September 10, 2003

September 11, 2003 - Why We Fight

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Saddam-controlled media commemorates the first anniversary of September 11, 2001


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Women's rights in Afghanistan


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Hamas "activists" in Palestine


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The handiwork of SE Asian Communists


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Saddam Hussein's victims, Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan


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What anti-Semitism hath wrought


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New York City, 2001


UPDATE: Some are confused by the juxtaposition of images. What do Nazis and Communists have to do with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein?

I'll let Paul Berman answer that:

[E]ach of the movements, in their lush variety, entertained a set of ideas that pointed in the same direction.

The shared ideas were these: There exists a people of good who in a just world ought to enjoy a sound and healthy society. But society's health has been undermined by a hideous infestation from within, something diabolical, which is aided by external agents from elsewhere in the world. The diabolical infestation must be rooted out. Rooting it out will require bloody internal struggles, capped by gigantic massacres. It will require an all-out war against the foreign allies of the inner infestation--an apocalyptic war, perhaps even Apocalyptic with a capital A. (The Book of the Apocalypse, as André Glucksmann has pointed out, does seem to have played a remote inspirational role in generating these twentieth-century doctrines.) But when the inner infestation has at last been rooted out and the external foe has been defeated, the people of good shall enjoy a new society purged of alien elements--a healthy society no longer subject to the vibrations of change and evolution, a society with a single, blocklike structure, solid and eternal.

Each of the twentieth-century antiliberal movements expressed this idea in its own idiosyncratic way. The people of good were described as the Aryans, the proletarians, or the people of Christ. The diabolical infestation was described as the Jews, the bourgeoisie, the kulaks, or the Masons. The bloody internal battle to root out the infestation was described as the "final solution," the "final struggle," or the "Crusade." The impending new society was sometimes pictured as a return to the ancient past and sometimes as a leap into the sci-fi future. It was the Third Reich, the New Rome, communism, the Reign of Christ the King. But the blocklike characteristics of that new society were always the same. And with those ideas firmly in place, each of the antiliberal movements marched into battle.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 10, 2003 11:36 PM
Comments

Yup

Posted by: Stephen Meyer at September 10, 2003 11:55 PM

Yes.

(Meyer beat me to Yup)

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 11, 2003 12:58 AM

amen

Posted by: Mason at September 11, 2003 03:52 AM

Right on.

In case you want to add something on North Korea,I'll suggest these drawings by NK child refugee Jang Gilsu.

Warning:The material can be very unsettling.

Posted by: JH at September 11, 2003 05:50 AM

If we take them at their word ...

"We announce there will be new attacks inside and outside [the US] which would make America forget the attacks of September 11 ... Our coming martyrdom operations will prove to you what we are saying".
Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Najdi, al-Qaida spokesman
"Al-Qaida issues a chilling warning"
September 8, 2003
http://www.guardian.co.uk/alqaida/story/0,12469,1037515,00.html

"But we tell America one thing: what you have seen so far is nothing but the first skirmishes. The real battle hasn't started yet."
Ayman al-Zawahiri
"Top al-Qaeda official: U.S. will pay dearly for harming Gitmo detainees"
August 3, 2003
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-08-03-al-qaeda-warning_x.htm

"The communiqué ended with: 'we tell the Muslims that this is not the awaited strike, but it is called the war of skirmishes (to drain the enemy), and that the American snakes are enormous and need to be consumed and weakened to be destroyed. We tell the people of Afghanistan and Kashmir that the gift of Sheikh Osama bin Laden is on its way to the White House; then the gift of Al Aqsa, and do we know what is the gift of Al Aqsa, where and when? The answer is what you are seeing!'
"Al-Qa'ida Claims Responsibility for Last Week's Blackout"
August 19, 2003
http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP55303

"We have not reached parity with them. We have the right to kill 4 million Americans - 2 million of them children - and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, so as to afflict them with the fatal maladies that have afflicted the Muslims because of the [Americans'] chemical and biological weapons."
Suleiman Abu Gheith
"Why We Fight America"
June 12, 2002
http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=subjects&Area=jihad&ID=SP38802

At the same meeting bin Laden said he was working on 'serious projects', another ranking Taliban source tells NEWSWEEK. "His priority is to use biological weapons", says the source, who claims that Al Qaeda already has such weapons. The question is only how to transport and launch them, he asserts. The source insists he doesn’t know any further details but brags: "Osama’s next step will be unbelievable".
"Rumors of Bin Laden’s Lair"
September 8, 2003

Posted by: richard at September 11, 2003 06:59 AM

A fine and necessary point, properly chosen.

Let there be no confusion.

Thanks Michael

Posted by: Stephen at September 11, 2003 07:46 AM

Thank you for a very important post, Michael.

Here's my "why we fight" post.

Posted by: Mike Silverman at September 11, 2003 08:03 AM

WOW! Your post definitely brought up emotions that weren't there by watching the commentators on tv this morning. Thank you for putting it all so poignantly.

Posted by: Susie at September 11, 2003 08:42 AM

What is this "we"?

Posted by: Phil at September 11, 2003 08:48 AM

You skipped the naked napalmed Vietnamese girl.

Dead baby's a dead baby.

Posted by: obliw at September 11, 2003 09:16 AM

GREAT reminder -- of the Human Rights War. The war that HAS been going on since before the '49 Dec'l of Human Rights, before the end or beginning of WW II; though possibly it could be said to start in 1936 with the Japanese rape of Nanking. Or in 1776 with the US Dec'l of Independence?
Anyway, when will it end? When all countries in the world allow their citizens to enjoy Human Rights, especially that of Free Press.

If China and Russia can successfully be seduced by capitalist materialism, it could even happen in my lifetime.

But I expect many more car bombs in Iraq, and Israel, and elsewhere, in the meantime. (Car bombs by groups whose societies don't even really make cars for their own people.)

{Any thoughts on the phrase Human Rights War?}

Posted by: Tom Grey at September 11, 2003 09:20 AM

Y’know, I typed that in anger. I type in anger now, but perhaps can clarify what I mean a little before the backlash which I have so foolishly invited begins.

You had me until the Holocaust. If you wanna argue September 11th sparked a necessary war with Islamist fundamentalism, I might be disposed to argue with you about how that fight should be fought, but not that it should.

But then you threw in the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a different war, against a different enemy. A war which we entered for our own defense --- just as we entered the war on terrorism --- and not to save the Jews of Europe, though they certainly needed saving.

Tossing that image in was meant to connect those two fights by linking the evilness of their perpetrators. To argue that’s it all the same thing because we’re just fighting evil all over again. Because we’re the good guys.

Such sentiment infuriates me. Because if we’re good and their evil, then what we do is good and what they do is evil, no matter what those things are. Then we’re the good guys and we can do no wrong.

Never forget that goodness is not a state of being, but a quality of action. A dead baby is a dead baby, and it doesn’t matter whether the good guys or the bad guys killed her, you will not look in her parent’s eyes and find forgiveness there. Homicide with honorable intent is not a verdict in any court.

We must fight this fight. It is right to do so. But never forget that the price is terrible, that terrible things can be done, will be done, sometimes must be done, in the best of causes. Killing three thousand civilians does not become more or less horrible on the basis of the ideology for which they were killed. Know the price you pay.

Posted by: obliw at September 11, 2003 09:41 AM

Nah, he got the Kurd who was gassed using mustard gas produced with US-made equipment and distributed by US-made delivery systems. In addition, he implied falsely that the status of women in Afghanistan had anything to do with our invasion of that country. The use of the 9/11 deaths to advance a random political agenda was pretty much complete.

We fought in Afghanistan for the entirely appropriate reason that its regime sponsored the worst act of terror in US history, and now that we have completed that process, we are fighting because the PNAC is using the horror of 9/11 to push fearful Americans into sponsoring their dreams of world conquest and a Pax Americana -- and all of this at the expense of tracking down the scattered remnants of Al Qaeda which used our foolishness as time to regroup.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 09:43 AM

Yes, let’s not ever forget the children killed because America drew its line in the sand and said NO to tyranny, wherever it existed in the world. Let’s never forget that thirty percent of French people said they wished for the defeat of the U.S. in Iraq. Let’s never forget Chomsky who said we only care about deaths in the world when Americans are the ones being killed. Let’s never forget the costs of lives and 87 billion dollars to bring children an opportunity to live free in the Middle East.

Posted by: Dave at September 11, 2003 09:51 AM

Kimmit,

Nah, he got the Kurd who was gassed using mustard gas produced with US-made equipment and distributed by US-made delivery systems.

By Saddam Hussein, who we've now removed from power. We didn't kill those children.

It's harder and harder for me to give you the benefit of doubting that you really wish Hussein was still in power, and will be really dissapointed unless we fail, at great cost.

But maybe I'm wrong. Why don't you tell us what we should be doing now, Kimmit?

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 11, 2003 10:10 AM

The last time I checked, here in the US we have gas produced with US-made equipment which would be distributed by US-made delivery systems. Yet, we seem to have failed to gas any Kurds.

Must have something to do with the motivations and intent of the person using the gas, rather than where it came from.

Posted by: Dave T. at September 11, 2003 10:26 AM

Here's a few clips from an interview with French philosopher Andre Glucksman, who says "Nobody wants war – but genocide is worse than war."

Glucksman calls terrorism a form of nihilism, or hubris -

About war vs. terrorism, he says: "Man is human: therefore, he can be civilised, even if he can’t read or write, because he can master this hubris. Wherever you go, this belligerent hubris is considered lethal. In the huts of the Amazon, young men are taught to conquer this capacity for excessive violence. You can fight together, but you cannot fight in any way that comes to hand, and you don’t set out to fight just anyone."

Why terrorism destroys civilizations:

"what do extremist ideologies like the communism or Nazism of yesteryear and the Islamism of today have in common? After all, they support ostensibly very different ideals – the superior race, mankind united in socialism, the community of Muslim believers (the Umma). Tomorrow, it could be altogether different ideals: some theological, some scientific, others racist. But the common characteristic is nihilism."

"The root element is the attitude that anything goes, particularly when with regard to ordinary people: I can do whatever I want, without scruples. Goehring put it like this: my consciousness is Adolf Hitler. Bolsheviks said: man is made of iron. And the Islamists whom I visited in Algeria said that you have the right to kill little Muslim children, in order to save them."

"The inner nature of this nihilistic terrorism is that everything is permissible, whether because God exists and I am his representative, or because God does not exist and I take his place."

It is not only Islamism: it is nihilism, in its practical manifestation of laying waste to the civilian population. The same approach was to be found in the case of the Russian army when it flattened Grozny, a city of 400,000, and the first capital to be razed to the ground since Hitler’s destruction of Warsaw in 1944. This destructive impulse is not in the nature of Islam; this impulse is integral to the nature of civilisation and it can destroy any civilisation."

That's what we're fighting.

Posted by: mary at September 11, 2003 10:28 AM

"We have seen their kind before. They're the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."

Posted by: GW Bush at September 11, 2003 11:44 AM

I'd only read Berman's essay on the relationship between Islamic fundamentalism and Baathism. 'Terror and liberalism' kind of says it all. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: mary at September 11, 2003 11:47 AM

Mary,

Where is the essay you are referring to? Do you have a link? I haven't read that one.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2003 12:01 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't Saddam's chemical programs developed from civilian dual-use technologies? The chemical precursors were of German origin - not because they anted to supply him with chemical weapons, but because dominated the chemical industry. The weapon systems were primarily of Russian or Chinese origin - not designed specifically for chemical weapons, but adapted to that purpose. As far as I know, the only connection between the U.S. and Iraqi WMD programs were the anthrax samples we sent in the 80s - which we, not unreasonably, believed was being used for agricultural research.

Posted by: George at September 11, 2003 12:01 PM

Yes George, you are correct. Yet some people still insist we are the bad guys.

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2003 12:04 PM

Kimmit, you're at bat.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 11, 2003 12:12 PM

Michael -

The essay, The Philosopher of Islamic Terror was orginally published in the NY Sunday Times - it was mostly about Sayyid Qutb, who sort of wrote an Islamist version of Mein Kampf, who dreamed of a perfect and pure Islamic state, based on Shariah law, achieved by jihad.

Posted by: mary at September 11, 2003 12:43 PM

Taliban, Al Queda, Al Aqsa, Answar Al Islam, Hamas, Hezbolah, Abu Nidal... I could go on, but the fact is that until the states that allow these groups to grow, prosper and infest a culture with hate and anger are removed. This will continue.

Saddam financed Terrorists (in the Philipeans, Malaysia and Palestine) and trained them at Salman Pac. There are photos of the passenger jet used to train them.

These are not freedom fighters, they are not activists, they are not patriots.

They are racist religious bigots who have spread their poison in the Arab world for 50 years.

Posted by: MadDog at September 11, 2003 01:23 PM

kimmitt

You're shooting from the hip way too much. Instead of pulling shit out of your ass, research the real facts before posting. You are trying to "define reality" way too much. You're credibility is approaching 0!

sammy

Posted by: sammy small at September 11, 2003 01:34 PM

But maybe I'm wrong. Why don't you tell us what we should be doing now, Kimmit?

Declining to sponsor other dictators such as President Karimov of Uzbekistan, a well-compensated member of the Coalition of the Willing. When we ally with dictators against other dictators, we are no longer fighting for democracy; we are merely playing geopolitical games, necessary as they may be.

We should entirely decouple 9/11 from any action against Iraq. 9/11 was committed by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists -- Eric Rudolph writ extremely large. Iraq was an essentially totalitarian state with a secular dictator, the heir to a long and inglorious historical tradition of such rulers throughout history. The first is a reaction against modernism and a threat to our values as secular liberal human beings. The second is a bad man who did awful, horrible things. Using the first to justify the second is dishonest.

I am just not able to separate the war from the Administration which pursues it, as this site does. To my mind, they are inextricably entangled.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 01:35 PM

When we ally with dictators against other dictators, we are no longer fighting for democracy; we are merely playing geopolitical games, necessary as they may be.

Sometimes that is true. But would you say the same about World War II? We did ally ourselves with Joseph Stalin to beat Adolf Hitler.

We cannot make the world perfect. We must deal with it as it is and improve it as best we can.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2003 01:42 PM
obliw wrote,
But never forget that the price is terrible, that terrible things can be done, will be done, sometimes must be done, in the best of causes.
You assume that we forget this. We do not. We act, and our actions sometimes have terrible consequences, which we do not deny or disavow.

You believe you address a mob deluded by self righteousness and you do not. If these actions we take trouble you, you have company, for they trouble me as well.

But if your troubled conscience degenerates into self hatred, keep it to youself: for you risk slandering and revilling your friends and neighbors, whose concerns for their souls, as well as their lives, you should never disparage.

Posted by: lewy14 at September 11, 2003 01:51 PM

Kimmet is blind. There is no truth that will let them see the light.

It is obvious what we have here is an Idealogue. Regardless of the truth they see what they want.

Saddam bought less than 1 million dollars worth of equipment from the US. Half a Billion from China and Russia. Quarter of a Billion from Germany and France.

Less than a million from America and England Combined. Yet you still think that less than a million will buy sophisticated WMD equipment?

Not too mention the article that had the Ex-KGB agent explicitely stating that the USSR had founded Iraq's WMD program. And that the reason that Ex-KGB agent was in Iraq before the war was to destroy the WMD and hide the ability to make the weapons, so that when and if the dust cleared Saddam could start back up.

Of course, since they are no longer a Communist, I guess that means that Kimmet can not believe them.

Posted by: James Stephenson at September 11, 2003 01:59 PM

Sometimes that is true. But would you say the same about World War II? We did ally ourselves with Joseph Stalin to beat Adolf Hitler.

And that was a necessary geopolitical game. In WWII, we fought for our territorial integrity and survival as a free nation. We do not currently face a challenge of that magnitude, and anyone who says otherwise is guilty of gross historical revisionism.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 02:07 PM

"The root element is the attitude that anything goes, particularly when with regard to ordinary people: I can do whatever I want, without scruples."

And why is this? Because I fight in the name of a cosmic struggle; because these sacrifices are made to bring about a pardise --- the Third Reich, the Internationale, the Reassurection of the Caliphate. Because I fight the enemies of this paradise; because my enemies embody all that is corrupt and oppressive and blasphemed. They are faceless and inhuman.

The terrorist believes in his heart he is fighting pure evil. It is that which allows him to act as he does.

"The Society has no aim other than the complete liberation and happiness of the masses." Sergei Nechaev, Catechism of a Revolutionary

Posted by: obliw at September 11, 2003 02:09 PM

obliw, your point is - what, exactly?

Posted by: lewy14 at September 11, 2003 02:12 PM

I think obliw's point is that we should not make our enemies faceless and inhuman.

I, for one, do not need to be told such things. Especially not on September 11.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2003 02:19 PM

Kimmitt wrote

We should entirely decouple 9/11 from any action against Iraq. 9/11 was committed by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists -- Eric Rudolph writ extremely large. Iraq was an essentially totalitarian state with a secular dictator, the heir to a long and inglorious historical tradition of such rulers throughout history... Using the first to justify the second is dishonest.

Your argument is straight out of a year ago. I agree that the Administration's motivation for going to war had little to do with terrorism. But we're not talking about going to war any more. It's done.

Iraq and global terrorism were, in my opinion, not closely related prior to spring of this year. Iraq and global terrorism are now, in late 2003, inseperable. Securing freedom, stability and democracy for Iraq is now a central key in the battle against terrorists and the "antiliberal" forces that create them.

FWIW, I agree completely about Karimov. The man boils his opponents, and we should, at best, have nothing to do with him. If we could rephrase this war in different terms--let's say, a war for freedom and civilization, it would be inescapably obvious that people like Karminov are not with us.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 11, 2003 02:21 PM

Karimov is not an ally. He is a temporarily useful tool. We cannot take on every bad guy all at once. First we went after the Third Reich, then we went after the Soviet Union. It would have been suicidal and stupid to tackle them both at the same time or in the same way.

It may very well be foolish for us to use Karimov this way right now. I honestly don't know, but I'm in no mood to be reactionary about it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2003 02:37 PM

Kimmit, I have recently blogged about what I think is the Big Lie about separating Saddam from the Islamicists. Look at me blog and scroll down one post.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at September 11, 2003 02:42 PM

"Iraq was an essentially totalitarian state with a secular dictator." - Kimmitt

I have to take issue with that.Saddam's Iraq was secular in the sense of not being an Islamist state.But instead of that,the Baath party ran its own ideology of Arab National Socialism,which permeated every level of society.

Baathism's central ideas were (and are)
-the racial superiority of Arabs
-conspiratorial anti-Semitism
-creation of a totalitarian state
-subservience to one leader and one party
-advancement through military conquest to unite all Arabs under a single superstate

If this sounds familiar,it's because the founders of the Baath party copied the rule book straight from the Nazi Germany in 40's.

The point I'm making,Kimmitt,is that Saddam wasn't just "a bad man who did awful, horrible things".

Saddam and his followers did awful,horrible things as guided by their own racist, anti-Liberal, anti-Western ideology.

Saddam wasn't just Idi Amin of Iraq.He was as dedicated an enemy of liberal democracy as Osama was.Or Hitler.

The war on Iraq did dethrone a nasty dictator,but it also put an end to a fascist movement that wished our destruction.For that reason,I believe the war was necessary - and just.

Posted by: JH at September 11, 2003 02:52 PM

I guess it really does depend on whether or not one views us as being at eventual war with every non-democratic Muslim nation.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 02:52 PM

Sun-tzu wrote (paraphrasing from memory), "The worst strategy is to attack a walled city, the next worst is to attack an army in the field, the best is to attack alliances".

We don't have to attack every non-democratic Muslim nation, Kimmitt.

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 11, 2003 02:58 PM

(I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but...)

Sammy, please keep it a little more civil. I don't think I could agree any less with Kimmitt, but he's well spoken and usually pretty respectful. This is one of the few places I've found on the net where folks from all sides of an issue can have a hearty argument without having to weed through a bunch of crap.

(Thanks for the site, Michael!)

Posted by: Mason at September 11, 2003 03:32 PM

To Kimmitt:Not every non-democratic Muslim nation is run by a dictator with Imperial ambitions and a Fascist,anti-western movement behind him.In addition,in some of those countries there is hope that the people themselves can make a change (like Iran).

As I pointed out above,Saddam was more than your regular dictator.He was an ideologue who saw himself as the new Saladin,someone that could have united the Arabs and led them to victory over Israel and the West.
Destroying Baathism as a political force was,and is, more important than the fate of one dictator,no matter how gruesome.

Posted by: JH at September 11, 2003 03:40 PM

What I can't get out of Kimmitt that I'm genuinely interested in hearing is what he thinks we should do in Iraq, right now. Not about how we shouldn't be there, not about how we shouldn't support other dictators, not about how Iraq and terrorism are unrelated, not abuut how we armed and supported Saddamn. He wrote:

I am just not able to separate the war from the Administration which pursues it, as this site does. To my mind, they are inextricably entangled.

Find a way. The war is far, far more important than the administration.

We're in Iraq, in control of the country, now.

What should we do next, Kimmit?

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 11, 2003 05:34 PM

As I've mentioned elsewhere; we must either abandon Iraq and save time or restructure our military such that it is capable of garrisonning Iraq with half a million troops, with a heavy weight on ones who can speak Arabic and have training as police. Internationalizing the occupation might cut our load, but the President has poisoned the well, so we're pretty much hosed as far as that goes. Then we need to crank up taxes to pay for this.*

Then we should throw Bush out in 2004 and see if we can get a rational, decent person in charge, which will assist in our efforts to gain international assistance significantly.

*(bitterly: And levy them exclusively on folks who thought this was a good idea, dammit.)

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 06:01 PM

Kimmit claims: "In WWII, we fought for our territorial integrity and survival as a free nation."

Oh, come now Kimmit. That's just bullshit. Our territorial integrity was NEVER threatened by the Axis. Our survival as a nation, likewise, was never in doubt. Claiming that it was is the worst form of revisionism, and, if you hadn't already stated that your blind hatred of Bush makes you incapable of rational thought, this would be proof.

If you'd been around after Pearl Harbor, you'd be whining about how the Japanese had very good cause to attack us, and that it was our just due for imposing our evil imperialist will upon the poor downtrodden Asiatics. After all, only our colonies were attacked. We used it as an excuse to take down a threat to our position on the world stage, and prevent the ultimate triumph of Socialism on the battlefield.

The only reason Japan attacked us was our unreasonable support of our puppet Chiang, which put them in a difficult spot. That and our support of those other Western Imperialist Powers, the British and the Dutch. They just wanted us out of the fight, which wasn't any of our business in any case. Who were we to impose our cultural mores on the Japanese, or the Germans?

Personally, I think we were right to prosecute WWII as we did, rather than immediately suing for peace, for the same reasons I think we were right to invade Iraq to eliminate their dictator, even though Saddam himself wasn't on any of the planes two years ago.

Posted by: Doc at September 11, 2003 06:02 PM

As I've mentioned elsewhere; we must either abandon Iraq and save time or restructure our military such that it is capable of garrisonning Iraq with half a million troops, with a heavy weight on ones who can speak Arabic and have training as police...

And what do you think the costs (not just monetary) of either of these courses of action would be?

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 11, 2003 06:08 PM

*(bitterly: And levy them exclusively on folks who thought this was a good idea, dammit.)

Rummy thinks anti-war leftists are getting terrorists all hopped up and making the war more costly. If taxes are to be raised based exclusively on support or opposition to the war, shouldn't it be imposed on the group that opposed Iraq's liberation?

Posted by: Dave at September 11, 2003 06:16 PM

Abandoning Iraq would be the worst form of folly imaginable. We would be conceding the turkey once again. If you think a lot of people "dare" to attack us now (Kobar Towers, USS Cole, Twin Towers), just wait until we have proved that we really are a paper giant. What a nutso idea.

Posted by: sblafren at September 11, 2003 06:55 PM

sblafren,

I agree that to abandon Iraq would be folly, but Kimmett's other option of creating a half million strong garrison would be equally unwise. Iraq would not take that very well. Iraqis want security and they want Iraqis providing it. Our job is to enable this just as fast as we can without risking warlordism.

Posted by: lewy14 at September 11, 2003 07:10 PM

The cost of abandoning Iraq would likely be the rise of a fundamentalist regime and a major destabilization of the region -- this would take place whether we left voluntarily or whether we were ejected, a la the French in Algeria. The price would be enormous, in terms of both US prestige and diminshed security; we would be significantly worse off than had we simply contained Iraq for the same period.

The cost of rebuilding Iraq and garrisonning a half-million troops, from what I've read, would be between one and two trillion dollars over five to fifteen years. It is my sincere hope that those who supported this war will cheerfully pay the extra $4-8,000 per man, woman, and child in this country which their policy demands (not to mention the significant probability of a draft, given the forthcoming collapse of the reserve system). Of course, what will really happen is that we will borrow the money, crowding out private investment, indefinitely extending the recession, and leading to either a default on Federal debt or double-digit inflation -- or both. At that point, the cost of the Iraq war, due to mismanagement, will start to get into the "incalculable" range.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 07:18 PM

Kimmett, energetic of you to set up and knock down two strawmen at a time.

Can Iraq be stabilized without bankrupting us? Why not?

Posted by: lewy14 at September 11, 2003 07:31 PM

Why the obsession with internationalizing the reconstruction of Iraq, Kimmit? The entire purpose is to rebuild Iraq into a modern, reasonably free, secular state. Introducing the UN into the equation would not help matters (Exhibit "A" = Kosovo) and would very likely compromise our efforts. We should proceed with those who are willing to help under our terms.

Also, we don't need more troops. (See Max Boot's article in the Weekly Standard online). American soldiers on the ground say as much. More troops = more targets. We need better intelligence and an emphasis on light infantry, which is capable of fighting an infantry war. (The Marines & 101st Airborne have been quite successful in the areas they garrison).

Posted by: Ben at September 11, 2003 07:33 PM

Can Iraq be stabilized without bankrupting us?

Yes. It will cost us a lot of money, but the US economy is large enough to absorb it. We will suffer a significantly diminished standard of living in the process.

Why not?

The Bush Administration is functionally incapable of making the macroeconomic decisions necessary to handle the problem, so if Bush is reelected in 2004 (and perhaps even if he isn't), US economic damage will be vast.

My exhibit A is Kosovo, actually. Kosovo was a qualified success, and it required a much higher occupier to occupied ratio than currently prevails in Iraq.

The idea that we can find Iraqis who are familiar with the duties of police work but are not Ba'athists and train enough of them to do the job well in less than five years is the kind of fantasy which got us into this situation in the first place.

I would, of course, be more optimistic if Afghanistan were not currently sliding into anarchy on the Bush Administration's watch.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 07:41 PM

You need to check the facts on Afghanistan, Kimmitt. Things are going relatively well there -- more peaceful than they have been in years.

Kosovo is a disaster. The UN STILL has not fixed the infrastructure, and there is an enormous amount of corruption (among the occupiers).

Posted by: Ben at September 11, 2003 07:45 PM

Re the cost of Iraq bankrupting us -- the federal budget is $2 trillion per year. The final cost of Iraq is expected to be less than $200 billion -- afording it will not be a problem.

Posted by: Ben at September 11, 2003 07:48 PM

Okay, a quick news.google.com search on Afghanistan reveals that we are conceding ground to the Taliban, aid workers are getting killed, the heroin crop is estimated to reach record levels, and that Osama bin Laden is estimated to currently be working from the area.

This amid repeated requests from Karzai for more money and assistance.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 08:40 PM

Kimmett do we forget that the UN has a lot of power in Afghanistan?

So lets not make the same mistake in Iraq.

One question about this Secular Saddam.

Did he or did he not want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth?

I believe we both know the answer to be yes, and as such he is not secular.

Posted by: James Stephenson at September 14, 2003 04:03 AM

"We do not currently face a challenge of that magnitude..."

See, this is why no one takes Kimmitt seriously. Kimmitt would have much rather that Iraq had become a problem of such magnitude before we did anything about it. Most Americans are glad we did something about it before it got to that point. And that's why Kimmitt's boy Dean will fall flat on his ass.

Posted by: Robert at September 14, 2003 11:35 AM

Kimmitt would have much rather that Iraq had become a problem of such magnitude before we did anything about it.

Wait, I just want to savor the contempt you have for the men and women who died in WWII by stating that there is a circumstance under which Saddam or Osama could be as great a threat to the US as the combination of Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo.

Mm . . . smells like charcoal.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 14, 2003 01:29 PM

Still did not answer my question Kimmett.

Posted by: James Stephenson at September 15, 2003 05:16 AM

Another straw man, Kimmitt, and a particularly cheap one.

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 15, 2003 09:42 AM

Kimmett Said, "Wait, I just want to savor the contempt you have for the men and women who died in WWII by stating that there is a circumstance under which Saddam or Osama could be as great a threat to the US as the combination of Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo."

Do you know what the goals of those people are, or were before we stepped in and shattered their organizations. Saddam wanted to start a new Muslim Empire. Bringing his form of Muslim worship to people, but unlike those previous empires there would be no tolerance.

OBL just wants the whole world to follow Shia Law. I guess that could not be perceived as a threat, well unless you are not a Muslim. I mean Shia law would not violate a human right would it? Like free speech sure you can have free speech, well unless you are a woman, in which case you are property. Like Freedom of Religion sure follow which ever religion you want, unless of course you are a Jew, or Budhist, or Christian. Pursuit of Happiness sur eyou can be happy, unless of course you are a homo-sexual, or Christian or Jew.

Yes, I see where you are coming from, no threat at all. Sometimes I wonder what you believe in Kimmett. Do you really believe if we just abandoned Iraq and Israel they would leave us alone? Are you so Naive? If so you must be young.

Posted by: James Stephenson at September 15, 2003 12:11 PM

Yet another misleading false dichotomy. "You don't believe that we should have invaded Iraq on the timetable Bush proposed, so you must want the US to fail to defend itself in any way, shape, or form." It's another variant on the "those who do not support the Administration's policy are Antiamerican" meme, and it's really not worthy of adult advocacy.

And, again, just because a man wants something doesn't mean he has the power to get it. The Axis powers had a genuine shot at conquering the entire world; the Germans rolled over Europe and took half of Russia, while the Japanese gobbled up Western colonies (including US soil) all around the Pacific.

We devastated Al Qaeda in a month and a half of special ops liasons with an Afghan militia (then, bizarrely, failed to finish the job, but that's another story). These are just plain different levels of threat.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 15, 2003 12:53 PM

Still ignoring me I see, well at least you have not been talking about a Secular Saddam lately.

Posted by: James Stephenson at September 16, 2003 06:36 AM

My post was a paragraph-by-paragraph response to yours. Get a grip.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 16, 2003 04:19 PM



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