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Bloggers campaign for human rights
February 16, 2003 11:20 PM   Subscribe

Campaign for Democracy and Human Rights in Iraq! Some hundred or so bloggers are sporting logos supporting democracy and human rights in Iraq, just twenty-four hours after a campaign was kicked-off by Dean's World blog publisher Dean Esmay. The campaign is supported by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, an activist umbrella group of pro-Democracy Iraqi organizations inside and outside of Iraq. It's a groundswell that will hopefully counter the anti-democratic and anti-Iraqi spirit of recent ANSWER demonstrations, and notable here because it's at this point strictly a blogworld phenomenon, but one that might actually have an effect in the real world. We'll see. Cyber-activism up until now has mainly been ineffective, and the feeling of many activists (cf. Barlow) is that it's more a distraction from real-world activism than an aid. Pro-democracy bloggers are a different breed from many traditional, trend-driven activists, and this might be the difference.
posted by BubbaDude (137 comments total)

 
Are they ready to start wars in plenty of other authoritarian-controlled countries with poor human rights records? How about bombing Pakistan or Saudi Arabia?

Sheesh. How often have conservatives said that good intentions are not enough in foreign policy? Why are they so eager to show off how good they are being - or how good they presume they are being, rather - now? I mean, really. They support democracy and human rights. Goodie for them. They also support a mass slaughter with highly possible adverse long-term consequences for the United States, all the result of a war that cannot be justified by extant moral theory.
posted by raysmj at 11:31 PM on February 16, 2003


what a load of misdirection and horse-slop. do you actually read what gets published on a lot of the participating sites? their idea of iraqi democracy apparently entails bombing them to a fine flat sheet of molten glass.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:35 PM on February 16, 2003


This campaign is focussed on Iraq, not Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. The sponsoring organizations are composed of Iraqi citizens, not Americans. It's the opinion of the Iraqis themselves that force is justified, and in fact necessary, against Mr. Hussein.
posted by BubbaDude at 11:41 PM on February 16, 2003


It's a groundswell that will hopefully counter the anti-democratic and anti-Iraqi spirit of recent ANSWER demonstrations

[...]

Pro-democracy bloggers are a different breed from many traditional, trend-driven activists

Yes, these folks are part of a "groundswell," unlike those "traditional" activists who are driven by "trends."

I was at one of the recent demonstrations, and despite being derided here on MeFi as a "trendoid" (because I admitted to breaking for brunch and a bloody Mary, after four hours walking around NYC in sub-freezing weather), I am neither anti-democratic, anti-Iraqi, nor particularly pro-ANSWER.

I want democracy and human rights in Iraq, definitely. (I also want them here in the U.S.) What I don't want in Iraq is thousands of my own government's bombs and cruise missiles, raining down on the civilian populace.

Let us not destroy Iraq in order to "save" it.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:45 PM on February 16, 2003


The sponsoring organizations are composed of Iraqi citizens, not Americans.

From the FAQ:

Who are some of the board members?

Our board includes people from across the political spectrum such as Jack Kemp, Frank Lautenberg, Steve Forbes, and Jeane Kirkpatrick.

posted by Ljubljana at 11:49 PM on February 16, 2003


BubbaDude: Well, OK. Why is supporting democracy in Iraq any more important than supporting it elsewhere? What makes Iraq so special that it requires putting the lives of our own soldiers at risk, not to mention the lives of thousands of civilians? Why aren't we going into Iran, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia or any number of authoritarian-controlled nations worldwide? Why should a minority of foreign nationals (with or without the financial support of the U.S. government and private American sources) dictate our foreign policy, regardless?
posted by raysmj at 11:57 PM on February 16, 2003


As someone pointed out on the site itself, it's kind of ironic to use the Statue of Liberty in their logo. The statue was a gift from France.
posted by MiG at 12:13 AM on February 17, 2003


I'm not here to argue the case for human rights and democracy world-wide, I'm simply reporting on a campaign of Iraqi citizens connected to The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies to bring some progressive values to their country with the help of bloggers.


One can imagine, of course, that a successful campaign in Iraq could lead to other campaigns in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - the two countries already mentioned - as well as Libya, North Korea, Germany, and France. By most measures, the United States would probably not rank very highly among human rights violators, but YMMV.


I assume that the Iraqis are asking the US for help in part because of the unique status we have among nations, and in part because our official policy on Iraq since 1998 is to support regime change.
posted by BubbaDude at 12:15 AM on February 17, 2003


France has historically been a friend to democracy, MiG - they were very helpful to the United States in 1776. But some of their values have clearly faded along with their empire. The cheese is still good, of course, as are the truffles.
posted by BubbaDude at 12:17 AM on February 17, 2003


Our board includes people from across the political spectrum such as Jack Kemp, Frank Lautenberg, Steve Forbes, and Jeane Kirkpatrick.


Yes, the board of the umbrella group is multicultural, but the organizations themselves are dominated by Iraqi nationals. Thanks for pointing out the diversity, which we can all celebrate now.
posted by BubbaDude at 12:19 AM on February 17, 2003


You better believe my blog (linked in my profile) added this.

I'm going along with the 'Democratic Iraq' train. After decades of dictatorships, it's obvious that Iraq needs a democratic form of government.

As for others trumping for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are old people who need hip replacement surgery sometime. But the deal is that Iraq slipped and broke her hip, meaning that they should get a replacement first and then when the other two need a replacement, they will get one.

The Saudi excuse for not having elections: "Rich people would win by buying votes"

Not much faith in your people, eh King?
posted by RobbieFal at 12:23 AM on February 17, 2003


What I don't want in Iraq is thousands of my own government's bombs and cruise missiles, raining down on the civilian populace.


I don't think that's exactly the plan, which as I understand it is about precision guided missiles aimed at military and infrastructure targets, backed up by ground forces. The "carpet bombing" metaphor hasn't been accurate since Vietnam, actually; not that I ever understood why anyone would want to bomb a carpet, mind you.


However, if you're an expert in military matters, I'm sure someone at the Foundation would like to be informed by your expertise. Shall I arrange a meeting?
posted by BubbaDude at 12:25 AM on February 17, 2003


Will they defend our democracy against John Ashcroft?
posted by owillis at 12:29 AM on February 17, 2003


Is that an on-topic remark, Odub? I know there is still a lot of resentment left over from the 2000 elections, but I don't see how it relates to this discussion.
posted by BubbaDude at 12:33 AM on February 17, 2003


Did you miss this memo from npost?

And I quote:

The United States is on the verge of committing itself to a post-Saddam plan for a military government in Baghdad with Americans appointed to head Iraqi ministries, and American soldiers to patrol the streets of Iraqi cities.
The plan, as dictated to the Iraqi opposition in Ankara last week by a United States-led delegation, further envisages the appointment by the US of an unknown number of Iraqi quislings palatable to the Arab countries of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia as a council of advisers to this military government.

The plan reverses a decade-long moral and financial commitment by the US to the Iraqi opposition, and is guaranteed to turn that opposition from the close ally it has always been during the 1990s into an opponent of the United States on the streets of Baghdad the day after liberation.


Campaign for Democracy and Human Rights in Iraq?

How about consulting the democratic Iraqi opposition?

The government of the United States is about to betray, as it has done so many times in the past, those core human values of self-determination and individual liberty.

We, the democratic Iraqi opposition, are the natural friends and allies of the United States. We share its values and long-term goals of peace, stability, freedom and democracy for Iraq. We are here in Iraqi Kurdistan 40 miles from Saddam's troops and a few days away from a conference to plan our next move, a conference that some key administration officials have done everything in their power to postpone.

Kanan Makiya is professor of Middle East studies at Brandeis University, Massachusetts


Please note: the USA is intent upon stabbing the Iraqi Democratic opposition in the back. Add that to your little banner.
posted by y2karl at 12:36 AM on February 17, 2003


So, if Iraq proves that it has rid itself of all weapons of mass destruction, you're still in favor of going to war to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein and to install a democratic government? That's enough for you? Really? (Also, BubbaDude, the war would undoubtedly lead to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of civilians, either directly or otherwise, despite "precision" bombing.)

The "slipped and broke her hip" line is terribly lame, by the way. Either human rights matters everywhere, or it doesn't at all, if you believe if the dignity and worth of every human being.
posted by raysmj at 12:36 AM on February 17, 2003


"the war would undoubtedly lead to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of civilians"

hasn't every war lead to civilian deaths?

does that mean we shouldn't have fought Hitler and Tojo because we could have killed civilians?

or does that mean we shouldn't have fought for independence since we could have killed civilians?
posted by RobbieFal at 12:41 AM on February 17, 2003


From the Foundation's web site, we read:


Dr. Barham Salih, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, www.puk.org, explains that a military intervention to remove Saddam Hussein would not be a war on Iraq, but a liberation of Iraq: “When the President of the United States drives through Baghdad in his limousine, the streets will be filled with thousands of Iraqis waving American and Iraqi flags.”


I'd be more inclined to take his point of view than that of some professor at Brandeis, y2karl.
posted by BubbaDude at 12:42 AM on February 17, 2003


Interesting bit of jamming. Looks like someone came up with a way to extend the "anti-idiotarian" phrase and mentality to apply to the war. The way the argument is purposely framed, if you don't believe there is hard evidence linking Saddam to Osama, or if you don't feel there is a justification of going to war and the risk of worldwide turmoil, it means you're against democracy. Wonderful. It reduces discourse down to children yelling "I'm rubber and you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you." Wonderful debate tactic, however immature it may be.

I'm interested in what the plans are for Iraq once it has been democratized. Do we go to Marshall Law? How long do we occupy it? Do we put up a base there? Will there be elections afterward, or do we install the new leader ourselves? I haven't heard many detailed post-saddam-is-removed plans, but I'm sure this group of has them.
posted by mathowie at 12:43 AM on February 17, 2003


Either human rights matters everywhere, or it doesn't at all, if you believe if the dignity and worth of every human being.


As a practical matter, bringing human rights to everyone everywhere all at the same time may be a little ambitious. Might I suggest a one-at-a-time approach, raysmj?
posted by BubbaDude at 12:44 AM on February 17, 2003


Thanks for posting this BubbaDude....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:44 AM on February 17, 2003


Oh, you know more than an actual real Iraqi democrat--an exile who teaches at Brandeis. You get to pick the right Iraqi democrat because you're an American who knows better than an Iraqi. That's democracy in action, buddy! American style!
posted by y2karl at 12:46 AM on February 17, 2003


I don't think that's exactly the plan, which as I understand it is about precision guided missiles aimed at military and infrastructure targets, backed up by ground forces.

....or, not. Seems to me that the claim "there will not be a safe place in Baghdad" sorta includes the, you know, countless civilians trying to be safe there.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:46 AM on February 17, 2003


"Interesting bit of jamming. Looks like someone came up with a way to extend the "anti-idiotarian" phrase and mentality to apply to the war."

While supporting the idea of war, I do dislike the word 'idiotarian'. It just doesn't sound quite right.

Just one of my quirks
posted by RobbieFal at 12:47 AM on February 17, 2003


mathowie, as I understand it the plan is for a military government of US and UK forces to take immediate control of the ministries in order to maintain continuity of services. Once the Saddamites are identified and placed on trial, a provisional government will draft a constitution (this is already underway by the INC) and hold elections. This process leads to Iraqi control in a matter of months from the conclusion of hostilities.
posted by BubbaDude at 12:48 AM on February 17, 2003


I write as someone personally committed to that relationship. Every word that I have committed to paper in the last quarter of a century is, in one way or another, an application of the universal values that I have absorbed from many years of living and working in the West to the very particular conditions of Iraq. The government of the United States is about to betray, as it has done so many times in the past, those core human values of self-determination and individual liberty.

That's the guy you sneer at as being a professor from Brandeis.

Also, you're not addressing his contention--which I will repeat:

The plan, as dictated to the Iraqi opposition in Ankara last week by a United States-led delegation, further envisages the appointment by the US of an unknown number of Iraqi quislings palatable to the Arab countries of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia as a council of advisers to this military government.
posted by y2karl at 12:50 AM on February 17, 2003


RobbieFal: If all the above cases, you're talking about the involvement of a clear national interest, an immediate threat to the body politic or republic (and violence against or declarations of war against it). Fighting for democracy in Iraq is not, in and of itself, a clear national interest. Yes, there are always thousands upon thousands of deaths in war. That's why you don't go into lightly, that you make sure it's a last resort.

I'm not worried about the clever deabe tactic here, personally. The "idiotarian" crowd may think it necessarily makes the opposition glue, but the opposition clearly has centuries of political and moral theory on its side. The problem is that the opposition hasn't in most cases really noticed, or said so strongly enough.
posted by raysmj at 12:50 AM on February 17, 2003


I'll wait until this happens.

I would really prefer for the Iraqi government not to be decided by the Saudi government though.

We'll see how it works out. What kind of history do you have on this professor anyways? Just curious to hear about his roots or political sympathies or anything
posted by RobbieFal at 12:52 AM on February 17, 2003


Global democracy, and limited state sponsors of terrorism, is clearly in the interests of Americans, raysmj.
posted by BubbaDude at 12:53 AM on February 17, 2003


Is that an on-topic remark, Odub? I know there is still a lot of resentment left over from the 2000 elections, but I don't see how it relates to this discussion.

2000 election? Nope, try Patriot II.

I'm interested in what the plans are for Iraq once it has been democratized. Do we go to Marshall Law?

Everything I'm reading calls for rule by an American military governor, and vague plans at some sort of puppet democracy the administration just started thinking about. In other words, our usual pattern of a great war followed by piddling follow-through.

But of course, this is a war to liberate the Iraqi people.

May I interest you in a bridge in Brooklyn as well?

The words idiotarian and anti-idiotarian are the sole domain of idiots.

This process leads to Iraqi control in a matter of months from the conclusion of hostilities.
Yes, I'm sure President Bush will demonstrate genuine leadership in this.

It's gotten to the point where I'm not sure if everyone on the right is in on the collosal joke or are really that deluded.
posted by owillis at 12:58 AM on February 17, 2003


This process leads to Iraqi control in a matter of months from the conclusion of hostilities.

Like, maybe 24 months?

Pressed for an idea of how long a military occupation would last before Iraqis could take back the government of their country, his colleague from the State Department, Marc Grossman, said he would guess “two years.”

Grossman dealt another blow to the aspirations of the Iraqi opposition in exile, which has been jockeying for advantage in the hope that the United States will overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the next few weeks.

He said the Iraqi opposition in exile would not be allowed to control decisions for all Iraqis. “While we are listening to what the Iraqis are telling us, the United States government will make its decisions based on what is in the national interest of the United States,” he added.


Take a look at Saudi Arabia's government,or Pakistan's, pal, if you want to see out national interests in action.
posted by y2karl at 12:58 AM on February 17, 2003


and the circle jerk continues...

I wonder how many Iraq FPP will be posted today?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:58 AM on February 17, 2003


Um, Matt, not to be snarky but it's martial law, as in Mars, god of war.
posted by y2karl at 1:01 AM on February 17, 2003


Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are old people who need hip replacement surgery sometime. But the deal is that Iraq slipped and broke her hip, meaning that they should get a replacement first and then when the other two need a replacement, they will get one.

Well, considering Pakistan's tolerance of anti-American extremists, and their history of nuclear barter with North Korea, you may want to move them up in line. This isn't just about helping the sick, it's about self-preservation.

I don't think that's exactly the plan, which as I understand it is about precision guided missiles aimed at military and infrastructure targets, backed up by ground forces.
Rumsfeld has also been encouraging a re-evaluation of the prohibition on targeting civilians, particularly with regard to actions directed at shattering support for the opponent regime. This kind of thinking was popular during the Second World War - as evidenced by the firebombing of Dresden and Hamburg - but was subsequently rejected during the negotiation of the Geneva Conventions. Today, a theory which holds that a regime has 'five strategic rings' is attracting adherents in Washington. According to this view, each ring represents a different facet of a society: its political leadership, economic system, supporting infrastructure, population and military forces. Air power is supposed to enable the United States to target opponents from the 'inside out', to bypass military forces and go directly for the political leadership. In this context, the indirect targeting of civilians - through the destruction of bridges, electrical grids, oil refineries and water-filtration plants - is considered justified because it hastens the course of the conflict (while, incidentally, reducing the cost of victory).
This process leads to Iraqi control in a matter of months from the conclusion of hostilities.
The head of the US military's Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks, will rule Iraq in the initial aftermath of a US invasion to overthrow President Saddam Hussein.

The senators were told that even under good circumstances, it would take two years before the military could fully transfer control to an Iraqi government. As presented, the plan recalls postwar Germany and Japan, where American military occupations paved the way for transfers of power to democratic and constitutionally backed governments.
posted by homunculus at 1:01 AM on February 17, 2003


The Saudi excuse for not having elections: "Rich people would win by buying votes"

Not much faith in your people, eh King?


Sounds like the Saudi royal family reads Chomsky.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 1:01 AM on February 17, 2003


and the circle jerk continues...

When you have a weak hand, trot out it's too political....
Gee, it's not like we're at a historical cusp or anything.
posted by y2karl at 1:03 AM on February 17, 2003


'weak hand' is that a pun?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:05 AM on February 17, 2003


and the circle jerk continues...

That reminds me, gotta go check out those porn doodles.

Again.
posted by homunculus at 1:05 AM on February 17, 2003


BubbaDude: Not in the same way as the RobbieFal examples. Not even close. And by your logic, we should fight for democracy everywhere, all the time, with bombs if necessary.

Those little graphics say nothing about limiting state terrorism, by the way. If that's you're goal, along with the expansion of democracy worldwide, we do have to go to war immediately with Pakistan.
posted by raysmj at 1:05 AM on February 17, 2003


Karl, it is not "too political"

1. It is a multiple daily occurrence. We all know where everyone who cares to comment on this stands. And it is pretty clear that no minds are being changed.

2. Is there anyone here who honestly thinks we are not going to war? If so, wake up. The deal is done. Time to step back and watch it unfold, there is nothing more you can do until November '04.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:13 AM on February 17, 2003


RobbieFal, here you go: Kanan Makiya aka some professor at Brandeis

Kanan Makiya was born in Baghdad. He left Iraq to study architecture at M.I.T. and later joined Makiya Associates to design and build projects in the Middle East.

In 1981, he left the practice of architecture and began to write a book about Iraq. Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq was published in 1989, and became a best-seller after Saddam Husain's invasion of Kuwait. It was republished in an updated form in 1995.

Makiya then wrote The Monument, published in 1991. It's an essay on the aesthetics of power and kitsch. In 1993 he published Cruelty and Silence: War. Tyranny, Uprising and the Arab World, which was awarded The Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book on international relations published in English in 1993.

Along with these books, written as Samir al-Khalil, Makiya has written for The Independent, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement and The Times.

In October 1992, he acted as the convenor of the Human Rights Committee of the Iraqi National Congress, a transitional parliament based in northern Iraq. He has collaborated on two films for television, the most recent of which exposed for the first time the 1988 campaign of mass murder in northern Iraq known as the Anfal. The film was shown in the US under the title Saddam's Killing Fields, and received the Edward R. Murrow Award For Best Television Documentary On Foreign Affairs in 1992.

I've seen some weak ass knee jerk dismissals of people here, BubbaDude, but your's has been one of the weakest weak ass self-serving spins yet.
posted by y2karl at 1:16 AM on February 17, 2003


I don't think that's exactly the plan, which as I understand it is about precision guided missiles aimed at military and infrastructure targets, backed up by ground forces. The "carpet bombing" metaphor hasn't been accurate since Vietnam, actually; not that I ever understood why anyone would want to bomb a carpet, mind you.

Ha ha. Actually, I didn't use the phrase "carpet bombing," which you find so amusing.

The term of art these days is Shock and Awe, and you understood it wrong:

...between 300 and 400 cruise missiles would fall on Iraq each day for two consecutive days. It would be more than twice the number of missiles launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 GulfWar.

"There will not be a safe place in Baghdad," a Pentagon official told America's CBS News after a briefing on the plan. "The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before."


Does that sound like a "campaign for democracy and human rights in Iraq"?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:16 AM on February 17, 2003


D'oh!

As a practical matter, bringing human rights to everyone everywhere all at the same time may be a little ambitious. Might I suggest a one-at-a-time approach

In that case, I vote for Burma after Iraq. They meet the criteria for the Axis of Evil, and it would ease Dick Cheney's guilt (which is no doubt quite deep, his being so moral) over his role in the Yadana pipeline, which caused so many horrific human rights violations.
posted by homunculus at 1:21 AM on February 17, 2003


Thanks for posting this BubbaDude....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:44 AM EST on February 17


and the circle jerk continues...I wonder how many Iraq FPP will be posted today?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:58 AM EST on February 17


I guess a thread claiming a rational excuse to go to war would suddenly become unappealing when it can be discredited in less than fifteen minutes. ;)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:26 AM on February 17, 2003


Here is a description of our plans for a post-Saddam Iraq, from a 2/13/2003 article written by Cameron W. Barr of the Christian Science Monitor:
SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq (CSM) - The head of the U.S. military's Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks, will rule Iraq in the initial aftermath of a U.S. invasion to overthrow President Saddam Hussein.

Administration officials briefed senators Tuesday on postwar planning, stressing that the U.S. goal is "to liberate Iraq, not to occupy it," and last week a U.S. envoy told leaders of Iraqi groups opposed to Saddam about American intentions. The senators were told that even under good circumstances, it would take two years before the military could fully transfer control to an Iraqi government. As presented, the plan recalls postwar Germany and Japan, where American military occupations paved the way for transfers of power to democratic and constitutionally backed governments.
Some additional information from The Observer:
Iraq's democratic opposition parties are meeting this week in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq to finalise plans for a transitional government. But their vision of a post-Saddam administration is deeply at odds with proposals set out last week by President George Bush's special envoy to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad - and apparently endorsed by the Foreign Office. Under the plan a US military governor would rule post-war Iraq for up to a year.

The infrastructure of Saddam's ruling Baath party would remain largely intact, with the top two officials in each Iraqi ministry replaced by US military officers.
posted by thorswitch at 1:30 AM on February 17, 2003


isn't the term actually "martial law" ? as opposed to "Marshall Plan"
posted by scottymac at 1:31 AM on February 17, 2003


We all know where everyone who cares to comment on this stands.

Oh, right, Steve, and BubbaDude, in this particular matter, if you have a proven track record of continually making political statements and can't directly respond to something like...

In particular it is a plan designed to humiliate the Kurdish people of Iraq and their experiment of self-rule in northern Iraq of the last 10 years, an experiment made possible by the protection granted to the Kurds by the United States itself. That protection is about to be lifted with the entry into northern Iraq of much-feared Turkish troops (apparently not under American command), infamous throughout the region for their decades-long hostility to Kurdish aspirations.

because it doesn't fit your agenda, fall back upon it's too political or it's by some professor at Brandeis. That way you can dodge the bullet and not talk about the issue at hand every time.
posted by y2karl at 1:32 AM on February 17, 2003


He said the Iraqi opposition in exile would not be allowed to control decisions for all Iraqis. “While we are listening to what the Iraqis are telling us, the United States government will make its decisions based on what is in the national interest of the United States,” he added.
Sounds like a firm commitment to democracy for Iraq to me...
posted by thorswitch at 1:36 AM on February 17, 2003


Sorry about the double posting of the CS Monitor information - homunculus apparently posted his quote from it while I was working on mine, and I didn't see it in time.
posted by thorswitch at 1:39 AM on February 17, 2003


Karl, you really need to drop the habit of assuming what I think.

And I think you DO know where I stand on this issue. I have not made any political comments in this thread, so don't try to drag me in to any. If BubbaDude want to engage you, that is his choice.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:45 AM on February 17, 2003


More on the Turks:
Turkey is demanding that it send 60,000 to 80,000 of its own troops into northern Iraq to establish “strategic positions” across a “security arc” as much as 140 to 170 miles deep in Iraq. That would take Turkish troops almost halfway to Baghdad. These troops would not be under U.S. command, according to Turkish sources, who say Turkey has agreed only to “coordination” between U.S. and Turkish forces. Ankara fears the Iraqi Kurds might use Saddam’s fall to declare independence. Kurdish leaders have not yet been told of this new plan, according to Kurdish spokesmen in Washington, who say the Kurds rejected even the earlier notion of a narrow buffer zone. Farhad Barzani, the U.S. representative of the main Kurdish party in Iraq, the KDP, says, “We have told them: American troops will come as liberators. But Turkish troops will be seen as invaders.”
posted by homunculus at 1:50 AM on February 17, 2003


Logic and common sense prevail. Except when you have nothing to say.
posted by y2karl at 1:59 AM on February 17, 2003


About the five rings and such.

From homunclus' comment above:
Rumsfeld has also been encouraging a re-evaluation of the prohibition on targeting civilians, particularly with regard to actions directed at shattering support for the opponent regime. This kind of thinking was popular during the Second World War - as evidenced by the firebombing of Dresden and Hamburg - but was subsequently rejected during the negotiation of the Geneva Conventions. Today, a theory which holds that a regime has 'five strategic rings' is attracting adherents in Washington. According to this view, each ring represents a different facet of a society: its political leadership, economic system, supporting infrastructure, population and military forces. Air power is supposed to enable the United States to target opponents from the 'inside out', to bypass military forces and go directly for the political leadership. In this context, the indirect targeting of civilians - through the destruction of bridges, electrical grids, oil refineries and water-filtration plants - is considered justified because it hastens the course of the conflict (while, incidentally, reducing the cost of victory).
There are a couple of things here that are unclear to me.
  1. Rumsfeld's brand of thinking is compared with the devastating firebombings of Dresden and Hamburg which are widely argued to have been brutal and unnecessary in the face of the already collapsing German war effort. I can see that the destruction of vital infrastructure would put the lives of Iraqi's at stake by crippling hospitals and denying access to emergency services. But I think it differs strongly in degree with the levelling of an entire city. Perhaps it's just that we have the weapons available to target specific bits of infrastructure more precisely these days, without destroying everything else within 10 miles as well.
  2. Rumsfeld is suggesting strategies, including the targetting of civilian infrastructure, meant to shatter support for a brutal dictator that all the civilians there already desire liberation from? Aren't they already waiting for the slightest window for rebellion? Who exactly are we trying to convince? On the one hand we're led to believe this is a war of liberation and that American soldiers will be met by cheering Iraqi's waving American flags (presumably these were constructed at home?) on the other hand we need to Shock and Awe the populace into withdrawing their support for Saddam. Are we trying to convince the regular army, who are supposedly poorly paid and equipped conscripts who will lay down their arms at the first safe opportunity? What about the Republican Guard? Are they really loyal to Saddam, the man, or loyal to their superior pay and standard of living. Would they not likely drop their arms once the writing was on the wall?
Whatever, I don't think the Executive Branch has much credibility left over to justify a war, considering their history of begging the argument, misdirection and fabrication in their attempt. Given their propensity to say anything they find expedient, I don't have faith that democracy in Iraq will be a major concern. It is in the longterm interests of the US to have the world built up of a bunch of happy democratic states. Unfortunately the US history of supporting dictatorships at the expense of fledgling attempts at grassroots democracy (Shah in Iran, Saddam before he fell out of favor) suggests that US foreign policy is concerned traditionally with the short term. The current administration does seem interested in curtailing democracy in the US as well, as owillis mentioned when he linked to the info on Patriot II. What then for Iraq?
posted by rocketpup at 2:06 AM on February 17, 2003


get some sleep karl....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:11 AM on February 17, 2003


Oh, and Steve, you can come in and high five BubbaDude for posting this but you can't or won't say why. Especially when he gets shredded for hypocrisy, as in our government is going to screw the democratic opposition and, um, what about Pakistan because, ooh, you'd have to maybe address actual points made and linked. Then you complain about things getting too political and when called on it, comeback with You need to drop assuming what's on my mind/I think you do know where I stand. Huh?

This is what I mean by a weak hand--not exactly playing from a full deck and with the logical and commonsensical equivalent of a hand of 2 ♣, 3 ♦, 5 ♥, 7♠ and a 9 ♦ in the hole at that while everyone on the other side has two or three aces showing. Hence the weakness of crying it's too political when you've made a tacitly political comment in a propagandistic political thread. Put up or shut up but don't try to have it both ways.
posted by y2karl at 2:28 AM on February 17, 2003


Maybe sometime try commonsense, logic and the courage of your convictions, Steve, instead of folding and running.
posted by y2karl at 2:30 AM on February 17, 2003


Sorry, y2karl, but it takes more than the opinion of one hotheaded professor to shred the hopes of the Iraqi people for democracy in our time. As one might reasonably expect, there is disagreement among the Bush Administration regarding the shape of the post-liberation government in Iraq, which the left-wing Manchester Guardian (source of the Brandeis professor's rant you're so enamored with) puts this way:


Yesterday the chairman of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmad Chalabi, who many people had expected to become Iraq's new president, also derided Washington's proposals. 'The vision of having US military officers three deep in every ministry is not workable,' he told The Observer .


Chalabi, who lives in London, said demonstrators who attended anti-war protests across Britain yesterday were misguided. 'I would urge them to think again,' he said.


'War is a horrible thing to wish on anyone. But I firmly believe that the Iraqi people want the US to get rid of Saddam. Blair is doing the right thing.'


Chalabi was especially scathing of the German government, which he said was led by 'ageing German leftists wishing to absolve their conscience at the expense of the Iraqi people'. It was Germany which had supplied Saddam with chemical weapons in the 1980s, he pointed out.


The Pentagon and the vice-president Dick Cheney are broadly in favour of introducing Western-style democracy to Iraq but the State Department under Colin Powell and the CIA believe it could have a destabilising influence on the region.


The left-wing Guardian is suspicious that the post-liberation government isn't going to be as progressive as they might like, and apparently some members of the INC are inclined to pressure the administration through the media. This is the natural course of politics, and it shouldn't discourage us from going forward with the liberation, as it hasn't discouraged Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the organization with which your professor is affiliated. The INC is one of several organizations jockeying for power, and this is the tactic they're using at the moment. Some people have been critical of the INC as too cut off from contemporary Iraq (like my sister, who went to school with Chalabi at Chicago), and therefore tend to support other groups. I don't have insight as to which members of the opposition are most acceptable on which issues, so I can't pass judgment on these points.


Broad agreement remains, however, that Saddam needs to be deposed, and quickly. I don't believe you can argue with that, so consider yourself shredded, for discussion of the factional powers in a liberated Iraq simply isn't an issue unless we assume it will be liberated.
posted by BubbaDude at 2:44 AM on February 17, 2003


This other piece from the Guardian will be of interest to you Karl, as it not only echoes your fears about the leftiness of the post-liberation government, it also slams the European left for taking themselves out of the loop with their silly protests:


When Saddam is sent to rendezvous with a judge in The Hague, or a rope on a lamppost, the democratic opposition in Iraq will need help. It has many enemies: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the CIA and the Foreign Office want to replace the old tyrant with a new, compliant dictator - a Saddam without a moustache. As the moment of decision arrives, Iraqi democrats and socialists have discovered that their natural allies in the European Left don't want to know them. They must add the shameless Stop the War coalition to the enemies list.


Man, that "enemies list" stuff has to sting.
posted by BubbaDude at 2:52 AM on February 17, 2003


Karl,

I said that I believe that you are clear on my standing on the war. You assume that I don't comment on this thread' topic because it is "too political" as you put it. Two different things.

You assume that because I do not wish to waste my time rehashing a topic that you and myself have gone round and round before, that I am "folding and running". I simply do not wish to have this pointless debate with you again, yet you seem to. And again, you assume that I am "crying it's too political" when that is not the case. Anyone who reads MeFi can tell you there is not a subject that is "too political" for me. What these threads are, is redundant.

But see that you do not get tired of this endless circle jerk, as you have already moved on to the next Iraq thread of the day.

Have fun.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:55 AM on February 17, 2003


Broad agreement remains, however, that Saddam needs to be deposed, and quickly. I don't believe you can argue with that, so consider yourself shredded, for discussion of the factional powers in a liberated Iraq simply isn't an issue unless we assume it will be liberated.
There's liberation and then there's liberation. Think of the difference between East Germany and West Germany, both "liberated" after WWII.

I've no faith that US nation building would follow the former model at the moment.

Putting aside the question of disarmament for the moment, I'd rather Saddam was held in check by the international community until such time as internal forces instigate change than have the US go to war and build a slavering client-state that will eventually turn around bite us in the ass all the while denying the Iraqi people the self-determination that serves as partial justification for the conflict in the first place.
posted by rocketpup at 2:55 AM on February 17, 2003


Disarmament isn't the issue, and it hasn't been since 1998. The issue is liberation, and the debate on the shape of the new government will take place without the input of those who support, under any guise, the continued rule of Saddam Hussein. It's also very nice that you're skeptical of America; many in the liberation movement are similarly skeptical, but not to the point of endorsing Saddam, as you do. For them, he's not an abstraction to be used for whacking the American government, he's a greater evil that's to be deposed.
posted by BubbaDude at 3:17 AM on February 17, 2003


Disarmament isn't the issue, and it hasn't been since 1998.

Somebody alert the president then.
"We will consult. But let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."
posted by owillis at 3:23 AM on February 17, 2003


I don't have insight as to which members of the opposition are most acceptable on which issues, so I can't pass judgment on these points.

Well, that's all too obvious but it hasn't stopped you here, BubbaDude.

You belittle Kanan Makiya as a ranting hotheaded Brandeis professor and you can't even call him by his name, a classic albeit transparent way of devaluing someone while sliming them, and yet his name, his extensive credentials--Hey, I even read Republic Of Fear, and you?--are printed on this very page and it's obvious he's a long time democrat, a long time foe of Saddam and an Iraqi patriot.

You then drag in the Manchester Guardian and slime him again by association. But you don't directly offer one word of refutation of what he says except to quote Qualabi, a Kurdish factional leader, whereupon I point out Makiya's contention that if anyone is going to be screwed, it's the Kurds, and boy, does America have a great track record there--the Reagan administration covering up its tacit complicity in Saddam's gas attacks on Iran and the Kurds because he was our ally then, for example--I'll tell you. A betting man wouldn't be putting his money on the Kurds with the USA involved, not with Turkey in the fight.

You can't respond on points so you just trash him.

That is not argument, that is propaganda, spin, intellectual three card monty. That is so weak. Chickenshit, even. You get to pick your Iraqi democrats to cover your ass and trash another even while admitting you lack insight. Oh, I am so shredded. I bow in awe to your "intellectual integrity".

And yours, too, Steve. You just can't respond on points so you run. You say your little junior high have fun and then come squealing right back to have the last word, which you do over and over because that's the way you "win" arguments. OK, fine, have it both ways.

And what the fuck is this about, BubbaDude?

This other piece from the Guardian will be of interest to you Karl, as it not only echoes your fears about the leftiness of the post-liberation government, it also slams the European left for taking themselves out of the loop with their silly protests:

Now you are attempting to put in my mouth, SlickieBubba, in order to "refute" me with some lame quote that has nothing to do with anything I said. You are the Slime Master. Weak, so very very weak.
posted by y2karl at 3:34 AM on February 17, 2003


but not to the point of endorsing Saddam, as you do

Weaker yet. There is no bottom for you.
posted by y2karl at 3:36 AM on February 17, 2003


Disarmament is the (publicly stated) issue for the majority of the world (on preview, as owillis says). I agree that it may not be the real issue for the US or many of the other interested parties, but neither is liberation.

Liberation is your issue and the (publicly stated) issue of the organizations involved in the campaign that is the subject of this FPP. But neither you nor they are holding the cards.
It's also very nice that you're skeptical of America; many in the liberation movement are similarly skeptical, but not to the point of endorsing Saddam, as you do. For them, he's not an abstraction to be used for whacking the American government, he's a greater evil that's to be deposed.
I propose that there is a difference between "endorsing Saddam", as you put it, and suggesting that the current US administration isn't terribly interesting in doing the people of Iraq a good turn.

I believe that the promotion of democracy in Iraq as touted by the US and British administrations is just another part of the rhetoric being used to justify this war at any costs. I believe that it is not an actual policy. The US administration, at least, has proven adept at saying things in order to promote a general feeling of approval for their actions and then dancing free of any attempt to hold them to account for their statements.

I agree that Iraq should shuck or be shucked of its dictator but I insist that the consequences of doing so in any specific manner or at any specific time have to be weighed in advance. Would it not be better for Iraq's long term good to have change come from within, without having to play to an occupying power's agenda? As far as I'm concerned the choice is between that and another oppressive regime (maybe not quite as brutal?)
posted by rocketpup at 3:39 AM on February 17, 2003


Karl, you're trying appeal to authority to support an argument your authorities aren't making. Kanan Makiya and Ahmed Chalabi aren't saying that Saddam should not be deposed, as you are, they're saying the exact opposite. They both have concerns about the post-liberation government that stem from a long-running dispute between the bureaucrats of the CIA and the State Department on the one hand (traditional enemies of the INC) and the Pentagon and the White House on the other. The INC seeks to strengthen their hand at this point by trashing the CIA/State faction; that's fine, but it allows some nitwits to argue that the whole liberation idea is bad and should be called off.


But even you know that's not what they advocate, so show a little honesty.
posted by BubbaDude at 3:42 AM on February 17, 2003


Would it not be better for Iraq's long term good to have change come from within, without having to play to an occupying power's agenda?


I don't see that as a realistic option.
posted by BubbaDude at 3:44 AM on February 17, 2003


BubbaDude (ahem) can't even tell the Observer from the Guardian, which makes me think he'd also have trouble telling a military junta from a democracy.

Here's a tip: not everything at guardian.co.uk is from the Guardian. And that 'not everything' bit takes a very different editorial line from the Guardian; one that is currently sending readers to the Independent on Sunday in droves.

(That said, Nick Cohen's columns in the Obs have rightly criticised some on the left for marginalising the INC, and lots on the right for their long-running strategy to use them as a screen for justifying the imposition their own kind of 'democracy' on post-Saddam Iraq, in a manner that's reminiscent of other 'democratising' efforts of the past half-century.)
posted by riviera at 5:19 AM on February 17, 2003


A couple Iraqi dissidents with an anti-war perspective
"Exiled Iraqis made a fruitless appeal for fraternal solidarity last month - Pro-war perspective
Kurdish leaders enraged by 'undemocratic' American plan to occupy Iraq

What was envisioned for a post-Saddam Iraq as of November, 2002 - based on interviews with Beltway types
"American officials do not seem to recognise how difficult, costly, and prolonged the task of creating a peaceful order and a viable democracy in Iraq will be."
- Fawaz A. Gerges, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College
posted by sheauga at 5:25 AM on February 17, 2003


"bring some progressive values to their country with the help of bloggers"

LOL!!
posted by lathrop at 5:40 AM on February 17, 2003


riviera (rolling eyes) makes much of the British practice of newspapers giving their Sunday edition a different masthead than their daily editions. That's a testimony to the vastness of his intellect and cosmopolitan sensibilities, of course.

That being said, to the victor goes the responsibility of forming the postwar government. It's rather unlikely, in any event, that post-liberation Iraq won't be signficantly better -- for the Iraqis -- than ethnic cleansing Iraq under that great progressive socialist, Saddam Hussein. That's the bet the Iraqis are making.

It's also interesting that those who've been opposing the toppling of Saddam haven't said anything at all about the INC and other dissident Iraqi groups until quite recently, except to brand them CIA tools, and it's hard to see this new-found concern for the government of Iraq as anything but a desperate attempt to keep Saddam in power.
posted by BubbaDude at 6:07 AM on February 17, 2003


Here two other views from Iraqi exiles. From The Guardian:

I am so frustrated by the appalling views of most of the British people, media and politicians. I want to say to all these people who are against the possible war, that if you think by doing so you are serving the interests of Iraqi people or saving them, you are not. You are effectively saving Saddam. You are depriving the Iraqi people of probably their last real chance get rid of him and to get out of this dark era in their history.

My family and almost all Iraqi families will feel hurt and anger when Saddam's media shows on the TV, with great happiness, parts of Saturday's demonstration in London. But where were you when thousands of Iraqi people were killed by Saddam's forces at the end of the Gulf war to crush the uprising? Only now when the war is to reach Saddam has everybody become so concerned about the human life in Iraq.

And from a letter written to Tony Blair:

I want to ask those who support the anti - "war" movement (apart from pacifists - that is a totally different situation) their motives and reasoning behind such support. You may feel that America is trying to blind you from seeing the truth about their real reasons for an invasion. I must argue that in fact, you are still blind to the bigger truths in Iraq. I must ask you to consider the following questions:

* Saddam has murdered more than a million Iraqis over the past 30 years, are you willing to allow him to kill another million Iraqis?
* Out of a population of 20 million, 4 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their country during Saddam's reign. Are you willing to ignore the real and present danger that caused so many people to leave their homes and families?
* Saddam rules Iraq using fear - he regularly imprisons, executes and tortures the mass population for no reason whatsoever - this may be hard to believe and you may not even appreciate the extent of such barbaric acts, but believe me you will be hard pressed to find a family in Iraq who have not had a son/father/brother killed, imprisoned, tortured and/or "disappeared" due to Saddam's regime. What has been stopping you from taking to the streets to protest against such blatant crimes against humanity in the past?
* Saddam gassed thousands of political prisoners in one of his campaigns to "cleanse" prisons - why are you not protesting against this barbaric act?
* An example of the dictator's policy you are trying to save - Saddam has made a law to give excuse to any man to rape a female relative and then murder her in the name of adultery. Do you still want to march to keep him in power?

Of course it would be ideal if an invasion could be undertaken, not by the Americans, but by, say, the Nelson Mandela International Peace Force. That's not on offer. The Iraqi people cannot wait until such a force materialises; they have been forced to take what they're given. That such a force does not exist - cannot exist - in today's world is a failing of the very people who do not want America to invade Iraq, yet are willing to let thousands of Iraqis to die in order to gain the higher moral ground. Do not continue to punish the Iraqi people because you are "unhappy" with the amount of power the world is at fault for allowing America to wield. Do not use the Iraqi people as a pawn in your game for moral superiority - one loses that right when one allows a monster like Saddam to rule for 30 years without so much as protesting against his rule.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:41 AM on February 17, 2003


"the deal is that Iraq slipped and broke her hip, meaning that they should get a replacement first and then when the other two [Saudi Arabia and Pakistan] need a replacement, they will get one." [ RobbieFal, comment on this thread ] This is a hummmmmmmmmdinger of a quote! - maybe it should be sent to Al Jazeera, to give Pakistan and Saudi Arabia a little head's up about what's in store for them (in terms of "hip replacement").

Help help! I've fallen and I can't get up! ........Please kind sirs, won't you bomb my cities to rubble and install a US military ruler to supervise the generous reconstruction? I've heard such good things about the US reconstruction of Afghanistan. ...............Help help! I've fallen and I can't get up!
posted by troutfishing at 6:45 AM on February 17, 2003


BubbaDude, this isn't about democracy at all--this is about invading Iraq and calling anyone who quite legitimately questions the wisdom of this pro-Saddam. This is a straw man, a warblogger stalking horse about regime change. Saddam is evil, must kill Saddam. Kim Il Jong is Evil, Kim Il Jong have Bomb. Must negotiate with Kim Il Jong. Saddam, Saddam, Saddam--either you're wtih us or you're against us, black and white. You're in the white hats.

Iraq will be a democracy in the way Afghanistan is a democracy, albeit perhaps without the warlords--well, maybe the Turkey will run the North in order to keep a foot on the necks of the Kurds--we'll pick a regime whose foreign policy we can run and have ourselves a little aircraft carrier on land.

And it'll be a self-determined democracy just like Afghanistan--a little Muppet democracy with a hand picked Muppet President with a chickenhawk hand up its ass, making it talk pretty. That is, if we're lucky.

Meanwhile, there's Al Queda, North Korea, Pakistan and on and on--but we'll myopically focus on Iraq because we think we can take it down like it was an over sized Grenada. And that's the thing--we want a war we can win, even if we alienate the whole world. Pro-democracy, my ass. This is just about making yourself right by making us all pro-Saddam. This is voo doo democracy and human rights.

Wow, you finally brought yourself to say Kanan Makiya. Formerly known as the ranting Brandeis professor. Oh, the integrity! You still put words in my mouth and try to present yourself as supremely knowledgeable but you're just another warblogger armchair general playing paper dolls with someone else's country and every word you type is self flattering spin. When it comes to verisimilitude, you're four cans short of a six pack. Don't talk to me about honest, not after the way you've slicked out here.

Hey, but ignore me, now apply your integrity into putting words in riviera's and Sheuaga's mouths and distorting/ignoring their points and links. Make yourself right all over again by making them pro-Saddam.

Yeah, that's the ticket--we're all pro-Baathists and you're Tailgunner BubbaDude. Right...
posted by y2karl at 6:48 AM on February 17, 2003


pardonyou? -re: "Saddam has murdered more than a million Iraqis over the past 30 years, are you willing to allow him to kill another million Iraqis?"

I hear that North Korea has killed at least as many of it's own citizens, and that it is rushing to build a nuclear arsenal, has missiles pointed our way, has tens of thousands of artillery tubes pointed at Seoul and holding it hostage......

"Do not use the Iraqi people as a pawn in your game for moral superiority - one loses that right when one allows a monster like Saddam to rule for 30 years without so much as protesting against his rule."

By your logic, the US has then lost, long ago, the claim of moral superiority: there are photos of Don Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in '87: The US helped Iraq develop chemical and biological weapons capability in the mmid to late 80's when Saddam was "our boy", and looked the other way when he used chemical weapons to blunt the Iranian advance in the Iran-Iraq war......meanwhile, the post Gulf War sanctions against Iraq have (along with the all too real crimes of Saddam) killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the last decade, many of these children, by denying Iraqis access to medical supplies and clean water......

I'd say that the government of Gautemala has probably killed a higher percentage of it's own people (with quite a bit of assistance form the US) over the last 3 decades than has Iraq - killings there of human rights workers, Priests, judges, labour leaders, even forensic experts exhuming and investigating the massacres of the 80's - have skyrocketed.

There are many murderous regimes in the world, and the US has supported quite a number of them.

If you are arguing that the US must invade every nation, and topple every government which brutalizes it's people.....well that's a long list! - and one which will require a major shift in US foreign policy priorities.

If your argument is about Iraq's potential military (WMD) threat to the US - well, Iraq is pretty far down the list there, certainly behind North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan - countries with proven ties to terrorist groups.

The moral calculus is quite a bit murkier than you suggest.

The realpolitik calculus suggest that a US invasion of Iraq would not be from concern over WMD's.

This does not mean that toppling Saddam Hussein's regime would not benefit the Iraqi people......except that, in the process, the US plans to bomb what little remains of the Iraqi national infrastructure to rubble, and to then install a military dictator (temporarily - for about 2 years, at least) of our own. Will Tommy Franks get sufficient money for reconstruction? Or will the attention of the US simply shift to another "crisis" - North Korea, say - requiring all out war, leaving Iraqis to sift through the depleted-uranium laced rubble of their country? Oh yes, I almost forgot: the rebuilding will be paid for from the proceeds of the beneficiently US controlled Iraqi oil fields.....hmmm........I hope they send some of that reconstruction money to Afghanistan too.....I hope these oil profits are better managed than the royalties from the Indian land leased out by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs - I hear that they've "misplaced" about 137 billion owed to Native Americans....

From the US neglect of it's commitment to reconstruct bombed out Afghanistan, I'm not sanguine about rebuilding Iraq...
posted by troutfishing at 7:27 AM on February 17, 2003


When you read it in order, it's so damn funny.

Pro-democracy bloggers are a different breed from many traditional, trend-driven activists, and this might be the difference.

The campaign is supported by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, an activist umbrella group of pro-Democracy Iraqi organizations inside and outside of Iraq.

Who are some of the board members?

Our board includes people from across the political spectrum such as Jack Kemp, Frank Lautenberg, Steve Forbes, and Jeane Kirkpatrick.


I assume that the Iraqis are asking the US for help in part because of the unique status we have among nations, and in part because our official policy on Iraq since 1998 is to support regime change.

Yes, the board of the umbrella group is multicultural, but the organizations themselves are dominated by Iraqi nationals. Thanks for pointing out the diversity, which we can all celebrate now.

However, if you're an expert in military matters, I'm sure someone at the Foundation would like to be informed by your expertise. Shall I arrange a meeting?


I'd be more inclined to take his point of view than that of some professor at Brandeis, y2karl.

As a practical matter, bringing human rights to everyone everywhere all at the same time may be a little ambitious. Might I suggest a one-at-a-time approach, raysmj?


mathowie, as I understand it the plan is for a military government of US and UK forces to take immediate control of the ministries in order to maintain continuity of services. Once the Saddamites are identified and placed on trial, a provisional government will draft a constitution (this is already underway by the INC) and hold elections. This process leads to Iraqi control in a matter of months from the conclusion of hostilities.

Global democracy, and limited state sponsors of terrorism, is clearly in the interests of Americans, raysmj.


Pressed for an idea of how long a military occupation would last before Iraqis could take back the government of their country, his colleague from the State Department, Marc Grossman, said he would guess “two years.”

Grossman dealt another blow to the aspirations of the Iraqi opposition in exile, which has been jockeying for advantage in the hope that the United States will overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the next few weeks.

He said the Iraqi opposition in exile would not be allowed to control decisions for all Iraqis. “While we are listening to what the Iraqis are telling us, the United States government will make its decisions based on what is in the national interest of the United States,” he added.

The infrastructure of Saddam's ruling Baath party would remain largely intact, with the top two officials in each Iraqi ministry replaced by US military officers.

Sorry, y2karl, but it takes more than the opinion of one hotheaded professor to shred the hopes of the Iraqi people for democracy in our time.

Broad agreement remains, however, that Saddam needs to be deposed, and quickly. I don't believe you can argue with that, so consider yourself shredded, for discussion of the factional powers in a liberated Iraq simply isn't an issue
unless we assume it will be liberated.

It's also interesting that those who've been opposing the toppling of Saddam haven't said anything at all about the INC and other dissident Iraqi groups until quite recently, except to brand them CIA tools, and it's hard to see this new-found concern for the government of Iraq as anything but a desperate attempt to keep Saddam in power
.

You know, speaking of circle jerks, and I certainly wouldn't want to imply that this whole "pro-democracy" warblogger thing is an intellectual circle jerk, oh, no way, nosiree, but maybe you all could get together and pin medals on each others'hests. Less chance of sticking yourself, you know, than the way you're doing it now..

The way the argument is purposely framed, if you don't believe there is hard evidence linking Saddam to Osama, or if you don't feel there is a justification of going to war and the risk of worldwide turmoil, it means you're against democracy. Wonderful. It reduces discourse down to children yelling "I'm rubber and you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you." Wonderful debate tactic, however immature it may be.

Matt nailed it. BubbaDude, this was just a troll, start to finish.
posted by y2karl at 7:34 AM on February 17, 2003


Yeah! What y2karl said, and then some:

Regionally, I would liken a US invasion of Iraq, and the postwar presence of a huge US garrison there, to whacking a hornet's nest with a stick. Do not forget the feelings of virtually the whole Islamic world over this, the damage the "Crusade" and "good vs. evil" rhetoric on the part of US leaders and Fundamentalist clergy has done, the rage of the Islamic world over the Palestinian issue - and it's conviction that the US invasion of Iraq would amount to a neo-colonial project.

Do not forget Pakistan.

As I said, "whacking a hornet's nest with a stick"

my blog "movement" (the realpolitik movement) logo will feature, prominently, a Death's Head, a spurting oil well, and the slogan "Pax Americana"
posted by troutfishing at 7:49 AM on February 17, 2003


This whole war is a troll. Someone should've godwinned it back in August or so.
posted by condour75 at 7:57 AM on February 17, 2003


[long]
Putting words in my mouth? Wasn't aware that I'd said anything yet in this thread ;)

"if you don't believe there is hard evidence linking Saddam to Osama ... it means you're against democracy ..."
How the attempt to link bin Laden and Saddam impedes the war on terrorism - Haaretz editorial
One agenda for debate is lining up all the facts on the basis of whether they're for / against military intervention. The suffering of the Iraqi people has been conveniently ignored until it suddenly became a politically expedient argument for intervention. This doesn't do much to convince anyone of American sincerity, or willingness to follow through on making life better for Iraqis.

A slightly different agenda for debate is attempting to lay out a full spectrum of facts for yourself and see what sort of pattern emerges.
"You cannot just cherry-pick evidence that suits your case and ignore the rest. It is a cardinal rule of intelligence."
I'd like to see some analysis from an Arab perspective on the practical aspects of setting up a process of "de-Baathification," possibly along the lines of "de-Nazification," before I sign on to replacing the Baath regime by force. Surely there's enough money out there in some think tank to do this kind of preparation and homework. And I'd like to see what people working in Arab universities, not US universities, come up with on "de-Baathification."
"Democracy aid often falls short in its methods of implementation. Democracy promoters have failed in many cases to seek a sophisticated understanding of the societies in which they work, resting on the misguided idea that their knowledge of democracy alone is a sufficient guide to foster democracy wherever they go. Too often they have taken upon themselves the role of agents of political change in transitional societies, treating local partners as mere assistants. Countless projects have foundered for lack of real ownership in recipient countries.

Implementation is gradually improving, with increased localism the main theme of change ..."
And fer cryin' out loud, let's at least get Washington DC stocked up on bottled water, plastic sheeting, and duct tape before we launch this thing! Organizing some basic civil defense drills, so the general public has an idea of how to evacuate their workplace or metro station in an orderly fashion, is definitely called for at this point. Seems to me we're about six months to a year out from getting a handle on the database cleanup, tracking, and accountability problem (nuclear - bio - chem materials, dual use technology procurement, tracking of immigrants and cargo, etc.)

My conclusion: One year to get our ducks in a row; meanwhile, apply military and diplomatic pressure in an orderly fashion so nobody does anything funny. Maybe floating a little more slush fund money to the world's aspiring Nelson Mandela International Peace Forces would lay some groundwork for picking up the pieces after the world's belligerent proliferators finish playing with their firecrackers.

Possible benefit from one more year of inspections: developing an Agreed Framework for Biological and Chemical Inspection that's transferable to other proliferation situations.
posted by sheauga at 8:08 AM on February 17, 2003


troutfishing: "If you are arguing that the US must invade every nation, and topple every government which brutalizes it's people.....well that's a long list!"

Um, it's not "my" argument. I was simply quoting statements from Iraqi exiles who are praying for someone -- anyone -- to liberate the country from the tyranny of Hussein.

y2karl: "Matt nailed it. BubbaDude, this was just a troll, start to finish."

That's the most unbelievable bullshit I've read in a long time. Fine, you don't agree with his premise. But others (many others) obviously do, and you can assume that they are as thoughtful and intelligent as yourself. And I also think that BubbaDude's arguments were remarkably free from histrionics (unlike your own -- you might want to re-read your posts*). Basically, you're calling "troll" simply based on the fact that you find his argument to be different than yours. If that was the test, every post by such luminaries as f_and_m, nofundy, specialk420, and a host of others would be trollish. Agree to disagree, but don't call someone a troll just because he isn't swayed by your brilliant logic.

* y2karl's high-road argument style, as displayed in this post: "Did you miss this memo from npost?", "Add that to your little banner", "That's democracy in action, buddy! American style!", "I've seen some weak ass knee jerk dismissals of people here, BubbaDude, but your's has been one of the weakest weak ass self-serving spins yet", "Logic and common sense prevail. Except when you have nothing to say", "Put up or shut up but don't try to have it both ways", "That is so weak. Chickenshit, even. You get to pick your Iraqi democrats to cover your ass and trash another even while admitting you lack insight. Oh, I am so shredded. I bow in awe to your "intellectual integrity", "And what the fuck is this about, BubbaDude?", "Now you are attempting to put in my mouth, SlickieBubba, in order to "refute" me with some lame quote that has nothing to do with anything I said. You are the Slime Master. Weak, so very very weak"
posted by pardonyou? at 8:30 AM on February 17, 2003


BubbaDude's comments are trollish because such comments to the effect of "Liberation and not disarmament is the issue, and hasn't been since 1998" are so at odds with reality and demonstrably false. If it's not the issue, then why are our leaders making such a big deal over it? Why is BubbaDude worried about limiting terrorism, in addition to democracy, if liberation is the issue and not disarmament? Was he all into "liberation" in 1998?

Actually, though, BubbaDude hasn't deserved any response since about a quarter of the way through this thread.
posted by raysmj at 9:02 AM on February 17, 2003


What pardonyou? said.
posted by Plunge at 9:02 AM on February 17, 2003


Is there anyone here who honestly thinks we are not going to war? If so, wake up. The deal is done. Time to step back and watch it unfold, there is nothing more you can do until November '04.

"Help yourself to a piping hot cup of shut your face." Thanks, I feel so much better now.
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:15 AM on February 17, 2003


Deal ain't done yet-- nor is the range of alternatives "full invasion with occupation or nuthin'." There's limited and highly focused military action, coercive inspection, joint occupation forces, unexpected developments in the Arab world, (possible Saudi democratization, etc.) ...

Stocks rise in Europe, Asia on bet war will be delayed.
Ain't over till the fat lady sings, etc.
posted by sheauga at 10:18 AM on February 17, 2003


Just a history reminder for you all.

The US ran Germany after WW2 and that went on for four years. But, gasp.. the Germans can govern themselves now!

Alot of you seem perfectly willing to call the toppling of Saddam a loss if exiles aren't immediently sent in to take over while the US soldiers leave. Obviously, the exiles will have to do quite a bit to readjust to Iraq and the government in Iraq cannot be all 'exiles', I just sense that'd fuel resentment among common Iraqis.

I will say this, even if your reports are true, Tommy Franks > Saddam Hussein when it comes to running a country.

Bleh.. :)
posted by RobbieFal at 10:36 AM on February 17, 2003


BubbaDude's comments are trollish because such comments to the effect of "Liberation and not disarmament is the issue, and hasn't been since 1998" are so at odds with reality and demonstrably false.

That doesn't make them trollish. Be fair. I completely disagree with him about the war, but I respect the principle (pro-democracy) he is coming from. And this post was more worthy than most of the recent Iraq posts, IMO.

Also, what pardonyou? said.
posted by homunculus at 10:40 AM on February 17, 2003


Just a history reminder for you all.

The US ran Germany after WW2 and that went on for four years. But, gasp.. the Germans can govern themselves now!


Another bit of history to remember is the American occupation of the Philipines. That was a nasty business. We need to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes.
posted by homunculus at 10:43 AM on February 17, 2003


Having now laid all the historical facts before the Person Sitting in Darkness, we should bring him to again, and explain them to him. We should say to him:

"They look doubtful, but in reality they are not. There have been lies; yes, but they were told in a good cause. We have been treacherous; but that was only in order that real good might come out of apparent evil. True, we have crushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have bought a Shadow from an enemy that hadn't it to sell; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and his liberty; we have invited our clean young men to shoulder a discredited musket and do bandit's work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear, not to follow; we have debauched America's honor and blackened her face before the world; but each detail was for the best. We know this. The Head of every State and Sovereignty in Christendom and ninety per cent. of every legislative body in Christendom, including our Congress and our fifty State Legislatures, are members not only of the church, but also of the Blessings-of-Civilization Trust. This world-girdling accumulation of trained morals, high principles, and justice, cannot do an unright thing, an unfair thing, an ungenerous thing, an unclean thing. It knows what it is about. Give yourself no uneasiness; it is all right."

Now then, that will convince the Person. You will see. It will restore the Business. Also, it will elect the Master of the Game to the vacant place in the Trinity of our national gods; and there on their high thrones the Three will sit, age after age, in the people's sight, each bearing the Emblem of his service: Washington, the Sword of the Liberator; Lincoln, the Slave's Broken Chains; the Master, the Chains Repaired.

It will give the Business a splendid new start. You will see.

posted by homunculus at 10:45 AM on February 17, 2003


"The US ran Germany after WW2 and that went on for four years. But, gasp.. the Germans can govern themselves now!"......

Iraq in 2003 is very, very different from post WW2 Europe and I would suggest that such comparisons probably obscure more than they reveal.

Would the US be able to forcibly stamp it's vision of democracy (congruent with US interest, of course) on Iraq? I hope that time WILL NOT tell us the answer. But then there would be a much larger political cost of such an operation:

Regionally, I would liken a US invasion of Iraq, and the postwar presence of a huge US garrison there, to whacking a hornet's nest with a stick....Do not forget the feelings of virtually the whole Islamic world about this.
posted by troutfishing at 11:31 AM on February 17, 2003


What a lotta shit here... ok, if the REAL reason for this war isn't disarmament, but liberation, I say fuck that! Why do I have to send my sons (and yours) to liberate anyone? If the Iraqi people want it bad enough, fine. Maybe we can even support somehow an Iraqi led opposition and start concentrating a little more on domestic isssues. It's like that "show me the money" line; lemme see first how badly the Iraqi opposition really wants liberation before I support American casualties. It's almost like they'll "let" us do the dirty work, then they'll go in and "fix" the country (as if W's gonna have that!) without shedding any of their blood.
posted by LouReedsSon at 12:00 PM on February 17, 2003


You know, one thing that I have a hard time understanding is why anyone who opposes the war must also oppose democracy and freedom for the Iraqi people. I don't support Saddam or his continued "leadership" of Iraq, but I also don't believe that this war is the best way to get him out of office and return control of Iraq to its people.

I want them to be liberated, I want them to have the ability to set up and run a democratic government. I want them to be treated the way any human being should and for the abuses of their rights to come to an end. What I don't want is for us to go in, kill who knows how many Iraqi civilians and have who knows how many of our own soldiers killed in a war that may not be the best (or only) way to resolve the issue, and to destroy our reputation and standing in the international community in the process. We're supposed to be the good guys, not the neighborhood bully everyone wants to see brought to his knees.
expanded comments available at different strings
posted by thorswitch at 12:32 PM on February 17, 2003


homunculus: I said that his explanation doesn't wash because he contradicted it within this thread. So, yes, he's being trollish, if not an outright troll. What he said about disarmament not being the issue with the pro-war crowd, I added, is also a falsehood. He, like the whole "democracy and human rights" people here, are trying to change the terms of a debate in order to win an argument - and their rules are apparently being applied retrogressively.
posted by raysmj at 12:41 PM on February 17, 2003


This post could have been a neutrally phrased invitation to discuss the potential impact of "blog activism" on global politics, but instead it's nothing short of a big publicity campaign from BubbaDude about a cause he supports. Which is nice and all, but not really what front page posts are supposed to be about, right?
posted by jess at 12:48 PM on February 17, 2003


raysmj, I see you're right. I missed some of those comments of BubbaDude's before. This is not an easy thread to keep up with.
posted by homunculus at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2003


It's up to those posting comments to set the direction of the thread, jess -- I did what I could at the beginning to put it on the direction you suggest, but the supporters of the Iraqi status quo would have none of that. I'm personally very interested in on-line activism, and have run an activist blog since 1994 in support of it.

If anyone who believes, like thorswitch, that democracy for Iraq is a noble goal but one that should be achieved without a US invasion can suggest another way that it might be achieved, I'd sure like to hear it, on-line activism or none.

Regarding the WMD vs. regime change issue, regime change has been US policy, according to Congressional resolution, since 1998. The WMD business is apparently necessary for the UN, which doesn't support regime changes under any scenario.

Regarding the nature of the post-liberation government in Iraq, if the US screws this up and tries to make a puppet state of Iraq, we the voters can replace the responsible administration in 2004 and correct that error. The Iraqis have no such recourse.

The "troll" comments are ridiculous -- this is a real campaign in support of real people with real problems, but you all really knew that.
posted by BubbaDude at 12:59 PM on February 17, 2003


I'd hate to kill the wrong dragon.
posted by Opus Dark at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2003


Troll or not, the post sparked some, good, mostly civil debate. The thread takes a long time to load in my browser.
posted by troutfishing at 1:05 PM on February 17, 2003


this is a real campaign in support of real people with real problems, but you all really knew that.

No, this is created-this-weekend rhetoric that smacks of, to use your own words, "trend-driven activism" purported by a massive of warbloggers who are desperate to cling to a new rationale, ANY rationale, for war now that the last one has been blown dead in the water.

Al-Qaeda link- unproven. Revenge on bin Laden- failed. Gassed his own people- partial U.S. fault revealed. Kicked out inspectors- proven incorrect.

Maybe you really, deep down, do care about the suffereing people of Iraq, Bubba, just as any logical sentient human being does. But what you "all really know" is that 99% of the people supporting this "movement" of yours are suddenly touting the need to free the poor oppressed people of Iraq only because they can't use last week's excuse about the goddamn aluminum tubes anymore.

Just like those pathetic little orange icons on CNN and Fox News reminding us that there's an "advanced terror mood ring warning" or whatever the hell, those link-GIFs are going to disappear as soon as everyone gets bored and finds some new activity to instill war-promoting anger and fear into the country. And just like the Afghani women we exploited to bomb someone and make ourselves happy, the people of Iraq are still going to be impoverished and oppressed when the U.S. gets bored of making good military PR. Why? Because on the long list of things the United States has on its Iraq shopping list, actually giving a shit what happens to its citizens is right near the bottom, and there's no precedent in this current administration to prove otherwise.

I'm angry because you're right, Bubba- this movement isn't a troll. It's simply a lie, which is a thousand times worse. The rabid "who cares, it's hapening no matter what" war hawks care just about that- it happening no matter what. You don't want to free the Iraqi people. You want to go to war so you can tell us all you told us so. Nothing more, and it certainly can't be anything less.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:17 PM on February 17, 2003


this is a real campaign in support of real people with real problems, but you all really knew that.

This is the ceremonial, eleventh hour release of a gaudy red herring. This is unintended consequence become anthem. This is duplicity on steroids.

Everyone is supposed to yell "Freeborn!" and start swinging a sword?

I do love a good diversion, but does anyone really believe that, without the WTC backdrop, WMD props, and a terrorist score, the Bush administration could have sold any tickets to The War To Liberate Our Iraqi Brethren? Does anyone really think they would've even tried?

Please. Much of this war's support rests on the naive belief that there is a mysterious-but-valuable ulterior motive driving it - no one knows exactly what that motive is, but no one seriously believes it is selfless dedication to human rights. A right-thinking hawk would realize that, and not seek to disturb the precarious status quo.
posted by Opus Dark at 3:59 PM on February 17, 2003


It's a shame that the Iraqi people must continue to suffer just so Western liberals can feel morally superior to their own governments, and especially to that of the United States. As interesting as it is to bash John Ashcroft's prudishness or George Bush's verbal shortcomings or the sincerity of the CIA or the influence of Colin Powell, at the end of the day this is nothing more than a self-serving distraction.

The Iraqi people have suffered for 25 years under the tyrannical rule of the most brutal dictator on the planet, a man who came to power by publicly executing 50 members of his own party chosen at random, a man who's gassed his own people, launched missile attacks at five of his neighbors and invaded two for -- yes -- their oil, a man who's tortured, executed, and disappeared tens of thousands of innocent people, attempted genocide against the Kurds and succeeded in genocide against the Marsh Arabs, a man who sends videotapes of the torture and murder of their loved ones to the families of those he most severely victimizes, and instead of seizing the best opportunity to bring him down that the Iraqis have had in the last twenty years, you people want to ride the moral high horse about how much better, cooler, and smarter you are than George W. Bush?

I've seen arrogance before, and I've seen narcissism before, but this takes the prize. All of you who advocate leaving Saddam Hussein in power, against the wishes of the Iraqi people, should be ashamed of yourselves.
posted by BubbaDude at 4:27 PM on February 17, 2003


this is a real campaign in support of real people with real problems, but you all really knew that.

This is a culture jam. It's co-opting lefty ideas into rhetoric that polarizes discussion into severely black and white boxes, with no greys in between. I see a very careful word choice happening, and a divisive use of pro- and anti- modifiers to further tar your oppnents with a wide brush.

The rhetoric goes like this: If you want to kill saddam, you don't have to show anyone he has weapons, you don't need to prove he has links to osama, and you don't need to wait for the world to agree it's worth doing. It's not imperialistic, it's not about oil, it's not about weapons, it's about democracy. If you are against us, you hate democracy, and what America was built on. If you're not pro-democracy, that makes you pro-oppression. Pro-democracy advocates care about the little guy, the poor oppressed iraqi, meaning that anyone that doesn't want to invade immediately is somehow a part of the human rights violations that occur there.

Between all out invasion and sitting on our hands there are a million options in between, a million small nuances worth discussing, but this line of reasoning presented in the main link is a new hammer for the nail of Iraq, and instead of discussing matters and details, it reduces and coarsens discourse down to "Why do you hate Freedom?"

In September of 2001, we all remember an afghani guy that got lots of air time saying "think of the poor afghani people, don't bomb us into the stone age" and we eventually did, though with some precision (how many accidental deaths? Anyone get an accurate count?). From the "axis of evil" address when focus shifted to Saddam, people against a war have been saying that although Saddam is a bad guy and he is starving his people, starting a war with him will make an unstable area of the world all that more unstable, make us look like thugs pissed that we couldn't catch Osama so we're taking out the next guy, and that the costs to save the people might outweigh the benefit. People at protests are also frequently saying that invasions will cost many lives on all sides, but espeically so to the people that live there. How one can ignore the human costs of invasion is beyond me. It all smacks of spin, since I haven't heard anyone on the right asking about the plight of the iraqi people before last week. It smacks of a new trend of rhetoric.

A year ago, someone would try telling me that it wasn't true that 1 million of Saddam's people had died of starvation at the hands of the leader. This week, the same person is saying we need to bomb in order to free those poor depraved souls. You tell me who is following trends.
posted by mathowie at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2003


All of you who advocate leaving Saddam Hussein in power, against the wishes of the Iraqi people, should be ashamed of yourselves.

No one is saying that. Every rational person I've talked to about the subject of Iraq agrees he's a bad guy, and the world would be better off without him (that includes leftys, righties, americans, irish, and british folks). The question worth discussing is how best do we deal with him? An all out carpet bomb invasion could easily cause more harm than good, and when the whole world was after Osama, he got away, while Saddam has escaped us once, do you think we're sure to get him this time?

But don't bother answering the questions, please just tar me as a narcissitic freedom-hating, human rights violating supporter of oppression. I'm sure I'll understand your point of view, since you've given me so much respect for my opinons.
posted by mathowie at 4:39 PM on February 17, 2003


Well, as far as culture jamming goes, Bubba met his mandate: he managed to link to the same page on the defend democracy site four times in this thread. Some sort of googlebomb, that?
posted by ook at 5:11 PM on February 17, 2003


Remember, 500,000 children didn't starve and didn't die. So what are we saving?
posted by mathowie at 5:18 PM on February 17, 2003


I've seen arrogance before, and I've seen narcissism before, but this takes the prize. All of you who advocate leaving Saddam Hussein in power, against the wishes of the Iraqi people, should be ashamed of yourselves.

That's a very good display of outrage against moral superiority there, champ.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:42 PM on February 17, 2003


Between all out invasion and sitting on our hands there are a million options in between, a million small nuances worth discussing...

This is called "paralysis by analysis" -- you get so bogged down in discussing all the options that you never get around to actually doing anything. This is why Saddam is still in power despite the efforts of the Iraqi National Congress and others over the last twenty-five years to depose him. In reality, there are three choices, each with minor variations:

1. Do nothing, and allow Saddam to go on raping, torturing, starving, and murdering while clucking that you really think he's "a bad man" whom the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy should take care of some day, as long as it's not too inconvenient.

2. Impose economic sanctions on the Iraqi people, leading to starvation and ill health as Saddam and his minions bleed off the funds they need for weapons and their own welfare at the expense of the Iraqi people.

3. Depose Saddam by force, using modern munitions, special forces, indigenous resistance, and Iraqi exiles.

As Matt points out, the United Nations sanctions program has directly lead to the death of 100,000 - 500,000 people, depending on whose numbers you like. I don't see this as a humane option, nor do I see preservation of the status quo as a humane option.

That only leaves me with one choice that might reasonably lead to the Iraqis having acceptable lives: forced regime change.

If I'm missing something, by all means point it out -- but bashing the Bush government, or bashing the supposed hypocrisy of those of us who've supported the Iraqi freedom movement for years isn't on point, even if it makes you feel good.
posted by BubbaDude at 5:42 PM on February 17, 2003


What are we saving? I think we're saving face. The people reading those horrifying threat assessments every morning are under a lot of pressure to do something. Culture jamming is just the latest attempt to save face.

Showing restraint and accepting risk in order to develop a longer-term solution, like the realists on the NPR Iraq Christmas Show (RealPlayer) suggest, is a lot less appealing than jumping on a quick pop-culture bandwagon. Interesting that the flurry of Bloggers for Iran seems to have subsided. The graphics in this Iraq democracy campaign suggest that it's aimed at American bloggers, not the Iraqis.

BubbaDude, you're missing one thing- web links to in-depth English-language background material about what the Iraqi freedom movement has been up to all these years. Getting people to sign on to a national liberation struggle as a personal commitment is not so simple as a batch of Washington pols posting a few red-white-and blue web pages. You need to provide a variety of ways for different kinds of people to connect with your cause on a personal level. So far, the peace movement side is doing a lot better at making those personal connections.

Unfortunately, I don't think the point of this blogger campaign is getting Americans to sign on to the Iraqi cause. I think it's a horribly cynical last-minute move to rally support for precipitous and ill-timed military intervention. But prove me wrong, please!
posted by sheauga at 6:10 PM on February 17, 2003


BubbaDude, you are against military action against Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the countries who have supported al Qaeda for the last decade, and you are against deploying all our troops in the hunt for bin Laden and Mullah Omar, who are still free and making new threats. This prooves that you are on the side of the terrorists. Why do you hate America so much?

Just kidding! But I hope you see my point.
posted by homunculus at 6:20 PM on February 17, 2003


I do find it a tad suspicious that the most ardent new-on-the-scene supporters of Iraqis rights, who care so desperately about the Iraqi people are perfectly content to not just support but massively subsidize virtually all of the crimes Saddam is guilty of if they are against the Palestinians. Israel's human rights record in the occupied territories rivals Saddam's (inside his own country), and the UN, the US State Department, international law, and dozens of independent bodies have been very clear on this. However you find the exact same people who suddenly care so much for Iraqi rights actively championing the suppression of those same rights if they are for Palestinians.

It is hypocrisy in its most naked form.
posted by chaz at 6:28 PM on February 17, 2003


you are against military action against Pakistan and Saudi Arabia...

Actually, I'd like to see Saudi Arabia fall next, but Pakistan is a more difficult problem. Somehow we have to sow the seeds of secularism in the Middle East, but that's probably a hundred-year problem.

As to the suddeness of support for a free Iraq, I wouldn't make rash assumptions about the timing of other people's viewpoints without better (that means "some") evidence, chaz.

You make a good point, sheauga, that the pro-democracy movement hasn't built the kind of grass-roots base that the other side has. That's a real problem, as is the failure of the President to acknowledge the importance of courting popular opinion. I get the impression that he's willing to be a one-term president if that's the price of doing the right thing when it's not the popular thing, and I don't think that's a sacrfice he needs to make. Still, you have to admire his courage, and that of Tony Blair, who's in a similar situation. It's always hard to get the masses to support a war before it's actually started; Britain couldn't get excited about Hitler until he started bombing them, after all.

Complacency is always the default option.
posted by BubbaDude at 6:40 PM on February 17, 2003


Belatedly, because prodding this mendacious bag of manure is not really worth the effort:

riviera (rolling eyes) makes much of the British practice of newspapers giving their Sunday edition a different masthead than their daily editions.

Masthead? Yeah, right. BubbaDick (again, alas) fails to appreciate the British practice of having entirely separate journalistic staff and editorial practices for Sunday 'sister' papers, which, in the case of the Guardian and Obs, not only exist on separate floors. but in many respects are barely on speaking terms, especially right now. I'm expecting to hear of barricades in the stairwells on Farringdon Road any time now.

For someone who talks of complacency, you don't half do complacent ignorance well.

and pardonyou? That letter to Tony Blair by the Iraqi student? Turns out she was born in Kuwait of refugee parents, and moved to Britain when she was three months old, so to class her as 'an Iraqi exile', with the hint that she was some kind of recent political dissident, stretches the definition of 'exile' towards the misleading.
posted by riviera at 7:56 PM on February 17, 2003


Lethal Buddies!
posted by homunculus at 8:23 PM on February 17, 2003


But... but...
posted by ook at 9:33 PM on February 17, 2003


The Kurds fear that a US-led war against President Saddam might be the occasion for a Turkish effort to end the de facto independence enjoyed by Iraqi Kurds for more than a decade.... "Turkey has made up its mind that it will intervene in northern Iraq in order to destroy us."

Right up your alley, eh, Bubba? Wonderful to see this heartfelt concern you've got for the Iraqi people.
posted by ook at 9:42 PM on February 17, 2003


What exactly is your issue, ook? Your reference to a week's worth of blog posts isn't very enlightening.
posted by BubbaDude at 11:02 PM on February 17, 2003


All of you who advocate leaving Saddam Hussein in power, against the wishes of the Iraqi people, should be ashamed of yourselves.
BubbaDude, please remember that being against a war with Iraq does not mean that someone is advocating leaving Saddam in power.

This quote below was posted earlier in the thread, but I'm copying it here again because I don't think the reality of what's being proposed here has sunk in yet.

You say that this war is to fight for the liberation of the Iraqi citizens, who have unquestionably suffered abuse during Saddam Hussein's rule. Yet the plan for our first strike is the a massive bombardment of Baghdad that, from what's been told to us so far by the administration, does not make use of "precision guided" missiles or, for that matter, seem to take into account the protection of the Iraqi citizens. This, again, is how our own very own Pentagon describes their planned initial attack:
...between 300 and 400 cruise missiles would fall on Iraq each day for two consecutive days. It would be more than twice the number of missiles launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War.

"There will not be a safe place in Baghdad," a Pentagon official told America's CBS News after a briefing on the plan. "The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before."
This isn't some kind of liberal spin - the Pentagon itself is saying that "there will not be a safe place in Baghdad". Note the lack of qualifiers there - not that there will be no safe place for Saddam, or that there will be no safe place for the Iraqi military. No, just a very straightforward "there will not be a safe place in Baghdad".

Combined with Bush's claim that Saddam is planning to make use of civilians as "human shields", and its pretty obvious that civilian casualties are going to be extremely high. It sounds like our idea of making their lives better is to just make them shorter.

As I said earlier in this thread, I DO NOT support Saddam nor do I think he should be left in power - I just don't support the method our government is proposing for taking him out of power.

Something I noted in the longer version of my earlier comments (on my own site, not in the post I made here) is that last I knew, we still had a ban on assassinating foreign leaders. The problem I'm seeing here, though, is that the basic goal of all this is, essentially, to get Saddam out of power, most likely by killing him. Now, I know we've had a hell of a time trying to find bin Laden, but since Saddam makes fairly regular public appearances, he's a bit easier to track down. I would much rather see us lift the ban on assassinations and send in some commando teams to take him, specifically, out - either by physically removing him from the country and taking away his ability to run Iraq, or by killing him. I can't imagine that the Iraqi opposition forces would be unwilling to help us in such an endevour.

The thing is, if we go to war to accomplish essentially the same thing, technically we can claim we didn't assassinate him, because it was "war", but we also end up taking a lot of other people with him - both Iraqi and American - that don't need to die to accomplish the necessary goal.
posted by thorswitch at 4:22 AM on February 18, 2003


Bush rescinded the ban on assassinations by adding some wiggly language to it excepting self-defense, very broadly defined. Assassinating Saddam would not be easy, in any event - he's always well-guarded, moves around a lot, and never sleeps for more than a few hours at a time. It's probably not practical.

Cruise missiles are targeted, not just tossed in the general direction of a target, but the larger point is that I wouldn't assume the Administration is necessarily practicing truth in advertising on military tactics -- that would be exceptionally dumb. The military tradeoff is civilian casualties vs. military ones, and I don't think it's actually been decided yet.

But there is no denying the fact that some people are going to die in this war, most of them Iraqi civilians. We can do the moral calculus based on "the greatest good for the greatest number" if you'd like, bearing in mind that Saddam's already knocked off a few hundred thousand civilians in his own right.

How much is freedom worth, anyway?
posted by BubbaDude at 5:01 AM on February 18, 2003


im not an expert on this or anything, i'm just here to increase mefi's hunk quotient.
I'm wondering:
If the us invades iraq and saddam is overthrown within a couple of days and crowds of cheering people turn out to welcome the us troops...will people admit they were wrong?
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:52 AM on February 18, 2003


It might not be very likely - for many reasons - but wouldn't it be ironic if a newly democratized Iraq voted Saddam (or one of his cronies) in again?
posted by digiboy at 6:02 AM on February 18, 2003


Sgt. serenity: I'd like to think that if the standard of discussion was a few notches above "ideological pissing match" then they might well do so.

It isn't and they won't. Ditto the same question put to the other side.
posted by bifter at 6:14 AM on February 18, 2003


If the us invades iraq and saddam is overthrown within a couple of days and crowds of cheering people turn out to welcome the us troops...will people admit they were wrong?

Very few are doubting an overwhelming and swift victory. Nobody doubts that the Iraqi people will be happy. It's what happens after CNNMSNBCFoxABCCBS have gone home with their cameras that matters (see Afghanistan, Descending into Anarchy of).
posted by owillis at 6:51 AM on February 18, 2003


Apologies if someone has already linked to this (I can't wade through all 121 comments), but here's a good article by an Iraqi exile who hates Saddam and wants him gone... and doesn't want the US to make war on Iraq.
posted by languagehat at 8:45 AM on February 18, 2003


From languagehat's article: "I was a member of the Iraqi Communist Party and the editor of the paper's international and Arab affairs department. "

OK, I understand why he doesn't want the US in Iraq.
posted by BubbaDude at 12:37 PM on February 18, 2003


Johann Hari does the moral calculus on Iraq:

A significant number risked death to express their support. How deep do you think the real support is? Yet we cannot hide the fact the war will create a horrific death toll. The estimate is 80-150,000 people, many civilians. No decent person can mask these deaths of people worth just as much as you or I in the grotesque language of "collateral damage". Each death will be a human tragedy.

So this war is going to be terrible – but leaving Saddam in place would be even more terrible. How do we measure 150,000 deaths against 23 million living under a fascist dictator, with many of them picked off and taken to torture chambers daily for "political" activities? (Remember: Saddam has butchered members of his family for disobedience.)

It is a tough moral call: but there will be horrible deaths either way we leap. The difference is the deaths at the hands of Saddam will shore up Ba'athist national socialism, while deaths in war would at least clear the way for a free and democratic Iraq. Anybody who doubts this last fact should go to Northern Iraq, where, under US and British protection, a democracy with freedom of speech and protection of human rights has flourished for the past decade.


We report, you be snide.
posted by BubbaDude at 1:39 PM on February 18, 2003


24 comments and counting... BubbaDude, you're bogarting (or cardosoing) your own thread.
posted by languagehat at 1:59 PM on February 18, 2003


Sounds like you're channeling Jacques Chirac.
posted by BubbaDude at 3:00 PM on February 18, 2003


OK, I understand why he doesn't want the US in Iraq.
I don't believe you can argue with that, so consider yourself shredded
Sounds like you're channeling Jacques Chirac.
Your reference to a week's worth of blog posts isn't very enlightening.

BubbaDude, that’s the third or fourth time you’ve used your personal dissatisfaction with a source or some ambiguous random reference as an excuse to back out of dealing with a legitimate challege, and it’s making you look even more baseless than you were to begin with.

It’s quite hypocritical to do this, when one can easily raise numerous concerns (the ones that haven’t been raised already, that is) about your own original sources for your FPP, that of Dean Esmay’s corybantic verbal assault against any and all who disagree with him.

In a recent post he exacerbates his outrage at anyone questioning this country’s intentions of installing democracy in Iraq, even as posts within this very thread have noted news reports that question the actual veracity of fact to that concept. In addition, he solidifies the true compassion of a human rights campaign by labeling anyone who opposes his views as racist, anti-American, and of course, anti-George W. Bush. He asks “’Of course, there are those who say, "I support Iraqi democracy and human rights, I just oppose the war.’ But how many of them talked about human rights and democracy in Iraq until now?” apparently never having heard of, for example, Amnesty International or NOW, which have for decades existed for the sole purpose of defending the rights of the oppressed. But why would he mention those organizations, as by opposing the war, Esmay would have to declare actual, credible human rights campaigns as “hateful” and “pro-oppression?”

As you sit there and discredit any source you deem unsuitable for disagreeing with you, BubbaDude, it’s the height of hypocrisy to ignore the one single thing that ultimately discredits your source: Esmay himself. It’s beyond fascinating, now at the point of frightening how such a vicious little man can be so rabid and violent in expressing his central opinion of passionate concern for the Iraqi people. The rhetoric is tantamount to psychotic anti-abortion protestors who scream their love of the millions of babies they claim to be desperate to save as they pass off as “God’s will” the most recent domestic terrorist attack on a clinic or one of its employees. And through this logic of promoting peace through hate, Esmay dares to call someone against a war “hateful.”

The rhetoric that this site, and a sampling of sites that have rapidly attached to it as a result of your successful orchestration with a colleague to "spontaneously" find this and post it on MetaFilter, has been spun to the exact opposite of the bloodlust that is blatant in the tone of dialogue they present: you are feigning a “human rights” campaign to use the invasion of Iraq as a reason to liberate the Iraqi people because what you truly desire is to use the liberation of the Iraqi people as an excuse to invade Iraq. The fact that you are so obviously manipulating this logic is the greatest sign to me that you know damn well you’re doing it.

As you yet again choose to self-discredit a source or pass off a response to a factual or rhetorical challenge with some ambiguous single sentence, which I’m sure you’ve already started to contrive halfway through reading this, I challenge you to explain then how the source of this campaign, and your less-than-half-assed attempts to logically defend it outside of calling all of us “pro-oppression,” (as you did to myself and others well before engaging in debate here) should be taken with even a modicum of legitimacy.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:28 PM on February 18, 2003


Let's get one thing straight, August XQUZYPHYR: Dean Esmay is a great guy, but he's not the original or most authoritative voice speaking in favor of the liberation of Iraq; that honor would go the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the umbrella organization of Iraqi activist groups seeking the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of democracy in Iraq. If you want to attack the Foundation, by all means go for it, but I'd hate to think that the fate of the Iraqis depends on some guy with a blog who uses rhetoric you don't happen to like.

As an aside, anyone who considers NOW to be either A) in the forefront of any campaign for the rights of Iraqis, or B) a legitimate advocate of the rights of the oppressed generally, isn't aware of NOW's history and agenda. The feminist group that's been most active around women's issues in the Muslim world is the Feminist Majority Fund, a Hollywood-based group headed by Ellie Smeal, a former NOW director who's been on her own for several years now thanks to an endowment by Peg Yorkin.

NOW is pretty firmly focussed on issues pertaining to lesbians and divorced, upper-middle class American women, and hasn't made much of the situation in the Middle East or Central Asia except when it might help with some fund-raising campaign or other.

If you want me to engage you in thorough debate, you're going to have to make a coherent and relevent point; otherwise I'll blow you off and save my keystrokes for a more worthy opponent. Rattling off the names of people and organizations you like and don't like doesn't reach this standard.
posted by BubbaDude at 5:56 PM on February 18, 2003


BubbaDude,

From what you posted above, we're expecting there to be roughly 100,000 Iraqi civilian casualties from the war, correct? And you believe that those losses are an acceptable cost for freeing Iraq and bringing it (eventually) into democratic rule.

We also know that under a dictator like Saddam, any people or groups that attempt to foment rebellion within the Iraqi people are likely to be tortured or killed. I hear numbers tossed around about how many Saddam has killed, but do we have any idea how many of those people were killed for being involved in active rebellion against the government or any kind of attempts to force Saddam out? I don't mean people he's killed as a way of terrorizing the citizenry into not rebelling - I'm referring only to those who have made the decision that their freedom is worth risking their own life and had to pay the price for it.

These are serious questions - I don't know what the answers are, and would very much like to.

One observation, however: If, in fact, Saddam has been torturing and killing his own citizens as a way of keeping them from rebelling - and if that tactic has worked, then is it not apparent that the Iraq people have decided that their freedom is not worth risking their lives? Obviously, Saddam is going to make it as difficult as possible for anyone in Iraq to be able to instigate a rebellion - but it shouldn't be impossible -- citizens of Communist countries were able to win their freedom, despite the steps the Communist governments took to keep them from being able to do so. Yet, I don't recall reading or hearing about any kind of real rebellion by the citizens of Iraq - and, instead, have heard that part of the reason for that is that the people are terrified of what Saddam will do to them if they do try to rebel.

If the Iraqi people are not willing to risk their own lives to win their own freedom, then how can we even begin to presume that its ok for us to decide that it's worth the lives of 80,000 to 150,000 of them? Shouldn't that be their choice to make?
posted by thorswitch at 4:11 AM on February 19, 2003


"Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush's special envoy to the Iraqi opposition, went to Ankara this month and told top Kurdish leaders to accept a large deployment of Turkish troops — supposedly for humanitarian relief — to enter northern Iraq after any American invasion. He also told the Kurds that they would have to give up plans for self-government, adding that hundreds of thousands of people driven from their homes by Saddam Hussein would not be able to return to them."
posted by homunculus at 10:03 AM on February 19, 2003


See this OpEd in the Opinion Journal by INC leader Ahmad Chalabi on Iraqi efforts to free themselves from Saddam.
posted by BubbaDude at 1:42 PM on February 19, 2003


Ahmad Chalabi, aka "the guy Washington may impose on an Iraqi people who have no desire to be ruled by him, in the unlikely event we don't choose to impose direct US military rule." And hey, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, a well-known source of unbiased perspective!
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on February 19, 2003


If you read the Op-Ed, you'll see that Chalabi's upset because we aren't going to impose him on the Iraqi people. Literacy is a wonderful thing.
posted by BubbaDude at 3:54 PM on February 19, 2003


I couldn't read the op-ed, because I'm not registered with the Beobachter Journal. Thoughtful linking is a wonderful thing.
posted by languagehat at 4:00 PM on February 19, 2003


OpinionJournal has free registration, dude - all you have to go is give them an e-mail address.
posted by BubbaDude at 7:53 PM on February 19, 2003


Sorry, y2karl, but it takes more than the opinion of one hotheaded professor to shred the hopes of the Iraqi people for democracy in our time.

Gee, on the same day, Kanan Makiya, one of the most brilliant among them, inconveniently undermines your attempt to smear everyone--then he's just a Brandeis professor. How conveniently you, O Osama Enabler, forgot the name you cut-and-pasted, as if you never really knew it, which is not out of the question--after all cattle and oxen are two different species.

H'mm, while tracking your concern for Iraqi democracy and human rights, I come across this--

Why there are blogs -- I invented the personal web log form back in 1994 in order to bring about the counter-spin Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan applied to the New York Times yesterday. Now I can die knowing that the world is a better place for my having been here, not that I'm planning to, although a vacation would be nice. Seriously, go read these stories - all the other blog material up today is crap, except for Andrew Hofer's piece on stock analysts.
Posted by RB on Tuesday, January 29, 2002


Ooh, invented the weblog and the cell phone and instant messaging, too. Ri-i-ght....

Later: Oh, God, what a hog wallow of narcissism. You mentioned inventing the weblog as often as you cut-and-paste a quote that even tangentially refers to democracy in Iraq: three times. The first--it was a cut-and-paste, naturally--explicitly mention of Iraq as a secular democracy with equal rights for all of its citizens was in a paraphrase of the remarks of one the Kanan Makiya, the ranting Brandeis professor.

You don't explicitly mention the themes of democracy and human rights until a day before this post, in the context of comments like...

But what's with the threats of destroying me? This takes me back to last summer when Stacy got a bee in her bonnet that I was bad for her business in some way, and prevailed on her customers to stop perma-linking to my blog or referring to my posts (which some ot them did). But her campaign didn't really accomplish a whole lot - sure, my traffic was down for a few months, but it's just about recovered to what it was last May, and now it doesn't depend on drunken pundits who can't mangle their own HTML, so in some ways I'm ahead.

Michele, from what I've heard about your family life, you should win the Bloggie for "Blogger Most Likely to Appear on the Jerry Springer Show", but that's your own business (and maybe your daughter's too, but we needn't belabor the point.)

Conclusion: your apparently patently fake concern with Iraqi democracy and human rights is actual fake concern--in other words, you are a liar--and you are a cheap shot artist of unbelievable scumminess, to boot. You are more wrapped up in your little cheap shot filled exchanges with Stacy and Michelle, word by word count, than you are with democracy and human rights in Iraq, the first time you mention them.

But, hey, you're the inventor of the web log. so you're allowed to be a fraud and a troll.
posted by y2karl at 3:36 AM on February 25, 2003


y2karl- Like I said before, this campaign would last a week, and the recent news of the decision now to leave hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq (as true Democracies do, don't cha know) for an extended period following the invasion for the purpose of allowing the free people to govern themselves has basically proven that. Besides, the- wait a minute.

Bubba, is this some kind of weird crack at Al Gore or something? You claim you invented the weblog? Hol-y shit, man.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:47 PM on February 25, 2003


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