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Jeff Topham
Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 08:14 am:   

Came across this article yesterday:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2003/03/19/left/index_np.html

I decided to post this for several reasons.

1. It's a thoughtful, articulate essay in support of the current war. There seems to be a decided lack of diversity in the viewpoints expressed on this message board, and it never hurts to test our ideas against another point of view. I think it's particularly interesting that this argument is coming from the Left.

2. Although I haven't changed my mind about my opposition to the war, this piece has been on my mind constantly since I read it and has forced me to reevaluate and think through some of my assumptions and beliefs. I think this is both valuable and important.

3. I'm curious to hear what other folks think of it.
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Libhawk
Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 04:29 pm:   

Actually, on the same subject, this interview with Paul Berman is worth reading:

http://www.salon.com/books/int/2003/03/22/berman/index_np.html
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jeffv
Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 07:27 pm:   

These are potentially persuasive arguments, but I'm unconvinced by them because I don't trust Bush. I don't think Bush wants a true democracy in Iraq--he wants a puppet regime that does his bidding. More frightening, he might in fact keep much of the current leadership of Iraq--including those who have tortured Iraqi civilians. So my problem with the argument is simply that Iraqis may suffer as much or close to as much under a new regime. The other thing is--if the humanitarian crisis gets worse re drinking water, etc., a lot of Iraqis are going to die this year due to the invasion.

Finally, neoconservatives see this as just the first step in a series of wars in the Middle East. I personally don't think the Middle East situation can be solved by American military might--and the repercussions may be quite horrible both for us, as we get overextended, and for that region. I just think we don't understand the implications of what we're doing.

But you're right--it's good to get other opinions.

I'm not against the war because I think Saddam Hussein isn't a tyrant. I'm against it because I'm convinced Bush is a tyrant. And any extension of his power domestically or abroad just allows him to curtail more of our civil liberties. That would be my rationale. In a sense, this rationale doesn't address the question of whether Iraqis would be better off under Hussein or under Bush.

JeffV
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 01:41 am:   

If you really want other opinions, look at arabnews.com - pretty much everything on their is worth reading. This is the Arab opinion - not fanatical by any means. The article 'Gulf States may be Next' is good.

Brendan
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Shawn Scarber
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 07:41 am:   

Here is a good article that kind of shadows the above. I hope this war is a wake up call to the United States. Our form of government is a good system for us, but not for the world.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/26/international/worldspecial/26ARAB.html?th
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Jeff Topham
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 08:31 am:   

I think the most compelling part of Lempinen's piece is the argument that the fight against suffering and oppression has always been a fundamental part of liberalism. If we were actually waging this war for Iraqi freedom, under a leader we could trust, how many of us would rally in support of it, and how many of us would be willing to go and fight?

And is this simply a militant form of cultural imperialism? Of course the Iraqis don't want a brutal dictator, but how committed are we really to Iraqi self-determination? What if they don't want a democracy? What if they want an Islamist state instead? Based on our follow-through in Afghanistan, it looks like Iraq had better not hope for too much in the wake of this war.

As Jeff V points out, Bush himself is the primary difficulty. His appeal to humanitarian motives has been shameless in its cynicism--this is a man who has repeatedly opposed US intervention on humanitarian grounds.

I think the part of the piece that spoke to me most powerfully was the observation that many on the Left (and I include myself here) only started to care deeply and passionately about the murder of Iraqi civilians after they were being bombed by US forces instead of being murdered by Hussein.
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JeffV
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 08:43 am:   

This adds some additional perspective. How much of it is true, I don't know.

That last point of yours is an important one.

Jeff

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=12776744&method=full&site id=50143

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JeffV
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 09:48 am:   

Yet another important link.

http://www.democracynow.org/fisk.htm

If Iraqi citizens and soldiers are fighting for their country, then we are quite simply an invading army of occupation, not liberators at all.

Jeff V
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JeffV
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 10:09 am:   

And yet another.

http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20030326020549668

Jeff
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 10:39 am:   

Jeff, if it is true, that piece from the Mirror the most worrying article I've so far read about this war.

According to the article below, the humanitarian crisis in Iraq is going to be too big for aid organisations to deal with.
http://www.sovereignty.org.uk/siteinfo/newsround/iraq1.html

(On the subject of weapons, this other article claims - pretty convincingly, to my mind - that Saddam's chemical and biological weapons were supplied, as 'dual use' items, by U.S. companies, licensed through the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Reagan and first Bush governments - thanks, the article says, to the efforts of Rumsfeld when he was Reagan's Middle East Envoy. This is the first I've heard about this beyond speculation and hearsay - though I might be behind the times. At any rate, it does nothing to make me think that Rumsfeld isn't a poisonous bastard, or that the present Bush administration possesses any virtue or sagacity.
http://www.rense.com/general35/rums.htm)

But yes, it's shamefully true that we don't tend to care about suffering people unless we have reason to feel personally guilty for their suffering. Perhaps the caring, then, when you get right down to it, is less compassion as such than a desire to rid ourselves of guilt.
I sometimes think that all the nobler human emotions can be traced back to roots of selfishness. Still, humans aren't angels; we're just fancy animals, and perhaps we shouldn't be surprised when we fall short in spiritual greatness. Some people seem to be better than most of us, but I believe they're few, and I don't count myself among them.
While it would have been better to care before, it's probably inevitable that most of us weren't going to have our hearts in it until we became guilty by association through our countries' involvement.
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 12:13 pm:   

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Ziad Khaled's eyes welled with tears when he spoke of the explosion that killed his aunt and two cousins. "She died in my own arms," he said of his cousin Maha, an 11-year-old schoolgirl.

Nearby, 14-year-old Hamza Kareem looked away and wiped his tears. "I am not afraid of anything," said the boy, his tough talk belied by his emotions.


While U.S. officials talk of precision bombing and military targets, few of Baghdad's 5 million residents can afford such a detached view of the war in their backyards.


For Kareem, Khaled and other Iraqis, the war has literally hit home.


They've lost relatives and friends; fear and grief are constant emotions. Looking beyond Iraq (news - web sites)'s latest conflict — the Arab nation waged two previous wars since 1980 — sometimes seems impossible in battle-hardened Baghdad.


In the city's latest tragedy, 14 civilians were killed and 30 injured in a missile attack Wednesday, Iraqi defense officials said — the worst single reported instance of civilian deaths since the U.S. bombing campaign began one week ago.


A smaller-scale tragedy occurred Monday in the al-A'azamiah district when a cruise missile struck as the call for the Muslim noon prayers blared from mosque minarets.


The strike killed five people and injured 27, flattening one home and damaging two others. Khaled, a 31-year-old father of two, rushed to his aunt's house to help, but there was little he could do against the dust and acrid haze of a bomb's aftermath.


Killed instantly was his aunt, 70-year-old Khoula Abdel-Fattah; her son and granddaughter Maha died later of their wounds. Three other family members were injured.


Khaled's grief is compounded by concern over his children: Khaled, 4, and Isra'a, 2. They are too young to comprehend the ugliness of war, yet they know something is wrong.


"When they hear explosions, I tell them it's thunder and beg them to go to sleep," said Khaled, speaking over the drone of warplanes flying above. "But even when they do go to sleep, they're restless and keep waking up.


"They look frightened and their faces are pale," he said.


Sameera Abdel-Sattar, a Baghdad widow, lives with her daughters just a stone's throw from the damaged houses. Both her parents — Abdel-Sattar Hassan and Belqis Abdullah — were injured in Monday's attack, which rattled their nerves as much as their homes.


Her daughter, 20-year-old Rasha, said the family has "lived at the house doorsteps since the attack" — ready to scramble for safety if the missiles begin falling again, staying inside only a few minutes at a time.


"Let us run out mother, there may be another missile coming," she screamed as her mother showed a visitor their damaged home. "Would Bush have this happen to his own family or his people?"


The bombing of Baghdad, launched in the early morning hours of March 18, has continued around the clock in sporadic bursts, leaving the locals to consider their options — a potential life and death decision.


Hundreds of thousands have fled the city, while others stayed put. For the latter group, deciding where to safely spend the night in Baghdad is a recurring question.





Such choices exact a subtle toll.

Kareem, a grammar school dropout, lacks the cockiness of most teens. The baby-faced youth won't consider what the next decade, or the next two decades, might hold.

"I don't think of the future," said Kareem, who earns less than 50 cents a day working at a bakery. "Maybe I'll be a soldier to fight the enemies of my country. I know I cannot go back to school, I am too old to return to 4th grade.

"Or maybe I'll just keep working in the bakery."

The bombings are also whipping anti-U.S. sentiments into a frenzy, with the chances of American forces receiving a liberator's welcome in Baghdad dwindling as a result.

State television constantly invites Iraqis to read venomous poems directed at President Bush (news - web sites) and his administration. Senior Iraqi officials feed the sentiment by deriding Bush as a "villain," "rascal" and "criminal" while emphasizing Iraq's civilian casualties.

"How can I not hate America?" Kareem asked.
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Libhawk
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 12:16 pm:   

'Based on our follow-through in Afghanistan, it looks like Iraq had better not hope for too much in the wake of this war.'


Take a page out of Orwell - the great should not be the enemy of the good. Does anyone seriously doubt that Karzai's rule is better for average Agfhanis than Mullah Omar's and the Taliban, backed by Al Qaeda? I don't care who the Americans put in power in Iraq, it cannot possibly be worse than Hussein.

People who draw a moral equivalence between Bush and Hussein baffle me. 'They're both tyrants!' Let's talk again when Bush hires a man to rape and torture the young daughters of his political opponents while their fathers are forced to watch. Or when he takes the losing members of the US Olympic team, has them whipped until bloody and them immerses them in raw sewage so their wounds become infected. Or when he buys the fearful loyalty of his closest advisors by imprisoning their sons and daughters and threatening their torture and execution if their fathers should misbehave. Ask poor Tariq Aziz sometime how his son, who languishes in an Iraqi jail, is doing. Or foreign minister Sabry's kids, both of whom were tortured by Hussein, one to death.

Bush is a shithead who'll be out of office in a few years, but Hussein is a monster -- a monster on the scale of Hitler and Stalin, with the same sadistic ruthlessness and the same outsized ambitions for his corner of the world, ambitions which have remained potential rather than actual only because Dubya's father went to war against him those many years ago. Question: did the pacifists, those people now talking about how we should give inspections and containment a chance, support the first Gulf War, the one without which there would later have been no inspections, no containment? Of course not. They marched and protested just like they are now and cried NO BLOOD FOR OIL the same as today. No one remembers? Amazing.

As for the Mirror article, if there's something the US should really be embarassed about it's not this invasion, but the fact that in '91 they promised to support the Shiites in case of an uprising, failed to follow up, and when the Basrans revolted Hussein butchered them. The number killed? About a hundred thousand, which is at least a couple of orders of magnitude greater than the number of civilian casualties expected to occur in this war. Think about that the next time your wringing your hands about the cruise missiles.
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Bob
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 04:15 pm:   

Wow.
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JeffV
Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 04:58 pm:   

Agreed--Hussein is a tyrant and should be forced out. But this was not the way to do it. I would also call your attention to U.S. torture of detainees from both the Taliban and bin laden's group. Including the beating to death of two suspects. In addition to U.S. support of regimes that continue to torture and slaughter their own citizens. Our level of complicity is often one step removed, but only one step.

As for Bush--I'm not convinced he will be gone in 4 years. Or in eight, actually.

JeffV
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 02:57 am:   

As far as I am concerned Bush is worse than Sadaam, because he is infinitely more dangerous. If Sadaam should be forced out of power, fine. But it should be his own people who do it, not the U.S. Right now he is the most popular man in the Arab world - and we have Bush to thank for that. How many thousands of Osamas will grow from this war?

Sadaam has killed his own people? So that makes it ok for the US/UK to do the same?

Civilians Slaughtered
Robert Fisk, The Independent


BAGHDAD, 27 March 2003 — It was an outrage, an obscenity. The severed hand on the metal door, the swamp of blood and mud across the road, the human brains inside a garage, the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still smoldering car. Two missiles from a single American jet killed them all — more than 20 Iraqi civilians, torn to pieces before they could be ‘liberated’ by the nation which destroyed their lives.

Who dares, I ask myself, to call this ‘collateral damage’? Abu Taleb Street was packed with pedestrians and motorists when the American pilot approached through the dense sandstorm that covered northern Baghdad in a cloak of red and yellow dust and rain yesterday morning. It’s a dirt poor neighborhood — of mostly Shiite Muslims, the same people whom Messers Bush and Blair still fondly hope will rise up against Saddam — a place of oil-sodden car repair shops, overcrowded apartments and cheap cafes.

Everyone I spoke to heard the plane. One man, so shocked by the headless corpses he had just seen, could only say two words. “Roar, flash,’’ he kept saying and then closed his eyes so tight that the muscles rippled between them.

How should one record so terrible an event? Perhaps a medical report would be more appropriate. But the final death toll is expected to be near to 30 and Iraqis are now witnessing these awful things each day; so there is no reason why the truth — all the truth — of what they see should not be told.

For another question occurred to me as I walked through this place of massacre yesterday. If this is what we are seeing in Baghdad, what is happening in Basra and Nassiriyah and Karbala? How many civilians are dying there too, anonymously, indeed unrecorded, because there are no reporters to be witness to their suffering?

Abu Hassan and Malek Hammoud were preparing lunch for customers at the Nasser Restaurant on the north side of Abu Taleb Street. The missile that killed them landed next to the westbound carriageway, its blast tearing away the front of the cafe and cutting the two men — the first 48, the second only 18 — to pieces. One of their fellow workers led me through the rubble. “This is all that is left of them now,’’ he said, holding out before me an oven pan dripping with blood.

At least 15 cars burst into flames burning many of their occupants to death. Several men tore desperately at the doors of another flame-shrouded car in the center of the street which had been slipped upside down by the same missile. They were forced to watch helplessly as the woman and her three children inside were cremated alive in front of them. The second missile hit neatly on the east-bound carriageway, sending shards of metal into three men standing outside a concrete apartment block with the words “This is God’s possession’’ written in marble on the outside wall.

The building’s manager, Hishem Danoon, ran to the doorway as soon as he heard the massive explosion. “I found Ta’ar in pieces over there,’’ he told me. His head was blown off. “That’s his hand.’’ A group of young men and women took me into the street and there, a scene from any horror film, was Ta’ar’s hand, cut off at the wrist, his four fingers and thumb grasping a piece of iron roofing. His young colleague Sermed died the same instant. His brains lay piled a few feet away, a pale red and gray mess behind a burned car. Both men worked for Danoon. So did a doorman who was also killed.

As each survivor talked, the dead regained their identities. There was the electrical ship owner killed behind his counter by the same missile that cut down Ta’ar and Sermed and the doorman, and the young girl standing on the central reservation, trying to cross the road, and the truck driver who was only feet from the point of impact and the beggar who regularly called to see Danoon for bread and who was just leaving when the missiles came soaring down through the sandstorm to destroy him.

In Qatar, the Anglo-American forces — let’s forget this nonsense about “coalition” — announced an inquiry. The Iraqi government, who are the only ones to benefit from the propaganda value of such a blood bath, naturally denounced the slaughter which they initially put at 14 dead. So what was the real target? Some Iraqis said there was a military encampment less than a mile from the street, though I couldn’t find it. Others talked about a local fire brigade headquarters, but the fire brigade can hardly be described as military target.

Certainly, there had been an attack less than an hour earlier on a military camp further north. I was driving past the base when two rockets exploded and I saw Iraqi soldiers running for their lives out of the gates and along the side of the highway. Then I heard two more explosions — these were the missiles that hit Abu Taleb Street.

Of course, the pilot who killed the innocent yesterday could not see his victims. Pilots fire through computer-aligned coordinates and the sandstorm yesterday would have hidden the street from his vision. But when one of Malek Hammoud’s friends asked me how the Americans could so blithely kill those they claimed to want to liberate, he didn’t want to learn about the science of avionics or weapons delivery systems. And why should he? For this is happening almost every day in Baghdad.

The truth is that nowhere is safe now in Baghdad and as the Americans and British close their siege of the city in the next few days or hours, that simple message will become ever more real and ever more bloody. We may put on the hairshirt of morality in explaining why theses people should die. They died because of Sept. 11, we may say, because of Saddam’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’, because of human rights abuses, because of our desperate desire to ‘liberate’ them all. Let us not confuse the issue with oil. Either way, I’ll bet we are told that Saddam is ultimately responsible for their deaths. We shan’t mention the pilot, of course.

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Colin Brush
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 03:54 am:   

For anyone posting here in the UK, did you hear the Today program on Radio 4 this morning? They were quoting Rumsfeld as saying that the US may have to deploy some of their 'non-lethal' chemical weapons if it comes to street fighting in Baghdad.

Can't find any other reports of this on the web as yet.

From what they were saying this is roughly the same stuff as the Russians used in their opera siege - that killed 120 of the 700 or so civilians and terrorists it was used on.

I think I was shouting at the radio quite a lot at this point.

After the double standards regarding footage of bodies and prisoners (which both sides have been using as propaganda), I don't know why I'm surprised, but surely there comes a point where these people can't get any more hypocritical about this stuff.

Isn't there?
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 04:23 am:   

You're speaking of Fentenol. It *is* non-lethal, if properly ventilated. I think it deprives the brain of oxygen, so prolonged exposure, especially in enclosed spaces -- like an opera house -- will most certainly kill.
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Jeff Topham
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 04:57 am:   

Libhawk: I think I wasn't adequately clear on my point regarding Afghanistan. Obviously the Karzai government is an improvement over the Taliban. My point was that US support for Karzai's government has been half-hearted and ineffectual. If this is what post-Hussein Iraq has to look forward to, we will have let them down.

I also think your dismissal of demonstrations against the Gulf War largely misses the point. Hussein's oppression of his own people had been thoroughly documented by human rights organizations since he came to power in the early 80s. All these reports were dismissed and ignored by the Reagan administration, which actually blocked UN motions critical of Hussein's government. I can't speak for the entirety of the anti Gulf War movement, but many of us protested that war for its hypocrisy. Sanctions and containment could have been pursued at any time; the Gulf War was not a necessary first step. Indeed, it indicates a failure on the part of the UN to institute these policies before it came to war. That war was about US oil interests first and aggression against a sovereign nation second. The human rights abuses you mention seem to have played no part in it at all.
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Libhawk
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 08:35 am:   

>>I can't speak for the entirety of the anti Gulf War movement, but many of us protested that war for its hypocrisy.


And that's just the problem. Hypocrisy is not a reason to protest a war if the war is otherwise justifiable.

Ask yourself the following question -- imagine that documents came out tomorrow that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Roosevelt and a shadowy cabal of advisors prosecuted WWII in order to gain control of German corporate interests after the war.

Would that make WWII less just? Would that erase the sacrifice that thousands of American soldiers made in liberating Europe from fascism? Would it erase the fact that liberation is what those soldiers fought for and that they in fact SUCCEEDED?

Of course not. It would be historically interesting and would cause us to reexamine Roosevelt as a person, but that's about it. No one would argue that this finding would somehow trump the good of liberating Auschwitz, for example. Ever heard of the intentional fallacy, JeffT? It's as applicable to politics as it is to literature.

I don't believe for a moment that this war is being fought on behalf of "corporate interests". For the last ten years oil companies have been lobbying the government to ease sanctions on Iraq so they can play too, and if Bush had in fact wanted to make them happy that's exactly what he would have done. Hussein would of course have embraced them, because historically there's no greater hedge against military action by the US than to have excellent relations with US companies. To think that Bush would have gone to all this trouble, risk his popularity, set back the economy, incur American casualties and piss off half the world in order to do something that he could have accomplished just as easily with the stroke of a pen doesn't pass the straight face test. And the strongest proof, frankly, is that the US oil companies are not very happy about the war either -- obviously they would love to drill in Iraq, but they would want it to be accomplished by lifting sanctions. To do it through a war means risking all that they have gained all across the rest of the Middle East, with growing anti-americanism making it harder for them to get new contracts and to keep the ones they have, and making conditions far less safe for their US workers.

Bush's decision is POLITICAL. You can disagree with the politics, if you want, but it's just a cheap rhetorical ploy to argue that he's motivated by other interests so that you can bypass a discussion of the arguments for war on the merits. (It's just as cheap, actually, as the administration's ploy of arguing that anyone who espouses arguments against the war is "anti-American".)

Unfortunately I got off on a tangent, because my point was not to argue whether the war was financially motivated but to argue that it just doesn't MATTER. The justice of the war needs to be measured by its effects. And its effect (hopefully) will be the end of a horrible fascist nightmare for the people of Iraq and the destruction of Hussein's MWD. Now assume for a moment that Exxon and Conoco get a couple of juicy contracts. Can you seriously argue that that somehow negates the good that would come from getting rid of this complete monster, from ensuring that he can no longer kill and torture with impunity?

Of course not.
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JeffV
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 09:15 am:   

It's hard to take seriously someone who won't even reveal their identity. I think you make some good points re the oil angle. But if you're going to remain anonymous, I dunno.

JeffV
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 09:21 am:   

I guess it is better for Americans to kill Arabs than Sadaam? It is somehow moral?

Cheney's company just got a sweet contract for 1 billion dollars to put out oil fires . . . Of course he 'quit' but the company still gives him 1 million a year. And of course those 74 billion Bush asked for yesterday. Whose hands does that money go into? Well, a lot of it defense contractors. It is business.

Sadaam a monster? Then why did the CIA run by papa Bush put him in power?


Respectfully,

Brendan
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Colin Brush
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 09:55 am:   

Your analysis of America's involvement in WWII, Libhawk, sounds rather intentionally fallacious.

America did not fight a 'just war' to save Europe from fascism. America fought in Europe to protect its own interests abroad (and only AFTER its hand was forced by Japan).

No one fights a war on moral grounds - despite what our leaders are trying to tell us currently. Countries are as self-serving as human beings. They do it to get something they want or to protect their own interests.

The consequences of WWII may have been just, as you suggest, but few knew of what was really happening until after the war. Which brings me to . . .

The problem with the current Iraq case is that America is taking an enormous gamble in the hope that they can make the world 'right' through this one action. That it will scare all the other tinpot dictators and harborors of terrorists around the world into renouncing their ways. Iraq is no more than an example - not to mention an irritating boil the Bush administration would like lanced, a little unfinished business from daddy's day.

The reason people are protesting is that this policy is woefully misguided at best, because it is a gamble - first, that military success will follow with only a small number of casualties on both sides; second, that the middle east will be more stable in the long term (no one, I hope, is stupid enough to believe it will make it more stable in the short term); third, that other states will think twice before getting involved in activity contrary to American interests. What many protestors I've talked to fear is that the gamble will not pay off. Or if it does, what's next - North Korea?

America and Britain are not acting hypocritically in prosecuting this war, but they are talking hypocritically in trying to justify their case for war.
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 10:28 am:   

Er...sorry to add my two cents -- it seems you all are still side-stepping Libhawk's argument by quibbling over tangents rather than addressing his main point, ie. a war must be measured by its effect rather than its impetus -- which, to be frank, none of you have presented anything but rumor and rampant speculation as evidence of the validity of your opinions; and yes, I especially mean anything published in The Guardian.
Libhawk says: "Bush is a shithead who'll be out of office in a few years, but Hussein is a monster"
And Jeff replies: "Hussein is a tyrant and should be forced out. But this was not the way to do it.... As for Bush--I'm not convinced he will be gone in 4 years. Or in eight, actually."
Tangential and -- sorry Jeff, no disrespect intended -- extremely hard to countenance. At best this is a straw man, Jeff putting up a diversion rather than addressing the true point of the statement. At worst, Jeff actually believes this...but Jeff is way too smart for that, in my opinion. The biggest problem I have with this response is there isn't a single constructive comment made. If war isn't the way we thrust an entrenched despot out of power, what is? Brendan suggests the Iraqi's should take care of Hussein...perhaps the least realistic scenario I could envision. Are we talking about the same Iraqi people who are starving to death and don't even have cars with which to flee impending wars? Come on.
If not war, what means could be used to remove Hussein from power -- if we can all stipulate he in fact does need to be removed. Sanctions? Nope; twelve years of economic sanctions did nothing but harm Iraqi citizens, Hussein continued to build palaces and monuments to himself while his people died of malnutrition and lack of rudimentary medical care. U.N. resolutions? Get serious. The U.N. has proven itself completely incapable of resolute action. It's good for nothing but generating paperwork. Good feelings? Sunshine? Prayer? Mean e-mails?
What may I ask, would effectively remove Sadaam Hussein from power besides war?
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Jeff Topham
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 11:12 am:   

OK,let's assume for the sake of argument that there is a moral imperative behind the current war--the removal of a brutal despot from power--and in order to achieve that goal the US is justified in acting without the sanction of the UN or the majority of the world community. What's next? Do we bring a just war to North Korea, to China or Nigeria? Are the injustices there any less compelling than those in Iraq? If we accept your argument that we must pursue one, then we must pursue them all.

I for one, am finding this exchange extremely interesting. At least we all agree that Bush is a shithead.
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 11:19 am:   

Yeah, as a long term Republican, I would like to apologize for that one...
As for the U.N., what action to they ever endorse? This war is "legal", when you consider the current Security Council Declaration. Why aren't the rest of the countries backing the motion they already passed for "serious consequences" if Hussein attempted any of his delaying tactics on the weapons inspectors? That motion was unanimous, I might add.
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 12:02 pm:   

Why are the Iraqis starving? Because the US has starved them with sanctions. Is it America's job to get rid of whatever dictator it does not like?

I honestly think the Iraqi people would be better off with Sadaam and no sanctions than what is going on now - and I bet most Iraqis would agree with that. Does anyone hear actually think that Bush cares about the Iraqis? Has Bush ever even been to a third world country? When he visited Italy after his 'election' it was the first time he had even been to Europe. Is it such a certainty that America knows what is morally best for the world? Bush talks about 'freedom' and Blaire talks about what is 'right'. Bush does not care about freedom. He is just parroting some line his speechwriter gave him. And what makes Blaire know what is 'right' for the world?

And after Iraq? What next? Iran. Korea. Syria. And after the next terror attack? What will the people of the world say?

Brendan
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Libhawk
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 01:01 pm:   

>>What's next? Do we bring a just war to North Korea, to China or Nigeria? Are the injustices there any less compelling than those in Iraq? If we accept your argument that we must pursue one, then we must pursue them all.


I don't see why. This is "just war" we're talking about here, not Kant's categorical imperative. If a war is just it means you are morally ENTITLED to prosecute it, not that you are morally OBLIGATED to do so. Whether you do or don't depends on a whole host of other factors, military, political and otherwise. Invading North Korea would probably result in Kim Jong Il flattening Seoul with an atomic weapon. I doubt anyone wants to see THAT. Even just attacking the plant carries a risk that he would do so.
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 01:46 pm:   

Just war? Morally entitled? I don't believe either of those things are true. It is an invasion. An occupation. I do not see any morals here at all. Morals are just a smoke screen. Does anyone really believe Bush is a moral person? He looks overjoyed that people are dying. He looks like he can barely keep from laughing. Does anyone really think he feels bad for the dead - Americans or Iraqis? I sure don't.

Brendan
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 02:59 pm:   

Er...that seems a bit dogmatic.
Bush is Satan! Bush wants us all to die! Bush has oil in his veins!
Come on Brendan. Postulating Sadaam needs to go -- you agreed to that in an earlier post -- and accepting your assertion that war isn't the way to accomplish that commonly acknowledged goal, what else could we do?
Really, I'm not trying to bait you. I want to know what other means you think we have to oust Sadaam Hussein.
And, just as a side note, you really don't believe there's such thing as a just war? What about the Civil War? The Revolutionary War? What about William Wallace's Scottish Uprising? Not to mention WWII -- regardless of our delayed entry into it. I firmly believe there is such thing as a just war, in fact I can't imagine you truly believing otherwise.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 03:08 pm:   

As Bob suggested earlier... Lets cut through the bullshit about "morality" and "entitlement", which, though compelling, do not get to the crux of what terrifies me:


It comes down to a simple question. Will America somehow be safer, or better off after this war than it was before the war.

I think the answer is NO, for the following reasons:

1)Hussain was never connected to terrorists, and he was never connected to weapons of mass destruction... and even if he DID have weapons of mass destruction, it was in his own best interest to NOT use them against us, nor let them fall in the hands of terrorists. Iraq was never a threat to the U.S.

2) We are radicalizing otherwise moderate Moslems... that is to say, every time we kill a civilian, we are making more terrorists.

3) The Money for this war is not free -- it is money that is not being spent to protect our national infrastructure from terrorist attacks. Our bridges, water supplies, nuclear reactors, buildings, and ports are just as vulnerable to attack today as they were Pre-Sept 11th.

4) As a result of this war, just about every government is the world is now AGAINST us. We have no allies in our "war on terror", thanks to this heavy-handed handling of Iraq. No more international police co-operation which has proven to be one of the most effective methods of stopping terrorists.

5) Bush's "Preemptive war" policy makes the world a more dangerous place, not a safer one. N. Korea has already said they will follow our lead, and "Preemptively" attack us, if they believe we are going to attack them.



What worries me is... If my assessment is correct, and the points above are accurate -- The people in charge of the government do not have our best interests in mind... They may actually BENIFIT from another terrorist attack. Mark my words. We will have a "July 11th, 2004" terrorist attack that will propel bush into a second term. It is in the Bush regimes best interest to have a terrorist attack in the middle of the 2004 election.

Would you put it past this administration to say "Let the N. Koreans Nuke California... They don't vote for us anyway. And it would make the entire country rally round the republican flag." The Korean ICBM's can only reach California, after all.

Because of the way Bush and his administration has conducted itself in the past, I would not be surprised if a memo to this effect was leaked tomorrow. A memo was leaked last June that said Rove was telling republicans to use Iraq to distract the public from domestic problems during the mid-term elections. They did just that.

If this seems cynical, then I have been made that way by the Bush regime, which has been described as the "most politically motivated white house in modern history" -- by a member of the white house cabinet! Every decision is based on how it benefits the republican administration, and how it hurts the democrats.

This war is just another exercise in domestic politics, because it sure has hell doesn't advance the interests of the country.


I am morally OUTRAGED by the hypocrisies spouted, and the atrocities carried out by the administration.

But I am TERRIFIED of the people running this country, because they do not have the best interests of the country in mind. In fact, they stand to benefit if the country suffers.

-JL
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 10:49 pm:   

Bob - My whole point is that it is a mistake to oust Sadaam. That this has somehow become national priority is pathetic. And, as Jeremy pointed out, it will in the long run cause more harm than good - particularly to Americans. It is not in the national interest. I am positive of that.

I am not saying Bush is Satan - but niether is Sadaam. They are both jerks. Bush just happens to be the aggressor.

Brendan
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Bob
Posted on Friday, March 28, 2003 - 05:19 am:   

Okay.
Brendan:
I entered these discussions, after several months hiatus. I tended to avoid any talk of the war with anyone who wasn't like minded because I had enough to deal with being I fearful for my sister. But lately, I've become a bit confused as to the impetus behind our invasion. In other words, I'm something of a disenchanted conservative voter looking for answers and some intelligent, thoughtful discussion.
I'm not getting it. What I'm getting instead is dogma recited by rote. People are dying, bombs are falling, AMERICAN soldiers are risking their lives. These are facts. What you think of Bush and his administration has absolutely no bearing on the question at hand.
What should be done, if not war?
You say Hussein doesn't support terrorism. Bullshit, I say. The first official communiqe from Hussein after Bush issued his 48 hour ultimatum was a promise of rewards for the families of anyone willing to become a suicide bomber. There are at least four terrorist groups based out of Iraq, according to the Cato Institute. The leader of the Palestine Liberation Front, Abu Abbas, calls Baghdad home. A recent statement from the PLF claims that one of their guerilla commandos was killed in a missile attack on Baghdad. That leads one to ask, why is a terrorist, a member of one of the most viscious terror groups in the world, doing in peace loving, terrorist free, Iraq? Not only in Iraq, but in a command and control station on the outskirts of Baghdad, no less?
Might I suggest Iraq is just the terrorist state the Bush administration asserts it is?
You say it's a mistake to oust Hussein, that there isn't either a moral or national security imperative.
Fine, ignoring the terrorists Hussein does harbor, what about the WMDs he is known to have? What about the decade of defiance to several seperate United Nations resolutions? What about 1441 and the "serious consequences" that passed unanimously via the Security Council? What about our duty to our ally, Israel, and the money Hussein's regime has been funneling for terror attacks upon civilians in that country?
And again I ask, what would you have us do? Do you have any alternative to offer? Or are you going to continue to do nothing but denounce what IS being done, without offering anything constructive in return?
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Libhawk
Posted on Friday, March 28, 2003 - 07:55 am:   

"What about the decade of defiance to several seperate United Nations resolutions? What about 1441 and the "serious consequences" that passed unanimously via the Security Council?"


Sigh. I realize I'm playing armchair quarterback here, but the unfortunate thing is that it really should not have been that hard to get UN backing for this thing and to assemble a coalition like Shithead's Dad did. And the key to it is in your questions above, Bob. Hussein is clearly in breach of US resolutions and has been for years. It's a no-brainer. What Bush should have done diplomatically, way back when, was announce that the US was committed to making the UN relevant again and that disarming Hussein was going to be the test case. What we got instead was one of the worst cases of diplomatic botching in US history. Very unfortunate.
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Bob
Posted on Friday, March 28, 2003 - 08:28 am:   

"I realize I'm playing armchair quarterback here, but the unfortunate thing is that it really should not have been that hard to get UN backing for this thing and to assemble a coalition like Shithead's Dad did."

And the key to that is in your statement above, Libhawk. Shithead decided he wanted to be remembered as the tough president, I guess.
What I think Bush hasn't encountered yet is the law of diminishing returns. There's going to be less and less support from within and without his administration for these kind of Clint Eastwood, "Do you feel lucky, punk?" diplomatic blunders.
What surprises me most about the Leftist arguments I've read in the various papers is the apparent inability to see the irrelevancy of the U.N., as it stands.
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, March 28, 2003 - 09:38 am:   

Bob:

Nowadays anyone the US does not like is dubbed 'terrorist'. Sadaam had nothing to do with 9/11 and that is a fact. After the US invaded Iraq of course he is going to say that America is not safe. As for Palestine - the people there consider themselves fighting for liberation.

You say that I am reciting dogma by rote. To me hearing eternally about 'terrorists' 'liberating Iraq' 'WMDs' sounds equally like dogma recited by rote. Where are the WMDs that Sadaam is known to have? If the US had intelligence why did they not share it with the inspectors?

I don't like to get be argumentative, but for me what I am saying is not dogma. It is what I sincerely believe. And it is not like this is stuff I have not thought about.

What should be done if not war? No war. The US should pull out and go home. Simple.

In any case. I don't mean to sound belligerent, but I just think the premises for this war are, to put it mildly, weak.

Brendan
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Jeff Topham
Posted on Friday, March 28, 2003 - 09:52 am:   

Bob: I think we're spinning our wheels here by focusing on arguments about what *should have* happened. It seems to me that this has become largely pointless in practical terms, although I think it's still very important to try and figure out how we got into this mess in the first place.

IMO, the pressing question now is what to do given what is *actually* happening. In practical terms, a US withdrawal from Iraq right now would probably be disastrous--it would further bolster Hussein's power and effectively remove our ability to impose any future restraints upon him.

Nonetheless, I think protests against the war should continue, for many of the reasons that Jeremy mentions above. If nothing else, they send the Bush admin the signal that there are millions of people who have seen through the illogic of his rhetoric and are not simply willing to capitulate to his incoherent and self-serving rationalizations. Quixotic? Perhaps, but I'm not so sure. It should never be easy for a leader of a nation to wage war, and no leader should ever expect that their reasons for doing so should be above critical examination and dissent.

Furthermore, it seems likely that this war will result in further terrorist attacks, which will no doubt be used to bully the spineless turds in Congress into passing Ashcroft's Patriot II legislation, which makes the original read like the Bill of Rights. Now, more than ever, there needs to be intense scrutiny focused on Bush and his administration. Preventing the intrusion of government into the private lives of its citizens is a common ground that should unite both liberal and conservative.

Best,

JT
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, March 28, 2003 - 12:37 pm:   

On the coalition of the willing . . .

By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

VIENNA, Austria - As coalition casualties mount, America's allies in the war with Iraq are cautiously redefining their roles to appease angry opponents at home.

Resolve remained strong Friday among key coalition members Australia, Britain and the United States, and there were no desertions among the smaller nations offering non-combat troops, logistical help and moral support.


But with anti-war sentiment raging in many countries, and a perception growing that Operation Iraqi Freedom could take longer than war planners anticipated, some governments were taking pains to clarify exactly what they are — and are not — willing to do:


_ Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, rushed to reassure the country that the deployment in northern Iraq of 1,000 U.S. paratroopers stationed in Italy did not break his pledge that Italian bases won't be used for direct attacks on Iraq.


_ Lawmakers in South Korea (news - web sites), stung by growing opposition to the war, on Friday delayed a vote to authorize the deployment of 700 non-combat military personnel to the Gulf. "There is so little reason to pass the motion and so many reasons to vote it down," legislators opposed to the deployment said in a statement.


_ The Netherlands, which has 370 Air Force personnel and three Patriot missile-defense systems on the Turkish border with Iraq, said again that it won't get involved in combat operations because of weak support from a fiercely anti-war public. The Dutch said they would consider U.S. requests for further help on a case-by-case basis.


_The tiny Alpine nation of Slovenia on Thursday granted flyover rights to U.S. planes carrying personnel and equipment in humanitarian missions to northern Iraq, but not for military transports in support of the war.


British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites), acknowledging the mounting allied casualties and the difficulties coalition forces have faced, cautioned Friday that removing Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) from power would be "tough and difficult."


"It was never going to be a situation (where) these people were simply going to give up power and go away," Blair told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.


Other governments in the coalition were standing firm, even if that meant taking some significant criticism from an unhappy population.


Spain, which has dispatched 9,000 troops to Iraq for humanitarian operations despite overwhelming public opposition to the war, hasn't budged. Neither has Romania, also despite widespread opposition.


Denmark's prime minister, whose government has sent a submarine and a ship to the Gulf, urged the public to temper expectations of a quick and relatively bloodless conflict.


"We currently see in the media a lot of unpleasant photos from the war," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. "But I can assure that all kind of considerations are been taken to limit the casualties."


There was some dissent in the ranks: Poland, which has sent 200 elite troops to the Gulf, chastised Bush for describing the commandos' actions in Iraq and said he shouldn't use the troops "for propaganda."


Bush also was taking heat from countries included on Washington's 45-nation coalition list that insist they don't belong there.


The Czech Republic insisted it's not a coalition member, even though the government sent 400 anti-chemical warfare specialists to Kuwait.


Using force to impose democracy in Iraq, Czech President Vaclav Klaus warned this week, is a notion "from another universe" and sets a dangerous precedent.





Opposition parties in Hungary, which has opened a military base for the U.S. Army to train Iraqi dissidents for non-combat support roles and postwar administration, were stepping up their drive to get the country off the list.

Being seen as part of the coalition "would damage Hungary's credibility in both the Muslim and the Western worlds," complained Zsolt Nemeth, a leading opposition politician.

Croatia, too, is annoyed at being counted among the willing just because it opened its airspace and bases to U.S. civilian aircraft. President Stipe Mesic denounced the war as "illegitimate" because it lacks U.N. backing.

A number of coalition nations were drawing the line at a U.S. request to expel Iraqi diplomats and close missions.

Australia, Britain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, the Philippines, Romania and the United States are the only coalition members that have expelled Iraqi envoys.

The Netherlands won't do it. Neither will Japan, which has offered postwar humanitarian help.

And Prime Minister Simeon Saxcoburggotski of Bulgaria, which is among Washington's most ardent supporters and has approved 100 non-combat troops for Gulf duty, said he saw no legal grounds to expel Iraqi diplomats.
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Barth
Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 10:57 am:   

Interesting discussion. Bob and Libhawk, let me ask you something. From what I've read, you seem to support this war because Saddam is a heinous leader, bent on ruthless, authoritarian rule. In and of itself, that's arguably a just reason to take him out. But do you think the Iraq War will provide a precedent for North Korea, Yemen, Iran, Qatar, Libya? Will you support future wars under these same conditions? Or do you think America will stop at Iraq? If so, why?

After 911, Bush warned the US and the world that the War on Terror would be a long one, which says to me that the Iraq War is just the second of a series of wars. (We've got two wars going now - Iraq and Afghanistan - and Rumsfeld has threatened North Korea that America is capable of a third). To me, America seems to have abandoned its traditional alliances in favor of behaving like a historical and hysterical empire, lashing out of fear at the barbarians at the gate. Do you have a different take on the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptively attacking countries that seem to threaten us?
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Bob
Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 01:31 pm:   

Barth: Whoops! I'm not for the war at all! Check the 'Impeach George Bush' thread, I've stated repeatedly my reservation as to the veracity of the administrations policy.
What I'm for are the American troops fighting the war. Waht I'm also for is a true pragmatic action, and I'm interested in a constructive discussion of the issue.

Brendan:

quote:

Nowadays anyone the US does not like is dubbed 'terrorist'. Sadaam had nothing to do with 9/11 and that is a fact. After the US invaded Iraq of course he is going to say that America is not safe. As for Palestine - the people there consider themselves fighting for liberation.



Cop out. You're absolutely right, Sadaam had nothing to do with 9/11, and only a fool -- read Bush -- would argue otherwise. But that's not the point. Sadaam does house TERRORISTS, people who attempt to sow terror for political purposes through the commission of atrocious acts of violence and intimidation. The PLF has been in on more than their share of suicide bombings.
As for the people in Palestine who consider themselves fighting for liberation, killing school children on their buses and old ladies at market is the way they think they'll accomplish that?
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Barth
Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 02:11 pm:   

Bob: Sorry. Haven't kept up on all the threads. I guess I misread your lengthy, impassioned questioning of the anti-war side and pro-troops bent in this thread as pro-war.

That said, I'll press forward. What does your desire for "true pragmatic action" mean where Iraq is concerned, if not military action?

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Bob
Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 03:54 pm:   

That's exactly my point. The main thrust of most of the posts deal with what we shouldn't be doing, ie war. My problem with that isn't, in fact, the lack of support for the military action in Iraq, but the complete lack of constructive presentation of alternatives. I haven't seen one single plan of action offered as an alternative other than Brendan's suggestion we pull out of Iraq immediately, which could only damage our national security at this point, weakening our military image, which is the only facet of our international diplomatic package left to us now that we've completely squandered any good sentiment America had with the world community.
Truthfully, I can't think of a single thing we can do to salvage the situation but to hold course, defeat the opposition forces in Iraq, and keep the faith with the Iraqi people by rebuilding their country as best we can, putting in place an infrastructure that truly reflects the makeup and desires of the Iraqi populace -- not a puppet regime, but a vital government subject to any changes the Iraqis might deem necessary, and completely unbeholden to the U.S. At that point we need to pull our forces and bureaucracy out of Baghdad and leave Iraq to its own devices, a country free to sink or swim, depending on its own predilections.
Oh, and as I understand it, money from the sale of Iraqi oil is going to pay for any nation building the Bush administration intends. That, in itself, isn't such a bad idea, but I truly hope they don't continue to bestow these plum contracts to their buddies -- Cheney's former company receiving the contract to cap the oil fires leaves a real taint, don't you think?
If we were to pull out now, all we would do is invite other terrorist states to challenge our will to do war, the perception of which is the most effective facet of our forward projection strategy.
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2003 - 02:30 am:   

Bob -- I understand your point. I am not saying that Sadaam has never commited acts of "terrorism", I meant terrorism against the US. At least prior to this invasion. Also, it seems that "shock and awe" is basically just a nice way of saying "terrorise".

The whole situation is a big mess. I don't really see any winner. Even if Sadaam is killed, it could hardly be called a victory at this point.

Brendan
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Bob
Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2003 - 03:56 am:   

Re Victory: Certainly not, Brendan. We all lost when the first bombs fell. Here's something Matt Stover posted at the Dead Cities portion of Singularity:


quote:

There has never been a just [war], never an honorable one -- on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful -- as usual -- will shout for the war. The pulpit will -- warily and cautiously -- object -- at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, 'It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.' Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers -- as earlier -- but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation -- pulpit and all -- will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.



--Mark Twain

I liked that enough to send it to most of the people in my address book, many of them former soldiers, and in Mike Moorcock's case, he remembers the German air raids during WWII quite clearly.
At this point I don't think we should be looking for glory or victory, we should be looking to our future, and what measures we can take to regain America's prominence on the world stage without resorting to our military might.

All best,
Bob
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Bob
Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2003 - 04:22 am:   

Re Sadaam's Terrorism and Shock and Awe: I don't really think it's a matter of who Sadaam terrorizes with his funding of the PLF and the numerous atrocities he's committed against his own civilian population. bin Laden hadn't committed terror attacks against the U.S. until the late 90's, but he sure made up for his tardiness, now didn't he? One thing I agree with Bush, 100%, is that terrorism necessarily must be eradicated as a factor in world politics, or no one is safe to voice their opinions anywhere, anytime. I do, however, feel the administration needs to publish a comprehensive list of the pertinent criteria of what comprises a terrorist operation, and they need to obey their own policy. Otherwise, you're right, anyone the administration wants to rid themselves of could be labeled a "terrorist".
Of Shock and Awe, there's one MAJOR difference between terrorism and a military campaign, and that's the intended targets. Shock and Awe was foremost intended as an attack on the Republican Guard's command and control infrastructure. That civilian casualties occurred is a sad fact of urban warfare; there is no perfect weapon that only kills combatants. I'll bet you many of those pilots have nightmares about dead and dying children, but I'd also wager they never hesitate to hop back in that cockpit and fly another sortie; it's just part of the job, and something to be dealt with during the quiet hours when no one else can see your shell crack, just a little.
Terrorists, however, fully intend the civilian deaths they cause. There were hundreds of military targets they could have attempted to destroy via their hijacked passenger jets, yet they chose to slaughter 3000 non-combatants because they knew it would effect the greatest amount of fear and insecurity.
Soldiers utilize measured amounts of force against a recalcitrant foe, cowards butcher the weak, children, women, unarmed and unsuspecting business men, just to make a point.
That's the difference.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2003 - 04:07 pm:   

Do the ends justify the means? Is it possible to build an edifice of do-good on rankling injustice? Can credible democracy be imposed by military force, directed by a foreign power?
The US does not have a good track record with regard to the formation of democracies abroad. West Germany and South Korea developed well with US aid, but this was because the US was in direct competition with the Soviets on the other side of the border, the two sides vying with each other to see who could build up their half of the country fastest. Where this competitive incentive has been lacking, the results have generally been undesirable.
Here’s what I imagine will happen in Iraq after Hussein is ousted. There is a serious threat of ethnic violence, and the Kurds may very well turn brigand, much as the Kosovo Liberation Army did. There will be enduring Viet Cong style resistance to US occupation from nationalist elements; and Islamist groups, at least some of which will be operating with Iranian support, will also work to destabilize the government. The climate will therefore be highly volatile. Free and open democracy, even in attenuated form, will not be possible either in the near or in the intermediate future. The regime installed in Iraq will run in the “strong man” direction, emphasizing security and control of the population. Grass roots democratic parties, which I believe are the only political organizations capable of creating real democracy in any country, do not at present exist in Iraq and will not have the time or the leeway to develop.
Those men of influence remaining after Hussein’s fall will all orient themselves toward a common goal: attaining administrative control over foreign aid and reconstruction resources. Only those who are already in a position of power will be able to grab and keep these prizes; once control over them is established, we can expect to see a great deal of his wealth diverted into the private accounts of these new power-brokers. The rest will be doled out to associates and friends whose principal loyalty will be to the boss, and not to the US or to any particular ideology. The end result, I believe, will be the kind of corrupt, perpetually troubled regime that currently is common in Latin America, and this resemblance, in my opinion, will extend to death squads, secret police, judicial torture, and so forth. Ordinary people in Iraq would obviously not be better off if this scenario were to play itself out.
One way to help prevent this from happening is to keep attention focussed on Iraq, and to keep the questions coming. Afghanistan more or less fell off of everyone’s radar after the war, and the country is now going swiftly backwards. Removing Saddam Hussein or the Taliban will shave off the uppermost extremities of vicious repression in these countries, but the basic problems – poverty, humiliation, corruption – remain untouched, and these problems are, in my opinion, among the root causes of terrorist aggression directed against Americans.
What else could have been done to rid the world of Saddam Hussein? I can’t say for certain, but I would have fewer reservations about an attempt to arm and/or otherwise support an internal revolution. There are those who would argue that the UN sanctions regime has proved to be about as deadly to Iraqis as has Saddam Hussein. I can only say that I cannot countenance the sweeping destruction of civilian life and infrastructure, even on the premise that this will ultimately result in a benefit to the survivors or their descendents, especially when those most directly affected by this war are the ones with the least say in these matters.

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Barth
Posted on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 07:09 am:   

Down the road from this war is a lengthy occupation of Iraq, where our soldiers will be in a region dominated by Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Arab emirates, all of whom are increasingly upset with how we're conducting this war, and who will feel vitally threatened by either a legitimate, democratic Iraq or a US puppet state in their midst. Had Bush aggressively pressed forward for a Palestinian state and a cease to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory before this war started, perhaps our actions would be perceived differently now - and the inevitable occupation might not be seen as an attack on the whole Arab world.

While I totally sympathize with your point of view, Bob, that we can't pull out now, I feel more strongly that we can't place our troops, companies, citizens in such a hostile situation as the one we're creating for a soon-to-be occupied Iraq. The US will certainly remain in order to gorge itself on the Iraqi sp(oils) of war, further infuriating Iraq's neighbors. The Kurdish situation Michael Cisco describes above is a real possibility, too, and hard-line, fundamentalist Muslims are already calling for Mujahadeen from across the globe to pour into Iraq to fight the invaders. That won't stop when Baghdad is "secured."

The alternatives are few, you're absolutely right. But if we press forward with this war, I think a Saigon-style ending is more likely than a peaceful, democratic Iraq - especially if we continue to fight multiple wars at once.
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Brendan
Posted on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 08:38 am:   

I actually think 'we' can pull out now. And I think it actually would be much better for national security. Supposedly the biggest national security risk right now is terrorism. If the United States were to pull out, there would be less terrorist risk than it remaining. I am sure of that. Otherwise things will just continue to escalate.

No one here seems to have much confidence in the outcome of this war, so why continue? It is never too late to back down, and we would gain more international respect from admitting we were wrong than forcing the situation with continued bloodshed.

Brendan
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mark samuels
Posted on Sunday, April 06, 2003 - 05:18 pm:   

Perhaps after this war is over and the Iraqis are at liberty to discuss politics as freely as we are in the West, perhaps when a free Iraq again rejoins the community of nations, then the welcome end of a fascistic regime will not be simply ignored by so-called libertarians (who also foresaw "another Vietnam" in Afghanistan) as was the case with the overthrow of the Taliban.

Iraq will be returned to its people from the clutches of Saddam's tyranny, and is not going to being turned into an outpost of some fantasy US Empire. The oil in Iraq will be used to buy food and aid, under UN control, for the people there.

That it will take time and a lot of humanitarian effort to win the trust of the Iraqi people after this war is an incontestible fact, but the end result will be the finish of a man and his regime responsible for the murder of over 100,000 of their own people. And which regime would continue murdering them in vastly greater numbers (even for the "crime" of accepting water to drink from the "enemy") were the Coalition to follow certain advice and pull out its forces now.

All the fashionable cynicism about Coalition motives regarding Iraq will be shown to be nothing more than paranoia. Not that it will stop the same paranoia going on and on and on. It is in the nature of some to regard protest, irrespective of its merits in a case-by-case situation, as a badge of honour.

There have been many innocents killed in this war; there would have been even more innocents killed without this war; but the greatest number of innocents would be killed if we now abandoned this war. On one side we have a Coalition trying their very best to minimise civilian casualities, on the other a tyrant who has repeatedly demonstrated he cares nothing for human life. If we go home now Saddam would instigate a series of reprisals against a helpless people that would be more bloody and terrible than anything he has unleashed before.

Peace at any cost? That cannot be right.
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JeffV
Posted on Sunday, April 06, 2003 - 05:52 pm:   

Look, regardless, if you accept everything you say above as a given (I say, see: Afghanistan) this is NOT Bush's reason for going to war. And it doesn't in any way address the fact that Bush is now trying to ram down our throats a Patriot Act II that will further erode the Bill of Rights and make us just a little bit closer in texture, tone, and reality to the very countries we have identified as ruled by despots.

Further, the U.S. has a horrible, horrible record of nation rebuilding. It has a horrible human rights record in terms of the governments we've supported. You'll have to understand the cynicism comes from that.

Not to mention the horror of seeing a born-again president attempt to put a religious stamp on the presidency.

Jeff V.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, April 06, 2003 - 06:30 pm:   

Mark,
The one thing that I think we all can agree on is that once the US invaded we cannot leave without destroying the Saddam regime. Otherwise, hundreds of thousands more of his people will be slaughtered.

I want our guys and gals to come home safe and sound--and soon.

I think you're living in a dreamland if you actually believe that the Bush administration had humanitarian reasons for waging war against Iraq.
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Brendan
Posted on Monday, April 07, 2003 - 03:33 am:   

Mark,

You think the UN will control the oil spiget? That is just not going to happen. The spiget is power and that power will belond to the US . . . The UN sanctions (pushed down their throat by the US and UK) has killed more Iraqis than Sadaam ever has . . .

Liberation or occupation?

But really this whole thing makes me sick to even think about.

Kindest Regards,

Brendan
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Brendan
Posted on Monday, April 07, 2003 - 03:57 am:   

I mean spigot . . .


Brendan
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Barth
Posted on Monday, April 07, 2003 - 08:45 am:   

This is what bugs me: Folks talking about Afghanistan as if that war were over and done with. Look, it isn't fashionable cynicism when Time Magazine reports on that region's growing quagmire. I actually supported taking out the Taliban after 9/11, but not like this:

http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/printout/0,13675,501030407-438934,00.html

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Brendan
Posted on Monday, April 07, 2003 - 09:29 am:   

Here is an interesting article that came out today about Afghanistan:

Taliban Reviving Structure in Afghanistan


By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press Writer

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Before executing the International Red Cross worker, the Taliban gunmen made a satellite telephone call to their superior for instructions: Kill him?


Kill him, the order came back, and Ricardo Munguia, whose body was found with 20 bullet wounds last month, became the first foreign aid worker to die in Afghanistan (news - web sites) since the Taliban's ouster from power 18 months ago.


The manner of his death suggests the Taliban is not only determined to remain a force in this country, but is reorganizing and reviving its command structure.


There is little to stop them. The soldiers and police who were supposed to be the bedrock of a stable postwar Afghanistan have gone unpaid for months and are drifting away.


At a time when the United States is promising a reconstructed democratic postwar Iraq (news - web sites), many Afghans are remembering hearing similar promises not long ago.


Instead, what they see is thieving warlords, murder on the roads, and a resurgence of Taliban vigilantism.


"It's like I am seeing the same movie twice and no one is trying to fix the problem," said Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghanistan's president and his representative in southern Kandahar. "What was promised to Afghans with the collapse of the Taliban was a new life of hope and change. But what was delivered? Nothing. Everyone is back in business."


Karzai said reconstruction has been painfully slow — a canal repaired, a piece of city road paved, a small school rebuilt.


"There have been no significant changes for people," he said. "People are tired of seeing small, small projects. I don't know what to say to people anymore."


When the Taliban ruled they forcibly conscripted young men. "Today I can say 'we don't take your sons away by force to fight at the front line,'" Karzai remarked. "But that's about all I can say."


But progress also is a question of perspective. Capt. Trish Morris, spokeswoman for the Coalition Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force, said civil affairs teams have spent up to $13 million on projects affecting the daily lives of Afghans.


"That may not sound like a lot of money, but that's hundreds of schools and clinics and bridges and wells all over Afghanistan," Morris said in Kabul.


"Some might say not a lot is being done," but the U.S. government, the United Nations (news - web sites) and the private aid agencies "are all working very hard," Morris said. "It's just going to take some time, because 23 years of war has destroyed a lot of things."


From safe havens in neighboring Pakistan, aided by militant Muslim groups there, the Taliban launched their revival to coincide with the war in Iraq and capitalize on Muslim anger over the U.S. invasion, say Afghan officials.


Karzai said the Taliban are allied with rebel commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, supported by Pakistan and financed by militant Arabs.


The attacks have targeted foreigners and the threats have been directed toward Afghans working for international organizations.


Abdul Salam is a military commander for the government. Last month he was stopped at a Taliban checkpoint in the Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar and became a witness to the killing of Munguia, a 39-year-old water engineer from El Salvador.


After stopping Munguia and his three-vehicle convoy, gunmen made a phone call to Mullah Dadullah, a powerful former Taliban commander who happens to have an artificial leg provided by the Red Cross.

Mimicking a telephone receiver by cupping a hand on his ear, Salam recalled the gunmen's side of the conversation.

"I heard him say Mullah Dadullah," he said. "I heard him ask for instructions."

When the conversation ended the Taliban moved quickly, Salam said. They shoved Munguia behind one of the vehicles, siphoned gasoline from the tanks and used it to set the vehicles on fire.

Munguia was standing nearby. One Taliban raised his Kalashnikov rifle and fired at Munguia.

Then they told the others: "You are working with kafirs (unbelievers). You are slaves of Karzai and Karzai is a slave to America."

"This time we will let you go because you are Afghan," Salam remembered them saying, "but if we find you again and you are still working for the government we will kill you."

In the latest killing in southern Afghanistan, gunmen on Thursday shot to death Haji Gilani, a close Karzai ally, in southern Uruzgan province. Gilani was one of the first people to shelter Karzai when he secretly entered Afghanistan to foment a rebellion against the Taliban in late 2001.

International workers in Kandahar don't feel safe anymore and some have been moved from the Kandahar region to safer areas, said John Oerum, southwest security officer for the United Nations. But Oerum is trying to find a way to stay in southern Afghanistan. To abandon it would be to let the rebel forces win, he says.

The Red Cross, with 150 foreign workers in Afghanistan, have suspended operations indefinitely.

Today most Afghans say their National Army seems a distant dream while the U.S.-led coalition continues to feed and finance warlords for their help in hunting for Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.

Karzai, the president's brother, says: "We have to pay more attention at the district level, build the administration. We know who these Taliban are, but we don't have the people to report them when they return."

Khan Mohammed, commander of Kandahar's 2nd Corps, says his soldiers haven't been paid in seven months, and his fighting force has dwindled. The Kandahar police chief, Mohammed Akram, said he wants 50 extra police in each district where the Taliban have a stronghold. But he says his police haven't been paid in months and hundreds have just gone home.

"There is no real administration all over Afghanistan, no army, no police," said Mohammed. "The people do not want the Taliban, but we have to unite and build, but we are not."
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mark samuels
Posted on Monday, April 07, 2003 - 11:55 am:   

In my opinion, the central issue to address is still the same: so I'll repeat it.

"There have been many innocents killed in this war; there would have been even more innocents killed without this war; but the greatest number of innocents would be killed if we now abandoned this war. On one side we have a Coalition trying their very best to minimise civilian casualities, on the other a tyrant who has repeatedly demonstrated he cares nothing for human life. If we go home now Saddam would instigate a series of reprisals against a helpless people that would be more bloody and terrible than anything he has unleashed before."

Brendan's article: I am honestly not sure what point you make by reprinting it. To imply that things are worse now than under the Taliban regime? That the fact Afghanistan's post-Taliban struggle towards peaceful stability is not easy or immediate should be seen as a negation of any benefit derived from its liberation? You tell me.

Ellen at least accepts that we have to win the war, however I would point out that I made no such claim that the war was undertaken for primarily humanitarian motives. I suspect it was started purely and simply to get rid of Saddam. Nevertheless, he had the choice to go into exile right up until 48 hours before military action. If he had done this then the whole thing could have been avoided. If it had all been about getting hold of oil such an offer would not have been made. One of Bush's stated aims after 9/11 was to make no distinction between terrorism and states that sponsor terrorism.

I think that military action could have waited for a second UN resolution giving an international mandate for war. Mainly because there is no proven significant link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda. Though the fact that Saddam sponsors other terrorist groups with a violent hatred of the US is well-documented.

However, the situation has moved on. US and British soldiers are in it up to their necks. The West (not excluding the French, German as well as the Russian govts who prefer to shake their collective heads and wring their hands helplessly on the sidelines) certainly turned a blind eye to Saddam's activities in the past, and supplied him with armaments. Which is why, now, whatever the motives, at least we'll make amends by finally ridding Iraq of this bloodthirsty butcher who has managed the wilful slaughter of hundreds of thousands of his own people.
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Brendan
Posted on Monday, April 07, 2003 - 12:28 pm:   

Mark,

The reason I printed the article was not to make any point, but as a follow up of what Barth was mentioning. I guess if there were a point though, it is that the US never did a good follow up on Afghanistan - so why should we expect it with Iraq? As for America making amends - I don’t think that is the real motive. The real motive I believe is power and I believe invading another country without provocation sets a bad precedent. In other words – I think demonising Sadaam is a bit of a distraction from the more important question which is: should the US invade any country it likes and replace any regime it is not fond of?

Regards,

Brendan
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mark samuels
Posted on Monday, April 07, 2003 - 02:23 pm:   

Brendan--Some of what you've said I agree with, some not. I certainly think it's important to keep tabs on what's going on Afghanistan right now and to recognise we still have a humanitarian responsibility to its citizens. And if in bringing the situation there to our attention it reminds us of our forthcoming responsibility to assist the Iraqi people too, then I think no-one could argue against it.

I don't think the primary motive for the war in Iraq was making amends for our support of Saddam in the past either. As I said: I believe the motive was simply to get rid of him once and for all. This is what all the facts seem to indicate.

Btw, I think Saddam has done a pretty good job of demonising himself. I doubt he needs any help in that respect.

"should the US invade any country it likes and replace any regime it is not fond of?": not if it wants we Brits onside. Our govt's already said that Iraq is a special case and that we won't be following the US into N. Korea or Iran. Blair will kick up merry hell if Bush tries it.
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Brendan
Posted on Tuesday, April 08, 2003 - 12:09 am:   

Mark,

I hope he kicks up merry hell, because I think N. Korea is has a strong possibility of being next. And they actually do have nuclear arms - or so people say.

Just read this horrible article about the civilian situation in Bagdhad: http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=24919

Brendan
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mark samuels
Posted on Tuesday, April 08, 2003 - 02:32 pm:   

Hi Brendan--Robert Fisk is a British journalist, well known here in the UK as a rabid lefty fruitcake. When he was covering the war against the Taliban some of them decided to kick the living crap out of him simply because he was a westerner. So he wrote a long piece for the same paper, the so-called "Independent" (hardly so) saying that he really deserved it because of the West's record and he forgave them everything!

Anyway this is my favourite news item of the day.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,931995,00.html
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 12:31 am:   

Hi Mark,

Well, since the rabidly right wing journalists don't seem to be covering the civilian casualty situation much (and the civilian situation is what concerns me most) I guess I will have to make due with the rabidly left . . . Also I think reading accounts from Baghdad by non-'imbedded' journalists is a good idea.

I also like the Guardian article you pointed out.

Brendan
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 07:59 am:   

Fisk is respected across the whole political spectrum.

Actually going to Iraq might be a good idea for anyone who wants to know anything about the country. There's no substitute for that really.
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Bob
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 09:58 am:   

Yup. You can't get the vibe that place emanates unless you're there, standing in the streets and looking those people in the eye.
Then again, I guess that's something that could be said for just about anywhere, eh?
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mark samuels
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 10:29 am:   

Fisk respected across the whole political spectrum???

He seems to rely on the Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf for advice. See this article by our man Fisk on the ground, from only a few days ago.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3350810&thesection=news&thesu bsection=dialogue

Rather unfortunate that, really.
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Bob
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 11:22 am:   

Heh. Now that's funny.
Watched news coverage of Iraqis cheering the Americans entry into central Baghdad all morning. Seems more than a few pundits are going to have to eat their words.
It's funny how rock solid some journalists' illusions are; so much so that they would be willing to outright lie in their columns rather than readdress their preconceptions. The same day Fisk supposedly perused the whole of Saddam International Airport, there was massive news coverage -- television, radio and newspaper -- that documented the entire operation from start to finish.
Makes one wonder, I'd think.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 01:03 pm:   

Hello all -

Mark: I find myself to be in almost complete disagreement with you, at every point.
a) I don't believe the war will result in fewer civilian casualties.
b) I don't find the evidence that the US has gone out of its way to avoid killing civilians credible, although it certainly can be said that the English have shown greater restraint than the Americans.
c) Saddam was offered the opportunity to leave in the knowledge that he would not accept it, so as to provide a further pretext for invasion; ie, he refused to go, so now we must invade. This is analogous to another line of dangerously spurious reasoning I've heard bruited elsewhere, that we must go to war because the President said we would on television, and we mustn't undermine his credibility.
d) Saddam's support for terrorism is not unique among world leaders, many of whom (like Qaddafi) are currently unmolested, unsanctioned. Furthermore, terrorism is not, I believe, as such an adequate justification for war. I believe cooperative international policing is a better solution.
e) As I've said above, removing Saddam will not end injustice, terrorism, torture, or repression in Iraq. The US is not invading Iraq because Saddam is a monster - the US tolerates monsters all around the world. The US is invading Iraq because Saddam is a monster who got too big for his britches, invaded his neighbors, killed a bit too many of his own people a bit too spectacularly. So, he was singled out for special demonisation (while Idi Amin lives peacefully in Saudi Arabia, for example). Saddam then had the nerve to respond with defiance, and for this he must be destroyed. As I've speculated above, the next Iraqi regime will be of necessity a strongman-security regime, and the model will be the Latin American death squad / torture chamber crackdown variety of administration. I certainly don't believe anyone in Iraq regards these attacks as amends for the initial promotion of Saddam; they perceive them, I believe correctly, as an indication of American hegemonical designs on the middle east.

Bob -
more letters ...

a) I don't believe Blair for a moment. If he says he won't go along with the US regarding Korea, he's doing it with inside information (that the US has no intention of attacking North Korea) in order to appear less slavishly devoted to American policy. As I've stated elsewhere, I think Blair is trying to use closer ties with the US to gain leverage for England in the EU, especially against Germany and France, and this compels him to side with the US. Well, that, and the desire to appear Churchillian.
b) The conflict with North Korea is incredibly stupid. All N. Korea wants to do in life is reunite with the south; of course, they want to do this in a manner most advantageous to themselves, but they aren't going to get much of anything their way. The US is the obvious arbitrator in this reunification, but Bush refused to have anything to do with the idea. The North Koreans decided they weren't going to be ignored, and began deliberately provoking the US, knowing our position with regard to them was weak. The moment the US tries anything, massive artillery batteries along the border will blast South Korea to rubble faster than any US forces could possibly respond. And sure enough, Colin Powell recently opened low-key talks with the North Koreans. I think Korea is not on the horizon in any military sense, at least there is no current indication of such.
c) Resistance from the Iraqis has been far stiffer than anyone expected. It will continue into the occupation, and for as long as American troops remain in Iraq. The "warm welcome" broadcast on television reflects two things: first, US media doesn't cover Iraqi casualties, American casualties, or Iraqi resistance, and second, if my city was blown to bits, and now the invaders were marching implacably in my streets, sure I'd dance out to greet them with flowers. And a month or two later, I'd stop beside a jeep to tie my shoe, toss a grenade under the seat, and run like hell. If I got away, I'd wait a while, smiling at every US soldier in the street, then torch a canteen full of them when I got the chance. Anybody can smile.

Democracy, in my opinion, is not something that anyone can give to anyone else. It must be taken, or it is a lie.
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Bob
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 02:00 pm:   

Michael: Eh? When did I say anything about North Korea? Or Blair? Fact is, I don't know the first thing about the British Prime Minister, besides the fact that Bill Clinton has endorsed the war but gave all the credit for the action to Tony Blair....
Re the Iraqi mobs welcoming soldiers: Nope. Not a chance. The surest way for anyone to find themselves imprisoned or tortured to death in Iraq is to speak ill of Saddam Hussein. The man is a rampant egotist, and even his own family aren't safe from his mania.
Yet, over and over, I'm seeing jubilant Iraqis, men, women and children, cheering and chanting "Bush yes! Saddam no!" If they truly had ulterior motives, the last thing they would be doing is decrying Saddam Hussein -- he's had hundreds slaughtered for less.
Re Democracy: I don't believe that for a second. Democracy is an opportunity, a chance for self-determination above and beyond your government's arbitrary design. It can't be FORCED upon another, but it can be gifted and nurtured in others.
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mark samuels
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 04:59 pm:   

Michael---your view is reciprocated.

The anti-war movement can take no credit for having done anything worthwhile whatsoever to help the Iraqis. The anti-war movement is of total irrelevance. They are symbolised by the human shields who went out there shouting and came back in silence, their mission an abject failure.

Let's think about the anti-war movement for a change. What was their motivation? Let's take a few examples from a typical demo: Quakers (absolute pacifism), various radical Muslim groups (support for Palestine suicide bombers and condemnation of Israel), communist workers party (capitalism is the cause of all war), professional marchers (oh the US must be wrong let's go anyway, all our friends are going as usual). Let's be just as cynical about them as they are about those who support the war.

Bush declared soon after Sept 11 that not only international terrorists, but also nation states that sponsored international terrorism were going to be held to account. That's the motivation and what was behind the doctrine of regime-change in Iraq. Funnily enough such states as fall under this category also happen to be brutal dictatorships. Ipso facto; removing the regime liberates its people. Such regimes are also likely to acquire WMD. If Saddam no longer has them, he has clearly demonstrated that given the first opportunity he would try to get them again when our backs are turned.

I am sickened by the wilful disregard of the plight of oppressed Aghanis and Iraqis displayed by the anti-war movement. Saddam killed 100,000? "Shall we go on a mass protest march about that? Maybe not. Pass me the Washington Post crossword, will you?" I am sickened at the fact that they can just dismiss the sight of the ordinary Iraqi people celebrating en masse at the end of Saddam as some kind of Coalition con-trick.
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 11:53 pm:   

Just as a historical note: Shiite Muslims showered the Israelis with rice when they went into Lebanon in 1982. They are not throwing rice any more though.

And Mark: It seems like a big assumption to think that the anti-war protestors don't have compassion for the Iraqi people. You talk about the typical demonstration, but have you ever been to one? From my experience anti-war demonstrations encompass a far broader spectrum of people than those stereotypes you have mentioned. After all, those million people that marched in London surely were not all Quakers?


Kindest Regards,

Brendan
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 03:15 am:   

I didn't say that I agree with Fisk. I nearly always disagree with him. But his courage and dedication IS respected across a wide political spectrum. That's a plain fact.

The main problem with the USA is arrogance. Even when the US is in the right, its arrogance often makes it appear that it's in the wrong. Maybe back in the US, people like Donald Rumsfelt come over as 'plain speakers' but in much of the rest of the world they come over as simply arrogant...

...and there's always the temptation to react against arrogance, to fight back against the tone rather than the content...

There ought to be an AXIS OF ARROGANCE to match the AXIS OF EVIL. Being a member of this axis doesn't mean the country is right or wrong, just that they need a few lessons in diplomacy.

The Axis of Arrogance includes USA and Israel as its two prime members...

But actually I do believe in the Axis of Evil. Iraq and North Korea definitely deserve to be on this list. So does Burma. And maybe Congo. Iran, Syria and Libra don't: they are changing for the better, slowly. Cuba most certainly doesn't belong on the list. That's totally absurd.

One other thought: there isn't just one kind of 'anti-Americanism'. The anti-Americanism of the Arab world is completely different from the anti-Americanism of the European world. For the Arabs, anti-Americanism is about hating the country which sponsors Israel and the atrocities of Israel. For Europeans, anti-Americanism is mostly about hating McDonalds and Coca Cola and hating the force that makes us feel just like everybody else instead of superior to the masses.

The first type of anti-Americanism is a matter of life and death, the second is often just a matter of snobbery.
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mark samuels
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 11:17 am:   

Actually, I agree with most of that Rhys.

Fisk: previously you said "whole", now you say "wide", but let it pass...

I do think, though, that account needs to be taken of the fact that the stated aim of many Arab terrorists and their sympathisers is the destruction of Israel. Their rhetoric is often accompanied by Nazi-tinged anti-semitism. There's one website, called Radio Islam, I think, which tries to bolster its arguments by reproducing "The Protocols of Zion". But this isn't, perhaps, the place to go into these issues. I dunno.

Generally---Would the ideology of terror be as prevalent in a democratised Middle East? I doubt it. Can democracy be imposed by force? We did it in Japan after World War 2. Prior to '45 the country had no experience of democratic self-governance. I do think, however, that the example of Iraq may convince Syria, Iran etc. that they'd better wise up.

My hope is that Islamist suicide-bombers become as much a thing of the past as Shinto Kamikaze pilots.
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barth
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 11:33 am:   

mark

you're memory is pretty dang selective regarding the protest movement's motives. that, or you weren't paying attention last fall when the discussion of coersive inspections came up. many of us who *still* distrust the bush policy of pre-emptive war advocated a third way, past the black and white thinking of inspections versus invasion. now, if you doubt that inspections backed by a powerful, mobile military force would have worked, that's one thing, but don't spew that dumb crap about protesters not being concerned for iraqi citizens. that was the whole point, to prevent a war in which innocents die - which is exactly what has happened. many who marched, me included, did so not out of disregard for iraqis because bush's pre-emptive strike policy was bogus. by most accounts, except from the rabid right who never met a war they didn't like, saddam would not have posed an international threat for 4-5 years. then oil revenues would have turned him into a regional force again. coersive inspections could have worked within two years. but by the time this idea came along, the red white and blue drum beat was so loud that no american officials seriously considered this option.

for a peek at what might have been:

http://www.ceip.org/files/publications/iraq/mathews.htm
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mark samuels
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 12:56 pm:   

The anti-war movement has voiced its cynicism concerning the motives of those supporting the war all the way down the line.

But did the Quakers on all the peace marches agree with the supporters of Arab suicide-bombers? Huh? Those camps and others were out there in force. One plank of the "Stop the War" campaign was the demand that Palestine must be freed. No mention of freedom for the Iraqis from Saddam. Some claimed that Islam itself was the target. Many others (anti-capitalists) said it's all about the control of oil and that if only the working class would unite internationally all would be well. Inconsistent? Yes.

Regarding civilian casualities. Around 5000 dead is too many dead. Any number of dead is too many dead. But how many would have died if we'd taken an anti-war stance advice? How many dead at Saddam's behest? Another 100,000? 200,000?

I wanted war against the Saddam regime under the aegis of a 2nd UN resolution at the Security Council. But when it didn't come I had to decide what's worse? Protest or support? And protest against the war has been proven to be not only misguided but a wicked thing to do when dealing with a monster like Saddam. You only have the likes of us to hold you to account. If you had to explain to those Iraqis whipping the posters of Saddam with their shoes; how could you even look them in the eyes?

If we'd followed the anti-war advice Saddam would have carried on doing what he did before, only with more venom and renewed confidence. I mean, come on, that's obvious.

You just don't see that by their very nature dictatorships are a menace to their own people. All dictatorships are now on notice.

The world has changed. What's coming now is the end of thinking that excusing terrorists and the regimes that support them is acceptable.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 02:59 pm:   

Mark,
You're living in a dream world if you think any dictatorships other than those that hold a special interest for the US are in any danger of being toppled by the US military. It was done completely in self-interest and not that of the Iraqui people. Surely you can see that?

Mark, you said:
All dictatorships are now on notice.
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mark samuels
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 04:28 pm:   

Ellen---Sorry, no I can't: "completely in self-interest". What self-interest is that specifically? You seem to know. Explain it to me.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 04:44 pm:   

Oil, control of.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 04:52 pm:   

Mark, I don't mean to be abrupt but this whole topic has been about the pros and cons --a number of threads in the topic has covered all this ad nauseum and I'm not going to repeat it all.

You seem to have a lot more positive feeling towards the current administration than I have. That's very nice for you. I'm afraid I feel nothing but distaste and despair that they're chopping away at US citizen rights while purportedly "giving" democracy to the Iraquis.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 08:43 pm:   

You might want to read Bob Herbert's column in the NY Times today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/10/opinion/10HERB.html

April 10, 2003

Spoils of War

By BOB HERBERT

Follow the money.

Former Secretary of State George Shultz is on the board of directors of the Bechtel Group, the largest contractor in the U.S. and one of the finalists in the competition to land a fat contract to help in the rebuilding of Iraq.

He is also the chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a fiercely pro-war group with close ties to the White House. The committee, formed last year, made it clear from the beginning that it sought more than the ouster of Saddam's regime. It was committed, among other things, "to work beyond the liberation of Iraq to the reconstruction of its economy."

War is a tragedy for some and a boon for others. I asked Mr. Shultz if the fact that he was an advocate of the war while sitting on the board of a company that would benefit from it left him concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest.

"I don't know that Bechtel would particularly benefit from it," he said. "But if there's work that's needed to be done, Bechtel is the type of company that could do it. But nobody looks at it as something you benefit from."

Jack Sheehan, a retired Marine Corps general, is a senior vice president at Bechtel. He's also a member of the Defense Policy Board, a
government-appointed group that advises the Pentagon on major defense issues. Its members are selected by the under secretary of defense for policy, currently Douglas Feith, and approved by the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

Most Americans have never heard of the Defense Policy Group. Its meetings are classified. The members disclose their business interests to the Pentagon, but that information is not available to the public.

The Center for Public Integrity, a private watchdog group in Washington, recently disclosed that of the 30 members of the board, at least 9 are linked to companies that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts in 2001 and 2002.

Richard Perle was the chairman of the board until just a few weeks ago, when he resigned the chairmanship amid allegations of a conflict of interest. He is still on the board.

Another member is the former C.I.A. director, James Woolsey. He's also a principal in the Paladin Capital Group, a venture capital firm that, as the Center for Public Integrity noted, is soliciting investments for companies that specialize in domestic security. Mr. Woolsey is also a member of the Committee to
Liberate Iraq and is reported to be in line to play a role in the postwar occupation.

The war against Iraq has become one of the clearest examples ever of the influence of the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned against so eloquently in his farewell address in 1961. This iron web of relationships among powerful individuals inside and outside the government operates with very little public scrutiny and is saturated with conflicts of interest.

Their goals may or may not coincide with the best interests of the American people. Think of the divergence of interests, for example, between the grunts who are actually fighting this war, who have been eating sand and spilling their blood in the desert, and the power brokers who fought like crazy to make the war happen and are profiting from it every step of the way.

There aren't a lot of rich kids in that desert. The U.S. military is largely working-class. The power brokers homing in on $100 billion worth of postwar reconstruction contracts are not.

The Pentagon and its allies are close to achieving what they wanted all along, control of the nation of Iraq and its bounty, which is the wealth and myriad forms of power that flow from control of the world's second-largest oil reserves.

The transitional government of Iraq is to be headed by a retired Army lieutenant general, Jay Garner. His career path was typical. He moved effortlessly from his military career to the presidency of SYColeman, a defense contractor that helped Israel develop its Arrow missile-defense system. The iron web.

Those who dreamt of a flowering of democracy in Iraq are advised to consider the skepticism of Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush. He asked: "What's going to happen the first time we hold an election in Iraq and it turns out the radicals win? What do you do? We're surely not going to let them take over."
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mark samuels
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 02:41 pm:   

Ellen---This "it's all about oil" argument is precisely why I asked the question of you. If the US wanted the oil then all it had to so was make a deal with Saddam without going to war. That was the easier and the vastly cheaper market-preferred option.

Anyway, we won't agree.

So I give up.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 03:56 pm:   

Ironically enough, Mark, Rumsfield was doing what you suggested... "Making a deal with Saddam" for the oil, back in the 80's.

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=10953

Saddamm played the US against the French and Russians to get the biggest contract. Since then Rumsfield and other Regan/bush officials have had a hard-on for "taking out" Saddam, because they felt betrayed, and because they expanded a LOT of political capitol to get factions in the U.S. government to look the other way while Saddam gassed his own people, and the Iranians.

Its never as simple as "its all about oil." It’s always insanely more complicated than that statement. But that statement is a convenient shorthand, and does get to the heart of the matter. It may not literally be about oil, but it is about the Power, and the wealth that go along with any oil resources.

Which oil companies are going to get the contracts for "handling" Iraqi oil once the new puppet government is installed? The French and the Russians, who had cantracts to do so prior to this war? Fat chance. Exxon and BP are lined up to pump the oil, and Halliburton and Bechtel are lined up to rebuild the infrastructure necessary to pump the oil. This is political payback. It ensures that the campaign contributions keep flowing to Bush and the republicans. Oil companies will gladly pay the “campaign tax,” because they know Bush will look the other way, when they dump toxins on america,( http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=10060 ) and have PO boxes in Bermuda so they don't have to pay any corporate taxes. ( http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=9265 )

Do you think that the Bush administration would spend $78 Billion for humanitarian reasons? The administration is trying to make it look like that, since they can't seem to find any Weapons of Mass Destruction. We didn't do it for the SECURITY of the American people... we did it to liberate those poor helpless Iraqis.

Got news for you... that $78billion is money that could have been spent here in the United States... building roads, schools, jobs... funding the Veterans Administration (who's budget Bush is trying to cut http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=10730)... Instead, it is lining the pockets of Campaign donors.

Its simple... like Bob Herbert's column (from Ellen’s post) says. Follow the money. Who profits from this war? Not you or I. The Iraqi people? A little to early to tell. If they end of like the Afghani people, they are going to be just as bad off as the were under Saddam.

Didn't republicans salivate at the mere HINT of a “conflict of interest” during the Clinton years? The depth and breadth of this administrations scandals and conflicts of interest in the last 2 years has been so large that it defies description. You have to go back to the Harding administration (http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=2482) to find one that has been as corrupt as this one. Yet the media, and critics who were so quick to spend millions of taxpayer dollars investigating "whitewater" haven't said a word.

Maybe this is "Okay" because it’s YOUR “side” that’s robbing the till. If the republican team would play by the rules they set (no deficit spending, no foreign entanglements, states rights, small federal government, etc) I'd have less to complain about. But as it is, I don't even get sound fiscal, social or foreign policy from all the graft, payola, and war profiteering. I get less and less. So do you. If you can’t see that, you’ve got blinders on.

Are you better off now then you were a year ago, when Bush started beating the war drum? If we hadn’t gone to war, what would the news media, and policy makers be talking about? (http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=10730)
Or (http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=10170)
Domestic policy that reflect badly on the administration, perhaps?

Its about oil… Its about politics… Its about staying in power at any cost. You and I are footing that bill.

Sometimes, victims of violent crime simply shut their eyes and pretend its not happening… that is the only way some can deal with the pain, degradation and betrayal.

Make no mistake. You have been betrayed.


-jl

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mark samuels
Posted on Saturday, April 12, 2003 - 09:31 am:   

Jeremy---I think I should point out that I'm British and not American. One doesn't have to be a republican sympathiser to see that getting rid of Saddam by force is necessary. I am a Labour Party supporter here in the UK.

I think you might have saved a lot of time if you'd just posted one link to smirkingchimp and advised us that you felt it was the fount of all knowledge:-)

Can't you accept the very simple fact that if Saddam had been a peaceful ruler who wanted to use the oil formerly under his control for the benefit of his people, then this war would not have been necessary? Moreover, that if he had accepted the calls to go into exile, the war would not have been undertaken? If it was really all about securing oil supplies wouldn't it had been much cheaper for sanctions have been lifted long ago in order to obtain them?

The war against Saddam was undertaken primarily to achieve regime-change. I've never made the claim that it was to primarily to benefit the Iraqi people: however, how many would have died if we'd taken an anti-war stance advice? How many dead at Saddam's behest? Another 100,000? 200,000? The fact is that there is a confluence here between the Coalition desire for regime-change and the interests of the Iraq people themselves.

I wanted war against the Saddam regime under the aegis of a 2nd UN resolution at the Security Council. But when it didn't come I had to decide what's worse? Protest or support? And protest against the war has been proven to be not only misguided but a wicked thing to do when dealing with a monster like Saddam. You only have the likes of us to hold you to account. If you had to explain to those Iraqis whipping the posters of Saddam with their shoes; how could you even look them in the eyes?

I can't defend the behaviour of companies now scrambling for reconstruction contracts. But to try and turn this into the defining issue is wrong-headed.

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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, April 12, 2003 - 11:02 am:   

What angers me more than the illegality of the invasion of Iraq is that obviously our marvelous administration made no plans whatsoever as to what to do immediately after the regime would fall. What the fuck did they think would happen with no more rule? Did they plan for something to replace it now? If they had there would not be massive looting, the Red Cross and other humanitarian efforts terrified to enter the cities, and perhaps some of the civilians still being murdered would not be dead!

Excuse me, but I'm frothing as I just read of the sacking and looting of a major cultural institution of Iraq:


http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/12/international/worldspecial/12CND-BAGH.html

Because of lack of foresight by the US and UK governments a large part of Iraqi and Arabic culture is probably lost forever. I do not blame the poor US and UK soldiers sent over there to fight in our name. They were not sent as policemen and have no experience in policing. I put the blame on the assholes who run our government.
Rumsfeld had the nerve to make light of the looting going on for three days after the Regime fell.

This is NOT the way to win a peace!
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Brendan
Posted on Saturday, April 12, 2003 - 12:46 pm:   

Ellen - Actually, it is even more than Iraqi and Arabic culture. It is all of human culture, since it really all sprang up from around Babylon. All of our roots really lie there, in those tablets and pots that have been stolen and broken. The tragedy is devestating - and it was avoidable. It could have been avoided so easily. I am not frothing, I am genuinely sad.

Regards,

Brendan
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Saturday, April 12, 2003 - 05:33 pm:   

Mark,
Your comment about smirking chimp demonstrates your ignorance of the sight. It is not a site that generates content. It simply gathers together and makes searchable 100's of different articles from a variety of sources. I evaluate the veracity of each source independently. Did you bother to read any of the stories, and/or note their source, or did you simply assume that your view of the world was correct?

You indicate that the stated goal of this war was regime change? Really? I thought it was disarmament? I thought it was to destroy terrorist networks? The first UN resolution was strictly for disarmament. A 2nd resolution failed to generate support because weapons inspectors were effectively carrying out the first resolution. In fact, regime change, as such, violates the U.N. Charter.

To claim now that Tony Blair's originally stated purpose for war was for regime change is revisionist history.

Protesting the war was wicked? "us protestors" have been proven wrong? The complete and utter lack of "weapons of mass destruction" acually validates what many protestors have been saying.

The looting and death that has followed on the heals of this bloody, costly "liberation" was predicted by those of us who spoke out against the war. Pre-war estimates suggested that 100,000 people would die as a result of this war, as military casualties, as “collateral damage”, and as a result of the looting, rioting, disease, and starvation that would inevitably result from the destruction of the Iraqi national infrastructure. That pretty much makes Blair and Bush monsters on the same scale as Hussein, don’t you think?

Do you really believe that all Iraqi's are happy to be liberated? Because you saw a statue fall? Sorry. You are quick to dismiss smirking chimp, but are CNN and faux news reports any more reliable? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2842.htm

Most Iraqi’s may shed no tears for Saddam, but they certainly have no desire to become a 51st state, nor part of a resurgent British Empire, nor do they appreciate the collateral damage done to their homes, and their families. Violence begets violence begets violence. Who are the orphans of this war going to blame? Hussein? Or the puppet masters of their new government?

The quick, decisive "victory" of the US/British Military was never a question. Those of us who oppose this war have done so because the fruits of this war will be dark and bitter. Weather you are English, or American, my previous admonition applies. You have been lied to, and betrayed. Strange fruit awaits us all.

-jl
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2003 - 11:01 am:   

Brendan,
I know--I was caught up too much in the heat of anger and upset to be more accurate.
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2003 - 12:04 pm:   

Ellen - I knew you knew too. I guess I was just trying to stress the point (that I know you are well aware of also) that we are all losers by this kind of stupidity. It is telling of the Bush administration's agenda that the oil wells were guarded with such instantaneous avidity and the museum was disregarded.

Brendan
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mark samuels
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2003 - 03:23 pm:   

"Your comment about smirking chimp demonstrates your ignorance of the sight. It is not a site that generates content. It simply gathers together and makes searchable 100's of different articles from a variety of sources. I evaluate the veracity of each source independently. Did you bother to read any of the stories, and/or note their source, or did you simply assume that your view of the world was correct?"

I admit to being mistrustful of a website whose specific purpose is to gather together as much anti-Bush material as it can. I tend to trust those that at least make a attempt to display a little impartiality. I wouldn't go to McDonalds.com for advice on vegetarianism for example. It's just a prejudice I harbour. Call me idiosyncratic:-)

Btw, I just had a look at the chimp site.

"You indicate that the stated goal of this war was regime change? Really? I thought it was disarmament? I thought it was to destroy terrorist networks?"

OK how about we rely on an anti-war site for this evidence?

http://www.nysaynotowar.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=14 1

I know you guys are inconsistent.

"The first UN resolution was strictly for disarmament. A 2nd resolution failed to generate support because weapons inspectors were effectively carrying out the first resolution. In fact, regime change, as such, violates the U.N. Charter."

I don't disagree with this. I don't think the war was legal. But what I'm trying to do is point out AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN that war was the lesser of two evils. Leaving the Iraqis at Saddam's mercy would have resulted in hundreds of thousands more dead.

"To claim now that Tony Blair's originally stated purpose for war was for regime change is revisionist history."

I made no such claim. For Bush yes, but for Blair no. Blair has either been fed the wrong information, has lied, or the weapons haven't yet been found.

"Protesting the war was wicked? "us protestors" have been proven wrong? The complete and utter lack of "weapons of mass destruction" acually validates what many protestors have been saying."

I am going to quote from a letter:

---So for the hundreds of children released from prison where they were held for not joining Saddam’s army, that was not in your name. For the exposure of the torture chambers where Saddam and his henchmen killed and raped, that was not in your name. For the hundreds of Iraqis who will not die this year for speaking out against their brutal regime, that was not in your name. For the oilfields that will be turned into wealth and prosperity for the people of Iraq, that was not in your name. For the Iraqi citizens wildly cheering their glimpse of freedom as the statue of Saddam was toppled in downtown Baghdad, that especially was not in your name.----


"The looting and death that has followed on the heals of this bloody, costly "liberation" was predicted by those of us who spoke out against the war. Pre-war estimates suggested that 100,000 people would die as a result of this war, as military casualties, as “collateral damage”, and as a result of the looting, rioting, disease, and starvation that would inevitably result from the destruction of the Iraqi national infrastructure. That pretty much makes Blair and Bush monsters on the same scale as Hussein, don’t you think?"

This is just laughable. Saddam has already killed 100,000. These people are ALREADY DEAD. They're not projected figures. If we had not removed Saddam he would have continued upon this path. Do you deny it? Your argument is like saying that it's wrong to stop a serial killer because you mistrust the police.

"Do you really believe that all Iraqi's are happy to be liberated? Because you saw a statue fall? Sorry."

Of course not every single one. I doubt that hierachy of the Ba'athist party are pleased.

"You are quick to dismiss smirking chimp, but are CNN and faux news reports any more reliable? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2842.htm"

What is it with you and smirking chimp? If you find time inbetween your busy schedule of surfing there why not have a look here

http://www.kdp.pp.se/chemical.html

"Most Iraqi’s may shed no tears for Saddam, but they certainly have no desire to become a 51st state, nor part of a resurgent British Empire,"

Of course not. Who said they did? Not me. I wish you'd deal with what I actually say instead of insinuations I haven't made.

"nor do they appreciate the collateral damage done to their homes, and their families. Violence begets violence begets violence. Who are the orphans of this war going to blame? Hussein? Or the puppet masters of their new government?"

I've got news for you Jeremy. The only way to deal with a fascist is through force.

"The quick, decisive "victory" of the US/British Military was never a question. Those of us who oppose this war have done so because the fruits of this war will be dark and bitter. Weather you are English, or American, my previous admonition applies. You have been lied to, and betrayed. Strange fruit awaits us all."

Shouldn't I be the judge of whether I feel I have been lied to, and betrayed? Sheesh.
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2003 - 04:12 pm:   

Mostly saw this from FSF. That and I get directed to Night Shade every time I try to go to Asimov's.

Anyway it's good to hear your view mark s. I always hate seeing boards that get too unified on these issues, as I did with Analog/Asimov when it seemed to be happening there are on the reverse side. "Unity" in that way I think just leads to preaching to the choir and self satisfaction. Or even complacency. Plenty of that here, a multiplicity of opinions s generally good. Even if it can become hostile.

I actually don't have much to say on the issue itself though. I'm moderately for the war and am contrary enough to become more for it when I read discussions like this. Indeed before encountering the anti-war ideology I was leaning toward neutrality or opposition to the war. However as their reasoning seemed based on personal animosity or paranoid distrust this turned me off from it. I didn't care for that kind of thing when right wingers did it to Clinton either BTW.

Also the impatience is baffling. It can not yet be known what "fruit" this war will produce. I have concerns too, but I'm willing to not jump to conclusions just yet. My support for the war is actually mild enough that I'm open to the notion it will ultimately be negative. However it's too soon for me to make that judgement & indeed most signs I've seen are positive or uncertain.

Finally Iraq was a unique situation. You had a nation that had been given a decade of international pressure and that seemed to have made little progress. North Korea is accepted multi-lateral talks, Burma has freed Aung San Suu Kyi and has credible forces for change, Iran is moving toward democracy, etc.

Although I still have discomfort with this war, the hope now should be that it does become something good for the Iraqi people. I think a chance of that is quite good. However wishing that that does not occur so you can gloat in your smug dislike for those you oppose strikes me as unbelievably petty and small.

On that unpromising note I leave. Still I wish you a Happy Easter, and success.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2003 - 05:33 pm:   

Who on this BB is wishing that good does NOT occur for the Iraqi people?

So, Thomas, you throw out your little flame and leave? THank you very much. Everyone on this BB wants the best for the Iraqi people--we perhaps disagree on how this could have been /will be achieved.


From Thomas:
Although I still have discomfort with this war, the hope now should be that it does become something good for the Iraqi people. I think a
chance of that is quite good. However wishing that that does not occur so you can gloat in your smug dislike for those you oppose
strikes me as unbelievably petty and small.
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JH
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2003 - 06:47 pm:   

Ellen wrote: What angers me more than the illegality of the invasion of Iraq is that obviously our marvelous administration made no plans whatsoever as to what to do immediately after the regime would fall. What the fuck did they think would happen with no more rule? Did they plan for something to replace it now? If they had there would not be massive looting, the Red Cross and other humanitarian efforts terrified to enter the cities, and perhaps some of the civilians still being murdered would not be dead!

Would it be entirely out of line to suggest that the actual looters are responsible for the looting, and that the murderers are responsible for the killing? "I'm not guilty of killing my neighbor because the State wasn't there to stop me" is not a valid defense. The Iraquis are not irresponsible children; they're some of the best educated and culturally aware members of the Arab world. To absolve the people committing the crimes by resorting to the Universal Scapegoat (the US) seems condescending to me.

~Jack~
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2003 - 07:04 pm:   

Jack,
First of all I was talking about the civilians killed by our troops, not by other Iraqis.

Why is it condescending? The same thing would and does happen in the US and no one (well few people) says let them loot--they're poor and they deserve to have the freedom (which is basically what Rumsfeld announced). The law at least tries to prevent it--when there IS law. The problem is that there is no law in Iraqi and the US hasn't protecting any property but the oil interests.
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2003 - 09:07 pm:   

Uck you are right, that part did come out terribly wrong. Serves me right for trying to read a whole long thread in an hour or less.

With that said some things here certainly sound perversely happy by failure, in a sense, because any failures in the war make Bush look bad. Also the grim satisfaction that this war will make Iraq a part of the US or a resurgent British Empire. I don't see how either of those positions can be justified at this juncture, and both do essentially doom the country.

Still I was too snotty and generalizing. Apologies. Also I was leaving because I only post on weekends during Lent.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2003 - 09:52 pm:   

Thomas,
Sorry to have jumped on you. I'm just very concerned.

I've been following news online (I don't watch tv) and in the NY Times. I've been checking out all kinds of news websites trying to get as accurate a view of what's really going on in Iraq as I can. From CNN to the Arabnews.com and Electronic Iraq, the Independent (in the UK), and the best one I found --the Nando TImes, which alas is closing down their website in 60 days.

I get depressed seeing CNN pushing the view that everyhing's mostly hunky dory and then depressed by seeing how the Arab world perceives us (and various westerners who have been observing--and I don't believe their "truths" any more than I do our government's "truths").


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Brendan
Posted on Monday, April 14, 2003 - 09:24 am:   

I think one thing that has not been pointed out strongly enough is that one of the main reasons many of us are against the Iraq invasion has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the Iraqi people benefit or not. It has to do with pre-emptive strikes, and the American agenda. Because once you start invading countries against all international will and law, where do you stop? Already threats are being thrown out against Syria. And there is the very real danger of these countries pre-empting pre-emption. That is what North Korea is doing by restarting their nuclear facilities. So, the real danger is that with this sort of policy we could be facing some very dangerous situations.

Brendan
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Monday, April 14, 2003 - 09:45 am:   

Mark,
I think we will honestly have to disagree on this one. You have made it very clear that you feel the horrors of the Hussien regime made this war necessary. I honestly believe that the cynical forces that are driving this war will ensure that an equally large humanitarian disaster will occur.

Outside of the humanitarian costs, the actual dollar costs of the war are infuriating. My government is going bankrupt paying for this (and is enriching corporate patrons while it does so). In a cost/benefit analysis, if I wanted to save peoples lives, and make their lives better, I could probably find a lot of better uses for the (minimum) $78 billion that the initial phases of this war cost.

Additionally, the US and UK did such a horrible job of justifying this war to the world community that regardless of weather there is any humanitarian benefit or not, the majority of the people in the world, and the majority of the Arabs in the world see this as an act of imperialist aggression. This war is radicalizing otherwise moderate Arabs around the world.

This war, combined with Bush's "pre-emtive war" doctrine make the world a far more unstable, dangerous place, and makes terrorism far more likely to occur.

Anyway... thanks for going back and forth on this.
I think your argumentative styles can be kind of petty sometimes, but... If you really do think that the Iraqi People are better off, and that this war is worth the costs I noted above, then we are not going to agree.

I do appreciate finally running into someone from the UK who is in favor of the war, though. If I had restricted myself to watching TV, instead of opening myself up to discussions like this, I would have been forced to assume that everyone in England was against the war.

peace
-jl
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mark samuels
Posted on Monday, April 14, 2003 - 10:31 am:   

Jeremy---Apologies if I've come across as scathing.

Even if we don't agree on the war I feel sure that we stand shoulder to shoulder in demanding that the US and UK put the Iraqis first in the post-war scenario and ensure they get their country back and that humanitarian aid is supplied according to need.

I have to start my packing for the WHC in Kansas City now: a long haul from London.

All best wishes to you!
Mark
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Monday, April 14, 2003 - 03:59 pm:   

Bob - Sorry about the mix-up. At present, I don't believe it is possible to speak any more about Saddam's regime as a going concern. His government is no longer in a position to do much of anything to people if they choose to shower the troops with praise. But this doesn't alter my principal point, which is that the future administration in Iraq will have to contend with nationalist sabotage by remnants of the Hussein regime. Iraqi soldiers adopted civilian garb very early in this conflict, and there is no reason to assume they won't extend their camouflage to behavior as well.
I stick by my point about democracy. No one in Washington cares about the Iraqis, their restraint is entirely due to the pressure public opinion places on them, which is one of the results of these useless protests and letter-writing campaigns. The more they blow up, the more contracts they can make out to Haliburton et al. to rebuild. Any time any one offers you democracy, you have to ask what is in it for them. The US, as has been pointed out elsewhere on these boards, has an abysmal record with regard to the foundation of democracies throughout the world. Ever since Madison, the US has treated the western hemisphere as its bailiwick, and we see the results in every Latin American country. The nurture of democracy, in these places, has only weakened it or vitiated it altogether.

Mark -
As I said above, the attention this war has received is the sole reason, in my opinion, for what restraint the invaders have exhibited. And, as I've said elsewhere, if one believes the war is wrong, it is incumbent upon that person to protest against it. Political opposition always follows popular opposition; it is up to the people here to show to the politicians that there is a sizeable and motivated popular base upon which they can draw. Failure to protest bad policy is essentially permission to perpetrate further bad policy.
It is in the interests of those in power that democracy be represented as a spectator sport; therefore, it is important that the power of popular protest be downplayed as much as possible. The key to the elimination of political opposition is always the marginalization of the enemy; in fact, the people currently administering this country represent the really marginal position, the interests of a very small moneyed elite with totalitarian designs outlined in their own documents (the plan for the "New American Century" which can be found on the web, and which expressly states that the US will not tolerate the existence of any other power in the world of greater or even comparable power).
Is the absolute pacifism of the Quakers wrong? Are the Marxists bad people because of their opinions? The motive of the peace movement, which is the largest and most diverse protest movement in history, is simply to stop the war. There are motives behind this motive, but, whether we are discussing a protest or a rally or a letter-writing campaign, it is generally well understood that we must put opposition to the war first, above all other considerations. Even those misguided enough to support suicide bombers (I have yet to encounter any, speaking personally) have a right to voice their opinions, and an obligation in fact to do so. However, those in power do not have the right to ignore public opinion, as their claim to power is only legitimate if they can demonstrate that they actually represent the popular will.
This same administration vacillated wildly when asked why the war in Iraq should go forward. Regime change was one of the many excuses they threw out, despite the fact that Rumsfeld had been sent to Iraq by Ronald Reagan to buddy up to Saddam in the eighties. This regime change suddenly becomes necessary after years and years -why now? Why not then? I can't think of any other reason apart from this - back then, cooperation with Saddam was expedient, now destruction of him is expedient. There is no moral evaluation involved. The massacre of civilians inside Iraq did cause an international outcry, people did protest and write letters, and the government did nothing.
The ipso facto liberation of the Iraqi people will not take place. Saddam Hussein would never have gone so far nor done so much without the tacit permission of the powers that be. Post-Saddam Iraq will still be undemocratic, there will still be torture, illegal incarceration, executions, etc., all in the name of security (vs. nationalist sabotage, Islamist groups, ethnic tensions, etc). Without absolving Hussein in the slightest for his crimes, the US bears responsibility for creating the circumstances that made them possible, and the change brought about by the removal of Saddam will be a matter of degree, I believe, rather than of quality. I think the Iraqi people deserve better than that, because I think all human beings deserve better than that. This administration, and the US government in general, has shown itself to be largely inept at delivering democracy here in America; I have absolutely no confidence in their ability to bring it to another country. I do however have absolute confidence in their ability to fashion a dazzling illusion of success in Iraq.

The dictators of the world have been put on notice - that the Big Dictator will squash them if they get too big for their britches. The Iraqi war is, among other things, a showcase for the newest and most expensive American weaponry; the example of Iraq will go a long way to intimidate all the world's leaders. Hamfisted US diplomacy has already essentially alienated most of them.
Recently, I heard an interview with an Indian journalist (and critic of the Vajpai - my apologies for any misspelling - regime) on the radio; he repeated Ghandi's famous joke - when asked what he thought of Western civilization, Ghandi replied "I think it would be a good idea." This journalist, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, went on to say that the war in Iraq represents the worst aspects of Western civilization, and that the public outcry, the protests, represent the best.
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mark samuels
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 02:16 am:   

Michael--Wish I had the time to respond to that, but I don't. What you've done is not to look impartially at facts but to interpret them in the worst possible light in order to reach a pre-conceived position.

Respectfully: what you display is a high degree of intelligence coupled with appalling judgement. Your argument boils down to the equivalent of believing a serial killer should be ignored because you mistrust the police force.

Anyway, I've got a flight to catch.

All best
Mark
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Vandana Singh
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 04:51 pm:   

I am a writer from a country (India) that was devastated by colonialism. I am writing not to fan flames but to express, if I may, a third-world perspective. When the British took over India, their ostensible reason for occupation was to bring the ignorant and suffering natives the civilizing benefits of an empire that only had their best at heart. What worries me about the current war is the repetition of the same patronizing, colonialist "white man's burden" justifications, only more disguised. We who have seen powerful Western governments stride across the globe, installing and removing regimes in accordance with the economic interests of a few, see no reason to believe that the reasons for the war in Iraq are any different from the usual ones of greed and pillage. If Saddam Hussein's unquestionably cruel regime was indeed offensive to democracy-loving American leaders, why did they arm and strengthen him in the eighties? Meanwhile Pakistan's dictator Musharraf, who suppresses political dissent and civil rights, and unquestionably has weapons of mass destruction (nuclear weapons) is a friend of the US Government. I am not suggesting that the US forcibly remove Musharraf (it seems likely that the fundamentalists in Pakistan, enraged over the Iraq war and Musharraf's concessions to the US, will do so anyway, to the detriment of everyone concerned) --- however I am pointing out one of many inconsistencies in the official American justification for this war.

I would also suggest that people not read too much into the expressions of relief that the Iraqis have demonstrated. If I were one of them, I too would dance in the streets, celebrating not just the end of Saddam, but the end of bombings and sanctions. But that relief is unlikely to translate into mass approval of the war and occupation. Iraqis have been colonized before and they are likely to be wary of Western governments' intentions.

On another note, let me point out that colonization comes in many flavors. There is physical occupation of a country but there is also a colonization of the mind that comes with it. I am talking about the eclipsing of indigenous third-world cultures and belief systems in the face of global McDonaldization. I am talking about the right of a people to determine their own future. I am talking about the confidence that a people must have in themselves to chart their own path. "Liberalization" from the top undermines all that, and moreover is a contradiction in terms. Indians won freedom through their own struggles and sacrifices (and the support and inspiration --- not unsolicited military intervention --- of people from around the world). Women won the vote in America through their own sweat, with the support of enlightened men. Unless you are a damsel in distress, a knight in shining armor is a poor substitute for true emancipation (and more so if his motives are questionable).

So if Americans really want to "save" the third world, I entreat that you pressure your government to:
1) please don't support dictators around the world
2) support grassroots democratic movements, and allow the people of these countries to lead and direct such movements
3) respect the sovereignty of other nations
4) have true bilateral cultural exchanges rather than sending us the dregs of your great culture (McDonald's and soap operas). Also note that we may have something worthwhile to offer you other than oil.
5) keep a critical and vigilant eye on your government (a privilege and price of democracy).

Musing further on point 5): what keeps me awake at night is the thought that any third-world country could face an attack from the US like Iraq did. The official reasons would not matter (they keep changing anyway) since eventually one could always fall back on "liberate them." The present situation in the world is one of dangerous imbalance --- there is unrestricted power in the hands of one nation. There are no checks and balances, particularly after the effective demise of the UN. This should worry any democratically-minded person, since true democracy survives only if nobody becomes too powerful. I would like to ask Americans --- whether you are pro-war or against --- to ponder this. In a world where the US government has unrestricted power, where American media has close ties to corporations with vested interests, it is only the intelligence, vigilance and heart of American citizens that can put a brake on the imperial ambitions of a few corrupt oil barons. It is a terrible responsibility.


Thank you for allowing me the space to express my opinion. With respect,

Vandana Singh

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Bob
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 05:29 pm:   

Nicely put. Really.
I would submit a couple of rejoinders:
Re Unrestricted American power: It's always been that way. It may not be politically correct, but look at the UN realistically, and you'll see that America has never really pledged itself to the idea of a unified world governing body. The American people, like most populations, are intrinsically nationalistic, and the idea of a body that might ever infringe upon our national interests rankles not a few -- the UN's attempts to influence domestic policy here (UN sponsored firearms legislation for instance) were the true death knell for the its effectiveness in restraining American policy in my opinion. But even before that, I think most American citizens thought of the UN as a means to keep "those other people" civilized. And I'd bet most citizens of the UN member states thought the same thing about us....
Either way, American military might has only ever been restricted by factors completely separate from the UN's designs. The economy and internal politics played the larger role in America's decision whether to commence or forego hostilities in the past century. World opinion has rarely been other than a PR campaign in most cases -- see Bosnia, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Chile, Rwanda....
Re American support for Despotisms: Here's the problem with that. The American government isn't so monolithic and lasting as most. In fact, it's a quixotic, idiosyncratic system of shifting power and constantly changing administrations. What at one time seemed a good idea to Jimmy Carter seemed ludicrous and irresponsible to Reagan, and on down the line. There's a constant reference to the US selling weapons to Saddam, which is specious at best. What you need to think about here is: Did the current administration sell weapons to Iraq? Nope. Bush has an obligation to act according to what he thinks are in the best interests of the United States under the conditions presented to him under his term of office. Not his father's. Not FDR's. His.
Whether or not he is truly acting according to his obligations is a completely different discussion.
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 02:58 am:   

I agree that the USA isn't a monolithic state, that its administration is malleable, that there is always hope in the basic nature of the USA, that questions of responsibility and intent are often more complex with a country such as the USA than they are with many other countries, that the USA has one of the finest political constitutions in the world...

All these are good things.

But the problem is that because the USA has done certain things in the past, many, many people simply don't trust the country AT ALL. I'll just mention one brief example: the occupation of Haiti by the Marines in the early part of the 20th Century. The Marines took over the legal administration of the country and hired lawyers to find loopholes in employment law to enable a return to slave labour. This slave labour actually improved Haiti's infrastructure, giving that country decent roads, clean drinking water, etc. But was the price worth it? The Haitians obviously didn't think so and they rose up. The Marines easily crushed the rebellion and considered the Haitians to be ungrateful. This is a good example of the 'colonialism' that Vandana talks about above. Somebody somewhere must have thought that it was good policy to send the Marines in as an imperialist force, to improve the country's economy but through occupation. When FDR came to power, he clearly thought that the whole thing was a bad idea and he withdrew the Marines. So it's possible to show that the policies of the USA are never fixed in the way that those of a standard 'colonial' power are, because these decisions can (and do) get easily reversed. But this possibility of reversal is the ONLY difference between the USA and other colonial powers, such as Britain in the past and that's just not enough to win the trust of people.
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Bob
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 01:58 pm:   

Absolutely right, Rhys. And I have no argument with you.
My point wasn't that because of the mercurial nature of our government, we should be excused for our bad behavior. Not at all!
I just wanted to point out the logic fallacy I've seen used at several points in these discussions, i.e. the US has done terrible things in the past and therefore can't be trusted to do good things in the future. By that token, we've done many good things in the past as well, so let's not forecast evil American imperialism onto every future action.
Thing is, I really don't think we're given as much credit as we deserve in the good deeds department. The US spends more money and manpower on foreign aid than the GNP of most other countries. In fact, we spend more on the poor of the rest of the world than we do on our own domestic unfortunates (I'm copyrighting that! Has that nice distant-yet-genuinely-concerned sound I'm sure all the politicians would love....) We've crumbled governments and replaced them with dictators, yes. We've also bailed out countries from bankruptcy (Russia, Indonesia, etc) only to have them turn on us like rabid dogs. And yes I specifically mean Russia, which wouldn't even HAVE a viable government without the US propping them up. And I don't mean just their failure to support the current action, but rather the continuing trend of that country's leadership to cast dispersions upon the US that has persisted for the past decade.
This isn't to be defensive, I know our misdeeds color our future actions, and only time and faithful adherence to our stated goals will ever erase that. But let's not paint the US with such a broad brush and say it's a country that only does evil. That just isn't so, and I firmly believe we've done more good for the international community than just about any nation on earth.
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Bob
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 02:00 pm:   

Oh, and I didn't know that about Haiti.
Oi. We've been bad again, eh?
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2003 - 03:57 pm:   

Mark -

Obviously, I cannot meaningfully comment on whether or not my judgement is appalling; this would vary with regard to who is judging me. I can only confess that I see no reason to place any more trust in your impartiality than in my own; and I hasten to add that, from my point of view, I must apply your own words to yourself - intelligent, but prejudiced. The difference between our positions seems to me to be chiefly a matter of the kind of information to which we are exposed. I come at this situation with a deep distrust of this government. Those who report on the war for our media are not asking the questions or addressing the concerns that interest me, and so I have tried to familiarize myself with the other dimensions of war coverage. This coverage has indicated to me the folly and injustice of this war, and its actual purposes. I have seen nothing in the flimsy "plans" put forward for postwar Iraq that in any way justify the massacre that this army, ostensibly acting in my name and with my support - but for my own efforts to extricate myself from this attribution - has perpetrated there. My point of view is generally leftist, but I chose to be a leftist on the basis of my evaluation of events, drawn to the best of my (evidently very limited) abilities. I did not therefore abdicate my capacity for critical thinking, and I dislike the implication that I have.

Your rendering of my argument, I have to say, is absurd, and I could just as readily invert it to make an equally misrepresentative characterization of your argument, to wit: that the police, in stopping a serial killer, may be excused for committing murder themselves. I want all the serial killers to be stopped - and no serial killers do more harm than those who dupe people into killing, and dying, for them. Wiser people than I are always telling me that we must be reasonable and accept that in an imperfect world innocent people sometimes get in the way etc etc, hence all this death is necessary and, in fact, if not a good thing, then at least an acceptable cost. In the depths of my ignorance, I am unable to make myself believe that.

Bob: I agree that the US's bad track record in the past is no guarantee of bad faith now. But I would add that this administration includes a great many persons, like Rumsfeld et al, and is orbited by others like Kissinger, who have had a hand in making much of that bad track record. Little Bush's cabinet is basically a retread of the Reagan cabinet, with a few tokens. The faces have changed, but the policy remains implacably unaltered no matter how much it diverges from any sane view of reality. These people have an unexamined religious belief in American-style democracy - of course, everyone wants it, and will jump at the chance to have it, and if they don't, well then they deserve what they get. I think, if you ask people what they want, they will say "sovereignty". This is a clearer expression of what I rather murkily said earlier about democracy being something that is taken for oneself and not given. It is true that from time to time I get lazy and refer to the US monolithically and as a tendency in policy instead of sticking closely to this administration and their concerns. But no amount of good works in the world will rectify or excuse bad works. As an American, I can look back over a history spattered all over with indelible blots like Wounded Knee and Hiroshima; I have to drag this record around with me wherever I go, and I don't want to see it made worse.
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mark samuels
Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2003 - 04:34 pm:   

Michael---Which boils down to the fact that you'd have been prepared to allow Saddam to carry on perpetuating a regime more incomparably wicked than Bush's or Reagan's ever was, for the simple reason that you hate the Republicans more than overseas Dictators. Sorry to be blunt: but deal with it.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2003 - 09:22 pm:   

Mark,
Why didn't we invade Libya and why haven't we invaded all the other evil nations that have slaughtered their own people for decades? Because there has been no economic interest for the US to do so. I'm not at all sorry to be blunt--Deal with it.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2003 - 10:51 pm:   

Respect for international law has nothing to do with liking or disliking republicans.

Belief that Multilateralism leads to a safer, more secure world than does Unilateralism has nothing to do with liking or disliking republicans.

Being distrustful of powerful political figures who have demonstratively and repeatedly mislead and lied to the public (about major policy issues and decisions) has nothing to do with partisan politics.

Being suspicions of cronyism and political graft has nothing to do with your political leanings.

Having the common sense to recognize that invading a Sovereign Moslem country with no provocation, and no international support puts a huge target on America’s forehead and radicalizes otherwise moderate Moslems and makes us far more likely to be attacked by terrorists... this common sense has nothing to do with political affiliation.

Spending 100 billion dollars to flatten Iraq, and then rebuild it, while running up huge, unending budget deficits, and cutting veterans benefits, and cutting homeland security budgets is an odious idea, regardless weather you “like” or “dislike” republicans

Mark... Perhaps if you weren't so overtly partisan, you would be less quick to make snap judgments about other people’s partisan biases.

Let me put it this way: If Bush's name was Clinton, would you still be justifying this war as necessary on humanitarian grounds, or would you be suspicious and critical of the reasons given for the war in Iraq?

You constantly engage in straw man arguments ("you hate republicans, so you would let a serial killer go free!") to deflect away from the simple fact that the war in and occupation of Iraq is a bad idea… and that all “justifications” for this war fall apart when examined closely.

If you are so keen on stopping dictators and murderers, then why aren’t you protesting the Bush Administration’s decision to take INDONESIAN off the “international bad guy list” for their systematic and ongoing genocide in East Timor. Indonesia has oil, and they are willing to let Exon pump it, so they can’t be “bad guys”? Unless you personally go out and boycott every company that does business in Indonesia… Unless you actually go out and do something (like make donations to amnesty international) to help all the victims in this world, then your arguments sound like hollow straw man bullshit. Sorry to be so blunt, but that’s how your arguments come across.

-jl
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2003 - 11:10 pm:   

We invaded Grenada. The world's supply of nutmeg being in peril is the only way I see that as economics. I can't imagine that was that critical to the US.

Also we did bomb Libya, but within a decade or so of that they turned in terrorists. Part of why Syria had been safe is they did likewise, despite their bad human rights and terrorism record. Further as bad as Libya were/are they don't have the same record of conquering a neighbor. They had border disputes with Chad I believe, but I don't think they showed the will to take that whole nation.

Territory disputes are pretty common in fact. I learned recently there is another L nation that has, or had, land disputes with a democratic ally. That nation's dispute is with the Czechs. Further this "L" nation's banks have been suspected of money laundering in the past, & it does not live under a US style Republic. In fact it did not even let women vote until 1984. I won't leave you in suspense, the nation is the Principality of Liechtenstein. Despite everything I don't think they're a candidate for invasion.

Anyway enough silliness. Saddam had a regime that showed several times a willingness to attack and take down others with them. They fought with Iran, conquered Kuwait, etc. They harbored Abbas, funded suicide bombers, etc. Further if this is only about taking down bad regimes when they have economic interest to the the US than explain the lack of interest in regime change for

Venezuela: Our main oil supply
Zimbabwe: Important US resource for chromium
Myanmar: Suspect in dealing with the heroin trade

As a few examps.
I hope this is not hostile, but to paraphrase

"Deal with that"

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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2003 - 11:20 pm:   

Oh as for the post after that. In my mind that example is just very wrongheaded. Indonesia has an elected leader, and has worked to go after terrorists. They should do more to get the criminals of the past, but Spain kept the old Fascist guard safe years after Franco. Keeping them, or *putting them, on a "bad guys" list years after Franco would've been a grossly stupid idea.

*US's occasionally cosy relationshp with Francoist makes me doubt they ever were on a "bad guy" list for long. It also was the kind of thing that I did disapprove of and still do.
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Ellen
Posted on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 07:48 am:   

You ask why we're not invading or threatedning to invade the following:

Venezuela: Our main oil supply
Zimbabwe: Important US resource for chromium
Myanmar: Suspect in dealing with the heroin trade

Because there is no threat that we won't get their oil and chromium. Drugs are a whole different issue. We don't want their drugs, now do we? You're changing the argument in midstream.


Look, it's clear to me that what's going on here is exactly what a friend described to me recently.


We (all of us here on the BB) are reading the same information and seeing the same things in the papers and other media yet we are perceiving what is going on in these articles/photos/films/ utterly differently. We will never have a common ground on certain things as we just see things differently (appropriately and back to fiction on the BB--the title and point of Bruce Sterling's excellent story about an Arab suicide bomber--"We See Things Differently").

So, that's it for me for this topic. I'm outta here.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 08:00 am:   

Thomas,

If I were the regime in Venezuela, I wouldn't be feeling too perky these days. According to friends in the Venezuela press, there's a great deal of spook activity down there at present, activity of a kind that often precedes less covert actions. Given the course of Latin American history during the last century or so, I think a Venezuelan adventure is very likely for the next administration.

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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 10:15 am:   

Actually, the US government responded very positively to the recent attempt by the military to oust its populist and elected president of Venezuela... The U.S. State department is ON RECORD as having responded positively to the coup plotters. We ARE going after Venezuela... who do you think was behind the crippling "national strikes" that tried to oust the president?

Your own examples undermine your argument.

The Indonesian government was NOT popularly elected in East Timor... In fact... when East Timor voted for independence (as allowed and authorized by Indonesian law, and mandated by the U.N), Indonesian paramilitaries killed upwards of 100,000 people, mostly during a week long murder/raping/retribution spree. Currently, these Indonesian supported paramilitaries are still going from town to town, chopping off the heads of anybody who challenges them.

The Bush regime claimed the Indonesian government was "helping the fight against terrorists(ie selling us oil)" but Indonesia is in fact a major state sponsor of terrorism. The current Indonesian Government has (since 1998) harbored and supported and trained more terrorists than Iraq and Syria put together, and have as a result of their actions in East Timor, killed almost 200,000 people during that time.

Your “democratically elected” government (which in fact is just a straw man for the same military that kept the U.S. sponsored dictator Suharto in power for 32 years) in Indonesia has far more blood on its hands than does Syria, or Hussian during the time it has been in power (1998).

Again, your examples undermine your arguments...


-Jeremy Lassen
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mark samuels
Posted on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 11:17 am:   

Forcibly removing the Saddam Regime was the lesser of two evils. Leaving Iraq alone and endeavouring to prevent regime-change was the greater evil. All those who are anti-war refuse to deal with this fact. That's why I said "deal with it". The fact is you can't. Or won't. You'd rather change the subject.

When the US peacenik human-shields got to Iraq the Ba'athist Party tried to put them in front of military installations instead of schools and hospitals. So they scuttled home. That's the reality. When pacifism meets fascism it has no chance.

As for the oil: I don't care who gets the rebuilding contracts. There isn't a homegrown coordinating enterprise in Iraq right now that can handle the job. What should unite us is the fact that the resource is ultimately used for the benefit of the Iraqi people. Under Saddam the UN oil-for-food programme was used to fund a luxury lifestyle for the Ba-athists whilst ordinary Iraqis suffered outrageous deprivations. Let's bear that in mind. If anyone wanted the oil all to themselves, it was Saddam and his henchmen.

We now have the chance to make amends to the Iraqi people for our past mistakes and support of Saddam. Let's take it. That's the cause the left needs to espouse, not some half-baked isolationism.

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mark samuels
Posted on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 11:30 am:   

Btw, Jeremy---were I a US citizen rather than being British, I suspect I'd have voted Democrat. I don't support Bush flouting the Kyoto protocol, his views on social welfare and I am against the death penalty. You make assumptions about me that have no basis in reality.

What I am not is doctrinaire.
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 11:49 am:   

Jeremy's right about Indonesia. What's more, according to the Washington Post, Ford & Kissinger visited Jakarta shortly before the invasion and were duly informed about Suharto's plans. While I'm not stating the U.S. "helped" Indonesia invade, the many administrations since clearly showed no compunctions about allowing nearly 25 years of oppression and brutality to happen.

(East Timor was Portuguese territory at the time, and I might add that my country is also to blame for decades of neglect, both before and after the occupation.)

Best,
Luís
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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 11:52 am:   

Jeremy I'd like to know your sources. I usually hate doing that because I don't cite much either, but I've heard nothing like that anywhere.

First East Timor is now independent and I was/am very supportive of that. Don't try to make me an apologist to Sukarno/Suharto when I'm not. Furthermore much to most of the Indonesian violence against East Timor occurred during the previous administrations of both nations. Meaning Clinton and their previous leader. Not that I'm totally convinced the current Indonesian government is all that great, but I certainly would like some evidence for what you're saying. As it stands now it sure looks like they're going in the right direction.

It's kind of like Iran. They still support terrorism and are working to get nuclear fuel. Israel considers them the main threat with Iraq gone, not that I much care what Israel wants. Anyway despite that I'd say they also are moving in the right direction. Putting them on the Axis of Evil didn't entirely sit well with me even.

Ellen: I think maybe I should leave again too. In some ways I'm just trying to be devil's advocate, but I don't think an opposing view is very helpful here. I think the purpose of this is for anti-Bushites to get together so I think I'm just a nuisance. I also concede I don't do well enough at bringing an alternate view to the table. However I put Myanmar in because it could fit under economic interest. Taking a heroin source to destroy it, and the drug war is often claimed to have an economic/terrorist angle. Still that one needed some explanation. I also called it Myanmar, rather than Burma, as that's the regime that hopefully will change. Peaceably I think/hope.

Bye all.
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 12:00 pm:   

Still re Indonesia, some declassified stuff taken from the National Security Archive at GWU:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB62/

So much for democracy . . .

Best,
Luís
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Sunday, April 27, 2003 - 07:05 pm:   

Sorry if I've made assumptions about your positions. I've heard too many people who ARE rapidly partisan make the arguments and excuses you put forth to justify the Iraq Invasion/occupation. These partisans who justify Iraq on humanitarian grounds often miss the hypocrisy of their justifications...

But speaking of making assumptions...

You yourself are making assumptions about "rabid anti-bushites". I listed off a number principals, and reasons why the war has been opposed, and non of them were partisan. Well-informed, non-partisan people oppose this war, often on moral grounds... It is not simply a matter of "repugs vs dems" or any other "football game" mentality that the mainstream media suggest.

Your comment about violence in Indonesia during the Clinton presidency reinforces my point: You are looking at things in terms of "who was in charge... who are we pointing fingers at.. Us vs. them... partisan blame".

My comments about Indonesia were about US and British policy in general... AND about YOUR PERSONAL policy on human rights violations. (though, point of fact: The E. Timor election violence took place under the Indonesia's democratically elected government... Clinton placed Indonesia on a "bad guy" list for their roll in the genocide, which included economic sanctions, etc.... Bush took them off the list, and removed sanctions in 2002.)

I was not trying to characterize you as an apologist for Suharta... I was suggesting that your view of Indonesia, and dictatorships, and human rights violations in general was naive. Your comments about Venezuela reinforce this. You know what your corporate sponsored government wants you to know, and not much else. This is not a personal attack on you. This is an indictment of western societies corporate controlled media.

Your stated in your last post:

"We now have the chance to make amends to the Iraqi people for our past mistakes and support of Saddam. Let's take it. That's the cause the left needs to espouse, not some half-baked isolationism. "

This stance further demonstrates your naiveté... . I WISH our governments were trying to make amends... But my government and yours has repeatedly demonstrated what it is they care about. (Oil ministry = guarded... priceless history of the Iraqi people = not guarded, for example).

If you want to see how the U.S. government "makes amends" to people who's countries they have destroyed, take a look at Afghanistan. Its not partisan politics that makes me doubt the Bush regime's promise to make Iraqi's lives better, its their track record in Afghanistan...

Its funny you should characterize the "left" and their stance as "half backed isolationism." You again reduce things to false dichotomies... and you can't resist throwing a partisan barb in there... Is it isolationsist to demand UN Sanction of millitary action? The opposite, in fact.

I have in the past said "we will have to agree to disagree" about the moral justification for this war. Instead of leaving it at that, or giving others the same courtesy, you dismiss peoples opinions and deeply held moral values as simply being "anti-bush" and make huge sweeping generalizations about the people on this board, with out ever acknowledging that others may have very valid, non-partisan reasons for opposing the action in Iraq.

I have provided sources for you in the past, and you dismissed them in a very cavalier, and mocking manner, without ever commenting on the validity of the sources themselves. I'm hesitant to do so again. If the link Luis provided isn't enough to get you started on Indonesia, please drop me an email, and I'd be glad to send you a list of links and sources, off board.

-JL
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mark samuels
Posted on Monday, April 28, 2003 - 07:08 am:   

Jeremy

You're conflating my posts with those of Thomas R.

Moreover, you're not addressing the central point: was it worse to leave Saddam in power or remove him by force?

I personally don't intend to address the other issues, since I think the war stands or falls on moral grounds solely on this consideration, and those other issues are attempts to lead away from that central point.

If you can't accept that this was a desirable end and that the means employed to bring it about were specifically concerned with minimising civilian casualities, well, we'll never reach agreement.

I certainly would have preferred the US and Britain to have obtained UN backing. But that didn't happen. And the lesser of two evils was supporting the war once it started.

There was no UN backing for the Coalition action in Kosovo. But no anti-war protestor seems to take that fact into consideration. Or even mention it now.

UN backing is highly desirable of course, but in the end one needs to look to one's conscience.

And that, I imagine, is why these differences of opinion really arise.

Best
Mark
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 10:04 am:   

Mark...
Just curious if the war in Iraq has met with your expectations. Sadly, it has met mine. Everything I feared has come to pass. The US and the UK have indeed fucked things beyond even my alarmist expectations.

Support the troops. Bring them home now. Impeach Bush.
-jl
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, December 20, 2003 - 05:02 pm:   

Why didn't we invade Libya

I probably should never post at this discussion again, but thought I'd bring up the good news that Libya is opening up. I hope this is potentially good news to both sides. It can either be seen as a victory of peaceful diplomacy based on years of international effort or a vindication of the idea that military efforts have worked.

For the record Qadhafi has been moving in that direction for a few years now so I don't see it as caused by the war. Or in least not solely caused by the war.

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