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La France est votre père.
February 18, 2003 2:18 PM   Subscribe

The Gaul of Chirac. With near total support for his positions in France, Chirac, thought-police style, set up as an obligation for the emerging half of the continent the unanimity at home that Liberation, the left-wing newspaper said over the weekend, "has something suffocating about it."
posted by The Jesse Helms (48 comments total)

 
When I read the CNN on this I thought for sure he'd been sniffing gleu. Sounds like the pressure's getting to him. One thing I can't figure out though: what pressure?
posted by coelecanth at 3:02 PM on February 18, 2003


Wow, now this is a clear story. Dude, what the hell? Did you have extra comma's to throw around?
posted by CrazyJub at 3:02 PM on February 18, 2003


Europe confounds me. On the one hand they claim to have reached a level where war is no longer required, everything can be resolved peacfully that they are a step above the war-mongering Americans. On the other hand there are chaps like Chriac who are trying to tear apart the EU and undermine the peacefull structure of Europe under the guise of French/German nationalism ie. takeing charge of their own destiny instead of America controlling the shots.
posted by stbalbach at 3:02 PM on February 18, 2003


One thing I can't figure out though: what pressure?

It's called despicable, immoral commercial dealings with an immoral regime in Iraq that France doesn't want exposed. The starting point? The overt immoral commercial dealings, including France's sale of a nuclear reactor to the country with one of the three largest pools of oil under it.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:12 PM on February 18, 2003


Those there are some interesting sentences. Is "Liberation" the name of the left-wing newspaper which claimed that the unanimity at home "has something suffocating about it"? Or is the obligation for the emerging half of the continent the thing that Liberation claimed was suffocating? Or did the unnamed left-wing newspaper claim that Liberation (why the capital?) "has something suffocating about it"? Can someone please diagram that sentence for me?

If we're going to link to random op-eds on the front page, can we at least try to find well written op-eds?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:15 PM on February 18, 2003


The French helped Iraq build that reactor in 1975. Saddam Hussein came to power in 1979. In any case, none of that is a secret. Why would that be a cause for Chirac to be under pressure?
posted by 4easypayments at 3:19 PM on February 18, 2003


I am still unable to parse this FPP after five tries. Is the IHT running stories through Babelfish?
posted by tingley at 3:20 PM on February 18, 2003


You know, I read "1984" and I think the Thought Police were a lot worse than this.
posted by inksyndicate at 3:24 PM on February 18, 2003


"Basically, Chirac told the candidates: You must think as France and Germany do."

Ha ha! There's going to be a lot of invading and surrendering in the new Europe!
posted by hama7 at 3:41 PM on February 18, 2003


Why would that be a cause for Chirac to be under pressure?

Chirac has been part of the incestual French political scene since the early 1970's; a cadre of politicians whose connections with French industry make the American equivalent look laughable. France sold a nuclear reactor to a country whose only plausible use for it would to build nuclear weapons--about as aggregious as things can get. I have no doubt that when the US Military goes in, it will find FABRIQUE EN FRANCE all over Iraq's weapons programs. Chirac is attempting to protect the French establishment; not just himself. While I don't know what's in Schroder's heart, Germany is in a similar situation in terms of its industrial "contributions" to Iraq.

Now, some here will argue that MADE IN USA will also be found. While I doubt anywhere near as much American materiel is in Iraq, it's still the case that whereas the US has the ability and will to control Iraq, France does not.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:44 PM on February 18, 2003


I think the fact that Chirac knows that he represents the views of a clear majority of western Europeans on the US/UK-Iraq issue has probably gone to his head a little bit, as it seems to have to this FPPers. I can't make head or tail of the above sentence either, but I disagree with the way the story is presented in the IHT (a US-centric publication.) A more balanced (and much more readable) synopsis of the situation is here.

To paraphrase Chirac, what hope is there for a unified Europe if its wannabees don't even try to conform to the current, anti-war, majority view?

Chirac would like all of Eastern Europe to fall in line with his EU-centric view of things, viz. the EU has the potential to be at least the equivalent of the US on economic terms, and we as Europeans should unite around commonly agreed policies, even if it means alienating the US. I have to say that I find it hard to disagree with him when he chastised the new entrants for so eagerly supporting military action against Iraq, even if his outburst was a little on the extreme side.

While Europe's fraught history has the newest candidates for membership of the exclusive Euro-club looking to the US rather than the "old Europe" for inspiration, not to mention foreign policy positions, I for one am slightly worried that the Eastern Europeans see anything to admire in the warmongering, isolationist attitudes of the current US regime.
posted by cbrody at 3:45 PM on February 18, 2003


France is a democracy, and his people very clearly do not want a war. Why do you hate democracy so much?
posted by cell divide at 3:50 PM on February 18, 2003


The French helped Iraq build that reactor in 1975. Saddam Hussein came to power in 1979.

That's not true, actually. Hussein was vice-president since 1974 and essentially ran the government even then. And construction on the reactor was started in 1979 and was about to be completed in 1981 when the Israelis bombed it.
posted by wrffr at 3:53 PM on February 18, 2003


ParisParamus: the US has the ability and will to control Iraq

Are you actually advocating that the US should invade with the aim of controlling sovereign nations? It's a while since I've seen anyone come straight out and say they're in favour of colonisation.

Re immoral dealings, are you really suggesting that France is more immoral than, say, the US or the UK when it comes to providing known dictators with the tools of oppression?
posted by cbrody at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2003


You know, I read "1984" and I think the Thought Police were a lot worse than this.

Not according to Orwell - who, in a curiously relevant article, said:

"The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism.
Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States ..."

-George Orwell essay "Notes on Nationalism" May 1945
posted by MidasMulligan at 3:57 PM on February 18, 2003


This is hardly about hating democracy (and thankfully, isn't even really about the potential war in Iraq).

What's objectionable is Chirac's claim that he (or France) speaks for Europe, and that anyone who doesn't agree to toe the Chirac line can forget about joining the EU.

And cbrody, why should the "wannabes" even try to "conform" to Chirac's view (or yours, for that matter)? Or is there no validity to opinions that differ from yours?
posted by Zonker at 3:58 PM on February 18, 2003


Personally, I agree with France rather than Romania on the war, but that doesn't make them right on anything else.

Brody, let's not forget Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Italy. Do those "old" European states count for nothing? I thought that the whole EU foreign policy thing was a little bit more up in the air that you make it seem. In fact, I think that this action by Chirac hurts his "cause" of European "unity" because it is supports suspicion that smaller and more easterly states are going to be expected to follow the French and German lead. And the French are going to be much less reticent about taking that stance.

The threat thrown at Romania and Bulgaria for daring to have a foreign policy was poor. I think that the candidate countries are more interested in almost any other feature of the EU rather than its potential to be a political counter to the US.
posted by Wood at 3:59 PM on February 18, 2003


The French helped Iraq build that reactor in 1975.

And Pakistan, our so-called ally, was still helping North Korea with their nuclear program last summer.

Just saying.
posted by homunculus at 4:05 PM on February 18, 2003


Are you actually advocating that the US should invade with the aim of controlling sovereign nations?
No. I'm saying that the US has the power to limit the harm inflicted by rogue nation, whereas France or Germany do not.

Re immoral dealings...?
No, not necessarily in general. But on Iraq, YES.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:07 PM on February 18, 2003


And Pakistan, our so-called ally, was still helping North Korea with their nuclear program last summer.

Yes, and the world is a shitty place, where a Pakistan may need to be an ally with an Iraq or a Taliban next door.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:12 PM on February 18, 2003


I don't think Chirac (nor the EU, nor even myself) has the right to tell anyone what to think. I do sympathise with his point of view on the particular issue of Iraq, but in paraphrasing his comments I didn't mean to imply that I agree with them.

I actually think his rebuke was unwarranted, if quite understandable from a frustrated, corrupt old politician who would like the rest of the world to fall in with his point of view because of who he is, rather than because it is right one.
posted by cbrody at 4:12 PM on February 18, 2003


Chirac has been part of the incestual French political scene since the early 1970's; a cadre of politicians whose connections with French industry make the American equivalent look laughable.

Said of any US administration before this one, such a statement might be credible. Said of the current one (starts with 'H', ends with Dick Cheney) that statement is risible.

It's a pity, really, that Jospin fluffed things so badly last year; Chirac has a huge ego, and the anti-Le Pen vote that swept him back to the Elysée Palace helped stoke it: hence the comments on 'suffocation' in the French polity. I'd rather have Jospin telling the US to piss off, because he'd have done it more self-effacingly. But there's no doubt that Chirac represents his country's opinion right now in the way that Blair, for instance, plainly does not.

Now, some here will argue that MADE IN USA will also be found.

I didn't know that anthrax had to carry a stamp with its country of origin. All I'll say is that, if it is found in Iraq, I bet it won't be submitted to the same forensic analysis as the stuff posted to Democratic Senators in 2001.

Midas: if you believe that comments on pacifism written at the end of a horrific six-year war are 'curiously relevant' to the current situation, then I have to worry about your sense of perspective. Wouldn't one accept that Orwell's highly-specific example of 'the younger intellectual pacifists', as seen in May 1945, reflects a rather select bunch, with little in common with the current anti-war movement?

And I note that Orwell is, as I suspected, more gracious than you (or, currently, Christopher Hitchens) make out: "It is important at this point to correct the over-simplified picture which I have been obliged to make." And his comments elsewhere -- "Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world." -- seem to suggest that he's quite even-handed in his brickbats. And I'm sure that certain people here would take issue with Orwell's assertion that "the American variant of [Zionism] seems to be more violent and malignant than the British." In any case, Orwell's conclusion -- that the prejudices of nationalism can't be denied, but can be conquered by a moral effort -- applies to both sides equally.
posted by riviera at 4:19 PM on February 18, 2003


Can we please discuss the linked article? No? We can't? Because it's entirely unreadable? You don't say...

And, Midas, he was talking about WWII for fuck's sake. Can we please try to maintain some kind of historical context? I know that the thinking gets much easier when we see everything in terms of Hitler, Churchill, and Chamberlain, but that doesn't necessarily make it valid. The fact that young intellectual pacifists in 1945 were motivated by "hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism" has nothing to do with today's argument.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:19 PM on February 18, 2003


I find the argument about "France's sale of a nuclear reactor to the country with one of the three largest pools of oil under it." to be laughable. First of all, do you even know which country it is, Paris, or is it just one of the many "gangs of ragheads" running around in the desert that you're so afraid of?

And secondly, the United States and the UK have pumped immeasurable nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as fleets of tanks, aircraft and missiles into the middle east over the past quarter century, supplying arms to one brutal warlord after the other, all in order to maintain political and economic control of the region.

That's not the pot calling the kettle black, that's a hooker calling the Virgin Mary a skank.
posted by zekinskia at 4:31 PM on February 18, 2003


Went to liberation.fr and couldn't find anything "suffocant". The mystery remains.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 4:33 PM on February 18, 2003


wouldn't it be "etouffant"?

By the way, what's most depressing about the French is that they believe all of their politicians are corrupt, and assume that all others are to the same extent. It's really the most cynical political environment in the West.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:38 PM on February 18, 2003


Just because Orwell took a swipe at some Commie pacifists doesn't mean they're the same as "The Thought Police." That specifically refers to incredibly bad dudes who come into your house at night singing "The Bells of Rhymney" and hauling you off to be tortured.

This new definition of Thought Police has its origins in people talking about college political correctness. Which can be obnoxiously repressive, but it's nowhere near the Thought Police. It's like calling feminists Nazis, it's ridiculous.
posted by inksyndicate at 4:40 PM on February 18, 2003


No "étouffant" either, no breathing problems.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 4:43 PM on February 18, 2003


Haven't we already discussed this subject?

(Not to mention that it's a variation on bla bla Iraq bla bla.)
posted by languagehat at 4:43 PM on February 18, 2003


> The fact that young intellectual pacifists in 1945 were
> motivated by "hatred of western democracy and admiration
> of totalitarianism" has nothing to do with today's argument.

Oh, but I think it does. As M. Chirac understands very well, if people insist on choosing the wrong things they must be prevented from choosing. Diversity plus freedom of choice yields inequality. Any truely committed, engaged progressive, whether in 1945 or now, would trade off democratic freedom of choice in a heartbeat in order to nail down equality. The masses have no idea what's good for them, they're perfectly happy with NASCAR, Macdonald's and Bud Lite; they'll have to be herded down the road to utopia by an enlightened elite. That attitude hasn't changed a millimeter since Orwell's time; he could have written the exact same words if he were writing this morning.
posted by jfuller at 4:51 PM on February 18, 2003


How about a few relevant words on WWII from an old hero of mine?

"It seems that once an initial judgement has been made that a war is just, there is a tendency to stop thinking, to assume then that everything done on behalf of victory is morally acceptable. I had myself participated in the bombing of cities, without even considering whether there was any relationship between what I was doing and the elimination of fascism in the world. Thus a war that apparently begins with a 'good' cause - stopping aggression, helping victims, or punishing brutality - ends with its own aggression, creates more victims than before, and brings out more brutality than before, on both sides. The Holocaust, a plan made and executed in the ferocious atmosphere of war, and the saturation bombings, also created in the frenzy of war, are evidence of this."
-Howard Zinn, Just and Unjust War

I think the U.S. involvement with Iraq has sufficiently shown this tendency already. The Gulf War was 'just' because we were liberating the small country of Kuwait from its 'evil' invaders. And in the ten years since the end of that war, we've killed One Million Iraqi civilians with our bombing runs and trade embargoes. (I'll leave it to you to decide whether starvation of shrapnel is the worse demise.) Imagine a death toll in excess of 300 World Trade Center disasters, and tell me that the Iraqis have no reason to be angry with us. And the more we push that death toll upwards, the angrier they will be. If we remove their military, then I expect we will see, as we did with Palestine, that civilians will try to become 'soldiers' themselves - a war in which we crush Iraq will likely lead only to a new rash of terrorist organizations. If we show only hate, then hate is all we can expect in return.

I tend to believe that France is in this for the right reasons, and I understand their anger. I'm living in St. Louis right now, and maybe one in a thousand people out here has an opinion that isn't a regurgitation of Fox News hype. I get angry, too. Let's try to be a bit forgiving, eh people?
posted by kaibutsu at 4:56 PM on February 18, 2003


Imagine a death toll in excess of 300 World Trade Center disasters,

How about the 500 or 600 WTC's attributable ALREADY to Hussein? And the thousands who will suffer in the future? Your comment fails to acknowledge that the vast, vast majority of Iraqis will be kissing American soldiers rather than cursing them. Your comment dismisses, or at least trivializes the hell which is Iraq today. And it's a hell whether or not the average American doesn't know shit about the world, or whether or not Fox News Channel is horrible.

P.S.: As a society, the Iraqis are way too educated and literate to fall for what the Palestinians have.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:11 PM on February 18, 2003


"As a society, the Iraqis are way too educated and literate to fall for what the Palestinians have."

PP, Iraq has been cut from the outside world for so long that any such statement can only be labeled as "100% pure speculation" (or daydreaming?). We really don't know in what state Iraqi society is. And BTW the same has been said of the Lebanese, and still they messed up.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 5:22 PM on February 18, 2003


Any truly committed, engaged progressive, whether in 1945 or now, would trade off democratic freedom of choice in a heartbeat in order to nail down equality.... That attitude hasn't changed a millimeter since Orwell's time; he could have written the exact same words if he were writing this morning.

Please forgive me for responding to this.... I know it's a troll, but I can't help myself! *sob*

You do realize that Orwell himself was a socialist, right? The world you live in is so simple, jfuller: this magical place where you can assign arbitrary opinions to those with whom you disagree.... Except for a tiny lunatic fringe (the right suffers from that, as well), "progressives" are as committed to democratic liberty as any good libertarian. Really! I think you'd be surprised by the amount of common political ground you share with people on the left. You've clearly never considered it with an open mind.

Also, Orwell wasn't writing in that passage about progressivism: he was writing about pacifism. I know that it can get tricky when two different words start with the same letter, jfuller, but these are different things. Orwell was indisputably a progressive, but he was certainly not a pacifist, at least not when it came to World War II.

I maintain that the attitudes of pacifists in 1945 have nothing to do with the current situation. Orwell certainly would not be writing about mid-century pacifists if he were alive today: he would be writing about contemporary issues.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:24 PM on February 18, 2003


> Please forgive me for responding to this.... I know it's a troll,
> but I can't help myself! *sob*

fishing with dry flies tonight. I appear to have matched the hatch.


> I think you'd be surprised by the amount of common political
> ground you share with people on the left. You've clearly
> never considered it with an open mind.

Perhaps you're right. If we have that much in common there may be more...
posted by jfuller at 5:49 PM on February 18, 2003


Orwell certainly would not be writing about mid-century pacifists if he were alive today: he would be writing about contemporary issues.

That was the point, really. He wouldn't be writing about mid-century pacifists. He'd be writing those same lines about current pacifists.
posted by wrffr at 6:40 PM on February 18, 2003


In passing, William Safire had a nice piece the other day in which he noted that France and German say that the Iraq issue can and must be settled by the UN and the UN only. But as for North Korea and its nukes, that is an American problem and has little or nothing to do with France, Germany or the Security Council. Let Americans negotiate and solve that issue themselves.
This is called Having your croissant and eating it too.
posted by Postroad at 7:08 PM on February 18, 2003


Chirac is simply stating the obvious about his country's continuing lack of faith, interest, or sympathy for its Eastern "partners." I lived in Poland for a year, and it was common knowledge there that France's main opposition to Poland's entry into the E.U. was that the latter could provide less expensive and possibly better agriculture in a short amount of time. France certainly has a right to its national opinion, but these comments clearly indicate whose side the country has always been on - its own. Its pretense is truly remarkable, however.
posted by boardman at 7:09 PM on February 18, 2003


Your comment fails to acknowledge that the vast, vast majority of Iraqis will be kissing American soldiers rather than cursing them.

And I'm sure the majority of Iraqi Kurds will be saving their kisses when it's actually the Turkish Army setting its line of command in their villages. Because it's undeniable that the no-fly zone has given the Kurds a degree of autonomy that's allowed them to escape the undeniable brutality of the Saddam regime, and also undeniable that any regime change strategy, as currently planned by the US, will give them diddly squat, rather than extending that oh-so precious freedom.

Talk about being on the horns of a dilemma. The point being that a sceptical public would be more likely to cheer on a bit of liberal interventionism if it weren't led by a bunch of bellicose, bloody-handed, lying shits who can't be bothered making a coherent moral case, and regard democracy as no more than a useful slogan for speech-making.

He wouldn't be writing about mid-century pacifists. He'd be writing those same lines about current pacifists.

Would he bollocks. He'd be going back to the example of Spain, and writing about how those of principle were sold out by the Stalinists, and bombed to bits by the fascists.
posted by riviera at 7:50 PM on February 18, 2003


Jacques Chirac always reminds me of Blacque Jacque Shellacque
posted by kirkaracha at 7:53 PM on February 18, 2003


Your comment fails to acknowledge that the vast, vast majority of Iraqis will be kissing American soldiers rather than cursing them. Your comment dismisses, or at least trivializes the hell which is Iraq today. And it's a hell whether or not the average American doesn't know shit about the world, or whether or not Fox News Channel is horrible.

Will they now. According to some formerly confidential United Nations reports, the United States is taking effective steps to minimize the number of Iraquis who'll be alive to kiss anyone after an invasion:


24. The children under 5, pregnant and lactating women, and IDPs will be particularly vulnerable because of the likely absence of a functioning primary health care system in a post conflict situation. In the centre and south it is estimated that these groups represent a total caseload of 5.2 million people6, 4.2 million under 5, with one million pregnant and lactating women, plus a further two million IDPs. Using purely per capita ratios and "poverty and environmental patterns", 1.23 million of these will be in the southern governorates, to which the United Nations is more likely to have access, and accordingly will need immediate humanitarian interventions. This figure requires further refinement in order to take account of the infirm, the chronically ill, and the elderly.

25. Furthermore, the outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions is very likely. Diseases such as cholera and dysentery thrive in the environment, which will prevail and as a result of circumstances and the present low vaccination rates for measles, meningitis and the like will be ever present. When determining the requirement for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies these factors must be considered.

26. As with other sectors, the requirement for health supplies will vary with time. Although some of the initial dependency will reduce with time, for example as conflict-related injuries are treated in a particular area, and as some find alternative solutions to satisfy their needs, others will become dependent on the system. It is probable that, in the foreseeable future, the number of additional beneficiaries will exceed those who may find alternative solutions. Accordingly, the need in this area will continue to grow in the short and medium term, because of the general environment and the limited alternatives available to the population.

27. It is estimated that the nutritional status of some 3.03 million7 persons countrywide will be dire and that they will require therapeutic feeding. This consists of 2.03 million severely and moderately malnourished children under five and one million pregnant and lactating women. While not all the vulnerable children identified in paragraph 24 above will require therapeutic feeding, all pregnant and lactating women will.


posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:10 PM on February 18, 2003


And I'm sure the majority of Iraqi Kurds will be saving their kisses when it's actually the Turkish Army setting its line of command in their villages.

Flashback for the Kurds - So much for the Campaign for Democracy and Human Rights in Iraq...

As the Bush administration struggles to induce Turkey to support a war with Iraq, our Kurdish allies in northern Iraq are realizing that once again America is about to double-cross them.

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 y2karl at 1:06 AM on February 19, 2003


The level of racisim around MeFi these days is disgusting.
posted by i_cola at 3:24 AM on February 19, 2003


I for one am slightly worried that the Eastern Europeans see anything to admire in the warmongering, isolationist attitudes of the current US regime

They are not:

CZECH REPUBLIC

A poll by the publicly-funded CVVM agency in the Czech Republic on Thursday showed 67 percent were against a war with Iraq and 24 percent of respondents were in favour. The support total falls to 13 percent without a second U.N. resolution while the percentage against the war rises to 76 percent.


HUNGARY

A Gallup poll published on January 27 showed 82 percent of Hungarians opposed military action under any circumstances. The remaining 18 percent said they would support a war but of those, two thirds said that support would be conditional on U.N. approval.


POLAND

A TNS-OBOP survey showed 63 percent of Poles opposed sending troops to join any action against Iraq but 52 percent thought the country should give political backing to the United States for any such action.


Also of notice [scroll down]:

public opinion in eastern Europe is even more hostile to war than in the west.

A Gallup International poll of a few days ago found low support in the region for war, even if sanctioned by the UN - just 38% in Romania, 28% in Bulgaria and 20% in Estonia.

The figure for Russia was 23%.


These leaders you are talking about? They have learned to ignore their citizens back in the day they were Soviet stooges: see this f.e.
Having said that: Chirac was, is and will be an utterly contemptible, sleazy politician, who happens to be doing the right thing for reasons indubitably nefarious. I can live with that. I can also live much better in a E.U. that is more in touch with its citizens' opinions on most issues. This creates a precedent the people of Europe can use against their neo-liberal governments when they try to weasel their way out of pre-election commitments and continue plundering public goods and dismantling the welfare state.
posted by talos at 4:00 AM on February 19, 2003


The UN is hardly an objective source when it comes to critiquing the US military: remember, outside the Security Council, the UN is, largely, a collection of anti- and semi-anti-American countries. Yes, an invasion will kill some Iraqis, including women and children. But Saddam is scheduled to be killing some Iraqis, too. It's more a question of who will die than how many. Even this is a painful realization, but it's not a reason not to liberate the place.

I don't quite get why liberating Iraq will be more difficult than bringing Afghanistan under control. The "enemy" in Iraq is much more centralized than in Afghanistan, and in the desert. Once communications are cut off from Saddam and his military leaders, there may be anarchy, but I doubt there will be much opposition.

By the way, while Iraqis have been, on some level, isolated from the world for a long time, I doubt shortwave radio and other forms of communication have not informed people of what's going on.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:04 AM on February 19, 2003


PS, before this thread scrolls off into history and nobody ever looks at again, I just want to say I really really liked "sniffing gleu."
posted by jfuller at 6:00 AM on February 19, 2003


Iraq will be more difficult because in Afghanistan we were only running bombing runs and leaving most of the ground work to the natives. I don't suppose you saw any footage of the piles of corpses in and around Kabul? Since the US will have extensive ground forces this time around, you can expect a lot more of those bodies to be wearing American uniforms. We really can't expect *any* support from the Iraqi population after the way we treated them last time around. That 'advantage' of a centralized population can go two ways: It's an advantage if we don't mind saturation bombing a civilian population, or it's a huge disadvantage if we should go in for a campaign of urban warfare.

I think that Iraqi civilian deaths will be much, much greater if we go in for the war than if we work against Saddam with less violent methods. Terrible dictators are made more violent by war - take Hitler, for example, who advocated deporting Jews until the war started turning against him. Adding to anything Saddam might do to his own people (like the Kurds) once he thinks his days are numbered, we will also have the post-conflict problems that f&m cited above. Also, I think it is instructive to look back at Afghanistan, which has received only a fraction of the post-war support that the US and international community had promised it. We're looking at a malnourished, bitter country, unlikely to believe in the whole American free-market democracy schtick any time soon. Our wars in the middle east are not saving lives, but burning bridges.

Oh, and one last question: I wonder *why* all of those Security Council countries are, as you put it, "a collection of anti- and semi-anti-American countries"? Call it homework.
posted by kaibutsu at 6:15 AM on February 19, 2003


Iraq will be more difficult because in Afghanistan we were only running bombing runs and leaving most of the ground work to the natives
More difficult than in 1991? You know when Saddam's 'elite' Republican Guards put up a magnificent fight routing the US army in a matter of days. Or do I have that the wrong way round?

Terrible dictators are made more violent by war - take Hitler, for example, who advocated deporting Jews until the war started turning against him.
Hitler was shipping Jews off to death camps long before the war started not going his way.
posted by PenDevil at 7:31 AM on February 19, 2003


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