TCS Daily


Iraq: Worth the Fighting For

By Richard S. Williamson - October 27, 2008 12:00 AM

I have just returned from Iraq and I was impressed.

Unquestionably, the surge has worked. The American military has dramatically reduced violence and increased security. However, it remains a dangerous place. From the airport to the Green Zone, I wore body armor. In the Green Zone I drove in an armor-plated vehicle with a Blackwater security detail. Even Iraqis still must be careful. But improved security has created space for progress on reconciliation.

With security has come increased Iraqi focus on difficult political and social issues. Ethnic, religious and tribal divides, the topography of terror, endure. Power sharing and the tools of cooperation, coordination and compromise remain foreign. Privileges of office are held too dearly, corruption continues, and accountability to the people remains elusive. Many neighbors, especially Iran, seek to influence, if not control, Iraq's changing tides.

The transformation to a new Iraq is in its early stages. It will take time. Success is not guaranteed. But the consequences of a failed Iraq are certain, consequential and catastrophic. Iraq has a recent history of invading two neighbors, using chemical weapons, brutal repression at home and intractable hostility to Israel.

A transformed Iraq will be a diverse society able to accommodate different interests and protect minority rights. Its government will be responsive and accountable to the people. It will live by the rule of law. While imperfect, it will be a shining city on the Hill for a tough neighborhood with too many brittle authoritarian regimes that have large oil reserves vital to our interests.

Whatever one's views about the decision to invade Iraq, one should understand that an Iraq that implodes becomes a refugee for our worst enemies. Al-Qaeda seeks a base in the Arab world to recruit and train, and from which to launch its vicious attacks. Tehran influence will rise. Iran wants to do to Iraq what it has done to Lebanon. The entire region will be destabilized. And there is a real possibility of brutal civil war, a failed state and ethnic cleansing.

Furthermore, if the US pulls out Iran, Syria and others will draw conclusions and make their own calculations about America's weakness just as they did after we pulled out of Lebanon in 1984. It will have generational consequences that will hurt the region and weaken the United States.

American involvement is critical to Iraqi security, but also in building civil society and political institutions. Meeting with Ambassador Ryan Crocker as well as senior Iraqi government officials and leaders of civil society, I was impressed by the range of activities in which we are engaged and how eager Iraqis are to learn and apply new mechanisms to bridge divides, interests, and build the machinery of a multiethnic, diverse society able to adjudicate conflicting interests peacefully.

Sheik Omar al Jaboori is the head of the Iraqi Tribal Gathering, an effort to bring traditional tribal leaders into the political process. His father was executed by Saddam Hussein. Jaboori told me, "We have to have patience, work and hope. By 2006 the Iraqi people had been beaten by a dictator, then by militia, by neighbors. They decided they must do something. We are thinking how to transfer tribal sheiks from the war file to the peace file. We have to find a new way for Iraq without fighting, without killing."

We all remember Iraq's first election: the long lines, the purple thumbs, the sense of hope. It was a major milestone.

In January Iraq will hold its second, provincial elections. In some ways it is even more important than the first. Sunnis boycotted the first vote so they are deeply under represented. This time it's clear they will vote in large numbers.

This second Iraqi election will begin to give democratic practices and procedures roots. It will begin to form the guardrails of a representative society with accountability and the rule of law. It will begin to teach one of the most critical lessons of a democratic society: there are no final victories nor final defeats. Another vote will come, so learn the arts of collaboration and conciliation.

Elections are not a panacea, but they can be a building block for a more stable multi-ethnic, multi-religious Iraq.

Undoubtedly the Provisional Elections will not be perfect, no election is. There are serious concerns about security and fraud. There will be mistakes.

Faraj al-Haidari was a member of the Iraqi Parliament who went into exile in 1975. He returned soon after Saddam fell. He is now Chairman of the Independent High Electoral Commission. In discussing the upcoming elections he touched on a myriad of problems from ethnic and religious splits, efforts of neighbors to influence the outcome, candidate financing, deep concerns about security, a significant illiterate population, a ballot that may include thousands of candidates and other daunting challenges. I asked him whether, with all these problems, the election would work.

He replied, "It is a tremendous challenge with so many complications. But will the election work? It will because it must."

In my recent visit to Iraq I met many Iraqis dedicated to making a new Iraq work. Most important, it must for their sake. But also it is in America's interest to see this through. We must continue to help the Iraqi transformation work because it must.

Categories:

182 Comments

The Tragedy of Iraq
If Bush had been honest with the American people and explained that this was about securing a reliable oil supply, and if he had insisted on the Iraqis covering all the cost, this war might have been defensible. But if we are going to insist on the idea of spreading democracy and nation-building, this war was absolutely unjustified, and the Republican party will fittingly pay the price. The horror is that we are now becoming a marxist society because of Bush and the neo-cons' granitic obstinacy. After Viet Nam, one would think we had learned our lesson about being the world's policeman. How tragic and unnecessary. This is the second wrongheaded imperialist war in my lifetime. Never again!

Tragedy of the US
We are becoming a Marxist society because we have a generation of kids raised on fairy tales like "Captain Planet" and steeped in "diversity" and no-score sports and "you tried" ribbons...

Of course when you object to this war being "absolutely unjustified" and count Iraq and Vietname as the "second wrongheaded imperialist war in my lifetime", you demonstrate selective outrage, and very poor command of rudimentary arithmetic or partisanship.

Mr. Clinton's adventures in the Baltics were less justified, but hey, since they were only conducted from the air, its not like we were in a real war. That's why they didn't need a real honorable General like Franks or Petraus, they settled for one Wesley Clark (Clarke? I don't really care)

I have no love for sending our people to die in a foreign land, but the left's rather curious myopeia is rather revealing.



Surrounding Iran
All the reasons stated in the UN and Congressional resolutions to attack Iraq were quite valid.

The one point that was not stated is that now the USA has Iran surrounded.

Just being able to fly along the Iranian border provides significant intelligence.

Its the Money.
We are most likely going to spend 1 Trillion dollars in Iraq. I see No financial return from this at all. Even if you perform and type of risk analsys of another terrorist attack, it doesn't even compare to this magnitude of 1 trillion dollars. The cost of the trade center was maybe 50 billion, that includes lives lost.

We are now trillions in debt because of the administrations unwise leadership.

It is time for a change.

Mass murder not a partisan activity
It would be hard to compile a list of all of America's imperial adventures, within the confines of a single post. Would that list begin with Mexico? Hawaii? Cuba? The Philippines?

You bring up Clinton's bombing of Serbia.. which is actually in the Balkans, not the Baltics. All well and good. He at least had the excuse of coming in late to a game that involved Europe's first active genocide since the close of WWII. Which, incidentally, ceased after the bombing.

If it makes more sense to you, we can compile two lists, with the wars begun by Democrats in one column, and those begun by the Republicans in the other. But many, including Vietnam, were actually joint efforts.

I'm curious as to where we would be more culpable. Was it worse not to intervene in Rwanda, where a half million souls were lost in a brutal mass bloodletting? Or was it worse to instigate a brutal mass bloodletting, as we did in Indonesia in 1965 (even providing lists to the military of people deemed in need of murdering), which also resulted in a half million gory and undeserved deaths? Both these great crimes occurred during Democratic administrations.

Or would it have been worse for Henry Kissinger to condemn East Timor to a similar fate, in 1975? Many hundreds of thousands died in that affair.. all of them unjustly.

If this short list still seems myopic to you, please feel free to remind us of the other dozens of occasions where the US, under any number of leaders, has seen fit to brutalize and crush emerging nations underfoot whenever and wherever they appear.

Gaining consent
The ambassador is wearing some heavy duty rose-tinted glasses, if he can say everything's going swimmingly in Iraq while he traverses the Green Zone in an armored vehicle, protected by a cordon of Blackwater troops. The world's most fearsome military power has been at it for five and a half years now, and hasn't yet secured the central fortress.

But I guess I'm quibbling. What bothers me more is that the ambassador-- supposedly in tune with the diplomatic aspect of affairs Iraqi-- fails to refer even in passing to the true current crux of the matter: negotiations for a continuation of the American presence.

At the close of 2008, the US turns back into a pumpkin unless we are invited to stay on under terms agreed to by the Iraq Government. Neither side has produced an acceptable formula in the eyes of the other, and an agreement is unlikely to even be presented to the Iraqi Congress before the self-destruct date.

It would seem to me that any article describing the state of Iraq today has to begin by covering this untenable impasse. There is no unanimity among Iraqis as to what might be acceptable terms, other than the basic two: US troops, subs and employees must be subject to Iraqi law, and all military operations must be either jointly conducted or only initiated after consultation with the government of Iraq.

Naturally the Yanks are going for neither stipulation. Do we plan to remain with or without consent? I think not.

Go Already
One thing you guys on the left will NEVER get, is that its not a perfect world. As for the many bloodbaths we didn't intervene in, well either you are a non-interventionist or you are not.

My point about the previous post, gegraphic brainf***, aside (hey but if I'm going to screw up a name, I'll admit it, even if I'm fingered by the king of error. Then again, its not like I'm going to all 57 states and I'm tired) was that it reflected an abbreviated worldview that presents Vietnam and Iraq as the primary or only "unjustified" wars. As you point out, we've been a lot of places. Life's tough. We already know Obama will be tested. What do you think he'll do if the polls favor action? Wy he'll abandon his multilateral paciism as fast as his grandmother.

As for your point of an "active genocide", that's been going on for a millenia. It hasn't stopped, but I'm sure that's ok because now the Serbs are taking it on the chin.

What's curious to me is that despite the fact that we have troops in Germany, Korea, Phillipines and other places, when the left says "bring the trops home now", they only want to bring them home from Iraq. Should we leave the Phillipines? I don't know, do we need another outpost of Islamism? How about Germany? That might have looked like a good idea ten years ago, but it seems the bear seems to be rousing from its slumber now.

Here's the interesting thing. Ten years ago EVERYBODY said Iraq was a threat. Now I know some on the left miss Saddam, but that brings up the the unpleasant reality tht sometimes we know the guy is an SOB and do nothing way to long.

Clinton lobbed a few cruise missiles Saddam's way. Had he been on the ball instead of the intern, had he not been looking for a "legal' reason to get Bin Laden and pleading with the Saudi's, then there'd be no 9-11. Oh that's right, 9-11 wasn't perpetated by M. Atta, et al,it was the Jews who just happened to miss work that Tuesday, because they all got the advance word from Zionistcentral.com .

But there's one final question. You seem to believe that the history of the US is littered with unjust imperialism. Why are you here?




Don't you just love
"The cost of the trade center was maybe 50 billion, that includes lives lost."

The depraved indifference of the left when it comes to those insignificant expendables that were treated to such cordialities as being given the choice to die by jumping 80 floors or being burned to death. I kno people that grieve the lost every day. Let me say this as nicely as I can. ***** you, jerk.

You've proven in one statement, your inability to "see" return of any kind, financial or otherwise is the result of self-inflicted blindness.

Your pseudonym is a misnomer. You're a big something, but I think the noun in there begins with a letter at the beginning of the alphabet.

You're right
The ambassador is wearing some heavy duty rose-tinted glasses, if he can say everything's going swimmingly in Iraq while he traverses the Green Zone in an armored vehicle, protected by a cordon of Blackwater troops. The world's most fearsome military power has been at it for five and a half years now, and hasn't yet secured the central fortress.

After all we've been in Korea for 55 years and that's a paradise. I say lets bring the trops home NOW.


The American presence
I'm thinking everyone-- right, left and center-- understands we do not live in a perfect world. However the thing that distinguishes us on the left is the understanding that the world would come a lot closer to being perfect if it were not for American military interventions into places we don't belong.

Compare our body count to that of a penny ante outfit like Al Qaeda if you don't believe me. We're Number One-- by a thousandfold!

Iraq and Vietnam are the wars people think of because they featured a large US military presence. No one thinks about Indonesia, because it was our funding of the Indonesian Army. And the same with Iran, Guatemala and all the rest. Nonetheless, none of those wars would have occurred were it not for our esign and backing.

"What's curious to me is that despite the fact that we have troops in Germany, Korea, Phillipines and other places, when the left says "bring the trops home now", they only want to bring them home from Iraq. Should we leave the Phillipines?"

That one's easy. Where the locals don't want us we should leave. That would include places like Okinawa and Ecuador. Where they tell us they want us to stay, we should stay. That is, if "bringing democracy" means anything like going along with popular rule.

"..there's one final question. You seem to believe that the history of the US is littered with unjust imperialism. Why are you here?"

I was born here. And I would be less than a loyal American if I didn't devote my life to trying to defeat the moral lepers who've taken my country over. So here I'll stay until the war dries up and dies.

Yeah, Obama will need the troops to man the extermination camps he'll be shipping the conservatives
"However the thing that distinguishes us on the left is the understanding that the world would come a lot closer to being perfect if it were not for American military interventions into places we don't belong"

You mean like in Somalia and Bosnia?

Oh yeah! The Left sure dug in its heels regarding those places and our military interventions there.

If Obama gets in, Barney Frank says they will slash total military spending by 25%. That means we will be pulling troops home from various places other than Iraq.

BTW, Roy...of note on a previous thread in a previous posting for a previous article: It was Patrick Moynihan, a Dem, who once asked the CBO to estimate how much tax revenue would increase if we taxed all those who made over $200K at a 100% rate. The CBO dutifully produced a graph showing increasing revenue over the next few years. Moynihan rightly pointed out that people either would stop working once they earned $200K or resort to devious means to hide income. This feedback mechanism was ignored by the CBO.

He did it alright. But he did it on purpose to expose the stupidity of the CBO's static analysis techniques, not because he was stupid enough to believe in it himself. The request was part of a point he was making at that time about how taxation for ever increasing entitlement spending can't possibly just keep increasing.

Playing Devil's advocate
In all fairness to Big R's point, we do have a lot of problems to fix. And we do have to perform a certain amount of triage with our available resources. So yes, 9/11 was a great tragedy. But it was a tragedy affecting 3,000 Americans, out of 300,000,000.

Resources had to be devoted to fixing that problem. But they've been abysmally allocated instead toward the task of alienating the entire Arab, Moslem and in fact the whole developing world... who just see this as being a matter of exerting naked power over little guys who had zip to do with the planning and execution of 9/11.

In Iraq, deaths above baseline have been calculated at 1.3 million since we've been there. Thanks, America. And even if in your calculus, such deaths of humans other than Americans is worth nought, consider how effective this war on terror has been:

We've subjugated one country that had no WMDs but did have oil. And in the other country we tried to destroy, the Taliban are now, inexplicably, resurgent. It appears as though the locals, having had the experience of both kinds of misrule, now prefer the Taliban kind.

So if the final cost of Iraq and Afghanistan ends up being in the trillions, it's a waste of resource-- a giant misallocation of energy, effort, lives and funds. Had that money instead have gone into improving the lives of people in the developing world, they'd all now be grateful to us for our help.

I'm sure Big R did not mean to impugn your patriotism, or the tragedy of 3,000 deaths. But our response was to create carnage on a far greater scale. All he did was to point that out.

BTW, did you know handguns kill 31,000 Americans each year? That's a lot of wasted life right there. Terrorism has only killed 3,000 of us in this century. I would at least consider measures that would minimize handgun death.

I'm not seeing it yet
I can't find any backup supporting your contention. I've just googled "moynihan cbo 100% tax rate" and come up with zip. Take out the 100% and you get a lot of articles describing his proposals for the payrol tax and the income tax. None so far refer to any total forfeiture of income above some line.

To me it speaks wonders that you can't offer anything concrete on this. But maybe you read it in a book, and can't recall the title now. I'm being charitable.

Somalia and Bosnia were both deemed acceptable by the American public because there were humanitarian pretenses attached to those mini-invasions. One cost no life. The other cost a very small handful, and was instantly rescinded. I'm not sure why this sticks in your craw. Neither conflict compares in scale with the ruination of two countries, each with a population of 26-28 million.

Going in to destroy Iraq, only to find no WMDs, did rub a lot of folks the wrong way. They would have been happy had we merely taken out Saddam. I think it may have been those 1.3 million excess deaths that raised a red flag in people's minds.

BTW don't you think it would be possible to (a) retain a support presence in assistance to the Iraqi government, (b) flounder around in Afghanistan until we found a good excuse to leave and (c) reduce our bloated military budget by 25%, all at the same time? I think we could.

But "win the war"? Not the way we're going. That kind of war can't be won through any excess of military effort.

Your opening line resonates, though. Back in 1962, when the USG authorized the establishment of concentration camps for US citizens in times of emergency, there was a nutjob on AM radio down here, who kept saying that when the camps were finished, they'd be rounding up "good Americans like you and me".

And sure enough, one day his program was no longer on the air. So perhaps it was true. :)

No, you're playing Neville Chamberlain's Advocate, not the Devil's
We only had 2,386 fatalities at Pearl Harbor. Only 55 of which were civilians (not that that distinction should matter, but libs HATE the military so I thought it might to this crowd).

And in our response, did we give a rat's behind about doing any triaging of available resources? Did we care about whom we alienated in the process? The Japanese clearly were betting we would. Admiral Yamamoto knew better, as was made clear in his quote, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant."

And I am sure that the handgun death statistics in 1941...while lower than they are now, were higher still compared to those 2,386.

Actually, we DID care about triaging available resources - everything was thrown at fighting WWII with an emphasis on defeating a nation that had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor nor ever attacked us, period.

Germany declared war on us first, sure. But so did AQ.

Big R may or may not 'meant' to say anything. All I know is how he came across. And how flawed your logic is coming across in defending him right now.

Tell me, if we lose one of our cities to a mushroom cloud fireworks show, is that enough to justify $1 trillion or more in securing a good strategic position in the Mid East (and damn what the locals think) in order to be able to deal with this problem further? If not, how many nuked cities WOULD justify it then?

That was the real choice we were faced with on Sept 12, 2001.

I'm sooo glad that there weren't many voters in America circa 1941 who thought like how you, TheBigR, Obama and 99% of the entirety of the Democratic Party do now.

Oh, and if this WAS about the oil, how come we didn't get any of it? Furthermore, how come it is mostly Dems who insist that the Iraqi's should pony up some of it to 'pay their way' -- after screaming in the beginnnig about how this was all about the oil and making negative moral aspersions to that fact? The inaccuracy and hypocrisy of this subject with regards to the American Left is amazing, truly.

Couldn't find Moynihan/CBO...
...but I found a request by Packwood in 1988 involving a request made to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT):

"The absurdity of this approach became clear in 1988 when Senator Robert Packwood (R-OR), then ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, asked the JCT to estimate the revenue impact if the government confiscated all income over $200,000 annually. The revenue estimators at JCT responded that such a tax would raise $104 billion the first year, $204 billion the second year, $232 billion the third year, and $263 billion and $299 billion in the fourth and fifth years, respectively. Needless to say, this was a nonsensical estimate. As Senator Packwood noted, the JCT's calculation "assumes people will work if they have to pay all their money to the Government. They will work forever and pay all of the money to the Government when clearly anyone in their right mind will not."

"But "win the war"? Not the way we're going."

Yes, but we'll definitely lose if we cut & run. We'll lose big time.

Thanks for the reference.
I heard the story, but couldn't find any details.

Do libertarians respect the rule of law?
Iraq blatantly violated the cease fire conditions from the first Gulf War which forced Iraq to withdraw from the sovereign state of Kuwait.

Shooting at US and UK aircraft and the violations of the oil for food for sufficient cause alone to attack, by law.

If libertarians, like liberals, don't respect the law, then....

The left believe if we disarm, the world will love us.
That's how the left tried to run New York City in the 70s.

A mugger shoves a gun in your face the government said to give up all your valuables. Never fight back.

Moral Lepers & Moral Vigilantes
"I was born here. And I would be less than a loyal American if I didn't devote my life to trying to defeat the moral lepers who've taken my country over. So here I'll stay until the war dries up and dies."

I'm really sorry you dimwit, but we aren't even close to being number one. Somewhere in the pantheon of leftist perfection are such places as Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and other hellholes you and your ilk would pull us to become-full of chanting idiots, five year plans, revolutions of "hope and change".

You really live in fantasy land. You are as inconsequential as anybody else on here, except you have ably earned the contempt of other posters. Now you reveal your delusions of grandeur. There's nothing more ridiculous than a lunatic howling curses in ignorance.

I don't really care where you were born. A rational person judging the foreign affairs of this nation as you do would be left with only one conclusion. The corruption is durable and pervasive and irreclamable. You should find another home, a nice place like Iran, Cuba or Venezuala where the value your loyalty is to a statism, especially one of a leftist ideology. I'm not sure that you'd survive the overt religiosity of a place like Iran- I think they tend to regard mental defects such as yours as moral defects and deal with them harshly.

Of course the reality is you are a liar. Patriotism is a scandal of moral judgmentalism to a true leftists, and a step before the abject evil of nationalism. But I guess it really is true patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.

However, you'll notice that deep down, instead of harboring the the cosmopolitan, tolerant temperament the left claims to have when it comes to say every sexual perversity under the sun, when it comes to what they really want, there's no ambivalence. The moral vigilantes spare no judgment. You should aspire to moral leprosy-it would be an improvement.

There is something about you Roy, the irrepressible disorder in your thought, the self-importance. It resembles something, yes...I think some of us have encountered you before.






Your Diabolical Aspirations Aside...
I think the devil would find a more effective advocate than you-I'm pretty sure you'd be discarded as trite, tedious and predictable by the netherworld, just as you are regarded here.

Also, you need to brush up on your language. 9/11 was not a "tragedy", it was a travesty. Its wasn't the unavoidable result of natural forces, it was the premeditated act of moral vigilantes like yourself. You have a lot in common with them, so of course you'll be find excuses and sympathies. Once again, you should show your solidarity with the these foreign aggreived lands-go there, be a peace corpse volunteer.

As for the inane comment about handguns, would you be happier if they were killed with knives? Can't you even TRY to stay on topic? No wonder you are so screwed up.

The sad fact is you actually don't realize you need psychiatric help, but you do.


9/11/2001 was an atrocity, not a travesty or a tragedy.

Point of order in VietNam (and Korea)
Truman, D, ordered troops into Korea.
Eisenhower, R, stopped the conflict by threatening to destroy the north's irrigation dams.

Eisenhower, a Republican warned Kennedy about escalation.

Kennedy, a D committed US forces, Johnson, a D, escalated, and Nixon, a R, withdrew with guarantees of support from Ds who controlled Congress. They reneged and millions died.

Maybe that's why Kennedy imported so many Cambodians to MA. Maybe he felt guilty about causing the death of so many Cambodians. But then again, he didn't show much remorse when he killed a girl while driving drunk.

Point of order in VietNam (and Korea)
Truman, D, ordered troops into Korea.
Eisenhower, R, stopped the conflict by threatening to destroy the north's irrigation dams.

Eisenhower, a Republican warned Kennedy about escalation.

Kennedy, a D committed US forces, Johnson, a D, escalated, and Nixon, a R, withdrew with guarantees of support from Ds who controlled Congress. They reneged and millions died.

Maybe that's why Kennedy imported so many Cambodians to MA. Maybe he felt guilty about causing the death of so many Cambodians. But then again, he didn't show much remorse when he killed a girl while driving drunk.

Point of order, Philippines
US Forces left the Philippines after Pinatubo.

"A feeling that the base was a vestige of American colonial control was the catalyst for the Philippine Senate vote last month rejecting a 10-year extension of the American lease. Possibility of Change

President Aquino favored the lease renewal, arguing on the basis of the base's economic benefits, and made plans to organize a national referendum on the issue in an effort to circumvent the Senate vote. The Senate majority was prepared to try to enforce a one-year withdrawal deadline. Under the compromise, the Americans will be given three years to pull out and Mrs. Aquino is to abandon the referendum campaign. "

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE3DE1438F937A35753C1A967958260

Atrocity is a better description. Thank you.
*NM*

US Military are PAID volunteers ...
Many make it a career.

We have not done so.
US national security interests ARE being served in Iraq.

Jefferson and Barbary pirates
What is your assessment of Jefferson sending US forces to stop the Barbary pirates in Africa?

They did not attack the USA.

No longer a purely military matter
You're really Curtis LeMay, aren't you? Your definition of "winning" is very 1950s.

"But "win the war"? Not the way we're going."

"Yes, but we'll definitely lose if we cut & run. We'll lose big time."

When you pursue a war incorrectly, all you've done in the eyes of the locals is to come in and shoot up the place. There does come a time, if you haven't been able to win the citizenry over to your side, when you want to say "excuse me". And then use the door.

That time is now, as our legal justification for pursuing the war in Iraq runs out at the end of 2008. The ball is in Maliki's court, and it's up to him as to whether we are invited to stay on. What this is is a referendum on American control. A good current summary can be found here, in this McClatchy article:

http://www.newsobserver.com/nation_world/story/1271434.html

Militarily, we are at a stalemate. We've already done all we can. We are awaiting word as to whether we are invited to do more.. or to go home.

In Afghanistan the referendum is an informal one, and is turning against us. Ordinary Afghans were once hopeful that the Yanks would turn out to be better overlords than the Taliban. But all we did was put them back under the rule of the warlords and dope dealers. Karzai's brother, if you didn't know, is the biggest smack dealer of the bunch.

So then.. they are now finding it preferable to live under guys who ban sports, music and videos as tools of the Devil. And put all the women back under house arrest. In this referendum we've botched the job so badly the 13th century is winning.

Do you still feel all we need is more bombs, and they'll come around?

Historical fine points
"Truman, D, ordered troops into Korea."

This appears to have been a good decision. I'm hardly a fan of unnecessary interventions, but an armed response following the North's invasion of the South seems like it might have been the best way to go.

"Eisenhower, R, stopped the conflict by threatening to destroy the north's irrigation dams."

Hardly. Had the North stopped the conflict through fear of massive damage, we might have "won" the war. In reality, both sides got tired of throwing more effort into an intractable stalemate.

Recall also that when we threatened to flood the North by blowing up the dams it became quickly apparent that China would massively retaliate. That's why the plan remained a threat, not a reality.

"Eisenhower, a Republican warned Kennedy about escalation."

He warned about much more than that. Back in 1954 Ike came out against intervention, saying that our main reason for going in-- Chinese complicity in arming the Viet Minh-- was bogus. There was no evidence for this notion. He only wanted direct involvement as part of a broad based coalition, saying other nations were needed to "lend real moral standing to a venture that otherwise could be made to appear as a brutal example of imperialism."

He went on to describe the likely results of the upcoming election-- the one we canceled so Diem could be put in charge: "I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held at the time of the fighting [the US-backed reinvasion by the French], possibly 80% of the population would have voted for Ho Chi Minh."

What he was warning of was our increasing involvement in a war to impose on the Vietnamese a regime they did not want. In the name of "democracy".

Despite this position, backing for the war increased during the Eisenhower years.

You are accurate in describing our increasing involvement throughout the Kennedy and LBJ years. But throughout 1968 both sides were exhausted and ready to come to the table. NVN in particular was ready to talk.

Nixon ran and won on a platform of ending the war. Once in office, he scuttled all mention of peace talks and managed to continue the war for an additional 6-1/2 years. This was the period of greatest intensity, during which the most US lives were lost and the greatest devastation to all Vietnam occurred. The peace prize decidedly does NOT go to Nixon.

Finally, while several millions of Vietnamese did die during the hostilities (most of them civilians), millions did not die in the reeducation program. Thousands did.

Pearl Harbor
Not sure what you're getting at with your Pearl Harbor comment. It was apparent to all sides during the 1930s that there would be a showdown in the Pacific between the two expanding empires, Japan's and ours. And an arms race had resulted, with Japan working on biological weapons while America built up its airstrike capabilities.

In fact the precipitating factor for the attack was a Joint Chiefs study the Js intercepted, describing how quickly Japan's cities, made of paper and thatch, would go up in a massive firebomb raid. Frightened of this show of US capability and intent, Japan decided to strike pre-emptively.

Might I suggest that this was a clash of civilizations? While Saddam, in contrast, had a totally undemonstated intent and a zero capability of attacking America?

Re the Taliban, flesh out the parallels between this crew and a military-industrial power like Japan in the 1930s, with a game plan to take over Asia and the Pacific. Aren't they more akin to an Apache raiding party?

In short, the parallel you're drawing doesn't hold up. On September 12 we were facing something between 8-12,000 Al Qaeda organized into tiny cells, based in places like Saudi Arabia, Hamburg and London. Instead we elected to invade a place with no roads, run by people with no planes, in a part of the world nearly impossible to organize into any kind of effective invasion force.

Oh, and if this WAS about the oil, how come we didn't get any of it?
That indeed is a question not enough people have asked. Because it has an interesting answer.

Oil strategists like Cheney had no use for access to more oil. What they were interested in, during the Iraq War planning period (1998-2000) was supporting oil PRICE. Access to reserves was then considered adequate to supply the US market.

But OPEC was an old bugaboo, as they had their hand on the valve. They could artificially open it up, flooding the market with cheap oil, or restrict it, sending price sky high. This state of affairs couldn't be allowed to stand.

As OPEC's second largest producer, and a country chronically in need of funds to provide for its large population, Iraq had the intent and ability to flood the oil market. Sanctions in fact were imposed across the Clinton years to stifle this propensity to drive price downward.

But the Cheney faction wanted total control. So the first thing they did was to allow an initial post-invasion period of chaos, and watch over the mob as they destroyed the oil infrastructure. Iraq's production capability was snuffed out.

Since then we've carefully controlled the tap. The idea now is to induce the Iraqis to sign a PSA, allowing US companies to gain the lion's share of oil revenues, while the Iraqi government uses the rest on reconstruction.

Problem: in the interim they have elected their own government. And it now holds a deciding vote on what the future holds. So we appear to have been outflanked.

Talk about a travesty!
Your comments are priceless, and I intend to take all this deeply to heart as soon as I can stop laughing.

"Also, you need to brush up on your language. 9/11 was not a "tragedy", it was a travesty. Its wasn't the unavoidable result of natural forces, it was the premeditated act of moral vigilantes like yourself."

Come now. Those nineteen may have seen themselves as moral vigilantes. But my personal choice is, and always has been, nonviolence unless there is provocation.

I can see the travesty characterisation, though. Throughout Bush's first eight months in office, talk of the terrorist threat bored him. You'll recall Richard Clarke, our number one guy on terrorism, running around with his "hair on fire" trying to get a moment of the new president's attention? This was far from Bush's shining hour. He was more into faith based initiatives. Remember?

Contributing, of course, was the fact that neither the CIA, the FBI or ordinary law enforcement were on speaking terms. When it was found (by the FBI) that several known Al Qaeda had convened at Logan on that fateful morning, no one saw fit to call airport security and draw attention to the fact.

"As for the inane comment about handguns, would you be happier if they were killed with knives? Can't you even TRY to stay on topic? No wonder you are so screwed up."

The topic under discussion was saving American lives. And better handgun control would be an extremely effective place to start. Because this is something we really can do something about... whereas trying to eradicate the hatred that gives rise to Islamist terrorism is a losing game so long as we offer support to Israel and the Saudi kingdom. These are the two main points of aggravation cited by Al Qaeda. If you'll recall.

Just better tracking of handgun ownership, closer control of gun dealer licensing and censure, and a national database of rifling patterns submitted by the manufacturers, would speed the solution of gun crimes. I believe this measure is endorsed by the National Association of Sheriffs and other law enforcement groups.

As a result, I would suggest that each year we might save as many American lives as were lost one time, on 9/11/01. Wouldn't you agree?

Do you know what a Troll is?
I flame to invoke a response and thought.

I thank you for your comments.

I can see that there are reasons to invade Iraq that include a sense of right vs. wrong. I can also see that Iraq is a better place today.

I pose this question:

Is it a good investment of our scarce resources, especially sense we have to borrow it from China?

Please focus on this question. I grant that you have won the moral high ground.

Yes we should have kept the oil
Not doubt about it.

get in line.
I will have to reach for a Physch. Profile guide book, because baby, you sure have a lot of issues your self.

I still love u.

Wait we agree?
Hu?

Lucy!!!

You got some esplainin' to do.

Victory in Iraq
"Maliki is pragmatic, he believes Obama is the next president, and he believes Bush is dead," said Mithal al Alusi, a secular legislator who frequently speaks to Maliki. "Maliki feels himself the winner and no one can stop him."

"When presidential hopeful Barack Obama visited Iraq in July, Maliki threw his support behind the senator's plan to withdraw all U.S. troops within 16 months.

"But there may be more to Maliki's public and private defiance. The prime minister has to sell the final security deal between the two nations to a divided parliament that has difficulty agreeing on any major issues in Iraq. The fiery Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr has also said that he'd completely disarm his militia, now only partly disarmed, if there were a clear timetable for an American withdrawal in the final agreement.

"Maliki is now demanding a firm timetable for withdrawal and jurisdiction over American soldiers outside their bases. The second demand has stalled the process and does not seem amenable to compromise.

"For now, Maliki has achieved none of his demands, said Ali al Adeeb, a leading legislator in Maliki's party. The current wording in the agreement is that U.S. soldiers will withdraw to their bases by June 30, 2009, and leave by the summer of 2011 if conditions allow.

"What the Iraqis want is a firm date, and with all the insistence and persistence on our side, all we have is a firm date for restricting the American military to their bases," he said. "There is no overconfidence or arrogance in Maliki's insistence on his position. ... There is a clear indication that the Iraqi forces are now capable of providing the security services required. I think it's enough time, three years is more than enough time."

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/09/01-6

If Obama and Maliki put their heads together in an agreement acceptable to a majority of Iraqis, we end up with a solid ally in the Middle East.

Any other route we travel leaves a dissident faction that wants us out.

How do we define victory? I would go with the Iraqi people ending up on our side.

Because
It was the left that asserted this was about oil, idiot.

Laughter
I am looking at my organization's "troubled employee" checklist.

Inappropriate laughter is one of the indications that an individual requires therapeutic intervention.

I think most people find nothing funny in 9/11.

Maybe my comments seem priceless to you because their are the opposite of your cheap recycled blither.

Still...
Stealing computer time from leapfrog, eh Rodney?

Our enemy does not want to invade...only to wipe us out
Why invade when you can just disperse weaponized anthrax in a suburban shopping mall? Or better yet, smuggle in a nuke and detonate it near Times Square? AQ does not want to invade us, Roy...they want to destroy us.

Or, to describe the present situation in to your own described perspective, AQ determined where our 'paper & thatch' infrastructure was and zeroed in on it. Frightened of this show of AQ genocidal capability and intent, the US still WAITED until attacked before striking, just like in Pearl Harbor decades before.

If you can't get that straight, then no wonder you come across as not being too swift on the uptake on this subject sometimes, Roy.

Japan struck us because we cut off their oil supply and they had only months before their entire industrial base was going to be shut down because of it, btw. Not because their houses were made of paper and thatch. The intercepted JS study was just distributed around to shut the doves up in Tojo's cabinet.

"It was apparent to all sides during the 1930s that there would be a showdown in the Pacific between the two expanding empires, Japan's and ours"

Yeah, just as it was apparent to all (except the willingly blind) that our civilization would come into conflict with Islamofascism.
And, why did we put Japan on the back burner and concentrate most of our efforts on taking out Germany -- which didn't attack us at all? You Libs like to scream about how Iraq (unlike Afghanistan) has nothing to do with 9/11. So, please apply that same 'logic' to answering my question, please.

Exactly right, Joanie
The JS study was just passed around to shut up the Doves in Tojo's cabinet.

And now, over 50 years later, Roy's taking the same bait.

Gotta thank Tojo tho: He was way more effective in getting us out of the Depression than almost 10 years of FDR's New Screw, er...'Deal' ever was.


Do you realize...
..that you sound EXACTLY like one of those 'free energy' hucksters in your 'explanation'.

1) You declare some unproven but crazy-sounding 'discovery': "Oh, we've found a way to make perpetual energy/Oh..Cheney directed some secret cabal to steal the Iraqi's oil"

2) Then, you mention 'supporting evidence' that nobody else can confirm: "Oh, but these documents say...my research shows...we CAN violate the Laws of Thermodynamics...existing theory is false/Oh...Cheney blah, blah, blah, blah. What they were interested in, during the Iraq War planning period (1998-2000) was supporting oil PRICE. "

3) Then, there's 'The Prediction/Claim': "I can demonstrate this in the lab and will provide a public demonstration on Date X and submit it all to peer review/Oh...Cheney's plan was/will be obvious to all by such and such date and/or such and such conditions"

4) Finally, when the rubber hits the road, 'The Excuses': "Sorry, but the lab rat that starts up the hamster wheel that provides the initial burst of power to my Perpetual Motion Machine OD'd on Viagra and so the public demonstration is postponed. (In reality, the Mean Oil Companies poisoned my rat, but I can't prove it...yet I will scream about it anyway). As a consequence, peer review of my work will be delayed as well. / Problem: in the interim they [Iraqis] have elected their own government...So we [no longer 'the Cheney faction'?] appear to have been outflanked"

Hey Roy, you can get a job working for Steorn's PR dept. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steorn

As opposed to what?
'Investing' Chinese money [borrowed] into a few trillion dollars of overpriced housing stock and related 'assets'?

Our current financial Siamese Twin situation with China existed before 9/11 and would have continued to exist if 9/11 and subsequent events occurring afterwards had not happened, correct?

So, please ask a logical question...even if you are just Trolling.

I thought it was their 401ks they take first
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/capital-commerce/2008/10/23/would-obama-dems-kill-401k-plans.html
/
...followed by your under-aged blond daughters as tribute to AQ followers as part of a 'Peace for Our Time' de-facto surrender.

Leapfrog?
I work right across the parking lot from Leapfrog. Amazing.

Having trouble understanding my comment?
The gist of my comment above is that it was indeed "about the oil". More specifically, it was about controlling the supply, and thus the price, of oil.

If you need, I can spell this out in closer detail.

I'm guessing
Reading the wrining style of internet posters, is somewhat like what what old time telegraphers would tell you about being able to recognize who was pounding the brass on the other end.

There was a guy on here, Eric, who went through several pseudonyms. Fortunato, etc.

I'm fairly certain "Roy Bean" used to post under "Michael".

Although somewhat moderated from the past "The Big R", I think was a guy named Rodney with a surname that started with HAM. The old TCS used to post emails before spambots became TCS and Rodney H used to give a an email as @leapfrog.com

In that case
The big mistake is not following the example provided by the post WW2 Japanese occupation.

The US relationship with Japan, especially considering the mutual animus, is among the best in the world.

TCS Daily Archives