Sunday, October 03, 2004

Fairness In Iraq

On 9/11 a firefighter wearing badge 672 barely escaped the collapse of the first World Trade Center. After pausing for a minute, he headed into the second tower. An incredulous reporter, noting his recent escape and his obvious need for medical attention, asked him why he would do that.

He responded, “Because it’s my job. Because they need me.”

He went in. He did not return.

I learned of this story only today, in church. I found a reference to it in a 2003 article by Lou Louis.

I think about this in the context of a complaint that Kerry made in his debate with President Bush: “But you can't tell me that (we have a genuine coalition) when the most troops … “ and he details that Great Britain has 8,300 ground troops and only five other non-Iraqi countries have more than 1,000 (South Korea, Italy, Poland, Ukraine total 10,876).

Some people look at this list and say, “this isn’t fair”. Perhaps. But fireman #672 didn’t go into that building because it was fair; he went because it was his job.

In 1999 the US flew 62% of the missions in Kosovo, a number that greatly underestimates how much the US contributed to the mission there. This was in the heart of Europe dealing with a European problem that did not impact the security interests of the United States. That wasn’t fair, either.

So why should we be surprised if today we are 83% of the forces not counting the Iraqis in Iraq? If you count Iraqi soldiers, border guards, facility protection and police we are close to 50%.

Yes, American soldiers outnumber Polish soldiers 40 to 1. But America spends $114 on our military for every $1 that the Poles do. How many did you expect?

Tonga has 45 soldiers there. But that is a higher percentage of their population than the percentage of our population serving in Iraq. Should American politicians be sneering at them?

The US is contributing the lion’s share of forces in Iraq because we have the lion’s share of forces in the world capable of fighting outside our own homeland.

We are there protecting ourselves and the rest of the civilized world because we can and, to put it bluntly, most of the rest of the world can’t.
Moaning about the ingrates in France and Germany doesn’t help. They know we have no choice but to save them while saving ourselves so they have no incentive to be responsible.

It isn’t fair. But it is our job.

May God bless every coalition soldier in Iraq for doing the job.

153 Comments:

At October 3, 2004 at 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linked over from powerline. This is a really nice entry. Will visit again.

Have a great week:)

Jennifer

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John -- your post makes and excellent point. Mr. Kerry's lack of respect for the troops of any country serving in Iraq, whether it be Poland, South Korea or Tonga, for purely political sound-bites was a real turn off.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was most impressed with your comments and they certainly hit home with the daughter of an Retired Infantry Soldier. This great country of ours and our wonderful military men and women need a Commander In Chief who understands that although it may not always seem "fair", we have through history shown we do what's "right". In the midst of all the words said at last weeks debate by John Kerry, I heard very little that was right with this country. Negativeism never won any war and the one we are involved in now (the war on terrorism, not just the one in Iraq) requires the right and the might of the greatest military in the world. Thank you for your writing and for speaking for many of us.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's hope that your excellent post gets noticed by President Bush's debate prep team. Several good points and soundbites could be fashioned that would eviscerate Kerry's new palaver about the absence of multilaterism in the Iraqi war.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:38 PM, Blogger Rocketman said...

"They(France and Germany) know we have no choice but to save them while saving ourselves so they have no incentive to be responsible."

Both countries are deserving of all the scorn and derision possible but CANADA is far more deserving and escapes it because they happen to talk and look like Americans.

These people have enjoyed access to our markets and over two hundred years of free national security and all we've gotten from them is sanctimony, condescension and ingratitude.

I for one wouldn't mind too much if we started playing some hardball with these people. Don't ask me to come up with any specifics, but I'm sure open to anyone elses ideas.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:42 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

I don't think I could agree any more...nice job.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Kerry is trying to win an election, and as was true in 1971, he is totally oblivious to the damage he does when he denigrates our troops and our allies. Speaking of allies, I think what has not been said in this debate is how far apart politically George Bush and Tony Blair are. Blair and Clinton were very close politically and personally, yet Blair is very much in the Bush corner on this one. For those interested, I have a piece on my web log offering some information on that subject at www.geopolitik.blogspot.com

Randy Minton

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:49 PM, Blogger josh narins said...

It's our job to do what? Invade third-world countries which pose no threat, knowing full well our WMD-scare-tactics are lies?

Sounds like a great responsibility, indeed. Perhaps Bush should get a medal.

Maybe a golden laural and the title Caesar, what the Germans called Kaiser (and we call Holy Roman Emperor).

I bet he'd like that just fine.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:54 PM, Blogger josh narins said...

Someone sitting next to me said it was a great comparison.

There was really bad communication that day.
The firefighter went in, even though it was futile.
And it didn't make any difference.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 8:55 PM, Blogger Ray said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking these things about the coalition in Iraq. What's also important to realize is that we (Americans) have the most at stake. I sincerely doubt the nation of Tonga was at risk of their own 9/11, so hats off to them (and others) who have given to the cause.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice start-I'll check back.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post -- consider yourself bookmarked!! You're next to PowerLine in my bookmarks list. Keep the non PC coming -- It rocks!!

- Vulgorilla

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:07 PM, Blogger john said...

To Josh Narins, though he won't understand:

"In moral terms: If you are the biggest boy on the playground and there are no adults around, the playground is your responsibility. It is your duty to prevent outrages--because your moral code demands that outrages be prevented, and (for now) you are the only one who can prevent them"

"Our duty in this area is like our obligation to show charity. We have no power to help everyone and no right to help no one. "

From http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/580vwath.asp by David Gelernter

If you don't think Iraq was a threat, you haven't been paying attention for the last 25 years. John Kerry has famously said on many occasions, and repeated in the debate, that Saddam was a threat. Honest debate has always centered on:

1. How much of a threat?
2. How imminent?
3. What is the risk and cost of removing him?
4. What is the risk and cost of NOT removing him?

As for 'knowing full well our WMD-scare-tactics are lies' you do realize that soldiers can die from the effects of wearing chemical suits? If General Franks hadn't been worried about a WMD attack on his own troops they wouldn't have been wearing chemical gear during some of the actions.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:22 PM, Blogger jimco said...

Well at least we know where Josh stands

I hope that his local firefighters take note of this, in the case that if his house is burning down and his family might be left in it, the firefighters will be ignore his comments and still go in to save his fmaily, though their attempt might be futile.

To qoute Teddy Roosevelt:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your analysis of the situation ignores precedent. The first Gulf War, the just one, nearly the entire world contributed to military operations through the provision of actual combat troops, logistical personnel, equipment or money. In many wars in the recent past and throughout the past century other nations have borne large portions of the cost and responsibility.

This war is different than most of those wars, including Kosovo (where many nations, including all of NATO, were partners in that action. They did not fly the lion's share of sorties because they did not have smart bombs, did not have adequate night vision equipment, and did not have adequate command and control).

This particular invasion and occupation has more in common with Vietnam than it does with any other conflict in our past century. Robert McNamara notes that one of his mistakes in Vietnam was "We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action . . . should be carried out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not merely cosmetically) by the international community."

Another mistake: "We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement . . . before we initiated the action."

The fact is that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was conducted against the counsel of much or most of the Western world. The fact is that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was conducted in spite of -- not because of -- the wishes of the international community.

Did Tonga contribute 45 troops to the invasion and occupation of Iraq? Sure. But nations and leaders who have actual experience with war, nations and leaders who have learned from past mistakes, did not contribute. They warned against this costly foreign adventure half a world away.

The reason we do not have a considerable foreign presence in Iraq has nothing to do with foreign military or economic capability, as the first Gulf War adequately demonstrates. It has everything to do with lessons learned.

The Pentagon hosted a showing of the Battle of Algiers recently (it's coming out on DVD from the Criterion Collection in a couple weeks, you should buy it). The invitation to the screening read:

"How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. ... Children shoot soldiers at point blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

Jacques Chirac served in Algeria. He learned the correct lessons. A powerful western occupier, however much it would like to be seen as a benign Leviathan, will always be seen as what it is by those it occupies: an occupier. Chirac was not the only one who saw the folly of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He was only the most demonized.

The fact is that nations did not contribute materially to the invasion and occupation of Iraq because they thought it wrong. They thought it morally wrong, and they thought it practically wrong. The war was both illegal and ill advised. That is why we do not see more foreign involvement in Iraq.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:28 PM, Blogger Sheri said...

Poor Josh! Clueless! Liberals spout this tripe all the time. As for the fireman, hero, try telling his family that what he did didn't matter. Really now...

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the thoughtful words. Spot-on. As for Josh...well he's just being a, "girlie mon."

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linked over from Powerline. Great article. I agree totally and will visit again.

This is a response to Rocketman. I understand your comments and agree with them. But please keep in mind that, just as Americans are split almost right down the middle, so are Canadians. Although the Liberal left in Canada is more vocal than the Conservative right, there are a lot of us who support America and are thankful to be living next to you. You are correct in saying that Canada has benefited from this association in several key ways, but maybe Canada will elect a Conservative government next time and we can start paying our way in today's world.

Don't pay attention to CBC. I never listen to CBC, just as I never listen to CBS or read the NY Times.

Please take time to read "The Americans" by Gordon Sinclair who speaks for many of us.

Gordon Sinclair - "The Americans" - 1973
http://www.phillytalkradioonline.com/comment/usa.html

May God bless every coalition soldier in Iraq.

By a Canadian who supports America, your president, the War on Terrorism and the War In Iraq.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:49 PM, Blogger amy w said...

Got here from Power Line and I'm glad I did!

I will be linking you... so keep up the good work so that I have something to read in between classes.

To Josh:

It could be that the nations that did not support us are oh so morally superior and our betters to whom we should defer...

OR it could be that they are a bunch of jerks who were profitting from the oil for food program/wanted to profit from deals that THEY HAD ALREADY MADE with Saddam in anticipation of sanctions being dropped. Said deals expiring worthless the minute Saddam took up residence in that tikriti spider hole.



I suspect the latter.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Algiers comparison is spurious. You are equating French colonialism with American liberation from a
sociopathic-stalinist dictator. Typical left wing pap.
So what if Jaques "slip the money under the door" Chirac
served in Algeria? In fact he was wounded in Algeria. I hear it was self inflicted. A champagne bottle cork ricocheted off his temple and he's been afflicted with yellow fever ever since.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:51 PM, Blogger amy w said...

Whoops:
The above comment is addressed to anon...

Sorry Josh

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:56 PM, Blogger amy w said...

The anon who posted at 9:27... and on second read Josh also.

Dang... I need to not post this late at night.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The fact is that nations did not contribute materially to the invasion and occupation of Iraq because they thought it wrong."

Right. Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that they were being bribed by Saddam and knew they'd get caught if the war took place.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true American revolutionary. It's about
goddam time someone said it.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 11:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your first entry!

On a little sidenote, has anyone given a rational reason why John Kerry did not vote for authorization for the 1991 Desert Storm Iraq War when it seems everything he deems necessary to meet his "global test" were established? What else does he need? Iraq invaded another country (Kuwait), and the coalition was one of the strongest in history. This is something I believe needs to be discussed much more often.

 
At October 3, 2004 at 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certain anonymouses and Josh Narinses are assuming that
America is following the European model of imperialist warfare. They should disabuse themselves of that understanding
and look at the war in front of them. Sorry so vague.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true American revolutionary. It's about
goddam time someone said it.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 12:11 AM, Blogger Mike M said...

Well said indeed. I've linked to and added a few things to your ideas on my own blog http://analyticdisturbance.blogspot.com , let me know what you think. Keep up the good work!

 
At October 4, 2004 at 1:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are we in Iraq? Simple...We have Iran surrounded.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 3:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your article on this subject is the best I have seen. The problem with Kerry's comments is that it is not just Kerry. Kerry and the Democratic Party have become the standard bearers for all the left of left people (I cannot call them parties). The people who have come out of the woodwork are those who attacked everything the US did during the Cold War and beyond. The biggest problem here in the USA is that the media does not call Kerry and the Democrats on the blatent lies. We do not have a fair playing field and we may pay the price both here and overseas. In a future Kerry presidency, who would possibly trust the word of the USA.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 3:55 AM, Blogger Grumpy Old Man said...

Your comment shows a commendable nobility of spirit.

Good luck with your blogging. Good can come even out of SF!

 
At October 4, 2004 at 4:22 AM, Blogger Veritas said...

Excellent post. Distilled to the essential truth of the overall issue. Some run into the trouble while others flee.

Keep up the good work.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 5:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quality Post, MSN could use comentary like this.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please use a larger type size -- may I suggest using the same size as used by Power Line.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 6:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a woman I'm totally fearful about having Kerry as President. His anti-American position in the 1970s, his support of Noreiga, despite America's foreign policy to the contrary, all his entire years in the Senate(no one cites any major piece of legislation that he proposed or that has his name to it...and his mind-changing position in recent years)to have a person like this in the White House who can't make up his mind...and will go take a Global test to decide how America should react (I can just see him asking the UN Security Council voting on whether or not the USA should do something and with all those members who receive kick-backs from "terrorist-fronts" be they countries, individual dictatorships, or whatever)...this is a horrifying, frightening prospect.
And now we see he took cheat notes out of his pocket at the first debate to make sure he recalled all the points he needed to make...that's the icing on the cake.
A liar, deceit, cheating millionaire...a limosine liberal! Hopefully the American voters will be more concerned about the safety of our country than this glib orange-faced "flipper."

 
At October 4, 2004 at 6:41 AM, Blogger John said...

Well written. Some people can not comprehend the idea of duty and honor. Your fireman understood and lived the ideals. These are traits that are being demonstrated by our nation.

"All that it takes for evil to flourish is for one good man to do nothing."

 
At October 4, 2004 at 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both France and Germany know that they are welshing on a debt to America. WWI, WWII, and WWIII (the cold war) was won with America's enormous help.

France and Germany now think that they will not require any more help, and so they sit back and enjoy the fruits of us fighting for them. This means that they can have free medical care, a 35 hour work week, six weeks of vacation, generous retirements and virtually no military. They then block everything in the UN that would neccessitate them participating.

They think they are out of danger. They think the Russian bear has been tamed. They think that the avalanch of Muslim Islamics into Eurabia is in their best interests.

When Turkey joins the EU, 75 million Arabs from Turkey will be able to move northward for work. Because only loose borders exist between Turkey, Syria and Kurdish countries, the Arabs will soon outnumber the white Europeans, another war will result, and the white Europeans will be in no position to win it. Their military, small as they are, will not help them, for they will consist mostly of Arab descent conscripts. The white Europeans will not be as young as the Arab population because they are not reproducing as fast.

When they beg for American help, I suggest we tell them to ask the United Nations.

Ray

 
At October 4, 2004 at 7:13 AM, Blogger Corrie said...

Well said, John. Congrats on the hat-tip from Powerline.

Do we have an obligation to be the world's policeman? Yes and no. If the answer were an unequivocal yes, we'd have troops in Sudan. The argument that "we have a moral obligation to advance the cause of individual liberty" makes me a little uneasy - it treads close to the concept of Manifest Destiny.

The primary, perhaps only, issue is the security of this country. Saddam represented a clear and growing threat. It was obvious that diplomatic measures would be of no avail.

In Iran, diplomacy may yet prevail. There is a nascent counter-revolution brewing there. When democracy takes hold in Iraq, that will strengthen the pro-democracy forces there.

In North Korea, the multilateral talks must go forward. Japan, South Korea, and China have more at stake there than we do.


Corrie
sddc.blogspot.com

 
At October 4, 2004 at 7:44 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Terrific opening commentary. You certainly deserved the link from powerlineblog. Hopefully at some point some of these thoughts will begin to penetrate the spirits of Josh and Anon#1, but we have to recognize (and accept) that there will always be a significant minority that is willing to rationalize and accept a passive fate. But it is our job to protect those who are sometimes not willing to protect themselves. As a fellow Latte-lander (western WA, I assume), I encourage you keep up the good fight.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 8:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on the mark. The United States is one of the few, if not the only country in the world that has the military capability to deploy and sustain a large army anywhere in the world. Of course we carry the load, and we can do it, as long as the public wills it. Unfortunately, like in Vietnam, the MSM is distorting the picture and affecting public opinion. Kerry is their boy. Again.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 8:33 AM, Blogger cruiser said...

I think the premise of your post is sound. It goes to the basic role of the US in the world today, both militarily and economically. If the US chooses not to take on this responsibility, terrorists and rogue states would have a field day disrupting the global economic climate (to their benefit).

For those who compare the current Iraq situation to the Iraq-Kuwait war, I have this to say: the first Iraq war was about oil, and its affect on the global economy. WMD and terrorism may have been a factor, but most (if not all) coalition members were concerned about the affect Saddam could have on the global economy by controlling so much of the world oil production. I think freeing the Kuwait people was secondary (no disrespect intended).

However, the current Iraq situation is certainly focused on the terrorism aspect, with oil as a secondary concern (oil meaning global economic impact), not to mention freeing the Iraqi people. Naturally, many countries will have a different perspective as to commitments to joining a coalition dealing Iraq. There certainly have been many articles concerning France, Germany, and Russia's vested interest in Saddam and oil, and appeared to not have a concern relative to the terrorist threat. No surprise that they were not part of the coalition. But many countries certainly have a vested interest in this conflict, both from a terrorism perspective, and ultimately, an economic perspective.

I praise President Bush and his administration for pulling together the current coalition based upon these circumstances, but to me it wasn't necessary. Even if we went totally alone to oust Saddam, many of these countries would have been thankful for the US's commitment to eliminating this potential threat, and it again demonstrates the courage and commitment of the US to take a lead role in the world. I, as a US citizen, certainly feel much better that Saddam is deposed. To me, this does eliminate some of the terrorist threat, and I feel more bullish about the economy ahead as a result (although I believe the terrorist threat continues to be the biggest issue).

I am also extremely grateful for the efforts of all of our troops. It's too bad that the American Press can't be bothered to feel a sense of patriotism, and show some leadership and courage to congratulation our armed forces on a job well done. This would go a long way towards building US goodwill in the world, the effects of which would further strengthen our economy.

9/11 did change everything. I think it is absolutely the wrong time to elect a war protestor as the President of the US. The US (and many other countries) are in the biggest and most difficult fight ever. First, we must protect the global economy, because it's collapse at the hand of terrorists and/or rogue states would be disasterous. With a healthy global economy, then we have the opportunity to win this terrorism battle, saving millions of lives in the process. And at the head of this battle is the President of the US (not the UN). This undoubtedly requires an exceptionally strong person (and staff) with total, undeniable commitment.

Here's to making the right choices!

 
At October 4, 2004 at 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do what we must to preserve our way of life. Regardless of reasons we went to war, how can anyone in their right mind defend Saddam?

This reminds me of a story. In a car with some co-workers. We pass a cop on the highway and one of them gets the bright idea to flip the cop off. The cop pulls the car over and gives the flip-ee a seatbelt citation, even though he was wearing one the whole time. Somehow the 3 of them were outraged at this infraction on heir civil liberties. Sorry the world doesnt work that way guys.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 9:53 AM, Blogger DelphiGuy said...

Good point, and one I had thought about quite a bit since Kerry touched on it.

The UK has 60 million people, the US has 300 million. In addition, the UK is withdrawing a lot of funding from the military (thanks Mr Blair), therefore, we could expect a fifth of the forces to be there, slightly less on the basis of funding inequalities.

It would be interesting to see a full comparison of troop committment in Iraq based on National funding, populations and armed forces size, and then compare with the war in Kosovo.

In addition, we can extend the firefighter comparison further. When Michael Moore asks whether Bill O'Reilly would give his son to secure Fallujah, Bill should have asked whether Moore would give his son to put out a fire, or to get shot while giving out a speeding ticket. If not, we should then disband all firefighter and police services forthwith to prevent anyone from getting hurt.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 10:29 AM, Blogger josh narins said...

To John, and those who might speak of the responsibility of a great power, and I know you won't understand this. The Whig position on the Mexican-American War, a war of choice.

It's not a very Christian thing, to start a war and slaughter people, only to install (first) two oil-men, Garner and Bremer, with no Arabic or Kurdish language skills or nation-building experience over them, and then (second) to select a CIA-asset to be their Prime Minister.

Have you forgotten the incessant lies about WMD in the first place? Have you forgotten Ahmed Chalabi?

Maybe this far distant peice will set you ignoramii straight on responsibility and war...

The War With MexicoAbe Lincoln called Polk a liar. Another congressman talked about the rich friends of Polk "sporting their pleasure boats on the seas of tears of widows and orphans."

Are a bunch of rich Bush friends getting richer? You bet your sweet patoots! MCI/WorldCom (bankrupt, collapsed) didn't call it "Friends & Family" for nothing.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 10:38 AM, Blogger josh narins said...

Tonga, in case you didn't know, is a poor country ruled by an absolute monarch.

Name a real Republic that went with us. The great thing about Republics is that, when being honest, they all pretty much have identical foreign policies. Since they don't aim to conquer and control more land (a trait usually attributed to small Monarchs), they all hope for Republicanism (a la Montesquieu) to spread and Monarchs and Tyrants to die. It has happened all over the world, too.

Britain is a parliamentary democracy with a Queen. The King of Spain was hand-picked by the FASCIST Franco, and Jose Maria Aznar, the PM who sent Spain into Iraq, was the leader of the party started by Fraga Iribarne (served under Franco for more than a decade in cabinet level positions, including as chief of the murderous secret police). Italy? Berlusconi called Benito Mussolini a "benevolent dictator" (tell that to the women his soldiers raped) and Berlusconi said that Mussolini didn't send any Jews to the death camps! Berlusconi, our great Italian ally (media tycoon owns or has a stake in most of the media in Italy, talk about bias!) said that Mussolini sent the Jews on holiday.

France is a Republic. Germany is a Republic.
South Korea is a Republic. Mexico is a Republic. Canada is stil subject to Queen Elizabeth, but they participated with the US in every war except Viet Nam and Iraq II.

You all sound so ignorant to me, it hurts to think you might vote. So terribly, terribly ignorant.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 11:01 AM, Blogger teacher5 said...

Josh, we terribly ignorant people have enjoyed zero attacks since 9/11. Those were the innocent people attacked. Your attempt at history lessons leaves out the outrage you should feel at Madeline Albright and Bill Clinton for attacking aspirin factories.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 11:20 AM, Blogger Tom O'Bedlam said...

Josh says, "Name a real Republic that went with us... Britain is a parliamentary democracy with a Queen." This is supposed to be a principled distinction? We're supposed to buy in to his implicit claim that Britain joined us as an exercise in imperialism? And those who disagree with him are "ignorant" because they don't buy into his half-baked geopolitical theory that republics "don't aim to conquer and control more land"?

"France is a republic." Yeah, for the fifth time. And in those previous incarnations (as a republic) it sought to colonize -- among others -- Algeria and Vietnam.

One counterexample is enough, thought there are more. Josh is one of those "bookish blockheads" who knows a little history and fancies himself a pipsqueak Hegel, with a theory of history into which he shoehorns all his examples. As a Kerry supporter, forgetting (or consciously ignoring) the history that doesn't fit his theory comes easily and naturally to him.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 11:20 AM, Blogger oscar77 said...

Maybe Josh might reconsider. At last peek, Australia was a democracy. And to not consider Great Britain a democracy? Maybe the Queen had power a hundred years ago, but I would suggest that a little light reading might demonstrate that the British consider themselves a democracy.

But its really convenient when one's point doesn't go along with reality, isn't it?

 
At October 4, 2004 at 11:49 AM, Blogger john said...

I really should know better. But what the heck:

Name a real Republic that went with us. The great thing about Republics is that, when being honest, they all pretty much have identical foreign policies. He dodges and weaves with the term 'real'. No, all republics do not have identical foreign policies. As the model spreads out from the US those differences grow.

According the the CIA factbook (I can see him shiver) there are 10 non-US countries with troops in Iraq that are officially listed as republics: Moldova, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, El Salvador, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Italy, South Korea. Each and every one of them owes a specific debt to the United States in helping them stave off (Italy) or throw off Communist fascism. The Philippines bugged out, but they are a republic.

Another 9 are listed as parlimentary democracies and (except Portugal) all of them also owe the US big time for their freedom: Macedonia, Estonia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Portugal, Slovokia.

7 countries retain some form of ceremonial monarchial attachment: Spain, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia. All of them are more stable and more republic in practice than most of the official republics.

You all sound so ignorant to meBIG EVIL GRIN: Go ahead and pull out the tape measure if you want too, son. But I'll warn you it isn't nearly as long as you think.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 11:53 AM, Blogger Sheri said...

Josh, lucky for you, intelligence is not a criteria for voting. You bet I will vote. It's my right. If it hurts you, good. Best of all I am supporting a President that will continue to keep me and my family safe!

 
At October 4, 2004 at 11:55 AM, Blogger john said...

is one of those "bookish blockheads" ... With all do respect to Tom O'Bedlam, to me this is what lawyers call assumeing facts not in evidence. I've seen no evidence of bookish accomplishment. Now if Tom had said he is one of those blockheads who think of themselves as bookish, well, we agree. :)

Peace Tom. Enjoyed the comment.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 12:25 PM, Blogger cruiser said...

A couple of items as food for thought:

1. I would love to see how the Press would disect John Kerry's record if he was a Republican.

2. If Al Gore was President, would the "coalition" look any different? I doubt it. And how would the liberals and the Press defend it? I realize that the liberal view will be that the US wouldn't be in Iraq if so. However, I think even Al Gore would have understood that 9/11 changed everything, therefore...yes, we would be in Iraq. Al Gore recommended it (just like Clinton did) when he was VP. And John Kerry recommended it in 2002.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Josh is a member of the fuhgahwe sect. They run faster and faster into ever smaller circles shouting "wherdafuhgawe" until they disappear up their rectum.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 12:37 PM, Blogger Tom O'Bedlam said...

John:

Actually what was not in evidence, reviewing the comments, was the fact that Josh was a Kerry supporter. It seemed a pretty good inference, though.

As for whether Josh is a bookish blockhead, well, I considered his post to be what the lawyers call "res ipsa loquitur" on the issue. I can respect your disagreement, though.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice expression, and I fully agree. Sounds like John Kerry never heard the story of the "widows mite". All of our coalition members have bought into an belief that the world will be better off without Saddam so -- thanks to all of them.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice expression, and I fully agree. Sounds like John Kerry never heard the story of the "widows mite". All of our coalition members have bought into an belief that the world will be better off without Saddam so -- thanks to all of them.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 4:24 PM, Blogger ArgentinaWatcher said...

Extraordinarily moving post, John. I cannot wait for your next one.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 4:29 PM, Blogger josh narins said...

Tom O'Bedlam, thanks for the bit of French history. As Tom points out, Republicans usually cite France when they wish to discuss Republicanism. Giving you a hard time is fun and easy! It is true that in the wake of the defeat of France by the Second Reich, in the Bismarck planned-and-executed Franco-Prussian War, France formed the Third Republic. At that time, joining all the other European Powers, they took Vietnam and involved themselves even more heavily in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Hegel, eh? I'm flattered. I was actually thinking about Montesquieu. Hegel was a useful philosopher. I have never heard of another who, by speaking, stopped riots.

To the person who says Australia is a Republic, could you please look into Whitlam, the PM sacked by the Queen's representative?

John, if you really think Moldova, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia (Shaskavili is a CIA asset) are Republics, you have another thing coming. Italy? Want to talk about media bias? Their Prime Minister owns/has-a-stake-in 90% of the media there. You think there might be bias? Hmm. South Korea has a very, very short history with Republicanism. Their record in the 1960s and 70s was much more of a military dictatorship of the (extended) Park family. John, I would happily get out the "tape measure" with you, except the real target now is Tom.

Cruiser, there is little doubt that Gore would _not_ have elected to bring America to war, in the tradition of Polk or McKinley.

I am going to vote for Kerry. I think he is pretty bad, but not as nearly as bad as Bush.

And, for the record, can you name a single leader who brought their country to Iraq who survived re-election? Iceland's PM lost. Latvia's election was billed as an EU referendum, and the ruling coaltion collapsed the day after the election. Azerbaijan is a failed ex-Republic, and the current ruler is the son of the last ruler. Will Howard survive? Will Bush? Wouldn't it be neat if _all_ the elected leaders who brought us to Iraq fail in their re-election bids?

I would consider that the greatest advertisement for democracy around the world possible.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 5:17 PM, Blogger john said...

Whitlam? Ho-hum.

I reported the definition of government type as reported by the CIA fact book. Considering your rather ridiculous attempt at citing form (England's Queen) over substance it seemed appropriate.

Stable functioning representative government is something quite rare. The only long running examples are all children of a common mother: United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Spain chose to be appeasers which is why their guy lost. And as far as Howard, he certainly will not be re-elected if John Kerry's sister has anything to say about it.

 
At October 4, 2004 at 6:23 PM, Blogger josh narins said...

Form over substance? Whitlam was sacked by the agent of the Queen in Austrlia.

Admittedly, in England itself, almost nothing has happened in forty years which would cause anyone to wonder who was really in charge. There was one time that the Queen did try to act in the 1960s, and it was quickly shown to be fruitless.

It is interesting to note that our biggest ally, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has a Queen who is also Queen of the Bahamas and the Grand Cayman Islands.

In other words, all those "off shore tax havens" are really possessions of our closest ally.

Can we all give them a big "Hip Hip" for fair play?

 
At October 4, 2004 at 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few thoughts primarily for Josh:

"France is a Republic. Germany is a Republic.
South Korea is a Republic."
==>Had the United States been less "imperialistic" those statements would likely not be true (at least by means we can easily see). Had the United States been more "Imperialistic" (for real) these statements would also not be true- perhaps they would be states in the United States of Planet Earth.

"It's not a very Christian thing, to start a war and slaughter people,"
==> It is not a very laudable thing, Christian or not, to allow a tyrant to terrorize his own people, his surrounding neighbors, and let him get away with it when there is potential to address it. (Even worse would be to support him for one's own gain while putting on the pretense of cooperating with sanctions to bring an end to the tyrant).
My understanding is that while innocent people have died in the US and coalition activities, the number is probably much less than the number that would have died given the Hussein status quo. An argument against the war ahead of time had to do with the terrible humanitarian disaster from US destruction of Iraq's infrastructure. It appears that at this time Iraq's infrastructure is at least as good, if not better, than it was before the war. (Now if the food-for-oil worked the way it was meant to Iraq would have been doing well. The last time I checked the US was not in charge of that program...)

"only to install (first) two oil-men, Garner and Bremer, with no Arabic or Kurdish language skills or nation-building experience over them,"
==> I agree, we should have put an add in the New York Times for people with experience in rebuilding a nation after 20 years of tyrannical rule. At the moment the only person that sounds like a good candidate would be the leader of Uganda, but he already has a job and probably does not speak Arabic...

"and then (second) to select a CIA-asset to be their Prime Minister."
==>I thought that the current Prime Minister was not the US first choice, but contingents of the Iraqi people pushed for him. Whether he was an asset of the CIA or not I'm not sure what that means. But one needs to be a fool or very brave and committed to take a position where you know thousands of people would love to kill you even if it takes a suicide attack.
(Not to make light of the dangers of being in the military, but if one looked at the odds of being shot as a US President since 1960 against the odds of being shot as a US soldier since 1960, being a US President is no piece of cake.)

"Have you forgotten the incessant lies about WMD in the first place?"
==> No, I haven't forgotten this because there were NO "incessant lies" to remember. If you have taken time to read the reports under David Kay (not just the sound bites) there was a heck of a lot to be worried about- what the heck were vials of Congo-Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever and other niceties doing buried in a scientists' back yard as just one issue. What is more reasonable:
1. The intelligence of the US, Russia, France, Germany, Britain, Israel, and private conversations from Mubarek of Egypt about Hussein's capabilities were all wrong.
OR
2. In the months before the attack (while France and others were buying time for Hussein) there was ample opportunity to hide/transfer a lot of stuff (but not all- see Kay), such as missile engines in Rotterdam, etc. Besides, saying there were no WMD's also ignores the supplies present to make them rapidly (many chemical weapons are not that hard to make). It is like saying there are no deserts in my house (just ignore the flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and baker's chocolate- some of it already mixed).

One can disagree with the invasion of Iraq, one can dislike Bush, but I have heard very little discussion opposing the invasion that actually looked at the situation seriously. You had a tyrant who:
-had used WMD's against other countries and his own people
-had thrown out the inspectors who were supposed to be watching over him to enforce terms of a cease-fire that ended his military aggression
-had defied the UN for over 10 years without serious consequences
-was reinforcing his military with the help of those who were supposed to be holding the line against him
-looked to Stalin as a role model
-committed atrocities on a massive scale.
Going back to the playground analogy, as long as a bully feels he can get away with what he wants, he will. (That is why we have police that actually have loaded guns.)

Here is the question- would things have been better if France stood by their alliance with Czechoslovakia when they were invaded by Hitler and Britain joined in under Churchill before Nazi Germany was able to build to full strength? Certainly the arguement was that many people would die, war is such a messy and terrible thing, etc. But in wishing to prevent the loss of a few lives many more were eventually lost. So, the question is whether Hussein represented a threat like Hitler that would not go away until destroyed, or a threat like..?..Stalin who killed his many millions while the Soviet Empire was constrained for many years?

My, this has been long and time consuming. Hopefully of some use.

Anonymous (a new one in this dialogue)

 
At October 4, 2004 at 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few points:
//-had thrown out the inspectors who were supposed to be watching over him //to enforce terms of a cease-fire that ended his military aggression
The UN pulled out in anticipation of the impending attack by the US-led "coalition". They were not thrown out.

//-had defied the UN for over 10 years without serious consequences
Israel has also done this, as has North Korea. I'm sure there are others.

//-looked to Stalin as a role model
There are plenty of other dictators that I'm sure look to Stalin and others

//-committed atrocities on a massive scale.
As has been going on, most recently in Sudan, and for some time in North Korea and in the past in numerous other places where the US sat it out
because there was no interest threatened.

Kosovo? European stability is not something we are going to toy with
and sit out. We flew 62% of the sorties? What other country had the
military might to do that?

//Going back to the playground analogy, as long as a bully feels he can
//get away with what he wants, he will. (That is why we have police that
//actually have loaded guns.)
Might double as an argument for why the US went into Iraq.

And as for the quote by Roosevelt, ("Far better it is to dare mighty things...")
he also said...
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president,
or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not
only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the
American public."

Just because we question the motivation and reasoning behind
this war does not mean we are unpatriotic. It does not mean we
hate America. It does NOT mean we love Saddam or bin Laden.

It means we want real answers. We want the truth. We want to
know that these loved ones are truly dying to protect our freedom.
Since this ruthless dictator wasn't linked to 9/11 or global terrorism,
how does this relate to protecting us against terrorism? Aren't we
now MORE likely to experience terrorism, as the pool has been
increased (by expert estimates) by at least 18,000 due to our war in
Iraq? We took out 75% of bin Laden's top network? That's based
on the network that existed on 9/11. You think nobody has filled in?

Look into the history and beliefs of the neoconservatives deeply
entrenched in this administration and tell me, honestly, that this
war does not bear all the earmarks of their agenda.

If we are meant to be the "do-gooders" of this world thanks to our
military might and wealth and because America is the greatest place
on this planet, consider that we lag far behind many many other nations
in terms of:
- amount contributed to foreign aid (22nd)
- freedom - resulting from public policy and laws
(more than two million incarcerated- we're locking
up a higher % of our population than any other country)
- life expectancy (24th)
- education (not spending, mind you)
- literacy

I love America as much as most of you likely do, but there's
a difference between blind nationalism and true patriotism.
It goes deeper than Iraq. Much deeper.

 
At October 5, 2004 at 2:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You made a great observation and explained it well.

When I visited my son in Germany before he headed out to Iraq, he asked me while we were having dinner with his group, if the protesters knew they (his troops) were going to put their lives on the line in Iraq. I saw it in their eyes - why? It broke my heart.

Slowly, I explained that sometimes when we go down the path that is "the right thing to do" we don't always find the crowd cheering us on. Many times in our life, we find ourselves on the long lonely road of doing the right thing. It's a personal choice... that might be draped in all kinds of motives, but most often it is grounded in the basic reasoning - it was the right thing to do. I asked the group if they were doing the right thing and their heads nodded. Strangely, none of their reasons to go to Iraq were wrapped up in weapons of mass destruction. Most took it down to just one life worth fighting for.

I was humbled.

 
At October 5, 2004 at 6:39 AM, Blogger Corrie said...

Josh said, "I have never heard of another who, by speaking, stopped riots."

Then you've never heard of the Texas Rangers. "One riot, one Ranger." They may not have been philosophers, but they carried great moral authority and were (and still are) held in the highest respect.

 
At October 5, 2004 at 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow great post I look forward to the more in the future. And the person who just posted above me. It is comments like that, that make me proud to be an American. (From a person who's sister in law is in Iraq). I too am humbled.

 
At October 5, 2004 at 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how this post would read if Fireman #672 had responded, “I have to go into the tower! The President told me that there are weapons of mass destruction in there, and I need to rescue people from them!” Same fireman, same noble sacrifice, but different rationale. Does the story look different?

There were many theories for invading Iraq. One theory, like the Fireman analogy, is that the Iraqi people were suffering and needed rescue. There is much to be said for that point of view. And if Bush had announced his decision to invade Iraq on humanitarian grounds on September 10, 2001, he might have avoided a lot of crap. But instead, Bush famously campaigned on the idea that the US should not be in the business of nation-building – by analogy, arguing that no city’s fire-fighters should go to the aid of another city. It is therefore not surprising that many take Bush’s flip-flop on the benefits for foreign intervention with a grain of salt.

Another rationale for invading Iraq is that it was in our self-interest to do so because Iraq posed a military threat to us. Evidence has been lacking. No WMD found, and the administration knew that the evidence purporting to support the idea of a nuclear program – aluminum tubes and yellowcake – were groundless. Moreover, it is hard to reconcile the idea that Bush was worried about national self-defense with Bush’s behavior. If Saddam were a grave threat to the US, why did Bush spend the first 8 months of his administration talking about tax cuts instead?

I sense many commentors here believe that the US has an important role to play in humanitarian causes around the globe. Presumably these commentors opposed Bush’s election. But true leadership is illustrated not by George W but by his father, who rallied a true international coalition, not merely to sent troops but to send money, thereby sparing a family in Iowa not only a tax burden but a son. Kerry has been clumsy in recognizing the contributions of Poland. But the current administration has been clumsy, too, with talk of “Old Europe” and “crusades” and “bring it on!” Which gaffs have cost us more?

Following 9/11, there has been much solemn ceremonial talk honoring the memory of our brave firefighers and police officers. And there has been a lot of hard, practical talk about the number of people who died needlessly due to inadequate radios and coordination. Which talk has truly honored the loss of our first responders?

May God bless our troops. May God send them a Commander and Chief who will not needlessly add to their burdens.

 
At October 5, 2004 at 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all...Josh doesn't get it and probably never will.

"It's not a very Christian thing, to start a war and slaughter people,"

It is VERY Christian to stand up for those being slaughtered....and if that requires a war...so be it.

Since none of us here are likely to penetrate your thick skull...why not try this.

To demonstrate the strength of your convictions....

Go to NYC and tell a cop or fireman...any cop or fireman how little the sacrifices of their brothers meant.

Hint: Attatch your health insurance card to your chest with clear tape and note your blood type with indelible pen before opening your mouth!

 
At October 5, 2004 at 9:43 AM, Blogger john said...

No, they story doesn't look different.

There were many _reasons_ for invading Iraq. WMD was one and remains a legitimate one. Bush didn't 'flip-flop' on nation building, he simply did the 'flip' part, changing his position after 9/11.

Iraq was a military and strategic threat, something people with an appreciation for military and islamic history understand. It is still possible to argue he wasn't _enough_ of a threat, but saying he wasn't a threat isn't a serious position. (Kerry doesn't even take that position NOW).

Our troops already have the best CinC of the two contenders. Don't believe me? Ask Them.

 
At October 5, 2004 at 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To our American fighting forces:

Every day I stand amazed at the Americans who will risk
their lives for me, for us, for freedom. Thank you for
taking care of us. May you feel our arms wrapped around
your hearts. Vote for our Commander-In-Chief who also
prays for you.

Weedkiller

 
At October 5, 2004 at 12:49 PM, Blogger Jungle said...

As clear an explaination of the obvious facts as I have ever heard. Why is it that people accept out-right lies from candidates?

"Bush can't build a coalition,"
"Bush will take your Social Security benefits from you,"
"Unemployment rates are high."

Yes, he did.
No, he won't.
No, they aren't.

It is truly amazing to me. Thanks for a thoughtful post and to the thoughtful comments.

CDR Robert "Jungle" Jones USN

 
At October 5, 2004 at 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

President Bush had the support and sympathy of the entire free world after 9/11. He had approval ratings that were unimaginable for a president who lost the popular vote. Even I liked him. He had everything he needed to be the greatest president of the 21st Century.

But, he threw it all away to pursue a pre-determined agenda of invading Iraq as Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al., had planned to do since the elder Bush lost his re-election bid. Bush Jr. abandoned the war on terror to get even with Saddam. The world knows it. He knows it. You know it. Maybe he will get away with it. Now that the original rationale for invading Iraq has proven to be false, we do have new reasons to continue the fight in Iraq -- but imagine how this election would be going if bush had followed a rational, truthful, articulated strategy for winning the war on terror.

Bush could have maintained America's position as the leader of the free world. True leadership often involves making difficult, even unpopular choices, but the idea is that once you make the right choice other people will follow. We don't have any followers in this one (oh, go ahead and jump all over me about Tonga). Blair, unfortunately, is going the way of Aznar.

Bush has irreparably damaged our standing in the world. You don't have to be anti-American to see that. In fact, if you're truly patriotic, you'd lament the loss.

 
At October 5, 2004 at 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have just shown how silly your own argument is. Bush did have the highest approval ratings after 9/11 and he still was willing to go into Iraq because he believed it was the right thing to do. People always talk about how he was trying to get back at Saddam over his father. His father won the war. Saddam was the one who signed the cease fire agreement. He lost! Why would anyone think GWB had to avenge anything related to his father.

You are right. He could have enjoyed high approval ratings and gone on to maybe an easier re-election. But George Bush is a principled man who is not driven by poll numbers, but by his desire to make our country and our world a safer place. Something that followers of John Flip-Flopper Kerry can just never understand....

 
At October 5, 2004 at 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At October 6, 2004 at 8:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous from 8:09 PM the other night (the dissertation) Continuing the dialogue:

At 10:13 PM, Anonymous said...
A few points:
//-had thrown out the inspectors who were supposed to be watching over him //to enforce terms of a cease-fire that ended his military aggression
The UN pulled out in anticipation of the impending attack by the US-led "coalition". They were not thrown out.
--> I wasn’t talking about prior to the US attack, I was talking about 1998, the reason there were no inspectors in Iraq until President Bush put on the heat.

//-had defied the UN for over 10 years without serious consequences
Israel has also done this, as has North Korea. I'm sure there are others.
//-looked to Stalin as a role model
There are plenty of other dictators that I'm sure look to Stalin and others
//-committed atrocities on a massive scale.
As has been going on, most recently in Sudan, and for some time in North Korea and in the past in numerous other places where the US sat it out because there was no interest threatened.
--> All valid points, but I was simply pointing out that Hussein was not simply a benign ruler of a land we wanted to invade. Just because there are many problems to address, it doesn;t mean you have to choose all or none.

//Kosovo? European stability is not something we are going to toy with and sit out. We flew 62% of the sorties? What other country had the military might to do that?
--> Exactly the point, we are the biggest kid on the playground. Our only questions are if, when, and how to get involved when we see someone being picked on.

//Just because we question the motivation and reasoning behind this war does not mean we are unpatriotic. ...
It means we want real answers. We want the truth. ... If we are meant to be the "do-gooders" of this world thanks to our military might and wealth and because America is the greatest place on this planet, consider that we lag far behind many many other nations...
I love America as much as most of you likely do, but there's a difference between blind nationalism and true patriotism. It goes deeper than Iraq. Much deeper.

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous said...
President Bush had the support and sympathy of the entire free world after 9/11...
But, he threw it all away to pursue a pre-determined agenda of invading Iraq as Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al., had planned to do since the elder Bush lost his re-election bid. Bush Jr. abandoned the war on terror to get even with Saddam. The world knows it. He knows it. You know it. Maybe he will get away with it. Now that the original rationale for invading Iraq has proven to be false, we do have new reasons to continue the fight in Iraq -- but imagine how this election would be going if bush had followed a rational, truthful, articulated strategy for winning the war on terror.
Bush has irreparably damaged our standing in the world. You don't have to be anti-American to see that.

-->
I completely agree that to raise questions and issues is part of being patriotic. I think there are many questions that could have been and can be asked about the war in Iraq and other issues. But I don't think what has been done by many critics is thoughtful questioning.
From what has been said by President Bush and is available through the various forms of media I feel I know exactly why we went into Iraq, whether it was the best decision or not could be discussed but isn't because of the hyperbole about conspiracies in Texas, Iraq being "another Vietnam" (what does that mean? -see later), and misdeeds in Abu Grav-first reported by the military months before it became an issue in the press- described as equivalent to the horrors that went on before. (Do you know that at the time of those incidents more Iraq prisoners were dieing from mortar shells at night from the terrorists and Baathist's than were being mistreated by US soldiers?)

We went to war in Iraq because there was a regime that:
- had attacked it's own people and neighbors repeatedly, including with WMD's,
-that regime had failed to live by the agreements of a cease-fire that ended the conflict and could only be considered a threat to it's neighbors (to not would have been like considering Nazi Germany was not a threat to France after it had invaded Poland). (Perhaps Hussin would not have ever attacked again, but there is little to no rational basis to make that assumption.)
-Post 9/11 it was clear that the threat to the United States was no longer limited to frontal invasions or missile launches, and it was declared that anyone harboring or assisting such perpetrators were subject to our action
-whether there was evidence that Hussein was directly involved with 911 or not was not claimed or the issue, the issue was that once the significance of the threat was realized to be much greater than before then previous approaches needed to be reconsidered. It had been the policy under the Clinton administration that regime change in Iraq was to be desired. But in a pre-9/11 view Iraq was "way over there" and not much of a direct threat. After 9/11 our approach to all active and potential enemies of the US needed to be reevaluated, especially those we had already been in armed conflict with and were ignoring terms of cease fire (whether or not they wanted to assasinate our president).

As said previously, look at David Kay's report and other credible web sites for evidence. The simplistic notion "that there were no WMD's in Iraq" is a simplistic and misleading notion. David Kay himself said that Hussein "was a bigger risk than we thought", even though no WMD stockpiles were found. Look at the transcript of his testimony before the Senate when he sparred with Sen. Kennedy in order to make truthful and not misleading statements.

"Our standing in the world". Perhaps Khadafi's (at least surface) cooperation is a more imporant measure of our standing in the world than what France or Germany think. Hopefully enough truth about the scandals behind the "Food for Oil" agreement will become known that people will see it was not so much that the US went to war for oil as that France, Russia, and Germany tried to block the war for oil.

The United States certainly has many problems and our current leaders have their shortcomings. We are not in a position to play police and social worker for all of the world. But that does not mean we are to do nothing when we can. More people (by far) in the US are glad they are here compared to those in France or Germany with their countries. More people want to and are allowed to immigrate to the US than all other countries combined at the moment (if this is not true show me the data and I will acknowlede it, this is 2nd hand to me).

By all means ask questions, by all means don't be brainless, but by all means please step back and think a second about what is responsible.

Dissertation part 2 now ended

 
At October 7, 2004 at 10:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand your point when you say "be responsible." I am being quite responsible in my criticism of the President. It's irresponsible to blindly follow a political leader (except maybe if you live in North Korea, where it's irresponsible to question the "great leader"). If you're saying that criticism is bad for the war effort, or it hurts the troops, I agree. And, I am sorry. But, wasn't it the President's job to give the American people valid, truthful reasons for going to war, so they could support him? He did that in Afghanistan, and he had volumes of support. So, why didn't he do it in Iraq?

The idea of having a valid, internationally credible reason to go to war is not new. The opening act of Shakespeare's Henry V is all about that. Before Henry V invades France to lay claim to the French throne, he calls on the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England, to explain the validity of Henry's claim.

KING HENRY V: May I with right and conscience make this claim?
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: The sin upon my head, dread sovereign!

Note that Henry doesn't invade France merely because he wants to (which, by the way, he desperately does). He must have the moral force of his Church behind him. This is because his war will be judged by, among others, the French who had to accept Harry once he conquored them. It's not just enough to win the war, you also have to win the peace. You do that by having right on your side. Note the Archbishop, who takes responsibility for committing a sin if he is wrong in his reasoning. That's because going to war, without a just cause, is a sin. It's murder.

I am not suggesting that the President should not have gone into Iraq because it would have threatened his high approval ratings. I'm saying tha the drop in his approval ratings, and in America's standing in the world, is a direct result of the President's irresponsible, deceitful actions in invading Iraq on false grounds. Where is the President, or anyone else in his administration, saying "the sin is upon my head"? We said we were invading Iraq because of WMDs, because of 9/11 because of state-sponsored terrorism. Now, we have members of the administration saying that none of those reasons were valid. So, who's accepting responsibility for that screw up? You don't get a do-over when you have a screw up of that magnitude.

Look, we all agree that Saddam was a bad guy, who deserves worse than what he got. We could say the same of Kim Jong Il, the Ayatollahs of Iran, the President of Syria, Qaddafi in Lybia, Castro in Cuba, and any number of African despots. Oh, I forgot to mention most of the leaders of China, much of the Saudi royal family, and anyone in the Taliban. These are all bad, bad people, who traffic in drugs and arms, who support terrorism, who are corrupt beyond imagination, and who are sworn enemies of freedom, human rights and democracy. The world would be better, and safer, if any one of them took a bullet to the head.

And, I'd be in favor of putting a bullet in their heads -- I am no pacifist. We can blow towel heads away by the dozen, and I won't lose sleep over it. But, it does bother me when we start a war that turns out to be based on completely false pretenses, and in so doing we alienate half of our own people, and most of our allies.

You can't go around starting wars merely because there are bad guys in the world. The question is, given all of the bad people in the world, given all of the reasons we had to address nukes in N.Korea and Iran, terrorism in Asia, etc., why did the President choose to commit all of our resources to fighting Iraq? In truth, we don't really know.

Now that we're in Iraq, a lot of good arguments have been made for staying there. We have brought the battle to the terrorists, eliminated a dictator, etc. And, now that we are there, we must by all means succeed at creating a free Iraq. But, we could have done that by invading any number of other countries, in the Middle East, in Asia, even in Africa. There are probably people in South American who would benefit from a good old American liberation operation. But, what does any of that have to do with the war on terror?

I support the war on terror. I believe we should go after the terrorists wherever they may be. But, they weren't in Iraq. Even Rumsfeld admits that. They're in Iraq now, and we should be kicking the bloody hell out of them. But, it's a mess, and it's a mess because the President didn't have a valid reason for invading Iraq. He didn't have the moral authority he need to do so.

Bottom line, I don't believe the President and his administration thought about any of those questions. I think that they drummed up a bunch of phony reasons to go into Iraq, becase they always wanted to. And now they're realizing that they didn't think it through. So, we're stuck with the mess. And, I don't want this guy in charge of cleaning it up.

 
At October 8, 2004 at 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We apparently have a very different underlying understanding and/or bais concerning the facts and motivations of the war in Iraq. While you are still interested in "the real reasons we went into Iraq" I have listed the known issues at the time that seem completely coherent to me. We had a direct arguement for going into Afghanistan as they harbored bin Laden and company and were happy to protect them. Our efforts to "bring justice to them" since there was not cooperation in "bringing them to justice" was widely accepted to some degree. If we felt that our only concern was a group of people directly linked with bin Laden as one would be linked with a street gang, then Afghanistan alone would have made sense. But the view of the administration and many others is that it is not that simple. In a battle where your opponent is fluid and dispersed a major factor is knowing who the governments are who are cooperating with us and those who are actively against us. Remember, as far back as 1998 the Clinton administration had the policy of seeing Hussein removed from power and he had been bucking the agreement that was part of the cease fire. (It was his responsibility to clearly show he was getting rid of WMD's, etc and not developing others. It was not an issue that he had to let inspectors in to play hide-go-seek). We had a tyrant in power who had demonstrated a willingness to use WMD's in the past and who had grown accustomed to ignoring (and getting around consequences) UN "orders" that were the terms of ending his most recent act of aggression. We had two general choices:
1. Acknowledge that the UN and allied effort to enforce the terms of a cease fire had become more toothless and bogus than not, to acknowledge that the UN was demonstrating no commitment to enforce it's agreements, and recognize that we would monitor Hussein ourselves and act when we felt it necessary (this is the "calling a spade a spade and we are going it alone from here" option)
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2. Push the issue as part of the UN that agreements had been broken too many times and it was time to enforce what was valid that others didn't have the stomach for.

I have no problem if someone says that they think it was a mistake in taking the action they did. When I say responsible criticism it is to discuss the issues without the need to claim conspiracies, evil intent, and skew the realities of the situation.

Hindsight is 20/20 (with time and intellectual honesty). It is easy to ask how could the rest of Europe and the US stand by while Nazi Germany was building momentum- if only we had understood, or had the courage, perhaps military intervention earlier would have saved millions of lives. Instead, people hoped war could be avoided even though it should have been quite clear from Hitler's writing and speeches that the idea of a peaceful coexistence was more "magical thinking" than anything else.

My idea of responsible criticism is to start at taking Bush's statements seriously until they can be shown untrue, and work from there for the mutual good of the country. Had we the kind of media coverage in the 1940's that we had today would Roosevelt been forced out of office after Pearl Harbor? Would Eisenhower been fired and US troops withdrawn after D-day? Iraq is not wonderful by any means, but you have a country with 25 million people and US troops are suffering casualties in only a few places at "not a great rate". What I mean by that is that if the place was really on the verge of chaos and public opinion heavily against the US there would be much greater violence and loss. The death or crippling injury of just one person is a terrible thing and I am not trivializing it. But the issue is not simply do we fight and soldiers die or not, but when will we need to fight and when to do it so the least number are killed (be it in Iraq or anywhere- wicked people who can't be reasoned with are not becoming extinct).

Vietnam was an unpopular war. There was a great move to get the US out, in which Senator Kerry had a visible role. He judged (by his own public testimony) that a "few thousand" South Vietnamese would be specific targets of reprisal after South Vietnam fell. Instead, the number of people dieing after the communist "insurgents" took over Southeast Asia was in the millions. (And my understanding is that the US troop pullout per se did not lead to the collapse of South Vietnam, but the withdrawal of US financial and military supply aid did- apparently the Soviet Union and China did not feel the need to reciprocate by stopping support of the North).
From the beginning a major issue for the Iraqi people has been is it safe and wise to stand up and fight against the old regime, knowing that if the coalition did not succeed and pulled out they were dead. A large part of Afganistan and Iraq not cooperating was probably based on the idea that the US public +/- leadership would not have the stomach for a war. Any parent knows that threatening consequences for misbehaviour but not carrying through simply invites more misbehaviour. It is the same on the international scale, except the misbehaviours and consequences are on another scale altogether.

 
At October 10, 2004 at 10:01 PM, Blogger opine6 said...

Oh Latte,
Don't give up just because some did not agree with you. Post some more, because you made sense!

I wish more people who go to the polls would read the blogs and not depend on the biased "mediosi" to tell them what is "truth". I'm afraid the newly signed-up voters will vote blindly.

God help us all!

Keep blogging, Latte.

 
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