Tuesday, June 15, 2004
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It would have helped if I had actually read the Chatham House rules
Some of you may have noted that I deleted a Sunday post about my impressions after attending a Council on Foreign Relations meeting. The reason is that I completely blanked on one aspect of the Chatham House Rule:
While I was quite scrupulous about the first parts of the rule, I was in flagrant violation of the highlighted segment.
My profound apologies to all for the error.posted by Dan on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM
And did you receive under Chatham House Rules the information that the Chatham House Rules must be followed, which would require you to delete this post?
Really, it might be easier if you just refuse to acknowledge that the CFR exists at all, and maybe throw a Somebody Else's Problem field over the whole thing.
And of course, if Google got to your blog, it's archived.posted by: paperwight on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
If I recall correctly, the last point that Dan made in that (now-deleted) post was "It's great to have a blog".
Kind of ironic, isn't it?posted by: Al on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
That was the thread where the Militant Optimist David T opined that things were getting better. Under the "you jinxed yourself rule"
Things have recently improved greatly.posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
“That was the thread where the Militant Optimist David T opined that things were getting better. Under the "you jinxed yourself rule"”
What planet do you live on? The situation in Iraq is dramatically improving. Yes, you can cite a few problems---but the Iraqis have gained enormous freedom and their economy is growing by leaps and bounds. It also appears that they are putting together an effective democratic society. The pluses vastly outnumber the negatives.posted by: David Thomson on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
I will make one more prediction. The situation in Iraq will soon get so much better that President Bush’s opponents will describe him as merely “lucky.” Am I saying that Iraq will not remain a dangerous place? Of course not. I doubt very much if an American will feel safe for at least another two years. And I’m sure there will be further attacks by suicide bombers. Still, the most important goals are being accomplished. How many people realize that Iraq currently has more political freedoms than most other countries of the Middle East? Numerous small towns and villages already have elections. Last but not least, fewer people are dying now then when Saddam Hussein was still in power.posted by: David Thomson on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
Just start an informal practice that, when you write "Bilderberger meeting", you *really* mean "a CFR meeting under Chatham House Rule".
Or maybe "a Skull & Bones shindig at the Tomb" could mean "CFR meeting...".posted by: Jon H on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
Yeah. Just say it happened at "uncle Toby's house".posted by: "Mindles H. Dreck" on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
David Thomson: What planet do you live on?
Earth, but how about you?
Did you actually look at the links that Andrew J. Lazarus posted? The third one contained new poll results - 54 % "agreed with the statement that “all Americans behave this way”", referring to the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. al-Sadr is liked better by 81 %. Also, 80 % have no confidence in the US civilian authorities or coalition forces. "Most say they would feel safer if Coalition forces left immediately."
Just to clarify: "al-Sadr is liked better by 81" % - better than three months before, not necessarily better than Coalition forces, although quite possibly that, too.
Gosh gw, don't you find it at all ironic that your busting our buns based on an opinion poll conducted in a country where citizens didn't dare think bad things about the government without having their hands cut off and their children hauled off and murdered in the night. And considering what they think of us after Abu Ghraib, they may be pretty close on that one. Haven't your read about California prisons and their union guards? Or any other prison for that matter. That's who started this thing, former state side prison guards. Good grief, they get their news from CNN now. What would you expect them to think? I watch CNN and I'm convinced we're all turds.posted by: RD on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
RD, the poll reminded me of another poll that Dan wrote about last month: http://danieldrezner.com/mt/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=1308
David Thomson, who is known for his accurate predictions and keeps making them, wrote then:
The results are too old to be taken seriously. Since then, a number of clerics have publicly taken Moqtada al-Sadr to task.
I think this was meant to imply that the Sadr support numbers were going to go down...
Wasn't the purpose of this whole exercise to raise America's standing in the region and not simply to overthrow one dictator who may well end up being replaced with a new one like al-Sadr next year? And America may end up being hated in the region more than ever before? You guys seriously would consider that a successful outcome?
'Tis a tough argument, gw. We Americans truly think the world will appreciate us for saving the day. Gawd, how many billions have we spread throughout the land to help others. If Iraqi people are to weak too take advantage of the situation they're it absolutely would be a failure and a harbinger to a terrible future for all of us. I can only hope these "poll" results are from people who have yet to experience the taste of the freedoms we enjoy, and can't yet bring themselves to risk exposure from speaking their hearts.posted by: RD on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
RD, the World does not appreciate the way we are trying to "save the day".
And whose day are we trying to save anyway? Our own, and only our own! That's what the Abu Ghraib abuse has demonstrated more clearly than anything else - it's all about us, not about the Iraqis. Ordinary Iraqis now live in fear again - in fear of ending up in an American prison and being tortured, possibly raped and possibly killed. Why should they think of that as an improvement?
And no, I'm not saying we shouldn't look out for our own interests first. But if we do that by waging war against another country, then it becomes just that - an offensive war to protect our interests, not a liberation of an oppressed people.
The question in the eyes of other countries then becomes whom we are going to attack next. Does that, by the logic of our own pre-emptive doctrine, not give them the right to attack us first? Can we even still make a coherent argument that Iran, for example, should not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon as a deterrent against a possible future US attack? This may sound like heresy to you, but I bet most people in Iran would simply nod in agreement and not think much of it because it seems so self-evident to them.
If you think the purpose of the war was to get Arabs to like us better, there is no hope that you will ever understand. The purpose of the war was to bring freedom to the ME, on the theory that changing the ME will address the "root cause" of terrorism. That theory may be right or wrong, but the conventional theories advanced by the "experts" in the foreign policy establishment led directly to 9/11. I think it's safe to say they failed, so I supported (and still support) trying something new. Why not give it a chance?posted by: Ben on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
"The purpose of the war was to bring freedom to the ME"
Yes, and 2+2=5. Did it ever occur to you that maybe there are better ways to bring freedom to the middle east than with a cruise missle, thousands of dead Muslims, and pictures of Americans humiliating Iraqis?
I am not disagreeing with all wars, but I am disagreeing with this one. It is a farce to beleive that anything we did is going to bring about freedom. In a land without law, with constant bombings, there is no freedom. Freedom does not come with an invading Army, it is built over time by a people. That is not easy, and to believe that the only barrier to the freedom of the Iraqi people was Sadaam Hussein is extremely naive.
And remember when this war was about keeping us safe? Remember the mushroom clouds and the WMD? Those are reasons to fight wars, and reasons that I supported this war. Unfortunately all those reasons were wrong. Read the recent article in the New Yorker about Chalabi to get a hint of just how we ended up getting that stuff so wrong. It is not a pretty picture of our government. I am beginning to think the question is if we sacraficed our freedom for this war?posted by: Rich on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
"The question in the eyes of other countries then becomes whom we are going to attack next."
My money's on Iran.posted by: SH on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
"Did you actually look at the links that Andrew J. Lazarus posted? The third one contained new poll results - 54 % "agreed with the statement that “all Americans behave this way”", referring to the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. al-Sadr is liked better by 81 %. Also, 80 % have no confidence in the US civilian authorities or coalition forces. "Most say they would feel safer if Coalition forces left immediately.""
I want to do know which group took this poll. What were their questions and how many Iraqis participated. Some liberal organizations like the Los Angeles Times do very sloppy work.posted by: David Thomson on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
David Thomson: I want to do know which group took this poll.
So why don't you look at the article? The very first sentence says: "The first survey of Iraqis sponsored by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority". And the fine-print at the end says: "The poll consisted of face-to-face interviews with 1,093 people selected randomly in six Iraqi cities and towns: Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Hillah, Diwaniyah and Baquba. It was conducted by the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies, a CPA- sponsored Iraqi survey group."
So, sorry, no Los Angelese Times or other liberal media outlet to be blamed here.
Ben: I also supported trying something new. I had no idea that the Bush administration would screw it up so royally.
Right now it seems like our only hope for some positive development in the Middle East over the next year is Sharon and his Gaza withdrawal plan. And that's moving very slowly, and any good coming out of it may be undone by Sharon's plans to extend the security fence half-way into the West Bank.
Or you could call it a banana.posted by: Roger Sweeny on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
I will make one more prediction. The situation in Iraq will soon get so much better that President Bush’s opponents will describe him as merely “lucky.”
My prediction is that as long as one building is left standing in Baghdad, David T will say everything is going great. There isn't any reason for things to get much better in Iraq: the Kurds aren't happy, Sistani isn't all that happy, the Baathists are very unhappy, it's not like there's some mystery force that's going to improve the very poor security situation. We may see a big PR blitz about how great things are (maybe Bush will go to Iraq for Halowe'en in another one of his soldier costumes), in the hope the incipient civil war or strongman crackdown can be pushed past the American election.posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
This is the
* Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.
Don't believe for one second that these people do not want us there.posted by: RD on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
RD writes: "Textbooks that don't mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time
Huh? Textbooks that have excluded 30 years of *recent* history, as if it never happened, are actually being used in schools? If this is true, how is that a GOOD thing?posted by: SH on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
Girls have always attended schools in Iraq, which was a secular Ba'athist state, not an Islamic one.
Actually, looking at a number of odd items on that list, I suspect that it is partly a cut'n'paste job from a list of talking point on post-Taliban Afghanistan.posted by: dsquared on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
RD, next time please fact-check at least a little bit before you copy+paste. Here is a rundown of what's true and what's not true on that list:
I thought that the most ridiculous claim was the 2 billion barrels of oil since I happen to know a little bit about the oil business... Of course, "billion" might have been a simple typo since we had reached about 2 million in the meantime (before the pipelines were sabotaged - more "good" news??), but in the context of the other nonsense it just goes to show that whoever put that list together was completely clueless.
There is more background on that list and how it originated here:
Oh, and please, please, don't come back and say "But half of the points on that list are partially true!"
I guess half of what the Bush administration told us why we went into Iraq was partially true, too...
I'm also surprised that the debunkers let "School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war." pass. I doubt very much that is true. The USAID fact sheet (linked from the above site) says about this:
Before the 1990s, Iraq had one of the best education systems in the Middle East, with universal primary school enrollment and high rates of literacy among women. A decade later, tight central government control had resulted in buildings that were rarely if ever maintained, teachers who were poorly paid and ill-trained, and shortages of basic equipment and schoolbooks. School enrollment for all ages had declined precipitously.
It's kind of bizarre that an official publication like this wouldn't even mention sanctions as a reason for the declining upkeep of the schools in the 1990s, but that's just an aside.
Do note there are no numbers supporting the 80 % increase claim. In fact, UNICEF numbers (also linked from that page) show that at least primary school enrollment couldn't possibly have increased by 80 % from 2002 levels since it was already at 83 % for boys and 70 % for girls. Secondary school enrollment was only at 47 % and 29 %, respectively, so that could have increased by 80 %, but I find that, too, rather unlikely given how many schools are still in disrepair and that many Iraqis are still afraid to send their children to school.
RD, I'm sorry, but that nice little glurge is inaccurate from top to bottom. I've refuted it at length elsewhere and I think most of my work is at the Orwellian Times link above, but I'll settle for the oil export number. Iraq has never exported 2 billion barrels of oil, ever. The BBC reported in June 2003: "That is much below the previous target of pumping up to 1.5 million barrels by the end of June, and the 2.5 million barrels pumped daily before the war."
So you see, your source is off by a factor of at least 50. None of the rest of the quantifiable information is true, either. Check it out.posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 06.15.04 at 05:29 PM [permalink]
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