Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


iraq media blackout?
July 21, 2003 8:31 AM   Subscribe

deadly weekend in iraq this weekend was a particularly bad one in iraq, with numerous american deaths and casualties ... yet there is barely a mention of the death toll in the media (check washington post, ny times, drudge, etc. etc.) this morning. is something going on here? or are editors and the american public bored with the story? - i had to dig for the links in this post.
posted by specialk420 (118 comments total)

 
Please don't put "Drudge" in the same sentence as the New York Times. By the way, try the front page.
posted by the fire you left me at 8:40 AM on July 21, 2003


No mention? I can't turn on the news without hearing "Another US Soldier has been killed ...that's XXX more deaths than the first Gulf War."

It's almost as if there's a contest.
posted by bondcliff at 8:42 AM on July 21, 2003


152 troops dead since the start of the war. It seems remarkably high when it trickles out in daily increments of 1 or 2, and yet when I think that 109,000 of our troops died in Vietnam before we pulled out it makes me stagger at the numbers. It's like death by a thousand papercuts vs. the sudden shock of a beheading. Would we be more affected to read of 10 soldiers killed by a bomb/sniper/ambush than we are of 1 or 2 or 3? What is the tolerance level of the American public to see its soldiers killed in a remote land where we are not protecting our immediate interests, or even the immediate interests of our close allies?
posted by jonson at 8:43 AM on July 21, 2003


Umm. I think only about 50,000 troops died in Vietnam.

Remember, the total death tool of US forces in Iraq only surpassed the first Gulf War last week.

Jonson, I completely agree with you. The psycological effect of people dieing in one or twos on a daily basis seems much more unsettling than a "lump sum" of deaths from large scale combat would be.
posted by pjgulliver at 8:47 AM on July 21, 2003


At Hurriyah three days ago, a patrol was ambushed by 15 armed men. But because they suffered no casualties, the incident was not disclosed to the press.
The soldiers are doing their job. Have a brother in Iraq, but think, how many Americans are killed every day in your city, still say they are safer there than in their own home towns. At least they are armed.

An Iraqi working for the UN was also killed yesterday when his blue UN vehicle was ambushed south of Baghdad.

Here is what the article should be about, as his job never prepared him for that.
that's XXX more deaths than the first Gulf War."
Don't take away their death, they died in The Iraqi War. RIP
posted by thomcatspike at 8:50 AM on July 21, 2003


I've seen those attacks mentioned on the cable news channels this weekend, as well as on the internet (I can't say for sure about newspapers though...)
posted by stifford at 9:01 AM on July 21, 2003


...but think, how many Americans are killed every day in your city, still say they are safer there than in their own home towns.

I've seen this theory in numerous places before, but never really thought about until now. But we have what, about 150,000 troops over there? And on average one per day is getting killed. In my more-violent-than-average-city, we have about 4 million people, and an average murder rate of about 1 per day. So it seems to me the troops are about 26 time less safe in Iraq as an average person would be in Atlanta. But then, I'm not a statistician or anything, so feel free to adjust my numbers if you have better ones. But in any case, I'm not sure it is very accurate to say the troops are safer there than here.
posted by spilon at 9:05 AM on July 21, 2003


The "best" thing about there only being a couple of deaths per day, if there can be a best thing, is that it makes the stories personal, yet on a national scale. If you're in a crazy mess of a war and hundreds are being killed, then the media is going to give you a number and end there. Because of the low numbers, the media has to dig a little more, resulting in the public getting a story rather than a statistic.

Okay, so the public is getting a statistic too (the running total), but the power is in making the stories of these unfortunate souls more accessible.
posted by lowlife at 9:09 AM on July 21, 2003


It's actually 232 in total. It annoys me that no one counts the deaths the Pentagon deems "non combat."
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:09 AM on July 21, 2003


I have, in fact, the exact number of troop deaths in Vietnam in front of me (I'm taking a class). 58,202 Americans died, all told, in Vietnam. The total number of men sent there between 1964 and 1975 was 9,087,000.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:10 AM on July 21, 2003


The reason the coverage isn't as intense is simple. No footage.

If a camera doesn't see it happen, what are you left with? You can hassle the families of the deceased, but there aren't many rating in that. You can fly around computer generated maps; boring, seen it. Etc.

Nothing is 'going on here'. It's just for-profit journalism as usual. Personally I wish people would think a little before they call conspiracy.
posted by Leonard at 9:13 AM on July 21, 2003


"... still say they are safer there than in their own home towns. At least they are armed."

What spilon said - plus it is not like people in their hometowns are not armed. Perhaps you meant to say that the soldiers deployed in Iraq can shoot their fellow humans without fear of penalty - moral or otherwise? That's one hell of a benefit.
posted by magullo at 9:13 AM on July 21, 2003


SweetJesus & pjgulliver - that 50K figure sounds right - when I went to look it up before my post, I found this article that claimed 109K casualties, but I guess casualties included non fatal injuries?
posted by jonson at 9:18 AM on July 21, 2003


I'm not sure it is very accurate to say the troops are safer there than here.
Not all the deaths have been due to bullets, some have been accidental. So you may want to add; car accidents, etc. Death will happen, don't fear it.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:19 AM on July 21, 2003


the discrepancy between stated number of u.s. vietnam casualties interested me, so i turned to google to see what was what. unfortunately the discrepancy gets even larger out in the wilds of httpland. here we have 47,410 battle deaths, 10,788 in-theater service deaths, and 32,000 non-theater service deaths. this page indicates a total of 57,591 from the continental u.s. here we find the 109,000 figure, and this fairly recent editorial tosses out the number 200,000. some start counting from 1964, some from 1953. and that's going to be the rub - for a non-war "police action" with no official beginning, and an end marked by a panicked evacuation where people were clinging to the landing struts of choppers just to get away, what do you count?
posted by quonsar at 9:20 AM on July 21, 2003


Please everyone at least glance at the third link as you comment. It's probably the most important part of the post, past the "buried articles" reference, as it indicates that we're only getting the very surface of information regarding the level of hostilities in Iraq.

Yes, I did hear about the deaths this weekend. I've been hearing about them every day. The media reporting this, and reporting the totals is essential to the public's comprehension of the state of our commitment and role in the conflict.

There is a very well recorded legacy for such reporting (and I'd consider it an improvement from Afghanistan)...

TERENCE SMITH: American casualties mounted; months gave way to years...and television began to feature body counts weekly on the evening news...a turning point in the coverage: the 1968 Tet Offensive....the American defense of Saigon was militarily successful but a public perception nightmare for the policymakers in Washington. Massive reinforcements were requested.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:22 AM on July 21, 2003


I wish people would think a little before they call conspiracy.

Not eve Fisk himself is really "calling conspiracy." The phenomenon of "for-profit journalism" and its pitfalls still warrants discussion even if no smoke-filled room is alleged, just like the gap between rich and poor can be discussed without class-war rhetoric or fear of the international banking conspiracy.

As far as I can tell, accusing someone of spinning "conspiracy theories" is usually an attempt to avoid looking into something with a complex set of factors, or to just ignore an issue altogether.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:25 AM on July 21, 2003


safer there than in their own home towns

...and trees cause pollution

War is peace
posted by ElvisJesus at 9:25 AM on July 21, 2003


Quonsar, et all: here's where I'm getting my Vietnam statistics from. They're coming from VFW Magazine and OPI.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:31 AM on July 21, 2003


i feel for the guys stuck in iraq ... even if our administration doesn't. i just hope their story is getting told, and am worried that there is increasing pressure to downplay a deteriorating situation in iraq.
posted by specialk420 at 9:31 AM on July 21, 2003


Jonson:

fatality

casualty

I learned the difference by watching a lot of M*A*S*H, whilst growing up.
posted by trharlan at 9:32 AM on July 21, 2003


yeah, but trharlan, all four of those four definitions of casualty involve fatalities. Confusing. I'm sure SweetJesus's figure is accurate, I'm just bothered by the description on my link as not being clear enough.
posted by jonson at 9:40 AM on July 21, 2003


as it indicates that we're only getting the very surface of information regarding the level of hostilities in Iraq.
safer there than in their own home towns
...and trees cause pollution


Do they print every time a gang banger is killed in Los Angeles?
Really if it's your time, your are not safe anywhere.
The thing I see toward our soldiers is negativity, by printing bitterness about their death. They are people like you. Let 's talk about their lives and what they have done in this world, some of it may have been done outside the military. It's sad that they're job had them killed, yet their bravery came when they took the job. They knew the danger, so rather hear their glory.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:45 AM on July 21, 2003


More Vietnam statistical comparisons. Cunning Linguist's link says we're averaging 1.29 fatalities/day since May 2nd (the announcement of the end of major hostilities). The Iraqi "resistance" will have to maintain that rate for over 12 years to kill a tenth as many American's as died in Vietnam.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:51 AM on July 21, 2003


Surely I agree with you, thomcatspike. But I think we're talking about two separate issues here.

a) Military deaths discussed in regards to their heroism and bravery.

b) Military deaths, injuries and hostile situations discussed as a measure of the success of a military campaign.

Given the way specialk420 phrased his post, and that he concluded with a link to an article about the underreported volume of hostilities, I presumed he was referring to (b).

The chart that CunningLinguist links is intriguing.

During the war proper, we averaged seven per day.
During the month after Baghdad fell, we averaged one per day.
Since then, we're up to 1.29 fatalities per day, in an environment where attacks are reported to be getting continually more coordinated and sophisticated.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2003


After a war half won, the peace is deadly
The Pentagon doesn't want to admit it, but this is guerilla war. Debate in the US is preoccupied with the risk of repeating the Vietnam experience - a gruelling foreign engagement for a huge American force which cannot be won.

But as the American media space fills with emotional reports on young soldiers who don't want to be here and who have been seen crying openly at the death of their colleagues, there are signs that the US-led forces are confronted with the key ingredients of two other intractable conflicts - in Northern Ireland, and the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel.

Going on patrol with an American raiding party in the early hours of Saturday, it washard not to think of West Bank hell holes, like Jenin, as more than 20 US soldiers in pursuit of two suspected resistance fighters crowded into an alleyway so narrow that their outstretched hands could touch both sides. A well lobbed explosive might have killed the lot of them, and in a 3am interview after the patrol - which captured the two men - a senior officer volunteered that it was only a matter of time before the Iraqis would attempt to lure the Americans into such traps.

It's the same with the Iraqi attacks that are killing Americans travelling in convoys. So far the deaths have been in ones and twos, but each strike has been only seconds away from hitting a truck with 20 soldiers, instead of a Humvee with two or three.


Soldiers For The Truth comes another issue emerging from the wings--the Poison Battlefield: * Estimated Gulf War I veterans: 573,000;

* Number who have proved, to the satisfaction of government doctors, that they had a service-related medical problem: 160,000.

This comes to nearly 28 percent - a rate of approved medical disability claims exceeding those of World War II (6.6 percent), Korea (5 percent) and Vietnam (9.6 percent).

posted by y2karl at 10:01 AM on July 21, 2003


what are you saying thomcatspike?... that we should'nt be listening to the guys in the field? who are getting killed after completing the mission they were sent there for? for a war that was fought on questionable (at best) grounds...

personally, i want to know - what is going on, how they feel about the situation they are in, and if they get wounded or killed ... they probably dont have the opportunity to write or call our elected officials who got us into this "cakewalk" turned "quagmire" - i do/will with the hope of getting them home to their families.
posted by specialk420 at 10:01 AM on July 21, 2003


"is something going on here?"

Reports about Iraq casualties frequently lead the radio/TV news summaries and are featured on the front pages. So that news is certainly getting out.

But I think that kind of coverage doesn't count for some people. They are looking for reports that thunder "EVIL BUSH/NEOCON PLOT MURDERS AGAIN IN IRAQ!" and consider anything less to be a conspiracy of silence.

So the answer to specialk420's question depends on what kind of coverage you are looking for ...
posted by Jos Bleau at 10:03 AM on July 21, 2003


What quagmire?
posted by techgnollogic at 10:08 AM on July 21, 2003


More Vietnam statistical comparisons. Cunning Linguist's link says we're averaging 1.29 fatalities/day since May 2nd (the announcement of the end of major hostilities). The Iraqi "resistance" will have to maintain that rate for over 12 years to kill a tenth as many American's as died in Vietnam.

Does anybody have numbers for the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan? I think it is more relevant than Vietnam. The only figure I can find is 30,000 for a 10 year occupation. Just under 10 casualties a day. I have no idea how the casualties were distributed - more at the start or the end of the occupation?

With the U.S. commander suggesting that conflict will escalate I think that 10 casualties per day is not an unrealistic expectation. This also ignores the Iraqi on Iraqi violence where the collaborators are being targeted by the resistance. It's a mess. If Bush & Co. had any smarts they would be handing off to NATO and the UN.
posted by srboisvert at 10:09 AM on July 21, 2003


Howard Dean's 16 Questions
posted by muckster at 10:15 AM on July 21, 2003


Iraqi Body Count
CNN list of "coalition" deaths
Iraqi War U.S. Death Calendar
posted by xowie at 10:25 AM on July 21, 2003


depends on what kind of coverage you are looking for ...

yo bleu - i am sure the families of the men and women there in iraq are looking for the truth - as fisk indicates and smackdown of the soldiers interviewed by abc, it appears that there is increasing pressure to control the information coming out of iraq.

no matter which side you are on - this seems like a bad thing, no?
posted by specialk420 at 10:27 AM on July 21, 2003


I remember reading somewhere (no link, sorry) that military accidental death reates are far higher than civilian rates simply due to the nature of the military enterprise: there are lots of weapons and heavy equipment, not to mention more travel to and fro. So even in peacetime, you'd expect higher mortality rates for the military. In wartime, the numbers go up due both to the increased tempo of missions and also due to the fact that everyone is carrying loaded weapons. And this is all apart from enemy action.

From a historical standpoint, the US casualty rate in Iraq is astoundingly low for an invading force. Think about it -- we invaded and occupied a country the size of California at the cost of ~158 US deaths and about four times that in wounded and "combat ineffective". Consider that the US Army lost several times that many men in a single day at Omaha Beach during World War II (link).

I'm not trying to minimize the difficulties involved, but given that we are occupying a country awash in weapons, disgruntled Baathi's, Islamic jihadis, and terrorists of every sort, it's unrealistic to expect a complete cessation of violence after only a couple of months. Also, if you look at where the violence is happening, it's a relatively small geographic region around Baghdad, Tikrit, and environs.
posted by mrmanley at 10:38 AM on July 21, 2003


It is looking more and more likely, mrmanley, that these historically low rates of casualties are at least in part related to the fact that only one side was doing much fighting during the war, and the other side appears to have waited to start a guerilla offensive.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:43 AM on July 21, 2003


i want to know - what is going on, how they feel about the situation they are in,

Sharing that information with you can get them in trouble:
"It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

First lesson for the troops, it seemed: Don't ever talk to the media "on the record" -- that is, with your name attached -- unless you're giving the sort of chin-forward, everything's-great message the Pentagon loves to hear.
I realize that soldiers are not suppossed to voice their grievances the way they did, but there's something really petty about punishing these guys who have been put in harm's way while the administration uses the war as an election prop, not to mention that the Commander in Chief himself may have gone AWOL back in the day.
posted by homunculus at 10:46 AM on July 21, 2003


"really petty." the watchwords of this administration. i will be rolling in the aisles when even the "damn the torpedos" types come home spitting venom about they way they were treated. keep it up please, george. no compromise. flip the bird as the crowd stirs the tar and fluffs the feathers.
posted by quonsar at 10:59 AM on July 21, 2003


Ignatius J. Reilly:

...the other side appears to have waited to start a guerilla offensive.

You know, despite what many in this forum seem to think, the military planners aren't complete fatheads. They knew there'd be lots of low-intensity combat after the invasion was complete. The problem is, they're not omniscient -- knowing that attacks will happen doesn't help you to discover where and when they will happen. I expect that the US will shift tactics in certain areas to meet the threat -- taking armored vehicles rather than Humvees into suspect territories, using increased surveillance and intelligence on suspected Baathis and Jihadis, and so on.

To call these attacks a coordinated military campaign, however, is extremely premature (not that it stops the pundits from speculation). Given the decrepit state of Iraq's infrastructure, a complete lack of outside support, and a lack of popular support among the citizens, it's hard to see how any coordinated guerilla action would take hold country-wide. I expect these "guerilla attacks" to peter out over the next year.
posted by mrmanley at 11:00 AM on July 21, 2003


This blog does a great job of picking out a few grafs from hometown papers to put a face on each casualty - dead and wounded. It's a sort of Portraits of Grief approach and makes for v sad reading.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:00 AM on July 21, 2003


mrmanley: Also, if you look at where the violence is happening, it's a relatively small geographic region around Baghdad, Tikrit, and environs.

This region contains 70% of Iraq's population. What matters to you more, how small the battlefield is or how many people are fighting on it?
posted by VulcanMike at 11:00 AM on July 21, 2003


low-intensity combat. heh.

"jimmy's head was torn open and his brain matter spattered over half an acre of sand. good fucking thing it was low-intensity combat, eh?"

I expect these "guerilla attacks" to peter out over the next year.

how utterly nice for you.
posted by quonsar at 11:05 AM on July 21, 2003


You know, despite what many in this forum seem to think, the military planners aren't complete fatheads.

Now, if only their civillian bosses in Defense listened to them...

I expect these "guerilla attacks" to peter out over the next year.

The historical model for anti-colonial violence (which this is to many Iraqis, even if it isn't to our eyese) would suggest the opposite: that it will "peter in," as the line between uprising and planned insurgency becomes irrelevant or nonexistant.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2003


VulcanMike:

What matters to you more, how small the battlefield is or how many people are fighting on it?

The size of the battlefield, definitely. If we control the battlefield, we win. Think about it: if we restrict the area in which our enemies can fight, then we also restrict their supply lines (already badly attenuated) and their ability to hide. We can monitor the borders to see who comes in and who goes out. In short, basic tactics -- it's better to have your enemy in a small box rather than a large one. His movement is restricted and ours isn't. We can resupply at will and they can't.

Pure numbers don't mean all that much on a modern battlefield -- ten highly-trained soldiers are far more effective than fifty badly-trained conscripts in most military situations. That's not to say that they can't do damage, but their military effectiveness is almost nil.
posted by mrmanley at 11:09 AM on July 21, 2003


Americans are killed every day in your city, still say they are safer there than in their own home towns.

Plainly false. Also, I would presume they have a right to be in their home towns... and may be somewhat welcome.

On the other hand, whenever I hear reports of troops and generals griping about the occupation, I hear in my head an NPR voice saying, "In other news, teen who bought Porsche with Visa card now unwilling to pay bill."

The clear and unanimous voice I heard coming from the military at this war's onset was, "LOCK AND LOAD, DUDE! LET'S ROLL!" And now that the shock and awe have fizzled to a torturous, impossible mop-up operation, the ranks want to pull out. Too bad. You should have thought of that before.

My brother was in Kosovo, and nearly went to Iraq, so emotionally I want to see all of them come home now. Still, I find that without contrition for the mistake of destroying the country in the first place, griping about the follow-up rings irresponsible.
posted by squirrel at 11:11 AM on July 21, 2003


quonsar:

You know, your stomach lining will suffer from all that bile you're generating. You might want to invest in some Maalox.
posted by mrmanley at 11:12 AM on July 21, 2003


flip the bird as the crowd stirs the tar and fluffs the feathers.
You crack me up, quonsar. Don't go changin'.
posted by squirrel at 11:16 AM on July 21, 2003


For the last time, the Sunni Triangle DOES NOT CONTAIN 70% of Iraq's population. People, stop bandying that statistic around.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:19 AM on July 21, 2003


That's what I get for depending on MetaFilter for my news. Tinfoil hat covers 70% of my Vulcan Triangle.
posted by VulcanMike at 11:24 AM on July 21, 2003


special420, want to make sure, I don't think you are printing bitterness, think it's outstanding you care too. Just feel the media can be more productive in their stories. It would be nice if the media would talk about the troops' lives while they are a live.

How do I feel about a brother in Iraq, proud. Why? he is doing the job he was trained. Folks, they are doing their actual job. That may sound terrible, but look at history, war has been apart of it. Soldiers don't just kill, they protect too, please don't forget that as that is their prime duty. No clear minded person likes killing or being killed.

At the beginning of 2003 my brother was a reservist, worked various jobs and was going to college. He has said very few negative things about Iraq and its population which is surprising since he has driven through most of it. Besides our mail service being terrible the only complaint he had about the war was (his words) a mortar landing 30 meters from his paws.
One day the truth of this war will be told, the good and the bad. We should remember our troops, but not just when they die. Noticing when a soldier dies seems when one is remembered today. Yet what where they saying about our soldiers while they lived?

mrmanley good points.

I realize that soldiers are not supposed to voice their grievances the way they did, but there's something really petty about punishing these guys who have been put in harm's way while the administration uses the war as an election prop,


I came to a conclusion, if I loose my brother to this war, I will not let the bitterness ruin his death. No one likes complaints. Voicing a complaint can be done in a positive manner too. Seems when you voice bitterness it will just cause others to be bitter like you.

Americans are killed every day in your city, still say they are safer there than in their own home towns.
Plainly false.

So you think the streets of America are safer than Iraq? The soldiers know their life is in danger constantly so in reality they are more prepared there than at home.
PS, took 6 years in Japan after WWII.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:26 AM on July 21, 2003


maalox: tool of the imperialist running dog capitalists!

seriously mrmanley, i just want you to HEAR yourself.
posted by quonsar at 11:26 AM on July 21, 2003


Also, if you look at where the violence is happening, it's a relatively small geographic region around Baghdad, Tikrit, and environs.

Not for long--Over the weekend, U.S. Marines with fixed bayonets faced off a pro-Sadr demonstration in the Shi'ite holy city Nasraf.

You know, despite what many in this forum seem to think, the military planners aren't complete fatheads. They knew there'd be lots of low-intensity combat after the invasion was complete.

Also of interest: Officials Debate Whether to Seek a Bigger Military
Describing it as "a matter of the utmost urgency," Mr. Rumsfeld said that by July 31 he expected several proposals. They include how to reduce the need for the involuntary mobilization of the Guard and Reserves, how to restructure the active and reserve forces "to correct imbalances that result in lengthy, repeated or frequent mobilization," and how to make the mobilization and demobilization process more efficient.

Even so, Pentagon officials drafting plans for the long-term Iraq mission said proposals were under review to mobilize two Army National Guard "enhanced separate brigades," which train with the active-duty force and receive the most modern equipment. They would still need extensive training before going to Iraq. Officials said that a nine-month tour would require a yearlong activation and a yearlong deployment would require 15 months of service.

In his most recent testimony this month on Capitol Hill, Mr. Rumsfeld said that if national security required increasing force levels, particularly in the Army or Marine Corps, "Obviously, we would come to Congress and make that request." But "at the moment," he added, "we do not see that that's the case."

Mr. Rumsfeld did not say so expressly, but the concept of increasing troop numbers — and costs — contradicts a basic tenet of his goal for military transformation, which is to rely on new technology and rewrite doctrine to allow smaller forces to attack with greater speed and deadliness.


So, we currently have three free combat brigades, out of a total 33, currently available for any additional extra-Iraqi military coughNorthKoreaetccough developments. That's planning ahead?
posted by y2karl at 11:33 AM on July 21, 2003


No Y2Karl, if you read the article you just linked, you would see that many of the Army's brigades are already slated as reserves in case of a conflict in Korea. The three "free" brigades are the only brigades that are not deployed OR tasked for Korea right now.

Also, there are many ways to look at what happened in Nasraf. On the on ehnad, you could say that US soldiers were forced to fix bayonnets, and conclude that conflict will soon move there. Or you could see that a gourp of 2 dozen US soldiers, without firing a shot, were able to calm a protest of several dozen people, that eventually melted away on its own accord. Hmmm. Seems like something that happens in the West all the time. Maybe the DC and Paris police could learn something from those 2 dozen US servicemen about peacefully containing an explosive situation.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:41 AM on July 21, 2003


quonsar:

I hear myself just fine, thankyou. I just don't let other people tell me what to think -- believe it or not, many of us "neo-cons" have actually studied the background on this issue, and believe that the US is doing absolutely the right thing. I was angry that George Bush pere failed to march on Baghdad in Gulf War I, and that he sold the Shias in the south and the Kurds in the north down the river in the aftermath of that war (thus contributing to their slaughter). It took us over a decade of failed initiatives, piecemeal military operations, and UN dithering to do what we should have done then. George Bush fils has the horrible example of 9/11 to show the price of evasion, ignorance, and delay.

History will vindicate this action as both necessary and moral. Nothing good ever comes cheaply.

It's clear that we differ on many fundamental issues, qonsar. But please do me the courtesy of believing that my opinions are my own, and not just regurgitated taglines from the Handbook For Neo-Conservatives.
posted by mrmanley at 11:42 AM on July 21, 2003


Bravo mrmanley
posted by pjgulliver at 11:44 AM on July 21, 2003


y2karl:
But you're forgetting that democracy is going to spread like wildfire throughout the Middle East any day now. That's planning.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:44 AM on July 21, 2003


Sorry...above should read "calm a protest of several thousand people" not "several dozen"...really changes the impact of the event....
posted by pjgulliver at 11:45 AM on July 21, 2003


It took us over a decade of failed initiatives, piecemeal military operations, and UN dithering to do what we should have done then.

Which is what, exactly? Yeah, the Baath party is nominally (and, likley, functionally as well) out of power. Are we really to believe that there is no fate worse than Hussein? That anarchy could never be worse than dictatorhsip? That foreign occupation beats domestic occupation?

I don't doubt that you arrived at your opinions yourself. It is not lost on me (or, I would guess, any number of MeFites) that you make an effort to express what is mostly a minority view here: that is rarely motivated by dishonesty or laziness. If you feel that the situation is better for Iraqis, than that is an understandable opinion(while not one that I hold).

But if you claim that we as Americans are now substantively safer, or that any of our interests that aren't related to fossil fuels are any better served, than before the war, I would submit that you have been misled. If history will vindicate this action, will it vindicate the case on which it was sold? Does this mean that Saddam had the vast stockpiles of usable weapons claimed by Rumsfeld and Bush? If so, do you really feel safer with those weapons out of the hands of a regime that lacks proper delivery systems to threaten the US and in the hands of... wait, who has those weapons now? Oh yeah, we have no damned idea.

Has the "War on Terror" delivered any gains whatsoever? I would suggest that you re-examine the assumptions through which you determined that open-ended warfare in multiple nations against nebulously defined enemies with a lack of cogent objectives and planning was the right way to decrease violence against the US.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:55 AM on July 21, 2003


mrmanley - why was Iraq a worthy cause and so many other more horrible dictators and events going on in the world unworthy of our attention and intervention? We didn't go there for humanitarianism, anyway. We went there as a preemptive strike against WMD, which have not been found.
posted by agregoli at 11:59 AM on July 21, 2003


thanks for the link, y2karl, but it just makes me angrier than i already was.

isn't all of our ridiculous military overspending ($550 billion a year during Clinton?) based on the notion that we need a strong enough military to stage two complete wars at the same time? and we can't even handle Iraq and North Korea?

i want my money back!!

by the way, i think this is the first time i've ever agreed with thomcatspike: "Death will happen, don't fear it." amen, brother. i only wish our leaders felt the same way.

the biggest army in the world can't cover for shite policies forever. the end of Bush, Rumseld, Rice, Ashcroft, and Powell will come one day, b/c us humans are better/smarter than they think. (my positive thought for the day)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:01 PM on July 21, 2003


thomcatspike, I appreciate your comments about the humanity of our service members, and I generally agree with you. Importantly, the doing their job justification for their individual actions directs us to look up the command tree to discern whether their job is a just one. Americans are increasingly determining, as the world has long ago, that it's not.

Which is not necessarily to say that each of our soldiers are doing wrong. They're following orders. According to military protocol, a soldier must behave like a muscle, which will extend a finger into flame if the brain tells it to. In a well-disciplined military organization, such Germany had in WWII, the muscles will continue to hold the finger in the flame until the brain says to take it out. Thus thousands of people directly participated in a genocide because it was their job.

Now before the subtlety-challenged among you freak out, I'm not comparing our soldiers or their leaders to Nazis; I'm pointing out that the doing-their-job justification has limits. Also, our military doesn't appear to be as disciplined as the Nazis were. Which is bad in a military sense, but I think good in a human sense... especially when you consider that today's US military is more of a corporate take-over force than, say, a force for stopping "evil," whatever that is.
posted by squirrel at 12:04 PM on July 21, 2003


Ignatius J. Riley, you are willfully misrepresenting what numerous "neocons" (many of whom consider ourselves liberal but hawkish on foreign policy) have written about here, on and on, for months.

Those of us who return to this forum, day in and day out, arguing for our beliefs about this battle (Iraq) and others, have thought through our views and arrived at them after substantial deliberation. I for one, both firmly believe that not only are the people of Iraq substantially better off now than they were three months ago, but that America, and the West in general, are more secure than they were three months ago as well.

I would also submit, and know that you will crucify me for this, that one should not be so disparaging of "our interests...related to fossil fuels." Whether you like it or not, the global economy runs on the availability of cheap and predictable supplies of fossil fuels. And there's not a damn thing that can be done about that in the short term. Fossil fuels don't only supply gasoline to American SUVs. They run generators that provide electricity throughout the developing world, they are the fertilizers that allow India to feed itself, they provide the ability to move people and goods throughout the world and in every nation. If there were not reliable and cheap sources of fossil fuels, Americans would be inconvienced and our economy would suffer. The developing world would starve.

Now, I believe we should be investing in an energy "Manhattan Project" to vastly decrease the price and increase the availability of more beneign forms of energy. But that doesn't mean we are not stuck dealing with fossil fuels for a long time to come, which means that, whether you like it or not, the Middle East matters.

I believe, as I believe do many others, that "security" and "stability/status quo" are two very different things. And that sometimes to create long term security actions that appear destablizing must be undertaken.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:05 PM on July 21, 2003


Mr. Grimm: the two regional war policy was discarded in the mid 1990s. US policy has been to be able to fight 1.5 regional wars since then. Essentially that meant defeating one adversary while holding the other off by means such as bombing, etc.

Agregoli, I would argue we went there to remove a festering sore of antiAmericanism and regional instability, that also happened to possess a WMD threat and oil supply's that were desparately needed on the world market to create some redundancy in global energy supplies. And no, that doesn't mean we went there so that US corporations could own the oil. But it means we wanted to see that oil on international markets again, which could never happen while Hussein was in power.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:09 PM on July 21, 2003


I would argue we went there to remove a festering sore of antiAmericanism and regional instability

And it's better now, how, exactly? Also, do you believe it is moral to destroy an entire country just because they don't like America and we want their oil? A lot of people view America as a huge bully, and I can't say I blame them.
posted by agregoli at 12:12 PM on July 21, 2003


Also, they've not been proved to have a WMD threat, remember.
posted by agregoli at 12:12 PM on July 21, 2003


do me the courtesy of believing that my opinions are my own, and not just regurgitated taglines from the Handbook For Neo-Conservatives.

oh, i do, i do. i just have difficulty fathoming the breadth and depth of malfunction that leads a mind to believe such things.
posted by quonsar at 12:20 PM on July 21, 2003


Agregoli--

Is the situation better now: In my view, yes. Several things have happened:

1) Both Kuwait and Jordan have held parlimentary elections. Kuwait is extending the vote to women. This is huge.

2) US troops will be out of Saudi Arabia by August, removing a huge source of regional instbaility (US forces in country of Mecca and Medina). It also allows the US to distance itself from the thoroughly corrupt and venal Saudi regime, which is destined to fall soon in my opinion.

3) Syria has ceased its official and open support for Palestinian terrror groups, and is packing up most of its troops in Lebanon.

4) It is clear, after the protests of the past month, that Iran is on the cusp of a liberalizing transformation.

5) Despite the hiccups and flaws, the Roadmap to Peace in Israel/Palestine is on track...Palestinian negotiators have publically said this is in no small part due to the regional clout the US now has.

Also

6) I firmly believe that Iraq is a vastly better place than it was three months ago. Are there immense problems there? Undoubtedly. And far more money and effort needs to be made. But it is no longer under the Stalinist rule it has been for decades.

What right did we have to invade Iraq? Legally, Hussein's violations of the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire provide all the caussi belli needed, as did his refusal to outright cooperate with the terms of UNSC 1441 this past fall. Realistically, I saw no other way for the standoff with Iraq to end. Clearly sanctions had to maintained as long as the Hussein government was in power, because he had demonstrated time and time again that given the money he could generate with open sale of oil, he would become aggressive. He undoubtedly had a WMD program and a desire to build and aquire more weapons, even if we have so far been unable to find the weapons themselves.

As to "destroy a country" we did no such thing. The devestation in Iraq is a product of 30 years of horrific governance and a few weeks of looting by the Iraqi's themselves. Coallition forces did virutally no damage to Iraqi infrastructure.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:25 PM on July 21, 2003


I would argue we went there to remove a festering sore of antiAmericanism and regional instability


i don't ever recall hearing those words from the commander in chief. strange. i *do* recall him saying something about "the man tried to kill my daddy" however...
posted by quonsar at 12:25 PM on July 21, 2003


Of course your right Quonsar. We went to war because of the attempt on Bush I's life....yeah, that's why Tony Blair signed on for the invasion. He's easily duped....come on....
posted by pjgulliver at 12:29 PM on July 21, 2003


Food, water and electricity not counting as infrastructure, of course.

pjgulliver, your points are good ones, but I still can't get over "festering sore of anti-Americanism," which is what you originally said, and what I think is closer to the real reasons we went. Saddam sure was evil, but there is far worse happening elsewhere that the U.S. will never touch, simply because they do not "threaten" US. I find it disturbing that our government is now claiming humanitarianism when it did not do so in the first place, and will not raise a finger to a worthy cause when that cause would not advance a political agenda. Either you are about ending injustice or you aren't.
posted by agregoli at 12:33 PM on July 21, 2003


I disagree. I think that massive action of this type can only occur when there is a confluence of rationale, a perfect storm if you will. There were multiple compelling reasons to expend US treasure and blood in Iraq in my view.

And as much as I wish we could also intervene in Liberia, stop Congo's war, remove Mugabe, replace the governments of most of central Asia, force Pakistan to hold fair elections and then stick to a constitution, etc, we simply don't have the capability to be everywhere at once.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:37 PM on July 21, 2003


I'm still waiting for the cakewalk and the flowers and the warm welcome promised by Dear Leader.

Good point squirrel on the gung-ho attitudes and how the times they are achangin'. I just wouldn't want to attribute that attitude to many of the troops who are decent folks who, given a choice, would never kill another human being. The military is often the only way out of poverty for these folks and they take all the s*it that comes with it, even when they strongly disagree on moral grounds.
posted by nofundy at 12:39 PM on July 21, 2003


I know we can't be everywhere at once. I guess my problem is just that this administration can't seem to stick to a story for long. I wouldn't be this upset about the whole thing if they were still saying "WMD" and nothing else, but now it's all been changed by "revisionist historian" Georgie himself. The reasons I'm sure ARE varied but then spell it out for us from the beginning - give Americans some credit.
posted by agregoli at 12:42 PM on July 21, 2003


And you're totally right there agregoli. I really despise this administration for multiple reasons, one of the more minor ones being the way they completely bungled the prewar phase. Horrible job, no question.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:46 PM on July 21, 2003


While Iraq isn't Vietnam, it should be remembered that US intervention in Vietnam actually began in Sepetember 1950, when the first US military advisors went over.

By 1963, there were about 10,000 or so American soldiers in Vietnam. Troops in Vietnam really started escalating in 1964, with the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. By the end of 1965 there were 184,000 soldiers in Vietnam. Time and time again, the US prolonged its stay and increased its involvement. At the height of the war, there were over half a million American soldiers in Vietnam. The only way to supply enough military force for the war was to use the draft.

Given the current rate of US casualties in Iraq, it is quite likely that casualties for the first year of US occupation in Iraq will be roughly equal to *ALL* US casualties in Vietnam from 1961 to the end of 1964.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:55 PM on July 21, 2003


pj-
What was I "willfully misrepresenting?" Gee, I guess I won't go ahead and tell you that I think you are being thoughtful and honest and that if Bush and his toadies were as consistent and clear as you then they wouldn't be in such hot water right now.

That being said, I still disagree with you for all the reasons that you already know of. Yours is a trait that I am seeing a lot from the pro-war and pro-Bush crowds: the justifications put forward by the supporters being more credible than the official statements they are defending.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:57 PM on July 21, 2003


Ahhh, but in Iraq US forces have been on the offense since day one. US ground forces in Vietnam were not allowed on the offensive until 1964, and the first combat units didn't arrive until 1963--so your comparing apples and oranges.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:58 PM on July 21, 2003


Well, IJR...thanks for the noncomplement. Lets call it a truce....

Count me as pro-war, but please please please never put me in the "pro-Bush" corner!
posted by pjgulliver at 1:00 PM on July 21, 2003


we're not any safer, and they *knew* that we wouldn't be safer.

the funny thing is we all knew this article was true last year, and we're just hearing it now!

i hope this flimsy house of cards is finally falling.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:03 PM on July 21, 2003


That's what I meant, pj. I don't doubt your conviction, but you are in the unfortunate position of having to defend someone who you don't even respect, because like it or not, it's his war.

But somehow I manage to come off as a prick even when trying hard ot be nice. I think it's a medical condition.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:04 PM on July 21, 2003


Happens to me all the time to IJR...maybe we should start a support group for people who come off like asses when trying to be polite...
posted by pjgulliver at 1:09 PM on July 21, 2003


this is the first time i've ever agreed with thomcatspike:
Thanks, my allergies are bothering me today, it's been hard articulating my words.

Coallition forces did virutally no damage to Iraqi infrastructure. Open letter.
C-span was showing some great footage of Iraq. I was surprised how the government ignored its own infrastructure, sadly the schools.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:17 PM on July 21, 2003


mrmanley: George Bush fils has the horrible example of 9/11 to show the price of evasion, ignorance, and delay.

Apparently, you are in possession of information or evidence that links Iraq and/or Sadaam Hussein to the Al Quaeda and/or Osama Bin Laden. Kindly produce such information or evidence post haste; the BushCo administration and the inspiring-and-awesome American military apparatus can't seem to find it despite some rather desperate-appearing searches...
posted by JollyWanker at 1:24 PM on July 21, 2003


thomcatspike....great info you've posted to this thread. That last link was terrific. Thanks.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:25 PM on July 21, 2003


Yours is a trait that I am seeing a lot from the pro-war and pro-Bush crowds: the justifications put forward by the supporters being more credible than the official statements they are defending.

It just shows that there were many justifications for invading, and they were good ones. If you don't agree with some of them, it doesn't invalidate the action. Saddam Hussein was a monster; the world (not to mention Iraq) is surely better off now than before.
posted by mrmanley at 1:31 PM on July 21, 2003


Bush crowds: the justifications put forward by the supporters being more credible than the official statements they are defending.
History repeats itself. The claim here is that Revere and others lied used it for propaganda in their writings; knowing the truth though.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:35 PM on July 21, 2003


And as a sidenote, it might be worth reading this article from Vietnam on the true cost of war. For every soldier who dies in Iraq, there will be many, many more who face crippling, longterm disabilities. In the case of Iraq, that could mean well over 1,000 US soldiers already, and countless thousands of Iraqis. Good thing we only count the dead... and usually, we don't even count them accurately.

Yes, we've heard the wartime horror stories of overtaxed Iraqi hospitals having to perform amputations without anaesthetics, but we've heard remarkably little about the nearly 50 patients a day that are flown to Landstuhl Hospital in Germany, or the over 650 wounded soldiers who have gone back home to Walter Reed Hospital, where they must learn how to exist as young, handicapped war vet.

Sure, less US soldiers are dying in Iraq than in Vietnam. The leading cause of casualties in Vietnam came from blood loss, and we have that licked except under the most extreme circumstances. The other side of the coin, however, are that there will be more amputees, more people paralyzed for the rest of their life, etc.

But can anyone point out to me a list of all US soldiers who have been wounded in this war? How about a list of those who have lost a limb or an organ or who will find their lives permanently FUBAR for the sake of this conflict? Thought not. We hear of the dead, but about the crippling injuries that happen every day in Iraq every day where somebody *doesn't* get killed?

So don't talk to me about low casualties and about how safe it is for US troops in Iraq, because that's a damn stupid lie that you're advertising. You're doing a disservice to our soldiers by suggesting that this is all just a walk in the park. You think it's a walk in the park?! Fine. You can sign up now and go walk there yourself.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:47 PM on July 21, 2003


JollyWanker:

9/11 was a symptom of a greater disease. It was a direct outcome of three converging trends: a) Islamo-fascism, of which Al-Qaida is only one example, b) shrill anti-Western sentiment in the Middle East (which was really a thin film over Arab self-pity for their backward state), and c) the erosion of certain weak states into either "thugocracies" or warring factions.

Do you honestly think that Saddam Hussein had no truck with Islamic terrorism? How about his cash payments to suicide bombers' families? He may have been a Ba'athist thug, but he was also a firm believer in the Arab proverb "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".
posted by mrmanley at 1:48 PM on July 21, 2003


That open letter is a hoax, thomcatspike. Read farther down. Good thing, too: that writer is crackers.
posted by squirrel at 1:53 PM on July 21, 2003


ChronWatch in general is a hoax... a rightwing screed with no journalistic responsibilities for accuracy in reporting.

Really, if ChronWatch didn't have the Chronicle logo on its website, it wouldn't have a fraction of the respect.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:03 PM on July 21, 2003


"9/11 is a sign of a greater disease."

Funny, that. That's just what Al-Qaida said about the Israeli occupation of Palestine before they attacked the US. I guess anything is justifiable given enough suspension of disbelief, eh?!

Oh, btw. Where is Osama Bin Laden, anyway? When is the coalition going to do a 100,000 soldier sweep of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan in order to find him and his remaining supporters?
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:12 PM on July 21, 2003


insomnia_lj:

Where is Osama Bin Laden, anyway?

My guess? Dead in a cave somewhere near Tora Bora, with lots of rocks resting on his moldering bones. And good riddance. If you have firm proof otherwise, please let the good folks at the US Defense Department know; I'm sure they'd be very interested.
posted by mrmanley at 2:19 PM on July 21, 2003


mrmanley: George Bush fils has the horrible example of 9/11 to show the price of evasion, ignorance, and delay.

Apparently, you are in possession of information or evidence that links Iraq and/or Sadaam Hussein to the Al Quaeda and/or Osama Bin Laden. Kindly produce such information or evidence post haste; the BushCo administration and the inspiring-and-awesome American military apparatus can't seem to find it despite some rather desperate-appearing searches...

First, where is Saddam? Second, proof ? he admitted it during/after the Gulf War. Or his army just liked the look of gas masks too. But I will go with the proof, that he may have been re-thinking about producing more weapons and had quit trying to make them, he had palaces (my brother toured the site) to finish building, mind you.

insomnia_lj I hear your compassion. We hear of the dead, but about the crippling injuries that happen every day in Iraq every day where somebody *doesn't* get killed? . Posted last week on my site about a Marine whom was injured. Here is a (self link)letter written during the war; also it's moving as it tells the tale about the men you defend.

squirrel, Open Letter, did not catch that, it's being widely circulated on the net. I posted it to warfilter last week.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:24 PM on July 21, 2003


It strikes me that many of the "show me proof!" folks are the Gen Y (let's say the 18-30 demographic) anti-war folks. This makes me think of a line by Primo Levi in his book The Drowned And The Saved:

"The young above all demand clarity, a sharp cut; their experience being meager, they do not like ambiguity."

Learning that the world is full of ambiguity is one of life's hard lessons. I doubt that we'll ever have evidence hard enough to convince most of the doubters -- I suspect that no evidence would suffice. Their mind is made up. As I have posted in other threads, they have found George W. Bush guilty; if they can't hang him for one crime, they simply look for another.
posted by mrmanley at 2:30 PM on July 21, 2003


I can think of many instances of evidence that would convince me - I really wish they'd show up. But I don't think they will.
posted by agregoli at 2:34 PM on July 21, 2003


It just shows that there were many justifications for invading, and they were good ones. If you don't agree with some of them, it doesn't invalidate the action. Saddam Hussein was a monster; the world (not to mention Iraq) is surely better off now than before.

Some of them were good ones. Good enough to justify what we did? No, I don't think so.

When you look at a chessboard, you don't look only at the piece you want to capture and the piece that threatens it -- every move has the potential to rewrite the dynamics of the whole board. And what I don't see in the pro-war side is an acknowledgement that removing Saddam, however horrible he was, changes the world in ways that can't be predicted. Will the new government be better? Better for some people (fundamentalists) and worse for others (women)? Will it become our strong and willing ally? A puppet state controlling a resentful native population? Will this mean new waves of terrorist attacks?

I don't think the pro-war side can credibly say that these questions have been answered satisfactorily, and the answers certainly matter. You can't paint Saddam's departure as an unequivocal good, or even a net plus, until it's truly clear that a peaceful long-term solution is emerging.

On preview:

Learning that the world is full of ambiguity is one of life's hard lessons.

If there is no clarity, only ambiguity, then why was war even an acceptable answer, let alone the necessary one? This is a delicate way of saying that the whole thing was a crap shoot.

As I have posted in other threads, they have found George W. Bush guilty; if they can't hang him for one crime, they simply look for another.

My reason for hanging him was once that he was demanding that we go to war without presenting any significant evidence that it was necessary. My reason for doing so now is that the little evidence he produced turned out to be fraudulent. You're right; we're as bad as Ken Starr.
posted by Epenthesis at 2:54 PM on July 21, 2003


Thomascatspike: The stories about the wounded soldiers are moving, but the wife of a commanding general is hardly likely to draw an unbiased conclusion from what is admittedly a tragic situation.

It's no wonder that the thoughts of these soldiers go to their fellow soldiers out in Iraq. That's where true loyalty lies in any war... it's not for the government, and not for the generals. It's for all those guys next to you who are going through the same thing.

At the same time though, soldiers are acutely aware that they are pawns, and that the leaders in the US keep dicking them around, killing their morale and inflicting hardship on their families. Reports are pretty widespread that they want to go home, and it must be mortifying for generals to have their troops mouth off against the situation right under their noses. This video from Reuters (Windows only?) is a good example.

These soldiers shouldn't be out there any longer. It's time to get the UN peacekeepers involved, to give Iraqis the right to elect their own leaders, and for the US to bring these troops back home ASAP.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:00 PM on July 21, 2003


There were very good reasons for overthrowing Saddam Hussein-- in the general sense, evil dictators should be overthrown, it's the way of the world and always has been.

However, could Saddam not have been overthrown without a full-scale invasion? I happen to believe that this could have been taken care of in 3-4 years, but OK if not, then invasion. But when such an invasion is prepared, if the main reason is overthrow, which benefits primarily the Iraqi people, why has their welfare had virtually no planning? Why was the only ministry protected the oil ministry? Why was post-war period so poorly planned for?

I think you have to be a complete and total idiot to conclude from the actions of GWB's administration that the goal was to provide a better life for the Iraqis. If that was really any serious part of the calculation, there would have been a solid plan in place for governing the country and protecting its (non-oil) resources and providing security for its citizens. As a rule, people do not launch wars to create better lives for other people's citizens, they do it for their own people. And Iraq's oil and reconstruction, and future place for free-trade, is a good thing for America's citizens.

So I would appreciate it in the future if people would just say, yeah, the war may have been sold as a way to get back at Al Qaeda and protect America, but all of us smart people knew it was for profit (as all wars are) and we're fine with that. Quit hiding behind the "Iraqi People". While I'm sure you do wish them well in the general sense, I am quite sure that their well-being is only a side-effect of the acutal war aims.
posted by cell divide at 3:11 PM on July 21, 2003


"Learning that the world is full of ambiguity is one of life's hard lessons.

You don't convict a criminal without proving your case beyond all reasonable doubt. Why should we invade another country for anything less?

The U.S.' legal justification for war was, is, and will always be that Saddam had WMDs. Only posession of WMDs would violate the terms of the peace we had with them.

We lost the case when it came to international opinion, not receiving the go-ahead for war. So, we went ahead anyway, only to find there were no WMDs, and, apparently, no legal basis on which to invade another country.

You can bring up any other moral justification for the war which you want, but that doesn't change the fact that the US violated international law in its invasion of Iraq. Sure, we won't get in trouble for it. We'll just be branded as a criminal that got away... sorta like O.J.

Under the circumstances, is it any wonder that a considerable amount of the US population want to find out what really happened, want to know what evidence we relied upon to go to war, and want to make sure their leaders didn't intentionally lie to them and to the rest of the world in order to provoke a war? This is serious stuff here... if the current administration knowingly deceived the public and knowingly spun and misinterpreted intelligence, no amount of "moral ambiguity" should save them.

So, rather than doing a Johnny Cochrane smokescreen defence for the current administration based on smoke and mirrors, why don't you just take a chill pill for awhile and let people determine the facts of the matter first?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:17 PM on July 21, 2003


Learning that the world is full of ambiguity is one of life's hard lessons.

and...

History will vindicate this action as both necessary and moral.

So...ambiguity is at play when the reasons for war come into question, but not when determining if said war was "moral." Look, either Saddam is a front man for EVIL that needed to be removed by the morally superior (to the "backwards" arabs, to use a word of yours) West or the world is a nuanced and ambiguous place. Either Good is at War with Evil or we inhabit a rational reality. You can't have it both ways.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:18 PM on July 21, 2003


It strikes me that many of the "show me proof!" folks are the Gen Y (let's say the 18-30 demographic) anti-war folks. This makes me think of a line by Primo Levi in his book The Drowned And The Saved:

"The young above all demand clarity, a sharp cut; their experience being meager, they do not like ambiguity."


Although I am older than your Gen Y - I too demand evidence and proof and all those things that a Western civilised soceity believe are now necessary. Your use of the quote [sorry don't know Levi's context] leads to the following logic: " There was no concrete evidence that he murdered someone but we gave him the death penalty."
posted by meech at 3:39 PM on July 21, 2003


all of us smart people knew it was for profit (as all wars are) and we're fine with that

Change "for profit" to "for America's national interest" and I'd agree with you.

Part of the problem we're seeing is that politicians communicate to us through CNN. But the enemy gets CNN too. So, sometimes I'm sure the President said things that were meant to be addressed to Saddam. Perhaps it wasn't so much that Bush really believed Saddam had WMDs, but that he wanted Saddam to believe that he thought that, and so he made his case to the UN, and the news media obligingly broadcast it all around the world so Saddam could see it. In that case you want him to think you have a lot more proof than you really do. Unfortunately there was not any way Bush could wink and nod to the American public and say "I don't really believe this but, shhh, don't tell Saddam." The same deal with the recent cowboy antics in which Bush told the Iraqi guerillas to "bring it on." He didn't say that to be insensitive to the families of U. S. soldiers, but to tell the guerilas in terms they could understand that our military is tougher than they are and ready to fight them. Unfortunately there was no way to do one without also doing the other.

Unfortunately this is going to become more and more of a problem. The Bush administration seems to me to be using media disinformation fairly aggressively. More and more of the messages in the U. S. media from U. S. officials will be intended for audiences other than Americans, and may contain deliberate misinformation or omit vital information. This is because there is simply no way to talk to the American public and let us know what's really going on without the rest of the world listening in. It is an interesting conundrum if you think about it. Bush wants to tell the Middle East that the U. S. is getting serious about the Islamist terrorism issue. At the same time he wants to keep public opinion at home and abroad in favor of an action against Iraq. These two goals are mutually contradictory at many points and attempting to rectify them must surely have made Ari Fleischer's job very interesting. Though I think he is a weasel, I do have some sympathy for him. I get the impression that the Bush administration, if it gets the chance to establish a pattern via another term, will chew up and spit out press secretaries with some regularity.

I think expecting that we, the lay public, can get anywhere close to the truth about current events in the 21st century by watching what our public officials say and do is just hopelessly naive. If we're lucky, in a few decades, after Bush is out of office and the plan he has set into motion has been successful or not, we'll find out what was really going on. However, it is clearly very interesting to talk about what's happening as if we had more than a handful of pieces to the puzzle.
posted by kindall at 3:44 PM on July 21, 2003


well said cell divide. lets not forget the now dead 3,000 "liberated" iraqi civilians (grandmothers, women, children, husbands, fathers) who lost their lives in the process ... im sure they vote for a more reasonable approach to "regime change" ...
posted by specialk420 at 3:56 PM on July 21, 2003


I suspect that no evidence would suffice. Their mind is made up. As I have posted in other threads, they have found George W. Bush guilty; if they can't hang him for one crime, they simply look for another.

As opposed to, of course, the exact same tactics being applied to justify the war in the first place.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:50 PM on July 21, 2003


If we're lucky, in a few decades, after Bush is out of office and the plan he has set into motion has been successful or not, we'll find out what was really going on.

Not unlike the Reaganite scum, who are widely credited for the fall of the Berlin Wall, and so on. Although, then as now, it's a little bit much to actually credit the President for having the wit to be the driver behind the policy. More the kid in the back seat.

I think Reagan got lucky. I don't think history will be as kind to this bunch, and we're in for a decade or two of unpleasantness, at the very least.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:58 PM on July 21, 2003


SpecialK, I don't know if you can say that. I think there are probably many Iraqis who would have willingly given their lives to be rid of Saddam. If people are willing to give their lives to fly airplanes into buildings full of civilians, or to blow up buses and pizza parlors, my heart hopes that there are those who would give their lives for freedom.

I think we in the west value our freedoms, but forget the price that often must be paid for said freedom. I have met those who understand the danger and the risk, and have given their lives to further the goal of liberty.
posted by pjgulliver at 9:00 PM on July 21, 2003


I think there are probably many Iraqis who would have willingly given their lives to be rid of Saddam.

perhaps.

too bad they were'nt given the option to opt of of sacrificing their (or their loved ones) lives for "liberation".

9/11/2001 - 3,899 american civilians killed.

01/01/2003 - 07/21/2003 - 6073 - 7782 iraqi civilians killed


pj - this isn't a movie or tv show... its real. those people died for reasons that have nothing to do with "freedom" or "liberty". if it was your sister that smoked, would you still be waving the flag and driving around with that bumpersticker on your car ?

i guess i was off by a couple thousand
posted by specialk420 at 9:53 PM on July 21, 2003


got smoked .... perhaps - "was killed by american forces" (some might say agression) would be a better choice of words
posted by specialk420 at 10:00 PM on July 21, 2003


Also, there are many ways to look at what happened in Nasraf. On the on ehnad, you could say that US soldiers were forced to fix bayonnets, and conclude that conflict will soon move there. Or you could see that a gourp of 2 dozen US soldiers, without firing a shot, were able to calm a protest of several dozen people, that eventually melted away on its own accord. Hmmm. Seems like something that happens in the West all the time. Maybe the DC and Paris police could learn something from those 2 dozen US servicemen about peacefully containing an explosive situation.

Iraq: Al-Najaf Demonstration Highlights U.S. Difficulties In Winning Over Iraqi Shi'a

Muqtada al-Sadr is becoming an increasingly visible problem for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority.

Some 10,000 followers of the young Shi'a Muslim cleric took to the streets of the holy city of Al-Najaf over the weekend to physically challenge what they thought was a U.S. attempt to arrest their stridently anti-American leader.

In a confrontation with some two dozen American troops, the protestors -- many of whom had raced down from Baghdad's impoverished Shi'a quarter known as al-Sadr city -- chanted slogans such as "No Americans after today!" and "No to tyranny, no to the devil!"

The incident saw American soldiers face the crowd with fixed bayonets as a commanding officer used a bullhorn to explain that Washington had made no effort to arrest al-Sadr. Finally, leaders of the crowd accepted that there might have been a misunderstanding. But they still insisted on handing over a list of demands -- including that U.S. forces leave Al-Najaf immediately -- before agreeing to disperse their followers.


They had the bayonets out because the crowd of several dozen was a crowd of 10,000 and they were severely out numbered. And the crowd did not quietly melt away of their own accord. Citing fixed bayonets and the accompanying implied threat of threat of massacre as potential crowd control lessons to be learned by the DC and Paris police--why in the hell you mention them, by the way, is another mystery--is a bit rich in any case, don't you think?

Hook a generator up to the spin of the fatous tripe quoted above--end of the energy crisis forever. What irritates me is that you were bullshitting above--you misspelled Al-Najaf as Nasraf just I did and you cited no source because there was no source that said the crowd melted away of its own accord. You were pulling it out of your ass right there, weren't you? Well, disinformation has been a theme of late, but this just gives wishful thinking a bad name.
posted by y2karl at 10:18 PM on July 21, 2003


Reports are pretty widespread that they want to go home, and it must be mortifying for generals to have their troops mouth off against the situation right under their noses.
The thing is their orders were written that they could/would be deployed this long. Think of our Navy, they go to sea for 6 to 10 months yet some were out to sea even longer because of the Iraq War. Unfortunately, when the war ended; they told the soldiers they might be returning home soon again most orders were not completed yet which left them open and deployed. Take my my brother's unit, the last time it was activated ( a Reserve unit) was the Gulf War and they were in Iraq longer than my brother has been. But do agree that they need some a good rest. I do know too, the military is under staffed, why you see all the recruitments of late for all the branches. You don't advertise if you don't need too.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:37 AM on July 22, 2003


Actually Specialk420, many Iraqi's did give their lives to be free of Hussein in the 1991 uprisings. Unfortunately, to our country's shame, we did not help them, so they did not suceed. But people give their lives for freedom all over the world, all the time. And, if it was my sister who was "smoked," to use your charming phrase, I would be immensely saddened and grief stricken, but I don't believe that would change my mind.

Y2Karl: Why did I choose DC and Paris? I live in DC and have watched innumerable anti-World Bank, etc protests here, so it just popped to mind. I used Paris because of the incredibly damaging strikes/protests that city has suffered over the past three months, and the seeming inability of the government to restore order there at times.

Also, according to the article you post, the crowd did not melt away because of the fixed bayonnets. It melted away because the US forces convinced the crowd they had no intention of arresting their spiritual leader, and that the crowd had fallen victim to rumor. Next time you want to make a statement, to quote and article that directly contradicts it in the same post.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:44 AM on July 22, 2003



01/01/2003 - 07/21/2003 - 6073 - 7782 iraqi civilians killed


Does that number include conscripted Iraqi soldiers?
posted by thirteen at 12:52 PM on July 22, 2003


Does that number include conscripted Iraqi soldiers?

i don't believe it does. check the link.


pjgullible -

so you are saying you would leave the stupid "liberate iraq - i support troops" bumper sticker on then ?? even if those very same troops had just killed an innocent civilian member of your family? under the pre-text of "liberating" her?
posted by specialk420 at 1:51 PM on July 22, 2003


First, specialk, I don't think the "gulliver" "gullibale" connection has been made to me directly since 7th grade. Thanks for raising the level of the discourse.

Second, I have no bumper stickers on my car. In fact, I rarely drive, I bike and walk.

Third, are you asking me if I, as an American, would be pro-Iraq invasion if American troops went to my home in Maine and killed my sister? You're not making any sense. Or are you asking me to imagine how I would feel if I was an Iraqi and coallition troops killed a family member during the invasion? If you are asking number 2, I already answered to the best of my ability.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:55 PM on July 22, 2003


The Neoliberal Take on the Middle East

A consensus is emerging in Washington that the greater Middle East constitutes the primary strategic challenge of our time and that the West must fundamentally rethink the way it approaches this region. In the past, Washington assumed it didn't have to care about the internal order of these countries so long as they accommodated our interests in their foreign policies. If things got really bad, Washington would step in and intervene, in a modern-day version of the popular game whack-a-mole.

But whack-a-mole isn't a very good game, and it's an even worse foreign policy. Sept. 11, 2001, taught us the price we pay for ignoring the underlying problems of the region. The question now is how best to transform the Middle East so that it no longer produces people who want to kill us in great numbers and increasingly have the ability to do so. To be sure, traditionalists across the government and in foreign policy still argue that such goals are beyond the pale and that the West cannot possibly "solve" the problems of the region and must instead manage the status quo better to limit our risk.

But this approach is rapidly losing out, and for good reason; if Las Vegas were giving odds, this wouldn't be a good bet. Instead, the debate is increasingly between the neoconservative strategy of coercive democratization and what might be called the neoliberal alternative emerging among internationalist Democrats and moderate Republicans. Neocons and neoliberals recognize that the status quo in the Middle East is producing anti-Americanism, terrorism and failed and rogue states and has gone way beyond "management." Both agree the West must promote the transformation and democratization of the region. But they disagree profoundly on how best to do so. Neoliberals believe that coercive democratization is bound to fail and that true success will come only from a long-term effort to help push Arabs to reform their own societies from within. This leads to four fundamental differences.

posted by y2karl at 3:25 PM on July 22, 2003


Bush the Believer
Is George Bush the Iraq war's "useful idiot"?

The phrase was coined by Vladimir Lenin to refer to gullible communist sympathizers who swallowed whole the party line. They believed what they were told, and what they were told was mostly lies.

It could be somewhat the same with Bush. He may well be the last person to believe that the Iraq war was waged virtually in self-defense. He believes that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. He believes Hussein had other weapons of mass destruction and that he was linked somehow -- don't ask how -- to Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and the events of Sept. 11.

The evidence is nowhere to be found. No weapons of mass destruction have turned up. An advanced Iraqi nuclear program seems to be, well, not so advanced. The evidence for it is either bogus or so tenuous as to be far from convincing. Ties to al Qaeda -- "bulletproof evidence," in the words of Don Rumsfeld -- have not been proved and never made much sense anyway. Al Qaeda is not well disposed toward secular leaders.

What evidence exists suggests, in fact, that the United States was hankering for a war no matter what...

posted by y2karl at 4:12 PM on July 22, 2003


y2karl, could you speak up a little? I can barely hear you.
posted by soyjoy at 7:54 PM on July 22, 2003


Is George Bush the Iraq war's "useful idiot"?

Hmmm...
posted by homunculus at 9:59 PM on July 22, 2003


Maybe trolling, but the nature of the original link of course was - are we being kept informed, are we under reporting the deaths, etc.

Several posts compared the deaths to accidental deaths or deaths in our cities. Either way, these young men and women have been put in harm's way for whatever reasons. The debate about whether or not those reasons as articulated by this administration were sound or based upon phony or trumped-up evidence is another debate.

This link is appalling not so much because his reasoning is suspect, but that he is trying to quell the questions about the Bush admin's rush to war, rather than mourning the lost men and women in combat.

When one of these "neo-cons" as mentioned earlier above attempts to minimize even a single American death/casualty in Iraq as just "incidental" or not rising to the level of accidental death (or even murder) in American cities, my hypocrisy meter pegs. This is of course the man who failed to serve in Vietnam. He chose his odds then. He obviously knew the streets of even the worst American city are safer than a battlefield.
posted by charms55 at 2:56 AM on July 23, 2003


« Older The answer to Life, The Universe and Everything is...  |  Sure, we'd like to boycott the... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments