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T. Anthony
Posted on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 01:38 am:   

While the world's attention is on Iraq, some of the worst war related crises are occurring in Africa.

Darfur

Darfur

Darfur

{http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/story.jsp?story=538807,Pygmy extermination in the Congo}

Fighting in eastern Congo

Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda

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JV
Posted on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 05:55 am:   

Someone emailed me today about rousing the SF/F community to take a stand and/or do something concrete to help the situation in Darfur, Sudan. I asked him what he thought would be useful--simply signing a petition condemning the actions of the Sudanese government as genocide, using whatever clout we might (or might not) have to raise money--but to what organization? Or if there were third and fourth options as to what to do in his opinion. I've not heard back yet.

Anyone have any thoughts? It is unthinkable that, after not intervening in Rwanda, the world allow this Sudanese situation to unfold without doing anything.

JeffV
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T. Anthony
Posted on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 04:33 pm:   

Here's some aid groups Human Rights Watch lists as being involved. Mostly for the Sudanese refugees in Chad I think as getting into Sudan itself is a bit tricky. Although they said they are some in Darfur itself.

CARE
10-13 Rushworth Street
London SE1 0RB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)207 934 9334
Fax: +44 (0)207 934 9335
Email: info@ciuk.org
www.careinternational.org.uk

Médecins Sans Frontières (UK)
67-74 Saffron Hill
London
EC1N 8QX
Tel: 020 7404 6600
Fax: 020 7404 4466
E-mail: office-ldn@london.msf.org
http://www.msf.org/home-uk.cfm

Save the Children-UK
FREEPOST NAT7383
Witney
OX29 7BR UK
Phone: 44-20-7012-6400
Online at: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk

UNICEF
Africa House
64-78 Kingsway
WC2B 6NB London
United Kingdom
+44 20 7405.5592
http://www.unicef.org.uk
info@unicef.org.uk

UNHCR
Millbank Tower
21-14 Millbank
London SW1P 4PQ
GBRLO@UNHCR.CH

The UN Security Council is also important in this, but what influence the SF community could have there I'm not sure. The US, UK, Russia, France, and Germany I think have some awareness of the SF world. I heard one of the big hold outs on doing anything is China, but unfortunately the SF writers there are often on a short leash. (The premier Chinese SF magazine, SF World, has traditionally been forbidden from even mentioning AIDS or Tibetan Buddhism. Any criticism on Sudan policy are likely to be muted)

I'll try to find more when I can. Glad to see some interest! During Rwanda it's said only 12% of Americans even followed the events there closely. Hopefully people will become more aware of African concerns soon.
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Lawrence A
Posted on Friday, July 23, 2004 - 02:21 am:   

I wrote up a piece on a Rwanda/Darfur thread up at Asimov's about a month or two ago, I don't know if that thread is still up there. I scathingly attacked the media and the Political Left and Right for not paying any attention to it.
I pointed out that the Left completley ignore Africa (I'm originally from South Africa) because they can't pin that nightmare on the Great Satan, so they just ignore Africa like it's not there at all. The Right are too self absorbed to care about Africa and at least don't pretend to care, unlike the hypocritical so-called bleeding heart pseudo-liberals. Don't misunderstand me, I don't mean all left-wing types, just most of them. Especially in Europe and Canada. Sorry to any Euros and Canadians here, I couldn't help it.

What about the Stalinist nightmare in Zimbabwe, what about the recent horrors of the Sierra Leone civil war and the one in Liberia? A largely deafening silence is all.

Don't remember any interest back in the 80s and early 90s re the Mozambiquan and Angolan civil wars. Let's not forget the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi in the early 90s. And South Africa, as I pointed out on the Abu Ghraib thread over at the Mike Bishop forum, is completely off the radar, despite or rather because of its continued disintegration and increasing poverty.
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JV
Posted on Friday, July 23, 2004 - 05:49 am:   

Absolutely. I agree, Lawrence, re the lack of attention given these atrocities. I guess I would also ask what other African countries did to bring these things to a halt.

I've posted something simple to my blog about it for what it's worth (which probably isn't much):

http://www.vanderworld.blogspot.com/

JeffV

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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, July 23, 2004 - 04:48 pm:   

After Somalia I think Americans, and Europe too, just decided to write off Africa. One of the more disgusting ones with Rwanda, that still sticks with me, was how the news acted like the real tragedy was that the mountain gorrillas could be endangered. They reported on the people, but in an almost fatalistic way. As if Africans will kill Africans and there's nothing to be done for it. When it came to the gorrillas though the reporters seemed genuinely sad that these rare majestic critters could be endangered by the evil men do. I think that's part of what soured me on, some, animal rights types.

On Zimbabwe though I think some of the other African regimes do have a bit of complicity. South Africa, and the other neighbors, I believe are the ones who'd really be in the position to pressure Mugabe. I'm not sure what they should do there, but it seems like they haven't really done much so far. Which is sad as Zimbabwe actually has pretty good potential. Even in 1985, when Mugabe was in yet not as crazy, they were among the most advanced nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The literacy rate is, or was by some estimates, over 90%. A better government and an affective AIDS policy could really turn them around.

Sierra Leone was never quite as high in potential, but I remember hearing how in the nineteenth century they were an African center for Western education and learning. Like much of Africa they are rich in mineral wealth, but it all goes to wars or mismanagement.

Interesting stuff, but I best not be here too much I guess.
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richard
Posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 08:17 am:   

Jesus, Thomas, enough with the fucking "no-one likes me" routine. When you post intelligent commentary as above, no-one's going to jump down your throat - but if you will insist on sticking your thumb up for a rancidly corrupt and morally bankrupt neocon dictatorship (aka the Bush administration), you can expect some fucking flak. And before we launch into another chorus of "oh the leftists are ganging up on me", I think it's fair to say that if you were to come out similarly favourable about, say, the leadership of the PRC, or North Korea, you'd get a smiliar spate of furious dispute.

If you've attracted fire in the past, it has little to do with the political affiliations of your attackers and more to do with the fact that you never allow your obvious general intelligence to demolish your equally obvious right-wing hard-wiring, regardless of how blatant the evidence in favour of said demolition usually is.

Get a grip, post or don't post, but enough of the victimhood already
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 03:10 pm:   

You know? I feel worse for the gorillas than the people. And the reason why is that humans slaughtering humans (not to mention their own people) is bad enough. But animals are total innocents with no say in the matter. This has nothing to do with "animal rights" but is just my own personal pov.
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 06:31 pm:   

I understand what you're saying richard. I'm not a victim, not in any real way. I know that. I went to a political thread and mostly predictable things happen. Yet it did surprise me at the time, because I had never had that kind of hostility anywhere. It flummoxed me and stuck with me longer than I should. I'll tick you off by adding this, but no I certainly don't think that reaction was entirely or even mainly my fault. Neither have Kerry supporters, and Trotskiyites, who saw it months later and asked me about it. It was just some unfortunate things that happened.

However most places I've been have people from a fairly diverse mix of political persuasion. This place IMO doesn't. Which is fine if that's what you want, but makes it where I don't see much point in it. So I came to act as a kind of opposition, but that's something my temperament and interest assured would fail. Still if you relegate 40% of America, something like 43% are certain Bush voters and for the record I'm not in that camp(Not sure I ever was, but certainly wasn't after Abu Gharaib), to the realms of Kim Jong Il and Jiang Zemin followers you're making debates meaningless IMO. If you dismiss your opponents as mere victims of "hard wiring" you learn nothing. Plus I feel that kind of polarization encourages the real Neo-Con Ann Coulter types you fear. Feeding the flames of partisan bickering to ever increasing levels.

Ironically though all I said in that post was "best not be here too much." Which is true, as in that week my sister was leaving for Japan so I had to do stuff with her. Also I had some research reading to do for my thesis.
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StephenB
Posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 06:42 pm:   

I agree Ellen, what makes it even worse is that there are something like 50 lowland gorillas left?:-( And yes the situations in Africa sucks.
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 05:12 am:   

I feel I should mention this even though I was thinking, why bother. The attitude of some people really bothers me. This thread was started by Jeff, because he feels that if we can do something to aid the war ravaged peoples of Sudan, we should. I have nothing really to say on to that, as I don't think there is really much I can do. If I was rich and powerfull, I could, but I'm not. Jeff feels that perhaps the writers and fans of spec fiction can band together and raise some money. Good idea and I think it's possible. The writers have fame within the community and can use that fame for good, I'm not disputing this. Problem is I don't think a lot of writers are that wealthy themselves.

What I really want to add is the attitude of some of the posters that really bothers me. I guess it's almost the attitude of humanity in general. I think for some, bringing up the worlds atrocities, is for nothing more than asserting superiority over others, makeing themselves feel good. Saying, "I have recognized and payed attention to the worlds atrocities before others, look at how better I am". I find this one of the major problems humanity faces in reaching maturity. Religions breed an us vs. them mentality, that is part of the cause of many of these atrocities. This attitude I speak of is no different, it's the same us vs. them mentality. Those traditionalists on the right claim moral superiority and higher values, a stronger emphasis on control and security; they claim superiority over others. "At least we our honest, with our selfish paranoia, and not as hippocritical than the left", they say. People who claim to be tolerant left wingers, also claim superiority, "we are more tolerant and open minded, this puts us in a club of superiority as well". I think religions, countries and people of all ideologies should reavaluate this us vs. them, drawing lines in the sand, mentality, as we grow and evolve in the 21st century. I notice that many American's have a hostile attitude to foriegners of all kinds, praticularily Canadians and Europeans. This is saying more about the average Americans emotional maturity than anything. Generalizations are made by people who know little about the people they generalize about. It seems that many Americans find it disturbing when other countries don't back their polititions descisions, or agree with everything about their way of life and culture. So here I go generalizing about many Americans. The thing is many free-thinking Americans have said just what I'm saying, their is truth to this generalization. Please, everyone who reads the writers on this board and the writers who write, are probably intelligent, cool, people when it comes down to it. Lets try to get beyond the age old programing of greed, intolerance, need for control, fear, and the need to for groups to form, to make ourselfs feel superior. If enough people do this, we can evolve our conciousness on a massive scale. I'm not trying to say I'm better than anyone here either. I do the same thing as I'm accusing others of, it's only human. But to recognize that we do this, and realizing that for globally concerned people of this earth, we need to realize that this is precisly part of the problem. And yes there is some irony in this post, I realize that. Try to read between the lines.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 07:09 am:   

Ellen, I'm with you on that one.

It is for the same reason that I'm glad we don't use horses for cavalry anymore.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Thomas R
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 12:53 pm:   

Hmm you may have a point Stephen B. However very few people do pay attention to these things. I guess it could've came out that I was acting morally superior to them for paying attention, and if so I guess that was unfair. Many people have busier live than I, are active in other causes, or just don't know much because the media generally gives little attention to such things. I'm certainly not morally superior to them or most anyone.

I don't dislike Europeans or Canadians. Many of them have attitudes I find distasteful, but they also are less likely to have certain attitudes I dislike in Americans. Not as jingoistic or proned to joke about nuking our own allies. (As a kid it was Japan, now France) In the case of Canadians I have several I'd consider friends. An elderly Swiss man was one of my only friends in High School. Granted that was a very odd friendship, at 15 having an elderly man living hundreds of miles away tell you your his best friend is a bit peculiar, but I tended to get along best with old people back then. Also he was very odd himself.

Jeff deserves the most credit, but a T. Anthony started this thread. I'll embarrassingly admit T. Anthony is me. Anthony is my middle name, and I've been considering switching my name online to T. Anthony as there has been confusion some places with Thomas R's. I was more considering making it my pen name except for the fact I already have stuff published, in a sense, under Thomas R.

As for the original topic there seems to have been some improvements in Sudan, but perhaps more significant no efforts are likely to be taken. As China and the Arab League are opposed to even sanctions the Security Council will likely do little. However the African Union seems intent on furthering negotiations and bringing defense for the refugees. All things considered their involvement might be the best as much of the Arab world and North Africa views even the UN in starkly negative terms.

(On the gorilla thing, I guess I did understand the sympathy for them being innocents. I just don't agree with it. Loss of innocent humans tends to be higher priority to me, but I realize that's a rather humanocentric worldview)
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matthew rossi
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 01:51 pm:   

There's actually a number of reasons to feel worse about what we're (human we're, not a specific nation) doing to the ecology of Africa than for the immediate human victims of the war. Horrible as it may be to say, at least they aren't sufferent anymore. But as the ecosystem, already fairly fragile, gets pounded by war it takes time to recover. Dead gorillas, dead habitats, pieces missing that cause other pieces to collapse as well. And it means that not only are there people dying now, but people will be dying for decades, starving, diseased, because of this war and all the wars before it. I'm always amazed to realize that Northern Africa was once the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. Yes, I realize the Sahara was not caused by the salting of Carthage, but I do wonder how directly we can trace the years of military conflict to the worsening of the situation in Africa. At any rate, we have no idea how many unknown species of animals and plants we are wiping out, or what possible benefit they could be to us, or what the ultimate cornerstone effect (knock out this species and these five dependent ones die too, and so on) will be.

Short of a military intervention, I don't see what can be done about the Sudan. Money sent in form of supplies gets stolen by those in power to feed themselves. Medicine gets interdicted. Yeah, I suppose a case could be made that the left ignores a lot of this... I suppose after Iraq, they may even feel justified in doing so, if the response is going to be another boondoggle. (Somalia does ring in the mind... if you go in to help, you get shot at by everyone, so why do it?) The attitude Thomas mentions (Africans will kill africans and there's nothing to be done) is fatalistic, but it does kind of speak to an essential problem, one that Jeff mentioned: What can we do? Does sending aid help? Does contributing to the causes Thomas posted in his T.Anthony guise help? I'm sincerely asking here. Bush has decisively proved to me that you cannot invade a country and impose your ideals on them without paying a heavy toll in blood, and Somalia tends to tell us that we need to know exactly, down to the last possible point, what we're going in to do, what it will take to do it, and how to determine when we're done. So what, exactly, should we be pressuring the UN to do? What should the UN be pushing for in the Sudan, or the next one?

I'd honestly like to do something here, but I need to know it will be effective in some fashion. I spent a lot of time giving money to various Sally Struthers ads in the 90's, and I was living off Ramen at the time. I'm really not that much better off financially now. If I'm going to tell my girlfriend that we're going to have to do without this month, what do people suggest I get involved in?
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 03:44 pm:   

matthew wrote: So what, exactly, should we be pressuring the UN to do? What should the UN be pushing for in the Sudan, or the next one?

Well, that's what I'd like to know.

It seems that the potential for more mischief is very high if Western Nations deployed peacekeepers, especially with Arab Militias operating in this region. It stands to reason that our friend Osama might have a couple of his people with these militias just praying that the U.S. or someone else will send some troops down there for a Black Hawk Down type situation.

And our failure in Somalia was not so much due to the military mission. The first mistake of the sitting president at the time was to turn a humanitarian aid mission (feed the people) into a nation building mission (capture or kill Boutros Gaili's targeted Somali Warlord).

That first mistake MIGHT have been salvagable if the sitting Secretary of Defense had sent sufficient forces to ensure that the U.S. forces in Somalia could accomplish the mission, or extract themselves if the mission went Tango Alpha. No heavy armor and no AC-130 and the result is a respected book by Mark Bowden, a follow on movie, eighteen dead U.S. Army Rangers, countless dead Somalis, and a message sent to people like Osama that the U.S. would tuck tail and run.

Tucking tail and running, by the way, was our second mistake. And that behavior isn't driven by the military, it is driven by politicians responding to public opinion polls and televised outrage.

Which is why, even though in my idealistic moments I'd like to say, "Let's go save those people in X shithole," I generally say instead, "Let them fend for themselves."

Because regardless of the President of the U.S. (be it Clinton, Bush, Kerry, or a pet rock) our ability to stand our ground is next to non-existant. The other 180 some odd nations on the planet know this and thus when we tell them to stop killing X batch of ethnic group in Y shithole, they look at us, laugh and keep right on with the machettes.

Something to think about, whether you like it (which most of you probably don't) or not.

And I don't why it took Iraq for those on the Left to finally figure out that a bad precedent had been set in the 1990's about intervention by means of military force in other countries. We are still tied down in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti and those were supposed to be the short missions.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 08:43 pm:   

"Tucking tail and running, by the way, was our second mistake"

Well, This was a strategy made famous by Regan in Beirut... Isn't all of America supposed to follow this worthy man's fine example?

Once again SFMURPHY spouts platitudes about "The Left" while completely ignoring "bad precedent" set by the holy one, Ronnie Regan.

I'm sorry everyone. I broke my own rule on this one. But this fake macho Bullshit about "cutting and running" that the Ditto heads and neo-conservative idiots trott out is just that. Fake Macho Bullshit.

It reminds of the fact that One (Democratic) Governor of California happened to be an actual veteran with a bronze star. Two (Republican) Governors of CA happened to be actors who played at being war heroes in the movies. More of the same republican bullshit. All Flash and platitudes, with no substance.
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Thomas R
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:43 pm:   

I was really set to post this as a disagreement with Murphy, which I do, but then I see your post Jeremy.

How long do you think you can go without using "neo-conservative" and "dittohead"? I'm not being facetious, well maybe a little, but I mean this as a real question. Same would go with Murphy doing the "Democrats hate veterans spiel." Don't you guys get tired of repeating the same buzz words over and over again? I'm not saying I'm blameless here, but I'll gladly drop whatever buzz word people think I use.

However I will add Murphy, I'm reasonably certain, was a Democrat in the 1980s. At Asimov's I don't recall him even being at the thread praising Reagan on his death. I don't necessarily even think he liked Reagan. However you, in this case I just mean you, make all these assumptions he would. How is this better than assumptions you feel he made about people of your political orientation?

Anyway Murphy I don't think anyone is thinking a full scale invasion. There is plenty of middle ground between "fend for yourself" and "let's invade." For one even if there was an invasion it'd probably be done by the African Union. For another I think what is being thought up is what should've been done for Rwanda. That being protecting the people in danger and putting economic/political pressure on the Sudanese government. We make Africa seem even more hopeless than it has to be. There are nations like Botswana that are democratic, and have low corruption for the Third World, but whose health is falling apart due to AIDS. We could do plenty for nations like that, but the kind of "let them fend for themselves" attitude would kill that. Even if we can't do direct things we can do indirect things in many cases, like help the AU on this.


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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 06:59 am:   

I believe it was Osama Bin Laden himself who said, "America is a paper tiger," after Somalia. One can bitch and moan about my point being "macho bullshit" but those are the words of the man who engineered the death of three thousand New Yorkers and some people at the Pentagon.

So, Lassen, since you are so slick (and Reagan made a mistake running as well, but then he had a spineless Congress controlled by Democrats) What Do YOU think we should do?

Sanctions, as a rule, generally work only a regimes that are maleable to diplomatic pressure and international scorn. I would humbly suggest, politics aside, that sanctions would be ineffective against Sudan, which is what we are talking about here.

Military force ALONE won't cut it either and even if it would, you cheerfully ignored my point about the Muslim militias operating in Sudan. Think maybe sending troops (which is what the Left seems to want to do from everything I can parse from the current lit on this topic) might make Muslims even more angry than the supposedly are now?

After all, that is the big objection about Iraq, isn't it? That we are upsetting our enemies (heaven forbid we upset our enemies on this planet, next we'll play patty cake with them).

But it isn't macho bullshit, it is common sense.
If a dog snarls at you, barks and tries to bite your leg, you don't turn and run from it.

You turn around and kick it in the gut.

However, I'm game if the "macho bullshit" isn't the solution.

Let's hear an alternative?

A workable alternative.

Probably too much to expect. It is like arguing over how to say the word "tomato."

S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 08:48 am:   

Once again sfmurphy makes excuses for Regan... "Reagan made a mistake running as well, but then he had a spineless Congress controlled by Democrats".

It seems to me Clintion had a “spineless” Republican congress that was calling for the exact same thing: "bring the troops home" vis-a-vi Kosovo, and Somalia. Republican's made political hay out of a national tragedy. They exploited the death of U.S. Soldiers as a way to attack a president they did not like. Never mind the fact that Poppa bush sent the soldiers there in the first place as a lame duck "fuck you" to Clinton.

Bush Sr. wanted to see Somolia become the political fiasco it did. What kind of thank you did SFMurphy give poppa Bush for the calculated mistake of sending soldiers to die in Somolia? He voted for his son. What an ignorant hypocrit.

Then SFMURPHY goes on to spout inanities like "After all, that is the big objection about Iraq, isn't it? That we are upsetting our enemies"

No... actually that’s NOT the objection to Iraq, and this demonstrates quite clearly the level of dishonesty SFMURPHY brings to any conversation.

The objection to Iraq is that there was never any justification or reason to go to war with Iraq. No wmd's, no ties to 9/11 or al Queda. The objection to Iraq is that it has made us less safe from terrorists, not more safe. And the people we are "upsetting" used to be our allies

Chendey and crew did exactly what they intended to in Iraq. Create a permanent war, and a permanent basing for troops in the middle east. The further radicalization and polarization of citizens in the U.S. and abroad also plays into their hands. A divided country, and a divided world is exactly what neocon's want.

SFMurphy, and others like hiim are the worst kind of Patriots – BLIND at best. Disengenous at worst. His fucking slander about “Objections about iraq” demonstrates the latter.

Further, don't put fucking words in my mouth, Thomas. I never called SFMURPHY a neocon. I said his choice of words aped that of Necons and ditto heads. There’s a fucking difference. You putting words in my mouth is another example of the disnegenous arguments that you continuously spout.

Let me repeat this slowly, so that perhaps you can follow along without looking for a way to mischaracterize what I say. “Cutting and Running” is the kind of rhetoric used by Neocons like Chendey and Rumsfield, and the ditto heads that blindly repeat it. I specifically did not use the wording that S.F. Murphy used -- His post was aping the propaganda of people who are far smarter and more devious then he is.

As far as getting tired of name calling. Fuck you. What I'm tired of listening to people who (purposefully or not) bring up specific pieces of history, out of context, and then choose to ignore other pieces of history, or make excuses for it, when it DOESN'T suit their argument. I’m tired of people trying to rewrite history – history that happened less the 2 years ago sometimes, if it reflects badly on the “team’ that they have chosen to root for.

I’m tired, and I’m fucking terrified of what four more years of Bush is going to do to my country and the world. And anybody who continues to make excuses and play into the hands of the neocons who hijacked my country are part of the fucking problem and I will call them out every time I see them.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 09:20 am:   

Nothing about Osama's view that American is a paper tiger mainly because we turn tail and run everytime a civilian sees a bodybag.

And I guess we are not going to answer my question about "alternatives," are we? I expect better from a gathering place for science fiction writers, but I suspect I expect too much.

Lassen, it may come as a great surprise to you but the war in Iraq (the one that I went to back in 1991) never ended. There was a cease fire, two no fly zones (with our planes getting shot at daily), sanctions (which starved everyone and didn't affect the main target, which was Saddam) and a corrupt oil for food program.

And I don't know why you are terrified, Lassen. Terrorists will hit this country again and again REGARDLESS of WHO is president. You may as well go ahead and reserve your personal body bag now if you are THAT terrified.

Dying is a fact of life.

As for "rewriting history," as a historian (got the degree on the wall, wipe your ass with it if you like) ideological groups are always rewriting history.

One doesn't have to look any further than Kerry's antiwar record or his attitude toward the military AFTER he got out to see that in action.

Or Lies My Teacher Told Me, which is another fine example. Or Arming America, which won the Bancroft Award but is now in serious trouble because other historians can't locate the primary source material the writer used.

Besides, if we want to talk about historical rewrites, lets talk about Slick Willie letting Osama go not once but three times.

And did he lie when he blew up an aspirin factory in Sudan (shit, hey, that is what this thread is about) or was it "bad intelligence."

You're a silly man, Lassen. I can't even find it in me to get a touch aggravated with you.

S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Matthew Rossi
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 09:50 am:   

Okay, I'm going to try for a dispassionate response to what's being said here.

SFMurphy, I don't know where you get that the main objection to Iraq is that we're upsetting our enemies. First off, I think our enemies are thrilled beyond measure that instead of hunting them down and killing them for what they did in September of 2001, we chose to attack Iraq. Now, unless you consider the Iraqi people our enemies instead of Al Qaida and other groups lik ethem, we're not doing a damn thing to our enemies except for making them look good. While Jeremy's response to you is filled with invective, he makes a good point: Reagan never had any difficulty pushing military action through Congress, even though it was mostly Democratic and Vietnam was a lot more recent at the time. (We're going to be dealing with the fallout of that mistake for a long, long time, I think.) Similarly, Clinton apologists could use a similar excuse in the case of Kosovo, since the move that put Newt Gingrich into position as House Speaker was fresh at the time.

Either way, there's a fundamental disconnect between what military strategists have been saying (that following Vietnam, the Army was made into a strategic scalpel, no long designed for long engagements but for hard and fast brutal assaults that overwhelmed the enemy) and how it's been used in the time since it was overhauled. One of the reasons we have roughly a thousand US soldiers dead in Iraq is because they have no business functioning as peacekeepers - the military is no longer designed to do so. Engaging an enemy and annihilating it? Absolutely. Holding ground against a sullen and often hostile populace who are either tacitly or even willingly supporting an insurgency now admitted by the US military to be 5 times as large as previous estimates (in the neighborhood of 22,000 people) and which, again, the US military admits is almost exclusively a nationalist, nonreligious movement, you have to start wondering about what we're doing. For most of us who have felt from the beginning this was a mistake, it's the sheer delight our real enemies must see in our blind dancing to the tune they set, our confirming of all their rhetoric by attacking Iraq instead of seeking them out wherever they hid, our blunders that make us look as bad as Hussein to much of the world (I'm specifically speaking about Abu Ghraib here, especially the newest rumors that we were far more complicit in the rape or torture of teenage Iraqis for no other reason than our own amusement that have been coming out of the hearings, including attacking them with dogs to see if they would urinate on themselves) while at the same time allowing Al Qaida to grow out of its vulnerable stage after the attacks and into an international cell structure that is much more resistant to being found and rooted out.

Our enemies are not upset with us. It's our allies and those we might have made allies that are. Were there compelling reasons to invade Iraq? There may have been. I was never shown any, and that was one reason I objected. I was mainly cognizant of the complete lack of a link between terrorist threats to my nation and a beaten country which was the object of air strikes whenever US or British jets chose, which had only limited stores of bacterological or chemical weapons that our own intelligence reported would have expired years before, which every inspection team claimed was unable to mount a serious threat to anyone (even as they most certainly did obstruct inspections, I'm not blind to Iraqi misdeeds under Hussein) and who ultimately proved to have so little in the way of any military werewithal that we rolled over them in the course of a month. I see no reason to believe that they would have sent their weapons of mass destruction to Syria rather than used them (especially since it's not like things could get much worse for the leadership... Saddam's sons and teenage grandson couldn't get any deader than they are, and he had no reason to expect he wouldn't join them) so the idea that there ever was a threat to concern ourselves with (or that we thought there was, when it's been made relatively clear by both O'Neill and Clarke that Iraq was on the agenda as soon as Bush entered the Oval Office) doesn't really wash with me, either.

All of this is tangental to the point of Africa, except that it reflects on the mistakes we made in Iraq, and 'cutting and running' hasn't been one of them. If anything, it may be true that we should have 'cut and run' after capturing Hussein: certainly Bush himself would be in a far more secure position if we had, although that's no plus for me personally. The problem in Iraq is that we have no objective aside from nebulous ones like 'finding weapons of mass destruction' (either there are none or we can't find them) and 'restoring democracy to the Iraqi people' which, will laudable, may well be beyond our power to do. Had we moved in, overthrown a tyrant, done our best to restore order and moved out following the handoff, would Iraq be in chaos now? Yes, most likely. But at what point are we responsible for that? And how is it in any way discomfiting for our enemies to see 150,000 US troops bogged down in a country on the brink of civil war with no clear exit strategy?

If we move in Africa, we should learn from these mistakes. We need a deliberate objective that we don't deviate from unless it's a highest priority (like, say, if we find out Osama is in a cave outside of Darfur) and which can be accomplished without, say, running a prison camp formerly used by Baath party officials to torture dissidents and torturing people in it. (As one example.) if you like, I am providing you with one vision for an alternative to macho bullshit: calm, reasoned, directed and meticulously planned bullshit, perhaps, but bullshit that can be executed and which does not play directly into the hands of anti-American fanatics who need the US to generate resentment and loathing across the world to succeed. Which they are doing now, and entirely because of our actions being not of the caliber of planning and execution we are capable of.

Jeremy, seriously, I'm more or less ideologically identical to you, but you're managing to make your own points become invisible due to the invective in which you present them. Don't attack SFMurphy: attack his arguments. I'm sure he'll find flaws in my reasoning here, but if he attacks me personally, he's out of line: I didn't direct a single attack at him. Whoever started it or not, it's counterproductive now to indulge in it when making an argument. I realize I'm no more or less prone to these excesses than you are, and that I may seem like an arrogant asshole for mentioning it to you, but I really think you have a few good points that are getting lost because of their presentation.

Anyway, that's me for now: hopefully I presented my ideas without going too far one way or the other.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:12 am:   

Okay Matt, sticking with Sudan, what's the objective? Once identified, what is your plan?

Answering the other points.

The U.S. Army is not (and I firmly believe, should not be) designed to be a peacekeeping organization. It's job is to fight wars, not do "Peace Corps with Guns." I might add, it never has been a peacekeeping organization.

I think one might need something seperate for peacekeeping but someone would still have to go in and provide security in any given situation.

There is a solidly established link between Saddam and Palestinian terrorists, especially the compensation checks Saddam sent to families who offered up suicide bombers. This link seems to get lost in the shuffle.

Additionally, every first world nation's intelligence service was convinced that Saddam had WMD. Egypt's own President told retired Gen. Tommy Franks that not only did Saddam have them, but he would most certainly use them.

Faced with that intelligence (which we now know isn't the correct picture, whether you characterize it as a lie -if you do, explain the aspirin factory Clinton blew up- or as a dysfunctional intelligence service) a President has a "Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't," choice.

If he waited and a city turned into an atomic crater, the Democrats would be on him like stink on shit (just like they are about 09-11-01). They'd say he dithered and didn't have a clue. If he did something (which he did) and it went wrong (meaning we are getting more than one bodybag) then he gets to answer to Democrats screaming about oil and getting even for his father.

Personally, if I were in his place, I'd have gone with, "Damned if I do," and invaded.

The difference is that I would be launching my invasion right about now during the election cycle and after I've let the inspections drag in (I seriously doubt they would have produced anything, Saddam seemed to want everyone to think he had WMD).

As for Iraq objectives, they seem pretty plain to me.

In addition to clearing a potential source for WMD, the strategy seems to be to place a friendly (or at least maleable) government into the Middle East. From places like Iraq and Afghanistan, it would then be possible to use diplomatic, economic, and military pressure on other terrorist nations from up close. Such as Syria and Iran.

The strategy, I believe, is sound on the face. The current tactics and implementation is sorely lacking. Not enough of the right kind of troops in Iraq is one problem. Not using the rebuild money to work on thousands of very small projects as NGOs in developing, secure countries would is another (though Army commanders are figuring this out and taking their own initiative in digging wells, doing the small stuff, doling out smaller portions of money rather than trying for massive projects).

Besides, having gone in and stomped a sizeable amount of the country flat between two campaigns and a decade of sanctions, I can't see running out and leaving the Iraqis to murder each other at this point.

I might add, part of why a lot of the Iraqis are angry at the United States is that Bush 41 (who I voted against in 1992, much to my eternal regret) promised to help the Kurds and the Shia overthrow Saddam (got to see some of the refugees of that debacle at Safwan in 1991) and then left them to twist in the wind.

So, the Iraqis have every right to be bitter. We spent the better part of fifteen years inflicting a great deal of damage on their country (I'd add that Saddam did a fair amount on his own).

Then is, if we pull out and run (and I don't like seeing flag draped coffins anymore than anyone else, I'm always aware that it could be ME in the coffin) our current and future enemies will know that all a war with America boils down to is a simply matter of attrition warfare.

And we'll pay for it later on down the road, just like we are paying for it now.

As for getting involved in Sudan (or anywhere else for that matter) I believe the average American soldier always wants to help people.

But what is the point if, in the course of trying to provide aid someone shoots you on National Television and everyone uses your bloody fatigues to support their own political agenda? Again, see Somalia. That mission right there pretty much set me against getting involved in any more "humanitarian missions."

Or to sum it up short, "Why should I go die for the people in Sudan?"

That is the argument currently being used by the opposition for Iraq. And even if we hadn't gone into Iraq, the Democrats would be (and have been) bitching about Afghanistan (which is still costing us as well).

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com

P.S. What is the alternative again? I swear I read your post trying to find it.
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 01:33 pm:   

"Every first world nation's intelligence service was convinced that Saddam had WMD."

Well I and lots of other people knew he didn't have any WMDs. It was completely obvious. For that matter, even if he did it is no reason to go to war. Pakistan REALLY does have the bomb. Now that is scary! . . . Not to mention the WMDs in Israel that go quietly unnoticed.

" . . the strategy seems to be to place a friendly (or at least maleable) government into the Middle East."

So you really want your government going and choosing the governments for other countries? Not me.
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Matthew Rossi
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 01:49 pm:   

Okay, I'll try and address some of this. I think you're deliberately mischaracterizing some of it, though. For instance, WMD does not mean 'nuclear weapons' in this case and I believe you know that: the only evidence that Iraq had anything like a functional nuclear arms program came from the Nigerian yellowcake fiasco, and we now know that there was every bit of evidence that was a fake, whether delibertaely faked or not: the fact that a former US Ambassador and his CIA agent wife were cautioning the President (as was the CIA itself, in a position deliberately buried in a report the President later admitted he neither bothered to read nor had his National Security Advisor read) so there was no crater to be worried about and no objective reports of one: not from the UN, not from our own intelligence, and not from that of any Arab states. The Egyptian's were talking about the same gas that Saddam earlier used on the Kurds: no one believed that Iraq could launch a nuclear weapon at the United States in any report I've read.

I think we're in agreement about the army: it is not a peacekeeping organization, was not designed to do so (this is what I said, yes?) and so is poorly equipped and trained to do what it is called upon to do in Iraq.

The link between Saddam and Palestinian terrorists has what, exactly, to do with 9/11? Also, aside from giving money (negligible amounts at best) to the families of those suicide bombers, did this link consist of? What material aid did Hussein give to Hezbollah? That's like saying that the US funded Al Qaeda because we have money and material support to bin Laden during the war in Afghanistan, it's not a sustainable interpretation of the facts. Money given to a few radicals' families after they blew themselves up is hardly the same as a link establishing Hussein's responsibility for and material support for international terrorism. The link isn't lost: it's not a link. It's a sop thrown to the arab world and a way to shake a fist from an impotent nation, and it's a sign of how pathetic it was that no one, not Bush I, not Clinton and not Bush II (even when planning to invade Iraq before September IIth) took it seriously.

I don't recall saying above that the intelligence that Iraq had WMD's was a lie. I've reread my post, and I can't find a place where I said that. It certainly proved to be wrong and it seems even now counter to any sober view of the situation, but I cannot prove it was a lie and I didn't say so, I don't think. Now, is it my opinion that it was? Yes. But my opinion isn't germaine here: I was not on the ground with Scott Ritter who's been beating the drum of "There aren't any WMD's left" since 2002, and who seems to have been pretty effectively vindicated by this point.

I don't know why you keep bringing Clinton's attack on the aspirin factory into it: I certainly didn't mention it, and if you think I supported every military action taken by the White House when it had a democrat in charge, you'd be incorrect. I thought Kosovo to be flawed on the face of it, by example, because of its total inflexibility to the problem. It's possible that our intelligence has been deeply flawed for decades now: we are talking about agencies that let Robert Phillip Hanssen run amok for years. It's just as possible that Clinton lied. I have no problem admitting that: how does it excuse in any way the monumental fuck-ups in Iraq? It's okay to do the wrong thing if it's similar to the wrong things done in previous administrations?

If Clinton and Gore, or Gore and Lieberman, had pushed this war in the same manner and using the same tactics, I would still oppose it. You may believe me or not as you choose, but that's the fact: I find the conception, planning, execution, offered justifications for Iraq to all be so unrelentingly god-awful and pathetic that it's a disgrace to have sent American soldiers off to fight in it. We didn't even provide them all with body armor: their families are buying it for them. We didn't even provide them with airfare for leaves: there had to be a public donation drive to get the money to them (eventually the government was shamed enough to get involved). Just the other day, I read about a reservist who finally got to come home from Iraq and shot himself in the head the next day. I don't know why that happened (war is stressful, so it may be unavoidable) but I have to think the total lack of counseling services had to have something to do with it. I don't care what party is running it, it's a disgrace.

I don't see how you can argue that nation-building is a clear objective, either. You're basically arguing, near as I can tell, that the objective in Iraq was always (and this is in direct contradiction to what the President himself said, both before the election and when speaking on the matter) to establish liberal democracies in the Middle East. (And how ironic to call them liberal democracies considering the unabashed loathing the same groups who plotted this war view liberalism with, but that's an aside) Now, how do we know when we're done? When we topple the governments that are there? Capture their leaders? Finish killing all insurgents? Establish elections? If we do all this, and leave, and civil war breaks out, clearly we've failed to establish the states upon which we're depending to exert our diplomatic pressure. At present, instead of being in a position to threaten other nations we suspect of terrorism, we're tied down and committed to years in Iraq. You yourself argue this was poorly executed, although I think we disagree about the feasibility of it on the face. Basically, to my mind, if you want to duplicate what the US did in Japan after WWII, you have to bring the entire nation to its knees. Nothing less will do. I don't see the US turning Fallujah into another Dresden anytime soon, and you don't seem to think they will either, so what have we accomplished?

I take your point about Attrition Warfare, but I don't get what we're accomplishing for our losses. If we'd spent the time hunting for bin Laden and rooting out Al Qaida, we'd have accomplished a lot more for our image internationally both in terms of strength (because right now, we look weak and ineffectual) and in terms of the atrocities we are considered, rightly or wrongly, to have perpetrated. How many soldiers is enough? How many Iraqi civilians? Do we have to top out at having killed more per year than Hussein before we've killed too many? I think the Iraqi people may well be pissed that we didn't overthrow Saddam before, but we've done it now and given him for trial. Eventually, we have to leave this up to them, yes? Either that or just say up front "Look, you can't rule yourselves, so we're going to do it for you." Which is better, and when do we start the process either way? I believe that as long as we're in Iraq, we're weaker and have fewer options elsewhere. The mistakes we're paying for are the ones made in the planning of this war, mistakes that could have been avoided if the things I mentioned in my previous post (like the nature of the army today) were kept in mind and planned for.

I don't know why American troops should go die in the Sudan any more than I know why they are in Iraq, ultimately, which is why I asked my original question. What can we do? Is there a clear problem or set of problems we can methodically eliminate that will help end this situation? Are there a few Husseins or warlords that killing would ease the situation? Because that's what the army is and what it does, it kills things. If killing something isn't going to fix this problem, then I don't support troops in Sudan any more than I do in Iraq, where killing things hasn't fixed the problem going back on fifteen years now. In Afghanistan, it's possible that we might well have succeeded, but we sure as hell aren't doing it now.

My alternative was already stated. Methodical planning for specific objectives. As opposed to half-assed rushing about blowing up everything that might be within reach. As I stated: if you like, I am providing you with one vision for an alternative to macho bullshit: calm, reasoned, directed and meticulously planned bullshit, perhaps, but bullshit that can be executed and which does not play directly into the hands of anti-American fanatics who need the US to generate resentment and loathing across the world to succeed.

If the army is a scalpel, then use it that way. If we need to build up a peacekeeping force, then we should do so, although I'll admit here that I believe the UN, properly supported, does that better than we do. (And yes, I am aware that the UN forces are often made up of mainly American forces. I still believe they seem to function better as peacekeepers when part of an international force. I don't count the occupation of Iraq as an international force, especially by now. At best it pays lip service to the idea of internationality.) If.. and it is to be a big if... we sent troops to Sudan, we need to know exactly why, exactly who we'll be opposing, what we're going to do after, and how what we're doing can be expected to succeed.

Oh, and it's not just the Democrats bitching about the Administration's invasions. Jack Walters was no Democrat. Of course, they've already got him pegged as bitter, just like Clarke and O'Neill and Ritter and Joseph Wilson. Bitter, all. Then again, I'm pretty bitter too.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 02:51 pm:   

Jeremy:Further, don't put fucking words in my mouth, Thomas. I never called SFMURPHY a neocon. I said his choice of words aped that of Necons and ditto heads. There’s a fucking difference. You putting words in my mouth is another example of the disnegenous arguments that you continuously spout.

TR: Okay. The language you use of this Presidency is similar to Kim Jong il and your overall rhetoric has similarities to Castro. Now don't put words in my mouth. I know you aren't a supporter of Kim Jong Il or Castro, I'm just pointing out similarities. Feel okay with that?

Basically otherwise I get that you really don't get tired of the same false analogies and pat insults over and over again. Neither you or Murphy probably does on this so can continue in some kind of Bluto-Popeye death spiral for eternity if that's what you like. However it is an answer to the question and that's all I wanted there.

Matthew I agree with much of what you're saying and some of that is why I'm not that pro-war now. Judging by occupations of other nations, Japan or Germany or what have you, there still could be a change but much has been wrong. Many allies have been alienated and the security in Iraq is poor. They should've had a better plan for occupation than they did, and some of the abuses has hurt the US's ability to be a positive force in human rights. (Which it can be and has at several points) Hopefully this idea of an Islamic force, of non-bordering nations(bordering nations have too clear a biases), can work out and mean some withdraws for the US forces. Also maybe some greater role for other NATO members.

However the link between terrorism, not Al-Qaeda, and Iraq I still believe was fairly real. He did harbor Abu-Nidal for years and various other nationalist terrorists ideologically aligned to him. That most of these were Anti-Israel doesn't entirely negate anything. Several Anti-Israel groups are quite willing and able to attack Americans. He considered himself to be at a state of war with the US since 1991 and was one of the only Arab leaders to be largely positive on the 9-11 attacks. In hindsight though it looks like the US screwed up, but I still understand why I supported the war then. Also still hope that it can be worked out to become something positive in the long run, whether Bush or Kerry is the one to do that.

Oddly though I'd disagree with you and Murphy on the peacekeeping deal. I mean why not use our troops as peacekeepers in certain situations? What makes us so special? Canada, Sweden, and others do it. I don't want the US to have a leading, or even significant, mission in Sudan but the US is part of the world. We have responsibilities as members of the Security Council and NATO. We signed pacts saying we'd stop genocide. The US, excepting maybe India, is the largest military in the free world so we have more ability than most on these things. If our military isn't designed for it, maybe we should have a subsection that is. Or in least that's designed to fulfill commitments and pledges we made.

The US's role in this, because we're overstretched militarily, I think would more sensibly be aid and diplomacy. Like sending the Red Cross, giving the African Union the support it needs, etc.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 03:37 pm:   

Thomas says: "Oddly though I'd disagree with you and Murphy on the peacekeeping deal."

Again, putting words in my mouth. I never said pro or con about US troops in a peace-keeping roles. I never addressed Sudan at all. I entered this thread because of SFMurphy's macho posturing, and selective references to history which ultimately had little to do with questions posed about Sudan.

Again, SFMurphy mischaracterizes what I say, by suggesting I was terrified because of foreign terrorists. I'm terrified of Bush and Cheeney, and what they will do given 4 more years of actively trying to destroy the American Democracy. Fuck Al Queda – The real terrorist is in the white house, as has been amply demonstrated by the selective use of “terror alart” warnings, among other things.

Given Bush’s bang up job in bringing the 9/11 perpetrators to justice, he doesn’t seem to give a fuck about Al Queda either.

And to everyone who, in general, agrees with my sentiments, but fines my rhetoric counter productive – tough. I’ve been nice about this shit for 3 years, and it’s gotten me 1000 dead American soldiers and uncounted tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, and has just about cost me the democracy I live in.

If America is worth fighting for, stand up and FIGHT for it. The brainwashed zombie hordes that prattle off neocon bullshit like it's gospel are the MINORITY in this country, and wouldn’t be any kind of political force at all if Americans took their heads out of the sand and actually gave a shit. If I stand up and scream bloody murder, maybe peoplw will stop ignorning what is going on around them.

Truth is truth. Tell a lie and get called out for it. Don’t let people make excuses for liars. Hold everyone to a high standard and take EVERYTHING personally. Until that happens, innocent people are the world are going to continue to be slaughter with your tax dollars, and in your name.

You people who “agree” with me may be able to live quietly with this shit on your conscious, or make excuses about how it isn’t your fault, but I can’t.

-jl
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 04:00 pm:   

Brendan wrote: So you really want your government going and choosing the governments for other countries? Not me.

Really? What about Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo?

Matt's response deserves a lot more time than I've got right at this moment. I'll print it up and try to read it after class.

Lassen, do you have an alternate solution to the Sudan problem or not? Or are you just going to sit their and fiddle fart fuck around with DNC talking points? Might take a page from Matt's book. I may decide (when I get a chance to read Matt's post) that I don't agree with Matt, but he is taking the time to explain his position.

You just give the standard bullshit.

So, what is your alternative, Lassen.

I'll be back tomorrow to see what the response is. I suspect it will be another post exactly like the one above.

S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com

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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 05:20 pm:   

oops

above, I said: "Again, putting words in my mouth." to Thomas.

I mistakenly thought that when Thomas said "YOU" he was referring to me. There I go thinking the world revolves around me again. For this mistake, and the hubris that caused it, I apologize. For my rhetoric and beliefs and sentiments expressed, no.

peace

-jl
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 06:03 pm:   

Okay I wondered there because by that point when I said "you and Murphy" I was referring to Matt and Murphy. No sweat though, the English language is imprecise in many ways and I possibly mangle pronouns at times.

I do wish you could calm down a bit sometimes, but whatever works for you I suppose.
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Matthew Rossi
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 08:19 pm:   

Thomas -

However the link between terrorism, not Al-Qaeda, and Iraq I still believe was fairly real. He did harbor Abu-Nidal for years and various other nationalist terrorists ideologically aligned to him. That most of these were Anti-Israel doesn't entirely negate anything. Several Anti-Israel groups are quite willing and able to attack Americans. He considered himself to be at a state of war with the US since 1991 and was one of the only Arab leaders to be largely positive on the 9-11 attacks. In hindsight though it looks like the US screwed up, but I still understand why I supported the war then. Also still hope that it can be worked out to become something positive in the long run, whether Bush or Kerry is the one to do that.

Okay, yeah, I did forget about Abu Nidal, I'll admit that. As for the state of war since 1991, well, not to defend a vicious animal, but he was. We were bombing him more or less at will to enforce the no-fly zone, after all: seems pretty disingenous to pretend that wasn't war just because it hadn't been declared. But you are right about the Anti-Israeli terrorist groups: they were there. I don't think Hussein being positive on 9-11 justifies invading the country, but I can understand why some might believe that his having paid for Hezbollah martyrs and given Nidal a hole to crawl into might mean he would certainly do more if he could. I think we may differ on what we believe his capacity was: I see (and saw) Iraq at the time as so toothless that US and British warplanes could fly over it at will, bombing radar stations and so on. I think Hezbollah and other anti-Israeli groups got more support from Iran and Saudi Arabia than from Iraq.

Oddly though I'd disagree with you and Murphy on the peacekeeping deal. I mean why not use our troops as peacekeepers in certain situations? What makes us so special?

Because we suck at it?

Seriously, we're not very good at peacekeeping, in my opinion. That's why I suggested a special peacekeeping force be recruited for. I mean, Jesus, every time something new about some Afghani being locked up for eight months based on rumors, or some mercenary running his own private bounty jail in Afghanistan posing as a US soldier, or Abu Ghraib, or whatever... holy heck, it's just appalling. I don't suggest we're better than anyone else, but maybe we're better at different things because our military is optimized in a different direction than others are. It's worth considering, at least.

I don't want the US to have a leading, or even significant, mission in Sudan but the US is part of the world. We have responsibilities as members of the Security Council and NATO. We signed pacts saying we'd stop genocide. The US, excepting maybe India, is the largest military in the free world so we have more ability than most on these things. If our military isn't designed for it, maybe we should have a subsection that is. Or in least that's designed to fulfill commitments and pledges we made.

I can agree with the idea that we need to stand up for our word, and Sudan is a horrible situation (plus, it makes our rhetoric about Iraq look intensely hypocritical) but as things stand, we don't have the machinery. We're hyper-extended, largest military in the free world or no: that seems to me to be the rationale behind depopulating the bases in Germany and pulling troops out of South Korea.

Steven - To be honest, I don't think we'll agree on everything no matter how much we argue on this one, but as long as we're not calling each other names I consider that a small victory for the discourse, so looking forward to your reaction.

Jeremy - look, I'm not trying to tell you not to be angry here. But right now, it's not focused on anything but ranting. Yes, I agree about Bush and Al Qaida. I agree with you about Iraq. And you'll note that I am not sitting back and letting what I believe to be untrue pass without objecting. But if I just assume that my rhetorical opponents are liars and start screaming at them... well, what good does that do? Are they going to be more likely to listen to my points? Am I going to be able to learn where they're coming from and adjust my argument to take their preconceptions into account?

Shit, if I want to get into a fight, I can go outside my door and pick one. I have long hair and I'm a liberal and proud of it, I'm bisexual and support gay marriage... I can go to a bar and start a screaming match or a fistfight any damn time I want. I thought these boards were a good place to give that kind of behavior a rest and try and see what's being said on all sides of the issue.

I don't say this to try and convince you to stop being angry, and if the only way you can find to use that anger is in the fashion you're progressing, then more power to you. But you're clearly passionate about these issues (which is a damn good thing) and I'd like to see you get to use that passion constructively.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 09:09 pm:   

Okay, yeah, I did forget about Abu Nidal, I'll admit that. As for the state of war since 1991, well, not to defend a vicious animal, but he was. We were bombing him more or less at will to enforce the no-fly zone, after all: seems pretty disingenous to pretend that wasn't war just because it hadn't been declared. But you are right about the Anti-Israeli terrorist groups: they were there. I don't think Hussein being positive on 9-11 justifies invading the country, but I can understand why some might believe that his having paid for Hezbollah martyrs and given Nidal a hole to crawl into might mean he would certainly do more if he could. I think we may differ on what we believe his capacity was: I see (and saw) Iraq at the time as so toothless that US and British warplanes could fly over it at will, bombing radar stations and so on. I think Hezbollah and other anti-Israeli groups got more support from Iran and Saudi Arabia than from Iraq.

TR: Some good points there. Also he did have Nidal killed before the war started, so I maybe should've mentioned that too. I don't really disagree that he was not much of a threat to us, and oddly even when I was pro-war I didn't really disagree. I figured the WMD and links to Al-Qaeda thing were basically unreal from the get go. My support then was because his history showed the regime was dangerous to it's neighbors, and it's own people. Also that keeping them sanctioned and sporadically bombed was not working. I still don't think the war itself was precisely a bad idea, but it's radically failed to meet my hopes in many respects. It has succeeded in that schools and the media there seem improved by most sources I've found. Also, thus far, there's been little effort of major powers to use it as an excuse to invade any government they dislike. (Although if Russia goes to war with Georgia, or China with "Taiwanese terrorists" as they call them, perhaps that'll change.) However failed in that many Iraqis are less secure, human rights violators use Abu Gharaib as an excuse, and anti-Americanism increased amongst allies.

Because we suck at it? Seriously, we're not very good at peacekeeping, in my opinion. That's why I suggested a special peacekeeping force be recruited for. I mean, Jesus, every time something new about some Afghani being locked up for eight months based on rumors, or some mercenary running his own private bounty jail in Afghanistan posing as a US soldier, or Abu Ghraib, or whatever... holy heck, it's just appalling. I don't suggest we're better than anyone else, but maybe we're better at different things because our military is optimized in a different direction than others are. It's worth considering, at least.

TR: Well I got to admit, nicely honest and succinct opinion. I admit I was a tad contradictory in saying "why don't we do it?" then kind of adding "let's not though." I think the US military is big enough we likely could technically afford to send some troops in Sudan with a bit of work and more redistributions. However I'd have to agree we'd be best not to try. I doubt anyone would want the US there, including the US as only about 20% of Americans even follow this story. If the US got into a commitment that goes awry, even if the purpose is truly noble, it'd just be another disaster that'd likely make Americans even more inward. Plus I think the US is such a known figure it'd not be in the best situation to aid this situation. US efforts would be best in like giving the support African nations need to get people negotiating or to be able to afford to send peacekeepers from their nations, but direct actions is probably not a good idea.
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:12 pm:   

SFM -

Just because you can quote the names of some countries where the US had a hand in changing the government, does not make it right. And it is stupid to put Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo on the same plate.

It is just this kind of attitude that makes Americans just about the most hated people on earth.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 07:06 am:   

Matt,

You wrote: Steven - To be honest, I don't think we'll agree on everything no matter how much we argue on this one, but as long as we're not calling each other names I consider that a small victory for the discourse, so looking forward to your reaction.

Well, I have had a chance to skim the post with your points. I'm at work, so I don't have time to give it full justice (and at any rate, I tend to concur that we are probably going to disagree on most of it).

On peacekeeping, I've always thought that the United States Army needed a brigade or a division that is set up simply for humanitarian aid. It would be composed of military police, public and civil affairs units, interpreters, a branch that is trained to work with NGO's, and of course you'd need a pretty hefty medical component.

Having stated the need for such a unit, in high conflict zones (like the Sudan) such a formation would still need either support from a U.S. standard combat formation or a coalition formation. It is highly unlikely (and probably unworkable for a post conflict situation) for it to have a great deal of heavy firepower.

The other issues I'll have to get to later. Work calls.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 09:32 am:   

Thomas says: "I do wish you could calm down a bit sometimes"

And I wish Iraqi's would stop getting slaughter in my name, with my tax money to ensure further Halliburton and the oil industries profits.

But if wishes were horses. Maybe you can be calm about this. But people are dying. Every day.

U.S. soldiers have been sent off to die for a lie. U.S. soldiers have been sent off to kill for a lie. My business partner Ben is over in Iraq right now, getting shot at and ducking IED's every day. It's personal. And I blame everyone who argued in favor of the war for the carnage that has taken place. This means you, Thomas. This means SF Murpfhy.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 09:41 am:   

Jeremy,

Blame me if it makes you feel better.

But I did not make Ben sign on the dotted line, or raise his right hand to take the oath.

Nor, for that matter, did anyone else.

I didn't sit around during the First Gulf War bitching and moaning about my own fate (where we were all going to die if you listened to the media).

So be angry. I wish your friend Ben the best.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com

P.S. Besides, Jeremy, I'm sure your friend Ben will get a fine book out of the experience.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 10:01 am:   

Matthew says: "But if I just assume that my rhetorical opponents are liars and start screaming at them... well, what good does that do? "

Sorry Matthew,
There is a history here that goes back over 2 years. SF Murphy and Thomas R have proven themselves to be disingenuous at best during the time they have spent posting to my message boards.

For the most part, I simply refuse to respond to SF Murphy... He's a troll that just wants to ge in a fight. There is no logic in his arguments... It is all ideological axes to grind... Clinton this... Clinton that... blah blah blah. He uses every right wing Talk radio talking point, and in the end, all he wants to do is score points for the "football" team that he roots for -- the Republican party.

Thomas R. is a different case, but similar one. Go back and read some of his Pre-Invasion posts about Iraq. He tries to pass himself off as an intellectual who is simply concerned about humanitarian issues, but there is no consistency to his stances – if you point out some of these inconsistencies, he claims ignorance on “those other matters” be it south east asia, or central America or whatever. His only consistent point is that he supports president Bush and his policies. At the end of the day, Thomas R. is a deeply religious man who shares Bush Jr.’s view on abortion. This colors all of his thinking, though he often tries to obfuscate this fact.

I don't hate Thomas for his religious beliefs, or for the fact that he places the Abortion issue above all others. Take a moral stand and stick with it. No problem.

But I despise his disingenuous posts about humanitarian issues, and the psydo - intellectualism that he tries to hide his faith and anti-abortion stances under. And all his claims of being a “well informed historian” disappear as soon as he is confronted with facts that contradict his statements. When this happens, he slinks away for a couple of weeks, after posting about how "he will never post on the political threads again. Because people here just don’t like him, and it’s not ‘diverse’ enough here to sustain a debate." It’s a desperate cry for attention and validation.

Both of Murphy and Thomas are sad sorry little men. In any other instance, I would ignore them or feel sorry for them. But it is them, and people like them who have brought Bush into power, and brought the U.S. into Iraq. So these people no longer get a free pass from me. They are flashing red targets for my helpless rage. Over the last 3 years, I've been as constructive as possible. Now I'm just looking for an emotional release that keeps a sniper rifle out of my hands

peace
-jl
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 10:51 am:   

Lassen wrote: all he wants to do is score points for the "football" team that he roots for -- the Republican party.

Yeah, heaven forbid there be an opposing view around here.

Christ, Lassen. If it is so irritating, why not just ban people like Thomas and me? :-)

Certainly be cheaper than buying a sniper rifle.

BTW, I have friends in Iraq, going to Iraq, or back from and going again. You hardly have a corner on the market of "my friend is over there."

S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 01:55 pm:   

Just in case anybody is as (purposefully?) thick witted as a certain Murphy, let me be clear. It’s not personal because someone may have friends or relatives serving and dying right now.

Its personal because these men and women (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/iraq/casualties/facesofthefallen.htm)
gave their lives for a lie. They are dead. Because somebody lied.

A soldiers job is to follow orders. A citizen’s job is to hold its leaders responsible for the actions they do in our names. Our soldiers are dead for no reason. 10's of thousands of Iraqi women and children are dead for no reason.

And yet there are still Bush apologists like SF murphy, who refuse to honor our fallen soldiers. Somebody put these brave men and women in harms way, for no justifiable reason. Somebody either lied, or was grossly incompetent, and was lied to by his cabinet. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The decision was made, based on a lie. And the command in chief bears that responsibility. Personal responsibility.

Patriotism is holding your leaders responsible for their actions... Patriotism is loyalty to ideals and country, not loyalty to political party. Yet some people can not seem to understand this simple concept.
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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 02:18 pm:   

Jeremy{It's personal. And I blame everyone who argued in favor of the war for the carnage that has taken place. This means you, Thomas.}

TR: I'm sorry for your friend. My brother is going to Iraq in a few months and I'm also nervous about it. I don't blame myself, he chose this life and accepted what that means, but if you need to blame me I understand. It's not rational, the war went on much the same regardless of what you or I did, but emotions aren't rational. I hope Ben returns safe and sound.

There is a history here that goes back over 2 years. SF Murphy and Thomas R have proven themselves to be disingenuous at best during the time they have spent posting to my message boards.

TR: I guess I was unaware this board was yours, or in least not as aware as of it as this post indicates. I'm sorry if I upset you.

Nevertheless you are being unfair. No one knows everything. When confronted with Soviet or European interventions in Africa or Central Asia Lucius conceded that wasn't his area either. I don't recall pleading ignorance on Southeast Asia as Asia is my field, but if you know of incidence okay. I also disagree with this inconsistency you state as, if anything, I've tended to be too consistent in my life. I didn't mention my view of abortion until I felt I no longer had any reputation to lose here. From the beginning I admitted several areas where I disagreed with Bush.

However this is about emotion, not reason. Perhaps on both sides, except I'm no longer mad at you in any way. Still considering your situation and beliefs I respect why you would still be mad with me. As this is your board I will defer to your wishes. If you wish me to leave I will leave. Not in a huff or because I feel ganged up on, but because of respect. I'm sorry again, if my presence has caused you pain.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 03:05 pm:   

Lassen wrote: Our soldiers are dead for no reason. 10's of thousands of Iraqi women and children are dead for no reason.

Your opinion, fortunately, is not MY opinion.

As for what I've been posting around here over the last two years, more often that not it has either been in political threads where it seems there was a lot of "ditto" behavior going on (translate: no contrary point of view aired or tolerated) or more often than not, threads talking about writing progress, or writers whose work I like.

Trolls, Lassen, would simply emerge and launch assaults on you, at will, at any location on the board, to include YOUR thread.

I've not done that. Time is tight in my life and each minute spent here is a minute not spent elsewhere.

And I say again, if people like me are such a problem, why not block people like me from posting?

Getting back around to the original gist around here, I've not heard any real alternatives. Matt Rossi does point out that clear, sensible planning is in order and I do agree with him there (though I suspect the devil in that agreement would be in the details of what he and I see as "clear" and "sensible") but that is a state of mind, not an alternative plan.

With the Sudan situation, I don't understand why the Muslim powers are so silent on this. The Western World is upset but the Muslims seem not to care a wit. Wonder what is up with that?

And perhaps those who desire to intervene, might want to consider that if the Muslim community is silent now, they probably won't be once Western Peacekeeping troops arrive.

[shrug]

S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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TR
Posted on Sunday, March 13, 2005 - 04:37 am:   

The Congo tops list of forgotten crises

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