April 09, 2003

The Next Phase...

Daniel Drezner recognizes that it is crucially important that the rebuilding of Iraq is and is seen to be a great success. If not, we could still turn operational victory into strategic defeat, and harm the national security of the United States. The story the world needs to tell itself is that the United States overthrew a cruel dictator and gave Iraqis a much better life, not the out-of-control United States bombed and invaded a small country because President Bush wanted to get his hands on its oil.


Daniel W. Drezner: For Operation Iraqi Freedom to succeed, military victories must be followed up with humanitarian victories. It's not enough to defeat Saddam's regime, there needs to be tangible evidence that conditions are improving. If not, then Arab satellite networks will simply replace footage of the (relatively few) civilians injured during attacks with footage of squalid living conditions in liberated cities.

The current situation in Umm Qasr -- the first city to fall in the invasion, and therefore the city we'd expect to be furthest along in receiving humanitarian assistance, is disturbing. The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), visiting the city, reported, "Humanitarian work in the port of Umm Qasr is currently not meeting the needs of the Iraqi people. Water shortages are critical and almost everyone is desperate for fresh drinking water."

One aid worker is quoted as saying, "The humanitarian situation here is very bleak. If after two weeks it hasn't been possible to bring aid to a town of 40,000 people what hope is there of getting aid to the 1.2 million people of Basra?"

Another volunteer said, "I have recently returned from Angola where I witnessed haunting scenes of poverty but I never expected to see the same levels of misery in Iraq, a country floating on oil."...

Make no mistake -- this phase of the fight is just as important as the military phase.

Posted by DeLong at April 9, 2003 06:35 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Hang on. I can see why the USA would need to tell that story. Why would the WORLD need to? If the story is TRUE, it does - but if not, not. You postmodernist, you.

To me, on the currently available facts, the story most likely to be TRUE is "the out-of-control United States bombed and invaded a small country for reasons of its own, not communicated to or shared with others". Oh, reasons were given out - but at this point we in the rest of the world do not know what truly was driving. And that's even scarier. We certainly don't have an interest in deceiving ourselves in order to stay on side with the USA, not if we are likely to be rolled on sooner or later regardless.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on April 9, 2003 08:16 PM

Well, the example of Afghanistan (slowly sliding back into chaos with the Taliban rising again) does not encourage me that this administration is serious about nation-building. The humanitarian efforts do have a half-hearted feel to them, but maybe the more sensible Blair and Powell will make things happen.

Posted by: The Insurgent on April 9, 2003 09:00 PM

I had the opportunity to hear Senator Lugar speak about a month ago. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that he was prodding the administration to pay more attention to what would happen to Iraq after the war was over. Lugar, being a loyal Republican is loath to criticize the Bush administration, but the impression he left with me was that the administration was behind the curve ball in its planning efforts.

Why should the US be prepared to deal with the aftermath in Iraq? Bush won't listen to any criticism. There were plenty of voices warning about needing to step in to repair the infrastructure once we broke it. Bush has a pipeline to God and is doing God's will. Why should he listen to mere mortals with experience?

This is not surprising. The Bush administration is characterized by rash decisions made unilaterally, shunning the advice of more seasoned observers and generally making a mess of foreign policy and the domestic economy.

Now economists are giving the economy a gloomy forcast, suggesting that the Fed will have to lower interest rates. What good will that do? Meanwhile Nero fiddles, refusing to give aid to the states that are cutting spending and deepening the recession, crippling the ability of the Federal government to attack a recession by opening the treasury to the filthy rich campaign donors that support Bush. Unfortunately, we have to endure another two years of this fiscal mismanagement before we can throw the bum out.

Posted by: bakho on April 9, 2003 09:44 PM

Based on what they've said so far, the most important message the Bush administration wants to send to the world is that we don't care what anyone else thinks. The worse things get in Iraq, the more effectively that message is conveyed.

Posted by: zizka on April 9, 2003 10:12 PM

1.) If all these strikes have been so surgical, what's to rebuild?

2.) There's a 12 year backlog of stuff wearing out -- but the Iraqis know how to handle it. The only reason they didn't do it in the first place was the embargo.

3.) Western intellectuals' views on how the Muslim world should develop are all prettymuch the same -- and they are the platform of the Ba'ath parties -- as stated, though, not as carried out.

4.) The world doesn't need to learn that the United States waltzed in an' done good stuff. The United States needs to disassociate itself from this mess, and remember that for a terrible few months in 2003 the Bush family ran wild. (When the US troops pull out, the US will have to give safe haven to everybody who claims to feel threatened. Most of these will be former members of the Republican Guard, natch.)

5.) It is a great sadness to see these tremendously competent, brave, and decent soldiers serving the whim of a weak, childish, and stupid commander-in-chief who went AWOL from his own military service.

6.) One of the interesting things about treason is that under the Constitution it's almost impossible to be convicted. You pretty much have to confess and have witnesses. Doesn't Richard Perle qualify several different ways yet?

-dlj.


Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones on April 9, 2003 11:17 PM

Based on recent statements made by several key neocons, I'd say there's a good chance the "next phase" will not involve reconstruction, but further destruction; this time in Syria and in Iran.

Fortunately our military has performed brilliantly to date. Unfortunately, our military has performed brilliantly to date. The neocons are apparently drunk with a sense of invulnerable power.

Their threats and intimidation of Iraq's neighbors will negatively impact the willingness of the Iraqi people to accept US help in the reconstruction phase.

This is help they will need short term if Iraq is to avoid civil war, chaos, and humanitarian crisis.

I can't help feeling that this administration is already architecting the next "crisis" that will allow it to go forth with further conquest of the region.

If civil unrest results from a lack of humanitarian aid, then the US has an excuse to maintain a military presence in Iraq. If the continued miliary presence causes civil unrest to spread to neighboring countries, then the US will be able to - sooner or later - find some ostensible justification to move on those countries.

Just one example: James Woolesly, who talks about the US being currently involved in WW4 in the region (a term and theme that is known to be also used by some very conservative Isrealis), is proposed by Bush to be an integral member of the interim Iraq gov't??!!??!

Posted by: E. Avedisian on April 9, 2003 11:36 PM

The genius Woolsey shooting his mouth off.

http://edition.cnn.com/2003/US/04/03/sprj.irq.woolsey.world.war/

or just a rare moment of honesty?

Why wasn't the delivery of aid carefully planned before the invasion? Several representatives of the appropriate organizations appeared in various venues prior to the war stating that they had asked the Bushies for the establishment some form of communications link as well as funding to carry out relief, but that neither was ever forthcoming. In fact, the response from the Bushies was pure silence.

Why?

Posted by: E. Avedisian on April 9, 2003 11:59 PM

Some of you armchair critics would have a great deal more credibility if you were willing to admit that something positive has been done in Iraq, and done by Bush, a president so many of you persist in throwing petty insults at. This sort of paranoid whining suggests to me that you don't really give a damn about facts or the plight of the Iraqis; all you care about is scoring cheap points in your games of partisan politics.

There were many on the extreme right who couldn't understand why the majority of the American public didn't share their view of Clinton as a rogue, a thief, a liar, and so on. They couldn't get it into their heads that accusing the man of all sorts of outrageous crimes and misdeeds, while refusing to acknowledge that anything Clinton had done had been of benefit to the public, only served to destroy the plausibility of the critics' arguments, rather than sell them to the public.

Those of you here whining today about American intervention in Iraq, refusing to acknowledge anything positive about it, are making the very same mistake. You might get the pleasure of sounding off and letting out your frustrations, but you will never convince reasonable people that you have anything worthwhile to say if you persist on your present course. If you want a genuine meeting of minds, you're going to have to show that there is some flexibility on your side as well, but so far I'm not seeing that.

What I AM seeing is the same old gang in post after post, defending Robert Fisk, Paul Krugman and all the other hatchetmen with lamebrained arguments that are light on facts but heavy on emotional outrage. So you don't like Bush? Fine, we already know that. Why don't you try to make a pretence of detachment for a change, even if it taxes your willpower? At least your posts might be interesting for once ...

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on April 10, 2003 02:18 AM

David Lloyd-Jones asks:

"...One of the interesting things about treason is that under the Constitution it's almost impossible to be convicted. You pretty much have to confess and have witnesses. Doesn't Richard Perle qualify several different ways yet?"

Oh HE qualifies all right, David.

We just haven't decided yet whether he's a HIGH traitor or a LOW one--a crucial distinction...

If he's "high", he gets the "Royal" treatment--government pension, a cushy "job" with very few duties and lots of graft, perks, etc.

(See: "Spoils of War" Bob Herbert, today's NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/10/opinion/10HERB.html for details.)*

If he's "low", he really only has two options--Academia...Or something even YELLOWER--like "Talk" radio ;-)

*Spoils of War
By BOB HERBERT

Follow the money.

Former Secretary of State George Shultz is on the board of directors of the Bechtel Group, the largest contractor in the U.S. and one of the finalists in the competition to land a fat contract to help in the rebuilding of Iraq.

He is also the chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a fiercely pro-war group with close ties to the White House. The committee, formed last year, made it clear from the beginning that it sought more than the ouster of Saddam's regime. It was committed, among other things, "to work beyond the liberation of Iraq to the reconstruction of its economy."

War is a tragedy for some and a boon for others. I asked Mr. Shultz if the fact that he was an advocate of the war while sitting on the board of a company that would benefit from it left him concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest.

"I don't know that Bechtel would particularly benefit from it," he said. "But if there's work that's needed to be done, Bechtel is the type of company that could do it. But nobody looks at it as something you benefit from."

Jack Sheehan, a retired Marine Corps general, is a senior vice president at Bechtel. He's also a member of the Defense Policy Board, a government-appointed group that advises the Pentagon on major defense issues. Its members are selected by the under secretary of defense for policy, currently Douglas Feith, and approved by the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

Most Americans have never heard of the Defense Policy Group. Its meetings are classified. The members disclose their business interests to the Pentagon, but that information is not available to the public.

The Center for Public Integrity, a private watchdog group in Washington, recently disclosed that of the 30 members of the board, at least 9 are linked to companies that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts in 2001 and 2002.

Richard Perle was the chairman of the board until just a few weeks ago, when he resigned the chairmanship amid allegations of a conflict of interest. He is still on the board.

Another member is the former C.I.A. director, James Woolsey. He's also a principal in the Paladin Capital Group, a venture capital firm that, as the Center for Public Integrity noted, is soliciting investments for companies that specialize in domestic security. Mr. Woolsey is also a member of the Committee to Liberate Iraq and is reported to be in line to play a role in the postwar occupation.

The war against Iraq has become one of the clearest examples ever of the influence of the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned against so eloquently in his farewell address in 1961. This iron web of relationships among powerful individuals inside and outside the government operates with very little public scrutiny and is saturated with conflicts of interest...."

Posted by: Mike on April 10, 2003 03:12 AM

Leaving aside essentially theological questions having to do with whether or not unalloyed "evil" (or "good") actually exists in THIS world. And ignoring (for the sake of argument) sactimonious fools of the sort who would be "morally certain" of the cheesy nature of the lunar surface (and utterly contemptuous of anyone who begged to differ) if ANY of their designated leaders happened to say it was so...

A fair reading of the record does show:

1. There ARE deplorable (for varying reasons)governments scattered here and there around the world, Iraq is one such place.

2. Certain elements (within BOTH major US political parties) have, for various reasons (few of which have ANYTHING to do with morality and MOST of which are frankly contemptuous of international law) LONG been advocating for "regime change" in Iraq.

3. Despite its numerous, pious pronouncements to the contrary, AND for all of its continuously shifting rationales in favor of its policy, the current US administration* has, for more than a year AT LEAST, been DETERMINED to invade Iraq--no matter what.

4. (A) Despite the fact that Iraq WAS cooperating with the UN weapon inspections,

and

(B) despite the fact that a CREDIBLE immediate and/or compelling threat (from Iraq) to the US and/or its allies and/or its interests sufficient to justify resorting war has NEVER been shown to exist,

and

(C) in spite of ALMOST universal opposition--within the UN, on the part of Iraq's neighboring governments (and THEIR populations), on the part of MOST of the govenments AND peoples of MOST of the nations of the world, AND in the face of CONSIDERABLE (and, by some standards, LITERALLY unprecedented) resistance here at home (both inside the government and outside of it),

(D) The current US administration* (together with Britain and a smattering of other countries) invaded Iraq anyway.

5. This act wasn't JUST a short-sighted, ill-considered, expensive, rash AND intemperate thing to do (though it WAS all of those things), it was also a CRIME--a crime against the international order--a war crime:

"...the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole..."


...according to the Jurists of the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Posted by: Mike on April 10, 2003 03:27 AM

Please pardon these "reposts".

Brad and I have some "unfinished business"....

----------------------------------------

"....We "fought" NATIVE "partisan(s)" of the North American continent from "day one" right up until the turn of the previous century.

This essentially genocidal, largely unacknowleged, "parallel" history goes hand in hand with other enduring AND disturbing aspects of the American story: Its occasionally irrational, hysterical and paranoid character as well as its penchant for euphemism and other forms of passive and not so passive self-delusion, to name just two...

Which brings me, in a roundabout way to today's subject:

"...weirdness...true loonyness and creepyness...[the] wearing [of]masks, and...those [creepy moments] when the mask seems to slip...."

Remember the "Peace Dividend"?

If you're one of the few people in the world who STILL wonders whatever happened to THAT, you weren't paying attention ten years ago or so, when some key decisions were quietly taken at the highest political levels--and, perhaps more importantly, somewhere within ITS inner sanctum: the "National Secutity Establishment"--by a hand-full of essentially unaccountable, supposedly sober-minded, so-called public servants like, for instance, the Honorable Mr. R. James Woolsey...

The Pentagon's (CIA) Man in Iraq
by David Corn
04/04/2003 @ 2:50pm

"Toward the start of the second Persian Gulf War, I found myself in a room with R. James Woolsey, CIA chief during the first two years of the Clinton administration. A television was turned on, and we both watched a news report on the latest development in the North Korea nuclear drama. How much longer, I asked him, could this administration wait before dealing with North Korea and its efforts to develop nuclear-weapons material? A little while, but not too long, he said. Until after the Iraq war? Yes, Woolsey said, we can take care of things then. (That was when the prevailing assumption was the war in Iraq would take about as long as a Donald Rumsfeld press conference.) And, I wondered, is this a challenge that can be taken care of with, say, a well-planned and contained bombing raid, one that strikes the nuclear facilities in question? "Oh, no, " he said. "This is going to be war." War, full-out war, with a nation that might already have a few nuclear weapons and that does have 600,000 North Korean soldiers stationed 25 miles from Seoul, with 37,000 US troops in between? "Yes, war." He didn't flinch, didn't bat an eye.

Woolsey is something of a prophet of war. And the Pentagon wants him to be part of its team running postwar Iraq.

On April 2, Woolsey made headlines by telling students at UCLA that the Iraq war was part of "World War IV." Speaking at a teach-in sponsored by campus Republicans and Americans for Victory Over Terrorism, a pro-war-in-Iraq group founded by William Bennett, Woolsey remarked, "This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us....

http://www.thenation.com/capitalgames/index.mhtml?bid=3&pid=546

-------------------------------------------

Well, let's see...Bringing up R. James Woolsey's "vision" for spreading American Values at gunpoint wasn't sufficient to bring the squid to the surface.

Maybe this will work....

Remember JFK?

A guy who impressed people all over the world with his idealism and his professed committment to economic development and social justice at home and abroad. (He invented the Peace Corps, just for instance. His portrait could be found hanging in "places of honor" in hovels, shanties and shacks on several continents--even years after his death--They say.)

If he even HAD a budget for "public dipolmacy", I'm sure it paled in comparison to whatever they were giving Charolette Beers. Not much of a head for big business, though. A pity. Anyway, he's dead.

Remember Jimmy Carter?

The first AND last guy who actually improved the "facts on the ground" in and around Israel by facilitating "The Camp David Accord" between Israel and Egypt? He incurred the enmity of authoritarians and tyrants around the world too--by resolving to regard "human rights" as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy.

"Real politickers", "corporate titans" and image mongers here at home were NOT impressed. HE was "retired" after one term.

Clinton?

Think "globalization". Think WTO. Think job security. Think Social Security. Think about your (probably "forced", early) retirement...

Now, here's my question for the perfessor (-:


Would you please compare and contrast YOUR opinion of Woolsey's "dream" http://www.thenation.com/capitalgames/index.mhtml?bid=3&pid=546 , with YOUR opinion of Fisk's "journalism"?

And please Brad, color both of them according to their relative homeland security threat level too--while you're at it...

Posted by: Mike on April 10, 2003 04:00 AM

Once again: my apologies

But this probably needs to be said again too, lest "the world tell itself" the wrong "story"....

-------------------------------------

"....If you still haven't yet figured out why ol' Brad is wasting so many bytes bashing a guy like Robert Fisk, George Kennan (yes THAT "George Kennan" ;-) MIGHT have part of the answer:


"George F. Kennan, the chief architect of the containment and deterrence policies that shaped America foreign policy during the Cold War, said Sunday that Congress, and not President Bush, must decide whether the United States should take military action against Iraq....

...Kennan was particularly critical of congressional Democrats for failing to oppose Bush’s request for a blank check on Iraq.

“I wonder why the Democrats have not asked the president right out, ‘What are you talking about? Are you talking about one war or two wars? And if it’s two wars, have we really faced up to the competing demands of the two?”

He added, “This is, to me, as a very old, independent citizen, a shabby and shameful reaction. I deplore this timidity out of concern for the elections on the part of the Democrats.”

From: George Kennan Speaks Out About Iraq; by Albert Eisele, The Hill (26 September 2002) http://hnn.us/articles/997.html

See? Now do you get it?

Innocence is not an option for MOST "professional Democrats". And pointing the finger is A LOT easier than looking down the barrel of one.....


Posted by: Mike on April 10, 2003 04:15 AM

Why aren’t the Democrats in congress actively writing legislation the way the Republican Party is for Bush to control of Iraq ( a Republican bill that excludes France, Germany and Russia).

We must push Bush to allow the United Nations to administer to post-war Iraq.

Sen. Daschle spoke some about this issue yesterday but talks is cheap especial with most of our Democratic representives. The Democratic Party is woefully mute on this issue but this issue with Iraq’s democracy and need for UN control is the most important issue the US now faces.

It is not democratic at all for us as a nation to hold onto Iraq control. Since Bush went to war with Iraq over WMD then as soon as those weapons are acquired then the pretense of the issue for war will be resolved when a swept is done to find the WMD.

Bush will not offer the Iraqis true democracy but only a puppet government that is placed into power to do what the Bush administration wants in favors to Republican campaign contributors. Americans should push aggressively for UN control and the fact the Democratic Party isn't doing this is actually showing a significant and repeated failure of the Democratic Party congress.

This show us the Democratic Party is just as much of a bunch of corporate whore as is the GOP. They simply don’t represent liberal ideology any more and we have become a party system. A party is comprehensibly corrupted.

If we could just push the Democratic Party to be responsive to us and aggressively pushing so that control of Iraq is handed over to the UN we can help the Iraq acquire true democracy and heal the rift in the UN. This war wasn’t for WMD but for control of an oil rich region and UN know this and we know this too.

It’s okay the Bush liberated Iraq from Saddam, but it is NOT okay that we let Bush install another regime.

This is one area where Democrats and liberal must come together and fervently push for UN control of post-war Iraq.

Posted by: Cheryl on April 10, 2003 06:03 AM

The fact is that some of the strains we are seeing in southern Iraq are attributable to the fact that local populations have swelled with the initial arrival of humanitarian supplies. It is not as if all of these people were delighffully comfortable before the war and now they've been made miserable by the thoughtless coalition forces.

Part of what we are witnessing is the aftermath of a war campaign that succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the war planners. A 47 day war plan ended up taking 21 days. Arrangements for an interim government, humanitarian relief, and rebuilding operations are lagging, but because of the rapid success of the military campaign, not because no thought or preparation went into them. On the contrary, agencies in Washington have been working hard on the post-Saddam phase for at least a year.

BTW: good post, Abida Lapite.

Posted by: Jim Harris on April 10, 2003 06:25 AM

Cheryl

In case you haven't noticed, the Democrats lost control of Congress during the last election. This means that Democrats have no power to schedule hearings, schedule debates, get legislation out of committees, etc. The only power the Democrats have is a Senate fillibuster. Criticizing the Democrats for lack of action is silly. Democrats don't have the power to act. The Republicans are in complete control.

Posted by: bakho on April 10, 2003 06:47 AM

Uh, oh. We're getting ready to hand down an indictment on Syria.

http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/ny-wosyri103215060apr10.story

Just guessing. Syria, with 16 million people and GDP of $42 bln, is an easier, and so more likely, target than Iran, with 65 million people and $350 bln GDP. Even if we are bluffing, threatening Syria is more credible. From Iran's point of view, seeing one neighbor whipped and preparations underway for another would probably require some rethinking of its behavior. Whether that rethinking would be toward making itself safe from attack along the lines of North Korea or more agreeable to the US is an open question.

Posted by: K Harris on April 10, 2003 07:58 AM

Abiola Lapite says:

"Some of you armchair critics would have a great deal more credibility if you were willing to admit that something positive has been done in Iraq, and done by Bush."

Well I guess I'm one of those people AL is referring to, although the generalizations are so broad it is hard to tell. Anyway, I am not willing yet to admit that something positive has been done in Iraq by Bush. Here's why.

It may be true that some war opponents started to sound like Saddam apologists, but on the other side, those in favour of the war seem to be falling over themselves imagining that in the absence of Saddam everything will now be bright and shiny in a glorious free and democratic Iraq. This seems to me naive. The outlook for Iraqis is not, in my view, significantly brighter than before.

Sure, this is a day to celebrate for many Iraqis (those who are not mourning the death of loved ones), and I wish them well, but we do not know what the new Iraq looks like. The American record is abysmal, both recently (supporting Turkey in its killing of over 10 thousand Kurds, supporting the brutal government of Colombia, leaving Afghanistan to the warlords) and in the long term -- they have basically owned much of Central and South America for the best part of 100 years and have regularly chosen to be on the side of autocrats and torturers, not on the side of those opposing them.

History suggests that an American invasion leads to an unhappy happy outcome for the citizens of the invaded country. I have not seen anything yet that makes me think Iraq will be different.

Posted by: Tom Slee on April 10, 2003 08:17 AM

Bakho: the Dems may not have the power to act in Congress, but they do have the power to speak, and the lack of courage most have shown in opposing this war is emblematic of the party's terrible condition and to the high probability that they will once again blow it in Nov. 2004.

In particular, I blame them for the blank check that Bush was given to carry out the war, even though it was in complete violation of the US Constitution. If the invasion of another country in order to overthrow its government does not require a declaration of war by the Senate, then what on earth does?

One of the worst long term effects of this war may be that it was a huge step in the direction of turning the founding set of rules for this nation into a mere scrap of paper which is held in contempt by whoever holds power. In addition to declaring war, the sixth amendment right to legal counsel and the right to trial by jury have also been significantly jeopardized in the past two years.

Whatever the benefits of this invasion may be to the Iraqui people, this whole chapter has been a disaster for the US as a nation.

Posted by: andres on April 10, 2003 08:20 AM

Abiola: I have never said a word about Fisk. The reason why I'm part of the "same old gang" defending Krugman is that, as far as I can tell, the criticisms of Krugman are dishonest knee-jerk partisan smears with no merit at all. (Given the abysmal ethical level of the pundit business, the ethical accusations agains Krugman are exceptionally crapulaous and loathesome. His ethical standards are well above the prevailing norm).

Krugman is right, the Bush administration is wrong, and he deserves our thanks for telling us that. The "same old gang" smearing Krugman are the ones who have something to answer for.

You have chosen an exceptionally stupid way of expressing your idea. I "don't like" Bush? You make it seem as if he stole my lunch money in third grade or something. I mistrust Buah and disagree with him on pretty much every issue. So yeah, I dislike him, but it's not like it's a little personal snit.

With Iraq, as in Afghanistan, time will tell. A lot of the good news out of Afghanistan is fake. A lot of people feel great about what we accomplished there, but a lot of them are misinformed too. Time will tell. The worst-case scenarios ahve been avoided, but the time for triumphalism is not yet. Saddam still could be replaced by a new Saddam, the same way Saddam himself was installed (by us) to replace whoever preceded him.

Posted by: zizka on April 10, 2003 08:45 AM

Sorry to keep hijacking this discussion, but the Syria thing is getting interesting. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage has told reporters that Syria has "responded quite well to U.S. and coalition warnings and demarches about closing their border and things of that nature and has done so" over the last several days. That makes Rumsfeld's claim yesterday that Syria has been "notably unhelpful" and made a "conscious decision to ignore" US requests hard to fathom, unless Rumsfeld needs Syria to be uncooperative. Any guesses?

Posted by: K Harris on April 10, 2003 08:59 AM

andres-

21 Democrats voted against the Iraq resolution last year. Chafee was the only Republican to vote against it. And you blame the Democrats for passing the resolution? Without the lockstep support of Republicans it would not have passed. Do you think if Al Gore were president we would be in Iraq today?

Posted by: bakho on April 10, 2003 09:37 AM

21 out of 50 is not a good number. If they had been solidly against the resolution they could have voted it down or filibustered. An Al Gore presidency is a moot point--Democrats still behave as if one of their own is sitting in the White House. Some real opposition would be a refreshing change, but not something I expect.

Posted by: andres on April 10, 2003 10:07 AM

Cost/benefit analysis of the invasion?

No matter how good it gets in Iraq -- statues toppling, locals cheering -- I would bet that from a purely cost/benefit point of view this invasion would not be at the top of the list of "good deeds" that could be done in the world. Freeing the Iraqis is probably not the best way to spend our money.

I'm sure any one of the following would accomplish at least as much good and cost much less: funding for AIDS, TB, Malaria and other diseases of poverty (25 m. already dead from AIDS alone), funding for basic needs such as clean water, health care, etc. (the equivalent in deaths to a Twin Towers occurs each day because of bad sanitation and preventable diseases). Much of this could be done for the supposed cost of the war -- $100 B.

While Iraqis were suffering, it was not close to 40 - 50 + other countries with much lower living standards.

(Of course the lack of evidence for the "imminent danger threat" has been covered elsewhere.)

Posted by: Chris Gilbert on April 10, 2003 10:38 AM

Let me offer you guys a little bit of perspective, drawing on my own personal experiences.

I happen to have experienced life under dictatorial rule for many years, and I know what it is like to have to pretend to pretend to support a thug who would have you arrested and shot without thinking twice. I know that during those years, hardly any of the very same sorts who are always participating in "anti-war" rallies in Europe and America gave a damn about the plight of people like myself. I saw with my own eyes that people like Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright, who were so very adept at projecting a "kindler, gentler, blacker" attitude, were willing to stand by and allow 800,000 Africans be butchered with machetes because of a fear of "quagmires" and an unfavorable "cost/benefit analysis." And when it wasn't a case of quagmire-phobia that kept them from intervening in some despotic regime's affairs, it was an exaggerated concern for some kleptocrat's "sovereignty" or the dangers of being "imperialistic."

Nor did it end there. I saw the same save-the-world-from globalization hypocrites doing their best at sabotaging the prospects of the very people on whose behalf they claimed to be speaking, without ever having bothered to ask us what we might think. I saw the same more-caring-than-thou idiots block the continued use of DDT in the name of the "environment", even as 5,000 African children continue to die DAILY of malaria. I am still seeing these idiots today, protesting against "Frankenfoods" that might save the lives of millions of starving Africans, out of some pretended sense of concern for their health, even though the people on the brink of starvation will tell you that hypothetical health concerns about the distant future mean nothing if you aren't going to live to see next week. To be honest, pretty much the ONLY westerners I saw actually contributing their own personal time and money on the ground to helping real people solve real problems were those right-wing Christian fundamentalists so many of you love to hate; the NGO-babies were always too busy using the Natives as picturesque backdrops for whatever hare-brained anti-capitalist scheme they were pushing at the moment.

Considering the litany of issues I have seen with my own eyes, on which a supposed concern for the freedom and well-being of Africans has been used by self-righteous westerners to keep those very same Africans poor, hungry and oppressed (whether ought of malice or ignorance, it hardly makes a difference to those suffering), one must pardon my scepticism when I hear the same old culprits now fulminating about the evils being perpetrated on Iraqis by George W. Bush, the "Great Satan." Having experienced something similar first-hand, I KNOW that these people who presume to speak on behalf of Iraqis are full of, to be blunt, crap. Iraqi suffering means NOTHING to them, for if it did, they might actually try to ask a few Iraqis what it is they want and how they perceive what is happening right now; but of course that might burst their bubbles of sanctimonious self-regard, and what is the plight of 24 million Iraqis compared with such a prospect?

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on April 10, 2003 11:53 AM

To those who are feeling good about our positive work in Iraq:

No matter how good it gets in Iraq -- statues toppling, locals cheering -- I would bet that from a purely cost/benefit point of view this invasion would not be at the top of the list of "good deeds" that could be done in the world. Freeing the Iraqis is not the best way to spend our money.

Any one of the following would accomplish at least as much good and cost much less: funding for AIDS, TB, Malaria and other diseases of poverty (the equivalent of the population of Iraq (25 m.) already dead from AIDS alone, with a doubling predicted in the next few decades), funding for basic needs such as clean water, health care, etc. (the equivalent in deaths to a Twin Towers occurs each day because of bad sanitation and preventable diseases). Much of this could be done for the supposed cost of the war -- $100 B.

While Iraqis were suffering, their's was not close to those in 40 - 50 + other countries with much lower living standards.

Posted by: Chris Gilbert on April 10, 2003 11:58 AM

Abiola,
Any objective reader can easily determine that you are the one who is whining.

I, and others here that you complain about generally attempt to make an arguement based on evidence and logic. Sometimes (perhaps often), I for one, fall short. Excuses include: Posting late at night when I am tired and not thinking well, posting when I am in a hurry.......

Sometimes I am just plain wrong. I took a position regarding a topic on which I have insufficient knowledge, I based my opinion on bad data, or even that - by pure random chance - things turned out differently than a carefully thought out prediction would have concluded was reasonably possible........Looking on the positive side, perhaps at least a discussion is stimulated. Maybe someone turns to google and learns something new. I know I have.

However, *you* do not even try.

Why don't *you* put forth the effort to engage in a meeting of the minds by addressing the points? Points have been made.

From me:

1) the war in Iraq is not over by a long shot. Even today US troops are dying. Iraqi troops are dying. Iraqi civilians are dying. Politicians have been assissinated (see http://www.agonist.org for related news updates)

2) Why was an humanitarian aid package not designed well in advance of this war? Why wasn't the funding in place? Any reasonable and responsible well intentioned administration would have a funded, fully organized plan of action to deliver aid.

3) Why wasn't the interim government organized and ready to move so as to avoid a period of anarchy or a usurping of power by undesirable elements? The powers that be are only beginning to debate the issue.

4) There is reason to believe that this war is not about what Bush said it is about. His cronies (and appointees) from the PNAC and the American Enterprise group have long promoted a conquest of the mid.-east. It's right there for the world to see. Here's another link on that topic from today. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N09382536.htm
What would it mean for our democracy if a small semi-secret group of plutocrats was deliberately deceiving the people and launching self serving imperialistic adventures?

5) With all of the talk about an all out conquest of the mid-east, why is there no serious discussion in congress? Why no serious discussion amongst the American public? What are the ramifications of engaging Syria, Iran, (other countries) in war?

6) How will perceived American imperialism effect the development of a fair anf just Iraqi government?

7) Militarily and politically, how long can we maintain a presence in Iraq? Will the occupation be akin the the US experience in Bierut in 1983? Are suicide bombings today and in past days in Iraq a bad portent of things to come.

8) there is plenty of reason to be skeptical about the US aid for the development of a democratic Iraq. The situation in Afghanistan is degrading rapidly. Promised US aid has not materialized. Other US/third world nation building precedent is not good.

9) It is way too early to determine that the absence of Saddam is superior to the presence of Saddam. We have no idea how the power vacuum will be filled and what sorts of violence will accompany the political struggles. It may well turn out in the end that, after much blood shed, Iraq will fall under the control of a new dictator; just as bad as Saddam, but friendly to the US interests. It's just too early to celebrate.

10) How will we pay for all this given the Fed. Budget deficits and predicted poor near term economic conditions both here and globally?

You:

1) Stop whining.

2) (possibly) isn't it really cool that our military crushed the organized resistance of a bunch of ill trained ill equiped flunky troops? Rah! Rah! we're the best, go America!

3) Ding Dong the wicked dictator's dead.......

4) Who cares about the Federal budget crisis and the fact that Bush's plan will make it worse and will not provide stimulus; that virtually all serious economists believe this - including those within the capitol and whitehouse itself - is irrelevant. Because...because...well, Krugman made them sat that and...he's a...a... commie whiner!


Posted by: E. Avedisian on April 10, 2003 12:00 PM

"Make no mistake -- this phase of the fight is just as important as the military phase."

So, if there hasn't been an acceptable failure, move the bar and try again?

Posted by: Fred on April 10, 2003 12:20 PM

I think posters such as Fred and Abiola want acknowledgement that the invasion of Iraq, contrary to the expectations of many, was not a debacle; that many Iraqis are happy to be rid of Saddam; and the dreaded massacre of civilians under "shock and awe" appeared to have not occurred. So here it is: I, James, a vociferous critic of the war for these reasons, can be unambiguously declared to be mistaken. I expected mass slaughter of Iraqi civilians; instead, the numbers were low by the standards of life under Saddam's regime. I expected that the military planners had left supply lines exposed, and US troops vulnerable to entrapment. No entrapment actually has occurred, and if it were to occur in the near future it would be far too late to rescue the Ba'thist regime. So on this, my fears were in error.

So why am I not revising my estimation of this war?

First, because invading other countries without significant provocation is still wrong. The entire world now views the US as a savage, racist aggressor nation; we have lost all our friends and are now a world pariah. (We have the power to MAKE people pretend otherwise, but don't be deceived).

Second, because this is real life and not a high school exam. Our ability to "win" by bombarding Iraqi strongholds was never really in doubt. We may have actually succeeded in getting the regime to implode. But in real life, merely being able to start a venture is never enough: you must be able to finish it. If we indeed do unto Iraq what we did to Afghanistan--and if we plunder the oil wealth to pay for what little we do--then the operation will simply amount to savage violence.

Am I being "unfair" to the president? I don't think so. The president may have "taught the Iraqis a lesson," but I think it is reasonable to insist that he teach the world the right one about American might. The one he has imparted so far is, I humbly submit, as bad as it could possibly be.

Posted by: James R MacLean on April 10, 2003 12:53 PM

E., I thought your response to Abiola was totally off base. He's not whining, he's describing his personal experiences. (He's from Nigeria, I believe.)

And I think he has a very strong point: many anti-war protesters were idealistic and had good intentions, but didn't really know much about Iraq. They assumed that Iraqi civilians were opposed to the war, when in fact Iraqis were desperate for a return to normality and many were willing to accept a war with low casualties. See the ICG report "Voices from the Iraqi Street":
http://www.crisisweb.org/projects/showreport.cfm?reportid=837

Daniel Pepper, a former human shield, describes how shocked he was to encounter Iraqis who supported the war.
http://tinyurl.com/9908

Tim Judah describes how Iraqis in Baghdad were initially quite happy when the war started, expecting it to be over quickly, with low casualties; they became angry and fearful as the war continued for longer than they had expected. (Baghdad hadn't yet fallen at the time Judah wrote the article.)
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16210

Posted by: Russil Wvong on April 10, 2003 12:56 PM

The NYTimes reporter John Burns has been in Iraq for months and has continually found signs that many many Iraqis were desperate for an end to the thuggery of their governors. We have ended a vicious dictatorship and allowed for the building of a democratic government in Iraq and possibly provided a base for peace through the region.

Posted by: bill on April 10, 2003 01:41 PM

Russil,
Like James, I too was wrong about the civilian toll of "shock and awe" . I am happy to admit this.

Similarly, I was wrong about the risks of exposed supply lines. I had over-estimated Iraq's capabilities.

But this is a knife that cuts both ways. Iraq has proved itself so militarily incompetent, ill equiped and ineffective that clearly they posed a threat to no one; especially not the United States. Obviously, the US military knew this in advance or they would not have employed the seemingly unorthodox tactics that they did. And the WMDs were apparently never considered a real threat or the tactics would have reflected that concern. Anyhow, they have not materialized. Many retired experts fell into the same trap that I did.

And here is the crux of my opposition to the war that Abiola does not understand; perhaps because his experience with democracy is limited.

When you put all the pieces of the puzzle together, the US invaded Iraq under false pretexes, unilaterally, and without a firm plan to deal with the aftermath. There is ample evidence that the invasion is only one battle in a wide spread campaign against mid east countries.

And this battle in Iraq is far from over. The fighting today should prove that point. It's not over till the troops come home. When will that be? Will Beirut 1983 or the Khobar towers be repeated. If so how many times? At what point do you then decided that victory was never actually achieved? We won almost every battle in Vietnam, but lost the war. I am not setting the bar higher. I have said all along that that the hard part would be occupation of the cities and winning the peace. Even Rumsfeld is saying that much danger still confronts our troops.

Our freedom, our form of government requires constant vigilance on the part of its citizens. We cannot accept blind flag waving patriotism. We cannot accept lies, half truths, and secrecy from our government. When polls show that some 33% os Americans support war under any circumstances, when polls show that a substantial proportion of Americans believe that Saddam had a hand in 9/11 and when authority figures fuel the ignorance with talk about the need to invade Iraq lest the next 9/11 be a "mushroom cloud", we have a problem verging on a meltdown of our system of government.

And the evidence that Iraq was pursuing that mushroom cloud was proved to be forged. Other evidence of a "grave and gathering danger" was lifted from an old college term paper. Yet, according to Abiola, I am to be happy and to overlook all this - this that should be intensely embarassing to all Americans - because we wasted a bunch of flunky troops in open desert.

Asymmetry of information and democracy are not compatible.

It's my duty- your duty- to question this administration's tactics, its motives. It is our duty to comprehend the issues to the best of our ability and then to ask questions of our leaders. It is our duty to form an opinion, ultimately right or wrong, but based on our best efforts, and then act on it by voting, by applying pressure to our elected representatives, by making our voice heard.

And it is their duty to respond truthfully. It is their duty to lead us in adherence to our constitution and, within that frame work, to what is best for our country.

This administration has been clearly derelict of duty regarding economic issues. They lie, plain and simple. Even Brad DeLong has said so in as many words. Again, they lied in building a case for war.

If the PNAC and American Enterprise groups' plans are what is actually guiding this mission, then the administration must inform us of that fact and discuss mid-east actions in that light. Tell us why, how, costs, benefits, risks. If those groups are not driving policy then why are they hanging around in prominent positions and why are they making big noise about expanded war? Why isn't Bush ordering them to shut up and leave Washington?

Again, with high ranking officials and their cronies making statements about attacking other mid-east countries we *must* question their wisdom and their motives. We must demand an explanation. Certainly such inflammatory remarks will alter the course of the reconstruction of Iraq. They may set the whole mid east on fire; perhaps the entire world.

But Abiola calls anything short of cheerleading over the events of the last few weeks " whining".

He does not address concerns that Iraqis' initial jubilation may well turn into a fierce demand for self government and a strong desire to evict the foreigners. He does not address evidence that Iraqi opinion is already headed this way. He does not seem concerned that Bush is possibly ignoring the voice of Iraqi self determination.

Abiola seems to not understand any of the above. For him life is simple. Dictators are bad. It is good to remove them. Saddam is gone so happy days are here again. Abiola sees no problem with the US running all over the globe taking out dictators - for no other reason than dictators are a personal affront to him - regardless of international law, costs, or other consequences.

Anyhow, Russil, I was responding to an earlier post by Abiola in which he referred to me and others here as whiners.

Off base? no. Abiola, along with a large number of Americans, should take some time to understand what it really means to establish and maintain a democracy.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on April 10, 2003 02:12 PM

Abiola??? Abiola!!! Hellloooo.... Read your own post again:

>Considering the litany of issues I have seen with my own eyes, on which a supposed concern for the freedom and well-being of Africans has been used by self-righteous westerners to keep those very same Africans poor, hungry and oppressed (whether ought of malice or ignorance, it hardly makes a difference to those suffering),

This is EXACTLY what you can expect from the Bushies and the DLC. While you were over there seeing the truth we were over here GETTING FED TODAY'S SAME BULLSHIT ABOUT AMERICA THE LIBERATOR!!

Again: we didn't see "America is screwing with South America/Africa" in our news and on our TV's over here, we saw "America brings the hope of freedom to all Third World Countries."

It would be nice if history repeated itself as farce, but I think we're still looking at tragedy here.

So fear for the Iraqis, because if we "self-righteous" don't keep Washington's nose to the grindstone then somebody down the road will be repeating your post word-for-word, except for the substition of "Iraq" and "Middle Easterners" for "Niger" and "Africans."

In fact, didn't we just hear an Afghani say something along the lines of "the same bad movie over again."

PS: last I saw that projected GDP growth from proposed globalization de works out to $6/yr for your average Nigerian. But you think the "anti-globalists" are your enemy.

K. Harris:

Armitrage- Powell's boy
Rumsfeld- PNAC's boy

Enough explanation for me.

Posted by: a different chris on April 10, 2003 02:14 PM

Abiola, if you had not mentioned Krugman I might have responded to the rest of the stuff you said. Contrary to what it sometimes seems, we're not all Clinton-worshippers here. And there are very, very few anti-globalists here.

One of the reasons why we're all suspicious of George W. Bush is that his record on the topics you raise is very bad. In the past Bush and Cheney have proven willing and eager to collaborate with the worst dictators whenever they had a reason to do so. Including Saddam Hussein, even after the first Gulf War. So, yeah, Saddam is a dictator, and Bush overthrew him, and if Saddam is replaced by someone better (not a certainty, look at Afghanistan) that's a very good thing.

But Bush is not a guy who has a habit of opposing dictators. He's a pragmatist or opportunist who is more likely to work happily with them. This looks to a lot of us like a one-time deal.

Posted by: zizka on April 10, 2003 02:15 PM

And Abiola, one more thing about the way you relate to others here; don't assume you know our entire line of thought based on a stance on one position.

I am pro-globalization. I think the WTO is a good start.

I am not against all wars. I strongly supported the action in Afghanistan (though disappointed with the follow-up) and I support what we are doing militarily in the Philippines.

OK?

Posted by: E. Avedisian on April 10, 2003 02:41 PM

"The NYTimes reporter John Burns has been in Iraq for months and has continually found signs that many many Iraqis were desperate..."

Here's Burns today on the reaction of his own official Iraqi minder to current events...
~~~

"A burly 39-year-old man named Qifa, assigned by Mr. Hussein's Information Ministry to keep watch on an American reporter, paused at midmorning, outside the inferno that had been the headquarters of Iraq's National Olympic Committee, to ask the reporter to grip his hand.

The building, used to torture and kill opponents of Mr. Hussein, had been one of the most widely feared places in Iraq.

"Touch me, touch me, tell me that this is real, tell me that the nightmare is really over," the man said, tears running down his face.

It was real, at last.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/10/international/worldspecial/10BAGH.html
~~~

I dunno, but it seems like a lot of compassionate liberals around these parts no longer are compassionate enough to be moved by such things. Instead they're producing 10-point lists about why ending this nightmare of the Iraqis is a doubtful exercise, assertions that on a cost-benefit basis the money spent could have been better spent on other things, and so on.

Funny, in my memory it was liberals who put ending human nightmares above cost benefit analysis and greedy Republicans who used cost benefit analysis to justify leaving human nightmares in place. I guess times change.

But if cost-benefit is really the test, here's an analysis saying the war is actually quite likely to be a considerable money saver on the whole:

http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/steven.davis/research/War%20in%20Iraq%20versus%20Containment,%20Weighing%20the%20Costs%20(March%202003).pdf

And if that holds up, working our way through the Axis of Evil one-by-one could turn out to be a self-financing exercise, ending one human nightmare after another as we go *and* producing a nice net financial gain that we can use to help close the federal budget gap in the end -- answering Mr. Avedisian's point # 10.

Toppling dictators, ending the living nightmares of the oppressed and, most importantly, funding future retiree benefits too. Win Win!

Posted by: Jim Glass on April 10, 2003 02:43 PM

Dear Dr. DeLong,

First, I want to say thanks for putting your site on the web - I have learned a lot by reading your topics with which you handle with legerity. And so I have 2 questions for you.

I was wondering - do you really think that the average household cuts spending when they see a looming budget deficit? The reason why Im dubious to the notion of Ricardian equivalence is the fact that most people are not economically competent. In fact, I guess this is an indictment on the whole of rational expectations theory.

Secondly, is China's high growth really legitimate? I know they have GDP growth of like 8 and 9% a yr, but is that an illusion of financial health? The reason I ask is the fact that they have debt-equity ratios of 500% according to Nick Lardy in Foreign Affairs magazine and also the major banks are not audited by the Central Bank. So is this another example that the Asian miracle is really a mirage? Or is this just misunderstanding the indicators?

thanks,
Andrew Johnson

Posted by: Andrew Johnson on April 10, 2003 03:00 PM

I was wondering - do you really think that the average household cuts spending when they see a looming budget deficit? The reason why Im dubious to the notion of Ricardian equivalence is the fact that most people are not economically competent. In fact, I guess this is an indictment on the whole of rational expectations theory.

Secondly, is China's high growth really legitimate? I know they have GDP growth of like 8 and 9% a yr, but is that an illusion of financial health? The reason I ask is the fact that they have debt-equity ratios of 500% according to Nick Lardy in Foreign Affairs magazine and also the major banks are not audited by the Central Bank. So is this another example that the Asian miracle is really a mirage? Or is this just misunderstanding the indicators?

thanks,
Andrew Johnson

Posted by: Andrew Johnson on April 10, 2003 03:02 PM

I was wondering - do you really think that the average household cuts spending when they see a looming budget deficit? The reason why Im dubious to the notion of Ricardian equivalence is the fact that most people are not economically competent. In fact, I guess this is an indictment on the whole of rational expectations theory.

Secondly, is China's high growth really legitimate? I know they have GDP growth of like 8 and 9% a yr, but is that an illusion of financial health? The reason I ask is the fact that they have debt-equity ratios of 500% according to Nick Lardy in Foreign Affairs magazine and also the major banks are not audited by the Central Bank. So is this another example that the Asian miracle is really a mirage? Or is this just misunderstanding the indicators?

thanks,
Andrew Johnson

Posted by: Andrew Johnson on April 10, 2003 03:03 PM

Alright Jim, That's more like it.

I will neither agree nor disagree with you at this point.

Such a radical departure from our traditional relationships with the rest of the world must be appraoched with extreme caution. *ALL* of the costs and benefits, both long term and short term, must be thoroughly analized. I must say that my skepticism meter is running off the dial.

However, I will say that this is the type of discussion that we should be having in congress and brought to us via the whitehouse.

Jim, it's the false pretexes, the blatant lies, ulterior motives, secrecy, and general beligerence towards other nations coming from our government that disturb me more than anything.

If we are to be a democracy then we must be informed of the true designs of our elected officials.

What would the election of 2,000 have looked like if Bush had laid out a plan, like you describe, during the debates.

It's the choice of the American people to invade a good chunk of the world; not a decision to be made soley by a cabal of plutocratic profiteers.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on April 10, 2003 03:06 PM

I'm almost embarrassed to actually comment about Brad's post regarding water in Umm Qasr. This comment page has gotten pretty far off topic.

Apparently, the town of Umm Qasr had no water supply before the war. Water came in by tank truck. No surprise then that water is a problem in that town.

Unsubstantiated reports from 'one aid worker' are not necessarily accurate. I remember similar claims that millions would starve in Afghanistan. I'm not saying that serious problems do not exist, but rather that we do not have enough information yet. However, I have not yet seen the kinds of emaciated people you would expect if problems were dire.

Claims that CentCom has no humanitarian aid program are clearly false as anyone who wants to Google the issue can see. There is a massive and well-planned effort underway.

The future of Iraq is tenuous indeed, but I find it hard to believe it is worse now than it was under Saddam?

Posted by: Kurt Brouwer on April 10, 2003 03:13 PM

E., I would respectfully suggest that as far as _Iraqis_ are concerned, what's most important about US actions isn't their _motives_, but their _consequences_. Iraqis have been living under sanctions and worsening tyranny for the last 12 years. They're desperate for a return to normality. And the war, which many well-meaning people opposed--partly because of their strong dislike and distrust of the Bush administration-- has made that possible.

As far as the longer-term consequences go, I've argued against the idea of a "democratic crusade" before:
http://www.geocities.com/rwvong/future/mideast.html#4.2

From a moral point of view, I think it's actually better to fight limited wars for limited, self-interested objectives, rather than unlimited wars for grandiose objectives.

But things must look pretty different when you're actually the one who's living under a tyrannical dictatorship. And there, I think Abiola has a pretty strong point.

By the way, I'm not American. I'm Canadian.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on April 10, 2003 04:34 PM

"The entire world now views the US as a savage, racist aggressor nation; we have lost all our friends and are now a world pariah." Not the racist part. I am sure there are some people here in Australia who truly believe "it can never happen to us", and have a hidden racism guiding their thinking - but I haven't and I don't suppose there is any racism driving the US responses.

But that is even scarier. It means sooner or later we are ALL on the list. It's probably why Syria is being defensive now, and US commentators are saying "why aren't the behaving? don't they know this makes things worse for them?" Well, actually, they don't - they expect they will get done anyway, somehow or other. As with Saddam Hussein, while defiance is a slim hope, it's still their only hope.

And so also with us, unless we want to wait in the cave for the Cyclops to pick us - maybe decades from now, but fatally all the same. As with Rome, all it takes is for the high ideals to take time to degenerate into rituals covering some agenda. (I don't think that's happened YET, but that that's the way this road leads.)

So, who bells the cat?

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on April 10, 2003 05:03 PM

Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been calling for weeks for the administration to brief Congress on the administration plan for post war Iraq. No one from the administration has yet testified and Lugar is annoyed.

The administration should work with Congress on this. After all, they can cancel the whole project by voting to not fund it. Do they not have a plan. Do they have a plan but are hiding it from the American people or otherwise don't want to let it out? Either way this is not good. The administration wants to make unilateral decisions and have Congress rubber stamp the results. I guess that is the MBA model for how government should work. However, it is no way to make sure that important concerns are not overlooked. It certainly is not representative democracy.

Posted by: bakho on April 10, 2003 05:27 PM

Russil, I'm through pontificating. Probably my point, which is germane to this thread, got lost due to said pontification.

The point was that US motives do matter because if our motives are even perceived as being anything other than pure in our desire to liberate Iraq, help establish an Iraqi government that is for,by, and of the Iraqi people, and then go home - the Iraqi people will revolt against US interventions and will reject our aid. They would no doubt be encouraged to do so by their Muslim brethern in neighboring countries. Which in turn could cause a justification for an expanded conflict.

This could definitely lead to something at least as bad as Saddam. Muslims would be big losers in the end.

I have already stated why I suspect that such a scenario might yet occur. The evidence that has created my skepticism is also known to many in the mid-east.


Posted by: E. Avedisian on April 10, 2003 06:31 PM

"E., I would respectfully suggest that as far as _Iraqis_ are concerned, what's most important about US actions isn't their _motives_, but their _consequences_. Iraqis have been living under sanctions and worsening tyranny for the last 12 years. They're desperate for a return to normality. And the war, which many well-meaning people opposed--partly because of their strong dislike and distrust of the Bush administration-- has made that possible."

A good point Russil, but like Brad would urge us to do, we have to look at the general equilibrium results, i.e., the worldwide consequences, not just the results for Iraquis. When you add into the mix the diminished worldwide respect for the US, the increased likelihood of terrorist attacks against US troops and the US itself (ie., blowback), and the fact that Iran, Syria, and North Korea will now race to upgrade their conventional arsenals and establish a WMD deterrent, and last but not least the expansionist wishes of some members of this administration to carry the war to Iran now that their first project has come off, then the overall balance sheet is coming out in the red as far as I can tell.

Even if you get away from cost-benefit imponderables, the simple fact is that this country still launched an unprovoked invasion of another country. The removal of a brutal and repressive dictatorship, based solely on our government's word for it, is a beneficial side effect but can in no way justify the attack. This is a very bad precedent for the years to come, which I hope the people of the US will not come to regret.

Posted by: andres on April 10, 2003 09:21 PM

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20030410-070214-6557r

So this time Dr. US Frankenstein will create a kinder gentler monster?

Maybe I've not spent enough time in an ivory tower, but I say a leopard never changes its spots; and we are talking about the same old leopard here, and its son.

The "next phase" will be, at best, a variation on an old theme.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on April 10, 2003 10:43 PM


Having experienced something similar first-hand, I KNOW that these people who presume to speak on behalf of Iraqis are full of, to be blunt, crap.

How are anti-war non-Iraqis speaking "on behalf of" Iraqis any more or less than pro-war Iraqis?

I've tried to read about what Iraqis within Iraq and in exile have said. The suspicion of US intentions and the anger at the idea of a US-run government seem pretty consistent, from people on the street, and also out of meetings of Iraqi exile groups and Kurdish leaders. Yes, you do have people in the IGC report so exhausted by sanctions that they were ready for a hot war to terminate the cold one -- but really, if there was another route to end sanctions, would they have chosen that one? There are reports from others, Nicholas Kristoff, the MEP who went to Iraq before the war, who found Iraqis vehemently opposed to a US invasion of Iraq, and since the war started, it has widely been reported that there are many Iraqis who are against US invasion *and* Saddam. Of course there is joy at Saddam's passing, but it is unclear to me if this is indeed an endorsement of all that the war will mean.

Sami Abdul-Rahman, deputy prime minister of the Kurdish administration, said, "Conquerors always call themselves liberators."


Posted by: drapetomaniac on April 10, 2003 11:20 PM

Contrary to popular (in SOME circles ;-) opinion...

"...I am pro-globalization. I think the WTO is a good start.

I am not against all wars. I strongly supported the action in Afghanistan (though disappointed with the follow-up) and I support what we are doing militarily in the Philippines....
Posted by E. Avedisian at April 10, 2003 02:41 PM"


...Money does NOT make the world go 'round...


"...working our way through the Axis of Evil one-by-one could turn out to be a self-financing exercise, ending one human nightmare after another as we go *and* producing a nice net financial gain that we can use to help close the federal budget gap in the end...
Posted by Jim Glass at April 10, 2003 02:43 PM"


...INERTIA makes the world go 'round, boys and girls.

And don't forget too: For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. Knowledge IS power!

That's more than enough "hard" science for one day. Let's see what's not on must see TV...

...Arf! Arf! Don't look now Dorothy but there's a wizard!...Or is it a spook?...No...It's a man!...behind curtain #3!... Shhhhhh!...It LOOKS like he wants to make some kind of deal. Or maybe he just wants go home again. It's damned hard to tell with guys like him. And they almost never just TELL you everything you need to know...Let's sniff around a bit. Shall we [:?)

From Firepower To Staying Power

By Samuel R. Berger
Friday, April 11, 2003; Page A27


"As military victory and the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime draw close, decisions are being made in Washington about how to shape the direction and development of post-Hussein Iraq. There was far too little public discussion of these issues before the war, so the American people haven't focused sharply on what we seek to accomplish, how or at what cost. But how we handle "after" in Iraq will be as important as how we fought the war.

The first issue is more basic than the architecture of the postwar regime. It goes to our fundamental purpose. The president in his Feb. 26 speech before the American Enterprise Institute embraced an ambitious objective: that the war was not only about weapons of mass destruction and eliminating a despotic regime but also about bringing democracy to Iraq and, over time, transforming the Arab Middle East itself.

A decent, representative, outward-looking Iraqi government would be a compelling model for a largely stagnant, authoritarian region. But stabilizing Iraq -- let alone transforming it into a democracy -- will be an enormous challenge, which includes maintaining its territorial integrity; finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction; feeding 16 million Iraqis dependent on the U.N. oil-for food program; handling more than a million people who were forcibly relocated by the Hussein regime over the years; creating a secure environment in which relief and reconstruction can take root; securing the oil fields and repairing their deteriorating infrastructure; preventing internal "score-settling" while protecting U.S. soldiers against lingering resistance; "de-Baathifying" Iraqi government institutions and ensuring that basic services -- water, health, education -- are provided; demobilizing and cleansing the remaining Iraqi military without dumping tens of thousands of young, unemployed men into society; and handling war criminals. And all of this comes before we get to the more difficult questions of Iraqi governance: which Iraqis are empowered and by whom.

Moreover, there will be serious counter-pressures on the United States to take a more minimalist approach. Arab countries will not want a heavy U.S. military footprint in the region for long. Our military, which has performed magnificently in Iraq, is not enthusiastic about the peacekeeping mission and will argue that it is overextended. Some U.S. government officials remain leery of "nation-building." The costs will be substantial for the American people -- economic and potentially human as well. It will be easier for the administration to declare victory if success is defined as getting rid of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction rather than creating a democratic Iraq, let alone a democratic region. If we truly are determined to help create a decent, representative government in Iraq that can affect the region's future, we'd better be prepared to stay the course -- with a commitment measured not only in words but also in years, tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of U.S. troops on the ground. And we'd better start conditioning the American people now, because we didn't before the shooting started. Success in Iraq will mean bringing as much staying power to the peace as we have brought firepower to the war.

Even if the transformational goals prevail, sharp differences exist on how best to pursue them. The more robust approach envisions a new Iraq as, in effect, a democratic, pro-American aircraft carrier in the Middle East from which we will launch proactive efforts to encourage regime change from Iran to Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- by means ranging from aggressive support of oppositionists to covert action. The more benign path assumes that the very presence of a modernizing Iraq will exert strong pressure on authoritarian governments in the region to change, with America's moral support and political engagement for reform, but not active intervention. Promoting economic and political change in the region is critical to the region's future and our own. But we need to curb irrational exuberance and resist an arrogant, aggressive, self-righteous crusade for democracy that risks isolating us, not the extremists. We should align ourselves with the region's internal physics of change, not seek to impose our own.

More immediately, we should be willing to trade some control over the future direction of Iraq for greater international support and legitimacy. Insisting on wide-ranging U.S. dominance will reduce our ability to share the considerable costs, ultimately creating pressures at home and abroad. Some humanitarian relief organizations will not operate under U.S. military command, which could delay provision of much-needed food and care to suffering civilians. And if we are seen as exclusively anointing a new government -- even on an interim basis -- it will have trouble gaining authority throughout the country and we will have trouble dissipating anger in the region.

Our goal should be not to dictate Iraq's future but to help Iraqis define it, in close collaboration with others in the world. And we must be prepared to commit the time, U.S. troops and treasure required for a durable peace. At stake are Iraqis' hopes for a better life, the region's future, and America's role and standing in the world."

The writer was national security adviser from 1997 to 2000. He is chairman of Stonebridge International, a global business strategy firm.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5519-2003Apr10.html

Posted by: Mike on April 11, 2003 03:21 AM

The back-and-forth seen here is underway around the US and the globe, but much of it misses the point. The fact is, it is always possible to come up with good and bad points in any situation. Mussolini made Italy’s trains run on time. The USSR had a pension system superior to what Russians now have. So what?

The ability to make claims about the good or bad result after the fact is fine for those who want to declare victory for their point of view, but otherwise tell us very little about how to determine out behavior before the fact. What is missing is a discussion of principle. A discussion of principle is also what the Bush administration seemed to be trying to avoid by shifting its argument for war on a regular basis. Is a cost-benefit analysis really a just starting point for decisions on war and peace? Is war justified because it might be self-funding? If we aren’t the world’s policeman, is the fact that a dictator is making life awful for his people an adequate reason for going to war? In which cases and when?

Some supporters of this war seem to be taking “we won, so shut up” attitude toward opponents. Supporters and opponents, however, were never in the same game. The facts ahead of time may have been in doubt, but opponents mostly opposed on principle. Traditional views of “Just War”, clear evidence that the US or US allies were threatened, UN authority, outright pacifism – notions such as these seek a principle on which a decision to take human life in war can be justified.

Now that the end of this war is nearing, in the absence of evidence that Iraq had an arsenal of illicit weapons, the buzz is sounding very much like the rotating rationales heard from the Bush administration prior to the war. “Look at all the suffering heaped on Iraq’s people.” “Look at the costs forgone by attacking Iraq.” Even so, what can I, as a voter and taxpayer, know about my government’s likely future behavior? Can I assume that, because Iraq’s people suffered and then we toppled their dictator, that we will topple all such dictators? Can I assume that we will assure a better life for Iraq’s people, even if things in Iraq don’t turn out the way the Bush administration hopes? Or can I look forward to ad hoc decisions to go to war when it suits the president?

Carter argued that human rights should be a core principle in US foreign policy. How many of those now hailing the improvement in human rights in Iraq as a justification for the war supported Carter’s stance? Among those in this discussion justifying the war and old enough to vote for Carter, how many did?

If you can identify a principle for making decisions about war that is governing US behavior right now, tell me what it is. Then, show me when the Bush administration began applying it. If you can’t, then all you are doing is cheering for your team. “We won, so shut up.”

Posted by: K Harris on April 11, 2003 07:11 AM

"The point was that US motives do matter because if our motives are even perceived as being anything other than pure in our desire to liberate Iraq, help establish an Iraqi government that is for, by, and of the Iraqi people, and then go home -"

I see what you're saying, but I would suggest again that it's actions and consequences which matter, _not_ motives. If the US establishes an effective Iraqi government and leaves, it doesn't matter whether it does so for selfish reasons or for benevolent reasons.

George Kennan's comment comes to mind: "...most foreign peoples do not believe that governments do things for selfless and altruistic motives; and if we do not reveal to them a good solid motive of self-interest for anything we do with regard to them, they are apt to invent one. This can be a more sinister one than we ever dreamed of, and their belief in it can cause serious confusion in our mutual relations."

From a moral point of view, I think the best we can hope for in international politics is that governments will act from _enlightened_ self-interest: that is, that they will pursue national interests while remaining aware of, and respectful towards, other people's interests. In this case, I think the interests of the US and the Iraqi people coincided: 12 years of sanctions were a humanitarian disaster for the Iraqi people, and therefore a political disaster for the US.

Thanks for the link to the Richard Sale story, by the way. I'm currently reading "Ropes of Sand", by Wilbur Eveland, which describes similar machinations during the Eisenhower administration in Syria and Lebanon. Eveland worked with the CIA; he contends that US policy in the Middle East was being run by the CIA instead of the State Department, and was completely screwed up.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on April 11, 2003 11:37 AM

drapetomaniac, I certainly can't claim to speak on behalf of Iraqis. I just wanted to point out that many anti-war protesters didn't seem to know anything about what Iraqis thought. I haven't seen much discussion of the ICG report, for example, which was published on the web last December.

No doubt the Iraqis who spoke to the ICG staff member would have definitely preferred some other way other than war to return to normality. But if that was the only way forward, they were willing to accept it.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on April 11, 2003 11:58 AM

andres, you're right: we need to look at the big picture, not just Iraq and the Iraqis. I tried to do this here:
http://www.geocities.com/rwvong/future/mideast.html

I completely agree with your view that the liberation of Iraq is a "beneficial side-effect", it doesn't justify the war. Personally, I was hoping that Saddam Hussein would disarm without a war, right up until Hans Blix's January 27 update, which made it clear that Saddam had decided not to comply with Resolution 1441.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on April 11, 2003 12:08 PM

K Harris:

SOME of what Brad once called "professional Dems" are in the uncomfortable (though not at all unfamiliar, for them) position of cheering for the "other" team because when they HAD the chance AND the CHOICE to stand on principle, they chose not to. And NOW--they're no doubt telling themselves--they simply don't have a choice....

(See

Posted by Mike at April 10, 2003 03:12 AM

Posted by Mike at April 10, 2003 03:27 AM

Posted by Mike at April 10, 2003 04:00 AM

Posted by Mike at April 10, 2003 04:15 AM

for a reasonably detailed exposition of THEIR problem. )


If YOU'RE more interested in OUR problem, check this out:

Which country is next on the list? The neoconservative agenda

By William Pfaff (IHT)
Thursday, April 10, 2003


"PARIS: The Bush administration, determined to remake the Middle East by remaking Iraq, now has the bit between its teeth.

Few had seriously doubted that the military forces of the United States would overcome Iraq's army in fairly short order. It was the administration itself that fueled contrary fantasies of military disaster caused by the supposed threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction - weapons that might tomorrow be used against the American "homeland" itself.

The balance of conventional forces said that Iraq's defeat was a military inevitability; the single question open to discussion was whether Iraq's population or a part of it might rally to the invaders, or on the other hand support irregular or terrorist resistance.

Quick victory now is taken for granted in Washington, and the debate has moved on to two other matters: who will govern a conquered Iraq, and which country will be the next American target.

President George W. Bush went to Belfast on Monday to discuss the first of those questions. Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who still believes that he can bridge certain now-unbridgeable Atlantic differences, settled for a common statement that the United Nations will play a "vital" role in conquered Iraq...."

http://www.iht.com/ihtsearch.php?id=92679&owner=(IHT)&date=20030411121303

And, before I forget, check out THIS too...


Lest We Forget

By Laurie Manis

("Laurie Manis is the daughter of a WWII veteran, the widow of a Viet Nam veteran and the mother of a Navy Reservist. She was a plaintiff in the anti-war lawsuit against President Bush and is a member of Military Families Speak Out.")

Apr 9, 2003

In Memory of Wladyslaw Szpilman

"Nazism was a form of government that restricted personal freedom but permitted private ownership of property. It called for aggressive nationalism, militarism and expansion of Germany's spheres of control through military conquest.

The Nazis glorified Germany and its people, claiming that other nationalities were inferior. It promised to build a harmonious, orderly and prosperous society for the Germans.

Instead it brought terrorism, war and mass murder.

The Nazi agenda was largely based on the premises of Adolph Hitler's book Mein Kampf. In his book, Hitler stated his beliefs and ideas for Germany's future, which included plans to overthrow regimes of countries he perceived to be dangerous to Germany's security or had natural resources needed to fulfill its destiny as the most powerful nation on earth.

Nazism did not gain wide support in Germany until the worldwide business slump of 1929. Discontented Germans then turned to Nazism in increasing numbers because it promised economic help, political power and national glory...."

http://www.mikehersh.com/Lest_We_Forget.shtml

Posted by: Mike on April 11, 2003 12:14 PM

By siding with Saddam Hussein in the current conflict the American left has placed itself in the eternal Hall of Shame. But its sneers and snickers have been drowned out by the cries of joy of a liberated people.

Freedom is a wonderful thing. Why do leftists hate it so much?

Posted by: Joe Willingham on April 11, 2003 09:25 PM

joe, you forgot to mention that Stalin, Hitler, Mao and I killed about a hundred million people. Oh wait, that's David Thompson that says that. My bad.

Posted by: zizka on April 11, 2003 10:11 PM

>>drapetomaniac, I certainly can't claim to speak on behalf of Iraqis. I just wanted to point out that many anti-war protesters didn't seem to know anything about what Iraqis thought.


I'm sorry your knowledge of anti-war folks is so limited. ; )

But seriously, this is totally contrary to my experience. And let's not forget that some of these anti-war protestors *ARE* Iraqis.

http://www.whodies.com/dies_ir_civilians.html
If you look at this, there's a list of a number of Iraqis in Iraq and in exile who have spoken out against war, invasion and/or American rule.

I think Firuz Kutal's comic pretty much summarizes the situation.


Posted by: drapetomaniac on April 12, 2003 12:59 AM

New York Times
Cheers, Tears and Looting in Capital’s Streets
By JOHN F. BURNS
BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 9 — Saddam Hussein’s rule collapsed in a matter of hours today across much of this capital city as ordinary Iraqis took to the streets in their thousands to topple Mr. Hussein’s statues, loot government ministries and interrogation centers and to give a cheering, often tearful welcome to advancing American troops.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/10/international/worldspecial/10BAGH.html

Posted by: Joe Willingham on April 12, 2003 08:28 AM

NY Times, April 10, 2003 http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/10/international/worldspecial/10DEAR.html
Iraqis in the U.S. Celebrate Hussein’s Seeming Downfall
By DANNY HAKIM
DEARBORN, Mich., April 9 — Hundreds of Iraqis and Iraqi-Americans held an impromptu street celebration here today, chanting and cheering the seeming fall of President Saddam Hussein.
“It’s like a birthday,” said Ibrahim Al-Mansori, a 31-year-old butcher from Basra who was holding an enormous American flag. “We’re ready to make a new Iraq.”

Posted by: Joe Willingham on April 12, 2003 08:35 AM

"joe, you forgot to mention that Stalin, Hitler, Mao and I killed about a hundred million people. Oh wait, that's David Thompson that says that."

Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, deliberately murdered millions of people. However, many Western “useful idiots” unwittingly did much to further their aims. Both the Left and the hard core Right have much to answer for. They have indeed made life easier for totalitarians throughout the world. It is our duty to marginalize the conservative Joe Sobrans and liberal Noam Chomskys.

Posted by: David Thomson on April 12, 2003 12:48 PM

"By siding with Saddam Hussein in the current conflict the American left has placed itself in the eternal Hall of Shame. But its sneers and snickers have been drowned out by the cries of joy of a liberated people.

Freedom is a wonderful thing. Why do leftists hate it so much?"

--Joe Willingham

Joe, grow up.

Posted by: andres on April 12, 2003 01:15 PM

“Joe, grow up.”

No, it’s you who has to grow up. The hard Right and immature Left did indeed on a practical basis side with Saddam Hussein. He would still be in power today if the Bush administration listened to folks like you.

And is is very fair to criticize the far Left for hating freedom. At this very moment many on the American Left adore Fidel Castro. They consider this butcher as a loving and decent individual. Sadly, Castro is not an exception. The Left continually favors the Maos and Stalins of the world. Have we already forgotten the disgraceful behavior of historian Eric Hobsbawm?:

http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/21/jan03/hobsbawm.htm

Posted by: David Thomson on April 12, 2003 01:27 PM

We may have forgotten Hobsbawm, David, but we have not yet forgotten your predictions that the war would be over in 7 hours with no bloodshed. Luckily your confidence in your own intellectual capacity is boundless, or you might start questioning yourself, your beliefs and your (I use the word lightly) reasoning.

Posted by: StrontiumDog on April 12, 2003 01:33 PM

The removal of Saddam Hussein is one good thing that has come out of this war. The ending of the murderous sanctions is another, though that wasn't an argument I remember hearing from the Bush administration. Those are the two reasons that I was undecided at first about whether the war was in any sense justifiable.

The trouble is, it is always possible to make a situation worse. If the only reason for the war (that wasn't total BS) was that it would improve the situation of the Iraqi people, and the end result turns out to be that their lives are worse than before the war, then the war will have been a really bad mistake.

Was there ever any doubt in anyone's mind that the American military force would prevail? Not in mine, at least. The bombing was bloodier and less precise than the war fantastizers claimed it would be, and the phrase "collateral damage" is still an obscenity, but what's done is done. The dead cannot be brought back to life, and the US reputation for international co-operation is toast for at least a generation. The question is, what happens now? That was always the question there was no good answer to, and it still is.

The US has turned out to be really, really good at breaking things in Iraq. People, buildings, and social structure, all quite satisfactorily smashed. Will it be any good at all at glueing any of them back together into something that works? The buildings, sure, the roads, the electricity plants. The US knows how to fix those. How about health care? Law and order? An economy? A government that has the consent of the governed? We'll have to wait and see... and remember, if they can't do it, if they fail, if they fumble, if they don't even know where to start, if they stop paying attention to the hard stuff and just move on to trash another country, and another, then the war was wrong.

Posted by: Canadian Reader on April 12, 2003 01:43 PM

I am fairly confident that Iraq will be a stable political and economic entity in the relatively near future. Afghanistan has a serious problem overcoming the illiteracy of most of its citizens. Iraq not only has oil, but a much higher percentage of its population is well educated. That is why I disagree with James Fallows’ concerns about iraq possibly becoming our “51st State.” The transition should not take more than two years.

Last but not least, the coalition’s victory also dramatically lessen the threat of terrorism. Those who tend toward nihilistic true believer ideologies are distraught and feeling impotent. They are now far more likely to seek other more benign avenues to satisfy their existential cravings.

Posted by: David Thomson on April 12, 2003 01:43 PM

"David, but we have not yet forgotten your predictions that the war would be over in 7 hours with no bloodshed. Luckily your confidence in your own intellectual capacity is boundless, or you might start questioning yourself, your beliefs and your (I use the word lightly) reasoning."

I can easily live with my earlier hopeful optimism. The final results still make me look good. The Cassandras were proven to be ridiculously off the reservation.

What did I previously overlook? I forgot just how evil was the Saddam regime. Its Stalinist style political structure prevented its populace from doing what it actually desired. There is no doubt but that many of the Iraqi troops did not wish to fight, but the threats against their families forced them to oppose the coalition forces. This war would have been over in the first 72 hours if Saddam’s thugs did not stand in the way of a quick surrender. Please note the high numbers of soldiers who still surrendered as soon as it was feasible.

Posted by: David Thomson on April 12, 2003 01:58 PM

Contrary to what Canadian reader says above, the US has been remarkably successful in limiting civilian casualties and damage to property. During the bombing, the people in Baghdad mostly continued to go about their daily business since only regime and military facilities were being targeted. The accuracy of the precision guided munitions was remarkable, but given the Saddam regime's practice of locating military installation near and among civilians it was not possible to avoid civilian casualties altogether.

As far as providing services, repairing infrastructure, and establishing law and order the US will not be doing these things alone. The large number of capable and educated Iraqis will be able to do a lot of it themselves, and many countries and international agencies will make important contributions.

The damage that will have to be repaired is less that caused by the war than it is the economic, psychological and moral damage wrought upon Iraq by Saddam Hussein's 35 year reign of terror.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on April 12, 2003 03:49 PM

"The ending of the murderous sanctions is another, though that wasn't an argument I remember hearing from the Bush administration."

There were never any "murderous sanctions" in place. Our attempt to limit Saddam Hussein's financial wherewithal was a very legitimate action. The onus is entirely on the former dictator's head for putting his people in such a predicament.

Furthermore, Canadians don’t have a moral leg to stand on. The United States is the primary defender of your country. You do not even begin to pay your fair share. It is very fair to describe the citizens of Canada as parasites. We do the dirty work, and you get a free ride.

Posted by: David Thomson on April 12, 2003 04:54 PM

What might be one of the most important tests of reform in Iraq? I believe it might be whether Iraq officially recognize Israel. Is it politically feasible to have Israel become one of the first nations to form diplomatic relations with the new Iraq government? Am I expecting to much to hope that the Iraqis will gracefully welcome assistance from the Israelis?

Posted by: David Thomson on April 12, 2003 06:46 PM

"Freedom" in Iraq is still tenuous.

Even if it is somehow achieved- very very doubtful given the meddling designs of the neocons - it will have come at the cost of a good measure of our own freedom here in the US.

Our government lied to us and it lied to the world. The Bushies said this war was about WMD and the defense of America. The Bushies said they had evidence of Iraqi WMD. They scared the American people with images of mass carnage on American soil. Even before the war some of that evidence was shown to be forged.

Now, as we control the majority of Iraq, we still cannot produce such evidence.

Captured high ranking officials from Saddams regime - that are now cooperating with the US - continue to state that no WMD existed.

That we wasted crumby Iraqi troops and ousted Saddam ?(where is he and where are the bulk of his troops?) does not justify the lies told to us our by government. Nor does it justify the lies our government told the UN.

That so many in the US see only the ousting of Saddam and have forgotten the pre-war manouvering of the neocons, bodes badly for freedom and democracy here at home.

So now accept lies. We accept the invasion of rights in the form of the Patriot Act (that Bush now wants permanent).

For some rabid troll to suggest that being against the war equates with being a Saddam apologist....well I guess that is what rabid trolls do.

If the US wants to free people from dictators and engage in nation building than let's state that objective clearly debate it publicly and then take the appropriate course of action. That is how a democratic republic works.

The "next phase" should start with impeachment of those that are enemies of freedom; enemies of our Constitution.

Let's take care democracy at home before we worry about it elsewhere.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on April 13, 2003 06:42 AM

"And is is very fair to criticize the far Left for hating freedom. At this very moment many on the American Left adore Fidel Castro. They consider this butcher as a loving and decent individual. Sadly, Castro is not an exception. The Left continually favors the Maos and Stalins of the world. Have we already forgotten the disgraceful behavior of historian Eric Hobsbawm?"

It would make no difference if this sickening sort of red-baiting was ignored or parodied, as ziska usually does, but somebody has to try point out its utterly fallacious reasoning and anti-democratic spirit. Past suppport of dictators is no way to judge a political movement. In fact, it is way too oversimplifying to use terms as left and right, which also indicates the need for better labels. Support for dictators in the past is really not relevant--what matters is what we think of such dictators today. Many people in the Left supported Castro in the past, just as many people in the Right supported Franco, Videla, Suharto, and yes, Hitler before 1941. Similarly, the unlamented Trent Lott lost his majority-leader position because he supported Thurmond's pro-segregationist candidacy today, not just in 1948 when Lott himself was not of voting age.

But all of that is moot--what really matters is what people think of bloody minded dictators today, when there is plenty of unbiased historical material to help form a judgement. I hate to break it to you David, but the majority of people who call themselves Leftists today do not support Fidel Castro and nowadays actively criticize him--Castro has practically no popular support outside Cuba itself. Brad too has taken cheap shots at Eric Hobsbawm, but what matters is Hobsbawm's opinion of Stalinism today, not in the 1940's and 50's when most US news media were spouting anti-communist propaganda. It is one thing to support Stalinism in those years, quite another to support it after Khruschev's denunciation and after the publication of the _Gulag Archipelago_.

It is a stupid and pointless exercise to tar and feather an opponent because of his party's support for dictators in the past (I have done it in the past, but only in order to point out the hypocrisy of those who, like DT, wish to equate the left with support of totalitarian dictators). Can we really now try to move into more reasoned debate, or are you, DT (and yes, you, Joe), going to continue to try to sling shit?

Posted by: andres on April 13, 2003 10:06 AM

“It would make no difference if this sickening sort of red-baiting was ignored or parodied”

“Past suppport of dictators is no way to judge a political movement. In fact, it is way too oversimplifying to use terms as left and right, which also indicates the need for better labels. Support for dictators in the past is really not relevant--what matters is what we think of such dictators today.”

“Red-baiting” is the practice of unfairly accusing someone of possessing Communist sympathies or making excuses for their atrocities. Am I living in the past? Not in the least. Yoko Ono is presently trying to put her tongue up Castro’s rear end. Alas, she will have to wait for Jack Nicholson and Steven Spielberg to finish their ass licking of the Cuban dictator. Even Castro’s big ass can handle only so many tongues at a given time.

“Brad too has taken cheap shots at Eric Hobsbawm, but what matters is Hobsbawm's opinion of Stalinism today, not in the 1940's and 50's when most US news media were spouting anti-communist propaganda. It is one thing to support Stalinism in those years, quite another to support it after Khruschev's denunciation and after the publication of the _Gulag Archipelago_.”

Eric Hobsbawm still supported Stalin’s regime long after the abundant evidence was made very clear to him. He basically asserts that a few eggs had to be broken to make an omelet. Hobsbawm is a very vile and despicable man:

“Not long ago, on a popular television show, Hobsbawm explained that the fact of Soviet mass-murdering made no difference to his Communist commitment. In astonishment, his interviewer asked, “What that comes down to is saying that had the radiant tomorrow actually been created, the loss of fifteen, twenty million people might have been justified?” Without hesitation Hobsbawm replied, “Yes.””

http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/21/jan03/hobsbawm.htm


Posted by: David Thomson on April 13, 2003 06:42 PM

Time to get out of this thread. David misses the point entirely, if he really believes that Yoko Ono and Eric Hobsbawm speak for the Left as a whole, just as it would be a piece of dishonorable dishonesty to assert that William F. Buckley Jr. or Anne Coulter speak for the whole of the right, for that matter. By the way, to answer the question of whether Hobsbawm is still a Stalinist today (he may well be and I don't care, since I haven't read him) one should read his own writings.

Joe, David, I'm done with this thread. But once again, let me point out that if you start making ridiculous and bigoted generalizations about other groups I, and others, will speak up to contradict you. Whether this is done with any politeness depends on the tone of your own comments. Good night.

Posted by: andres on April 13, 2003 09:14 PM

"What might be one of the most important tests of reform in Iraq? I believe it might be whether Iraq officially recognize Israel." Isn't this making it a test of democracy whether it comes up with the "right" answer?

As for "...Am I expecting to much to hope that the Iraqis will gracefully welcome assistance from the Israelis?", isn't that making it a condition that they acknowledge Israel as a benefactor, i.e. that they repudiate the value system they now have that reads it as a problem?

What I am getting at here isn't the rights or wrongs of Israel, but whether the USA is doing just precisely what the Greeks, the Macedonians and then the Romans did - keeping going with "liberating" until it delivered the "right" answer. And, of course, after a while they dropped all those tedious requirements and got down to straight empire stuff.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on April 13, 2003 10:58 PM

"...Furthermore, Canadians don’t have a moral leg to stand on. The United States is the primary defender of your country. You do not even begin to pay your fair share. It is very fair to describe the citizens of Canada as parasites. We do the dirty work, and you get a free ride..."

This is to confuse cause and effect and symptom.

The ONLY reason, and the only manner in which, the USA "defends" Canada is that the USA has rendered Canada open to all and now defends its own position over Canada. Who rendered the British Empire ineffectual and no recourse? This is not parasitism, it is being a sheep in a flock surrounded by wolves with a sense of proprietary interest stopping others from poaching.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on April 13, 2003 11:07 PM

“Brad too has taken cheap shots at Eric Hobsbawm"

" By the way, to answer the question of whether Hobsbawm is still a Stalinist today (he may well be and I don't care, since I haven't read him)"

Huh? How can you accuse Brad DeLong of taking "cheap shots at Eric Hobsbawm" when you candidly admit that "I haven't read him?"

Posted by: David Thomson on April 14, 2003 05:09 AM

drapetomaniac, I'm thinking of reports such as this Feburary 26 op-ed from Gulf News, describing the London peace march:
http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/opinion.asp?ArticleID=78689

Posted by: Russil Wvong on April 14, 2003 01:02 PM
Post a comment