Skip

Who is to blame
November 1, 2005 3:00 AM   Subscribe

Who is to blame? Soon the blame game will begin in ernest. Here are some hints.
posted by donfactor (48 comments total)

 
For their part, Secretary Rumsfeld and other administration officials blame our problems on Baathist “dead-enders” and radical jihadis, aided and abetted by Syria and Iran. It’s not the Bush administration’s fault we’re losing, we are told; it’s our enemies’ fault. That is no defense at all, of course, because it merely reminds us that the Bush team failed to anticipate what would happen once Saddam was gone and we “owned” Iraq.

oh snap!
posted by mek at 3:08 AM on November 1, 2005


Ernest means well, but he's kind of slow.
posted by Malor at 3:10 AM on November 1, 2005


Well I blame donfactor for being so unnecessarily cryptic/obscure. Should I read the link? *shrug* Fuck it.
posted by peacay at 3:30 AM on November 1, 2005


The most scurrilous alibi, however, blames our difficulties on eroding public support at home. Grieving antiwar mother Cindy Sheehan gets pilloried by right-wing commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, and President Bush declares that Americans who favor withdrawing “are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States.” Similarly, neoconservative pundit Max Boot recently maintained that Iraqi democracy would survive its birth pangs only “if we don’t cut and run prematurely.” So, we are told, “staying the course” will work, unless we are forced to pull out by weak-willed critics back home.

This sounds familiar somehow. Pre-emptive godwin: didn't the Germans blame their defeat in WWI on some sub-group of their population? In other words, am I calling Max Boot and Ann Coulter Nazis? Yes. Yes, I am.
posted by psmealey at 3:40 AM on November 1, 2005


peacy: lacks curiosity. Possibly a sign of either low intelligence or high enllightenment. I mean who cares who's to blame? Or who isn't for that matter.
posted by donfactor at 3:41 AM on November 1, 2005


godwinned already! popcorn, anyone?
posted by mek at 3:45 AM on November 1, 2005


His Royal Lameness, GW, and his court are to blame for taking the initiative to start a war and then screwing it up in the execution.

Just as equally, the spineless Senate Democrats are to blame for authorizing the war.
posted by caddis at 3:53 AM on November 1, 2005


This article, as noted above, does fairly spread the blame equally; pointing out that enough information was floating around to determine that the Bush administration's claims about Iraq were... very dubious, if not outright fraudulent. American politicians attempt to argue that this information was not available, but this is only true in the context of American media. Ask any academic, or say, non-American, and we hear a very different story.

Sure, the average Joe was duped by the Bush administration, but should we expect the same of elected politicians collecting a salary for their political opinions? Do you really want to elect the Democrats that were so gullible and apparently uneducated as to go along with Iraq?
posted by mek at 4:03 AM on November 1, 2005


Sue's to blame.
posted by furtive at 4:10 AM on November 1, 2005


donfctor, we re ll to blme. No?
posted by gsb at 4:15 AM on November 1, 2005


Whoever's to blame, there's a moral obligation to clear up your own mess. If the left wing of the US political spectrum really is ready to cut and run (and I don't know if they are or not, I only hear about the right-wing around here), then that's pretty low.
posted by Leon at 4:19 AM on November 1, 2005


I blame ParisParamus, and 50 million idiots just like him. English needs a word stronger than "dupe", a word that might describe sheep that knowingly and recklessly provide shears for their own shearing, knives for their own slaughtering, hooks for their own butchering and sauce for their own barbeque. I submit "Bushvoter" as such a word.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:22 AM on November 1, 2005


So I occasionally check on the blog* of an ex-friend who has become a fighting keyboardist, and who, upon cross examination, admitted and even part discovered that his "flypaper" theory of Iraq was something he applied to America, too: he felt better in his suburb in the South because NY, LA, Chicago, etc. were the flypapers within America and made any policy of instigation zero risk for him. I live in NY and think, fuck anyone who thinks of me as his flypaper . . . anyway, his blog points to this wapo article and cheers about how the liberals are finally getting it.

Of course, it says no such thing if you read it carefully -- merely that the Iranian president is a loon and that there are pro-democracy youth within Iran whom we should support (not kill). Neither WaPo or bloggo point out that this president won on an anti-American platform that in all likelihood was possible because of the Iraq invasion.

Conclusion to previous ramblings: no supporter of the war will see failure until it is burning in their yard, and will most likely see success in the most foolish decontextualized, misinterpreted moments.


* I like correlating the idiocy to real person, who it is interesting to note, is too afraid to swallow a pill whole. He has to break it into little pieces and grind it like I do for my cat, that is, my pussy. Fight on! Jerk!
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 4:25 AM on November 1, 2005


dontfactor, what I'm about to say is really MetaTalk fodder, but posting a one-link FPP for an op-ed piece is liable to bring the MetaFilter posting-correctness heat down on you. I know, I know...It's frustrating when you think you've found something you want to share, but some of the folks around here are nether-apertures about stuff like that. Just a well-intentioned suggestion from somebody who's been bitchslapped himself.
posted by alumshubby at 4:31 AM on November 1, 2005


Leon, the problem as I see it is that the tensions will only escalate. They kill some of us. We arrest and kill some of them in retaliation. Inevitably, we get some of the retaliation wrong, and create more insurgents. Tensions increase. We do nastier and nastier stuff, creating more and more insurgents.

Israel has been fighting a similar war on an absolutely tiny scale, in comparison, on an almost entirely captive population, and they're showing no signs of 'winning' any time soon. Maybe they someday will truly break the Palestinians, but it's an exceedingly long-term strategy. Our situation is a hundred times worse, and at a cost of a billion dollars a week, we can't afford that kind of timeframe.

This war was always for hearts and minds. Bullets are a symptom. We have lost that war. We lost it at Abu Ghraib.

It's an unsalvageable situation. We can't make it right because they don't trust us. The UN won't intervene because we pissed them off so badly.

It's just a matter, now, of how many body bags we want to fill until we can come up with some convenient excuse to run like rabbits. A lot of good people who believed in and supported us are going to get so, so fucked when we leave.
posted by Malor at 4:38 AM on November 1, 2005


Malor: it could be salvaged - a new administration could go cap in hand to the Muslim world, and say "the last guys really screwed up - please help us fix this", and we could, hopefully, replace an invasion force with a multinational-but-Muslim-leaning peacekeeping force.

I can't see a US government (any government?) eating that much humble pie, though. And then when you consider oilfields... not gonna happen.
posted by Leon at 4:49 AM on November 1, 2005


We lost it at Abu Ghraib.

No. No. You don't get it Malor. Abu Ghraib was necessary. You see, all these Arabs understand is force. Force and intimidation. For them to respect us, we had to humiliate them. That's the only way they can build stable democratic institutions. On a foundation of fear, intimidation and respect for the United States.

Why can't the dead-enders of Metafilter see this?
posted by felix betachat at 4:54 AM on November 1, 2005


Metafilter: godwinned already!
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:54 AM on November 1, 2005


President Bush sold the war brilliantly before the fighting started, but his sales pitch could not survive the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, the embarrassing revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib, the bungled occupation, the mounting list of dead and wounded, and the rising economic toll. Most of all, this rationale highlights the conspicuous lack of a plausible theory of victory now.

Sun Tsu is rolling in his grave.
posted by furtive at 4:56 AM on November 1, 2005


Who is to blame is the same as who gets the credit when we win. Anything else is waffling.
posted by nervousfritz at 5:19 AM on November 1, 2005


Who is to blame?

Why, the U.S. of course.
posted by signal at 5:29 AM on November 1, 2005


kingfisher, his musclebound cat writes "anyway, his blog points to this wapo article and cheers about how the liberals are finally getting it... Of course, it says no such thing if you read it carefully"

It is often said that George W. Bush is no idiot, but acts and talks like the voters of America are idiots, and has been handsomely vindicated in that belief not once but twice (let's face it, even if there were a few thousand voters more one way or the other, the fact that he didn't get trounced in 2000 does vindicate the belief). Such it is with the guy you mention -- you can link to an article saying even the opposite of what the article actually proposes, and inevitably idiots will believe what you say about it as opposed to what the article plainly states.

Just look at last year's election -- Kerry might have been known as the flip-flopper, and indeed he was hardly constant and steadfast during a career that has now spanned what, 4 decades? -- but it's clear that W. has flipped-flopped just as much. Yet the idiots bought the right-wing message, because the right-wing was very good at getting its message out. Yesteday's Daily Show piece about how the Alito nomination is "changing the subject" away from the Administration's criminal indictment problem is another such example of idiots controlling the discourse, being blindly led by a right-wing conspiracy which has, over the years, perfected the art of "talking point dissemination" (really, no more than a fancy synonym for "spreading propaganda").
posted by clevershark at 5:51 AM on November 1, 2005


felix betachat writes "For them to respect us, we had to humiliate them. That's the only way they can build stable democratic institutions. On a foundation of fear, intimidation and respect for the United States."

What do you think 9/11 was, in the jihadist mindset? They didn't gain anything concrete by it -- but they captured an awful lot of nihilistic imaginations.
posted by clevershark at 5:55 AM on November 1, 2005


"That's the only way they can build stable democratic institutions. On a foundation of fear, intimidation and respect for the United States."

Wait. That's three ways... There are only three ways they can build stable democratic institutions. On a foundation of fear, intimidation and respect for the United States and an almost fanatical devotion to its President... Four. There are four ways they can build... Oh, bugger! I'll come in again.
posted by Mike D at 6:06 AM on November 1, 2005


Whoever's to blame, there's a moral obligation to clear up your own mess. If the left wing of the US political spectrum really is ready to cut and run (and I don't know if they are or not, I only hear about the right-wing around here), then that's pretty low.

Yeah, if we leave now, the whole thing will degenerate into civil war, with Shi'ite "police" and Sunni "insurgents" massacring each other at every turn, with significant Iranian support for the Shi'ite side.

Oh, wait....

Our media and our government are invested in the Shi'ite side of things. Our media is holed up in the Green Sector, and see only the Sunni atrocities--they never see the Shi'ite attacks that provoke those responses. As such, we hear a lot about Sunni "insurgents," but very little about the raids of Shi'ite "police" into Sunni villages. We're being fed by one side of a civil war, creating the impression that there is no civil war--just a terrorist campaign. But make no mistake, Iraq is already in a state of civil war.

That war will continue to escalate for as long as the United States "stays the course." It can only end if we leave--and even then, it won't end immediately. So, while "cutting and running" is usually a bad idea, this is an excellent case in point that setting your foreign policy based on platitudes and proverbs, rather than an understanding of the social and cultural situation, is always a much worse idea.
posted by jefgodesky at 6:21 AM on November 1, 2005


Leon, you're right, that might work. It'd be chancy, and very humiliating for the right wing, but any chance is better than the zero chance we have at the moment.

But we need to do that NOW, not three years from now, after the next election.

One of the fundamental problems, of course, is that we claim we want to 'make them free', but we want nothing of the sort. If they're really free, that means they're free to hate us, and that doesn't appear to be an acceptable outcome.
posted by Malor at 6:27 AM on November 1, 2005


jefgodesky, that is a really excellent post. Flagged.
posted by Malor at 6:29 AM on November 1, 2005


Well, we already know that it was Gays and Liberals who caused 9/11 and Katrina to happen. Why look for new scapegoats to explain Iraq? Do you honestly think a society so superstitious it enthusiastically rejects science en masse is going to be interested in or capable of sitting down and rationally examining the chain of decisions and responsibility that led to Iraq?

No, the response of the superstitious when confronted with frustration is to just add more scapegoats and bogeymen to the list of America's enemies. The Mainstream Media. Hollywood. Illegal immigrants. Non-Christians. "Activist" Judges. Women with strange birthmarks. Just take a glance at any of the goosestepper blogs - they've already started the "Iraq was scuttled by people who don't think like me" game.
posted by slatternus at 6:47 AM on November 1, 2005


leon: good idea. Maybe we could get Syria to help...they did such a good job in Lebanon.

That wasn't really supposed to be a barb: I remember the civil war in Lebanon back in the 70's and 80's. What they just recently did belies the stability they gave Lebanon in the first place.
posted by lester at 6:49 AM on November 1, 2005


If the United States loses the war in Iraq

Whenever I see statements like that in articles I stop reading because it is apparent that the author does not understand what he is writing about.

The only thing the US stands to lose in Iraq are the lives of its military personnel and money.

The people who stand to "lose" the war are the Iraqi's. If they "lose" the war (which remains to be seen) they wind up under the boot of another dictator. The Iraqi people are the ones being given an opportunity here, hence they are the ones who stand to lose.

The US can at any time pack up and leave thereby only losing its war dead and the money that was put into the effort. The freedom of the United States is not being fought for in Iraq, so really, what is at stake for the US? Other than an emerging market and some oil futures...

As always, I wish the people of Iraq luck in finding their future.
As always, I do not believe you can gift wrap democracy and bestow it upon a nation like some kind of fairy godmother.

Only time will tell the outcome
posted by a3matrix at 6:53 AM on November 1, 2005


a3, we'll have trained a whole new batch of terrorists, and will have made the world a much more dangerous place.

That's losing.
posted by Malor at 7:12 AM on November 1, 2005


a3, if Iraq destabilizes into a stateless territory, we most assuredly have lost, because our true enemy thrives in such places.
posted by gwint at 7:41 AM on November 1, 2005


No one ever is to blame.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:12 AM on November 1, 2005


Wow, I totally forgot you could flag posts for being outstanding. You just got your first from me, jefgodesky.

Yes, this whole thing is a mess, and it's the fault of many people. I accept some of the blame for buying into this nonsense initially, but the major blame lies with the people who sold this war and ineptly prosecuted it.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:18 AM on November 1, 2005


I blame Bush. I blame the PNAC crowd. I blame those who voted for them. But most of all I blame Bush.
posted by Balisong at 8:34 AM on November 1, 2005


"President Bush sold the war brilliantly before the fighting started"

Man, that statement kills me. I thought he did a shitty job at best. I remember talking with my brother when he started banging his Iraq drum saying, "what the hell is this all about, and why are so many intelligent people falling for this obvious bullshit"? The whole thing seemed contrived from day one. I will give the republican machine their props for manipulating things masterfully but I've never seen Bush do anything remotely 'brilliant' yet.

"Our media and our government are invested in the Shi'ite side of things."

jefgodesky, I doubt that. A Shia ruled Iraq is probably the worst outcome the administration could hope for - and it certainly looks as though that's what's going to happen. The Islamic Shia majority will embrace Iran and vice-versa. As each day passes and I hear about more of our boys dying over there, I can't help but think the worst is still ahead. We aren't leaving.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:59 AM on November 1, 2005


We won't leave until it costs us more to stay than it does to go. Right now there's a lot of people making a lot of money and hoping for a lot more down the road in unfettered oil access. When it's politically more expensive to stay, then, well, maybe. But right now, there's too much at stake for too many power players to care about the hiccups of war.
posted by JWright at 9:09 AM on November 1, 2005


It's my fault. Sorry. Won't happen again.
posted by fungible at 9:10 AM on November 1, 2005


Who's to blame when parties really get out of hand?
Who's to blame when they get poorly planned?
Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo--oooooo...

Crashers get bombed, slobs make a mess
Ya know sometimes they'll even ruin your wife's dress
Crashers gettin' bombed. (Who's to blame?)
Can you pull it back in line?
Can you salvage it in time?

What can you do to save a party?
Parcheesi? Charades? A spur-of-the-moment
Scavenger hunt, or Queen of the Nile? (Wooooh!)
Who turned out the lights? (Wooooh!)

Bombed, crashers gettin' bombed
Crasher's gettin' bombed, bombed, bombed, bombed, well who's to blame?

Who's to blame when situations degenerate?
Disgusting things you'd never anticipate
Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hooo--ooooooo...

("Party Gone Out of Bounds," The B-52's)
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:48 AM on November 1, 2005


This is one of the most clear thinking articles I've read on this subject.
It was a pleasure to read. I've always liked Foreign Affairs magazine tho.
Why this post took some crap I don't know.
Any post that spawns comments like jefgodesky's above is worthwhile.

Thanks for bringing it ,donfactor.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:11 AM on November 1, 2005


And given that the Bush administration has repeatedly threatened Syria and Iran with regime change, it is hardly surprising that these regimes are now happy to see us bogged down in Baghdad.


And they're probably laughing their asses off and think the "superpower" is just a mythology. This is really bad if Iran is in the process of developing nukes.
posted by disgruntled at 10:29 AM on November 1, 2005


We lost it at Abu Ghraib.

No. No. You don't get it Malor. Abu Ghraib was necessary.


I know that's sarcasm, but the only difference between Abu Ghraib and the rest of the country are the pictures. The coalition forces are routinely beating and torturing Iraqis throughout the country. It will not end well.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:34 AM on November 1, 2005


I thought the post was crap (seriously, is there anything in that piece that hasn't been said a million times already?), but the thread is worth it for jefgodesky's comment. I'll just add that "We're being fed by one side of a civil war" reminded me immediately of our ill-fated involvement in Lebanon that ended abruptly in 1983 after 241 Americans were blown up. Reagan scuttled right out of there, and a good thing too. When you don't know what you're doing or who you should be listening to, you probably have no business being there.
posted by languagehat at 10:40 AM on November 1, 2005


the whole thing will degenerate into civil war, with Shi'ite "police" and Sunni "insurgents" massacring each other at every turn, with significant Iranian support for the Shi'ite side.

Possibly (since we're not going to leave now, this is speculative). Iran would certainly support certain Shi'ite factions, but only in an all-out civil war could they count on a firm, widespread alliance. A quibble I have is that there isn't a black line between "police" and "insurgents" in any part of the country, except perhaps deepest Kurdistan.

There are Shi'ite police who work for the government; there are Sunni police who work for the government. There are insurgent militias who fight the police, and fight each other. There are police who moonlight in militia. There are police who are bought off by militia. There are police who are militia moles or subject to duress. You've also ignored the tribal factor, which has much to do with who is recruited into army, police, and militia, and is only slightly less important than religion in determining who fights each other.

Your basic point holds, I'm saying, but don't oversimplify the sides. It's very closely true to say that there are no sides.

we could, hopefully, replace an invasion force with a multinational-but-Muslim-leaning peacekeeping force. I can't see a US government (any government?) eating that much humble pie, though.

More to the point, I can't see the Muslim world participating in what many would see as betrayal, without good incentives. In 1991, they had plenty of incentives; this time, not so much. If there were a window to get them involved, it has likely passed.

A more likely scenario is an embattled Iraqi government buying some kind of support from a not-adjacent Muslim state -- say, Pakistan. Right now the legitimacy of Baghdad approaches zero, certainly with the Arab League. Any country that goes in will face massive civilian opposition, but most Muslim countries remain authoritarian.

A Shia ruled Iraq is probably the worst outcome the administration could hope for

Really? Seems to me they've had a Shi'a-dominated Iraq in the plans since Day One, with Chalabi calling half the shots. It would only be bad for the Sunnis (and, perhaps, our relations with other Sunni Arabs). A non-Iranian Shi'a republic could be part of what some (Ledeen?) always wanted.

As for "bogged down", again, I think this comes back to the flypaper strategy. The Feiths of the world think they've got Iran bogged down instead of vice-versa. Well, pre-occupied, anyway. In that sense, having Iran elect a batshitinsane President plays right into the strategy.
posted by dhartung at 1:05 PM on November 1, 2005


Christ! If people think jefgodesky's comment is a revelation or some sort of amazing insight then there's really no hope left. Is reporting in the U.S. really that bad. I thought it was common knowledge that Iraq is fractured and fucked, and the more corporate based reporters use Iraqi stringers to get information on the outside whilst they remain holed up in their Hotels.

And I don't think the Coalition has a vested interest in the Sh'ite populous, at all. The factional infighting between the Iranian and local Iraqi Shi'ite, however, is an attractive target for some heavy handed intervention, if one needs to divide and conquer.
posted by gsb at 3:09 PM on November 1, 2005


Y’know what? I’ll take the blame. My bad. I was way out of line. I admit it. It’s just that I had gotten drunk the night before and I lost my keys and I was having problems at home and I was all stressed out...so, sorry. I screwed it all up. My fault. I admit it. Let’s move on.


Am I fired?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:36 PM on November 1, 2005


You're doing a heck of a job, Smedleymanie.
posted by psmealey at 6:02 PM on November 1, 2005


Leon: a new administration could go cap in hand to the Muslim world, and say "the last guys really screwed up - please help us fix this", and we could, hopefully, replace an invasion force with a multinational-but-Muslim-leaning peacekeeping force

Absolutely right. I stood jaw-open during the presidential debates when Bush argued that his "steadfast determination" would win support of allies, and Kerry's "wrong war criticism" would make you look like pussies. How many people bought that bull? Had Kerry been elected, I'm sure UN peacekeepers would be there now.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:21 PM on November 1, 2005


« Older Calligrapher Robot   |   Day of the Dead Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post