be happier if he was able to blame the Democrats for some of this?

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  1. “Arabs still can’t govern themselves democratically.”

    Yeah, that’s the problem. The Ay-rabs just aren’t civilized enough to appreciate the great gift we dropped on them.

    I didn’t believe this when Iraq hawks accused me of it; and I still don’t believe it now that they are openly stating it as their own belief.

    Arabs are perfectly capable of governing themselves democratically. That George Bush can’t bomb them into doing so is not evidence of an incapacity for civilization on their part. It merely shows that 1) you can’t bomb people into becoming democrats and/or 2) George Bush is a lousy president.

  2. Why don’t we institute a fascist regime in Iraq? Then the leadership can simply slaughter the opposition.

    Let’s just say that “order” might not be the only value at stake here. If we leave an “orderly” Iraq by installing Mighty Joe Young Hussein, then I fail to see the point of the invasion.

  3. Bush has got to be praying for the Dems to take the House. He desprately needs a scapegoat. “Everything was right on track until the America-Haters took control of one half of one branch of government. I am no longer responsible for what happens in Iraq, my hands are tied by the defeatists. But remember: things were perfect until ’07.”

  4. Arabs still can’t govern themselves democratically.

    The warmongers are showing their true racist colors.

  5. What is important is not only for the GOP to lose one or both houses of congress, but for the Democrats not to win them. The two-party system has failed us at least as much as the GOP or congress. If we keep flip-flopping between the “power parties,” all we do is set up the situation for our own abuse, first by one party then by the other. While we have our periodic fits of “t’row da bums out,” the means of our abuse — the large government — just keeps getting larger and more able to cause misery.

    I think that we must make clear to participants in US government everywhere that they serve at the pleasure of the people, and that the people are displeased. We must fire all incumbents — even the “good” ones — and NOT simply replace them with their opponents in the other “power party.” Instead, prefer independent or third-party candidates wherever they are on the ballot: find the candidates outside the two-party system, who best express your own views and who seem competent to serve, and then vote for them.

    We need more independent and under-represented voices in congress. We need some new blood. But more than anything else right now, we need everyone in our “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” to get the key message: “You can be replaced. Signed, your bosses, ‘We the people.'”

  6. “Our military is now being employed for political purposes. It’s unworthy of our nation.”

    Do we think the Dems, regardless of whether they win the House AND the Senate, can make this fine a distinction in view of the fact they were every bit as misguided and deluded as Dubya about getting the US into this mess in the first place? Much American blood is already on Dem hands, which is why they are as tongue-tied as Kerry.

  7. Honesty and stupidity share a certain directness, don’t they?

  8. Correct, Ruthless. Watching Kerry try to tell an audience that Bush is stupid for getting stuck in Iraq is a bit bizarre, as he voted to give Bush a blank check on the war. Rather than do what is right for the country, Dems would prefer Republicans start and lose wars. If it meant they could gain power in ’08, Democrats would be happy to let Bush bomb Iran… even if it meant costly Iranian counter attacks against our troops in Iraq (which it would).

  9. The main fallacy here is that it assumes the United States gets to determine the shape of Iraq. The “we broke it, we have to fix it” argument falls apart in reality. We broke it, they will have to fix it. We have no say in the end how it will end up. We can, however, break it again and again if we want. We do have that much power.

    “Our military is now being employed for political purposes. It’s unworthy of our nation.”

    True it is unworthy. But I wonder if the military has ever been used for non-political purposes? Can anyone supply me with an historical example?

  10. But I wonder if the military has ever been used for non-political purposes?

    Didn’t Clausewitz cover this?

  11. He means “political” in the sense of a partisan political stunt for the consumption of the public back home, not in the same sense as Clausewitz.

  12. “He means “political” in the sense of a partisan political stunt for the consumption of the public back home, not in the same sense as Clausewitz.”

    Sorry joe, this is clearly not the sense of the term “political” that is being used.

    He is referring to the use of US military to support the political agenda of a particular constituency in Irag (i.e., the Shia via Maliki). It is a political decision by the US to back the Shia dominated government as they try to consolidate power (at the expense of the Sunni)… the military are a means to demonstrate that political support.

    Rimfax: must admit to not having read Clausewitz, I’ll look into it.

  13. In otherwords joe, he is complaining that we have tacitly taken sides in the internal conflict in Iraq, or are allowing ourselves to be manipulated into the appearance of support for the Shia over the Sunni.

  14. its fun watching the rethugs & dims flail around. Were it not for the blood and squandered wealth, I might even smile.
    One of my very few heros, Col David Hackworth, pinged me once about Iraq, well before the war. (me, yes, me! Hack Emailed me 5x…..I consider it the equivalent of being “Mentioned in Dispatches”……forgive me, I digress.)
    Hack saw the invasion as both inevitable and stupid. We could easily rid the world of Saddam and the Baath by dropping pallets of food, medicine, small arms & radios & other useful things all the hell over Iraq. The Iraqis will then promptly free themselves, BUT: the White house and ITS masters couldnt dictate what would happen next.
    And once again Hack (RIP) is correct…..

  15. And, MSM, if I may point out: the Marine mission was destroyed when Reagan took sides in a civil war in Lebanon, dropping naval shells all the hell over rural Lebanon, racking up massive casualties & destruction.
    The inevitable rersponse, now that the Marines were no longer “neutral” is routinely described as terrorism.
    The new White House nitwits have, indeed, put our forces on one side of a civil war. Bad things will follow.

  16. MUTT,

    You are quite correct about both the Reagan mistake and the current administration’s (and the results that will follow). I am not sure, in the current situation, however, how the US could be involved without taking sides in some sense. The time to be smart was prior to the invasion. Now we are screwed no matter what. It is pure folly, however, to think that it is our choice what form the conflict takes, or how it is resolved. (That refers to the article’s point, not yours).

  17. We must fire all incumbents — even the “good” ones — and NOT simply replace them with their opponents in the other “power party.” Instead, prefer independent or third-party candidates wherever they are on the ballot: find the candidates outside the two-party system, who best express your own views and who seem competent to serve, and then vote for them.

    Couldnt agree more. I’ve proposed the same tactic to most of my friends who’ll listen. Thats been my voting strategy since age of 18 but this time around its never been more relevant.

  18. Arabs still can’t govern themselves democratically.

    Well, maybe he could be a little more specific = these particular Arabs (iraqi sunni and shia) can’t seem to swallow the political formulation we’ve shoved unwillingly down their throats. And all our puppeteering of their leaders has had zero effect on the ground.

    The issue is not Iraqi failure to adapt to our superimposed order, but our naivite in thinking we would neutralize intra-iraqi conflict with “freedom”-rhetoric. Voting isnt exactly the greatest reward when your vote means nothing on the ground.

    A military regime might be capable of establishing order and protecting the common people.
    Jesus. It’s guys like this that got us into shitty situations that are hard to get out of

    “*Might* work” is not a convincing argument for destroying what little democratic infrastructure we’ve put in place, that at the very least may help provide a context for negotiation between Iraqi interest groups. What WOULD happen is that we’d reimpose exactly the same kind of totalitarian order that DID work, only the Saddam would be us, then later a Shia theocrat or something close.

    What a knob this guy is.

  19. “You can be replaced. Signed, your bosses, ‘We the people.'”

    Indeed. Given the absolutely abysmal performance of both parties and the increasing corruption in Washington, I’d love to see a move in 2008 to simply vote out the incumbents. Regardless of how that may affect which party is in control of what branch. I think the very act of voters exerting that sort of power would be very good for our system. I’d love to see some of these people who feel they are entitled to a life-long “appointment” to office out on their asses, too.

  20. Mainstream Man,

    I read, “They don’t face the mere forfeiture of a few congressional seats but the loss of their lives. Our military is now being employed for political purposes,” and I think it’s pretty clear that he’s accusing Bush of using the military to save a few congressional seats.

  21. Even as they recognize failure, they hawks still can’t understand it.

    Peters looks at a civil deliberately ignited by the jihadists we allowed into Iraq, who are there primarily to fight us, and he understands it as an eternal incapacity of Arabs to live in harmony with people from other communities.

    He looks at the inability of the Shiites (the ones we set up in the govenrment) and the Sunnis (the ones who are primarily fighting to drive us out, as our intelligence agencies keep trying to remind us), and he sees a – dare I say inborn? – incapacity of Arabs to engage in civilized politics.

    We just didn’t do enough, and didn’t do it right, he claims, to make up for the stupidity of the (I won’t write wogs. I won’t write wogs. I won’t…ah, shit) local population. The idea that the mission we set off on was hopeless, that liberal democracy can’t be imposed the way we used to impose caudillos in Central America, never seems to occur to him.

  22. MUTT

    “We could easily rid the world of Saddam and the Baath by dropping pallets of food, medicine, small arms & radios & other useful things all the hell over Iraq. The Iraqis will then promptly free themselves.”

    I like the concept, but am concerned about the possible unintended consequences = a prolonged civil war, a highly unstable aftermath, and people eventually seeking a new “man on a white horse” to provide stability.

  23. joe,

    Hmmm. Maybe I skimmed too quickly.
    I think your reading may be correct. The other sense would make for a more substantive point, however, being more important in terms of the dynamics of the situation. His point is even more worthless than I thought, I guess.

  24. “We could easily rid the world of Saddam and the Baath by dropping pallets of food, medicine, small arms & radios & other useful things all the hell over Iraq. The Iraqis will then promptly free themselves.”

    I like the concept, but am concerned about the possible unintended consequences = a prolonged civil war, a highly unstable aftermath, and people eventually seeking a new “man on a white horse” to provide stability.

    Dodged that bullet.

  25. And I am sure someone will respond to my last comment by saying that the situation now is significantly different, in various nuanced ways, from what Aresen was describing; and my sarcasm is therefore not justified.

    Ok fine, fair enough.

    But the point still holds that there are plenty of unintended and unpleasant consequenses as a result of the course of action that was taken and there is still at least a strong possibility of “a prolonged civil war, a highly unstable aftermath, and people eventually seeking a new “man on a white horse” to provide stability”.

    Also, it did not occur to me earlier, but Aresen didn’t actually say he supported the invasion, just that he had reservations about the idea MUTT mentioned. If I made any incorrect assumptions, well , my mistake.

  26. BG

    Correct. I was merely stating my reservations about the idea, not approving of the invasion.

    You are right in that it is not substantially different from what is going on now. The difference is that there would be no coalition troops there. Also, I think that it would be a lot less resented than the current situation.

  27. ” I like the concept, but am concerned about the possible unintended consequences = a prolonged civil war, a highly unstable aftermath, and people eventually seeking a new “man on a white horse” to provide stability.”
    Jeez, Aresen: you made me blow a bunch of Russian vodka out my nose. No bouquet of brake fluid, happy to report.
    Im not of the opinion folks cant figure out thier own setup, in the absense of warlords, etc. If they freely put up another despot, it would be thier own doing, and wouldnt have my/our fingerprints all the hell over it. AND…..and…..they cant eat sand. They STILL would sell us the oil. Win/win. Now: lose/lose.
    Nah. Ill plump for self determination every time, even if it occaisionally turns out insane:Yugoslavia.
    Furrin intervention ALWAYS turns out insane……

  28. MUTT

    I agree. Except on the vodka. I’m a wine drinker myself. [People who make me waste my merlot REALLY are asking for trouble.]

    It’s just that even dropping guns, etc is meddling, somewhat, and will have unintended consequences.

  29. BTW

    BG’s “Dodged that bullet” gave me a good chuckle.

  30. Ah, but Aresen! We had been meddling for decades. (Certainly not a sole reason to continue so; like the discussion about bets & such: sunken pot) But Id say: we backed this scumbag with cash, arms, (both light & heavy)diplomatic cover….(.look into Neocon heroine & then US UN Ambassadors Jeanne Kirkpatricks defense of Hussien after the Kurd gassing, um, misunderstanding/later raison de guerre)and after GW1, we left his internal enemies open to slaughter, (a opening quickly siezed) and maintained a embargo that guaranteed his poulation would die in wholesale lots while we either provided or ignored his importing “police equipment” and all the luxuries despotism demands.
    After all that dropping arms to his captive population seems like the least we could do.
    What we DID do was just the same old shit: mass death, terror, incompetance, with no end in sight.
    Nah. I figure it would have been “making amends”.

  31. I whole-heartedly agree. We need to set up an Iraqi strongman, someone capable of holding the country together. Iraqi, of course, and preferably someone with a sucessful track record.

    Hmm…

  32. MUTT

    All too true. I’m still ambivalent about further meddling, but I look forward to the day they hang the SOB. [I know I’ve said before I’m opposed to the death penalty, but in SH’s case, I’ll make an exception.]

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