Tragedy and Courage in Baghdad

And as a good counterpoint to Michael Yon’s post, here’s a tragic one from Omar and Mohammed at Iraq the Model – their brother-in-law was just assassinated.

Their reaction: “Kill us, but you won’t enslave us.

You want to abandon them, and the men and women like them? Not with my support. Not ever.

They write:

The terrorists and criminals are targeting all elements of life and they target anyone who wants to do something good for this country…They think by assassinating one of us they could deter us from going forward but will never succeed, they can delay us for years but we will never go back and abandon our dream.
We have vowed to follow the steps of our true martyrs and we will raise the new generation to continue the march, these children of today are the hope and the future.

Go over and show them some support. And make sure you send a copy to your Congressmember.

71 thoughts on “Tragedy and Courage in Baghdad”

  1. Another tragic sacrefice in the war against thugs and terrorists. With a courageous response, “we will not be slaves” that serves as inspiration. Our leftist media has forgotten the word hero, but here are two of them. We are doing the right thing and so are they. These are our true friends not the French, or the UN. These are the people who deserve our support.

  2. My comment to Omar and Mohammed:

    bq.. Your brother in law is not alone. He is part of a chain that reaches across countries and centuries – a chain of people who stood up to be counted in the face of evil.

    Some failed, at least in the short term. Some succeeded. Others would be vindicated by the success of the things they stood for – because, and only because, people like them stood.

    Their number is uncounted – but their enemies, too, are gone, and their stands have given us all that we value in the present day.

    There may come a time when you need to carry arms, and use them. That is sometimes the price of defeating slavery. But the most important weapons are not guns – they are the will to take a stand, and the determination to live free or die. With those things, you will find the path to your freedom through the hard struggle, and none can stop you. Without them, no amount of weapons will matter.

    God keep you and bless you, and all those who stand with you.

  3. It seems likely that the ITM crew stays where they are (especially unarmed), they are going to die. The USG military isn’t going to save them. What will their martyrdom accomplish, other than assisting in the intimidation of the survivors?

  4. “Armed Liberal”,

    You are armed right? I think you are correct – you need to “go over and show them support”.

    Time to pick up your gun, fly to Baghdad, and protect Omar’s family.

    Gratis. For a year.

    You are fairly well-off, right, so you can do that. Take a year, and really put your boots and guts behind the words. (Same with JK).

    Showing “support” from behind a keyboard is a bit empty. Put your money (and your life) where your keyboard is.

  5. Hypocrisyrules,

    AL hardly needs me to defend him, but I will point out two things: a) the “chickenhawk” argument has been pretty thoroughly discredited. Essentially, it means that only people who have been to war (like you?) get to weigh in on decisions of war and peace that affect us all. b) the argument from hypocrisy is, quite frankly, dumb. If a smoker tells you smoking is terrible, he’s a hypocrit, but he’s still 100% correct. AL may not be in the same physical danger as the ITM guys, but that in no way changes the fact that he’s right about their courage and right that they deserve our support.

  6. lol @ petulant gn0bhead #5

    There are those whose worldview are shaped by Marilyn Manson’s autobiography. They are the manifest fantasy of flowers and music in a world of bloody change, their folly made flesh from their “will to power”.

    What utter foolishness to dwell in such unworldly pettiness; on Huntington’s playing field, lambs such as these will boldly bray and perk up as much when the wolf comes as scowl at the sheep dog. God Bless the sacrifices of our peers, distant, mysterious and powerful. If the Iraqi people succeed they will have surmounted a planet of spite and embittered naysay. Godspeed to them all.

  7. hypocrisyrules… right after you volunteer to serve for the same period of time as a “human shield,” protecting Omar and his family by starting their cars, etc.

    Though we might be able to negotiate something to cover an appropriately threatened Israeli public space, considering that you oppose mass murdering terrorists who kill people for the crime of not bowing before their sect of Islam/

    You DO oppose that stuff, right?

  8. Armed Liberal:

    I think you show your truly liberal core with the following statement, and at the same time don’t acknowledge the conservative, America-first sentiment it disguises:

    “You want to abandon them, and the men and women like them? Not with my support. Not ever.”

    Why are Iraqis more deserving of our support than Africans? What about people in Central Asia? What about Sri Lankans? The reason we support Iraqis right now over all the struggling people in the world is because helping Iraqis most contributes to the well-being of America. This is the unvarnished truth behind your sentiment, and it’s also why the Michelle Malkins, Glenn Reynolds, and Joe Katzmans of the world care about Iraqis. I understand and even respect this view, even if I find less than honest about its true motives.

    The ordinary Iraqi battling thugs has no more moral weight than say, an ordinary Haitian doing the same. But Haiti isn’t harboring terrorists, so nobody cares about them like we do the Iraqis. You think Zarqawi is any more brutal than the Arab thugs raping and pillaging Sudanese refugees? Their both evil, but one has the capacity to do more harm to Americans, so that is who we focus on. But let’s leave emotional stories out of whether to stay or leave a country, since the Iraqi blogger who lost a family member has no more moral weight than the woman raped in Sudan.

    The real question for us liberals is how to balance our international moral concerns with a realistic, achievable foreign policy that places American interests first. 9-11 certainly jolted conservatives out of their isolationist inclinations, and now we have to work with them to forge a sensible policy that projects American power and influence within a reasonable context. A critical strategy is to help conservatives see what liberals have always known (and what real conservatives have always mocked): good intentions do not spell good results.

  9. jealousy, envy, and avarice, incident to our nature, and so common to a state of peace, prosperity, and conscious strength, were, for the time, in a great measure smothered and rendered inactive … the basest principles of our nature, were either made to lie dormant, or to become the active agents in the advancement of the noblest cause–that of establishing and maintaining civil and religious liberty.

    I do not mean to say, that the scenes of the revolution are now or ever will be entirely forgotten; but that like every thing else, they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and more dim by the lapse of time …

    At the close of that struggle, nearly every adult male had been a participator in some of its scenes. The consequence was, that of those scenes, in the form of a husband, a father, a son or brother, a living history was to be found in every family – a history bearing the indubitable testimonies of its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the scars of wounds received … a history, too, that could be read and understood alike by all, the wise and the ignorant, the learned and the unlearned. But those histories are gone. They can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength; but, what invading foeman could never do, the silent artillery of time has done; the leveling of its walls. They are gone.

    They were the pillars of the temple of liberty; and now, that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason. Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.

    Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws: and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last …

    Abraham Lincoln, 1838

  10. Nate, I would be the last person to dispute that the main goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to protect U.S. interests, but playing Devils’ Advocate for a moment, I’d suggest that attempting to bring peace to the Middle East is fundamentally more important to the world than, say, combating terror in the Horn of Africa.

    (Not that the victims there aren’t deserving of more help than they’re getting. When the boot is on your neck, the greater good for humanity probably isn’t foremost in your mind. But I’m taking a transnationalist technocratic approach here.)

    The key reasons the problems in the Middle East take moral precedence are, IMHO, that (a) there’s a lot of money available to jihadis, (b) as long as we need oil, that isn’t going to change, (c) the cost of creating wholesale slaughter is going down all the time, and (d) once someone in the mideast makes the investment, takes that final step and creates some wholesale slaughter, the cycle of payback is likely to create global problems like we haven’t seen in 60 years. Conceivably, we could end up dodo-ing our species. (In a lot of respects, the prospects of a Bio-war scare me more than nukes.)

    As awful as it is, the slaughter and misery in Africa (for instance) is purely a mom-and-pop retail industry. People are dying; still, that’s not on the critical path to a potentially species-threatening event.

    When resources are limited, you have to prioritize. Assume you want to do real humanitarian good that has lasting effect. Working to prevent wholesale slaughter seems like a better globalist investment than working to stop current retail-level slaughter.

    Maybe cold-blooded, but that’s the way I see it.

  11. Mark:

    I definitely see your point, and agree with much of it. But I would have the following response:

    Given that resources are limited and that one has to prioritize, I think a very strong case that our current operation in Iraq saps these resources and should not be a priority. Today’s retail-level slaughter becomes tomorrow’s global wholesale producers, and getting bogged down one place can destroy a more expansive approach to dealing with potential problems of the future.

    As the writers Robert Kaplan has detailed, much of the most valuable work fighting terrorists is being done in off-the-map 3rd countries where Special Forces units are training fledgling armies, developing intelligence networks, and even assisting in building local infrastructure for civilians. I personally would favor doing much more of this kind of low-key groundwork, which won’t pay off now but will in the future. Sudan may be retail tomorrow, but what if in the wake of chaos terrorist cells can find refuge? Let’s work on that now, rather than later.

    I would view our operations in the Middle East more favorably if I felt they were paying greater dividends, and yes, this is where even though I consider myself liberal I am open to charges of being cold-blooded. I don’t see Arab societies as being ready for an extreme transformation to democracy, and consequently I think trying to do so in an overt fashion involving lots of troops and lots of money is a misuse of precious American resources.

    This means living with a certain amount of uncertainty regarding Middle Eastern thugs and their diabolic plans, but we’ll have that uncertainty anyway, and to my mind it is something of a mistake to assume we can eliminate these threats through decisive, short-term action.

  12. “Why are Iraqis more deserving of our support than Africans? What about people in Central Asia? What about Sri Lankans?”

    Do you contribute to charity? Breast cancer research, AIDS, homelessness, anything like that? Are those victims more deserving of support than, say, prostate cancer sufferers, or Lou Gehrigs disease? By your line of reasoning, no-one would ever get helped.

    A lot of people get involved in volunteering because of an infliction suffered by a close family member or loved one. Are they out there doing it for the wrong reasons, because they are trying to cure one person in particular instead of random strangers? Maybe so, but isnt it still better that they are helping someone, somewhere, instead of helping no-one but feeling righteously just?

  13. So do you think we should maybe stop worrying about “dependency’?

    Not so long as we have a whopping dozen or so Iraqi bloggers fighting the good fight, at their keyboards.

    Seriously, what exactly is the ITM post supposed to make us feel better about? That in time a few dozen bloggers for freedom will convince a neighbor, who’ll convince another two neighbors, and so on and so on until 25 million Iraqis stop fighting amongst each other and all just get along?

    Here’s a tip for you, the boys at ITM, and The Messopotamian, etc are by far the exception, not the rule. A hint would have been that you didn’t need to have someone translate their posts.

    We can be proud I guess that the ITM boys and others are still behind the cause, but to think this has any effect on the actual tactical and political situation is beyond idiotic.

    Just some of AL’s salve for the masses. Not to mention near pornographic blogger triumph bleating.

  14. The answer to Nate’s question may be simpler. Indeed, it may been in Nate’s own comment.

    The core problem with Nate’s comment is that it shifts the subject, without acknowledging that he is doing so:

    [AL] “You want to abandon them, and the men and women like them? Not with my support. Not ever.”

    “Why are Iraqis more deserving of our support than Africans?…”

    Note the deliberate shift; many of y’all fell for it. In glossing over and willfully excising the key word in A.L’s sentence, abandon, Nate has refused to address Armed Liberal’s argument, and in fact changed the argument in order to avoid the implications of what A.L. was saying.

    While I appreciate some of the things Nate said later, I’m being clinical here about what just happened in this debate. Speaking of which…

    The reason subsequent discussions are so “cold” is because this is intrinsic to Nate’s formulation, which inherently sees friends and people who have stood up to fight beside us as dispensible things. Those who respond to that premise must in their turn be cold and technocratic themselves, unless they explode the implicit premise and return the discussion to its original subject.

    One might, for example, “ask the Hmong about the results”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/004984.php of that “morality.”

    Many of us strongly believe that standing beside America the way people like Omar, Mohammed, and so many more have done, while standing up for freedom at grave personal risk, does indeed give them a higher moral claim on America. One that is matched by a claim of necessity, and hence becomes a double claim. A triple claim, once one considers that the USA decided to get involved directly and actively encouraged them stand with us.

    One of the biggest areas of friction between conservatives and liberals, and here I’m talking “over the last 60+ years,” is that liberal politics seems to be all about not really caring what happens to those who take risks and stand beside America as friends, but is terribly solicitous about what its enemies might think.

    A policy that systematically coddles enemies and treats friends as dispensible makes no sense to me. I’m personally a lot more concerned about the shabby treatent America habitually metes out tho those who stand beside it as its friends; what its enemies think is of peripheral concern to me unless the answer has to do with deterrence efficacy in some way.

  15. Do you contribute to charity? Breast cancer research, AIDS, homelessness, anything like that? Are those victims more deserving of support than, say, prostate cancer sufferers, or Lou Gehrigs disease? By your line of reasoning, no-one would ever get helped.

    Mark, this is truly beneath you. We know why we invaded Iraq and “liberated” it’s people and it has nothing to do with comparisons to health research. Not even close.

    But to answer the original question. It’s because Iraq is strategically located, has a butload of oil, and we had pipedreams of Iran cowering it’s way into electing a liberal government after seeing us amass on the border.

    But something funny happened on the way to all that and now, well we mostly talk about those poor Iraqis because frankly, it’s all we have left.

    Hubris quickly turned to humility, or it would be if we had more honest commenters here.

  16. “Mark, this is truly beneath you. We know why we invaded Iraq and “liberated” it’s people and it has nothing to do with comparisons to health research”

    I was making an wide analogy and it is perfectly appropriate. Nates argument is that it is wrong to help Iraqis specifically when we arent helping so many others. By that definition it is necessary to help everyone or no-one, correct? This argument has been made over and over in different circumstances- why are we facing Saddam but not Iran, NK, etc… well again we either pick one or pick none by that logic, which is just nutty. Mindless consistancy is the least of virtues.

    “Hubris quickly turned to humility, or it would be if we had more honest commenters here.”

    Thou dost protest too much.

  17. T.J. and Davebo, I’m really not sure where either of you are coming from. Are either or both of you suggesting that the ITM crew and like-minded Iraqi bloggers should just STFU?

    Please tell me I’m misreading your meaning.

  18. Mark,

    I’m not saying that the ITM crew or others should just “shut up”.

    I’m just saying that as heart wrenching and inspirational their statements are, they have absolutely nothing to do with the current state of Iraq, or Iraqis in general. And also should not really be considered when thinking about what to do going forward.

    If people like the brothers of ITM made up even 10% of the Iraqi population, then perhaps their words could be a sign of hope. But sadly I seriously doubt they make up even 5% of the population.

    So to say something like

    You want to abandon them, and the men and women like them? Not with my support. Not ever.

    is not only unconstructive, but quite frankly somewhat dishonest.

    While AL’s short post might be handy as a cheerleeding tool, it’s not very useful for anything else. He should probably have reconsidered linking the post to the question of whether or not we should sink another trillion dollers and X number of lives into Iraq.

    And frankly, we get more than enough cheerleading from some of the other WOC commenters.

  19. To clear some things up: I never said it was wrong to help Iraqis over any other country. I just think that we ought to be honest about why we are doing so- because it is in our own best interest, and it has nothing to do with the plight of Iraqis. I don’t claim to be staking out new ground here, just responding to Armed Liberal’s initial appeal to emotion as a reason for staying the course in Iraq. There are many good reasons to stay in Iraq, but saving protecting Iraqis is not one of them, at least not an end in itself. Protecting Iraqis is a means to an end of producing a stable country, and if we determine that end result is unlikely, saving Iraqis won’t justify keeping our troops in the country as babysitters.

    As for the question of abandonment: this becomes a situation of splitting hairs. Did we abandon ordinary Iraqis when we sold arms to Saddam in the 1980’s, treating this man who rose to power in a bloody coup as legitimate? (He was our “friend” against evil Iran, remember? Or do we justify this arms sale in the name of standing by our friends?) Did we abandon Iraq when Bush Sr. turned back from the border in 1991, watching slaughter occur before our very eyes? Did we abandon Iraq by not caring that their country was looted while our troops stood by and did nothing?

    This concept of abandonment implies a sort of parental role for the US over Iraqis, one that I’m not wholly opposed to for the moment, but one that is unhelpful in the long run. I think we’ve done a terrible job of parenting, but then Iraq is one messed up kid. It seems part of the problem in Iraq is that there aren’t enough grown-ups willing to bury the hatchet regarding tribal and religious rivalries and form a functioning government. On this issue, perhaps abandonment might be a good thing, like kicking your 22 year old out of the house and inisisting he get a job and support himself.

    And as for the issue of how America treats its friends- I don’t have much patience for a moralistic, good guy-bad guy foreign policy. Nixon going to China did far more to help the US, Chinese citizens, and the world than if he had stood by Taiwan. One has to deal with ugly people like Putin, Mubarak, the Saudi Royal family, take what you can get and live with a foul taste in your mouth.

    I take extreme exception to this passage:

    “One of the biggest areas of friction between conservatives and liberals, and here I’m talking “over the last 60+ years,” is that liberal politics seems to be all about not really caring what happens to those who take risks and stand beside America as friends, but is terribly solicitous about what its enemies might think.”

    There is too much wrong with this statement to completely debunk here. Put simply, liberals argue for understanding our enemy so that we can avoid fighting the wrong wars, and better predict what will be the fallout if we do fight. Our inability to understand how the Iraqi army might react, and how Sunnis and Shias would get along really wasn’t helpful, was it? But I suppose one could aruge that the important thing is that we had a good moral case for liberating Iraq, and though the place is pretty hellish right now, our heart is in the right place as we try to help our friends. Pardon me for pining for Henry Kissinger.

  20. Note, again, the structure of Davebo’s argument. Which boils down to one assertion:

    bq. “I’m just saying that as heart wrenching and inspirational their statements are, they… should not really be considered when thinking about what to do going forward.”

    Again, note the attempt to divorce questions of duty to, loyalty toward, and treatment of allies from the essential question.

    (Given the number of Kurds in Iraq, by the way, we’d make Davebo’s 10% ridiculously easily – I point this out only to help emphasize that the statement was structurally speaking a distraction and not the real argument.)

    In the end, this is fundamentally a moral/ worldview issue, not a discrete rational argument. At some level, either you’re someone who believes the Omars and Mohammeds of the world are the folks we need to keep faith with, and for whom our consideration and aid in their struggle needs to be a core goal (and hence something around which many of our our tactical discussions should revolve), or you’re not.

    The first is a form of progressive humanism. The second could be many things, but progressive humanism is the one thing it cannot be.

    Ultimately, the discussion is structurally about 3 things:

    1] What do you stand for?
    2] Whom do you stand with?
    3] What does America owe the people who respond when it asks them to stand with it against danger and up for shared values?

  21. “To clear some things up: I never said it was wrong to help Iraqis over any other country. I just think that we ought to be honest about why we are doing so- because it is in our own best interest, and it has nothing to do with the plight of Iraqis.”

    Those two statements dont equate. We can be helping the Iraqis both because it is the right thing to do and because they are first on the list, being an American interest.

  22. Davebo, I don’t know how you’re arriving at your numbers; just from the percentage of people who vote in Iraq, I’d guess your 5% is way low. (Assuming that what you mean by “like” the brothers at ITM you mean those interested in a pluralistic, Democratic Iraq. And of course if you think Michael Totten isn’t totally out of his tree, the Kurds of Iraq practically want northern Iraq to become the 51st state.)

    So no, I’m of the opinion that we shouldn’t give up on people like ITM, or the Iraqi Kurds. Hell, I wouldn’t even wish a return of the police state on Riverbend. (Even if I persist in thinking her Iraqi blog is actually written from Connecticut. Her english is way better than — and easily as colloquial as — the english of most of the people commenting on this site, myself included. If she is Iraqi, she’s spent most of her formative years in North America, IMHO, and as such she certainly comes from if not a Ba’athist upbringing, then at least from a family in good with the Ba’athists.)

    Anyway, in case I haven’t made it clear, I feel for the ITM guys. A death in the family is always shockingly hard. This kind of death is for me unimaginable. I haven’t gone over and left my condolences because I haven’t been able to figure out what to say, except that I grieve at their grief, and wish them luck.

  23. Mark,

    I didn’t even include the Kurds in the calculation since, for all purposes, they really are no longer a part of Iraq. (Note their vote on forming their own oil ministry for instance, their own parliment, etc.)

    As to going by voter turnout, I think that’s a bit naive. If indeed 80% of Iraqis were seeking a true pluralistic, Democratic Iraq as you suggest, we really would be being greeted as liberators right now.

    As to your wildly speculative comments about riverbend, how exaclty does she differ from the ITM family? You do realize the dead relative and his wife had been educated outside Iraq right? And that no one could consider the ITM brothers anything other than upper upper middle class. Bottom line is, though you may disagree with her, your “excuse” for doing so is very hypocritical given your support of ITM.

  24. Mark: I disagree. We are helping Iraqis because they are first on the list, and we justify that it is the right thing to do because they are first on the list. It has everything to do with American interests and any humanitarian or moral considerations were always supplementary. If Iraq stabilzes enough to drop from being first on the list to lower down, we will leave in a heartbeat.

  25. Nate, to answer your questions:

    bq. “As for the question of abandonment: this becomes a situation of splitting hairs. Did we abandon ordinary Iraqis when we sold arms to Saddam in the 1980’s, treating this man who rose to power in a bloody coup as legitimate? (He was our “friend” against evil Iran, remember? Or do we justify this arms sale in the name of standing by our friends?)”

    We did not abandon them, because we had never stood with them nor encouraged them to stand up. Iraq was not considered a good “rollback” candidate for democratic revolution (Soviet quasi-clients didn’t make the cut; you had to be a full on client or puppet regime), and the “Realist” school has never seen an issue with ignoring Iraq’s internal situation and making deals for oil or whatever else it wanted.

    At the time, the only folks who stood with any of the people of Iraq were, paradoxically, the Trotskyite and Democratic Socialist Left. For whom the Kurds were seen as Marxist nationalists who deserved their support.

    That would later turn into betrayal when most of those organizations abadoned the Kurdish cause once Saddam became a noted enemy of Amerikka. But only those who support you first can betray you.

    bq. “Did we abandon Iraq when Bush Sr. turned back from the border in 1991, watching slaughter occur before our very eyes?”

    Abso-freaking-lutely. We totally abandoned them, it was shameful as all hell, their thousands of deaths are partly on our hands and conscience, and the least we can do is learn from that.

    bq. “Did we abandon Iraq by not caring that their country was looted while our troops stood by and did nothing?”

    I presume you’re referring to Saddam’s regime post Gulf-War. Again, the answer is yes.

    If you’re referring to the odd Ba’athist government office and spoils depot that was redistributed after the regime’s fall (a very normal occurrence in any revolution I can ever think of), then no. We did not leave; just made a tactical decision that we weren’t about to shoot and kill a bunch of ordinary Iraqis who were letting loose a lot of pent-up frustration.

    Shooting a whole bunch of civilians under such circumstances would almost certainly have engendered very widespread ill-feeling, and very probably made America’s subsequent balancing act between the Shia, Sunni, and Kurds impossible. In which case, Nate would be right in there pointing to “the wanton brutality of our troops post-victory conduct against what were, after all, only property crimes by poor people” as the point where it all started to go wrong.

  26. Joe,

    See my last. The Kurds aren’t even in the equation anymore.

    Do you think the Kurds are worried because Iraq hasn’t been able to agree on a new government? Don’t kid yourself. They’ve been their own government for over 10 years already. Have their own parliment, and they really see little advantage in ending the Shia Sunni violence given that it doesn’t really affect them (as Totten).

    They are preparing to form their own oil ministry and sign their own Norwegian oil deal which will essentially complete their independance drive.

    And this

    Again, note the attempt to divorce questions of duty to, loyalty toward, and treatment of allies from the essential question.

    First off, don’t talk to me about duty Joe, we’ve covered that territory already. Loyalty toward allies? I’m sorry but as both ITM brothers will tell you, they are allies in spirit only. Allies fight along side you, not cheerlead the cause from the sidelines.

    either you’re someone who believes the Omars and Mohammeds of the world are the folks we need to keep faith with, and for whom our consideration and aid in their struggle needs to be a core goal (and hence something around which many of our our tactical discussions should revolve), or you’re not.

    Again, another TRILLION dollars Joe, with absolutely no guarantee that it will save Mohammed and Omar.

    And please “progressive humanism” is gobbledy gook. And attempting to play a morality card in an attempt to deflect from an extremely poor foreign policy decision is just plain sick.

    If you feel Mohamed and Omar are worth yet another TRILLION bucks, yet are just willing to talk it up, then I’ll sleep fine at night disagreeing with you.

  27. “I disagree. We are helping Iraqis because they are first on the list, and we justify that it is the right thing to do because they are first on the list. It has everything to do with American interests and any humanitarian or moral considerations were always supplementary.”

    Except that the neo-con/Bush argument has always ultimately been that doing the right this _is_ the American interest, vis-a-vis legitimately democratic nations are not a threat to the US. Or, in Iraq: a stable, just nation is both the American best interest and the compassionate thing to do. That was classically a liberal argument (hence ‘neo’-con). Liberals now seem to believe that we should act only when it is not in our interest at all (Bosnia, Haiti), which is just looney.

    I dont know how to present evidence to the contrary except by example. In the old days (less than a century ago) a major power would simply have stomped Saddams army and seized his oil fields. What he did with his desert tribes wouldnt be of much interest unless they caused problems, in which case an example would be made (including civilian populations). _That’s_ acting soley for interest, and it was the rule of international action for most of the history of the world. If what you are saying is true, why arent we acting like that and saving a ton of American blood and treasure in the process?

    Take Iran, the simplest thing would be for us to grab their oil fields near the coast, bomb anything remotely threatening, and continuing bombing if they ever again develop anything remotely threatening. Maybe arm the most vicious dissidents to the teeth and pay them to rampage outlying villiages (causing the Mullahs to lose face). Why havent we done that, if it would be the fastest way to achieve our interests? The way we have conducted ourselves has been the exception, not the rule of a world power historically.

  28. My reading of the post over at ITM is that the brother-in-law came back to Iraq because Saddam had been deposed. In other words, “Saddam bad, Ba’aathists defeated, yay!”.

    Here’s something a quick Google turned up on Riverbend. The situations really are quite dissimilar. (Apparently she was in the States or Canada until her late teens, and her family returned to Iraq sometime in the mid-90s. Seems my speculations, wild though they might have been, weren’t too shabby.)

    What makes her different from the ITM guys is she’s blatantly nostalgic for the good ol’ days under Saddam. And I have no problem thinking that for select people, they really were the good ol’ days. In other words, “Saddam good, Ba’athists defeated, boo!”

    Somehow, when choosing whom to feel sympathy for in the aftermath of a war, I try to choose the ones who weren’t in tight with the bad guys before things got hot. Maybe the ITM crew’s dead brother-in-law was connected with the political power structure, maybe not. (And maybe he just had the money necessary to buy his way out of Iraq. The world may never know. After all, the guy’s dead.) But with Riverbend (or at least her family) there just ain’t much doubt about the political background.

    There are people nostalgic for the Third Reich, the Khmer Rouge, Stalinist Russia, etc. I don’t waste much of my Libertarian heart’s limited capacity for sympathy upon them.

  29. But I am talking about duty, Davebo, however much you may hate the fact. So, in his own way, is Marc.

    And you ARE trying to divorce the issue from those considerations. That is simply a fact of your structural argument, and one you have reiterated in a response that refuses to acknowledge even that such a thing might exist.

    As for this:

    bq. “Allies fight along side you, not cheerlead the cause from the sidelines.”

    Read the post up at ITM, recall its subject and content, and tell me who is showing signs of sickness here. That statement is, under the circumstances, utterly despicable. I am sure that upon further consideration, you will have the basic decency to withdraw it.

    Meanwhile, we can certainly see that you believe progressive humanism is “gobbledygook.” Others take it more seriously than you do, as is their wont in a free society.

    I will ask, however: if you are not a progressive humanist, and Marxism is acknowledged as a disaster and failure, exactly what is left to the liberal-left? Why be a Democratic Party supporter at all?

  30. Joe:

    I’m getting a strong Christopher Hitchens vibe from you, and I’ll ask the same questions I didn’t get to ask Hitchens when I saw him speak last year, the ones he never answers:

    a) What you have preferred US policy to be in the Iran-Iraq conflict in the 1980’s? Would you have been comfortable with a rabidly Anti-American Iran conquering Iraq and exerting even more influence in the Middle East?

    b) We invaded Iraq from Saudi Arabia in 1991, and Bush Sr. got a huge coalition of “friends” on board, but only on the condition that after repelling Saddam from Kuwait we stop at the Iraqi border. We we supposed to go back on our word and continue on to Bagdad in the name of saving Iraqi civilians? Are you aware of how such a betrayal might undercut efforts to secure prospective allies for future wars? Do you know what the OPEC countries might have done in retaliation?

    c) Bush Sr. explained that part of the reason he didn’t march to Baghdad, in addition to the fact that the coalition would collapse, was that he would not give young American soldiers the impossible task of policing a chaotic Iraqi state. How would you explain to the parents of American soldiers back home that, without any governing plan and without allies, their children are now supposed to take charge and risk their lives for the citizens of a foreign country?

    Christopher Hitchens never confronts the ramifications of his views on issues like this- it’s enough for him to express solidarity with Kurds, Shiites, whoever, he’s always moving on to stump for a new cause and leaving the untidy reality for serious people. Maybe you can answer some of these problematic questions.

    As for your last point about looting, I suppose we’ll have to disagree. It’s all in retrospect at this point, but we should have ruled with a iron fist those first few months, and if that meant shooting a few looters, so be it. That quote about “wanton brutality” certainly didn’t come from me. Max Boot has posited that part of the problem regarding the insurgency is that unlike in past wars, our assault was so clean and precise we didn’t strike any fear into our enemies that went to ground. He has a very good point, and I think after a few looters were shot, order would have been preserved.

  31. Mark B.

    I completely acknowledge the tie between American interests and the intrests of the world. For the most part this is true.

    But it doesn’t follow that invading a country, taking its resources, and killing large swaths of people it in any way in our interests. We don’t do that because we are a moral people, but more importantly, there isn’t even remotely a temptation to take such an action. We aren’t so powerful that we could withstand the international disdain that would accompany such a move, and even if no other country would attack us, the economic and diplomaticc fallout would be catostophic.

    Mercenary invasions worked in the past because it was a largely amoral world, and countries were isolated geographically. Those rules no longer apply, and our success as a country largely stems from our ability to foster a world of political and economic order than subverting that order. It’s not like in its 200+ history America just decided to become a moral country for philosophical reasons; preading our moral principles is in our interest, be it regarding security or even financial interest.

    “Liberals now seem to believe that we should act only when it is not in our interest at all (Bosnia, Haiti), which is just looney.”

    Not true. We chose to go to Bosnia because to stop mass rape and ethnic cleansing, but we also went because it was a relatively small undertaking carried out with the Eureopeans, for whom it was a very self-interested matter as it was happening on their doorstep. It was in our interest to assist the Europeans in this problem, to solidify NATO and to start the process of setting an international precedent that civilized nations will not stand by while genocides take place. Bosnia didn’t threaten our country’s security, but it was in our interests to help, and unlike Rwanda, it had a good chance of succeeding at little cost. Our military certainly benefited from learning what it was like to carry out such a mission, even if it involved a lot of frustration.

    So far for Haiti, Rwanda, Sudan, etc. the risks and costs of an intervention have outweighed any moral argument for an intervention. The truth of the matter is that while the religious right and the internationalist left clamour for action in places like Sudan, the majority of centrist Republicans and Democrats would rather stay home. I don’t blame them.

    PS. Let the record show that these blog discussions, while thoroughly enjoyable, are doing very little to help me remedy my current unemployment. The internet gives one access to more job advertisments than ever, but also more opportunities to get off-track than ever.

  32. My support for the brothers and all democratic Iraqis is unwavering. I support them because of their love for freedom and democracy. I support them because their dream was and is our dream. The brothers were the first blog I ever read. They were the first blog from Iraq. They pointed me to other blogs like this one and other Iraqis. They told us about their lives and their families. They have told us their joy and their sorrow. They have told us things about Iraq we would never know without them. I corresponded with them several times and sent their words out. They inspired me to write my own blog. They were always kind and even generous with their time. They are good men.

    One can argue the whys and where-fors of any war in our past, from the revolution to the civil war to the Spanish American war to WWI and WWII. In all of these wars, the practical met the idealist and they converged to create the will to succeed. You may debate those wars and this war to eternity, but you cannot change the fact that they existed or exist today.

    Pragmatists talk with cold blooded logic, idealists talk with passion. It is rarely the pragmatic that wins the war or spurs men to great deeds, but the idealists’ passion that keeps the will to win going forward, to realize the dream.

    The pragmatist stays back and warns of all the problems the idealist will encounter on his way to the dream. The idealist runs forward into a hail of bullets because the dream meant more than life itself. In history, who is remembered most and inspires future generations? The cold-blooded pragmatist or the idealistic dreamer?

    I’ll stand by the idealists, small they may be in the face of tyrannical murderers. Even if Iraq is a failure and democracy does not take hold, I will know that I stood on the side of the right.

    Those of you who come here to the announcement of the death of a good man, the brother-in-law of three good men, fellows who believe in democracy and dream of a better Iraq, and barely pay lip service, if any, to the simple decency of condolences or sympathy, then go on to bray your opinions about the war; may I be so bold as to ask who you think you are?

    What have you contributed in your continual debates about the reasons or purpose of this war? who are you to say that these men are not worthy of our support and all those like them? Who are you to dismiss them?

    What is your worth?

    I can tell you, when I post this comment and close this window, I will not remember your names, but I will remember Mohammed, Omar and Ali.

    That is your worth to me.

  33. Wow. Go offline for a day, and look what happens.

    hypocracy (#5) Joe answered you perfectly, I’ll let that one stand.

    Davebo – as I’ve said since 2003, I want to fight to save Mohammed and Omar so that we don’t wind up in a nuclear exchange with the entire Arab world. The problems we’re facing today existed before 2003, and wishing them away wasn’t going to solve them. Mohammed and Omar (and Ali) are the personalization of that struggle to me, and concrete evidence that there is a ‘silent center’ in the Iraqi and Arab world worth reaching out to and fighting for.

    You don’t like spending the money? So we’ve established a price on your future, then.

    Nate (#33) You ask the right 3 questions; my answer to #3 changed on 9/12, as did a lot of other people’s. It should have changed sooner.

    A.L.

  34. A.L., remember the difference between the best possible result and the best result possible.

    Time doesn’t flow backwards, and the best result possible for Iraq doesn’t look a secular, free, prosperous democracy anymore. Not after the failed occupation, the abandoned reconstruction, the political paralysis after the purple fingers. We’re just hoping to let the people you admire languish in a semi-autocratic theocracy (Iran Jr., without nukes) that’s quiet enough not to be a total embarrassment. As a matter of fact, we’ve probably given up even on that. More and more it seems like “victory” now means nothing more than refusing to withdraw our troops and disassemble our huge bases and world’s largest embassy (what ever did we need those for?). A few more years—do we still have the annual ritual of pretending this is the year we have a significant draw down—and Iraq will be the Terri Schiavo of foreign policy, with the right wing crouched to pounce on the grownups who pull the plug.

  35. Lazarus: “We’re just hoping to let the people you admire languish in a semi-autocratic theocracy …”

    The people you admire. God, that is so pricelessly revealing.

  36. Andrew, I’ve never expected Iraq to be Maine (if you can find something contrary in my writings, let me know). but I can expect it to be more like Kurdistan or Turkey than Syria.

    And I thought then and think now it’s going to take a long time and be hard – it’s harder than I’d hoped, that’s for sure, but not yet as hard as I feared.

    There’s this amazing sense of defeat I get – you exprress it – in your view the enemy is inexhaustable, infinite, while we’re weak and always f**k up.

    They’re people too, and have a breaking point – as do we. Person for person, I’d bet theirs is higher. But we’ve got history, discipline, and the technology both have given us to level things out.

    I don’t see defeat to date, and the only clear path to defeat is see is the one you’ve advocated – pull out and hope for the best.

    So no, thanks. And I’ll do what I can to see that the rest of the conuntry agrees more with me than with you.

    A.L.

  37. “Time doesn’t flow backwards, and the best result possible for Iraq doesn’t look a secular, free, prosperous democracy anymore”

    Three years is apparently the expiration date for dreams of modernization. After that- its all over, back to the Dark Ages. Thank God, say, France never ran into any problems or reverses after their democratic revolution…

  38. Nate, great questions, yeah this blog is pulling a lot of time from finding my ‘october job’… oh well.

    I agree with Nate, but will take his comments in a different direction…

    With our troops currently solidfied overseas (and without the ability to take on to many other problems because of the Iran debacle), there is still alot we can do in the world with diplomatic effors. Equatorial Guinea is a case I make often, which is incredibly rich but ruled by a tyrant. All we would have to do is insist that American companies pool their funds into health, education and democratic reforms and that country would improve over night. Unfortunately, and educated country probably would demand more for their oil…. which is why this movement has never gone anywhere.

    Sudan is again another place where a relatively small number of troops, food, resouces and transport could help refugees get to safety (and hopefully move refugees to a more stable region of Africa). As always, the US has alot of bark but no bite here.

    Should we leave Iraq? I’m not sure yet, but if continues to be run at the highest levels of incompetency we’re going to spend alot of money for little improvement. We’ll see.

  39. Joe K. has it nailed when he points out that much of the Left would treat our friends and allies as dispensible.

    The Left talks about just pulling out of Iraq as if there were no serious moral consequence to doing so. (And many of these same people are old enough to remember the boat people from Vietnam, fer crissakes!)

    Promising to support an uprising in 1991 and then failing to do so was simply wicked, whatever the supposed reasons were. I cannot describe how ashamed I was of our president.

    If you promise to watch someone’s back and you don’t, none of your promises mean anything.

    ***
    In 1991, if we had supported Iraq’s uprising (and pissed off some allies), we would have had a REAL ally in Iraq for the last fifteen years. I personally couldn’t care less how many Europeans we annoy; they can do nothing to us.

  40. #42, I hope you realize that you’re accusing the generals and the troops on the ground of incompetency.

    Unlike LBJ, GWB isn’t choosing bombing targets over breakfast. Nor is he having attorneys draw up the battle plans. Nor is he confining the war planning to three civilians and shutting out the military.

    He gave the military the goal, and they’ve created the plans and executed them.

    You can use the word “incompetent” if you like, but maybe you ought to give some thought as to where you are directing that accusation. And just who the h*ll are you to think that you know better than all those people?!

  41. Actually I’m more referring to policy decisisions as incompetent… and now I have 6 retired generals to back me up. I don’t beleive I’ve ever said the army is doing a bad job. On the contrary, I think the soldiers are the only reason Iraq is going as well as it is. They’ve worked hard to keep the situation together around them, and that’s noble.

    here are the following things I’ve complained about since day 1, and they’re all policy decisions:

    1)not enough troops on the ground to stabilize country in first month after war

    2)Not enough troops familiar with basic middle-eastern languages or Iraqi culture to immediately start talking to cultural leaders who could have aided stabilization

    3)Not creating a plan to work directly with Shia/Sunni leaders so that rifts between groups could start to heal (this probably would not have solved current tensions, but it would have been a step in the right direction)

    4)Immediately sending high-ranking, high-ability soldiers to train Iraqi troops, instead of sending lesser qualified units

    5)the Iraqi army disbanding fiasco, although I probably would have made the same mistake

    6)poor prison management (or torture, either way a serious problem) leading to particularly grisly deaths in several prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we are to a ‘beacon of democracy’ this cannot happen. EVER.

    7)not securing the border. Not once. In three years.

    8)Going to war with the army we have, instead of waiting for a more solidified force, with proper armor, equipment, supplies, humanitarian aid etc.

    9)Not adjusting to guerrilla warfare with sufficient speed. What is sufficient speed? I don’t really know. But AL had a great post about how Hummvee’s are sitting death traps, and need to be remodeled… something you think the army would consider by now.

    10)Extending the rotations of soldiers who have decided they want out (after they have completed their designated tour of duty). This just drops morale and causes additional problems. Find the soldiers that want to stay longer, make them the bedrock of your civilian connections and operations… make them be in charge of getting to know, befriend, and recive actionable intelligence from other Iraqi civilians.

    11) Reducing benefits, and making it more difficult to recieve benefits for those returning to Iraq. I know people here don’t like Salon, but they had a really good article about head trauma’s not being treated at VA hospitals. An interesting read.

    I’m sure I could come up with more mistakes we’ve made, but I think these are all preety strong arguments (I’m sure people can disagree with a few of them…). These are all things that the pentagon and top brass need to fix in the future (or in some cases, have already fixed, it just took a damn long time).

  42. Alchemist,
    Most of your “mistakes” are not mistakes at all, but just a description of circumstances beyond Rumsfeld’s control entirely, such as the timing of the invasion. Your number 8 baffles me, are you seriously suggesting that a war must await the construction of a perfect army tailored to the circumstances? And the remainder are not so much mistakes as just a different version of the hand-waving “I could have done better” devoid of any actual concrete alternative.

    And I long ago got tired of the silly claim that “we” disbanded the Iraqi army. The Iraqi army disbanded itself. And contrast the claim that “disbanding” the Iraqi Army was a mistake with the claim that we should have been “healing” rifts between the ethnic groups. Hmmmm, what Iraqi institution had just spent more than a decade killing Kurds and Shia?

  43. Joe K: I’m waiting for your response to my questions. I understand if you’ve gotten tired of this thread, but since Hitchens won’t answer the apparent contradictions in his views, I was hoping at least you would.

  44. alchemist: A brief responce…

    1) McClellan
    2) McClellan
    3) Faulty intelligence outside of Rumsfeld’s control. This is the CIA’s fault, an organization I’ll happily join you in blasting its incompetancy. To the extent Rumsfeld is to blame, he should have realized that the CIA lacked the field experience in Iraq that they had in Afghanistan and planned accordingly. The success in Afghanistan presented itself as a false model, except in Kurdistan where we did have field experience and personal contacts with real political leaders.
    4) Absolutely. This is a failure to identify the strategic center. However, it was recognized and corrected. I didn’t see alot of critics complaining about this with foresight, only in hindsight.
    5) Given the complexities of the situation, I do not believe that this was a mistake. Preserving units was likely to have a far worse outcome. I believe that this was simply a difficult decision we had to make and we made the best we could of a difficult situation.
    6) Granted. There was poor prison management, and poor guidance on interogation procedures. However, incidents like this are pretty much unavoidable, and the occassional atrocity at some low background rate has to be considered solely proof that your soldiers are human and drawn from a real population. The sad truth is that there will always be bad apples, and that war will bring out the worst in people as well as the best. You can try to stomp out such behavior, but if we are to be judged according to the actions of a few in times of stress, and our wars decided accordingly then we really are in trouble and the barbarians who lack such refinements have over us an absolute advantage. It’s really only the pictures (and the accompaning media sensationalism) that did the damage here, because they provoke (a justifiable) emotional responce and tend to reduce or elimenate objective thinking. Although Rumsfeld could have possibly mitigated this with better leadership, I’m not at all sure that he could have prevented it.
    7) Borders are almost inherently unsecurable. We can’t even secure our own border.
    8) McClellan
    9) Frankly, this is ridiculous. The US has responded, adapted, and learned counter-insurgency tactics with agility and speed. You have no baseline in this complaint, as in others, for what would constitute competancy. With no standard to measure competancy by, your whole argument degenerates to a mere ad hominem attack.
    10) This is, to the extent that I would even agree that it is a mistake, and I don’t, a very minor mistake given that reinlistment rates would seem to indicate rather high morale amongst the troops. Mostly, this seems to be you holding as your standard of compentancy to be a frictionless war, without resistance, conducted with perfect foresight and planning.
    11) This is not so much a mistake so much as morally repugnant, but its effect on morale would seem to be very minor mistake given that reinlistment rates would seem to indicate rather high morale amongst the troops.

  45. Andrew (#41)

    Or, instead of “there must be a pony in there somewhere” what about the opposite question – some things take significant time. Counterinsurgency, for example, typically takes a decade.

    So do we just give up when we get bored?

    Yes, we’re spending a lot of money in Iraq. Imagine what we’ll have to spend to wall out the rest of the world, or to clean up after my San Pedro/Red Hook scenario.

    A.L.

  46. #50

    “Yes, we’re spending a lot of money in Iraq. Imagine what we’ll have to spend to wall out the rest of the world, or to clean up after my San Pedro/Red Hook scenario.”

    Which the Iraq war and the persistant presence of Thickhead-in-Chief in the White House has made MORE, not less, likely.

  47. Whatever, Wiz. I’m sure if Florida had gone to Gore in 2000, that nasty 9/11 business would never have happened. N. Korea wouldn’t be nuclear. Soon-to-be-nuclear Iran wouldn’t be ruled by a guy who thinks some ghost from a well will emerge to usher in a Pax Islama. The world would be the smiling happy place it was in the 1990’s.

    My feeling: we could go to the jihadis or we could wait for them to come to us. Iraq may have been the wrong war, but the idea that a war wasn’t coming is just wishful thinking.

    This wasn’t going to be a peaceful couple of decades. Get used to the idea.

  48. 8) When Pentagon officials came to humanitarian groups 2 months before the war, they said “we need to know what we need to make the country safer after the war”. These humanitarian groups we’re floored, they needed 6months to a year to get all the supplies needed to fix power reactors, medical supplies etc.

    Additionally, 6 more months could have given time for arabaic, training in dealing with Iraqi civilians, and all the other little things an army doesn’t usually do, but is neccessary for ‘occupying’ a nation.

    not sure what mclellan means….

    10)The morale thing: Here is what “stars and stripes”:http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=17515&archive=true, found upon interviewing army personnell in Iraq:

    Many Reserve and National Guard respondents said [that they]…often felt like second-class soldiers

    Asked about their personal morale, 34 percent overall rated it as “low” or “very low,” 27 percent said it was “high” or “very high,” and virtually all the rest called it “average.” Perceptions of their unit’s morale ranked heavier on the “low” side. This question of personal morale elicited widely different responses among the services

    Noncommissioned officers predict problems in re-enlistment, although military leaders say enlistment rates historically drop after conflicts. Nearly half of the troops surveyed said they do not plan to re-enlist. No re-enlistment figures from Iraq are available at this point, while generally the overall military re-enlistment rates appear to be satisfactory or better.

    It could be argued that average morale is preety good for a war, and that this is a complicated issue

  49. “Additionally, 6 more months could have given time for arabaic, training in dealing with Iraqi civilians, and all the other little things an army doesn’t usually do, but is neccessary for ‘occupying’ a nation”

    And 6 more months for our troops to roast in the desert, their equipment wear down. 6 more months for foriegn jihadis to train in Iraqi camps. 6 more months for Baathists to plan their post-invastion guerilla war. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Giving the enemy the initiative is rarely the right thing to do. The ‘what if’ game can go many ways. Strong chance we would be sitting here muttering about how we should have invaded 6 months sooner.

  50. Let the record show that when the tough questions were posed, Joe Katzman bailed. If anyone else wants to take a crack at them, they are in sections a, b, and c of post #33 in this thread.

  51. Nate, I hate it when people do that kind of chest-beating. “I scared the big bad wolf away! I am Throg!!”

    C’mon. I – for example – answered your key question (#3) in #36 above, and I must have missed your reply to it. Or did you bail? See how annoying that is?

    How about starting over, and encouraging the community as a whole to particpare in answering them? maybe we’ll have an interesting discussion that way…

    A.L.

  52. Alchemist,
    General McClellan was a Union general in the early part of the Civil War who was beloved by his troops. And he loved them in return. And for some time, Lincoln gave McClellan whatever he asked for. And because he was so loath to commit troops when he had decisive superiority in an early campaign in Virginia, because he just could not be sure enough, he missed his chance. As a result, the war lasted for many more years and hundreds of thousands of people died on both sides as hard, ruthless men like Grant and Sherman had to clean up after McClellan.

    McClellan later ran for President against Lincoln on a campaign of how much better he could have run the war if only he’d been listened to.

    A classic example of a supposedly well-respected general whose ego did not match his actual skills in conflict.

  53. Fair enough celabrim/SPQR; although I don’t think these things are as much for the troops as they are neccessary for maintaining proper authority/civilian relations. These were the kinds of things that American soldiers had plenty of time to do in WWII, just because of the length of preparation/time of the war.

    Anyway, after talking to my dissertation committee; the best time to defend is late June (I could do July, but it would get more complicated). As such, I really have to finish writing in the next 6 weeks (and then have a solid presentation ready two weeks after that). So, I’m cutting myself off from posting. I really should just stop reading politics completely, so I don’t get sidetracked.

    So, thanks for the debates y’ll; if everything goes we’ll chat in July. (That is, if we haven’t nuked Iran; in which case I’ll go into hiding j/k)

  54. Alchemist,
    I don’t think you realize just how much went wrong for the US and its Allies in WWII, how much incompetence of leadership and how much bad planning there was. If I believed everything you do about the Iraq operation – and clearly I don’t – it would still be the most competently run military operation in United States military history. Literally.

  55. #52

    “I’m sure if Florida had gone to Gore in 2000, that nasty 9/11 business would never have happened.”

    You have to admit that it might not have were Gore President on 9/11. I’m wondering whether his reponse to “Bin Laden determined to attack US” would have been as leisurely, or whether he would have kept reading to children while America was actively under attack.

    I doubt it.

    Furthermore, if your ludicrous thesis is true (“The world is increasingly dangerous and no leader can do anything about that”) that pretty much shoots down all the reasons why people voted for Bush over Kerry or Gore to begin with. Probably you too.

    LMAO.

  56. “You have to admit that it might not have were Gore President on 9/11.”

    On what basis? Remember the embassy bombings? The Cole? As I recall, Al Q was responsible for those, and that nasty Bush guy was just Governor of Texas when those happened. But I suppose maybe Osama would have understood that Gore was against global warming, and therefore would have cut us a break.

    Wizner, you’re proving the old addage that denial is not just a river in Egypt.

    As to reading to children, Bush came into office with the idea he was going to be the “domestic President.” Best laid plans and all that. But at least he’s shown an ability to adapt. His opponents, you included, haven’t really shown that.

    And of course, my thesis isn’t that no leader can do anything about the world becoming more dangerous; my thesis is that a leader recognizes it as true (or at least possible) and tries to address the problem. But keep putting up those strawmen and LOL-ing. It makes me feel really comfortable with your prescriptions for how to deal with what’s coming over the horizon.

  57. AL:

    In post #48 I politely asked for a response, which never came. I don’t what else I’m supposed to concude. I’m irritated that right when our discussion was getting somewhere, when either he or I might potentialy learn something new and change perspectives, he left. I find that a form of disrespect, but maybe I just need to chill out. Fine.

    As for why I didn’t respond to you, that’s because you didn’t answer my question. I asked a specific question about 1991:

    “How would you explain to the parents of American soldiers back home that, without any governing plan and without allies, their children are now supposed to take charge and risk their lives for the citizens of a foreign country?”

    Your answer about how 9-11 changed everything doesn’t answer this question or addess of any of the collateral issues I brought up about the consequences of going to Baghdad. I’ve seen you write elegant, thoughtful posts many times, so I assumed you tossed off your answer without really thinking about it. No problem with that, but that’s why I didn’t respond.

    As for encouraging the community to answer, that’s exactly what I propose in my last post.

  58. Nate, you can conclude that some of us have day jobs and priorities, and say what what we’ve come to say, and don’t necessarily follow every thread.

    Having read your questions, I think you can conclude that I don’t find your questions relevant to this discussion. The rationale for involvement in the Iran-Iraq war is a non sequitur, as my point is that one cannot betray someone without previously being invested in their support. Why we weren’t thus invested changes nothing in my point.

    As for 1991, yopu’re trying to use the rationale for the betrayal as an argument that it wasn’t one. Elementary logic is all it takes to dispose of that entire line of questioning.

  59. I’m sorry Joe, but you simply refuse to confront the logical consequences of the views you express. You stated the following regarding the Shites in 1991:

    “We totally abandoned them, it was shameful as all hell, their thousands of deaths are partly on our hands and conscience, and the least we can do is learn from that.”

    I don’t take issue with you saying we betrayed the Shiites in 1991. The point I was making is that betrayal is a relative concept: saving the Shiites would have meant betraying the agreement with our allies and in my view, betraying our troops by putting them into hostile territory without an adequate plan. This portion of my argument, which deals with effects and consquences of your view, you characterize as irrelevant. How can the very reasons Bush Sr. cited for not invading Iraq to save the Shiites in 1991 be IRRELEVANT to a discussion of how we betrayed the Shiites by not invading Iraq in 1991?

    Regarding the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980’s: you are sidestepping the issue on a technicality. I personally would say arming the tyrant who killed his own citizens constitutes some kind of betrayal of those citizens, at least in terms of a generic concept of human brotherhood. But since technically we had no strategic partnership with Iraqi citizens, maybe another word fits better than betrayal- say, “screwed over.”

    And finally, having concluded you’d like to be done with me and this discussion, let’s call it a day. I’m willing to continue to joust, and perhaps learn something that makes me re-evaluate what I think, but que sera, sera.

  60. #61

    On what basis? On the basis of honesty.

    You’re comparing the Cole and embassy bombings to 9/11 now? I’d like to hear what the families and loved ones of those who lost their life that day think about such a view. I think it’s rotten to the core.

    And thanks for modifying your “thesis” on-the-go. Like so much of what passes for policy or position on the Right, it’s based purely on its political utility.

    Pretending that only George Bush (or Republicans) understand how dangerous the world “is getting” is the Mother of All Strawmen, and you know it. Unfortunately it took 9/11 and the lives of 3000 American civilians to convince him, not of that, but that fear of such would propel his presidency for the next years.

    That is not leadership, that is political opportunism of the lowest form. He’s trading American lives for political power so he can remake the government at the bidding of a cartel of rich people. Every day.

    And only suckers with mis-wired brains bought into it and voted for him. I take it you did. Nice. Thanks.

  61. So, Wiz, Al Q only decided to get really nasty because a Republican was elected President. Got it.

    And speaking of honesty, you’re the one who put my “thesis” in quotes, implying that was anything remotely like what I said. I attempted to correct what I thought was a simple misreading. My mistake.

    Meanwhile, one of Sandy (docs in his jock) Berger’s favorites in the CIA has been caught leaking real classified information to the press. (Turns out she was in the office charged with monitorin for leaks. The irony meter just pegged.) But I’m supposed to buy the idea that Democrats are just as serious about national security as Republicans.

    You know, I really wish that were true, because I’m fed-up past here with the Republican congress. But just wishing the Dems weren’t clueless about anything having to do with national security just doesn’t make it so.

  62. Wizener,
    Your comments are obviously not serious when you include such silly and vapid snark as believing that Al Gore would not ” have kept reading to children while America was actively under attack”.

    While I’m sure that Al Gore thinks he would have lept into the nearest F-15C interceptor to deal with the situation, adults know that your comment displays only a lack of seriousness.

    I’d like to think that Al Gore would have stepped up and shown as much leadership and focus as George Bush has, but Al Gore’s juvenile and destructive behavior since is at least a hint to the contrary. The reality is that behavior like yours has caused great harm to the country’s cause in the war against terror and its a shame you and the bulk of the Democratic party have not found the maturity to deal with it.

  63. “The reality is that behavior like yours has caused great harm to the country’s cause in the war against terror and its a shame you and the bulk of the Democratic party have not found the maturity to deal with it.”.

    Wow.

    I’m devastated.

    I’ve really misjudged myself.

    I’m so sorry. Will you ever forgive me?

    I don’t know how I can live with myself.

  64. Wiz, if your last comment was not sarcasm, I would feel hope for you.

    But then again, I’m inbred and my brain is mis-wired, so what do I know?

  65. Folks, this thread is deteriorating fast. Before I just shut comments off, how about everyone taking a step back, a deep breath, and trying to remember what it is that they are trying to say to everyone else here – other than “I rule, you drool”.

    A.L.

  66. FYI

    “Francis Fukuyama”:http://bloggingheads.tv/?id=81&cid=271&in=04:59 making my point (“…it took 9/11 and the lives of 3000 American civilians to convince him, not of that, but that fear of such would propel his presidency for the next years. That is not leadership, that is political opportunism of the lowest form”) for me very nicely.

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