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An American at the Iraqi voting booths
February 2, 2005 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Iraqi-Americans Vote in Washington • Jeff Simmermon photographs & transcribes his experience with Iraqi-Americans at the polls in Washington DC on Sunday. "You may think that you have felt dumb before, but let me tell you something: until you have stood in front of a man who knows real pain and told him that you are against your country's alleviation of his country's state-sponsored murderous suffering, you have not felt truly, deeply, like a total fucking moron.... I took refuge in a knee-jerk liberal identity for a long time, but now it's threadbare and not as comfortable as it once was." Lt. Smash responds.
posted by dhoyt (65 comments total)

 
Doh! More appropriately - Dhoyt!

No anti-war folks that I know where ever against Iraqis being liberated, just not at the cost of 100,000 of their lives. I hate these pro-war rationalizations. I'll never feel stupid, because the way the "regime change" was conducted was just about as bad as it possibly could have been done.

Not only that, but a man as hateful of the common man as George Bush could never concieve of any altruistic or heroic plans for people in another country. He's busy making Americans miserable, stealing elections and taking away our rights. I'll never believe that his intentions for Iraq were anything other than greedy and nefarious.
posted by VP_Admin at 1:04 PM on February 2, 2005


The exiled Iraqis do seem to like what America did, at least that's the impression I've got from interviews I've heard on the BBC, NPR, etc. The Iraqis still in Iraq seem far less pleased, to put it mildly. Let's ask both sides in ten years what they think, otherwise this arguing is just a lot of mental masturbation.
posted by Vaska at 1:13 PM on February 2, 2005


I think a lot of anti-war sentiment is more anti - "let's conduct the war like total fucking morons, ignore the recommendations of our generals, under-equip our troops, and sell a fat-lie to the public to advance our agenda" sentiment. It's not ever as simple as pro or anti war. Just like trying to define what a republican is is getting more difficult as well.
posted by docpops at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2005


Any "identity" that someone clings too is going to also be threadbare. It would be just as easy to put a conservative, pro-war hawk in the home of an Iraqi without power and water, with the family's father and eldest brother killed by American troops, and make him feel like a moron.

And it tells you just as little, from either the pro or anti-war perspective, because it's an anecdotal, emotional reaction to the issue.

But, I do like the overall point that no one should have a knee-jerk reaction to anything, because the issues are way too complex for that. However, as inspiring as individual election stories may be, it's still just one piece of the overall puzzle.
posted by chaz at 1:19 PM on February 2, 2005


When the Hussein statue came down, Jon Stewart said: "No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, if you are incapable of feeling at least a tiny amount of joy at watching ordinary Iraqis celebrate this, you are lost to the ideological left. And let me also add if you are incapable of feeling badly that we even had to use force in the first place, you are ideologically lost to the right. And I would implore both of those groups to leave the room now."

The same is true, only ten-fold, today. There obviously are many reasons why you may still feel the war was wrong, or at least so poorly executed it did more harm than good (as I believe). But I find it so telling when people can't even bear to bring themselves to look at these elections as silver lining on a dark cloud, or acknowledge that some good has come of this. Liberals used to be known for standing up against tyranny.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:29 PM on February 2, 2005


Why the fuck is Bush getting credit for something he fought tooth and nail to avoid!?
posted by salmacis at 1:31 PM on February 2, 2005


You are aware, I hope, that the leader of the party that appears to have taken the majority in the elections has close ties to Iran, favors a government based in Islamic law (although, he says now that he's in favor of minority rights), and isn't in favor of the Americans hanging around for long. I am opposed to tyranny, but the banning of movie theaters and gender restrictions, etc., don't exactly thrill me either.
posted by raysmj at 1:36 PM on February 2, 2005


Hey guys, since when did this war start being about liberating Iraqi's? I thought we were supposed to be defending our country and allies from a threat of WMD's! Now suddenly its as if the mission all along was to save the Iraqis, how quickly we are distracted. But I'll tell you, I have many friends serving in Iraq, and they swore with their lives to defend and protect our country, not to serve as liberators for people who will not liberate themselves.
posted by blackankh at 1:41 PM on February 2, 2005


Hey guys, since when did this war start being about liberating Iraqi's?

Since the very beginning. Try reading any of the numerous speeches that were given or articles that were written.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:44 PM on February 2, 2005


But I find it so telling when people can't even bear to bring themselves to look at these elections as silver lining on a dark cloud, or acknowledge that some good has come of this. Liberals used to be known for standing up against tyranny.
posted by pardonyou?


These "elections" are nothing but a sham. Completely corrupt, illegitimate, counter-productive, a fig-leaf for the Corporapist Gangbang (tm) of Iraq.

You're no liberal and you're not standing up against tyranny. You're showing weakness and capitulating before the evil ones, because you're adrift, with no firm principles. Why don't you just switch your party affiliation and become a Republikkkan Neoconfederate today? We won't miss you.
posted by VP_Admin at 1:45 PM on February 2, 2005


Yeah - I am pretty damn sick of this attitude that of the war apologists that "since the elections actually took place everything we did was justified."

Newsflash:

The people voting didn't even know for whom they were voting. Talk about machine politics - all anyone knew was the "political party" (as if that makes sense in a country that has never before known democracy) for which they were voting.

There were no debates. There was no discussion of issues. There was, in short, no way for the common citizen to make an informed decision.

If you are surprised that an Iraqi exile (by definition, someone so disgusted with their own country that they fled or someone so at odds with their government that they were forced out - much like many americans living elsewhere - example: Vietnam draft dodgers) is happy that the Iraqi government he hated has been overthrown and is happy with this outcome (without, of course, the minor inconvenience of having to live in his own war ravaged country) then I can't say I respect your foresight too much.

As has been said many times before and will be said many times again, we did not go to Iraq in order to oust Hussein. We went there to stop "an immanent threat to the United States." The fact is, our actions in the Iraq will make the U.S. less safe in the long run - not more so. Had making the U.S. safe truly been the goal of dubya we would have pursued a diplomatic solution that would make the world revere and respect the U.S. even more than they did after 9/11 rather than pursuing a course that made us arguably more hated than we have ever been.

I work in the transportation field, and I can assure you that there is no way we will secure our borders in the near future. The only hope we have of protecting ourselves is with good intelligence - the kind that flows toward countries that are liked and respected by a majority of the world and which is held back from countries which are viewed as bullies that throw their weight around. Above all that, we have created one of the best terrorist recruiting grounds ever, meaning we will be facing a larger generation of terrorists in 10 years than we ever have before.

Great job.

There is absolutely no justification for this war. If we were really out to spread peace and goodwill then our money could have been better spent on food for the hungry, clothes for the needy, and shelter for the homeless. $800 billion would have gone one hell of a long way.

We have a president and a vice president who both made all of their money on oil. We just blew up and took over one of the largest oil producing countries in the world under their leadership and demonstrably false claims. Were they in any other business in the United States I can assure you that they would be being investigated by the Department of Justice to find out just what kind of conflicts of interests they were indulging.

This whole thing is a crock, and I can't believe that anyone is falling for it - especially supposedly liberal journalists who should know better.
posted by Yellowbeard at 1:46 PM on February 2, 2005


Try reading any of the numerous speeches [...]

Oh, the speeches. Right.
posted by 327.ca at 1:47 PM on February 2, 2005


Hey guys, since when did this war start being about liberating Iraqi's?

Actually, if you're really posing a serious question, go back to the MetaFilter archives from February and March 2002 (i.e., before the start of the war), and you'll be able to read quite a bit from those who -- like myself -- identified this as the reason to support the war.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:54 PM on February 2, 2005


pardonyou?

go back to the MetaFilter archives from February and March 2002 (i.e., before the start of the war), and you'll be able to read quite a bit from those who -- like myself -- identified this as the reason to support the war.

The only small problem being that the president sold this war on the basis of it being a hunt for WMDs.
posted by Yellowbeard at 1:56 PM on February 2, 2005


Getting off topic, but Uncovering the rationales for war.
posted by eddydamascene at 2:02 PM on February 2, 2005


Apparently, the new strategy for the Right is to try and guilt-trip people into believing Saddam had WMDs.

No offense, dhoyt, but Lt. Smash, his fellow Protest Warriors, and for that matter all the other militant, abusive warbloggers can spare me the fucking self-pride over how civil they can be in one post. I'm officially bored with people who spent three years calling me a sub-standard American and performing the online equivalent of forgetting to take their Prozac because I didn't think 100,000 people should die suddenly deigning to dictate what emotions I'm supposed to have.

I swear, if we get one more "ha ha ha, don't you feel stupid NOW, liberals?" FPP, I think I'm going to start missing Seth.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:03 PM on February 2, 2005


pardonyou?

Thanks, yes indeed it was a serious question. I for a while have been troubled by the idea that the American public perhaps had our collective Short Term Memory taken advantage of. Perhaps the failure is with my memory.
posted by blackankh at 2:04 PM on February 2, 2005


Actually, if you're really posing a serious question, go back to the MetaFilter archives from February and March 2002 (i.e., before the start of the war), and you'll be able to read quite a bit from those who -- like myself -- identified this as the reason to support the war.

While this may be a good reason, a sufficient reason, it was not the reason that the government used to justify the war. If it was mentioned at all, it was as an afterthought. If that were the reason to support the war, it should have been sufficient to justify the war to the American people before it was started. That's what differentiates democracies and republics from monarchies and dictatorships, in theory - any major governmental action requires the support of an informed citizenry. My opinion is that the Bush administration sold the war to the American people on the basis of WMDs, and that the Bush administration did this without even believing in them as a serious threat. If this is true, the administration's sins are unforgivable, no matter how well the end result may turn out in Iraq.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:06 PM on February 2, 2005


I swear, if we get one more "ha ha ha, don't you feel stupid NOW, liberals?" FPP,

I didn't editorialize this FPP one iota to that effect—which is more than I can say for hundreds upon hundreds of BushHitler posts in the last three years which you, tellingly, never got "officially bored of", no matter how puerile & silly they were.

What do you make of "ha ha ha, don't you feel stupid NOW, conservatives?" DailyKosFilter posts like this one, so long as we're being simplistic enough to characterize them as such? I suppose they're different somehow?
posted by dhoyt at 2:12 PM on February 2, 2005


Before an official flamewar starts, it'd be nice to get the feeling some had read the links in question instead of just launching into a litany of generalized, pre-prepared opinions about the war...
posted by dhoyt at 2:19 PM on February 2, 2005


Try reading any of the numerous speeches that were given

Okay.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:22 PM on February 2, 2005


dhoyt, I think some people definitely get the superiority vibe off of things like that Kos post, but I think it's worth noting history in order to temper unrealistic expectations. A lot has been done, but there's a lot more yet to come and nothing is in stone, yet. History is sometimes little more than a big sign urging you to proceed cautiously.
posted by mikeh at 2:23 PM on February 2, 2005


While this may be a good reason, a sufficient reason, it was not the reason that the government used to justify the war. If it was mentioned at all, it was as an afterthought.

I agree, but I'd add that liberation alone wouldn't have been a sufficient reason. Morally, yes, but not practically. There are more pressing, dangerous, and managable situations elsewhere. And I guess all of those Republicans (Bush included) who whined about the "nation building" and "world policing" of the Clinton administration decided that they were wrong after all.

The real story here is how well this administration has played the media and public opinion. The amount of simple intellectual dishonesty coming from our officials and the pundits is ridiculous. I get the feeling that the loudest conservatives actually care a lot more about appearing right and "winning" than actually making the world a better place.
posted by skyline at 2:25 PM on February 2, 2005


Like has been said before... how can you take these few people's stories as truth for the whole country? These expats are clearly Shiites - and sectarian differences between the Shiites and the Sunnis - Iraq's biggest problem - remain. Note how the lady described the insurgents and the Baathists - the Sunnis - as "evil." Anyone who describes a huge group of people as "evil" clearly has a limited scope. Sunnis are people too, and they have lost much in this ill-conceived war. It is only natural of them to retaliate against something that destroyed their lives, their homes and their property. The real way to "save" Iraqis is to teach them tolerance and interdependence, to build a whole community rather than replace one ruling group with the other. Of course we couldn't expect BushCo to espouse tolerance, so I guess I'm just thinking wishfully here.

It is still my official position that this whole war was just a moneymaking sham that diverted hundreds of billions of tax dollars into Halliburton's pockets. Tax dollars are MY money - I want them going to projects that will ultimately benefit ME and my fellow citizens, not projects that will send us into poverty and war zones.
posted by salad spork at 2:25 PM on February 2, 2005


dhoyt

I read them. They were truly touching stories which did not in any way justify the killing of 100,000 Iraqis, the spending of 800 billion dollars on the pursuit of death, and the lying to the American people about the justification for either.

Democracy is not necessarily the greatest form of government on earth, nor is it right for all people at all times. I think it more or less (often less) works here, but that does not make it the only viable solution for governance on the planet.
posted by Yellowbeard at 2:26 PM on February 2, 2005


The only small problem being that the president sold this war on the basis of it being a hunt for WMDs.

Agreed. Not defending the president. Just rebutting the insinuation that anyone who cites liberating Iraqis as a positive thing only did so after the WMD rationale was debunked.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:27 PM on February 2, 2005


pardonyou?

Well... No - I agree with you there. They did throw that around. However, surely you will agree that the American people would never have agreed to this preemptive war based on that positive aspect alone? And would the president even have considered trying it had we not just gone through 9/11?

No - Bush took advantage of the shock and desire for revenge of the American people in order to pursue actions that had nothing to do with causing either.

I still absolutely cannot believe that people cannot see this.
posted by Yellowbeard at 2:32 PM on February 2, 2005


Democracy is not necessarily the greatest form of government on earth, nor is it right for all people at all times.

Who would be better served with another form of government, and what would that form be?
posted by me & my monkey at 2:37 PM on February 2, 2005


Er, Pardonyou?, As I remember it, you were against the war until Colin Powell's explanation that there were stockpiles of WMDS.

Ah, but is all water under the bridge now.
posted by Cassford at 2:39 PM on February 2, 2005


me & my monkey

Oh, I don't know... Monaco seems to have it pretty good.
posted by Yellowbeard at 2:42 PM on February 2, 2005


elwoodwiles, I don't know how you mean it, but following the link you give, I do indeed get quotes like that which steve outlined:

"...the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a, Sunnis and others will be lifted. The long captivity of Iraq will end, and an era of new hope will begin."

This makes sense to me. WMDs may have been the pretext, and GWB seems to have believed that they existed (else I suppose he might not have been so insistent that they did), but the purpose was to bring free self-determination to Iraq, and thereby to make the world safer. Many people object that there are dozens of countries in the world that could and should have been liberated first. It seems to me-- and, again, this seems to be Bush's position on the matter, too-- that Iraq was the safest, easiest nation to liberate, and the one that would bring the most good. It was less complex and difficult to overcome Saddam than it would've been to take down the order of the Ayatollahs in Iran or the maybe-nuclear Kim Jong Il; and it was more useful than any other, because it is in the heart of the middle east, and the middle east's confrontation with the west is the fundamental issue in international politics today.

One can disagree with GWB's position on this. However, one cannot simply assume that ulterior motives determine everything and condemn him on those grounds; one ought to face up to his full words and say why those words are wrong. There's been a lot of focus on "WMDs" and such, and people are quick to seize on connections or a lack of connections between Saddam and Al-Qaeda, but a closer look at Bush's words reveals a scheme closer to the one I outlined above: Bush believes that we are doing good for the Arabs, and that doing this good right now is the only way to end terrorism.
posted by koeselitz at 2:49 PM on February 2, 2005


me & my monkey

And to further answer your question:

Democratic forms of government require a relatively highly educated populace. Since the populace at large is, in fact, the government, they need to have some intelligence and some idea about what goes on in the state and how their decisions will influence it.

So, in short, any populace which is not comprised of a pretty good majority of relatively highly educated persons probably is not a good candidate for making an immediate jump to democracy.

So, case in point: Iraq, a country peopled by several strongly disparate factions whose populace is (I believe - someone correct me if I am wrong) comprised mostly of relatively uneducated people who have lived in a theocracy (and live in a region where many people prefer a theocracy) for generations except when they were living in a dictatorship installed most recently by (guess who!) the United States, probably is not the best candidate for democratic rule at this time. I guess we should consider it lucky that they aren't really getting one yet.

Given that we were hell bent on killing Saddam, I think the Iraqi people may have been (strictly from the view of doing what was best for the Iraqi people - which is how you couched your question - and not from the view of doing what was in the best interest of the people of the United States) better served to have handed power over to the traditional leaders of the region, e.g. the leaders of the church.

Can I prove that? No. Are there problems with it? Absolutely - most notably the fact that it would be very difficult to ensure the quality of life for all Iraqis under any form of government given that we just invaded them, destroyed all their infrastructure, and are occupying their country.

However, if this instantiation of government works as a well-functioning democracy without conflict then I, Sir, will eat my hat.
posted by Yellowbeard at 2:58 PM on February 2, 2005


koeselitz

My goodness. With so much naivete in one place I am truly surprised that there is any left over for my mother.
posted by Yellowbeard at 3:00 PM on February 2, 2005


Cassford, I'll get flamed for this, and nobody will remember that I was just responding to you, but I can't leave it. Your selective review of my posting history has misled you, I'm afraid.

This is a cut-and-paste job, but I've stated before on this issue:
On March 18, 2003, two days before the start of the war, I said this:

I know for many of you it's simply easier to categorize everyone who supports military action as bloodthirsty hawks and warmongers. But for me and many others, nothing could be further from the truth. I abhor war in all of its forms. But I consider myself a moral person, and for me in all cases the moral choice that must be made is the one that in the long run minimizes human suffering to the greatest possible extent -- not only for the west, but for Iraq itself. While nobody has a crystal ball, reasonable people can conclude that allowing Saddam Hussein to remain in power will lead to far more death, suffering, and destruction than the coming action to remove him. To me, that's the very definition of moral. To me, that's the very definition of "peace."

So please try to bear that in mind before labelling yourselves the sole proponents of "peace."
posted by pardonyou? at 1:41 PM PST on March 18

Then I said:

[This was a quote from an earlier post] But human rights is actually just the last thing Bush had left to cross off his laundry list of justifications for this war.

I guess I would ask you why your own opinion pivots on Bush's justification, if the net effect will be the same? I am not a Bush supporter, and I think he and his ham-handed administration bungled any opportunity to obtain broad worldwide support. But even that wouldn't have changed the outcome -- it would have been the same war, with the same result, only with some more soldiers from different countries.

My moral judgment doesn't depend on the stated reasons for ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. The fact that he will be deposed is enough for me.

And on June 6, I reiterated my position:

[again, a quote from earlier in the thread]Ah yes; the end, of course, being justified by the means.

In this case, absolutely. Take a look at this:

[a blockquote from an outside source] Third, suppose President Bush in fact had no reputable motive in going to war. Suppose he had only disreputable motives, such as defending his daddy's honor. Does this show that the war is unjustified, morally speaking? Again, the answer is no. Justification is objective; motivation is subjective. The war can be justified as an act of self-defense or liberation of a people (to name just two of many justifications) even if the person waging the war doesn't understand it in those terms - even if he or she doesn't view those as justifications. For consider: Either there is a justification for the war (objectively speaking) or there is not. If there is, then it doesn't matter what motivated President Bush. If there isn't, then it doesn't matter what motivated President Bush. Either way, it doesn't matter what motivated President Bush.

This perfectly encapsulates my thinking on the issue. Yours may differ (and probably does). But I have absolutely no problem saying that the war was justified simply on the basis that thousands of Iraqi lives were saved.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:39 PM PST on June 6

I then said:

To recap: I supported the war for different reasons than WMD. So I have no problem pointing to mass grave stories and saying: "This is why I supported this war." My question for you: Why haven't the stories of Hussein's atrocities convinced you that the war was justified?
posted by pardonyou? at 12:51 PM PST on June 6

The next day, I wrote:

And your arguments are misdirected: I took issue with crumple_and_holepunch's* screed, which was specifically directed at my prior posts. That is what I was responding to. Hell, I personally don't care about Bush and his rationale. I never supported the war for his reasons. (And I don't even support him -- didn't vote for him in 2000 and have no plans to do so in 2004). In fact, if he deliberately lied to the American public to garner support for the war, that can and should be dealt with independently (perhaps up to impeachment). But none of that makes one whit of difference for me in terms of deciding whether the war was justified. See, I'm capable of separating the two. Imagine that!

So you see, "kgasmart," my view of the morality of the war has been consistent from before the war to today. I supported it for purely humanitarian reasons. Yes, WMD was an important issue, but it's not why I came to the conclusion that deposing Saddam Hussein was a moral endeavor. In the future, before you start making allegations about someone's posting history, I'd recommend that you actually read that history first.
In short, if you're going to investigate my posting history, at least do me the favor of examining the whole thing.
posted by pardonyou? at 3:11 PM on February 2, 2005


The real way to "save" Iraqis is to teach them tolerance and interdependence, to build a whole community rather than replace one ruling group with the other.

Or, perhaps, to simply let each group rule themselves. It's hard to see the "nation of Iraq" as anything other than an antiquated arbitrary political construct. Unlike, say, Iran, where the populace is bound by a strong cultural solidarity, Iraq is basically a bunch of warring ethnic tribes knit up into a patchwork. It's sad that people can't live and let live in the same country, but what can we do? In any case, I don't see how the country will ever be split up, so I might as well stop babbling and look at the reality.

Why is it so hard to look at these Iraqis and view their human stories in a sympathetic way? Why in the hell does anyone make this into political hay, or conversely cheapen it by saying that the actions that led to it were wrong? There are plenty of other moments and vehicles for that discussion. You don't have to agree with the policies that led to this moment in order to look at the men and women in the photographs and feel some connection to them and their very real pride in participating in a democratic election for the first time, however symbolic it may be.

Vietnam was a grave political error and a gigantic clusterfuck, too. At my last job I had a coworker who was a friendly, decent, not especially ambitious fellow with a quiet, normal life with wife, kids, a house on a cul-de-sac, etc. When he was a teenager trying to escape Vietnam, he once threw his disabled father onto his back to pull him from a sinking refugee raft onto rescue ship, and ultimately, asylum in the U.S. I choked up hearing his story. Every international political decision benefits some and harms others, none is undertaken without risk, and you can talk all day long about ideological differences, cost-benefit analyses, and statistics, but if you can't appreciate these small stories of human dignity, regardless of the greater political context, then you just aren't fucking human.
posted by casu marzu at 3:36 PM on February 2, 2005


... reasonable people can conclude that allowing Saddam Hussein to remain in power will lead to far more death, suffering, and destruction than the coming action to remove him ...

I don't think it's been settled yet, but I'd disagree so far. I think there were lots of reasonable people who disagreed back then as well.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:41 PM on February 2, 2005


Yellowbeard:

"My goodness. With so much naivete in one place I am truly surprised that there is any left over for my mother."

See, here I was, liking some of your posts, and you had to go and ruin it with a weird-ass snark that sounds like it came out of Surrey circa 1850. Do you always do this when people say things that you can't find ways of arguing against?
posted by koeselitz at 3:43 PM on February 2, 2005


Oh, and one minor quibble with the FPP -- no one actually voted in Washington. The local polling place was located in New Carrollton, Maryland.
posted by casu marzu at 3:43 PM on February 2, 2005


Irregularities in the North.

Sunnis say Iraqi Poll Illegitimate

That being said, and as someone who was opposed to this war authorized use of force since it became evident during the Summer of '02 we were going to invade, and in fact protested on the streets against it at least three times....I have to say it is nice to see the Iraqi's taking to the streets, in face of the violence, and make their voices heard.

Now just find me a warblogger who would have supported the invasion had Bush come out and said, "We are going spend $300B and lose 1,500 soldiers and kill 20,000 civilians over the next 2 years so we can shift the balance of power in Iraq closer to Iran" and I'll wash his feet and call him God.

This is a step in the right direction, after about 50 in the wrong. To call it otherwise is to miss the silver lining. Besides, haven't you seen ExxonMobil's record quarterly profits? Make the two steps, eh?

BTW, anyone else notice the 'shoot on sight' curfew, and the ban on cars that preceeded the election?

Freedom is on the march, and if you get in the way....
posted by wah at 3:44 PM on February 2, 2005


Even if the intention behind the invasion was to remove a dictator who had been happily supported by the US long after they were aware of his human-rights abuses, it would be a vigillante action, not a police action.

As with most vigillante actions, someone is happy in the short run. If a guy's beating his kids and a civilian goes around, kicks in the door, beats him or kills him and takes his wallet, the kids will be happy. Some of those who sympathise with the kids will be happy.

Vigillantism is illegal for a few reasons. One is involves the right of someone to kick in another fellow's door and beat or kill him. Police are given this authority through consensus of the community, and are held to a higher standard of accountability along with that responsibility.

But the main issue to me is that there is no observable difference between a vigillante who profits from his self-proclaimed justice and a brigand who breaks into people's houses, steals their money and claims he was protecting their kids. That is the best reason for requiring due process in the use of force to deal with alleged criminals.

What we have with Iraq is a familiar pattern. The US illegally assaults a country under the pretext of dealing with a criminal. US economic and strategic interests are served. A "democracy" is set up - which is to say, a government who favours US foreign investment in their resources, usually at the expense of the domestic masses (though in the case of Iraq, currently, media attention places restrictions). US companies (with close ties to figures in government) are given no-bid contracts on reconstruction.

The reason for claiming it's a just invasion, a moral invasion, is the ensure the consent of the majority of Americans who, being decent folk, care about how people are treated and human rights. They believe in justice and righteousness and punishing evil. All the government has to do, and it has become very adept at doing so, is give a strong impression that the obstruction to US interests du jour is evil and that the US and its figurehead are just and righteous.

The largest crime in the invasion of Iraq is the precedent it sets. The Bush administration have tested their abilities and found that they are able to blatantly violate international law in invading a country on the other side of the world, against unprecedented international opposition, and still have their figurehead be reelected. "Pre-emptive strikes" are discussed with straight faces. No matter how many Iraqis are happy in the short term (an amount that is surely contentious, anyway), an evil precedent has been set.
posted by Wataki at 3:45 PM on February 2, 2005


"You may think that you have felt dumb before, but let me tell you something: until you have stood in front of a man who knows real pai? and told him that you are against your country's alleviation of his country's state-sponsored murderous suffering, you have not felt truly, deeply, like a total fucking moron"

No you want to feel like a real total fucking moron, go tell these people that you support the "alleviation of his country's state-sponsored murderous suffering" through the distruction and plunder of said country.

I would also remind this journalist that elections were held revently in Chechnya, which surely justifies the terror and the murder that was, unfortunately, required to set Chechnya in the path of "democracy".
posted by talos at 3:49 PM on February 2, 2005


koeselitz

yes it was snarky and somewhat trollish but I have to stand by it as a response to your post. I don't have time to list the ways that I think you are wrong. If you believe Bush had nothing but good intention I have to call it as I see it: Naive. The idea that Iraq was the safest, easiest nation to liberate and that's why we chose to "liberate" them is just blind, plain and simple.

We should not run around installing and removing dictators at a whim. It is not our right to invade countries in order to force regime change.

Read my earlier posts. Bush and Cheney are both oil men invading an oil laden country. Bush's own daddy has been the target of an assassination plot by Saddam. They don't want a liberated Iraq, they want a controllable middle east. We consistently support the illegal activities of Israel but pick on Iraq when they have done nothing (as far as international law is concerned) wrong.

The entire justification for the war was a bullshit smokescreen. If you really and truly believe that dubya was out to liberate Iraq out of the goodness of his heart and that his intentions were pure, I don't know what to call your position other than pure, grade A naivete. I am sorry to be blunt with you, but I can't see it any other way.
posted by Yellowbeard at 4:02 PM on February 2, 2005


I’ve had a guilty taste in my mouth since the inaugural protest’s cocktail of adrenaline and pepper gas wore off. I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that while the right is wrong, the left might not be right either. I looked around those protests and saw legitimately angry people who were well-fed and intentionally scruffy.

Excellent writing from the thoughtful left. Thanks, Dhoyt!
posted by LarryC at 4:03 PM on February 2, 2005


Democratic forms of government require a relatively highly educated populace. Since the populace at large is, in fact, the government, they need to have some intelligence and some idea about what goes on in the state and how their decisions will influence it.

Really? That sounds a bit, well, elitist. Where do you draw the line between "relatively highly educated" and, well, everyone else when it comes to whether a group of people are worthy of self-government? I suspect that the average Iraqi is just as worthy (and capable) of self-government as the average American.

So, in short, any populace which is not comprised of a pretty good majority of relatively highly educated persons probably is not a good candidate for making an immediate jump to democracy.

My personal experience with Iraqis has been that they are relatively highly educated, actually. I realize this anecdotal experience can't be extended to all Iraqis, but again I suspect they'll do as well as anyone else when it comes to self-governance.

However, if this instantiation of government works as a well-functioning democracy without conflict then I, Sir, will eat my hat.

I didn't say anything about whether this instantiation of government will succeed or fail - I think it could easily go either way. I'm not too keen on imposing democracy on someone else, as long as others don't try to impose their governance on me.

So, case in point: Iraq, a country peopled by several strongly disparate factions whose populace is (I believe - someone correct me if I am wrong) comprised mostly of relatively uneducated people who have lived in a theocracy (and live in a region where many people prefer a theocracy) for generations except when they were living in a dictatorship installed most recently by (guess who!) the United States, probably is not the best candidate for democratic rule at this time. I guess we should consider it lucky that they aren't really getting one yet.

I submit that there are multiple errors here. First, Iraq hasn't been under theocratic rule for, well, a long time. I don't think the Ottoman Empire counts as "theocratic rule. " Second, while the US did terrible things in cooperation with Saddam against Iran, it didn't install the Baath Party or Saddam Hussein into power, if I recall correctly.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:05 PM on February 2, 2005


This is what President Bush said in March 2003, immediately before the war:
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people.

The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends and it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of Al Qaeda. The danger is clear: Using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other.

The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or invite this threat, but we will do everything to defeat it. Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety.

Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed.
This is what Ari Fleischer said in April 2003:
We have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and is about.
Here's what Wolfowitz said in May 2003:
"The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason," Wolfowitz was quoted as saying in a Pentagon transcript of an interview with Vanity Fair.

...

"One was weapons of mass destruction, second was terrorism, and the third ... was the abuse of Iraqis by their own government," Wolfowitz said at the sidelines of the Asia Security Conference in Singapore.

"And in a sense there was a fourth overriding one, which was the connection between those first two, the connection between the weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. All three of those have been there, they've always been part of the rationale and I think it's been very clear."
posted by kirkaracha at 4:05 PM on February 2, 2005


Yellowbeard: first, my point wasn't that "Bush is nice, he has our well-being in mind." My point was this: he makes a lot of very cogent, very interesting observations, all of which you must disprove if you want to say "he's only an oil-grubbing texan."

Second, I think your concept of "right" is very strange, as I don't think even Kant would ascribe to a system where nations have a right to be uninvaded. Hell, I can't even think of many people who've said that nations have rights. And since the lives of many people (say, German Jews in the second world war) would be forfeit if we started running around and granting that right to everyone, why do so? I think a faulty understanding of what "international law" means is responsible, but I can't say.

Third, I don't really care if he was out to liberate Iraq. The net result is what matters, and wherever he gets his rhetoric from, it's good. The problem of the collision of the Arab and Western worlds really is paramount; liberating the Arab world from authoritarian influences really is what's necessary. I wish you'd say something about why this can't possibly be true.

Finally, you made a few reckless comments above pretty much calling Muslims "uneducated." As a non-Muslim who reads and greatly admires the Koran, I tend to disagree, but on the subject, what do you think the experience of Muslims really is? How exactly do you think these very religious people percieve the secularism of the west? And how do think people who come from a very theocratic religion are apt to percieve democratic institutions?
posted by koeselitz at 4:23 PM on February 2, 2005


koeselitz
I'll take your points in reverse order.

1. Finally, you made a few reckless comments above pretty much calling Muslims "uneducated."

Quote where I say that Muslims are uneducated and I will be very impressed. I haven't used the word Muslim, until now, in this entire thread. As to how I think theocratic people are apt to perceive democratic institutions, my guess would be: very poorly. In fact, on CNN yesterday morning some groups in Iraq were said to be protesting democracy because it let's popular choice (which could choose something anti-religion) determine the role of government rather than God. I think it is obvious what they thing about the secular people of the west. I suspect that you are not disagreeing with me, but I don't get your point.

2. The net result is what matters, and wherever he gets his rhetoric from, it's good. The problem of the collision of the Arab and Western worlds really is paramount; liberating the Arab world from authoritarian influences really is what's necessary. I wish you'd say something about why this can't possibly be true.

The net result is that the world is now a lot less safe for Americans. Policy-wise this was a very bad decision. He is writing security risk checks that our nation frankly cannot cash. The major reason that the Arab and Western worlds are colliding right now is that the US continues to insist on backing Israel, a country that consistently ignores the Geneva conventions and is treating the Palestinians not quite as bad as the Jews themselves were treated by the NAZIs. I did not say that liberating the Arab world from authoritarian regimes is not possibly the answer, but this is not the way to do it and, frankly, we do not have the authority to decide it alone.

3. Second, I think your concept of "right" is very strange, as I don't think even Kant would ascribe to a system where nations have a right to be uninvaded.

And I will quote to you the second instantiation of the Categorical Imperative: "Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but at the same time as an end."

The example of Jim and the Indians has been used many times to point out the differences between Kantian ethics and Utility. Kantians agree pretty much universally (I believe) that Kant would never sanction Jim killing even one indian in order to save the rest. If you can argue your way around the idea that Kant would sanction our killing (or taking actions which led directly to the deaths of) 100,000 Iraqis, not to mention 1200 U.S. troops, then I will be truly impressed. If you are going to argue what Kant would say, I would suggest you read him first.

4. My point was this: he makes a lot of very cogent, very interesting observations, all of which you must disprove if you want to say "he's only an oil-grubbing texan."

Ah - all those cogent, interesting observations... Let's quote some of them, shall we? These are all from www.bushisms.com

"You fucking son of a bitch. I saw what you wrote. We're not going to forget this."

"You've heard Al Gore say he invented the internet.
Well, if he was so smart, why do all the addresses begin with "W"?"

"They said this issue wouldn't resignate with the People. They've been proved wrong, it does resignate."

"Drug therapies are replacing a lot of medicines as we used to know it."

"I don't know whether I'm going to win or not. I think I am. I do know I'm ready for the job. And, if not, that's just the way it goes."


If you would be so good as to post some of his cogent - or even coherent - quotes then I would be happy (if I have time) to address them.
posted by Yellowbeard at 4:44 PM on February 2, 2005


me & my monkey

I said that I might be wrong about the general level of education in Iraq. I can't claim to have numbers. You, apparently, have met many of them (I would assume you are talking about actual Iraqis in Iraq, and not the typically highly educated who come to the U.S.) and find them to be very educated. It is not my impression that a great majority of the populace is relatively highly educated.

However, I would be happy to change my example. Let's take any of a number of african countries who have, in recent history, been "liberated" and given democracy have not faired particularly well with them.

I am not trying to insult the uneducated, nor say that being educated is necessarily better than not. However, for a democracy to work (in which, as I mentioned, it is the people themselves who govern), it is very necessary for those people to be informed. Why do you think that the founding fathers were so interested in the American populace as a whole having access to school?

As for your average Iraqi being as capable of voting well as the average American, I will say... Possibly. However, I am willing to bet that the average american (hell, even the lowest common denominator) has access, at least (in the form of libraries, a (somewhat if decreasingly) free press, free schooling for all, etc.), to the information necessary to make an informed decision. This is not to say that your average American is smarter than your average Iraqi. In fact, I would say that such a claim would show a misunderstanding of statistics. However, surely you cannot claim that the average Iraqi has anywhere near the access to education that Americans have. And I was very clear, above, in saying that democracy required education (by which I guess I mean enough information to make an informed decision) rather than intelligence. The Iraqis don't even know whom it is they are voting for! I don't think this view is elitist, but merely a requirement for democracy to properly function.

As for my use of the word theocracy, I would say that Iraq, like most of the middle east, has traditionally had a hefty dose of religion in it's politics. Perhaps theocracy is not the proper word, but heavily religious Oligarchy might be a decent substitute. In any event, their past has in no way prepared them to be a democracy.
posted by Yellowbeard at 5:03 PM on February 2, 2005


Ah, man...when I wrote this I NEVER thought it was gonna spark off this much debate/flaming. Here's a few extra thoughts:

-When I asked one of the Kurdish families how they knew who to vote for, they said that someone just told them who the Kurd candidates were, and they went for it.

-I've been a member of MeFi for YEARS and never had an FPP before...it's a little bit of an honor.

-I wonder if the US is prepared to accept an Iraq that freely and democratically chooses to be fundamentalist Muslim and go right back to some of the same old stuff we "freed" them from. Just a thought.
posted by chinese_fashion at 5:30 PM on February 2, 2005


The Iraqis don't even know whom it is they are voting for!

I submit that this has been the case here in elections past as well. The idea of slate voting isn't new.

As for my use of the word theocracy, I would say that Iraq, like most of the middle east, has traditionally had a hefty dose of religion in it's politics. Perhaps theocracy is not the proper word, but heavily religious Oligarchy might be a decent substitute. In any event, their past has in no way prepared them to be a democracy.

Whose past prepares one for self-government? In any case, if you went back in time, say, forty years, you might think that Iraq would be ideally suited for democracy:

"In retrospect, the 1970s can be seen as a highpoint in Iraq's modern history. A new, young, technocratic elite was governing the country, the fast growing economy brought stability and many Arabs outside Iraq considered it an example. However, the following decade would not be so good."

Again, I'm not saying that the US did the right thing by invading Iraq, or that Iraqi democracy is assured. However, I have more faith in the inherent ability of the Iraqi people to rule themselves than you do, apparently.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:31 PM on February 2, 2005


me & my monkey

However, I have more faith in the inherent ability of the Iraqi people to rule themselves than you do, apparently.

You obviously do. To be honest, however, I really am not wholly confident in the ability of the American people to self govern right now either - and that's not because Bush is in office, but because our wonderfully high voter turnout this past time was, what? maybe 50% of eligible voters?

The fact is that even we, the self-proclaimed "greatest democracy on earth" just aren't doing all that great of a job.

A democracy requires a people who are willing to self govern and take an interest. Perhaps, by that standard, the Iraqis are actually more qualified than us.
posted by Yellowbeard at 5:39 PM on February 2, 2005


Pardonyou? you said: "go back to the MetaFilter archives from February and March 2002 (i.e., before the start of the war), and you'll be able to read quite a bit from those who -- like myself -- identified this as the reason to support the war." ["This" being "liberating Iraqis from tyranny."]

I did as you said -- I went back and found that your posts in 2002 all stated opposition to an invasion until your post about Colin Powell's revelations (now discredited) to the UN in February 2003. The rest of your pro-war posts occur after that one.

How am I misled?
posted by Cassford at 5:41 PM on February 2, 2005


chinese_fashion:

I actually noticed you were a fellow Virginian (though you've since moved, I take it) back when you first joined, and have read your blog off and on, often agreeing both with your informed anti-Bush comments but also with the more conflicted blogposts like the one covered in this thread. All in all, great job covering the voting on Sunday. You deserve the honor of an FPP, I think ;) It's too bad more of the resulting comments here were not specifically about your impressions—or Lt Smash's admirable response—but that's MeFi, I guess. XQ's remark about the MeFi frontpage being covered with pro-Bush threads has still got me perplexed, though.

*scans frontpage for "Take THAT, liberals!" posts*



*crickets*


*tumbleweed*

posted by dhoyt at 5:45 PM on February 2, 2005


Look, I'm not just trying to play gotcha. My point is that this liberation thing is not the reason we went to war. It isn't the main, secondary, or tertiary reason. And, although I belive we should expend our treasure on liberating those under tyranny (something Bush has backed away from after the inaugural speech). I do not, however, believe that killing people is the way to do it.
posted by Cassford at 5:47 PM on February 2, 2005


Did I just see that lady at the State of the Union address?
posted by 31d1 at 7:03 PM on February 2, 2005


Bush is on my TV right now going on and on and on about how we were over there to fight terr'r, how so-and-so died fightin' terr'r, etc. So I guess is was WMD and 9-11 after all.
posted by raysmj at 7:09 PM on February 2, 2005


I wonder if the US is prepared to accept an Iraq that freely and democratically chooses to be fundamentalist Muslim and go right back to some of the same old stuff we "freed" them from. Just a thought.

It is outside the boundaries of discussion for a US-unfriendly government to result from US intervention. Any candidate or party who did things like demand all foreign troops of their soil, nationalise oil production and exports, consider taking actual bids on reconstruction contracts, sue the US for Abu Ghraib, etc., is by definition a radical nationalist or what have you, and such people, who no doubt have links to terrorism, are obviously not suitable for candidacy.
posted by Wataki at 7:29 PM on February 2, 2005


*scans frontpage for "Take THAT, liberals!" posts*

What, this one and Mick's masturbatory "Everyone sucks but me" piss-stain across the blue wasn't enough for you?

Considering pardonyou and Steve's demands for studying archives, did you bother to peruse Lt. Smash's? Or that of any other warblogger making their faux-sincere-pride "this is a glorious day for everyone" dribblings? This isn't celebrating a goddamn thing for Iraq or the Iraqi people. It's another right-wing blogger sitting on his ass in front of a monitor pretending that Sunday was all about him.

So to hell with him. To hell with him and every single one of them who spent three years treating those who dared to question policy the way the Founding Fathers desired for future generations like shit on the bottom of their shoes, only to pretend to care what one of them suddenly thinks because it reinforces what they typed the other day inbetween posts about how great Stargate SG-1 is. Only to act as if they'll give a damn about these Iraqis next year, next month, hell, next week.

These are people who spent three years berating me for being against the war. Spitting on my beliefs for marching against a war. Telling me I support murderers and terrorists. Warbloggers have spent three years CELEBRATING the needless death of uncounted numbers of innocent civilians and the destruction of over 1,400 American families as if they're their personal video game heroes. And now we're graced with their moment of calm benevolence to someone who agreed with them on something? Fuck that shit, yo.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:22 PM on February 2, 2005


What frustrates me is that, in a year or so, when it becomes painfully obvious that the Iraqi government is nothing even faintly resembling an inclusive democracy (and yes, I'll eat my words if I'm wrong, but I don't expect to be), suddenly all of these people are going to deny they ever said it was about spreading democracy. The same way it was about revenge for 9/11 until it became obvious Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. And then it was about WMD's until it became obvious there were no WMD's. Then it was about deposing the evil Saddam until it leaked out that we were torturing and murdering people there, too. Then it was about foreign terrorism in Iraq until it started being apparent that most of the people attacking us were just ordinary people angry about dead relatives. Then it was about handing over sovereignty to the Iraqis until it became clear that the sovereignty was a hollow sham. Now it's about the elections, until it becomes clear that the elections have done no good at all.

I expect next year people will be claiming it's all about sending a message to the United States' enemies - already seeing the groundwork being laid for that - until it turns out that the message seems to be, "Defy us, and we will allow you to do more damage to us than you ever dreamed possible." Maybe after that, they'll switch to claiming it was all about building permanent military bases in the Middle East all along.

It will have been always about the military bases. They will defy you to find a time when they ever claimed it was about anything other than the military bases.
posted by kyrademon at 9:58 PM on February 2, 2005


You do not own their courage.

The people who stood in line Sunday did not stand in line to make Americans feel good about themselves.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify lies about Saddam and al-Qaeda, so you don't own their courage, Stephen Hayes. They did not stand in line to justify lies about weapons of mass destruction, or to justify the artful dodginess of Ahmad Chalabi, so you don't own their courage, Judith Miller. They did not stand in line to provide pretty pictures for vapid suits to fawn over, so you don't own their courage, Howard Fineman, and neither do you, Chris Matthews.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line in order to justify the dereliction of a kept press. They did not stand in line to make right the wrongs born out of laziness, cowardice, and the easy acceptance of casual lying. They did not stand in line for anyone's grand designs. They did not stand in line to play pawns in anyone's great game, so you don't own their courage, you guys in the PNAC gallery.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to provide American dilettantes with easy rhetorical weapons, so you don't own their courage, Glenn Reynolds, with your cornpone McCarran act out of the bowels of a great university that deserves a helluva lot better than your sorry hide. They did not stand in line to be the instruments of tawdry vilification and triumphal hooting from bloghound commandos. They did not stand in line to become useful cudgels for cheap American political thuggery, so you don't own their courage, Freeper Nation.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify a thousand mistakes that have led to more than a thousand American bodies. They did not stand in line for the purpose of being a national hypnotic for a nation not even their own. They did not stand in line for being the last casus belli standing. They did not stand in line on behalf of people's book deals, TV spots, honorarium checks, or tinpot celebrity. They did not stand in line to be anyone's talking points.

You do not own their courage.

We all should remember that.

Taken from here (scroll down).
posted by euphorb at 10:04 PM on February 2, 2005


Thank you, euphorb, for the lucid quote. It really hits the mark of why this event is bitter.

I will add that, in a year or so, when everything has inevitably turned sour from mismanagement and corruption, that our American right-wing lot here and elsewhere will happily disabuse themselves of any ownership of this week's events, just as these people have already disabused themselves of any acknowledgement of Bush's speeches, using Iraq's "WMDs" as justification for this mess.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:54 PM on February 2, 2005


This Mr. Simmermon should speak for himself. It's true that there are huge numbers of mindless, knee-jerk liberals, just as there are awful right-wing twits. I should know -- I live in San Francisco.

But just because his personal belief system turned out to be poorly thought-out and insipid doesn't mean I don't have the right to be offended by little girls being bombed for political reasons.
posted by inksyndicate at 1:51 AM on February 3, 2005


If you went to the CNN web page this morning and found a story about a country having a free and fair election while under military occupation by its most powerful enemy, you'd post it to Metafilter along with a healthy dose of snark and sarcasm. (Has propaganda as an art jumped the shark? Insert 1984 reference here.) However, if the occupying power was the US and the target nation was Iraq or Afghanistan then you'd post the story along with a lot of pseudo-profound discussion about democracy and history and freedom.

I'm sorry. I don't mean this as a personal attack. A lot of my close friends see things this way as well. I get just as frustrated with them.

But look, realistically... Suppose that in Iraq the body count and the chaos quotient continue to escalate. Suppose this new government really brings down the hammer on the insurgents. Suppose the dissent of the general Iraqi population becomes increasingly evident and it's blatantly obvious that the "democratic" government doesn't care, doesn't give them any real voice in decision making. These are very real possibilities. And if they do come to pass, how long will it be before the US-spreading-democracy-at-gunpoint paradigm just falls down and dies? I think there will come a day when you point to Iraq and say "it's a democracy" and someone else will say "Doesn't look like one to me. Prove that it is." What happens then? What happens when people have to start entertaining the notion that, perhaps, the US's objectives have never been different from the objectives of other countries that use violence. That, perhaps, all conquests are bad things?

Here's what I think is going to happen: disillusionment. Anger. Justifications. Dissent. Distrust. Bitterness. Cultural upheaval. Maybe not on the order of the Viet Nam era. But still. I think there's a bad moon rising.
posted by Clay201 at 2:43 AM on February 3, 2005


Simmermon is, in his words, "atwirl" because he has no real moral compass. His liberal views were apparently so fragile that they could be turned around by an emotional outpouring from an interested group, just because that interested group happened to be in front of him.

The election, however it finally settles out, in no way justifies the U.S. invading another country.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:23 AM on February 3, 2005


yellowbeard: The direction I'm going here is this: Muslims have a fundamentally different outlook than Westerners. I disagree with your point that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the source of all troubles between Arabs and the West; the fact that extremist Islamism had its sources in Egypt and in the 1800s, I think, shows this.

Islam is a religion which has always had a fundamentally political outlook. It has dictated political law to its adherents, and it has required a certain political order. Is that order compatible with liberal democracy as the West knows it?

We in the West have a notion that the sovereignty of nations is the highest dignity, and that military solutions are always bankrupt. This may be correct, but it isn't the Muslim view of things. Muhammad repeatedly stressed that, when you can liberate by invasion, you must. I submit that his form of theocracy is in some ways a better form of government than liberal democracy, and that we have a lot to learn.

I'm sorry if some of the things I've said have been offensive. They are, however, somewhat well-grounded. The Kant bit, for example: see here. You'll find, reading this, that I was correct, and that Kant never ascribes "rights" to sovereign nations, although he holds sovereignty very high and would probably agree that invasion is wrong. Before you tell someone to "read Kant," read it yourself, guy: the ethics bit can be gleaned from any first-year philosophy course. He was a political thinker, too, y'know.
posted by koeselitz at 8:58 AM on February 3, 2005


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