Sunday, February 6, 2005
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The positive spillovers of Iraq's elections
Iraq had its first free election a week ago -- and the Washington Post has two stories suggesting that positive reverberations from that event are being felt in and out of Iraq.
Inside Iraq, Anthony Shadid and Doug Struck report that many who rejected the elections before they happened now want to participate in politics:
More weeks like this, and Jon Stewart's head may have to implode.posted by Dan on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM
100,000 people dead -- mostly women and children. The idiots on the US side who were responsible for the horrific planning are still largely in place. I'd say, extremely catious optimisim is warranted -- but not to the magnitude we've seen. I'd wait a few more months to make certain that those 100,000 deaths were "worth the cost". But then again, Iraqi lives aren't really worth much, especially children, -- at least from the past decade.posted by: Jor on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
The 1st story from Shadid was interesting, but Robin Wright's article is worthless. France and Germany are never going to cooperate to any great extent with this administration. Just in the past few days Rice said that the US would not work with the Europeans on Iran, and Snow has said that the British initiative to tackle global poverty "doesn't work for us."
BTW, I've been an Iraq skeptic, but if -- in the next several months -- the insurgency starts to lose steam and Sharia law isn't implemented, I will gladly sign off on all my comments with this slogan:
posted by: Carl on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
Poor Jon already has a semi-permanent migraine, thanks to the Dems suicidal tendencies. If you caught the show last week where he exhibited extreme near-buyer's remorse (what happens when you were inadvertantly saved from your own questionable judgment by the intervention of others) with regards to John "Hangdog" Kerry, you know what I'm talking about. It's a long way from there to Bushophilia but I'd hazard a guess that he's not impressed by the Dems "nothin wrong with Social Security as is" stance either, being youngish and probably PRETTY well off. Just a guess, but we'll see how this debate is treated on this, the only forum that really counts in the land outside the beltway--The Daily Show.posted by: Kelli on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
John "Hangdog" Kerry came too close to winning the presidency. I’m convinced that the United States---and the world dodged a bullet. Kerry would have emboldened the terrorists and discouraged our friends. A number of people were conned by the “Kerry will fight a more effective war” nonsense. I wasn’t fooled for a moment. Of course, I’m not a professional academic. Thank God, nothing that bad ever happened to me! It must be downright embarrassing to have supported Kerry’s bid for the presidency. Alas, I’ve also done some dumb things in my life.posted by: David Thomson on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
I'd also reserve judgment on Europe's readiness to help in a practical way with Iraq. We don't know what European governments are really prepared to do and we don't know what the administration is prepared to ask for.
We need to see both sides of this equation. On Iran, also, toward which the Europeans have a policy. It may not be realistic or complete, but it is there. I don't know what American policy toward Iran is right now. I'm sure there are contacts at the lower levels somewhere, but at the senior levels the attitude seems to be that we're just going to hold our breath until an illegitimate regime collapses.
Up to now it's been the other way around on Iraq. Even so, Europe won't be able to make a useful contribution if the United States doesn't know what to ask Europe to do.posted by: Zathras on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
Historically, the Rice trip to Europe will be a footnote. While all eyes in the U.S. were focused on Iraq, the elections and Bush's post-facto democracy promotion, other recent developments in Europe and China augur more dramatic change and a more difficult future ahead for American global leadership.
For more, see:posted by: Jon on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
I would be careful before getting too optimistic about trans-atlantic relations, because this is just in time for us to have a major conflict over how to deal with Iran. The recent UK/France/Germany deal with Iran is no better than that we had with North Korea in 1994. Considering Iran's relationships with Hizbullah and Al-Qaeda, Bush will only smooth this over with the EU if he leaves a massive threat for his successor to deal with.
Note regarding Jor's comments: The figure of 100,000 dead in Iraq has been thrown around by the UN without verification; I watch Al-Jazeera and I'm sure they would document that were the evidence there. However, the Baathists and Jihadists have killed a lot of Iraqi civilians.
By the way Dan, I've decided to add your blog to the links on mine. Good blog. Regards,
As with WMD, it amazes me you guys can't even be bothered to check basic facts like civilian causalities. I was talking with the author of the study the other day, and he told me something, that always makes me remeber why America is a great country to live in -- people at the Pentagon are listening.
Note regarding Jor's comments: The figure of 100,000 dead in Iraq has been thrown around by the UN without verification... -- Kirk
posted by: Carl on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
Actually, people who have a hard time taking the elections in Iraq all that seriously have several good reasons for this, e.g. anonymous candidates. But it also relates to this: the ex post facto attempt to switch the reason for the war toward 'democratizing' Iraq and away from eliminating WMDs. I notice that no one is celebrating the elimination of WMDs from Iraq, which this war was supposed to be about, but a lot of people seem to be celebrating the elections there. There is certain dishonesty here that must be mentioned. Also, it is natural that 1) the carrying off of elections has some kind of a synergistic, salutary effect, and 2) over time the insurgency will wither. But this evades an important issue that people, especially Americans, who are concerned about 'democracy' should consider: How can democracy really work without an electorate willing to hold a sitting government accountable for something as egregious as waging war (ostensibly) for reasons that have now been convincingly disproven?
For people who downplay Iraqi casualties I have nothing but scorn: they are little more than modern day ("collateral damage") versions of 'The Ugly American'. A study last autumn by our own hand picked Iraqi interim government showed that, despite all the terrible bombings, coalition forces were still killing more than twice as many civilians as the insurgents; it is clear that Fallujah did nothing to change this.posted by: x on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
What Jor doesnt mention is that the 100,000 number includes insurgents. Also it has been doubted by everyone from Human Rights Watch to Iraq Body Count. Hardly right wing institutions. But keep peddling BS propaganda Jor. Whatever shreds of credibility you had are shot.
posted by: Mark Buehner on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
Jor had credibility? News to me.
But for argument's sake, let's say civilian Iraqi deaths were in fact in the vicinity of 100,000. Even if they were only half that, or a third, that's an enormous tragedy. Pause. At least two questions remain to be answered by Jor, X, and all the other monosyllabic critics of the war. First, how does this death toll compare with the killing fields of Saddam's regime? Second, was all this death to no good end, or did it actually open the door for Iraqis to create a better future for the vast majority of citizens who survived? And I'm not even going into the hypothetical deaths of potentially millions more that have been averted by choking off Saddam's bloodline (or are we to mourn the deaths of Uday and Qusay along with the true innocents? Jor? X?).
I'm not trying to argue that to die in a bombing raid that frees your country is noble or desirable--or even that it is necessary for the greater good. But you will admit (if you are capable of such an act) that there is a difference between dying in a random car accident and dying because a house collapsed on you while you were trying to save a trapped old lady. There is, as well, a difference between the terrorist who blows himself up and the Iraqi police officer who dies struggling (as one did on election day) to move him away from a line of voters. The problem with this body count Jor cites is that there is no way of distinguishing between them. It renders all sacrifice meaningless and equates murderers with heroes.posted by: Kelli on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
The Lancet study tries to estimate ** the mortality rate in Iraq before and after the Iraq War began ** . Period. Using what is called a "cluster sample survey" method, the study estimated that since the beginning of the Iraq war, Iraqi deaths numbered between 8,000 to 194,000. Importantly, the Lancet study does not discriminate between civilian and military deaths in Iraq; hence, as Mark Buehner pointed out, the study's estimate includes insurgents. Of equal importance, the study does not claim to explain the varying causes of these deaths -- that is, who killed whom. The only thing that this study definitively demonstrates is that the Iraqi mortality before the Iraq War began was probably lower than after the war began. Period.
Jor, before quoting the statistics from the Lancet study, or, worse, relying on what other people have said about the report, perhaps you ought to -- I dunno -- read the study itself, if you have not already....posted by: Robert on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
"for argument's sake"
You completely ignore the question of democracy vis-a-vis government accountability. No surprise: it's an uncomfortable one for people like you, I'm sure.
Trying to now paint the administration's motives for the war as some sort of heroic political murder prevention campaign just underscores my point -- it is just another version of the ex post facto justification game, which I must say I find particularly pathetic.
If you want to risk your neck to 'democratize' some other nation, or prevent politically motivated murder there, on whatever scale you want to imagine, go ahead. But no American president should send American soldiers to do the same, at least not until we've had a full and honest debate about it, including whether or not it is really in the US national interest (not to mention preferably only after Congress has officially declared war, which is in keeping with at the least the spirit of the Constitution). And this is exactly what did not occur in this case; because it wasn't the reason given for the war.
And speaking of the national interest, it is entirely reasonable to wonder if killing tens of thousands if Iraqi civilians (by any estimate) for reasons now disproven, and doing this before the eyes of the almost 2 billion muslims in the world, was really a wise and necessary next step in the 'War on Terror'.
In response to your argument, I could just as easily float this question: How many have died in Darfur in the meantime? Is it at all clear that this number is less than the number that you hypothetically suggest would have died in Iraq? Citing your motive, where is the greater need for action? It is not at all clear to me.
"that is, who killed whom"
We don't have the decency to keep track. But as I mentioned the interim Iraqi government did:
Perhaps another 'ugly American'.posted by: x on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
"How many have died in Darfur in the meantime"
You advocated sending troops to Darfur? On what justification? According to the UN there is no genocide. This would clearly be a violation of the UN charter.posted by: Mark Buehner on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
And before the false meme that WMDs were the only justification ever used for Iraq has a chance to go any further:
"And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country.
And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. "
State of the Union 2003.posted by: Mark Buehner on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
1) I would not be too concerned about the possibility of Shariat law in Iraq leading to a Khomeini style revolution. Clearly women in Iraq will be worse off under it because marriage and personal property laws will be worse for them. On the other hand, several non-theocratic countries follow Shariat law. Even India allows Muslims to practice their own personal law in family and property affairs. Personal Islamic law, while non-ideal != a theocratic state.
2) By just about any definition, the situation in Sudan was and is considerably worse than in Iraq in 2003. Anyone who claims intevention in Iraq was justified on post-hoc democratization grounds and refuses to as strongly support intervention in Sudan is clearly guilty of hypocrisy.
3) A professed concern about WMDs was not the ONLY cause for the war. However, it was by far the major issue. Second was possible links to Al Qaeda. The possibility of liberating the people of Iraq came well down the list. I listened to right wing radio before the war -- the talk was not about glorious democratization (indeed, Bush didn't articulate what was going to happen in post-war Iraq until fairly late in the game), but about teaching the Arabs a lesson, about getting back at "them" for 09/11 and so on.posted by: erg on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
"Anyone who claims intevention in Iraq was justified on post-hoc democratization grounds and refuses to as strongly support intervention in Sudan is clearly guilty of hypocrisy."
That is simply not true. There are a host of perfectly legitimate reasons. You arent a hypocrite because you run into one burning house but not another. Pragmatic concerns do enter the equation. The simplist argument is the big picture. What is more likely to positively influence the world, a free and democratic Iraq, or peacekeepers in Sudan? No-brainer.
"I listened to right wing radio before the war -- the talk was not about glorious democratization (indeed, Bush didn't articulate what was going to happen in post-war Iraq until fairly late in the game), but about teaching the Arabs a lesson, about getting back at "them" for 09/11 and so on."
I almost never heard that kind of talk, certainly i heard it much less than the ridiculous bombs the left was throwing about Bush revenge, crazy oil plots, and OBL conspiracy theory.
To the contrary, what ever happened to the sneaky neocon cabal theory? The basic premise of the neocons was democratizing the ME, remember? How can Neo-cons have planned the war, used democratization as their strategy, but yet somehow democratization was an after thought. That is totally incoherant.posted by: Mark Buehner on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
You are a hypocrite though if you ignore a burning house, while turning your attention to a house that had a serious fire in the past (when you ignored it) and claiming that you're doing so because you're suddenly concerned about the people in that house.
What is more likely to lead to another burst of Islamic radicalism among young Muslim men ? Peacekeepers in Sudan or a full fledged invasion into the heart of the Caliphate for a (professed) goal that will take at least a decade to achieve.
Every single other motivation for the war: WMDs, links to Al Qeada, being greeted with flowers, the road to peace in the Palestinian issue through Iraq (as it turned out, we saw renewed killings and suicide bomings in Palestine -- it took an unrelated event, the death of Arafat to finnaly calm things down) turned out to be mistaken, exaggerated or a flat-out-lie.
It was all over right wing radio -- we have to get back at these guys, we've been taking this for 25 years now. Heck, on this blog, we continue to hear that justification. Thomas Friedman (a liberal, but a strong war supporter) referred to how we need to go in and throw an Arab country against the wall every 10 years or so.
Well, the left has its own loonies certainly, however they aren't in power and didn't mislead us to war. And for what its worth, I don't believe there is anything ridiculous about the Bush revernge theory -- I believe it was a strong motivator for Dubya.
You've grasped the strategy of the administration -- total incoherence. The neocons are an important and influential cabal in the government, but they don't control it -- they were pushing democratization, other conservatives were more skeptical. In any case, its clear that post-war Iraq was managed incoherently.posted by: erg on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
Erg, you are assuming all your own conclusions. This has been hashed out enough. If you believe the administration deliberately lied, fine, but that is an assumption. All the democratic leadership had access to the same intel. If you want us to believe neo-cons are at the same time a dangerous cabal controlling the administration (when convenient to your conspiracy theories) and also a minor party whos voice doesnt matter, good luck. Bush went for revenge that just happened to coincide with what the all powerful Neocons advocated. Ok. Sure. If you have evidence that right wing media was advocating 'getting' Arabs in a widespread manner, I suggest you provide proof, and not Eason Jordan us. The one thing im pretty sure about is that you have yet to add anything constructive to what we should be doing, as opposed to attacking each and every thing we have done. I dont doubt if we had troops in the Sudan right now you wouldnt be any happier.posted by: Mark Buehner on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
I challenge you to come up with a single statement when I referred to the neocons as a "dangerous cabal controlling the administration". If not, I have to conclude that there is a dangerous cabal called dementia controlling your mind.
What I do believe is that the neocons did gain considerable prominence after 9/11 and did get the ear of Cheney and through him, that of Bush. I also believe that their star has dimmed considerably after the Iraqi fiasco.
I would advise enrolling in a remedial English class. I said revenge was a factor. I never said it was the only factor or even the over-riding factor.
As for Bush's desires co-inciding with those of the neocons, does the phrase "Marriage of Convenience" ring a bell ?
A funny statement coming from someone who didn't demand any proof before spending what will probably turn out to be half a trillion dollars at least on a useless war.
I quoted Thomas Friendman pretty directly above. He's not a right winger, but he was a very strong war supporter [ the distinction is between war supporters and war opponents, not right and left]. I would also suggest reading all the responses in this blog (some of which threads you participated in) suggesting that the US had been under attack for 25 years from Islam, and here was an opportunity to strike back.
Or lets take Rush Limbaugh. One mintute of googling delivered this article for me
Try doing some independent thinking, even if it hurts. Of course the desire to hit back and to teach a message to Arabs was behind the Iraq war.
FWIW, I won't support spending half a trillion dollars or sending 150K people to Sudan either. I realize that you can never get the country to agree to that unless you lie them into it and I have more ethics than the liar-in-chief. I might have supported a deployment largely of OAU peacekeepers, with the US restricted to aerial and logistical support. I would also have supported more financial assistance and refugee help.
A stable Iraq is good for everyone concerned. Even Iran and Syria probably don't want Iraq to fail completely -- a radical Sunni Islamist state is something that neither wants. A stable state would also accelerate the departure of the US.
Ironically, the true seminal momemnt in the ME may prove to be the death of Arafat. The road to peace in the Middle East does not lie through Iraq, it lies through Palestine.
The Iraq war was a truly stupid misadventure, but some good may yet come out of it.posted by: Monkee on 02.06.05 at 01:11 AM [permalink]
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