Iraqi Citizens Fight Back
February 4, 2005 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Iraqi Citizens Fight Back: "The residents of a small Iraqi village have killed five insurgents who had attacked them for voting in last weekend's national elections." ABC Journalist Mark Willacy: "It would appear that people are getting sick of the insurgency. But certainly many people here see the insurgency as the work of foreigners who want to turn their country into some sort of Islamic state, like Afghanistan under the Taliban." On Sunday, insurgents used a kidnapped boy with Down's syndrome as a human bomb. From IraqTheModel: "The poor victim was so scared when ordered to walk to the searching point and began to walk back to the terrorists. In response the criminals pressed the button and blew up the poor victim almost half way between their position and the voting center's entrance".
posted by jenleigh (99 comments total)
 
Well, good for them. Of course, the insurgents wouldn't be there in the first place if it weren't for us, but...oh well.
posted by fungible at 7:36 AM on February 4, 2005


It's about damn time they stood up for themselves.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:37 AM on February 4, 2005


So is this the start of that Iraqi civil war we've been hearing so much about?
posted by aaronetc at 7:37 AM on February 4, 2005


more booldshed, YAY!
posted by delmoi at 7:38 AM on February 4, 2005


It didn't occur to anyone who came up with the flypaper ( or supermagnet) theory to ask what was going to happen to the people that lived in Iraq?
posted by jperkins at 7:44 AM on February 4, 2005


Actually, it's more of a roach motel effect: the presence of Americans, American troops reachable without having to come here is irresistible to the Islamo-looneys. They're drawn to Iraq, where they will die.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:47 AM on February 4, 2005


They're drawn to Iraq, where they will die.

And the people trapped in the "roach motel"? Or are they collateral damage that are to be dismissed and not discussed out of expediency outside of when their deaths are posted to Mefi for a little ersatz rage over a situation that we've been instrumental in creating?
posted by jperkins at 7:51 AM on February 4, 2005


They're drawn to Iraq, where they will die.
Except that they're not, of course--they're enlisting Iraqis to die.
posted by amberglow at 7:51 AM on February 4, 2005


Jesus, don't you ever get tired of blaming America for EVERYTHING? I seem to forget how WE created world terrorism.
posted by TetrisKid at 7:52 AM on February 4, 2005


make that recruiting...and they don't even need to, really--many many Iraqis are very angry at us, to put it mildly.
posted by amberglow at 7:53 AM on February 4, 2005


It's about damn time they stood up for themselves.

Actually, it's about damn time they stood up to themselves.

Aren't the majority of insurgents still Iraqi? I know Bush would like you to believe that they're mostly foreign fighters.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 7:53 AM on February 4, 2005


I seem to forget how WE created world terrorism.
world terrorism and Iraq are 2 wholly and completely separate issues, and don't ever forget it.
posted by amberglow at 7:54 AM on February 4, 2005


Jesus, don't you ever get tired of blaming America for EVERYTHING?

Not when it's a strategy discussed openly by our political leadership, numbnuts.
posted by jperkins at 7:54 AM on February 4, 2005


Why all the negativity?
I think this is good news, just like the relatively high turn-out at the elections that nobody expected.
posted by sour cream at 7:56 AM on February 4, 2005


They're drawn to Iraq, where they will die.

The administration beats this drum all the time and based on the Red Army experience in the 1980s, there is some rational basis for it. However, I have yet to read a single journalistic account of non-Iraqi insurgents engaging US Forces. Is this really going on, or is this really a red herring?
posted by psmealey at 7:57 AM on February 4, 2005


People ... grab your knees before they jerk out of their sockets.

I've never been happy with the reasons offered for our involvement in Iraq, I believe we've ignored our original target in the War on Terrorism, I recognize that our presence in Iraq fuels Iraqi-born insurgent fervor and attracts out-of-town opportunists with a bent for violence, and I want our soldiers home as soon as possible, but the cold truth is that the U.S. must see this through and our troops must remain there until Iraqi forces are willing and able to contain foreign-provoked violence on their own. It may be like fixing a window we broke ourselves, but this is the situation we're in.

The insurgents (foreign and domestic) profit from the fear they can instill in the common Iraqi. They use them for ransom fodder and human shields. Whether the terrorists come from down the block or over the border, the bloodshed they bring to everyday Iraq is intolerable. So if the citizenry are finding the courage to stand up to the suicide-bombing and kidnapping thugs in their midst, then we can hope the trained Iraqi police and military will follow suit. If they do, then we are one step closer to ending our involvement in Iraq's affairs and bringing our troops home.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:57 AM on February 4, 2005


world terrorism and Iraq are 2 wholly and completely separate issues

In general, I agree. But if you're an Iraqi citizen, world terrorism has become deathly local, yes?
posted by grabbingsand at 7:59 AM on February 4, 2005


I think this is good news

Good news would be Iraqi security forces neutralizing the insurgents before any of villagers were hurt. Ordinary citizens taking matters into their own hands, while this is certainly understandable, I'm hard-pressed to call it good news.
posted by psmealey at 7:59 AM on February 4, 2005


Why all the negativity?
I think this is good news, just like the relatively high turn-out at the elections that nobody expected.


Not for leftists.
posted by TetrisKid at 8:00 AM on February 4, 2005


Who's getting fed up with who? Are Shias getting fed up? A more positive sign would be Sunnis getting fed up with insurgents.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 8:01 AM on February 4, 2005


DieHipsterDie: According to this article, taken from the LA Times, that seems correct.

Of course, "they" implies anyone being attacked.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:01 AM on February 4, 2005


Jesus, don't you ever get tired of blaming America for EVERYTHING?

I don't blame America for: the tsunami, halitosis, serial killers, the smell of paint thinner, New Found Glory (although the argument could be made), Adolf Hitler, child pornography, irritable bowel syndrome, stinky cheese, the 100 years war, berets, German potato salad, haggis, or killing Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Terrorism? Oh, we're there, dude.
posted by fungible at 8:03 AM on February 4, 2005


In general, I agree. But if you're an Iraqi citizen, world terrorism has become deathly local, yes?
if you define us as the terrorists, i guess.
posted by amberglow at 8:04 AM on February 4, 2005


Not for leftists.

Not for anyone who has an issue with a country being reduced to hell on earth for purposes of locating and disposing of WMDs, er, creating a too tempting target for terrorists and insurgents to attack the innocent citizenry and U.S. military. Numbnuts.
posted by jperkins at 8:05 AM on February 4, 2005


Casualty counts. From the Council on Foreign Relations.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:05 AM on February 4, 2005


poor boy. :(
posted by dabitch at 8:07 AM on February 4, 2005


I see it as the Iraqis getting a sense of empowerment, which is a good thing.
posted by Dagobert at 8:08 AM on February 4, 2005


But if you're an Iraqi citizen, world terrorism has become deathly local, yes?

Without a doubt - thanks to us.

We've treated Iraq like the petri dish in which we're going to grow democracy. It's a great theory, and if it becomes reality, then no doubt the Iraqis will be better off than they were under Saddam, and better off than they are now.

But in between the past and this glorious, as-yet-unrealized future is a hell of a lot of blood; American, but far more so, Iraqi.

And if I'm the average Iraqi, no matter how much I might be glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein, I am going to resent the United States for igniting a full-fledged civil war in my country, one which is killing my own countrymen at an astounding rate.

Two civil wars, actually; the war for the country, and the war for Islam itself. From the American standpoint, better that these showdowns take place over there than over here.

But the people who live in the middle of this maelstrom "over there" that we created are supposed to thank us for it, and be grateful for our sacrifice?
posted by kgasmart at 8:19 AM on February 4, 2005


DieHipsterDie: Also according to one of the links above, the village consists of both Shia and Sunni.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:19 AM on February 4, 2005


This makes me feel so warm and fuzzy! It's too bad this isn't even close to a drop in a bucket.
posted by angry modem at 8:19 AM on February 4, 2005


I see it as the Iraqis getting a sense of empowerment, which is a good thing.

which Iraqis? the ones targeting our soldiers as well as collaborators or voters, or the ones targeting those targeting our soldiers as well as collaborators or voters? It seems a sense of empowerment has always been in evidence (and we'd be doing the same here if invaded and occupied).
posted by amberglow at 8:20 AM on February 4, 2005


It's about time that law and order is finally coming to the streets of Iraq.
posted by Eekacat at 8:26 AM on February 4, 2005


I've always thought that the "you hate America!" crowd was just using particularly loathsome rhetoric which actually meant, "You disagree with me about the policies of the current administration!" I'd assumed they had the same basic standards of "good" and "bad" - freedom good, death bad, torture bad, peace good - and we simply had very different views of the best way to go about ending the bad and promoting the good.

Now I'm not so sure. I'm supposed to cheer at more dead bodies? Vigilante justice? The possible early signs of a civil war? I'm supposed to thrill to a "flypaper" strategy because the thousands of Americans and others dying and being crippled because of it are . . . somewhere else?

Wouldn't good news be a cease-fire? Negotiations? Circumstances that allow for troop withdrawal?

I don't understand half my country anymore.
posted by kyrademon at 8:28 AM on February 4, 2005


Why all the negativity?
I think this is good news, just like the relatively high turn-out at the elections that nobody expected.


What turnout? With 3.3 million votes already counted out of 15.2 million (both local and expatriate) voters, best estimates appear to be around 25-30%, and almost all Shiite. Some cities posted voting turnouts in the range of 10% or so. Sunnis practically didn't turn out at all. Allegations of vote manipulation are rampant. It's so bad that they're delaying the release of the actual turnout numbers for another week, but they're counting votes now.

We talk about "insurgents" like they're a caste. Instead of a secular government, the overwhelmingly Shiite voters have elected an Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah. (Chalabi was outed as an Iranian spy who manipulated the US to attack Iraq. That Iraqi woman Bush featured in the SOTU? Cut from the same cloth. Coincidence?) That civil war? It's not going to be "insurgents vs. population" shortly, but "Shiite vs. Sunni", with the Kurds throwing in for good measure. We've worked to create another theocracy, and one that isn't exactly enamored of us.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:37 AM on February 4, 2005


@grabbingsand: "So if the citizenry are finding the courage to stand up to the suicide-bombing and kidnapping thugs in their midst, then we can hope the trained Iraqi police and military will follow suit."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:38 AM on February 4, 2005


"the bloodshed they bring to everyday Iraq is intolerable"

Well I'd argue that if you invade my country and I fight you, you're the one bringing the bloodshed to my country.

Defending your country against an invading army, in any way possible, to many is not just a right, it's a duty.

And what exactly are the invading troops that they can complain about "foreigners"?
posted by talos at 8:51 AM on February 4, 2005


Point taken, though wasn't implying that they were trained now.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:52 AM on February 4, 2005


I think a better summary would be: "It's nice seeing Iraqis take the matter of Iraqis taking matters into their own hands into their own hands."

Actually, wait. That's AWFUL.

No one can defend the insurgents who use civilian casualties as a tool for political change. But I can't really defend soldiers who cause inestimably MORE civilian casualties under the pretext that it's "only war."
This article doesn't do anything for me, because I don't see anyone doing the right thing on either side, and it seems like the beginning of an escalating civil war that we'll hastily try to prevent by killing all the wrong people.

on preview: Go talos, it's a celebration marking the anniversary of your date of birth!
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2005


In other news, Washington locals have formed a militia and overrun the terrorist hideouts at Pennsylvania Avenue.

Everyone would be so happy at how "empowered" they are, right? Vigilanti justice is not a sign of a functioning democracy, it is a sign of panic and inaction by any level of civil authority.
posted by odinsdream at 9:00 AM on February 4, 2005


odin: nice point. it's your birthday as well.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 9:01 AM on February 4, 2005


Well I'd argue that if you invade my country and I fight you, you're the one bringing the bloodshed to my country.

Okay. Imagine I invaded your country. (I have a flag.)
Your people are mad at me and some take up arms against me.
Your neighbors have no love for me, so they creep into your country to take a shot at me.
Now, in the crossfire of all of this shooting (some of your people shooting my people and the outsider creeps shooting my people and my people shooting back at both), the ones getting shot the most are the common folk who just want to have their electricity back and an event-free trip to market. While I might've started this nonsense, I'm not the only one doing the shooting, am I? All of this imported and inspired bloodshed did not come from me.

This might be different if the insurgents were fighting for the liberation of Iraq, but it doesn't look that way. The fighting seems to be against American/western agression, instead of for any kind of cause, apart from a fundamentalist call against our presence. If they are the armed front of a motivated revolution of the people, please point me to the details, because I've missed their pamphlets entirely.

As it appears, if the insurgents managed to push the US off the Iraqi-square of the Risk® map, the future of Iraq still looks pretty damned bleak and their stability will erode even further. (If that's even possible.)
posted by grabbingsand at 9:09 AM on February 4, 2005


Grabbingsand, while you may not be the only one doing the shooting, it's pretty hard to argue you're not responsible for it all in the situation you've described.

And I don't think we really *know* whether the insurgency is just anti-US or has goals beyond that. Most likely it's a mixed bag depending on the group or even the person. They-are-all-terrorists-and-bad-men propaganda has been shoved down out throats since the start of this, but I've seen precious few attempts to get their point of view on the whole thing.
posted by kyrademon at 9:20 AM on February 4, 2005


Okay. Imagine I invaded your country. (I have a flag.)
Your people are mad at me and some take up arms against me.
Your neighbors have no love for me, so they creep into your country to take a shot at me.
[..] All of this imported and inspired bloodshed did not come from me.


Yes, yes it did. If we are to use your scenario, the unruly neighbors are using your invasion as an opportunity to shoot at you. If you hadn't invaded, no opportunity.
posted by effwerd at 9:21 AM on February 4, 2005


Iran will be better - it's kind of like your second child. The first one has to suffer through all of your inadequacies as a parent. The second benefits from your original mistakes and then goes to a better college than the first.

Free Iran!
posted by guruguy9 at 9:22 AM on February 4, 2005


and then we get this shit, from a bigshot General of ours: "Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. ... It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling."

Maybe we're spreading more than just freedom and democracy?
posted by amberglow at 9:22 AM on February 4, 2005


I agree that this story isn't necessarily a good sign for Iraqi security. I would think if the Iraqi security forces had done such a thing, it would be a good sign. Still, all noble ethics and idealism aside, I kinda like it. It's completely understandable and I can't say I wouldn't do the same in their position. They also got off with only three wounded. I call it a small part of the ongoing catastrophic "success" that is Iraq.
posted by effwerd at 9:32 AM on February 4, 2005


grabbingsand: this isn't much of an argument. German troops did invade my country 54 years ago. People took arms against them. In the crossfire most of the casualties were local. The Germans made a point of stressing this. It was the *communists'* and the *terrorists'* fault. If they'd stop shooting, all those people wouldn't get killed (a mantra repeated by pretty much all occupying armies since time immemorial).

As for the motives - these were dominated by the communists' agenda. Yet those that risked their lives and died for the liberation of their country from the foreign invader, were not necessarily thinking well beyond the struggle at hand. For most of the insurgents it's a war pro aris et focis as the Latins used to say. No further justification needed.

On preview: more succinctly stated by many other fellow Me
posted by talos at 9:42 AM on February 4, 2005


Aren't the majority of insurgents still Iraqi?

Yes, according to US military officers in Iraq, quoted in September 2004 in the Los Angles Times [Common Dreams archive]:
But according to top U.S. military officers in Iraq, the threat posed by foreign fighters is far less significant than American and Iraqi politicians portray. Instead, commanders said, loyalists of Saddam Hussein's regime--who have swelled their ranks in recent months as ordinary Iraqis bristle at the U.S. military presence in Iraq--represent the far greater threat to the country's fragile 3-month-old government.

...U.S. military officials said Iraqi officials tended to exaggerate the number of foreign fighters in Iraq to obscure the fact that large numbers of their countrymen have taken up arms against U.S. troops and the American-backed interim Iraqi government.

"They say these guys are flowing across [the border] and fomenting all this violence. We don't think so," said a senior military official in Baghdad. "What's the main threat? It's internal."

...Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, estimated that the number of foreign fighters in Iraq was below 1,000.

"While the foreign fighters in Iraq are definitely a problem that have to be dealt with, I still think that the primary problem that we're dealing with is former regime elements of the ex-Baath Party that are fighting against the government and trying to do anything possible to upend the election process," he said.
And that's the same thing that American military officers told the Associated Press in July 2004:
Contrary to U.S. government claims, the insurgency in Iraq is led by well-armed Sunnis angry about losing power, not foreign fighters, and is far larger than previously thought, American military officials say.
In January 2005 the Iraqi intelligence chief estimated that there are 40,000 hard-core fighters in the resistance. Finally, as we've discussed previously, the resistance was probably planned before the war as a "rope-a-dope" strategy:
U.S. soldiers in Iraq have discovered intelligence from the Iraqi secret police, known as the Mukhabarat, stating that the current rash of postwar attacks, ambushes and organized chaos against coalition forces were planned months before the war in Iraq even began...
posted by kirkaracha at 9:47 AM on February 4, 2005


I'm glad they fought back and I hope they continue to fight back but that story about the insurgents using the boy with Down's syndrome as a bomb has got my blood boiling.

It is thoroughly disgusting and the people that used him should suffer for a very, very long time before their worthless lives are snuffed out.
posted by fenriq at 10:11 AM on February 4, 2005


Hooray, let's start a civil war in Iraq! This has been the plan all along to turn the Shias against the Sunnis. Before that, we propped up the Sunnies against the Shias. We're always eager to exploit a tribal rift.

Imperialism 101: Divide and conquer!

Iraqi Sunnis were our counterbalance when the Shiites (Iranian) were getting in the way of our oil fix. We funded both sides of the Iraq/Iran war. BTW, what's up with those arbitrary political boundaries? Oh yeah, the British empire made those to exacerbate tensions.

I'm also very suspicious that some of the early terrorist attacks against the Shiites of Iraq were sponsored by our political operatives for the sole purpose of breaking Iraqi national solidarity and turning the Shiites into our proxy army. How hideous.

Jenleigh, you have some serious ethical shortcomings. Cheerleading war is a despicable thing to do. Your faith in the good deeds of the empire is either sinister and arrogant on your part, or pathetically naive.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:11 AM on February 4, 2005


Iraqi citizens fight back hmm..
Smells like civil war
posted by fingerbang at 10:13 AM on February 4, 2005


Good points all ... I guess I'm being worn down by the constant talk about our involvement ending and our troops getting the Hell out as soon as Iraqis are able to shoulder the burden of protection on their own. In that admittedly narrow light, reports of everyday Iraqis fighting insurgent Iraqis look remotely positive. :|
posted by grabbingsand at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2005


It is not positive that Bush is turning Iraqis against Iraqis. Bush wants civil war.

The resistance in Iraq is mixed. There are terrorists on both sides. Some Iraqi fighters are fighting our soldiers. Others are killing Iraqi police recruits. Still others are attacking voters. There is no single leadership of the resistance. Tarring them all as terrorists is a lie. The ones who wanted to use this kid were obviously terrorists.

Do all American forces deserve to be tarred as killers of civilians based on the actions of those that have killed Iraqi civilians?

I feel compelled to respond to Jenleigh's use of a single poigniant act of murder to justify a whole bloody war of aggression.

I'll cite this as one of many examples of poigniant, shocking tragedy which I'll use to argue against Bush's bloody war of aggression.

This kid had her parents blown away in front of her.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:25 AM on February 4, 2005


It's about damn time they stood up for themselves.
posted by Captaintripps


They stood up for themselves in Fallujah. They paid a very heavy price. They stood up for themselves in Najaf. They paid a very heavy price. They'll keep standing up for themselves.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:38 AM on February 4, 2005


Jenleigh, you have some serious ethical shortcomings. Cheerleading war is a despicable thing to do. Your faith in the good deeds of the empire is either sinister and arrogant on your part, or pathetically naive.

When did I "cheerlead" war?

Jenleigh's use of a single poigniant [sic] act of murder to justify a whole bloody war of aggression.

"justify a whole bloody war"?

"Ethical shortcomings"?

"Sinister and arrogant"?

Where in hell are you pulling any of that from? You know precious little about how I see the world. I don't deserve to spoken to like that for posting a few links to a message board. People post links from different angles every day, it doesn't mean they endorse/not endorse any particular POV from the link. It's just pieces of the whole.

What is wrong with you? If anyone is representing himself as a wee bit sinister or arrogant, it's YOU.
posted by jenleigh at 10:41 AM on February 4, 2005


VP_Admin: "Jenleigh, you have some serious ethical shortcomings."

Geez, man, calm down. Your arguments make less and less sense.

Some people here think that lives have been saved by the invasion of Iraq. Some people here think that lives would've been saved if Iraq hadn't been invaded. Everyone hopes that lives are saved. And no one here, so far as I can tell, is "cheerleading war" or hoping for death.

Honestly, I'm saying this because no one else will stoop low enough to respond to this incessant snarking. Although, on preview, I guess jenleigh did, too. If you feel the blood start to boil, do exactly what I do: avoid the political threads.
posted by koeselitz at 10:46 AM on February 4, 2005


VP_admin: you've spoken in that shrill, exaggerated, judgmental tone since you arrived at this site. Hasn't more than one person asked you to please cut it out?
posted by jenleigh at 10:46 AM on February 4, 2005


Hi, I'm a Canadian-Chinese-Filipino observer of the US, which used to be the country I most admired. Here's my two cents:

I think it's easier to tell Americans that "Iraqis are fighting back against insurgents" than to actually root out the insurgency (which is an impossible task anyway). Does anybody (even GWB supporters) really think that the administration won't use every rhetorical or PR trick in the book to get their way? Understand that historical and human forces have created a climate in the US where journalists and citizens are equally unclear about what is really happening in Iraq and the US.

Speaking in general -- and beyond this piece of so-called reporting -- I believe that the current US administration has decided it can fool enough people most of the time to always get its way. It's not necessarily because this administration is more machiavellian than preceding ones-- it's just that there's an unprecedented confluence of several trends right now: the perfecting of media manipulation techniques, avarice replacing public service, dogmatism in political discourse -- and a low ebb in critical faculties everywhere (hypocognition) due to a disinterest in civic duties by the vast majority.

In analogy to the Fall of the Roman Empire, it could be argued that the majority of American citizens have now abdicated their responsibilities in the Wars of Ideas to paid "barbarians" -- avaricious politicians -- instead of going out there and promulgating the true gems of American culture in a positive manner. As a Canadian-Chinese-Filipino who is culturally American, I can testify that the "old America" that I knew and admired is now gone, and that I'm living proof that Americans have employed the wrong people to speak for them. I do not think enough Americans will ever understand that this is going on, and so it is an irreversible trend.

Where's Hari Seldon when you need him?
posted by growli at 11:06 AM on February 4, 2005


VP_Admin, I probably agree with most of your politics. I suspect, based on her previous posts, that I disagree with much of jenleigh's.

I do, however, agree with her that you are being arrogant, insulting, boorish, and rude. Quit it.
posted by kyrademon at 11:08 AM on February 4, 2005


VP_Admin: stop fighting demons. You are becoming one.
posted by growli at 11:08 AM on February 4, 2005


Further to my comments above: it's ironic and telling that the implicit message of GWB's State of the Union address is that America is a cultural and moral exemplar to the world. A "shining city on a hill" so to speak.

Ironic because it's no longer true (if it ever was), and telling because it's juxtaposed with such a compendium of other untruths.
posted by growli at 11:16 AM on February 4, 2005


growli, oh yes, the USA is the shining beacon of hope and light in a world so oppressed. By the USA. Oh shit, I think we have a problem here.

Actually, the Bush administration is doing nothing but the exact opposite of what they say. Condi Rice swearing an Iranian invasion isn't in the plans makes me think it will happen any moment.

They have no credibility outside their glassy-eyed powerbase.
posted by fenriq at 11:25 AM on February 4, 2005


Anyone else for a "knock it off, zealot?"
posted by Captaintripps at 11:29 AM on February 4, 2005


growli: You mention that the current administration is "machiavellian."

As an ardent admirer of Machiavelli, I agree. He bent all of his resources toward creating democratic republics, and advocated using any means necessary to save lives and improve the quality of human existence, up to and including betrayal and deception. He seemed to believe that the world wouldn't be just until those who wanted it to be so went out and made themselves stronger than injustice. Through him, the whole modern movement toward democracy took place.

I don't think the world has changed much since Machiavelli. No matter how much some seem to hope for a magical world peace, war is always a possibility, and peace cannot occur until the strongest nation imposes it on the rest.
posted by koeselitz at 11:36 AM on February 4, 2005


koeselitz: Actually, I said the current administration is no more machiavellian than its predecessors. It just has better means at its disposal to carry out its agenda.

To address your point, how do you prove that the best approach to "world peace" is a Machiavellian one? Also, how do you distinguish acts of Machiavellian enlightenment from machinations that are simply "realpolitik" dressed up? I know I can't tell the difference anymore.
posted by growli at 11:47 AM on February 4, 2005


Suppose someone comes in and makes a very articulate and polite argument in favor of putting all Arab Americans into internment camps like Michelle Malkin advocates?

Suppose someone very politely makes the case for the carpet-bombing if Bagdad?

Suppose a very polite holocaust denier should come to air their revisionist history in this forum?

Suppose someone comes and makes a very articulate case for the invasion of France?

Is any and all expression of outrage in this polite forum to be frowned upon?

Is my outrage really so out of place and shrill, when Jenleigh's first post was to float the idea that Iranians want us to invade them next?

It seems that people on Metafilter care a lot about maintaining a polite atmosphere. That's a good thing, but it's definitely a challenge to stay cool-headed and polite when someone comes in with slick propagandistic rationalizations for mass-slaughter.
posted by VP_Admin at 11:58 AM on February 4, 2005


VP_Admin: The key to not flying off the handle is to realize that there is a large diversity of opinion out there that's not as extreme and irrational as you feared; that they are within reach of reason and argument and worthy of respect. It's a good way to turn enemies into allies while keeping your soul intact.

Is any and all expression of outrage in this polite forum to be frowned upon?

That's not what's happening. You're outraged all the time. We're beginning to suspect you are a wannabe demagogue. If that's not the case, then I hope you can tone it down a little.
posted by growli at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2005


"To address your point, how do you prove that the best approach to 'world peace' is a Machiavellian one?"

The West finds itself facing several military threats: North Korea, for example, and Iran. Most of the West is fairly reticent to use military power to stem those threats, as they are (perhaps understandably) wary of the temptations of empire. I think it's necessary to hold one's nose and fight for the solution, as frightening as the temptation might be. There are a fair number of leaders in the world who simply don't care about embargoes-- they've allowed their own people to starve rather than care-- and who won't be swayed by some tiny court's ruling in the Netherlands. Military solutions are sometimes the only solutions.

If you're willing to kill in order to save lives, I don't think it's much of a jump to be willing to lie or to betray.

"Also, how do you distinguish acts of Machiavellian enlightenment from machinations that are simply 'realpolitik' dressed up? I know I can't tell the difference anymore."

Everyone involved knows that what's at stake is nothing less than the safety of the entire world; no "businessman" would be so stupid as to start a war of this magnitude and proportion in order to make profit, as it's a horrible gamble, and as you probably won't even profit if major American cities get bombed and Europe ends up on the other side. There's also the fact that, if you wanted to profit from Iraqi oil, the chance has been there for the past ten years in the guise of "Oil-for-Food."

I think the administration is serious about wanting peace. At least: the things they're doing are the things I'd do.

On preview: VP_Admin, I know it's a difficult struggle. I have to fight hard not to start ranting here. (Just imagine: I'm conservative. I have an uphill battle, believe me.) I also really think that that's what political thinking is all about-- trying to understand someone else's point of view. Learning to think about political things means losing the tendancy to feel outrage and replacing it with a cool, rational thoughtfulness aimed at the greatest good for the greatest number. I haven't done that either-- it's something that everybody here's spending a lot of time working on, I think. Thanks for trying to explain yourself, and respecting us enough to share your thoughts.
posted by koeselitz at 12:09 PM on February 4, 2005


If you're willing to kill in order to save lives, I don't think it's much of a jump to be willing to lie or to betray.

You may not think so, but plenty of cultures have valued trustworthiness and killing separately. Personally, I have no problem with violence to resolve certain disputes, but I do with dishonesty. It's base and disgusting, and it's not behavior I want exhibited by the people who are supposed to be working for me (i.e. my government.) If it's directed at me or my countrymen, it's treasonable.
IMO.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:21 PM on February 4, 2005


koeselitz, I'd read Barlow's piece before - and it packed more of a punch then, before we'd actually gone into Iraq.

But beyond that is the fact that what he - you - are talking about resembles the old "New World Order," does it not? With the United States essentially as king of the world. Because if this benign nation rules the world - by killing or intimidating all who might object to this - then all will be well.

But we can never know that the number of people we're killing in order to achieve the wondrous goal will ultimately wind up less than the number that might have died in the wars we might have prevented. Case in point is again Iraq - brutal though Saddam was, how long might it have taken him to kill the 10,000 or 100,000 or however many civilians have been killed in the wake of our invasion?

I suppose I'm just of the mind that imposing your will on others, in the long run, does as much to create enemies as friends; that you wind up inheriting the whirlwind.
posted by kgasmart at 12:21 PM on February 4, 2005


The West finds itself facing several military threats: North Korea, for example, and Iran... Military solutions are sometimes the only solutions.

Is this not a self-serving argument? It's not obvious to even the most hawkish analyst that the DPRK and Iran constitute actual military threats to "the West" beyond their need to construct a credible nuclear deterrent. Other interpretations and other solutions are possible... perhaps even in concert with the military option. This is an obvious point, but lately the non-military option has been left out in the cold despite lip service.

Everyone involved knows that what's at stake is nothing less than the safety of the entire world; no "businessman" would be so stupid as to start a war of this magnitude and proportion in order to make profit, as it's a horrible gamble, and as you probably won't even profit if major American cities get bombed and Europe ends up on the other side. There's also the fact that, if you wanted to profit from Iraqi oil, the chance has been there for the past ten years in the guise of "Oil-for-Food."

My reply to this is that capitalists are known risk-takers, and if the prize is big enough, no risk is out of bounds. Thus, they gladly interfere in affairs of the Prince. Capitalists also have short-term and long-term goals and planning horizons. Is it not possible that a businessman could decide that messing up Iraq for profit is a good short-term goal, and then bet/hope that in the long term, he will not be appreciably hurt by geopolitics? This is an especially tempting business strategy when the short-term costs are borne by someone else! (eg. american soldiers that aren't related to you, and iraqi civilians)

All this to say that you cannot reliably separate the realpolitik agendas from the "enlightened" policies of Machiavellian rule. Therefore, we are in a situation where we must improve accountability of government before we do anything else rash like building other nations.
posted by growli at 12:24 PM on February 4, 2005


Thanks for trying to explain yourself, and respecting us enough to share your thoughts.
posted by koeselitz


koeselitz,
Thank you for saying that. I'll keep trying to improve my tone. It's not every forum where a guy as diametrically opposed to me politically would be thankful for anything I'd say or do.

Jenleigh,
I'll try not to assume the worst in you. I can't deny, I'm very disturbed by your postings so far.

I guess we're believer's in two conflicting historical narratives. It's conceivable that you are ethical people if your historical narratives are to be believed. You are frightfully delusional people if my historical narrative is to be believed.
posted by VP_Admin at 12:29 PM on February 4, 2005


VP_Admin: The key to not flying off the handle is to realize that there is a large diversity of opinion out there that's not as extreme and irrational as you feared ...
posted by growli


I'm aware of the large diversity of opinion on the Iraq war and the potential for war with Iran. That is what scares me.
posted by VP_Admin at 12:36 PM on February 4, 2005


I don't see where you're grabbing all these ideas about the first post, VP_Admin.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:39 PM on February 4, 2005


I'll try not to assume the worst in you. I can't deny, I'm very disturbed by your postings so far.

If I squint, that almost resembles an apology.

Painting someone as a 'sinister, ethically-challenged cheerleader of war' is a fairly wretched insult where I come from, but in your world it seems to pass for normal, productive conversation. Again, it sounds only one of us is suffering from hubris.

Go on being 'disturbed' by the diversity represented around here, and you'll end up by yourself, huddled in a tiny corner with your back against the wall, seeing the outside world through a pinhole, scared of what you see, but doing nothing to improve it.
posted by jenleigh at 12:47 PM on February 4, 2005


"This is an obvious point, but lately the non-military option has been left out in the cold despite lip service."

I really think it's the other way around. The United States has the strongest military in the West, and not because the US is better at such things, but because the rest of the Western Nations have looked down on such measures. Bosnia alone, I think, proves that a Europe with a strong military would be a good thing.

What's more, I think this situation-- Iraq-- is one that probably called for military intervention. The peace that Iraqis had before the invasion was arguably worse than war. Certainly there are other places-- Darfur, maybe-- where direct action is needed; but I believe that, not only will fewer Iraqis die in the next five, ten years because the US invaded, and not only will the Arab world be rid of its single worst tyrant, but the perception of the West in the Arab world will be better for it.

You ask how I distinguish everyday realpolitik from Machiavellian "enlightenment." The argument I've outlined above is the one that Bush, his staff, and his closest supporters-- see, for example, the Project for a New American Century, of which Donald Rumsfeld is a part-- have been making all along. It may be propaganda, but if it is, it's the most clear-headed, well-thought, and complex propaganda I've ever seen. I can think of a lot of simpler, easier lines of argument to use, if these people are looking for them. No, I think they really believe the stuff they're saying.
posted by koeselitz at 12:53 PM on February 4, 2005


Go on being 'disturbed' by the diversity represented around here, and you'll end up by yourself, huddled in a tiny corner with your back against the wall, seeing the outside world through a pinhole, scared of what you see, but doing nothing to improve it.

Or else you'll get a syndicated radio program and make a million bucks or so.
posted by kgasmart at 12:53 PM on February 4, 2005


The United States has the strongest military in the West, and not because the US is better at such things, but because the rest of the Western Nations have looked down on such measures.

Can we talk about why for a minute?

I mean, really, in the whole run-up to war, in the whole wingnut insistence that the French and the Germans were a bunch of wimps; I recently read a piece by Niall Ferguson (in The Atlantic; subscription req'd) wondering, gee, how come Europe is going so secular when the U.S. is going so evangelical?

Anyone want to guess why Europe has gone in a different direction? Could it be because a large portion of the continent was wiped out, resulting in tens of millions dead, the last time European nations did not look down on this sort of thing?
posted by kgasmart at 12:58 PM on February 4, 2005


Go on being 'disturbed' by the diversity represented around here, and you'll end up by yourself, huddled in a tiny corner with your back against the wall ...
posted by jenleigh


I didn't say I was disturbed by the diversity of opinion around here.

I said I was scared by the large diversity of opinion on the Iraq war and the potential for war with Iran.

I would hope there would be almost nobody willing to entertain the idea that the Iraq war is a Good Thing (tm) and that invading Iran might be a good idea.

BTW, I hope it won't come to me being "huddled in a tiny corner with [my] back against the wall, seeing the outside world through a pinhole, scared of what [I] see".

I recognize that's entirely possible with George Bush's abandonment of due process and Miranda Rights.

Now anyone can be declared a "terrist", sent to gitmo, detained and tortured indefinitely.
posted by VP_Admin at 1:04 PM on February 4, 2005


The single worst tyrant in the Arab world, koeselitz?
posted by kyrademon at 1:19 PM on February 4, 2005


I recognize that's entirely possible with George Bush's abandonment of due process and Miranda Rights.

Now anyone can be declared a "terrist", sent to gitmo, detained and tortured indefinitely.
posted by VP_Admin at 4:04 PM EST on February 4


Source?
posted by Captaintripps at 1:29 PM on February 4, 2005


koeslitz: Yes I'm familiar with the PNAC agenda, which sometimes just reminds me of the tired White Man's Burden, transferred to the Neoconservatives' shoulders.

Here I would like to quote some immortal space opera:

The same massive chamber we saw on the Main Viewer earlier... thousands of Borg lined up... as Picard
ENTERS. They speak with a thousand deafening voices:

BORG
Captain Jean-Luc Picard, you lead
the strongest ship of the
Federation Starfleet. You speak
for your people.

PICARD
I have nothing to say to you, and
I will resist you with my last
ounce of strength.

BORG
Strength is irrelevant.
Resistance is futile. We wish to
improve ourselves. We will add
your biological and technological
distinctiveness to our own. Your
culture will adapt to service ours.

PICARD
Impossible. My culture is based
on freedom and self-determination.

BORG
Freedom is irrelevant. Self-determination
is irrelevant. You must comply.

PICARD
We would rather die.

BORG
Death is irrelevant.

Many, many nations out there will fight tooth and nail for the right to self-determination. The Philippines did it when they kicked out the Spanish and the US in succession, even though the US helped the Filipinos to oust their Spanish and Japanese "oppressors".

I really have my doubts that Machiavelli would consider the "domino effect" of US-friendly attitudes spreading through the Middle East via invasion a very smart way of doing things. Admitedly, it's a complex gambit, but it's not very subtle.
posted by growli at 1:35 PM on February 4, 2005


Captaintripps,

Jose Padilla (Accused Dirty Bomb Plotter) is an American who was declared an enemy combatant and thereby lost all his civil liberties as an American, including his right to remain silent and access to an attourney. I'm not sure about his legal status today, but I know they violated his rights as an American when they failed to deliver due process.

It might be a waste of my time to try to convince you of anything. I hope you'll bother to educate yourself on the "Patriot Act". If it doesn't ring any alarm bells in you, I'm sorry that you don't understand what makes America special.

I've probably posted too many replies. I don't want to use up too much space on this thread...
posted by VP_Admin at 1:37 PM on February 4, 2005


Captaintripps,

thousands who protested the Republican Convention in NYC were detained unlawfully in Peir 57. It was a temporary gulag with no access to an attorney for well over 24 hours for many. Some were held for up to 60 hours. Luckily I didn't get netted by the huge orange nets the NYPD used to round people up from the streets. The arrests were completely indiscriminant and arbitrary.

There is this document called "The Consitution" which requires state and federal governments to observe certain protocols to respect the civil liberties of American citizens. These days, most American presidents simply ignore it when it suits them.
posted by VP_Admin at 1:47 PM on February 4, 2005


VP_Admin: I think I've figured out why your comments grate on so many nerves: You tend to have a consistent rhetorical structure where you advance some facts, draw a conclusion, and then invariably append an ad hominem attack at the end -- as if you believe that last strengthens your argument. Two examples at random:

It might be a waste of my time to try to convince you of anything. I hope you'll bother to educate yourself on the "Patriot Act". If it doesn't ring any alarm bells in you, I'm sorry that you don't understand what makes America special.


On preview:

There is this document called "The Consitution" which requires state and federal governments to observe certain protocols to respect the civil liberties of American citizens. These days, most American presidents simply ignore it when it suits them.



Hooray, let's start a civil war in Iraq! This has been the plan all along to turn the Shias against the Sunnis. Before that, we propped up the Sunnies against the Shias. We're always eager to exploit a tribal rift.



I'm also very suspicious that some of the early terrorist attacks against the Shiites of Iraq were sponsored by our political operatives for the sole purpose of breaking Iraqi national solidarity and turning the Shiites into our proxy army. How hideous.

Jenleigh, you have some serious ethical shortcomings. Cheerleading war is a despicable thing to do. Your faith in the good deeds of the empire is either sinister and arrogant on your part, or pathetically naive.



I hope this helps.
posted by growli at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2005


My vote says S&W and I am glad I have yet to cast it against other nations seeking to save my country from its flaws.
If a bunch of out of town bozos decided to set up camp close to me and turn my area into a battleground; then I would return to them what they brought to me.

As for the Patriot Act; we already have registries for everything in our lives that are available to anybody for a fee. Credit reports, criminal reports, court reports, family history, ISP usage history, and addresses... Another database to track suspected terrorist activity; ... So What. BFD.

How many of us have to use a tracking card to even buy groceries now? Randalls, Kroger, Dillions, .... and the Patriot Act is intruding on our lives?

posted by buzzman at 1:53 PM on February 4, 2005


Thanks growli.
posted by VP_Admin at 1:56 PM on February 4, 2005


Geekish ST:TNG fanboy cheers to Growli for the "Best of Both Worlds" reference.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:59 PM on February 4, 2005


After the bombing gambit with the down's syndrome boy failed, the frustrated terrorists went to a hospital and started bayonetting babies.
posted by telstar at 2:05 PM on February 4, 2005


VP_Admin: A source is not you. People can, and will, say anything they wish. I know your opinion, I would like to know the information upon which it is based. That way I can look at said information and decide for myself if I find it convincing in the same way you do or in another way.

This ties into your previous comments I asked to be sourced. Asserting suspension of due process and Miranda rights and asserting that anyone can be labeled a terrorist and then "sent off to 'Gitmo'" are serious allegations. They require substantial proof and reasoning.

On the José Padilla and Yasir Hamdi front, Padilla is still in the brig in South Carolina and Hamdi is also in the brig. If you're trying to use the first case as support for the idea that now anyone can be hauled off to Guantanamo Bay, I'd have to disagree. Both cases have been difficultly and painfully moving through the court system. Personally I feel that the situation there is reprehensible and needs to be resolved in favour of their Constitutional rights.

However, since neither of these cases have been decisively decided I don't believe they support your assertion. Since both cases arise from similar circumstances outside the experience of most American citizens they do not support that assertion. That these are the only two Americans in this situation and that this situation is being contested vigorously and loudly also does not support that assertion.

Now, I'm assuming from your "waste of time" paragraph that you would like to use the PATRIOT Act as support for the suspension of due process and Miranda rights assertion. If I am incorrect in this, please let me know.

Assuming that was your intent, what portions of the PATRIOT Act do you believe support that assertion? Some potential pitfalls of using it are its sunset clause (though there are obviously attempts to make it permanent), that individual elements of the act may be challenged and stricken from the act (one could get the undesirable clauses out or take on the whole thing), a judge is still required to oversee all electronic surveillance (though strangely these portions do not sunset) and finally the fact that organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union have been hawkish in keeping an eye on the PATRIOT Act and challenging great portions of it. Since these processes are not anywhere near completion, it does not seem to support the assertion that Bush has "suspended" due process or Miranda.

RNC arrests are being challenged in court (as part of due process). If there was no due process, they could not be challenged. Again, something wrong happened, but it doesn't equate with the conclusion you drew.

There are a lot of problems, but exaggerating them merely serves to annoy and distract from solving them.
posted by Captaintripps at 2:13 PM on February 4, 2005


Oddly enough, amberglow, Gen Mattis was giving a speach to us like maybe two months ago. I read some of the transcripts and suddenly "Hey, this sounds like that one General. . ." and sure enough it was. Wasn't exactly a smart thing to say with the reporters around.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:14 PM on February 4, 2005


yup, LC.
posted by amberglow at 2:24 PM on February 4, 2005


This story was spun out of the propaganda mill for the purpose of reinforcing the common American misconception that the situation in Iraq is parsed into Freedom Loving People vs. The Terrists.

Total bunk.
posted by squirrel at 6:12 PM on February 4, 2005


There are a lot of problems, but exaggerating them merely serves to annoy and distract from solving them.
posted by Captaintripps


Am I exaggerating when I say that civil liberties are being trampled on? I don't think I am.

What are you doing about these problems, other than trying to downplay them?

You complained about my lack of sources. I gave you specific names you can google and verify yourself. Padilla, Pier 57, arbitrary arrest in NYC(which I witnessed).

Bush is attacking our civil liberties while repeating the word "Freedom" about 70 times in each public address. I find that scary and orwellian.

BTW, I feel I may have wasted my time. It has been said that people create their own opposition by the way they relate to others. If you're arguing against me simply because you find me obnoxious, I hope I'm not hindering you from contemplating the message that I'm trying to convey.

I think I'm going to start asking people who they voted for before I invest a bunch of time trying to change their mind. It's a basic triage technique. If you voted for Bush, I probably shouldn't be trying to convince you of anything.
posted by VP_Admin at 7:58 PM on February 4, 2005



I think I'm going to start asking people who they voted for before I invest a bunch of time trying to change their mind. It's a basic triage technique. If you voted for Bush, I probably shouldn't be trying to convince you of anything.

Sounds like a plan! The Republicans will keep winning elections.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 9:33 PM on February 4, 2005


The only way for anything good to come out of this event is for the Iraqi police or army to track down the person who led the attack against the insurgents and make that person a fucking colonel.
posted by Ritchie at 4:23 AM on February 5, 2005


koeselitz: Machiavelli was a republicanist, but that doesn't suggest that was necessarily a democracy man.

And jenleigh is maybe not a warmonger - although I take it she supported the war fully, and even advocated it, which would make her one - but she's an apologist for all that's gone over there, in the classic definition (as in, Christian apologist).
posted by raysmj at 8:12 AM on February 5, 2005


Machiavelli was smart, but he was a sycophant. The Prince was written in order that he remain in favor with new leadership. He was not personally in favor of egalitarian governments, nor did he ever advocate such in his writings. He in fact advocated the opposite, oligarchy.

This is not to say he wasn't right. He had a very astute eye for human nature. But his guidance should be seen in a cynical light, as it is only meant to help the ruling class keep things in order, and how to manipulate the people they're supposedly leading.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:53 PM on February 5, 2005


I'm back, but only for one thing: krinklyfig, Machiavelli was the furthest thing from a sycophant available-- he was an extremely ambitious man. "The Prince," while great, is certainly not his greatest work; a simple comparison of the epistles dedicatory from it and "The Discourses on Livy," a work much closer to his heart, is revealing. I suggest a closer reading of "The Prince," and especially the last bit; Machiavelli made clear his republican hopes, and his counsel of the prince is certainly therefore somewhat self-serving. Furthermore, from Machiavelli through Hobbes, from Hobbes through Locke, came many of the ideals that our modern republics hold dearest. It was Machiavelli who first foretold the "end" of Christianity and the founding of a secular republic, for better or for worse.
posted by koeselitz at 8:08 AM on February 6, 2005


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