Monday, November 24, 2003
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You know things are bad when this qualifies as good news
From the New York Times:
posted by Dan on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM
These brave soldiers did not die in vain. We need to take a deep breadth and take a look at history. The United States and its allies are accomplishing great things in Iraq. Very few soldiers have been killed compared to just about any other military campaign in our nation’s past. Is Iraq worth the price? Indeed, it is. We are encouraging the Muslims to reexamine their cultural values. Their moderates are provided an opportunity to marginalize their more radical brethren. Our own security is greatly increased by the Muslim world opening itself to the 21st Century.posted by: David Thomson on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
That's a pretty gratuitous slam. De Genova made his assinine statements about eight months ago. Don't you have anything more recent to link to?
It's also not clear to me that the Mogadishu Scenario is not coming true. Lebanon/Reagan, Somalia/Bush 41/Clinton, we found ourselves in an ugly and untenable position and so we cut and ran, the lesson for Al Qaeda was that we had no guts and could be pushed out of a country. This appears to be exactly what Bush 43 is setting us up for.posted by: anne.elk on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Dan here to his credit has mostly not been taken in by the insipid Admin PR that it was just a negative news filter. Blame whoever you like, things really are getting progressively worse over there. The falcon flies in a spiral wider and wider and the center cannot hold.
Furthermore, the United States has lost essential credibility - as seen in the series of setbacks it has recieved regarding international cooperation on Iran's REAL nuclear weapons program. This is because everyone is afraid that condemning Iran will give the crazy Americans an excuse to invade.
Finally, the situation regarding China and NK is getting dire. The Chinese leader recently stated that China would pay "any price" to ensure the unity of Taiwan with China, at the same time Taiwan is making more pro-independence steps. The chances are we could be in a serious military conflict over both in Korea and in the Taiwan straits next year if our grip on events keeps on unraveling.
The Bush et al. apologists have served a historical purpose similar to those who supported Neville Chamberlain's "Peace in our time." claim. They did it by rationalizing public opinion for the sake of leaders who are engaged on a path of madness - sheer madness. Does this sound extreme? Remember just a few months ago when the Bush boosters were hopping mad at the Iraq "media filter". Where are they and their optimistic pronouncements now? Yet like ole Cassandra's audience, the chances of people taking sense and realizing the coming disaster are small.posted by: Oldman on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
“Where are they and their optimistic pronouncements now?”
Shucks, we are still here. Nothing has so far occurred to even slightly make me change my mind. Once again, please do some studying in history. The current death rate is miniscule next to our previous major campaigns.
The situation in Iraq is improving on a daily basis. I am even willing to say that the worst is behind us. The remaining problems are not enough to stop the increasing democratization of Iraq. One also senses a subtle racist attitude in your remarks. You seem to hold the Iraqis in contempt.
“Furthermore, the United States has lost essential credibility - as seen in the series of setbacks it has recieved regarding international cooperation...”
Most of these luke warm allies would have found one excuse or another to avoid invading Iraq. The Old Europeans and the Canadians, in particular, are too selfish and soft. They tacitly believe that the United States can always be counted upon to do their dirty work.posted by: David Thomson on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
"Most of these luke warm allies would have found one excuse or another to avoid invading Iraq. The Old Europeans and the Canadians, in particular, are too selfish and soft. They tacitly believe that the United States can always be counted upon to do their dirty work."
I know many Canadians and Europeans. They DON'T want the US to do ANY dirty work. You'd know that if you had paid attention to the MILLIONS of people who protested the march to war. Or did you think they were "focus groups" ?
They are not lukewarm allies either. They came to Afghanistan, they stood with us after 9/11. Their opinion (and those of over 40% of Americans) was that to go to war in Iraq was a TERRIBLE idea. Iraq had not threatened us, we had it contained, yet we (in the loose sense) CHOSE to go anyway. An ally is not a poodle ! If we choose to go alone when our friends say it's a bad idea, then we have no right to blame them.posted by: ch2 on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
“You'd know that if you had paid attention to the MILLIONS of people who protested the march to war. “
The vast majority of the protesters feel an incumbent need to always surrender to the forces of evil. These are the same sort of folks who unwittingly encouraged Adolph Hitler in the late 1930s. There is no such thing, in their way of looking at the world, as a legitimate justification to militarily defeat the enemies of Western Civilization.
“Iraq had not threatened us, we had it contained, yet we (in the loose sense) CHOSE to go anyway. “
That is simply false. Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate a former American president. I am sure that he was never stopped plotting against the United States. In an overt manner? Nope, I suspect that he would have backed a terrorist attack where he could later claim innocence. The former Iraqi dictator would have groups like Al Quaeda do the evil deed.
The late Edward Said ridiculously argued that the Muslim world is merely a victim of an oppressive capitalist and racist West. Many liberal intellectuals regrettably bought into this nonsense. It is Bernard Lewis who should instead be our guide in these matters. This great scholar understands the self pitying and scapegoating prevalently found among the Muslim masses. They shy away from admitting that their present impotence and backwardness is the result of mistakes committed years ago---by their own forefathers! I highly recommend that everyone read Lewis’ “The Muslim Discovery of Europe.”posted by: David Thomson on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Oldman, step away from the Led Zep 33's and stick to economics.
Of course things are getting progressively worse. They were first "Really Bad", then in three weeks time they were almost "incredibly good", as compared to the previous time period; and now that the shock part of 'shock and awe' is over, they will get progressively worse for awhile - *AS COMPARED TO THE PREVIOUS TIME PERIOD*. And then they will get better.
And why are they getting bad? The bad guys are reorganizing. Why is this the stuff of seers? It's what bad guys do. What do you suppose the Iranians bother to employ security services for? Robe sales?
Art? Dave? Mark? Can someone else take Ch2. I think he needs to have the utility of uni and multi- lateral explained to him, and I don't feel like fighting tonight. Oldman's gonna get pissed at the LZ quip, but the truth of the matter is he's pretty good on the econ threads, so I'm playing (fairly) nice. Alaka Jack? Hello?posted by: TommyG on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
David Thompson writes :" There is no such thing, in their way of looking at the world, as a legitimate justification to militarily defeat the enemies of Western Civilization."
Saddam Hussein doesn't qualify as an enemy of Western Civilization, he was a tyrant held in a small box, without control of much of his own country, and prevented from accessing any weapons which would make him a threat to Western Civilization.
Furthermore, his palaces were chock-full of really tawdry examples of Western Civilization.
The enemies of Western Civilization are elsewhere, and attacking Iraq was a distraction.posted by: Jon H on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Aw Christ, Jonny...HE RAN A STINKIN' POLICE STATE! Yeah, that qualifies. No conspiracy there, huh?
Good Nightposted by: TommyG on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
I guess I don't understand why the proprietor would drop De Genova's comment in there. Why would a mildly-right academic, intellectual-type do such a thing?
It's pretty clear what De Genova was saying. He doesn't approve of American military actions, and thinks that if America were to pay a higher cost, in lives or treasure, that we might reduce our military ambitions, resulting in less death and destruction in the world.
We might disagree with the truth of what he said (perhaps a dimunition of American military action will result in more overall carnage in the world) and we would all probably agree that his statements struck as offensive. I personally find distasteful strategies which use lives as means (dead US soldiers for a more rational foreign policy).
But the point: a less agressive US military, by any means - even if it can only be accomplished by the spectre of dead US soldiers - might be a better outcome for the world in the longer term...
...is a debateable point, for anyone who doesn't chauvenistically believe that US lives are inherently more valuable that Iraqi children's lives, for instance (and no, the calculus was not between US soldiers and their Mogadishu enemies, and an honest person knows that. But I doubt there are many of those here). I think that I disagree, in fact, with De Genova's point, personally.
I just don't understand why someone would throw out a comment like that, when your own blog quotes the guy as saying that he is "precisely not" wishing [...]for the deaths of American soldiers.
Sure on some freeper site, I'd understand it - throw some red meat to the rabid belligerents.
"Hey look, there's another liberal that hates America! Heh heh. And what about Hillary Clinton, eh? She's sure a ball-breaking b*tch, isn't she?"
Whatever. Entertainment comes in many forms, I guess. Personally, I think it's f*cking tripe.posted by: andrew on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Though I doubt any here care about my opinion, I personally don't think that it is evident, whatsoever, that events in Iraq portend a disaster or failure of the war's aims. (I'm a whiny leftie, too, who opposed the war BTW). But, it's just too early to tell. Things are not as good as they could be, obviously, but OTOH, they could be far worse. Even the 500 US deaths and 10,000 Iraqi civilian deaths (currently) might still be redeemable if things turn out well. It will take years to judge I believe. A soldier a day sucks, but it doesn't necessarily mean our plan is screwed.posted by: andrew on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
“But the point: a less agressive US military, by any means - even if it can only be accomplished by the spectre of dead US soldiers - might be a better outcome for the world in the longer term...”
The United States is the preeminent force for good. A “less agressive US military” would result in a significantly more unstable and dangerous world. Anyone who believes otherwise is a either a naive fool or evil to the core. Of course, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Ladin would agree with them.
“...is a debateable point, for anyone who doesn't chauvenistically believe that US lives are inherently more valuable that Iraqi children's lives”
The lives of all Iraqi citizens are safer now that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. It’s obvious that someone is unaware of the tortures and murders inflicted on Iraqi children by Saddam’s henchmen. I also guess you believe the stories regarding the mass graves of children are merely a propaganda lie put out by Fox News.posted by: David Thomson on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Is David Thomson a troll or just a lunatic? 4 out of 12 comments, and he spends all of them trashing "Old Europe" for events in Iraq?
Jesurgilac - I think you are confused because Dave T. is posting with a sense of history, perspective, and strategy. These may be new to you. Put down the Chomsky and read some real history books, and all will become clear again.
Plus, I didn't see any mention of Old Europe in two of his posts. Perhaps a reading comprehension course before you tackle Gibbons.posted by: R C Dean on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
I think you are confused because Dave T. is posting with a sense of history, perspective, and strategy.
Mmm... No, I really don't think that's my problem. David Thomson has no sense of history, no sense of perspective, and no strategy.posted by: Jesurgislac on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Mr. Foster, You're back already? Call me when you've finished your nap - I wasn't aware that you slept at night. As to your plea, I'm game.
Mr. ch2 The implication in your post:
"I know many Canadians and Europeans. They DON'T want the US to do ANY dirty work. You'd know that if you had paid attention to the MILLIONS of people who protested the march to war. Or did you think they were "focus groups" ?
They are not lukewarm allies either. They came to Afghanistan, they stood with us after 9/11. Their opinion (and those of over 40% of Americans) was that to go to war in Iraq was a TERRIBLE idea. Iraq had not threatened us, we had it contained, yet we (in the loose sense) CHOSE to go anyway. "
... is that states - well, ours specifically, for some reason - ought only to act in concert with others, either other states or through supernational authorities.
What argument do you have that this is true outside of your own opinion? I see none, but am prepared to admit that their may be one.
What I do see is that it is sometimes in a states interest to act with equals or on behalf of member organizations. And here's the kicker: That is exactly what the ol''e pluribus unum' has done here.
I must say, having recently returned from Georgia by way of Spain, that this constant remains involuable. Despite the well meaning of Mr. Thompson, the people that matter in the push for larger democratic institutions are still very much in play in old europe.posted by: Art Wellesley on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
A question for the proprietor:
Are you abandoning your position that there is no consistent narrative coming out of Iraq? This post seems to say you are leaning to a "things are getting worse" position.
It is troubling that this happened, since Mosul had been advertised as one of the "success stories" of the Sunni Triangle.
posted by: appalled moderate on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
To compare Bush with Neville Chamberlain is certainly a new twist. Peace in our time?
As far as the situation in Iraq being terrible, and worsening every day, compared to what? Let's remember that the prisons were emptied onthe eve of the war by Saddam. Today's NYT reports on radiation areas where Saddam's regime exposed live prisoners to radioactive cobalt. Take a look at the wrenching photographs of the mass graves, literally hundreds of thousands of bodies scattered throughout the desert, (http://www.9neesan.com/massgraves/) and tell me with a straight face that nothing has changed for the better, or that the American soldiers' deaths mean nothing.posted by: Daniel Calto on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
No slashed throats, no mutilation
And exactly why do you believe the second reports, from army command? They would have no reason to lie?posted by: bob mcmanus on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Oldman says: "Blame whoever you like, things really are getting progressively worse over there. The falcon flies in a spiral wider and wider and the center cannot hold."
He's paraphrasing Yeats. Perhaps, like Yeats' wife, he's also undergone a mystical experience that has given him a God's-eye-view of the world - thus his ability to assert certain knowledge of matters that are too complex for mere mortals to assess so definitively. Or perhaps he, like so many of the reporters who also act as though they have obtained divine insight, is just going on with passionate conviction about something he cannot know.
"Furthermore, the United States has lost essential credibility - as seen in the series of setbacks it has recieved regarding international cooperation on Iran's REAL nuclear weapons program. This is because everyone is afraid that condemning Iran will give the crazy Americans an excuse to invade."
As little regard as I have for the military and foreign policies of our allies, I believe there is enough professionalism and insight left in the French, German, Russian armies and intelligence services, and just about every other real army in the world, for no one in a position of power to believe that an invasion of Iran is likely or even possible except under emergency circumstances. The American military is stretched very thin and has its figurative hands full. Even at full strength, it would be extremely reluctant to invade a country like Iran.
"Finally, the situation regarding China and NK is getting dire. The Chinese leader recently stated that China would pay "any price" to ensure the unity of Taiwan with China, at the same time Taiwan is making more pro-independence steps. The chances are we could be in a serious military conflict over both in Korea and in the Taiwan straits next year if our grip on events keeps on unraveling."
Anything is possible - but what makes Oldman, unless it's another divine message, certain that we ever had the kind of "grip on events" that could prevent China, if it finally made good on its typical statements, such as the above, regarding Taiwan, from trying to assert itself, or could prevent North Korea, if it chose to, from committing suicide and taking a lot of other people with it. Up to the moment, the Bush record on China and Korea is no worse than any previous administrations, and arguably a lot better. It has engaged China and other regional powers in the situation, which after all is a more immediate concern to them than to us, and it least it hasn't entered into any new phony deals with North Korea that merely facilitate its continued re-armament.
"The Bush et al. apologists have served a historical purpose similar to those who supported Neville Chamberlain's "Peace in our time." claim. They did it by rationalizing public opinion for the sake of leaders who are engaged on a path of madness - sheer madness. Does this sound extreme?"
No, just kind of silly.
"Remember just a few months ago when the Bush boosters were hopping mad at the Iraq "media filter". Where are they and their optimistic pronouncements now? Yet like ole Cassandra's audience, the chances of people taking sense and realizing the coming disaster are small."
Where are the war opponents and their pessimistic predictions of millions of refugees, a humanitarian and ecological disaster, and Stalingrad-like death and destruction in Baghdad?
The media filter is alive and well. Nothing's certain, and I have to go on my own judgment from the reports I've read rather than from messages handed down from God or James Carville, but I'm confident that the situation in Iraq, though without a doubt difficult - as any reasonable human being would have expected and as the officials who matter in the Bush Administration consistently have warned us - remains much better and more hopeful than the media generally portray.
I don't think it'll happen, but if the media and the Left manage to turn Iraq into a defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, then we'll all suffer terribly for it, beginning first with those in Iraq who are depending on us.
It doesn't help our country or our political position one bit and is sad news all around but there sure were a lot of direct quotes about the bodies being abused after death by young men. So many in fact that a single unattributed military officer's remark is scant evidence to say it never happened.
And as fo De Genova, isn't it possible to be against a war and also not be for your side losing lives? Screw him.posted by: carsick on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
And Colin MacLeod, is that the new answer to this war. If we lose it's the media and the left that lost it for us?
How convenient. The buck stops over there somewhere.
Victory has a thousand faces and defeat only two, the Left and the media.posted by: carsick on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Here's an oldie but a goddie from 1984:
Peace in Our Time
Out of the aeroplane stepped Chamberlain with a condemned man's stare
And the bells take their toll once again in victory chime
There's a man going round taking names no
They're lighting a bonfire upon every hilltop in the land
carsick, I'm not the one who's predicting or who's already declared defeat. In fact, I believe that we've already achieved certain critical objectives, even if protecting and exploiting the gains requires further effort, especially as the enemy doesn't hold still. I also don't see any good alternative to a major strategic initiative in the Middle East, with Iraq a good and necessary starting point. There's a chance it may fail, which would be a disaster, but it would be a disaster we would just as likely have met if we had chosen withdrawal or complacency instead.
As for the media and the Left, as I've stated many times elsewhere, I see this war as, among other things, presenting us with a decent chance of exorcising the ghosts of Tet and along with them any remnant misplaced confidence in the objectivity and insight of most news reporters, or in the strategic insights of those who do not even recognize our strategic interests.
Dear Mr. Wellesley,
"Mr. ch2 The implication in your post:... is that states - well, ours specifically, for some reason - ought only to act in concert with others, either other states or through supernational authorities."
No, that was not my implication.
I was answering the reflexive denigration of Europe and Canada by D. Thomson. My points were clearly to rebut the libellious "lukewarm allies" charges that had been leveled. I've sought to establish that the US chose to go alone, against the warning of our allies and that we could hardly complain that they are not with us now. They had made their opposition clear, they had warned us against our overly simplistic and optimistic predictions, and many of our stated reasons seemed not to hold up water. My own opposition to such a course of action and that of many Euros and Canadians hinge less on the fact that the US went unilaterally, but rather on the destabilizing pre-emption policy, the lack of a credible and urgent threat from Iraq, the fact that containment had been working, and the fact that the USA was manufacturing (massaging-willfully distorting) evidence in support for this war. I can argue my opposition to the war to finer details, but that seems to go OT.
As far as D Thomson ridiculous suggestion that :"These are the same sort of folks who unwittingly encouraged Adolph Hitler in the late 1930s."
“....the fact that containment had been working...”
I have never for a second argued that Saddam Hussein was a direct military threat to the United States. No, we had to worry about his discretely funding terrorists actions against the United States. This was a constant and never-ending worry---and a sufficient reason to invade the country.posted by: David Thomson on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
"...the fact that containment had been working..."
No, not a fact - a position.
You had asked where the anti-war protesters are now that a whole slew of things didn't transpire (sorry, can't seem to cut and paste here). My recollection is most people weren't opposing the war because of a fear of mass migration. People here and all over the world were opposing because they didn't see evidence for a urgent invasion. And there was a foreboding sense that the administration was being dishonest about their motives and motivations. (They were being dishonest but how quickly some are to embrace the new post dated goals for invasion: liberation and a strategic middle east military presence.)
Ultimately, Iraq may erase Tet as the pop song that sticks in the back of reporter's heads but don't be surprised if you hate the new tune just as much.
You may be able to market the new Britney Spears album in such a way that a lot of people buy it but you can't make them like it and it's disingenuous to blame the press when the buyers say it's a piece of crap.posted by: carsick on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
"If the primary critical objective was regime change then we're halfway there. Saddam's gone but a vaccuum is his current replacement. If you think we can fill that void I believe the Iraqi people may have something they want to talk to you about."
Removing Saddam was a primary means to achieving several objectives, some long-term, some less so. I'm not really sure what perception or belief is the basis of your next statement, which seems to imply that US policy is take over and administrate Iraq indefinitely, when that is clearly not the case. In general terms, the idea is to put the Iraqi people in a position where they aren't obligated to talk to me or any other American about anything.
The mention of bad media and Leftwingers' predictions about the war was in partial response to another individual's arguments about supposedly bad war supporters' predictions. As for "evidence for an urgent invasion" that's your phrase and I suppose your standard, but I don't believe it's not how most proponents would describe the case for war.
You can assert that "liberation and strategic middle east military presence" were "new post dated goals for invasion," but anyone who was listening would have heard much discussion and numerous direct Bush Administration policy statements along those lines prior to the war. Indeed, the outlines have been present as elements of American strategy since well before the Bush Administration took office.
As for the rest of your comments, in the spirit of Britney, all I can say is: Whatever...
Dear Mr. Ch2.
As you've clarified your intent, I find I agree with you - the support of our allies has not been luke-warm, it's been real-politik.
And while we differ on our support of pre-emption policy, I respect your concerns, as the policy has, indeed, been a little more destabilizing than I (and truth be told, other adherents) had expected. Well, that's not true... had *reason* to expect.posted by: Art Wellesley on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Alright Mr. Thomson,
Let's assume that this was the reason to go to Iraq. Clearly the magnitude of the worry had to be balanced with the probability of it happening. Saddam is hardly the only regime with plenty of weapons, so the first question that comes to my mind is: how many other nations are left to worry about ?
This highlights the worry that many Iraq war opponents had (note that most of the world, myself included, agreed that the Afghan intervention was the correct thing to do): the rationale of preemption seems to ask little in firm solid evidence, and more of a belief, gut feeling, or uncorroborated intelligence. It also has the potential to lead to runaway wars (since this rationale would have us invade other nations very soon). My fourth question to you then is: Does it not make you nervous that the only benchmark to go to war, is the product (as in multiplication product) of two rather subjective factors, hard to quantify or support with facts: magnitude of possible disaster (or worry level) X chance of it happening. While it is a classical risk analysis problem, I haven't seen it treated as such so far.
Now you feel very confident of the US' good intention, but does that mean that a particular American administration's gut feeling is always right ? Wouldn't you rather see a higher degree of evidence, and if not, what prevents us to go after 20 more countries (not considering our currently overstretched military) ?
The attraction of the Iraq containment method, while not perfect, was that it seemed a better use of our resources in combatting overall spread of terror, allowing us to focus more on intelligence gathering, and leaving military intervention for the cases we build with more proof.posted by: ch2 on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
People, our men were killed by the Mosul Mob. What is not known is it a contract killing done for the dead-enders, or was this simply freelance. Remember, Saddam released over 50,000(I think that's the number) hard core law breakers into the country on the eve of war. There's more than one threat our people have to deal with over there.posted by: Homer Robinson on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
Very good, Homer. Which is where the fake "NYT" report gets it's genesis. The "kids" that were "interviewed" about what they "saw".
Expect more of this. The "Afghan" school has failed the 'resistance' - not enough of a body count; they will now turn to the "Mog" school - and hope to win a withdrawal that way.posted by: TommyG on 11.24.03 at 06:23 PM [permalink]
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