Lights In The Sky And Facts On The Ground In Iraq

So I’ve been following the “the Surge was a fraud” lines of argument on sites like Democracyarsenal, and meaning to reply when I got a moment when this NY Times article popped up on Memeorandum: “Back in Iraq, Jarred by the Calm“. Amusingly, so far this morning, the only sites to have linked to it are warblogs – Hot Air, Neptunus Lex, The Astute Bloggers. In a world where I had more time, I’d do some digging into the insularity of the blogs right now, as left and right blogs increasingly ignore stories that don’t support their narrative.

Here’s the lede from the NY Times article:

At first, I didn’t recognize the place.

On Karada Mariam, a street that runs over the Tigris River toward the Green Zone, the Serwan and the Zamboor, two kebab places blown up by suicide bombers in 2006, were crammed with customers. Farther up the street was Pizza Napoli, the Italian place shut down in 2006; it, too, was open for business. And I’d forgotten altogether about Abu Nashwan’s Wine Shop, boarded up when the black-suited militiamen of the Mahdi Army had threatened to kill its owners. There it was, flung open to the world.

Two years ago, when I last stayed in Baghdad, Karada Mariam was like the whole of the city: shuttered, shattered, broken and dead.

Abu Nawas Park – I didn’t recognize that, either. By the time I had left the country in August 2006, the two-mile stretch of riverside park was a grim, spooky, deserted place, a symbol for the dying city that Baghdad had become.

These days, the same park is filled with people: families with children, women in jeans, women walking alone. Even the nighttime, when Iraqis used to cower inside their homes, no longer scares them. I can hear their laughter wafting from the park. At sundown the other day, I had to weave my way through perhaps 2,000 people. It was an astonishing, beautiful scene – impossible, incomprehensible, only months ago.

Go read the whole thing.

Now, it’s been interesting following the path of the story – based on aerial imagery – that suggested that ethnic cleansing was what really drive down the violence in Iraq – before the Surge started.

It was for some reason a debatable point whether the sectarian cleansing of mixed neighborhoods contributed to the decline in violence. Reuters now confirms – and has visual evidence – to prove that the decline in violence in Iraq, specifically in Baghdad, was caused in no small measure by the massive sectarian cleansing that preceded the surge. The sectarian violence essentially cleansed neighborhoods of their minority populations, reducing opportunities for violence. Maggie Fox from Reuters explains:

Satellite images taken at night show heavily Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Baghdad began emptying before a U.S. troop surge in 2007, graphic evidence of ethnic cleansing that preceded a drop in violence, according to a report published on Friday. The images support the view of international refugee organizations and Iraq experts that a major population shift was a key factor in the decline in sectarian violence, particularly in the Iraqi capital, the epicenter of the bloodletting in which hundreds of thousands were killed…”By the launch of the surge, many of the targets of conflict had either been killed or fled the country, and they turned off the lights when they left,” geography professor John Agnew of the University of California Los Angeles, who led the study, said in a statement. “Essentially, our interpretation is that violence has declined in Baghdad because of intercommunal violence that reached a climax as the surge was beginning,” said Agnew, who studies ethnic conflict.

I haven’t had time to read the whole study, but let me suggest two things to think about before I editorialize:

First, that it seems odd to me that the decline in attacks on Coalition troops – along with the intercommunal violence – would be somehow contingent on ‘clearing’ certain neighborhoods. And such a decline clearly took place in parallel; so unless the analysts want to propose that there were two completely unrelated sets of violent activity – one aimed at sectarian violence and one aimed at Coalition troops – it seems like there was an overall pattern of change which reduced both the sectarian and anti-Coalition violence over the course of the year.

Second, I’ll freely acknowledge that population movement had some impact on the levels of violence. But it seems unlikely – given the level of violence – that simply moving from partially Sunni neighborhoods to consolidated Sunni neighborhoods would have had a lot of impact – it’s not like the Sunni were chased out of Iraq.

A deeper pattern of social change has resulted in the Iraq described by Filkins in the Times today, and he talks about two indicators which he saw:

Everything here seems to be standing on its head. Propaganda posters, which used to celebrate the deaths of American soldiers, now call on Iraqis to turn over the triggermen of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and the Mahdi Army. “THERE IS NOWHERE FOR YOU TO HIDE,” a billboard warns in Arabic, displaying a set of peering, knowing eyes. I saw one such poster in Adamiyah, a Sunni neighborhood that two years ago was under the complete control of Al Qaeda. Sunni insurgents – guys who were willing to take on the Qaeda gunmen – are now on the American payroll, keeping the peace at ragtag little checkpoints for $300 a month.

and

In the crowd, I saw a face I recognized. It was Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security advisor. It had been a long time since I’d seen him. Mr. Rubaie is a warm, garrulous man, a neurologist who spent years in London before returning to Iraq. But he is also a Shiite, and a member of Iraq’s Shiite-led government, which, in 2005 and 2006, was accused of carrying out widespread atrocities against Iraq’s Sunnis. Anbar Province is almost entirely Sunni.

As Mr. Rubaie made his way through the crowd, I noticed he was holding hands with another Iraqi man, a traditional Arab gesture of friendship and trust. It was Brig. Gen. Murdi Moshhen al-Dulaimi, the Iraqi Army officer taking control of the province – a Sunni. The sun was blinding, but Mr. Rubaie was wearing sunglasses, and finally he spotted me.

“What on earth are you doing here?” he asked over the crowd.

I might have asked him the same thing.

Read the whole thing, as they say.

And then go back and read the mendacious post at Democracyarsenal, where they say:

So when John McCain declares “victory” in Iraq and states that the increase of just 30,000 troops was the fundamental reason for the decline in violence, he once again proves that he has no idea what he is talking about.

So who doesn’t know what they are talking about in this case? My money is on Max Bergmann, who – like many of the antiwar analysts who are frustrated by the outcome that appears to be solidifying in Iraq – will stretch any idea possible to suggest that our actions had nothing to do with them.

And, more important, who would pull the plug on an emerging but fragile Iraq just as things are starting to heal.

Because that’s the issue above all. If the Surge was ineffective, our presence is unsupportable, and we just need to get out. We need to stop supporting the Iraqi government, stop paying the Sunni insurgents, just stop! stop! stop! whatever we are doing. So that a political movement here in the US can feel vindicated.

No matter what hell may get unleashed on a newly hopeful Iraq.

74 thoughts on “Lights In The Sky And Facts On The Ground In Iraq”

  1. _”The Awakening, a poetic name for paying former Sunni insurgents not to kill Americans or Iraqis,”_

    Sorry, had to stop reading right there. My smarm meter was pegging in the red.

  2. I notice that the fifth attempt at scheduling provincial elections failed last week.

    We are looking at an opportunity created by The Surge—one which even Gen Petraeus described as a 1 in 4 chance, but he hit the inside straight. As far as I can understand what it means to “succeed”, though, the political realization of reconciliation has to go much further. A few years of arguing about elections, about oil revenues, and what happens when Uncle Sam stops bribing Sunnis, and the holding-hands scene isn’t going to last.

  3. Donno, Andrew – a lot depends – still – on what we do. And as to why I’m not wildly anxious about all this? I just finished reading Charles Beard on the Constitution and Hogeland on the Whiskey Rebellion.

    Nationbuilding is messy, long, and complex; we got ourselves stuck with it (rightly, I think), and it’s absurd and ahistorical to assume that somehow the Magic Peace Fairy will appear and in three months Iraq will be Jordan.

    But in thirty-six, it might…and I think they deserve the chance.

    A.L.

  4. “The Awakening, a poetic name for paying former Sunni insurgents not to kill Americans or Iraqis,”

    That part of the NY Times article bugged me too. The “Awakening” describes the time when Iraqi Sunnis decided that they couldn’t tolerate al Qaeda’s Saudi charm. Disgusted with AQI’s abuses, they formed neighborhood watch groups and they joined with the Iraqi police forces & the American army.

    The idea that they were paid to do this is absurd. You can’t bribe insurgents or militants to abandon their cause and join up with their supposed ‘enemy’. We send the Palestinians millions of dollars, and it doesn’t stop them from hating us. In fact, it probably encourages the sort of contempt one feels for a total chump.

    If bribes worked, the generously-bribed Palestinians would be living in Israel, fighting for the IDF.

  5. I didn’t read the study but the news report of it are at least lame beyond reason.

    So for example they talk about the Samarra bombing. Well Samarra bombing had nothing to do with Geographic mixing of communities. It was Al-qaeda trying to induce a fight between communities. So the example the news bring was an external player.
    Why the news media didn’t bring examples of fighting between Shiites and Sunnis? I mean killing, street fighting and gangsterism to expel a specific community? I am certainly that happened but at what extent? They don’t tell.
    The endless list of market attacks bombings attacks against police stations, randomly and indiscriminate doesn’t fit the narrative of specific ethnic cleansing from available information.
    Even less the Sunni fight against Al-Qaeda which where Sunnis subjugating Sunnis.

    So what evidence they show? an apparent correlation.

  6. AL, AJL:

    Quoth AL: I think they deserve the chance.

    Me too. In no small part because of what happened after the ’90-91 intervention, with pro-US anti-Saddam partisans left to hang. I guess that makes me a romantic.

  7. Can’t impose democracy from the barrel of a gun A.L. If genuine democracy were our goal in the region we would not be supporting perhaps the least democratic regime on earth in Saudi Arabia–a sixty year love affair still going strong. Nor frankly would we have supported Saddam for 25 years. Like people everywhere, the people of the Middle East are less impressed with soaring rhetoric than they are with actual deeds. Therefore, the US-instigated overthrow of Mossadegh’s democratically elected parliamentary government in Iran and subsequent 25 year devotion to the Shah and his tender SAVAK henchmen has no doubt left a lasting impression indeed.

    Least we forget, the original rationale for the assault was the threat of WMD. When this fell apart we staged the Purple Thumb Revolution, while conveniently forgetting that not even this charade would have come to pass had imperial pro-council L. Paul Bremer’s CPA had its way. Bremer adamantly opposed holding elections originally and only relented when Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani objected and led mass protests over the issue.

    As far as the “success” of the surge is concerned I’ve seen nothing to date that fundamentally challenges “this analysis from Juan Cole”:http://www.juancole.com/2008/07/social-history-of-surge.html back in July. And as Andrew has indicated, bribing the resistance to not shoot your soldiers is hardly a winning strategy in any event. Furthermore, if we are to judge the success of the surge we should reflect on if it has helped the conquerors in accomplishing its major objective, namely coercing the victims into ratifying a “Constitution” (oddly drafted in Washington) that we euphemistically refer to as a series of “benchmarks”. How has that been going A.L?

  8. “In no small part because of what happened after the ’90-91 intervention, with pro-US anti-Saddam partisans left to hang”
    -NM

    Pro-US is a mighty stretch NM for they were not unaware of who supported Saddam through far worst atrocities prior to August 2, 1990. Pro-independence? Absolutely. The fact that they were left hanging while we had massive forces *in theater* speaks volumes.

  9. [Another blind link-exchange “request” after multiple warnings. You are now banned, Steve. I’d regret the necessity if you showed even one ounce of awareness. –NM]

  10. #3 from Armed Liberal at 9:05 pm on Sep 21, 2008

    *Nation building is messy, long, and complex*

    Not to mention delusional and arrogant. Why the hell do we have 150,000 troops in Iraq for half a decade doing nation building, at all?

    George Orwell wrote a brilliant seven page essay called On Shooting an Elephant that should be required reading for anyone with delusions about nation building.

    Before they are mentioned, I would add that Nation building worked in Germany and Japan because the mandatory first step of Nation Decimating had been previously carried out.

  11. #8 from Coldtype at 11:25 pm on Sep 21, 2008

    “In no small part because of what happened after the ’90-91 intervention, with pro-US anti-Saddam partisans left to hang”
    -NM

    Pro-US is a mighty stretch NM for they were not unaware of who supported Saddam through far worst atrocities prior to August 2, 1990. Pro-independence? Absolutely. The fact that they were left hanging while we had massive forces in theater speaks volumes.

    Bush 41 owed nothing to anyone inside Iraq. He also was not dumb enough to think anyone there was pro US. He had a strategic goal, attained rapidly and set up a very simple and inexpensive means of containing Saddam. Compare it to what has happened under Bush 43, please.

    Whils you are at it explain to me how having our troops tied down in Iraq and now “nation building” was a superior strategy to Bush 41.

    The saddest commentary on this whole debacle is that our occupation will end because of economics. Thus making OBL’s strategy of attacking our economy effective. I just didn’t think that A U.S. President would become his unwitting accomplice.

  12. And as Andrew has indicated, bribing the resistance to not shoot your soldiers is hardly a winning strategy in any event.

    Honestly, how often does this idiocy have to be refuted? Again, if bribes could stop an insurgency, the Palestinians would be Israel’s best friends.

    The Anbar Awakening was provoked by al Qaeda’s atrocities. The local Sunnis got sick of them, they formed vigilante groups, they worked with the local police and they kicked al Qaeda’s ass. They proved that local vigilantes are far more effective against terrorism than a high-powered foreign army.

    However, our army was essential to keep Iraq from turning into a series of vigilante-led fiefdoms.

  13. Can’t impose democracy from the barrel of a gun A.L. ” Really? Really?

    Funny, I keep reading about these election things in Japan and Germany as well as places like the Philippines…

    A.L.

  14. “Whils you are at it explain to me how having our troops tied down in Iraq and now ”
    ‘nation building’ was a superior strategy to Bush 41″
    -TOC

    _Have you read any of my posts clearly?_

    “The Anbar Awakening was provoked by al Qaeda’s atrocities”
    -Mary

    _How big was al Qaeda’s footprint in Saddam’s Iraq prior to the US/UK invasion?_

    “They proved that local vigilantes are far more effective against terrorism than a high-powered foreign army”
    -Mary

    _High-powered foreign army? What mandate did it possess to occupy a sovereign nation which posed no threat to it? What was the UN Security Council resolution number authorizing the high-powered foreign army’s invasion and occupation?_

    “However, our army was essential to keep Iraq from turning into a series of vigilante-led fiefdoms”
    -Mary

    _How interesting. Some may argue (particularly Iraqis) that our army was essential to the utter destruction of Iraq. In fact, Some may argue that the US was essential in burdening the Iraqi people with Saddam “in the first place”:http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/._

  15. How interesting. Some may argue (particularly Iraqis) that our army was essential to the utter destruction of Iraq. In fact, Some may argue that the US was essential in burdening the Iraqi people with Saddam in the first place

    Oh my goodness, a photo of Saddam shaking hands with Rumsfeld. Why, I’m shocked, shocked shocked to see this. This explains everything, Amerikkka is totally to blame for all that is wrong in the world today! (well, if you ignore the fact that Russia and Europe were providing Saddam with a lot more cash and weapons than we ever did)

    Some may argue that the US was essential in burdening the Iraqi people with Saddam in the first place if they have a habit of mindlessly repeating leftist talking points (and mindlessly linking to photos that prove nothing)

    Which is why I wonder about Dexter Filkins (who wrote the NYTimes article) wrongheaded description of the Awakening, as “… a poetic name for paying former Sunni insurgents not to kill Americans or Iraqis,”

    Aside from that statement, Filkin’s report is good. And his description of the Awakening is refuted by his own words, in his report titled “U.S. hands back a quieter Anbar Province”, where he says:

    What finally broke the stalemate, according to former insurgents and local leaders, was a local revolt against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the radical insurgent group believed to be led primarily by foreigners. As the group began to expand its goals beyond killing Americans to include sectarian assassinations and imposing a fundamentalist Islam, local tribal leaders struck back and reached out for help to U.S. forces. The “Sunni Awakening” was born, and it soon spread across the Sunni areas of Iraq.”

    I have to guess that even a good journalist feels the need to pepper his reports with leftist talking points to reach his intended audience. Which is a shame.

  16. The occupation of Iraq was and continues to be an unmitigated strategic disaster for the United States.

    #15 from Armed Liberal at 5:46 am on Sep 22, 2008

    “Can’t impose democracy from the barrel of a gun A.L. ” Really? Really?

    Funny, I keep reading about these election things in Japan and Germany as well as places like the Philippines.

    __________

    AL, you conveniently leave out the fact that Germany was flattened and Japan absorbed even worse destruction.

    to re state what I wrote a few posts ago,

    Before they are mentioned, I would add that Nation building worked in Germany and Japan because the mandatory first step of Nation Decimating had been previously carried out.

    The Germany and Japan dog just wont hunt, unless of course you want to do the same to Iraq.

  17. Mary, didnt you know that photos are arguments? Mission Accomplished? Its basically the comment version of that political commentator on SNL news, “it’s like, your know…. well the thing is… don’t you see, ok obviously… everybody knows”.

    _”Before they are mentioned, I would add that Nation building worked in Germany and Japan because the mandatory first step of Nation Decimating had been previously carried out.”_

    I thought this conversation was in the context of how we’ve flattened Iraq? What constitutes sufficient decimation? Bodies per voting booth? At least its a novel argument that Iraq hasnt been broken enough.

  18. Look, in terms of the insurgency phase of Iraq, we seem to have improved (or even finished) that battle. The next problem is the exorbent amounts of crime and corruption that exist in the city.

    “This”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/04/AR2007100401305.html is a sign of what Iraq might look like under a permanent Maliki goverment. If there willing to go this far with corruption investigators, who knows what they’ll do to political opponents, government protesters etc. It all seems very Saddam-like to me.

    So we’ve survived the insurgency. However, we now have very little control IF Iraq descends into a second dictatorship. Unless of course the US government decides to directly challenge the misuse of authority by Maliki. I don’t see that happening.

  19. The government of Iraq is hardly any more dysfunctional than the government of California.

    I notice that hostile casualties of US troops in Iraq are now almost nil. There have been only two in September so far, and only 20 in the last 90 days.

    “No matter what hell may get unleashed on a newly hopeful Iraq.”

    The left WANTS genocide in Iraq. Anything that can be blamed on America. The outcome of Vietnam is what they wanted, and they want a repeat of that template here.

    On a separate note, I am now going to refer to ‘Armed Liberal’ as ‘Armed Lieberman’. On this, the left and the pro-US faction would agree, albeit with the former seeing it negatively and the latter seeing it positively.

  20. Alchemist certainly has a point, and that indeed is the billion dollar question. There are some things we can do to finesse the democratic evolution in Iraq, but ultimately its in their hands. I mean- we could topple Maliki and hold another round of elections but how many times do we want to go through that cycle? The Kurds and Sunnis need to decide to drop their individual grievances and take common cause against the Shiia block- politically they can hammer out these elections themselves. At some point it should occur to them (and any Shiia dissenters) that a permanent Maliki government isnt going to be the best route to solving their problems either, so better get with the program and move these reforms along.

    The problem with those pointing fingers at Bush for Iraq’s political problems is that by the nature of how we’ve tried to handle this that just isnt something we have much control over. You cant on the one hand demand Iraqis be treated with respect and on the other demand our government step in and make changes to their government.

  21. GK: I don’t WANT genocide in Iraq, I want people to be realistic about the present, and future of a country that has a long history of corruption and tyranny. I want us to look those problems straight in the eye and determine how we’re going to deal with them. Patting ourselves on the back doesn’t get us any closer to a stable country.

    In fairness, I thought the surge would fail, but I thought it was our last, best hope for Iraq. I used the ‘card game’ analogy… sometimes you just have to pay to see you’re opponents cards. Thankfully, our opponent folded.

    However, I am unsure what to do about this “situation”:http://www.thenation.com/blogs/capitalgames?bid=3&pid=228339 :

    bk. Maliki has also protected corrupt officials by reinstating a law that prevents the prosecution of a government official without the permission of the minister of the relevant agency.

    Can you imagine a Californian governmental office simply refusing to be investigated for corruption? (I mean California has problems but…) And then, after refusing, a governmental agency giving death threats against the INVESTIGATORS?

    If YOU want to lose Iraq, we can ignore this warning sign. Or we can face it down and find a solution.

  22. _This is a sign of what Iraq might look like under a permanent Maliki goverment. If there willing to go this far with corruption investigators, who knows what they’ll do to political opponents, government protesters etc. It all seems very Saddam-like to me._

    Hello in there Pinky. Savages are savage, hence the term. Victory for us is order in Iraq, not democracy in Iraq–as long as that order is, if not pro-American, at least not actively anti-American and if it is capable of keeping Al Quaeda, Iran, et. al. out of Iraq. If the Iraqis are ever ready for democracy, it won’t be in the lifetime of anyone living now.

  23. _Oh my goodness, a photo of Saddam shaking hands with Rumsfeld. Why, I’m shocked, shocked shocked to see this. This explains everything, Amerikkka is totally to blame for all that is wrong in the world today!_
    -Mary

    Once again I’m reminded of the folly of assumptions. I assumed that you would look beyond the pretty pictures and actually read the documents within. For example, “this one”:http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq32.pdf in which Don Rumsfeld goes to great length to assure Saddam’s regime of US support. This despite the fact that Iraq had been engaged in a war in which it had been the aggressor (thus a war crime) and had used chemical weapons in the conduct of said war (yet another).

    Perhaps you would have found this passage interesting as well:

    _Rumsfeld returned to Baghdad in late March 1984. By this time, the U.S. had publicly condemned Iraq’s chemical weapons use, stating, “The United States has concluded that the available evidence substantiates Iran’s charges that Iraq used chemical weapons” [Document 47]. Briefings for Rumsfeld’s meetings noted that atmospherics in Iraq had deteriorated since his December visit because of Iraqi military reverses and because “bilateral relations were sharply set back by our March 5 condemnation of Iraq for CW use, despite our repeated warnings that this issue would emerge sooner or later” [Document 48]. Rumsfeld was to discuss with Iraqi officials the Reagan administration’s hope that it could obtain Export-Import Bank credits for Iraq, the Aqaba pipeline, and its vigorous efforts to cut off arms exports to Iran. According to an affidavit prepared by one of Rumsfeld’s companions during his Mideast travels, former NSC staff member Howard Teicher, Rumsfeld also conveyed to Iraq an offer from Israel to provide assistance, which was rejected [Document 61] _

    Isn’t that fascinating? In spite of clear evidence that Iraq was engaging in chemical weapons use on Iranian forces, the US embarked on a “strategy to undermine”:http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq47.pdf Iran’s charges in the UN (Doc 47) and explore ways to sell “dual-use equipment”:http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq57.pdf for Iraq’s nuclear program (Doc 57).

    I really think this passage says it all:

    _Iran had submitted a draft resolution asking the U.N. to condemn Iraq’s chemical weapons use. The U.S. delegate to the U.N. was instructed to lobby friendly delegations in order to obtain a general motion of “no decision” on the resolution. If this was not achievable, the U.S. delegate was to abstain on the issue. Iraq’s ambassador met with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Jeane Kirkpatrick, and asked for “restraint” in responding to the issue – as did the representatives of both France and Britain._

    We do what we can to help those we love.

  24. I agree with you, A.L., nation building IS messy, long and complex – just look at our own country: a war of independence from 1775-1783, a chaotic period of setting up our own functioning government from 1775-1789 (1791 if you count the adoption of the Bill of Rights), and this period includes our having 2 different constitutions.

    And then we had a Civil War from 1861-1865. When did nation building after that end? In 1877, with the end of Reconstruction? With the end of the Civil Rights Era? Or will it end with the first African-American President?

    True, the middle eastern governments have a grand tradition of corruption – no matter who’s in charge, a dictator, or a elected president or prime minister. It may take as long, or longer to purge such practices from Iraqi government than it did to purge social, political, military indoctrination from post-war Germany. (Sorry, I said that in a roundabout fashion to avoid anyone invoking Godwin’s Law.)

    The UCLA study sounds good, as long as you only consider ethnic violence, but as A.L. points out, when anti-coalition violence is also taken into consideration, their conclusion falls apart.

    Bottom line: The problems in Iraq are not simple, and the solutions to the problems are not likely to be simple or easy to implement. Let’s stoppretending otherwise.

  25. The invasion of Iraq had one purpose- to show unequivocally to the rest of the world that we have the force and the will to remove a regime and change a government anywhere in the world- and will do so if we suspect them of supporting terrorists that are planning attacks on the US.

    Think Libya gave up it’s WMD programs out of brotherly love?

    This country has been seen as a weak , uncommitted runaway ever since we abandoned our allies in South Vietnam to a horror of execution and torture. We ran away from Lebanon, we ran away from Somalia, we have have proved to be fickle and undependable.

    After 9/11, Bush simply said enough- We will not be attacked with impunity. And this is really going to upset some folks but in some respects, it did NOT MATTER which terrorist supporting nation we attacked- Iran, Libya, Syria, any one of them would have done just as well to send the message.
    The message is very simple- Do not f@#k with us, or we will smash your army, drag your sorry little ass out of a hole in the ground, and hang you.
    Without nation-state backing, the threat from terrorist organizations declines by an order of magnitude.

  26. Of course Coldtype ignores the key context. By 1984 Iraq was on the verge of losing the war utterly to Iran. Baghdad was under seige. Oh, and the Iranians started attacking shipping in the gulf. Kuwaiti shipping included.

    Coldtype, don’t act like it was some state secret that the US was opposing Iran and hence helping Iraq. It was official US policy since 1982 to prevent Iraq was being swallowed by Iran.

    Would you have been happier in a world where Khomeini controlled half the worlds oil?

  27. “There are some things we can do to finesse the democratic evolution in Iraq, but ultimately its in their hands”
    -Mark Buehner

    Yes, “finesse” it with 160,000 troops and 190,000 mercenaries but other than those minor details the evolution to “democracy” is certainly in Iraqi hands. Just so long as these democratic impulses don’t lead to policies not in interest of the (insolvent) global hegemon. So while _Iraqis_ may wish to discard the CPA era “suggestions” regarding the nation’s oil industry and re-nationalize this resource–certainly the prerogative of any sovereign nation–the foreign power that just so happens to have thousands of its troops occupying the country may have to “finesse” things in another direction.

    “The left WANTS genocide in Iraq. Anything that can be blamed on America. The outcome of Vietnam is what they wanted, and they want a repeat of that template here.”
    -GK

    No GK, the WANTS the US out of Iraq period. The Left did not want the US to attack Iraq in the first place as you may recall. Now that the US assault has led to the deaths of _at least_ 1.2 million Iraqis and anther 4 million or more refugees, is seems patently absurd to now blame the Left for _present_ conditions in Iraq.

    As for Vietnam, the Left wanted the US to accept Frances defeat at Dien Bien Phu and thus Vietnam’s right to self-determination. The Left did not want the Eisenhower administration to undermine the scheduled 1956 elections to unify the country. The Left did not support Kennedy’s assault on South Vietnam in 1961-62 or Johnson’s radical escalation in March of 1965 when it became clear that our satraps could not defeat the NLF which enjoyed overwhelming popular support. In short the Left did not support the 21 year US assault on Indochina that left _at least_ 3 million dead and three nations devastated. But I digress.

    _Hello in there Pinky. Savages are savage, hence the term. Victory for us is order in Iraq, not democracy in Iraq–as long as that order is, if not pro-American, at least not actively anti-American and if it is capable of keeping Al Quaeda, Iran, et. al. out of Iraq. If the Iraqis are ever ready for democracy, it won’t be in the lifetime of anyone living now_
    -Fred

    Spoken by one who understands the white man’s burden.

  28. _”So while Iraqis may wish to discard the CPA era “suggestions” regarding the nation’s oil industry and re-nationalize this resource–certainly the prerogative of any sovereign nation–the foreign power that just so happens to have thousands of its troops occupying the country may have to “finesse” things in another direction”_

    Unfortunately for you there is a major flaw in your snark. If Bush has the power to run Iraq by fiat, exactly _why isnt he doing it more to his advantage?_ In short, you’re not making a lot of sense. How about some coherance, are we pulling the strings in Iraq or are we letting the Iraqis jumble it up? You cant have it both ways.

  29. Hearing the “LEFT” go on about casualty’s and human rights is a real treat. Not only are their figures skewed but there seems to be a lopsidedness that is breath taking. The commies and socialists have a mountain of dead on their backs that they simply will not acknowledge.

    And is there a leftist alive who will actually discuss the present situation , and the way forward regarding the USA’a strategic interests?

    I think the very notion of the USA as a nation is anathema to the left, they actively seek it’s dissolution as a world power in favor of a “international solution”. If the UN is any example, I will stay a proud American, thanks.

    All I ever hear is “we should have done this.” “we should not have done that” The poster child for the Left should be a guy on a motorcycle, riding backwards and looking through binoculars.

    My good friends take on the Iraq war (he is typical left, thinks Bush should be tried and hung)
    We should get out NOW. “Well, what do you think will happen there?” “I DON’T CARE, WE NEED TO GET OUT’. No willingness to acknowledge a wholesale slaughter if the Islamic Jihadi’s take over. Maybe that could be something else that he could blame the US for.

  30. Coldtype you shouldn’t cite history unless it’s true.

    Starting at the bottom, the NLF didn’t enjoy ‘overwhelming popular support’ they won a conventional war against a South Vietnamese army which had been gutted – both in terms of effectiveness and morale – by our decision that we were bored and didn’t want to maintain the promised help any more. Surprisingly, that’s exactly the recipe you suggest for Iraq.

    1.2 Million Iraqi dead? I’d love to know where that number originated. Those noted right-wing shills at ‘”Iraq Body Count”:http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ ‘ show 85 – 95K documented civilian dead – more than an order of magnitude less than you.

    190,000 “mercenaries”? So cooks, electrical system engineers, truck drivers are all “mercenaries” in your view? Wow, I guess anyone who works for wages is a mercenary then…

    Bzzt. Thanks for playing, next.

    A.L.

  31. “1.2 Million Iraqi dead? ”

    As with most numbers that leftists trot out, this is immensely dishonest. The 1.2 million deaths include natural deaths due to old age.

    The US has had 13 million such deaths since the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003.

    Of course, natural deaths are not caused by US troops, but leftists don’t care about such facts. In fact, you will never find a leftist condemn Al Qaeda for bombing a school or market in Iraq. It is still America’s fault.

    I’m so glad I am not a leftist. I am just not dishonest enough.

  32. AL: Coldtype you shouldn’t cite history unless it’s true.

    Here’s what Coldtype wrote:

    The Left did not support Kennedy’s assault on South Vietnam in 1961-62 or Johnson’s radical escalation in March of 1965 when it became clear that our satraps could not defeat the NLF which enjoyed overwhelming popular support.

    Notice the reference to 1965, AL? Here’s how you responded:

    …the NLF didn’t enjoy ‘overwhelming popular support’ they won a conventional war against a South Vietnamese army which had been gutted – both in terms of effectiveness and morale – by our decision that we were bored and didn’t want to maintain the promised help any more.

    So Americans were bored in 1965, were they? And the NLF won a conventional war? That will come as news to conventional historians – they take the view that the NLF was pretty well wiped out in the 1968 Tet offensive. It was the North Vietnamese army, not the NLF, which finished off the South after America had quit.

    AL, you can’t make sense of history if you don’t pay attention to the chronology.

  33. “Coldtype you shouldn’t cite history unless it’s true”
    -A.L

    So true A.L. Therefore, for your reading pleasure, “I leave you this.”:http://tinyurl.com/3wmcjp

    There were things in this piece that even I had forgotten. In any event I think this passage is germane to our discussion:

    _In 1954-55 the United States created an anti-communist southern regime based in Sai-gon, known as the Republic of Vietnam (RVN), by building on the wreckage of the State of Vietnam, a puppet regime created by France in 1949. Through the RVN and its military, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the Eisenhower administration hoped to “contain” the revolution to the area above the Seventeenth Parallel, which was already controlled by the DRV. One of the RVN’s first acts was to announce that it would not permit the reunification elections to which France had committed itself at Geneva_

    That’s pretty key don’t you think? The 1954 Geneva Accords were fairly unambiguous A.L: the Vietnamese were to settle the political reunification of the nation via national elections–without foreign interference. The Vietnamese were to settle the matter themselves. But that didn’t happen did it A.L? _Someone_ took it upon themselves to supply the RVN with “advisors” and then armaments _prior_ to the scheduled elections, all in violation of the Geneva agreements. The Eisenhower administration set out to undermine the 1954 Geneva Accords before the ink was dry on the documents. There is a rich and exhaustive documentary record of this period A.L so I’m frankly surprised at your position here. There’s a fairly broad consensus in scholarship that but for the US and its RVN puppets, the elections of 1956 would have gone forward with the Left winning by a landslide. And this of course was precisely the problem. There is little need for me to rehash what followed and the link I provided above lays things out fairly well.

    Kevin is correct, the Phenix Program succeeded in largely wiping out the NLF, all but assuring that the NVA would fill the void. My larger point is that America’s efforts were doomed to fail in Vietnam from the very start for the same reasons they are failing in Iraq and in Afghanistan: *we did not then nor do we now have the hearts and minds of the people*. It’s one of the oldest dictums in warfare: if a guerrilla resistance has the support of the indigenous population, the efforts of the occupying power are doomed. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

    [Link fixed. Some extraneous characters seem to have gotten embedded in the double-quoted part of the link format. Hmm. –NM]

  34. Kevin – My bad, I read Coldtype’s comment too quickly, and read NLF as NVA.

    I will suggest, however, that most (non-Zinn) histories the NLF’s support was conditioned as much on the desire of villagers not to be slaughtered as it was on their program of national liberation. So I’d be cautious about that one; there’s a complex history in Vietnam with cultural and religious conflicts playing a deep role. It’s not as simple as people assume it is.

    A.L.

  35. I assumed that you would look beyond the pretty pictures and actually read the documents within.

    I grew up in a ‘liberal’ family and I used to read the Village Voice. Believe me, I have that particular diatribe memorized.

    It still doesn’t change the fact that Saddam received a lot more help, money and arms from Russians and the Europeans, than he ever got from us, especially in the years leading up to the war. That’s why the Russians and the Europeans were so affronted by the recent war in Iraq. We were going after their guy.

    Speaking of best loved (and totally inaccurate) lefty tales, whatever happened to the complaints that UN sanctions against Saddam had caused the deaths of a half-million Iraqi children? Isn’t anyone happy about the end of those sanctions?

    What about the pipeline through Afghanistan? Oh, and the theory that we attacked Saddam because of his planned switch from dollars to euros..?

  36. Hmm…there’re only a few good books on the history of North Vietnam from 49 through 68, but they all suggest that – like China and Russia – it was not exactly a hotbed of democracy and open political debate.

    Looking online, here’s an article on “historynet”:http://www.historynet.com/ho-chi-minh-north-vietnam-leader.htm – Ho was liquidating kulaks and Catholics pretty liberally after he took power, so the notion that we’d have a fair election in the South and let him have an Albanian-style election in the north is kind of a quaint fiction.

    Note that I continue to believe that we erred in not taking Ho up on his offers to ally with us if we’d help him get rid of the French; as deeply embedded in the Comintern as he was, I continue to believe that he was above all a nationalist.

    But to suggest that fighting a colonial war in Vietnam is the same as fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan is such a misreading that I’m hard pressed to figure out a response. Different game, ballpark, sport.

    But for those who are steeped in the post ’68 political worldview in which only Western hegemony matters, and everything is values based on that – will you can all just play “wild colonial boy”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/juan_cole_wild_colonial_boy.php and dream on.

    A.L.

  37. “If Bush has the power to run Iraq by fiat, exactly why isnt he doing it more to his advantage?”
    -Mark Buehner

    Did you really mean to ask me why the most inept administration in the nation’s history has made a mess of things in Iraq?

    “Here is more shocking evidence of an American president supporting a war criminal (Stalin)”
    -Mark Buehner

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news Mark but you have things exactly backwards. The Russians more or less were supporting the Allies in the European theater of the Second World War. After their stand at Stalingrad, the Russians rolled the Germans all the way back to Berlin, in fact their forces were the first to reach the capital and piss on Hitler’s charred remains. I think they are owed a debt of gratitude for the *20 MILLION* of their brethren sacrificed in the effort. You are gravely mistaken if you believe the Allies would have succeeded _without_ the Russians.

    “Would you have been happier in a world where Khomeini controlled half the worlds oil?”
    -Mark Buehner

    This one has always been my favorite. I’t matters little if Khomeini or Chavez or whomever Washington’s boogie man of the moment happens to be “controlled” half the world’s oil. Oil is a commodity that has *no value* if it is not made available to the industrial societies that require it. It’s that simple. One cannot eat or drink it. They _have_ to sell it on the market. Period. Things become complicated, however, when western oil corporations get that left behind feeling when nations that happened to have won the geological lottery exercise their sovereignty and _nationalize_ the stuff. Not cool. Inevitably the need then arises for a military response to this dire “threat” to our “national interests”. Just because Exxon/Mobil or Cheveron is adversely effected by events in oil producing regions does not mean that _I_ am. The oil would get to the US market regardless of whether the oil majors went out of business or not since our government would *nationalize the distribution system*

    OH NO!

    That may be a threat to _someone’s_ security, but it sure as hell ain’t mine.

  38. Somehow a line from One, Two, Three flashed through my mind just then…

    Scarlet: You’ll like him. He looks just like Jack Kennedy, only he’s younger and he has more upstairs.
    Phyllis MacNamara: More brains?
    Scarlet: More *hair*. And of course, ideologically, he’s much sounder.
    Phyllis MacNamara: Maybe we voted for the wrong man.
    Scarlet: That couldn’t happen in Russia.
    Phyllis MacNamara: They don’t make mistakes.
    Scarlet: They don’t *vote*.

    Nostalgic for the Third International, Coldtype?

    Ribbentrop and Molotov had much to do with the Soviet – German relationship, don’t forget…

    A.L.

  39. Coldtype: re mangled links — it seems as if something strange was happening with the double-quote-marks you put in your post #37. Maybe it’s due to Microsoft “smartquotes” in whatever application you prepared that post, or something of the sort. Keep on pitching. We’ll figure it out eventually.

  40. North Vietnam’s gruesome torture of prisoners was very much a policy of Ho Chi Minh, and the treatment of prisoners greatly improved after he died in 1969.

    I’m surprised that you Dems have been so slow on the uptake, because it’s obvious that John McCain must have murdered Ho Chi Minh. Who stood to benefit from Ho’s death? McCain, who was being tortured. Where was McCain when Ho died? Hanoi, that’s where!

    Obviously we need immediate Congressional hearings to pre-emptively impeach John McCain for the murder of the Vietnamese Jesus, and for war crimes and stuff, and for blowing up New Orleans (hurricane, my ass) and for attempting to impose American-style democracy on the District of Columbia.

  41. “And Coldtype, how about addressing the other points as well?”
    -A.L

    _Which_ points A.L? There’s so much American exceptionalism flying around this thread I hardly know where to begin. As for your point about Ho’s request for our assistance in gaining independence from the French, it is precisely _because_ he was an ardent nationalist that the US elected to assist the French effort to re-subjugate the Vietnamese following the Second World War. Recall that Japan ejected the French from Indochina. Unfortunately when Ho gave the US the opportunity to live up to its beautiful rhetoric about self-determination it reformed to type and supported the former oppressors rather than a people resisting colonial bondage.

    I’ll get back to this thread and tackle some of the other issues raised. Mary, I’m not ignoring you I, just have to go to work. More later.

  42. After their stand at Stalingrad, the Russians rolled the Germans all the way back to Berlin, in fact their forces were the first to reach the capital and piss on Hitler’s charred remains.

    After which they went home, passed a huge Marshall Plan to rebuild a democratic Europe, showered generosity on their former enemies, and lately Putin has been making special trips to apologize to Poland and Finland. Damn, now I’m getting things all backwards, too.

  43. Remember, Coldtype, that we were sucking up to France at about that time as we tried to keep DeGaulle in NATO during the ’58 crisis. Between trying to keep France on the ranch, and aggressive containment of Communism (for all his wonderful nationalism, Ho was also pretty clearly a Communist apparatchnik), including Mao, who was deeply involved in stirring up a conflict between a Western power and China’s former colony in Indochina.

    A.L.

  44. _”Did you really mean to ask me why the most inept administration in the nation’s history has made a mess of things in Iraq?”_

    Ah, the bumbling evil genius meme. At the intersection of arrogance and ignorance.

    _”I hate to be the bearer of bad news Mark but you have things exactly backwards. The Russians more or less were supporting the Allies in the European theater of the Second World War. “_

    There would have been no Stalingrad without American supplies. You obviously have little knowledge of the vast support the US supplied the Soviets. We sent something like 5000 P-39s (15,000 total aircraft) and 7000 tanks via the lend lease program. Most of the Soviet supply chain was US made- jeeps, trucks, trains etc. We actually landed some troops in Russia at one point, although they didnt see any action.
    Not to mention food. Obviously neither side was eager to publicize the sheer scale of industrial aid we gave teh Soviets during or after the war.

    Nice deflection from the point though.

    _”Oil is a commodity that has no value if it is not made available to the industrial societies that require it. It’s that simple. One cannot eat or drink it. They have to sell it on the market. “_

    Unless you decide to stop selling it because your society doesnt use very much oil and you are more interested in smiting the enemy than making cash. But i’m sure that could never “happen.”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis

    Cold, your grasp of history is a fine explanation for your skewed view of the world.

  45. Just because this is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night, here is a quick Stalingrad rundown in the light of lend-lease:

    “Soviet military strength”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stalingrad#Soviet_counter-offensives in Stalingrad Campaign:

    Initial: 187,000 men (June 1942):
    2200 artillery
    400 tanks
    300 aircraft[7]

    At the time of the Soviet counter-offensive(Nov 1942):
    1,103,000 men
    15,501 artillery
    1463 tanks
    1,115[8] aircraft

    “Lend-Lease”:http://peacecountry0.tripod.com/lendlse.htm to the USSR

    October 1941 to June 1942
    aircraft 1285
    tanks 2249
    machine-guns 81287
    explosives 59455620 pounds
    trucks 36825
    field telephones 56445
    telephone wire 600000 km

    The United States alone basically provided enough oridinance to fight the Germans at Stalingrad. Without lend-lease there is a strong argument to be made that the Soviet counter-offensive, much less the envelopment, would never have been feasible. Particularly since Zhukav for the first time in Russian history launched a campaign of manuever. Without the US trucks and trains the Soviets would have been fighting it out in the trenches as they always have.

  46. _It still doesn’t change the fact that Saddam received a lot more help, money and arms from Russians and the Europeans, than he ever got from us, especially in the years leading up to the war. That’s why the Russians and the Europeans were so affronted by the recent war in Iraq. We were going after their guy_
    -Mary

    The support Saddam received from Europe [I hope you’re not excluding Russia from Europe] during our love affair with the tyrant is completely in accord with the point I made initially: the US supported Saddam through the period of his worst atrocities. The fact that _others_ supported him at the time as well does not absolve us of a thing, we were still accomplices–going so far as to use our considerable influence to protect Iraq in the UN from sanctions over its use of CW against Iran.

    _1.2 Million Iraqi dead? I’d love to know where that number originated. Those noted right-wing shills at “Iraq Body Count”:http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ show 85 – 95K documented civilian dead – more than an order of magnitude less than you_
    -A.L

    This is an extrapolation from the last John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Al Mustansiriya University “cross-sectional cluster sample survey”:http://medialens.org/alerts/06/061018_democracy_and_debate.php published in the British medical journal The Lancet, and the poll from British polling organization Opinion Research Business (ORB) “conducted in Iraq”:http://medialens.org/alerts/07/070918_the_media_ignore.php in 2007.

    I’ll pick up on a few more issues raised in this thread in a couple. Later.

    [Links fixed. –NM]

  47. Hang on, Coldtype, my head is spinning here.

    The support Saddam received from Europe [I hope you’re not excluding Russia from Europe] during our love affair with the tyrant is completely in accord with the point I made initially: the US supported Saddam through the period of his worst atrocities.

    So – the fact that Europe, Russia (and, I believe China) – sold Saddam arms and supplied him “is completely in accord with the point I made initially: the US supported Saddam through the period of his worst atrocities.”

    Actually, his worst atrocities were post Gulf War I, but we can skip over that.

    Help me with that one, Coldtype. You’re the only one who can.

    A.L.

  48. “1.2 Million Iraqi dead? I’d love to know where that number originated. Those noted right-wing shills at ‘”Iraq Body Count”:http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ ‘ show 85 – 95K documented civilian dead – more than an order of magnitude less than you.”

    AL: One of the reasons I know longer bother arguing with the liberal trolls is that what they believe shifts depending on what conversation that they are having at the moment.

    So, for example, if you are the having, “you can’t create Democracy with a gun”, conversation, some liberal is sure to claim that Japan and Germany aren’t comparable to Iraq because we didn’t destroy Iraq throughly enough.

    But, if you are having the, “how much suffering have the Iraqi people endured” conversation, then roughly 20% of the population has been killed or displaced.

    It’s not just a matter of what you want to believe, it’s that they believe whatever is convienent to their underlying unwavering unnegotiatable commitment at the moment. There just isn’t a point. I’m sick of trying to talk sense to the senseless.

    On an unrelated note, your lend lease figures miss maybe the most important factor in program – rail stock. Without US support, Russia would have been unable to shift its production away from the front and would have been unable to move forces to the front.

  49. OK, the Lancet work’s own calculations as reported had huge error bars in them (I referred to it earlier). As I recall, given the level of confidence figure presented by that paper, approximately 1 million and approximately 80k had about equal likelihoods of being correct figures at the time.

  50. #57 from celebrim at 9:56 pm on Sep 23, 2008

    _some liberal is sure to claim that Japan and Germany aren’t comparable to Iraq because we didn’t destroy Iraq throughly enough._

    I think I am the major purveryor of this position and I am not a liberal troll.

    I also have never brought up the amount of Iraqi dead.

    My main argument has always been against Neo cons and Rovian politics and how both have combined to destroy Republican political power. Or, haven’t you noticed this? In case you haven’t noticed there is a signifigant amount of Republicans that hold similar views and are not what I would call Liberals. Chuck Hagel is one that comes to mind.

    What I do find interesting about your comment is how it underlines how simplistic the political debate has become. No nuance. Liberal, lefty, Conservative, right wing.

    There is a great quote by Kurt Vonnegut that illustrates what may have happened to yours and a lot of other people’s political acuity:

    *Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.*

    If you think the nation building in Germany and Japan wasn’t based on the primarily on the total destruction of two of the world largest military machines and their industrial base, The famine and abject poverty that ensued along with the extirpation of their militaristic heritiage, imposition of constitutions, etc. and so on, then you simply don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about.

    Save your liberal slurs for someone else and try thinking about my statements before you begin on spewing our the most facile of insults.

    I may be being a little harsh on you, but I spent the day in front of the Televison today watching the pathetic performance of Bernake and that baboon who calls himself the Secretary of the Treasury, try to explaing his Half baked bailout plan. It was the Republican senators from Alabama, Tennesse and Jim Bunning (I saw him pitch, he hasn’t changed much. He still has no qualms about throwing high and tight, god bless him) who gave it to them the hardest. But maybe they are Liberal trolls as well. Who knows.

    I think it is time that we faced how much of a failure this admisitrations has been on all levels. How lacking any coherent philosophy. How one dimensionsal, dogmatic, unimaginative and destructive of our parties interests and that of the country’s the party needs reform, desperately.

    yours truly,

    The Liberal Troll.

  51. P.S.

    Here is what another Liberal Troll says about the Paulson Plan, which only goes to show how far what used to be the fiscally responsible Party has sunk:

    1) He called it a “stupid plan” that looks like it had been designed by autocrat Vladimir Putin. He also said it will be a “nightmare” to implement and full of corruption.

    2) He said the Paulson Plan would be a “dead loser” on Election Day that will “break against anyone who votes for it.” It will hurt even worse with the 2010 election once Americans see what a drag it is on the economy when implemented.

    3) He recently chatted with economic historian Alan Meltzer who advocated doing nothing rather than implanting the Paulson Plan. Meltzer apparently joked to Gingrich that this was about the third time he had seen Wall Street scream “the apocalypse was nigh” only to have the economy keep right on chugging along.

    4) Gingrich thinks that if the Paulson Plan isn’t passed by this weekend, it is dead and the White House better have a Plan B, economic-growth package ready. Right now, he still thinks it has an 80 percent chance of passage, partly because of Paulson’s apocalyptic tone that if a bill isn’t passed, “the whole world will end on Tuesday.”

    Quite frankly, from where I sit, Newt was being kind.

    There is not one person in their right mind that would put the Paulson fox anywhere near the hen house. He should resign, or at the very least recuse himself. Bunning showed a magnificent and well deserved distain for Paulson. Especially questioning paulson’s statement about how surprised he was 2 years ago coming down to Washington and seeng how lax finacial regulations were.

    Bunning wanted to know how that was since Goldman Sachs had to follow those regulations on a daily basis. There was a lot more. Five hours of it. Suffice to say, what everyone on the banking committe came away with was how pathetic it was for such an inept official to show the hubris he did in what Sen. Corker (R-Tenn)charitably characterised as a concept and one, if he were a VC, would hand back to Paulson and have him give it more work. It was more than implied that it was an insult to the banking committe to come down to the Hill with such a flimsy piece of garbage and ask for 700 Billion Dollars and essentially threatening the end of the world if he didn’t get it.

  52. The Iraqi mortality rate appeared to reach its lowest point (6.8/1000) in the late 80s. Figures after the first Gulf War in 1991 are not reliable, but it is generally assumed that they went up.

    While the left was claiming that sanctions were murdering millions of Iraqis (who otherwise would live forever, like elves) they pushed that mortality rate as high as they could.

    When it came time to “prove” that the US occupiers were murdering millions of Iraqis, they had to do the opposite: push the pre-war mortality rate as low as it would go, in order to produce a genocidal surplus of “extra deaths”. So the Lancet pushed the pre-war mortality rate as low as 5/1000, much too low to support a sanctions holocaust – but the sanctions holocaust was yesterday’s talking point.

    Most of the sanctions deaths are assumed to be due to increased infant mortality. But Iraq ranks 58th in the world in infant mortality, lower than virtually every country in Africa, including Kenya. Did occupation improve the situation that much?

    Afghanistan, on the other hand, ranks 3rd in infant mortality, just below the horrific countries of Angola and Sierra Leone. No one seems to notice this much.

  53. _Actually, his worst atrocities were post Gulf War I, but we can skip over that.
    Help me with that one, Coldtype. You’re the only one who can_
    -A.L.

    You seem to forget that “little war”:http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/iran-iraq.htm Saddam launched against Iran in 1980 A.L. This, courtesy of globalsecurity.org:

    _Casualty figures are highly uncertain, though estimates suggest more than one and a half million war and war-related casualties — perhaps as many as a million people died, many more were wounded, and millions were made refugees. Iran acknowledged that nearly 300,000 people died in the war; estimates of the Iraqi dead range from 160,000 to 240,000. Iraq suffered an estimated 375,000 casualties, the equivalent of 5.6 million for a population the size of the United States. Another 60,000 were taken prisoner by the Iranians. Iran’s losses may have included more than 1 million people killed or maimed_

    Oh, and least we forget his infamous poison gas attack on the Kurds at Halabja during the period of March 16–17, 1988. Estimates range from between 3,200 to 5,000 killed and 10,000 injured. All of these exploits were before Saddam committed his first _authentic_ crime on August 2, 1990. Prior to that date he enjoyed the economic, diplomatic, and military support of the United States. The fact that this murderous tyrant _also_ received support from France and Russia during this period absolves our government not in the least.

    _OK, the Lancet work’s own calculations as reported had huge error bars in them (I referred to it earlier). As I recall, given the level of confidence figure presented by that paper, approximately 1 million and approximately 80k had about equal likelihoods of being correct figures at the time_
    -NM

    That’s simply incorrect NM. “Here”:http://medialens.org/alerts/06/061031_lancet_co_author.php Dr. Les Roberts, the chief author of the report, explains their methodology under fairly hostile questioning. Again, cross-sectional cluster surveys are the standard when accessing excess deaths in war zones. The JHB report published in the Lancet was politically inconvenient–therefore ignored or vilified.

  54. Analogy to the Soviet alliance in WW2 still applies. Sometimes you have to take common cause with what you perceive as the lesser of two evils. Allowing the Iranian theocracy to take Iraq and put the rest of the Middle East under its guns (at the least) was not a viable national security policy.

  55. No Mark that analogy does not hold. Iraq launched a war of aggression against Iran, not the other way around. We assisted the aggressor in the Iran-Iraq war so a consistent WWII analogy would be the US assisting Hitler’s campaign against Russia.

    As far as the “threat” of an Iranian victory in the war is concerned I stand by my earlier comments regarding the oil’s availability to the world market. The revolution in Iran was yet another of our chickens coming home to roost. Had we respected Iranian sovereignty in 1953 the fury that festered under the Shah for nearly 25 years would not have blown up in our faces in 1979. Our problem with Iran today is fundamentally the same as our problem with every nation that chooses an independent path, be it Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, or Vietnam half a century ago. Independence is a condition we will not tolerate for in the lexicon of US foreign policy “stability”= obedience. Where the disobedient are weak as in Aristide’s Haiti, Saddam’s decimated Iraq, or Noriega’s Panama, we stomp them flat. Where they are strong as in Putin’s Russia or Mao’s China a generation ago, we huff and puff and make mean faces but do nothing more.

  56. _”No Mark that analogy does not hold. Iraq launched a war of aggression against Iran, not the other way around”_

    Do you honestly think who the aggressor was had anything to do with backing the Soviets vs the Germans? Lets not forget the Soviets attacked Poland as well (not to mention Finland). We took Stalins side over Hitlers because it suited our interests best. The idea that had the Soviets tried to sneak one in on Hitler when the battle of Britain was in full swing would have changed our policy is ridiculous.

    _”As far as the “threat” of an Iranian victory in the war is concerned I stand by my earlier comments regarding the oil’s availability to the world market.”_

    And it was as wrong then as it is now. Oil Embargo. Look it up, i know you’re not so hot on history.

    _”Had we respected Iranian sovereignty in 1953 the fury that festered under the Shah for nearly 25 years would not have blown up in our faces in 1979.”_

    Agreed. But since the time machine has yet to be invented, grown ups have to make their decisions based on the _current_ circumstances they face. Allowing the Iranians to take over the Middle East as penance for our sins against Mosaddeq just isnt a serious solution. Save the sack cloth and ashes for church on Sunday. We dont and case base the security of the free world on our feelings and our guilt, which is all you are advocating.

  57. _Iraqi parliament approves provincial elections law_

    _By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer Wed Sep 24, 11:37 AM ET_

    _BAGHDAD – Iraq’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a provincial elections law Wednesday, overcoming months of deadlock and giving a boost to U.S.-backed national reconciliation efforts._

    Another talking point bytes the dust. I warned the critics that the surge would take time but the politics can change from day to day. Hitching the horse to that wagon is politically dangerous. So on to the next talking point- Iraq doesnt have Arbys franchise, the surge was a failure?

    “AP”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080924/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq_16;_ylt=A9G_RnmXY9pIORAB_wNX6GMA

  58. “Do you honestly think who the aggressor was had anything to do with backing the Soviets vs the Germans?”
    -MB

    Um, yes. The aggressor is the one committing the war crime. It matters. If Germany is living at peace within its own borders, what would we be assisting Russia with exactly?

    “…grown ups have to make their decisions based on the current circumstances they face”
    -MB

    So true Mark, which is why so much of this discussion may be “academic”:http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts09242008.html

  59. _”Um, yes. The aggressor is the one committing the war crime. It matters. If Germany is living at peace within its own borders, what would we be assisting Russia with exactly?”_

    Stupid non-sequitar. We knew exactly what Germany was and what America’s position was towards Germany before Germany attacked the Soviet Union. I again point you to research the Lend-Lease program. Our support of the Soviets wasnt premised on German being a nice friendly neighbor pre-Operation Barbarosa.

    _”So true Mark, which is why so much of this discussion may be academic”_

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, and Obama is a secret Marxist Muslim. If all you got is luny left conspiracy theories to deflect arguments you cant engage, i think this conversation is pretty much over. Really, there are better arguments to be made than this. You’re not helping your cause.

  60. The JHB report published in the Lancet was politically inconvenient–therefore ignored or vilified.

    Did they ever give anyone else their data? Or were the reports that they would not do so all lies, too?

  61. Funny that they admittedly rushed this publication to influence the last election, but took 6 months to release their data. I guess its that old adage that a lie makes it three times around the world while the truth is still getting its boots laced up.

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