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December 7, 2003 7:06 AM   Subscribe

"With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them" We can finally stop using the "we had to destroy the village to save it" quote when discussing controversial measures in Iraq. The new quote by a US Army officer is a whole lot more appropriate.
posted by miguelbar (110 comments total)

 
heh. look at the front page.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:14 AM on December 7, 2003


No simple answer. Instead, look at other "occupations," usually detested by native populations: think of Syrian occupation of Lebanon; Israeli occupation of land taken during '67 war; Tibet and China; US (and its allies) in Japan and Germany etc etc They do differ in amount and significance of hostility...is there a discernable pattern to understand how some occupying forces are relatively safe and not attacked whereas in others, there is a constant assault upon those occupying?
posted by Postroad at 7:19 AM on December 7, 2003


Ha. Look at people who have lived in a police state for 40 years. And who still have Gestapo thugs living right next door. Talk about your screwed up values system.

Come to think of it, wasn't their #1 complaint, like two months ago, that there wasn't enough "security"?

And what do you *do* if people want to shoot off illegal machine guns at funerals? Do you *kill* people who are afraid to disarm, because everyone else has guns?

Ironically, if *everyone* fears you, be you soldiers or the local police, then people can be *less* afraid of each other. Call it "the social contract." Authoritarian government without being *too* authoritarian.

"...Colonel Sassaman is a very good man," he said. "If he got rid of the barbed wire and the checkpoint, everyone would love him."

All told, every day and in every way, Iraq seems to be getting better and better.
posted by kablam at 7:25 AM on December 7, 2003


I couldn't believe that when I read it, either. The other day, I went over to my neighbor's house and hid in his bushes. When he got to his front door, I jumped out and yelled "Boo!", then punched him in the face. Then I gave him fifty bucks out of my wallet. It didn't work well for me, either.
posted by UKnowForKids at 7:49 AM on December 7, 2003




Yeah, good point there, kablam. At least we're not killing Iraqi civilians by the hundreds of thousands; we're only hovering around the 10,000 mark. Of course, we've only had about eight months to do it in, as opposed to the decades that Saddam was in power. I'm sure that's very reassuring to the average Iraqi.
posted by UKnowForKids at 8:10 AM on December 7, 2003



"You have to understand the Arab mind," Capt. Todd Brown, a company commander with the Fourth Infantry Division, said as he stood outside the gates of Abu Hishma. "The only thing they understand is force — force, pride and saving face."

(*Resists fetching the Comfy Chair )

On a slightly more serious note...Any Arab scholars or persons that consider themselves to be Arabian care to comment on the Captain's statement?
posted by jaronson at 8:20 AM on December 7, 2003


At first I thought maybe it was talking about the elections coming up here in the U.S.
posted by damnitkage at 8:27 AM on December 7, 2003


kablam - your emphases are like little *snowflakes* which remind me of the *blizzard* outside.

"Underlying the new strategy, the Americans say, is the conviction that only a tougher approach will quell the insurgency and that the new strategy must punish not only the guerrillas but also make clear to ordinary Iraqis the cost of not cooperating.

"You have to understand the Arab mind," Capt. Todd Brown, a company commander with the Fourth Infantry Division, said as he stood outside the gates of Abu Hishma. "The only thing they understand is force — force, pride and saving face." "


Let me rephrase that statement in blunter but hardly less offensive terms that : "Arabs are not like other people. They are like dogs - in that they require a stern master, and the constant threat of force." - Somebody should duct tape Todd Brown's mouth shut until he learns to stop being such a walking PR disaster. That quote of his is prime material for an Al-Jazeera headline.

This is one of those jaw dropping quotations which will wind up in textbook analyses of how an initially successful invasion turned into a disastrous occupation. It's too bad that I can't do full text search of all my Metafilter comments in the last six months because shortly before or just after the initial invasion I wrote - right here in the blue - that the US would acquire/has acquired, in Iraq, a West Bank the size of California.

Well I was wrong. The US has acquired a West Bank 1/3 the size of California. But I'm confident that more territory in Iraq will soon be included and that we'll soon tack on a Gaza Strip the size of Delaware.

Which brings me around to the question : what the hell do US military planners and strategists think they are doing by copying Israeli counterinsurgency tactics? Do they think they are copying a successful model? Israeli counterinsurgency tactics? Israeli tactics have been wildly successful at further polarizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sure. But they sure as hell have not stopped Palestinian terrorist attacks inside Israel.
posted by troutfishing at 8:29 AM on December 7, 2003


grab em by the short and curlies....and their hearts and minds will surely follow...
posted by billybobtoo at 9:39 AM on December 7, 2003


"With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects..." - So, I guess this is sort of like the Johnson era war on poverty in the US inner cities, but with some razor wire, checkpoints, house demolition, and coercive imprisonment added for good measure.

Maybe the US should start some toy factories for those razor wire penned in Iraqis, to give them something to do. They could manufacture some more "Urban Command Post" GI Joe action figure dioramas to stock the Wal-Mart shelves.



Seriously though - this whole situation sucks. For the Iraqis behind the concertina wire fences, for the US troops who have turned to such tactics because they don't how else to cope with the Iraqi insurgency, and for people everywhere watching the situation devolve to the point where Iraq has become an enormous prison camp with the US army as the warden.

It is crucial to remember though - the overall logic and parameters of the situation are being dictated from Washington.
posted by troutfishing at 9:46 AM on December 7, 2003


In other words - the US army is being forced by the Bush Administration to attempt the impossible, and it is likely the army - and the Iraqis - will suffer horribly for this. However the Bush Administration people who instigated this insanity will, regardless of whether Bush wins the 2004 election or not, prosper. If Bush wins, they retain the reins of power. If he loses, they will become rich working for the military industrial complex which has benefited so much from Bush's "War on Everything Else but Terror" (WEET).
posted by troutfishing at 9:54 AM on December 7, 2003


"You have to understand the Arab mind," Capt. Todd Brown, a company commander with the Fourth Infantry Division, said as he stood outside the gates of Abu Hishma. "The only thing they understand is force — force, pride and saving face."

To an American, a European or Canadian, this sounds very racist. But how does it sound to an Arab? Especially an Iraqi who most likely lived his entire life under a brutalitarian regime? Or *anyone* raised in such circumstances?

First of all: ANY government derives its legitimacy by being the dominant force in a nation. One could even call it the largest and most powerful criminal organization, one strong enough to declare any "natural law" subservient to ITS written law. Saddam was the force, now the US is the force, and their elected government will be the force. The juggling will continue until force is established.

So the US and soon the Iraqi government MUST be willing to demonstrate that they have the *power* to rule over that nation. For many years to come, no weak government will be able to rule Iraq. "Respect" for the establishment must be cultivated.

So there is the word "Force." Perhaps it should be called a "Force for Good."

Next is "pride", which, if you have ever lived among people who are destitute and oppressed, becomes the currency of advancement within their society. "Pride" is bondage to offense, to perceived disrespect, but it is the one thing that people in that position can claim. Its synonyms are manifold. A lack of "pride" is equal to death.

Last is "face". Whereas "pride" is a currency of peers, "face" is the currency of dealing with superiors, or near-equal competitors. Again, its *real* value is little, but to the poor and benighted it is worth their life.

But this all deals with what many people *are*. Capt. Brown does need to deal with what ALL the parties of good intention want the Iraqi people to become. This US force will become Iraqi force--and perhaps a far more just force--one more like a proper social contract. Then "pride" and "face" can gradually, over time, be replaced with "trust" and "ethics". The policeman ceases to be "one of them" and becomes "one of us." Not "Iraqi", but "Our Policeman."

And then, and only then, will it truly be unfair to ascribe what was said to Iraqis. Because only then will it be untrue.

Lastly, how many Arabs living in Arab nations *don't* live under such oppressive social constraints? Why should they not follow the same pattern as do other oppressed peoples?

(throw a snowball at something.)
posted by kablam at 10:03 AM on December 7, 2003


kablam, no people anywhere want to live surrounded by barbed wire, showing a pass to get in and out of their villages--what does that do to their pride and face, especially after we came to "liberate" them, but are just making them continue to live in fear, not of Saddam, but of us? I think at this point a 2nd grade class anywhere in America could deal with Iraq better than the administration is.

And regarding the living conditions of people in other middle eastern countries: wasn't one of the many reasons we invaded in fact to give them freedom and democracy, showing the other nations there what was possible?
posted by amberglow at 10:23 AM on December 7, 2003


"....is there a discernable pattern to understand how some occupying forces are relatively safe and not attacked whereas in others, there is a constant assault upon those occupying?" - Postroad, good question.

A short answer - Yes. Extend the sweep of your analytical searchlight back throughout known human history and you will find that, in general, the cases of Germany, Japan, and Kosovo - in which foreign armies are tolerated and even welcomed by native populations - are anomalous. As a general rule - with many exceptions based mostly on peculiar, idiosyncratic local factors - foreign invaders or occupiers are always resented, usually hated, and commonly fought.

But that answer evades your question, really. There are answers, lessons drawn from prior occupations throughout history, and I'm sure many in the US military know exactly what these lessons are and how to apply them - I have little doubt that scholars at the US War College have delved deeply into this question and would have many recommendations for salvaging the accelerating debacle in Iraq. But such recommendations would tend to require the sort of major policy changes which are highly unlikely given the extent to which the Bush Administration is drunk on power and so believes that it knows the best course - better than scholars and wonks, and certainly better than critics, doves, and fellow travellers.
posted by troutfishing at 10:24 AM on December 7, 2003


Kablam - a lot of these considerations ran through my mind when I read that quote, but I consider it to be fundamentally confused and so disastrous.

Yes, ALL humans respect force. As Bill Clinton observed (a cut on Gore?) "It is better [for a politician] to be wrong and strong than right and weak. "

But there is a critical corollary to this principle - which has been forgotten by those powerful inside the beltway now reeling about from the fumes of command and strutting 'round prostrate sycophants :

Force is always respected up to a point, but mostly within one's own tribe, and so the use of force on foreign tribes demands a truly masterful hand, lest it provoke the corollary to the principle of the respect for force - "We will save our deepest and most fanatical hatreds for those of other lands and, especially, those who have different ways - different tongues, different traditions, strange beliefs, and dubious manners. These we tolerate if they come in small numbers and ask for our hospitality. These, we will treat as kings and offer the best of what we have. But to the ones who come in number, and especially those who come to rule us and impose their ways......may they beware out fury."

And pride? - to encircle whole towns with razor wire is to surely trample a people's pride into the dust.

Or Face? - To treat a people in this a way is to let them know that they have, in the eyes of the conqueror, lost all face long ago.
posted by troutfishing at 10:43 AM on December 7, 2003


Meanwhile:

Afghan villagers are "understanding" but "not happy" following the apparent deaths of nine children in an American airstrike, a U.S. military spokesman has said.


...

"They've been through years of war. They're not happy, but I think it meant a great deal to them that my commander, Gen. [Lloyd] Austin, came out and personally expressed his condolences."
You know there's a problem with your country #24: "Its news headlines start looking like Onion stories."
posted by Eloquence at 11:14 AM on December 7, 2003


I don't know; when I read that he thinks Arabs only know pride, face, and force I think he is just trying to empathize with their local customs, and not at all to treat them like animals. You can see this easily by their policy, force, used against them, limited range of movement, ID cards in a language they don't speak or read. All of these things, if you look at them hard enough, will show that the army is being mindful of their culture and deep sense of pride.

Another reading is that they are subhuman and only understand a small subset of "human motivations", but that's clearly not his intended meaning! If that were the case the army might be treating them like animals, herding them around with no intention of explanation, and clearly that isn't what is occurring. You just have to look at their actions!
posted by rhyax at 11:14 AM on December 7, 2003


Just Friday, I was chatting with my Vietnam vet pal about Iraq and he was reminiscing about how stupid he thought it when all those years ago, a superior officer told him "the only thing these people understand is force." To him, that was the crux of the problem with his war and he hated to see it repeated now.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:30 AM on December 7, 2003


Enforced democracy, American style?
Democracy isn't something that you can be forced to do, many people believe. They say that the main reason people don't vote in the US is because they are happy with the way things are. Being legally required to vote, as the Australians and Belgians are, is seen as an invasion of privacy. Forcing a whole country to become a democracy at gun-point would seem to call into question the definition of democracy, surely?

'Diamond said that Iraq lacked nearly all the qualities that made most Asian countries fertile ground for democratic development: Illiteracy among adults is now estimated at more than 40 percent; the Iraqi population is young, with some 40 percent under age 15, but joblessness, even before the war, was pervasive; the middle class has lost its buying power and seen its lifestyle eroded; the economy, which is all but closed to foreign trade, is wholly reliant on oil income, with no entrepreneurial class.'

Could take a while...
posted by asok at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2003


"the only thing these people understand is force."
Sounds like a fairly accurate assessment of Neo-Con Foreign Policy.
Note: this is NOT a generalization of an entire nation containing diverse peoples as the other uses of the phrase are, but rather a semi-snarky assessment of a specific political philosophy, just as one could say that Al Qaeda-esque Islamic extremists "only understand force", except that, based on their collective behavior, they don't appear to understand anything.
posted by wendell at 12:37 PM on December 7, 2003


troutfishing: "...the accelerating debacle in Iraq..."

I absolutely reject that axiom. By what standard do you measure it, and are you able to see the massive and substantial improvements happening on a daily basis in that country? Good lord, if they keep it up at this pace, they *will* achieve the "Canada" standard in fairly short order.

Again, the facts don't support "accelerating debacle", and even the negative anecdotes support it less and less. Will you become reliant on harsh editorials from US and European local newspaper columnists to define your "accelerating debacle?" It is becoming fantastic.

Afghanistan is a completely different situation, and a far more troublesome one, militarily and politically, and it is odd that the left and the media seem to pretty much ignore it, compared to Iraq.
posted by kablam at 1:04 PM on December 7, 2003


Kablam: Iraq was more violent and farther away from democracy last month than it had been for several months prior to that. When one includes economic and quality-of-life standards, it would seem that Iraq is approaching the "Russia" standard, not the "Canada" one.
posted by Ptrin at 1:32 PM on December 7, 2003


Ptrin: quantify that statement with facts, not opinion. And not "man on the street" anecdotes that "everything sucks here". Political and editorial columns are not admissable.

A primer to geopolitical analysis:

1) What are the things happening at the national/international level? 2 million barrels of oil a day on the southern pipeline. If the north were open it would be another 1 million barrels a day. Vast sums of money are being provided by the international community, in returned funds, loans, loan guarantees and forgiven loans.
The rotating leadership of the provisional government has changed several times without incident. Arguments about *how* to establish their permanent government outweigh day-to-day conflict problems. The borders, except with Saudi Arabia, are becoming increasingly secure.

2) What is happening regionally? The conflict has been limited to almost exclusively the "Sunni Triangle". Those individuals, groups and communities that resist are either being turned over to Iraqi self-rule, or are being systematically disarmed and neutralized. Attrition among fighters and their leadership is heavy. Large weapons caches are being recovered daily. Attacks are diminishing.

3) What is happening locally? Large numbers of Iraqi soldiers and police are being trained for deployment. Local governments and business groups are being strongly encouraged. Grant money for local projects is flowing with mixed results.

4) What about the opposing forces? Diverse factions are being forced to combine, but attacks are more directed to robbing payrolls and violence against unarmed Iraqis.

I see a lot of very good news here.

Now, your turn. Cite me examples of how Iraq is descending into chaos and becoming another Vietnam.
posted by kablam at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2003


re: Force, Pride, and Face

He got it mostly right: both pride and face are immensely important in the region. People always have to be offered an out that lets them save face. Especially tribal actors: tribal shaykhs hold power because they command respect, take that away and they are in trouble. So they can do amazingly "stupid" (from a rational actor perspective) things to save face.

There is a difference between saying those people have different values than us (a fact we ignore at our peril) and saying that those people are inferior to us.
posted by ednopantz at 2:47 PM on December 7, 2003


Our occupation of Iraq is actually going better than one could have expected. And those who think otherwise are the same ensemble of morally-bankrupt assholes who always criticize the United States and the Presdent. And thankfully, only on Metafilter, and other dellusional Left-leaning forums do such people amount to more than a tiny minority.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:56 PM on December 7, 2003


So many of you can't deal with the fact that a Republican President who many not be, SAT-wise, as smart of you, has more wisdom and sense than you have; deposed one of the world's most evil regimes, but hasn't managed to complete the task in a few years. You should truly be ashamed of yourself for your political depravity.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2003


are you really a lawyer?

anyways, I'm having trouble finding in this thread where Ptrin compared Iraq to Vietnam.
posted by mcsweetie at 3:17 PM on December 7, 2003


(...)
do such people amount to more than a tiny minority.



heh.
three years ago it was a not-so-tiny majority of all American voters, but nevermind -- those Diebold machines do kick Democratic ass, so it looks pretty good for your guys in '04!
;)

and anyway keep up the good stuff FreedomParamus!
posted by matteo at 5:15 PM on December 7, 2003


Hey Paris:
Is Newt Gingrich a member of the same ensemble of morally-bankrupt assholes who always criticize the United States and the Presdent? Because that might be news to him. Put on yer learnin' hat, Paris:

Newt Gingrich, a senior member of the Defence Policy Board which advises Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said yesterday that America had been prosecuting an ineffective military campaign at the expense of the political moves essential for victory.

He told Newsweek that the army had not learned the lessons of Vietnam in how to run a counter-insurgency campaign.

Mr Gingrich, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, said the army had failed to tackle the aftermath with a swift handover of responsibilities to the Iraqis.

He added: "I am very proud of what Tommy Franks [the commander in the war] did up to the moment of deciding how to transfer power to the Iraqis. Then we go off a cliff."


Yeah, Gingirch is egghead liberal #1, and I am sick of his anti-patriotic Marxist schtick. You know, Paris, you should be proud of the extent to which your penchant for ignorrant vitriol matches that of your beloved leaders. Your continued campaign against reason aside, it is a shame that people like you will probably keep us from honestly facing the truth about Iraq for years--just like you did in Vietnam.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 5:23 PM on December 7, 2003


"the only thing they understand is force"

this quote comes from the Israeli army, Hamas, the American Army and Osama Bin Laden. All of them say the same thing, some of them just have better organization and better weapons.
posted by chaz at 5:46 PM on December 7, 2003


The rotating leadership of the provisional government has changed several times without incident.

Our occupation of Iraq is actually going better than one could have expected.

October 28, 2003: Five killed in suicide bomb.

November 2, 2003: 15 soldiers dead in helicopter attack.

November 9, 2003: Three soldiers killed by road bombs.

November 18, 2003: Three Iraqis killed when US troops fire on shoppers at Baghdad market.

November 29, 2003: Two Japanese diplomats dead in Tikrit.

The same weekend: Seven Spanish intelligence agents killed in ambush.

79 total soldiers killed in November.

And that's just a cursory sampling. Smooth sailing, my ass.

Why do I get the sense that the heads in the sand here are closet George C. Scott types trivializing large numbers of deaths, with Peter Sellers as the President responding, "I will not go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler!" The difference is that with brute force and foolish comments like Sassaman's, to paraphrase the words of our Commander-in-Chief, we really are bringing this on.
posted by ed at 5:50 PM on December 7, 2003


ed: Shocked, I am. Shocked! That soldiers would get killed in a hostile theater of operations!

Okay, I'll grant you that 79(!) out of 250,000 soldiers were killed in a single month in Iraq.

A total of 1,088 residents of Los Angeles County lost their lives to guns in our communities in 1998 -- three of our neighbors each day; over 90 residents per month, on average, died in firearm homicides, firearm suicides or accidental shootings.

Does this mean that we should abandon Los Angeles County? Obviously, it is a place of chaos, murder and despair, where all the residents care about is force, pride and saving face.

Well, there are differences. Los Angeles County only has about 9.6 Million people compared to Iraq's 22 Million.

In other words, what does the death of 90 people per month in L.A. County *really* tell you about the condition of the place? Very little I am afraid.

Try again.
posted by kablam at 7:02 PM on December 7, 2003


So Iraq is almost as bad as Los Angeles? Things aren't looking good...
posted by romanb at 7:22 PM on December 7, 2003


*Osama bin Laden*
posted by larry_darrell at 7:23 PM on December 7, 2003


Tonight's 60 Minutes did not inspire confidence.
posted by homunculus at 7:36 PM on December 7, 2003


Newt Gingrich: American policy in Iraq has gone over a cliff

The real key in Iraq, he says, "is not how many enemy do I kill. The real key is how many allies do I grow," he says. "And that is a very important metric that they just don't get." He contends that the civilian-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) is fairly isolated and powerless, hunkered down inside its bunker in Baghdad. The military has the money and the daily contact with the locals. But it's using the same tactics in a guerrilla struggle that led to defeat in Vietnam.


posted by chaz at 7:45 PM on December 7, 2003


Kablam - The overall casualty rate among US forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan is somewhere around 5-6% (~10,000). This includes dead, wounded, sick, injured, traffic accident victims, suicides........This theatre of operations is claiming a significant toll from the US forces there. This figure does not include Iraqi casualties and - if we include ALL Iraqi casualties (somehow attributable to the US occupation or not) we would wind up with a figure far larger, per capita, than in your LA example.

But your response begs the question - why is Iraq such a hostile theatre? Your answer: Baathist terrorists, a tiny minority among Iraqis. OK, I respond - so imprisoning whole civilian populations of certain towns in concentration camps will somehow make that tiny Baathist terrorist group less popular?

This is - essentially - my response to the "things are getting better and better, based on X, Y, and Z" argument. Your statistics and facts may very well be completely accurate but , in my opinion, they are completely swamped for the fact that the US finds it necessary now to create razor wire surrounded concentration camps, imprison relatives of suspected terrorists ( human rights, anyone ? ), and blow up houses associated with terrorists ( justly or not ).

Why does the US think that these tactics will be any more successful than on the West Bank in in Gaza. Explain that to me, Kablam.

Why won't these new, "tough" tactics create ten terrorists for every one neutralized?

"He got it mostly right: both pride and face are immensely important in the region." Ednopantz, he sure did - and that is the very reason that this quote, in context, has to be regarded as deranged. Because the tactics employed do not respect the totality of that statement. They only seem to recognize the first principle, "respect for force" while completely neglecting the other two, pride, and face. This is a shame, because - in this situation - any use of force which offends or tramples pride and sense of face will alienate large large of Iraqis and make them more sympathetic to the indigenous terrorists. And that's exactly what the terrorists want.

"With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them" - I have a hard time imagining how some view this doctrine as anything but a developing catastrophe - "We're here to terrorize you into compliance with our benevolent intentions to improve your country." I'm sorry, but I have a hard time imagining how that "heavy dose of fear and violence" doesn't completely negate the impact of those "good works" and, in fact, cause more damage than would have been the case had those good works never been attempted.

Newt Gingrich is right on the mark - "The real key in Iraq, he says, "is not how many enemy do I kill. The real key is how many allies do I grow," he says. "And that is a very important metric that they just don't get. "

The US is not growing allies in Iraq - it is pruning them with chainsaws and roasting them with PR flamethrowers.

Still, the situation could fester for years and so swell the ranks of Al Qaeda recruits tenfold.

Ideological beliefs, strongly held, tend to lead inexorably to this sort of insanity.
posted by troutfishing at 8:05 PM on December 7, 2003


kablam, did you really have to stoop to the "comparisons to citizens" argument?

First of all, it's pathetic. Second, it's a ridiculous straw man. You're comparing the overall deaths of an entire population to the deaths of selective groups specifically killed because of their membership in that group, i.e. American armed forces- which in turn is only able to be killed because of their deliberate interference with an aforementioned entire population. It's much stupider when you make an actual comparison and ask how many Iraqi solders were killed in L.A. last year. Or even American soldiers. Or to be very generous to your argument, let's say policemen. But justifying even those few, if any, deaths, would be just as morbid and stupid (if not more) as your attempt to justify the invasion of Iraq because "hey, not THAT many people are being murdered daily!"

So, yeah, try again yourself. This time with a soul, perhaps.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:09 PM on December 7, 2003


Kablam, these 79+ deaths are not taken from the pool of 22 million or so Iraqis. They're taken from the pool of the Allied forces which number (roughly) 150,000 in size.

For your comparison to work, we would need to adjust for scale. These 79 from 150,000 would work out to be 4,740 from 9,000,000. I would think, even by LA standards, this would be a strong leading indicator something isn't working well.

In order for your comparison with Los Angeles to have any real merit, you would need to include the numbers of Iraqis killed in November and I'm afraid I have not seen that figure. I would wager, that it is significantly higher than the L.A. per capita equivalent.
posted by pandaharma at 8:25 PM on December 7, 2003


Gee, taking these in order:

troutfishing: where the hell do you get off calling putting concertina wire around a town and requiring passes to enter or leave a "concentration camp?" Shame on you.

XQUZYPHYR: the loose comparison to L.A. was just to point out how ridiculous it is to define a country by a small number of violent crimes. If you want to get real loopy, why don't you complain that there is no comparison, because Arnold isn't the governor of Iraq? Oh, and as far as the "stupidity" of invading Iraq, is it stupid to risk your life to save *literally* hundreds of thousands of MORE people from horrible slaughter? And YOU claim to have a soul? Stop being a thoughtless political hack.

pandaharma: likewise, you miss the point. Agonizing over trivia will not make Iraq chaotic, desperate, or Vietnam-like. It is a large country with a lot of people, a lot of business, a lot of money, a lot of education, a lot of support internationally and internally, and a small group of asses who want to bust it all up and are failing miserably to do so. It is downright stupid to define Iraq by minutiae, any more then you can define the success or failure of Los Angeles by how their basketball team is doing.
posted by kablam at 8:40 PM on December 7, 2003


It takes only one Kablam to provoke ten Mefi-ites into generating torrents of counterargument.

This amounts to a stunning tactical victory.

Kablam - I turn to the Wikipedia : "A concentration camp is a large detention centre for political opponents, specific ethnic or religious groups, or other groups of people. Some concentration camps are designed to exterminate the interned, or to engage them in forced labor, while others are designed merely for confinement. The term is most likely to be applied when those interned are civilians and are selected by their conformance to broad criteria without judicial process, as opposed to their being judged as individuals. "

So yes - the US is establishing concentration camps in Iraq.
posted by troutfishing at 8:49 PM on December 7, 2003


Oh - I forget one important point about the US engineered concentration camps in Iraq - not everyone in the camp gets a pass enabling entry/exit, and so I feel the term is appropriate, especially when coupled with the other punitive tactics - of house demolition and the imprisonment of relatives of suspected insurgents.
posted by troutfishing at 8:54 PM on December 7, 2003


Kablam, you brought up the LA comparison, not I, and I'm just correcting your fallacy, not wanting to play a game of minutiae. If you're going to make a comparison, at least get the ratios correct.

And I never even mentioned Vietnam or quagmire. Is this a Freudian slip on your part?

Personally, I think its too early to tell how this thing will turn out in the end. I am somewhat concerned by this administration's hubris and I am concerned they don't have the willpower to fix what they have broken. Recent statements have shown that they are willing to accept a consolation prize ("An Islamic Republic wouldn't be so bad...") and they seem to be fishing for an exit strategy, one which could be put in motion (though not completed) by November of 2004.
posted by pandaharma at 9:29 PM on December 7, 2003


Equally moronic, and right on the cover of the New York Times, is the suggestion that American adoption of Israeli tactics is, somehow, a sign of failure. Actually, it makes sense that controlling, limiting the effect of, and killing barabarians in the West Bank would should resemble doing the same in Iraq. By the way, since when is it outrageous to be kiiling people and deploying barbed wire in a war?

And concentration camps? Bring'em on, as long as you're concentrating terrorists. Actually, they're called PRISONS.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:39 PM on December 7, 2003


"The Bush administration announced during the weekend that it will cede power to an Iraqi government by June, well before a final constitution can be written or democratic elections can be held.

The point I'm trying to make is that if Iraq ends up a rich, pro-Western, vibrant, liberal dictatorship, that is an immeasurable defeat. Or, it would be to me. I'd rather see a poor, xenophobic democracy. Maybe I'm in a minority. Do you disagree?
posted by Ptrin at 9:41 PM on December 7, 2003


ParisParamus - "...the suggestion that American adoption of Israeli tactics is, somehow, a sign of failure" - Yes indeed it is. The US is dropping the goalof "Winning hearts and minds" and retreating towards "Discipline thorough fear."

Meanwhile - "Barbarians" _ ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:59 PM on December 7, 2003


Wrong. What hearts and minds? At least, what minds? The place has been a human rights black hole for decades or longer. It will take years to eradicate the Hussein institutions and reflexes. All we can do for the foreseeable future is kill the most dangerous Hussein leftovers; reduce the number of guns, and get the de-programming process going.

The fraud of the Left is that they don't have the courage to ever want to back up their supposed convictions with military force.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:15 PM on December 7, 2003


the loose comparison to L.A. was just to point out how ridiculous it is to define a country by a small number of violent crimes.

Except, of course, these aren't violent crimes comparable to bank holdups or gang wars. These are the indiginous residents of the country rebuking their invaders. I'm sure you're aching to jump on that line, but I digress: regardless of the fact that it's horrific and the insurgents are, to use the president's terms, "thugs and bullies," it's important to note that in light of the fact that the last century has not proven kind to foreign invading forces. Regardless of one's opinion of the Free French, Afrikkaners, Vietnamese, Kuwaitis, and Serbians, they all share the common historical fact in eventually expelling those who invaded and occupied them.

This is especially relevant to your suggestion that I don't care about the "liberation" of the people who had several hundred thousand of their family killed (with, mind you, the blind eye from the Reagan administration. I wonder if "Made in the USA" is still visible on the sides of the bullets we'll find in those mass grave corpses.)

Now, your attack on me as a thoughtless hack is of course baseless, my status as "thoughtless" being only that my thoughts are different than yours. I opposed in their forms the first Gulf War as well as the infamous Aspirin Factory Bombing and mass-bombing of the Balkan/Serbian region under Bill Clinton's orders; a stance which puts me in disagreement even with the mainstream Democratic presidential candidates. I understand from previous comments that your desire to cower behind name-calling is a somewhat practical defense mechanism but nevertheless I'll address your preceding argument as if it didn't come from someone who passes off rebuttals as thoughtless.

The attack of being uncaring about the mass slaughter of thousands is shattered by the viewpoint of those looking beyond the removal of Saddam in terms of long-term stability in the Middle East. Our unilateralism in Iraq has left us isolated and diminished in credibility on the international playing field- an act which will ultimately hinder any attempts this country might make to proceed with the so-called "War on Terror."

For example, Bush may perhaps have a cerebral aneyuerism tomorrow morning and suddenly realize he needs to engage the barbarism of several other world leaders he had no desire to send troops after, such as Perez Musharraf or any of the potential former-Taliban heads gaining power in the newly-rennovated Afghanistan. But given our depletion of resources and favor among the civilized world exhausted from defeating a very bad man we suddenly decided needed to go because he was very bad twenty years ago but we didn't care back then becasue Communists were even more icky, we're unlikely to proceed any further against the remaining 99% of the Arab world now lithe to cooperate with a country that proved it really doesn't give a damn whether or not you want to avoid going to war.

On the other side of the issue is, of course, the U.S. presence in Iraq. As I said already, that's not going to exist for long. Combining both historical precedent and public perception, it is not a "partisan attack" or act of conjecture, but rather a flat-out statement of fact: we are going to leave Iraq. We are going to pull out of the country, and we are going to do it long before we've established a Democratic pro-U.S. government. Whoever is in the White House in the next few years is irrelevant, if we even stay in Iraq past 2004, which I personally don't even think we'll do.

FreedomParamus, by invoking yet another spontaneous declaration of his personal views on the West Bank crisis, has in fact inadvertantly mentioned a case which actually relates to what everyone else was talking about. (I was suprised too) The state of Israel was created over fifty years ago, yet today there isn't even an international concensus on its capital, let alone its official borders, and today still opresses certain ethnic groups. This democracy-in-the-making still sees violence daily. In the same vein, other infusions of "regime change" in the last hundred years haven't been bastions of expedience: North Ireland only last year entered a serious period of potential peace negotiation among its internal rebellion. The post-Reich Germany was divided between Comintern and Allied forces for decades. Unrest still emerges from post-Imperial Africa. South Korea, among the few Southeast Asian regions we didn't outright lose military influence over, has its very own nuclear-armed angry neighbor. The point? Equal to the fact that no foreign invading force survived the turn of the century is the fact that no nation "liberated" from said long-term invasion evolved into peaceful, safe democracy within decades, let alone years. And yet, as Ptrin noted, Iraq will see Democracy, amidst fundamentalist Islamic anti-Western Muslim states, by June? The suggestion that Saddam had nukes was a lie wrapped in a safety net of "faulty intelligence." The notion that Iraq will shift to democracy in a year is simply ludicrous.

Rather than a governing council, Iraq will enter the same state as Afghanistan with the similar cutting and running of American troops. Except, as you yourself noted with your brilliant and truly original California analogies, Iraq is a huge country, with valuable fossil-based prizes and a population of over 20 million potential subjects for numerous ethnic groups of varying barbarism to compete for.

The U.S.'s initial support of Saddam in the 80's served to create a presence that would control an autonomous Iraq, thus preventing the Russians from doing twenty years ago what we want to do now- invade and occupy the region and force the idiginous residents to accept our form of governance. The difference being that Communist Russia would have, at the expense of lives and resources, remained in the country with occupying and dictatorial force. It is exactly what the United States will not do, and exactly what the United States would have to do if it wishes to maintain control over the country.

But we won't. We will not continue to allow more Americans to die, and as such we will engage in actions that will, alternatively, make Iraqis die.

The argument that we needed to invade because of what happened earlier ignores the insanely obvious question as to why we didn't do it, golly gee, before the mass-murdering... this is of course partially answered by George H.W. Bush's Time article titled "Why we Didn't Remove Saddam." (The article, sadly, is no longer available, as the magazine not only removed it from the online archive but in fact edited out the reference to the article from the digtial version of the contents page of the issue in which it appeared.)

The reason, to simplify Dubya's father's point, was because of what is proven now: our invasion now, not to save lives but to somehow appease lives already lost (because this war was never actually about the WMDs-that-weren't, natch,) has created a region where we will eventually leave, to save American lives, at the expense of a destabilized Iraq open to the murderous desires of multiple warlords and strongmen.

Conclusively, we have not "liberated" the Iraqi people. We have removed Saddam Hussein from power, which unlike the notion of the final boss of some global video game, does not magically remove the threat of strife from the Iraqi people. Rather, considering the last six decades of historical precedent, it has created the potential for Iraqis to see more death and struggle than they have seen in the last generation. At the end of our generation, history will look at our manipulation of the region this way and see it the way I already do: unforgivable.

And apologies to all, of course, for not needing the fraud of war to back up my convictions. Far from courage, I merely lack the ignorance.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:36 PM on December 7, 2003


Here's some more Sassaman: The man led troops to storm 70 homes, kicking doors open with their guns drawn, and found not one sign of guns or terrorists. What a great way to keep the natives happy. In addition, the article notes this:
Sassaman presided over the meeting with a light hand. But when it appeared the council might take up the question of getting rid of the city's police chief, Sassaman quickly drew the line.

"I hereby confirm the police chief to a six-month term," the colonel said into the microphone, and there was no dissent.

Afterward, Sassaman said the police chief was simply too valuable an ally to lose.
So it comes down to this: Not only will U.S. forces imprison you in a concentration camp with a sign on the border reading "Do not approach or try to cross, or you will be shot," but they'll take the very democratic system they're allegedly promoting into their own hands.
posted by ed at 10:37 PM on December 7, 2003


Completely wrong, beginning with the reality that the daily death quotient in Iraq is a fraction of what it was pre-invasion--to say nothing of the fact that now, a larger percentage of those being killed deserve to be.

Will creating a new Iraq be easy? No. Is there any assurance that some feckless future administration in Washington will not drop the ball? No. But remains moronic to argue that Iraq is not a success; and that the shockwave our invasion is causing will not change ther region for the better.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:41 PM on December 7, 2003


(tally, not quotient)
posted by ParisParamus at 10:42 PM on December 7, 2003


The fraud of the Left is that they don't have the courage to ever want to back up their supposed convictions with military force.

Bullshit. Granted, it's been a while, but we fucked up the Czars. We just tend not to use words like "barbarian."

And concentration camps? Bring'em on, as long as you're concentrating terrorists. Actually, they're called PRISONS.

A prison is only a remotely just institution if people are tossed in somewhat discriminately. Again, the word "terrorist" ought to mean something other than "brown person." Entire towns are being wrapped in barbed wire. Towns typically contain people of all ages and dispositions. You transcend the stupid and enter the realm of the dishonest by simultaneously arguing that the population at large loves us and the insurgency is run strictly by Baathists & that the entire population must be treated as terrorists.

It sounds like you are the one that only understands force, Paris.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:48 PM on December 7, 2003


Our occupation of Iraq is actually going better than one could have expected. And those who think otherwise are the same ensemble of morally-bankrupt assholes who always criticize the United States and the Presdent. And thankfully, only on Metafilter, and other dellusional Left-leaning forums do such people amount to more than a tiny minority.

A tiny minority, Paris? Really? Maybe you could point out which poll you're talking about, because I just don't see it.
posted by Silune at 11:21 PM on December 7, 2003


ParisParamus 'beginning with the reality that the daily death quotient in Iraq is a fraction of what it was pre-invasion--to say nothing of the fact that now, a larger percentage of those being killed deserve to be.'

WTF? I would be interested in from whence you get your figures, considering the US has stated that it is not keeping records of the numbers of Iraqi deaths. Also, the pre-invasion figures are from which source?

Given the evidence that I have seen I would have to argue that the situation is quite the opposite to what you describe. Unless by fraction, you mean a top heavy fraction.

At best, it is not possible to make either claim, as no numbers are being kept.
posted by asok at 2:42 AM on December 8, 2003


“The only way we can win is to go unconventional. We’re going to have to play their game. Guerrilla versus guerrilla. Terrorism versus terrorism. We’ve got to scare the Iraqis into submission.”

It's amazing how many of these kinds of quotes are being openly spoken right now, really. The sad thing is that we're willing to accept fascism and brutality as if we were crabs in a pot of water that is building up to a slow boil. (Does it feel a little warm in here to you?!)

We're terrorists too. Yay.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:34 AM on December 8, 2003


The only way we can win is by ignoring people who make cheap allusions to totalitarian forms of government.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:36 AM on December 8, 2003


win what? the war on terror?
posted by mcsweetie at 6:48 AM on December 8, 2003


I'm still waiting for that cakewalk where all the American troops get rousing ovations and flowers thrown to them.

Until such a time as that occurs I call bullshit on FreedomParamus and kablam. Otherwise I refuse to discuss their idiocy in hopes of enlightening them. No sense wasting time with those fence posts and their attendant turtles.
posted by nofundy at 6:53 AM on December 8, 2003


WTF? How about Why the F do you have less confidence in George Bush than Saddam Hussein?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:54 AM on December 8, 2003


MAHAWEEL, Iraq (AP) - The killers kept bankers' hours. They showed up for work at the barley field at 9 a.m., trailed by backhoes and three buses filled with blindfolded men, women and children as young as 1.

Every day, witnesses say, the routine was the same: The backhoes dug a trench. Fifty people were led to the edge of the hole and shot, one by one, in the head. The backhoes covered them with dirt, then dug another hole for the next group.

At 5 p.m., the killers - officials of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party - went home to rest up for another day of slaughter.

In this wind-swept field in the central town of Mahaweel, witnesses say, this went on without a break for 35 days in March and April of 1991, during a crackdown on a Shiite Muslim uprising that followed the first Gulf War.

``I watched this with my own eyes,'' said Sayed Abbas Muhsen, 35, whose family farm was appropriated by Saddam's government for use as a killing field. ``But we couldn't tell anyone. We didn't dare.''

The mass grave at Mahaweel, with more than 3,100 sets of remains, is the largest of some 270 such sites across Iraq. They hold upward of 300,000 bodies; some Iraqi political parties estimate there are more than 1 million.


The viciously anti-war left has lost its moral compass. Most anti-war opponents no longer even bother to add the proviso "Yes, Iraq is better off without Hussein..." There was a time when stories like these would have prompted calls for the forced removal of such a vicious regime. But now it's the U.S. that's the greatest danger to the world. And people even argue with a seemingly straight face that the Iraqis were better off under Hussein. Pathetic.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:00 AM on December 8, 2003


I guess when all else fails, you can steer the discussion into, "was saddam a villian?" because there's no way you can lose that one.
posted by mcsweetie at 7:05 AM on December 8, 2003


I guess when all else fails, you can steer the discussion into, "was saddam a villian?" because there's no way you can lose that one.

To many of us, we steer it in that direction because it's the most important issue of this war. We find it very interesting that others don't want to bring up that little technicality because it lends a *gasp* degree of moral legitimacy to the war -- and God knows we can't acknowledge that any good came of it. It's weak! weak! to give even an inch! Bush lied! People died! That's all anyone needs to know!
posted by pardonyou? at 7:18 AM on December 8, 2003


There was a time when stories like these would have prompted calls for the forced removal of such a vicious regime.

Man, the anti-war leftist running the country in 1991 sure lost his moral compass letting this happen, didn't he?

We find it very interesting that others don't want to bring up that little technicality because it lends a *gasp* degree of moral legitimacy to the war -- and God knows we can't acknowledge that any good came of it. It's weak! weak! to give even an inch! Bush lied! People died! That's all anyone needs to know!

I find it very interesting that you like to pretend that acknowledging Saddam's severity is hand-in-hand with agreeing that he needed to be forced from power by a unilateral military occupation.

One day, when you grow up and get beyond accusing the "anti-war left" of endorsing mass murder, you'll realize that most of the people who opposed this war still supported a better and weapons-free Iraq. We just supported one without as many Iraqi and American deaths, and without the lies from the Bush administration... lies, I 'm sure, you wouldn't be ducking with the "most important" routine had they not been proven to be fantasy.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:33 AM on December 8, 2003


pardonyou?-
That's a cheap rhetorical trick and I doubt it works on anyone anymore. We can all agree that Hussein was a horrible guy--and we all have, at least since the first Bush administration came around on the issue--but that it no way suggests that the way chosen to get rid of him was effective. Getting rid of Hussein at all costs was always a stupid goal. It is only worthwhile if he is replaces by a situation with more potential for social justice, right? Surely, if Hussein is replaced by a power vacuum that yields to ethnic civil war, it would be childish to say that Iraqis are better off. You can call people appeasers all you want, but such crude and meaningless tactics may help to explain why support for the Iraq war is dwindling day by day.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:44 AM on December 8, 2003


I find it very interesting that you like to pretend that acknowledging Saddam's severity is hand-in-hand with agreeing that he needed to be forced from power by a unilateral military occupation.

I don't "pretend" that at all. I merely point out that many people opposed to the war can't even seem to bring themselves to acknowledge that basic truth, or to acknowledge that removing him by military force had some moral authority to it (keep talking about "using other means" -- it would be very persuasive if it wasn't for the fact that "other means" were tried without success for more than a decade). Sure, reasonable people can disagree about whether the course chosen was the smartest one. But stubbornly refusing to even acknowledge the argument, and continuing to demonize anyone who supported the war as "evil" or "bloodthirsty," is idiotic.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:55 AM on December 8, 2003


Saddam did most of his worst villiany when he was a "friend" of the US or when Bush #1 abandoned the people who rose up against Saddam, at Poppy's request.

Here's more evidence of how swell things are going in Iraq.
At this rate we'll be all alone at the Mission Accomplished party, not counting the Iraqis who want the occupation force out of their country.
posted by nofundy at 7:59 AM on December 8, 2003


Is there any assurance that some feckless future administration in Washington will not drop the ball? No.
We don't have to wait--this feckless administration is already doing just that. For all the talk of democracy, why aren't we letting the Iraqis vote for anything or anyone?
posted by amberglow at 8:06 AM on December 8, 2003


Saddam did most of his worst villiany when he was a "friend" of the US or when Bush #1 abandoned the people who rose up against Saddam, at Poppy's request.

And this means what, exactly? That he's somehow less of a murderer? That upwards of a million Iraqis are "less dead"? That we should be estopped from confronting such evil now?
posted by pardonyou? at 8:18 AM on December 8, 2003


keep talking about "using other means" -- it would be very persuasive if it wasn't for the fact that "other means" were tried without success for more than a decade

What specific "other means" are you referring to? We tried "other means" to do WHAT and they failed? Getting rid of the WMDs failed? Containing Saddam failed? So we DID invade because Saddam didn't dispose of WMDs? Or because he WAS a imminent threat to neighbors or the U.S.? I thought the most important thing was how he did all this horrible stuff before we even STARTED the "other means," pardonyou?!

Since you're making this shit up as you go along could you please at least be more specific in your backpedalling?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:21 AM on December 8, 2003


Since you're making this shit up as you go along could you please at least be more specific in your backpedalling?

Fuck you. "Other means" to depose a murderous dictator. Actually, that aside was mostly addressed to Ignatius' statement: "We can all agree that Hussein was a horrible guy--and we all have, at least since the first Bush administration came around on the issue--but that it no way suggests that the way chosen to get rid of him was effective." But don't pretend that the anti-war crowd never argues that we should have removed Hussein by other means. I'm still waiting to hear what effective "other means" would have accomplished that goal.

I have yet to backpedal, or change my personal view of this issue since before the war started. So get the fuck off my back.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:26 AM on December 8, 2003


XQUZYPHYR: Well, you remarked on what happened in other countries at other times, and you speculated on what you think will happen in the future. And yet, no reference to what is happening in Iraq, now. No facts.

Please, data. Not from other times and other places, but from the here and now, and from Iraq. Not wishful, pessimistic thinking. Not conjecture or opinion. Not editorials in the NYT. How many positive facts must I advance before someone *shows* me how awful things there are with facts?

And troutfishing: maybe you should compromise and call those concertina-surrounded towns "minimum-security concentration camps." Or how about "day-care concentration camps." Or "not Nazi-run with no Jews inside, and not being mass murdered or tortured or starved or even precluded from coming and going except through a checkpoint concentration camps."

Sort of like "going to a football game concentration camp."
posted by kablam at 8:31 AM on December 8, 2003


I'm still waiting to hear what effective "other means" would have accomplished that goal.

No you're not. Jessica Tuchman Mattew's piece on Coercive Sanctions has been linked to countless times on MeFi in the past (typically right before the point in the thread when right-leaning mefites stop making such baseless claims as yours). One can only wonder why Matthews--as a well-respected international expert, and hardly a knee-jerk dove--was so roundly ignored. It is pretty obnvious to all of us that Hussein didn't have the enormous stores of WMD that Cheney et al lied about, but that doesn't mean that Hussein hadn't maintained a smaller stockpile of chemical weapon leftovers. It is a shame that we didn't approach Iraq in a manner that would allow us to actually know whther that was true.

As far as other alternatives are concerned, there was once a universe full of them. Hopefullly, no one needs to explain the principle of containment to you. Even a unilateral ouster of the former regime could have been made much more effective (after all, the goal is transition Iraq to democracy, not to placate political critics) if more attention had been paid ahead of time to protecting existing infrastructure and making sure that the "easy" part--defeating a WWII-quality military--didn't proceed too quickly as to catch us off guard with the start of the "hard part." What makes the overall situation look like such a disaster are not the individual problems or mistakes, but general culture of ahistoric insolvency through which they are supposed to be fixed.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:45 AM on December 8, 2003


Fuck you. "Other means" to depose a murderous dictator.

I explained in the long comment above why I didn't support the forcible removal of Hussein as well as the blatant hypocrisy of deciding which specific murderous head-of-state among all the others we're allied with suddenly needed to go after a decade of rule. It's the one right before the comment you made ignoring everything in favor of accusing me of not caring about hundreds of thousands of dead people because I don't like the president.

So my opposition to Dubya's desire to remove Saddam makes me part of the thoughtless anti-war left, yet you're now suggesting that all that matters- and has mattered for the last decade- was the removal of Saddam Hussein. This action counters the policies of three presidencies prior to George W. Bush, which all noted the dangers of destabilization of the Gulf Region. Golly, you must hate the president too!

You're backpeddaling in your fabrication of the notion that there were "other means" to remove Saddam attempted- which were? Hmmm? Removal of Saddam was of course not the point of the sanctions or inspections - seeing as how previous rational presidents and their respective advisors understood that forcing Saddam out of power would lead to... suprise! The mess we're in now.

Why do you want Saddam gone? What did he do? Have others acted like him? Do you support removing them? Why not? What will that cost, and how will it affect the world? Knowing all the answers to these questions already, if your entire argument, as you claim to have stood by since the start of the war, is that Saddam needed to go, then you're blinded by a single-celled methodology that has set up even more potential nightmares for people living in the Middle East. Saddam is gone, but the pre-war Middle East is still there. That's a big problem.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:56 AM on December 8, 2003


pardonyou? , kablam and ParisParamus, why do you keep referring to the Iraq situation as a war after your beloved Dubya landed on a carrier and declared hostilities over and the war won (unsurprisingly) by the US?
posted by magullo at 9:02 AM on December 8, 2003


No you're not.

Um, yes, I am. I'm not talking WMDs (and no, I don't really want to restart that argument -- my position has been made clear many times). I'm talking about removing the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and his even more nefarious erstwhile successors -- Uday and Qusay. Indeed, Mathew's piece specifically relies on Hussein remaining in power for its effectiveness. So, yes, I'm still waiting.

Thanks for the gratuitous paranthetical, though "(typically right before the point in the thread when right-leaning mefites stop making such baseless claims as yours)". Once again proving my point that those against the war can't even bring themselves to concede that those who supported it might have done so for good, legitimate reasons. And here's something for you to chew on -- I agree with pretty much everything you stated after "Even a unilateral ouster..." Can't say that I've ever seen any war opponents acknowledge the merits of any of the other side's argument (Exhibit A: This thread). But that's because the situation is so clear, right? You're clearly right, and I'm clearly wrong. Bush lied. People died. What more needs to be said?
posted by pardonyou? at 9:05 AM on December 8, 2003


pardonyou? , kablam and ParisParamus, why do you keep referring to the Iraq situation as a war after your beloved Dubya...

I have never voted for a Republican for a national office. I didn't vote for Bush in 2000. I do not plan to do so in 2004 (I'm just praying that the Democrats can field a candidate who can refrain from the urge to demonize those who supported the war; right now, the only candidate close is Lieberman). I believe that the Bush administration's actual handling of the war is subject to a degree of criticism, but that such criticism can be conducted separate from the question of whether the war itself was justified. So cut out your "beloved Dubya" shit, whydontcha?
posted by pardonyou? at 9:20 AM on December 8, 2003


Maybe you should start with ed's post, kablam? Whilst you are on the subject, why not post some 'facts' about the mortality rate in Iraq, over the past 20 years or so.

The moral myth.

'But the key point, overlooked by all those who have made the moral case for war, is this: that a moral case is not the same as a moral reason. Whatever the argument for toppling Saddam on humanitarian grounds may have been, this is not why Bush and Blair went to war.'

pardonyou? - ' And people even argue with a seemingly straight face that the Iraqis were better off under Hussein'

I would argue that a stable country, even one suffering under the yoke of a totalitarian regime and under severe sanctions, would be a better place for the majority of the population than one which is suffering from a complete collapse of society. It is the case in the USSR, it is the case in Iraq, IMHO.
I am pretty convinced that everybody believes that things which they support are 'done so for good, legitimate reasons'. Every person believes this, from the Christian missionary to the serial killer to the child rapist to charity workers to multinationals' CEOs. I could understand that people might want to support the war, given the media representation and government statements. I would like to support my country in all it does, but I cannot, for moral reasons.
We live in a society where the quick fix is seen as the best fix. We believe that we are masters of nature able to control what happens within and without our bodies by a simple click of a button, or ingestion of a pill. We live in a fantasy world of advertising, infotainment and manufactured consent, it is not easy to escape from, either physically or mentally.
The actions of the US government in the past two years would seem to fly in the face of the founding father's wishes for the nation. The economy of the US now resembles that of a militaristic totalitarian regime, such as those across Africa, however without a military coup in the US. Not a good look, IMHO.
/rant
posted by asok at 9:28 AM on December 8, 2003


Can't say that I've ever seen any war opponents acknowledge the merits of any of the other side's argument

That would be because the *only* argument stated before the war was to get rid of Saddam's WMDs. I guess there isn't much to acknowledge on that issue by the anti-war crowd, is there now? Come to think of it, maybe some other people could acknowledge some points on precisely that issue, but I've heard they're still working on it. Over yonder in eirac.

We will consult. But let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. (Applause.)

As not a few rightists (read pro-current-pro-bush-government) ask in Spain "Why have they not planted some evidence and stopped the ridicule already?"


I believe that the Bush administration's actual handling of the war is subject to a degree of criticism,

In fact, I was enquiring specifically about the (admittedly small and tiny and insignificant) part when he declared the war over and won. But don't feel pressured to answer - it's only Mefi: mostly stupid anti-war lefties. I'm sure no one will notice.
posted by magullo at 9:30 AM on December 8, 2003


Can't say that I've ever seen any war opponents acknowledge the merits of any of the other side's argument (Exhibit A: This thread). But that's because the situation is so clear, right? You're clearly right, and I'm clearly wrong. Bush lied. People died. What more needs to be said?

Except you, yourself, said that the crucial and most relevant issue was removing Saddam Hussein. (It's right after the "fuck you.") Or, "removing the threat" of Saddam Hussein. Which is the same thing, just like "having WMDs" is the same as "seeking a WMD program." Yep.

And, as I've pointed out, with much detail, I disagree with the concept that Saddam needed to be removed. As such, and as with your response to Ignatius, you have declared the entire argument as one in which we refuse in any way to agree with you. Because we disagree with your solitary, unwavering single viewpoint.

For we, those who have offered multiple suggestions and options, refute your demands that one thing had to be done no matter what. And your response is to mockingly write an anti-war slogan as if we, not you, are sounding like stubborn little children.

You're right. Nothing more needs to be said. There's more than enough here you've proving to ignore to strengthen your argument that no one's saying anything. Bitch and whine all you want, but when you're done with your tantrum and leave the time-out corner, though, you have a bit of reading in this thread to catch up on.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:31 AM on December 8, 2003


asok, I know plenty of people who have lived under totalitarian regimes who oppose this war and would strongly oppose any "liberation" in these terms. Starting with me.
posted by magullo at 9:34 AM on December 8, 2003


pardonyou?
The more we yell at each other (and you are, by the way, a poopyhead), the more I think the core difference is less susbtantive than semantic. If everyone were using the phrase "the war as was prosecuted" or "the war as carried out by the Bush administration," the gulf would seem smaller.

These types of Metadust-ups always come down to the same basic thing with me: asserting the illegitimacy of the war is not the same as asserting the illegitimacy of anyone else's reasons to support it. For anyone outside of the (fictional?) oft-cited people who can't acknowledge that Hussein was awful, opposition the Iraq invasion was a sort-of aggregate decision: the bad outweighed the good. But the reasons for which you supported the war are not the same as the platform on which the war was sold to the public.

And I don't understand how it was worthwhile to get rid of Hussein if we leave things no better. A simple lack of Hussein doesn't guarantee there won't be civil war or another dictatorship. Declarations like "Mission Accomplished" give the impression that our decision-makers don't really get that, regardless of your personal reasons for supporting their efforts.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:36 AM on December 8, 2003


And I don't understand how it was worthwhile to get rid of Hussein if we leave things no better.

If we do, in fact, leave things no better, you're right. But the war only began nine months ago. I still believe that history (and non-Baathist Iraqis) will ultimately judge this entire endeavor as better than the alternative. I may be right, I may be wrong. Unfortunately, I can't see the future any better than you can.

XQ: (It's right after the "fuck you.")

Which was right after "Since you're making this shit up as you go along..."
posted by pardonyou? at 9:49 AM on December 8, 2003


In fact, I was enquiring specifically about the (admittedly small and tiny and insignificant) part when he declared the war over and won. But don't feel pressured to answer - it's only Mefi: mostly stupid anti-war lefties. I'm sure no one will notice.

And in fact, I was merely pointing out how stupid it was to say "your beloved Dubya" ("your" meaning me). But if you want an answer, here you go: It was stupid to hang that banner. And?
posted by pardonyou? at 10:07 AM on December 8, 2003


But the war only began nine months ago

And ended seven months ago

If I may so ONCE AGAIN
posted by magullo at 10:08 AM on December 8, 2003


"Saddam did most of his worst villainy when he was a "friend" of the US or when Bush #1 abandoned the people who rose up against Saddam, at Poppy's request....." (nofundy)

"And this means what, exactly? That he's somehow less of a murderer?" (pardonyou) - I'd say that it means, more than anything else, that at the time of the US invasion of Iraq and now, nine months later, many around the world - Muslims or not - view the shifting US rationals for war - the one given before the war - the immanent threat of Saddam's (nonexistent) WMD's - and the one given now (Saddam was butcher) in a rather skeptical light.

Now the "we saved thousands of Iraqi lives" argument is a strange one to me for another set of reasons - first of all, a lot of Iraqis got killed in the invasion. Lots of civilians too. But Saddam was a butcher, and the Iraqis were thrilled to see him gone and so they accepted the price of the inevitable bloodshed that came with his ouster. OK, well and good. But now, the Americans seem rather unwilling to permit the Iraqis to attempt the democracy the Americans claim to be promoting (see homunculus' link up this thread) and they are adopting the language and tactics of the Israelis, which will have the overall effect of reducing many Iraqis, the ones in pardonyou's "minimum security day care" concentration camps (ringed by concertina wire and armed US guards) to the status of inmates in their own country, inmates with no hope and no recourse.

And it's all for their own good, I suppose.

Regardless of how Americans themselves view things, the world perception will be of a nation which invokes human rights concerns only when it is convenient, and the newly emerging "heavy dose of fear and violence policies" -which threaten to reduce many Iraqis to the status of brutalized inmates with no legal representation- will very effectively convince those outside the US who were undecided about their feelings on the whole affair to conclude that, yes, the US invasion of Iraq had nothing to deal with human rights concerns at all.

If the US hadn't turned a blind eye to Saddam's brutality while it was going on, or even if the US had even said, loudly, prior to invasion "We made a terrible mistake in '91, and now we need to rectify it" the invasion would also now be viewed somewhat more kindly.

And even if the Bush Administration took the political unthinkable step of letting go of it's need for unilateral control in Iraq, apologizing to offended US allies, and seeking a UN-governed multilateral occupation force, one with heavy Islamic participation - much would be forgiven and I'd bet that the US could pull out of this spiraling situation without leaving to fall into a civil war.

"...And troutfishing: maybe you should compromise and call those concertina-surrounded towns "minimum-security concentration camps." Or how about "day-care concentration camps." " - Kablam, that's why I provided an extended definition from the Wikipedia which made it quite clear that concentration camps long predated the Nazi era and need to be distinguished from actual Death Camps (which are set up to merely prevent people from running away while they are being murdered).

Concentration Camps are, at base, prisons for civilians who have not been accused of any specific crime.

I wouldn't consider towns surrounded by concertina wire and armed US troops to be "minimum security" at all.
posted by troutfishing at 10:59 AM on December 8, 2003


As usual, the words of pardonyou, kablam, ParisParamus, and the rest of the banal Bush apologists sound exactly like those heard at any given coffee klatsch of Al Qaeda: "We're absolutely morally certain that our use of violence (by proxy, of course) is just what you folks need to solve your problems....the ends justify the means....sure, civilians and women and children will die, but you'll be so much better off under our system and guns....in the end, a few deaths will save lives....there are no other solutions but violence....with a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them...pass the creamer."

Hooray. Huah. Bravo (cue "Stars and Stripes Forever" with Bin Laden and Saddam hum-a-long). Out-fucking-standing. The moral and ethical bankruptcy that is the American chickenhawk right now finds itself justifying and supporting terrorism. (You can't tell the terrorists without a scorecard!) Snakes eating snakes. A marriage of convenience with Saddam Hussein under Reagan and Bush I becomes a divorce of convenience under Bush II, accompanied by the same conservative voices bleating about how they're completely sure that this particular cowardly little foreign adventure is right for the world (read: "our interests"). The same shrill little voices calling for violence (to be wrought not by the shrill little voices, of course, but by their paid killers) thousands of miles from the action. The same lies. The same spin. The same frenetic attempts (echoed so precisely by Mefite's Bush sycophants) at some post facto justification for the yellow little fiasco they supported. Let's see...WMDs ain't working, "peace in the Middle East" ain't working....connection with 9/11 ain't flying....hmmmm...maybe we'd better backpedal to "Iraqis will be better off being slaughtered, starved, and diseased at our pace and for our purposes rather than under the dictator we supported for decades. Yeah, that may sell.

All accompanied by the exact same carnage, the exact same stinking bodies, the exact same villages-cum-concentration camps ala concertina. For the people's own good, don't you know. For some reason, that never changes either. I wonder why.

I'm still waiting to hear what effective "other means" would have accomplished that goal.
No you're not.
Um, yes, I am.


Um, no, you are not. Countless people have provided countless alternatives to what your buddy Bush did with his emergency war. You and yours flat-out ignoring (not awaiting) those alternatives because they are just too painful to consider in light of the current and future carnage in Iraq really speaks worlds... but seems to be a requirement for the good, lockstep Bush follower nowadays.

(Oh, and brilliant touch with the "fuck you", pardonyou. That reasoned response is on par with most of the rest of the right's dialog, your continual frantic and comical protestations of not being just another Bush toadie notwithstanding.)
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:12 PM on December 8, 2003


Back to the argument being put forth that the war in Iraq was about deposing the evil Saddam.

Would China not qualify as infinitely more evil considering the number of persons killed in China since the advent of communism?
Why not advocate the invasion of China or hundreds of other countries?
Why just Iraq?
If you're sooo concerned with human rights and despot dictators who murder theri people, why just Iraq?
And doesn't all murder count, or is it just murder by Saddam?
What about all the Palestenians murdered in the past 50 years by Sharon (even while in concentration camps no less)?

Methinks we are trying to have a rational discussion with about a serious issue with a bunch of Bush toadies who spin any way that diverts attention from their hero's major fuckups!
posted by nofundy at 12:32 PM on December 8, 2003


kablam: I am very interested to hear your rebuttal to my response; namely, what do you think of the US support for a GC-run Iraqi dictatorship, and the fact that last month was the most violent month so far in post-Saddam Iraq? Are you worried that Iraq may be turning into Franco's Spain or Putin's Russia or Hu's China? If not, why not?
posted by Ptrin at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2003


Ptrin: "The point I'm trying to make is that if Iraq ends up a rich, pro-Western, vibrant, liberal dictatorship, that is an immeasurable defeat. Or, it would be to me. I'd rather see a poor, xenophobic democracy. Maybe I'm in a minority. Do you disagree?"

In past, I've made the tangential argument that out of the myriad *variants* of government, even in that region, what would be the satisfactory "base level" of democracy and liberalness for the Iraqis to have? Indirectly this does address your question, but it is not a matter of black and white, but shades of grey.

Certainly a monarchy, like Saudi Arabia or Jordan, is out of the question. As would be an "Islamic Republic", as the truly perverted form of theoretically democratic government found in Iran. Even *having* the para-government Sharia Law in effect is a shades of grey question. In some places Sharia is comfortably liberal, and held exclusively to Moslems, in others it is an abomination.

Ultimately, as my argument goes, it is far too much to expect or demand that Iraq meet the "Canada" standard for a liberal democracy. At least for the foreseeable future. But at the same time, there are many variants of government that *would* be acceptable, and many more that would at *least* be tolerable. Not just to the US government, but to us as individuals.

And it is this very question that the Iraqis and the US authority are hammering out. And even the Shiite mullah, perhaps the most powerful individual in the country, has said in effect he wants the new constitution to err, if it does so, in the direction of democracy.

(As an aside, I think it would be funny if the Iraqis eventually create a constitution *more* liberal (or libertarian) and democratic than the EU's. Which is not entirely impossible, given what a hash they've made of theirs.)

So the bottom line is, to *honestly* rate Iraq as a nation can happen only after they have a new constitution, and, with the US gone, if they abide by it. Then a comparison can be made on the "Canada" standard of "How democratic and liberal are they?"

"Are they just 'tolerable' in their region, with respect to their people and the international community, or are they 'acceptable', a peace-loving, economically sound, liberal, multi-ethnic, multi-religious bastion surrounded, in this case, by much less fortunate neighbors."

For them to be the latter would be a nightmare to every dictator in not just the region, but the world.
posted by kablam at 1:33 PM on December 8, 2003


Wow. Look at how complicated it is to be the world's policeman. Expensive too.

Maybe it's time to start talking about whose country we're going to fix next. That way, maybe they'll shit over the thought and fix it themselves.

Yeah, that's it. Just the *thought* of being another Iraq will get 'em in line.

posted by Twang at 2:14 PM on December 8, 2003


" We just supported one without as many Iraqi and American deaths, and without the lies from the Bush administration..."

You are full of shit, pathological shit, meaning, you don't even know it. You have "principles" you will only defend when impossible conditions are met. Therefore, you have no real principles. To repeat: those who oppose our liberation of Iraq of FULL OF SHIT.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:43 PM on December 8, 2003


No sooner did I read those words, FULL OF SHIT, than a strong odor wafted up to meet my nostrils. My geriatric dog had taken a big dump on the floor.

It was Metafilter in Odorama.
posted by troutfishing at 2:53 PM on December 8, 2003


I love that Paris can meld non-ironic use of the word "liberation" with an accusation that others are full of shit. Paris, I hate to tell you this, but with your elevation of fear rhetoric above reasoned discourse you have become a Republican.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:13 PM on December 8, 2003


Oh, and brilliant touch with the "fuck you", pardonyou.

Thanks, foldy! I guess it's just my natural reaction when someone claims I'm "making shit up as [I] go along."

your continual frantic and comical protestations of not being just another Bush toadie notwithstanding

Well, let me try one more time, then. Maybe it'll actually sink in to your thick, thick skull. I agree that the war was justified. I disagree with Bush on almost every social issue, and disagree with many aspects of his economic plan -- most significantly his increase in government spending and (relatedly) his increase of the deficit. I also disagree with much about how the Bush administration prosecuted the war, and how it's handling the aftermath.

So please explain to me -- because I'm clearly stupid -- how that makes me a Bush toadie. Or is it the old "you're either with us or against us" argument? Either I toe the Liberal line on every issue, or I'm a crazy reactionary? Aren't you supposed to be smart or something, foldy?
posted by pardonyou? at 5:27 PM on December 8, 2003


So please explain to me -- because I'm clearly stupid -- how that makes me a Bush toadie.

Well, pardonyou, it helps if you make the very first thing you write in a thread something about anti-war liberals being pathetic beings devoid of a moral compass. Bush toadies tend to sound like that. Assholes too.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:44 PM on December 8, 2003


the very first thing you write in a thread something about anti-war liberals being pathetic beings devoid of a moral compass

What I actually said was: "The viciously anti-war left has lost its moral compass." There was a time when Liberals condemned brutal dictatorships. Now they pay lip service to the notion that "of course Hussein was a bad guy, but..." The same moral compass that led many Liberals to support U.S. intervention in Yugoslavia seems suspiciously absent now. I suspect that has more to do with who the President of the U.S. is than anything else.

This Asshole Bush toadie has spoken.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:00 PM on December 8, 2003


Following up on my last point (I know, I know: I implied I was done). Here's some of what Susan Sontag wrote in 1999 regarding the Yugoslavia conflict. I'll be damned if I see a significant distinction here (other than the fact that the President then was Clinton, and now it's Bush):
Stop the War and Stop the Genocide, read the banners being waved in the demonstrations in Rome and here in Bari. For Peace. Against War. Who is not? But how can you stop those bent on genocide without making war?

We have been here before. The horrors, the horrors. Our attempt to forge a "humanitarian" response. Our inability (yes, after Auschwitz!) to comprehend how such horrors can take place. And as the horrors multiply, it becomes even more incomprehensible why we should respond to any one of them (since we have not responded to the others). Why this horror and not another? Why Bosnia or Kosovo and not Kurdistan or Rwanda or Tibet?

Are we not saying that European lives, European suffering are more valuable, more worth acting on to protect, than the lives of people in the Middle East, Africa and Asia? ...

... Another argument against intervening in Kosovo is that the war is -- wonderful word -- illegal," because NATO is violating the borders of a sovereign state. Kosovo is, after all, part of the new Greater Serbia called Yugoslavia. Tough luck for the Kosovars that Milosevic revoked their autonomous status in 1989. Inconvenient that 90 percent of Kosovars are Albanians -- ethnic Albanians" as they are called, to distinguish them from the citizens of Albania. Empires reconfigure. But are national borders, which have been altered so many times in the last hundred years, really to be the ultimate criterion? You can murder your wife in your own house, but not outdoors on the street.

Imagine that Nazi Germany had had no expansionist ambitions but had simply made it a policy in the late 1930's and early 1940's to slaughter all the German Jews. Do we think a government has the right to do whatever it wants on its own territory?

Not surprisingly, the Serbs are presenting themselves as the victims. (Clinton equals Hitler, etc.) But it is grotesque to equate the casualties inflicted by the NATO bombing with the mayhem inflicted on hundreds of thousands of people in the last eight years by the Serb programs of ethnic cleansing.

Not all violence is equally reprehensible; not all wars are equally unjust.

No forceful response to the violence of a state against peoples who are nominally its own citizens? (Which is what most "wars" are today. Not wars between states.) The principal instances of mass violence in the world today are those committed by governments within their own legally recognized borders. Can we really say there is no response to this? Is it acceptable that such slaughters be dismissed as civil wars, also known as "age-old ethnic hatreds." (After all, anti-Semitism was an old tradition in Europe; indeed, a good deal older than ancient Balkan hatreds. Would this have justified letting Hitler kill all the Jews on German territory?) Is it true that war never solved anything? (Ask a black American if he or she thinks our Civil War didn't solve anything.)

War is not simply a mistake, a failure to communicate. There is radical evil in the world, which is why there are just wars. And this is a just war. Even if it has been bungled.

Stop the genocide. Return all refugees to their homes. Worthy goals. But how is any of this conceivably going to happen unless the Milosevic regime is overthrown? (And the truth is, it's not going to happen.)

posted by pardonyou? at 7:24 PM on December 8, 2003


pardonyou?:
I can't speak for Susan Sontag, but if Bosnia had been proposed as unilateral, had caused serious rifts in our relations with allies, and if the case had been made based on lies about Milosovich threatening the US with pretend weapons, I think the "immoral" left might have thought differently. In another hoscking bit of hypocrisy, and I anti-hunger but also anti-cannibalism. A lot of what you are so sure to attribute to ideology is more likely a case of people calling them like they see them.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:49 PM on December 8, 2003


Susan Sontag speaks out about Bush and Iraq
posted by amberglow at 8:14 PM on December 8, 2003


pardonyou - I have no doubt that there are left-wing ideologues who might be described as vicious, and who might have lost their moral compasses. I, for one, carry mine on the sturdy chain of self doubt. But - as far as I can see - moral compasses require some sort of moral-magnetic center to orient their magnetized needles towards the moral North. I see none such in the Bush Administration.

I agree with Ignatius Reilly's point and would add my own twist - Is an initially just war which is carried out with less than pure motives still so just? Well it would depend, I would say, on what sort of impact those other motives exerted. In the case of Iraq, the Bush concern with mantaining a unilateral US approach dramatically undercut the willingness of US allies to participate in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and this in turn undercut, to an extent, the legitimacy of the invasion in the eyes of the World at large and certainly in the eyes of many muslims.

If the US foreign policy were simply driven by moral consideration, that would be wonderful. I would applaud that. Such has been tried before, by the way, in recent US history - Jimmy Carter tried to promote such a moralistic foreign policy and was condemned as naive and unrealistic.

As far as I can tell, the Bush Administration only invokes the "moral compass" argument when it is especially convenient or when other pretexts - such as the 'WMD threat' fall apart.
The reluctance of the Bush Administration to sign on to international agreements, it's unwillingness to use this moral yardstick even handedly to set US foreign policy, and finally the new US "we'll teach them who is boss" rhetoric aimed at many Iraqi civilians - these factors all undercut the "moral compass" argument both in my eyes and in the international court of world opinion.

Usually, US foreign policy is not shaped by moral concerns, even now (except when convenient, as in Iraq). As a case in point - death threats against forensic experts exhuming the many thousands slaughtered by paramilitary forces in the Guatemalan civil war have, in the past year or two, been increasingly targeted, along with their families, with death threats. Now, the death toll of the Guatemalan conflict - a conflict nearly on the US' doorstep - was much higher per capita than the toll visited on Iraq by Saddam, his wars, and his massacres - perhaps not by a multiplier of 10 but certainly by a multiplier of between X 2 and X 5. Guatemala's slaughter put, really, Saddam's butchery to shame. You might be interested in reading about it, if you have not already......The US has merely to lift it's little finger to project a strong message to the Guatemalan government to discourage forces allied with the military from repression and death-threats. America is the 8,000 ton gorilla of the region (a very big gorilla indeed). But I do not expect any such efforts on the part of the Bush Administration - Guatemala does not seem to figure at all into the same "Moral Compass" which so clearly seems to point the way for the Bush Administration in the case of Iraq, even though Guatemala may be again emerging as a hotbed of human rights violations in the Western hemisphere.

This sort of apparent hypocrisy is reinforced by the US' unwillingness to sign international treaties on land mines, small arms, chemical weapons, and so on - and the more the US insists on special exemptions from such international agreements, the more it will be viewed as an international renegade nation, a superpower pariah.

Attempts to seize the moral high ground, on the part of the Bush Administration, will remain unconvincing as long as the US asserts it's case for a human rights driven foreign policy which is targeted at little other than the human rights violations in Iraq committed by Saddam Hussein : the US exerts influence in many countries around the globe, including some with past human rights abuses as egregious as Saddam's, and so Americans and the Bush Administration will look increasingly hypocritical unless the US exerts foreign policy pressure against tyrannical regimes with quite a bit more impartiality.

To do less is to undercut the entire aim of your "moral compass" and to send it wildly spinning..
posted by troutfishing at 8:50 PM on December 8, 2003


I have not become a Republican. I just listened to Gore endorse Dean. With the exact same platform, without a bizarre hatred of Bush foreign policy, I might vote for the huy (Dean). But I just reject the notion, apparently endorsed by most liberals, that war is never necessary.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:53 AM on December 9, 2003


(guy)
posted by ParisParamus at 5:54 AM on December 9, 2003


That's not true, Paris...war is necessary when we are at stake, not because someone hates Saddam, or wants to remake the world or parts of it as a democracy. Many of us were for going into Afghanistan and destroying Osama and his pals (who actually attacked us), and detest that it was left to rot for Iraq.

I just reject the notion, apparently endorsed by most on the right, that war is always necessary.
posted by amberglow at 6:01 AM on December 9, 2003


Susan Sontag speaks out about Bush and Iraq

amberglow, that was kind of my point. There's hypocricy at work, even with Sontag herself.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:38 AM on December 9, 2003


But I just reject the notion, apparently endorsed by most liberals, that war is never necessary.

Yeah, especially FDR and Truman. You do, however, embrace the notion, apparently endorsed by many Republicans, that one must constantly assert their war-making credentials. The same sort of endemic denial that still won't allow people to admit that Vietnam was unnecessary. Here's a hint: if we lose a war and then proceed to embark on several decades of unprecedented prosperity, it wasn't necessary.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:50 AM on December 9, 2003


Here's a hint: if we lose a war and then proceed to embark on several decades of unprecedented prosperity, it wasn't necessary.

That's true, if you ignore the oil crisis of the 70's and the recession(s) of the 80's.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:57 AM on December 9, 2003


BTW, I'm not a fan of Reagan, so let's not argue about the massive budget deficits, etc...to prove the point regarding who caused the recession.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:59 AM on December 9, 2003


amberglow, that was kind of my point. There's hypocricy at work, even with Sontag herself.

I'll be damned if I see a significant distinction here (other than the fact that the President then was Clinton, and now it's Bush):

No significant distinction except who the president was. Of course. Because the Balkans were exactly like Iraq, in that an active civil war was currently being engaged, NATO had a united organized plan on military involvement in the region, a military campaign was enacted that in the first engagement led to not a single American casualty, and the American commanders were welcomed by the idiginous residents. (Christ! I OPPOSED the Kosovo war, and I'm amazed at how quickly I managed to come up with these! Failing at credibility in being rhetorical is a bitch, isn't it?) Our military resources hadn't been exhausted following a war in a different country only a few months earlier, though not a crucial issue considering the mutual NATO-led organizational control of the region, and the deposed leader, following his surender, was swiftly captured and is now being tried in the Hague, the process strenghtened by the international coopoeration following the military operation, much to the joy of residents of the liberated region, who aren't murdering Americans at a rate of about two or three daily.

We'll, I'll be damned myself. That's exactly like what's happening in Iraq, so OBVIOUSLY, the only reason someone like Sontag, or any of "the liberals" could be against the war is that now there's a Republican president! But... but... the UN opposed both wars! Well that's good enough for me! Those hyprocrites! There's NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WARS WHATSOEVER!

Curse that bitch Sontag, curse her to hell. How dare she analyze something. Thank you, again, for pointing out which side is thinking with the unwavering, single-thought mentality.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:42 PM on December 9, 2003


Because the Balkans were exactly like Iraq, in that an active civil war was currently being engaged, NATO had a united organized plan on military involvement in the region, a military campaign was enacted that in the first engagement led to not a single American casualty, and the American commanders were welcomed by the idiginous residents. (Christ! I OPPOSED the Kosovo war, and I'm amazed at how quickly I managed to come up with these! Failing at credibility in being rhetorical is a bitch, isn't it?) Our military resources hadn't been exhausted following a war in a different country only a few months earlier, though not a crucial issue considering the mutual NATO-led organizational control of the region, and the deposed leader, following his surender, was swiftly captured and is now being tried in the Hague, the process strenghtened by the international coopoeration following the military operation, much to the joy of residents of the liberated region, who aren't murdering Americans at a rate of about two or three daily.

Oh, are those the reasons Sontag supported the Balkans war? I thought her support was based on humanitarian reasons. I guess I was mistaken.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:03 AM on December 10, 2003


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