April 30, 2005

Peace in Iraq?

Posted by Jeremy Brown

The Washington Post offers yet another disturbing look at the reality of prewar Iraq, before the first Gulf War created the no-fly zones:

BAGHDAD, April 29 -- U.S. investigators have exhumed the remains of 113 people -- all but five of them women, children or teenagers -- from a mass grave in southern Iraq that may hold at least 1,500 victims of Saddam Hussein's campaign against the Kurdish minority in the 1980s, U.S. and Iraqi officials said this week.


The non-acidic soil at the grave site preserved layers and layers of distinctive Kurdish clothing worn by many of the victims, suggesting that they may have piled on their best clothes expecting to be relocated, investigators said.

Authorities showed reporters some of the remains, including the skull of an older woman with pink dentures and the skeleton of a teenage girl clutching a bag of possessions.


The grave actually is a series of 18 trenches, which investigators say they believe Iraqi forces dug with front loaders and maintained for systematic executions.

Investigators said that women and children were forced to stand at the edge of the pits, then shot with AK-47 assault rifles. Casings were found near the site, they said.

"They sprayed people with bullets so they fell back" into the graves, Iraq's human rights minister, Bakhtyar Amin, told reporters.


Most of the children were very young, and 10 were infants, authorities said.
Posted by Jeremy Brown at April 30, 2005 09:39 AM

Ok, fine.

...but Haliburton.

Posted by: moonbat at April 30, 2005 10:04 AM

This m.o. is certainly familiar--they took a leaf out of the book of their mentors', the Nazis. They just left out the part where they destroyed the evidence afterwards.

Posted by: neo-neocon at April 30, 2005 10:43 AM

The problem, Moonbat, is that you can both be angry and saddened by what Saddam did, and be critical of the Bush administration's handling of Haliburton's contracts.


You could also support overthrowing Saddam but dislike the way Bush handled the war.


You can even - and I know this might sound crazy, but bear with me - you can even be critical of Bush without being a traitor who hates freedom!


Posted by: The Commenter at April 30, 2005 10:53 AM

Obviously you could see only ugly scenes in libya. It only shows how ugly your opinion is about Libya even before travelling there. I do see ugly scenes my self but I see awesome places and scenes that you certainly have seen yourself when you were there but I think hatred or illness made you the "negative selective photographer". Try to be a bit objective.

Posted by: Libyan at April 30, 2005 10:57 AM

Libyan - (I think you meant to comment on the previous post)

According to nearly every Arab or Muslim that I've read or spoken to, Michael's description & photos of Libya were entirely accurate.

According to this Freedom House report, Libya is one of the least free nations in the Middle East:
The judiciary is not independent. It includes summary courts for petty offenses, courts of first instance for more serious offenses, courts of appeal, and a supreme court. Revolutionary courts were established in 1980 to try political offenses, but were replaced in 1988 by people's courts after reportedly assuming responsibility for up to 90 percent of prosecutions. Political trials are held in secret, with no due process considerations. According to the U.S. State Department, Libya employs summary judicial techniques to suppress local opposition. Arbitrary arrest and torture are commonplace.

The death penalty applies to a number of political offenses and "economic" crimes, including currency speculation and drug- or alcohol-related crimes. Libya actively abducts and kills political dissidents in exile. The public practice of law is illegal

The public practice of law is illegal?? When Freedom House says that a place is not free, they really mean it. Posted by: mary at April 30, 2005 11:26 AM

“You could also support overthrowing Saddam but dislike the way Bush handled the war.”

There is no such thing as prosecuting the perfect war. Even Bush’s most fervent supporters can find fault with our liberation of Iraq. If nothing else, hindsight provides 20/20 vision. No, the real question is whether one believes the invasion should have even taken place. The far left (and reactionary right) may not have liked Saddam Hussein---but they would have done nothing to remove him. Neo-neocon referred to the Nazi murderers. We should never forget that many people in the West (read George Orwell) also thought it best to leave Adolph Hitler alone.

Posted by: David Thomson at April 30, 2005 01:30 PM

>>>"You could also support overthrowing Saddam but dislike the way Bush handled the war."


"Wrong War, Wrong Place, Wrong Time."

Kinda hard to support anything if you agreed with John Kerry.

Posted by: spaniard at April 30, 2005 05:33 PM

“Kinda hard to support anything if you agreed with John Kerry.”

It is very unlikely that The Commenter voted for a presidential candidate that would truly advocate for the liberation of Iraq. My gut impression is that they would have agreed with Kerry’s using every excuse in the book not to do anything. He (she?) can, of course, contradict me if I’m jumping to an invalid conclusion.

David Duke, Pat Buchanan and other hard core ultraconservatives also opposed President Bush’s decision. White supremacist and former Klan leader Duke even supported John Kerry. And to be completely honest, many Old Republicans were dismayed by our military invasion of Iraq. I seriously wonder if Bush 41 would have given the go ahead!

Posted by: David Thomson at April 30, 2005 09:38 PM


It is very unlikely that The Commenter voted for a presidential candidate that would truly advocate for the liberation of Iraq. My gut impression is that they would have agreed with Kerry’s using every excuse in the book not to do anything. He (she?) can, of course, contradict me if I’m jumping to an invalid conclusion.


Precisely. Note how Proud Conservative pretends to take a principled stand against both right and left wing extremsim, while only citing specific examples of the former. It's kind of like the whole premise behind Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show", except with perhaps a tenth of the wit. The only thing amusing about PC's brand of heavy-handed satire is that PC actually seems to think it's subtle. Anyone who pays attention to Michael's post instead of using it as an launchpad for digressions into the usual anti-Bush rants will realize that the subject mater porbably merits some seriousness. Inept attempts at humor cannot obscure the horror of a regime that used infanticide as an instrument of public policy.

Posted by: Samsung at May 1, 2005 12:18 AM


Libya does, indeed, have some beautiful places in it. You should notice that I included photos of those beautiful places. (Ghadames, for example, along with Nalut and the Sahara.)

Tripoli, however, is a totalitarian city built by Ghaddafi. It is not a pretty place. I'm sorry, it just isn't. That's not my fault. And it's not your fault either. So there's no need for you to get defensive about it. There are many places that look like Tripoli in the former Soviet Union and pretty much wherever else modern totalitarian dictatorships ruled. It is the way things are.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 1, 2005 12:51 AM

re Commenter -

The practice of dissimulation (taqiya) is widespread with Ishmaelis. If a person behaves in a way incompatible with their position/identity, the likely explanation is they're practicing dissimulation (taqiya).

Posted by: mika. at May 1, 2005 04:37 AM


I have to admit that I'm a little confused by your post. I do take a principled stand against extremism of both stripes. The reason I more frequently mention Right wing extremism here is that I am attempting to offer an antidote to what I usually note here, which is the opposite: that people want to ignore Right wing extremism and act as if Left wing extremism is the only danger. If you're actually worried about the threat of extremism as a whole, and especially about the threat of violence from extremists, people would stop pretending that only one group is a danger - count the comments and posts here that deal with radical environmental extremists, for example, or posts claiming that American liberals are more dangerous than Hamas, versus those that deal with Right wing radicals like Eric Rudolph who actually murder people. Seriously, the threat comes from both sides, and it's worth pointing that out, lest people say "let's go get ELF!" while Eric Rudolph or Timothy McVeigh blows up their children.

What I wrote was not, in any way, an attempt to go after Bush. It was in response to what Moonbat wrote. I think it's funny that you're critical of me for using heavy-handed sarcasm when Moonbat's first comment was an attempt to paint liberals as the sort of people who care more about Haliburton than the murder of children. I was simply trying to point out that you can care about the murder of children - and still care about other things as well. If you read what I wrote, I'm really not sure what therein is an anti-Bush rant - I was trying to point out that you can both be serious about these things and still be critical of Bush, an idea that I don't encounter very frequently among those on the Right.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 07:19 AM
But in general, I'll turn to Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek and his metaphor of the kettle:
We all remember the old joke about the borrowed kettle which Freud quotes in order to render the strange logic of dreams, namely the enumeration of mutually exclusive answers to a reproach (that I returned to a friend a broken kettle): (1) I never borrowed a kettle from you; (2) I returned it to you unbroken; (3) the kettle was already broken when I got it from you. For Freud, such an enumeration of inconsistent arguments of course confirms per negationem what it endeavors to deny — that I returned you a broken kettle
Conservatives, Žižek argued, do the same with Iraq.

None of you, if I can remind you, have voted for a candidate who was proposing the use of force to liberate an oppressed country. Bush, when running the first time, argued against "nation building". When he was selling the Iraq war to the American people he focused on WMD - freedom was supposed to be a pleasant byproduct, one that wasn't even mentioned in his State of the Union prior to the war. It was only after WMD failed to turn up that Bush decided freedom and democracy were more important. Hence the kettle - we invaded because of WMD. No, we invaded because of al Qaeda. No, we invaded to bring freedom. No, we invaded to transform to the Middle East...

To be fair, many before the war wrote about bringing freedom to Iraq - Paul Wolfowitz, for example, and (in my own small fashion) myself. I rabidly supported the war years before Bush proposed it, because I felt that the US has the luxury to ignore realism and use our power for less-than-vital ends, such as liberating oppressed people around the world. Considering that we now have a large number of examples of countries that are taking the steps towards democracy without the benefits of a US invasion, while Iraq continues to struggle over every step, I have since questioned my support for the violent export of democracy - is it really the best way? I'm not so sure anymore.

But, generally, I look at my support like this: I asked a retarded monkey to fix my kitchen sink, and then was surprised to find the kitchen flooded, the sink in pieces, all the food eaten, and myself bashed over the head with the wrench. Woops, my bad.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 07:28 AM

So, every time I read about yet another soldier fighting in the Army of the richest country in human history who died because he or she did not have enough armor for their vehicle or enough sandbags, I think of that retarded monkey.

But the important thing to remember, the next time you flip out over someone who isn't 100% ra-ra over the Iraq war and accuse them of hating freedom and wishing for oppression, is that there was no movement prior to W's decision to invade Iraq. There was no pressure to speak, from any segment of US politics, to use American power to free people around the world. Maybe if, 5 or 10 years ago, conservatives were busy arguing that America should free Iraq through force, I'd buy it. If they'd been arguing they should liberate anyone, maybe I'd buy it. But conservatives, if you recall, opposed intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo.

While I don't doubt that you fervently believe in liberty and freedom, I wish you could also recognize that no matter how integral and vital this seems to your identity - your love for freedom for all - how new this is for anyone, much less conservatives. Recall that conservatives decided not to overthrow Saddam in 1991. Recall that they opposed using force to liberate Bosnians and Kosovar Albanians. And then try to remember that when someone isn't entirely comfortable with the invasion of Iraq, they're not all that different from conservatives of just a few years ago.

Seriously, it would be a lot easier to take you people seriously if you acknowledged that this is new for you too. Instead of doing that, you've seized upon Iraq and decided that anyone doing what conservatives were doing a very short time ago is a traitor to liberty. You changed your mind and started hating everyone who hasn't changed their mind, forgetting that you ever had to change your mind in the first place.

Bringing freedom and democracy to the world have never been "conservative" or "Republican" platforms before. They have really only been part of the ideology for, say, a year. Like the kettle, before that it was WMD! al Qaeda! Now it's freedom! If democracy fails to take root in Iraq, and Bush finds another reason why the kettle is broken, will that become part of your identity, one that you fervently defend and attack in those who lack it?

Slightly off topic, but the broken kettle can also be applied to the issue of torture. Ask a conservative the day before the pictures came out and, like a decent person, they'd probably say "torture is wrong and I oppose it". A day later, and we get:
1) it's not really torture
2) it's ok to torture bad guys
3) the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to them
4) other countries are doing it, not us
5) it's just a few bad apples
6) it's not really torture anyway, so nothing bad happened
In other words, contortion.

Seriously though, I wouldn't have bothered, but it's so wearying to hear time and time again what I'm hearing from you, mostly because you demonstrate no memory of the fact that (and I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm confident that this is a good assumption), until a very short time ago, bringing freedom to Iraq wasn't an issue on your mind at all.

In other words, no matter how much you hate people who disagree with you, your dedication to bringing freedom to Iraq seems a lot more like an ideological fad than a real moral position.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 07:44 AM


I'm sorry. I don't really understand what your post meant.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 07:45 AM

I think it's funny that you're critical of me for using heavy-handed sarcasm when Moonbat's first comment was an attempt to paint liberals as the sort of people who care more about Haliburton than the murder of children.


You can't get off the hook that easy. Most of the anti-war crowd DO care more about Haliburton than they care about the murder of children. And most in that crowd are Left of center. It isn't a fine point, it's a simple fact. Those victims would still be in Saddam's clutches simply because you cared more about neo-con motives than you do about those children.

Should we now re-write history and pretend otherwise? Heck, christians are still hammered about the Crusades, and conservatives are still hammered about "Mossadeq", etc.. But you want off the hook about a few months ago? Admit you were wrong and embrace the cause, or you won't live this down for years and decades.

Posted by: spaniard at May 1, 2005 08:29 AM

I'll make it plain. I don't think you are who you make yourself appear to be. Your behavior is inconsistent. And I'm sure I'm not the only one here that picked up on that.

Posted by: mika. at May 1, 2005 09:27 AM


Please go into more detail. I can't think of anything I've said that would make you think I haven't meant everything I've said (since Mr. Totten asked me to be serious).


"Admit you were wrong and embrace the cause, or else..." is probably the craziest thing I've read here yet. Embrace "the cause"? Paging Mr. Orwell...

Hearing yet again that you can peer into the minds of liberals, and that being critical of Haliburton implies that you hate freedom, makes me start to wonder: what kind of criticism of Bush could you ever make? Is there a mistake that he could make that you wouldn't justify?

"Those victims would still be in Saddam's clutches simply because you cared more about neo-con motives than you do about those children."

This would have more impact if the point of the war hadn't been to disarm Saddam of his WMD, or if conservatives who are now all a-twitter over freedom and The Children cared about Iraqi children in 1991 or Kosovar children in 1999.

Let me repeat that: you villify and demonize people for not joining "a cause" that conservatives vehemently opposed a very short time ago, and that wasn't even the justification for the war in the first place. That makes you sound like someone who joined a bandwagon and is now spitting in the face of everyone who didn't.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 09:44 AM

That makes you sound like someone who joined a bandwagon and is now spitting in the face of everyone who didn't.


you're damned straight. Freedom is my bandwagon -- always has been.

That's one of the reasons I used to call myself a Liberal. In fact, that's precisely why I, and many many others, have proudly joined this bandwagon, as you call it -- someone else put those words into action, and we threw in with him.

You and the Left, on the other hand, have forsaken this sacred cause of freedom because you have a personal distaste for who happens to be driving the wagon. Bush=Hitler and all that childish nonsense. Had it been Clinton (as in Kosovo), there wouldn't be any controversy. Shows how sincere you were. And lest you question my own sincerity, I was 100% behind what Clinton did in the Balkans.

Posted by: spaniard at May 1, 2005 10:03 AM

Well, I guess we both made poor assumptions, then. I shouldn't have placed you with conservatives who opposed interventions in the Balkans. You shouldn't assume that a distaste for Bush means that anyone has abandoned the cause of freedom for people around the world.

Allow me to elaborate.

Country X is oppressed. We decide that we want to free it. What is the optimal way - the method that ensures the fewest deaths, the fastest transition, the most permanent freedom - to achieve this? Is it an invasion? I used to think so. Or is it something else? We are now presented with a number of countries that are making the transition: Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan. Of them, two were invaded by the US. The rest are making the transition without a US invasion. The countries that have been invaded - Iraq and Afghanistan - are facing a number of problems that are causing many deaths, a slow transition, and that threaten the chances of permanent democracy.

I know that everyone would like to say that Lebanon, for example, is transforming because of the invasion of Iraq, despite the fact that many in Lebanon have cited Ukraine and not suicide-bomb-prone Iraq as their inspiration. But correlation is not causation, and when we're talking about tens or hundreds of millions of people, it gets a lot harder to draw simple cause-and-effect arrows.

In other words: are legitimate questions raised about the efficacy of the invasion of Iraq? Yes. Does asking those questions automatically make someone a freedom-hater? On Planet Wingnut, sure, but in reality, no, of course not. In fact, many who are asking those questions do so because they, like you, are dedicated to freedom - they simply believe that there might be better ways of doing so.

Seeing as how the US has been torturing Iraqis in the same prisons that Saddam tortured Iraqis, I can't say that I blame them for asking those questions.

Obviously geopolitical questions like this have no obvious answers, because we're dealing with dozens of countries, trillions of dollars, hundreds of millions of people, and there's no easy way of testing or experimenting to determine the best way of achieving geopolitical goals. You simply have to figure out the best option and then gamble that you're right. That's what the Bush administration did, and it's not like they could have done things differently (actually, that's not true - a lot of the decisions they made seem to originate in ideology, not reason) - they had to make a gamble and they did. Now we're presented with the results, an Iraq where the violence is still increasing, despite years of promises that we're about to turn the corner! - and a Lebanon where the people are the ones changing the face of their country, sans American "help", and we can begin to judge the outcome of that gamble (though it's important to remember that we really won't know for decades, at the least). Not everyone is too happy with what they've seen.

In other words, you can agree on goals and disagree about methods. Disagreement doesn't mean that someone wants to make out with Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 10:19 AM

Again, Proud Conservative and like-minded people at times (correctly) decry intemperate rhetoric from rightist supporters of the war but seem almost unable to bear criticizing similar extremism on the left. The most annoying thing about this is that it gets in the way of honest discussion about the subject at hand - in this case, the premeditated mass murder of civilians. To be honest I don't even view the ORIGINAL TOPIC of this post primarily as a justification for war. Instead, I find myself thinking of what it was like for those civilians when they realized that death was inevitable, and how their executioners could have justified doing such things. Let me stress that I can't pretend to feel a fraction of the agony of the victims and their families; however, it is simply wrenching to read about such things. Hence, strawman arguments about conservatives calling all opponents of the war "freedom haters" are misplaced - particularly when they appear in the guise of bizarre attempts at humor. Did I call PC or other opponents of the war "freedom haters"? Did I (or anyone else) say I hate them?No? Then why is PC so hung up about this? Are there more important aspects of this incident to consider other than the ways neo-cons might misuse it to denigrate the left's motives, or does the prospect of this occurring actually grieve PC more than the atrocity itself? Compare the amount of text PC uses to criticize the Right to how much (s)he has written about the mass grave. Until critics of the administration seem to display the same sort of profound distaste for Ba'athist atrocities that that they have thus far reserved for Bush and Halliburton, the objections of Spaniard, David Thomson, and others will remain valid.

Posted by: Samsung at May 1, 2005 10:47 AM

I'm not sure why I bother, but...

1) I focus on these things because of the bulk of commenters here focus on how terrible liberals are.

2) I don't really know how to discuss the premeditated mass-murder of civilians. Anything I could say - from "oh, how awful" to "This Is Why We Fight" - would sound so unbearably trite that I feel it would be an insult to people who actually suffered. So I don't say anything.

3) It's not a strawman - the reason I started posting here in the first place was that I was tired of hearing that liberals hated freedom. If you take a look at this thread you'll be treated to such gems as:
Why do you hate freedom and stand with the tyrants?????????

It's not just that they "don't care" about democracy - it's that they are actively opposed to it.

Leftist and their terror states that mass murdered 100+ Million people in the name of utopia have no love of democracy. Their fake talk about it is all a fraud. Its freedom that they hate.
And so on. Just the other day, someone on here wrote that liberals are a greater danger to the Lebanese than is Hizbollah. It gets tiring after a while.

So, in other words, the reason I write about this (and not about the mass graves because, again, I have nothing that I feel I can say about this) is that I honestly hope that I can convince people here that liberals aren't evil, as they have been portrayed, and that there is merit in at the very least listening and considering another viewpoint.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 11:06 AM

Spaniard -

Bosnia and Kosovo are now Saudi dominated Islamist imperial outposts. Same with Albania.

Clinton's actions were highly misguided and hundreds of thousand of Christians trying to recapture their land from Muslim encroachment paid dearly for that administration's folly. Just because CNN wouldn't play scenes of Serbs being systematically driven out from their ancestral home in Kosovo, or the systematic burning of their 900 year old Churches by Muslims, doesn't mean these things didn't happen -- just more, unimportant, Islamist trivia for the dhimmi media to sweep under the rug.

Posted by: mika. at May 1, 2005 11:33 AM

Mika has just officially written the craziest thing I have ever read on this blog.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 11:34 AM

Commenter, I understand why you feel Liberalism should be defended. I would propose however that Liberalism needs to be reclaimed from the nuts. And you're not helping.

You really do yourself no favors with this:

Bringing freedom and democracy to the world have never been "conservative" or "Republican" platforms before. They have really only been part of the ideology for, say, a year.

You're taking the same broad brush you claim to despise to the other side, which looks frankly hypocritical. Didn't Barry Goldwater say something like "Extremism in the defense of Liberty is no vice"? Didn't Reagan challenge Gorbachev to tear down a wall? The patron saints of modern Conservatism made human liberty the keystone of their philosophies. And every one of Bush's State of the Union speeches has hammered on the idea that the promotion of Democracy is both a moral and a strategic necessity.

Now, it would be perfectly possible to argue that Republicans (and Conservatives in general) haven't "walked the walk", but what you claimed instead was that those nasty Whingers have always been heartless bastards. Dishonest and useless to boot.

Seeing as how the US has been torturing Iraqis in the same prisons that Saddam tortured Iraqis, I can't say that I blame them for asking those questions.

There you go with the moral equivalence thing again, in the comments to a post about a Ba'athist's mass murder. And then later you have the gall to say:

So, in other words, the reason I write about this (and not about the mass graves because, again, I have nothing that I feel I can say about this) is that I honestly hope that I can convince people here that liberals aren't evil...

No, not evil; but currently way too prone to confusion about what evil really is. And that confusion is actively dangerous. (Imagine that the Human Shields had managed to stop the war. The people digging those trenches would still be in the same line of business. How much shinier and happier the world would be!)

Your heart may be in the right place; my guess is that you really are happy with the general progress of events in the Middle East. (You have to be George Galloway-nuts to not be happy with the fall of Saddam and the Syrian exit from Lebannon, I think.) And I guess that you really are worried that Bush and Co. will screw up this golden moment in history. But dude, you and the rest of the Left need to lose the knee-jerk spite toward the right, and get a new set of debating tools. As long as Howard Dean (!) and the like are comfortable calling Republicans "evil", "corupt", and "brain-dead" the people who aren't True Believers are going to keep tuning you out.

Posted by: Mark Poling at May 1, 2005 12:15 PM

My first thought on reading Jeremy's post was "how will this story make the Human Shields feel?" Remember them? Remember all the press coverage they got? Were they made out to be at best fools by the press? That's not how I remember it.

For that matter, why hasn't the press gone back to follow up with any of the leaders of that exercise in dictator protection, and ask them to their face, on camera, what their reactions to the mass graves are?

Hell, I'd love it if CBS flew a few of the shields to Iraq and filmed them watching exhumations.

Liberalism must be rescued from the nuts and the narcissists.

Posted by: Mark Poling at May 1, 2005 12:21 PM

Commenter -

No, what's crazy is that so little publicity is given to these facts in the Western press. The truth will eventually get out. Saudi money and dhimmi left conspiracy of silence be damned.

google: kosovo church burning
google: serbs driven out
google: saudi influence kosovo
google: saudi influence albania

Posted by: mika. at May 1, 2005 12:44 PM

What's crazy is this:

"hundreds of thousand of Christians trying to recapture their land from Muslim encroachment paid dearly for that administration's folly"

Not even getting into your fairly insane attitudes towards ethnic cleansing (i.e., if I can demonstrate that thousands of years ago people speaking the same language as my ancestors lived here, I can murder you and drive away your family in order to reclaim "my home") or the fact that those Muslims who were "enchroaching" were in fact identical to the Serbs ethnically, linguistically, and historically - the only difference being their religion and script - this is one of the worst examples I have ever read of revisionist history.

What the Serbs did to Muslims, what the Croats did to Muslims, what the Croats and Serbs did to each other - unspeakable crimes. What a few Muslims did in retaliation to genocide pales in comparison. Saying something like that makes everything you say afterwords - which I disagree with anyway (try reading the Economist Ingelligence reports on Bosnia and Kosovo - no mention of the Saudis) - entirely suspect.

In other words, if you were to insist that Martians were fighting US troops in Iraq, I wouldn't listen to anything you had to say afterwords. So, from now on, I feel safe in ignoring you as a crazy person. I just wanted to let you know why I'd be ignoring you from now on.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 01:00 PM

Commenter -

The thing is, I don't for a second believe what you just wrote above, you wrote out of ignorance. If I did, I might even bother schooling you at what real revisionism is. I'm not going to waste my time. I'm fairly convinced you are a taqiya practicing charlatan. I'll leave it for the others to learn this lesson on their own, if they haven't yet.

Posted by: mika. at May 1, 2005 01:28 PM


In '91..when Bush Sr look into his chrystal ball..after Iraq's Army had been decimated...the likely hood that the Shia's and Kurd's could overthrow Saddam without outside intervention looked promising. History proved Bush Sr wrong.
10 years of sanctions only resulted in starving the poorest of the poor in Iraq. Saddams sons didn't hold out much hope that the next generation of Iraqi leadership would be anyless dangerous than Saddam.

The timeline between the fall of the Berlin wall and the Orange revolution was 15 years. Maybe I'm optimistic, but in another 5 years...Belarus and the 'Stans will have transitioned to something that resembles free democracies.

In Iran, it is truly a race between the Hard Liners that want nukes and the moderate reformers finding their way into power. Without a nuclear question, military intervention will just set back the process.

In Zimbabwe, there is a fairly strong opposition and Mugabe is 84 years old...nature will take its course.

In Saudi Arabia, the entire current ruling generation of princes has one foot in the grave.
Allowing nature to take its course and building strong ties with the next generation of reform minded princes is a better option than trying to invade Mecca.(invading the "city of mosques"(Fallujah)was bad enough...imagine the "city of THE MOSQUE".

The UN has finally committed to doing something about the Sudan.

Centcom is actively involved in "Nation Building" on the Horn of Africa.

Military intervention in a country that borders China without Chinese support borders on INSANITY.

There is a reasonable chance that Syria will fall apart on its own. Wait and see might be prudent while occasionally rattling the sword.

Libya has at least given up its weapons programs..with a few carrots...maybe some reforms will happen.

"Realpolitik" is a poor choice of words...Prudent Politik...when it comes to the use of force is better. If 10/20 years of waiting/nudging has any reasonable chance of success...then 3/5 years of war is a reckless decision. The day Saddam gassed the Kurds in '88 it was pretty clear he had to go...after 15 years of nudging/waiting he was still in power.

Posted by: Soldier's Dad at May 1, 2005 01:59 PM

The Commenter —

Free elections in Afghanistan
Free elections in Iraq
Syrians withdraw from Lebanon

If this is a fad, I'll be happy to buy the T-shirt.

You can even - and I know this might sound crazy, but bear with me - you can even be critical of Bush without being a traitor who hates freedom!

You can even - and I know this might sound crazy, but bear with me - you can even be critical of Bush without being a traitor who hates freedom!

That sounds great over a vente mocha latte, sure, but as a practical matter, what it means you support the policies that permitted the filling of all those mass graves for all those years, that you try to divert our attention from. President Bush may have run against nation building in his first campaign, but unlike most on the left, he at least had the intelligence to realize his preconceptions had to change with 9/11, and the courage to act on that realization.

And could you please, please, oh god, please, stop repeating the tired WMD line? Go back and read Bush's own words on the subject. Go back and read the resolution. Or at least find a less tired lie.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at May 1, 2005 05:49 PM


I disagree with two things. I disagree with the notion that you must either accept or reject all of Bush's policies as a package.

I also disagree with your tired stereotypes. I work for the Department of Defense. Also, it's a grande chai latte. Try one, they're good.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 06:51 PM

Three things, I guess. It's not a tired lie - Bush's own statements mentioned democracy as a pleasant benefit of, not main reason for, the war in Iraq. Bush's own 2003 SotU was delivered 7 weeks before the war - and never mentioned bringing democracy to Iraq.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 1, 2005 06:54 PM

Bush's own 2003 SotU was delivered 7 weeks before the war - and never mentioned bringing democracy to Iraq.


Bush said this:

"Tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country -- your enemy is ruling your country. (Applause.) And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation."

Close enough.

Posted by: spaniard at May 1, 2005 07:15 PM

Mark Poling --
"But dude, you and the rest of the Left need to lose the knee-jerk spite toward the right, and get a new set of debating tools. As long as Howard Dean (!) and the like are comfortable calling Republicans "evil", "corupt", and "brain-dead" the people who aren't True Believers are going to keep tuning you out."

You restate something I hear a lot from people on the Right that always mystifies me. Since when has the demonization of one's opponents been shown to be ineffective? Certainly you wouldn't deny -- your possible support for their agenda aside -- that Republicans have been extremely effective at demonizing Democrats, and they have NOT suffered electorally for it, on the contrary, such demonization has been incredibly effective. Remember, the party of "acid, amnesty and abortion"? Full of "card-carrying members of the ACLU"?

Or perhaps you feel that demonizing liberals is fair game because you AGREE with those who would demonize liberals? Fine, but give me a break and cut the bullshit about how you wish that liberals would only listen to you so that they could be more effective debators.

Posted by: markus rose at May 1, 2005 07:53 PM


Certainly you wouldn't deny -- your possible support for their agenda aside -- that Republicans have been extremely effective at demonizing Democrats, and they have NOT suffered electorally for it, on the contrary, such demonization has been incredibly effective. Remember, the party of "acid, amnesty and abortion"? Full of "card-carrying members of the ACLU"?


You see, it's always the other side that "demonizes" and engages in character assassination. Your faction simply "tells the truth" or "raises valid questions". Since we can't seem to find a justification for Howard Dean's rantings a tu quoque (sp.) will do quite nicely. Never mind that the man has effectively written off half of the country as "evil". I guess that one's own political positions CAN seem self-evident to the point of being objective truths...

Posted by: Samsung at May 1, 2005 09:36 PM

Markus Rose, once upon a time Liberals would take principled stands against "ends justify means" arguments.

Obviously that day is done, and the public sphere is lost to hacks and hoodlums dominating debate on both sides. I'm sure the nation will be better for it.

(And as to demonization being an effective tactic, I would point to the last election as argument against. I don't want you to listen to me, I want you to look at the damned data.)

(And as to what I agree with or not, read my site some time. Part of the reason I am so PISSED OFF these days is that there really isn't a sane, effective counter to the God Squad whispering in Republican ears up on Capitol Hill. I don't give a damn about what political team is winning or losing; I do care about policies and implementation, and your "side" is doing a piss-poor job advocating for a lot things I care about.)

Posted by: Mark Poling at May 1, 2005 09:40 PM

Just to try and get this thread back on topic, I haven't heard much about how trials for lower-level members of the Ba'athist hierarchy are going to shape up. I recall an article that implied that lots of Saddam's middlemen might end up walking because the United States needs individuals with military experience to help stop the current terrorist campaign. It also seems as though there has been too much of a focus on the trials of Saddam and other major figures, as opposed to the lesser authorities who also stand accused of atrocities.

Posted by: Samsung at May 1, 2005 10:08 PM

Samsung, I hear what you're saying, and you're right; it will suck if a large percentage of the grunts who pulled the triggers walk. On the other hand, the situation in Iraq is very different from the post-WWII war crimes investigations. We haven't approached post-Ba'athist Iraq as a subjugated enemy; as such we have decided not to dictate how Iraqis should deal with their war criminals. I'm not sure if we're making the right call on this, but I see the logic. Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurd are going to have to work together, and now might not be the best time to start a program that looks like score-settling.

Like I say, it's a tough call.

Posted by: Mark Poling at May 2, 2005 07:45 AM

Samsung --The lead story in yesterday's NYTimes Magazine, The Way of the Commandos by Peter Maass, details exactly what you're talking about: Former mid-level Baathists being recruited to fight the insurgents. I don't think its a tough call at all: we have absolutely no other choice. Not when you have 127 dead and hundreds more injured by terrorism since the formation of the new government last week.

Mark -- I'm interested in civil discourse and compromise when possible. In practice, liberals and moderates are often able to compromise with one another, and so are conservatives and moderates. By "moderate", I mean in this instance, swing voters, those who see things they strongly like and strongly dislike on both sides.

But there is no compromise possible between conservatives and liberals on the really important issues. All that can occur is debate, hopefully as civil as possible, between these two diametrically opposed world views. For instance, how is it possible for a liberal like me who wants Social Security to remain a social insurance program that middle-class Americans depend on, to "compromise" with a conservative who wants to phase it out as a social insurance program and reconstitute it as welfare for the indigent elderly, similar to Medicaid, which the Republicans are now trying to slash? There is no compromise possible between these two positions, growing out of two fundamentally different world views! Nor should there be.

But I do agree, debate should be civil and substantive. And this will at least force both sides to grudgingly pay attention to the strongest points of the opposing side. Both parties are guilty of being uncivil and misleading in their discourse. I'll grant that Democrats have perhaps been a bit more uncivil in their rhetoric, if you'll grant that Republicans have been way, way more misleading in theirs.

Posted by: markus rose at May 2, 2005 08:32 AM

For the record, in case anyone is still looking at this thread, Kevin Drum deals with the question of "WMD or Democracy" quite nicely.

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