January 31, 2005

Tied to one thought

by Mary Madigan

One of Friends of Democracy's Questions for Our Readers asked:

Do you think the American people have a good understanding of what is happening in Iraq?
I don’t think Americans understand what is happening in Iraq now because we don’t understand what life was like in Iraq under Saddam’s regime.

We don’t understand what it’s like to live in a state where neighbors and co-workers will inform on you for cash, where the threat that your leadership could inflict another genocidal attack like Halabja is always present. We don’t understand how the combination of state control and constant fear can deaden the lives of millions. We also don't understand what happens when that regime ends.

Mohammed of Iraq the Model expressed it this way:

2003; the year of freedom.
Before you I was mute, and here goes my tongue praying for the best,
Before you I was hand-cuffed, and here are my hands free to write,
Before you my mind was tied to one thought and here I find wide horizons and greater thoughts,
Before you I was isolated, and here I join the wide universe.
I will never forget you; you broke the chains for my people, and rid us from the big jail.
"A mind tied to one thought"; most Americans don’t know what that’s like, nor do most understand the source of what we vaguely call 'oppression.'

As David Brooks said, Saddam’s Baath Party slogan was "Unity, Freedom, Socialism." Saddam was, first and foremost, a party man. His regime was part of a larger ideology that still thrives.

Immigrants to America who have lived under similar regimes, like Ceausescu's Romania, Soviet Russia or China understand. Many are willing to talk about lives lived in fear, but not everyone is willing to listen.

At Kesher Talk, Judith Weiss describes the reaction when these immigrants tried to speak their minds on Inauguration day.

At least half of those who called on the "Republican line" [for C-SPAN's Congressional Inaugural Luncheon & Presidential Review of Honor Guard] are immigrants, from Eastern Europe, Cuba, the Middle East. They are all fervent Bush supporters and understand and approve of his foreign policy ideals.
One person who called in on the "Democrat line" believed that these immigrants should have "stayed in their own countries and demonstrated and marched for their civil rights there, like we did here, instead of coming here and criticizing."

Judith points out that "Of course many immigrants did exactly that and ended up tortured or imprisoned without trial, or had to flee for their lives."

People around the world suffer from a less obvious form of oppression. Activists will blame this suffering on ‘poverty’ or, of course, capitalism, but from Zimbabwe to Libya, it’s clear that even the worst corporate villains can’t impoverish and oppress a population with the efficiency of a socialist-inspired regime.

In photographs, Michael Totten shows us a Libya where 99% of the people on the street are men, where even the mountains are plastered with state propaganda, where history is being erased and portraits of the great leader are everywhere. Despite Ghaddafi’s apparent flakiness, his regime is very efficient.

Oppressive regimes are responsible for most of the starvation in the third world. According to Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, "Africa could grow food for the world if its people were politically free to do so." Tyrants are responsible for the twin scourges of poverty and starvation.

Although they claim to be anti-poverty and anti-oppression most Left-leaning activists don't seem to be able to handle the truth - or they actively suppress it. Amir Taheri describes this incident at a peace rally:

We managed to reach some of the stars of the show, including Reverend Jesse Jackson, the self-styled champion of American civil rights. One of our group, Salima Kazim, an Iraqi grandmother, managed to attract the reverend's attention and told him how Saddam Hussein had murdered her three sons because they had been dissidents in the Baath Party; and how one of her grandsons had died in the war Saddam had launched against Kuwait in 1990.

"Could I have the microphone for one minute to tell the people about my life?" 78-year-old Salima demanded.

The reverend was not pleased.

"Today is not about Saddam Hussein," he snapped. "Today is about Bush and Blair and the massacre they plan in Iraq." Salima had to beat a retreat, with all of us following, as the reverend's gorillas closed in to protect his holiness.

We next spotted former film star Glenda Jackson, apparently manning a stand where "antiwar" characters could sign up to become "human shields" to protect Saddam's military installations against American air attacks.

"These people are mad," said Awad Nasser, one of Iraq's most famous modernist poets. "They are actually signing up to sacrifice their lives to protect a tyrant's death machine."

Others, like anti-war Democrat Ramsey "Free Slobodan Milosevic!!" Clark devote their lives to the defense of oppression.

Yesterday, Iraqis finally got their chance to have the microphone. We saw them weeping with joy at the ballot box, we saw them defy terror for their chance to be heard. Critics complain about Bush and the neo-con conspiracy, but they can’t deny the power of those images. They can’t deny the power that the once-mute feel when they're finally allowed to speak.

Posted by Mary Madigan at January 31, 2005 10:45 AM

Comments

Wow, I had no idea that there were actual people campaigning for the release of a brutal tyrant. I guess if one kills people in the name of socialism, its a layered, multicoloured story that relieves any marxist concepts or their execution of any responsibility

Posted by: Patrick at January 31, 2005 11:25 AM

History will not remember them kindly, because people like Mohammed will write it.

Posted by: FH at January 31, 2005 11:49 AM

When the tired old line "the victors write the history" gets trotted out, it doesn't bother me any more.

What works usually ends up on top of the stack, and it will be constitutional democracy that provides the capstone to Iraq's bridge to freedom. Maybe even further, only time will tell.

I am not interested in reading any of OBL's or Zarqawis memoirs.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 31, 2005 12:29 PM

I live in a beautiful house in a wonderful community. I have a beautiful wife and fantastic children. I drive a relatively new car. I have never been without a job. I eat when I want. I sleep when I need to. I buy what I need when I need it. I have never had anyone (seriously) threaten my life for doing these things.

I'm an American, I couldn't possibly understand what these people have gone through, but I can appreciate what it means to them because I can see it in their faces, can hear it in their voices, and read it in their words.

Thanks.

Posted by: too many steves at January 31, 2005 12:33 PM

Many of us here in American and Canada have lived under oppressive regimes - in my case, apartheid South Africa. We can certainly understand the jubilation of Iraqi voters.

Posted by: Gideon Strauss at January 31, 2005 12:43 PM

Mary, thanks for the link. Also effusive thanks for finding that Taheri article, which I had read back then and had been searching for to use as an example of how the antiwar movement was all about Bush and most of the activists don't give a shit about Iraqis. (Of course there are many more examples....)

The picture of Jesse Jackson rebuking another person of color victimized by oppression is so choice.

Posted by: Yehudit at January 31, 2005 01:13 PM

Ramsey Clark & Jesse Jackson =
"most left leaning activists" =
everybody opposed to the war is an immoral person and an apologist for dictators

wow, just, wow

Posted by: novakant at January 31, 2005 01:33 PM

novakant: "Ramsey Clark & Jesse Jackson =
"most left leaning activists" =
everybody opposed to the war is an immoral person and an apologist for dictators

wow, just, wow"

Miss Madigan didn't say what you're implying, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say, yes it's absolutely true. Everybody opposed to the war is standing in the way of progress, in the way of history, but most importantly they're standing in the way of our safety.

The Democrats and the rest of the lunatic left better get off the tracks because they're about to get run over by the freedom train.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at January 31, 2005 02:15 PM

It strikes me that are perhaps 2 kinds of oppression and the political left and right in this country are focusing on the 2 different kinds and thus the failure to come to some common agreement on the events in Iraq this weekend. Without a doubt it appears that the right has taken up the cause of "human rights" and what we saw in Iraq this weekend was clearly a victory on that score. (please - the BS about the lack of perfection in the elections vis a vis confusion about the ballot and the poor showing among the Sunnis - many of whom voluntarily boycotted the election - makes a mockery of what these people have suffered through for decades to get to this "imperfect" point).

However, when I visit lefty sites I see an obsession with the issue of "economic rights" - privatization, who will own and control the oil, will Mansanto control the seed patents and so on. Obviously its the old capitalist bugaboo and I confess that I do not understand enough about it to know whether or not to feel alarm at their dire scenarios. I do know that issues such as the Wal-martization and McDonaldsization of the ME strike me as ridiculous. Any community can organize a complete boycott of Walmart or McDonalds and force its closure. However, you can't boycott someone like Saddam. You can't stop him from torturing your own children in front of your eyes with a boycott! I knew that Saddam generally got out about 100% of the vote but I didn't realize until I read something this weekend that the .05 percent of the population that failed to show up on election day to check the box marked Saddam (not that anyone else was on the ballot) - literally risked being hunted down and killed.

A Democrat like me is sympathetic to the lefts's concerns about capitalist economic exploitation but the historical evidence seems so strong that most of the systems the left has supported to avoid capitalist expoitation have ended up so thoroughly oppressing people on the human rights front as to completely discredit the notion of placing economic oppression in front of human rights oppression when forced to choose between the two in this miserable, imperfect world.

Is it possible that the left is (ironically) utterly obssessed with money? I know I'd rather be poor but free. Hell - I have been poor but free! I wouldn't exchange it for one day in Saddam's Iraq. Is money so important to the left that they would seriously choose Saddam over suffering the indignity of Walmart?

I don't want to paint any caricatures. There are enough lefties on this site to pile on and correct my ignorance - so please - go ahead - what am I not getting here?

Posted by: Caroline at January 31, 2005 02:42 PM

I could not read enough about the Iraqi voters. I could not see enough photos - those of the women, the men crying with job, others carrying crippled relatives to the polls. What a great day. I'm so proud of the Iraqis and their brave defiance of the terrorists. Just think what this country can be in 5 years
Since I supported the invasion and the war to free Iraqis and Afghanis as well as to search for WMDs, so today was especially sweet.

Posted by: Jille at January 31, 2005 03:04 PM

"Oppressive regimes are responsible for most of the starvation in the third world. According to Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, "Africa could grow food for the world if its people were politically free to do so." Tyrants are responsible for the twin scourges of poverty and starvation."

Liberal and conservative economists would both disagree strongly with this statement. The real cause is an economic one - western agricultural subsidies. Because western countries, especially the United States, pour massive amounts of subsidies into our agricultural industries, we produce larger quantities of cheaper food. These large quantities turn into surpluses which are then purchased by gov. subsidies to keep the prices artificially high on our markets. The gov. then proceeds to dump these surpluses for ridiculously cheap prices on African and South American countries. Our agribusiness can also export its food products for far cheaper prices b/c of these massive subsidies. The result is that African and South American food farmers have no chance at competing with western food products on the market. You could make Africa as politically free as u want, it still won't solve the western subsidies problem.

Posted by: mike at January 31, 2005 03:19 PM

Yes, the election was a great day. But one election does not equal democracy. There is much work to be done. Hopefully Bush does not use this as an excuse to reduce troop levels. The insurgency is still strong and could grow stronger from the newly disenfranchised Sunni population that boycotted the vote. The government does not have a monopoly on the use of force. It will take many more election cycles to reduce the anarchy of hundreds of political parties down to a few, more stable ones. It will take many election cycles for there to be a turnover in power between parties - which is the definition of a stable democracy, a country that has had more than two turnovers of power from elections.

Posted by: mike at January 31, 2005 03:24 PM

So, Western farm subsidies is what turned the late & unlamented Soviet Union from a net exporter of grain into a net importer?

Posted by: Cybrludite at January 31, 2005 03:27 PM

"Yes, the election was a great day. But one election does not equal democracy"

No doubt. I don't pretend to be a journalist but I tried my best nevertheless to find the quote I saw this weekend from the Iraqi blogger who outright stated his understanding that the true test of Democracy lies in the peaceful transfer of power. I think they do get it. I once posted at an Iraqi blog and said - forget the charismatic guy (that was back in the day of al Sadr). You've had enough of those charismatic guys (Saddam, bastard that he was, was pretty charasmatic). I pointed out - often its that seemingly uncharismatic, maybe plodding sort of beurocratic guy - who really has your best interests at heart. Choose the guy whom you know will let go of his power when you ask him to and need him to. Ahhh - women's wisdon - often the product of hard experience - and not enough of it in the world...

Posted by: Caroline at January 31, 2005 04:01 PM

1) American and European protectionism are at least as large a threat to third world hunger as any Orwellian regimes. One could do well to argue that one keeps the other in power.

2) Yes, sorry but I'm not gushing over the "power" of people waiting in line to vote.

If these images make anything clear. It's that having "votes" before the existence of even the most basic social and civil institutions of democracy is equally likely to be meaningless or backfire in the face of all those who want the western values to liberty and rule of law to thrive in the Middle East.

Posted by: Pavel at January 31, 2005 05:07 PM

Subsidies to French farmers keep them far richer than Polish farmers for instance so mike is pointing to something that's a genuine problem -- one that's hard to combat because of basic political realities. In France when there was the tiniest hint of diminishing the subsidies farmers immediately went "on strike" and demonstrated by blocking highways with tractors and so on.

Now can Poland do anything about this within the EU? "Fair" is not the sort that has any meaning here. Power is the operative term.

Posted by: miklos rosza at January 31, 2005 05:16 PM

All those poor oppressed African and Latiin American countries need to do is to propose a little protectionism of their own. Put some serious import duties on all those bad Western countries and that will allow your own market based economy to prosper......oh wait, you don't HAVE a market based free economy. You want the cheap Western food to help keep your people in line. Got it, never mind.

Posted by: AlanC at January 31, 2005 05:28 PM

Mary, thank you for a very powerful post!! Lots of stuff for me to quote to the naysayers around me.

Posted by: Maggie at January 31, 2005 05:31 PM

What a fine post, Mary! Terrific!

Posted by: Curtis at January 31, 2005 05:39 PM

Mike - "The real cause is an economic one - western agricultural subsidies."

So what happens without the subsidies? I know this is econ 101. I admit my ignorance. But then what of the much vaunted free market forces?

Posted by: Caroline at January 31, 2005 05:51 PM

Pavel - you're not gushing over the 'power' of the vote because people have to queue up?

I guess the bread lines (and the lines for meat, toilet paper, etc.) in Russia were all proof of the effectiveness of the dictatorship of the proletariat; and the effectiveness of a socialist economy.

I'd rather queue up to vote a few times a year than queue up everyday.

Posted by: mary at January 31, 2005 06:07 PM

Glad that the post is getting (mostly?) positive response.

Yehudit – not only was Jesse Jackson rebuking another person of color, he used his guards to push an oppressed grandmother off the stage. I remember a time, way back when, when people would use the phrase ‘humanitarian’ to describe the anti-war Left. Does anyone say that anymore?

Posted by: mary at January 31, 2005 06:19 PM

Mary

In the midst of all the hoo haa, you should really note that the US govt opposed these elections for some time. If the US govt had got its way these elections would not have taken place.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 31, 2005 07:15 PM

Oh, and as someone whose family is actually from Africa, I regard simply blaming Africa's problems only on "tyrants" as absurd.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 31, 2005 07:17 PM

"the poor showing among the Sunnis - many of whom voluntarily boycotted the election"

What I heard is that many Sunnis wanted to vote and were prevented by fear of jihadists, who operated mostly in their areas.

"In the midst of all the hoo haa, you should really note that the US govt opposed these elections for some time. If the US govt had got its way these elections would not have taken place."

Not true. The US wanted them delayed longer, which is sound nation-building practice. The sooner you hold elections after a totalitarian government has been deposed, especially with basic infrastructure still being repaired and various groups in conflict, the easier it is for groups which already have power to consolidate it and the more marginalized groups and parties have more trouble being heard. If you delay elections until things have settled down more, then smaller groups have more time to develop constituencies and get their message out.

So if Sistani and Allawi and the best-known major party officials all get elected, don't blame Bush. But you will, of course. You'll say the election was rigged.

Posted by: Yehudit at January 31, 2005 07:42 PM

Yehudit

Utter nonsense.

The FACTS:

June 2003: The original U.S. plan following the invasion was was for elections to be held only AFTER a new national constitution had been written by a handpicked, exile-led group.

The US cancelled ad-hoc local elections all across Iraq in June of 2003.

Grand Ayatollah Sistani issued a fatwa calling for national elections as the only way to choose the assembly that would draft a constitution, rejecting the U.S. plans to appoint a committee.

Fall 2003: American administration tried to ignore or sidestep Sistani's decree for months, until it became clear that the Governing Council were refusing to go along with US plans.

The U.S. solution was to come up with a new crap -- a complicated series of steps with "caucuses" (indirect elections, with participants vetted by the US).

January 2004: Sistani organized massive demonstrations in Basra and Baghdad to make his growing impatience clear.

Seeing hundreds of thousands of Shiites in the streets of Baghdad, Bush and Bremer back down, invite the UN to design a new transition, just as Sistani had demanded.

PLEASE NOTE:

The original US plan was to have the Consitution drawn up by a body NOT - I repeat - NOT elected by the Iraqi people in a national election.

Hence, if the US had had its way, these national elections - for a body to draw up a Consitution - would NOT have taken place.

Thanks Sistani, not Bush.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 31, 2005 07:57 PM

How do bloggers who have predicted inevitable doom in Iraq react to good news?

Eric Alterman: "I don’t have a lot to say about the Iraqi elections . . ."

Tom Tomorrow: "I don't have a lot to say about the elections right now . . ."

Posted by: Todd Pearson at January 31, 2005 08:34 PM

Oh, and as someone whose family is actually from Africa, I regard simply blaming Africa's problems only on "tyrants" as absurd

Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, wasn't talking about all of Africa's problems. He said that Africans could feed themselves if they were politically free to do so. Many other problems could probably be solved by doing something about eco-imperialism but that's another issue.

Posted by: mary at January 31, 2005 08:38 PM

About the elections - if the Left had its way, Saddam and the Taliban would still be in power. If Middle Eastern tyrants had their way, same thing. Funny coincidence.

It seeems that the US government was involved in a lot of negotiations. They seem to have worked things out. Should we complain?

Posted by: mary at January 31, 2005 08:45 PM

My distant relatives in Iraq who have come to the states for a few weeks in the last few months have made it plain to us what they feel like.

Free. It is new for them. They are joyous and yes, they have henna-inked fingers today.

Posted by: spc67 at January 31, 2005 08:55 PM

Mary

I went on the Michael Williams blog you link to and I want your views on something on it.

Williams says the Rwandan massactres were "supervised by Kofi Annan".

Many UN people were screaming for increased intervention in Rwanda at that time and the intervention was blocked by the US and UK, - that's simply a matter of historical record.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 31, 2005 09:12 PM

Is money so important to the left that they would seriously choose Saddam over suffering the indignity of Walmart?

Posted by: Caroline at January 31, 2005 02:42
*************************************************
Capitalism is the Human Race's first attempt at a paradigm other than plunder and pillage.

At its best it is a willing exchange by mutual consent.

Socialism in a nutshell is, we want what you have, we don't think you need what you have, so we will take it and divide it among ourselves.

Which of the two paradigms I presented in the start of this post does that last statement fit?

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at January 31, 2005 09:46 PM

Food Production in Africa? No the Evil Subsidies are not causing massive starvation in that continent.

Matter of fact there was SUPPOSED to be massive starvation of the same level over a generation ago in South America, India and South East Asia.

That was prevented by what has been called the Green Revolution. Mostly the work of one man who may very well have saved the lives of over 1 Billion Human beings.

His name is Norman Borlaug.

So why one might ask did not what worked elsewhere work in Africa?

Well it might very well work, if his techniques
were not being blocked by the EU and the Environmental Lobby

Do a google search for the man and learn something

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at January 31, 2005 09:55 PM

Hence, if the US had had its way, these national elections - for a body to draw up a Consitution - would NOT have taken place.

Benjamin,

Americans tend to be flexible and pragmatic. Thank God for that, it is one of the reasons that dogmatic socialism has never taken root here. But what do you mean, "if we had our way?" Remember all that talk about lacking a plan? But now you are sure what the plan was? I think there were broad guidelines, but I doubt you have any idea what they were. Someday you need to get over this intense love affair between you and your fantasies and moveon.

Posted by: chuck at January 31, 2005 10:30 PM

Chuck

I was just responding to Yehudit who did not mention the fact that the US went in there with the intention of NOT holding elections for a body to devise a constitution.

Posted by: Benjamin at January 31, 2005 10:35 PM

Caroline, go read my post: Bush hate, Success hate, Jew hate

The Left, since the French Revolution, has had a certain strain of "equality in results", which requires chopping down those who are more successful. It is destructive envy.

Injustice is the only "thing" which justifies violence.

You asked about my corrupting materialism issue -- for most people, in most of their decisions, how much it costs is an important question. That's the materialism. One "corruption" is from an ideological point of view -- when money and costs are important, that means the "idea", or the religion, is less important.

Secularism only occurs after a certain amount of materialism, where making money is more important than "being good".

The other corruption is the historical fact that as assets are being created or transferred among owners, those willing to lie and cheat DO get more .

I didn't like this truth in America (with much less corruption than most places, but not NO corruption), nor in Slovakia. Privatization was often "crony privatization", where friends (including new "envelope filling" friends) get high value assets for low prices. Corruption. Injustice. (Violence OK?)

Slovakia, where my wife's deeply religious and kind father, truly saintly, was imprisoned for over a year under commies for distributing bibles, leaving a wife and 4 daughters. (In the 60s, when prison wasn't like the 50s uranium mine near-murder, completely accepted by the Left.)

Slovakia, where they recently have put out a CD with the names of those who collaborated with Czecho-Slovak secret police. My father-in-law has been using my computer to look up names.

And I'm pretty sure Iraq could put out an interesting book on Saddam's secret police; and who was in it; and who got money. And Iraq should do this, to embarrass the secret collaboraters and make it more difficult for those who signed up with Saddam to sign up with the new democracy.

Even though the best "entreprenuers" are usually non-political, and just play the game, with whatever rules they think they can get away with, in order to get the most money for themselves.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 31, 2005 11:39 PM

I have come to the conclusion that the Left is very reactionary, prefering the rule of the Enlightened Philosopher King, rather than imperfect elections and people. The Left does not really care about Human rights or morality, only politics.

This explains the fawning treatment of brutal tyrants, dictators, and murderers like Saddam, Castro, Chavez, Khaddaffi, and Arafat, and the disdain and hatred for Pinochet, the Argentinian generals, and the Colonels of Greece.

Let's be fair ... they were ALL the same. Brutal tyrants that to varying degrees oppressed and murdered their people (and some still do). However, some are loved and others hated on the Left merely because of their politics.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 31, 2005 11:46 PM

Tom Grey: "You asked about my corrupting materialism issue"

good memory!

I did read your post that you linked to. About 2 weeks ago I saw a 9-part series (on disc - through netflix) called Civilization and the Jews (which pretty much amounts to a sweeping tour of human history!) and the impression I got re the Jew-money thing is that because the Jews kept getting booted out of everywhere, they found themselves scattered widely, which gave them more access to trade routes, leading them historically to become 'money-exchangers'and merchants. For wanderers (without a homeland), there were not many options for making a living. So ironically, it appears to have been hostility to the Jews which preceded their becoming adept with trade and money, which led to a circular effect. (When hard economic times hit a community they became the target of rage and envy and were booted again - a circular effect).

Still - your post overall agrees with my own sentiments. The left is obssessed with money, seemingly to the detriment of the 'human rights' side of the equation. Yet I know that many American leftists at least voluntarily choose to live quite simple, non-materialistic lives, so it doesn't quite add up. I have noticed a certain "zero-sum game" mentality on the part of the far left at least - i.e. if we benefit from going into Iraq, it must mean the Iraqis lose (doesn't seem to occur to them that we could do it to benefit both of us) and they also seem to have a hard time grasping the economic principle of the "rising ship" (or is it the rising water that floats all boats? - whatever! :))

I am also tempted to think that for the current left, the issue of "meaning" is salient. They really do detest the crass materialism (the soullessness as it were) of modern American culture and I think they don't want to inflict it on the rest of the world (this apparently gives them common cause with the Islamists). Perhaps they should consider though that meaning is always a problem for human beings and didn't first become an issue with the introduction of the washing machine and the television set. Neither evidently is the problem solved when everyone has a little house with a little green yard with a deck (they detest the suburbs too). Maybe the problem is solved when we all gather at the local urban community coffee shop and we make nice crafts with our hands! Thats meaningful! Or maybe the problem is that they have largely removed religion from their lives and now they're simply perplexed!

Just musings in my ongoing struggle with trying to figure out what the left's problem is these days. (That plus severe insomnia!)

Posted by: Caroline at February 1, 2005 01:04 AM

Well - it looks like Dennis Prager isn't mincing his words today -

The Left is Worth Nothing

Posted by: Caroline at February 1, 2005 01:36 AM

“Do you think the American people have a good understanding of what is happening in Iraq?”

Only those who essentially ignore the MSM. If these media outlets are your primary news source---then you are royally screwed. Those who possess “a good understanding” instead listen to FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, and read the “war” bloggers like our host, Michael Totten.

PS: Rush Limbaugh and Michael Totten. Now that’s an interesting combination!

Posted by: David Thomson at February 1, 2005 01:42 AM
Liberal and conservative economists would both disagree strongly with this statement.

What an amazingly stupid statement.

The poster was referring to Norman Borlaug. Perhaps the greatest living scientist on earth. The technologies that he developed fed and saved the lives of pehaps a billion people.

We are talking about someone who has done it, not talked about it.

Posted by: TomB at February 1, 2005 03:43 AM

Hence, if the US had had its way, these national elections - for a body to draw up a Consitution - would NOT have taken place.

Gee Ben, GOOD POINT, thanks for putting to rest the lie that the Iraqi government is a puppet of Bush and the Neocons.

Not very good imperialists, they.

Posted by: TomB at February 1, 2005 03:56 AM

Norman Borlaug has indeed saved the lives of millions. He truly is a great man. It's sad that few people even recognize Borlaug's name.

By the way, one of most destructive people who ever lived was the well meaning Rachel Carson who wrote Silent Spring. Her ludicrous campaign againt DDT doomed a minimum of 50,000,000 people.

Posted by: David Thomson at February 1, 2005 06:11 AM

Bad news about the elections:

Kurds prevent Assyrians from voting

Posted by: Caroline at February 1, 2005 07:22 AM

David Thomson Those who possess “a good understanding” instead listen to FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, and read the “war” bloggers like our host, Michael Totten.

C'mon David, who are you kidding? I watch Fox & Friends every morning, Listen to Michael Smerconish, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Dom Giordano. I read the National Review Online, and read such books as "An End to Evil" by Richard Perle and David Frum, and "Bias", and "Arrogance" by Bernard Goldberg.

But lets be honest here, Fox News is no more "Fair and Balanced" than CNN, and Rush Limbaugh is every bit as bad a spin master as Michael Moore. The only way one can get a full picture is to not only glean valuable information from those sources I listed above, but also read "The Nation", and "The Gaurdian", listen to NPR, and read up on one of the more prolific socialists of our time, the venerable Mr. George Orwell.

There are sources of valuable information and good ideas from all over the political spectrum. You just have to be willing to look for it, and when you do know who's worthwhile (i.e. Christopher Hitchens) and who's crap (i.e. Noam Chomsky).

Posted by: Mike T. at February 1, 2005 07:55 AM

Mike T.
"There are sources of valuable information and good ideas from all over the political spectrum."

Got that right. I try to read as wide a range of news as possible in order to try and get a good idea of whats going on. Even if the source is biased in itself, so long as I know its biased I don't have a problem.

One of the newspapers I read frequently is the Daily Telegraph, a paper with a definite Conservative bias. So much so that its frequently called the Daily Torygraph. One of the more interesting parts of it is watching them trying to support Iraq, while simultaneously attacking Blair. It doesn't really attempt to hide this biases, in fact its usually quite open about it. Basically taking the stance that, "Yes we're biased, but thats only because the people we're biased towards are right".

When news sources take a stance of false neutrality, slanting stories while claiming objectivity, then I get annoyed. I still think thats why blogging is so popular, most of them dont make any attempt to hide their own particular biases on whatever their writing about.

If the NYT just came right out and said "We are against the war in Iraq", I would have (slightly) more respect for them.

Posted by: sam at February 1, 2005 08:22 AM

"I was just responding to Yehudit who did not mention the fact that the US went in there with the intention of NOT holding elections for a body to devise a constitution."

I didn't say that. I just said in general that we wanted elections a bit later than Sistani did, for sound reasons (although either way there are trade-offs, and there are sound reasons to hold the elections now). I didn't speak specifically about the constitution. Your post made it seem as though Bush opposed elections in general. I have also heard the rumor that Bush wanted to postpone elections till after his own, in case it didn't go well (in which case why hold the Afghani elections in Oct?).

Honestly, I don't think the group devising the constitution needs to be elected - ours wasn't - but it's better this way.

Posted by: Yehudit at February 1, 2005 08:39 AM

Speaking of the 66 parties that got elected, has anybody done any categorisation of them? Basically attempting to sort them into some kind of ideological blocs, however defined.

I was wondering because any such study would be useful in trying to work out how things are going to shake out in Iraqi internal politics over the next few years. I'm assuming here that the parties will eventually coalesce into a smaller number of bigger organsations. Anything resembling the Republican "big tent" is probably a long way off, but I'd expect to see a few mergers between now and the next election.

Posted by: sam at February 1, 2005 08:40 AM

"they also seem to have a hard time grasping the economic principle of the "rising ship" (or is it the rising water that floats all boats?"

They can't stand there being a gap. They would rather everyone be equal and poor than unequal and the poorest relatively well-off.

Posted by: Yehudit at February 1, 2005 08:42 AM

Yehudit: yes indeed. Capitalism creates wealth but distributes that wealth unevenly; socialism on the other hand creates poverty and distributes it damned efficiently.

Posted by: Zacek at February 1, 2005 08:47 AM

Williams says the Rwandan massactres were "supervised by Kofi Annan">

Many UN people were screaming for increased intervention in Rwanda at that time and the intervention was blocked by the US and UK, - that's simply a matter of historical record

I don’t agree with Williams’ statement that the Rwandan massacres were supervised by Kofi Annan. It’s a matter of historical record that the Rwandan massacres were supervised and financed by the French Army.

France has also been accused of allowing genocidal Hutus to escape in south-western Rwanda (1994).

The UN refused to classify the atrocities in Rwanda as ‘genocide’. The myth that the US or the UK controls the UN was proven false before the Iraq war. If there were enough nations in favor of intervention in Rwanda, the UN could have overridden the US, as they did when the issue was Iraq. They did not.

Under Kofi Annan’s watch, the Arab-Islamist tradition of taking slaves in Africa has grown and prospered. Genocide has also been a profitable enterprise for random tyrants. Kofi Annan is currently refusing to classify the situation in Darfur as genocide, repeating a long established pattern.

If you have a problem with the way the UN allows Arab/Islamist slavery and genocide to thrive in Africa, go to this site and send them a letter.

Posted by: mary at February 1, 2005 09:01 AM

So, Western farm subsidies is what turned the late & unlamented Soviet Union from a net exporter of grain into a net importer?

Um, arguably yes. It's not a far-fetched proposition. The US pushed grain sales on the USSR because we had a surplus. Europe gave them subsidized grain for subsidized natural gas. Arguably the exchange was an economic loss for both sides. The USSR didn't really NEED to import grain. Post-WWII USSR was never in danger of mass starvation even at its lowest point. Even the massive drop-off in agricultural productivity in the USSR caused by collective farming was offset by modern technology and massive fertilizer use. It can certainly be argued that the availability of Western subsidized agricultural products removed pressure that might otherwise have forced the USSR to reform its destructive agricultural policies, and tied our hands when negotiating with the USSR.

Posted by: Vanya at February 1, 2005 09:12 AM

Many UN people were screaming for increased intervention in Rwanda at that time and the intervention was blocked by the US and UK, - that's simply a matter of historical record

Let's be accurate here. Intervention wasn't blocked by the US, there were plenty in the US screaming for intervention. It was blocked by the Clinton Administration.

And has already been pointed out, the idea that the US has any sway in the UN is laughable.

Posted by: TomB at February 1, 2005 09:25 AM

Good essay. Yes, I think that in general there is a fundamental disconnect between societies living under brutal oppression and those lucky enough to live in democracies. Democracies are certainly imperfect, but unlike totalitarian societies allow for evolution and change. I think anyone who has known and loved someone who lived under such oppression can testify to its power to crush the human spirit and grind it into dust. Whether the person you know hails from Cultural-Revolution-era China, apartheid South Africa, current-day North Korea, Cuba, Myanmar, or Zimbabwe, the psychological damage and displacement wrought is profound.

What was so moving about the elections to me was that it seemd as if the Iraqis were reclaiming their human dignity from almost unthinkable oppression, one ink-stained finger at a time.

As misguided as many liberals are regarding the Iraq war, and as naive as they can be regarding the harsh realities of our ability to brutally oppress others, many of them oppose the war because war itself is bad news. What they cannot see is that sins of omission, namely letting oppressive regimes oppress in perpetuity, is often far worse than removing them by force. Failure to see the true nature of Saddam's regime is fundamentally a failure of the moral imagination, and it occurs on both the right (i.e. Republican's bitter opposition to Bosnian intervention) and more recently and in large numbers on the left (Iraq). Not everyone can think "outside their frame" of reference very easily--indeed, the great majority of people do not and should not be expected to do so. What's surprising (to some) and very heartening is that so many Iraqis seem to be able to do so, after being tempered by life in a harsh dictatorship.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at February 1, 2005 10:01 AM

Just one question Mr. Calto...

Was "Republican's bitter opposition to Bosnian intervention)" really true? That's not the way I remembered it. It was more ...Republican's bitter opposition to OUR Bosnian intervention.

There was a very legitimate argument that the problems in the Balkans, especially pre-9/11 should have been none of our business. I don't think that anyone much cared if the Euros cleaned up their own back yard. But, of course, since neither the UN nor the Euros could really DO anything it became our problem to fix. Oh, BTW, has anyone seen Clinton's exit strategy for Kosovo/Serbia yet?

Posted by: AlanC at February 1, 2005 10:46 AM

You know, Mary, I hate to be the pessimist here because it's really not in my nature, but if I must I must...

All the glorious images and symbolism of it won't mean crap if the Sunnis reject the election results and all future attempts to include them in the government fail. Turnout could be as high as 60 or 70 percent, but if it breaks down to show that the vast majority of Sunni muslims stayed home for fear of their lives, it won't even matter. Thus far they've been offered golden opportunity after golden opportunity to participate in the post-election activities and they've damn near rejected them all. I want to cheer this every bit as much as you, but I fear a civil war may be on the horizon. And if it does in fact happen to play out that way, are you ready for this...

We will undeniably deserve the vast majority of the blame. Well, not you and me, and definitely not America in general, just the Bush Administration. It irks me to no end the way we did this entire thing on the cheap, the way we half-assedly went about pouring the resources into it we should have. There never have been enough American troops in Iraq to ensure stability and the safety of the Iraqi people. Only an idiot would argue otherwise at this point and only an idiot would fail to also admit the fact it's now too late to increase our troop levels. The trust and admiration that would require on the behalf of the Iraqis is too much to ask now. We haven't earned it and they wouldn't give it. In a word, they would straight flip out. All of them. Even the moderates.

Maybe I'm supposed to be shouting woo-hoo right now and this is badly ill-timed, but, my God, at this point, it'll be a miracle if we actually manage to avoid another Lebanon there. I can't hide from that fact and the facts on the ground. This liberal hawk will be praying for the best and expecting the worse in the coming days and months ahead...and hoping most of all that, if this does indeed fail, we won't learn the wrong lesson from it, faulting the ends and not the means.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 1, 2005 11:18 AM

From Jille, "Since I supported the invasion and the war to free Iraqis and Afghanis as well as to search for WMDs, so today was especially sweet." I like that line, especially, "as well as to search for WMDs..." So distinctly Orwellian or Bushian, if you will. Gee, I thought we were in Iraq specifically because of WMDs, not to free anyone. The WMDs was not some "as well as".

The issue for me is: why Iraq, as opposed to the much much much more threatening Iran, if you want to stay in the Middle East? Or Saudi Arabia, font of much of the evil in the world? Or Pakistan, center of nuclear proliferation? Iraq was a very pooor choice by any criteria, except perhaps some bizarre notions rattling around Bush's head. Now that the orignal, and of course totally bogus (like his reason for going there in the first place) $60 billion is closing in on $300 billion, leaving us nearly no options anywhere else in the world, with an exhausted and unhappy military, I think Iraq, regardless of the election there, is a disaster for us.

And, as for the elections there, my joy over them is somewhat tempered by their rampant Jew-hatred,and their oppression of Christians (who predate the Moslem invasion). As for Afghanistan, it is true it is fairly quiet (what with that great nasty one, OBL, relaxing there in relative safety and ease), since we have turned it over to drug lords, who control the entire country outside Kabul. Now that's success!

Posted by: Seymour Paine at February 1, 2005 11:21 AM

Alan:

Fair enough--I doubt too many would have objected to NATO or the Europeans intervening. I should have been more specific. Still, substantial amounts of Republican opposition had to do with the "Clinton effect"

The Euro's shameful inaction in the face of slaughter in their own backyard was indeed hard to believe, at least to me, and perhaps the first manifestation of the Panglossian worldview that seems so predominant in European discussions about Iraq. 'Yes, Saddam oppresses his people, but .... war is bad! Peace is good! It's their culture!' The UN's thoughtfully considered and endlessly deliberated cop-out re Darfur is the latest in this string of sins of omission.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at February 1, 2005 11:58 AM

Grant: "Thus far they've [the Sunnis]been offered golden opportunity after golden opportunity to participate in the post-election activities and they've damn near rejected them all. I want to cheer this every bit as much as you, but I fear a civil war may be on the horizon"

Grant - I think those are reasonable concerns. What gives me some hope is thinking back to the days when it looked like al Sadr was going to derail the whole thing, yet I was surprised at the persistence with which the Iraqis themselves convinced him to lay down his arms and join the political process (what happened to the guy by the way?). No doubt Sistani's influence was huge and I don't know whether there is a comparable force in Iraqi society to have a similar impact in bringing the Sunni's into the political process. But the Iraqis were really persistent with al Sadr if you recall. I am hoping they will demonstrate the same persistence and 'realpolitik' with the recalcitrant Sunnis. Re the propspects for civil war (in conjunction with your laments re the troop levels and the long bloody process that has gotten them to this point), I am wondering if the huge sacrifice the Iraqis themselves have made to get to this point might not in fact make that less likely than it would have been had the whole thing been a cakewalk. Is it possible that the fact they have endured so much to get here is what makes it THEIR victory? Don't underesstimate that Arab pride thing. They OWN this! They have paid a high price and paradoxically it may just have the psychological effect of strengthening their resolve to prevent such an outcome. At least we can all hope so...

Posted by: Caroline at February 1, 2005 12:06 PM

Seymour Paine: "The issue for me is: why Iraq"

Why Iraq is because of many converging reasons, features of which are shared by other regimes no doubt but Iraq represented a unique confluence of reasons: suspected WMD's (but no nuclear deterrant yet), a cease-fire status (being violated), 17 UN resolutions, humanitarian, Saddam's own pathological history,a large well-educated middle class with experience of secular governance, a nation under deleterious sanctions, a history of failed alternative strategies such as coups, populist uprisings and and so on.

Iran - no UN resolutions, no cease-fire agreement, no sanctions, another way ( a restless pro-democracy movement).
Pakistan - temporarily needed as an ally in the WOT, already has WMD's, no history of regional aggression.
North Korea - already has WMD's, not really part of the Islamist global WOT.
Sudan - no WMD's, no UN resolution and so on.

The fact that we were still technically at war with Saddam (he was still shooting down our planes eg), the fact that we had international law in the form of numerous UN resolutions threatening serious consequences, his uniquely evil and expansionist history, his dalliance with international terrorists, the inability to lift the sanctions which were killing people, given his psychopathic history, the nature of its people which made successful democracy more likely. Like I said - a rare confluence of factors which is not replicated in any of the other brutal regimes you can cite. Why can't the left get off this one-note WMD thing? I guess they don't get the larger WOT thing. They don't get that 9/11 changed everything.

Anyway - I challenge you to come up with another country of strategic importance in the WOT which meets a sufficient number of those criteria to not only justify invasion but to have a possibility of furthering our aims in the global WOT. One where there are not alternative options. (BTW - endless containment with sanctions is not an alternative option. Were you willing to lift the sanctions - with our troops out of theatre and if not - how long were you willing to inflict the sanctions on the Iraqi people)?

Posted by: Caroline at February 1, 2005 12:48 PM

Liberal and conservative economists would both disagree strongly with this statement.

Maybe a couple, but most of the economists I know are keenly aware of the fact that starvation is due to political decisions not to respond to environmental shocks, not due to the shocks themselves -- or agricultural surpluses in Western nations. At the end of the day, most countries can either feed themselves or exchange for food on the world market. The ones that can't are invariably the ones with extremely poor governments.

if the Left had its way, Saddam and the Taliban would still be in power. If Middle Eastern tyrants had their way, same thing. Funny coincidence.

First off, this is a pernicious lie regarding the left's endorsement of military action in Afghanistan. Secondly, I could turn that around very easily:

"The Right has had its way, and Osama bin Laden is running free. If Middle Eastern tyrants had their way, he would be free still. Funny thing."

When you not only misrepresent the views of half of the country but ascribe to them the motives of autocrats and terrorists, you degrade the national discourse.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 1, 2005 01:03 PM

Seymour Paine: "And, as for the elections there, my joy over them is somewhat tempered by their rampant Jew-hatred,and their oppression of Christians (who predate the Moslem invasion)."

Now you're getting to the heart of my own deepest misgivings about this enterprise but this is an argument that comes from far to the right of Bush. The left is still in denial. It has to do with Islam and what we're up against generally in the WOT.

I linked above to an article reporting that the Kurds had suppressed the Assyrian vote in northern Iraq. If this report is true the Kurds should be roundly condemned. Perhaps Hitchens should take the lead. I see this as a different issue from what happened to the Sunni's. Whether they failed to vote due to boycott or whether they were intimidated I don't know. However, if it was the latter (intimidation) this is surely to some extent a bed they made (sheltering the Baathist insurgents and possibly even the jihadists) which they may have to lie in. My sympathies only extend so far. But if the Kurds blocked the Assyrian Christians from voting then I am pissed.

However, it wouldn't surprise me. That would indicate what we face in the larger WOT ( which is about Islamic jihad). I have conflicting feelings. I guess my own personal answer to this (which I am still struggling with) is that we have to confront tyranny and oppression whatever its form. I support the Iraqi's struggle against Baathist tyranny but I will also condemn these same people (Muslims largely) in their tyranny against the "infidels". I read with some interest the posters at ITM who asked how the brothers could link to LGF and even meet Charles Johnson on their trip to the US - given the Muslim bashing which goes on at his site. I actually get it. The site is anti-tyranny. Oppresion must be condemned whatever its form. Its just a big complicated f**cked up world! Personally I am staking my ultimate hopes on the women. That would take another post to explain!

Posted by: Caroline at February 1, 2005 01:13 PM

Ok,!! All you gloating right-wing war-mongers need to read this.


It's a Quagmire,I tell you,a Quagmire,and Bush is Responsible !!

Posted by: dougf at February 1, 2005 01:15 PM

Dougf - was scrappleface (or Andy Borowitz) guest-blogging? You funny Canadians you! Does the cold get to your brains? My mother grew up in Winnipeg so I wonder sometimes :-)

Posted by: Caroline at February 1, 2005 01:30 PM

One would be hard pressed to find a “Liberal” who supports oppression and the oppressors. Liberals and Conservatives, Capitalists, Socialists and Egalitarians are all facing the same enemy; Evil. As of late it has reared its ugly head in the form of Islamo-Fascism, however it is highly pervasive and infects many people and places all over the world. Anywhere there is hate, persecution, oppression and death Evil lurks in the shadows. It manifests itself in the rage and passion of men, and is oft known to justify itself quite ironically in religion.

To say that one whole group subscribing to a particular social, political or religious ideology identify themselves with evil men and their deeds, is to be disingenuous. More so do some evil men identify themselves with said ideologies and commit evil deeds in their name. While we may disagree on how to get there most of us liberal, conservative, green, communist or whatever are all trying our best to reach a better tomorrow; if not for us then our children, and for our children’s children.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 1, 2005 01:48 PM

Dougf,

If you haven't read it I believe you'd find this a good read. I truly do enjoy reading Hitchens.

http://www.slate.com/id/2112895/

Posted by: Mike T. at February 1, 2005 01:57 PM

Grant – As Caroline and Daniel Calto said, this is worth celebrating because it’s an Iraqi accomplishment.

Iraqis defied the terrorists, they wanted the elections, and, for the most part, they are seeking unity. It doesn’t mean that they’ll definitely be able to avoid a civil war, but you have to admit that they’ve come a long way from the early looting days.

Lt. Col Dave Couvillon, who I met through Spirit of America, was sort of handed the responsibility for governing an entire Iraqi province. Even though he tried to understand the culture, he was surprised by the requests he received from Iraqis, whose lives were previously regulated to an outrageous degree. People asked him for permission to buy cars, homes, to harvest their crops. When he would tell them to use their own judgment about what to plant and when to harvest it, they would ask – where are we allowed to sell it?

Now they’re showing a kind of Brits-during-the-London Blitz bravery. If they’ve come this far, we should try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Hopefully, the Iraqis can serve as an example to more timid nations, like the Netherlands.

Posted by: mary at February 1, 2005 01:58 PM

Mile T - I appreciate your sentiments. I think its something we could all agree on - unless a significant part of the country persists in lumping the US itself with "evil". That's where it seems to me a major part of the failure to reach a national consensus lies...

Posted by: Caroline at February 1, 2005 02:13 PM

First off, this is a pernicious lie regarding the left's endorsement of military action in Afghanistan.

Oh, please. Remember ‘we can’t bomb Afghanistan into the stone age – they’re already there!’ Remember ‘food not bombs’ – Marc Herold and his claims that our war in Afghanistan was a dirty racist war? Chomsky’s claim that the US was planning to murder millions of Afghans in a ‘silent’ genocide. The claims that the war was based on evil plans to build a pipeline through Afghanistan? That was all from the Left, and it wasn’t that long ago. Why this amnesia?

When you not only misrepresent the views of half of the country but ascribe to them the motives of autocrats and terrorists, you degrade the national discourse.

The Left is not half of the US population. If that was true, I would lose all hope. There are still some Liberals & moderates among the Democrats, I think.

No, I don’t believe that half the population supports the view of autocrats and terrorists. But the Left that used to say “Fascism means war” doesn’t exist any more.

Posted by: mary at February 1, 2005 02:15 PM

Mike T.----

Thanks for the link.I like Hitchens not just for the words but for the palpable sense of 'moral and intellectual outrage'he generates.
I really believe that he means every word and if pushed to the wall would go down fighting in defense of what he believes.
That is the kind of person you want to have on your side when times get hard.

Posted by: dougf at February 1, 2005 02:24 PM

To Caroline's points: it's like saying, "it's the tyranny, stupid!" But for many liberals (and I am certianly a liberal in many areas), Islam itself is immune from close scrutiny. They seem happy to swallow all that "Islam is peace" stuff. Were it so! The problem is Islam itself, which teaches intolerance and cruelty and whose practioners have been largely intolerance and cruel. You're right: It's a complicated world, but I think when we add to the complications, we only make it worse. There is no reason to be nuanced about this. I've looked, and there are no decent, tolerant, Moslem countries (perhaps the Maldives!) where minorities live in freedom and peace and are treated as equals.

As for your previous question, you ask, "Anyway - I challenge you to come up with another country of strategic importance in the WOT which meets a sufficient number of those criteria to not only justify invasion but to have a possibility of furthering our aims in the global WOT." My answer is: Iran (nuclear weapons), or Saudi Arabia (financier of evil). But also this: Why must the WOT imply invasion? Saddam may have been repulsive, but the Iranians are equally repulsive and now they have a Shi'ite crescent stretching from Iran to Lebanon. Saddam may have been a bad guy, but the world's full of them. At least, he was secular. Now, after the invasion, we are losing soldiers to create an Islamic society, a fanatic, Shi'ite one, with Kurdish and Sunni rump states in a low-level civil war. Iraq made a messy situation much much worse.

Posted by: Seymour Paine at February 1, 2005 03:21 PM

Seymour - it not only is "like" saying "it's the tyranny stupid" - rather it IS the tyranny, "stupid". Islam is NOT immune from close scrutiny - it should be front and center.

"I've looked, and there are no decent, tolerant, Moslem countries". If we don't start somewhere in creating one, what is the solution? An all out war on Islam? Let's start with Iraq (not much choice now anyway). It's a slow process but what is really the alternative? Like I said earlier - look to the women. 1/3 of the candidates on the ballot were women. That's a major start. It may be the key to unraveling the entire edifice.

You say Iran - alot of people (including Bush) would say - it can topple on its own. Why not give that a chance? Especially given the possible spill-over from Iraq in emboldening the pro-democracy forces. Re the Saudi's. I agree. With the Freedom House report that has just come out let's confront them openly (but non-militarily). I think a sentiment will build for that. Let's find a legal precedent (the sedition act?) to shut down their mosques. Let's publicly acknowledge them as enemies.

"Iraq made a messy situation much much worse."

The jury is still out on that. Sometimes the darkest hour comes before dawn. Honestly, I don't know how it will turn out. Noone does. Lay out your alternative scenario for how we should have set about winning the WOT...

Posted by: Caroline at February 1, 2005 04:12 PM
Now, after the invasion, we are losing soldiers to create an Islamic society, a fanatic, Shi'ite one, with Kurdish and Sunni rump states in a low-level civil war.

Can we PLEASE get rid of this "tettering on civil war" meme? I mean, we've been hearing it for two years now and things aren't even close to a civil war in Iraq. Just repeating it doesn't make it so.

And a recent Zogby poll said that 60% of Iraqis want a secular state, not an Islamic one.

Seymore, you need to check your e-mail. I'm sure the DNC has new talking points out by now.

Posted by: TomB at February 1, 2005 04:27 PM

Mary

The UN refused to classify the atrocities in Rwanda as ‘genocide’. The myth that the US or the UK controls the UN was proven false before the Iraq war.

The drift of your argument as regards the Rwandan situation is nonsense. You blame the French, who yes, played their part, but don't mention the US and UK disgusting actions.

FACT: The UN Security Council controls the UN in these situations.

FACT: The US and the UK blocked serious UN action in this situation, in fact REDUCED the UN presence, despute UN people on the ground - seeing the growing terrible situation - screaming for MORE intervention.

FACT: It was at the insistence of the US and the UK that the UN did not classify it quickly as genocide.

Read how the UN operates.
Read about the Security Council and veto powers. Understand that the UN is controlled, at the Security Council, by nation states.

MORE FACTS:

"Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president [Clinton] had already decided not to intervene.

Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis" before the slaughter reached its peak.

It took Hutu death squads three months from April 6 to murder an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus and at each stage accurate, detailed reports were reaching Washington's top policymakers.

The documents undermine claims by Mr Clinton and his senior officials that they did not fully appreciate the scale and speed of the killings.

"It's powerful proof that they knew," said Alison des Forges, a Human Rights Watch researcher and authority on the genocide.

The National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institute based in Washington DC, went to court to obtain the material.

It discovered that the CIA's national intelligence daily, a secret briefing circulated to Mr Clinton, the then vice-president, Al Gore, and hundreds of senior officials, included almost daily reports on Rwanda. One, dated April 23, said rebels would continue fighting to "stop the genocide, which ... is spreading south".

Three days later the state department's intelligence briefing for former secretary of state Warren Christopher and other officials noted "genocide and partition" and reported declarations of a "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis".

However, the administration did not publicly use the word genocide until May 25 and even then diluted its impact by saying "acts of genocide"....

Many analysts and historians fault Washington and other western capitals not just for failing to support the token force of overwhelmed UN peacekeepers but for failing to speak out more forcefully during the slaughter." Rory Carroll, Guardian.

Posted by: Benjamin at February 1, 2005 06:02 PM

Tomli: I have nothing to do with the DNC. Most of the Dems would be upset at my dislike of Moslems. As for civil war: Iraq will certainly slide into it. Our military has tamped down centripedal forces, but eventually, they will prevail. The country shouldn't exist. The Kurds want their own state; the Sunnis will not take orders from the Shi'ites and both intensely hate each other and have for centuries. Our invasion is an exercise in idiotic futility. A complete waste of American lives and our money. Except of course for those wonderful Halliburton cost overruns we're hearing about.

Caroline: We cannot create a country. We can't make undecent people decent. Iraq is a lose-lose situation for us. We could reconstruct Europe and Japan because they were civilized. We also totally dominated those countries. We are in a rear guard action situation in Iraq. We should leave, immediately. Let it fall into the mess it will anyway. At least we'll save some American lives.

As for Iran, it will not topple on its own for a long time, if ever. Dictatorships can last a long time. This one is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. What then? They have said they would use one on Israel as soon as they can. Do you think we want to wait for that? Or for them to hand a few over to AQ? The Bush foreign ventures amount to something criminal. He and his government should be in jail.

Posted by: Seymour Paine at February 1, 2005 08:27 PM

Benjamin - The US and the UK actions, as well as the actions of most of the nations that make up the UN were reprehensible. The actions of those many nations did not compare to the French, who may have allowed the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in order to preserve the French language:

http://www.francewatcher.org/2004/08/frances_secret__1.html

Linda Melvern, author of two studies on the Rwandan genocide, believes that French policy then, as now, is "almost beyond belief. The more one looks into their actions, the worse it gets. The French Senate inquiry into Rwanda was a whitewash . . ."

Her third book about Rwanda will concentrate on the role of France. She has a leaked memo confirming that the French supplied members of the interim government responsible for the massacres with satellite phones to direct operations across the country. "They hand-delivered them by courier," she says. "In the run-up to the massacres, the French had 47 senior officers living with and training the genocidaires. French policy is about influence and money and Francophonie," says Melvern. "They are very professional at manipulating the UN system. By controlling Boutros Boutros-Ghali, their candidate for UN secretary general, they determined what information about the Rwandan genocide reached the outside world."

The Rwandans blame the French:

http://www.adetocqueville.com/cgi-binloc/searchTTC.cgi?displayZop+16609

A book published last month by by a prominent French journalist, Patrick de Saint-Exupery, alleged, on the basis of interviews with French servicemen, that "soldiers from our country trained, under orders, the killers in the Tutsi genocide."

The finger-pointing at France and its role in French-speaking Rwanda up to and during the genocide has become more insistent in recent weeks as the 10th anniversary of the atrocity neared.

Alain Juppe, French foreign minister at the time, denied Wednesday that his government had supported a genocidal regime in Rwanda

...

Again, the US does not control the UN. The UN is an entirely different entity.

So, I assume that, since you're so involved in the Rwandan conflict, you've joined the iabolish anti-slavery/genocide group that I linked to. Welcome to the club! I assume I'll be seeing your name on all relevant petitions?

Posted by: mary at February 1, 2005 09:07 PM

Again, the US does not control the UN. The UN is an entirely different entity.

Er, yes Mary, but they did control the UN's actions in the example of Rwanda. They blocked UN intervention and forced the organisation to sit on its hands until it was too late. But UN people on the ground were screaming for intervention, as were other countries.

It was nation states like the US, UK and France that did the damage, by either fanning the flames of genocide or stopping anything being done - in full knowledge of what was really happening.

Posted by: Benjamin at February 1, 2005 10:21 PM

Ben, you are right that Dem Pres. Clinton is personally responsible for stopping the word "genocide" from being used to describe the killing;
AND he opposed action at the UN, though it was Kofi and other nations that decided on the UN doing nothing.

Too bad so many Dems supported such a known LIAR and supporter of Genocide -- and reelected him in 96, supported by the Left.

The same Left that thinks it was good, after 68, after 71, for the US to leave Vietnam -- and let the Vietnamese "solve" their own mess. With Killing Fields.

Watch the Left on Sudan: UN no-genocide; Amnesty Intl no-genocide; HRW no-genocide; "but something MUST be done". Bah. Nothing needs to be done if it's not genocide. If they want something done, military action, or even sanctions, they need to call it genocide. Like Bush did. But he doesn't control the UN; the Left does.

Caroline, did you read my No Help For Iraqi People ?

It argues, as you do, that Iraqis must be willing to fight, die, kill -- and EVEN KILL SOME INNOCENTS, for freedom.

Taking some precautions against killing innocents, and not having it as your goal, is important, but not as important as the willingness to kill innocents to defeat the death squad folk and their enablers.

After this election, I expect to see a lot more Iraqi "heavy handedness" in dealing with the anti-Iraqi Sunni death squads. I will be sad, but think it the lesser evil, as compared to leaving and letting the Iraqis have a civil war of duelling death squads.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 2, 2005 02:51 AM

" I have nothing to do with the DNC"

Heh.

"As for civil war: Iraq will certainly slide into it....blah, blah, blah...."

Once again, JUST SAYING IT DOESN'T MAKE IT SO!

You've given no evidence, just your opinion as to what you think will happen. An opinion that was largely proven wrong on Sunday.

It's also interesting you ignored the Zogby Poll and dropped your "Islamist state" bilge.

Posted by: TomB at February 2, 2005 03:14 AM

Ben, you are right that Dem Pres. Clinton is personally responsible for stopping the word "genocide" from being used to describe the killing;
AND he opposed action at the UN, though it was Kofi and other nations that decided on the UN doing nothing.

Well Kofi Annan was not in charge of the UN then, and the US and the UK used their veto powers to block action. I am not sure which other countries you refer to apart from France, of course.

As for Vietnam, I am not getting into a big debate with you about that, but the killing fields were in Cambodia, not Vietnam.

I am not sure that a continuation of the Vietnam War is necessarily a good trade off, even if it would have stopped all that (it may not have done anyway.) You are just swapping piles of dead bodies for other dead bodies.

Posted by: Benjamin at February 2, 2005 03:53 AM

Benjamin - Joschka Fischer said that “there is something worse than war, and that is Auschwitz”

Despite that statement, when they have to make a choice between war or genocide, those who are ‘anti-war’ choose the latter every time.

From an essay by Andre Glucksman about the similarities between terrorism and genocide – and how European attitudes encourage both:
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...

...[European need for stability] is exactly the complacency, the crime of complacency, which once made Hitler possible. This complacency has cost us about 50 million lives. It also worked well for Stalin. ‘Better red than dead!’ Pacifism is a kind of complacency. And this complacency continues with Milosevic, with terrorism, with Saddam Hussein; people just want to sleep.

In these pacifist times, we have had long debates in Die Zeit. Joschka Fischer did not agree with me for a long time. In the end he conceded that after Srebrenica there is something worse than war, and that is Auschwitz. What I cannot now understand is how he has turned into a pacifist once again in the face of Saddam Hussein – who is much worse, bloodier and more dangerous than Milosevic, and who has gassed people, partly with German gas.

Posted by: mary at February 2, 2005 09:46 AM

Andre Glucksman's essay is interesting but poorly reasoned. Yes, Europe is complacent; and yes, Auschwitz is worse than war. But, we didn't fight Hitler because of Auschwitz. Hitler's treatment of the Jews didn't figure at all into our motives for going to war. In fact, generally, our, the U.S., treatment of German POWs (brought to the US) was much better than our treatment of Jews fleeing the Nazis. Actually, and oddly, the Germans' allies, the Japanese, helped more Jews than the U.S. (and don't forget: It was the Russians who liberated Auschwitz. We wouldn't even bomb the rails leading to the camp.) It seems that Gluckman wants to get to the conclusion that removing Saddam was a great thing, worth any cost (a la Auschwitz). So, what about Dafur? Far more people are suffering there--millions. Aren't those black lives worth something? Apparently, not.

Gluckman also seems to confuse what is normal in Islam, the concept of the Ummah, with Islamism, meaning, I assume, something extreme. Many writers understandably shy away from a blanket condemnation, so they use terms like "Islamofascism" or "Islamic extremism" or "islamism". But there is no bright line separating the 19 hijackers, or the beheaders in Iraq or Saudi Arabia or any of the regular Moslem oppressors from "normal" or "moderate" Moslems. In fact, your moderate Moslem is one who ignores his religion (avoid non-Moslems, kill Jews and Christians who are really the descdents of apes and pigs, etc.).

Posted by: Seymour Paine at February 2, 2005 11:59 AM

Seymour - Islam’s tendency to lean towards extremism is comparable to Europe’s tendency to lean towards totalitarianism. It’s always there, it’s pervasive and occasionally genocidal, but what should we do to stop it? You can’t fight a religion or totalitarianism in general, but you can fight a genocidal (Sudan, WWII Germany) government.

I don’t know what Glucksman has said about the Sudan, but I believe that he, like the Bush administration, is more willing to classify the situation there as genocide than Kofi Annan and the Arab bloc.

..and there’s no difference between ordinary, practicing Muslims and the 19 hijackers? That’s just not true. Didn’t you read this post?

There’s a big difference between the millions of Muslims who voted in Iraq and the terrorists who tried to kill them.

Glucksman’s analysis of why Auschwitz is worse than war is the best I’ve read on the subject. Totalitarianism and terrorism come from the same nihilistic, anti-human impulse.

"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."

In contrast to war:

"Wherever you go, this belligerent hubris [terrorism] 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."

In the huts of the Amazon, they'd know better than to say ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’.

Posted by: mary at February 2, 2005 12:40 PM

I have no problem with Auschwitz being worse than war. That's obvious, or should be. As for differences among Moslems, yes there are, naturally. But the problem with Islam rests in the Koran, the Hadith and the Sura, not with some weirdo interpretations forced on the original texts. One can say that Leviticus is rather harsh, and it is, but nearly all later traditions demote its significance. There is has not been any attempt to follow its strictures (like, uh, death for cursing ones parents, or death for wearing clothes made of two or more kinds of cloth) in the three thousand years since it was written down. Not true with the Koran, whose commands must be taken literally (and often are) by every believing Moslem. Those that ignore it are either atheists or others who just don't take it seriously. But the horror of it is always there. It's not some tendency (like toward totalitarianism which you input to Europeans); it's right up there, in front. You have to work hard to ignore them (like killing Jews and Christians).

I don't know the answer of how to deal with threat of Islam. Sure, there are good Moslems here and there, just as there were good Germans and Japanese during WWII. Didn't mean we didn't bomb the heck out of their countries, though. But I do know that by pretending Islam is not a threat to the civilized world, we are only making our day of judgment more horrible.

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