February 20, 2004

Weekend Reading

Cara Remal's open letter to her anti-war friends.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 20, 2004 10:06 PM
Comments

Superb piece. A must read.

Posted by: FH at February 20, 2004 11:52 PM

You know, the one tiny bit of consolation I'm going to get when Bush pulls out of Iraq and allows a civil war to develop while he watches from the sidelines -- utterly inadequate though it may be -- will be the knowledge that the damned fools who supported his rush to war in the first place will finally understand what the antiwar folks were talking about in the first place.

You don't trust a corrupt, democracy-hating goon to successfully manage the most intricate and difficult political and economic project in the last thirty years.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 21, 2004 04:06 AM

Kimmitt again crawls out of his ivory tower to demostrate his ignorance for all.

There's not going to be an Iraqi civil war, Kimmitt. There's still going to be 100,000 US troops in Iraq, and frankly, something close to that for the next decade at least.

The Iraqis are going to get sheparded into some sort of parlimentary democracy, just like the Germans and Japanese were.

Posted by: eric at February 21, 2004 05:37 AM

Kimmit,

Your rhetoric is behind the news, elections have been postponed (not that that ever meant pulling out). Bush will never pull out early. He just is not the idiotic quitter the left seems to think or hope he is. Your hatred of him causes self-deception. Many liberals feign caring when in reality they hope Bush does “cut and run” so they can attack him, he won't oblige. The left has lost moral high ground on such issues, or I would still be with them. The next four years are going to be frustrating for you, for sure. I also read your comment on Jeremy’s and Cara website, pretty shallow quite frankly. The left better quit worrying about Bush’s screw ups and stop your own. The liberal-left must do better.

Posted by: Samuel at February 21, 2004 10:52 AM

Kimmit, you self-delustions were matched only be those of Saddam Hussein. I look forward to your pitiful attempts to explain how your predictions really did happen, when they in fact don't. You represent what is wrong with the Left in current American politics.

Posted by: FH at February 21, 2004 12:11 PM

Good luck Samuel - hope you enjoy discussing politics with the articulated Kimmit. Money quote from democracy defender Kimmit: "You don't trust a corrupt, democracy-hating goon..." about president Bush.
Perhaps this staunch defender of democracy should first learn some good manners, democratic or otherwise.

Posted by: marek at February 21, 2004 12:15 PM

Great letter.

Each of these kind of grasps the problems with the anti-war movement. Interestingly, though, I haven't really seen anything from the anti-war movement that talks about how we should be running our foreign policy.

The pro-war movement has a lot of policy talk (and mixed in with this letter was even more). But the anti-war movement can't get past their own hatred of the President and his party. It's like, if they strain really hard and stand on their tiptoes, they can see France. But the rest of the world is still a mystery to them.

Posted by: Rob at February 21, 2004 03:18 PM

Kimmitt: "You don't trust a corrupt, democracy-hating goon to successfully manage the most intricate and difficult political and economic project in the last thirty years."

True. Things always work out so much better when the president is an incorruptible, democracy-loving saint. Just look at Haiti. Hope we don't make the mistake of pulling out too early in Bosnia or Kosovo. (Or is it too late to say too early?) I'm sure President Nader will be able to straighten out everyone else's mess during his first term in office.

Posted by: Joel at February 21, 2004 03:50 PM

"The Iraqis are going to get sheparded into some sort of parlimentary democracy, just like the Germans and Japanese were." - eric

Dude, this is polisci 101 here. You ignore the KEY difference between Japan/Germany and Iraq: Japan and Germany are ethnically homogeneous while Iraq has three major ethnic groups, a couple intermediate-sized ethnic groups, and dozens of minor ethnic groups and hundreds of different tribal factions. This KEY difference is causing major structural problems in the transition to democracy in Iraq:

There is an incredible amount of inter-ethnic squabbling and worse going on. This is just another example of how the pro-war crowd ignorantly and patriotically rushed to war.

In the end I am still on the same side as you guys though. There isn't much point in talking about the past right now. We're there. The focus now should be on winning the peace. I think that it's pretty obvious that the Bush Administration has been making blunder after blunder with the transition. Even liberal hawks like Fareed Zakaria have been highly critical of the administration's moves in Iraq over the last couple of months.

I also think that a democratic president would provide new leadership and help to repair all of the alliances that President Bush severed when he told the world and the UN that they were either with us or against us. This would help bring in more countries to support the reconstruction/transition and it would help get the UN to be more supportive and involved in Iraq. Both of these things are critical because they would also improve Iraqi's views of the occupying soldiers. It would make our troops look more like a multilateral coalition that's there to help instead of an occupying or even oppressive army that isn't to be trusted.

Posted by: Mike Bitondo at February 21, 2004 04:18 PM

Things always work out so much better when the president is an incorruptible, democracy-loving saint. Just look at Haiti. Hope we don't make the mistake of pulling out too early in Bosnia or Kosovo.

Exactly my point -- if Clinton couldn't do a good job, what conceivable hope does Bush have?

(Ignoring, of course, the absurd concept that the Left venerates Clinton as anything like the morally pure superman which the Right holds Bush to be.)

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 21, 2004 05:56 PM

The biggest mistake Bush made (of all the ones that were made and mistakes are understandable in such an unprecedented situation) was to listen to the state Department and not permit the Iraqi national COngress to form a government in exile ready to step in on day one when Bagdhad fell. State argued for this because of a bizarre and irrational hatred for Ahmed Chalabi. If the INC formed an interim government last April, the country might be ready for regular elections by now. That said, the administration and in particular Paul Bremer has shown a remarkable amount of flexibility and a light touch. There will not be a civil war as the snide left from Kimmet to Gary Trudeau are hoping and praying. They are wrong. As wrong as the nit pickers who relentlessly attacked Lincoln from 1861-1864. History will judge. The only thing that can go wrong is that Bush can somehow lose and a finger wetter like Kerry takes over and cuts and runs ASAP. If Kimmet observed the American COnstitutional Convention I have no doubt that he would ridicule the idea of these disagreeable madmen ever agreeing to anything. I am so sick of the griping at every little set back I can't stand it anymore. When will the left admit it has been wrong about anything from socialism to Afghanistan to the fall of Bagdhad?

Posted by: Doug at February 21, 2004 07:00 PM

Mike Bitondo,

Even liberal hawks like Fareed Zakaria have been highly critical of the administration's moves in Iraq over the last couple of months.

Some of these “War Liberals” happen to not be able to get past some of their own biases. I’ve seen this from Fareed Zakaria before as well as Tom Friedman...and now you. It doesn’t make their or your nit picking correct or even justified. Well this “War Liberal” doesn’t think these people or you would have had the guts to make the decisions of high stakes to begin with. Without those guts we would still paralyzed, because that window would now be closed. Bush saw that opening and took it.

When I hear people suggest that the man I voted for, Gore would have done the same I laugh. And then when people say, “OK Bush got us this far now turn the reigns over to those lacking such stomach”, I say keep on dreaming! High success means high stakes! These “War Liberals” wouldn’t have done what Bush has done to begin with, and certainly not as boldly. Bush’s base will be way more supportive of War than the liberal base would be for a Democrat. So I say welcome back to the Presidential sidelines Democrats were you belong and typically have been during times such as these, until you get it right.

I also think that a democratic president would provide new leadership and help to repair all of the alliances that President Bush severed when he told the world and the UN that they were either with us or against us.

And this is why they would never succeed, well not the unserious bunch I see. Bush has already sacrificed too much on the altar of multilateralism. The whole WMD canard foisted upon this President’s ass by the unserious left is a direct result of U.N. based multilateralism. A quest in which he was stabbed in the back by those very “alliances” you seem to feel Bush offended and bears responsibility for having “severed”.

Great Mike, just great! The President gets a knife in the back and you say. “Now George tell them you’re sorry! You know you somehow provoked this! We had that knife coming you know.” Mike the onus is on those “severed” to kiss our asses. If they are not willing to kiss our asses then they can just well, kiss our asses. Either way they have some serious ass kissing to do, they better make the most of it as far as I am concerned. What you are saying is why I am no longer a “War Liberal” but an "Evil Neo-Con". You make me all the more convinced, I’ll run hard from whatever you recommend.

Posted by: Samuel at February 21, 2004 07:08 PM

Cara Remal knows from where she writes.

Also, what Doug said.

Posted by: Peter G at February 21, 2004 07:16 PM

Samuel Freedman,

"And this is why they would never succeed, well not the unserious bunch I see."

If you think that John Edwards and John Kerry stand for cutting and running from Iraq then that shows just how uninformed you really are about current events. Kerry and Edwards supported the war and they will fight vigorously to win the peace, much better I think than the Bush Administration. Even anti-war liberals like me strongly support winning the peace and not "cutting and running." The view that most of us have is that now that we're there, we have to do it right. And don't confuse me with liberal hawks like Fareed Zakaria and Paul Berman. These guys supported the war strongly from day one.

But, like John Kerry has said, their support was not a blank check for the Bush Administration do do what it pleased with Iraq. The Bush Administration has undeniably made a lot of mistakes and has also misled our country.

Additionally, your condemnations of multilateralism say a lot about just how uninformed you are. You are far worse than neo-conservatives. Even Colin Powell favors multilateralism but the Bushies never listened to him. And, despite their past mistakes with regards to multilateralism, the Bushies are starting to realize they made a mistake and have been making trips to Europe recently and have been trying to get the UN more involved.

Posted by: Mike Bitondo at February 21, 2004 07:34 PM

If you think that John Edwards and John Kerry stand for cutting and running from Iraq then that shows just how uninformed you really are about current events. Kerry and Edwards supported the war and they will fight vigorously to win the peace, much better I think than the Bush Administration.

Say whatever you want. I voted Carter-Mondale-Dukakis-Clinton-Gore. The fact is I am informed. I have given more in soft money to Democrats than most people would make in more than one year. My point is that Bush will be the one doing it anyway, so live with it. Your wonderful Kerry and Edwards voted against 87 billion dollar package no excuses accepted. Don’t bother. I'm glad Bush didn't listen to Powell.

Even anti-war liberals like me strongly support winning the peace and not "cutting and running." …But, like John Kerry has said, their support was not a blank check for the Bush Administration do do what it pleased with Iraq.

Well my support is a blank check, I’ve always put my money where my mouth is, I expect Bush to win this argument as well as…

The Bush Administration has undeniably made a lot of mistakes and has also misled our country.

The Democrats are going to rightfully get their asses kicked on this one as well. Every argument Bush made Kerry made in spades, and more. Mislead? Liberals mislead themselves.

Additionally, your condemnations of multilateralism say a lot about just how uninformed you are.

You don’t know me. You are the one who counsels in darkness. I went to the ANSWER anti-War march vehemently opposed to the War and stayed against this president until it became obvious that the liberal-left had been wrong one time too many. Reagan was accused of all the same type things as well. I think history has proved Reagan right, I think this President will also surpass your present day analysis as well. We’ll see who is uniformed. I just think I have chosen to move on and quit making such pronouncement, you have not made one that I haven’t made myself. I’ve walked you ideological path, for sure.

You are far worse than neo-conservatives. Even Colin Powell favors multilateralism but the Bushies never listened to him.

Colin Powell is no Neo-Conservative. He is at odds with neo-conservatives! I am a neo-conservative in every sense of the word, Jewish, former hard-left liberal with Marxist Grandparents, and Pro-Israel to top it off! I mean how evil can I get? I didn’t realize you witnessed the meeting where Bush didn’t listen to Powell, I thought Bush listened to Powell and everyone else including the neo-cons and agreed with the neo-cons rather than the Powell appeasers, neo-cons hate unnecessary appeasement, obviously a decision much to your chagrin, but great delight for my newly found self.

Appeasement is why there are hundreds of thousands of unmarked graves in Iraq, and six million dead Jews during WWII. Appeasing allies is why we didn’t go to Baghdad in 1991 and are in the mess we are in. We had the might to make right but chose appeasement…SICK!!! Hey they are only Iraqi’s, and only Jews. What the Hell? A risk the left is more than willing to take. Well never again means more to me I guess.

And, despite their past mistakes with regards to multilateralism, the Bushies are starting to realize they made a mistake and have been making trips to Europe recently and have been trying to get the UN more involved.

That’s an interesting take. I thought “the Bushies“were giving the Europeans another chance. Amazing life as I used to see it is still viewed as relevant by some. I would say it is being offered not begged, Why? Because we will finish and win with or without them, you make it sound like we must have them or we fail. I say they will fail without us. I don’t see this President losing. Bush has succeeded way beyond critics’ pronouncements including Friedman and Zakaria.

Mike, keep that view through the “Proctologist’s Scope” and have fun criticizing what you see. I’m just glad your types aren’t and won’t be running things. Bush is way ahead of liberal pronouncements and predictions of horrors just like the first time around. Keep moving those goalposts though! You will forever carp so why bother.

As I have said none of these War Liberals have the guts to go it alone which is all we ever could have done. Multilateralism would have kept us from doing right. You see it differently, vote Kerry! I believe in both multilateralism and unilateralism, whatever works, I worship at the altar of neither. You foul crying multilaterals act as if Bush’s going to the UN and trying to get unfaithful ones like back-stabbing France and Germany doesn’t count as a multilateral effort. To argue in retrospect that Kerry or Edwards could have done it or even better is a waste of time, they're never going to have a chance anyway, because they offer no ideas. Multilateralism like peace is an objective not a policy, the left defines pie in the sky scenarios or say we wouldn't have screwed it up yet never say how. I heard Kerry basically say when criticizing the President, “Well the world would have been convinced by me to be Multilateral!” Yea Senator Kerry and what if they hadn't, would you have been willing to do what this President has done, or would those graves remained unmarked and continuing to grow by the day? Mike, like it or not that is what the argument will end up being, I think they will do no better then you. You better start coming up with true answers and solutions. Bush will get to frame the questions not Kerry or Edwards. Any credibility the US has you can thank Bush for. What you think of as credibility is incredible BULLSHIT!

Posted by: Samuel at February 21, 2004 09:25 PM

We should never have liberated Iraq. Bush will cut and run. He messed the country up. The UN would have liberated Iraq, or at least let it stay the way it was. Never go it alone (go against France, Germany, China, and Russia). The UN represents human solidarity and wisdom, people working together for peace and justice. Bush betrayed it, going it alone and thereby ushering in the disaster that is happening in Iraq. As Edwards said today, Bush is just engaged in "war profiteering." And this is what he ruined our alliances for? For profit and ruining Iraq? Perhaps he should be impeached.

There won't be a constitutional democracy in Iraq next year. The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds will all kill each other. This is simply a fact.

Therefore, the Bush Doctrine is a disaster.

My prof will give me an "A" for this.

Posted by: Jim at February 21, 2004 10:05 PM

Umm, ok Jim. Whatever. Perhaps you shouldn't have forgotten your sarcasm tag...

I am giving you the benefit of the doubt on this one...

Posted by: FH at February 21, 2004 10:16 PM

FH,

Of course I assume sarcasm as well. If not? Kimmitt, step aside you've been outdone!

Posted by: Samuel at February 21, 2004 10:38 PM

If your political position requires you to hope for civil war in Iraq - to hope that the country collapses and millions of people are left to live in misery and under dictatorship indefinitely - there's something very wrong with your position and you need to reconsider it, to figure out where you went so badly off-course.

That's my feeling.

Posted by: jaed at February 21, 2004 11:03 PM

Sorry. I just think that using the sarcasm tag can sometimes spoil a nice, bitter lampooning.

Posted by: Jim at February 22, 2004 06:43 AM

Samuel:
I'd like to point out that there were 40,000 British troops involved in the invasion of Iraq. There are still large numbers of them in the south of the country, particularly around Basra. The US didn't entirely 'go it alone' over there.

As to the question of civil war, its a possibility but I dont think it will happen. Not while there are so many foreign troops on the ground anyway. But the fact is that Iraq isn't a homogenous country, its got three major ethnic groups which hate each other as well as a multitude of smaller tribal groups. Before we can evan think about pulling out, reducing troop numbers or handing over power we have to have some kind of idea about what we are going to do about that.

I've heard a couple of possibilities ranging from a loose federal structure to letting the country break up into seperate states. Personally I dont care which it ends up as, so long as they fit two criteria.
i) The eventual government is democratic
ii) It all happens mostly peacefully, without them killing each other, or us.

Posted by: sam at February 22, 2004 09:31 AM

Oh, yes. I would also like to make one thing clear, I dont give a damn which party is in office when this happens, so long as it happens at some point.

Posted by: sam at February 22, 2004 09:34 AM

Oh, yes. I would also like to make one thing clear, I dont give a damn which party is in office when this happens, so long as it happens at some point.

Posted by: sam at February 22, 2004 09:34 AM

My question to pro-war Leftists: Why do you always feel the need to show your "purity" to the sacrad Cause? Example -- "I voted for McGovern and still have my copy of Fast Food Nation so I am still a real Leftist, but I also was for the war"

1) Is this juth a method of persuasion among your bretheren?

2) Or are you worried about being branded a heretic by orthodox Leftism?

As for Kimmit, here is a nice bedtime story for you: T

here were two guys who witness a car sinking in a cold river.

One guy goes in to rescue a drowning baby.

The other sits on the sidelines protesting on what a terrible idea it is. He writes letters, he waves banners and attends rallies all to show what a "fascist" the hero is.

The water is icy cold, deep and very fast. Suddenly the hero, despite his efforts, drops the baby into the water.

And Kimmit pats himself on the back and says "I told you so!"

The end.

(Fuck anti-war people)

Posted by: Ex at February 22, 2004 09:51 AM

You forgot the part where the guy in the river got my friends killed and emptied my bank account.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 22, 2004 11:10 AM

Kimmitt,
Let's not make it a complete fiction. You don't have any friends.

Posted by: Lee at February 22, 2004 12:32 PM

Ex:
It's a matter of persuasion, pointing out that supporting this war is perfectly in line with left-liberal principles is more likely to be accepted coming from someone who is also on the left. Plus there is the fact that it can get annoying when people assume that you are something you aren't because of your stance on one issue.

Posted by: sam at February 22, 2004 12:45 PM

Sam,

I am grateful for what the British have done. I apologize for not mentioning them while I took my swipe at France and Germany. The fact is Italy, Spain, Australia, Poland and many others are also helping. I obviously think the unilateral label applied to Bush is a lie because multilateral would only be such if France or Germany (also Belgium) were involved according to these unserious people.

Posted by: Samuel at February 22, 2004 02:34 PM

Sam:

I think that one of your two suggestions for what to do about the ethnic stratification problem in Iraq is far superior to the either. I think that splitting Iraq up into 3 separate countries would be a lot bloodier and more difficult than you make it sound. While the Kurds are mainly located in the north of Iraq, there is still a great deal of intermixing of the ethnic populations in the country. If you split it into three countries, you would be forcing millions of Iraqis to uproot, leave their homes and their jobs and move someplace foreign, or else face staying and becoming second class citizens in an ethnically homogeneous country. Political scientists call this "balkanization" after the yugoslav civil wars. As you very well know, the break-up of Yugoslavia into ethnically homogeneous states was long, protracted, and bloody.

Clearly, an intense and strong federal solution is necessary in Iraq. This will not be easy either, as getting the different sides to agree on a system of power-sharing has been an incredibly arduous and drawn out process. But it has been far less violent than if Iraq split up.

Iraq could still end up balkanizing despite the coalition's intentions if the different ethnic factions lapse into a civil war.

Posted by: Mike Bitondo at February 22, 2004 02:44 PM

I'm curious about the "Iraq is an ethnic patchwork" arguments.

Yugoslavia was an ethnic patchwork---more so, arguably, than Iraq. The decision to allow Slovenia to secede (made, one should note, by the Germans w/ virtually no consultation of ANY ally or major power) resulted in Serbia seeking to keep Yugoslavia together.

Where was the argument that it was better to allow Milosevic to do so than to intervene?

Milosevic, in trying to keep Yugoslavia united, killed fewer people, and used no WMDs, than Saddam Hussein. Yet, he is condemned, while y'all would keep Iraq united under a far worse leader.

Then, when Kosovo, which was long considered part of Serbia, unlike the other Yugoslav republics, tries to secede, the US intervenes, w/o benefit of the UN. It does so, moreover, based on reports of genocide, which is not proven in the aftermath. (But, much like the WMD, was plausible at the time, based on Srbenica and other Serbian atrocities.) Where are the "Clinton lied!" arguments? Where are the arguments that it would be better not to have intervened in Kosovo?

This is not an excuse for the Serbs (I personally despise those who would make such an argument). Rather, it is simply striking how fears of civil war, fears of ethnic unrest, fears of groups against groups and national border breakdowns, are martialled so carefully for some but not other interventions. That, and the charges of lying and misrepresentation for some intelligence failures but not others.

Why, one might almost perceive it as bias!

Posted by: Dean at February 22, 2004 05:04 PM

The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds will all kill each other. This is simply a fact.

Well, that would certainly solve the problem.

Posted by: Sandy P. at February 23, 2004 01:08 PM

"simply a fact". No, rather, its simply an opinion. And pretty ignorant one at that.

Posted by: eric at February 23, 2004 01:17 PM

Crimony, a guy's gotta use sarcasm tags religiously, I guess.

Posted by: Jim at February 23, 2004 04:56 PM

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