Toward A New Internationalism

Over at Oxbog, Patrick Belton talks about Iraq and international cooperation:

This Weekly Standard piece by Bob Kagan and William Kristol is worth noting. The authors begin by repeating – correctly – that “American ideals and American interests converge … a more democratic Middle East will both improve the lives of long-suffering peoples and enhance America’s national security.” They then applaud statements to that effect by Condoleezza Rice and President Bush calling for a “generational commitment” to Iraq and the Middle East comparable to the U.S.’s commitment to Western Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. And in this, the security advisor and the president are also indeed applauseworthy: the intertwined task of promoting democracy and pursuing counterterror in the Middle East is as obviously central to U.S. security today as creating a secure, commercially prosperous free Europe was then.

I could not agree more completely, and endorse everything that I have quoted, as far as the authors go. However – and although they are two writers I respect deeply on the subject – I think they might be too quick to reject out of hand the prospect of looking overseas for soldiers. The authors seem to think of the matter as a choice between two options: simply asking our dedicated soldiers to do more of what they have been doing so well, or giving the entire enterprise over to the internationals – in which case either Kofi and Jacques Chirac will be the ones to determine the pace of Iraq’s democratization, or still worse, we may suffer “the possibly unfortunate effects of turning over the security of Iraqis to a patchwork of ill-prepared forces from elsewhere in the world.”

Hmmm. Though I agree with Kagan and Kristol on their other points, this particular bit seems a bit of a false dichotomy.

I couldn’t agree more; this nails the Thomas Friedman point I only alluded to below, about the need to alliance.

UPDATE: Once again, the Comments for this article feature some pretty smart people elevating the content of this blog.

47 thoughts on “Toward A New Internationalism”

  1. Not with Kofi Annan, and not with Jacques Chirac. Any participation that gives them a significant say WILL significantly lower the odds of American success.

    As always, the mission must determine the coalition. Which means the real question is, as always: “alliance with whom? and on what terms?”

    When we get to these questions, and their honest answers (not like the duplicitous hand-waving in Albright’s recent article, which even A.L. doesn’t buy), liberal plans for “alliances” begin to fray badly around the edges.

    For instance, the French helped the Serbs in Bosnia under cover of “multilateral” involvement, and could/would easily turn traitor again. Not one French soldier, or one French company, in Iraq. ANY terms that involve French participation are bad on the ground, and bad in that they undermine American diplomacy more broadly. There MUST be costs to crossing the USA and backing Saddam, and there must be seen to be costs. Removing Iraq entirtely as a client state must be the starting point.

    Likewise, given their track record elsewhere, it’s hard to argue against the proposition that ANY terms that give the U.N. a potential veto or even significant influence over broad policy (vs. specific goals handed to them, in specifically-deliniated areas, with monitored performance) are bad.

    If we don’t have agreement on these 2 propositions, let’s make them the subject of a focused debate. If we do agree on these 2 basic underpinnings, then let’s look at who else might be involved, what their price is, and whether paying it is in America’s and Iraq’s best interests. But we must debate specifics for the debate to have much meaning.

    Ah, these liberal multilateralists. So simplisme sometimes…. :-)

  2. 1) It is a false dichotomy because we’re not in Iraq alone. The debate gets mischaracterized that way – but it’s usually because the other side mischaracterizes things and claims we’re “going it alone” and “should get international support.”

    It’s like your “need to alliance” remark at the end of the post – as if we aren’t there with allies, who are actual allies rather than pretend-allies.

    2) Just saying it is “a false dichotomy” does not in any way deal with the central issue, which is whether paying the price it would take to get soldiers from more countries would be one worth paying.

    If it involves subverting the entire point of the effort – which is what, as I interpret it, Kristol & Kagan meant – it’s a price not worth paying. We may as well just forget everything, cut our losses, throw up our hands, and bring our troops home.

    So, when he writes:

    On the other hand, bringing in Allied forces does not mean surrendering U.S. command and control, or democracy promotion aims.

    Well, I have to repeat what I wrote earlier today. There is a reason why supposed “allies” are claiming no help will be forthcoming unless and until we defer to the “international community” (in the form of the UN). Failing to pair that demand with the. . .skeptical (to put it mildly) attitude they have expressed, frequently and in very clear terms, towards the policy goals that you, Friedman, Kagan, Kristol, me, Joe, the Bush Administration, Oxblog, &tc thinks needs to be implemented – well, it’s a failure of analytical ability.

    What I’d love to see from you, or anyone (perhaps Patrick) is an outline of

    1) Who they think we will get on board that we don’t already have.

    2) What terms they will demand.

    3) Taking into account their stated position on the expansive, ambitious goals we have vs. “stability” in the region.

    Rather than just asserting it can be done and claiming that the only reason we don’t have these troops is we haven’t tried to get them – presenting a rather false picture of the situation yourselves – a truly serious analysis of things not just from the perspective of an analysis of the American administration but that of the other governments involved. This would include, where appropriate, grappling with their position on the war and Iraq as a whole and the realistic prospects of what they would provide and the complications that might be introduced as a result.

    Instead, all I see are assertions that it would be a snap except the American government for whatever reason refuses to try.

  3. Here’s the last part of my response on the Friedman column:

    “BTW, those who say that we need allies only use platitudes. Ask them what the purported allies will do and who will pay for it. Those who question American willingness to stay the course blithely ignore the same problems concerning allies. The occupation struggle is a mission for long-term police and intelligence specialists, and additionally requires that any allied force of more than a small group per nationality be fluent in English just to interface with American operations.”

  4. We clearly stated our goals in Iraq before we went in. Those who join in wishing to accomplish those goals are our allies. Those who do not are not allies. Changing our goals to get those who are not our allies to join us will not make them allies, it will make us traitors to those who shed their blood in reliance on our intentions.

  5. Calling Bush aggression, colonization, and hegemony “a bold vision” ignores the obvious flaw in the simplistic and woefully misguided war agenda. All this soothsaying is dependent upon the visionary hope of imposing democracy in the Middle East by force, and then maintaining those democracies militarily, again by force. This conduct is imperialism, not democracy and of course leads directly back to the questions that were never raised prior to the war in Iraq.

    America can defeat any enemy militarily, – but – and Iraq is the perfect case study in poor planning – then what?

    What if the target society does not welcome democracy?

    How do we nationbuild, conduct religious reformation, and impose democracy militarily in societies fundamentally opposed to American interests and values?

    Can America actually burden the real cost in money and blood of such an epic undertaking?

    What nations will join us and again at what cost, and what compromises will America be forced to countenance to gain support?

    Democracy in the Middle East would be nice, but I do not see the Middle East playing happily along with Bush’s (nice?) Pax Americana plan.

    The only democracy in the Middle East now is Israel, and the region is the fiery epicenter of turbulent currents and explosive friction of the converging and conflicting forces and shared real estate of three major and violently opposed religions, all of them with drenched in centuries of blood and division.

    Our “counter terror” efforts are totally separate activities, and America, Israel, and the world has the right and duty, to hunt, capture, or kill mass murderers, those that aid and abet them, and to prosecute criminals for crimes against humanity. The “war on terror” is justified, militarily imposing democracy in the Middle East is not.

    Democracy can be won by example, goodwill, shared interests and values, compromise, and decent leadership, – but democracy cannot be imposed by force. That is imperialism and history proves it is a bloody and costly enterprise that ultimately does not, and cannot work.

  6. Tony writes: “Calling Bush aggression, colonization, and hegemony “a bold vision” ignores the obvious flaw in the simplistic and woefully misguided war agenda. …”

    Just the first sentence, Tony, and you are already inventing fevered fantasies. The Bush administration is not colonizing Iraq.

    The rest of your rant – while in surplus of adjectives – is equally bereft of reality.

  7. The “fevered fantasies” “bereft of reality” are those excusing and justifying Bush’s war in Iraq, and denying the current nationbuilding problems Robin Roberts.

    For example what clearly stated goals is Richard A. Heddleson refering to? If they are clearly stated, can you link me?

    America is virtually alone in Iraq. Yes, there are 22,000 additional coalition troops, 14,000 of whom are British and heavily vested in the War, – but the rest of the “coalition” is small, insignificant, footing very little of the cost, and not necessarily keen of supporting every US command or request, as the recent Bulgarian incident proves, – so to argue America is leading a “coalition” in Iraq is a point – well… “bereft of reality”.

    Bush must accept UN involvement, and the military, intelligence, and economic support of the large economies of “old Europe”.

    There is little doubt about America achieving (whatever the objectives are) in Iraq militarily, eventually, but stabilizing the country sooner rather than later, with less cost and bloodshed, rather than more will require international involvement to defray the costs, and assist in the security of the nationbuilding enterprise Bush has undertaken unilaterally in Iraq.

  8. Tony, I’m going to discuss just ONE of your assertions, because it relates so closely to A.L.’s point: the contention that “democracy cannot be imposed by force.”

    I think there are scenarios where one could imagine the attempt failing, but the truth is, there have been a number of successes in that area. Germany and Japan are the most obvious. In the former Yugoslavia, any democracy there now was put there by force alone, because without that it would not exist. As soon as you make blanket statements like that, you’re dead in the water argumentatively because all it takes is ONE counter-example.

    Perhaps a better discussion might be had if you explained why Iraq can NOT be a democracy, and the generalized conditions preventing this. These would, if your argument was accepted, become the inherent limits of the “New Intrernationalism” A.L. is discussing. So… your ball.

  9. I asked for a “truly serious analysis” – T. Foresta doesn’t provide one. Nor does it take into consideration the points I think need to be adressed – except in the form of a “proof” of them.

    Like the continental Europeans whose support he and others are asserting is vital, he believes that there are no prospects for democracy in Iraq. I suppose that would mean falling back on just another strongman that T. Foresta could later decry us for having put in power. The European countries that are alluded to have already indicated a preference to fall back on the Ba’athists to run the place as they did. Their relationships are all with the Ba’athists and they would use as the excuse for returning Iraq to their control, with or without Saddam at their head, the fact that they “know how to run things”.

    T. Foresta’s remarks are a clear display of precisely the sort of attitudes towards the operation that I was pointing to. They run completely counter to the goals Friedman wants to see achieved, Armed Liberal wants to see achieved, Patrick Belton wants to see achieved, and most importantly the majority of Iraqis want to see achieved. However, they run in parallel to thought in the capitals of Europe that Tony wants to see empowered – with the possible, partial exception of Tony’s ad hominems directed at Bush. The Germans may wish to forget that their democracy was made possible only through the violent overthrow, by means of external invasion and occupation, of a fascist dictator like Saddam, and prefer to view the nation that guarded their democracy through the fifty years of the Cold War as an imperialist power, but I’m not sure that the middle-aged and older population of Germany are able to put that out of their minds as easily as Tony is able to.

    The situation in France and Russia may be a bit different. The French have never forgiven us for liberating them, nor have they forgiven us for letting them get their way after the war in the retention of their colonial empire in Southeast Asia, while many Russians rankle that we thwarted their imperial ambitions.

    However, T. Foresta in no way shows that any of these countries are sitting with their hands folded in their laps with bags of money by their sides and having told their soldiers to be at the ready, simply waiting for us to ask them and then they will fill Iraq with troops and cash to support our efforts. Nor does he in any way even try to argue that the governments of France and Germany, which share his attitude towards the prospects of democracy among the Arabs of Iraq, will, when given the authoritah he argues they should be given (via the UN), will produce a result that we want.

    Indeed, his posts indicate quite the contrary – that if we follow this path, then the outcome will be to thwart what people like Friedman, Armed Liberal, Joe, Patrick Belton, and others such as myself see as the only desirable outcome that makes the continued presence of American forces and expenditure of American lives and treasure in Iraq worthwhile.

    By the by, a bit of an aside on the constant accusations of “imperialism” that are hurled at America not just now, but over the years: some “imperialism” when the “colonial” power spends vast sums to rebuild and build up the nations it “colonizes”, to the point where their companies (German, Japanese, South Korean, &tc) compete freely against ours, often at our “expense”. The same is true in Iraq, where there is no plausible scenerio where we will, in classical “imperialist” and “colonialist” terms, recoup what we spend. Indeed, Tony contradicts his assertions of “imperialism” by recognizing this and wondering whether we can afford it.

    T. Foresta uses the word “unilateral” in the current Newspeak usage, which has no real, fixed meaning. We certainly didn’t go into Iraq alone, without allies or support (including regional support). I will point here and here and here for some of what I have written on the subject.

    But I’m not surprised that T. Foresta uses “unilateral” in the way he does, since he is also using Newspeak definitions of “imperialism”, “colonialism”, and “hegemony” – just as with so many other like-minded folks in America and Europe on the other side of things from us.

    It is not a surprise nor is it unexpected that they would like matters to turned over to institutions and mechanisms that allow their side to control the direction of policy, nor that they express their disagreement with the policies we’re trying to pursue and cast them in negative terms. But listening to that and doing what they ask would mean turning things over to our enemies, not our allies, in this effort – to those, like the Foresta Twins, who are opposed to it, not sharing it.

    No, it’s not going to far to call people for whom their success means the defeat of our goals and our success means their defeat “enemies”. That’s a far more accurate description than the usual Newspeak term for such people and nations, “allies”, as in our “gratuitously alienated allies”. It’s not accurate to say they are allied to Saddam – but not all enemies are the same, nor are all enemies fought in the same way. Those who opposed and thwarted Clinton in ’98, opposed Bush’s efforts this year, and continue to oppose the policy now can hardly be accurately termed as allies in prosecuting it – they have, indeed, clearly stated their opposition and I believe it is more accurate to accept that their opposition is sincere than it is to credit their offers of help – be it “helpful” advice such as T. Foresta offers, or their “leadership expertise” in taking over command of the situation – something they want not because they support our goals, but because they think they’re wrong.

    The troubling thing is that so many people seem to have the strange belief that giving those who opposed the policy all along influence over its direction will somehow advance its goals. That’s like saying Newt Gingrich should be given authority over the Democratic Party’s election strategy for ’04 – an idea people who oppose a Democratic victory may support, but which Democrats would abhore.

  10. Besides, the “large economies of Old Europe” are going to debtor’s prison and don’t really have the cash that T. Foresta and others are misleading the American people into thinking they can contribute.

    Foresta, when are you and the Democrats going to stop lying to the American people, misleading them, distorting intelligence on what Europe can and will provide?

  11. I agree John that political revolutions, – changing regimes or governments as in the cases you mention, – are often brought about through violence and/or war and military force.

    So heeding your advise and hoping you allow me to narrow my argument a little – it is not the regime changing or killing of governments, or leaders, or voluntary surrender, or capitulation to the conquering nations military power and force that shapes democracy or any new government, – but what comes after.

    The regime change actions are often violent and brought about through military force agreed, but are only the first steps toward establishing democracy, or whatever will be the new government. The all important second step however, and the critical point I make – that I believe events in Japan, Germany and Yugoslavia actually support – is that the conquered societies must willingly accept democracy or whatever government the conquering force imposes, and generally trust the conquering force, – or – as we witness in Iraq, – whatever new form of government arrives will meet with varied and determined resistance which must be put down militarily and policed relentlessly, and at great cost economically and politically in order to maintain whatever government the conquering force imposes.

    The critical difference between Iraq and the nations you mention involves the defeated nations populace generally supporting the efforts, policies, agenda, and the actual leaders of the conquering force.

    In very simple terms, the good guys won in Japan, Germany and Yugoslavia, and the conquered people collectively accepted with little violent resistance the newly formed government, – which in all these cases allowed for self determination.

    The situation far more complicated in Iraq. Though Saddam ranks as one of the most murderous tyrants in human history and everyone applauds his demise, – Bush is certainly not construed as a “good guy”, or trustworthy and Iraq has no real sign yet of self determination outside of the hollow rhetoric and empty promises of Bush and Bremer.

    Japan and Germany are different in that both nations were laid to waste by a long brutal world war. Most of their cities, infrastructure, manufacturing base, and the will of the people were completely destroyed, and there were serious health and humanitarian crisis, – and naturally, both societies generally accepted any support out of pure necessity. But I contend these societies, and Yugoslavia as well generally accepted the policies of the conquering force and willingly chose to form democracies in each case because of the goodwill, strong leadership, international involvement, and a kind of trust in, and acceptance of the perceived good intentions of the conquering force.

    There exists no such trust in or acceptance of Bush in Iraq, or anywhere. Hubris, reckless crass rhetoric, endemic deceptiveness and secrecy, obvious profiteering, historic connectivity with Saddam, and a total lack of clear objectives or stated policy create pervasive distrust, uncertainty, and overt or covert animosity toward Bush in Iraq and through out the world including large segments of America.

    Bush defenders pretend there is support for Bush – but confuse political tyranny, disinformation, cloaking and evasion of accountability, and hyped marketing that repeatedly forces Bush’s narrow policies and agenda into action – with the notion of some support, – where none actually exists.

    Bush wins his way by circumventing the system, breaching or undermining long standing traditions or law, avoiding accountability, sliming or demonizing opposition, influencing (bribing) supporters, and controlling completely the media and the ultimate message in America, but he has little support outside his inner circle and the mindless flocks of partisan truebelievers.

    If the people of Iraq could place some trust in Bush, perhaps the resistance would find less support and fewer participants, – but because Bush is justifiably universally distrusted and reviled – there is no hope of Bush establishing democracy in Iraq. America will set up something, but the resistance will be continuous, destabilizing, and exceedingly costly.

    The world, much of America, and most Iraqi’s believe Bush went to war in Iraq for access to the oil, and Bush’s crony capitalist and secretive coddling of oil interests in Iraq effectively amplifies and validates that belief, – and countermands all the hollow assurances to the contrary.

    Bush squandered universal support after 9/11, exploited the horrors of that dark day as a marketing tool to promote the narrow interests of rigthwingideolouges, deceived America and the world about Iraqi threats while protecting and insulating the House of Saud, hurled America’s unchallengeable military into a preemptive unilateral war for yet to be fully vetted reasons against the wrong muslims, failed miserably to plan for nationbuilding after the war, stonewalled and undermined the 9/11 investigations, and refuses to accept responsibility, or accountability for the many failures, abuses, and neglect of his dim, brutish, and predatory leadership, and is in no way fit or justified in dictating or imposing governments anywhere, – including here in America.

    Bush’s support in the American street is narrow and waning, – but he has absolutely zero support in the Arab, Asian, African and European street. As more questions are finally asked, and continually never answered, or answered proving deception, failure, or abuse, – the fake façade of the Bush support structure erected by Rove and his rightwingideologue sloganeers and propagandists, will further erode, and eventually, – for the good of America, Iraq, and the world evaporate completely, and we can re-establish democracy here in America, before marching off on some rightwingideologue crusade to reshape the middle east.

  12. You do not speak for me, no do you have any right to presume what I am thinking, or to put false and or slanderous words into my mouth Porphyrogenitus.

    Speak for yourself, and I’ll cover my own opinions thank you.

    That said, I do not suggest that America give anything to Germany or France, or walk away from our responsibilities in Iraq. I do contend however, that the cost of nationbuilding in Iraq, and beyond, is more than America can justify or afford, and that we need the assistance, now since Bush has us stuck in Iraq, from the rest of the world and particularly “old Europe”, (and of course I understand they are almost as cash strapped as we are) in defraying the costs, and burdening the security responsibility in Iraq. This acceptance of help, under US leadership, and US military, command, sanctioned by the UN will also legitimize the formation of the new Iraqi government.

    This change of direction will require diplomacy, statecraft, openness and willingness to compromise, honesty, and strong leadership, so obviously Bush is not up to the job.

    Good leadership does not mean forcing the entire world to bend to Bush’s objectives, refusing to entertain any alternate opinions, and sliming or demonizing everyone who disagree’s or opposes those objectives, – so I hold little confidence that any real progress will be made until we vote this fraud out, or until the situation in Iraq, and through out the middle east deteriorates to a place where the world and America is forced to change direction.

    Starting this war alone, (or virtually alone, – and the suggestion of a global coalition is laughable hype) turned most of the world and many Americans against Bush, (and even those few relatively insignificant members of the “coalition” do NOT have the support of their respective citizenry) – and until America, (Bush) mends those relationships our efforts in Iraq, the middle east and everywhere will meet with resistance, reluctance, and distrust.

  13. T. Foresta wrote:

    You do not speak for me, no do you have any right to presume what I am thinking, or to put false and or slanderous words into my mouth Porphyrogenitus.

    You’re right – I don’t have to put false or slanderous words in your mouth; you do that yourself. But, of course, I didn’t. Your hyperventilating response to the contrary notwithstanding. This is also humorous coming from you, since you do what you’re decrying all the time, and indeed all your comments in this thread so far have been to ascribe false and slanderous motives to those you don’t like.

    So, puh-leeze. Give the complaints of being an injured innocent a rest. They’re unbecoming. Even if I were doing what you claimed, the only thing your complaint about it proves is that you can dish it out but cannot take it.

    I also see that you continue to try to change the subject. However, we’ll maintain focus. The only thing I’ll say about your assertions to the effect that some people just aren’t ready for democracy or that the bombing has to be more devastating (which assertion contradicts your earlier claim that it cannot be imposed at all), are the examples of Granada and Panama.

    But moving back to topic:

    That said, I do not suggest that America give anything to Germany or France, or walk away from our responsibilities in Iraq.

    That’s not really true, since

    1) You attack the policy as unworkable – the same way they do, and clearly indicate that it should be dropped.

    2) Your suggestions, though you may pretend they exist in a vacumn, do not. Going through the UN and getting these countries on board will require concesions of the sort you are clearly indicating we should make anyhow, will mean relenting on authority – the French et al have indicated as much – and effectively dropping a policy that they, and you, oppose and leting them shift it in the way I indicated.

    3) I suppose it is one thing for *you* to characterize yourself as an opponent of the policy and a vehement enemy of it, but it’s “sliming” and “demonizing” for anyone on the other side to take your opposition as sincere and point it out and indicate the ramifications of giving way to the counterproductive suggestions of those who never did and still don’t support what we’re trying to achieve or even think it is achievable.

    Pointing out that doing what you’re suggesting would mean the defeat of the entire effort is not beyond the pale – you’re clearly indicating that insofar as what Friedman et al believe we should try to achieve, and contrary to your assertions believe are achievable and have the support of a majority of the Iraqi people (but the opposition of the Ba’athists who have been displaced from power) is something that is appropriate.

    I can see why you would prefer to use rhetorical tricks to try to de-legitimize that, so that you can keep things focused on *your* efforts to demonize and smear everyone who you disagree with, but such rhetorical tricks cut no mustard with me.

    As for the usual buzzwords of “compromise” et al and the manner in which they are employed in these debates, I will direct you here and here and , the last one wherin I say:

    they don’t really want a “vote” in how America’s power is exercised – they want the deciding vote – indeed, this is ultimately what charges of “U.S. bullying” end up coming down to; not us forcing them to go with us (the French, Germans, Russians etc. were not forced to go into Iraq against their will), but us refusing to put their policy interests ahead of our own. I’m not sure that there’s any way to square that (square their ambitions for control over our resources with our own interests).

    The point there being that whenever such consultation and “compromise” is invoked, when we don’t give them what they want (which is not mutual compromise), then the claim is invariably that their was no “real” desire to compromise on our part. This is simply a passive-agressive way for those who oppose the effort to gain control over it.

    Me, I’m more than willing to accomodate the suggestions, critiques, and proposals, of those who support a policy, and to compromise with them. But clearly something else is in play when those who oppose it complain that they aren’t given enough influence in shaping something that they are foresquare against.

    In any case, beyond highlighting and serving as an example of the pitfalls that I was alluding to in this post of giving those who oppose the effort the influence over it that they are trying to gain, T. Foresta really has nothing of substance to contribute to this discussion.

  14. Porphyrogenitus,

    Do Not Feed The Energy Creature

    Or Those Who Do Not Reside On This Planet

    A note on military/paramilitary interfacing:

    NATO forces were trained for many years to operate together in Europe. This took considerable effort. Failure by most of European NATO to modernize their Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) systems (which is more than equipment), as part of general military disinvestment following the collapse of the USSR, resulted in their large-scale forces being progressively incapable of operating safely with American forces, let alone operating effectively. This is cubed outside Europe.

    The solution of some European armed forces, such as Czechoslovakia (CBW detection/defense), Norway (mine clearing & mountain reconnaissance) and Poland (special operations) was to develop niche specialities which are portable and, due to small numbers and high per man spending for those niche forces, capable of operating with American forces. This is for combat operations.

    Paramilitary operations are a quite different matter. Those involve security and counter-intelligence operations. Such operations in Iraq must be conducted on a large scale, and additionally involve nation-building in a moderate threat environment. American, British and Australian armed forces have a significant inherent capability here due to really thorough training. Local language skills are also important. American and British forces have an edge here simply because both countries have so many foreign immigrants, and America has more of an edge because of its superior assimilative capability.

    No European country save Britain presently has armed forces capable of aiding the U.S. significantly in paramilitary operations in Iraq. They’re not organized or trained for it. They no longer have the C3I capability to interface with American forces even in such a non-challenging military environment.

    Language problems are worse. They don’t have the local language skills and will work through a double language barrier – Arabic AND English.

    Developing the capability to provide significant non-financial assistance to American forces in Middle Eastern paramilitary operations will take the Europeans years. They haven’t even started.

    Right now the so-called allies whose aid we are allegedly forgoing could only help us with money.

  15. Tony writes:
    “The world, much of America, and most Iraqi’s believe Bush went to war in Iraq for access to the oil, and Bush’s crony capitalist and secretive coddling of oil interests in Iraq effectively amplifies and validates that belief, – and countermands all the hollow assurances to the contrary.”

    Notice how this parallels the rest of Tony’s screed. Which is another thesaurus driven slander devoid of factual basis. In fact, Tony is unable to make any factual claims without exposing his great distance from reality. The usual behavior, as we see with the colonizing comment, is to abandon the claim and replace it with a multitude more – but not with any substance.

  16. Tony says that “This change of direction will require diplomacy, statecraft, openness and willingness to compromise, honesty, and strong leadership”

    That’s again why, in ’98, when Clinton & Albright & gang were used their openness, willingness to compromise, honesty, strong leadership, diplomacy, and statecraft to get France & Russia to support a strong UN response to Saddam Hussein’s violation of UN Resolutions. The entire problem was solved, the French & Russians agreed to authorize force after Hussein thwarted inspections. Saddam was removed by a *true* international alliance that brought peace and stability to Iraq, mooting out this entire discussion which revolves around things that never happened, because the problem was resolved back then. This is a case model of the process Tony outlines in action and is going to be taught in international relations courses for years to come as an example of successful international cooperation in conflict resolution in action.

  17. Tom, you’re right. I should ignore those who don’t have anything intelligent to contribute, and the Foresta Diatribes tend to fall into that category.

    Tony’s first post in this thread was just such a perfect example of what I was talking about, though, that it was useful to use to highlight the argument.

  18. No one cried injury. I am simply pointing out that you do not speak for me and cannot distort my commentary or put words in my mouth.

    Blanket dismissals of anyone, and everyone opposing Bush policies is the reason we are in this mess to begin with, and sliming or demonizing dissent as anti-America, communist, lunatic, effete, spawn of the devil is far different then posing legitimate questions, and pointing out obvious facts.

    No one said anything about bombing being more devastating, and what do the CIA coup de tat’s in Panama and Grenada have to do with anything in Iraq.

    You miss the key and critical point pinned to the fact that Iraqi’s are happy to have Saddam gone, and a new government, and may entertain some form of democracy (Iraqi society being progressive and secular and quite unique in the Arab world) – but they will never support a government imposed by Bush alone.

    Chalabi and his pentagon pals may support Bush, but the citizenry of Iraq does not.

    nationbuilding must work through the UN. The UN has flaws, corruption, parochial, and political and cultural cliques, – as does France, Germany, Russia, Britain, America and every nation, – but the UN is the institution representing the world, and the only body with the legal authority to nationbuild. The world, and especially America since we are the hyperpower must make the UN work, and that requires leadership, statecraft, and a willingness to compromise. Projecting issues to the far extremes suggesting America bow to any nation, or allow any other nation control over our resources is shallow.

    America must lead the world through UN, not impose Bush’s agenda upon the world.

    It is precisely the perceptions of American, (actually Bush) “bullying” that most certainly DID attempt to force the French, Germans, Russian etc. to go into Iraq against their will, that turned the world against US. You will recall there was unanimous agreement, condemning Saddam, and prohibiting the Iraq WMD development. The world divided against Bush deceptions regarding imminent threats, and refused, (I believe rightly to support the war in Iraq, at that time), and we now know there was actually no good reason, no legitimate imminent threat justifying the war, at the time. Bush bullying and predatory aggression based on hyped and deceptive manipulation of intelligence hurled America to a war we did not need to fight at the time.

    It is moot now, since the war is over, and America and the world is stuck with the ramification of Bush misguided policies and agenda.

    Moving forward through this mess will require mending fences, Bush eating a healthy dish of crow, and welcoming a larger involvement, (which will require compromises on every side) of the UN and particularly “old Europe”.

    Lastly, I am fowarding my “opinions”, and harbor no illusion that Bush will do anything other than continue bullying the world into conforming to the narrow and visionary fictions of the rightwingideologue Pax Americana war agenda, refusing and evading accountability, and bankrupting America for the personal profits of cronies in the oil, energy, and military cartels.

  19. Tony wrote

    “No one cried injury. I am simply pointing out that you do not speak for me and cannot distort my commentary or put words in my mouth.”

    LOL, Tony completely misses how funny this is coming from him, since that’s ALL TONY DOES HIMSELF!!!

  20. Nationbuilding through the UN? There’s something that the UN has literally never succeeded at.

    Tony writes:
    “and we now know there was actually no good reason, no legitimate imminent threat justifying the war, at the time. Bush bullying and predatory aggression based on hyped and deceptive manipulation of intelligence hurled America to a war we did not need to fight at the time. ”

    Another objectively false statement by Tony. We do not “know” this. People are alleging it but without objective proof.

  21. Tony,
    I have NEVER been accused of being a Bush supporter; yet, I support the war. So, that’s where I’m coming from.

    It seemsthat your problem is that you are not able to keep your personal distaste for Bush from overwhelming whatever vaild points you are tryting to make. At one point you mentioned narrowing you argument, put then turn right around and dump another load of crap into the fan! What’s up with that? It’s just giving these guys a bunch of turds to pick up and throw back at you.

    If you have a point, then make it. Focus. F O C U S.

  22. Tony, you claim that we can’t afford the reconstruction of Iraq, which currently costs $4 billion/month. Why do I suspect that if Howard Dean were to call for for universal health care, at a cost of $8 billion/month, you’d suddenly have no problem coming up with the money?

    Also, how much money do you actually expect our “allies” to contribute? Can you imagine Schroeder writing out a check for $10 billion to cover the costs of the occupation? I can’t imagine this at all. Chirac? Ditto. And these are the wealthy countries we’re talking about. Russia can’t really afford to contribute anything. We’d probably be lucky to see our allies cough up $25 billion all told. This is a drop in the bucket, and if it comes at the cost of relinquishing authority to those who are not sincerely committed to the democraitzation of Iraq, it isn’t worth it.

    Second, compared to Sadaam, we are the good guys. No, we’re not perfect. Yes, the Iraqi street does doubt our intentions. But that’s becuase they don’t trust anyone in authority — their only point of reference is Sadaam — not because they think that George Bush is evil. He’s not perfect, but he’s still an enormous improvement.

    Also, I beg to differ with your take on the reconstruction of Germany and Japan t’s not like the Japanese always admired Roosevelt and the Americans in the period before WWII. We were just one of the racist colonial powers who were unfairly keeping the Japanese from ascending to their rightful place in world affiars. The Germans thought that America was a weak nation controlled by Jews. It’s not as if they cheered our arrival, recognizing that we were the good guys. And do you think that America didn’t gain from the reconstruction of Germany and Japan? We got trading partners and allies in the cold war. Also, I strongly suspect that American compnaies helped rebuild Germany and Japan, and profited handsomely. But in the end, we made the countries better than they were before. We will do the same in Iraq.

  23. Points

    1. Giving France and Russia decisive say over the political future of Iraq would be very bad. Giving Kofi Annan or anyone appointed by the UN such power,effectively means giving France and Russia a large share of power

    2. We barely have enough troops in Iraq right now. We dont currently have any troops lined up to replace the 101st in January, when they are to be replaced by an unspecified international force. Now Iraqi forces could substitute, IF nothing goes worse than it is going now. A big if. It would be much better to have at least one more international division, and use the Iraqi forces to supplement.

    3. The UN is a problem NOT because they always fail at nation building (they did decent jobs in E Timor and Cambodia, and were helpful in Afghanistan) but because Iraq is a place where certain UNSC members cannot be trusted.

    It comes down to costs versus benefits. If the cost of getting a Turkish division, an Indian division, and some Germans is letting French companies into Iraq, and limited UN influences its probably a good tradeoff. If letting French companies into Iraq only gets us a tiny force, or if the tradeoff is complete UN control over Iraq, its not worth it.

  24. Actually, fellow liberalhawk, I’m wondering now about Russia; France is a clear ‘no'; the financial and energy enmeshment of the Franch elites and Saddam’s regime is too strong.

    But I wonder about Russia as a potential ally. On one hand, it would be a powerful symbol to the Arab world, as the USSR was deeply involved in promoting Arab Nationalism as a bulwark against the West. Plus they Russians have the most to lose to Islamist expansionism.

    The Turks are close, but have a big set of issues around the Kurds; if we could get over that – a huge if – they would be a good example of a secular Islamic nation.

    A.L.

  25. Tony wrote:

    It is precisely the perceptions of American, (actually Bush) “bullying” that most certainly DID attempt to force the French, Germans, Russian etc. to go into Iraq against their will

    False assertion – a complete misrepresentation of the history of the last two years.

    1) No one, certainly not Bush, tried to get Russia to send troops to fight in Iraq.

    2) No one, including Bush, expected Germany to send troops to fight in Iraq, given modern German military attitudes. Nor can you link to any credible article where any Bush official tried to get them to do that against their will.

    3) No one attempted to force the French to send forces into Iraq. Had they offered by or before January of this year, such help would have been welcomed, but no one tried to force them to send any.

    The converse was the case: accusations of “American bullying” revolved not around any effort on our part to make anyone participate in an effort they didn’t want to, but instead we were “bullies” because we refused to let them tell us whether *we* could go without them.

    So you’re “hyping and deceiving” in making these assertions.

    This acceptance of help, under US leadership, and US military command

    Implies that the countries he mentions (France, Russia, Germany) have offered such help and displayed willingness to have it be under US leadership and military command – however, this is an internal contradiction in his post (there are several such), because he also asserts that none will follow. So he defeats his own claim that such Russian & French help is ready and waiting and will accept US leadership and military command. This of course is also at variance with the policy statements of those governments. As usual, Tony’s assertions are fact-free and utterly meritricious.

    Iraq has no real sign yet of self determination outside of the hollow rhetoric and empty promises of Bush and Bremer.

    It was, by the way, several years – not several months – before either Germany or Japan had any self-determination. Likewise, the underlaying implication Tony is leaving is that as soon as the allied forces arrived in Germany and Japan, there was no resistance at all. Tony then, without factual foundation, asserts that because some Ba’ath remnants are resisting in a part of Iraq that means the comparison is invalid and all of Iraq and the Iraqi people are different than the Germans and Japanese who welcomed the allied powers without difficulty.

    This contradicts the facts. Here I will not claim Tony is deliberately distorting them, though. He is simply completely ignorant of post-WWII occupation history, and is displaying it.

    Blanket dismissals of anyone, and everyone

    Who you disagree with is your SOP, so it *is* humorous to see you complain about it. Same with respect to the others on your side of the debate that do the same thing.

    Bush squandered universal support after 9/11

    Not really true that there was “universal support” for America after 9/11 – that’s revisionism on the part of the Left, who are chosing to slip down the memory hole the fact that the very same arguments that are being made re. Iraq were made with respect to Afghanistan, both here by them and also by their comrades in Europe. Those of us who chose to remember the debates at the time as they were will recall that. The only difference now is that the criticisms are more shrill and louder. Substantively, they are identical. This claim of “universal support” that was “squandered by Bush” is thus a false assertion since that “universal support” never existed in the first place – it is just that many of the opponents would prefer to blame Bush for their opposition, retroactively revising history to do so.

    no legitimate imminent

    A common false, misleading and distorted implication by Bush haters, but Bush didn’t claim the threat was imminent – he said we could not affort to wait till it was.

    bankrupting America for the personal profits of cronies in the oil, energy, and military cartels

    Asserting that Tony Blair and John Howard went to war to support profits for Bush’s oil buddies also has no basis in fact – and it’s essentially what you’re doing here.

    You miss the key and critical point pinned to the fact that Iraqi’s are happy to have Saddam gone, and a new government, and may entertain some form of democracy

    You’re proving that you’re engaging in partisan polemics rather than principled argumentation, because this contradicts what you said at first:

    What if the target society does not welcome democracy?

    How do we nationbuild, conduct religious reformation, and impose democracy militarily in societies fundamentally opposed to American interests and values?

    Democracy in the Middle East would be nice, but I do not see the Middle East playing happily along with Bush’s (nice?) Pax Americana plan.

    Again, when you say:

    You are contradicting yourself for polemical purposes, because you originally said:

    Japan and Germany are different in that both nations were laid to waste by a long brutal world war. Most of their cities, infrastructure, manufacturing base, and the will of the people were completely destroyed, and there were serious health and humanitarian crisis, – and naturally, both societies generally accepted any support out of pure necessity

    And the Grenada & Panama examples are fair counter-examples then. Calling them “CIA coups-d’etat” only proves that you are an extremist who acts as a propagandist for America’s enemies.

    historic connectivity with Saddam . . .

    If a “historic connectivity with Saddam” is problematic for the occupation, then certainly introducing Russian, German, or Chirac’s French elements would worsten, rather than improve, the problem. Their connections to Saddam are far worse than any of America’s (Chirac’s personal history being the prime example) – though, of course, Tony only knows what he needs to know to criticize America. His knowledge isn’t rounded enough to include this information.

    Our “counter terror” efforts are totally separate activities

    1) I note that you put counter terror (and war on terror) in scare quotes, as is common among those who don’t really support those efforts.

    2) The common claim of those opposed to the effort that Iraq is distinct and separate is a false claim, unsupported by reality.

    we can re-establish democracy here in America

    Implying that we do not currently have democracy here only shows that

    A) You are out in cloud cukuo land.

    B) You really prefer a one-party state and define it as “democracy” (which, given what you’ve said and implied about times when Republicans are in power, well such a theory has supporting evidence in your statements, claims, and assertions).

    C) Both.

    The answer is evidently “C”, both.

    Blanket dismissals of anyone, and everyone . . .bankrupting America for the personal profits of cronies in the oil, energy, and military cartels . .Bush bullying and predatory aggression . . .Calling Bush aggression, colonization, and hegemony . . .Hubris, reckless crass rhetoric, endemic deceptiveness and secrecy, obvious profiteering, historic connectivity with Saddam . . .but confuse political tyranny, disinformation, cloaking and evasion of accountability, and hyped marketing . . .circumventing the system, breaching or undermining long standing traditions or law, avoiding accountability, sliming or demonizing opposition . .dim, brutish, and predatory . . .sliming or demonizing dissent as anti-America, communist, lunatic, effete, spawn of the devil . . .the mindless flocks of partisan truebelievers. . .rightwingideologue sloganeers and propagandists. . .refusing to entertain any alternate opinions, and sliming or demonizing everyone who disagree’s

    Collected examples of Tony refusing to entertain any alternate opinions, and sliming or demonizing everyone who disagrees with him, ascribing false and slanderous words and motivations to those he dislikes, demonizing them as anti-American (there is no other way to interpret his spurious charges that people are sending Americans to die for the motives he ascribes to them, or that people like ourselves are either mindlessly partisans indifferent to the country’s welfare or bought off by Bu$h-Rove).

    The only thing Tony has proved in all of his posts is that he is a hypocrite.

  26. Something disappeared in the above post. Where it says:

    Again, when you say:

    ” ”

    You are contradicting yourself for polemical purposes, because you originally said:

    Japan and Germany are different in that both nations were laid to waste by a long brutal world war. Most of their cities, infrastructure, manufacturing base, and the will of the people were completely destroyed, and there were serious health and humanitarian crisis, – and naturally, both societies generally accepted any support out of pure necessity

    It should have said:

    Again, when you say:

    “”No one said anything about bombing being more devastating,“”

    You are contradicting yourself for polemical purposes, because you originally said:

    Japan and Germany are different in that both nations were laid to waste by a long brutal world war. Most of their cities, infrastructure, manufacturing base, and the will of the people were completely destroyed, and there were serious health and humanitarian crisis, – and naturally, both societies generally accepted any support out of pure necessity

    Also it should be pointed out that this contrast that Tony tries to draw is faulty at best – long years of Ba’athist misrule, pumping billons aquired from French, German, and Russian commercial connections into palaces and torture chambers rather than infrastructure upkeep, has left Iraq’s infrastructure, manufacturing base, and “will of the people” hardly in great shape.

    As usual with Tony’s assertions, this one too is spurious on its face.

  27. It would take weeks and much too much space to parse all the slime and nonsense you truebelievers spew, so lets keep it simple, and I welcome your responses.

    Bush deceived America and the world about Iraqi threats to justify a preemptive unilateral war in Iraq, which was well executed, and succeeded in beheading the Ba’athist regime of Saddam, but failed miserably to plan or account for the ensuing nationbuilding after the end of “major combat”.

    Rightwingideologues and true believer argue that the endsjustifythemeans, and that the good people of Iraq have been liberated, refusing to acknowledge the serious problems and enormous costs of the failed nationbuilding enterprises in Iraq, or Afghanistan.

    Yet we all know this supposed liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan is devolving into a unique and separate quagmires, in that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is truly “liberated”
    , – that there are constant power outages, water deficiencies, very serious security threats in the form of assassinations of UN officials, “contractors” (private military company agents) and American soldiers, – Afghanistan and Iraq
    – that islamic jihadist mass murderers from all over the planet are flowing into Iraq and Afghanistan to destabilize American nationbuilding efforts,
    – that we loose a soldier every other day, and casualties (cloaked) are mounting, –
    – that America is burdening the billion dollar a week cost of this undertaking in Iraq, and 250 million dollars a week in Afghanistan, virtually alone
    – that our own military and our intelligence are requesting more troops in the field –
    – that Bush is sitting on half a trillion dollar deficit that does not account for one penny in the nationbuilding enterprise in Iraq, –
    – that most of the world is viscerally repulsed by Bush hubris and perceived hegemony –
    – that Bush is curiously shielding the House of Saud who actually funds and nurtures the jihadist islamic mass murderers responsible for 9/11, –
    – that Bush is stonewalling and undermining investigations of 9/11, and the Iraqi WMD threat deceptions,
    – that Bush cronies (Halliburton, Bechtel, Exxon/Texaco, the Carlyle Group) are singularly profiting from the respective wars and nationbuilding machinations in Iraq and Afghanistan –
    – that mysteriously, there is no accounting of the costs or timeframes for said nationbuilding enterprises, –
    – and that all the righwingideologues of the Bush fundamentalist republican oligarchy and truebeleivers have to offer is visionary fictions of what might someday happen, if we are patient, and trust the false marketing and Bush hollow promises of democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan and the middle east,
    America is less secure and prosperous, al Queda is alive and kicking, Saddam is still lurking around somewhere in Mesopotamia, and most of the world distrusts or actually hates America.

    So my basic point is that Bush is failing in Iraq, deflecting money and military resources away from the war on terror, bankrupting America, and heaping the burden and costs of his woefully misguided polices and predatory and visionary policies and agenda on the shoulders of our children.

    It is time for America to change direction, mend fences, involve the rest of the world in the nationbuilding enterprise in Iraq, focus on our hunting capturing, or killing our real enemies, and demand disclosure, accountability, and (in my personal opinion) a regime change here in America.

    The Bush fundamentalist republican oligarchy does not represent or promote the best interests of the American people, – and in fact this leadership is shaming, redefining, and bankrupting America.

  28. <rewind…rewind…rewind…>

    Joe Katzman, Porphyrogenitus, Tom Holslinger, et al:

    There is a country who could really help us out in Iraq.

    It is a staunch US ally, and will benefit directly from a peaceful, democratic Iraq, and shares our scepticism of the UN.

    They have a modern military which could likely interoperate with our own quite well.

    They have a large pool of experts fluent in both English and Arabic. And they are conveniently located in the region.

    Too bad asking Israel to join the coalition will cause more problems than it will solve.

    (OK, that was mischievous, but wasn’t it more fun than chasing Tony around with a broom?)

  29. <fastforward…fastforward…fastforward…>

    oh and Tony F, I’m seeing how some smart people inexplicably wasted their time here today arguing with you. I won’t bother with you when John B. Judis does the unfalsifiable partisan defeatist shtick much better. I’d fisk his whole piece but it looks like Lawrence F. Kaplan will do it for me, soon. He gets paid to, and will do a much better job.

    But I can’t resist this bit:

    What the U.S. should settle for is a country that doesn’t threaten its neighbors with war and whose government is not based on the threat of armed force against its religious and ethnic minorities. Beyond that, it’ll be up to the Iraqis, and perhaps not to those the Iraqis the Pentagon has courted. One might ask: If this was all that an invasion was going to accomplish, was it really worth the billions of dollars, the thousands of lives (Iraqi as well as American and British), and the fracturing of an international system rooted in collective security and international law?

    Wow, gee, is that all we should settle for? No colonies, no free oil, no stupid teeshirts? And the Supreme Court doesn’t get to decide the Iraqi elections? I guess it wasn’t worth it. Dang. Count me as one seriously disgruntled rightwingideologtruebeliever. I wuz wobbed!

    Of course, “the fracturing of an international system rooted in collective security and international law” counts as something of a consolation prize. Or rather, the fracturing of the fiction that system – because fiction is all it ever was.

  30. Tony wrote:

    It would take weeks and much too much space

    This is his excuse for doing nothing more than taking weeks and too much space to repeat the same unsupported charges and hurl dirt at people, likewise unsupported by any evidence or facts. But through post after post in comment after comment thread he does nothing more than spend weeks and too much space on hurling slime and demonizing people. However, invariably without any substance backing him up.

    Bush deceived America and the world about Iraqi threats

    False assertion; Tony’s made this repeatedly and it has been rebutted substantively repeatedly (what Tony calls “slime” is “people refusing to accept what Tony says, but pointing to how it is empty and false”). Tony simply re-asserting his slanders endlessly without any support is hardly making a reasoned argument.

    Rightwingideologues and true believer argue that the endsjustifythemeans

    Another false and unsupported assertion that, indeed, runs contrary to the facts. It is, indeed, further example of how Tony cannot resist

    a) sliming and demonizing everyone he doesn’t like

    while

    b) claiming that those who don’t accept his slime and demonization and concur with it are therefore sliming him.

    These are the tactics of a polemicist and propagandist, not those of a serious person exchanging opinions on their merits.

    The Bush fundamentalist republican oligarchy

    Another unsupportable slur indicating that what Tony wants is a One-Party State. He cannot tolerate the fact that his political opponents are able to hold office, and must demonize them as an “oligarchy”.

    Yet we all know this supposed liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan

    1) Asserting that your unsupportable opinions are things “we all know” is false.

    2) By invoking Afghanistan (“supposed liberation of. . .Afghanistan”) you prove that when I asserted that your claim that there was “universal support” was a false one, I was right on the money. Thanks.

    In any case, the litany that follows “yet we all know” is a torrent of half-truths, distortions, and outright lies on Tony’s part. None of which – as usual – he provides any evidence for.

    So my basic point is

    To throw dirt at people in a torrent, hoping some of it will stick, and to engage in the politics of personal destruction aimed at anyone who disagrees with you, while simoultaniously complaining about how people who disagree are targeted with personal abuse but making no substantive or constructive contribution to the discussion of any topic.

  31. lewy14 wrote:

    OK, that was mischievous, but wasn’t it more fun than chasing Tony around with a broom?

    Maybe. Tom Holsinger is right that it’s a waste to reply to Tony in one sense, but I can’t let his charges stand uncontradicted, as spurious as they are. He’s following the Big Lie theory – make a claim outrageous enough, loud enough, often enough until people tire of rebutting it, and eventually people will come to believe it.

    As for Israel, there are some who believe that Israel has been involved, though quietly since, as you point out, overt help would cause more problems than it would solve. I don’t know how much of what has been said that Israel has contributed they have or haven’t.

  32. Foresta is an embarrassment to the anti-war side. I think I know why you people respond to him. He’s a caricature and a parody of the anti-war position. But people think we’re all like that. Or act like we’re all like that.

    I think Tony is someone who is pro-war, but is an “agent provocateur”, trying to discredit the anti-war position by engaging in extreme rants that are so wild no one can take them seriously.

    You should find and respond to more thoughtful critiques and not fall for this poseur and think that by responding to him you’ve responded to thoughtful critics of Bush’s policies.

    As for you, Tony, people are going to catch up with your pretense. You’re trying to make the anti-war position look bad, caracaturing it with mindless rants. But you are *SOOOO* obviously insincere. No one I know is that extreme.

  33. Unfortunately, mergetron, he has that effect.

    There are two ways to deal with trolls, especially long winded ones. The first is to declare them to be ignored when recognized and labeled. This is a widespread practice but unfortunately can result in people of less ability to be erroneously considered trolls. Joe rightly chastised me for doing this in a recent thread. The second practice is to assume that the troll is a serious contributor and debate him. The advantage is that lurkers get to see the serious responses. The disadvantage is that those like Tony are encouraged to fill up thread comments with their immense volume of vapid nonsense. My impression is that Joe has adopted the latter policy of engagement.

  34. Long-winded idiots tend to drive people like me away. I’m out of here if this keeps up. Why should I have to read trash just to find out it is trash? I have better things to do with my time.

    Fairness to idiots is unfair to everyone else.

    Joe should definitely give his collaborators the freedom to make their own choices on this. But I am about to stop reading threads started by Armed Liberal because of idiots like Tony AND THE CONSTANT RESPONSES TO HIM BY OTHERWISE REASONABLE PEOPLE.

  35. The anti-war movement you supposedly represent Mergetron is very much in line with my commentary, – and nothing I write is extreme or outrageous or something all of you do not read, or see talked about on TV everyday.

    While I reject this deceptive misguided Iraq war, – I am not “anti-war” per se, – and certainly not anti-American. I am anti-Bush, and for reasons of failing, deceptive, and abusive policy and agenda directly impacting my life and the security and prosperity of my daughter.

    Granted my language is extreme, and I accept that criticism, respect your distaste for it, and will do my best to curb the vitriol, – but my message, – and the well-documented facts supporting it, – is quite sound. Do your google and get back to me.

    None of has put forth any reasonable alternate opinion for me to refute or agree with, no has anyone refuted my statements.

    After all the fire and brimstone, – the debate here returns to the issue of “internationalism”, (which I believe is necessary and long over due, and most of you do not.).

    I was at Bryant Park last night listening to Howard, and I have participated in all the marches and protests here in NYC with many thousand other New Yorkers and beautiful Americans from all walks of life, whose basic message is little different than mine.

  36. Porphy,

    I agree that the trolls should be answered, I just think that the amateures should be (mostly) ignored. I’m motivated to refute the likes of Judis, much of what Josh Marshall writes, Fred Kaplan over at Slate, etc.

    Case in point: if you look at what Josh and Fred have written about North Korea over the last several months, and compare it to the current state of negotiations, it’s laughable.

    Josh doesn’t call his blog “Talking Points Memo” for nothing. If his crap (and to be fair, it’s not all crap) is refuted in real time the blogosphere may be making an actual contribution. Just a thought.

    Some critics of the current policy are sincere and their writings admit to serious discourse. I’m prepared to debate but also to walk away.

  37. Trolls and idiots are not the same. A troll’s objective is to destroy the discussion while an idiot is merely being an idiot.

    Trolls should be banned on sight by whoever first spots them and has the authority to do so. Trolls are pretty obvious.

    Idiots should be educated, if possible, rather than banned, unless their posts are so long that they are functionally equivalent to a troll’s – posts which destroy discussions.

    Non-educatable idiots are those who post to express their feelings rather than actually discuss a thread’s subject. They can be identified chiefly by failure to respond to the posts of other participants – their style is to simply state what they contend are facts in response to the original thread column – they react to that rather than what is said by other participants in the thread.

    I could simply ignore Tony if his posts were more normal-sized. The worst part, though, is that others are responding to him. It takes me a few seconds of reading posts responding to him to realize that they’re about Tony.

  38. Its unfortunate that you are upset by responses to him, Tom, as I share your frustration. The Chomskyite style of dishonesty has that strength.

  39. Tom wrote:

    Fairness to idiots is unfair to everyone else.

    Ok; out of respect for Tom and also A.L., whose posts I think deserve to be read and not tuned out simply because of the antics of a commentor, I’ll ignore everything Tony and his tag-team partner Nick posts from now on.

    Interesting observation that Tony’s posts are connected to Armed Liberal’s; that would tend to support Mergatron’s thesis, anyhow, that something other than sincere anti-war attitudes is the motive for his posts.

    I’ll admit that I was begining to wonder, myself; Tony is a walking, talking cliche of the *most* *extreme* and empty-headed sort of Bush-hater, and certainly nothing he writes could make a fair minded person think well of “their side”.

    So, ok Tom – I’ll bite my tongue from now on and ignore whatever he (and any obvious doppelganger) writes.

  40. Robin,

    Tony is not a troll, and his responses to the posts of others establish that he is legitimately participating in the discussion. My major direct objection to his posts is that most are too long, and that is something he should be allowed to grow out of. Long posts should instead be guest blog columns, with Joe’s permission – something to get a discussion started.

    What drives me nuts about this are the length and frequency of posts responding to Tony. The discussion is being hijacked from the thread’s subject to Tony’s stereotypes. This is undesirable as it both kills the original thread and reinforces whatever trollish tendencies he has.

  41. Getting back on point:

    Few countries’ armed forces are capable of assisting us in occupying Iraq because of the special needs of this situation, where integration with American forces is critical. Forces lacking professionalism, by the standards of Anglosphere volunteer militaries, would just provide not quite helpless targets for terrorist attack – they’d be stationary security or convoy guards. That works for Americans and British only because our forces are so well trained that they tend to get off the first shots even when acting as static guards.

    Conscript first world, and volunteer third world, troops would just be shot with little chance of effectively returning fire. And they plain lack the capability of being effective roving security patrols, because the rules of engagement necessary to keep them from massacring civilians caught in cross-fire would pretty much preclude them from killing terrorists by surprise.

    Occupation policy would have to be considerably revised based on the capabilities of non-Anglosphere foreign troops if we are to derive any benefit from the latter. We would basically have to adopt the occupation policies of the foreign troops’ forces, if any, with whatever limitations those have, and our forces would have to adapt to those too. Worse, that would be rather hard on the Iraqis and thereby create more and bigger political problems.

    Mistaken shootings of Iraqi civilians by poorly trained Iraqi security forces would be much easier for Iraqi civilians to accept than mistaken shootings by foreign troops. I.e., we need new Iraqi security forces a lot more than we need foreign security forces.

    IMO the principal benefit of deployment of foreign forces to Iraq for security duty, other than those of the Anglosphere, would be moral support. Money would be far more useful.

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