A little Iraqi girl -- no more than eight years old
September 28, 2003 1:18 PM   Subscribe

A little Iraqi girl -- no more than eight years old -- squatted beside the road with tears of humiliation streaming down her cheeks. Twenty feet away, three American soldiers had their rifles aimed at her as she was forced to relieve herself in full view of a long line of parked cars. From inside their vehicles, the Iraqi onlookers screamed their rage at the U.S. troops. Whenever one of the Iraqis ventured to step out of his vehicle, an American officer bellowed, "Get back in the car, a--hole!" and the .50-calibre machinegun mounted on the U.S. Hummer would swing menacingly toward the protester.
posted by tpoh.org (116 comments total)

 
dammit! those soldiers ought to be at home, pointing their automatic weapons at 8 year old cuban refugees, not galivanting all over the damn middle east.
posted by quonsar at 1:23 PM on September 28, 2003


"How long can they expect our guys to go without sex and alcohol?"

"The (women) know that getting knocked up is a ticket out of this sh--hole," claimed Cpl. Slaughter.


Who the fuck had the balls to demote Sergeant Slaughter?!?!
posted by Stan Chin at 1:39 PM on September 28, 2003


How is this not a quaqmire again?
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:39 PM on September 28, 2003


yep, this really really sucks. so... the discussion topic here is what?

whether you're for or against the war, everyone knows that American soldiers are under a lot of pressure, have been there for too long, and will continue to be there for way too much longer. as time goes on, things are only going to get worse for the Iraqis and for American troops and better for "them."

should the international community just buck up, ignore what a complete ass Bush is, and pitch in some help anyway - for the sake of both the Iraqis and the Americans that need to be rescued from this administration's insanity?
posted by badstone at 1:40 PM on September 28, 2003


from the article: "We are planning to (...) get the hell out of the army," Kostens concluded.
Looks like troop moral is very low, indeed
posted by ruelle at 1:41 PM on September 28, 2003


I vote: quaqmire.
posted by victors at 1:45 PM on September 28, 2003


The alternative of course is what was happening not so long ago, where individuals in the U.S. military would allow a car to approach them, only to get blown up. We tried diplomacy and we lost men because of it. We tried asking questions first and the enemy took advantage of our hesitation. So now our boys have resorted to aiming guns at little girls. Why? Fear.

America's finest men and women were sent to Iraq to fight a war of physical force, but what they found was a war of wills, and a subversion of truths. Some people love you for what you're doing, and some people hate you, and you honestly can't tell which is which. Lies become truths and truths become lies: that is the quagmire.

Our military now fears a little girl who just wanted to pee. Why? Because people before her have approached our military with a mask of good intentions or innocent excuses only to be revealed too late as martyrs for a cause. Walking bombs. Living dead.

I dare you to live in such a reality and not fear a little girl walking towards you crying and in pain. Maybe she just wants to pee. Maybe it's something else.

We fear because we can't tell who the enemy is, because the enemy hides behind the innocent. Terrorists are cowards and murders, and because we have met fire with fire, we are the ones getting burned, which is precisely what the terrorists were wanting in the first place.

This is not a war of bullets. It is a war of fear. Bullets do no good against fear. Guns perpetuate fear. They do not eradicate fear.

This is what the terrorists have brought us to, because we played their game by their rules. The ruse is over Shrub. It's time to bring our boys and girls home. Game over, man. The terrorists won.

Someday, people will believe me when I say violence solves nothing.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:53 PM on September 28, 2003


I dare you to live in such a reality and not fear a little girl walking towards you crying and in pain
According to the article, the boy was taking his sister away from the road toward a small depression which might afford her some dignity. I suspect this direction would have been AWAY from the nasty guys with the machine guns. But hey, if the brave troops are worried by a little girl maybe having a mortar hiding under her skirts then they shouldn't be in Iraq. Of course, they shouldn't be in Iraq full stop, but that's the fault of Bush and Blair, not them.
posted by kaemaril at 1:59 PM on September 28, 2003


And for every story like this one, we could post a dozen that demonstrate the opposite: Iraqis appreciating their new-found freedoms and the American liberators.
posted by davidmsc at 2:02 PM on September 28, 2003


should the international community just buck up, ignore what a complete ass Bush is, and pitch in some help anyway - for the sake of both the Iraqis and the Americans that need to be rescued from this administration's insanity

Impeach, and it shall come.
posted by holycola at 2:03 PM on September 28, 2003


And for every story like this one, we could post a dozen that demonstrate the opposite: Iraqis appreciating their new-found freedoms and the American liberators.

There's definitely been a rose-petal-throwing iraqi deficit here on MeFi lately. I blame the liberal conspiracy, since it couldn't possibly be because it's now a quagmire.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:13 PM on September 28, 2003


Quagmire. Heh.
posted by davidmsc at 2:19 PM on September 28, 2003


Kaemaril, how could the individuals of the military know what was behind that enclosure? You have to admit, standing there in a war-torn world, knowing that in the past several months fellow countrymen have fallen under similar circumstances, that two young people sneaking off behind some depression in the road for an unknown purpose would git yer spidey sense a tinglin'.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:25 PM on September 28, 2003


Well, at least America's winning the war of public opinion.
posted by Blue Stone at 2:48 PM on September 28, 2003


Well, they wouldn't have to worry about getting blown up if they just got the hell out of the damned country.

Sorry, that's too obvious an answer.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:49 PM on September 28, 2003


"If they run, they're VC"

"If they stand still, they're brave VC."

"What about the women and children?"

"You just don't lead 'em as much."
posted by Space Coyote at 2:51 PM on September 28, 2003


Those who let fear rule them are cowards, and cowardice manifests in many ugly ways.
posted by rushmc at 2:54 PM on September 28, 2003


Um, this is probably a bad thing.
posted by angry modem at 2:57 PM on September 28, 2003


davidmsc: And for every story like this one, we could post a dozen that demonstrate the opposite: Iraqis appreciating their new-found freedoms and the American liberators.

Would you please, at your earliest convenience, begin a thread on MetaFilter, linking to twelve separate and distinct episodes that could lead one to the conclusion that the Iragis "appreciate their new-found freedoms and the American liberators." Since there's nothing like that to be heard in the media, I suspect you'll find yourself left high and dry by your own irrational hyperbole.
posted by JollyWanker at 2:58 PM on September 28, 2003


Ehh, no biggie. As much as I disagree with how the war and its aftermath have been handled, propaganda like this is little more than a meaningless fluff job.
posted by mischief at 2:59 PM on September 28, 2003


Well, if I were the solder I'd do the same thing. Being humiliated is better then being dead. Does that make me a coward? I guess. Do I care? Not really.

The problem is that the situation exists in the first place.
posted by delmoi at 3:02 PM on September 28, 2003


Well, they wouldn't have to worry about getting blown up if they just got the hell out of the damned country.

Well, the question that follows this obvious answer is - then what? Yes, we sure as hell shouldn't haven't gotten into this to begin with, but we damn well can't just walk away from it.

We removed Hussein and his party from the palaces, but we quite obviously did not remove them completely from power. In the process of doing so we also destroyed the infrastrucutre of Iraq, both physically and socially. (Yes, a good deal of this destruction was not done by the US, but when you decide to make an omelet, you decide to break some eggs no matter what.)

So, what, we say, "Oops, sorry about that..." and take off? That would be genocide. We made an ugly fucking mess and its our responsibility. Just because you despise your present government does not remove your responsibility for the actions of your nation.
posted by badstone at 3:04 PM on September 28, 2003


And for every story like this one, we could post a dozen that demonstrate the opposite: Iraqis appreciating their new-found freedoms and the American liberators.

david, i know you're a decent guy and most people in the rank and file military are probably like you, decent people with good intentions, but I'm gonna have to call you on that. Post those dozen.

I don't think anybody in thier right mind would say they wanted Saddam back, but this is a disaster.

Before you ask, yes I do "support" our troops, in the sense that I don't wish any harm on them, and I'm sick of seeing them getting killed for no good reason.

Those who let fear rule them are cowards, and cowardice manifests in many ugly ways.

That's a cute Iron John soundbite, but an easy statement to make from the comfort of the couch.

Look, I am not a pacifist. I believe that military response was warranted after 9/11. But the command structure responded in the wrong way, going to the wrong place and put a lot of innocent people(Iraqi and American) in needless jeopardy. Yeah, Saddams gone and his asshole sons are dead. I won't shed any tears for them, but was it worth all the dead GI's? dead Iraqis? pissing off the world?

I'm not attacking you, my friend, just letting you know that anger about the war is not from America-hatred or blind anti-Bushism, just honest-to-god concern over where all this is taking us.

Do I have a solution? No. But crap like this? As others have said before: Not In My Name.
posted by jonmc at 3:24 PM on September 28, 2003


Guns perpetuate fear. They do not eradicate fear.

Bullshit. Guns can install fear in those who might want to do harm to me or my loved ones. And that reduces our fear.

Someday, people will believe me when I say violence solves nothing.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:53 PM PST on September 28

I take it, then, you live someplace that has neither a national army nor local police? Otherwise you're leeching off the violence such organizatrions use to keep yet more violent people from having their way with you.
posted by Ayn Marx at 3:55 PM on September 28, 2003


People are so quick to call Iraq a quagmire that I have to even wonder if they actually understand what the words means. I heard Iraq being called a quagmire because it took US troops a day longer to secure an area than had been planned. We heard all kinds of talk of what a quagmire taking Baghdad would be. Now several short months after liberation we hear the word being used again as if the past several times they were wrong were no deterrent. I think those calling it a quagmire want it to be a quagmire. They wanted to liberation to end in quagmire, they wanted the taking of Baghdad to be a quagmire, and now they're drooling with happiness because rebuilding a nation takes time and even if it were attempted in the most friendly nation in the world there would be setbacks, culture clashes, and mistakes. Every incident is leaped on with animal savagery to demonstrate that this is indeed a quagmire.

I don't read just the traditional news outlets due to other interests I have. I often read small town papers and news from other countries outside of the US, UK, European, and Arabic/Muslim worlds. What I have seen there is a much more balanced view. They don't report every single incident as if it were world headlines. Perhaps because many of these sources don't have such emotional ties to the subject matter you tend to see more of a big picture coverage and the tone seems to be that it's a big job, it's not going perfectly, but in the end things will probably work out.

Now, I would like to point out some other recent news to put things into their proper perspective:

An historic agreement on defence reform has been reached by Bosnia's Serbs, Croats and Muslims.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3144570.stm

What? You mean NATO and the US are still there trying to help build a nation? The Dayton Accords were signed in 1995. It's been 8 years and the US is still there. It hasn't even been a year and people are calling Iraq a quagmire?

Gun culture stymies the UN in Kosovo

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0926/p08s01-woeu.html

How can this be? How can weekly shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence be happening in Kosovo and MeFiers not be posting 12 links a day? I mean, we all know, that the only place that democracy didn't take root and people settled into peaceful coexistence is in Iraq, the quagmire of less than a year.

I not trying to pick sides here but could some of you act as if you had just a single ounce of intellectual integrity? Please? Pretty please with sugar on top?
posted by billman at 3:59 PM on September 28, 2003



The alternative of course is what was happening not so long ago, where individuals in the U.S. military would allow a car to approach them, only to get blown up.


The alternative of course is for Bush to fire Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, and go back to the U.N. and show some fucking contrition this time.
posted by electro at 4:09 PM on September 28, 2003


ZachsMind, what gives us the legitimacy to use the term "terrorist" as it applies to resistance in Iraq? Some would argue that people defending themselves against a hostile occupying force are "freedom fighters," pro-Saddam or not.

Does our audacity to flip the bird to the world and blow up a sovereign nation on a cavalcade of fraud give us the right to call those who oppose us "terrorists?"

Our legitimacy is gone. We're just throwing good money after bad, (cha-ching, Halberton et al) and making a colossally cruel embarrassment worse.

We should pull out and let the only organization with any legitmacy--the UN--do its job.
posted by squirrel at 4:14 PM on September 28, 2003


Bullshit. Guns can install fear in those who might want to do harm to me or my loved ones. And that reduces our fear.

This fantasy land you live on must be a wonderful place. Where it's not true that guns kept in the home kill more family members than intruders, where an unlucky mistaken address gets one's life taken away. Where a kid who sees daddy getting drunk, and then sees the gun mounted on the wall, and, knowing how daddy gets when he drinks, doesn't wonder just for a second...

Sorry, that's not my ideal vision of society, thanks.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:14 PM on September 28, 2003


Like some apples with your oranges, billman?
posted by squirrel at 4:24 PM on September 28, 2003


I think you may be right, though, that many people critical of this war want it to be a quagmire. Many of them warned against Bush's shoot-first-negotiate-never approach for this very reason.

But don't satisfy yourself that this is mere schadenfreude: perhaps if this war didn't result in a quagmire, then team Bush would have no hesitation to ram happily forward with the next liberation.

I'm generally against corporal punishement, but sometimes a toddler benefits from touching something hot.
posted by squirrel at 4:41 PM on September 28, 2003


Kaemaril, how could the individuals of the military know what was behind that enclosure? You have to admit, standing there in a war-torn world, knowing that in the past several months fellow countrymen have fallen under similar circumstances, that two young people sneaking off behind some depression in the road for an unknown purpose would git yer spidey sense a tinglin'.
What "enclosure"? They were heading for a depression near the road. How would they know what was behind the "enclosure"? Gee, I dunno. Maybe instead of just pulling up, parking and pointing machine guns they could have maybe scouted the area? Yeah, I believe soldiers used to do that sort of stuff. The "two young people" sneaking around being a brother (of admittedly undetermined age) and an apparently crying EIGHT YEAR OLD girl would sure get my spidey sense tingling. So much so I might have to, Oh, I dunno, be a bit more cautious. Yeah, that'd do it. Instead of which, no, let's make the kid pee in front of a whole bunch of outraged Iraqis. That's sure to aid in the big ol' "Hey, we may be evil Infidels but you'll like us once you get to know us" campaign.

Sheesh. Talk about how to make friends and influence people. Humiliating little girls is right up there.
posted by kaemaril at 4:59 PM on September 28, 2003


That's a cute Iron John soundbite, but an easy statement to make from the comfort of the couch.

And that's a cop-out. These are not random people who suddenly find themselves, inexplicably and without preparation, in a difficult and dangerous situation. These are professional SOLDIERS, trained (presumably) to handle threat situations in a professional and effective manner. In addition, they are representing us to the world, and if you are comfortable with the behavior of some of them, then I wouldn't want you representing me, either.

The military of the most powerful nation on earth should have more discipline and control over its members than it appears to, given some of the examples that we have seen. No amount of "pressure" or "danger" or "fear" excuses brutality, stupidity, or excessive cruelty. This is what they signed on for; now they need to stand firm and do their admittedly difficult jobs with dignity, professionalism, and skill. We should expect—and can accept—no less from them.
posted by rushmc at 5:19 PM on September 28, 2003


Wether the girl represented a possible threat or not is beside the point - those soldiers signed on to protect american interests with their lives.
Right now american interests rely on winning hearts and minds in Iraq, and if a few of GIs have to give up their lives to accomplish this - well, that's what they're paid for.

If they're not prepared to die bravely for their country, why the hell are they there?
posted by spazzm at 5:31 PM on September 28, 2003


squirrel: I'm confused did you just disagree with me in one post and then turn around change your mind? :-)

If not please elaborate why it's an apple and oranges comparison. The US disregarded the UN and went into Bosnia. I mean I don't think the situation is as apples and oranges as you want to make it.

Besides, it doesn't change the fact that we're still there 8 years later and still not there yet but people are willing to call Iraq a quagmire in less than 8 months after taking Baghdad.

I'm not saying don't be pissed off about this incident or you have to like the fact that we're there but does calling it quagmire really accomplish anything other than painting the person using the word as ignorant of its meaning? And though I do believe that a good majority of the people who throw around words like quagmire are experiencing a case of schadenfreude, that was not my point. My point is how many times does one get to be dead wrong about something before it causes one to hold their tongue? I was talking more about the boy who cried wolf syndrome more than anything.
posted by billman at 5:37 PM on September 28, 2003


if you are comfortable with the behavior of some of them, then I wouldn't want you representing me, either.

Well, there goes my night's sleep.

Obviously, I'm not comfortable with incidents like this, otherwise I wouldn't be involved in this conversation. But incidents like this don't occur in vaccums.

These are professional SOLDIERS, trained (presumably) to handle threat situations in a professional and effective manner.

They're also (in large part) terrified nineteen to twenty-three year old kids who joined up for college money or job training, who are fighting a war that many of them may not belive in and without the support of a large segment of the American people. Who were trained mostly to be cannon fodder.

I've never been in combat, but I know several people who have, and all of them have told me that no amount of training in the world can truly prepare you for it. And the number one imperative becomes survival.

No amount of "pressure" or "danger" or "fear" excuses brutality, stupidity, or excessive cruelty.

Excuse, no, but mitigate certainly, just like circumstances can mitigate the judgemnt on a criminal on trial.

I'm just saying what I was always taught growing up: Don't judge anyone till you've walked a mile in their shoes.
posted by jonmc at 5:41 PM on September 28, 2003


We didn't start the trouble in the Balkans. We invaded and are now occupying Iraq. I fail to see a legitimate comparison.
posted by swerve at 5:48 PM on September 28, 2003


rushmc:

These are professional SOLDIERS, trained (presumably) to handle threat situations in a professional and effective manner.

I'm afraid I have to disagree. The US military is trained to meet threat with overwhelming and decisive force. What was described in this incident is a policing action which is not what most soldiers are trained for (except for MP and SP personnel who are trained in policing).

Bottom line is that this is probably, at best, a case of very poor judgement. I mean, these are kids (the soldiers). They're 18 - 24 years of age, thousands of miles from home, and dealing with the unfamiliar situation of dealing with suicide bombers and other forms of warfare that they're not used to. Does that make what they did right? No. Not at all. There were far more effective ways they could have dealt with the situation. Is it understandable why they would do something that stupid? Yes. As I pointed out above, they're not trained in policing and they're young and dumb.

It just gets so repetative for MeFi'ers to take every fumble comitted by some 18 year old farm boy and turn it into some major statement on the entire situation in Iraq.
posted by billman at 5:51 PM on September 28, 2003


swerve: You don't see a legitimate comparison because you don't want to. The definition of a quagmire is independent of the situations leading up to it. WWII could have ended up a quagmire. The Civil War could have become a quagmire. The Revolutionary War could have become a quagmire. It doesn't matter why you got involved.

A quagmire is defined as:

1. Land with a soft muddy surface.
2. A difficult or precarious situation; a predicament.

Some things to note, considering the terrain of both Kosovo and Iraq I think Kosovo better meets definition 1 if you want to use that one. More importantly though I don't see any reference to righteousness of the action in definition 2.
posted by billman at 5:58 PM on September 28, 2003


I've never been in combat, but I know several people who have, and all of them have told me that no amount of training in the world can truly prepare you for it. And the number one imperative becomes survival.

I love that line from Black Hawk Down:

"You wanna know what I think. Doesn't matter what I think. The moment that first bullet goes by your head all politics go right out the window."
posted by billman at 6:01 PM on September 28, 2003


billman:
Is it OK to let this sort of thing go on, or should we try to do something about it?
If the soldiers are not responsible, who is?
posted by spazzm at 6:03 PM on September 28, 2003


spazzm: I'd never presume to speak for billman, but here's my 2 cents.

1. Obviously men in the field are responsible for their behavior, and should answer for it, but the difference between civilian life and a combat zone has to be taken into account.

2. The ultimate responsibity lies with the rulers and commanders of the nations involved for creating the situation, and, to some extent, the citizens of those lands for allowing it to happen.
posted by jonmc at 6:08 PM on September 28, 2003


How can this be? How can weekly shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence be happening in Kosovo and MeFiers not be posting 12 links a day?

Yeah, well, if we had the same ratio of troops to population in Iraq as we do in Kosovo, we'd have a force of 500, 000 on the ground. If we had 500,000 troops in Iraq, things would be a hell of a lot better for us and the Iraqis. Of course, we don't have 500,000 troops of our own--hell, we can't even maintain a force of 150,000 past 2004--and since we stiff-armed the world rushing in to save America from that imminent danger of that mushroom cloud that was so sorely threatening us, nobody's in a rush to help us.

Hence we're calling up the National Guard and Reserves and calling for back to back tours from the troops already in country, all of which will do wonders for recruitment--Be all you can be, spend a year dodging RPGs in Iraq and, hey, don't step on that land mine, buddy. Jeez, think what you'd be reading about Kosovo if we had a third of the troops we have there now.

See also Army troops, budget stretched to the limit

Noted military sociologist Charles Moskos of Northwestern University has predicted "severe" recruitment problems for the active-duty force in 2004. He said that recruiting for the Army's reserve components has already dipped this year, and that the Army has instituted a "stop-loss" order for soldiers in South Korea with certain skills—meaning that these troops who finish their terms of service while in Korea cannot muster out until further notice. That stop-loss may be skewing Army retention figures, making them look better than they really are.

Of course, we could meet our manpower needs by reinstituting the draft. Yeah, that'll be the ticket. Hey, there's light at the end of the tunnel after all...
posted by y2karl at 6:19 PM on September 28, 2003


spazzm: I'm not sure I understand your question and that may be because you don't understand the military (or you may, and I still don't understand you question ).

You have standard operation procedures (SOP) that dictate how you should handle a siutation. SOPs are given from the company level command but usually come from Division level or higher. If the SOP was for them not to allow civilians to urinate outside of the full view of the road then they did nothing wrong. They were following orders given to them.

Now, why might they have those orders? Perhaps command was worried that if a US soldier (male) accompanied an Iraqi civilian (female) to an area hidden from full view he might be accused of some sort of impropriety. In fact, the may have come from a Muslim cleric who was advising them and told them that it would be very wrong in Islam for a male to go with a woman like that. Of course, nobody may have conceived of the incident that happened here but everyone was acting in a manner in which they felt was the most respectful way to deal with the situation.

So the short answer is if it was SOP then I hope the SOP changes and I don't really fault the individual soldiers who were following orders. If it was a judgement call by one of the soldiers who was there I would hope a commander would pull him aside and give him a little education on what the real objective is and how to make decisions with the full mission objectives in mind.

posted by billman at 6:24 PM on September 28, 2003


The alternative of course is for Bush to fire Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, and go back to the U.N. and show some fucking contrition this time.

And bearing a cheque for your deliquent dues, which have been owed for the past half-dozen or so years. I really think that would help the rest of the UN believe that the USA is getting serious about becoming a global partner, instead of a despot ruler.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:25 PM on September 28, 2003


Looks like the thread over here is addressing the more positive aspects and effects of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
posted by davidmsc at 6:33 PM on September 28, 2003


"[...]if it was SOP then I hope the SOP changes[...]"

Is hoping going to change it, or are there more concrete actions we could take to improve things for the Iraqi civilians?

The short question is:
Do you want things to improve in Iraq or are you just going to complain about the people who point out that things are not perfect there right now?
posted by spazzm at 6:34 PM on September 28, 2003


spazzm: I'm really quite flattered that you think I have some sort of influence over US military policy all the way down to the division and company SOP level but unfortunately I don't. I can hope because I don't have the power to change it. It's obviously a poor policy and I can hope that someone realize that and change it.

The short question to you is:

Do you think coming to MetaFilter and/or other websites and posting negative statements about US military forces is going to change anything?
posted by billman at 6:39 PM on September 28, 2003


"It's obviously a poor policy and I can hope that someone realize that and change it. "

Maybe there's something you can do to make them realize it sooner? Don't you live in a democracy?

If it seems that I make negative comments about the military for the sake of being negative, I can only apologize because that is not my intent.

I believe pointing out negative behaviour or circumstances is the first step towards improving them, and websites are an excellent forum for communication between civilized, intelligent people.

I'm doing other things too, of course - like voting.
posted by spazzm at 6:47 PM on September 28, 2003


We didn't start the Iraq thing. Saddam did. There were U.N. requirements that Saddam failed to meet, because he knew deep down that the U.N. would never authorize what America ended up doing. He thought that would keep us out indefinitely. Shrub didn't let that stop him. Make no mistake. We went into Iraq because we had to. Kobayashi Maru. We had no choice. This is what happens when you play the violence game. Had we not gone in, Saddam gets away with breaking U.N. agreements for another ten years or more. Go in, and Here There Be Dragons. The Shrub Administration let themselves be suckered into the fool's gamble. A longshot against a definite lose. Shrub took the longshot and we lost anyway. Joshua was right: "The only winning move is not to play."

ZachsMind, what gives us the legitimacy to use the term "terrorist" as it applies to resistance in Iraq? Some would argue that people defending themselves against a hostile occupying force are "freedom fighters," pro-Saddam or not.

Terrorists across the planet use the same rationale. From their perspective they are patriots to their cause and not cold blooded murderers. When a man straps a bomb to himself and walks out into a public place he doesn't do it because he's demonic. He does it because in his mind he's righteous, and (foolishly believes) his god wil bless him in the hereafter. I'm not condoning or denying Iraqi resistance. Be you rebel, merc or "freedom fighter," violence is wrong. And yeah, technically by that definition American military is terrorizing people in Iraq too. I tire of rationalizing violence. When a criminal trying to get away from police takes an innocent hostage and holds a gun to her head, it's terrorism. He's using fear to try and outwit the police, knowing they will hesitate when an innocent is in the breach. I see no difference between criminal behavior of that scale and ANY time a weapon is aimed at a fellow human being. Terror is terror.

I do live in a place where I "leech" off police and military, who are protecting me from enemies both foreign and domestic who would seek to use violence to force me to their will. If all the police and military that protect me were gone in an instant, violent forces would perhaps break my will and eventually kill me. Or force me into a situation where I've nothing but violence left to try and fight back. Let's say I succeed. Then what? The cycle begins anew. Let's say I fail. Then what? The cycle begins anew. Solves nothing. Violence does nothing but beget violence. Violence has at times postponed the need for problem solving, by creating all new problems, but when war is over, the problems of seeking a lasting and perpetual peace remain. War does not create peace. I'm demanding nothing less than for humanity to grow the hell up and quit chastizing itself. Any time you inflict violence upon another human being, you hurt the body of humanity. We're all trapped on this rock together. We might as well make the best of it.

But then if a handful of us supposedly all related can't get along during a Thanksgiving dinner, I'm fighting a losing battle here. Yeah you're absolutely right. We should just all kill each other en masse right this instant, embrace violence as the solution, and get it over with. Get humanity out of the way and let the insect world have a go at evolution. They'll probably be better at it than either reptiles or mammals. Who knows maybe they'll even figure it out... after a few thousand years of eating their own young.

Find out why they hate. Address that. Facing hate with hate has not worked for thousands of years, and it's not miraculously gonna start working tomorrow. Cure the disease, not the symptoms.

Find out why they hate. Fix that.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:48 PM on September 28, 2003


This is very duh-worthy but has to be said:

Kosovo gets different treatment because:

a) (This is, by far, the most important one) I haven't heard of an American dying there this month. I haven't heard of an American dying there this year. I haven't heard of an American dying there from hostile fire for the entire deployment.

Not having Americans die from hostile fire tends to make the public ignore a particular military operation.

b) The administration was more or less honest regarding the reasons we were going into Kosovo. The Serbians were infamous, at that point, for their massacres of civilians, and the west wasn't going to let them get away with this one, after allowing the problems in Croatia and Bosnia to get out of hand.

The Clinton administration never made claims about Serbia possessing WMD's or being a threat to its neighbors. It was clear, from the beginning, that this was a humanitarian mission. Americans can give an overly-long mission some degree of slack when the goals are clear and honest, and when no Americans die (see A).

c) There are no apparent consequences to our role in the region if we packed up and left tomorrow. Yes, an immediate departure would probably be bad for the Kosovars; however, it would probably have little to no impact upon the region's stability, nor on American influence in the region. And since there are no vital resources in the region, a bit of regional chaos would not affect the US economy in any noticeable way.

Its always easier to stay in a place when one feels there is a clear option of leaving. Since Iraq is a failed state sitting on an enourmous amount of oil, and since we made their state 'fail', we have economic and moral responsibilities to stay until the bitter end. Having the Americans pull out abruptly would have some interesting consequences for the world economy and in the world's perception of American power. An abrupt pullout would be a defeat as great as Vietnam, if not greater, and therefore the US is stuck.

So, Kosovo, as a mission, passes a, b, and c. Iraq does not. Hence Iraq will generate the lions share of the complaints, as well it should.

Unfortunately, its coming very close to the definition of a quagmire: we can't leave, for the obvious reasons, but, we should want to leave because of the collapse of morale, the enourmous expenditures during a debt-ridden recession, the cloudy reasons for being there in the first place, and the total lack of any reasonable exit strategy.
posted by pandaharma at 6:51 PM on September 28, 2003


I was talking more about the boy who cried wolf syndrome more than anything.

no, billman, you were talking about Bosnia and Kosovo, which you compared to Iraq, and you insulted everybody else with that nice "ounce of intellectual integrity" quip

so, to follow up on your comment:
it's about 3,000 Americans in the 19,000 plus NATO force in Bosnia, S-FOR (so it's hardly an all-American mission), not to mention that the Bush White House didn't seem to like very much the UN force for Bosnia. Actually, the Bush administration in summer 2002 used its power of veto to block renewal of the UN force in Bosnia -- insisting that American soldiers be guaranteed immunity from prosecution by the International war Crimes Court (ICC).
On 31 December 2002 the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina has drawn to a close having successfully completed its mandate — the most extensive police reform and restructuring mission ever undertaken by the United Nations (after a ten years of UN peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina).
The European Union Police Mission (EUPM) has taken over as of 1 January 2003

Kosovo? You're right, it wasn't a UN-sanctioned operation, it was a NATO/OSCE (well, NATO and OSCE and the KLA's sorry bunch if you want to nitpick) thing. Of course the legitimacy of NATO's bombings there has been debated a lot (Chomsky, surpirse, was against the action) -- but at least it was a clear case of ethnic cleansing going on, quickly and savagely, at the moment (Kosovo's Albanians). I won't mention ther simple fact that Milosevic wasn't forcibly removed, nor was Belgrade invaded. NATO's victory hastened Milosevic's demise. Now, following due process and International Law, Milosevic's on trial at the Hague (and, to go back to Bosnia, Karadzic and Mladic are pariahs, and there's a cell at the Hague waiting for them too).
Hence, your comparison with Iraq is really embarrassingly lame. The UN and NATO did far from a perfect job, but nothing was even remotely similar to a unilateral attack based on flimsy or fraudulent evidence.
But, hey, cynics could even say that there's no oil in the Balkans, and there aren't any oil tankers named after Madeleine Albright or Richard Holbrooke. But what can you do. so much for intellectual integrity, and a grasp on reality too

Don't judge anyone till you've walked a mile in their shoes.

well, this "aw-shucks", "my grampa taught me this" thing is really cute, but unfortunately politics work in a slightly different way -- those soldiers (all volunteers, so they can only blame themselves -- and a society that makes serving in the military the only legal way for too many kids to make enough money to go to college or to become an actual citizen of the USA, remember that many GI's are not even citizens of the country they're fighting, dying for and scaring little Iraqi girls for), those soldiers need to be held accountable (ie "be judged") for their behavior, first by the American people (who are paying for the Iraqi mission with money they don't actually have, getting ever more deeply in debt) and then by the rest of the world (the dreaded "international community" ridiculed by the Bushies and painted as weak, irrational, Osama-loving, for the simple fact that many weren't convinced by the bogus WMD "evidence" flaunted by Colin Powell at the UN)
The UN refused to give Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Blair their war. They decided to go ahead anyway, putting GI's in danger (and having lots of them killed) to prevent Saddam from blowing up the world in "45 minutes".
Everybody must be held accountable -- the administration, the Democrats too afraid to be Dixie-Chicked to actually show some backbone, and, yes, sadly, even the soldiers who are too scared (or too badly trained) to actually be able to apply some reasonable (and effective) rules of engagement
Democracy is about accountability. Especially now
posted by matteo at 6:55 PM on September 28, 2003


Does that make what they did right? No. Not at all

Even for someone who thinks we shouldn't have gone into Iraq, this is a real tempest in teapot.

For kicks, go to any checkpointish location -- a sobriety stop, or a Border Patrol checkpoint like they have in southern AZ and NM, or for *real* kicks go to an actual border crossing.

While you're in line, get out of the car and start walking away from the road. See how long it takes to attract the intense interest of armed and nervous people. Now scale it up so that the armed people are heavily armed and more nervous, what with the bombs and guns being pointed at them from time to time. For a half-assed simulation of this, try this: speed heavily, get pulled over, and immediately jump out of the car and start walking purposefully away.

While it's certainly unsavory, the actions of the soldiers make perfect sense from a minimax standpoint. What's the worst thing that can happen if they tell the little girl and her brother that she can't go away for a piss? A little girl gets embarrassed, or pees herself, or pees in her car. What's the worst that can happen if they let them wander off? Someone gets killed, even if that's really unlikely. It ain't hard to pick from those two choices.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:09 PM on September 28, 2003


and yes, what pandaharma said (damn preview button)

not to mention that if the Iraqi thing really goes to hell in the next few months (I don't think it will, but it could) it's important to remember that many UN members, some of them in the Security Council (humiliated and despised by the Bush administration, they'd be very human to hate Bush's guts), could even decide -- with an extremely cynical move -- that if Bush looks really weak for 2004, withholding help to the US occupation could actually accelerate Bush's trip back to Texas with no return ticket to the White House. De Villepin or Fischer for example, to name just two -- you know, those lame "Euroweasels" much despised a few months ago (if in doubt please re-read some of the "Old Europe" Rumsfeld vintage humor) would be tempted to wait, leave Bush alone if Iraq actually becomes a quagmire, leave "New Europe" and Rummy take care of the mess (and count the dead American GI's) until November 2004.
Then, Old Europe could just wait for the Democrat president-elect to be sworn in in January 2005.
That would be a terribly cynical and immoral thing to do (as politics are often cynical and immoral or at least amoral) and I hope it won't happen, personally I would lack the guts and sangfroid and sheer cruelty to operate like that but you know, diplomats can be sly sons of bitches if they smell political (ie electoral) weakness on their opponent's side
And anyway Who Needs Europe?, as the Wall Street Journal used to say. Maybe a new US President will. Or at least, he (she)'ll be less eager to spit in Europe's (and the UN's) face because Richard Perle and Ahmad Chalabi's evidence say so
posted by matteo at 7:10 PM on September 28, 2003


spazzm: I vote as well. I also like having intelligent conversations with people. But I really dislike polarized views.

For instance, both matteo and pandaharma responded to one of my previous posts in which I gave the dictionary definition of quagmire and even went so far to show that intent had nothing to do with whether something was considered a quagmire. Yet both of them give a whole political history of each situation as if it matters as to whether or not it fits that definition. Both mention WMDs when I see ZERO mention of whether WMDs are involved when defining a quagmire. We've got references to Dixie Chicks, Osama, Chomsky all in a response to a question of whether or not quagmire is the correct term to use in referring to Iraq. The only quagmire I've seen so far is an intellectual one in trying to follow the rantings of people so enraged at the administration they can't think rationally.
posted by billman at 7:18 PM on September 28, 2003


billman: here's a clue - it's an analogy.
a n a l o g y
look it up sometime.
posted by quonsar at 7:33 PM on September 28, 2003


I don't really care wether the correct term for the situation in Iraq is "quagmire" or not - I'm not here to discuss semantics.
Bad things are happening in Iraq, and we can choose to do something about it or close our eyes and pretend it doesn't happen.

I'm here to make it harder do do the latter.
posted by spazzm at 7:35 PM on September 28, 2003


For instance, both matteo and pandaharma responded to one of my previous posts in which I gave the dictionary definition of quagmire and even went so far to show that intent had nothing to do with whether something was considered a quagmire. Yet both of them give a whole political history
posted by billman at 7:18 PM PST on September 28


billman somebody must have hacked your account, look what a certain "billman" wrote in this very thread:

(ps it hurts when people destroy your lame arguments and you can't spin everything back in order huh? must hurt to be that dishonest, billman...)


Now, I would like to point out some other recent news to put things into their proper perspective:
An historic agreement on defence reform has been reached by Bosnia's Serbs, Croats and Muslims.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3144570.stm
What? You mean NATO and the US are still there trying to help build a nation? The Dayton Accords were signed in 1995. It's been 8 years and the US is still there. It hasn't even been a year and people are calling Iraq a quagmire?
Gun culture stymies the UN in Kosovo
http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0926/p08s01-woeu.html
How can this be? How can weekly shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence be happening in Kosovo and MeFiers not be posting 12 links a day? I mean, we all know, that the only place that democracy didn't take root and people settled into peaceful coexistence is in Iraq, the quagmire of less than a year.
I not trying to pick sides here but could some of you act as if you had just a single ounce of intellectual integrity? Please? Pretty please with sugar on top?
posted by billman at 3:59 PM PST on September 28


so, billman, who hacked your account and posted that Bosnia/Kosovo crap with your username? do we need to alert mathowie that your account has been hacked by intellectually dishonest people?
posted by matteo at 7:43 PM on September 28, 2003


oh, yes, billman, my above comments have sugar on top, also. as you requested

~chuckle~
posted by matteo at 7:45 PM on September 28, 2003


quonsar: Was I speaking to you at any point? Your only post on this subject (prior to this) was I believe satire not analogy.

spazzm: I think it makes all the difference in the world. If you say Iraq is a quagmire and we have to get out, we must first agree on whether or not it's a quagmire. Everything said after quagmire is depends on the first part being true. I'm not saying you've done this but that is why I originally responded in this thread. People were making declaratives about the situation that I didn't agree on the preconditions to.

In our discussion I don't think it was an issue of the quagmire definition and on reflecting back I may have worded to make it seem as if I was directing that to you. I simply was trying to kill two birds with one stone and follow up to you, matteo and pandaharma in one post. My apologies there.

Not sure I understand the last part of your post though. You're where? Here on MeFi? Here on the planet? Not sure I'm getting that. If you mean here on MeFi, can you elaborate on why you think posting messages on here has an impact on military SOP?
posted by billman at 7:46 PM on September 28, 2003


well, this "aw-shucks", "my grampa taught me this" thing is really cute,

I understand, that's it's fun to be condescending and insulting, especially to someone you obviously despise, but in your rush to make fun of me, you seem to have missed everything else I said in the quoted comment to the point of repeating it, but hey, why attack the opposition when you can attack those who were more or less agreeing with you.

Just so you know, it's people like you who keep people like me from joining the anti-war movement. Not that you care, but just figured you'd wanna know.
posted by jonmc at 7:50 PM on September 28, 2003


ZachsMind: Violence does nothing but beget violence. Violence has at times postponed the need for problem solving, by creating all new problems, but when war is over, the problems of seeking a lasting and perpetual peace remain. War does not create peace.

Zach - how does WWII play into this theory? Just curious - no flamebait intended. Can it be argued (or demonstrated) or not that WWII did, in fact, create peace for the warring parties involved?
posted by davidmsc at 7:53 PM on September 28, 2003


matteo: Actually, you do a good job of making my point for me. I mentioned Kosovo/Bosnia "to put things into their proper perspective." Let me share with you how that works. I could have just come out and said that Iraq is not a quagmire. Then we can debate whether or not it's a quagmire. But to put an issue into perspective I posted a couple of articles that might help show that we've made an 8 year committment in Bosnia and Kosovo and still have a long way to go yet nobody is calling them quagmires. See how that works? You take a similar (but not exactly the same situation) with less emotional baggage in order to get people to concentrate on the logic and not the emotion.

Now, somehow you've gone off into the ether with your rant about Bush, WMDs, the Democrats, the Dixie Chicks, and just about every other topic that probably keeps you up at night and decided to use my post as a forum for your views. Bush could be evil incarnate and it has ABSOLUTELY ZERO impact on whether Iraq meets the definition of a quagmire. See how that works? I used Kosovo and Bosnia to illustrate how quagmire might be applied and you, on the other hand, used Bosnia and Kosovo as a launch pad for a general rant about Bush. I know it's a subtle difference so I won't fault you for not catching it the first time out of the gate.
posted by billman at 7:55 PM on September 28, 2003


billman, here's another clue. when you speak in a public forum, you are speaking to me. that "was i speaking to you?" routine might work on the kids, but they are few and far between here. if this makes you uncomfortable i suggest you and matteo take a room at the red roof and have your fun there.
posted by quonsar at 8:01 PM on September 28, 2003


Make no mistake. We went into Iraq because we had to. Kobayashi Maru. We had no choice.

You reckon?

From the state.gov website, Press Remarks with Foreign Minister of Egypt Amre Moussa (cache that puppy before it disappears)

Colin Powell, February 24, 2001 :

"We had a good discussion, the Foreign Minister and I and the President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions -- the fact that the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place, but we are always willing to review them to make sure that they are being carried out in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and we had a good conversation on this issue." (emphasis mine)

(Yeah, I quoted this before. Is it only me that finds it incontrovertible evidence of administration lying in its case for war?)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:03 PM on September 28, 2003


ok, now,,, where is the stained dress? why am i paying attention to this crap if there is no stained dress?
posted by quonsar at 8:06 PM on September 28, 2003


quonsar: Then might I suggest you actually describe what you're talking about. Go back and look at your post and consider that fact I have 3 or so different conversations going on and then re-read your post and tell me how the F I'm supposed to know what the hell you're talking about.


billman: here's a clue - it's an analogy.
a n a l o g y
look it up sometime.


It's called a point of reference. Look it up sometime.
posted by billman at 8:06 PM on September 28, 2003


heh.

OK, so now you admit that you mentioned Bosnia and Kosovo. It's a first step, but it's important.
Baby steps now: Bosnia and Kosovo have nothing, nothing, nothing to do with Iraq, billman. For the reasons quite a few users here have already explained to you, much more clearly than I have.
It's not a problem, it happens, if you don't do your homework or know your facts well enough, somebody else here generally will. it happens.


it's people like you who keep people like me from joining the anti-war movement.

now you're flattering me, jon

~wink~


and billman, it wasn't a "general rant", but I understand you're getting snippy. I would, if I was in your shoes. but don't worry, next time there's a unilateral attack based on fraudulent evidence in the Middle East you'll be able to use that as a better analogy. oh, no, sorry, not analogy, "point of reference"!

I'm a quagmire, bill. BOO!

posted by matteo at 8:10 PM on September 28, 2003


now you're flattering me, jon

No, I'd say you do enough of that on your own.
posted by jonmc at 8:12 PM on September 28, 2003


Actually, your attitude is revealing. If you were truly interested in ending wars or acheiving justice, you'd probably want as many people on your side as possible. But the way you relate to people, especially those who dare to question a point, tells me that you could give a shit. Which tells me you care more about winning arguments and being "right" than any cause you claim to espouse.
posted by jonmc at 8:17 PM on September 28, 2003


I'm a quagmire, bill. BOO!

I think there are far better terms than quagmire.

I would, if I was in your shoes.

What shoes am I in matteo? You're out there making zero sense whatsoever. You got a woody for making me admit something I didn't deny saying? I don't even know what your point is any more other than attempting to attack me because ... egads, I have a different opinion.

I'm with Jon on that one too. Even if I was agreeing with you, you're so rabid in your beliefs that I would find you offensive.
posted by billman at 8:17 PM on September 28, 2003


Which tells me you care more about winning arguments and being "right" than any cause you claim to espouse.

I believe there's a saying in politics, whoever is concerned about which side is telling the bigger lie isn't interested in the truth.

There's nothing like a good old peace march that ends in people throwing molotov cocktails and then shouting into the camera that nobody's taking them seriously as they're being hauled off to jail.
posted by billman at 8:20 PM on September 28, 2003


(This is a clueless newbie thing to post, and I apologize - look at me! look at me! - but why has everyone ignored this bit of info that I've posted (the Powell quote), completely, twice now? Is it totally old news, or unimportant for some reason I don't grasp? Do you just hate me now? *boohoos into hankie* Seriously, am I missing something? Testing...testing...is this thing on?)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:25 PM on September 28, 2003


"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men."
posted by matteo at 8:26 PM on September 28, 2003


that's right, keep making my point for me.
posted by jonmc at 8:28 PM on September 28, 2003


stavrosthewonderchicken: I would hazard a guess that the reason might have to do with the fact that it has nothing to do with the FPP. Perhaps you (and matteo and a few others) might save up those zingers for posts where it's more on-topic with the FPP. Belive me, here on MeFi you won't be wanting for opportunities.
posted by billman at 8:28 PM on September 28, 2003


A fanatic can't change his mind and won't change the subject. ~ Winston Churchill
posted by billman at 8:32 PM on September 28, 2003


billman: I wouldn't lump stav in with matteo. The wonderfowl is opinionated but he's not gratuitously insulting or obnoxious.
posted by jonmc at 8:32 PM on September 28, 2003


Yeah, well, billman, as I mentioned last time I brought this up, I actually give a shit, and won't post Iraqfilter threads to the front page.

This thread is about Iraq, and the righteousness (or not) of the war there, is it not? My link is off-topic more than Bosnia? Get away, you big silly.

(OK, guys, you can go back to pissing all over each other, rather than actually discussing the topic at hand. Metafilter is really starting to get a stale reek with all the handbag-swinging going on these days (in which I have taken part as well, I admit.))
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:35 PM on September 28, 2003


Actually, stav, I think it's because there was a post on the subject last week.
posted by jpoulos at 8:37 PM on September 28, 2003


hey, stav, I was discussing the topic, and I'm the one who's got handbag marks all over his skull. The only way to keep people from using you for a tackling dummy is to push back, so that's all I'm doing.
posted by jonmc at 8:37 PM on September 28, 2003


The wonderfowl is opinionated but he's not gratuitously insulting or obnoxious.

No, the difference is he's never insulted you. Stav is just as insulting and obnoxious as the rest of us, and I wouldn't have him any other way. :-)
posted by jpoulos at 8:39 PM on September 28, 2003


This thread is about Iraq, and the righteousness (or not) of the war there, is it not?

Ahh, maybe that's the disconnect. I see nothing in the FPP that speaks to righteousness. I see a post about a specific incident where someone was using poor judgement. I don't see any reference to the overall war effort, whether or not the administration is lying, or anything else of that sort.

I do feel bad though because I did not mean to lump you in with matteo. I was merely stating that both of you seem to want to drag the conversation to a place where it does not logically flow in order to serve your purposes rather than the greater good of everyone reading the thread. As I previously mentioned, perhaps you can wait for a thread that talks about Bush lying or the overall war in Iraq and then your quote would probably be more on-topic with the actual FPP. And as I stated previously, I have no doubt that you will not have to wait long for that opportunity.
posted by billman at 8:41 PM on September 28, 2003


What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?--Never! Towering genius distains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.--It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.

A.Lincoln-1838
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 PM on September 28, 2003


Me and the fowl have locked horns, numerous times, but it's never gotten personal, and 10 minutes later in non-political threads we're barrom buddies again. So with all due respect, that's the difference.
posted by jonmc at 8:42 PM on September 28, 2003


(S'cool, Jon. The whole infighting thing lately has gotten real real tiresome, is all. Or maybe I'm just noticing it more.

Thanks, John, for the heads-up. I should have known, but I thought it was new news. Don't see that state.gov Powell quote in there after a quick scan, but I'll go read it in depth now.

And, on preview, thanks billman for the apology, although I was actually trying to drag the thread back on-topic, away from the pointless dick-swinging contest it was apparently becoming.

I'll be going now. *dons his fedora, disappears into the fog*)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:44 PM on September 28, 2003


*flushes cherrybomb down toilet*
posted by quonsar at 8:46 PM on September 28, 2003


quonsar: Quonsar! Wait! That only works when you're at someone else house!

:-)
posted by billman at 8:48 PM on September 28, 2003


With all due respect, my fowl friend, there is no such thing as a pointless dick-swinging contest.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:49 PM on September 28, 2003


That only works when you're at someone else house!

um, heh... is there a plumber in the house?
posted by quonsar at 8:51 PM on September 28, 2003


WHAT ABOUT MY LINCOLN....
posted by clavdivs at 8:52 PM on September 28, 2003


"WHAT ABOUT MY LINCOLN...."

It's under the cake.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:55 PM on September 28, 2003


"[...]can you elaborate on why you think posting messages on here has an impact on military SOP?"

I'm not 100% sure it has, but I'm pretty sure keeping quiet and not criticizing won't change anything.

I'm also pretty sure those in charge of the whole situation in Iraq won't do much to improve it unless they have to.
Public opinion is one way to make them have to - at least they know they're being watched.
posted by spazzm at 9:00 PM on September 28, 2003


A difficult or precarious situation; a predicament.

So, basically, your argument is that invading a foreign country without the backing of the U.N. in order to keep the petro dollars rolling in*, handing out multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts that further personal gains, and refusing to let the U.N. help unless they allow you to continue in your effort to exploit the situation for your personal benefit (not to mention taking another shot at France for refusing to help you in the war for "Freedom" and in the same breath claiming it was all done in an effort to keep the U.N. legitimate--is that laughter in Geneva?) does not qualify for the above definition? I don't think there's any question it's a political quagmire. And if you want to talk about the military aspect of the equation, the phrase "difficult or precarious situation" is so fucking general that it can easily be applied to any war ever fought or any war that ever will be fought. Shopping when you're on crutches is a quagmire. Reading Joyce could be a quagmire if you like plots. So let's just drop this semantics bullshit already, because it's not only missing the point, it's in danger of walking away from the point and being held at gunpoint.

* The audacity of Iraq to start using the Euro instead of the American dollar--what ever would you guys do down there if Iran followed the lead and, possibly, the rest of OPEC got on board at some point in the future? You wouldn't want your dollar to plummet--it is, after all, the only currency used in global oil transactions thanks for that handy deal you struck with the Saudis all those years ago (yes, those affable Saudis).

Nice quote Stav. I missed it the first time you posted it.
posted by The God Complex at 9:07 PM on September 28, 2003


God Complex, I think you missed the final bell on this thread. All bickering parties appear to be clinking steins. For now. Doesn't mean you're wrong, though... just late to the party. MeFi has a weird rhythm like that.
posted by squirrel at 10:17 PM on September 28, 2003


My favorite off-color comment on the thread - "guns can install fear in those who might want to do harm to me or my loved ones. And that reduces our fear." - Ayn Marx

'Course, that depends on how sensitized to guns they are. If they are used to seeing a lot of guns, it will just make them mad and inspire acts of revenge and rebellion. What happens, too, when we train guns on a crowd of millions to install fear in about only two hundred in that crowd who really want to harm us?

Oops. Silly me. That must have been a troll, and now I've got this damn fish hook stuck in my jaw.
posted by troutfishing at 5:00 AM on September 29, 2003


Obviously, I'm not comfortable with incidents like this, otherwise I wouldn't be involved in this conversation.

Reread that and spot the fallacy in that statement.

It fascinates me that some of you seem to think that the way a military works is to release a bunch of "18 year old farm boys" (interesting way to denigrate the troops, from people who in their next breath will sing their praises as the best trained and equipped military in the history of the world...) into the arena and come back later to collect them when their work is done. Discipline is the cornerstone of any military outfit, and it is well within the capabilities of the occupying forces to dictate and control the behavior of the troops. Certainly, there will always be aberrant episodes, but when you start to see a pattern of bad behavior as has been reported in the media since the beginning of this action, there is more going on, and it becomes a pattern worth noting.
posted by rushmc at 5:43 AM on September 29, 2003


that quote was from billman, not me, rush.
posted by jonmc at 6:28 AM on September 29, 2003


"The requested document
could not be found."

Any other source?
posted by zerofoks at 7:50 AM on September 29, 2003


Gun culture stymies the UN in Kosovo

How can this be? How can weekly shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence be happening in Kosovo and MeFiers not be posting 12 links a day?


So let me get this straight. The United Nations is still in Kosovo? Well, gee, there's a difference right there.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:06 AM on September 29, 2003


Reread that and spot the fallacy in that statement.

I see no incongruency with my statement. I was a soldier. Literally, there were guys in my unit who grew up in towns of less than 20,000 people and had never seen a large city. I called them "Farm Boys" because some of them are. However, I think the disconnect is that you feel that I mean that as an insult which is not the case. I mean it that they are not wordly men. In a way, many are naive. They trust people and often are shockingly honest. Last time I checked being naive and being intelligent were two different things and one does not preclude the other.

You should have seen me a month ago when a customer of mine turned out to be this fresh faced young kid (28 years old and I'm calling him a kid -- argh, when did I become such an old man *:grinning ) who had spent his last 10 years with the 10th Mountain serving in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, and Iraq. Every sentence ended in "sir" and the guy was falling all over himself to thank me for doing something for him pro bono that was really no big deal. I called up a buddy of mine, another vet, and used terms like "farm boy" to describe him and my buddy knew right away what I was talking about. It wasn't an insult. It was a compliment.

Now that is in no way incongruent with the following claim:

best trained and equipped military in the history of the world

One can be a farm boy and be one of the most highly trained soldiers in the world.

when you start to see a pattern of bad behavior as has been reported in the media since the beginning of this action

Can you elaborate on that? What pattern? I mean, I just don't think it's fair that you can throw out such a charge and then not provide sources so we can evaluate the "pattern" ourselves. Keep in mind you have over 150,000 boots on the ground so 10, 50, even 100 incidents, on a statistical scale, is not very significant so I would expect to see more than links to 5 isolated incidents.
posted by billman at 11:03 AM on September 29, 2003


What were we talking about again? I lost track some time just before the cherry bomb exploded in MeFi's public restroom facilities, and have been busily trying to save all the toilet paper ever since. By the way, anyone want some damp toilet paper?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:14 AM on September 29, 2003


By the way, anyone want some damp toilet paper?

Yeah! You can dry that stuff out and re-use it.
posted by billman at 11:24 AM on September 29, 2003


Can it be argued (or demonstrated) or not that WWII did, in fact, create peace for the warring parties involved?

WWII setup the Cold War very well. It produced an East/West Europe (including a line through Germany) and led directly or indirectly to the Korean War and Vietnam (US), and the Afghanistan War (Soviets). The latter being the seeds for our current war or Terrorism.

It it really not appropriate to look at a war as a singular event. Most if not all Wars can be traced to events and conflict from previous Wars.

My two cents on it...
posted by aaronscool at 11:27 AM on September 29, 2003


You two are confused somehow. My first paragraph was addressing jonmc's comment; the rest, responding to a general attitude displayed by several users (though I quoted part of billman's remark, I wasn't singling him out).

I mean it that they are not wordly men. In a way, many are naive. They trust people and often are shockingly honest.

Sort of like Gomer Pyle? And yet I can't see him (fictional creation that he was) doing many of the things being ascribed to our troops...and shrugged off or even defended by some at home. It may not be realistic to expect real life soldiers to all be Gomer Pyles, but neither should we think it normal or appropriate for them all to be Genghis Khans.
posted by rushmc at 12:28 PM on September 29, 2003


rushmc: Obviously you cannot take a group of 150,000 men and women and throw any sort of label that will apply uniformly to every single person. In many ways you can think of our soldiers the same way you would our police, fire departments, and rescue personnel. Are there some bad cops? Yes. Are there fire fighters who turn out to be arsonists? Yes. Do we have rescue/medical personnel who practice their own euthenasia programs? Yes. But the vast, vast, vast majority do their jobs to the best of their ability. They take pride in what they do and are usually paid crap compared to what they could be making in similar commercial professions. They do it for reason that are their own but most will cite a feeling of duty and obligation.

No, these guys aren't all like Gomer Pyle. That's not the type of naive I meant. They don't go walking around going "Well gooooooolly." What I mean is that many are idealists. They feel that what they're doing is making a difference. That's why "farm boy" can apply to someone no matter where they grew up. It's a compliment in the sense that many, like myself, wish we could turn back the clock and be that young and dumb again :-)

I didn't defend their actions but to ask the bigger question of why they might have taken them. The actions themselves were wrong and I asked whether they were based on SOP which may have been written without any sort of foresight to see this type of situation or it could have been really, really poor judgement of one of the soldeirs on the ground for which he should be reprimanded.

There are far more "farm boys" even in the NCO and officer ranks than their are sadistic f-cks who would do something like this with the express intent of trying to humiliate that girl. If I told you a close and very loved relative had been one of those men would you not at least attempt to give him the benefit of the doubt before playing judge, jury and executioner?

And perhaps that is why I defend them. As a vet they are my brothers and sisters. There's a shared experience there that you'll never encounter in civilian life and it really does bond people together. That's why you'll see me defend them when someone wants to take an isolated incident and use that brush to paint the entire group. They're not perfect but for the most part they're good people.
posted by billman at 1:10 PM on September 29, 2003


World War One started with a single act of violence. An assassination of some royal prince for some little country somewhere. Both sides cashed in their chips immediately after the event, talking various countries into fighting on their side, both sides demanding they were the right side, and the battle escalated until no one remembered specifically why they were fighting, other than because their 'friends' were fighting. World War One was pegged as The War To End All Wars but a century later, we're still fighting, aren't we? The names change. Some enemies become friends and some friends become enemies, but if violence - if destruction - actually fixed things, you'd be done by now. In fact the present blood feuds in the middle east, though caused by more recent concerns, are also founded on ancient battles and vendettas and disagreements which predate the written Torah. We're talking thousands of years. Surely if violence resolved conflicts irrevocably and fixed problems, we'd all be happy as hyenas right now.

What aaronscool said. World War Two led to the Cold War, which can arguably be called the third World War - the one where the only thing we had to fear was fear itself.. and of course nuclear winter. Come to think of it, decades later, that's still a possibility isn't it? The end of the war may have given the impression of resolving immediate concerns, but peace has been at best an illusion and at worst ...an illusion. Cuz we're still fighting. When communism fell, suddenly countries which had been conquered or swayed into communist rule were no longer under those thumbs, and Russia could no longer account for every single nuclear warhead.

The Cold War by the way? A stalemate. Reagan talked us into both sides saving face and America appearing to win, but really, it was either negotiation or total global destruction. But then again, that woulda solved ALL our problems wouldn't it? boom. No more problems. Maybe violence is a suitable alternative. ...nah!

Battles have winners and losers, and people make the assumption that because country X surrenders to country Y, the winner wins the loser loses all problems are solved, whoever won is automatically right in whatever arguments started the conflict, and that settles it.

It doesn't. Negotiations continue. Renumerations and proclamations perpetuate. In the days of the Vikings, to the victor went the spoils. However in more recent wars, the victor ends up paying the bills and solving the problems for both the winners and losers, so winning becomes a losing deal economically. Although there are individuals and corporate entities which somehow make a profit during a war in the short term, in the long run no one truly benefits, and the problems that existed prior to the war just show up again after it's over.

Communism forced several little countries to function as one union. Many of these little countries included people who hated other people in their countries and others, but the communist rule was stronger. More violent. They coerced and prodded and forced people into submission, and then they did everything from negotiation to literal brainwashing to condition the populous into working toward a common goal. The motherland. When Communism fell, the old rivalries and animosities reared their ugly heads once again, and battles started anew. The former soviet union is in some ways more unstable than before Communism used violence and fear to solve everyone's problems.

You may find an example somewhere in history where the end of a war solved A problem. Maybe even MANY problems, but 1) they were probably problems that the incite of war created and 2) the solution wasn't permanent. At best it was a stopgap measure, that kept enemy forces at bay for a time but not indefinitely.

War is, at best, a temporary solution to a permanent problem. At worst, war is a relentless mirage of peace in a desert of lost hopes. But hey. Embrace that gun. Don't let thousands of years of history prove you wrong.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:01 PM on September 29, 2003


ZachsMind: I personally don't own a gun but I do happen to be of the belief that people should be allowed to own them until such time as an ammendment repeals that right. I mention that because I'm assuming your response is motivated by the person who said that violence does solve some things.

I do agree with that person at some level though. I think it, at best, foolhardy to believe that without the threat of violence the world would pretty much live in a state of quasi-anarchy. The problem with a "no violence" philosophy is that all it takes is one guy who doesn't share that belief to enslave the rest (which was part of the problem with communisim -- it works in theory but once you throw that pesky human nature element into the fold . . . all hell breaks loose).

You state that "war is, at best, a temporary solution to a permanent problem," which leaves the question of what is the permanent problem and is it fixable. IMHO, in reality, the permanent problem is human nature and unless your solution calls for either eliminating humans or going the soviet route and employing brainwashing and terror (oops, there's that violence thing again) to force behavior modification then we have to just admit that this perhaps not so much a problem as it is a reality. Is breathing a problem? Taking a breath is only a temporary solution to our need to supply our cells with oxygen. Do we declare breathing the enemy because it is a temporary solution to a permanent problem or do we see it as a necessary function?

Perhaps one day we will fight political wars but if one is ever pushed to the brink of survival the threat of physical war becomes their only option. That is why I deteste extremism. It doesn't matter if it's liberal, conservative, religious, or ideological.

That has lead me to a curious interest in places like MetaFilter. Read through a few political threads and, my read is that, you'll see an example of that extremism that I just spoke about. This thread is a perfect example. People who froth at the mouth for a chance to attack Bush and every minor incident comitted by the military serves for the fodder. Meanwhile you have people who defend the actions regardless of the circumstances. Very few people are in the middle but those that are, if their feelings lean just a hair too far in one direction or the other they will feel the full wrath of the other side.

How can we have a world filled with peace when those who promote peace can't even conduct a civilized conversation? :-)

ZachsMind, this isn't all directed at you but you did bring up the subject so I responded with a much broader thought.
posted by billman at 2:43 PM on September 29, 2003


Obviously you cannot take a group of 150,000 men and women and throw any sort of label that will apply uniformly to every single person.

But you can—U.S. soldier. And if they're going to carry that tag, then we should insist that they live up to the standards we demand of it. I should think that you, as a veteran, would be the first to insist upon that, not wanting the antics of some young punk to tarnish the reputation that you (presumably) worked very hard to establish and maintain.

No one is suggesting that you won't get a few bad apples in any group, including this one. But at some point, it becomes a case of more than just a few bad apples, when the culture turns a blind eye—or actively encourages—reprehensible behavior. I get that you don't believe that we are there yet. Maybe we aren't. But it is incumbent upon us as a nation to be vigilant against it, because the history of military forces suggests that the tendency is to eventually turn in that direction.

This is not directed at you at all, billman, but an interesting (to me, anyway) observation to the crowd: do a page search on "obviously" in this thread. I think the discussions on Mefi might fare a bit better if people tried to remember that very little is truly "obvious," and that almost any time one starts a sentence that way, one is simply revealing a bias or preconception. Since saying it's obvious up front won't make it so, one might do better to provide a convincing argument instead.
posted by rushmc at 3:55 PM on September 29, 2003


Then it's settled: quagmire!
posted by The God Complex at 4:47 PM on September 29, 2003


one is simply revealing a bias or preconception

I think that's pretty obvious :-)

Also, rushmc, I don't think we're there yet. I think if you look at the number of reported incidents like this vs. the number of boots on the ground it's a very small percentage. Also, I don't think you end up hearing the entire story. Some of that may be bias but even giving the benefit of the doubt due to lack of space you may not hear about that soldier being busted in rank 6 months from now for that incident (it's kind of hard to get Article 15 hearings on a regular basis in the middle of a war zone). You may not hear about the commander of that division re-writing the SOP for dealing with civilians under such circumstances. You certainly won't hear about that commander being passed over for promotion because his commander holds him responsible. In short, you're seeing a small snapshot of a situation and I think that like most anything there are multiple versions of "the truth" and we may never know all of them. This is no better than trial by media. Would you want your guilt or innocence to be determined by a lynch mob stirred up by news story?

I'm in no way trying to excuse their actions. What I'm trying to is determine where the breakdown occured so that the problem gets fixed rather than jumping to a conclusion based on spotty information.

Over the last couple of years I've seen a lot of people talk about US soldiers and then admit they don't know any. I've seen them talk about not wanting harm to come their way and not even taking into consideration that they are prepared to be put in harm's way. I really encourage people to get to know the kinds of men and women who volunteer for the US armed forces. It might surprise some. It might be enlightening for others.

I understand a few different websites are starting up to document the actual views of the boots on the ground over there. Here is one that is not "officially" open but has a few letters for service men and women posted so you can get an idea of their mindset.

http://www.frontlinevoices.org/

Read those and tell me if you think those people are savage barbarians.
posted by billman at 5:18 PM on September 29, 2003


Big bad-assed American soldiers afraid of little girls?
I'm surprised that no one was killed or injured, given the trigger happy mentality among the troops. It's obvious to all but bushies that this war was wrong, as was said at Attica, "what's the hurry? there's always time to kill."
posted by joemeek at 5:54 PM on September 29, 2003


Would you want your guilt or innocence to be determined by a lynch mob stirred up by news story?

Certainly not. Nor that of anyone else. But the media's role should be to expose things that aren't being dealt with at the source, as they ideally should be. Evildoers shun a spotlight (except for this new class of evildoer, as exemplified by Mr. Bush, who just shrug it off in their arrogance).

I'm in no way trying to excuse their actions. What I'm trying to is determine where the breakdown occured so that the problem gets fixed

Then we want the same thing.
posted by rushmc at 6:46 PM on September 29, 2003


ZachsMind: I do live in a place where I "leech" off police and military, who are protecting me from enemies both foreign and domestic who would seek to use violence to force me to their will. If all the police and military that protect me were gone in an instant, violent forces would perhaps break my will and eventually kill me. Or force me into a situation where I've nothing but violence left to try and fight back. Let's say I succeed. Then what? The cycle begins anew. Let's say I fail. Then what? The cycle begins anew. Solves nothing. Violence does nothing but beget violence.

The point you're (intentionally?) missing is that by "leeching" off the police and military, you are depending on violence and the threat of violence to keep you safe. The power that the police and military have to keep you safe is violence.

Saying that violence never solves anything is painfully ignorant.

Unfortunately, sometimes violence is the only thing that can solve the situation.
posted by wrffr at 8:00 PM on September 29, 2003


wrffr, the point you're intentionally missing is that violence at best staves off the need to solve the situation. Your immediate concerns may appear resolved, but so long as a single human on this planet believes violence upon one's fellow man is acceptable behavior, we will have no peace.

You've insultingly called me ignorant, but you're the short-sighted one, failing to look at the big picture.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:11 PM on September 29, 2003


With regard to this gun fear stuff, can I just make the point that nobody I know owns a gun, and that consequently we don't have any fear regarding either guns or the lack of them? There is a certain amount of gun crime in London, but the drug gangs pretty much keep it between themselves and the police, and no-one else has a reason to want one. Consequently, almost zero gun crime amongst ordinary civilians. Contrast this to the situation in the states. It's not exactly teh rocket surgery, is it?
posted by walrus at 4:22 AM on September 30, 2003


A little late to the party, but...

While the incident is indeed unfortunate, I have to agree with some of the people here that it wasn't necessarily a tragedy.

Both Iran and Iraq were well-known to use children as landmine clearers in their war. Children younger than 8 have been seen on battlefields from Africa to Afganistan carry machine guns and grenades. Taylor's army in Libera's war routinely drafted children into fighting ranks.

Spazzm said (paraphrased) that US soldiers signed up to protect US interests, and are paid for it, to the point they should blindly give up their lives to wins hearts and minds of Iraq.

Um, no.

No where are US soldiers supposed to act as ducks in a shooting gallery. If they accertain a threat, they are to move to protect themselves, their fellow soldiers, and civilians. When two children are behaving oddly, and are marked as a threat, the soldiers' actions were to protect themselves and the other Iraqis there.

Two reasons to not let anyoneone out of their cars.. one for their safety, and secondly in case they are part of the threat.

What would all of you be saying if the little girl and boy went behind the embankment and began tossing grenades into the crowd, or strapped on a bomb and walked back and blew up? Wartime sucks, but when things like this happen, when you're on the sidelines it's hard to see you have very limited choices.
posted by rich at 12:56 PM on September 30, 2003


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