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Footprints in the Sand
August 9, 2005 11:25 AM   Subscribe

"I think my beliefs had changed once we were on the ground. Within days we had seized all of the oil fields in northern Iraq and our primary mission was to protect them. Bush had said this war wasn't about oil, but there I was defending oil fields at all costs in the middle of Iraq. A lot of the piping and workings of the fields had been destroyed by the fleeing army and before we even started to help the people by fixing the power or water supplies, they had construction crews trying to get everything up and running on the oil fields."

An interview with Zechariah, 25, of Lynnwood, Washington. He enlisted in the Army when he was 21, and was deployed to Iraq from March 2003 to January 2004 with the 173rd Airborne Brigade as a medic.
posted by The Jesse Helms (120 comments total)

 
Yes, you were defending oil, and deposing a lunatic, and helping to stabilize an important region of the world. This is news?
posted by ParisParamus at 11:33 AM on August 9, 2005


Way to support the troops, PP.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:35 AM on August 9, 2005


Yes, you were defending oil, and deposing a lunatic, and helping to stabilize an important region of the world. This is news?

And what were you doing?
posted by delmoi at 11:35 AM on August 9, 2005


[wearing the very shocked face reserved for terribly surprising events]
They have oil in Iraq?
posted by NinjaPirate at 11:38 AM on August 9, 2005


Anyone who thinks this war was about anything other than oil is ignorant, willfully or otherwise.

It was a trillion-dollar investment sold to the American public as a super-scary "gathering threat".

And we bought it!
posted by wakko at 11:39 AM on August 9, 2005


Armies need oil to fight wars. I think this was probably strategy.

I'm not saying oil wasn't one of the reasons we were there, or that I agree with the war, or that Bush isn't an evil jackass, but that capturing oil has been part of war since the internal combustion engine was invented.
posted by bondcliff at 11:39 AM on August 9, 2005


And what were you doing?

I suspect that Paris had some ailment that prevented him from joining the Army. A cold, perhaps, or some hay fever.
posted by unreason at 11:39 AM on August 9, 2005


helping to stabilize an important region of the world

This is the funniest thing you've ever posted, PP.
posted by wakko at 11:40 AM on August 9, 2005


Yes, you were defending oil, and deposing a lunatic, and helping to stabilize an important region of the world. This is news?

Two outta three ain't bad.
posted by Rothko at 11:42 AM on August 9, 2005


PP's usual foolishness aside, I think that the argument that defending oil facilities means that the war is about oil is a little inaccurate. Regardless of whether or not the war is about oil, the fact remains that the oil money was supposed to pay for long-term reconstruction efforts, and that oil facilities were a natural target for the enemy. Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that the war wasn't about oil. I'm merely saying that this isn't really a very good argument in support of that proposition.
posted by unreason at 11:43 AM on August 9, 2005


I am going to go help "stabilize an important region" of the bathroom; just ate a big lunch and I've got a dump brewing that could choke Ann Coulter.
posted by wakko at 11:44 AM on August 9, 2005


I'll stabilize YOUR region!

Sorry, I just had to say that. I don't even know what that would mean, but it sounds funny.
posted by unreason at 11:45 AM on August 9, 2005


"Yer-uh whistlin' for a misslin', Saddam."
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:46 AM on August 9, 2005


They should have called it Operation WALMART because that is what it really is about. Free Market Economy wrapped under the guise of democracy. They are on their way to being an emerging market. A country full of McDonalds and fat people who eat it. That is when the mission will be accomplished.
They will have the Iraqi dream. A McMansion with a swimming pool, 2.3 kids, and a 2 car garage full of toys.
Next stop lipitor for the mid life cholesterol boon.
posted by a3matrix at 11:49 AM on August 9, 2005


I can't help it. Consequences be damned.

PP, you are an asshole.
posted by oddman at 11:54 AM on August 9, 2005


I really think the Mcdonaldization of Iraq is just a nice side benefit. Gaining control of the second-largest oil reserves in the region is definitely the main goal of this little military exercise.
posted by wakko at 11:56 AM on August 9, 2005


In fact, what that soldier was doing was protecting the infrastructure that has added $35 billion dollars to the Iraqi economy since June 2003. From here and more specifically here (pages 23 and 24). Protecting those oilfields was the duty of the US army as the defacto custodians of the country, given that the decision to invade was made.

Please keep in mind also that like it or not, ParisParamus's comment was on topic. Insulting and mocking him is derailing the thread and adding noise (and it also makes you look intolerant of other's ideas and opinions).
posted by loquax at 11:57 AM on August 9, 2005


ParisParamus's comment was on topic. Insulting and mocking him is derailing the thread and adding noise (and it also makes you look intolerant of other's ideas and opinions).

Not really. Just his.
posted by wakko at 12:00 PM on August 9, 2005


and helping to stabilize an important region of the world

There is none so blind as he that will not see.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2005


So deposing lunatics is not OK on MetaFilter?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:04 PM on August 9, 2005


No, it's not OK as national policy.
posted by wakko at 12:06 PM on August 9, 2005


So deposing lunatics is not OK on MetaFilter?

Find ten things wrong with that question and have it signed by a parent.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:07 PM on August 9, 2005


I meant MetaFilter lunatics.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:08 PM on August 9, 2005


Well, that's perfectly fine.
posted by wakko at 12:08 PM on August 9, 2005


(I mean, look what happened to Shouting.)
posted by wakko at 12:08 PM on August 9, 2005


I rather strongly suspect the Iraqis would much rather have drinking water, not crude oil.

The priorities reflect US business interests, not civilian interests.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:09 PM on August 9, 2005


Actually loquax, what I'm intolerant of is flippant and caustic dismissals of the suffering of others. Giving PP credit for putting forth an idea is, quite frankly, amazingly generous of you.

He took the very real concerns and very palpable pain of a man and frankly, took a shit on them. Concerns and pain that should demand sympathy (if empathy cannot be mustered) were, instead, met with a derisive and cynical comment attempting to cast the soldier's position as ignorant and foolish. PP did not even have the courtesy of attempting to address the underlying substantive issues as you and unreason did.

I stand by my original assessment.
posted by oddman at 12:09 PM on August 9, 2005


Wakko, do you seriously not realize that Shouting was attacked for basically behaving in the same way you are in this thread?
posted by loquax at 12:09 PM on August 9, 2005


unreason beat me to it.
posted by blendor at 12:10 PM on August 9, 2005


What, posting a lot? Because he was also insane. But you can go ahead and call me out on MeTa if it makes you feel any better.
posted by wakko at 12:13 PM on August 9, 2005


Ugh, this is getting ridiculous. Of course you're guarding the oil reserves. Do you no remember what happened last time they let the Guard come through? They burnt it all and created a huge national disaster. Oil is a strategically significant resource even if the war weren't specifically about oil.

Even if let's pretend, hypothetically, that the party line of this not being about oil and about getting rid of a despotic dictator is correct. Under this assumption protecting the oil reserves is still vitally important to the US and world economy. They still would have committed significant resources to protecting and rebuilding the oil infrastructure.

This is not indicitive that we went to war just for the oil. I think the fact we did not dispose of another country (such as N. Korea) which has a worse humanitarian and non-compliance record points more to Iraq only being invaded because of oil. I do not see a smoking gun in this argument.
posted by geoff. at 12:17 PM on August 9, 2005


This thread is getting a bit noisy. Where's the oil?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:17 PM on August 9, 2005


So deposing lunatics is not OK on MetaFilter?

Deposing lunatics is fine by this MeFite, but you better a)figure out a way to do it with a minimmum of bloodshed and b) make sure that he isn't replaced by something even worse.
posted by jonmc at 12:17 PM on August 9, 2005


Protecting those oilfields was the duty of the US army as the defacto custodians of the country

You're right. Oil is way more important than the 25,000 Iraqi civilians, the 250 contractors, or the 1,800 American and 200 coalition troops, who have been confirmed dead because of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

And to the 13,000 American troops (and countless others) who have been injured... chicks dig scars. Your missing leg is a totally sexy reminder that oil rules all.
posted by mosch at 12:18 PM on August 9, 2005


ParisParamus's comment was on topic. Insulting and mocking him is derailing the thread and adding noise (and it also makes you look intolerant of other's ideas and opinions).

I'm mostly a lurker here, so I have nothing to lose nor gain by being honest, but I'd like to state the one thing that has become painfully obvious to me after months and months of reading the banter here on MeFi: ParisParamus is a loon and a hack. He says the most baseless, indefensible things then leaves the topic altogether. He optimizes the "group-think" running rampant on the right side of the ideological spectrum, all the while smugly regarding himself as an intellectual paragon and righteous free-thinker.

Quite simply, he's an arrogant gasbag who makes even bevets look sane. I hope he has worn out his novelty act and I look forward to the day he actually stops fouling up "The Blue" with his tripe.

/end 1st EVER rant on MeFi.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 12:18 PM on August 9, 2005


They should have called it Operation WALMART because that is what it really is about. Free Market Economy wrapped under the guise of democracy.

Except it's not even a free market, and saying so can get you in trouble.
posted by homunculus at 12:20 PM on August 9, 2005


I'd have less problem with it if the U.S. would charge the oil companies for services rendered. Yes, the oil companies would pass that cost off to us at the pump -- and so they should. Subsidy by military is still subsidy.

The thing is, if you'd put this proposition to the oil companies they'd never have gone for it. From a cost/benefit perspective it'd be a catastrophe if they had to carry it on their own books. That, and they know damn good and well that Americans don't really want to know what their oil costs, and they sure as fuck don't want us finding out at the pump. Much more politic to hide it in the budget, or rather, given that it's this government of so-called conservatives we're talking about, in the deficit.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:21 PM on August 9, 2005


Just to be clear, I come here to read the often very thoughtful and fairly well-informed comments that appear from both sides of the political spectrum. However PP's posts are like speed bumps...jarringly annoying; they do nothing more than slow a topics forward momentum.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 12:22 PM on August 9, 2005


Oh, and I'm fine with deposing dangerous lunatics.

I'm not okay with wars fought on false pretense, without honest debate about the likely effects, both positive and negative.
posted by mosch at 12:26 PM on August 9, 2005


On the money, mr.curdmudgeon. Something in that article about hospitals, medical supplies or something....? Now that's deeply worr - no! Over here! OIL FIGHT!
posted by klaatu at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2005


I'd have less problem with it if the U.S. would charge the oil companies for services rendered. Yes, the oil companies would pass that cost off to us at the pump -- and so they should. Subsidy by military is still subsidy.

In a sane world, this would happen. But when the current President and Vice President have spent their past lives as heads of prominent energy companies... well, you can see the result.
posted by wakko at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2005


How do PP and dios always get the first comment on these political threads? It's like they are constantly hitting refresh on the main page, waiting to drop one of their ignorance turds in front of everyone. Then they run away and snicker.

It's the internet equivalent of leaving a bag of burning poo on someone's doorstep.
posted by Espoo2 at 12:33 PM on August 9, 2005


Note: defending oil wells is one thing. Getting them up and running before you get water and electricity up and running = another thing altogether.
posted by Billegible at 12:35 PM on August 9, 2005


How do PP and dios always get the first comment on these political threads?

A subtle mixture of OCD and desperation. I'd imagine.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 12:36 PM on August 9, 2005


Yes, you were defending oil, and deposing a lunatic, and helping to stabilize an important region of the world. This is news?

The really annoying thing is that PP spouts this crap as if this were the intent of the US invasion of Iraq.

Maybe if he would have said something like this:

Yes, you were defending oil, while other US forces were going through the motions of looking for WMDs, our stated objective and reason for this invasion. Yes, you were deposing a lunatic, not unlike many others around the world, but we're not interested in them right now because they're not sitting on the last oil reserves in the world, and have no other interests worth usurping. This is news?

Then he'd just be an asshole, rather than an asshole and a neocon shill.
posted by tetsuo at 12:47 PM on August 9, 2005


In an unrelated note, I love you all and think all of your opinions are valid, even the insane, intentionally provocative or poorly presented ones.

There, that should win me some friends, and that's what metafilter is all about!
posted by davejay at 12:48 PM on August 9, 2005


that the oil money was supposed to pay for long-term reconstruction efforts
What long-term reconstruction efforts? Other than the major structural work Haliburton needed on their coffers to make sure it could take the weight, that is. The reconstruction of Iraq? Why? That's Iraqi oil, not US oil. If the US (and the coalition of the willing) invade, it's their responsibility to clean up their mess, surely?
posted by kaemaril at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2005


Listen, dios and PP do the same thing: they get a quick line in right off the top, and then we all run around discussing what they said instead of focusing on the the topic. Stop feeding the trolls. Their goal is disruption.

Now what were we talking about?
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 12:56 PM on August 9, 2005


This thread reminds me of Cheney's STILL SECRET oil baron's meeting pre 9/11 and how when the invasion of Bagdhad occured the troops were directed to protect ONLY the Oil Ministry building.
Not that oil has ANYTHING to do with the financial interests of the Bush crime family.
Correct King Farkwad of Saudi Arabia?
Nope, nothing at all.

Guess oil is thicker than blood.
posted by nofundy at 12:57 PM on August 9, 2005


All of this discussion leaves me with one question:

What would it take to get the neo-fundy crowd to actually admit that going into Iraq was a mistake?

I'd have thought it would have happened when we didn't find WMD's there (If I were mean I'd dig up old PP quotes to that effect) but apparently not.
posted by aaronscool at 12:58 PM on August 9, 2005


If we're talking about prioritization and hypotheticals, how many fewer civilians would have died as a result of the "insurgency" and terrorism if say, France had sent 10,000 soldiers to secure the borders? Or if Germany had sent another 15,000? And if Canada had sent 1000 to train police officers, freeing up more Americans to fight? And how many fewer would have died if China had Russia had sent 30,000 each? It's very easy to criticize post-invasion American decision making while others "watch with detached curiosity, from dry land, to see whether the Iraqis will sink or swim", as Hitchens said today on Slate.

Billegible: It is far more complicated to defend, repair and maintain electrical and water systems than it is to do the same for oil facilities and pipelines. Utilities are very vulnerable to sabotage, as they are by definition ubiquitous in heavily populated areas. Oil facilities are more remote and more defensible. There is no more telling example of this than the fact that by October, 2003, overall electricity production for the entire country was above pre-war levels, but not in Baghdad. By now, country-wide production is 10% above pre-war levels. Telephone subscribers have increased by 500%, internet subscribers by some 2500%. Commercial TV stations from 0 to 29, radio stations from 0 to 80, newspapers from 0 to 180+. In addition, oil production was not something that Hussein let slip into dereliction, quite the opposite for the utilities. Obviously things are not perfect, obviously the Americans and others have made mistakes, but positive things are happening, like it or not. Just take a look at the opinion polls on pages 30-41 - In April 2005 82% of Iraqis believed their lives would be better in a year, even 40% of Sunnis agreed. 65% are hopeful for the future, 56% believe that things will get better slowly, and only 22% believe that their lives were better before the war. It's very hard for me to be cynical about those numbers, and even harder for me to accept that so many seem fixated on the negative, to the point where encouragement and fostering of the positive is brushed aside as imperialism, or babykilling or thirst for oil.

However PP's posts are like speed bumps

So let's have yet another thread devoted to attacking him personally? That's more of a speed bump in reading the site to me. Why can you not simply flag and ignore? And to make a tired tired point again, his comments are no different than the majority of comments of a political nature on this site, only coming from the other side. At least 50% of the comments made in these kinds of threads are "baseless and indefensible" rhetoric - partly that's the nature of commenting on a website instead of say, writing a thesis, and partly it's because you don't need to justify your claims when it's clear that the vast majority of the participants in a particular discussion agree wholeheartedly with your worldview.
posted by loquax at 12:58 PM on August 9, 2005


And where are those billions of dollars that were confiscated during the invasion?
Did the South Carolina GOP spend it on beer money again?

What happened to our free ride on quickly rebuilding Iraq and our cake walk too?!

Dammit, I'm getting tired of being lied to like a cheap whore!
Where is Osama?
Is he Dead Or Alive?
I was PROMISED Osama!
:-)
posted by nofundy at 1:02 PM on August 9, 2005


Loquax quotes Hitchens and then presumes to lecture MeFi users on the goodness of PeePee. [head asplodes]
posted by nofundy at 1:05 PM on August 9, 2005


Why can you not simply flag and ignore?

Flagging a right-wing post does nothing. The MeFi admins leave these posts be because they want to believe that these are honest opinions. It's apparent that there will never be sufficient evidence for ParisParamus and friends to be considered trolls.
posted by mosch at 1:05 PM on August 9, 2005


This bit from the article caught my eye:

How was your homecoming back in the states?

[snip]

The amount of support that people show towards the troops is insane. But there are a lot more who don't support us than before the war started and are pretty vocal about it, like it's our fault. I had to go to Ft. Lewis (near Tacoma, Washington) and I had to be in uniform. Some lady saw me, and ran up to my car and yelled at me for killing innocent Iraqis and threw her gum at my car. ... I've had two other times where someone saw my old unit sticker in my car and yelled at me for signing up and supporting the Army.

Jesus. I'm as bleeding heart/anti-war as they come, and all this time I thought this kind of stuff was just rhetoric from the right. Surely noone would insult a soldier on their way back from Iraq... Offer their condolences, maybe.

This just makes me sick.
posted by kableh at 1:06 PM on August 9, 2005


Why can you not simply flag and ignore?

You're right, let's talk about how nobody likes davejay (j/k).
posted by tetsuo at 1:07 PM on August 9, 2005


Nofundy, you're as tired an act as PP and the rest. Really.

And again, bleeding heart liberal here. loquax brings up a good point.
posted by kableh at 1:08 PM on August 9, 2005


And to make a tired tired point again, his comments are no different than the majority of comments of a political nature on this site, only coming from the other side.

This is where you and I (and most of the rest of the people here) appear to differ.

Paris posts one steaming nugget of dumb at the top of a thread and leaves. He contributes nothing. But he knows exactly what to say to get the entire place to go apeshit. His comments are not analogous to someone on the left side of the aisle making baseless claims, because nobody does it in the same aggravatingly cowardly manner as he does.
posted by wakko at 1:15 PM on August 9, 2005


Loquax: "If we're talking about prioritization and hypotheticals, how many fewer civilians would have died as a result of the "insurgency" and terrorism if say, France had sent 10,000 soldiers to secure the borders? Or if Germany had sent another 15,000? And if Canada had sent 1000 to train police officers, freeing up more Americans to fight? And how many fewer would have died if China had Russia had sent 30,000 each? It's very easy to criticize post-invasion American decision making "

Jesus, now it's the fault of the French, Germans, Canadians, Chinese, and Russians that Iraq is a shocking cock-up??? C'mon, be serious. I know you meant it as a "hypothetical," but at least be sure to mention this is a bullshit hypothetical. Please.

Regarding Zechariah's negative experiences, I'm of two minds about this. Yes, I know they're doing a job (a difficult one, no doubt about it, made worse by an administration that can't seem to give two shits about adequate troop strengths or Humvee armor) and, for the most part, doing it well. But this niggles in the back of my mind. If they weren't there, following orders and actually implementing the neocon, PNAC dream, then, well, would there actually be a war? No, I'm not talking about mass mutiny and desertions, to be sure, but I can--in a small way--understand the opinions held by some stateside who see that the soldiers themselves have some blame in the overall invasion and occupation.

You may flame when you are ready, Mr. Gridley.
posted by John of Michigan at 1:17 PM on August 9, 2005


How do PP and dios always get the first comment on these political threads?

Well, I suspect that they can really monitor threads closely and post early if all they're doing is sitting in front of the computer in Mom's basement.
posted by Ber at 1:18 PM on August 9, 2005


kableh, just as the people with the yellow (now largely faded to white, cheap crap that they are) magnetic ribbons on their cars conflate supporting the war with supporting the troops, that lady conflates opposing the troops with opposing the war. Personally I believe in supporting the troops by not sending them off to die for wealthy self-dealing assholes.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:18 PM on August 9, 2005


Paris' comment is pretty tame, compared to his usual fare, and no more brainless than wakko's.

Of course, no one calls out curmudgeon for the derail. Take it to MeTa if the flags seem insufficient. And keep grinding your axe over there, mosch. Sharp enough to split a hare, I'd reckon.
I believe that had the US (and allied forces) not tried to secure the oilfields, people would be hemming and hawing about how stupid they were for letting a multibillion dollar revenue source get destroyed and inflating the cost of the war. Of course, this would lead to even bigger Halliburton contracts, and then we'd hear that we left the fields and pipelines unprotected to make more money for Dick Cheney.

Damned if they do...
posted by Kwantsar at 1:19 PM on August 9, 2005


George_Spiggot, duly noted. I just hope there aren't nearly as many assholes calling soldiers baby-killers as there are with those fscking ribbons.
posted by kableh at 1:24 PM on August 9, 2005


No seriously what was the war about? WMD's? Oil? Madmen in power?

What is the measure by which we'll know that we have succeeded in specific terms? Isn't this what you are supposed to know in advance to know if things are going well or not?
posted by aaronscool at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2005


Personally I believe in supporting the troops by not sending them off to die for wealthy self-dealing assholes.


That makes two of us.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:35 PM on August 9, 2005


And if Canada had sent 1000 to train police officers, freeing up more Americans to fight?

Freeing up more Americans to fight is not a goal that many Canadians would support. Think of it as a flytrap - if they're tied up over there, they can't screw up any more countries.
If the US had done the right thing and handed the reconstruction over to the UN, there would have been much more international aid. Instead, Bush demanded donations of money manpower and, implicitly, the blood of Canadian and European soldiers while keeping all control in the hands of those who screwed up the country in the first place. What Canadian politician could support that? ( I know, Harper - and look where his political instincts have lead him.) The Canadians and Europeans rightly told the US to either clean up its own mess or get out of the way and let someone competent do it.
posted by Zetetics at 1:40 PM on August 9, 2005


I am thankful for his service.

His comments reflect someone who has a shallow, immediate view of his actions taken versus someone who has thought deeply and understands the larger picture.

Iraq needs the oil to get back on its feet again.

It's disturbing that some people would treat him as they did when he returned, but I guess he can take solace the ignorant person taunting him is in the minority.
posted by zymurgy at 1:41 PM on August 9, 2005


His comments are not analogous to someone on the left side of the aisle making baseless claims, because nobody does it in the same aggravatingly cowardly manner as he does.

I have to disagree here. Some users (VP_Admin comes to mind) have made left-wing comments in a similar manner. The difference is that they got run off the site.
posted by mosch at 1:43 PM on August 9, 2005


If we're talking about prioritization and hypotheticals, how many fewer civilians would have died as a result of the "insurgency" and terrorism if say, France had sent 10,000 soldiers to secure the borders? Or if Germany had sent another 15,000? And if Canada had sent 1000 to train police officers, freeing up more Americans to fight? And how many fewer would have died if China had Russia had sent 30,000 each? It's very easy to criticize post-invasion American decision making while others "watch with detached curiosity, from dry land, to see whether the Iraqis will sink or swim", as Hitchens said today on Slate.

How many civilians would have died if we'd not gone to war at all, which is what France, Germany, Canada, China and Russia wanted us to do?

To blame these nations, who opposed your actions for your own failures, on the basis that if they'd helped you you wouldn't have fucked up as bad is contemptible, to a magnitude that I can't really find the words to express.
posted by delmoi at 1:51 PM on August 9, 2005


The Canadians and Europeans rightly told the US to either clean up its own mess or get out of the way and let someone competent do it.

And if the Americans can't "clean up their mess" (again, ignoring the many positives that have emerged from Iraq over the last few years)? The Iraqis can go to hell with them? The Americans likely don't need help from anyone in accomplishing their objectives in Iraq, the question as raised earlier was how many civilians have died needlessly as a result of American actions and priorities (notably protecting the oil wells instead of alternative activities). I posited that along with that line of reasoning, we have to open the floor to other hypothetical events, actions and villains that may have possibly led to an increased civilian death toll. Like, for example, many countries capable of helping and protecting Iraqis not getting involved.

That being said, I would have the utmost respect for any world leader that were to say something along the lines of "I abhor the process and actions that got us to this point, and I disagree with George Bush and the Americans, but I will send my army to Iraq to save Iraqis from car bombs, snipers, fundamentalists and anything else". Nobody deserves to live in fear and danger because some governments are trying to prove a geopolitical point, as you claim, when help would be comparatively easy to provide.

Delmoi: As I said above, I stated it as a hypothetical in response to the second-guessing of American decision making with respect to the oil wells. I'm also operating under the constraint that the US did invade, and needed no one's help. That cannot be undone. Every country, every person now has a choice about what to do about Iraq, when help would be welcomed primarily by the Iraqis, not the Americans. It's abundantly clear that many are choosing to do nothing and let the Americans "clean up their own mess".
posted by loquax at 1:58 PM on August 9, 2005


From the hitchens article that loquacks posted

It never seemed to me that there was any alternative to confronting the reality of Iraq, which was already on the verge of implosion and might, if left to rot and crash, have become to the region what the Congo is to Central Africa: a vortex of chaos and misery that would draw in opportunistic interventions from Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Bad as Iraq may look now, it is nothing to what it would have become without the steadying influence of coalition forces.

Evidence? Fuck that shit. Who needs evidence when you can simply make assertions?

Saddam ruled with an iron fist for decades, and defeated the shia insergency after the first Iraq war. If it hadn't been for us, he would have stayed in power.

Honestly, if I had been in charge of the United States after 9/11 I would have kissed and made up to Saddam, Iraq under Saddam could have been a bullwark against Islamic Fundementalism. And if he wasn't willing to play ball, so what? There was no reason for America to attack him; he posed no threat to us in his weakened state.

And even then, An invasion could have succeeded if the administration had been willing to make the sacrifices needed, rather then the stupid plans laid by people hopped up on their own delusions of grandeur.

Hitchens is hardly better then PP, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 1:59 PM on August 9, 2005


Fact is, it wasn't that long ago that military use for national-corporate power was not only normal, it was acceptable (except it wasn't "corporate" -- call it what you will). Just look at the long history of interventions in Latin America, and prior to the second half of the 20th century, without pretense.

on preview: Iraq under Saddam could have been a bullwark against Islamic Fundementalism

He was. That's why the U.S. liked him for so long. He was a secularist, so they figured that this was a guy in the region that they could work with.
posted by dreamsign at 2:04 PM on August 9, 2005


loquax: That's the biggest load of hogwash I've ever heard.

If we're floating BS hypotheticals that will never happen, what would have happened if the UN had sent troops to prevent the illegal invasion of a sovereign state by the US?

Could potentially more lives been saved? There's an argument that could be made, at least as tenable as your multi-paragraph dithering.

Other states are under no obligation to subsidize this scam.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2005


17th corollary to Godwin's Law:

Any reference to Hitchins results in the immediate nullification of all points scored by the tne conservative side of the argument.
posted by mygoditsbob at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2005


Since no one seems to have come up with an answer and everyone it throwing out hypotheticals here's mine:

What if it were required prior to going to war that the President answer this one question in writing. We will know we have won this conflict when ________________

I'd love to see what the answer to that would have been compared to the reality of what we see today.
posted by aaronscool at 2:13 PM on August 9, 2005


His comments reflect someone who has a shallow, immediate view of his actions taken versus someone who has thought deeply and understands the larger picture.

EVIDENCE IS FOR THE WEAK. Why back up your claims when you can baselessly attack someone who put his life on the line for the country? If they disagree with you, clearly, they are idiots. Not deep thinkers like the deep dark damp dangly depths of zymurgy!


I would have the utmost respect for any world leader that were to say something along the lines of "I abhor the process and actions that got us to this point, and I disagree with George Bush and the Americans, but I will send my army to Iraq to save Iraqis from car bombs, snipers, fundamentalists and anything else". Nobody deserves to live in fear and danger because some governments are trying to prove a geopolitical point, as you claim, when help would be comparatively easy to provide.

Lolerskates. You think the world works that way? Would these troops then be under American command? Or in this situation are the Americans supposed acquiesce to another army coming in and doing whatever the hell they want? Which completely impossible situation are you hoping for, here?

If the US were to give up and hand control over the UN, I am certain you would see troops from all over the world involved in Iraq.

Delmoi: As I said above, I stated it as a hypothetical in response to the second-guessing of American decision making with respect to the oil wells.

Well, whatever you're intent was it came across as insulting nonsense.
posted by delmoi at 2:14 PM on August 9, 2005


Paris' comment is pretty tame, compared to his usual fare, and no more brainless than wakko's.

Of course, no one calls out curmudgeon for the derail.


Derail began with the first comment. Talk about brainless...
posted by wakko at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2005


Hey, what would have happened if the SCOTUS had let the Florida Recount continue, and Al Gore had won the 2000 election?

What would have happened if Mohamed Atta had slept in on 9/11?

What would have happened if France, Germany, Russia, and China all invaded Alabama?

What if the South had won the civil war, and opposed the Iraq invasion?

Hypotheticals are fun!
posted by delmoi at 2:19 PM on August 9, 2005


Why is it nonsense why I throw out hypotheticals, and sober reasoning when others claim that had the Americans taken care of other priorities before securing the oil wells, less civilians would have died and life in Iraq would be better? It's just as hypothetical, and just as unprovable. Of course I know that France, Germany et al would never have contributed troops to the current reconstruction and security phase of what's happening in Iraq, but had they, in an independent or cooperative policing or border patrol context, would things not be better as well? Whatever, I won't mention it again, it's hardly central to this discussion. My apologies if I've offended anyone with my opinion. It certainly seems that I have from the name calling and unreasonably hostile attitude of some around here.

aaronscool: That is a very valid point, and one that I separate from the realities as I see them in Iraq. None of the comments I make have anything to do with American politics, or the Bush administration's logic, intentions or plans, because frankly, I have no idea what they are, and I doubt that others are as correct about them as they think they are. My support of what's happened and what's happening in Iraq come from my libertarian leanings, and from the view that any action that replaces totalitarianism and oppression with freedom and liberty is a good one, like WW2, like opposing the Soviets, and so on. As to your question, I certainly have no answer from the President's perspective, but from mine, it would be when Iraq and Iraqis are able to choose their own destiny and live as free human beings in whatever configuration, as opposed to the serfs and slaves that they were.
posted by loquax at 2:28 PM on August 9, 2005


That being said, I would have the utmost respect for any world leader that were to say something along the lines of "I abhor the process and actions that got us to this point, and I disagree with George Bush and the Americans, but I will send my army to Iraq to save Iraqis from car bombs, snipers, fundamentalists and anything else". Nobody deserves to live in fear and danger because some governments are trying to prove a geopolitical point, as you claim, when help would be comparatively easy to provide.

What sort of logic is this? Sure this would be nice for us I guess but really what would we learn from this? It's ok to invade who ever we want to and cause all kinds of havoc because if it gets really bad the rest of the world will see the mess we made and come clean it up?

Come on...that kind of logic leads to spoiled brats in children and in nations.
posted by aaronscool at 2:32 PM on August 9, 2005


it would be when Iraq and Iraqis are able to choose their own destiny and live as free human beings in whatever configuration, as opposed to the serfs and slaves that they were.

And if they choose a theocracy that holds America in the same regard as the other theocracies in the region, and furthermore decide they'd be better off selling their oil to China and not us? Do you believe that that is a choice we'll permit them to make no matter how "freely" they choose it?

That being said, I would have the utmost respect for any world leader that were to say something along the lines of [...]

"We disagree with your aims and objectives, nevertheless we will send our troops to serve your aims and objectives anyway, under your command."

You'd respect that, would you? I'm sure you'd respect it if I gave you my money, my home and my dog, but I'm not about to do it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:45 PM on August 9, 2005


"I abhor the process and actions that got us to this point, and I disagree with George Bush and the Americans, but I will send my army to Iraq to save Iraqis from car bombs, snipers, fundamentalists and anything else"

How would that work exactly? They're supposed to put their own soldiers under the authority of the very people whose abhorrent process and actions caused the mess in the first place? Or do they just go in as as an independent force and hope the Americans don't mind?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:47 PM on August 9, 2005


So I apologize for my previous post...arguments about hypothetical situations are dangerous territory.

That said:
As to your question, I certainly have no answer from the President's perspective, but from mine, it would be when Iraq and Iraqis are able to choose their own destiny and live as free human beings in whatever configuration, as opposed to the serfs and slaves that they were.

I to hope that the end result will be a free and democratic Iraq. I don't think however this is a legitimate reason for an invasion of another country. Who would be next then? Cuba? China?

Unfortunately while I agree with and share your desire for freedom I don't think it is wise to try and use force to bring it to others. This is something that the best free countries have had to do for themselves and who wear those efforts as badges of honor.

Most specifically war as a means of "regime change" is pretty specifically against international law...no?
posted by aaronscool at 2:48 PM on August 9, 2005


loquax: "My support of what's happened and what's happening in Iraq come from my libertarian leanings"

What's libertarian about invading another country and telling them how to run things?

loquax: "but from mine, it would be when Iraq and Iraqis are able to choose their own destiny and live as free human beings in whatever configuration, as opposed to the serfs and slaves that they were."

They aren't capable of making this choice without our help?
posted by notyou at 2:51 PM on August 9, 2005


Why is it nonsense why I throw out hypotheticals, and sober reasoning when others claim that had the Americans taken care of other priorities before securing the oil wells, less civilians would have died and life in Iraq would be better?

Cop: "If you haddn't shot her, she'd not be dead"

Murderer: "If she hadn't been such a bitch, I'd not have shot her."

Cop: "So?"

Murderer: "Well, I'm just saying, let's not deal in hypotheticals."

---

My support of what's happened and what's happening in Iraq come from my libertarian leanings, and from the view that any action that replaces totalitarianism and oppression with freedom and liberty is a good one, like WW2, like opposing the Soviets, and so on.

Yes. Those Iraqis sure are enjoying their Freedom and Liberty.

If you're really a Libertarian, you surely believe that US taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for this boondoggle, no? And that members of the armed forces should be paid a market rate, and be free to quit whenever they feel like it?

The real Libertarian position, IMO, would be that being forced to participate (financially and physically) in an orgy of violence to line the pockets of others, or even to 'liberate' others.

I mean how is liberating iraqi's any different then welfare, except instead of part of your paycheck, you give up your life.

But that would be the "real" Libertarian position, not the Glen Reynolds "I love the republicans and everything they do, no matter how bad for Civil Liberties" branch of libertarianism.
posted by delmoi at 2:54 PM on August 9, 2005


And if they choose a theocracy that holds America in the same regard as the other theocracies in the region, and furthermore decide they'd be better off selling their oil to China and not us? Do you believe that that is a choice we'll permit them to make no matter how "freely" they choose it?

It doesn't matter who they sell it too, as long as they do. If China buys iraqi oil, we buy Venezuelan oil.

But it does seem like the Iraqis will democratically elect a Oppressive Theocracy, ala Iran. Great strides in Libertarian ideals, there.

By the way, Iraq, under Saddam had the most equitable situation for women in the Middle east.
posted by delmoi at 2:57 PM on August 9, 2005


I would have the utmost respect for any world leader that were to say something along the lines of "I abhor the process and actions that got us to this point, and I disagree with George Bush and the Americans, but I will send my army to Iraq to save Iraqis from car bombs, snipers, fundamentalists and anything else".

I've encountered this line of reasoning countless times in the past two years or so, of course, but it still blows my mind whenever I hear it. Somehow, we're supposed to be able to acknowledge that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq and then leap immediately to supporting ithe occupation. Somehow, an armed occupation morphs into "saving" Iraqis. And if we had even more troops from more countries, we could "save" even more Iraqis. In the same sense that we "saved" all those villages in Viet Nam, I guess.

I think George Orwell would really be impressed.

And if they choose a theocracy that holds America in the same regard as the other theocracies in the region, and furthermore decide they'd be better off selling their oil to China and not us? Do you believe that that is a choice we'll permit them to make no matter how "freely" they choose it?

You're absolutely right; for the reasons you state and some others, no American government left to its own devices will allow Iraqis to control their own country. They'll be allowed to choose the colors in the flag and argue over how much to spend on schools, but that's going to be about as far as it goes. That's how we know that every time the word "democracy" comes out of a Bushists's mouth in a statement regarding Iraq, it's a sick joke.
posted by Clay201 at 3:01 PM on August 9, 2005


"I will send my army to Iraq to save Iraqis from car bombs, snipers, fundamentalists and anything else"

Don't be so coy; exactly which Canadian or European tyrant did you have in mind to send his personal army to Iraq despite majority popular opposition? The libertarian in me really wants to know.

Loquax, the problem is not that the world isn't willing to help Iraq - they are. But - what's the bloody point when the US politicians insist on keeping control and doing almost everything imaginable to undermine any good efforts. They've done everything wrong - even when their own experts told them they were doing it wrong. I'm sure you know all the examples already.
The US has not been able to bring peace to the country - not even the green zone. They can't save Iraqis from car bombs. Instead, they've tortured and bombed them and nobody wants to associate themselves with that. A larger military presence isn't the answer. A fundamentally different approach is needed but until the people in charge in Washington admit that they are the problem and get out of the way, what can anyone else really do? Canada has helped in Afghanistan and would help in Iraq but, as it is, we'd just be signing on to share the blame and costs without being able to make the necessary changes.
posted by Zetetics at 3:07 PM on August 9, 2005


Come on...that kind of logic leads to spoiled brats in children and in nations.

The alternative is watching from the sidelines as Iraqis are killed by those that wish to re-impose totalitarian, authoritarian rule in one form or another. I realize this is easy to say, but I don't know what else to think. This is the reality, today. The US invaded. Whatever their actions since have led to both positive and negative outcomes. 20-40 civilians are being blown up every day. What do you propose should be done? I would gladly let the UN take over the entire operation, if I had any faith in that organization when it came to things like this, but I don't and believe things would be far worse under a UN administration, even with troops from other countries currently not involved. If this is the major disagreement between ourselves, then I guess we have to agree to disagree.

On preview: The debate over the legitimacy of the original invasion is really a totally different (and discussed to death) matter, and I don't think it's entirely relevant to talking about what's to be done now (notwithstanding what I just said about freedom, which was clearly a little simplified).

George: I don't think many people argue with the US aims or objectives (assuming they are liberty, peace and freedom for Iraqis, which I have to believe it is in one way or the other), just the methods and the processes used to achieve them. As an aside, I think foreign troops would be welcomed at this point even if they weren't under US command, serving non-"essential" functions, relieving US troops for active combat against the terrorists, insurgents, fundamentalists and Baathists who insist on killing Iraqis.

They aren't capable of making this choice without our help?

No, they weren't. Not under Hussein and Baathism. Ask the Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Romanians, Lithuanians, Estonians, East Germans, Latvians and so on. Granted, none needed the US to overthrow their oppressors, but they had a tradition of (more or less) liberty and some form of Democracy which was totally suppressed by the totalitarian Soviets. It took the system 45 years to break down, but if it hadn't, with or without US pressure and the games of the cold war, they'd still be living under the thumb of communism. When a state completely eliminates any alternative power sources and controls all aspects of a citizen's public and private life, how on earth can they hope to topple it from within? Hussein or his heirs would have been in power until they made mistakes allowing others, either internally or externally to challenge them, and who knows what that scenario would have looked like.

delmoi: You make excellent points. First, I do believe that the Iraqis are more free that they were, see above (especially the bits about the media and opinion polls). Granted, the current violence is not conducive to liberty, and must end as soon as possible, but it's still a fair bit better than being slaves of the Baathists, if you ask me, and most Iraqis seem to agree. About libertarianism, you're right that there are contradictions, and in a perfect world, none of this would ever be required. I don't like taxation and I don't like welfare, but I acknowledge that the reality of it is that both are required in complex societies (the degree is a different matter). Therefore given that the US has an overwhelmingly powerful military to begin with (and defense is one of the few things that a government should either have monopoly over or be involved in providing), and that the system is such that the military is used as an instrument of foreign policy, I believe that the best use for it is to spread liberty such as it is wherever it does not exist. By the same token, I completely oppose US support of Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

As for the current state of things in Iraq, and the prospects for the future, I think I fundamentally disagree with much of what's being said. I'd respond to some of the other comments, but I think I'm coming at it from such a different place that arguing would go nowhere.
posted by loquax at 3:15 PM on August 9, 2005


Oh, and about how free Iraqis will be to choose their own government, I don't know. Certainly, it's possible, however unlikely, that the US will do anything, from making it the 51st state to assassinating anyone who opposes them. I can't believe that any administration will have any desire to have troops or resources tied up there any longer than is absolutely necessary, but anything is possible. I hope that they choose liberty and democracy and everything works out splendidly for everyone. If they don't I have no idea what the US will or won't do, assuming they'll even be capable of doing anything about it at that point. In my opinion, if, after a reasonable adjustment period, say 10-15 years, Iraqis freely and willingly choose Islamic Theocracy as their form of government, I'd say have a great time, and wash my hands of the whole matter, for whatever it's worth. The same as I'd say to Bulgaria if they freely elected a new politburo. Obviously, the key word there is "freely". This doesn't mean allowing a group to claim the country as their own, as was the case in Iran. This again is a very different discussion.
posted by loquax at 3:27 PM on August 9, 2005


those who associate dios with parisparamus are making an error. dios frequently has an insightful viewpoint that shows us a different, but still logical, approach to an issue. he's often technically correct, if only because our society/government is broken. he presents "as things are" as opposed to "how things should be."
posted by five fresh fish at 3:40 PM on August 9, 2005


loquax: "Ask the Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Romanians, Lithuanians, Estonians, East Germans, Latvians and so on. Granted, none needed the US to overthrow their oppressors, but they had a tradition of (more or less) liberty and some form of Democracy which was totally suppressed by the totalitarian Soviets."

They did (have a tradition of some form of Democracy (more or less)? When they were part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire? When they answered to the Tsar?

Those people threw off the Soviets mostly by themselves, brick by brick, as the essential fraudulence of the system revealed itself (though pressure from without probably didn't hurt).

You have too little faith in the ability of people to solve their own problems.

loquax: "Hussein or his heirs would have been in power until they made mistakes allowing others, either internally or externally to challenge them, and who knows what that scenario would have looked like."

Yeah. Those clowns were much better than the Soviets ever were at running a totalitarian empire. And without the WMD, too.

loquax: "Therefore given that the US has an overwhelmingly powerful military to begin with (and defense is one of the few things that a government should either have monopoly over or be involved in providing), and that the system is such that the military is used as an instrument of foreign policy, I believe that the best use for it is to spread liberty such as it is wherever it does not exist."

Egads, man. Spread liberty by use of force? Be free or else!

I think the best use of the military, even as an instrument of foreign policy, is still self-defense, bar none.

I also think I picked the wrong day to join metafilter.
posted by notyou at 3:53 PM on August 9, 2005


When they were part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire? When they answered to the Tsar?

Even the Austro-Hungarian empire was more free than Stalinism and its succeeding totalitarian systems of government. All of the other countries had institutions that predated communism, like the Catholic church in Poland. Hussein suppressed religion until the end of his rule for that very purpose. The Czechs had some sort of democracy, the Poles had just been freed of alternating Russian and German rule for centuries. So yes, they had far more to fall back on then the Iraqis, the vast majority of whom had known nothing but Baathism with their relatively young population and without the efforts (until lately) of the West to show them an alternative. Not to mention unfriendly neighbours, unlike the EU which jumped in with aid and investment and political support as soon as communism started to crumble in the 80's and 90's.

Those clowns were much better than the Soviets ever were at running a totalitarian empire

I don't know why you underestimate them. They learned their lessons from communism, perestroika, solidarity, glastnost and the rest. The lesson being, of course, show no weakness, allow no alternate authority, even for a moment. Even the Chinese are making concessions (albeit slowly) to those that demand reform. The Baathists would never have done so, and it was easier not to in Iraq as opposed to China or Russia because the country was small and self contained, with oil revenues generating enough wealth to maintain the system in perpetuity.

Egads, man. Spread liberty by use of force? Be free or else!

The war was not with the people of Iraq, nor is the current fight with the people of Iraq to make them be free or anything else. The war was with Hussein and the Baathists, saying "allow freedom or else we will depose you and end your unilateral rule of the people of Iraq". And now it is with the self-admitted opponents of liberty to prevent them from once again abrogating the Iraqi people's right to choose, speak, think and so on. A very different matter, although one we may still disagree over.

I think the best use of the military, even as an instrument of foreign policy, is still self-defense

Most of the time, I agree with you. Sometimes, it's just selfish.

I also think I picked the wrong day to join metafilter.

Don't worry, at least 85% of the membership agrees with you.
posted by loquax at 4:12 PM on August 9, 2005


The war was not with the people of Iraq, nor is the current fight with the people of Iraq

Tell that to the Iraqis who are shot dead for not obeying quickly enough when some foreign grunt barks an order at them in a language they don't understand.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:23 PM on August 9, 2005


I also think I picked the wrong day to join metafilter.

Don't worry, at least 85% of the membership agrees with you.


lol ! welcome to the blue !
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:24 PM on August 9, 2005


On preview: The debate over the legitimacy of the original invasion is really a totally different (and discussed to death) matter, and I don't think it's entirely relevant to talking about what's to be done now (notwithstanding what I just said about freedom, which was clearly a little simplified).

So here is where I totally disagree with you. If the original reasons for invasion were not legitimate then there is no good that can come from staying.

I'm sorry to say that we've stirred up the pot and really cooked ourselves a stew of a mess in Iraq but if the world and more importantly the Iraqi's don't see us as having a legitimate reason for being there in the first place then anything we try to do will be resting on a broken foundation of trust.

As to what do we do now? Well consider the Iraqi people have very little trust for us now job #1 is to try and regain that trust. This means building infrastructure and enforcing security, neither of which will happen given our extreme aversion to casualties.

To be completely honest we need twice as many troops there and a vast deal more invested in things that will win the war for the hearts of the Iraqi's (power, schools, hospitals). That is to say if by winning the war we want to establish democracy and freedom in Iraq. If we simply want to steal their Oil and create a diversion for al Qaeda, then we are well on track.
posted by aaronscool at 4:31 PM on August 9, 2005


delmoi: You make excellent points. First, I do believe that the Iraqis are more free that they were, see above (especially the bits about the media and opinion polls). Granted, the current violence is not conducive to liberty, and must end as soon as possible, but it's still a fair bit better than being slaves of the Baathists, if you ask me, and most Iraqis seem to agree.

They may be optimistic about the future, but I don't think you'll find very many who actually believe the invasion, as it happened, was a good thing.

Iraqis are far more likely to be killed today then they were under saddam, especially after the first gulf war. Most people would rather be alive then dead.

Finally, w.r.t the 'welfare' argument. I really don't see how you can think it's morally acceptable that Americans are forced to sacrifice to 'liberate' the Iraqis, when there is no threat to them in the first place.
posted by delmoi at 4:33 PM on August 9, 2005


The slipperiness of the pro-war arguments are surreal; you've got greased pigs setting the terms of the discussion. Rescuing the Iraqis is not compatible with the "flypaper" argument, and yet the pro-war arguments flip between those two depending on the point under discussion. They are diametrically opposed aims. Rescuing Iraq is also incompatible with hammering them with hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium and the hideous things that does to them and will do to them for untold generations to come, yet we did that too. Rescuing the Iraqis is not compatible with treating them as guilty until proven innocent and imprisoning them without charges or evidence, or simply gunning them down on the slightest pretext. Rescuing them is not compatible with leveling their cities, but we do that and continue to do so. The pro war crowd is full of shit, and they know it. They wouldn't have to be so slippery if they thought their own arguments were worth a damn.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:42 PM on August 9, 2005


"Don't worry, at least 85% of the membership agrees with you."

But it's the 15% who clearly need the most help.

They seem stubbornly incapable of discovering the right way of thinking on their own.

"I don't know why you underestimate them. They learned their lessons from communism, perestroika, solidarity, glastnost and the rest."

Dude: 1) Kurdistan. 2) Shiite religious authority in the south. There already were competing authorities, with militias and everything. They weren't as big and bad as the mean old Baathists. But they were there.

Why do you underestimate the capability of people to want, fight for and eventually win their own freedom?

"Most of the time, I agree with you. Sometimes, it's just selfish."

Sometimes it's selfish to regard self-defense as the A Number One use of a nation's military? That doesn't even make sense. Nevertheless, I'm stung by the selfishness bit. I hope you're happy.

To make me happy, do me a favor and compare the American use of force in Kurdistan in the interwar period with the use of force required to dethrone the Baathists. Both are generous. One is electro-insane (that's the one that gets Marines killed by the Amphibious truckload).
posted by notyou at 4:53 PM on August 9, 2005


electro-insane

:) Congrats on the apropos apparent neologism. Only one real use on google and none on usenet. fwiw, before we went in I called this invasion "fucking insane" on usenet, but I like your term much better.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:22 PM on August 9, 2005


when there is no threat to them in the first place

There is a threat to any free country and people when totalitarianism is allowed to exist and thrive, as glib and trite as it might sound. It may not be a direct threat, or a timely one, but it is a threat nonetheless. Classical Liberalism cannot co-exist with Baathism, Communism, Fascism, or any form of authoritarian rule. It will inevitably lead to conflict because liberalism threatens authoritarianism just as much as the reverse. And if I may make a moral judgement, liberalism is a far better political philosophy that the alternatives (although I know there are those that disagree). Given that, the choice that the (mostly) liberal West (and all other liberal countries) has is to either confront totalitarianism head on, wherever it exists, and eliminate it like the scourge that it is, or let it fester until it can pose a legitimate and direct threat to the rest of the world and liberalism itself, as was the case in the first half of the 20th century. The US, in this case, decided to act. I have no idea what individuals in the administration were personally thinking, or if Cheney just wanted to beef up his stock options, but the end result is that there is one less totalitarian regime on this planet that can ever present a threat to liberalism. Nobody was threatened by Germany or Russia in 1930. It took them 10 years to become maybe the two greatest powers on Earth.

Iraq was somehow in the same position. It was (and continues to be) right in the middle of some of the most oppressive and authoritarian regimes and political philosophies that there are. On one side you have Baathism, which is basically Stalinism, and on the other Islamic Fundamentalism. This is to say nothing of the various Monarchies and oppressive kingdoms interspersed in the region. The Arab states had tried in the past to organize themselves in the form of the United Arab Republic, and there is nothing to say that they wouldn't have tried again, either in that configuration or in Al Qaeda's desired Caliphate, either and any of which would have been in direct opposition to the West, not because of past interference, but because the concept of liberty and the sanctity of the individual are anathema to these political systems. What then? Regime change or whatever you want to call it in Iraq will hopefully save the Iraqi people from their fate in such a system (albeit with a heavy upfront cost), and go a long way in preventing and reversing the rise of a new wave of 21st century totalitarianism, which is the threat that I would have considered primary in deciding to perform the regime change. Granted, Iraq was effectively contained, but that would last only so long as the motivation existed to constrain it. In addition, the oil revenues he had ensured his long term survival, as he himself often boasted outlasting all who had opposed him in 1991. In terms of the US strategy with respect to the invasion, I would have supported any plan, no matter where it came from, which would have ended his rule as soon as possible and eliminated totalitarianism from the country. I saw no viable alternative from the international community besides foot dragging that had been going on for 12 years. That being said, I'll be the first to say that the US government framed the debate poorly, and that it's hard to blame the UN or certain countries for not being enthusiastic about the plan given the way the Americans handled it. The administration has certainly shot themselves in the foot, in many respects, but I do believe the threat was there, just not the particular threat they advocated at the time.

Is it worth the cost? I have no idea. I think so, but I'll be the first to admit that it's easy for me to say so. I base my opinion on the tens of millions that were killed by similar political philosophies, and the millions that have died in the last century to fight it. If the 1,800 Americans and the tens of thousands of civilians who have been killed died to save 30 million Iraqis, and perhaps indirectly, millions more in avoided future conflict, I think it will have been worth it, and the world will owe them the same debt it owes to those that fought against the Nazis. Cliched, maybe, but that's the way I see it. Now the question must be how to ensure their deaths were not in vain.
posted by loquax at 5:26 PM on August 9, 2005


Once again loquax which undemocratic country is up next?

China? Why save only a few million oppressed people when you can save a billion.

Cuba? Undemocracy in our own back yard!!!
posted by aaronscool at 5:35 PM on August 9, 2005


It's not a matter of democracy. Democracy is a red herring, in a manner of speaking. Democracy can be very conducive to emerging totalitarianism, as Hitler and others have proven. The problem is ingrown, unmovable, repressive totalitarianism and the marginalization of the individual. It's possible to have a liberal society without democracy (at least for a while), it's impossible to have democracy in a non-liberal society.

There are still alternative sources of power in China, such as traditional culture and the emerging economic liberalization. They seem to be moving in the direction of liberalism all on their own, but they are certainly a threat and certainly in conflict with their liberal neighbours, like South Korea, Japan, and Tawain. That's why the US has the 5th Fleet there. That's why every attempt is made to engage them and integrate them into the world at large. It's unrealistic and likely counterproductive to contemplate removing the Chinese communist party from power, just as it was with the Soviet government. The idea is to prevent more of these situations before they reach critical mass, and the liberal societies of the world are stuck yet again in another ideological cold or hot war.

Cuba is a perfect example of this. Effectively contained, they have still managed to export neomarxism (or whatever) and possibly totalitarianism to their neighbours. There is a risk now to liberalism in South America in the form of Chavez and the events in Bolivia. Again, I'm not speaking in terms of left and right, but in terms of classical liberalism and totalitarianism in any form, be it socialist, fascist or whatever. Imagine if Cuba had access to vast sources of wealth, like the Middle East does (and like Venezuela does). You can bet that the course of history would have been different. As it is, Cuba does not and cannot conceivably present either a current or future threat to liberalism, even if Chavez climbs aboard. But who knows, given 50 years, we may be regretting that the bay of pigs was the disaster that it was.

Iraq did have wealth, it had totalitarian neighbours in one of the most volatile and potentially dangerous areas in the world, and it was possible and realistic that the US and its allies would be able to topple the regime. That is why Iraq was chosen and not the countries you mentioned. If it were up to me, I'd love to see a freedom tour liberating the Syrians, the Uzbeks, the Pakistanis and the North Koreans, but it's not realistic. Even though, over the past 30 years, that's pretty much what we've seen, starting with the end of military juntas in South America, the end of communism in Europe, deposing Milosevic in Serbia, and now Iraq (with potentially more success in Ukraine, Lebanon and others to come). With any luck, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other Middle Eastern countries will be next, and hopefully no more violence will be needed. Since World War 2, totalitarianism has been on the decline thanks to the positive efforts of liberal societies. We need to make sure it continues.
posted by loquax at 6:03 PM on August 9, 2005


Heywood Mogroot: It started out "batshit insane", but I thought, you know what? Metafilter deserves better.
posted by notyou at 6:46 PM on August 9, 2005


Paris, your comment waaaay up top there was accurate and right.

/supporting a good guy
posted by davidmsc at 7:07 PM on August 9, 2005


I assume you mean "supporting a troll", but the keys are really close together.
posted by wakko at 7:18 PM on August 9, 2005



There is a threat to any free country and people when totalitarianism is allowed to exist and thrive, as glib and trite as it might sound. It may not be a direct threat, or a timely one, but it is a threat nonetheless. Classical Liberalism cannot co-exist with Baathism, Communism, Fascism, or any form of authoritarian rule. It will inevitably lead to conflict because liberalism threatens authoritarianism just as much as the reverse ... liberal West (and all other liberal countries) has is to either confront totalitarianism head on, wherever it exists, and eliminate it like the scourge that it is, or let it fester until it can pose a legitimate and direct threat to the rest of the world and liberalism itself, as was the case in the first half of the 20th century. The US, in this case, decided to act.

How Idealistic of you. It's always the idealists who fuck things up, IMO. Nothing personal, the belief that Liberal democracy is the best way is nice, I guess.

But what I disagree with is the idea that, regardless of the outcome of an action, its always okay if the intent was Nobel. Or even if it simply has a chance to further your agenda, ignoring the human cost. If you make things worse, that's OK too, because you fought the good fight, and the people who have to suffer for it don't matter.

Beyond that, I don't know what to tell you. Look at the history of the United States. First slave-holding, and then Jim Crow in the south. I don't think that's anything to be proud of, and the United States was (ostensibly) a democracy. Only after 170 years did things begin to get normal.

The time of the late 1700s until, well today was a time of great upheaval both technologically and politically. You had the birth of science and the birth of enlightenment thinking in politics. That thinking gave birth to the U.S. Only after World War I did democracy start to take hold in Europe, and that’s when all the other crazy ideas (communism, fascism) crop up. So there has never really been much of a chance for a democracy to do anything really bad.

Although, I would point out that Serbia under Slobodon Miloscivitch was a democracy.

You're basically putting Everyone with one government system into group A, and everyone else into group B, and further stating that the two groups can never live in harmony, and further, that group A always has the moral right to attack group B. Any attack by default is 'defensive', because A threatens B, and therefore B threatens A. No matter what the result, even if it’s the weakening of A and the strengthening of B does not change the initial moral choice by A.

I think that's silly, and very simplistic.
posted by delmoi at 8:18 PM on August 9, 2005


loquax -- Let me see if I have this right. Inspired by your libertarian ideals, you're recommending that the U.S. invade countries at will, in the name of freedom and justice? Fascinating.

You might benefit from reading this book. Unlikely, but who knows. Your serene bloodlust and tidy derangement indicate a mind capable of almost anything.
posted by vetiver at 8:24 PM on August 9, 2005


loquax I really don't know how to respond. Wow...just wow.

I guess then you'll be signing up for duty right? Because when it comes down to it you are asking real people and real Americans to lay down their lives to remake the world in your image.

Split hairs all you'd like but really you are basically saying we can decide who we like and who we don't like and it's ok for us to go beat up the ones we don't like just because. Hey Iraq was just a lesson to all the other bad guys in the world that if you screw with the US we'll come and invade your country.

Only problem is that most of these countries see that we really don't have the stomach for a real fight anymore... 2000 lives in 2 years? That kind of toll barely made the news when Vietnam was in it's infancy. Nowadays we call it a failed mission and clamor to bring the boys home and really can't fill the ranks with new recruits anymore so we have to keep the ones we have in indefinitely.

Personally I think you are grossly oversimplifying your positions that really boil down to imperialism of the worst sort.
posted by aaronscool at 8:43 PM on August 9, 2005


But what I disagree with is the idea that, regardless of the outcome of an action, its always okay if the intent was Nobel.

I don't think I said that. If I did, I didn't mean it in that way. I assume the intent in Iraq was nobel. Whether or not it's OK depends on the rest of the story and the actions of the US and others from here on in. For now, in my personal opinion, I believe that the US has acted appropriately, for the reasons I mentioned above. As for the human cost, I don't think that I am ignoring it, but there was an anticipated cost associated with inaction as well, and a theoretical cost associated with pretty much every decision from here on in. It's impossible to say conclusively who's right and who's wrong, but like I said, I do think that the costs have been worth it so far, and I hope that they will not be in vain in the future.

I don't think that's anything to be proud of, and the United States was (ostensibly) a democracy.

First, I wasn't talking about liberal democracy, or democracy at all. Democracy is a political methodology and system of governing a state. Liberalism is a philosophy and based in non-governmental institution and culture. Arguing about democracy is almost impossible due to the differences in democratic systems and the common appropriation of the word by those who have no business using it (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, for example). Liberalism is what matters (to me at least), because in a truly liberal society, there can be no alternative to democracy to govern the country. It's a historical inevitability. The trick is to establish liberalism so that it leads to democracy. Instituting democracy without liberalism as the prevailing political philosophy is a waste of everyone's time.

Obviously, the US in the 18th and 19th centuries had serious deficiencies in both, which they at least partially fought a civil war over. But that doesn't change the fact that compared to the rest of the planet, the US was a far more liberal (and Democratic) country than most. Consider that at the same time, the French revolutionaries were beheading anyone in sight, only to be followed by Napoleon doing his best to enslave Europe, only to be followed by the beginnings of modern totalitarianism/communism/fascism in Prussia and Italy, while all the while the Ottoman empire kept the Balkans under their thumb. The US wasn't perfect by any stretch, but it was a shining beacon of liberalism compared to much of the rest of the globe, and it progressed as such throughout the last 150 years. Though I'm not really sure what your point is in bringing up US history in the context of this discussion. I'm trying very hard not to be a booster of the US government, or US policy per se, but of liberalism itself, something shared by (these days) almost every other country in the world, to some degree. I do believe, however, that many countries, the US included, have forgotten that fact.

That thinking gave birth to the U.S. Only after World War I did democracy start to take hold in Europe, and that’s when all the other crazy ideas (communism, fascism) crop up. So there has never really been much of a chance for a democracy to do anything really bad.

Democracy did plenty of bad things. It allowed Hitler to take power, as you said, it allowed Milosovic to take power. It allowed a subset of American society to oppress the rest. As I said, democracy in and of itself is not a panacea to the problem of totalitarianism. It must be predicated on the values of liberalism in order to be a positive force, otherwise, it is simply manipulated and cast aside when no longer needed. Every single country of the Warsaw pact was a democracy, every single one had an elected parliament and representatives of the people. It didn't matter when you only had one party to choose from. I also don't mean to say that liberal societies are infallible, again, like you said, the US had many policies that were at odds with liberalism. However, liberalism allows society to reinvent itself and correct itself through the application of its principles and the effective use of democracy. Totalitarianism does not - to admit the need for change is to admit that the system is not perfect and not deserving of total loyalty. The only change that comes in totalitarianism is from the top, on the whim of the rulers. Witness Kruschev's secret speech, denouncing Stalin. It wasn't made public and couldn't be made public as an official condemnation of Stalin by the communist party. To simplify a little, the whole system collapsed as soon as some measure of openness became official policy under Gorbachev.

This is where the conflict lies, and will always lie, between closed societies and open societies, whatever the method of governing them and whatever you want to call the political philosophies. Each cannot tolerate the existence and/or interference of the other should it hope to retain its characteristics. In the long run, for either to be completely safe, the other must not exist (to say nothing of the plight of the people living under totalitarianism, which in itself I've already said I believe merited global participation in overthrowing the Baathists in Iraq).

I don't presume to speak of moral rights to attack, I only believe that Iraq and any other totalitarian society is a threat to free societies by that measure. Maybe attacking another country is not right, but then how do you confront an oppressive and distasteful ideology that cannot tolerate your way of life in the long run? I certainly hope that regime change in Iraq doesn't weaken liberalism and strengthen totalitarianism, and I don't think it will, given that I believe that progress is being made (I know you disagree). By your calculations, you have oversimplified a little bit, but honestly, not too much. I do believe that our society must do whatever it can to prevent totalitarianism from growing to the threat that it was in the 1900's, and if we can save people from it along the way by picking our battles carefully, and making sure that we don't strengthen the positions of those in opposition to liberalism, all the better.

I don't know what to say about Imperialism. I don't know the definition of the term anymore, and I don't think it has relevance any longer. The US is certainly not colonizing and exploiting foreign lands for the benefit of the rulers and the home country and at the expense of the conquered. You may call it splitting hairs, but historically, the US has at least attempted to free others from totalitarianism and open closed societies. The war in Vietnam (as mismanaged as it was), alongside its role as a cold war conflict between liberalism and totalitarianism, was a war to prevent the South from succumbing to the totalitarian imperialism of the North and the Soviet Union. Maybe it is imperialism of some sort, mainly cultural and economic, but give me liberal imperialism before totalitarian imperialism any day.

Of course I'm oversimplifying my points, mostly because I've written a lot and I'm tired. For further reading, vetiver, I can personally recommend a few titles myself. I don't know if you'd want to read the books that have formed my deranged and bloodthirsty mind though.
posted by loquax at 9:59 PM on August 9, 2005


PP Rulez.
posted by shoos at 11:20 PM on August 9, 2005


loquax, thanks for explaining your outlook.

I may disagree with your reasoning, conclusions and overall position, but that's life.
posted by asok at 2:51 AM on August 10, 2005


Nofundy, you're as tired an act as PP and the rest. Really.
posted by kableh at 4:08 PM EST


Now you've gone and hurt my feelings!

17th corollary to Godwin's Law:
Any reference to Hitchins results in the immediate nullification of all points scored by the tne conservative side of the argument.
posted by mygoditsbob at 5:12 PM EST


Exactly.
posted by nofundy at 6:03 AM on August 10, 2005


We would be paying 39 cents a gallon and not $3.00 if the war was for oil.
It is not about oil. It was never about oil.
posted by shockingbluamp at 8:37 AM on August 10, 2005


Your argument makes absolutely no sense. Do you think that the US Army is trying to bring back tankers of oil for you to pump?!

Read up a bit on how oil is priced, traded, and distributed. When people say "the war is for oil" they mean the war is for the money and power that can be wrung from control of the oil supply, not that Bush is trying to ease our gasoline costs.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:51 AM on August 10, 2005


Fewer people would have been killed if we'd had enough troops to secure the weapons dumps as well as securing the oil.

They'll be allowed to choose the colors in the flag

Actually, we chose the colors, and we did not choose wisely, picking a design that looked much more like the Israeli flag than it did any previous Iraqi flag or the flag of any other Arabic country. (previously discussed here)

Oh, and about how free Iraqis will be to choose their own government, I don't know. Certainly, it's possible, however unlikely, that the US will do anything, from making it the 51st state to assassinating anyone who opposes them.

We already rigged the Iraqi election.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:14 AM on August 10, 2005


Christopher Hitchens quote from the link:
Bad as Iraq may look now, it is nothing to what it would have become withoutthe steadying influence of coalition forces.

the steadying influence of coalition forces ... yup ...

Also, what Jesse Taylor said.

Gvie me some more besotted Hitchens quotes! What a hack!
posted by nofundy at 9:27 AM on August 10, 2005


" We would be paying 39 cents a gallon and not $3.00 if the war was for oil.It is not about oil. It was never about oil."

I think people who think it was about oil are politcal idiots, but the high price of gasoline doesn't prove such. Why? Because US production is way up, and "Bush's Friends" are getting rich because at $60/barrel, Texas and US crude is profitable.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:38 PM on August 10, 2005


"Hitchens is hardly better then PP, IMO."

Thanks you the complement, however unlike CH, I don't have the time to flesh-out many of my points.

CH is one of my political heros: a sane Liberal
posted by ParisParamus at 1:40 PM on August 10, 2005


If WMDs are not found in Iraq, and in large quantity (or at least objective evidence that they were destroyed), then, in terms of American politics, the war was a sham, and the President should be indicted.

posted by ParisParamus at 11:57 AM EST on April 29

posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:08 AM on August 11, 2005


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