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December 31, 2003 12:01 AM   Subscribe

An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror by David Frum and Richard Perle. Firing the opening shot in a bid to set the agenda for a second Bush presidential term, Frum and Perle have issued a manifesto advocating a comprehensive expansion of the Bush Doctrine. [more inside]
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly (161 comments total)
 
From the "bookjacket":

Perle and Frum lay out a bold program to defend America--and to win the war on terror. Among the topics this book addresses:

--why the United States risks its security if it submits to the authority of the United Nations
--why France and Saudi Arabia have to be treated as adversaries, not allies, in the war on terror
--why the United States must take decisive action against Iran--now
--what to do in North Korea if negotiations fail
--why everything you read in the newspapers about the Israeli-Arab dispute is wrong
--how our government must be changed if we are to fight the war on terror to victory--not just stalemate
--where the next great terror threat is coming from--and what we can do to protect ourselves

An End to Evil will define the conservative point of view on foreign policy for a new generation--and shape the agenda for the 2004 presidential-election year and beyond. With a keen insiders' perspective on how our leaders are confronting--or not confronting--the war on terrorism, David Frum and Richard Perle make a convincing argument for why the toughest line is the safest line.

posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:06 AM on December 31, 2003


After the amazing success Iraq turned out to be I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to goto war with half the world with an over-extended military funded by a country that is 500 or billion in the red. Neocon optimism is a scary thing indeed.
posted by skallas at 12:17 AM on December 31, 2003


David Frum and Richard Perle make a convincing argument for why the toughest line is the safest line.

Yeah--them and whose army?
posted by y2karl at 12:33 AM on December 31, 2003


Finally! An end to "terror." Can they next please wage war on nausea. I'm feeling that pretty much round the clock.
posted by squirrel at 12:34 AM on December 31, 2003


madness.
+
power
=
???

These guys are a real and credible threat to security of the planet. Please, somebody, anybody, do something!

(I suggest voting, not violence...)
posted by hoskala at 12:41 AM on December 31, 2003


madness.
+
power
=

...
PROFIT!
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 12:48 AM on December 31, 2003


I'm actually really glad to hear this. This will rip the republican party in half. The hawks against the actual conservatives. Whether or not Bush decides to go on with this, well, kill-crazy global rampage, he is bound to lose face with some of his current followers--either for being too dovey or too hawkey. And any voter cooled toward Bush is a another ray of hope for an end to this madness in November. More weight, Pearle!
posted by squirrel at 12:51 AM on December 31, 2003


David Frum and Richard Perle make a convincing argument for why the toughest line is the safest line.

everybody all together, now!

"HOW CONVINCING WAS IT?"
posted by quonsar at 3:37 AM on December 31, 2003


Such steps, with luck, will prompt China to oust its nominal ally, Kim Jong-il, and install a saner regime in North Korea, the authors write.

Hope is not a plan.
posted by anewc2 at 4:14 AM on December 31, 2003


I'll look at the book, but when a poster begins with the premise that Iraq is not a significant success...my word, how detached from reality are you! Unbelievable.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:22 AM on December 31, 2003


Everybody, all together:

GROW UP; RESOLVE YOUR PERSONAL AUTHORITY ISSUES; AND START PROPOSING SOME POLITICAL SOLUTIONS WHICH DON'T SHOUT "COLLEGE SOPHOMORE.

Got it?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:25 AM on December 31, 2003


Got it?

So, now we know, FreedomParamus is really George Will.


An End to Evil will define the conservative point of view on foreign policy for a new generation

Neocon Likudniks are NOT conservative. They're crazy and that is the only definition they will have for a new generation.
BTW, I didn't see Ariel Sharon listed as an author. And will the book discuss the apartheid wall being built in Israel with US taxpayer dollars? Inquiring minds want to know.
posted by nofundy at 4:44 AM on December 31, 2003


I'm interested in finding out just what their suggestions are for "changing" the government. I have a feeling it involves taking it away from large assemblies of debate (such as Congress) and giving it to one supreme commander (surrounded by hand-picked, unelected advisors). That sounds awfully familiar to me.

No, not that one. More like the Roman Republic transforming itself into the Roman Empire. That's a far more appropriate comparison. Far too appropriate, if you ask me.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:48 AM on December 31, 2003


The Roman Empire? Maybe, but without the empire, and without all the bad stuff.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:57 AM on December 31, 2003


(Actually, not totally true: I'm not sure substituting various reality shows for gladiators is much of an improvement...)
posted by ParisParamus at 5:02 AM on December 31, 2003


>>GROW UP; RESOLVE YOUR PERSONAL AUTHORITY ISSUES; AND START PROPOSING SOME POLITICAL SOLUTIONS WHICH DON'T SHOUT "COLLEGE SOPHOMORE.

At the risk of being accused of attacking the arguer rather than the argument, at the chance of having my well-thought-out and if arguable nonetheless strongly-felt beliefs about the balance between what is right and what is merely expedient held up for ridicule, at the outside hazard of sounding like a ranting ninny as opposed to an amused if involved arguer with a rogueish glint in his eye, I am compelled to say :


....


(ah fuck it, ParisParamus isn't worth the bile. [Delete] and carry on. You make yourself more of a joke with everything you write, PP. No help (or, god forbid, rebuttal) is required from me.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:10 AM on December 31, 2003


Rebuttal is required. The arrogance of the Left...
posted by ParisParamus at 5:30 AM on December 31, 2003


It's really cute when Paris gets so excited that he posts replies to himself.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:51 AM on December 31, 2003


Oh, I think Perle and Frum's ideas are great. 'Course, to implement them we're going to have to reinstitute the draft - not enough soldiers in the armed forces now to police the world in this manner, of course. And sure, it will cost tens of billions of dollars. And the treatment of France as an adversary may well mean making adversaries out of the rest of "old Europe" and Russia as well. Maybe even Great Britain.

But look at the alternative - more terror attacks! Maybe!

Howard Dean ought to be bringing this up at each and every campaign stop.
posted by kgasmart at 6:24 AM on December 31, 2003


Nothing in Washington is as it appears.
Several hypotheticals:
1) What if the book was solicited, to send a message to a foreign power(s)?
2) What if the book was solicited, to send a message to the democratic party or parts of the government?
3) Never assume people with the same boss (Powell, Pearl) are automatically at odds with each other. Suspect "good cop"/"bad cop".
4) Why talk peace when war has given several desirable outcomes (in the broad sense)?
5) The book *had* to be vetted by the security services and they apparently found it "nihil obstat." In other words, nothing they said impressed the CIA and others as endangering national security. Hmm.
6) Could this be one corner of an effort to create a "foreign policy triangulation?", that is, a carrot and stick approach to the rest of the increasingly small uncooperative world.
posted by kablam at 6:46 AM on December 31, 2003


David Frum's December 14th blog entry (at The National Review Online) is interesting :

"My take on the capture of Saddam will appear in tomorrow’s National Post.....For now, let’s say that while the President’s opponents have made much sport of the idea that God called George Bush to the presidency, it’s becoming increasingy difficult to doubt that God wants President Bush re-elected"

God wants Bush to be re-elected.......Now some might believe this. OK. What's bizzare to me is NOT the fact that Frum holds this view. No - what looks to me like a sign of delusional thinking is that Frum is so bluntly open about it. He's very cagey in terms of the other ways he rhetorically advances the Bush agenda. But the fact that God is on George W. Bush's side is so manifestly obvious to Frum that he feels quite safe in shouting out this obvious truth from the mountaintop over at NRO.

This is yet another demonstration of how the benzene tinged fumes of power that waft from the corridors of power in DC gradually rot the minds and judgement of spiders such as Perle and Frum as they spin away at the American Enterprise Institute and other such lairs, constructing towering webs of rhetorical vision designed to advance an American neo-empire, garner immense profits for their military industrial complex cronies, support the Israeli hard right, and bring on the millenarian apocalypse of American fundamentalist wet dreams.


posted by troutfishing at 6:46 AM on December 31, 2003


Very interesting post, Ignatius. I was just now talking to a colleague about the next developments regarding the war on terror. Some of the book's premises seem a bit too cut and dried and populist (France=Saudi Arabia???), but it will help to bring the war on terror back to its proper context, i.e., that of the historical struggle against barbarism.
posted by 111 at 6:48 AM on December 31, 2003


Ah, I think Frum's kidding, and that doesn't bother me.

What does bother me is that I can see this happening. Syria at the very least. In Iran, the earthquake may do as much to topple that regime as anything else, now that the degree to which that country if fucked and the mullahs powerless to do anything for anyone is evident to even the most radical Islamists.

But hell, we've already laid the groundwork for an invasion of Syria, with the Syria Accountability Act and recent stories about how Syria appeared to be Iraq's main source for illicit arms.
posted by kgasmart at 6:55 AM on December 31, 2003


A minute, please. This is a discussion about a book. What matters finally is whether or not Cheney tells Bush to do what these hawks suggest. I would like now to hear what those so against the hawkish line propose to do about what clearly is a growing terror threat throughout the world. That too would simply be "suggestions." till enacted by those in place. As for the size of our military. You will have to wait till a week or so after the election is over.
posted by Postroad at 6:58 AM on December 31, 2003


I would like now to hear what those so against the hawkish line propose to do about what clearly is a growing terror threat throughout the world

See, right off the bat I'm going to quarrel with the way you're framing this debate.

First, prove that the terror threat is "clearly growing." It seems to be taken on faith amongst those on the right that the terror threat is exponentially building, and that through our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, we have definitively forestalled additional attacks. Prove it.

That a bunch of lunatics on 9/11 were able to succeed with the most spectacular terror attack in history does not in fact prove that the terror threat is any greater now than it ever has been. In fact, what it proved was that we were vulnerable to this sort of attack all along, and merely did nothing to protect ourselves from it.

Further, even if we are to establish that there is a greater threat of terror attacks now than ever before, how much of that is specifically linked to our new preemptive policy? Some 400 Americans are dead in Iraq, which we've chosen to define as a front in the war on terror; would 400 Americans have been killed by terror acts in the past year had we not gone in there?

Conservatives are taking this as a matter of faith, but I don't see how it's possible to do this.

Second, my "suggestion" would have been to spend the $87 billion on additional safeguards here at home. Greater airline and port security, that sort of thing. Of course additional money has been spent on such safeguards since 9/11; but if the resources made available for war were made available for this, you can make a clear case that Americans on the whole would be safer than we have been as a result of our new strategy of preemption.

And beyond that, I find it ludicrious that consevatives seem to believe that we can somehow wipe terror from the face of the earth. How many nations have been plagued by terror throughout history? We are going to do now what no other nation has ever been able to do?

And the idea that we may accomplish this through sheer force of will and military might, the rest of the world's objections literally be damned, seems to me to be the single most dangerous path we might take.
posted by kgasmart at 7:14 AM on December 31, 2003


GROW UP; RESOLVE YOUR PERSONAL AUTHORITY ISSUES; AND START PROPOSING SOME POLITICAL SOLUTIONS WHICH DON'T SHOUT "COLLEGE SOPHOMORE.

Grow up, resolve you're typing issues and let the shift key be free from the oppression of your flat thumb.
posted by jonmc at 7:14 AM on December 31, 2003


Meanwhile - back in Kablam's land of rational discourse - I agree with some of your points, K. But what of the fact that the neocons telegraphed their intent several years ahead of it's implementation (In "Rebuilding America's Defenses.....") ? "while Iraq provides the immediate pretext, Iran may constitute the larger threat...." (from "Rebuilding.."). This necocon grand vision, laid out at the Project For a New American century, has not changed.

Now, perhaps the Neocons - Perle, Frum, et al., have perfectly anticipated how the many actors on the world stage will react to these thundering blasts of intent. Perhaps the Neocons think they have it all precisely gamed out. If so, they are bigger fools than I've taken them for, but I strongly suspect that they are just making it up as they go along. The lack of planning, on the part of the Bush Administration, for the all too predictable realities that the US troops invading Iraq would encounter on the ground seems to support this hypothesis.

As they play with they world with such experimental glee, these neocons are like adolescent boys with chemistry sets (the old style which used to come with all sorts of exciting chemicals) randomly combining elements, setting off explosions, releasing clouds of toxic gasses.... They are boys with toys, but it's time now to send them to their rooms without supper, so the adults clean up all the dangerous messes they have left in their wake.

111 - The problem I see with the notion of the "struggle against barbarism" is that it is all of a piece with the Bush Administration's "War on Evil" and "Good vs. Evil" themes. Such simplistic manichean outlooks tend to cause distortions in judgement which lead down the primrose path to the methods of the Inquisition, to bloody crusades, and to wider war. Self professed crusaders against evil quite often wind up, in their righteous zeal, assuming the mask of the demonic - as the methods by which they would 'cleanse' the world come to resemble those of their 'evil' foes, or worse.

Only God can parse the world into good and evil. But neither Mr. Perle or Mr. Frum are as gods. All too human, they are - although strangely unaware of this fact.
posted by troutfishing at 7:22 AM on December 31, 2003


what kgasmart said so well--there's always been terror and terrorists--and none of them in this or the past century were iraqi, btw. If we truly want to stop terrorist attacks, we protect ourselves at home and at entry points and vulnerable areas without trampling on the constitution, and work internationally--and peacefully--to raise hopes and freedoms around the world, lessening the population of angry, frustrated young people who might otherwise be willing to join a terrorist group and die for their cause. Starting wars against people who did nothing to us only makes the problem worse, and raises recruitment for terrorist groups a hundredfold.
posted by amberglow at 7:23 AM on December 31, 2003


If Bush is reelected - prepare for global war.

Blood on the chops is money in the bag.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:30 AM on December 31, 2003


This book sounds like a dangerous pile of hubris, but in fairness to Frum, I must admit that I did enjoy How We Got Here. His neo-con point of view shows, but he still makes some interesting points.

But this sounds just plain clueless. I was as angry about 9/11 as any human possibly could be and I despise terrorism of any sort, and I believe the military has a role in bringing those behind it to justice. But, as amberglow said, attacking Iraq (run by a despicable man, but not the man behind 9/11), one causes needless sufferring for both the Iraqi people and American GI's and two, increases anti-American sentiment and actually helps terrorists.

Believe me, I understand the anger of some of the hawks and on some level share it, but there's a time to use your head and this is it.
posted by jonmc at 7:33 AM on December 31, 2003


"...the cavalry charged, and the indians fell. The cavalry charged, and the indians died. The country was young then, with God on it's side." - Bob Dylan

Over 30 years ago, Dylan wrote what has become America's new national anthem, enshrined shortly after September 11th.

"With God on their side...."
posted by troutfishing at 7:46 AM on December 31, 2003


trout, wasn't 9/11 enough as a reminder of the true nature of fundamentalism? How long will liberals be satisfied with calling Osama Bin Laden a "militant"? Saddam and the other psychopaths from the Middle East are not human beings defending a cause; these are evil maniacs who sacrifice their kids' lives and use chemical weapons against their own people for the sake of some irrational cause.

If you renounce the use of your own faculties and common sense, this kind of dumb relativism ends up destroying you. So it's not Bush's war at all. We may not be entirely good, but islamic terrorists are verifiably, transparently evil. Appeasement against fanatical hate does not work.

ps: also beware of people who try to dismiss books without reading them. Those are likely to be the same naive folk who consider Michael Moore and Al Franken non-partisan, even-handed authors.
posted by 111 at 7:50 AM on December 31, 2003


ps: also beware of people who try to dismiss books without reading them.

Ummmm.... right.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:03 AM on December 31, 2003


I wish Frum would go back to Canada and quit meddling.

On preview I wonder if troutfishing will deem it worth his time to do his usual thorough refutation of 111's comments ... stuff I can't wait to read.
posted by nofundy at 8:10 AM on December 31, 2003


XQUZ, except for Frazer ( from whom I read only the Golden Bough's first volume), I read all of those people thank God. Not everybody is semiliterate, you know.
posted by 111 at 8:10 AM on December 31, 2003


"With God on their side...."

And the terrorists say, "With Allah on our side...."
posted by WLW at 8:13 AM on December 31, 2003


Iraq is not a significant success...my word, how detached from reality are you! Unbelievable.

yoh. paris. remember Afghanistan? when our buddies the mujhadeen chased the soviet occupiers out?.. that turned into a real nice success story for the US. or let me try another one on for size: Chile, when we backed (in fact assisted) the ouster of democratically elected president Allende... and thousands upon thousands were subsequently dirtnapped by our man pinochet. just a couple great examples of our past "successes" brought to you by people like bush, bush sr., kissinger, rumsfeld, perle... etc.
posted by specialk420 at 8:18 AM on December 31, 2003


I love the presumptiveness of the title. Unfortunately, I think that even killing all the terrorists *and* Richard Perle will not put "an end to evil".
posted by Slothrup at 8:34 AM on December 31, 2003


troutfishing: a small logical error. While the neocons may be "making it up as they go along," or holding to the PNAC grand plan, it doesn't make sense that they do both.

Never assume, or say as much, that your enemies are fools; it is far better to assume they are evil geniuses.

Once again, my darkest suspicion is "What is the purpose of this book?" I doubt it is money, to convert the converted or to inflame their enemies. Even the Telegraph saw an ulterior motive to it, the upcoming election. But I suspect something more. What, exactly, I'm not sure.

The PNAC people are not ashamed of their beliefs. Their website still names their leaders. And yet, Bush is intensely private about the "inner workings" that surround him, and his "strategery", as is Dick Cheney, a listed PNAC member.

The bottom line is that there are some glaring inconsistencies here. Paradoxes. The only reason to maintain airtight security for a year, then cheeky openness for a minute is deception. And clever deception, cunning and guile are not hallmarks of the stupid.

More and more I suspect that the PNAC grand plan is, and has always been the strategy; that more than anything else, unexpected success alone has caught them unawares. That they will not be satisfied until they have crushed every major national threat and "reduced" if not annihilated threatening cultural or religious movements.
posted by kablam at 8:40 AM on December 31, 2003


Such steps, with luck, will prompt China to oust its nominal ally, Kim Jong-il, and install a saner regime in North Korea, the authors write.

Read that quote again. Then try to reconcile the notion of American neo-Conservatives actively hoping that still-Communist China will reach into North Korea to install a leader of their own choosing. I tried, but it hurt my brain too much.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:47 AM on December 31, 2003


Perhaps Neocon plans are already underway, and they just threw a whopper at Iran with their new Earthquake Machine.
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:02 AM on December 31, 2003


I just started digging into Jessica Stern's "Terror in the Name of God" - In which she explores the idea that defeating terrorism requires understanding why and where it came from. So far an excellent but chilling read. Why am i guessing perle and frum "book" does very little on this front?
posted by specialk420 at 9:08 AM on December 31, 2003


His predictions are coming true.
posted by rocketman at 9:15 AM on December 31, 2003


I'd also point out that some of the ideas postulated in the Telegraph's summary - if truly in the book - are not so radical.

Wealthy Saudis funding extremist terrorist groups? I think we could all agree this is true.

France seeking a way to offset American dominance? This is also generally true.

While I don't think the issue with the French is necessarily a problem that needs solving, and the proposed solution to Saudi Arabia is questionable at best, I can agree with their initial analysis.
posted by rocketman at 9:22 AM on December 31, 2003


"but when a poster begins with the premise that Iraq is not a significant success..."

Financially, militarily, and diplomatically the Iraq war has been a dismal failure.

While it may lead to a better life for some Iraqis (which still is in doubt) it has made things worse for the U.S. Iraq was once a terrorist free zone, but it's now a flash point for new recruiting. The coalition we need to effectively fight terrorism has been gutted by the "with us or against us" arrogance that led up to the war. And the poor planning has caused the costs of the war to spiral out of control. Hatred for the U.S. increases. Former allies openly belittle us. War related debt is causing the value of the dollar to plummet.

Next you'll be telling us Vietnam was a significant success.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:53 AM on December 31, 2003


I'll look at the book, but when a poster begins with the premise that Iraq is not a significant success...my word, how detached from reality are you!

Iraqi Kurdish claim for federalism

To sum up, we are extremely attached to preserving the Kurdish-Arab brotherhood and would be satisfied to keep the common values between them as a principle objective. The future situation of Iraq necessitates the participation of Kurds and Arabs in it in the form of a voluntary coexistence between them, which would take into consideration the particular nature of the people of Kurdistan. The imposition of an unacceptable formula on the Kurdish people should not be thought about in any form or shape, because it would certainly lead to undesired consequences. We would not want the Kurds to resort to other choices.

Mas'ud Barzani

Two Killed in Protests in Iraq City of Kirkuk

At least two people were killed and 10 wounded by gunfire in Iraq's ethnically split oil hub of Kirkuk Wednesday during protests over a Kurdish political bid for control of the city, officials said...

Kurds on Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council are proposing that a future, federal Iraqi government grant broad autonomy to the northern zone, with Kirkuk as its capital, and a say over other areas with large Kurdish populations.

That plan is bitterly opposed by Turkmens and Arabs in Kirkuk, some 20,000 of whom took to the streets Wednesday, chanting "No to federalism! Kirkuk is Iraqi!."


The jury would seem to be out: incipient civil war is not a significant success.
posted by y2karl at 9:55 AM on December 31, 2003


The john titor link was cool rocketman. thanks.
posted by nofundy at 10:01 AM on December 31, 2003


when a poster begins with the premise that Iraq is not a significant success...my word, how detached from reality are you

I would consider anyone who would call Iraq a "significant success" to be, at the very least, premature.
posted by wsg at 10:04 AM on December 31, 2003


The World to America says: "Please rein in your government, for the sake of us all!"
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 AM on December 31, 2003


Saddam and the other psychopaths from the Middle East are not human beings...

Thank you, 111, for relieving us of the need to ever again seriously consider your posts.
posted by squirrel at 10:19 AM on December 31, 2003


trout, wasn't 9/11 enough as a reminder of the true nature of fundamentalism?

No, it's a reminder of the true nature of terrorism -- and the importance of having a competent government focused on serving rather than plunder.

Saddam and the other psychopaths from the Middle East are not human beings defending a cause; these are evil maniacs who sacrifice their kids' lives and use chemical weapons against their own people for the sake of some irrational cause.

That was as true when we supported them as it was when we changed our minds and decided we didn't like them any more. To claim that we went after Saddam because of his despotism and butchery is belied by the fact that we at best ignored and at worst, condoned it, until he invaded an equally backward and unenlightened neigbor who happened to have a lot of oil.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:21 AM on December 31, 2003


I'm with nofundy. That John Titor link was fantastic, rocketman.
posted by stevis at 10:36 AM on December 31, 2003




--how our government must be changed if we are to fight the war on terror to victory--not just stalemate

Step 1: Toss out that danged ole Bill of Rights that keeps getting in the way.

Saddam and the other psychopaths from the Middle East are not human beings...

Um, okaaaay... :::backs away slowly:::
posted by rushmc at 10:48 AM on December 31, 2003


y2karl: a few years ago, I would have agreed about your assessment of the Kurds. Trouble in every nation they live, they violently cling to the dream of Kurdistan.
However, in the last few years, suddenly the Iraqi Kurds put forth some very educated and erudite spokesmen as leaders--men who understand and appreciate finesse in achieving goals--and have communicated that to the US.

For example, in the current situation, they understand that to partition Iraq would be a losing deal for them, resulting in violent civil war. However, a "federalist" "semi-autonomous" North Iraq would give them everything they want, save the name Kurdistan. It would be a de facto Kurdish state, and with oil, a reasonably wealthy one.

The Turkmen and Arabs, recent arrivals up North, are really intruders. Put there by Saddam in homes stolen from Kurds, they are the odd men out in the equation. The best they can hope for is, in the above federalist state, that the national constitution guarantees them equal civil rights with the Kurds--and is enforced by the federal Iraqi government. The odds of this happening are small. But otherwise they are a tiny minority in that region.

An interesting note will be if the Kurds can pull it off. Because Turkey and Iran will have populations that either want to leave and go to Iraq, will want to secede, or will want very close relations with their border neighbor; things neither Turkey or Iran want.
posted by kablam at 10:50 AM on December 31, 2003


Out of all this, the most frightening thought, is that there are people out there like 111 who really believe all this good versus evil crap. Once you have that kind of justification, there's really nothing to stop you. The Bush administration is capable of so much worse than we've already seen. Beware.
posted by Outlawyr at 11:26 AM on December 31, 2003


Shear madness and pure evil.
posted by Bag Man at 11:50 AM on December 31, 2003


Out of all this, the most frightening thought, is that there are people out there like 111 who really believe all this good versus evil crap.

Clearly, not every Arab/Muslim/Middle Easterner is evil, and to paint with too broad a brush is to obfuscate.

That being said, I am startled by the contrast between the voluntary contributions to the Iranian earthquake group(s) and the cheering and jubilation in the streets of Palestine at the death of thousands of civilians at the hands of the 9/11 hijackers.

Do you think that celebrating the slaughter of civilians is not an act of an evil person or culture? Do you think the way women in many fundamentalist nations are treated isn't symptomatic of evil? What about genocide? Think that's evil?

Because I do. It's no less evil than slavery, or Japanese Internment camps, or the horrors fosted upon the Native Americans.

But there's a difference. I think an overwhelming majority of Westerners see the evils of our predecessors for what they are. I'm not convinced that the majority of Middle Easterners feel the same way about their (substantially more recent) transgressions. I could be convinced otherwise (troutfishing? y2karl?), but until then, "those guys" are more evil than "our guys".
posted by trharlan at 11:58 AM on December 31, 2003


the cheering and jubilation in the streets of Palestine

You mean the video which showed about ten to twenty people (while dozens more passed by in the background) celebrating? What about the candlelight vigils in Palestine the next few days after the tragedy? It's really not so simple as you would like it to be. An "evil" culture exists, but it has no national base, it is worldwide. Yes there are those who gave to the Iranian victims, but in my own office here in the "not evil" lands, I heard a few jokes already about the plight of those poor people. Not exactly jubilation, more along the lines of "they deserved it for being backwards and primitive".

It's no less evil than slavery, or Japanese Internment camps, or the horrors fosted upon the Native Americans.

To bring your point full-circle, do you think the treatment of the Palestinians over the past 50 years (ethnic cleansing, internment, theft of property, state terror) is evil? And what of the nation that finances it and supports it? Do the majority of Americans feel this way?

It seems to me that evil is often in the eye of the beholder. Take the treatment of women-- what of the fact that murder, toture, sexual slavery, prostitution and rape of women is much more common in the liberated West than in the 'fundamentalist' East, where women are socially oppressed. Which is more evil? Again, evil is all around us, there is no national base. There is no "those guys" and "our guys". In my opinion at least.
posted by cell divide at 12:29 PM on December 31, 2003


Interesting point divide--except that the nature of consentual relationships is so much more primitive in the non-West that you're assertion is little more than a semantic one: more rapes in the West? Hardly.

There are those evil governments; and us.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:48 PM on December 31, 2003


There are those evil governments; and us.

But at what point did it become the responsibility of the United States to appoint itself arbiter of these things and traverse the globe toppling these evil governments? And to what end are we willing to go in order to accomplish this goal?

You can make a very good case that killing civilians with bombs that were dropped in a war that in large measures was sold to the American public on the basis of false pretexts isn't going to be found in the dictionary under "virtue." I wouldn't call it evil, but I see tremendous danger in annointing ourselves as this beacon of light in a dark world with the responsibility of enlightening the rest. That, my friend, is the ultimate manifestation of hubris.

I am not interested in a crusade. And if we're going to define this conflict in these terms, then that's exactly what it is.
posted by kgasmart at 12:55 PM on December 31, 2003


There is no such thing as "evil." Or the "dark side." Time to grow up and get a more sophisticated worldview for some people.
posted by rushmc at 1:23 PM on December 31, 2003


I read all of those people thank God. Not everybody is semiliterate, you know.

right. and you stand as proof that many people remain as enlightened as a slab of concrete despite the abilty to read.
posted by quonsar at 1:40 PM on December 31, 2003


Of tangential interest:

U.S. Diplomatic and Commercial Relationships with Iraq, 1980 - 2 August 1990

Arming Iraq: A Chronology of U.S. Involvement

It's hard to ignore that those who decry Saddam's use of poison gas against Iraqi civilians have been for the most part silent about his use of it against Iranian soldiers, which use the United States aided, abetted and covered up.
posted by y2karl at 2:09 PM on December 31, 2003


why everything you read in the newspapers about the Israeli-Arab dispute is wrong

How the hell do they know what I read? Is the Total Information Awareness program farther along than I thought?
posted by namespan at 3:24 PM on December 31, 2003


I can't believe that I payed $20 for this book, but I'm reading it now. The general childishness of the tone in the early parts is mind-blowing. Perle and Frum aim foremost to rhetorically moon anyone who disagreed with their Iraq policies.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:30 PM on December 31, 2003


It's hard to ignore that those who decry Saddam's use of poison gas against Iraqi civilians have been for the most part silent about his use of it against Iranian soldiers, which use the United States aided, abetted and covered up.

What does it matter now? Those could be Kurds, not Iranians for all you know. Regardless of what the US Gov't may have done in the past, It is a known fact that Saddam had used these weapons. Why does it make it wrong to do something about it now? It's going on 20 years since Reagon was in power, give it up.

Saddam was a strategic threat after 911. and he was dealt with. Iraq is and will continue to be a work in progress.

Japan wasn't turned around in under a year either, it took alot more than 10 years.
posted by WLW at 3:54 PM on December 31, 2003


There are those evil [people]; and [me].

posted by ParisParamus at 12:48 PM PST on December 31


This is, I think, how Paris thinks.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:16 PM on December 31, 2003


if your starting point in thinking about the entire world is the basic concept that Israel is, by definition, Good, then you will have to invent books, theories, doctrines, ideas, terminology, etc etc etc etc. to Make It So.
posted by chaz at 4:26 PM on December 31, 2003


Financially, militarily, and diplomatically the Iraq war has been a dismal failure.

But now that we are there, isn't it worth trying to make the place better for everyone?

If we concentrate on making Iraq and Afghanistan success stories, it might eliminate the need to pursue future conflict because it might give hope others in the area. I don't think that anyone can really predict what is going to happen next, but we have a chance now to do the right thing in these two countries. We need someone other than Bush at the helm (his track domestic record alone makes that clear), but I don't think it's entirely hopeless.

I'm trying to find the silver lining in all this mess. I've been against the war since the start, but Saddam is gone and there's a chance for a better Iraq. Maybe that should be the goal rather then trying to determine which nation is next on the list.
posted by john at 4:37 PM on December 31, 2003


Maybe that should be the goal rather then trying to determine which nation is next on the list.

Good idea. There's a ways to go in the last place, too.
posted by homunculus at 4:47 PM on December 31, 2003


Great points in this thread by many, including y2karl, cell divide and kgasmart.

john, I think it's important that the US continue to fail in Iraq. I have two reasons for this: principled and practical.

On principle, our nation-building failures in Iraq must send a message to future US administrations and other countries that the way we did this really, really doesn't work. From the lying and cover-ups to the cowboy bravado to the... well, everything. It sucks. This is to say nothing against our excellent military, whose expertise and might simply has been misused.

If, as you suggest, things take a turn for the better in Iraq without our withdrawal, I can promise you that in 5 years, all the fucked-up bullshit perpetrated by this administration will be glossed over and revised into heroism. Iraq will become a template, and we will see all this again.

Practically speaking, the sooner we stop shooting ourselves in the foot and shot ourselves in the leg, the sooner we get out of Iraq. Then the place can be recognized not as the central battle in the war on terror (for fuck's sake) but as a humanitarian tragedy that requires humanitarian aid, not military occupation. Iraq needs the help of the UN, and they're not going to get it as long as we're running the show.
posted by squirrel at 5:02 PM on December 31, 2003


squirrel: You have serious problems. What you just wrote goes beyond any kind of reasonable argument against war in general, or against the war in Iraq, or against Bush, or against the USA, almost to the point of aberrance.

First, you are deluded if you think that what the US is doing in Iraq is failing. The US, and the 90 nations helping it, are doing wonders not just for Iraq, but for the whole region. The war was a smashing success, that minimized the loss of life, even of enemy combatants, far beyond what any war has done, ever. Most of the nation is at peace, with repair and development happening at a staggering pace.
And even those towns in the Sunni Triangle opposed to the US have realized that they must be part of the new government if they are to have a prosperous future.
The US is so confident that it has stated a date on which it will shift authority over to the government of Iraq, elected or otherwise, and take a back seat to the restoration efforts. Such confidence!

Iraq is becoming a showpiece of freedom, prosperity, and civil liberty to dozens of nations in the middle east and Africa--a terrible blow to dictators who hate and fear what Iraq will soon represent, and who now live in fear that their own people will learn from Iraq's example and depose them and their corrupt systems.

And as to the swinish Franco-Germans and others who stood in support of the murderous tyrant, humiliation. Humiliation and shame at their cowardice, their greed and treachery, their lust to regain the spotlight as world powers. For they too were given a glaring example of what courage, honor and righteousness can do, even on its own. And they came away wanting. And slowly, even they are starting to realize their shame.

So while the number "50 million" is being bandied about, 50 million who if not yet entirely free, but are freed from Saddam and the Taliban; 50 million who now have a chance to be free; they, like eastern europe, will remember that the USA, and ONLY the USA, consistently stood up for them when everyone else would let them live in slavery.
NOT Europe, NOT Asia, NOT Africa, NOT South America, and NOT Canada or Mexico. And most especially NOT the UN.

So snivel about how the US isn't more like Europe, or isn't a good partner to the UN. How it isn't internationalist enough or Canadian enough or whatever. Maybe throw in a nice racist invective as to how those ignorant peasants just don't appreciate their dictators enough.

Maybe those ignorant peasants just don't appreciate your opinions enough.
posted by kablam at 5:46 PM on December 31, 2003


What squirrel wrote is the epitome of the fucked up rationale that a lot of anti-war leftists hold nowadays. Not only do they choose to gloss over any success that is a result of the war and over-emphasize the failures, they even go to the lengths of actively wishing that there will be further failure.

These are the kind of people that secretly laugh with glee every time a coaolition soldier dies, or an Iraqi complains about something about the occupation, and totally ignore the staggering progress that has been made in a short few months of time. It took decades to rebuild Japan, Germany. It took even longer for America itself to get to where it is now. Why should Iraq be instantly rebuilt overnight, and anything less is considered a failure?

Squirrel is the ultimate in cognitive dissonance. He started with the assumption that the war was bad, therefore anything that results from it must be bad. Any current events coming out of the occupation that resulted from the war must also be read as bad, and given the chance, he would do everything he can to jeopardize the current operation in order to make sure that anything that happens in the future of Iraq is bad as well.

And these are the same people who laughed when France and Germany are denied bids for the rebuilding project due to security risks? I am just beginning to understand how serious the adminstration was when it made that announcement.
posted by VeGiTo at 6:22 PM on December 31, 2003


If, as you suggest, things take a turn for the better in Iraq without our withdrawal, I can promise you that in 5 years, all the fucked-up bullshit perpetrated by this administration will be glossed over and revised into heroism. Iraq will become a template, and we will see all this again.

You can't be more contradictory, man. If "things take a turn for the better", the adminstration wouldn't be perpetrating "fucked-up bullshit", would it? Unless you defined "fucked-up bullshit" as anything that doesn't agree with your world view. I can only think of one thing that needs to be revised if Iraq turns out to be a success, and that's the "fucked-up bullshit" that is perpetrated in your head.

And what is wrong with using a successful operation as a template anyway?
posted by VeGiTo at 6:37 PM on December 31, 2003


if your starting point in thinking about the entire world is the basic concept that Israel is, by definition, Good

I don't know whether Israel is "good" or not, but they sure do a lot of bad things.
posted by rushmc at 6:39 PM on December 31, 2003


VeGiTo: The ends don't justify the means (not that the ends in this case will turn out to be predominantly positive, but even if they did). That's pretty basic stuff.
posted by rushmc at 6:41 PM on December 31, 2003


The ends always justify the means, if you account for all the side-effects resulting from the means, perform a postmortem cost/benefit analysis, and obtain a positive result.
posted by VeGiTo at 6:46 PM on December 31, 2003


Financially, militarily, and diplomatically the Iraq war has been a dismal failure.

Do you really wonder why the MetaFilter=Wacky-Raving-Left-Wing-Werewolf stereotype exists? Unbelievable.

It's no less evil than slavery, or Japanese Internment camps, or the horrors fosted upon the Native Americans.

First of all, slavery still exists and proliferates in many nations and cultures. The Greeks and Romans had slaves. Every advanced culture on earth at one time or another had slaves. Western democracies had the foresight and moral courage to *outlaw* slavery.

The Japanese "internment" camps were absolutely necessary during a time when countless thousands of Japanese Americans on the West Coast renounced their U.S. citizenship to support an antagonist and enemy regime which declared war on the United States. The camps also existed for the protection of patriotic Americans of Japanese descent, as well as anti-American sympathizers of German and Italian descent, but you don't hear much about those pro-totalitarian traitors these days.

If you renounce the use of your own faculties and common sense, this kind of dumb relativism ends up destroying you.

Exactly. Evil does exist not only in the manifestations of the rheumy, bloodshot eyes and conspiracy-sick flailings of bent Islamic fundamentalists, but also in the perverted ideations and guilty equivocations of the free, prosperous, evil Western enemy within.

Feel free to read more:

The Western Disease - Victor Davis Hanson
posted by hama7 at 6:48 PM on December 31, 2003


or the horrors fosted upon the Native Americans.

As to the "horrors" foisted (?) on American Indians; I cannot find a group of more patriotic and proud Americans. From the military men who fought at Iwo Jima, to the American Indian pundits, there are none better.
posted by hama7 at 8:17 PM on December 31, 2003


Iraq is becoming a showpiece of freedom, prosperity, and civil liberty to dozens of nations in the middle east and Africa--a terrible blow to dictators who hate and fear what Iraq will soon represent, and who now live in fear that their own people will learn from Iraq's example and depose them and their corrupt systems.

Dream on, 82nd Couchborne:

Flaws Showing in New Iraqi Forces

As the U.S.-led governing authority in Iraq attempts to build a security force of 220,000 in the next few months, the competing priorities of speed and thoroughness have prompted shortcuts in the recruiting and training process. The consequences are starting to become apparent.

According to investigations over the past four months by a newly formed internal affairs unit at the Interior Ministry, more than 200 Iraqi policemen in Baghdad have been dismissed and dozens of others have had their pay slashed for crimes ranging from pawning government equipment to extortion and kidnapping.

In addition, roughly 2,500 people on the payroll of the Facilities Protection Service, which guards government buildings, either do not exist or have not been showing up to work, investigators say. And a number of Border Patrol officers have been disciplined for accepting bribes in exchange for allowing people without proper identification to enter Iraq.


Attacks Force Retreat From Wide-Ranging Plans for Iraq

The United States has backed away from several of its more ambitious initiatives to transform Iraq's economy, political system and security forces as attacks on U.S. troops have escalated and the timetable for ending the civil occupation has accelerated.

Plans to privatize state-owned businesses -- a key part of a larger Bush administration goal to replace the socialist economy of deposed president Saddam Hussein with a free-market system -- have been dropped over the past few months. So too has a demand that Iraqis write a constitution before a transfer of sovereignty.

With the administration's plans tempered by time and threat, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, and his deputies are now focused on forging compromises with Iraqi leaders and combating a persistent insurgency in order to meet a July 1 deadline to transfer sovereignty to a provisional government.

"There's no question that many of the big-picture items have been pushed down the list or erased completely," said a senior U.S. official involved in Iraq's reconstruction, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Right now, everyone's attention is focused [on] doing what we need to do to hand over sovereignty by next summer."

The new approach, U.S. diplomats said, calls into question the prospects for initiatives touted by conservative strategists to fashion Iraq into a secular, pluralistic, market-driven nation. While the diplomats maintain those goals are still attainable, the senior official said, "ideology has become subordinate to the schedule."


Given the adminstrations' ambitons for 2004, the occupation has always been about force protection--we are cutting and running and calling it a victory. Th invasion to stop Saddam from giving weapons of mass destruction to the terrorists has been repainted as the glorious liberation of the Iraqi's from Saddam's yoke and, as they want us top get the hell out, we are getting the hell out. And declaring victory. So much for your freedom, prosperity, and civil liberty--Catching Saddam was the easy part. Now get ready for the Islamic Republic of Iraq, which will most likely come after civil war.
posted by y2karl at 8:22 PM on December 31, 2003


Well said, and superbly cited as usual, Y2K. hama7 and VeGiTo, your incomprehensibility speaks for itself. I don't know where you're coming from with talk of racism and my supposed glee every time a soldier dies. That kind of left-field ad hominem doesn't rise to the level of engaged retort. For the record, you couldn't be more wrong about how I feel. My brother is an active duty soldier, and I don't want him to fly into Richard Pearle's religeo-fantasmical meat grinder. Stick to talking about things you know almost nothing about.
posted by squirrel at 8:52 PM on December 31, 2003


but also in the perverted ideations and guilty equivocations of the free, prosperous, evil Western enemy within.

??? enemy within?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:02 PM on December 31, 2003


"But at what point did it become the responsibility of the United States to appoint itself arbiter of these things and traverse the globe toppling these evil governments? And to what end are we willing to go in order to accomplish this goal?"

I don't think we've decided to become the arbiter. What we've decided is that non-democratic societies give rise to groups which are threatened by democratic ones, and as the biggest and most powerful one, the US is going to become the target of such group's hatred. And the only possible solution is to force those non-democratic societies to change.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:08 PM on December 31, 2003


(and the weaponry now available to such groups makes it essential that we go further than we did before).

To not recognize this is to be in a supreme state of denial. And thankfully, most Americans have more sense than that.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:19 PM on December 31, 2003


??? enemy within?

I haven't made it to that point in the Frum/Perle book, but I'm pretty sure that they're about to argue that purging liberals from the culture is step 5 or whatever for winning the War on Some Terrorism.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:51 PM on December 31, 2003


"We wished that Saddam would leave without a war, but unfortunately this didn't happen," Dr. Moosawi said. "So we Iraqis came to a place where we said, 'We will have to sacrifice something to have our freedom,' and the war fought by the Americans was the price."

When American advance columns arrived in Baghdad on April 9, he said, and appeared on television assisting in the toppling of Mr. Hussein's statue in Firdos Square, there was joy among the Moosawis that there had not been since Mehdi disappeared.

"I went to my brother to congratulate him", he said, speaking of Salih, Mehdi's father. "It was like we were dreaming. There were tears and smiles. Everybody was laughing and crying."

But in the months since, the mood among the Moosawis has soured, and not only because of the bitterness of learning, after weeks of visiting virtually every secret police station in Iraq, and scanning lists of political prisoners posted on lampposts and trees, that Mehdi would not be coming back. The Americans, Dr. Moosawi said, have failed the high expectations of Iraqis and have sunk so low in popularity that most cannot wait to see them go home.

"It is freedom the Americans have given us, but it is not good freedom," he said. "Yes, we wanted freedom against dictatorship, truth against lies, education and progress instead of pushing the intelligentsia down. But what have we got? There is no law, we live in the dark without electricity, there are no police to stop the thieves, nobody to control the traffic, no gasoline.

"In those respects, we say, 'Things were better under Saddam.' "


An avuncular rumination from How Disappearance in '84 Blighted Family in Iraq--which is a story of the family of one of disappeared. It comes with three disturbing thumbnails taken from a videotape of Medhi's execution, so avert your eyes, do not click. I regret that I did. 1984 was when Saddam was still our bad guy, let it be noted in passing. And so who's our bad guy now? Whose crimes do we look away from now?
posted by y2karl at 9:55 PM on December 31, 2003


one of the disappeared, to be sure. Nnn, uh, tuh.
posted by y2karl at 10:01 PM on December 31, 2003


??? enemy within?

Revealed!
posted by homunculus at 10:03 PM on December 31, 2003


And the only possible solution is to force those non-democratic societies to change.

Yes, because the democratic ideal is all about forcing others who disagree with you to do what you want.

Such arrogance. Such mindblowing hubris.
posted by rushmc at 12:23 AM on January 1, 2004


Is that arrogance? On some level, yes. But no more so than saying murder or torture is wrong, or that education is better than ignorance and censorship.

The more salient question, rushmc, is what agenda leads you to make this comment? Do you want to live in Saudi Arabia? If you could wave a magic wand and make all those vile, coercive Mullahs vanish, would you not? Would you protest a US invasion of North Korea?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:44 AM on January 1, 2004


Iraq was a worse place pre-invasion than it is now. Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Korea, and China (as well as many other places) are odious places of oppression and ignorance. It's arrogant to say so? No, it's pathetic to have no principles, or a set of "principles" which say that there is no morality; everything and everyone is equally right, and that no one has the right to defend himself; or that one only has the right to defend himself at the point a gun, or a knife is, literally, inches, seconds away.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:49 AM on January 1, 2004


y2karl: yes, I too read that *one* article you cited, about how the US is giving up all its grand ideals, cutting and running. Please note that it is almost unique in its negativity, so much so I question its veracity. You'll note that quotes are taken solely from "unnamed" individuals.
Written by Jason Blair perhaps?

And your second citation, from an Iraqi, how old is that? He complains about a lack of electricity, a problem that has been solved for several months now, along with others he complained about, such as no police. Even his search for kin is no longer hunt-and-peck, as an Iraqi missing persons NGO has already compiled a huge list of the murdered and missing, added to daily with data scoured from the endless mass graves unearthed by the US.

Yes, if you hunt far and wide, you can still find things in Iraq that are so not like Canada. By January 1st, perhaps they are only up to the standards of Mexico; but all told, that isn't too bad a shape in the world today. But at their current pace, even six months down the road will leave Iraq in far better shape then any other country in the region, perhaps even including Israel.

Still not Canada, though.
posted by kablam at 5:52 AM on January 1, 2004


No, it's pathetic to have no principles, or a set of "principles" which say that there is no morality; everything and everyone is equally right,

You mean what the government schools are teaching the children is wrong?? But... I thought multiculturalism was real.. (*shudder*)



Guess what:

President Bush Discusses Progress in Iraq

Rumsfeld Touts Coalition Progress in Iraq

"Progress in Iraq"

Iraq Facts the Left Forgot.

L. Paul Bremer, Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator - Opening Remarks (this one is great) A sample:

Six months ago there were no functioning courts in Iraq.

-Today nearly all of Iraq’s 400 courts are functioning.

-Today, for the first time in over a generation, the Iraqi judiciary is fully independent.

Six months ago nearly all of Iraq’s schools were closed.

-Today all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools.

-Many of you know that we announced our plan to rehabilitate one thousand schools by the time school started—well, by October 1 we had actually rehabbed over 1,500.

Six months ago there was no freedom of expression. Satellite dishes were illegal. Foreign journalists came on 10-day visas and paid mandatory and extortionate fees to the Ministry of Information for “minders” and other government spies.

-Today there is no Ministry of Information.

-Today there are more than 170 newspapers.

-Today you can buy satellite dishes on what seems like every street corner.

-Today foreign journalists and everyone else are free to come and go.



No amount of whining or equivocation can undo the inexpressible good that has come to the Iraqi people.

As someone said, rather succinctly: “We will wage the war on terror until it is won.”
posted by hama7 at 6:34 AM on January 1, 2004


hama7, how about facts on employment, and freedom of movement, and elections?

And it's impossible to ever win the war on terror--a child knows that.
posted by amberglow at 7:52 AM on January 1, 2004


It's also impossible to win the war on crime, but New York is a pretty comfortable place these days.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:01 AM on January 1, 2004


No, it's pathetic to have no principles, or a set of "principles" which say that there is no morality; everything and everyone is equally right,

who said everything was equally right? that's dumb as hell.
posted by mcsweetie at 8:07 AM on January 1, 2004


Paris, no one has ever claimed we can totally win a war on crime, anywhere on earth (which is an imbecilic thing to say about anything bad), or here in New York. People fight crime and that's all they can do...there are always and will always be new criminals and new crimes, much like terrorists and attacks.
posted by amberglow at 8:10 AM on January 1, 2004


So why you're previous statement? You just proved my point.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:24 AM on January 1, 2004


There will always be terrorism? Fine: bring back 1960's level terrorism, and I'll be happy. And take out the governments of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and NK, and that's what you'll see.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:26 AM on January 1, 2004


Is that arrogance? On some level, yes. But no more so than saying murder or torture is wrong

The two things are not comparable at all. It was wrong when Saddam Hussein was murdering people in Iraq, and it would not have been arrogant to say so, though such condemnation was not heard ringing from the halls of our government's leaders. In fact, I would say that a moral person would have not only the right but the obligation to note the "wrongness" of such acts. But you see, when it comes to enforcing one's notion of right and wrong, there is the little matter of jurisdiction. It is one thing to say that the leader of another sovereign nation is violent and corrupt and should be replaced, and quite another to take it upon oneself to go and do it. Would you appreciate and support attempts by any other nation to do so in the United States?

The more salient question, rushmc, is what agenda leads you to make this comment?

The agenda of supporting the idea that any actions my government takes, in my name, should be not only be (arguably) pragmatic but morally defensible. Preemptive invasions of countries that do not pose a clear and immediate threat do not meet this criteria.

Just because you happen to find yourself the strongest kid on the playground does not entitle you to beat up the others to take their lunch money, no matter how you try to rationalize it.
posted by rushmc at 8:31 AM on January 1, 2004


I just made up a drinking game for this thread! everytime you see whats detailed at the end of this comment by y2karl happen here or in any link posted within this post, take a sip. take another sip everytime saddam is said to have been a threat to the US.
posted by mcsweetie at 8:59 AM on January 1, 2004


hama7, ParisParamus - Isn't the "Iraq is immeasurably better now than under Saddam" (or merely "Iraq is getting better") vs. "the Iraq is falling apart" (or rotting, festering, schisming, conflagrating, whatever) debate really a bit premature or even sort of theological at this point?

The overall picture will likely be far clearer eight or ten months from now and - besides - I hardly think that the US forces working towards reconstruction in Iraq are spending much time worrying about our chatter here on Metafilter - about Iraq, at any rate. I could be wrong.

I could point out that infant mortality rates in Iraq are about three times higher than in the pre-invasion days (I guess Saddam had a soft spot for babies?), but the obvious retorts would be - "Well, the reconstruction will soon deal with that problem", "That's the fault of the Iraqi terrorists anyway", and "Well - nothing's perfect. At least Saddam's not dissolving people in vats of acid any more." - All valid points, I suppose, to which I would then reply "Blah blah blah, blah. Blah!! Blah blah blah?"

You two might want to save your ammo until sometime between August and November. Between now and then, a lot could happen - for better or worse - both within and outside of Iraq.

Meanwhile, about that "War on Evil".........
posted by troutfishing at 9:48 AM on January 1, 2004


And your second citation, from an Iraqi, how old is that?

Um, December 31st of last year?

hama7 cites a variety of government sources. Ah, yes, I remember when victory in Vietnam was imminent--at least , according to the Pentagon briefings. Light at the end of the tunnel and all that.

-Today foreign journalists and everyone else are free to come and go.

Journalists Take Flak in Iraq

When US Central Command has good news to report in Iraq, as it did after troops from the Fourth Infantry Division captured Saddam Hussein on December 13, it adores the media. But journalists say that when there's bad news--a helicopter crash, a mortar attack--they are increasingly being blocked from covering the story by US soldiers, who frequently confiscate and destroy their film disks and videotapes.

This happened to Detroit Free Press photographer David Gilkey while covering the crash of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying thirty-six US soldiers, shot down near Fallujah on November 2. His film disk was erased by a soldier from the 82nd Airborne, who then forced Gilkey and other journalists on the scene to a site twenty miles away. "Listen, I have respect for these guys," Gilkey says of the soldiers. "I truly understand that they are upset, and angry, that they've lost friends. The point is, however, you don't have the right to take disks and clean them. When did that become standard operating procedure?"

Chip Somodevilla, a Knight Ridder photographer, was accompanying two Iraqi fishermen on their small boat in the Tigris River in Baghdad on December 9, when shots from a high-velocity rifle exploded in the water under the port bow of their twelve-foot craft.

"We looked in the direction from which it was fired--a mansion formerly belonging to Saddam Hussein's nephew--and noticed several men waving their arms in the air and shouting," Somodevilla e-mailed to his editors after the incident. He and the fishermen drove their boat toward the group of men. One of them turned out to be an American in civilian clothing who was carrying a high-velocity rifle outfitted with a silencer and scope.

"He asked who I was and what I was doing," the photographer said. The American, who appeared to be some sort of Special Operations paramilitary or intelligence official, "asked me to produce identification and then attempted to destroy my press credentials. He forcefully quizzed me about my assignment and then turned to an Iraqi standing nearby" to verify aspects of the photographer's story.

"After being shot at, I felt very threatened and swore to the man that I was an American and that I was on his side," Somodevilla said. "Yeah, John Walker [Lindh, the so-called American Taliban] made a lot of promises too," the American interrogator snapped back. "What have you done for your country?" He let Somodevilla go with the warning, "We're watching you."

"Our journalists in Iraq have been shoved to the ground, pushed out of the way, told to leave the scene of explosions; we've had camera disks and videotapes confiscated, reporters detained," says Sandy Johnson, Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press. On November 12 Johnson sent a letter to the Pentagon, signed by thirty other media companies, which cited their concern at "a growing number of incidents in Iraq in which journalists are harassed by U.S. troops in the course of covering the news."


Pentagon freezes Iraq funds amid corruption probes

The Pentagon has frozen new funds approved for Iraqi reconstruction amid growing allegations of corruption and cronyism associated with the rebuilding process.

Companies eager for a stake in the $18.6 billion in fresh postwar funds that Congress approved in November have been told not to expect requests for proposals from the Defense Department, the first step in the kind of ambitious redevelopment slated for the war-torn country. The freeze will almost certainly mean the United States will not issue new contracts until well after the initial Feb. 1 target date.

"We're on hold and we'll be on hold until we hear differently," Admiral David Nash, the director of the Pentagon's Iraq Program Management Office, yesterday told the Engineering News-Record, a construction trade journal. He gave no further details.

The Pentagon also announced last week it would postpone until early January a conference for companies interested in rebuilding Iraq, according to Robyn Powell of the National Defense Industrial Association, which coordinates meetings between industry and the military.

"I don't know why the conference has been canceled again," Powell told Reuters.

The Pentagon's decision to delay Iraqi reconstruction is another setback for a process already hobbled by political insecurity and, increasingly, concerns over corruption and misconduct. The success of the US-led bid to remake Iraq politically depends largely on efforts to reverse the country's chronic unemployment by repairing it economically. But lawmakers in Washington and businesspeople in Iraq say the bidding process lacks transparency and favors a growing class of monopolists and oligarchs that could overwhelm the country's infant regulatory framework.


Hmm, a growing class of monopolists and oligarchs. Where have we heard that before?

4 killed in blasts as Iraq probes coalition graft

Meanwhile, Iraq’s interim Trade Ministry is investigating alleged corruption of up to $40 million by members of the US-led coalition provisional authority and senior ministry officials, the minister said today. Ali Allawi told AFP that he discovered a month ago that a contract for wooden doors worth about $80 million had been manipulated.

‘‘I think a third of it was stolen,’’ he said, specifically estimating that ‘‘probably around 30, 40 million’’ disappeared. Allawi, who returned from his job as a London investment banker to take up his post in September, said a few ‘‘key individuals’’ were under investigation. The Coalition Provisional Authority could not immediately comment on the case. Allawi said Paul Bremer, who heads the CPA, has asked each ministry to appoint an inspector general.


We cannot afford to lose the peace

‘I said, "I thought you knew the plan." He said, "No, we thought you knew." It was like a Laurel and Hardy routine - "What happened to the plans?".’ Albert Cevallos

Planners in London automatically expected a refugee crisis, as there was in Afghanistan 2001. No-one anticipated the hotbed of insurgency which is post-war Iraq.

The brilliant execution of the war has been followed by disastrous prosecution of the peace. But no-one, it now emerges, gave serious thought to the occupation of Iraq. The crisis which British and American troops now find themselves in is a story of man-made incompetence.

On 1 May, President George Bush flew into Iraq behind a banner saying "mission accomplished" to declare the end to the Iraq war. After only 42 days, and minimal casualties on both sides, Saddam Hussein had fallen from power and the country was occupied.

At the same stage in 1945 - the fall of Berlin - a 400-page document was brought out showing the Allies exactly how to deal with the remnants of the Nazi regime and start converting Germany to democracy. But the Iraq conflict, brewing for a decade, had nothing of the sort.

After eight months of occupation, the truth has now emerged: there was a plan in Washington, drawn up by 200 exiled Iraqis and called the Future of Iraq project. But it was never read by the Pentagon, which suspected its authors of talking down the case for war by highlighting the expense of occupation.

Meanwhile, Britain, which has extensive colonial history, was in no fit psychological state to help. Tony Blair was so immersed in political woes that he was desperate not to plan for occupation lest he was seen making secret plans for war.

The plan for peace, and the work of US academics who warned of the need for troops, was discarded. Through investigations by the US media, and inquiries by The Scotsman in London, the full picture is now emerging of how victory turned so sour so soon.


So this is liberation? Women Under Siege

All the shades are drawn in Raba's house on a wide residential street in one of Baghdad's more affluent neighborhoods. Small daughters and nieces streak through a well-appointed living room, leaving giggles and shrieks in their wake, as their young mothers and aunts sip Pepsi from cans and make wry comments in the darkened space. None of these women leave this home, even so many months after the war came to its so-called end. And Raba, a usually spunky twentysomething, is afraid even to stand in her own doorway. "Before the war we were out until 2 o'clock in the morning all the time," she says. "Now I don't even bother to put on my shoes."

Millions of women have found themselves living under such de facto house arrest since the coalition forces claimed Baghdad in April. They have been forced into this situation by a menacing triple threat that has emerged since the war: First, Saddam Hussein threw open the doors to his prisons in October 2002, releasing criminals onto Iraq's tightly policed streets. Then came the fall of the regime and the concomitant crumbling of law enforcement. And now, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) is treating a growing human rights crisis for women as an extracurricular issue at best, leaving women at the mercy of thugs on the streets and the religious parties that have rushed into the political vacuum. Upwards of 400 women have been kidnapped in this city alone, according to various women's groups, and each horror story ripples with alacrity throughout each neighborhood. Raba's story is one of them. As she leans forward to fuss over a tiny niece, her auburn curls part to show a jagged line of black stitches that vertically bisect her scalp. "My wound from the war," she says with a sardonic laugh.

posted by y2karl at 10:05 AM on January 1, 2004


Saddam was a strategic threat after 911. and he was dealt with. Iraq is and will continue to be a work in progress.

Comedy Gold!
posted by y2karl at 10:07 AM on January 1, 2004


Would I appreciate a US invasion? No. But there's no Saddam Hussein or other dictator resident here. If there was, yes. invade-away. But there you go with moral equivalency.

I still think the root of your point of view is distrust of the United States/Bush Administration. Which would be fine, if such weren't outweighed by the horrors of a Hussein, or Assad, etc.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:13 AM on January 1, 2004


Infant mortality rates now higher? That's not impossible, but what's your source for that?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:30 AM on January 1, 2004


I still think the root of your point of view is distrust of the United States/Bush Administration. Which would be fine, if such weren't outweighed by the horrors of a Hussein, or Assad, etc.

in other words, you have been scared into submission?
posted by mcsweetie at 10:30 AM on January 1, 2004


well great, mcscheweetie, I'm shrimply plashtered now...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 AM on January 1, 2004


Operation Hearts and Minds

A more accurate measure of reality in Iraq is the color-coded road system. Roads and highways in Iraq are classified by the U.S. military as green (safe), yellow (dangerous; no travel at night) and red (closed to military traffic). There are no green routes left except in the far north; all other routes are usually yellow and occasionally red. Route 1, the road north out of Baghdad, is routinely red. (Latest joke: What does the front desk ask you when you check into the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad? Which side of the hotel do you want: the bullet side or the rocket side?)...

The precautions and Iron Hammer have combined to reduce casualties, from about four dead GIs a day in November to roughly one a day in December. At the same time, however, the soldiers are not exactly out there winning hearts and minds. "The Americans just care about protecting themselves" has become a common Iraqi complaint. The number of U.S. patrols has dropped from 1,500 a day in November to about 500 a day in December. The Army has taken to using local street sweepers to look for roadside bombs. (And the insurgents use local shepherds to plant them.)


From 1,500 a day to 500 a day--did I mention force protection? This administration is haunted more by Somalia than Viet Nam.

A Soldier's Return, to a Dark and Moody World

Sgt. Jeremy Feldbusch left home in February a fit, driven, highly capable Army Ranger. Two months later, he came home blind... During the two months Jeremy Feldbusch spent recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, his parents lived at his bedside. Charlene Feldbusch remembers one day seeing a young female soldier crawling past her in the corridor with no legs and her 3-year-old son trailing behind.

And for what? The Islamic Republic of Iraq? From Amal Sedy Winter's Buying Up Iraq--

There is every reason to expect that a truly democratically elected Iraqi government will insist on controlling its oil production and little reason to believe that the United States will allow Iraq to elect a truly representative government that would do so. But there is another fundamental contradiction between the Bush Administration's stated goals and the realities of the Middle East. A recent CIA report, submitted to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, that U.S. policy vis--vis Israel is one of the primary reasons for negative feeling toward the U.S. in the region. The United States cannot tolerate Arab democracy at the national level because of its unilateral support of Israel's occupation of Palestine and no freely elected Arabgovernment will support Israel against the Palestinians. If real democracy means letting people have a real voice in governing themselves then there is little hope of this happening in any Arab state, including Iraq.

Those last two sentences are as true as ever. And they put the lie to any of the usual Iraq is becoming a showpiece of democracy... blather.

As for the war on terror, instead of slavering after new regimes for us to change with troops we do not have, perhaps we should attend to this situation:

Israel says settlement population has doubled since '93

The Israeli Interior Ministry released figures on Tuesday showing that the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had increased by 16 percent in the last three years, to 236,381 — about double the number that existed when Israel signed the Oslo Accords in 1993.

But at their current pace, even six months down the road will leave Iraq in far better shape then any other country in the region, perhaps even including Israel.

In Israel's case, considering the way things are going now, let us hope not. See you in July!
posted by y2karl at 11:17 AM on January 1, 2004


y2karl: despite posting articles where links could have sufficed, you still haven't made your point.
Iraq is in chaos because soldiers mistreat journalists.
Iraq is in chaos because the Pentagon wants better control over contracts to rebuild the country.

Plus, even if your article was dated Dec 31, it is as current as a story decrying Madonna and Britney Spears kiss at the MTV awards. The guy was complaining about problems that existed months ago. If he is still complaining, by now it's about other stuff.

Personally, I think that Iraq is in chaos because they don't yet have coffee and pastries at their job fairs.
posted by kablam at 11:23 AM on January 1, 2004


Mock, and be clever all you like. Iraq is going well; better to have done this now than later; the job isn't done yet, but that goodness we've begun.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:39 AM on January 1, 2004


Those last two sentences are as true as ever. And they put the lie to any of the usual Iraq is becoming a showpiece of democracy... blather.

OK, I guess we'll all pretend Turkey doesn't exist and that our positions are carved in stone. The exposure of corruption in the reconstruction is important and it may lead to change as it did with Halliburton's contracts.

One side is citing all bad news and the other is citing all good news. I am not stupid enough to think we are perfect, but I've not seen evidence that we can't expose and reduce corruption. I'm not sick like squirrel to hope for our failure for future political leverage. That's shameful and disgusting. He is so tied to partisan debate that it leads him to indefensible, illogical conclusions.

No one has ever claimed that this was going to be easy or that it would take a while to set up, but just because you were against the war doesn't mean you should be against trying to help create an Iraqi democracy. Can we move away from the war debate and the next step debate and all agree that it would be a good thing to help out those in Iraq and Afghanistan? Isn't it worth putting aside your petty political differences and focus all that gray matter to finding solutions rather then only highlighting problems?

I agree that the current administration is probably the worst to have in order to foster a sense of legitimacy. I think Bush should resign over the WMD lie alone, and that whomever replace him renounce the pre-emptive doctrine while embracing one of reconstruction. A prosperous Iraq and Afghanistan might be all we need to undermine the rallying cry of Islamic fundamentalism. I don't know for sure, but I prefer that scenario to another war. It's worth a shot at least.
posted by john at 12:41 PM on January 1, 2004


Um, kablam--y2karl: despite posting articles where links could have sufficed, you still haven't made your point.

Oh,

The United States cannot tolerate Arab democracy at the national level because of its unilateral support of Israel's occupation of Palestine and no freely elected Arabgovernment will support Israel against the Palestinians. If real democracy means letting people have a real voice in governing themselves then there is little hope of this happening in any Arab state, including Iraq.

or

A more accurate measure of reality in Iraq is the color-coded road system. Roads and highways in Iraq are classified by the U.S. military as green (safe), yellow (dangerous; no travel at night) and red (closed to military traffic). There are no green routes left except in the far north; all other routes are usually yellow and occasionally red. Route 1, the road north out of Baghdad, is routinely red.

The precautions and Iron Hammer have combined to reduce casualties, from about four dead GIs a day in November to roughly one a day in December. At the same time, however, the soldiers are not exactly out there winning hearts and minds. "The Americans just care about protecting themselves" has become a common Iraqi complaint. The number of U.S. patrols has dropped from 1,500 a day in November to about 500 a day in December.


Really?

Oh, by the way...

Ethnic Morass Bogs Down Afghan Talks on Charter

Han Solo: Ah, everything's under control, situation normal!
posted by y2karl at 12:45 PM on January 1, 2004


But at their current pace, even six months down the road will leave Iraq in far better shape then any other country in the region, perhaps even including Israel.

y2karl is right. We can't know one way or another if Iraq is better off. If they move towards real democracy, they're better off. If they devolve into civil war, they're worse off. Neither of those courses is clearly being taken at the moment, so why pretend otherwise? We don't know, and to claim that we do is dishonest.

I do wonder, though, just how many of those who trumpet the line that Iraq is unquestionably better off also believe that 1. The same is the case in Afghanistan, and 2. That the US is safer because of Hussein's capture.

Can we move away from the war debate and the next step debate and all agree that it would be a good thing to help out those in Iraq and Afghanistan?


I think that's what most of us are trying to do. Step 1 in help Iraq and Afghanistan is to make sure that our understanding of the situations is correct. If the only way to "help" these people is to proclaim that they have been helped before any data is available that suggests that is, in fact, to hurt them. If the Taliban ends up back in control of Afghanistan, how the hell did we help them?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:48 PM on January 1, 2004


OK, I guess we'll all pretend Turkey doesn't exist and that our positions are carved in stone.

OK, I guess we'll pretend Kemal Ataturk, the Armenian Genocide, the presecution of the the Kurds and decades of military rule didn't exist and that our wishfully thought, generation of noble sounding phrases and fact free foreign policy suggestions are carved in stone.

So, Turkey has been a democracy for how long now, John?

As for Iraq--we're buggin out! ...on the orders of General Rove. Didn't you get the memo?
posted by y2karl at 1:08 PM on January 1, 2004


y2karl,

Turkey is not perfect. You can more than double that kind of list with stuff on the USA. Barring the situation in Turkey, are you suggesting that all arab states are incapable of democracy and that it's useless to try?

I don't fully trust the government either, but I don't see what you're point is, unless it's that US foreign is doomed no matter what. Should we abandon all hope? I really don't understand your position aside from one of permanent pessimism. Do you really believe the USA can never do anything right with its foreign policy? Do you have any advice on how we could rectify the situation?
posted by john at 1:35 PM on January 1, 2004


John, you have misrepresented my positions and probably misunderstood my post. The current US approach to Iraq is wrongheaded and unethical. Our coercive occupation is a military solution to what is really a humanitarian problem. On principle, our approach should fail because it's unethical and impractical. "Future political leverage" has nothing to do with it: the Iraqi people need help right now, and our occupation is preventing that help and causing more harm.

I agree with your point that "just because you were against the war doesn't mean you should be against trying to help create an Iraqi democracy." Absolutely. But why presume that there is only one (military) way to do this?

I think we agree on the goals, (e.g. Iraqi democracy, stability) but disagree on the means necessary to get there. The improbable success of our current approach would ultimately be more damaging to the world because of the precedent that it would set. But on a timely, practical level, the sooner we get our rifles out of the collective Iraqi mouth, the sooner we can get some food in there.
posted by squirrel at 1:44 PM on January 1, 2004


I'm not convinced that the Iraqi people will be safer if we leave and I don't think the UN is capable of handling the situation alone. I also don't understand how having the military there to deal with the continued attacks on the reconstruction efforts prevents aid packages getting to those Iraqis in need. There seems to be a major disconnect with the facts in your statements.
posted by john at 1:58 PM on January 1, 2004


John, the Iraqi people need more than aid packages, the need a legitimate aid superstructure. Doesn't it strike you as strange that we're trying to use an army--fine, disciplined, well-trained soldiers--to build a country? Armies are for infiltrating and destroying. Ours are the best. But they're not country builders, and they're not democracy installers. Currently, ours is an army that the locals distrust because they have been misused for imperialist profiteering, and they have done some stupid, heavy-handed things that the people are right to be upset about.

Why not let the UN give it a go? Think of it: people who were trained for the job of providing aid.

And why not attack Syria and Iran while we're there? We have a force that can build with one hand while it destroys with the other.
posted by squirrel at 3:06 PM on January 1, 2004


If the Taliban ends up back in control of Afghanistan, how the hell did we help them?
We're making just that happen

and what squirrel says re: the UN and what many of us have been saying all along.
posted by amberglow at 3:16 PM on January 1, 2004


Well then we should have more than our military in Iraq. I thought we did.

Iraq is still unstable and the attacks against it are military in nature so since our troops are, as you say, the best, we should let them do their job while we try to train Iraqis to police themselves, which is going to take time. Despite y2karl's many links, I don't see this as impossible.

The UN has been bombed too, the attackers don't seem to see any difference between us. I don't think we should turn down UN help in reconstruction, but they clearly are not the best to counter these attacks. Do you think that once the US is gone these attacks will stop? I don't, but I am in favor of everyone doing whatever job they are good at.

Some locals are unhappy, so what. As long as we punish those in our military for criminal acts and as long as we continue to route out corruption we can get the majority to see us in a positive light.

I find this painting of all the US in terms of imperialistic profiteering counter-productive. I don't think the American public supports that position. Increased public scrutiny will keep the Halliburtons in check. The relationship between the media and government is another reason I think Bush should go. They are not in favor of a free press. We need to dump this arrogant administration that feeds all these notions of imperialism.
posted by john at 3:39 PM on January 1, 2004


Barring the situation in Turkey, are you suggesting that all arab states are incapable of democracy and that it's useless to try?

No, I'm saying this administration has, other than in paying lip service to the concept, abandoned the notion for Iraq and Afghanistan--that is, if they ever really wanted democracy in either state.

Turkey became a democracy only very recently, let it be noted, and that due to their wish to join the EU. People hold Turkey up as a shining example of democracy and ignore that only recently none other than Paul Wolfowitz chastized the generals for allowing the Turkish parliament to refuse the US permission to invade Iraq from the north. Yeah, we really ♥ democracy, don't we?

Seems likeTurkey threw a bigger roadblock to our invasion of Iraq than those so-called cheese eating surrender monkeys, who have troops on the ground--as do the Germans--in Afghanistan, by the way. (Jeez, you'd think they were our allies or something...)

Speaking of which, Francophobes, where's your outrage at the Turks?
So, why do the Turks get a shot at the Iraqi rebuilding contracts, huh?
posted by y2karl at 3:43 PM on January 1, 2004


Would I appreciate a US invasion? No. But there's no Saddam Hussein or other dictator resident here.

And when the U.S. made off with large chunks of Mexico (fill in your own American sin, real or imagined, if you don't like this one...what if Europe had collectively had the will and power to intervene when Indians were being exterminated?)...would the world have been justified in invading then to "set things right," in your opinion? Or is the U.S. exempt from any sort of outside check, forever and always, under any conceivable circumstance, simply because you happened to be born within its borders? Surely what is good for the goose should be good for the gander as well?
posted by rushmc at 3:49 PM on January 1, 2004


No, I'm saying this administration has, other than in paying lip service to the concept, abandoned the notion for Iraq and Afghanistan--that is, if they ever really wanted democracy in either state.

Well, I guess that we agree that the Bush administration may be the biggest threat to democracy in the Middle East.

:)
posted by john at 3:51 PM on January 1, 2004


Billmon's Twilight of the NeoCons deserves notice here as well, I believe.?
posted by y2karl at 5:03 PM on January 1, 2004


How it is from an Iraqis point of view.

Few of us reflect on how very literate and cultured many of the people of Iraq really are.
posted by kablam at 5:23 PM on January 1, 2004


"And when the U.S. made off with large chunks of Mexico ...would the world have been justified in invading then to "set things right," in your opinion?

Yes, and no. It's a non-real scenario, because, at the time, other countries were doing their own invading and grabbing, and it's unclear what the territoriality of Mexico was originally based upon (or at least, I haven't a clue). But the answer is yes, if you were to, somehow, project modern morality onto the 19th Century.

But also, your question is falsely premised. The US has no intention to take control of Iraq. We want to eliminate the danger to our interests from a wacko Iraq. There was never any analogous intention with the land taken/stolen from Mexico.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:43 PM on January 1, 2004


The Turks are, at least trying, and they didn't take the podium at the UN and show themselves to be the assholes the French are.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:51 PM on January 1, 2004


The Turks are, at least trying, and they didn't take the podium at the UN and show themselves to be the assholes the French are.

...or the liars that we Americans are.

I have never understood the whole "restricting the French from war-profiteering" thing, personally. I mean, how many French defense contractors opposed the war?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 6:29 PM on January 1, 2004


I suggest you spend a few months or a few years living in Paris, studying the incestuousness of their government and business community.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:31 PM on January 1, 2004


I suggest you spend a few months or a few years living in Paris, studying the incestuousness of their government and business community.
Oh, as opposed to the incestuousness here?
posted by amberglow at 6:40 PM on January 1, 2004


Yeah, they need some Halliburton to thin out the corporate gene pool.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 6:56 PM on January 1, 2004


Oh, as opposed to the incestuousness here?
Indeed. As the French say, touché. Greed knows no nationality.
posted by john at 7:04 PM on January 1, 2004


Few of us reflect on how very literate and cultured many of the people of Iraq really are.

Not when we get through with 'em.

There was never any analogous intention with the land taken/stolen from Mexico.

Land, oil, sovereignty, self-determination...theft is theft. But actually I wasn't suggesting such an analogy, but rather trying to ascertain whether you thought the U.S. should be automatically exempt from being held to a moral standard of behavior because we have enough bombs to do pretty much whatever we want in the short term.
posted by rushmc at 8:13 PM on January 1, 2004


Incestuousness......

I can't believe this thread is still chugging along, but I'd say that word brings it all back to Richard Perle.

Incestuousness
posted by troutfishing at 8:19 PM on January 1, 2004


IJR, are you going to post some gems from your newest literary acquisition?
posted by squirrel at 10:55 PM on January 1, 2004


John, regarding the bombing of the UN and the Red Cross in Iraq; Iraqi Kurds in my local community felt that these attacks were the work of those who seek to destabilise Iraq, specifically not Iraqis. They said that these particular attacks must have been perpetrated by Arab haters, as they would have nothing but negative effects for Iraq.
The Red Cross and the Red Crescent are the same organisation, so attacking the Red Cross is a symbolic gesture which would not be popular with Iraqis (who want medical help), I should think.
Bombing the UN, who are not taking part in the occupation is also counter-intuitive from an Iraqi perspective.
It is possible that there are groups in Iraq who just bomb things indiscriminately, but there could be other motivations for these actions.
All conjecture, but interesting nonetheless, I thought.
posted by asok at 2:36 AM on January 2, 2004


"Oh, as opposed to the incestuousness here?"

It's a question of degree. But a log or two of difference.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:35 AM on January 2, 2004


IJR, are you going to post some gems from your newest literary acquisition?

Here's a little nugget [p. 93] that stuck out:

The lax multiculturalism that urges Americans to accept the unaceptable from their fellow citizens us one of this nation's greatest vulnerabilities in the war on terror. America must communicate a clear message to its Muslism citizens and residents a clear message about what is expected from them.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:15 AM on January 2, 2004


America must communicate a clear message to its Muslism citizens and residents a clear message about what is expected from them.

Or it's off to the camps with you!
posted by rushmc at 9:45 AM on January 2, 2004


Ethnic Division in Iraq

Iraq's ethnic and religious dynamics involve conflicts that cut across and among Kurds, Turkmens, Shiites, Christians and Sunnis; many horrendous massacres; wholesale confiscations; and deep feelings of hatred and the need for revenge. Iraq's Shiites represent a 60 percent majority, which has suffered cruel oppression at the hands of the Sunni minority. While Iraq's Shiites are far from homogeneous, liberation has already fueled religious demagoguery among vying Islamic clerics and unleashed powerful fundamentalist movements throughout the country. Needless to say, these extremist movements are intensely anti-American, anti-secular, anti-women's rights and illiberal. Meanwhile, Iraq's 20 percent Kurdish minority in the north, mistrustful of Arab rule, represents another source of profound instability. Finally, as many have pointed out, Iraq's oil could prove a curse, leading to massive corruption and a destructive battle between groups to capture the nation's oil, its main source of wealth.

None of this is democracy's fault. The blame for Iraq's current group hatreds rests largely with the fascistic regime of Saddam Hussein, which systematically terrorized and murdered Shiites and Kurds. In addition, Hussein's sadistic secularism spurred the growing fundamentalism among Iraq's Shiites.

Blaming Saddam, however, does not alter the facts. Given the conditions that exist today in Iraq -- conditions created by colonialism, autocracy and brutality, not to mention the historical schism between Shiite and Sunni Muslims -- rushed national elections could very well produce renewed ethnic radicalism and violence; an illiberal, Islamist regime in which women are murdered by their relatives for the crime of being raped (already happening in Shiite Baghdad); and an anti-American government determined to oust U.S. firms from Iraq's oil fields. Any of these results would create, at best, an awkward moment for the Bush administration. Combined, they could be catastrophic for American interests, for the Middle East and for Iraq.


Another glitch down the road to democracy.
posted by y2karl at 10:06 AM on January 2, 2004


y2karl: you should include her impeccable and unbiased credentials: Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School and author of "World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability"

Yep, those darn free markets and democracy screwing things up for everbody.
posted by kablam at 11:21 AM on January 2, 2004


yale law is the best in the country... and i think the point of the book is that exporting free market demo (rather than growing it at home) is what breeds instability, not the market itself.

and y2karl of course there will be glitches, huge glitches.


but anyway carry on.
posted by chaz at 11:33 AM on January 2, 2004


(and the weaponry now available to such groups makes it essential that we go further than we did before).

To not recognize this is to be in a supreme state of denial. And thankfully, most Americans have more sense than that.


Y'know, it's way late in the game, but since I have the feeling you're still hanging around this threat, paris, I'll respond.

First off, let's take your boy Hansen. I've read his piece. Among other fallacies, it contains this absolute gem:

While the United States has conducted these successive wars some 7,000 miles beyond its borders, it also avoided another terrorist attack of the scale of September 11 — and all the while crafting a policy of containment of North Korea and soon-to-be nuclear Iran.

Got that? We have "avoided another terrorist attack on the scale of September 11" - Hansen is specifically saying we have achieved this. By this yardstick, such an attack was avoided for the entirity of the Clinton administration.

Second, the weaponry "now available" to such groups has long been available to them.

Lastly, your "the job isn't done yet, but that goodness we've begun" line says to me you're all in favor of an invasion of Syria and Iran, possibly Sudan or other states in Africa, all in the name of eradicating terrorism.

How much are you willing to spend on this, both in terms of lives and money? All for this dream that we can end terrorism. Tell you what, we're never going to end terrorism. Being the target of terrorism is our lot in this life, given our size and power. We shall never cow all of those who would sacrifice themselves for a cause. Let's spend the money on homeland security instead. And I guarantee you that the lives lost by "doing nothing" in this fashion will be far, far less than the lives lost if we continue our policy of pre-emptive war.
posted by kgasmart at 11:44 AM on January 2, 2004


chaz--kablam's fond of the ad hominem attack. Why bother to make sense when you can make an unsubstantiated slur? seems to be his motto.
posted by y2karl at 11:54 AM on January 2, 2004


It sounds like a book written to confirm a diagnosis of megalomania.

My current position concerning Iraq and Afghanistan is a recent shift after quite a bit of thought and I can't say that I'm entirely confident. I was reading this article the other day, which thankfully is also online.
"We've failed thus far to capitalize" on opportunities in Iraq, he said, "I don't have confidence we will do it now. I believe the only way it will work now is for the Iraqis themselves to somehow take charge and turn things around. Our policy, strategy, tactics, etc., are still screwed up."

Zinni's passage from obedient general to outspoken opponent began in earnest in the unlikeliest of locations, the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was there in Nashville in August 2002 to receive the group's Dwight D. Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award, recognition for his 35 years in the Marine Corps.

Vice President Dick Cheney also was there, delivering a speech on foreign policy. Sitting on the stage behind the vice president, Zinni grew increasingly puzzled. He had endorsed Bush and Cheney two years earlier, just after he retired from his last military post as chief of the Central Command.

He was alarmed that day to hear Cheney make the argument for attacking Iraq on grounds that Zinni found questionable at best: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," Cheney said. "There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us."

Cheney's claim baffling

Cheney's certitude bewildered Zinni. As Central Command chief, Zinni had been immersed in U.S. intelligence about Iraq. He was all too familiar with the intelligence analysts' doubts about Iraq's programs to acquire weapons of mass destruction, or WMD. "In my time at CENTCOM, I watched the intelligence, and never--not once--did it say, `He has WMD.'"


So early in 1999, Zinni ordered that plans be devised for the possibility of the U.S. military having to occupy Iraq. Under the code name Desert Crossing, the resulting document called for a nationwide civilian occupation authority, with offices in each of Iraq's 18 provinces. That plan contrasts sharply, he notes, with the reality of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. occupation power, which for months this year had almost no presence outside Baghdad--an absence that some Army generals say has increased their burden in Iraq.

Listening to the administration officials testify that day, Zinni began to suspect that his careful plans had been disregarded. Concerned, he later called a general at Central Command's headquarters and asked, "Are you guys looking at Desert Crossing?" The answer, he recalls, was, "What's that?"

The more he listened to Wolfowitz and other administration officials talk about Iraq, the more Zinni became convinced that interventionist, "neoconservative" ideologues were plunging the nation into a war in a part of the world they didn't understand.
As the General says, "I'm not saying there aren't parts of the world that don't need their ass kicked," Afghanistan seemed pretty obvious to me, but Iraq was different and maybe the brutality of Saddam should have been enough. Were the 9/11 attacks enough of a reason to abandon realpolitik for good?

I don't wish to make war a more viable option, but if sanctions can't stop Saddam from murdering his own people on a regular basis, what options are left? I have been strongly against war. I read and took Norman Angell's essay to heart.
The fight for ideals can no longer take the form of fight between nations, because the lines of division on moral questions are within the nations themselves and intersect the political frontiers. There is no modern State which is completely Catholic or Protestant, or liberal or autocratic, or aristocratic or democratic, or socialist or individualist; the moral and spiritual struggles of the modern world go on between citizens of the same State in unconscious intellectual cooperation with corresponding groups in other states, not between the public powers of rival States.

War has no longer the justification that it makes for the survival of the fittest; it involves the survival of the less fit. The idea that the struggle between nations is a part of the evolutionary law of man's advance involves a profound misreading of the biological analogy.

The warlike nations do not inherit the earth; they represent the decaying human element....

Are we, in blind obedience to primitive instincts and old prejudices, enslaved by the old catchwords and that curious indolence which makes the revision of old ideas unpleasant, to duplicate indefinitely on the political and economic side a condition from which we have liberated ourselves on the religious side? Are we to continue to struggle, as so many good men struggled in the first dozen centuries of Christendom -- spilling oceans of blood, wasting mountains of treasure -- to achieve what is at bottom a logical absurdity, to accomplish something which, when accomplished, can avail us nothing, and which, if it could avail us anything, would condemn the nations of the world to never-ending bloodshed and the constant defeat of all those aims which men, in their sober hours, know to be alone worthy of sustained endeavor?
-Norman Angell, The Great Illusion, 1910.

I would like to think that the UN would do something about dictators that murder on a massive scale, but they allowed the Bush administration's bravado and lies to obfuscate whether or not Saddam should be removed rather than contained. I know that it opens up more questions about what justifies what action against a government. I'm highly in favor of taking the profit out of war. I don't harbor any illusions about war ending terrorism, but it just seems that we've ignored the fact that Saddam was the bad guy and no matter who put him there, he needed to go away.

It's a question of degree. But a log or two of difference.

I totally agree! I don't think we have much competition when it comes to that. Congress has openly shown that it favors corporations over individuals in almost bill passed. Corporate Reform gets scant coverage in the news, while we are sure to hear the latest details of MJ's or Kobe's cases.
MOYERS: How can anyone, millions of stockholders, how can they trust those investments if they can't trust the information the accounting firms are giving them, the executives are saying. I mean, that's the whole essence of...

STEPHEN MOORE: I agree with that. And certainly I'm not saying that there aren't crooks out there and I'm not saying that there isn't corruption that took place. And I do believe that those people who engaged in willing fraud should be put in jail. What I'm arguing with is this idea that there is a culture of corruption in corporate America and I reject that.

ALAN PATRICOFF: I would agree with you. I think it's really a shame that corporate America is being given this image of hoodwinking people, of corruption running through business. that's not really the case.

I mean I've been investing in companies for 30, 40 years and the number of fraud examples have been so minuscule. And what really has happened and people should distinguish it, the economy in the last couple of years has gotten very soft. And that has accounted for a lot of the declines taking place in the market.

This has now been exacerbated by a few, a handful, who knows what the number is going to be, of companies that have the appearance of things that have been done improperly.

Most companies have very little problem with their system. Does it need improvement? Absolutely. But that needed improvement before this last round.

WILLIAM LERACH: ...you think over 900 accounting restatements in four years indicates a few bad apples? Do you realize that the companies on the NASDAQ wrote off $148 billion of previously reported profits. The companies that lead the NASDAQ never made an honest dollar of profit in the last five years of the 1990s.

ALAN PATRICOFF: That's not true.

WILLIAM LERACH: It is true, and the Wall Street Journal reported it, that every dollar of profit reported on that so called new economy index was wiped out by subsequent accounting write downs. The accounting in this country has been phony and false and it's misled investors and it's cost them trillions of dollars.

CAROLYN BRANCATO: I think going forward the problem is that there are certainly some areas of fraud that need to be rooted out. But I think the issue is that the corporations need to start taking corporate governance seriously, entirely through the organization. The board has been too collegial in most cases. The issue of managers and...

MOYERS: By collegial you mean...?

CAROLYN BRANCATO: Agreeing...

MOYERS: Cronies.

CAROLYN BRANCATO: Well, agreeing with the CEO...

MALE: Cozy.

MOYERS: Cozy.

CAROLYN BRANCATO: Cozy maybe.

MOYERS: Looking the other way?
-NOW with Bill Moyers
posted by john at 12:02 PM on January 2, 2004


As for ethnic divisions in Iraq: Three more killed in tense Kirkuk. Perhaps kablam can substantiate his showpiece of freedom, prosperity, and civil liberty with a credible link or two instead of the same lame Tom Clancyesque insider schtick.
posted by y2karl at 12:13 PM on January 2, 2004


As they prepare to increase their role in Iraq, including more combat duty, soldiers with the Army National Guard and Army Reserve already are experiencing a bigger share of U.S. military deaths there.

Of the 39 deaths in December in Iraq for which the Pentagon has released the victim's names, 10 were citizen soldiers, according to an Associated Press review of the Pentagon reports. That is up from 14 percent in November, the deadliest month of the war with 81 American deaths. There actually were 40 reported deaths in December, but one soldier's name and affiliation have not been released.

It's too early to know whether December's proportional increase in deaths among citizen soldiers was the start of a trend, but some analysts say the jump is both politically and militarily troublesome, even if it proves temporary.

"It's one more strain on the Reserve," said Michael O'Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, a private think tank. "We are living a gamble to keep the Reserve component intact" at a time when reservists are coping with the double worries of being called to active duty for long periods and facing grave dangers in Iraq.


This trend would seem to make Frum and Perle's ambitions a bit more problematic.
posted by y2karl at 12:36 PM on January 2, 2004


Yep, those darn free markets and democracy screwing things up for everbody.

This is globalization right?
...Globalization does not mean an American cultural provocation as it may mean to Europeans. This is a war that was lost a long time ago. To the intellectuals here, Globalization means an increasing feeling of lagging behind and being unable to keep up. While the Europeans are threatened with second-class status in a globalized world, the peoples here see their case as completely hopeless. This means that Globalization increases their feelings of fragility, inferiority and megalomania and adds to a sense of alienation and insecurity. Suicidal behaviour might be just an expression of being completely lost. If the West is the great symbolic enemy for many people here, the secondary importance of the West to the USA makes it no longer a symbol of strength or weakness. And once a symbol no longer exists, only the absolute loss can follow.

The matter should, in fact, be dealt with on the same symbolic level. It requires some thought and a real alternative answer through an ideological and political approach. The cultural and economical aid to the Islamic peoples shall remain meaningless until an ideological and political approach has been developed. More accurately, it could be said that aid will remain meaningless as long as the international preference for Israel continues to present an image of continuing colonial aggression and increasing contempt for the Islamic peoples. Strictly speaking, for the peoples of the Orient, Israel is not an oriental country but an instrument of the West...
- Between subservience and megalomania

Funny how it comes back around to the I/P issue. Of course, you can see that certain folks are framing it quite differently.
THE UNITED STATES SHOULD NOT TRY to play a "neutral arbiter" in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. We should, in fact, be doing our best to make the Palestinians suffer, because, to put it bluntly, they are our enemies. Just read this post and follow the links to see how they feel about America.

And read this piece by Amir Taheri on the Iraqi "resistance," which notes Palestinian terror connections by the Iraqi insurgents, and features a Palestinian "journalist" egging them on.

These folks are our enemies, and deserve to be treated as such. They don't deserve a state of their own. It's not clear that they even deserve to keep what they've got. I don't think this means that the Bush Administration should be taking direct action against them -- closing off their funding via shutting down Saddam is a good start, and a policy of slow strangulation directed at Arafat and his fellow terrorists is probably the most politic at the moment. We need to try to squeeze off the EU funding, too, especially now that it's been admitted to be part of a proxy war by the EU not just against Israel, but America.
-Glen Reynolds

That whole situation gives me the creeps, but it seems that resolving the conflict is fundamental to lasting peace in the region. That it's so entrenched in religion doesn't offer me much hope and reminds me of an old Mike Royko story.

Here's a part of it:
The people in Israel also have their own set of rules for worshipping you,
which they say you passed on to them. And they claim that you look more
favorably upon them than anyone else. This has always caused a lot of hard
feelings because a lot of other groups figure that they're your favorites.
(It must be hard being a father figure.) Israel's claim that they're Number
One has also made some people wonder this: If the Jews, after all they've
been through over the centuries, are really your chosen people, what do you
do to somebody you don't like?

Anyway the Jews and their Moslem neighbors--both of whom claim your complete
support--have been going at it for about 30 years. But I don't think they'll
ever equal Ireland's record because they'll all eventually have nuclear
bombs. Boy, when they start throwing those around, will you have a crowd
showing up.
posted by john at 1:19 PM on January 2, 2004


Another nice chunk of logic from Frum and Perle, our current Best and Brightest:

Of course, the country should be well-prepared to care for those injured by terrorist attack, and Congress should make available whatever funds are necessary to the task. (Though Congress should also be appropriately alert to the tendency of many cash-strapped state and local governments to repackage almost they do as "first-response" in order to qualify for federal aid.) But important as it is to be prepared to help the wounded and injured after a terrorist attack, it is far more important to prevent that terrorist attack in the first place. As George Patton could have said, "Nobody ever won a war by caring for his wounded. He won by making the other poor SOB care for his wounded."

Hands-down, though, the most fantasy-like portion is where they argue that we can pressure China into staging a coup in Pyongyang. And that you can blockade a peninsula.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:29 PM on January 2, 2004


y2karl seems to thrive on making ad hominem attacks by accusing others of making ad hominem attacks. Despite how trite "ad hominem" sounds when you use the expression more than a dozen times.
An no, it's *not* an ad hominem attack when I note that your sources are fruit baskets, when you bother to attribute them.
So then what?: you claim yet another act of *violence* is indicative of chaos in Iraq. Once again, deluding yourself into that sort of wishful thinking numbness, a blur through which you try to sort reality.

Who will you believe? Angela Davis? Jesse Jackson? Candidate Dean or Kerry? Noam Chomsky? How horrible it must be for you to see your wonderful liberal world crumbling, knowing that your leaders are incompetent at best, and blithering, corrupt idiots at worst.

Does this mean I love Bush? No. But like any sane citizen, I want a government that works, not organized like a giant machine designed to orally pleasure the big boss, as it was in the prior resident of the oval office.

I am nationalist enough to realize that much of the world is uneducated, superstitious, bureaucratic, petty and also nationalistic, despite pretenses. And that it is the US that while not perfect, is still leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else, with the EU a distant second.

So what was done, war, in Iraq, was a good thing; and the peace has been carried out in an exemplary manner far beyond expectations; and that Iraq is becoming, not may become, but IS becoming a force for good in the world and in future a profound and grateful friend to the US.
posted by kablam at 5:14 PM on January 3, 2004


I agree: when it comes to uneducated, superstitious, bureaucratic, petty, and nationalistic, the US certainly is leaps and bounds ahead of Canada.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:39 PM on January 3, 2004


But like any sane citizen, I want a government that works, not organized like a giant machine designed to orally pleasure the big boss, as it was in the prior resident of the oval office.
That's a crock--this administration is most certainly organized to pleasure Bush and Cheney and his buddies--in fact, it makes oral sex seem like the unimportant kid stuff it was.
posted by amberglow at 6:58 PM on January 3, 2004


Are budget surpluses a by-product of oral sex?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:42 PM on January 3, 2004


yup, and job creation too : >
posted by amberglow at 7:43 PM on January 3, 2004


So, on the other hand, is a penchant for war-profiteering the result of a lack of elicit fellatio?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:24 PM on January 3, 2004


IJR, we clearly need to get Laura (or a reasonable facsimile) on her knees more often then. Have you seen the news about the budget he's going to propose for FY2005?
posted by billsaysthis at 12:59 PM on January 4, 2004


So what was done, war, in Iraq, was a good thing; and the peace has been carried out in an exemplary manner far beyond expectations; and that Iraq is becoming, not may become, but IS becoming a force for good in the world and in future a profound and grateful friend to the US.

God, this thread has been a laugh riot all weekend.
posted by y2karl at 8:29 PM on January 4, 2004


Damn, this thread has gone on a hell of a long time. Has anyone put an end to Evil yet ?

Frum and Perle are fools. Evil starts in the minds and hearts of men and - before that - in the minds and hearts of children.

We'll just have to give Halliburton and Bechtel the contracts to run all the K-12 education on the planet.

Yup, that'll clean up this Evil problem.
posted by troutfishing at 8:46 PM on January 6, 2004


just got "An End to Evil" at the library...can't wait to dive in!
posted by jacobsee at 3:39 PM on January 12, 2004


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