Harvard Hypocrite

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In Salon, Barack Obama advisor, Harvard professor, and author Samantha Power on how the United States needs to get out of Iraq:

We need to be incredibly sensitive as we leave Iraq to the welfare of Iraqis who are going to be left in our wake. That potentially entails the idea of sectarian or ethnic relocation if people are in a mixed neighborhood and feel that they'd be safer in a more homogenous neighborhood. Also, [it entails] massive support for neighboring countries that have taken in 2 million refugees, and some very systematic effort between now and the time we begin leaving to build funding and resource streams to internally displaced people.

We have shown again and again that we care about Iraq only insofar as it serves our interests. But I think it's time to show not only Iraqis but the rest of the world that at least as we leave, we're leaving with a very vigilant eye on how to mitigate the consequences of our actions.

Quite remarkable. So here's the plan from the author, incidentally, of a book on genocide. Accept the realities imposed by ethnic cleansing; give plenty of money to several of the neighboring countries that have been responsible for sustaining the fighting in Iraq; and pay off displaced Iraqis so that the U.S. can feel less guilty about abandoning them to their sad fate.

I exaggerate? Not much. Power wants to have her cake and eat it too. Essentially, her solution is a grand buy-off. Drop some money into everyone's cup, call it "mitigating the consequences of our actions", and, with vigilant eye closed, blame everything on the Bush administration if the U.S. leaves chaos and death in its wake.

I would be able cynically to stomach her scheme if it were not couched in the hypocritical language of moral self-righteousness. Power knows enough about killing to know that she really needs to answer the question: What happens if an American withdrawal leads simultaneously to mass murder? But the egghead smells a foreign policy post. She's not about to jeopardize that by possibly straying off the reservation.

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  1. Good thing we’re not one of those terrible countries “that have been responsible for sustaining the fighting in Iraq.”

  2. I would be able cynically to stomach her scheme if it were not couched in the hypocritical language of moral self-righteousness

    says the guy who keeps patting himself on the back for unleashing a war that’s killed a quarter million people, and saying he did those people a favor.

  3. Hey, if we could bribe them all to not kill each other and then get the fuck out, and have it all be cheaper than staying, I say let’s do it. Money only paid after several years of not killing each other.

  4. While I usually find the articles written by Michael Young to be mostly idiotic ramblings of a neocon apologist, sadly, I kinds of agree with his analysis of Powers’ plan.

    Unfortunately, I would be able cynically to stomach the current scheme if it were not couched in the hypocritical language of pretty much anything that comes out of Bush’s mouth.

  5. We need to just immediatelly get out, we had to go in because of 911, we should let the people just kill each other because every dead Iragi is one less terorists to atach us again on another 911 in the future, and if we don’t pull out of irag, we wo’nt have the resources needed to atack Iran because in Iran they are terorists what may have weapon of mast destruction to be used on us in another 911.

  6. if we could bribe them all to not kill each other…

    Unfortunately, we’d bribe them not to kill each other…and as soon as the checks clear, they’d still kill each other.

    For background see most of Latin America and Africa.

  7. madpad, that’s why I said “Money only paid after several years of not killing each other.”

    Gotta make ’em work for it. Not killing can be hard.

  8. Well, never again means ‘not without our permission’.

  9. Good thing we’re not one of those terrible countries “that have been responsible for sustaining the fighting in Iraq.”

    So, joe, are you arguing that if we had abandoned the Iraqis to the tender mercies of AQ and Iran years ago, our hands would be clean?

    And, of course, you realize that any party that doesn’t surrender is “responsible” for “continuing the fighting.” Intelligent people draw more, what’s the word, nuanced conclusions about culpability and responsibility. Are you really arguing that we are the moral equivalent of those planting the car bombs, trying to discredit and displace the elected government (I know you’re big on elected governments), and bring on a bona fide civil war?

  10. For background see most of Latin America and Africa.

    Hell, you don’t need to go that far. Look at the Palestinians.

  11. Michael Young,

    What happens if an American withdrawal leads simultaneously to mass murder?

    I think many would be tempted to write that perhaps those in favor of the invasion should have thought of that in the first place. Now that seems a bit hard but there is some truth in it.

    What seems most prominent these days to me is that there are no perfect (or perhaps even good) short or medium term solutions re: Iraq, so let us (as a nation that is) stop pretending that staying or going present us with options that are in anyway ideal.

  12. Please shut up, Michael Young.
    Please shut up.
    Please shut up.
    Please shut up, please.

  13. I’m saying, RC, that your splendid little war is the only reason the Iraqis were ever threatened by the tender mercies of Iran and al Qaeda. Good job.

    Now, how should the responsible people of the world clean up the mess your sort has made? That’s a tough question. You managed to make a genuinely awful, horrific, complicated mess. Once again, thank you so very fucking much.

    I don’t know exactly what to do, but I sure as hell know who to ignore as we go about figuring it out.

    Are you really arguing that we are the moral equivalent… No, I’m talking about the practical effects of our actions, not your feelings, self-esteem, and sense of moral propriety. Go take you intentions, shape them into a flower, and put in on one of the graves your war has filled, because that’s all they’re good for.

  14. They’d probably have plenty of propaganda anyways that makes everybody believe that we won’t pay up anyways. I’m pretty sure that hate can’t be paid off. The ol’ “cheating on a girlfriend” scenario comes to mind.

  15. Michael Young,

    …and pay off displaced Iraqis so that the U.S. can feel less guilty about abandoning them to their sad fate.

    It seems to me that the U.S. has done very little re: displaced Iraqis, so I don’t find the call to help these people all that problematic at all. Maybe the Iranian and Syrian governments are bad actors in other areas but in this area they seem to have done Iraqis a great deal of good and with very little outside support as far as I can tell.

  16. “That potentially entails the idea of sectarian or ethnic relocation if people are in a mixed neighborhood and feel that they’d be safer in a more homogenous neighborhood.”

    So why doesn’t my govt. pay to relocate me to an all white neighborhood so that I can feel safe? In fact, why doesn’t my govt. ALLOW all white neighborhoods?

  17. Blame everything on the Bush administration if the U.S. leaves chaos and death in its wake

    You do realize that this is entirely fair, just, and morally appropriate, right?

    Appeals for more “nuance” than this simple reality are moral blackmail and balderdash to boot. The Bush Administration is morally culpable for its own errors. Not war opponents. Since I was an early war supporter, I am also morally culpable for the war.

    Barack Obama, whatever the rest of his policies may be, shares with Ron Paul the distinction of having no moral culpability for the war whatsoever. If someone with no responsibility for the start of the war leads a withdrawal, the consequences of that withdrawal belong to Mr. Bush and not to the President who orders the withdrawal.

  18. Iraq has been torn apart by ethnic violence, as there are 2 million refugees inside Iraq and its neighbors. Michael Young tells us that dealing with the fallout of that ethnic cleansing by providing relocation assistance would make us complicit in it.

    So let me get this straight: we bear no responsibility for the ethnic cleansing that happened on our watch, and that our invasion allowed to happen, unless we provide material assistance to its victims.

    Sure, that makes sense.

  19. i dont think this is as hypocritical as young finds it; in fact, it might in some similar form be the least-bad option. also, what does harvard have to do with anything? trying the old ‘limousine liberal’ line of ad hominem attacks does little to deter the charges young seems to face (at least here) of willful ignorance of facts.

  20. As much fun as it is to point fingers and blame people, the fact remains that we are there and it’s a mess.

    Our choices are:

    1. Get the fuck out now and to hell with the region.

    2. Try to get out in a way that causes minimal damage, even if it takes a little time.

    3. Stay until everything is peachy.

    I vote for #2. Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody has thought of a way to do that.

  21. Are you really arguing that we are the moral equivalent of those planting the car bombs, trying to discredit and displace the elected government (I know you’re big on elected governments), and bring on a bona fide civil war?

    Nope.

    We’re worse.

    On the day the war started, Bush specifically stated that American military presence would not last any longer than necessary to free Iraq. It is now clear that this was always a lie, and that permanent military bases were always in the cards, for 100 or 1000 years or whatever figure the Republicans are using now.

    That means that the Iraqis who said, “The Americans are lying and wish to occupy us forever. Let’s blow shit up!” were – what’s the word? Oh, I know – “correct”.

    Bush has consistently taken the propaganda lies of our enemies and made them true. I don’t expect anyone to make peace with us as long as he is President.

  22. My message to the Iraqi people:

    The government, and thus the People, of the United States will forever be guilty of starting this war because some of us voted for retards. There is no good excuse for getting into it, so the best thing we can do is apologize and get the hell out. We will now spend our resources to set up stronger homeland defenses because we fully expect many of you to be pissed off at us for quite some time. However, we are not willing to let you harm us, so you’d best be served to solve your own rebuilding using your vast oil wealth which we will not interfere with. Your fate is in your hands. Sorry. Sincerely, The US of A.”

  23. It does not matter if it is hypocritical. It is the most, no, only pragmatic solution associated with any of the candidates. Has Obama officially adopted this as part of his platform?

  24. Look…It would have been Cheaper in MONEY and LIVES if we had simply Purchased IRAQ in Cash and don a covert operation kill the big bad Sadam and hang him on U-Tube.

  25. I don’t think one can meaningfully speak of the moral culpability of groups, just individuals.

    The individuals on all sides who turned Iraq into a corpse-strewn war zone, because they decided that such a situation would improve their chances to bring some or all of Iraq under their political controll, are morally equivalent to each other. Iraqis, Iranians, Americans, Britons, other Arabs…all of em. What’s left are gradations about tactics which, though real, are much less significant than the decision to get the blood flowing in the first place.

  26. “I don’t think one can meaningfully speak of the moral culpability of groups, just individuals.”

    This sentence makes joe (being the most ardent collectivist in the world) the biggest fucking hypocrite in the history of the blogosphere.

  27. It would certainly help the world a lot if the vast majority of people who oppose establishing democracy in Iraq actually did so out humanistic concerns and not the usual selfish concerns that such projects diminish the political and social status of people like them.

    Nothing in the social or political dynamic has changed since Vietnam. Back then, the pro-communist victory movement (best evinced by John Kerry) constructed baroque fantasies about how the entire conflict was caused by American imperialism and how sweetness and light would reign if only the noble and enlightened Leftist could gain enough power to restrain the violent elements of American Right.

    We know now that every major argument the Left made about the war was completely and utterly wrong and that, surprise, surprise turning over the region to mass murdering totalitarians was a bad idea. The humanitarian toll was horrific, the region suffered from constant warfare for the next 18 years, million of refugees fled the region and ever since, every enemy the free west has faced as pointed to abandonment as evidence to their supporters that any little ratassed gang with an Ak-47 and a PRG can defeat a great power.

    Yet the Left today still thinks they did a great thing by rolling over for the Soviets and Mao and they eagerly look for any new chance to sell out yet another vulnerable group. The utter selfishness of this vile behavior is utterly unbelievable as is the intensity of their self delusion. Not even vast piles of the corpses murdered to cement the power of despots shakes their unbendable faith in themselves.

  28. I don’t think one can meaningfully speak of the moral culpability of groups, just individuals.

    The individuals on all sides who turned Iraq into a corpse-strewn war zone, because they decided that such a situation would improve their chances to bring some or all of Iraq under their political controll, are morally equivalent to each other. Iraqis, Iranians, Americans, Britons, other Arabs…all of em. What’s left are gradations about tactics which, though real, are much less significant than the decision to get the blood flowing in the first place.

    The longer people preoccupy themselves on speculating what the motivations were for starting this thing, the less likely any kind of workable solutions can be figured out for the present situation.

    Finger pointing and snide remarks aren’t going to help the Iraqi’s either. Let historians deal with Bush and Co.

  29. Nick | February 19, 2008, 1:08pm | #
    “I don’t think one can meaningfully speak of the moral culpability of groups, just individuals.”

    This sentence makes joe (being the most ardent collectivist in the world) the biggest fucking hypocrite in the history of the blogosphere.

    ’nuff said…

  30. Shannon, what about the fact that it was none of our business, and that those of us who tend to think that way believe wholeheartedly that if we converse and trade with people rather than shoot at them, we will all be better off? Leftists may have been wrong about why they opposed the war, being they though communism might be a good economic system, but that shouldn’t diminish the fact that it shouldn’t have been fought.

  31. Shannon, you ignorant slut, the US won the Cold War.

    That means that “rolling over to Mao and the Soviets” in Viet Nam, even if that’s what we did, was absolutely irrelevant to the ultimate security of the United States.

    History has therefore PROVEN that no security interest of the US would have been served by staying in Viet Nam even one more day than we did, spending one more dollar, or losing one more soldier.

    So revisionist douchebags like yourself have to answer the question: That being the case, why stay? So you can feel like we “won”? Who gives a shit? Because of the “humanitarian costs”? A humanitarian crisis in Viet Nam or Cambodia does not justify the expenditure of a single US tax dollar or the sacrifice of one US soldier’s life. Not ONE.

    And it doesn’t justify it in Iraq either.

  32. every enemy the free west has faced as pointed to abandonment as evidence to their supporters that any little ratassed gang with an Ak-47 and a PRG can defeat a great power.

    Gee, it’s not like that point was emphasized in Afghanistan by the mujadeen defeating the USSR. Or Reagan booking it from Lebanon. But that doesn’t fit your neat little hypothesis that’s supposedly fact based rather than driven by ideology.

    Funny how the people who push the “people who want to withdraw are complicit in genocide” are the same people who advocated the policy that created the environment where the genocide could come about.

    We know now that every major argument the Left made about the war was completely and utterly wrong

    Replace Left with Right and you have a good summary of Iraq.

  33. If we can’t get out after we dispose of Saddam, make Anbar somewhat peaceful, and defeat AQ of Iraq in Baghdad, when can we leave?

    Have we some how set the bar too high? How much peace does Iraq need before we can say victory? Or at least victory enough for the Iraqis to take the lead of their destiny. At some point the clock of blame America should run out. It’s like trying to blame Clinton for the current problems.

    We’ve done about all we can. It’s time for the Iraqi’s to stand up or fall on their own. We don’t have to end support, but removing the training wheels is long overdue.

  34. We should start by socializing the oil. Then their own money can go into their own cups.

  35. There is an extent to which each of us (even the early war opposition) is responsible for the situation in Iraq. By our endorsement of the institutions that empower elected officials to make decisions like the one to invade Iraq, we tacitly agree to stand by the decisions made, and take responsibility for the consequences of those decisions.

  36. What I dont understand about Michael Young’s criticism here is he doesnt exactly point in any direction where there’s a “Morally Consistent” path to ending US involvement in Iraqi civil chaos.

    I mean, if there’s ANY way to get out, stop spending 3billion a week, and not exacerbate violence *more* than the current status quo, how is that morally dubious? Are we morally obligated to suffer endlessly for the great blunder of shitty planning in the occupation?

    I dont see how our continued presence has offered significant security benefits to the Iraqis – it’s a mixed bag. In Baghdad we may have helped calm down some neighborhoods, but it was mostly after the ‘hoods had already cleansed themselves of opposing sectarian presence. The same “calming” would have happened without the surge, albeit slower. We do help go after the AQI groups, but if we’d left, they’d more likely than not leave, or be chased out by Iraqi tribal leaders. If we relocated a bunch of troops up in Kurdistan, left Iraq proper aside from a few posts, I think there’s no great likelihood of wide-scale civil war. Continued bloodshed, yes, but not some snowballing regional firestorm.

    So, Mike Young, what IS the morally consistent thing to do?

  37. If we can’t get out after we dispose of Saddam, make Anbar somewhat peaceful, and defeat AQ of Iraq in Baghdad, when can we leave?

    When it is politically expedient for the politicians. The GOP doesn’t want out now because, since there will most likely be a lot of violence, it will be under their president and therefore on “their watch”. The Dems don’t want out now because they can use getting out as a reason to elect them.

    As for Americans’ wishes and Iraqis’ safety? Back seat to politics. And some people wonder why I hate all politicians.

  38. Give it a rest, j filing.

    Aw, yeeeeeee-aaaaaaah! That’s right.

  39. This sentence makes joe (being the most ardent collectivist in the world) the biggest fucking hypocrite in the history of the blogosphere.

    Or, Nick, you just don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

    I think we can safely go with Answer B.

    But, hey, substantive and meaningful contribution as always.

  40. Considering that “Iraq” was always a fantasy cobbled out of the remains of the British empire and was only loosely held together with the aid of ruthless suppression by tyrants like Saddam Hussein, no solution is going to “work” that does not involve massive ethnic relocations. (See: Yugoslavia.)

  41. If a drunk driver crashes into the side of a bridge leaving the car dangling precariously over a busy overpass, he would obviously be morally culpable should it crash into traffic below.

    But at what point, if any would a tow-truck driver who stopped to try to keep the car from crashing down be culpable if he were to give up and go home? What if his boss ordered him home? Who, if any, shares the driver’s culpability?

  42. Shannon Love writes, about Vietnam The humanitarian toll was horrific

    The death toll, even by the worst estimates, of the communists in the two decades after we left was 1/6 the death toll from the single decade we waged that war.

    But don’t let facts get in the way. Bad liberals, hate freedom, killing people is a humanitarian gesture.

  43. Pain,

    RC Dean explicitly asked for my opinion about moral culpability.

  44. Hugh Akston | February 19, 2008, 1:33pm | #

    There is an extent to which each of us (even the early war opposition) is responsible for the situation in Iraq. By our endorsement of the institutions that empower elected officials to make decisions like the one to invade Iraq, we tacitly agree to stand by the decisions made, and take responsibility for the consequences of those decisions.

    Oh shut the fuck up. This is an extraordinarily stupid statement dressed up in rhetorical flourish.

    By the same logic, we’re all responsible for police shootings of innocent people by tacitly endorsing the war on drugs through not waging constant revolutionary war on the establishment.

    We arent responsible for the decisions to invade with less than 200,000 troops to stabilize the country, the dissolution of the iraqi army, how bremer and franks fucked up the few moves that Garner seemed to be making in the right direction, the decision to have detainee treatment rules watered down so much that we kill innocent people and have wonderful photo ops like Abu Ghraib…

    making grand pronouncements like that are fucking stupid and narcissistic. You get no special credit for whipping yourself morally over a grand 21rst century fuckup; the right thing to do at this point isnt to wax repentant, but figure out what the right thing to do NOW is.

    Is it to cease ” endorsement of the institutions that empower elected officials to make decisions”…? What does that even mean? That representative democracy should be dismantled?

    Im sorry, but I’m projecting my freshman college english teacher right now. He’d slam down especially hard on anything that smelled of juvenile thinking wrapped up in fancy talk.

  45. are you arguing that if we had abandoned the Iraqis to the tender mercies of AQ and Iran years ago, our hands would be clean?

    What? I thought the justification for invading Iraq was “they’re going to kill us all with their deadly WMDs plus [indistinct mumble] nine-eleven.” When did it switch to “they’re in danger of being invaded by al-Qaeda and the Iranians?”

  46. What happens if an American withdrawal leads simultaneously to mass murder?

    What an amazing lack of self-awareness on the part of Michael Young. The American invasion of Iraq has resulted in mass murder — conservatively estimated at at least 600,000 dead Iraqis. Yet I don’t recall Mr. Young considering that possibility when he so enthusiastically endorsed the invasion.

    In the mind of Mr. Young and others who are completely detached from reality, dropping bombs on civilian neighborhoods and arming rival sectarian militias is the “humanitarian” thing to do. Removing the chief cause of the violence (according to the Iraqis themselves) — the U.S. military — is somehow supposed to be the cold-hearted, callous thing to do.

    Can’t Reason (wait, sorry, reason — hipster libertarians don’t capitalize, remember) find someone to write about foreign policy who isn’t a completely discredited hack?

  47. Wow. I agree with Joe.

    The Apocalypse surely cometh.

  48. Pain,

    RC Dean explicitly asked for my opinion about moral culpability.

    Ah. My mistake. Missed RC’s post.

    I still maintain that trying to assign morality or assign motive for the War is a very bad idea when discussing options in Iraq. It gets people’s blood boiling. “We shouldn’t be there in the first place!” whether true or not, does nothing to arrive at solutions to the current problems.

  49. Actually, I should have written “the death toll in Vietnam after we left was 1/6…”

  50. Who does Michael Young have the goods on at Reason? I mean, what else could explain their decision to keep publishing his drivel?

  51. Who does Michael Young have the goods on at Reason? I mean, what else could explain their decision to keep publishing his drivel?

    Maybe you haven’t noticed, but Young is widely disliked and his articles usually cause lots of argument and…generate page hits.

    Yay conspiracy!

  52. Is there any possible scenario in which whatever happens in Iraq will not be on the Bush administration? For the next century?

  53. To jump on the conspiracy bandwagon, I’m surprised that we haven’t seen a companion posting from another reason (that’s for you, charlie!) writer noting that Obama is the only candidate with rational foreign policy advisers. Ya know, cover both sides, piss off left-leaning & right-leaning quasi libertarians.

    Jesse, Dave, c’mon! Get crackin’!

  54. Shannon Love,

    If the U.S. had remained in SE Asia (and I will note that more than the left was fed up with the war by the early 1970s) how long would the conflict there have dragged on? In other words, the problem with the U.S. continuing to bombard Cambodia from the air, etc. was that also created a humanitarian crisis in the region. So, one was presented with a number of not terribly great options in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos. In other words, who is to say that a continued American presence in the region wouldn’t have been even worse over the long run or have simply drug on until an American withdrawl happened say ten years down the road? At which point whatever atrocities which happened post-withdral would have ensued in an even bloodier fashion?

  55. RAWR.

    About as substantive as the ongoing commentary.

  56. I’m saying, RC, that your splendid little war is the only reason the Iraqis were ever threatened by the tender mercies of Iran and al Qaeda. Good job.

    True, the Husseins did a fine job of looking after the best interests of the Iraqis.

    Now, how should the responsible people of the world clean up the mess your sort has made?

    Just so. I don’t happen to think that sprinkling money on our enemies in the region and then giving them a free hand is “cleaning up the mess.” Making a bigger one, perhaps.

    Seriously, joe, how do you clean up the mess in Iraq without assisting the elected government in establishing some kind of stability and legitimacy? Do you really believe that stability and legitimacy can be achieved while there is still an active insurgency that the Iraqis can’t handle themselves?

    We should start by socializing the oil. Then their own money can go into their own cups.

    That plan is doing marvels in Venezuela. I’m sure it would work just as well in Iraq.

    RC Dean explicitly asked for my opinion about moral culpability.

    So I did. And the answer I got draws no meaningful distinction between anyone who “continues fighting”, apparently placing the US and AQ on exactly the same moral footing.

    joe’s response about flowers and graves disclaims any moral dimension whatsoever to human action. According to joe, one must suppose, killing someone in self-defense is precisely equivalent to killing someone to get a rock of crack. Both fill a grave, after all.

    And need I point out that joe disdains morality immediately after calling the US a “terrible country” on par with Iran.

    Moving on to a less incoherent poster, Episiarch aptly summons the options available to us.

  57. What happens if an American withdrawal leads simultaneously to mass murder?

    What happens if an American occupation leads simultaneously, and continually, to mass murder?

  58. Shannon Young,

    Yet the Left today still thinks they did a great thing by rolling over for the Soviets and Mao and they eagerly look for any new chance to sell out yet another vulnerable group.

    BTW, leaving SE Asia did a great to help rebuild the American military as a force which could deal with the Soviets in one of the main theatres of Cold War operations – Europe.

  59. History has therefore PROVEN that no security interest of the US would have been served by staying in Viet Nam even one more day than we did, spending one more dollar, or losing one more soldier.

    Assuming this is true I must ask: the 1.5 million Cambodians (1 in 7) that died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, the 165,000 South Vietnamese murdered in the two years following the fall of Saigon, the 500,000 sent to the gulags, the 200,000+ who died trying to escape and the millions of refugees…

    … how do they figure in your moral accounting system?

    Frankly, you seem to be arguing that we got we needed from fighting in the area and we had no reason to stay and had no obligation to actually protect the people of the region.

    I actually, don’t have a problem with those who argue against interventionist policies out openly stated self interest. I do violently reject the hypocrisy of those who claim to act from humanitarian grounds while leaving millions to mass murder.

    Virtually all of the American Left today fall into the latter category.

  60. Is there any possible scenario in which whatever happens in Iraq will not be on the Bush administration? For the next century?

    Sure. There’s a non-trivial number of people today that associate Vietnam with Nixon rather than LBJ. This is true even though the former withdrew from the war.

    That plan is doing marvels in Venezuela. I’m sure it would work just as well in Iraq.

    What right do we have to the oil? I’m sure that doesn’t create any resentment. By the way, socializing the oil works fantastically in Norway. Your anecdote is no better than mine.

    True, the Husseins did a fine job of looking after the best interests of the Iraqis.

    I think we’ve now killed more than they have.

  61. shannon Love,

    For the Viet Nam war alone the death toll ranges from 2-6 million (which would include both military and civilian deaths).

  62. Jack Galway @ 2:16pm

    All I know is, somehow, they’re both the liberals’ fault. Right Shannon?

  63. Assuming this is true I must ask: the 1.5 million Cambodians (1 in 7) that died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, the 165,000 South Vietnamese murdered in the two years following the fall of Saigon, the 500,000 sent to the gulags, the 200,000+ who died trying to escape and the millions of refugees…

    … how do they figure in your moral accounting system?

    Their death warrants were signed by fdr in 1945.

  64. 3rd Law of H&R = “All threads eventually decompose into esoteric debates about war history, and/or pointless infighting between joe and [everybody else]”

    corollary to 3rd Law = “Appearance of LoneWacko or Donderoooo can indefinitely refocus devolving threads into extended personal vituperation; usually involving mexicans, their mothers, and donkey cocks”

  65. Is there any possible scenario in which whatever happens in Iraq will not be on the Bush administration? For the next century?

    Sure. There’s a non-trivial number of people today that associate Vietnam with Nixon rather than LBJ. This is true even though the former withdrew from the war.

    I didn’t say anything about association. The vietnam war was on fdr, jfk, lbj, AND rmn. So far gwb has no co-defendents, in iraq, unless you want to count the us senate.

  66. “Assuming this is true I must ask: the 1.5 million Cambodians (1 in 7) that died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge”

    Talking about stunning historical ignorance!

    Tell us all Shannon, how and when did the Khmre Rouge come to power in Cambodia again?

  67. “Or, Nick, you just don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

    I think we can safely go with Answer B.

    But, hey, substantive and meaningful contribution as always.”

    So, joe, your response here was substantive and meaningful? I actually was making a point by calling you a hypocrite for not taking the collectivist route. You said only individuals can be morally culpable, yet you want the collective people of the United States or any state within to be responsible for the wellbeing of everyone else within these borders, you know, as you argue all the time or in foreign affairs when the US is involved as you said with sarcasm here today:

    “So let me get this straight: we bear no responsibility for the ethnic cleansing that happened on our watch, and that our invasion allowed to happen, unless we provide material assistance to its victims. Sure, that makes sense.” You are arguing that WE, the collective WE, are responsible and then you say only individuals can be culpable. You always want the group to pay (through taxation and regulation) for every societal ill. Is there a solid difference between responsibility and culpability? If we are responsible for our government, we are culpable for allowing them to make shitty decisions.

    Make up your fucking mind!

  68. Dispensing with the “esoteric debates about war history,” this is the first time I have posted on H&R. I was reading to make sure that there was very little support for the droolings of Michael Young, before I spend another hour on reason.com

    I have spent many enjoyable hours in the past, and I wish to continue. Congratulations to most of you for allaying my fears that reason.com had turned into something very ugly.

  69. Talking about stunning historical ignorance!

    Tell us all Shannon, how and when did the Khmer Rouge come to power in Cambodia again?.

    I always wonder about the inclusion of Cambodia in this math too.

    All operations that took place in Cambodia were effectively illegal. Even based on the rationalizations of the men in charge of the war, nothing that took place in Cambodia’s internal politics had anything to do with us, and our withdrawal from Viet Nam should therefore not be considered relevant to events there.

    You may as well claim that our withdrawal from Viet Nam caused the Rwandan genocide. Having troops in Viet Nam doesn’t stop a genocide in Cambodia unless you also invade Cambodia.

  70. constructed baroque fantasies about how the entire conflict was caused by American imperialism

    What I want to know is, what did the Right have to gain from our War in Vietnam in the first place? After all it was Johnson’s war. US involvement began with the State Department in the 50’s, hardly friends of the Right, propping up Diem whose persecution of Buddhist did exponentially more to undermine the Anti-Communist cause in SE Asia than Pete Seager whooping it up at protest marches.

    Before Buckley the Right was strongly anti-Imperialist (except for the progressivist TR types); hell, Robert Welch the Bircher founder, warned of the dangers of a quagmire in Vietnam if we got to cozy with the French imperialist back in 1954!

  71. good point alan. the “Left-Right” dialogue in this country, in itself and in its virus-like spread in purporting to explain every over-arching social and historical phenomenon we have seen, has been enormously damaging to our knowledge and understanding of those phenomenon in the US.

  72. I’m just sick of all the baby-boomer inspired comparisons to Vietnam.

  73. says the guy who keeps patting himself on the back for unleashing a war that’s killed a quarter million people, and saying he did those people a favor.

    Michael Young can unleash a war that kills 250,000 people?!?!

    Joe if I were you I would not be getting on this guys bad side.

  74. “””What happens if an American withdrawal leads simultaneously to mass murder?””””

    It’s certainly not victory if we allow the enemy and host state to blackmail us. There will be murder if you leave!!!!! How is it not the Iraqi government’s responsiblity to protect its citizens? Why would anyone other than those who commit mass murder be responsible?

  75. This guy clearly never even read Powers’ books. There’s nothing inconsistent here(not to mention anything morally damning)

    I think hypocrisy means being right when you were hoping they’d be wrong (with you)

  76. Give it a rest, j filing.

    Aw, yeeeeeee-aaaaaaah! That’s right.

    Huh? I haven’t even been in this thread.

  77. Yet the Left today still thinks they did a great thing by rolling over for the Soviets and Mao and they eagerly look for any new chance to sell out yet another vulnerable group. The utter selfishness of this vile behavior is utterly unbelievable as is the intensity of their self delusion. Not even vast piles of the corpses murdered to cement the power of despots shakes their unbendable faith in themselves

    Dear Shannon Love,

    It’s odd how schizophrenic politics allows partisans to be. How someone of a particular position can call a stranger selfish for not wanting a war. For not wanting to pay for a war. For not wanting to stay in a war. A war that quite literally has been billed Democracy at the Sword.

    We have socialized defense, more specifically the territory in which our nation exists. This ideaologically driven war, which was initially planned by PNAC in the mid 90’s, is not in the interest of national defense. A war without a declaration of war from the Congress quite literally, is not a war in the defense of the people. While the German’s fought to the 8th floor of the Reichstag, and the Japanese to every troop, this is not a war with everything we hold dear on the line.

    I submit to you, if you want to start a war do it of your own private means. Fund a war of this caliber, organize and contract a war of this size individually. If you truly believe in the purpose and the success of this ideology, then you will have no qualms supporting it without the aid of your neighbor who may not agree with you. To do otherwise, for any reason, would be Selfish.

    As for this mantle of Patriotism you may or may not presume to have, let me remind you that to love your Country is separate from it’s Government. A theme that I have rarely heard uttered in modern speeches or found in modern literature. That in accordance with the fiery proponent of liberty Thomas Paine: “It is the duty of every patriot to protect his country from it’s government.” The critique and comdemn actions of your government is not only Patriotic, it was once quite clearly American.

    Looking the Founding Fathers, I think we should take particular notice to the fact that Vermont Regiments refused to cross into Canadian Territory during Washington’s two pronged attack. In protest, they had no desire to conquer, only to defend what was their land. To do anything further would be an injustice, even as the loyalists of Canada were their enemies.

    After the Revolutionary War, George Washington was constantly badgered by his good friend LaFayette to help spread The Republic to France. Something that Washington refused flatly to the point of losing his friendship with The Marquis. If you will recall, the first 2 years of the French Revolution went quite well for LaFayette, and it was unforseen circumstance that proved Washington the wiser of the two. Not only did LaFayette’s mess cost him his right to live in his homeland, it would lead to the Napoleonic Wars. Imagine the fate of this country had we gotten involved militarily in such a bad turn of events.

    The Cold War, which could have been prevented had Wilson stayed out of World War 1, was not one by Vietnam or Korea. The Cold War was not won by Ronald Reagan, as is famously the myth. In fact by 1973 the Communist Regime had hit it’s highpoint and began heading downhill. It wasn’t the fact that we had built large space based programs to hopefully one day counter their nuclear capacity.

    That in the end, it was the inherent flaws within Marxist Economics that would bring about the downfall of a nation so large with so much power at it’s grasp. That Communism was an idea, a very poorly constructed idea. An idea can easily be explained away and is poorly shot at. It was the Soviet Union that excuted 51,000 deserters a year during world war 2. It was the Soviet Union that would see underground radio stations. Underground networks of capitalism slipping through the bloated fingers of beauracracy to dodge the stifling tax system. That the people’s of Russia bought blue jeans and Coca Cola even as we pointed Nuclear Missiles at them.

    Yet while you mention Vietnam, which did not further the cause the idea espoused in our Constitution, you omitt the origins. You omitt that the Vietmanese were throwing off their oppressive rulers the French. That it was our Military Industrial Complex that was fighting against freedom. That in the name of all things good we were outraged at anyone who would make a capitalist follow communism by the sword. How hypocritical that you do not mention that we, the USA, were more than willing to force Communists to live under Capitalism by the sword.

    Perhaps the most puzzling thing of all, is that you presume Government Intervention is the just method of securing liberties. Yet in the last century alone, government was responsible for 137 million deaths alone. This would indicate that Government is not the keeper of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it’s the greatest threat. 400 billion dollars in defense spending could not prevent 9-11 but a 400 dollar pistol in the cockpit could. Yet it was government that would not allow airlines to protect their private property.

    The Reason why people use words like Imperialism is also clear as day. All you have to do is look at our territories. Look at the bases all around the world. Look at the way we discuss balancing the powers or creating stability in the region. It’s reminiscent of Caesar’s Campaign in Ghaul. It’s this offensive defense that Rome so often resorted to. How many geopolitical differences have been left as just differences since the post world war 2 Era? Are we not just arming political allies,deploying troops, engaging in sanctions, or overthrowing governments?Yet even the Romans had the good sense to understand you don’t force people to live under the same house if it’s not their perogative.

    As stated in prior posts, Iraq has never known stability outside of the Saddam Regime. 16 coups and counter coups between 59-69 alone. It was by the creation of the Tikrit Intelligence Gang and by mass torture,murder and rape that stability was created politically. The word insurgent is just another word for Iraqi. You have Iraqi’s killing Iraqis, for a whole host of reasons. The people should be split into 3 different countries and allowed to govern as they see fit. In fact many Iraqis will tell you it was the Occupation of Iraq that’s to blame for the Occupation of Iraq.

  78. It’s “Power,” not “Powers.”

  79. True, the Husseins did a fine job of looking after the best interests of the Iraqis.

    The Husseins did a terrible job looking after the Iraqis. But Bush’s Really Big Idea That Couldn’t Possibly Go Wrong actually managed to make things worse for those poor people. Even I didn’t think they could do that.

    Seriously, joe, how do you clean up the mess in Iraq without assisting the elected government in establishing some kind of stability and legitimacy? Do you really believe that stability and legitimacy can be achieved while there is still an active insurgency that the Iraqis can’t handle themselves?

    Those are two excellent questions. For the first one, I don’t think the elected Baghdad government is the be-all and end-all. We should take our friends where we find them, such as the Anbar tribes, the Kurds, and even SCIRI. But yes, working with the locals to establish some kind of stability is necessary.

    For the second part, there will always be an active insurgency bigger than what the Iraqis can handle themselves for as long as we are there. As all 16 of our intelligence agencies have been saying for years now, the presence of American forces is driving the insurgency. I think our careful exit is a necessary part of bringing about the political conditions that will shrink the insurgency. Mookie al Sadr’s decision to call a stand-down at exactly the same time as the Democrats took Congress and Baken-Hamilton came out is not coincidental.

    joe’s response about flowers and graves disclaims any moral dimension whatsoever to human action. According to joe, one must suppose, killing someone in self-defense is precisely equivalent to killing someone to get a rock of crack. Both fill a grave, after all. Actually, no, I explicitly stated what put American warmongers on the same moral plane as al Qaeda warmongers and Shiite cleansers. Here, I’ll cut and paste it for you:

    The individuals on all sides who turned Iraq into a corpse-strewn war zone, because they decided that such a situation would improve their chances to bring some or all of Iraq under their political controll, are morally equivalent to each other.

    Nope, nothing in there about all killing being the same.

  80. the 1.5 million Cambodians (1 in 7) that died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, the 165,000 South Vietnamese murdered in the two years following the fall of Saigon, the 500,000 sent to the gulags, the 200,000+ who died trying to escape and the millions of refugees…

    Still add up to a smaller number than the three million killed in the 10 years of the war.

    Not to mention, there was no Khmer Rouge worth speaking of until we destablized and bombed Cambodia, so those 1.7 million get put in the ledger of the interventionists.

    Nick,

    I’ve made up my fucking mind to ignore abusive twits like you. Next time, make an effort to be civil if you want to discuss something with me.

    John-David, either you’re dishonest as well as a coward, or sthe “joe is a…” troll is spoofing your email address.

    … how do they figure in your moral accounting system?

  81. Oh yeah.

    A proud day for my tag skeelz.

  82. The Husseins did a terrible job looking after the Iraqis. But Bush’s Really Big Idea That Couldn’t Possibly Go Wrong actually managed to make things worse for those poor people. Even I didn’t think they could do that.

    Sorry joe, but we have no way of knowing that. It could very well have been far worse than this. History, unfortunately, is not a Choose your Own Adventure where we can go back and read what would have happened if we had turned to the other page instead. Speculating on what could have happened might be intellectually interesting but it’s easy to go overboard with predictions of how much better (or worse) it would be. This is why dealing with what is in front of us is more constructive then what might have been.

  83. Very good, joe. Ignore the substantive and meaningful portion of my argument (twice)because I was right. The hypocrisy continues.

    If I had left out the naughty word, maybe I’d be considered civil. I want to be just like you, so I’ll brush up on sarcasm instead. Cuz that’s not another way of calling people idiots.

  84. Pain,

    It is worse now in Iraq than it was before we invaded. Since the Iraqi government was effectively contained, none of the actions that racked up Saddam’s body count – like invading his neighbors or carrying out military actions against his own subjects – could have happened.

    Nick,

    Yup. There’s a lesson in here for you somewhere; keep a civil tongue in your head.

  85. Sigh. “Harvard Valley Hypocrite.” Mr. Young, you do understand your obligation to make your post title pun on an obscure lyrical reference whenever possible, do you not?

  86. Pain,

    It is worse now in Iraq than it was before we invaded. Since the Iraqi government was effectively contained, none of the actions that racked up Saddam’s body count – like invading his neighbors or carrying out military actions against his own subjects – could have happened.

    And that situation would last how long? In perpetuity? Who’s to say Saddam doesn’t choke on a cheeseburger creating a power vacuum and plunge the nation in to full scale civil war with a death toll far higher?

    You can’t justify theories on things that never happened. The other side of the aisle could make the opposite argument and you would have no way to disprove it.

  87. From the Keystrokes of John Q. Public… | February 19, 2008, 3:38pm | #

    once again, length of post always reveals someone with either a) inability to articulate any point in a single sentence, AND/OR b) desperate plea for someone, anyone, to take them seriously.

    Seriously. What the fuck was that about? It was like a parody of my “laws of H&R”. Niggling about war history AND economics… and….. something.

  88. Wow Michael Young writes some horrible shit. For instance, he says Quite remarkable. So here’s the plan from the author, incidentally, of a book on genocide. Accept the realities imposed by ethnic cleansing;

    As if that ethnic cleansing did not occur on the this administration’s watch in Iraq!

  89. You can’t justify theories on things that never happened. The other side of the aisle could make the opposite argument and you would have no way to disprove it.

    Pain, you keep beating the drum claiming we shouldn’t talk about who’s responsible for the current mess in Iraq.

    So you don’t want to talk about what DID happen, and you don’t want to talk about what DIDN’T happen.

    The problem is that the limits you are putting on the conversation are precisely the ones that those who are at fault want to employ to facilitate continuing to fuck up.

  90. You can’t justify theories on things that never happened.

    A perfect argument for confining the Defense Department to defense.

  91. Fuck Michael Young and his continued justification for this war.

  92. joe,

    The “joe’s an idiot” guy didn’t use my email address, and I don’t have the patience to look at every post. Whatever the case, that person is a coward for using my email address to post whatever he/she did, but it wasn’t me. I’d out myself out of shame if I did such a thing.

    And if someone is using my email address, FUCK YOU!

  93. By the way, I agreed with you on a previous thread today about disbarment, which would not be in line with me making you out to be a troll.

  94. Cesar | February 19, 2008, 3:22pm | #
    I’m just sick of all the baby-boomer inspired comparisons to Vietnam.

    I’m an Xer who doesn’t care to live under the Boomer thumb either. Even worse than reliving the Vietnam War is the Boomers in the 90’s, Speilberg, Hanks, Brokow, etc, who suddenly got a yen for ancestor worship and created the greatest generation mythos.

    However, Shannon needed her tiny little bottom smacked, and smacked hard for repeating worn out NatReview agitprop.

  95. This thread is dead, but I thought it worth noting that Powers’ view on the war has been consistent (as far as I’ve read stuff she’s written). Namely,


    “My criterion for military intervention–with a strong preference for multilateral intervention–is an immediate threat of large-scale loss of life,” she has said. “That’s a standard that would have been met in Iraq in 1988 but wasn’t in 2003.”

    For the record, this is also consistent with the vision of her book. The notion of urgency is central her theme, and assuming Young has read her book I can’t see how he missed it. Her book does not, to my recollection, discuss what the United States should do in response to genocides for which is it directly culpable (i.e. Iraq if we leave, according to Young).

    Also, what Alan Vanneman said.

    Anon

  96. If Power’s view is multilateral intervention in response to an immediate threat of large-scale loss of life… her view is to never intervene.

    Ever.

    Because unless the large scale loss of life is happening (and how many times have we seen it happen and done nothing at all) it *might* not happen. It might just be fear mongering. So we wait until it *happens* and then what?

    Then we start to work on that multilateral response.

    And then… well… the large scale loss of life is sort of winding down and we couldn’t get others to go along with us anyhow and certainly not in a militarily decisive way, more like a half-assed UN sort of way…

    But all is not lost. After the large scale loss of life and genocidal horror is all over, Spain can bring a nice set of the victors up on war-crime charges. Yay!

  97. just ask my good friend Tom Engelhardt

    He’ll tell you that:

    “It is a delusion to believe that the U.S. military is a force that stands between Iraqis and catastrophe.”

  98. Any chance Samantha Powers has a take on Rwanda?

    Maybe she can reconcile Clinton foreign policy of actions in Yugoslavia, against ignoring the mass genocide in Africa.

    She has been given the luxury of picking and choosing her topics, a luxury the next President won’t share.

  99. I’ve never commented here before, and probably won’t again, but I have to say- I read the first thirty comments and I’ve never read such illiterate, moronic, rambling crap on any website anywhere. Are you people stoned? Never made it out of 6th grade? Read a book in the 21st or indeed any century? Sad, because I actually agree with the blog post. No reason to come back here though…

  100. The reason Iraq devolved following our overthrow of Saddam was the US’s desire to not be seen as excessively aggressive in order to placate you bunch of simpering, head-in-the-sand dictator lovers.

    We could have gone in with an iron fist, made entry without proper, verifiable permission a death penalty offence, and sifted the entire population for unwanteds, whom we should have executed upon discovery. Short, sharp, and decisive would have made a huge difference in the story of 2004 through 2006, but the sissies would have lost their so-called minds.

    The invasion was more than justified; the halting pace of the rebuild is at your doorstep, though you are too cowardly to accept as your own.

  101. The comments are astonishing and remind me why I am not a libertarian or a Ron Paul voter.

    “Maybe the Iranian and Syrian governments are bad actors in other areas but in this area they seem to have done Iraqis a great deal of good and with very little outside support as far as I can tell.”

    So car bombs and suicide bombers constitute “a great deal of good”? Wow.

  102. http://posthumousluger.wordpress.com/2008/02/19/an-open-letter-to-samantha-power-senior-foreign-policy-advisor-to-barack-obama/

    An Open Letter to Samantha Power, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Barack Obama

    Ms. Power:

    Your February 18th interview with Salon.com includes the following passage:

    “The Bush administration has a long-standing policy that it doesn’t engage with terrorists or dictators. Is there a time when the United States should?

    Absolutely. I’m with Barack on this. But it’s not indefinite. Barack’s point is you don’t treat meeting with America as if it’s in and of itself some great reward. It doesn’t buy the other side anything. In fact, today it hurts a lot of people to be in business with the United States. So what you do is you meet in order to achieve things. You meet in order to know your foe, if it’s a foe. You meet in order to get international wind at your back so that America is not seen as the problem – [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is the problem. You meet because you want to stop lumping together the unlike – al-Qaida, Hamas, Iran, Iraq.”

    Your response to this question represents perhaps the single element of Obama’s platform that is most abhorrent to many voters who have rejected all possibility of supporting him. I respectfully ask that you elaborate upon what you said here, given the weight this issue holds for many Americans.

    A) You mention that an Obama administration would not only be open to engaging with dictators, but also with terrorists. Would you mind naming some of the terrorists you would be advising that Obama meet? Do you wish that he meets with Haniyeh? Bin Laden?

    B) You mention that “you meet in order to know your foe, if it’s a foe.” I am not sure what you are saying here – you either wish to 1) meet with terrorists and dictators so as to “know them”, or 2) meet with terrorists and dictators so as to determine if they are, indeed, your foe.

    If you intended the former, what is it you wish to know regarding the intents and motives of, say, Hamas and Al Qaeda? Have they not been clear?

    If you intended the latter, what information do you need to receive from any terrorist entity or dictator to further determine if it is a foe? If an entity has committed acts of terror, or has established itself as a dictatorship, are you implying that you would advise consideration of the possibility that this entity could be considered a US ally?

    C) You mention that “you don’t treat meeting with America as if it’s in and of itself some great reward. It doesn’t buy the other side anything. In fact, today it hurts a lot of people to be in business with the United States.”

    Can you name some of the entities which would change their relationship with any other entity based upon their meeting with the US? The only ones I can think of are currently designated terrorist groups or dictatorships. Or are Vladimir Putin.

    Are you advising that a President Obama, prior to meeting with a terrorist or dictator, somehow negate the concept that establishing relations with the US is “some great reward”, because the US should be concerned that said terrorist or dictator will lose his or her standing among other terrorists or dictators? Why should this be a concern to the US?

    And how, exactly, would you advise President Obama establish that meeting with the US is no “great reward”?

    D) You mention that “You meet because you want to stop lumping together the unlike – al-Qaida, Hamas, Iran, Iraq.” Are you implying that you would establish a hierarchy wherein one terrorist or dictatorship is more deserving of a meeting with the US than another? If so, what would be your criteria?

    Al-Qaida wishes to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate governed by the Koran. Hamas wishes to annihilate Israel so that they may establish a state governed by the Koran. Iran is a state enforcing brutal human rights abuses, with the goal being a state most closely aligned with the teachings of the Koran. You refer to these entities as the “unlike”.

    Why are you looking to examine any possible differences between these terrorist groups and dictatorships, without first examining the similarity of which they scream at the top of their lungs?

    Best,

    David

    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/02/18/samantha_power/

    samantha_power@ksg.harvard.edu

  103. For those of you opposed to the Iraq war:

    If you don’t like the Iraq War, then you’ll really hate the NEXT one we’ll have to fight if a potential President Barack “Peace in Our Time” Obama and his advisors screw the proverbial pooch.

    A pell-mell retreat from Iraq? That’s not going to solve anything and it won’t make you feel better about yourselves. Far from “chastening” American power, if we get attacked again the American public may instead decide to get medieval on Islam’s collective, surah-reciting ass and be done with it once and for all. And woe to those who object.

    Put that in your bong and smoke it for a while.

  104. Calling what we’re doing to Iraq a “war” is akin to calling a purse snatching gone bad a “prize fight”

    here’s a truth for the war whore fear worshipers amongst us to ponder:

    BELLIGERENT OCCUPATIONS DO NOT WORK

    thank you, and good night

  105. People who claim containment was a viable strategy are ignoring the fact that al Qaeda used containment policies as a justification for killing Americans. Iraq was always a catch-22, damned if you do, damned if you don’t, damned if you run away.

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