November 28, 2003

NEW MATH

Here’s a math quiz for you:

During the 30-odd years he was in power, Saddam Hussein murdered at least 300,000 of his own people. These are the ones we are finding in mass graves in Iraq. Another 300,000 – at least – were killed in his war with Iran and his two conflicts with the US. Those are bare-bones, undeniable, non-speculative, minimums.

That darling arithmetic works out to no less than 20,000 people a year killed by that lunatic, or about 1,700 people a month.

So how many innocent people have not died as a result of the Iraq war?

I get about 13,000 so far.

Thirteen thousand is about the size of a good basketball game. Perhaps we can convince the Lakers to play a charity game against the Spurs, say. Then we can put 13,000 Iraqi men, women and children into the Staples Center, and make Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, George Clooney, The Dixie Chicks, Janeane Garofalo, and every single person who signed the Not in Our Name petition kill those people in cold blood – electrodes, acid baths or shredders, to get the full effect, although the weak-stomached should be allowed to merely shoot them in the back of the head.

Because that is exactly what would have happened if these people had gotten their way.

Something to think about.

Here’s another, bigger equation:

For thirty years now, since 1973, we have been consistently teaching the world an object lesson on the nature of the modern American mindset, and that lesson is this:

We are fierce and terrible in battle. But kill a few dozen -- at most, a few hundred – of us, and we will turn tail and run for home. For all our skill in combat, the American people are weak and decadent, bullies and cowards without the guts for a real fight.

We have been teaching our enemies this variable for a long time now: Somalia, Lebanon, Vietnam, and various smaller engagements. And they have adjusted their calculations accordingly. Duck when facing us in battle, then grind us down with guerrilla actions until we throw in the towel and go home.

We have not just been teaching our enemies this theory. We have been training them in its use. And they have adjusted their strategy correspondingly, with very satisfactory results. And if killing a few hundred American Soldiers overseas can accomplish such wonders, should we really be surprised that they salivated at the thought of what killing a few tens of thousands here at home would bring?

One thing we can be sure of, and that is that they most certainly did not expect what the last two years have brought them. Osama reduced to unpleasant-smelling stains on the wall of a Tora Bora cave, and Saddam lord of a basement in some slum in Tikrit or Mosul, his sons, his hereditary line, his legacy laid out like the common thugs and criminals they were, for everyone to see.

The fact of the matter is, folks, this war is going so well that no one would have dared imagine it. Two years without a hiccup on American soil. Two of the most odious regimes in the world eliminated. And, not least of which, remarkable conservative political victories in the US with the promise of more on the horizon.

No wonder the far left is praying for our own kids to be killed in greater numbers. Because that’s what things have come to for those sick, deluded people. That is their only hope for victory. Yes you, Ted Rall, you prize…fellatelist.

They’re not going to get it.

They’re not going to get it because every single day of this odd, Sargasso-like stillness, we are re-programming our enemies equations and forcing them to re-think their strategy.

Those men and women who are being killed weekly in Iraq are hard deaths for us to accept. On the surface it looks like a long, painful grind without any victory or consolation.

But something much, much deeper is going on here, and it is this: we are paying off the red ink we have accrued by cutting and running when it was the easy way out. We are paying off a brutal and unforgiving debt that we have incurred by our lack of resolve in decades past. Lincoln once wrote that the only thing worse than paying off a large debt was being forced to pay off a larger one; exactly so.

But remember this, America: Those men and women of ours who are paying with their lives are not just paying down a debt. They are making an investment, too.

Because if we show that we have the will and the resolve to finish the job we started there, then we will succeed, and by succeeding we will immeasurably strengthen our security in the decades to come. We have to teach these savages, these thugs and murderers, that attacks on the United States will bring more men, not fewer, and bring the ends of their lives and the destruction of their regimes, too. Like criminals everywhere, they prey on their own people, and anyone who thinks that the small bands of Ba'athist torturers and assorted lunatic Jihadi’s still on the loose in Iraq is analogous to the widely popular nationalist resistance in Vietnam is either deluded, mentally unbalanced, a journalist, a hippie, or a celebrity.

Remember that, the next time a Blackhawk goes down, or an Iraqi police building is bombed. When they are forced to bomb and kill their own people, they are destroying their own seed corn. They are doomed. They are doomed because we handed them their asses on the battlefields and then every day in their neighborhoods, for there would be no attacks against fellow Iraqis if those fellow Iraqis were not, by and large, helping us rebuild their own country with a view to it joining the rest of the world in the 21st century.

How well are we doing? Well, when Steven Den Beste can dedicate a fair amount of his fearsome intellect to writing about Japanese Anime DVD’s, that means we are winning this war in a very, very big way.

But realize this: There is not going to be a parade when we are done with this battle. Noam Chomsky is not going to stand up and admit he was wrong. Michael Moore is not going to shave, diet and join the Screaming Eagles. The giant puppets will still be there on some new imagined outrage, because people who put “protestor” down as their occupation on their (declined!) mortgage applications are never going to be happy with anything.

Screw ‘em.

This is a difficult, thankless, grinding war. It requires, above all, leadership immune to pressure and criticism. It’s victory is predicated on perseverance and commitment.

Despite many missteps, we seem to have such leadership. And having the balls to fly over SAM’s in a big-ass blue jet marked UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, just to eat Thanksgiving dinner with the kids paying the price…

Well, that doesn’t hurt either.

(Oh, and my good friend and regular commenter Richard Riley is within a few hours of becoming a first-time daddy. Having found you good readers to be the absolute cream of the crop, intellect-wise, he has asked me to poll the audience as to a name for his brand-new anti-idiotarian arrival. Do you like Elizabeth, Caitlin, or Rachel? Comments would be deeply appreciated.

Congratulations, Richard. You can unclench your fists now. Now ask your wife to help you with your breathing.)

Posted by Proteus at November 28, 2003 03:33 AM
Comments

Elizabeth.

Good to have you back, Bill.

Posted by: Pouncer on November 28, 2003 05:35 AM

Poor Richard. Speaking from multiple-experinces, women just don't know what it's like for man when his baby is being born. ;-)

Real Men go nuts when such a earth-shaking event is taking place and there is little they can really do to affect the outcome.

Congratulations, New Dad.

I prefer Elizabeth, since Beth is a nickname that I've always liked. Rachel would be my second choice--a good strong name.

Posted by: CERDIP on November 28, 2003 05:37 AM

Welcome back. You've been missed.

And any name spoken in love will do just fine.

Posted by: Jim G on November 28, 2003 05:55 AM

For Richard:

Elizabeth or Rachel are just fine. Solid names, these. But not Caitlin -- too many Caitlins (and Chelseas, and Brittanys, and Megans) are out there these days.

For Bill:

Welcome back.

Posted by: Steve C. on November 28, 2003 06:07 AM

Before I even realized what was happening, I got in an argument during Thanksgiving dinner last night with ... a distant relative ... because she suggested that all the Americans who have died, even those of September 11, have died as a result of President Bush's policies. My wife suggested I should apologize to her for responding so vigorously. Naturally, her comment was in response to someone's voicing admiration of our president for yesterday's actions.

Bill, you keep us (well, me at least) sane in the midst of some insane people. Thank you, and keep it up. (And take all the time you need.)

Posted by: Steven G. on November 28, 2003 06:17 AM

Elizabeth.

A classic and beautiful name, with much honor and history associated with it.

Some advantages for the recipient: every Elizabeth is a Real Betty (tm), so that's good, plus you get to hear the phrase "Queen Elizabeth" now and then, which is nice. Also it has a number of diminutives (Betty, Beth, Bette, Liz, Lizbeth, Elbeth, etc.), giving a choice later in life when such things become Important (like in Jr. High).

Most encouraging is the fact that the greatest woman the world has ever known, my lovely wife, is named Elizabeth. They don't come any better, and I can say that with assurance, having recently celebrated or 30th anniversary. :)

Best of luck and blessings to the new one, and glad to see you back. You were definitely missed.

Posted by: DSmith on November 28, 2003 06:29 AM

Elizabeth, certainly. Rachael Riley doesn't do it. Apologies to all Caitlins, but I think traditional names are best.

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Bill on November 28, 2003 06:49 AM

I was going to suggest Rachael, but these good folks have made some strong arguments for Elizabeth. You couldn't really go wrong with either.

No offense to all the Caitlins out there, but I do prefer the classic names.

As a side note, I find it interesting that the female names from the Bible have survived better than the male ones. Joshua, Isaac, Jacob, Daniel, David, Joseph, Zachary and Stephen have done ok (two of those names happen to belong to me, too), but almost every female name I can think of is still in common use. Ruth, Elizabeth, Rachael, Leah, Sarah (ok, maybe not Sarai, but even she stopped using that one), Micah, Tamar(a), Dinah, Rebekah, Abigail, Mary, Martha...the list goes on.

Posted by: Steve on November 28, 2003 07:08 AM

Glad to see you back, Bill. Too bad you didn't make a mistake and actually throw the real Ted Rall in the ocean...one can hope can't one?

As for Richard, Elizabeth is the name I would choose.

Posted by: Blackfive on November 28, 2003 07:14 AM

Glad to see you back, Bill.

Jeez, I could glean a dozen "Quote of the Day" items from this comparatively brief post.

BTW, I'm going to be in SoCal in December - anything "E^3-ish" happening then?

Posted by: Russ on November 28, 2003 07:24 AM

Joining the flood for Elizabeth, a certifiable queenly name with a rich trove of nicks. Rachel is in second place, a heroine's name. Caitlin is a comparative literature major from Smith.

Nice return. Looking forward to the book.

Posted by: Billy Hank on November 28, 2003 07:34 AM

My wife and I think Rachel is a particularly beautiful name. Keep up the great work!

Posted by: JD & Lisa on November 28, 2003 08:29 AM

Hi Bill, and welcome back!

Keep up the good work! Do you have any photos of the Rall sinking!

Given that my daughter is named Elizabeth, I highly recommend it.

B

Posted by: Bob on November 28, 2003 08:39 AM

Happy Thanksgiving, Bill!

Rachel is a lovely name, but I'm partial to Elizabeth. There are some terrific nick names for Elizabeth (Lizzy, Eli, Elly, Beth, Liz Beth, Bette, Liza, etc etc). Congratulations, Richard.

More than anything, I'm glad you're alive, Bill. Pilots have to pop their heads up every now and again so old hens don't worry so much!

Posted by: Mrs. du Toit on November 28, 2003 08:44 AM

Well, it was at night, in the dark, but .... yes, point well taken.... much better than that carrier deck stunt, this one was really cool! Anyone know how Rove will top this???

Posted by: EB on November 28, 2003 08:51 AM

Dang, bubba--you have well said what we tend to lose sight of: the idjits wouldn't be killing their own if Iraqi reconstruction weren't meeting with some measure of success. I mean, we know that, but we sometimes don't KNOW that. With me?

Scales have fallen from my eyes, Wise One. Keep it up.

"Hannah" is a lovely name, "favor," or "grace" in English...

Posted by: Joel on November 28, 2003 08:57 AM

and also about this:
"...... small bands of Ba'athist torturers and assorted lunatic Jihadi’s still on the loose in Iraq is analogous to the widely popular nationalist resistance in Vietnam is either deluded, mentally unbalanced, a journalist, a hippie, or a celebrity."

Something to consider is the fact that these are not really small bands, but rather large groups internationally! of islamic fundamentalists who are not an insignificant opponent to those who want democracy and peaceful free market economies.... these folks have been working for years in religious schools all over teaching a very hateful message against the western people and governments, etc.... there are many, many groups like this they are not all al qaeda or baathists, they are in places like Indonesia and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and these insurgents are not "dead enders" as they are often described, but religious warriors and the only way to combat their continuing support is to make an economically viable challenge to their message by creating a democratic and free Iraq, to call them a small band though is to trivialize the enemy in this war.

We will be fighting a very long time on this, probably a generation or more, because that is how long a lead time they have had in sowing the seeds of hate.

Posted by: EB on November 28, 2003 09:04 AM

You always seem to put into clear and concise focus what the rest of us feel, but are not able to articulate. Nice, Bill, nice.

Elizabeth is a beautiful name. As are the others.

Posted by: joe citizen on November 28, 2003 09:31 AM

Looks like I have to go with the Chia-pet option (*sigh*).

Posted by: Kevin Baker on November 28, 2003 10:20 AM

I missed your masterful insight. Welcome back.

Keep Rolling!

Posted by: geekWithA.45 on November 28, 2003 10:22 AM

Of the names you listed, Elizabeth has the greatest flexibility to match the future personality of the baby... Eli, Liza, Beth, Lizzy etc... The others, while good names, don't have quite this potential variety.

Posted by: Cletus on November 28, 2003 10:45 AM

Bill--

Welcome back. And thanks, as always, for "New Math"--I've already linked.

RACHEL. Beautiful, splendiferous Biblical name. Can't do much better.

Posted by: Pete (Alois) on November 28, 2003 10:46 AM

Rachel.

And Bill, have you thought about the webcast thing? Or atleast audio recordings?

Posted by: dr.dna on November 28, 2003 11:28 AM

The beautiful, tasteful Rachael. Second choice lovely, anglo-saxon Elizabeth. Caitlin is a trendy, cowardly yuppie clone name (please forgive me if that ends up as your choice).

Posted by: evariste on November 28, 2003 01:06 PM

Good to see your writing again, Bill.

As to the names: Elizabeth or Rachel with first dibs going to Elizabeth.

Posted by: addison on November 28, 2003 01:06 PM

If you will entertain this curveball, I think Lucy and Lucille wonderful, sadly uncommon names for girls.

Posted by: evariste on November 28, 2003 01:07 PM

Of the given choices:
Elizabeth.

Orion

Posted by: Orion on November 28, 2003 01:09 PM

Elizabeth. Strongest woman's name. Ever.

Posted by: BC Monkey on November 28, 2003 01:28 PM

Elizabeth Rachel Riley. Need I say more?

(Well, I do, but I'll wait. Congrats, dad!)

--Dave

Posted by: VRWCman on November 28, 2003 01:32 PM

I don't know, VRWCman-ERR? Me thinks RER is a fiercer monogram!
Rachael Elizabeth Riley. RER!
Oh, and I hope you're going to spell it with the "ae".

Posted by: evariste on November 28, 2003 01:59 PM

I like VRWCman's option, Elizabeth Rachel.

Caitlin is actually a very traditional name, if you're Irish. The problem is that no one on this side of the ocean knows how to pronounce it! Phonetically it is (approximately) Cahtch-leen. Think Catch, but change the "a" sound to that of "father" or the "o" of "pot" or even the word "awe". It is the name that was anglisized as "Kathleen".

All that said, it is way too trendy right now, and hearing it mispronounced as "Kate-lin" puts my teeth on edge.

And congrats to the new parents!

Posted by: LibraryGryffon on November 28, 2003 02:01 PM

Good to see you back, guy. I was getting concerned.

AFA the book goes, just like any essay, I'm sure you'll get it out there when it's ready, not before.

Personal preference, I always liked Rachel. I'll bet your blogsis would agree. :-)

Sapper Mike

Posted by: Sapper Mike on November 28, 2003 02:33 PM

Bill, about the holiday season & book releases-here's what Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing had to say recently:"I finally got to see the paperback edition of my novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which is out just in time for Christmas. For various good reasons, Tor elected to publish the hardcover in January of last year, too late for Christmas shoppers. A lot of people complained (including me), but it's clear that they knew what they were doing -- the book didn't end up competing with the big, frontlist holiday titles and sold very well indeed. Still, I'm very grateful indeed that the paperback (which Amazon has for $10.36) is out in time for the holidays this year."

Posted by: evariste on November 28, 2003 02:38 PM

Man, it's good to have you back! I've been checking daily ... not desperate or anything, but the quality of the thinking and clarity of writing is a tremendous pleasure.

I think Elizabeth is the best of the choices, for many of the reasons listed above. Congratulations Richard!

Posted by: Special Ed on November 28, 2003 04:27 PM

Rachel is great, Elizabeth a close 2nd

Welcome back!

Posted by: Josh on November 28, 2003 04:43 PM

Bill,

I'll echo those 'welcome backs'. Elizabeth is my choice as well.

All, I dropped Bill an e-mail last night. X-Cor is supposed to be firing off their small engine this weekend at LosCon in Burbank this weekend per Jerry Pournelle's web site. I think the time is 4 p.m. at the Burbank Airport Hilton.

Open skies,
Ed

Posted by: Ed on November 28, 2003 05:01 PM

Elizabeth Lynn...and welcome back!

cheers,

Dick

Posted by: hairofthedawg on November 28, 2003 06:08 PM

Another vote here for Elizabeth...that would have been the name of my little brother Stephen, had he been born a girl. (My baby brother...who's now in his first year at UCLA. Ah, where does the time go?)

My wife offers her vote for Caitlin, but she seems to be in the minority.

Posted by: Erbo on November 28, 2003 08:55 PM

I vote for Elizabeth, Rachael, and Caitlin in that order; my mother's name is Mary Elizabeth, Rachael is a good, solid, Old Testament name, but Caitlin is a relative rarity, at least in my generation.

As for your essay, as usual, I agree with most everything you have said.

Posted by: David N. St. John on November 29, 2003 12:39 AM

Welcome back Bill. Great post as usual. I'm one of the folks that shows up daily to see if there's an update. Don't rush the book, let it come when it wills. The speaking tour, now that's another matter, work your way out to the east coast please.

Richard, my vote goes to Elizabeth also. The first girl I truly ever loved and one of the most unique, strongest persons I have ever met. Just don't do what my brother almost did and name her Amanda Lynn, just wrong phonetically.

Posted by: RickB on November 29, 2003 01:09 AM

Elisabeth

With an s, not a z.

---

Welcome back, Bill.

Posted by: JOH on November 29, 2003 07:16 AM

We have a mixed marriage here; Barnaby votes against Caitlin and i vote for it. Only I'd spell it Katelyn. of course get-togethers might be confusing as Katie and I might both answer when Richard calls his daughter.
-Lynne

Posted by: on November 29, 2003 07:45 AM

Bill,

Welcome back!

I also vote for Elizabeth.

Ed K.

Posted by: Ed K. on November 29, 2003 07:47 AM

This war may never see an end, but one thing is certain, if we hide in our bunkers and wait for the enemy to infiltrate and hunt us, we won't survive. No sane person likes war. There is no choice this time, it amazes me that some would rather wait for them to make the move on us, rather than taking the fight to them. Maybe I am the insane one, who knows. Courage and conviction, knowledge is belief, trust in the man or woman next to you...wait, perhaps I have been in the field to long.

Peace is within, and always will remain so.

Rik

Posted by: Rik on November 29, 2003 08:04 AM

Thanks to all that replied.

Elizabeth Lynne Riley was born this morning at 5:41, weighing 8 lbs, 4 oz. Mom and baby are sore, sleeping, beautiful and healthy. I'll post a picture somewhere soon. Sadly, the smartmedia card that got the labor and delivery pictures just decided that it is no longer formatted, so those are likely gone forever. So much for digital.

Now, sleep and food. Not in that order.

Posted by: Richard Riley on November 29, 2003 10:16 AM

AH america, delivering democracy on the tip of a cruise missile, what better way!? Your logic and reasoning is twisted and sick, but people like yourself will always find ways to justify the decisions that the leaders of plutocratic america make. If saving lives was such a critical goal, why was securing the oil fields of southren Iraq proclaimed to be the crown jewel by our military commanders? Your view that this is a humanitarian war is invalidated by the actions of the major corporations rapidly privatizing each sector of Iraq. Will the money made by the oil companies go to the average Iraqi? no. Will the average american taxpayer see any benefit from the reconstruction and policing of Iraq? no. have gas and heating oil prices dropped? no.
And so as I shouted in the streets and will shout again...."NO BLOOD FOR OIL"

Posted by: that guy on November 29, 2003 01:17 PM

Quote
And so as I shouted in the streets and will shout again...."NO BLOOD FOR OIL"
Unquote
Your audience of two will be righteously impressed!

Posted by: Steve on November 29, 2003 01:33 PM

My name is Richard. Our daughter's name is Elizabeth.
Righteous combination. Glad to hear it happened again.
Some of the loonies haven't gotten the memo. Tough when you're so unimportant you're no longer on the mailing list.
But the word was out some time ago. "No blood for oil." wore out. It's been retired. It's what conservatives say when they want to mock the loonies and show how dumb even grown-ups can be when they can't think beyond the high chair view of the world.
Saying it is supposed to be a no-no because it not only fails to make a point, it makes the people who profess to actually believe it makes a point look like morons.
Jeez. Some people.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey on November 29, 2003 02:10 PM

"that guy" at nazimedia has struck. Oh his logic doth slay me.

Oh please, Rip Van Silly, that old "blood for oil" meme? Even the left doesn't call that out anymore. Please. Do the math. I know you liberal arts types aren't comfortable with that but try at lease. How much money is the Iraqi operation going to cost? How much does the Iraqi oil production bring in? Only an idiot would think that would be a number in the black.

So i say to you "No blood for Palaces" You guys are the ones who personally helped Saddam kill all those people. You make me sick.

Posted by: capt joe on November 29, 2003 02:13 PM

Catherine Elizabeth

Two very strong women's names and yes I believe in the need to arm girls from the start just as we need to arm our sons. A good name is a good start.

Posted by: Stan on November 29, 2003 03:45 PM

mmmm I personally helped Saddam. riiight. capt joe and R aubrey both stun with their classic destroy by riducule mantras. The caliber of both of your responses strikes me as quite eigth grade, but then, I could be only 13 or 14 and so it would be appropo to sink down to my level wouldn't it....
My response.
If " No blood for oil" is worn out, then perhaps "Blood for Oil!" is chic again? do tell....

Posted by: that guy on November 29, 2003 04:10 PM

AH america, delivering democracy on the tip of a cruise missile,

I won't comment on what is right and wrong, but let's think...18 ohio subs, down to 14 for start reasons. When I wander through what is life, I never think about my own, only why I do what I do. Can I possibly make a difference? Let's not worry why I survive, let's ask what is right, socially for others. Not to get off topic, but I can not commend enough those of you that actually think, and I often wish the debate could be real time. Given time I can destroy my own thoughts on my own. I am new, and noticed several I just never would disagree with, not because they are right, but they are too strong to give up. I value what can not be lost, for if it can not be defended, what worth was it. I adore my brothers, shugart and gordon, et all. If only I could die so they could live, life might not be right, but they would be here. God bless each and every man and woman that goes into harm's way to protect us, even us that are too stupid to recognize the need. Courage, faith, steady and secure, knowing direction, even if lost. I adore nature, it allows me to move without being seen.

Posted by: Rik on November 29, 2003 04:13 PM

Stan - You're right. Catherine is a wonderful name. But it's already taken - by my wife :)

And don't worry, Elizabeth will learn how to shoot at the same time she learns how to ride, fly, cook, build and dance. My first rifle - a Winchester 67 - is still in the closet, waiting for the next kid to teach.

Posted by: Richard Riley on November 29, 2003 04:28 PM

Elizabeth
Hands down. :)

Good to have you back Bill.

Posted by: quark2 on November 29, 2003 04:59 PM

Gosh, once "we" rebuild Iraq successfully and get everyone good and scared of "us", then it seems logical that "we" will come home and rebuild America. "We" could call it the "War on Poverty", to parallel the War on Terra, and we could set as our "investment goal" the elimination of poor Americans.

Oh wait...

Posted by: Leonard on November 29, 2003 05:23 PM

Richard,
Congratulations on your new daughter. :)
My first gun was a .22 rifle when I was about 4 years old. You're already on the right road. To ensure her safety is to teach her self reliance in all things.

Posted by: quark2 on November 29, 2003 05:27 PM

I see the socialists have decided to honour us with their presence and lecture us on our imperialism. Where were you guys in the last 12 years? Thinking up more ways to create more socialistic progroms for the poor Americans?
Not once have I read one time where any of you have celebrated the 30 years stopping the killing that was still ongoing in Iraq. But of course, we aren't supposed to stick our noses where it doesn't belong. Where were you guys when the USS Cole was bombed? Where were you guys when the embassies in Africa were bombed? Where were you guys when the marine compound in Lebanon was bombed?
Nary a word of protest from one of ONE of you. As long as it's Americans being killed who are 'innocent' and minding their own business that makes it all better.
You would rather this war fail miserably, you would rather we fight the enemy on our soil. You would rather see innocent blood run in our streets.
You are treacherous, slimey, socialist infected monsters. You've taken up the banner of Stalin, it's not enough it failed completely in the USSR. Let's bring it over here and see how many can be cleansed.
You've shown your true colours loud and clear.

And speaking of imperialism, why isn't there any protesting of troops in Liberia?

***crickets chirping***

Posted by: quark2 on November 29, 2003 05:43 PM

Oh yeah, cause I remember all the anti-war people running around saying that Saddamm was a great guy. Get real, the anti-war movement was always critical of Saddamm. At least we were consistent. The US over the past 20 years see-sawed with support of both Bin Laden and Hussein as they saw fit. This is fact.

I'm delighted that Saddamm is gone. I'm delighted that the people of Iraq are going to get a choice. But tell me this, if we're all in the mood of bringing democracy to the world, why has the US allied itself with General Musharaff in Pakistan. It's a convienient alliance in the 'War on Terror' but the man is also a military dictator. How come what was wrong in Iraq is right in Pakistan? The US allied with Saddamm to take on Iran and in the process created a Monster, are they not going to learn from their mistakes and not do the same this time?

Burma, Palistine, Saudi Arabia the list of countries being denied there democratic rights is shamefully long, but unfortunately they don't have PR con-men like Amhed Chilabi running around the US for their own gain.

Posted by: Dave on November 29, 2003 06:03 PM

Geez, I think "Rik" is Yoko Ono's blogging nom de plume. Kant figger 'im out....

Anyway, glad to hear another Elizabeth is in the world! That's my sisters name, and we've been calling her Betsy all her life. It's probably one reason why she's such a wonderful woman. Give it a try, Richard.

Another great blog, Bill.

Posted by: Storm on November 29, 2003 06:13 PM

"Your view that this is a humanitarian war is invalidated by the actions of the major corporations rapidly privatizing each sector of Iraq. Will the money made by the oil companies go to the average Iraqi? no"

Boy, that's a whopper of a false conclusion if I've ever heard one.

Let's completely forget altogether that the benefits to be had from a free market economy are for everyone, no matter how many American corporations come pouring in. You seem to have completely ignored all of the reports of small arab owned companies that have been opening up all over Iraq, and the enormous boom the free market has provided to the average Iraqi. Have you been paying attention at all?

I suppose anyone who truly believes that economics is a zero-sum game will never be swayed,but please take all of your Marxist scribblings outside, pile them up, and burn them, that's a good place to start.

Posted by: Jon Davison on November 29, 2003 06:21 PM

You gotta start somewhere. Iraq was the weakest link. And unless you're a strategest and come up with a better plan, let's hear it. If you take out the weakest link of a chain/wall/fence/circle you cause the rest to fail in a domino effect. It's not going to come undone overnight any more than it was linked up overnight. It's time the mistakes of the past 30 years be corrected, now's as good time as any.
And aren't you blessed. You've got the freedom to protest openly and as loudly as you want. Why don't you remember and thank the soldiers who've already sacrificed for you to be anti-war?

Posted by: quark2 on November 29, 2003 06:39 PM

It was a hard day, I understand less than I did yesterday, but a brother returned home. My skills are lacking, my thoughts are on wrong reasons, but I still move forward. I feel like a snail on a highway, I am out of my domain, worse, people hate me. What is my purpose. There are no great quotes, there is no reason but one, I will never give up, ever. Just don't let me fail those that depend on me, I can't, I won't.

None of us will.

Rik

Posted by: Rik on November 29, 2003 07:54 PM

Bill always makes me feel better. We know this war will take a determined multiple generation effort with failure always looming in the form of catastrophe. Bush's job after his re-election, and I am sure he knows this, will be to solidify the policy so that his successor will have no choice but to carry on, much as Truman did after WWII. Right now I think we all know that the Democratic position is that the entire Bush approach is wrong. That we should be looking at this as an intel-police issue alone. A recipe for disaster. The recovery of our "fear factor" is something that I have thought about as well and something that would have been done sooner or later. Why does it always take disaster for us to act?

I like Elizabeth for this baby.

Posted by: dougrhon on November 29, 2003 08:08 PM

What is a nom de plume? Did I just prove I am stupid?

Posted by: Rik on November 29, 2003 08:25 PM

Burma, Palistine, Saudi Arabia the list of countries being denied there democratic rights is shamefully long, but unfortunately they don't have PR con-men like Amhed Chilabi running around the US for their own gain.

Dave, you're so caught up being a trendy lefty that you don't even bother to learn to spell the names correctly. That's Palestine. When the Romans put down the second Jewish revolt in less than a century (65 CE and 135 CE), the Romans decided to be heavy handed with the Jews and prevent any further revolts. Jews made up about 10% of the Roman empire's population and were well dispersed so Rome was concerned about Jewish revolts spreading through the empire. Rome forcibly exiled the Jews and renamed the region Palestine, after the Philistines, who had disappeared about 900 years earlier. Before the Romans named it Palestine, it was called Judea as in Judah, the dominant tribe of the Hebrews, now know as Jews. Before it was known as Judea, it was part of the kingdom of Israel. After the British took control of the region following the fall of the Ottoman empire, "Palestine" included large lands east of the Jordan river, land that is now the Kingdom of Jordan.

Part of "Palestine" has witnessed democracy since the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948. Of course the parts of Palestine not under Israeli control are not as democratic. The 75% of Palestine that became the kingdom of Jordan does have a parliament but is an absolute monarchy. The parts of Palestine under the control of the Palestinian Authority are hard to quantify. The closest analogy might be the 'five families' of New York and New Jersey.

Posted by: ronnie schreiber on November 29, 2003 08:34 PM

I escape by virure of night, I am the unseen. What you never know can never hurt you. My side is firmly planted, not one that will ever move. Rarely do I see bill get upset. Nuff said.

No man stays behind. cept me, it is my job

Posted by: Rik on November 29, 2003 09:36 PM

Nom de plume is French (literally) for pen name. You are Yoko, aren't you?

Posted by: Storm on November 29, 2003 11:19 PM

that guy,

I prefer no blood for dope.

I think blood for oil is a pretty good deal. It keeps the prices down for the poor. Plus without enough oil the poor will starve. Cheap oil means cheap food. Who do you think will be the first to starve when oil prices go way up. Clue: it won't be the rich.

Posted by: M. Simon on November 29, 2003 11:25 PM

The man who wrote this article is incredibly narrow-minded, not to mention immature. Declined mortgage applications? What kind of schoolyard insult-slinging is this?

Yes, we're certainly doing great things for our country, and the world, over there in Iraq. It's great to see that we have attained control over the desert Arabs in that area, because our actions will surely stop terrorism. NOT.

How about cutting the bullsh!t dichotomy between "liberal" and "conservative"... let's focus on the facts. We invaded a foreign country that did not provoke us, on the basis that they posed an imminent threat to our national security. Now we learn that such was not the case. Billions of dollars were wasted, and innocent civilans bombed, so that we could chase a nonexistent menace. Now it's supposed to be noble and patriotic. What a crock.

Posted by: Jordan on November 30, 2003 01:23 AM

Open letter to the "No blood for oil" types.

The truth is that you don't care about the Iraquis, like you never cared about the Afghans, the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, the South Sudanese.

If you had cared, if these wogs, niggers, nyakwes were human beings for you then you would prefer one dead by a US bomb to one thousand dead after horrrendous tortures at the hands of the Vietcong, Khmer Rouge, Taliban, Jihadis or Saddam's thugs. But those wogs aren't people for you, just instruments for flattering your little egos and impress your rich daddies. Demonstrating in a democratic country against a democratic country makes you feel heroes. Greater heroes at a lower risk than the Marines or Screaming Eagles. It is not compassion for the poor who motivvates you but the nihilist will to bring down the succesful and destroy the beacon of freedcom and democracy. And your egos. For that you are ready to ally with everyone. Everyone. The only reason you haven't supported Hitler is that you were born at the wrong time.

There is an expression in Spanish: "Tell me with who you are walking and I will tell you who you are". And you walk with monsters.

I did that when I was young. But one day two Khmer Rouge handed me a leaflet. Khmer Rouge walking freely in a university campus! And nobody challenged them! Everyone felt their presence was perfectly normal. But I can tell you that two people from the American embassy would have been lynched on the spot. It was then I realized I had been walking with monsters, that taking blood-stained leaflets meant to have blood on my hands. It was then that I stopped walking with monsters, that I stopped listening to the rich-born momma boys from first world who would sacrifice millions of Third World people to their little dreams and their ittle egos.

You walked with the slogan of "No blood for oil", I will tell you what is written in my banner. What is wrtten in my banner is: "No blood for momma-boys"

Posted by: JFM on November 30, 2003 02:28 AM

Wow Jordan, the entire premise -- that people are no longer dying in droves -- neatly glossed over by your incredibly wide world view.

When two groups of people advocate diametrically opposed courses of action regarding the most important issue of our age, well, then this incredibly narrow minded and immature person feels that JUST MIGHT be something more than "some bullshit dichotomy between liberals and conservatives." High marks for trying to sound sophisticated and superior, however. I'm sure it gets easier with practice.

Our actions HAVE prevented further terrorist attacks in this country. What little anemic efforts Al Quaeda can put together in the rest of the world are hampered, somewhat, by the illuminating fact that most of their leaders are DEAD. They are DEAD because there are still people willing to take action, no matter how uncouth it may appear to natural-born defeatists.

I'm sure you think these people just need a little love and understanding. That, and worldwide conversion to the Dar al Islam. They do not hate us for what we do, they hate us for who we are and what we allow, and what we cherish, and what we represent. And anyone who refuses to see the dangers posed by a renegade state, run by a mass murderer, who has made endless and determined efforts to create chemical, biological and nuclear weapons -- well, that person needs a bowler and an umbrella and signed piece of paper to be truly happy. We cannot affort to make that mistake again.

Saddam's horrors, not to mention his weapons programs, have been so widely documented that the only issue for discussion is how far he got WHEN HE WAS STOPPED.

"No threat to this nation," huh? Why did we have troops in Saudi Arabia for over a decade, Jordan? To protect them from whom? The Finns? I assume your computer is not wind or solar powered, and I'll bet you real money you drive an automobile, so your bland dismissal of what those "desert Arabs" are up to is of more than passing concern to this nation. The only real question is which course of action provides the best result: conflict, appeasement, or ignoring the problem in the hope it will go away?

History is full of answers, and your choice does not hold up well to historical analysis. You know that, of course, which is why your argument is so thin and puerile. However, we have come to expect that there is no historical or factual shortcomings that cannot be blown over with a suitably hot blast of indignation, and in this regard you certainly do not disappoint.

Are you really so obtuse that you cannot see that the only way to eliminate the threat from people sworn to our distruction is to DRAIN THE SWAMP by creating stable and prosperous democracies in the middle east? Can you not see why Iraq can go from being the regions most destablizing regime and transform itself to a model of modernity and success for the entire region? Or is two or three step thinking only something we narrow-minded, immature, flag-waving morons are capable of?

Jordan, you are one of those baleful, sad, defeatist voices that offers only criticisms and no solutions whatsoever. If you had any guts you'd put a plan on the table and people could discuss it on its merits. But that would require a COMMITTMENT, and people like you flee such things as they would avoid the plague.

Bravo on your bombastic performance -- you've obviously rehearsed it on many occasions. If you don't see a threat out there, then you are an idiot. If you do see a threat and offer no solution, then you are useless. If you see a threat and think it will go away if we ignore it, then you are dangerous.

In any case, I'm unimpressed.

(Oh, and when it comes to immature, I do have to admit that punctuating what you perceive to be your rapier wit with "NOT" really does set the benchmark for 12 year old invective. You are a prize hypocrite.)

Posted by: Bill Whittle on November 30, 2003 02:38 AM

I read with abject horror that two men died for no reason. When my chance to die was over, I sat and thought about that (I am always too scared to think when it is my chance to die). There are so many eloquent words to describe life, and the meanderings of people, but nothing to describe death. Yet we all face both. I wonder who gives us reason to live. I come to "Dances with Wolves", which shows all too well the meaning. A hero is made because the reason was lost. I will never morn a death again, not one of us dies for no reason. Let's try to live by that same example.

Death is not so hard, living is...work hard at it.

Rik

Posted by: Rik on November 30, 2003 06:48 AM

Bill, you deleted your post that was before mine, kinda makes mine look stupid without your post there. No matter, someone thinks I am whom I never could be.

Posted by: Rik on November 30, 2003 07:33 AM

The simple fact of the matter is: Despite our reluctance to be the "world's policeman", it falls to the US to be the world's oncologist. There's simply no getting around the fact that no one else can do it.

The notion of pre-emptive war, while distasteful, may prove to be neccessary. You let the combination of 12th-century mores and 20th-century weapons stew long enough, sooner or later, something hideous will happen (other than the hideous things that have already happened).

MSNBC did a story about the problems being faced by women in post-Saddam Iraq. All the stories basically boil down to one thing; things will be better once the security is there. "Once the security" to be a woman who wants her rights is there. "Once the security" to go to work is there. Not "If it gets here", "Once it's here". That alone is an amazing thing.

Even though I didn't vote for Bush (I voted Libertarian), I hope he wins. Because if a Democratic candidate does, he'll pull out, leaving a festering hole for the infection of Islamofascism and terrorism to grow in worse than before. You cannot just pull out the bullet and then declare the patient cured; you have to disinfect the wound, dress it, keep it disinfected, and tend to it until it has completely healed. Anything less is death. If we can turn the land that gave the world Hammurabi back into a place of laws where people actually feel safe, we will have done a wonderful thing, both politically and as human beings.

It's not going to be finished in "movie time" or even "miniseries time". It's going to be a long haul. But Gulf War II, now, might prevent Gulf War III later.

Also, I'd like to recommend the "Sword of Truth" series by Terry Goodkind. There are themes in there that resonate with today, especially in the later books. It's true that you can't give someone freedom, but you can have their back while they fight for it.

Posted by: Scott Parker on November 30, 2003 09:09 AM

I'd like to add another name to the list to choose from. I love the name Isodora. Or Isobel. Very noble, and very elegant.

Congrats, Richard!

And thanks again Bill, for putting it into perspective for us.

Posted by: Sweetpea on November 30, 2003 09:26 AM

I might offer "Carmina" as a name.

Posted by: Rob Bos on November 30, 2003 10:16 AM

Rachel, with Caitlin a close second.

And welcome back, Bill, FINALLY my relentless clicking over here paid off. Excellent as usual.

Posted by: Emperor Misha I on November 30, 2003 12:19 PM

Rachel, all the way. (I have a Rebecca and a Renee, so my bias is showing)

Posted by: Scott Harris on November 30, 2003 12:30 PM

" And aren't you blessed. You've got the freedom to protest openly and as loudly as you want."
Posted by: quark2 on November 29, 2003 06:39 PM

(from the Open Newswire): "From what I and others have witnessed in these last days in Miami, the level of violence and repression that the state is prepared to marshal against us as a movement has increased dramatically. Thousands of militarized police, in full riot gear, including electrified shields, tanks, automatic and semi-automatic weapons, tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bags, violently arresting peaceful demonstrators, in some cases with tazers, in others at gun point. "

On another note...No bid contracts = free market? News to me...Haliburton & Betchel must be loving Bush's free market.

Posted by: that guy again on November 30, 2003 12:30 PM

Welcome Elizabeth. Congratulations dad, from another dad with two daughters, 13 and 17, the 2nd and 3rd blessings in my life after their mom.

Elizabeth - promised of God. Not bad, dad.

best,

d

Posted by: Dave in Texas on November 30, 2003 12:53 PM

My sister-in-law is a liberal NPR listening elitist for whom I have a sincere affection. Recently, she visited for dinner, and told a story about one of her friends children being potty trained. The three-year old would use the toilet for babysitters, but when Mom was home would defiantly walk up to her mother, announce she needed to go, and then crap in her pants.

My sister, who doesn't use spanking, thought this story was cute. I was appalled. There are some who disdain the carrot and stick approach in favor of a pure carrot approach. They mistakenly assume that their children will appreciate their kindness. And they create problems for the rest of us. Its like feeding a child a diet of candy, cake, cookies and ice cream. It is not healthy.

Others use a pure stick approach, and these people are unfeeling idiots. The problem is that the people who advocate a pure carrot approach believe that anyone who uses the stick at all is an unfeeling idiot. There is no reasonable middle ground for these people. The truth is a wise use of the carrot and the stick is the most effective method of discipline and reward.

I have seen many who used the carrot only approach during childhood, only to try to impose the stick when a teenager runs wild during adolescence. That is always a more difficult path. A liberal dose of the stick after a prolonged application of only the carrot invariable causes confusion, resentment and anger. Its better to use a good balance of both through the childhood process with the goal of instilling both self-discipline, mutual respect and an appreciation for the good things of life.

War is the stick approach writ large at the nation-state level. It doesn't follow that those who support the war in Iraq do not have good intentions at heart. I will agree that those who wish only to punish, to bomb our enemies to oblivion and then leave them to their own devices are stick-only type of people.

But those of us who initially were concerned about the idea of War in Iraq, but thoughtfully came to understand its necessity, will accept no less than the liberalization of the entire region. We want the Arabs to have a little cake, a little candy, a little ice cream with their regular diet of responsible democracy. We don't begrudge them the carrot. In fact, we prefer it. But we are grown up enough to realize that the carrot is ineffective without the stick.

You may call it democracy at the point of a cruise missile. And you may be initially be correct. But the point of the use of the stick is not the stick itself. Only a moron (Saddaam Hussein perhaps) believes this. The point of the stick is to raise a mature stable contributing member of world society. This cannot be accomplished only with the stick. But it cannot be accomplished without it either.

This is why we have a Defense Department, and a State Department. Unfortunately, there are those who believe the Defense department is the only agency of suitable response. Others prefer the negotiate all the time policy of State Department types. Fortunately for the nation, most of us understand the need for both, and would prefer it if each extreme had at least respect for the other extreme if not complete understanding.

Posted by: Scott Harris on November 30, 2003 01:16 PM

Mr. Whittle, one minor quibble: I believe the correct term is 'fellator'.

As for Jordan;

The man who wrote this article is incredibly narrow-minded, not to mention immature. Declined mortgage applications? What kind of schoolyard insult-slinging is this?

Considering that "the man who wrote this article" has attached his name to the article, the immaturity (and incompetence) is yours - most adults would have the courtesy to address the author directly. As far as "declined mortgage applications", generally such is called hyperbole. If you don't know what it means, I suggest you enlist the aid of a dictionary.

Yes, we're certainly doing great things for our country, and the world, over there in Iraq. It's great to see that we have attained control over the desert Arabs in that area, because our actions will surely stop terrorism. NOT.

As tiresome as it is asking this again and again, how many terrorist attacks have occurred on U.S. soil since 9-11?

How about cutting the bullsh!t dichotomy between "liberal" and "conservative"... let's focus on the facts. We invaded a foreign country that did not provoke us, on the basis that they posed an imminent threat to our national security. Now we learn that such was not the case. Billions of dollars were wasted, and innocent civilans bombed, so that we could chase a nonexistent menace. Now it's supposed to be noble and patriotic. What a crock.

The only people who try to avoid the differentiation contained in the terms 'liberal' and 'conservative' are frauds and mountebanks. We invaded a foreign country that had provoked both the U.S. and the rest of the world for over a decade; no one in this administration claimed that Iraq was an 'imminent' threat - to say otherwise is to wilfully ignore the facts. As for 'wasting' billions of dollars, you ignore the cost of not 'wasting' those dollars in removing a threat; to call Iraq a "nonexistent menace" is to ignore the support, both overt and covert, for terrorism that has come from Iraq; as for 'bombing innocent civilians', I suggest you compare the percentage of civilian casualties from Dresden, Staligrad, or Tokyo.

The cause that led us to Iraq, taking the fight to the enemy and protecting the country, has always been noble and patriotic - only self-centered, aggresively ignorant juveniles such as yourself fail to see the dimensions of the conflict we are engaged in.

Posted by: aelfheld on November 30, 2003 02:04 PM

Elizabeth.

I was for Rachel -- how could you do better than the bride of a man who wrestled all night with God? -- but Elizabeth is so flexible.

With all due respect, can the Caitlin.

Posted by: blog of unknowing on November 30, 2003 02:05 PM

thatguyagain, you quoted this in order to back up your dubious claims of dragonian oppression:

"the level of violence and repression that the state is prepared to marshal against us"

Uh, what? A perceived threat equals actual repression? What a pile of dung. Come back with something actual, not threatened or shut yer hole, whiner.

Posted by: the Idler on November 30, 2003 02:11 PM

Thatguy really has presented, in a nutshell, the most disgusting and disturbing qualities of his breed. He claims to criticize the a nation that allows free and legal demonstrations by pointing out that riot police were on hand in Miami to disperse crowds that were protesting in illegal areas -- in other words, behold the Nazi death machine.

The reason people no longer take you seriously, Thatguy, is because while I read thet a few hundred of you were arrested for overstepping your boundries and causing wisespread public disruption -- which most pointedly is NOT your right -- the question becomes, how many of those protesters went to the hospital? How many were killed? How many will serve twenty years locked away without trial? How many will have their families taken away in the night and murdered in a basement somewhere, because you NO BLOOD FOR OIL people hit the streets?

The answer, of course, is ZERO. And what makes you consistently repugnant is your trying to equate a democratic, free state with the one you tried so valiently to preserve, namely that of a mass-murdering dictator who would have seen you, all of your family, all of your friends, and every last one of your ilk imprisoned, raped, tortured and murdered.

Thatguy, Dave...honestly. HOW sick are you? Is there a limit to your mental illness? We keep hoping but you never fail to lower the bar.

Posted by: Bill Whittle on November 30, 2003 02:37 PM

Just read some a couple of the back posts. In response to That Guy:

A) Do you know how many companies in existence can do what Halliburton does? You can almost count them on one hand. While that may be a free market, it's not pure competition because there are few players. Basic economics. Also, governments hand out contracts in very interesting and odd ways. Many of Clinton's friends got juicy opportunities because they were the guys at the top of the Rolodex (see Tobacco suit).

B) In what meaning were those protesters innocent? Have you ever been in a mob or a riot or a rumble of an indertiminate number of people? It is very difficult when the fit hits the shan to discern between friend and foe. I've given many a friend a black eye in wild, hundred-man fist fights in sandy arroyos as a kid (and got as good as I gave).

If you are mingling with ne'er do wells who are throwing stones and bottles (as there were) you've put yourself in danger. You need to get out of the area because the police don't have the luxury of pinpointing the "innocent" protesters from the "guilty" protesters. That's why thugs -- and terrorists -- hide among crowds. And they don't have time to be gentle because "innocent" protests so often turn into destruction and violence against truly innocent citizens.

C) As far as being censored, you are here, calling out on the highest soapbox known to man. Dan Rather doesn't have as many ears as you could potentially have right now. People in Taipei - hackers in leftist Beijing, yearning for a free press and open Internet access -- can read what you write. Yet, you say you are being silenced. That's, um, dumb.

D) Back to one of your earlier posts: Lesson in logic -- "No Blood for Oil" and "Blood for Oil" are false dichotomies. They assume that the oil is necessarily what is at stake. While it may be, it's only part of the picture -- and in the scheme of it all, less and less a part. If that oil were that important, don't kid yourself.

We could easily sell off the Federal land in Alaska and drill there or go to South America or Asia. We could help the Russians develop their supplies. The cost/benefit of fighting a war for it in the Middle East just for oil is preposterous.

"Blood for security, freedom, democracy, liberation, tolerance in Islam, and yes, oil" sounds a little closer to the mark. I know leftists like the idea of people willing to go off like cattle but the rest of us are pretty down with killing to secure freedom for ourselves and for those who cannot secure it for themselves. That's why our four-year-olds learn how to shoot rifles. And why we have guns. Guns! Lots of pretty Freudian Guns! Say it: "GUNS! GUNS! GUNS!"

Not to put to fine a point on it, but you don't know anything about economics. In order to gain wealth and prosperity, you have to leverage your resources and sell them to people who value them more than you. True if it's knowledge, Walkmen, bananas or oil.

So if Iraqis are ever to have decent prosperous lives and one day send more of their kids off to left-wing colleges run by people whose lives have been dedicated to a murderous sham, they're going to have to leverage their resources. First they could try farming bananas-- oh wait. No bananas. I know. Biotechnology. Oh, wait. Ok, how about advanced electronics? No. Banking? No. Timber! Fishing! No. Oh, then I guess it's the oil.

Posted by: blog of unknowing on November 30, 2003 02:51 PM

Wow. Lots of comments.

Rachel is a beautiful name. But how about "Claire" ? It also has a non-idiotarian literal meaning.

Congrats to the new parents.

Sam

Posted by: Sam_S on November 30, 2003 03:44 PM

What is a "fellatelist" ? A stamp collector?

Posted by: EB on November 30, 2003 04:04 PM

Congrats, Richard! May you have just as much joy and love in your life as I have had in mine, since I gave birth (I almost typed in "mirth", how ironic!) to my crazy little boy in September '02.
You will be enjoying a rather unique series of ambiguous emotions as you enter parenting: you will actually enjoy being frustrated, exasperated and tired. You will be sumultaneously scared out of your gourd and heart-meltingly delighted as you watch your baby take her first steps--and first falls. You will be so totally awed and excited at your child's growing, and at the same time pine for her to stay the same tiny bundle you held for the first time. You will experience great moments of tenderness and sharing while performing such unlovely tasks as wiping her dirty behind, mopping up vomit, or removing boogers from her nose. And you will love every minute of your life with this engaging creature you helped bring into being--the beautiful moments, the gross moments, the quiet and loud times, the arguments and the sing-alongs...

As for a name? Rachel, definitely. Of course, I could recommend Zoe as well, since that was going to be Zane's name until we found out he was a boy!

As for YOU, Mister Whittle--glad to have you back! Great post as usual, even if it was a bit shorter than you usually do...*grin*

--TwoDragons

Posted by: Denita TwoDragons on November 30, 2003 05:20 PM

EB: Good one. :)

Bill: To paraphrase Russ: 'Jeez, I could glean a dozen "Quote of the Day" items from this comparatively brief post.'

Good to see you again.

Posted by: My badge of honour is that Bill called me protoAmerican on November 30, 2003 05:58 PM

Congratulations, Richard. The world is a little bit brigher with that news.

Posted by: Mrs. du Toit on November 30, 2003 06:40 PM

Brilliant as usual. It't hard to have to wait for your essays but you never fail to deliver.

Thanks.

Posted by: Mark on November 30, 2003 07:01 PM

Re: That guy again No bid contracts.

Research in the area of goverment contracts uncovers the fact that companies who can document competence in the area which they intend to offer services can become part of a GSA "catalog". In short, these companies "prequalify" by presenting documentation that they can do what they say they can do. This allows government agencies to pick from a short list of approved and qualified vendors in a much shorter time frame than open bidding intervals.

The "open market" operates at this time - during the certification process.

However, you would never, I am sure, claim that there was "no plan" in the rebuilding phase of this effort if a full bid process was undertaken. The delay then would have been fully justified, right? Even though Haliburton is one of the few firms with expertise and scope to do this work?

Your arguments are shrill, but do not hold up under even cursory analysis.

Bill,

It is wonderful to see you back. BTW, I enjoy your troll rebuttal almost as much as the essays.

Posted by: skeeter on November 30, 2003 10:33 PM

Richard. Your photos may not in fact be lost entirely

I know a program that helps recover pictures at times like this. LC Technologies has a couple of programs called Photorecovery and Rescuepro that can get you those photos back.

Hope it works!

Posted by: Korgmeister on December 1, 2003 05:23 AM

Bill,
Wonderful essay, as usual. I wish there was some way to make the NION'ers recognize the implications of their stance.

Of the name choices, I'm with the Elizabeth landslide. Rachel is a fine name, but, I've read that it's very widely used these days and has been for a decade, so it might not be very distinctive. Caitlin is nice sounding, but it does have that trendy feel.

Posted by: Judith on December 1, 2003 05:35 AM

Amen Bill!

Congratulations Richard!

I vote for Elizabeth too...( my daughter is Spencer Elizabeth). I also like the name Lucy!

Posted by: Lucy on December 1, 2003 05:47 AM

"For thirty years now, since 1973, we have been consistently teaching the world an object lesson on the nature of the modern American mindset, and that lesson is this:

We are fierce and terrible in battle. But kill a few dozen -- at most, a few hundred – of us, and we will turn tail and run for home. For all our skill in combat, the American people are weak and decadent, bullies and cowards without the guts for a real fight.

We have been teaching our enemies this variable for a long time now: Somalia, Lebanon, Vietnam, and various smaller engagements. And they have adjusted their calculations accordingly. Duck when facing us in battle, then grind us down with guerrilla actions until we throw in the towel and go home. "

If that's true, it's extremely reassuring, because that would indicate that our enemies are dumber than a pile of rocks.

It would take staggering idiocy to suppose that our response to setbacks in operations like Somalia or Lebanon are in any way related to our response to an attack on the continental United States. Just because we can be convinced to call off operations where we don't have all that much at stake to begin with doesn't mean that we'll just roll over and take it when the bad guys start knocking down some of our largest building with thousands of our civilians inside.

Posted by: Ken on December 1, 2003 07:11 AM

Congratulations on Elizabeth Lynne. I wish you and your wife joy, wonder and sleep.

Elizabeth
Imperial Keeper of Killer Lagomorphs

Posted by: Elizabeth on December 1, 2003 07:59 AM

*sigh* Others will do and have done a far more effective job discussing some of the issues that are presented by what I still call an unjust war, but I think perhaps this perceived credibility gap war detractors suffer has to be mended, at least a bit. Let me add this to the mix to see if it can be of any use.

It still boggles my mind, the view of liberalism being the nearly-exclusive domain of rich white Momma's boys, filled with anti-patriotic zeal and a million other deplorable qualities. I'll concede certain portions: I adore my mother with every bone in my body, and so too, my reflection says, ought I concede to the whole white aspect... But when certain posters ask where I was when the USS Cole was bombed, I can readily reply that I was overseas serving my last year in the US Navy. Where were you, quark2? Sure, I served only four years, but I did my Gulf tour and it was quite the epiphany-provider.

I listened to my passive radar detection equipment as Iranian boats played war games with us, utilizing target-acquisition radars but not allowing full sequences and thus lock to occur, as happened with the Russians not so many years ago. I listened in on the coms during those incredibly long night watches, hearing the sailors in vessels from far more countries than just Iraq and Iran call us “Baby Killers,” often interrupted once or so a night by a simple request (though I suspect this was from the same ship) for us to “leave [them] in peace.” I watched as my ship did a VBSS (Visitation Board Search & Seizure) on one particular Iraqi vessel, one that we had to turn back. Why? Because they were carrying figs (hmm…or was it dates?). Figs (as well as dates, so it really doesn’t matter which one it was though I do wish I could recall) are a huge cash crop to feed the Iraqi war machine, or so the line goes, and thus they’ve been heavily sanctioned.

Imagine yourself an Iraqi. No, scratch that—we need not go to such an extreme. Imagine yourself a farmer in the American heartland. You farm the same land your family has been farming for quite a few generations. You make a tolerable living from this venture. This is what you know; this is what you do. Now imagine that the UN is sponsored in equal proportion to the US’s own expenditure by another country with ideals that directly conflict with your own, and further imagine that your own way of life was interrupted, destroyed, etc. by the actions of that agency coupled with this foreign power. I don’t want to create a straw man argument here or commit any grievous logical fallacy, but I’m certain you can understand what situation I’m trying to sketch out without forcing any conclusions. For me, after a few weeks of hearing the com chatter and watching how people reacted to being in the Gulf, how they responded with what was really a reactionary and frightening demeanor that still boggles my mind (tragically “Sand Nigger” isn’t that uncommon a word on ships, at least among the enlisted), and after thinking about the above and my own personal beliefs, I wrote my mother a letter (to continue on with this Momma’s Boy persona) in which I told her that I could no longer call myself a slightly left leaning moderate. The more I watched the conservative approach, the (to borrow poster Scott Harris’s wording) propensity for the utilization of so many sticks and so very few carrots, the more I realized that I couldn’t be part of that, even in a remote manner. I began a rather lengthy and full conversion so that, by the time I left the ranks of the military, I had swung pretty far left and remain there still.

But that’s only a snapshot of my story, and my story alone.

There was a gentleman I walked with during the San Diego war protest who gained my respect in a moment’s time. His candid demeanor and strength blazed through his seemingly frail body to give him a sense of life that most of us only dream of having. I marched, for the most part, with the Veterans For Peace, and this gentleman was WWII vet, about 80 or so but with a voice that didn’t abate over the course of our short march. And later I found articles and opinion pieces from other vets who matched my own beliefs, at least in respect to our views on the present war (such as a few listed here: http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2003/03/14/export5723.txt ). These are people who already did put their lives on the line, who were the defenders at one point in their lives, whether recent or in the distant past. Many of them are conservatives, as are my step-father, 26-years in the Air Force as an officer, flight missions in Vietnam, etc. And my father, a ‘Nam vet as well though he left much earlier due to having a mortar round nearly take him out…and yet they too disagree with this war on many levels, and passionately no less.

This is not a party line issue; this is not something the conservatives condone and the liberals bemoan. If either side is doing simply that and toeing the party line, then what they’ve clung to is false, useless, and ultimately destructive. Please don’t paint this movement, whether you (‘you’ meaning all those who have done so, on either side) agree with it or not, in such black-and-white terms--to do so makes you sound painfully ignorant of people in general and the incredible variety of ideologies motivating the believe that this war is an experiment in insanity.

Posted by: Kevin on December 1, 2003 08:34 AM

Welcome back, Mr. Whittle! A pleasure to have you back educating us in your peerless fashion.

Richard, congratulations! Now take a few days off to spend with your wife and your little one.

Posted by: Steve Sledge on December 1, 2003 08:51 AM

Bill: Welcome back. You have been much missed.

Richard - I'm partial to Rachel for two reasons. It's my wife's name and the name of the much-admired Rachel Lucas. (She of little posting). However, I don't mind the "Elizabeth Rachel" compromise. As the father of a daughter, I wish you happiness and love.

Sincerely, Terry

Posted by: Terry Reynolds on December 1, 2003 09:16 AM

It's been the better part of a year and still no WMD. No wonder the parents of the dead boys feel cheated.

If america cares so much about the Iraqi people, why didn't it do something to help them in in 1990? or 1991? or any year after that?

Because war equal votes.

Posted by: on December 1, 2003 09:35 AM

How many times does this need to be repeated: the U.S. went to war for its own interests - the fact that we are able to help the Iraqi people is icing on the cake.

Those who harp on the absence of WMD's do so not in a sincere desire to find and eliminate them, but in order to denigrate the current administration and its aims. Those obsessed with the absence of WMD's are those who counseled against the war because the same (now supposedly non-existent) WMD's would be deployed against our forces. The patent dishonesty of those opposed to the U.S., and the defense of its interests, would be amusing if it weren't sickening.

Posted by: aelfheld on December 1, 2003 10:07 AM

"Those obsessed with the absence of WMD's are those who counseled against the war because the same (now supposedly non-existent) WMD's would be deployed against our forces."

I'm pretty obsessed with the lack of WMDs, and that is quite unlike the rationale behind my opposition to the war. In fact, I think I heard that argument far less than any other. Most of the views I read and heard were more in line with seeking international support and, above all else (and seemingly in direct contrast to what aelfheld stated), seeking to find more conclusive evidence of the presence of such WMDs prior to committing troops.

...and I still have no idea why in the heck--or rather how in the heck--those who opposes the war are somehow opposing America. Please see what I wrote a couple posts up, it’s not just us commie pinkos.

Posted by: Kevin on December 1, 2003 10:43 AM

Richard, Congratulations on Elizabeth Lynne !

Bill, Welcome back !

Now, can either of you guys get Rachel to start posting again ? ;)

Posted by: Joe Lemyre on December 1, 2003 11:20 AM

I'm also casting an anti-vote against "Caitlin". Way too trite these days.

On WMDs; before anyone shouts again "there were no WMDs! They were non-existent!", please do two things: 1) read the David Kay report, and 2) practice looking in the mirror and saying "after shutting down inspections in 1998, Saddam finally realized his dream of unilateral WMD disarmament in total secrecy" without laughing.

Kevin: to your "imagine yourself an Iraqi... no, scratch that, a farmer in the American heartland", let me add one or two more things to make the comparison complete. Sure, you're a farmer in the American heartland. The same US president has been in office since 1979; any attempt to undermine his absolute authority is met with violent repression, torture and murder. At least 300,000... no, scratch that, let's scale it up proportionally... at least 3,000,000 of your fellow citizens have disappeared into the maw of the president's security services. Your niece was gang-raped by the dictator's son, then branded on the forehead; your cousin was fed into a plastic shredder after he was overheard criticizing the president. When your crops were exported--figs, say--the president's personally controlled companies had a monopoly on the export trade, and, indeed, the money from that trade really DID go into either palaces for the president, or his security services, or the weapons programs he was pursuing with the declared aim of wiping out or annexing neighboring countries.

Now, continue with your comparison. What was your point again?

Posted by: Occasional Reader on December 1, 2003 02:59 PM

The sad fact of the matter is that, no matter how we might wish otherwise, stereotypes are usually based on a grain of truth. I have encountered far, far more left-wing anti-war types whose opinions are based far more on hysteria, knee-jerk oppositionism, and pre-manufactured opinion than on carefully considered reasoning and an assesment of the available facts. This seems to be true both of the average man-on-the-keyboard and the professional journalist. I will also freely admit that the same is true of the right- more often than not, the stereotype IS closer to the reality. This is why I criticize neither Mr. Whittle nor his opposite numbers when they address the stereotype during a rhetorical exercise.

I'm glad that you're a reasonable, patriotic sort, Kevin. I've met many, because my interests and hobbies tend to take me through far more liberal circles than conservative save the blogosphere, and for me you ARE the exception. But can you honestly tell me, with a straight face, that your sort is the rule and Bill was totally misguided?

In any case, regarding a more sober appraisal of the war and WMD issues: if we accept that there were no Iraqi WMDs, we must also accept that Saddam was completely and utterly irrational and his behavior was random. If he had in fact disarmed, why then would he continue an obstructionist approach to inspections and generally stall for time if he didn't need to? Why stay in direct violation of all the UN rulings regarding the inspections, especially considering that he would have stood a much better chance of preserving his own regime- the only thing he truly valued- if he had at least given the appearance of cooperation? I tend to think that it is far MORE likely that having had twelve years to practice, he had simply shut his programs down into a holding pattern, hidden the evidence, and planned to resume full production after the heat was off. Especially with biological weapons, he would have needed very little seed material to preserve the potential of the program; a few scattered test tubes would do it. We know for a fact that he had biological weapons once- with that fact, his past behavior, and his behavior immediately prewar in hand, it is a far more logical assumption that the material is scattered and hidden than that it was destroyed utterly. If I charged you with going to California and finding a collection of objects smaller than a breadbox, hidden "somewhere", do you expect that it would take you less than a year to find them?

As for the Iraqi people, to their misery they have quite simply not been the pertinent issue. It does not *matter* how good and decent they are, because their government was not, and their government held all the power both over their own lives and in international relations. It doesn't matter if the Husseins were the only people in the whole country who were not candidates for sainthood, because they were the problem.

And on a completely tangential note, Bill- are you any relation to Frank Whittle of jet-engine fame?

Posted by: LabRat on December 1, 2003 04:01 PM

Watched a report the other night about the mass graves. Many, it was said were executed for their role in the post Gulf War uprising. In fact Saddam followed Bill's logic and drained the marshes of his enemies. Which no doubt made them resign to their fate. Instead of the predictable result of creating further hatred and resentment.

Posted by: bruce on December 1, 2003 04:28 PM

EB wrote:

What is a "fellatelist" ? A stamp collector?

I was wondering that too; in the context that our Fearless Captain used, it seemed to indicate a gay stamp collector. (Hey, it's a big country, there are bound to be a few.)

--Dave

Posted by: VRWCman on December 1, 2003 05:24 PM

Kevin,

I respect your service, your tone and your argument. What I cannot understand is how anyone concerned with an Iraqi farmer's welfare could be opposed to this action.

Let's assume that he personally avoided the torture chambers. How many relatives might this man have lost? How many cousins? Ever played "six degrees of seperation?" How many people would he know at TWO DEGREES of seperation who have disappeared into the night?

And those are just the tangible horrors. What does it do to a person to spend their entire life in mortal fear of saying the wrong thing, of being betrayed by a glance, or an expression, or perhaps by someone you might have dated and made an indiscreet comment to five years before? You can't know what thet pervasive, perpetual terror is like -- and I can't either, thank God.

We went to extraordinary lengths, and had our people killed who would likely not have been killed, in order to spare that Iraqi farmer as much as possible, to free him from this rein of terror and death -- and perpetual poverty and humiliation, I might add. And yet you stand opposed.

Please explain to me why you have that farmer's best interests in mind. Because to me, it sounds like you are using him as an abstract compassion flag, and not as a real person with real relatives who has suffered immensely only to find a chance for a better future over the protestations of people like yourself.

Posted by: Bill Whittle on December 1, 2003 05:33 PM

At last You're back! So many days of clicking my link and no updates! Now finally you had the courage to post.
And that Indy-nazi apparently realized that no one in this chatroom cares!
I like the name Lynn--very good middle name--goes with anything. Thank G-D you didn't name her Caitlin--way too common.
Elizabeth--a good classic.

Posted by: Cecile on December 1, 2003 05:51 PM

Bill,
Great to see you back on!

Any argument against your latest post will never succeed. Why? Because you have the truth behind you and that can never be argued against.
Let us all quickly utilise 'the stick' on those trying to oppose the truth.

To those "No Blood for Oil" types:

The truth (that you argue against) is:
- Saddam HAD WMD's, he used them in previous wars, it's a moot point if they are still in Iraq.
- Saddam is no longer in power. So what if the war was a gamble. It was a very SUCCESSFUL gamble.
- Iraq will not be back on its feet before the next ad break, the USA took 30 years after the War of Independence! Iraq may take as long, even longer. It will still be worth it.
- Try selling your arguments to that 'poor' Iraqi farmer, you socialist, Michael Moore loving, sickos. The Iraqi farmer would likely beat you down, even if he is sickly from starvation and beatings.

Frankly, I'm tired of hearing about opposition to the War on Terror. "If you're not with us, you're against us!" All US citizens, any free person on this planet should be supporting the downfall of an odious and evil regime.
Let us hope that China, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, the Congo and many other terribly run countries see the light of democracy and freedom before the US needs to force feed them. (Apply 'the stick'.)
Why? Because when every country and person is free we'll all be happy and able to what we enjoy instead of fighting controversial wars.

I also want to know, Bill, if you are related to Frank Whittle? (of jet engine fame) I knew your name sounded familiar. You being a pilot just makes it seem a sure thing!

Posted by: Rob on December 1, 2003 06:31 PM

I'm presently a student, utilizing my GI Bill to obtain a degree...but it's fast approaching the end of the semester and I am swamped in papers, studying, etc. My previous post was made in a fit of procrastination, actually, so I hope all will forgive a brief response.

Let me begin by saying that my farmer analogy was flawed and short-sighted. With a considerable amount more exposition, I think I could make it work at least a little, but as it stands I did nothing more than raise the passion flag as Mr. Whittle stated. In light of that, let me approach this subject in a slightly different light.

I don't want to sound like a broken record or like I'm toeing my party line, but it isn't the act of disposing Saddam that bothers me (how could I not support that?), but rather the method. I do not believe you can force a society to be free. I feel that a society must seize freedom or, by its very definition, they have not obtained it. That is far more a philosophical argument than something more pragmatic and functional, I know, but I still believe the psychological implications behind it are relevant. If we are successful in establishing a democratic government in Iraq (and I suspect that will likely occur, though the warnings of a long haul are most certainly true), I feel the method by which this will be achieved will establish, at best, a very slight and tempestuous democracy that will fail quickly. I truly believe we will always be seen as oppressors in that region because it was ultimately an outside source that 'forced' freedom onto the Iraqi people. I can't help but imagine that the experiences of those sailors (merchants, not military) calling "baby killers" over the coms are very similar to the terror the farmer in my analogy suffered, and yet we were the target of their anger. Why? An incredibly interesting bit of discourse could be had over that idea, but I'm not sure it would be of much use. The point is, however, that the US is seen as an oppressive force by a very large number of people in Iraq. We are a foreign government, terraforming the political landscape of another country to resemble our own. I agree with the necessity of transformation, but unless the government established truly speaks to the people it is intended to govern--and I can’t help but suspect that cannot be the case in this instance--that transformation will be nothing more than a temporary project after which will only come chaos. I am not a pacifist (though I’m not too far removed from that ideal, I’ll readily concede), thus I don’t call military action in and of itself wrong. I do believe that the Iraqi people both need and deserve liberation, but I believe that unless its on their terms, and manifested by their actions, this will result in nothing but a temporary government not for or by the people. I fear what the downfall of that government will be. It is the method I disagree with then, not to mention the interim government and the many follies that are going with it. One thing of which I am certain is that without a strong sense of involvement and political efficacy (of which I feel through our methods we will rob the Iraqi people, even if they’re no longer being slaughtered in droves), this experiment will fail. I’m not saying I have anything resembling a solution, but I can’t help but feel that the present method will only lead to a compounding of problems a decade or less down the line.

And with that I have a few hundred pages or so I really should be reading! Thanks for the interesting dialogue.

Posted by: Kevin on December 1, 2003 08:37 PM

Erm....I was in a tryptophan induced coma for the past 5 days...apparently it doubles in power in the leftovers. ahem.

However, I'll have you know, I was also a clicking, checking fool right up to T-day.

So, this may be late, but the sentiment behind it is the same: Welcome back Bill.

Posted by: Serenity on December 1, 2003 08:38 PM

Oh, and should anyone question how I managed to write anything while in a coma, (not that anyone's paying attention but I like to stay ahead of the game)...apparently I'm a miracle of modern science...or I just type really well in my sleep.

Now if you'll pardon me, I've taken a sudden interest in the patterns in this carpet...oh look, they appear to change in this vacant room...I'll just go in there.

Posted by: Serenity on December 1, 2003 08:42 PM

"I do not believe you can force a society to be free. I feel that a society must seize freedom or, by its very definition, they have not obtained it."

I tend to agree that this is a philosophical argument rather than a pragmatic one. I also believe it is flawed, as accepting it requires also accepting that the modern societies that have been liberated at gunpoint are not free now due to the method of their deliverance. The most obvious examples are the Japanese and the Germans; not only did we "free" them from their own governments, at great cost in blood on both sides, we also occupied them for decades during which we were not only carefully constructing new governments, but particularly in the case of the Japanese, we were completely upending and reorganizing the rigidly martial and authoritarian culture of the period. And in the case of Germany, we stayed not only to rebuild them, but we used them like a valuable chess piece until the end of the Cold War, which was not so long ago. Are the Germans now free?

The fact of the matter is that Americans are very much the exception rather than the rule of history, in terms of a people siezing and keeping freedom for themselves in the long term. Most of the modern developed world was, at one time, under someone else's bootheel- and in most cases, either someone else lifted the heel, or its owner voluntarily stepped off.

"I feel the method by which this will be achieved will establish, at best, a very slight and tempestuous democracy that will fail quickly."

Historically this has much more often been the end result of an internal revolution rather than the withdrawl of a colonial power, at least when the withdrawl is not forced and rushed.

"The point is, however, that the US is seen as an oppressive force by a very large number of people in Iraq. We are a foreign government, terraforming the political landscape of another country to resemble our own."

In Japan we were not only an occupying enemy, we were an occupying enemy that was considered racially not fully human, in a country in whose culture death was supposed to be preferable to surrender. You'd be surprised how much you can change with time, patience, and earned goodwill.

"It is the method I disagree with then, not to mention the interim government and the many follies that are going with it."

Yes, but as Steven Den Beste would say, the standard is not perfection- a successful and internally guided revolution by the Iraqi people- the standard is the alternative. In this case, the alternative was continued violent misery; all attempts at internal revolution were quashed with extreme violence and great success by the regime in power.

Good luck with your studying.

Posted by: LabRat on December 1, 2003 10:36 PM

And by the way, Kevin, just an honest afterthought for you, since you seem a genuinely decent and honorable person:

Just how common are com radios among the Average Joe Iraqi in the Persian Gulf circa 1991? Don't you think there is a slight chance that the voices you heard were not those of the common man, but rather that of the Ba'athist intelligence officers who were the originators of all this horror in the first place? You were there to hear those messages because Saddam gambled we were weak and decadent enough to let him get away unmolested. It was his actions, not ours, that put you in harms way in the first place.

Ask yourself, in all honesty, who in that region is likely to have such powerful radio gear, and who would feel comfortable using such devices in a society where a wrong glance, let alone communication with the enemy in time of war, could get you put feet first into industrial shredders?

And if my theory is correct, then the next logical question is to ask how effective the Iraqi intelligence agents were at destroying the morle of a decent and humane US Navy sailor who, like the rest of us, only wants to do the right thing?

Posted by: Bill Whittle on December 2, 2003 02:05 AM

Quick comment, just to clarify. I have no idea what the situation was like in '91--I wasn't there at that point, but was in '96, thus I can only comment on that. By that point, the Iraqi military had no vessels left (they were the first target of the Navy in '91 and were destroyed quickly), and the cargo ships almost all had coms as, if they didn't respond to US hailing, they would be chased down, boarded, etc. So in the interest of honesty, they really did have such gear (although a few of the more run-down vessels had to be hailed and communicated with via old-style signal flags) the majority of the time. Radio coms are rather inexpensive, short range ones at least.

It was difficult to ascertain who the good or bad guys were in this case, which ships were simply shipping goods vs which ships were smuggling and all that (though as I said, I still believe the sanctions were woefully misguided). Certainly my highly skeptical mind says that those calls could have been intel officers aboard those cargo ships, but if so they've an incredible number of them out there and they speak with both Persian and Iraqi accents (I speak a bit of Farsi, taught to me by the military and utilized every so often while in the Gulf, thus I’ve a pretty good handle on the differences in accent).

Posted by: Kevin on December 2, 2003 09:25 AM

Bill,
Our casualties this year in Iraq AND Afghanistan are now officially more than the numbers of Active Duty personnel killed in car wrecks annually. When I was an infantry private at Ft Campbell (last century- don't ask what decade!) the Commanding general had crosses erected on the lawn in front of the Division HQ. At the end of the year there were 53 crosses of troopers, or their dependents. Not a good year for the 101st. This year, we have lost in battle less than we lost in two days during Tet in 1968. We have lost less in an entire campaign than we lost on the first day of the Cross Channel invasion on the 6th of June 1944.
As a soldier, I mourn the loss of any American in battle. BUT WE HAVE ALL VOLUNTEERED TO PUT OURSELVES BETWEEN THOSE WHO WOULD MURDER US AND THOSE WE LOVE. The michael Moores and Jane Fondas et al will never undwerstand how we can do that, when they wouldn't do that for anybody they know.

Jim

Posted by: Jim on December 2, 2003 10:47 AM

Kevin -
It's good to see opposing views that are thoughtful and informed by something more than knee-jerk reaction.

All -
Wish I had time for a better contribution to the discussion, but I'm faced with such crushing deadlines and impossible expectations that I'm even forced to work through deer season (Anyone inflicted with the White-tail Fever will know how bad things must be here). I should be in woods right now, not in my office waiting on slow compilers and for responses to various technical issues. Forgive the lack of continuity and supporting evidence. I'm squeezing out one paragraph or sentence at a time, as opportunity allows.

A friend of mine is fond of saying that the reason the Allies were able to impose "democracy" upon Germany after WWII is that Germans are historically an orderly people, accustomed to following orders: You vill haf' democracy, und you vill like it! ;)

The real problem is that limited government - a/k/a "democracy" a/k/a rule of law rather than of men - is so rare in the course of history that we have little historical evidence to inform our decisions. It is so rare that we have few examples that it can even endure at all in the end, and even fewer examples by which to judge the odds of whether or not it will take root after being imposed or bequeathed.

The Iraqi gov't was in a state of near perpetual violation of the terms of its '91 cease-fire. IMHO, this alone legally justified the action. By analogy, the Allies would have been justified attacking Nazi Germany the moment the first jackboot set foot in the Rhineland in contravention of the Treaty of Versailles. The "Coalition" should have acted in '98, but didn't (perhaps for the best, given who was in charge at the time).

Given that the US did go in, this country has a moral obligation to do everything possible to give the Iraqi people at least the bare minimum of so-called "democracy" - Rule of Law, independent judiciary, limited police power, etc. This is more important than mere elections: If I ever find myself rotting away in a dungeon, I'll take little comfort knowing I was put there by popular referendum rather than the fiat of a dictator. Elections are not an end, but a means. They are simply the mechanism we have implemented in an attempt to prevent a few people from running the machinery of government for their own benefit & enrichment to the detriment of others. [Recovery from distraction] The important thing is to give the people a chance to form a stable, reasonably limited government of law.

Unfortunately, I lack Bill W's optimism and confidence concerning the perseverance of my fellow countrymen. I believe the odds are good (better than even) that the US will withdraw before the job is done. If that happens, then Baathists will likely regain control of the "Sunni triangle" (which will then be in the same situation it's been in for the last 30+ years); but there is still a reasonable probability that the Shiites and/or Northern Iraqi's (Kurds et al) will remain independent. These hypothetical independent entities may or may not be able to develop the structures required for their people to be called "free" by our standards, but they'll at least have a chance.
If everything goes to hell, things won't be much worse off than they were before the invasion, and there was at least a reasonable chance things could've turned out much, much better.
Much of the world will hate us for decades to come no matter what we do; out of envy; out of fear of a world that technology is changing at an uncomfortable pace, technology associated in most minds with the US.

Re the "Great Name Debate"
I've always liked "Elisith" (or one of the many alternate spellings). It's a Nordization (?sp) of the Old English Elizabaeth, dating from the days when the Vikings owned a good one third of England.

J

Posted by: Jumper on December 2, 2003 11:11 AM

Too late to count but can I vote for Victoria Louise? Which shortens nicely to VickyLou, V-Lo should she become a pop diva... ;) It's my granddaaughter's name so mebbe I'm a teensy bit prejudiced

Posted by: JSAllison on December 2, 2003 12:03 PM

"Kevin -
It's good to see opposing views that are thoughtful and informed by something more than knee-jerk reaction."

Seconded.

Æthelfled was a strong Angle queen, so I have to suggest it... :)

Posted by: B. Durbin on December 2, 2003 12:30 PM

Maggie/Molly/Marnie/Emily
Yeah, like you will get to pick the name.

Posted by: tim on December 2, 2003 05:15 PM

OK- I read enough to know it is Elizabeth. I KNOW she is beautiful.

Posted by: tim on December 2, 2003 05:17 PM

BTW: LabRat, you bring up some great points that I would love to think about and discuss further. If I can dig myself out of this mire of papers and reading in the next couple days, I promise a real response. In the interim, though, know that you've provided me some good mental meat for to chew on.

And thanks for the compliments. Liberals aren't such bad folks all the time, and the same can be said for you dirty conservatives ;-) I hate for anyone to toe the party line, and it looks like most here, though I might disagree with many of your conclusions, don’t play that ignorant game.

Jumper, I couldn’t possibly agree more with your statement concerning moral obligations now that we've committed ourselves. Those who call for a complete withdraw of troops from that region simply aren't thinking clearly, I suspect. That would sacrifice many more lives: Iraqis as well as thousands of support personnel there presently! But aside from that, I do hold serious issue with the lack of elections, even with the valid points you’ve brought up. So too have I issues with the ban on worker unions that has yet to be lifted. I could go on with other things, but I think you’ll see where I’m going with that. My hope is that, since the Shiites represent a significant majority there, they will somehow obtain that sense of political efficacy vital for a strong democracy and turn out in droves...But I share your lack of optimism, obviously.

Posted by: Kevin on December 2, 2003 05:29 PM

Argh...proofread, Kevin, proofread!!!

Correction: In the interim, though, know that you've provided me some good mental meat to chew on....not "for to chew on." *shakes head at self*

Posted by: Kevin on December 2, 2003 05:34 PM

"Liberals aren't such bad folks all the time, and the same can be said for you dirty conservatives ;-)"

Ah, but the heck of it is, most conservatives wouldn't be very eager to claim me as one of their own once they hear ALL my opinions... welcome to no-man's-land.

I look forward to your response, here or by e-mail, whenever you get the time. :)

Posted by: LabRats on December 2, 2003 08:06 PM

On the subject of WMD, watch out for opera, just a warning. Perhaps few will get that reference :)

Rik

Posted by: Rik on December 2, 2003 08:20 PM

B. Durbin
Imagine my surprise to see an aficionado of the so-called "Dark Ages" on a political thread.

Kevin & LabRat
It's been pointed out quite often that "left" & "right", "liberal" and "conservative" are inadequate. Milton Friedman and Pat Robertson have virtually zero in common, yet they're both labeled "conservative". Political thought is not a one dimensional problem space. I've seen systems using as many as six axis to pinpoint a person's political thought. I'd really like to see someone undertake a serious attempt to create a political problem-space that's a scientifically valid model, with actual predictive value. Most of the schemes I've seen are simply a variant on "push-polling": False dilemma questions carefully crafted to encourage the subject to identify with the questioner's views (Do you favor torturing cute little Labrador puppies? No? See you're in favor of animal rights).

I wish that everyone took an entry-level philosophy course in the 8th or 9th grade - just simple stuff, elementary deduction, induction, etc. Too often, "Conservatives" believe those who disagree with them are stupid or ignorant, while "Liberals" believe that those who disagree with them are selfish, hateful, or uncaring. People seem to forget that everyone starts their mental process with different assumptions. Valid deduction or induction using different assumptions often yields different conclusions.

Rik
Worried about the final aria from a rotund diva? Worst case scenario: all CBR munitions & research were trucked to Syria, and Hezbollah has access to it.
Saddam acted exactly as one would expect a man hiding a weapons program to act. I can think of only one reasonable alternative to the supposition that Iraq was still pursuing CBR weapons programs. It's possible that Saddam was merely acting like a man hiding something. Saddam defied the UN in order to be seen as a strong leader refusing to submit to pressure from the west. He gambled that the west would not do anything without incontrovertible proof, or that if they did he would survive any punitive action. I don't think this alternative likely, but it's not totally beyond the realm of possibility.

Gotta go.
J

Posted by: Jumper on December 3, 2003 09:44 AM

Dammit, Bill! You finally post a new essay, and I'm off reading Iraqi BLOGs instead of checking your site. WHen I finally get back to you, the comments are stacked to the ceiling!

Anyway, it's redundant to say "You're right!" I have a good friend who is thouroughly convinced that the Bush administration is corrupt and greedy, that Iraq is all about cronyism with his friends, the MWB excuse for war was an orchestrated lie, that there IS no economic recovery ... BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. And we don't even talk politics anymore because all he does is send me articles from these obscure, left-wing websites full of "facts" that I'M just too ignorant to pay attention to... How do you engage these people in logic?

Keep up the good work. Looking forward to your live show in O'Town!

Lampster
Orlando, FL

Posted by: Lampster on December 3, 2003 02:21 PM

Hello, That Guy. Yet another neomarxist?
"Will the average American taxpayer ever see any benefit from reconstructing and policing Iraq?"
On the France counterattacks page, I criticized people like you. No sense repeating it all, but I will repeat this about neomarxists because it applies very well to you. Neomarxists don't give a shit how many deaths their ANTImilitaristic policies cause. They don't give a shit about Iraq. As long as it's not beautiful Weterners dying, it doesn't matter.
Major corporations? The Iraqis don't have any, do they? So what's the complaint? That they're American corporations? If the French had wanted to help the Iraqia rebuild they wouldn't have opposed us. Ditto Russia and Germany.
Why did wee secure the oil in Iraq? What is of most material value in Iraq? Oil. So how can we best help them get prosperous again? The oil wealth makes a good start. If we hadn't acted as we had, Saddam would have destroyed those oil fields. Are you suggesting that Iraq would be better off without them?

Posted by: Artoo on December 3, 2003 04:52 PM

Two things:
1) Den Beste would write about whatever floats his boat in a hurricane, a nuclear attack, whatever. He's the greatest.
2) The fight is hard, and will be long, BUT IT IS NOT THANKLESS. Thank You soldiers! Thank you marines! Thank you sailors! And thank you airmen! I think of you when I look at my kids, and I'm teaching them how to thank y'all, too.

Posted by: pedro on December 3, 2003 05:15 PM

Bill, a few more points;

Many of those who oppose your point of view (yes, Kevin, I am generalizing here, but hear me out) discount the litany of deaths, rape, and murders done by Saddam as Bush Administration propaganda. They will counter with a litany of other despots and murderous regimes which American either supports or ignores. The apparent logic is that we are somehow hypocritical for choosing to attack Iraq.

As so many have repeatedly pointed out, WMD was not the ONLY reason we attacked, but one of the BIGGEST. Go back and listen to Condolisa Rice, Dick Cheny and Rumsfeld's comments from last December to the first wave of the assault. They were saying THEN what we are saying now, that Iraq is the toe-hold in the Arab world that is ripe for the taking. NOT because of the oil, but because of the brilliant American military actions in '91, the Clinton supported no-fly zone and sanctions since, and the flagrant flouting of UN authority (which, thanks to France, Russia et al, Saddam was proven correct) and the progressive, educated population of Iraq, we stood the best chance of fostering Democratic ideas in the very birthplace of civilization!

To Kevin, That guy, and my good friend, Steve, you are free to oppose the attack on Iraq, criticize the reconstruction efforts, be skeptical of the involvement of Haliburton and other American corporations. That's the beauty of American Democracy is that we are constantly improving ourselves by internal scrutiny.

But PLEASE (that guy) don't try to tell ME the "real" reasons for the war as if you are the sole purveyor of truth and everything we get from the Bush Administration and the general media are lies and we are woefully ignorant.

We read the same reports as you, we hear the same news (in the aggregate, I mean) but come to differing opinions.

Kevin, come back soon. Maybe we can logically pursuade you from a point of view you've logically arrived at. To the others, keep trying. You're funny!

Posted by: Lampster on December 3, 2003 07:02 PM

i just found your blog well doing some searching and just a note to let you know i think it's a damn good site! keep up the great job and i will definetly return.

Posted by: rick on December 3, 2003 07:33 PM

Hey Rick, you may not know it, but Bill here just won a few snappy blog awards. Read the top post.

Kevin, Lampster good show. Kevin, I used to be a liberal, voted for Clinton and Nader. I followed a logical course to come to this side and I've come pretty far this way, now. Not Misha nutty (love the guy), but pretty gone. My father, who served four tours in Viet Nam in the Rangers is something of a libertarian and probably shares many of the same views as the vets you met. Until we talked about it. He's come around. I hope you do, to.

As far as the difficulties of setting things up in Iraq, and the vacuousness of the "There wasn't a plan" argument, there's a blog post - wish I remembered where it was - that just talks about the difficulty of getting badges for security people in Iraq. There's an old essay about the difficulty of building a graphite pencil and that nobody knows how to do it. If you can find either of those, you'll get a better idea of the challenge we -- and that poor Iraqi farmer who is soon being asked to participate in his country -- are facing.

And you'll realize what a great job is being done.

Jumper, great points, one problem: following orders and being orderly are not necessarily part and parcel to being a democracy. The early U.S. was pretty disorderly. Plus, being orderly doesn't mean that you can be active in taking your part in democracy. That takes a little fire.

Bill, great post.

Posted by: grayson on December 3, 2003 10:50 PM

Grayson -

Sorry. I forgot to put the "tongue-in-cheek" HTML tags around my friend's words regarding democratizing the post WWII Germans. The quote (and bogus accent) is pure lampoon.

J

Posted by: Jumper on December 4, 2003 02:16 PM

Bill:

I'm having some trouble following your math calculations to be honest. So if Saddam was in power for 30 years and in that time 300,000 died by his hand and another 300,000 died in the Iran / Gulf War / Gulf War II wars, then we have 600,000 dead. Your calculations also say that 13,000 people are now alive because of U.S. intervention. Now let's take a look at these numbers again because if you dig a little deeper I think you'll find some inconsistencies.

First of all, how long do you suppose the U.S. government, the governing body of the most powerful country in the world ever was supporting Saddam? I'd say that U.S. support of Iraq during the 80's is pretty well documented, as well as the supply of the evil WMD used to kill, what, something like 10,000 people? I think that's what it was? Anyways I think we can estimate that Saddam and Iraq had full U.S. support for at least 10 years during the 80s, so right away the U.S. government is responsible for 100,000 Iraqi deaths. Remember that this is a government that was FULLY supported by the people in power during this time so to renege on this responsibility is indicative of typical American attention span which I'll probably return to later.

Then we have the three wars you mentioned and here we can see the featherweight touch of american foreign policy in full effect. Discounting the first Gulf War, let's say 100,000, that still leaves 200,000 Iraqi deaths for which the United States of America is either directly or indirectly responsible for. The combined death toll for Iraq's people due to United States intervention hovers around 300,000 then. So at 1700 saved lives per month, I guess America is responsible for at least 14 years of peace keeping before they even get out of deficit, right?

Look, my point here is that the US does a very good job of forgetting it's past allegiences and alliances but the rest of the world, especially the parts of the world that are directly affected by US 'intervention' don't. This is probably the reason that America is the most hated country in the world right now, it's constant duplicity and untrustworthy foreign policy. Perhaps it's a result of ever changing democracy but that makes no difference to an Iraqi citizen who was allied, then at war, then invaded by American soldiers.

I've seen some pretty blatant liberal bashing going on here in the comments as well, especially the attacks on the 'no blood for oil' campaign, which to me seem incredibly short sighted and gullible. When the American PR machine starts cranking out memes I guess it's difficult to determine the truth but realistically the truth is there for anyone to see if they take a moment and look objectively at the facts. What interests do the US have in the gulf region? What could possibly make the mightiest country in the world at all concerned with the goings on of relatively inconsequencial people? I mean there's all these other developed countries that the US could be dealing with, why bother with the countries in the middle east? If there was nothing there that they were interested in, why should they bother setting up a 'democracy' in Iraq? If your answer wasn't obvious I suggest you put down the date and take a REAL look at the major export from that region, and then tell me that 'No Blood for Oil' is not 'retired' at all, it's just as relevant today as it was last year and the year before that.

Someone mentioned why lefties weren't up in arms about Liberia and the US intervention there, well I'd say it's pretty obvious: the people of liberia asked, then pleaded, then BEGGED for US help. They gave it grudgingly of course. Why? Well what valuable commodity does Liberia trade in? Nothing of course, and nothing doesn't feed the voracious US appetite for gasoline.

Posted by: ChefQuix on December 5, 2003 05:41 AM

As an aside, here's another example of US foreign policy that is very questionable, yet most conservatives dismiss outright. On what grounds they dismiss it, they always seem to be so vague....

Posted by: ChefQuix on December 5, 2003 01:19 PM

You are of course, right, J. I wish I had thought of that.

Rik

Posted by: Rik on December 5, 2003 03:40 PM

"First of all, how long do you suppose the U.S. government, the governing body of the most powerful country in the world ever was supporting Saddam?"

Supposition is not necessary. It is a matter of record: six years, with diplomatic relations opened purely to oppose Iran. This was followed by twenty-odd years of hostile relations after we discovered that between the Iranian theocracy and the Iraqi dictatorship, secular, modern Saddam was not the lesser of the two evils after all. Contrast this with Russia and France, who both had over thirty years of close trade ties, for both oil and arms, with the Ba'athist regime before it toppled.

"as well as the supply of the evil WMD used to kill, what, something like 10,000 people?"

We supplied conventional arms, which if you'll recall caused quite the scandal at the time, and money. We did not supply chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons: Saddam acquired those on his own initiative, which was one big flashing sign right there that he wasn't a safe ally.

"Anyways I think we can estimate that Saddam and Iraq had full U.S. support for at least 10 years during the 80s, so right away the U.S. government is responsible for 100,000 Iraqi deaths."

No, we can't. Do your homework. These are not difficult-to-find records. We may not know everything that was going on, but we do know that our relations with Iraq became hostile after a six-year relationship that could be characterized as a cynical alliance of convenience, which is quite frankly how diplomacy works much of the time, especially during the Cold War.

"Remember that this is a government that was FULLY supported by the people in power during this time so to renege on this responsibility is indicative of typical American attention span which I'll probably return to later."

ARGH! AMERICAN BASHING! COMMENCE LIBERAL BASHING IMMEDIATELY!

...Oh, wait, I forgot. It's enlightened to be bigoted as long as you have this week's approved/disapproved list. Dammit, where'd I put my copy?

Either way I'm highly unimpressed with this sentiment coming from someone whose research is clearly superficial.

"So at 1700 saved lives per month, I guess America is responsible for at least 14 years of peace keeping before they even get out of deficit, right?"

As we keep saying, the standard is not perfection, the standard is the alternative. Nobody had a crystal ball in the mid-eighties; they had no idea whatsoever what Saddam would turn out to be. They DID know that Iran was extremely aggressive and extremely hostile to U.S. interests in an unstable region in which it was vying with the Soviet Union, which had vowed to "bury us", for crucial resources. It was a cynical decision that now looks wrong, but just as they had no crystal ball, we have no WayBack machine to find out what would have happened had Iran been allowed to proceed unmolested. It's entirely possible it would have been worse. Or it could have been better.

Either way, playing shoulda-woulda-coulda is completely unhelpful, particularly when you advocate leaving our messes for other people to deal with while we sit paralyzed with shame and self-flagellation. The cold fact of the matter is that thousands of people who would have died under Saddam did not because we cleaned up the mess. Nothing we did before will change that. For that matter, pinning all the deaths that occured under Saddam on the U.S. is racist: it assumes that no moral culpability can be assigned to the Iraqis themselves; not the Ba'athists, and not the people who allowed them to stay in power. That is the moral status of children.

"Look, my point here is that the US does a very good job of forgetting it's past allegiences and alliances"

You call fifty years of NATO support, even when the countries we're pouring money into are directly opposing our interests, "forgetting your past allegiances and alliances"? What exactly would you have us do? Stay allied with hostile and morally bankrupt nations after it is no longer practical to do so in order to "remember our past allegiances"? What makes you think anybody directly involved in U.S. diplomacy has forgotten a damned thing?

"This is probably the reason that America is the most hated country in the world right now"

Diplomacy is not a popularity contest. Goodwill is valuable, but it is not more valuable than anything and everything else: the interests of your citizens always come first. Despite this principle, we still give out far more aid, both military and monetary, than anyone else on earth: it's simply never enough.

For that matter, if the other citizens of the world have such very long memories, why don't they hate the British? Until the Brits pulled out of their middle eastern properties in a cartoon-like high-speed retreat, there was no such thing as Iraq. Thanks to them, there is a Jewish state in the middle of hostile Arab territory; without the Brits, there would be no Israel problem.

Why don't they hate the Russians? The Russians have supplied the vast majority of the arms to the various brutal dictatorships of the Near and Middle East, and they spent years in Afghanistan in brutal rule.

Why don't they hate the French? Along with us and the Russians, they are the major oil player in the Middle East, and have also supplied hefty amounts of arms to various factions, as well as maintaining an iron fist over their remaining African properties.

It couldn't possibly be that they hate the Americans and not any of these other people because their memories are influenced by what they hear from their government and the government-controlled media, which finds it far more convenient to blame all their miseries on Americans and Jews so the people won't notice how shitty their governments are? ImPOSSIBLE.

So why don't you hate the British, the French, and the Russians, my fellow student of history? Or are you more egalitarian in your blame-flinging than you're making out?

"What could possibly make the mightiest country in the world at all concerned with the goings on of relatively inconsequencial people?"

Well, let's see. There's the active/quiescent-but-extant WMD development programs. There's the invasion of a friendly state. There's the fifty billion a year we were spending on keeping the WMDs and neighbor-invasions kept in check. There's the growing terrorist threat and known (funding Palestinian terrorism) and suspected ties with terrorists of the government. There's the constant defiance of and hassles with the U.N. And also the brutal dictatorship, which frankly was merely one not-very-important reason among many why we went to war, but yeah, it was good for P.R. That doesn't make the Iraqis any less liberated. It wouldn't make them any less liberated if we had invaded Iraq because we'd heard Uday Hussein kept the Ark of the Covenant up his ass.

And, yeah, there was the oil, but if the oil were the MAIN or the ONLY reason we invaded, then we really pulled a boner, because we're going to be operating at a loss on that one, maybe forever. If all we wanted was oil we could have picked on a weaker country, drilled more of our own resources, or done any of a dozen other, less costly things. That's why "No blood for Oil" sounds so damn stupid. It's like insisting that Hitler tried to conquer Europe so he could get all the French food he wanted.

"Why? Well what valuable commodity does Liberia trade in?"

I thought you were opposed to the heavy hand of American foreign policy?

In any case, I'll agree with you quite cheerfully: Liberia was not in our national interest. We can't go around cleaning up everybody's mess; we'd run out of money and manpower in an extremely short time. But we CAN concentrate on the worst ones, the ones that are the biggest threat to us and the immediate surroundings. Liberia was one of a dozen more or less self-contained African messes. With Iraq, North Korea, and Afghanistan to worry about, committing more resources there would have been foolish.

As for the Argentine case, we don't care that much first because it's old news- we did a lot of nasty things in South America during the Cold War- and second because it's just not that relevant right now. All we can do is concentrate on the messes that exist; sure, we can- and do, you'll note we don't do that kind of thing anymore now that the Cold War is over- learn lessons from the past, but right now we have other fish to fry.

Posted by: LabRat on December 5, 2003 07:01 PM

i lost famaly in bali, so i give the single inverted to all the wingers and sooks that protest to "the war against terror" i agree that the US has backed away from these people for too long. go for it "bushy boy" you have a majority vote here.. elisabeth is good, how about "tara". good luck to all..

Posted by: aussie bob on December 7, 2003 12:44 AM

LabRat:

Thank you once again for taking the time to point out some inconsistencies in my statements. You are correct with regard to my superficial fact finding, mostly I remember the general gist of an event but the details always escape me. I always feel such an urgency to post my mind that I often neglect finding valid sources to back up my words. It's a failing of mine, one that I'll try and avoid.

We supplied conventional arms, which if you'll recall caused quite the scandal at the time, and money. We did not supply chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons: Saddam acquired those on his own initiative, which was one big flashing sign right there that he wasn't a safe ally.

Ok but here's where I disagree with you. You say that Saddam aquired them on his own. I say that the US government armed him in a desperate attempt to win the Iraq - Iran war. So who's right? Is there any way that an inquisitive mind can ever determine the absolute truth, the facts as they took place? Of course given the choice between two versions of the same event a person is usually going to side with his beliefs, whatever they may be. The right or the left, as determined by his nature. But again, no truth and no closure is reached. So the debate rages on...

"Remember that this is a government that was FULLY supported by the people in power during this time so to renege on this responsibility is indicative of typical American attention span which I'll probably return to later."

ARGH! AMERICAN BASHING! COMMENCE LIBERAL BASHING IMMEDIATELY!

Do the general public of the USA remember or even care about the events that unfold overseas? All they ever know is what's told to them through television and movies. That's their perception of the world, why should they think the reality is any different? So how is this American bashing? I think America is becoming the new Israel - defensive of any criticism to a fault. Nobodies perfect, but as soon as you start to believe you are perfect then you lose sight of your own imperfections. Imperfections are like checks and balances - they keep the individual in line.

The cold fact of the matter is that thousands of people who would have died under Saddam did not because we cleaned up the mess. Nothing we did before will change that. For that matter, pinning all the deaths that occured under Saddam on the U.S. is racist: it assumes that no moral culpability can be assigned to the Iraqis themselves; not the Ba'athists, and not the people who allowed them to stay in power. That is the moral status of children.

Perhaps not all the deaths but by omission you concede that there is US culpability in some of these deaths. I'm glad to see that the lack of personal responsibility meme hasn't swept throughout the entirety of the states yet. Of course there is blame to lay on the Iraqis. Saddam was definately unstable, but one has to wonder what influenced him in that direction...

What makes you think anybody directly involved in U.S. diplomacy has forgotten a damned thing?

Again you forget the masses - these are the people who determine the leaders - these are the people who's opinion matters most. Democracy doesn't work if they only consume biased information, so why are these things not brought to their attention? Assuming of course that there is validity to your statements?

Diplomacy is not a popularity contest. Goodwill is valuable, but it is not more valuable than anything and everything else: the interests of your citizens always come first. Despite this principle, we still give out far more aid, both military and monetary, than anyone else on earth: it's simply never enough.

I think I've gone down this path before and it seems to be a stumbling block - one of those fundamental differences that may not be surrmountable. This is the problem with nationalism - the interests of your citizens always come first. It's a throwback to tribal warfare and empire nations. This attitude causes the divide, it causes envy, it causes arrogance and pride. Are these still not sins?

It couldn't possibly be that they hate the Americans and not any of these other people because their memories are influenced by what they hear from their government and the government-controlled media, which finds it far more convenient to blame all their miseries on Americans and Jews so the people won't notice how shitty their governments are? ImPOSSIBLE.

So this is describing which nation now? Don't you see the validity of reversing this statement completely and having an accurate description of the average American mentality, and the influences that affect it? Why do news programs have bias? They never used to, what are we getting too lazy now?

So why don't you hate the British, the French, and the Russians, my fellow student of history? Or are you more egalitarian in your blame-flinging than you're making out?

I DO hate every nation that's ever passed a law. Thousands and thousands of years of history that's riddled with violence, treachery and deceit. My oh my if this is all some grand experiment then I'm starting to think it's been a failure. What have we managed to accomplish? Genocide, slavery, jihads and holy wars, ethnic clensing and the rape of mother earth. Yet this hatred does me no good so I put it aside. It's counterproductive. How can I objectively examine an international event with all this extra preconceived baggage?

Well, let's see. There's the active/quiescent-but-extant WMD development programs. There's the invasion of a friendly state. There's the fifty billion a year we were spending on keeping the WMDs and neighbor-invasions kept in check. There's the growing terrorist threat and known (funding Palestinian terrorism) and suspected ties with terrorists of the government. There's the constant defiance of and hassles with the U.N. And also the brutal dictatorship, which frankly was merely one not-very-important reason among many why we went to war, but yeah, it was good for P.R. That doesn't make the Iraqis any less liberated. It wouldn't make them any less liberated if we had invaded Iraq because we'd heard Uday Hussein kept the Ark of the Covenant up his ass.

So basically more 'heavy handed' american foreign policy, which seems to get heavier as the years go by. I don't understand why Americans are so amibivalent about the wars that have been started and stopped over this conflict. There is always blame on both sides yet there seems to be no real interest in persuing peace talks. Always its 'war', anybody could be a terrorist and they have no justification for their hatred. Please try and step back and take a look from a different perception - what if you were raised in Islam and these christians were trying to impose their culture and value system on you, especially in what you'd consider a sneaky and underhanded way. I'd be pissed as well.

You can try and say that this isn't a conflict between Islam and Christianity, but at it's heart that's what it is. Even if those who are leading the fight aren't specifically leading them based on christian values, their deep rooted christian values are an inherint part of the 'order' that is being forced upon another country.

"Why? Well what valuable commodity does Liberia trade in?"

I thought you were opposed to the heavy hand of American foreign policy?

Way to quote me out of context. Let's have the whole quote again:

Someone mentioned why lefties weren't up in arms about Liberia and the US intervention there, well I'd say it's pretty obvious: the people of liberia asked, then pleaded, then BEGGED for US help. They gave it grudgingly of course. Why? Well what valuable commodity does Liberia trade in? Nothing of course, and nothing doesn't feed the voracious US appetite for gasoline.

The people of Liberia were desperate for help, they requested assistance again and again and finally the U.S. intervened. Intervention is ok in my books if the people want it. Did the people of Iraq want U.S. intervention? The jury's still out on that one.

As for the Argentine case, we don't care that much first because it's old news- we did a lot of nasty things in South America during the Cold War- and second because it's just not that relevant right now.

Which brings me back to the point about American short-sitedness. It may be old news to you, but to the people of South America (and others, like Chile) the interference and meddling of the U.S. government was responsible for overthrowing democratically elected people, and for years of chaos and tyranny. So while you may have 'forgotten', those people surely haven't and your 'don't care' attitude is breeding resentment and anger that will eventually bite you guys in the butt.

The main thing that worries me about the mess in Iraq is that it seems to me that the US government is planning a speedy withdrawal or 'handover'. Iraq is simply not ready to govern itself, yet Bush seems intent of washing his hands of the whole affair as quickly as possible. I have faith that if the U.S. troops stationed there were given enough time to help out the communities with rebuilding then the situation could be salvaged, yet I don't believe they'll be given that chance. You all cry about how the democrats would pull out as soon as they could if elected yet not a one of them has even mentioned this. They all understand that the only way to resolve the conflict there is for a long term american presence, which is something that it seems Bush cannot stomach. Perhaps if the Americans in Iraq behaved like the Canadians in Afghanistan then there might be less of a resistance to their presence. Just a thought.

Posted by: ChefQuix on December 7, 2003 11:52 AM

The information at the start of this entry is not correct.

The information about the killlings in Iraq comes from human rights organizations - the one that is commonly cited as the source for this data is Human Rights Watch.

The 300,000 claim comes from them. That refers to the people who, according to their figures, were buried in the mass graves. These are people killed during the Iran-Iraq war, or immediately following the war, and those killed during the Shi'ite uprising in 1991. For most of that time period, Iraq was our ally, and the Reagan and Bush administrations decided that, despite what the Iraqi leadership had done, the U.S. should attempt to seek "better relations" with that country.

The mass graves date from 1983 to 1991. According to the human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch - which is known for, in the past, having had liberal estimates of people killed during war and conflicts in different parts of the world - there will be a total of around 300,000 people found in those mass graves in Iraq (once they are all discovered). But this was before the "no-fly zones" were set up over Iraq, before sanctions were imposed, and before Iraq started being held accountable for its human rights violations. Since that has happened, Iraq has still been a repressive regime, but no more so than scores of other countries throughout world, including some that we are allied with, or with which we have decent diplomatic relations. (In certain areas, such as the treatment of groups such as Christians, Jews, and women, the Ba'athist government of Iraq has actually been much less repressive than the the regimes of many other predominantly-Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia.)

Even Human Rights Watch, which has long been urging that action be taken to stop the killings in Iraq (and in other countries), took no position on the issue of the recent Iraq war, stating that while they do take positions in favor of humanitarian intervention "when the people of a country are facing genocide or comparable mass slaughter," the regime of Saddam Hussein did not now meet this threshhold, in contrast to the past, such as in 1988.

So without taking a stance in this comment post on the Iraq war, I am stating here that the assertions made at the beginning of this essay are factually and logically incorrect. A mathematical re-adjustment should be made due to the changes that occurred following 1991, and the arithmetic mean should be altered accordingly.

Posted by: Foreign Policy realist on December 8, 2003 12:32 PM

The fact that Lab knows so much disturbs me, not to the point of falling into a "trap" per se, but the obvious illiteration that a pig is exactly humane (germain?) to man. literation being enough, I find enough trials without need to trivialize my own merits beyond what I can give to concious thought. Lab just gave me a huge headache, I sure love blaming others for my own lack of values. When I was young, we just survived, and there was no government, but no pensive thinkers either. I love headaches now. I lied, my head never hurts, it is all so simple, but damn, I love you thinkers. You do know your reasons, and I would be proud to be considered equal to the least worthy. Proud and willing to uphold your justice, you are the best. I really want to insult someone, but can't, so back to bed. A cactus makes a lovely bed, when one is willing to know nature.

Rik

Posted by: Rik on December 8, 2003 07:49 PM

At last, the stars align. My computer works again, Bill's got a new mini-essay out, there's a great stream of comments to join, and I've finally got a day off. Now if I can just rattle this off before I have to leave again.

I guess I'll have to limit myself to one general thoughtline, since there are too many individual points to be countered individually (in the time available). Besides, LabRat, as usual, did such a brilliant job of hitting all the salient points before me.

My main point, I suppose, is that history is something that you should learn from, not bind yourself to. Saying that dealing with a country one way in the past, and a different way now, is somehow duplicitous, well, I've just never been able to understand that. Not only is it something that everybody does -- internationally, locally, and even individually -- but that's the only way it CAN be done. Because if you can't learn from past mistakes... if you can't correct your missteps, change the direction of your interests, or take advantage of greater opportunities whenever they arise, then you will be run over by those that can. And you'd sure better make the perfect choices the first time around, because by that way of thinking, you're not going to be allowed a reassessment.

Yes, we've allied ourselves with reprehensible parties in the past (just like everybody), and for good reasons at the time. But those reasons changed (as did the times), and we, thankfully, changed with them. To have been bound to those detrimental alliances forever on the basis of some lofty principle, would have been suicidal. And stupid.

We are NOT duplicitous, superficial, and especially not forgetful. We are learning, we are correcting, we are advancing... we are evolving. It's what intelligent beings do. We may be bouncing our way out of a culvert that we drove ourselves into, but sometimes that's the best, the ONLY way to correct the error.

I mean, at the end of a century that saw two world wars, what have we learned from those experiences?

I'd LIKE to think we've learned from Hitler that appeasing an aggressive, megalomaniacal dictator doesn't work... that words and promises mean nothing to that type, that the only "diplomacy" they respect is that which speaks their language: might makes right... either give him what he wants, or prepare to fight. I'd LIKE to think that, with our 20/20 hindsight, if we had it all to do over again, we'd turn Hitler around when he first entered the Rhineland in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles, that we'd slap him down for building up his military in excess of the treaty's allowances, that we'd come storming after his ass as soon as he encroached on Austria and Czechoslovakia, and that we'd pay more attention to the reports of anti-semitic atrocities taking place within his borders. I'd LIKE to think we've learned that just because a celebrity like Charles Lindbergh says that Hitler and his National Socialist party are a godsend to the world, that doesn't mean he's right... only that he's a person who has his own opinion, but who happens to be famous at the same time. I'd LIKE to think that, after all this time, we've realized just how many people would NOT have died (violently and prematurely) had we taken those first intervening steps way back then. Because every one of those little bugaboos has raised its ugly little head all over again now, at the start of THIS century.

Well, I'll tell ya', for all the ways that George Bush bothers me, as I've said way too many times before, I LIKE the way he's prosecuting this war. I think he IS taking those intervening steps... he's NOT taking an aggressive megalomaniacal dictator's word for anything... he, like his dad, IS stopping that dictator dead in his tracks, BEFORE he can take his first outwardly hostile steps... he IS holding that dictator accountable to his treaty agreements, calling his bluffs, and backing up his own threats of reprisal (a novelty all on its own). It amazes me how many people -- Americans -- WANT Saddam to kill Americans, preferably on American soil, just so that they can have that all-important "smoking gun" that worked so well before the other wars. Me? I like the idea that Saddam's being stopped BEFORE he can reach that capability. And that's the whole point... that for all the costs of this venture, in terms of money, relations, and lives, stopping this juggernaut NOW, in the only immediately effective way, BEFORE it can get up to speed, it's still vastly cheaper than the alternative, for EVERYONE, including the Iraqis, the perpetually offended Europeans, and us... the alternative being to follow the patterns established in the last century, and let Saddam fully play out his hand. We would almost certainly still defeat him under those circumstances, but at what a staggering cost.

I prefer that we act on lessons learned.

As for the evil of nationalism, and the wretchedness of "national interests," well... as far as I'm concerned, if you've got a nation (or a corporation, or a team, or a club, for that matter) that you like and would like to see survive, then you'd BETTER have your nation's interests at heart. Otherwise, what's the point? If my government's not going to act in my nation's best interests, then what do I want that government for? (I'm addressing nationalism in general here, NOT the issue of whether or not this particular war is in our national interest)

There will ALWAYS be leadership structures among humans, whether reduced to family, clan or tribal levels, or left at the current level of nation-states. Someone will always lead. It's only a question of scale. So, if we're going to have nations, they need to be governed, SOMEHOW. And regardless of which method is chosen, that governance needs to be with the nation's interests at heart... even if that nation's interest is oil. And in today's world, oil and electricity are almost on the same level as food and water. Threaten to cut them off, and you're threatening to starve somebody of their vital resources, to bring down their very society.

Of course that's NOT what's happening in the case of Iraq... we've got plenty of alternate sources, we pay for every drop we import, and we'll be paying for Iraq's oil even after the current situation stabilizes. But even if oil WAS the main reason, what I'm saying is "that would be a damned valid national interest to protect." In other words, a damned good reason to go to war... better even than the vague human rights issues that got us into Bosnia and Somalia. If they were cutting off our food, there would be no question as to the rightness of the cause.

Anyhoo, getting back to my original points, (a) it is not duplicitous to reverse our alliances to harmful regimes, any more than it's duplicitous to sever all ties with a friend or relation that you've discovered is a criminal, even if that relationship started with the foreknowledge that some of their dealings might have been a little shady. That kind of "evolution" is normal, it's universal, and it's essential for growth. And the United States is not only not unique in its application, but as nations go, we're actually one of the newest and least experienced at that game. And (b) I think a quick review of the lessons learned from the last century, and the catalogue of missteps we wish we could take all over again, will show that our current actions ARE those of a nation that has learned something from history, and doesn't want to repeat the same mistakes.

Broad strokes, I know. Big canvas.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on December 9, 2003 08:58 AM

As usual LabRat has beaten me to the proverbial punch. However, a few random comments.

What makes people bristle so at the "No blood for oil" slogan is the implicit suggestion that oil's the only reason blood is being shed. If the only goal was oil, the US and GB would simply ignore the UN sanctions, and buy the oil from Saddam Hussein at market prices. That would've been far cheaper than such a large military operation.


ChefQuix said
I say that the US government armed him in a desperate attempt to win the Iraq - Iran war. So who's right? Is there any way that an inquisitive mind can ever determine the absolute truth, the facts as they took place?
A simple survey of the video footage from Iraq rather conclusively demonstrates that the US was not the primary source of arms for Iraq. T-72 tanks, BMP personnel carriers & IFV's, AK-47 rifles, RPG's... all Soviet and/or PRC weapons. Various Soviet & French military aircraft. Soviet/Russian, and Chinese air defence systems. Soviet/Russian, Chinese & North Korean balistic missiles.
If my memory serves, assisstence to Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war consisted primarily of intelligence support - photo-recce, satelite imagery, etc.


I DO hate every nation that's ever passed a law.
I happen to like some of those laws. For instance, the one that says people aren't permitted to break into my home and take my stuff, or the one that says nice polite fellows in blue uniforms will hunt down and imprison anyone who murders my wife, mother, or father. I rather like going to bed at night fairly confident I won't be forced to defend myself or my family during the night. And I espcially like the laws imposed upon my government that it is not permitted to restrict my freedom of speech, religion, etc.
In their natural state, human beings act pretty much like chimps, just a little more sophisticated. The primary social group is a small clan or tribe. Look at chimps and you can see most "human" behaviors: aggression, territoriality, warfare, murder, affection, acts of "kindness" that can seem surprisingly altruistic, familial bonds...
A "nation" is what happens when people recognize a form of kinship, or a community of interest that is larger than, expands beyond the bounds of their clan or tribe. That is a step in the right direction. Will that new, bigger community of interest be in conflict with others? Almost certainly. Unless one set of values starts to gain widespread acceptance, and the nations join together in larger communities of shared interest. We're a young species. We've only been working at this "civilization" business for a handful of millenia. The species won't cease "acting like animals" any time soon.

Posted by: Jumper on December 9, 2003 10:08 AM

Rik: "The fact that Lab knows so much disturbs me, not to the point of falling into a "trap" per se, but the obvious illiteration that a pig is exactly humane (germain?) to man."

Pigs are anatomically similar to humans because they share our diet and much of our ecological lifestyle- a social, aggressive, omnivorous, and unusually bright generalist predator. Most people (who have generally never met a pig) think of them as stupid, fat, docile farm animals. In fact a pig reverts to its lean, speedy wild state with amazing speed once it escapes from a farm, and even in a pen they're dangerous predators- that fence isn't there so much to keep them from wandering off as it is to keep them away from the other animals, and the people. They'll kill stupid farm dogs in a heartbeat, and they've been known to kill and eat unwary or incapacitated farmers, too. As a rule, any animal that will kill and eat a rattlesnake without turning a bristle is one to be regarded with respect.

They're also far more intelligent than most give them credit for- my family had a pet pig once, and the thing made our dogs and cats look very slow indeed- and as capable of affection and apparently altruistic acts as they are of viciousness. If you get the impression that I tend to think of pigs as being much like amoral humans with no sense of humor, you're right.

Now, on to ChefQuix, the redux.

When I finished my first reply to him I was awash in deja vu. So I did what I should have done before I replied then and went back a few essays and found our first exchange in the comments of "Power"; we've already basically HAD this conversation. So in the interests of efficiency, so we don't continue to simply say what we said before, I'm going to respond both to what's been said here and treat it as though I'm picking up where we left off there.

"Of course given the choice between two versions of the same event a person is usually going to side with his beliefs, whatever they may be. The right or the left, as determined by his nature. But again, no truth and no closure is reached."

This is not an ideological point, it is a point of fact. Jumper is correct: the majority of Iraqi equipment is not American, it is Soviet, Chinese, French, etcetera. Again, you can look this stuff up; watch the video footage, read the technical details, you can even go back to the historical record of the first Gulf War and see the same thing. If we provided them with so much equipment, they must have gotten rid of it- and why would they do that, given that it would be far superior to the Soviet gear and would have given them political PR points besides? If Saddam's military infrastructure were American, he would have *bragged* this point. He's no military genius, but he does know how to play the political sphere.

Do your homework before you chalk something up to "ideological differences in truth-finding."

"All they ever know is what's told to them through television and movies. That's their perception of the world, why should they think the reality is any different?"

I'm extremely curious as to why you believe this applies to Americans specifically and not the rest of the world, especially the parts where there is only a single government-controlled media source.
Michael Moore is actually part of the state public education curriculum in France despite the fact that his movies and books have been shown to be so riddled with factual errors and contradictory premises that you can see daylight through them. The BBC has gone through so many scandals lately that they've actually appointed a person to "Arab Watch" to keep an eye on their own atrocious spin. Al-Jazeera is simply a joke, as the people who were watching it during the war and then were shocked, SHOCKED to find that the Americans had easily taken Baghdad discovered. (You are of course aware of all of this already, being the alert and concerned citizen of the world that you are.)

"So how is this American bashing?"

Because you are generalizing a nation of roughly 290,342,554 individuals as being too dimwitted to be aware of the world around them beyond Hollywood, that's why. I take extreme exception to this as an American, especially coming from some pompous ass who is apparently unwilling to look up facts when he can substitute ideology.

I will freely admit that many, possibly even most Americans by the numbers are probably more interested in living their lives than following the news, and have superficial World Opinions. What I take exception to is your implication that everyone else in the world is not like this. It isn't American nature, it is HUMAN nature to be more concerned with your immediate life than everyone else's. Being informed takes work and time that most people of any nationality aren't willing or able to put in.

For that matter, I find the assertion both hypocritical coming from a man who just accused us of reckless liberal-bashing (yes, it is hypocritical to criticize someone for making generalizations and then do the same yourself in the same post), and morally repulsive. At least when you criticize someone based on their ideas you've attacked something that they formed themself and can change themself; when you criticize someone based on their nationality you are attacking them simply for being born where they were and having the gall not to be ashamed of it.

"I think America is becoming the new Israel - defensive of any criticism to a fault."

Bullshit. We admit and usually repudiate our mistakes, which is why you know about all the horrible things we've done in the first place. In Germany it's quite nearly illegal to discuss the Third Reich at all; here we're STILL talking about how sorry we are about slavery. Even in Bill's essays you can read condemnations of the idiotic or immoral things we've done, such as the Phillipines takeover. There's a difference between not being able to take criticism and not being willing to take baseless criticsm- just because YOU think something we've done was horrible (and by your own admission you think passing and enforcing laws is horrible and going to war ever no matter what good is served is horrible) doesn't mean it was horrible or that we should start each day with the I'm-sorry prayer. And because you have done wrong does not mean you can never do right, or that it is wrong to take pride in what you have done right.

"Saddam was definately unstable, but one has to wonder what influenced him in that direction..."

That's right. The CIA was slipping Insane Murdering Bastard pills into his falafel, just to see what would happen.

You know, there were vicious psychopaths centuries before there was such a thing as America, and vicious psychopaths all over the world in power before we ever left our hemisphere to go to world, and there will continue to be vicious psychopaths without any help from us whatsoever. The Ba'athist regime took power over a decade before we even acknowledged its existence diplomatically, and there's plenty of evidence that they were rotten from the start. Intimating that we made Saddam into a bloody dictator is not only lunacy, it is as hubristic and arrogant as insisting that nothing good can happen without America's help either.

"Again you forget the masses - these are the people who determine the leaders - these are the people who's opinion matters most. Democracy doesn't work if they only consume biased information, so why are these things not brought to their attention? Assuming of course that there is validity to your statements?"

All of the information is there and available for anyone who cares to get at it. Even homeless people can access the internet from the library and read "The Guardian" online if they feel like it. (Unlike in Europe, where all media content deemed "hateful"- which has been expanded to include such bastions of right-wing lunacy as certain episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Show- is regulated.) The fact is that we elect people who we think can do a good job, and then they go out and acquire a team of advisors and do it. Nobody can know everything that is required to do the job of President properly; that's why we have a State Department, and a Defense Department, and a Department of the Interior, and so on, and multiple representatives from each whose job it is to tell the men making policy decisions what their informed opinions are.

And now I am going to address your assertions that there should be no laws and no nations. I'm going to take one of your statements from "Power", too:

"I don't really give a damn if it works or not, because as soon as I start advocating violence in any form against another then I am comprimising my fundamental view of life - that every single individual, no matter how vile, corrupt or 'evil' you think they may be has a right to existence that's just as strong as yours. I will not waver on this point."

Basically, what we have here is you asserting that you don't care that universal pacifism is impossible now and for the foreseeable future, or indeed about any fact of the world and human nature that disagrees with your ideals, and therefore you don't care about the consequences of any policy based on those ideals that you advocate, as long as they are consistent with your ideals.

If death, misery, and oppression as consequences of actions you recommend based on your ideals are not cause for you to re-examine your moral system, what are your morals and ethics based on?

It can't be lack of suffering, because you don't care if people suffer as a consequence of your actions or inactions. It can't be value on human life, because you don't care if they die either, just so long as you feel you've acted according to your ideals. So what is it? What is more important to you than your comfort zone? Or is the ultimate purpose of your moral system to make you feel good about yourself?

"Why do news programs have bias? They never used to, what are we getting too lazy now?"

I'm sorry, this was too funny to ignore. If you honestly believe that the media is only biased NOW, you are *truly* living in a dream world. Have you ever even READ an old newspaper? Like, pre-CNN? They exist, you know. Your local library has them on microfiche. Here's a hint: the phrases "yellow journalism" and "muckraking" date from the nineteenth century and 1942 respectively. For that matter, the idea that the media would present anything other than the official government line is an American invention.

"There is always blame on both sides yet there seems to be no real interest in persuing peace talks."

The twelve years of diplomacy in between Gulf War I (which was started when Iraq invaded Kuwait with the intention to annex it) and Gulf War II don't count?

"I'd be pissed as well."

I imagine you would be. But if you are to be believed, your solution would not be to go forth and kill as many civilians of a particular race, religion, or nationality as you possibly could. Do Muslims have lower moral standards? Is it wrong for Americans to pursue nations that harbor the people bent on killing them, but not for terrorists to attack the people they're "pissed at"?

"You can try and say that this isn't a conflict between Islam and Christianity, but at it's heart that's what it is. Even if those who are leading the fight aren't specifically leading them based on christian values, their deep rooted christian values are an inherint part of the 'order' that is being forced upon another country."

The only people who have chosen to frame the conflict in religious terms are the jihadis. But even if you listen to them, they don't attack Christianity (they have a lot to say about Jews, but relatively little about Christians), they attack the West. Some of the mad mullahs have actually said that part of the problem is that we AREN'T very religious, that if we followed Christian fundamentalism we'd be less horrible. Your argument also requires accepting the secular government we're trying so hard to impose as a "Christian value".

I'm not Christian and I wasn't raised Christian, but you can damn well bet I've got plenty of conflicts with radical Islam. And if you really believe in the fundamental clash-of-civilizations theory, what exactly is it you want? An Islamic victory? They sure as hell don't have pacifism in mind.

"Intervention is ok in my books if the people want it. Did the people of Iraq want U.S. intervention? The jury's still out on that one."

Not really. Some of them did and some of them didn't. If you do your research, you'll find strident pleas for intervention (mostly from the Kurdish north), as well as pleas to leave them alone. As for Liberia, I've already explained why we didn't go. I'm sure the Liberians who were government workers under Charles Taylor didn't want us to intervene.

"It may be old news to you, but to the people of South America (and others, like Chile) the interference and meddling of the U.S. government was responsible for overthrowing democratically elected people, and for years of chaos and tyranny."

I said it was OLD news, not no news. We KNOW we did horrible things in South America. We're very sorry now, which is why we pour billions in aid down the dry hole that is Latin and South America, including Argentina, which is vying for the world track record in loan-defaulting.

"So while you may have 'forgotten', those people surely haven't and your 'don't care' attitude is breeding resentment and anger that will eventually bite you guys in the butt."

I didn't forget and no one else has forgotten either. We simply have plenty of pressing concerns to occupy our time and attention: problems that affect us and billions of other people we can work on solving rather than mistakes to flagellate ourselves over. What *should* we be doing besides giving money to incompetent governments to show our contrition, pray tell?

As for Bush planning to pull out as soon as possible, I see no real evidence of this. I DO see a lot of international pressure to do it as fast as possible, but I don't actually see anything more than political lip-service paid to bowing to it. Remember: with politicians, actions speak thousands of times louder than words.

*waves at the generally swell fellows GHS and Jumper*

Posted by: LabRat on December 9, 2003 03:22 PM

Thanks Lab, that was a sweet comment :)

Rik

Posted by: Rik on December 9, 2003 05:24 PM

Unusual ideas can make enemies.

Posted by: Lashutka Michael on December 9, 2003 05:35 PM

There is no benefit in the gifts of a bad man.

Posted by: Sanner Paul on December 10, 2003 09:38 AM

Genius is of no country.

Posted by: Lieber David on December 10, 2003 09:38 AM

With six you get egg roll.

Posted by: LabRat on December 10, 2003 10:03 AM


Ahh, but they're cheaper by the dozen.

Posted by: Jumper on December 10, 2003 02:20 PM

A response is forthcoming....

Posted by: ChefQuix on December 10, 2003 04:25 PM

Just wanted to thank everyone who argued for the war and its righteousness. Im 17, and driving an 04 SL600. Thanks to all you poor people who fought so my dad could get some business, some tax cuts, and my car :D. Make sure you take pride in your country too, wave your flag on your chevy, it makes it look not rusted. SO tacky.

Posted by: Willam on December 10, 2003 06:00 PM

LabRat, you are a goddess. I can't wait until you crank up your own blog.

And to "William:" thank your Dad and his astute methods of childrearing for the '04 SL600. I can already see how THAT'S paying off. As for the "poor people" (along with a lot of principled "rich kids" as well): they fought for their OWN right to "get some business, some tax cuts, and their own cars." They're eligible too, you know.

And speaking of tacky, you ought to hear what people think of spoiled rotten 17-year-olds driving around in SL600s before they have a clue about what's relevant and what's not.

Back to the cage.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on December 10, 2003 08:13 PM

Fought what for their own? My dads company? Was someone about to hurt them? Maybe if you would look beyond what people tell you to see you wouldnt be poor old man.

Posted by: Willam on December 10, 2003 08:33 PM

William, I'm in complete agreement with you. You obviously don't deserve the car. But your father earned the money with which to buy it, and he has the right to dispose of his money how he sees fit. If this bothers you, then I suggest you sell the SL, buy a used Toyota, and give the difference to the Red Cross, a local church or food pantry, or Doctors Without Borders, or for that matter, BodyPiercers for Kucinich. Donate the car to St Vincent DePaul.
Ah, but it's so much more satisfying to feel superior by pointing out how little I've done to deserve this car
Sorry kid. Remarking on the obvious doesn't impress anyone. If it really bothers you (as opposed to being an excuse to feel smug), do something about it. If your daddy won't let you sell the car, then use it for volunteer work. Look up "Meals on Wheels" in the phone book and deliver hot meals to disabled old folks & shut-ins.

I don't begrudge anyone success or good fortune. Hating random chance is intellectually absurd, and the attitude of a loser. But being ungratefull is a disgusting trait, indicative of moral laziness, and is especially repugnant so soon after Thanksgiving. If I heard words like yours from a son of mine, that '04 SL600 would be replaced by a rusting '78 F-150 within the day. (A son of mine wouldn't have a vehicle - or any other possession - he didn't feel he earned, but that's a issue for your parents.) If you feel you don't deserve the car, quit whining and do something to earn it.

Posted by: Jumper on December 11, 2003 05:09 AM

Well "William," my computer crashed and took with it my unfinished response to your last posting, a response which probably, because of its reactionary tone, would have been as embarrassing to me as yours should have been to you. But then you're probably not even aware of how ignorant you made yourself look, so that's probably a moot point anyway.

But here in this little rewrite, I'll just settle for the conclusion... I'll skip the "education" I started with, my opinions of your "worldly" 17-year-old perspective on world events, and just go straight to answering your "questions."

You said, "Fought what for their own? My dads company?"

No, shocking as it may sound to the son of a man who apparently hands out Benz's like candy to undeserving children, your Dad and his business are not the center of the universe. And the security of his (and your) livelihood probably never even crossed the minds of the tens of thousands of "kids" who enlisted in the military AFTER the 9/11 attack and AFTER President Bush's announcements of his intentions, specifically to be a part of just this very action. As for the "fought what" part... as I said, I'm not going to rewrite the "education" part of my first draft. I shouldn't have written it in the first place, since anyone who's even been awake for the last two years already knows it, and anyone who wasn't, and can't be bothered to check into it any deeper than you have, but who apparently has the time to come and check out this blog site, can find all the historical, technical, and factual details repeated over and over and over again throughout the essays and comment streams before this one, right here at ejectejecteject.com. Of course there are kajillions of other sources too, but you're obviously more into shortcuts. I'm just offering you another one.

"Was someone about to hurt them?" you asked.

Are you friggin' kidding me? This is so breathtakingly ignorant, I'm embarrassed FOR you. BEFORE 9/11/01, yes, someone WAS "about to hurt them." ON 9/11 (though certainly not for the first time), someone DID hurt them, all of us -- well, everyone but you and Daddy, apparently -- with promises of bigger and better hurts to come. And AFTER 9/11... well, I'm doing it again. Repeating a wasted education on a willfully ignorant little mind. So instead I'll just answer the direct question: YES, someone was about to hurt them, AND your Daddy's precious business.

And finally, the kicker: "Maybe if you would look beyond what people tell you to see you wouldnt be poor old man."

Brilliant. Yes, please, enlighten me as to all you've seen and learned "beyond what people have told you," William. Tell me all about the unbiased "research" you've done into the facts, and all the firsthand wisdom you've acquired over your vast and well-traveled lifetime. Or perhaps you could just tell me about all your worldly experiences in the Middle East, or maybe your extensive time in the military? I could tell you about mine. And don't leave out how YOU voted in the last presidential election? Let's hear all the reasons why yours is a voice we should listen to, especially considering the proud bank of credibility you've already established here. Clearly, as you've so ably pointed out, the truth is obvious to anyone who can drive away from his high school wrapped in the fine leather upholstery of a free and unearned SL600.

Oh and by the way, as for the "poor old man" stab... well, I have to admit, nothing adds more weight and maturity to a baseless "argument" than a lame and childish insult. But just so you know, I've been doin' just fine for longer than you've been alive, sonny, and nothing illustrates better the uselessness of wealth than listening to someone like you showing off your ignorance in a public forum, and announcing for us all about how important being rich apparently is.

Find another hobby, kid.

My apologies to everyone else.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on December 11, 2003 08:26 AM

Had to wrap up fast and get my butt to work. Now at lunch, the end point I intended.

If you feel you've got too much material wealth, then use your time and spend your money to make someone else's life better!

A person of character accepts what he or she starts with, feels and displays gratitude for that which has been given unearned, and then starts working like hell to make things even better for oneself, and for others.

Posted by: Jumper on December 11, 2003 08:59 AM

Wow!! That is a WHOLE lot of crap! I've never seen such a steaming pile of selective "facts", improper assumptions and groundless theories (supported by the improper assumptions and "facts") in one place...

All together now:
BLAME THE JEWS!!!
BUSH IS A LIAR (the likes of which the world has never or will ever see again)!!!
THE U.N. IS THE ANSWER (of COURSE they have no agenda)!!!

It gives me a warm fuzzy to know that these views hold no real weight in this country.

Folks...most of us go about our day, working, raising kids, going to Church, etc. and will NEVER be influenced by these "thoughts". They don't care about the protests and will never buy into these philosophies. Futility with a capital FU. That's the bottom line...thank God (oops, sorry 'bout that...)

Posted by: Jason on December 11, 2003 02:11 PM

Jason: you actually bothered to read it? I'm impressed at your fortitude.

Generally when I see massive reams of something not even written by the poster, I consider it a great big red flag that the person is only there to propagandize, will not be responsible for anything stated in it, and in general is there purely for hit-and-run time-wasting trollery.

Does anyone know if Bill has ever considered setting up a forum, for easier threading and moderation? I know he doesn't have time for it, but his commenter base has grown to the point where he might have enough volunteers that he wouldn't have to.

Posted by: LabRat on December 11, 2003 03:38 PM

To quote the succinct response of Jason, "Wow!! That is a WHOLE lot of crap!" True as true can be. I became instantly exhausted just trying to interpret the bad English translation in the beginning, and so resorted to a few token excerpts thereafter. And, as Jason also pointed out, talk about selective.

I'd like to see the accomplishments of Madam Curie, Albert Einstein, or Mother Teresa "researched" by this bozo. It would be interesting to see the new spin on THEIR lives and works after a 100% all-out negative dirt-dive into their pasts. Shrug off everything positive, read the worst into everything, turn the most tenuous threads of association and coincidence into iron-bound cases for conspiracy and collusion. Horrifying, I'm sure, to see what kind of evil scum actually committed pure fraud, plagiarism, and heresy, and managed to fob it all off as breakthrough science and altruism for the benefit of everyone.

I wonder what MY life would look like under that dark microscope.

Idiots.

As for Bill... I talked to him just this morning. I wanted to see if he'd read "William's" little missives (which is to say, I wanted to see what Bill's response to him would have been). But Bill made the point (again) that he basically just checks out the first 3 days or so of any new comment stream, just to get a feel for the tenor of the general responses, and then just leaves it to us, both to contribute to AND to police. He figures there are enough eloquent and erudite contributors here ("sharks," as he calls them) to handle the trolls, which is better for his own blood pressure, I guess.

So, as far as Bill setting up a "forum," LabRat, I suspect he's sufficiently satisfied with the monster he's already created here... that, plus being a little preoccupied with hardcopy publishing and putting together his little song-and-dance act. But YOU, LabRat... YOU would be "wicked cool" hosting a venue like that.

Hee-hee. Just stirring up trouble here.

Have a good night.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on December 11, 2003 08:33 PM

It's easy to dismiss something because it's long...

Are none of his points without merit? I think the major question that is generally avoided in all 'rightist' thoughts is the question of Why. It's always avoided or answered with trite responses like madmen, crazy, or zealot. Perhaps one of you 'great thinkers' could provide some accurate rebuttal as opposed to useless attacks.

Posted by: ChefQuix on December 11, 2003 10:49 PM

CQ -
I quit reading as soon as I saw the phrase "ZioniImperialist controlled&Jewish financial supported".

Perhaps I'm being provincial here, but in my neck of the woods, that phrase and others like it are the exclusive domain of delusional conspiracy-theory types who believe that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are real, that "the Jews" own all the media, that "the Jews" control the world's industry and monetary supply, that the Holocaust was a hoax, that maybe the Nazi's weren't so bad, etc.

If the poster (or should I say "paster") doesn't want to be dismissed out of hand, then they shouldn't go out of their way to look and sound like a caricature of a fevered, paranoid neo-Nazi. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, etc.
If a person wants others to actually read a post, then they should learn to use the language. If'n their English ain't none too good, they should limit the size and scope of their post to one or two points, as a courtesy to the reader.

Might there have been a valid point or two buried somewhere among the anti-semetic bile? Maybe. I enjoy a good debate, but racism is inherently illogical. Informal statistical analysis of people with whom I've conversed shows that racism has a high correlation with ignorance and lazy thinking. Perhaps the rest of the post wasn't even steeped in the tortured syntax and neo-Nazi paranoid delusions of the first paragraph. But life's short. I'm not going to put forth the effort to engage someone who a) won't put forth the effort to write their own post, b) whose post doesn't make a point in the first few paragraphs, c) makes gratuitious assertions of a type normally associated with closet Nazi's and holocaust deniers.

J

Posted by: Jumper on December 12, 2003 05:59 AM

CQ - he had no points. That was a citation, not a thesis.

Posted by: Rip Rowan on December 12, 2003 06:16 AM

See here's the thing - obviously this person is anti-semetic and holds the entire Jewish race in contempt, which is inherintly wrong. This is racism pure and simple, you will get no argument from me. However it's the 'valid point or two buried somewhere' in there that are things most people on the right seem to ignore. The attack on the US ship, the Libyan masquerade, the general double standard with regards to the Israeli government's agressive expansionist policy... Are these not well documented facts?

Posted by: ChefQuix on December 12, 2003 08:11 AM

It's not that we can't refute any of the "points" made, it's that it's not worth it. The guy obviously has no intention of giving us a real debate; he's been around before and ALL he does is eat bandwidth posting articles from elsewhere. Don't feed the trolls.

If you want to argue his position, then fine, it's go time- but I get the feeling you already have plenty on your plate.

Posted by: LabRat on December 12, 2003 08:14 AM

CQ -
I'm not an open-source intelligence analyst. I don't get paid to read blogs. That being the case, when I saw something that I believed (correctly, it seems) to be overtly and consciously racist, I chose not to wade through the sewage searching for dropped pearls. Like I said, life's too short.

I second LabRat's motion. Anyone who waded into that fever-swamp and found some interesting arguments should feel free to bring them to light.

J

Posted by: Jumper on December 12, 2003 08:55 AM

ChefQuix, I agree with you... in PRINCIPLE. LabRat and Jumper I agree with in PRACTICE. But, since I can appreciate your point, CQ -- about "Are none of his points without merit?" -- well, I decided to try and slog through what I could, and respond to at least a couple of the major issues that, to me, are the least leaky of all these points of view.

For instance, a reasonable question that was asked early on, was...

"Unless we understand the why of these terroristic acts, the motivation behind them, we can not prevent a repeat of such terrorism in the future. We Americans must ask ourselves why we now suffer such terror. When a clock stops, we ask why. Is it not plugged in? Is the battery dead? Is it broken? If so, why is it broken? When you have a problem, if you don't ask why and get some good answers and act on them, it will persist. It may well even become a lot worse."

I don't think that's an invalid point. And so, although this has been rehashed many times in previous comment streams and earlier essays of Bill's -- and despite the fact that I'm basically just paraphrasing some of Steven Den Beste's earlier writings -- I'll give you "my" response.

The problem with this analogy is the benign nature of the "clock problem." If I were to tweak it to fit the greater malignancy of the "fundamentalist Islamic" problem, it would look more like this... "why is the clock broken? Because it HATES me personally, that's why." Now how do I repair that? What spring do I tighten? What numbers do I reset to fix that?

You can say, "so look into WHY it hates you so much. Fix that, and the hate goes away." Alright then... here's why it hates me: I am not a clock myself. I do not live by the clock code of ethics nor swear allegiance to its digital god. And worst of all, despite the clock-God's assurances that some day all the world will be Clockites, and live a purer, godlier, clockier way, we humans -- and me in particular, since I'm the local representative -- are not only not succumbing to the "global sweep" of Clockian wisdom as prophesized, but we're actually thriving and spreading despite it, and even pushing it back somewhat. There are even some CLOCKS that have taken up human ways (in this struggling analogy), further thwarting the clock-God's prophecies. Therefore I -- and thereby all humans -- must be taken down the hard way, the ONLY way... by clocks f**king up our lives.

They (back to the real "Islamic Fundamentalists" now) have throttled themselves culturally, with their dogged clinging to ancient and counterproductive beliefs and ways... and the world has moved on without them, with America at its most repugnant forefront. On top of that, more and more of their own people are taking on "modern habits" despite their fundamentalist brow-beating... with fashion, music, women's rights, broader and less religious education, freedom of choice, blah blah blah blah, et al.

The modern world, and we in particular, represent a seductive lifestyle that runs counter to everything they hold most sacred, and despite the assurances of their own twisted interpretation of their holiest teachings, we're NOT being driven back by the global sweep of Islam and Allah. We're actually thriving, prospering and growing, in direct defiance of Allah's teachings (according to their interpretation, anyway). Without even trying, we're pushing THEM back, shunting them off into Third World anonymity just by ignoring them and passing them by, as well as seducing away their youth. They are threatened BIG time by us -- by everything that we are -- and, short of abandoning their entire ancient and time-withered belief system, what can they possibly do to stop this terrifying trend toward extinction?

Attack it. Not its vastly superior military might, not even its deeply entrenched and globe-spanning economy. No, attack its people. Attack those most easily swayed... make them insecure, uncertain. Make them doubt their own government, fear the different colored faces in their own melting pot world, and steadily bring them down from the inside. And as a strategy, it's not a bad one. It could work.

OUR problem is not that they distrust or even hate us. That is not unique in the world, nor an exclusive burden of the U.S. That, contained and constrained to their own soil, would not be a problem at all, and certainly not a cause for invasion. No, the problem is their willingness to export that hatred... that and the increasing nastiness and destructiveness of their attacks. Whether it's by using "nukes that we can't find," atop "missiles they haven't yet acquired," or by dispersing lethal pathogens from the restrooms of a few busy convention centers (another Tom Clancy plot device), it means that we, right here, in our little homes, surrounded by the same vast oceans that USED to be such safe buffer zones for us, are vulnerable to direct and personal attack now.

And how can we protect ourselves against that? How do we fix THIS "malfunctioning clock?" Apologize to the jihadis for being culturally successful? Hand them a few billion dollars for vague historical reparations? Promise them we'll never build a McDonalds on their shores? How can we fix a root problem so deeply embedded and religiously based?

We're not spreading by force, at the tips of bayonets or under the boots of occupying troops. We're spreading by popular demand, including the demand of many of their own number. And how could we stop that, even if we wanted to? Intentionally live undesirable lifestyles, just so that the appeal vanishes?

So, WE (as a modern cultural influence) are not going to quit spreading, no matter how ardently we say we're sorry for leaving these fundamentalists in the dust. And THEY can't afford to let us smother them with world access, individualistic lifestyles, broad freedoms, and Brittany Spears.

So here we are with a clock that can't be "fixed," because nothing functional is broken. It's still running just like clocks have been running since Noah first unloaded them off the ark. But we can't live with it anymore, not the way it's acting up. So what would YOU do with that clock?

Me? I'd get rid of it.

Whenever any issue comes down to "them or me," "me" is going to win every time. It's not a nationalistic thing. It's very personal and individual. I'm talking about ME, Steve... personally. I personally do not want to die horribly on some lunatic's random suicidal whim. And because I do not have the personal means to thwart a broad terrorist movement, I do what I can... I support the strong and capable forces that can bring the fight to the bad guys (the only gesture that's EVER made a dent with these guys... just ask Qadaffi... haven't heard much from HIM since we bombed his capitol, have we?... and we weren't even going after his regime like we are now), and I support WHOLEHEARTEDLY the strong-willed leadership that will see this thing through.

That's my response to that one issue.

Do you want me to respond to ALL the points this way? 'Cause even if you do, I don't think anyone else here does. As I said, it's all been said before.

Still, I have to admit... that felt pretty good.

I'll see if I can't survive ingesting a little more of that "pasting" for any other "reasonable points." Maybe tomorrow.

Keep writing though. As much as we may disagree on some central points, I think you express yourself well.

Merry Christmas, either way.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on December 12, 2003 12:30 PM

Sorry folks, but I did struggle a little more through "The Big Pasting," and didn't have to go far before stumbling onto this little gem (part of a quote from the ever-reliable source of David Duke, former Grand Master (or some such crap) of the KKK), who said...

"Calling the attackers "cowards" is, of course, untrue [oh, of course]. The terrorists committed an indescribably horrible and ruthless act against the American people, but certainly they are not cowards. Kamikazes may be misguided, but sacrificing one's own life for a cause is not cowardice. And calling the perpetrators cowards or madmen doesn't answer the question of why these horrendous acts occurred, unless one thinks every coward and madman wants to blow up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon [oo... brilliant leap of logic there]."

Yeh, see, THIS is what we mean by selectivity, and basing entire arguments on fundamentally wrong presumptions.

For starters, we DON'T call them "cowards" based on their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their cause. We call them "cowards" because they choose to attack "innocent" (or at least "defenseless") targets. If a guy runs himself into a tree and kills himself while in the act of intentionally trying to run down somebody's cat, YOU (meaning the likes of David Duke) might call him courageous for being willing to sacrifice his own life for his beliefs, but I would call him a coward for expressing that "courage" by attacking the innocent animal, rather than the owner with whom he had the original beef.

I'm still forcing my way through this one-sided blinded dirge, but so far, each subsequent point has been building off the first deeply flawed ones, which means that, point for point, everything has to be replied to with references to the prejudicial opening points which have poisoned all the rest.

Enough.

Sorry folks. On to happier things.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on December 12, 2003 01:11 PM

Another reason, I think, that we call them "cowards":

They could do the hard work of trying to come to grips with the world as it is, helping to create a modern, free, thriving society in their home countries. They could find a way to address the many problems within so many Islamic societies, to better the lives of their fellow Muslims, and to leave a better society for their children.

But that requires not only hard work, but a good, hard look in the mirror - a serious examination of themselves and their belief system, of what may be wrong with their worldview, and an honest assessment of why other societies thrive while they cannot come to grips with the 20th (let alone the 21st) Century.

No, it is much simpler to blame others - it's the Jews, or the "infidels", that keep them down, and it's not their OWN fault (or that of their leaders - the holy ones couldn't be wrong, could they?). Therefore, rather than live in the modern world and make it a better place, it's easier to just blow up a few hundred, or thousand, and become a "martyr". After all, there's a better place waiting for you on the other side (virgins and all), and you don't even have to do anything but die (taking a few of the evil ones with you)to get there!

Given that choice, death is easy, and it only hurts for an instant. THAT'S the easy - the coward's - way out.

Posted by: Pete on December 12, 2003 02:10 PM

", "so look into WHY it hates you so much. Fix that, and the hate goes away." Alright then... here's why it hates me: I am not a clock myself. I do not live by the clock code of ethics nor swear allegiance to its digital god. And worst of all, despite the clock-God's assurances that some day all the world will be Clockites, and live a purer, godlier, clockier way, we humans -- and me in particular, since I'm the local representative -- are not only not succumbing to the "global sweep" of Clockian wisdom as prophesized, but we're actually thriving and spreading despite it, and even pushing it back somewhat."
Or, an alternative possibility.
The clock hates me because I've never given a rat's ass about anything that happens in its home except for the oil.
Let's see.
-Iran. We supported the Shah for years (remember Mossadegh?), and the Iranian people don't like that because he was a brutal and oppressive dictator. Why do you think that the Iranians turned to Khomeini? Because they were naturally prone to racist, xenophobic, fundamentalist Islam? No. Because they'd lived under a cruel dictatorship for years, who had mercilessly slaughtered and exploited them in order to keep themselves in power, and Khomeini was the ONLY alternative at the time. You think they were naturally prone to hate America? No. They couldn't get any justice from America at the time, because America supported the dictator. That was the root cause for the revolution, and that's what drove them into the Islamists' arms.
-The Iran/Iraq war. America supported Ayatollah Khomeini for four years, and Saddam Hussein for four years. The government didn't give a shit who won the war. Just keep both countries clobbered bad to ensure the free flow of oil.
-The Gulf War. Yes, it was the right thing to help Kuwait, and yes, the Kuwaitis are grateful for that. But let's examine the motives; would there have been as decisive an intervention if there hadn't been any oil in Kuwait? No. Kuwait would probably have ended up like Tibet, ignored pointedly for its lack of interesting resources.
The Iran example is the most striking one. It shows how pre-9/11 U.S. policies were shockingly short-sighted and uncaring as far as the Arabs were considered. The U.S. doesn't care whether or not there is democracy in the Arab world, they prefer the "stability" offered by dictators and kings to the progress of democracy. Mossadegh's ousting is a striking example of how this is so. Mossadegh might not have been democratic, but he was a damn sight better than the Shah was. But in the interest of stability, we prefer to keep brutal thugs in power.
Stability as we saw it in the Middle-East was a curse. It ensured that the Islamic world would never progress pass the point of brutal dictatorships. True, the transition from reactionary dictatorship to liberal democracy can be unstable, but how is our option better? All it does is postpone the day when the thugs are overthrown, which they eventually are. And at that point, because we fail to support the people when the time is right - the people hate us. Which creates exactly the right atmosphere for terrorists like Osama Bin Laden, Ayatollah Khomeini, Sheik Yassine, etc.
Make a long story short; U.S. supports brutal thugs, which the people hate, so they hate U.S. too. Result; terrorists are considered heroes.

Posted by: on December 14, 2003 03:47 PM

To the mystery poster who contributed the "alternate possibility" above:

It's a shame you didn't include your name -- not even a pnome de plume -- because to me, an argument holds more weight if the arguer has some personal conviction behind it, as in "is willing to be personally associated with that idea." And including your name shows a willingness to have counterarguments pointed right at YOU, not just your concepts... it makes the argument sound like more than just an exercise in posing counter-theories, as if you were just dabbling in counterpoints.

I say this, though, not to "scold" but because you brought up some very good points, expressed them well and without rancor (some unique qualities among counter-posters), and I'd mostly just like to be able to address you specifically by name when I respond. Because, while the history you recited was, for the most part, true and accurate (although a little one-sidedly negative in a couple of places), it doesn't necessarily refute MY points.

You said, "... an alternative possibility.
The clock hates me because I've never given a rat's ass about anything that happens in its home except for the oil."

First of all, I don't think that's entirely true. From a purely clinical, politically expedient point of view, yes, oil HAS been probably the main (if not the only) aspect of Iraq that would be considered of "national interest," as in "relevant to the health of OUR nation." And when it comes to investing kajillions of dollars, vast troves of technological "treasure," and the lives of the American troops that would invariably be lost in a military venture, what greater cause is there than our "national interest," the protection of our national health? A cold, seemingly heartless principle, I can agree, but when it comes to making decisions on such a scale and at such a cost, what standard is better?

I mean, at what point should we choose to intervene ANYwhere, if NOT on the basis of national interest? What other provocation is more worthy? Maybe when "human rights violations" get too out of hand somewhere? But how bad is "out of hand?" And by whose standards? Because if this standard WERE applied, then just about every adult citizen of the United States would have to be drafted just to have the manpower to effectively "visit" all the violating nations the world over. And obviously, THAT wouldn't be in our "national interest."

That's an extreme and admittedly ridiculous example, intended solely to illustrate that whenever we opt to leave our own borders and impose our will on other nations, the only viable issue on which we should base such a costly choice IS our "national interest." Not personal or cultural outrage, not assuaging our social conscience over moral issues, not disagreements with heavy-handed leadership techniques, and not whether or not we think they're despoiling their beautiful or valuable natural resources, but only -- ONLY -- on whether or not it is in our best "national interest" to intervene. And oil has been, as evil as it may seem, the only real point of "national interest" that we've had in Iraq... until recently, when their harboring, sponsorship, and even exportation of terrorism gave us another "national interest" in the region. That, plus Hussein's demonstrated aggressive attitudes toward his neighbors (yes, including the ones for whom oil is one of our primary national interests), and the obvious threat of his pursuit of WMDs (which, even if it was all a bluff and he NEVER had any, well, a bluff is still a threat). So Saddam actually CREATED some heightened "national interests" for us over there. And whose fault is that?

But that's still not my point. Oil is NOT our reason for going over there. It might give more political weight to Kuwait over Liberia, for instance, but it would not be an objective in an of itself. We don't need Iraq's oil to survive as a nation. We have plenty of other sources. But we do need stability in that REGION (the Middle East) because doing without ANY oil from ANY of the Middle East nations WOULD put a serious crimp in our national health. So oil IS a relevant consideration, but NOT on the basis of securing any one nation's supply all for ourselves. Only keeping the relevant nations producing and selling. And we're going to pay for it no matter where we get it from.

No, my main point against your "alternate possibility" is twofold: (a) that oil is not all that we pay attention to over there, and Iraq's oil in particular is no reason to go to war, and (b) that our not giving "a rat's ass" about anything else over there is AS IT SHOULD BE.

In my opinion -- at least in terms of considering political or military intervention -- we SHOULDN'T be giving a rat's ass about anything BUT those things which are pertinent to our national interests. Period. It should be, as so many of us like to say, "none of our damned business" what other people are doing within their own borders. It may horrify us what some Liberians are willing to do to other Liberians, or Ugandans to Ugandans, or Nigerians to Nigerians, but we CAN'T be the world's policeman. We can't intervene everywhere, whether we might want to or not. For all our might and economic strength, we are just not (no one is) physically capable of it. So if we're going to intervene ANYwhere, we've got to pick our fights. And the only fights worthy of the investment, as mentioned above, are those based exclusively (and yes, selfishly) on our "national interests." Nothing else is justifiable, in my opinion. We either intervene to protect the health of our nation, or we stay the hell out and mind our own business... so sayeth the GreatHairySilverback. To do otherwise, well... THAT'S when we become meddlers.

Absolutely, yes... we've "meddled," more times than I care to think about, in all kinds of places where we shouldn't have. But I would think that those instances would stand out as glaring examples of why we shouldn't be doing it. Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia... all exercises in assuaging our national conscience... our outrage over inhumanities to our fellow man, none of them involving our "national interests" or threats thereto, none of them with clear military objectives other than a desire to impress the "bad guys" with the need to stop, and all of them political and military disasters.

You were right (for the most part) in your assessments of our misguided involvements in the Middle East in the past. Many of those (and the Shah is a good example) were just plain mistakes. Hopefully though, you would want us to learn from those mistakes, and not repeat them. Others though (like our vacillating support of the two different sides during the Iran-Iraq War) were not necessarily for the reasons you suggested, and were also examples of us learning from our mistakes. Still though, the overriding issue I would take with you is your conclusion that "this is why the PEOPLE hate us." Because I don't think "the people" are the problem.

I don't think Saudi Arabia, as a nation of people, hates US as a nation of people. Yet that is where the most hunted terrorist in the world hails from: Ossama bin Laden. I, therefore, do not connect the politics of these two factions, even though they're both from within the same borders.

I used the term "Islamic Fundamentalists" (not original... it was a name created by Steven den Beste to encapsulate the specific religiously-based, violence-prone groups, and separate them from the Saudis, or the Palestinians, or the Iranians, or whatever local cultures were in question) because those are the people who have been perpetrating the actual attacks on us.

Taking the most obvious example: Ossama bin Laden. What was his original bone of contention that caused him to disassociate himself from his Saudi homeland? Was it U.S. support of previous evil regimes? Was it U.S. interest in Middle Eastern oil? Was it selective U.S. dabbling in Middle Eastern politics? No. It was religious outrage over the U.S. presence on holy soil, despite the fact that we were there at the Saudi's request (to help defend them against Hussein's escalating predations), and at our own expense. That's all. Any other socio-political causes he took up after the fact, as further justification for his actions. He did not represent a popular Saudi sentiment, and nor do any of the other terrorist factions.

He -- and they -- represent(s) an anachronistic worldview whose encroaching extinction they just cannot understand or accept. And that is not difficult for me to understand. It IS, however, impossible for me to live with.

If outrages over past political wrongs WERE the root cause for strained relations between nations -- ANY nations, and ANY historical wrongdoings -- then India and South Africa ought to be at war with Great Britain even now, Ivory Coast terrorists should be plaguing France still, most of the Pacific island nations should be constantly at Japan's throat, and there shouldn't be a South American Indian culture without terrorist representation in the heart of Spain. But these are NOT the "popular" sentiments. These, if they exist at all, are the radical extremists, the people who will not forgive or forget, the desperate, the disenfranchised, the professionally or religiously angry people who's only need is a name and a target for their anger. And they're everywhere. Every nation has them, including the United States.

The issue at hand for us then, is who is the pre-eminent threat to us? Who threatens the overriding "national interest" of our safety and security? Is it the PEOPLE of Afghanistan, or the radical element al Qaeda, that was hidden and supported there by its hostile government? Is it the PEOPLE of Iraq, or the cruel and corrupt regime that has dragged it into the Dark Ages? And is it the people of the Middle East in general, or is it Fundamentalist Islam, with its harsh, archaic, and self-defeating ways, going down with its claws out and fangs bared?

Well, you know what I think. And I've sucked down way too much of Bill's bandwidth here already, so I'll shut up now.

I hope you'll respond as succinctly as you did last time. I just think you'd lend yourself more credibility if you'd enter the fray as a named participant rather than as a well-spoken heckler.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on December 15, 2003 10:37 AM

GHS, right off the bat, I apologize for forgetting the name. I usually include it when I post on the web, but I forgot on this occasion.
First of all, no, the PEOPLE are not the immediate problem. I agree that our war is not with the Muslim people, but rather with the terrorists like Osama Bin Laden. However, my point is that such extreme people as he is are, in my view, the extreme extension of the general feeling of resentment in the Islamic world against the United States. Most of the people over there probably do not support Osama, and they would probably shed few tears if we destroyed him, as we intend to. However, while this would solve the immediate problem, it would not address the more serious, underlying problem of resentment, mistrust and, to some extent, fear, of the U.S. If we want to solve the islamist terror problem, that's the real issue we need to tackle. If they no longer see us as an arrogant, greedy oppressor, then Bin Laden, Omar, and their Taliban buddies will be no more than common criminals without any significant support base or cause.
Mao Zedong once said, guerrilas are like fish and the people are the sea that they swim in. Following that logic, dry up that sea, and the fish become easy to catch. The real endgame objective here, I'd say, is to transform our image in the eyes of the ordinary Arab citizen. We need to prove to them that we really want to be their friends. That's the only way to ensure that 9/11 will never happen again.
It is true that oil is the only aspect of the Middle East which affects our national interests directly. At the same time, if we only ever go into the Middle East for oil, how can the Muslims ever get to trust us?
Finally, I agree that we didn't go into Iraq for oil (I've made the same point as you about our not needing Iraqi oil to several people), but most of the other interventions WERE made for oil, so you can't blame the Arabs if they believe that we only went into Iraq for oil. Their reading of our past interventions in the region justifies that outlook.

Posted by: Ryan on December 15, 2003 03:44 PM

Good to hear from you, Ryan. And thanks for the quick response. Apparently we aren't quite as far apart in our viewpoints as I first thought we might be.

I'll buy that the terrorist factions are the "extreme extensions of the general feelings of resentment" in the Muslim world. I'm just not quite as convinced about those "general feelings" being all that pervasive among the rest of the population in the first place.

I've spent a little time in Oman, and a few days in Turkey (with the Air Force), and though I won't claim to have gone out among the multitudes and sought out their views on American greed and imperialism, I CAN say that those I DID mingle with (in the gold bazaars of Adana, and on the streets of Thumrait) just LOVED the presence of an American in their midst. Why? Because they knew an American brings his money, and is usually a poor haggler. And why is that relevant to this discussion? Because, IMHO, EVERYONE is in it for the commerce. Everyone. The toothless street merchants and the big oil barons alike. And America is the Big Consumer... THE Big Consumer. And people don't generally resent the returning customer who doesn't know how to keep his checkbook closed.

It may bother them if they really believe that all we see in them is one big oil spigot -- probably much the same way that it bothers me that so many people around the world regard me as arrogant, or think that I (meaning "America") don't care about them just because I don't intercede into every local squabble the world over -- but I really don't believe that, to the average Middle Eastern man-on-the-street, it amounts to much more than that. They don't like being shrugged off as irrelevant "Third Worlders," but in the meantime, that oil that we value so much means just one thing to them... money. Affluence. It gives them a voice in world politics, noteworthiness, relevance. And those, I believe, are the MAIN things they think about when the discussion of Americans comes up. And in that regard, it makes them no better or worse than us.

And that was kinda' my point in my last posting, when I mentioned the relationships between India and England, the Ivory Coast and France, the Pacific islands and Japan, and South American Indians and Spain. They have much more historically brutal reasons to resent their former conquerors and occupiers and colonizers than anyone in the Middle East could possibly have for the occasional favoritism we've shown in their own leaders and governments. Even our definitely ill-considered support of the Shah of Iran was still just that... support. WE didn't do the torturing and killing and plundering of his people. HE did. That doesn't make our support "acceptable" by any means. In my opinion, that was a mistake that we will hopefully never repeat. But that's still nothing close to the direct hands-on brutality that those other aforementioned empires inflicted on their conquered subjects, bloody histories which, by the logic of the "lingering resentment" argument, should be causing WAVES of terrorist actions against those former occupiers that would put the Islamic Fundamentalist actions against the U.S. to shame. I mean, IF past wrongdoing really was the cause of all this.

And that's why I don't think it is.

I think that if U.S. misdeeds from the past were truly the sparks that led to all this backlash, we'd be seeing a far greater uprising among American Indian terrorists. Lord knows, THEY'D have a lot stronger grievance than ANY Arab populace.

So, I guess my main points are that (a) just about every nation has got historical grievances against at least one other (I'm sure it will be a long time before the Chinese completely forgive and forget the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, and the rape of Nanking, for example), but, as nations -- as growing, evolving entities of a global civilization -- they have learned to put it behind them. That is a sign of national maturity, and natural human growth, in my opinion. (b) As historical "outrages" go, our dabblings and selective interventions in the Middle East are absurdly mild compared to most of the others. And (c) since the fundamentalist interpretations of the teachings of the Koran are so incompatible with the cultural advances of the rest of the world (at LEAST the Western world, with the U.S. as its biggest, loudest, crassest, shallowest standard-bearer), it is THIS element, and this element ALONE that is at the heart of this modern conflict. And as such, I, personally, just do not believe that any smoldering resentment among the general populations of these nations for our occasional ill-conceived forays into their politics in the past (especially in comparison with the other more direct and bloody interventions of other nations which have all but obliterated their religions, rearranged their borders, and established brutal puppet governments in some cases) is any kind of a factor in this current conflict. It might, at worst, be the equivalent of a lingering hangover in the backs of their cultural skulls, but nowhere near virulent enough to spark open conflict and the killing of innocents. No, that virulence comes exclusively from the aforementioned fundamentalism, fostered by professional agitators ("teachers" in their fundamentalist schools and mosques) among the poorest and angriest of their hard-scrabble societies. And no amount of national apologizing or reparations will ever satisfy that rabid lot.

In my opinion.

Time to go to work now.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on December 16, 2003 08:40 AM

Four tests in two days, sorry for not answering.
Your comments on Oman are interesting. I've never been anywhere in the Middle East besides the West Bank, and that only for a week, before everything started going to hell there in 2001. Most of the Arabs I know are here in DC (mainly North Africans and Lebanese), and I also have a Palestinian friend who's now in Amman. The general consensus among them is not pointed at American or Western culture by any means, and I'm ready to believe that ordinary people in Oman would welcome an American in their midst. So no, they do not despise all and everything connected to America.
On the political scene, though, there's a general distrust/dislike for the U.S. government and its policies. The general consensus is that the U.S. government has never really cared about or tried to understand Islam as a religion, or Arab, Iranian or Pakistani cultures, and that its policies in the Middle East are entirely based on oil interests.
As I said, I believe perfectly that the majority of the Islamic people are not fanatic antiamericans; the amount of people who are politicized to the degree of driving planes into buildings with the sole purpose of killing innocent civillians has to be pretty low in any culture. I also believe perfectly that they welcome American visitors just like any other people, and that they regard us as normal humans just like them. The way they look at our government, however, seems more negative than positive. So when they see American troops in Iraq, they will probably mistrust them, given that the government's record in the region is more centered on using them than caring about them, at least in their interpretation.
That's the way I read the present situation. Since you spent time in Oman, I would be very interested in reading what you have to say about the subject. Looking forwards to your next post.
(PS, are you in the Air Force? What do you do exactly? War planes are one of my preffered hobbies so if you could tell me a bit about what you do I would really like it. Thanks.)

Posted by: Ryan on December 18, 2003 03:31 PM

Almost forgot. I'm leaving for France on Saturday and I won't be back until right after New Years. I don't think my realatives over there has the internet, so I'll probably not post anything after Saturday morning.

Posted by: Ryan on December 18, 2003 03:33 PM

Just to interject, I'd like to remark that they don't seem particularly interested in fully understanding and embracing American culture either, they use us for money and often for defense, and in general it's very much a two-way street.

Also, far as I'm concerned the most polite way I can relate to a culture that believes I should be stoned to death if I'm raped IS ignoring it.

Good fences make good neighbors.

Posted by: LabRat on December 18, 2003 06:25 PM

To LabRat... ANOTHER good point, and another one that I most definitely agree with.

To Ryan: I WAS in the Air Force, for 12 years. Got out in early '91, as soon as Gulf War I ended and they could release those who were at the ends of their tours. I was USAF "Special Forces" for the first year-and-a-half, and a regular air traffic controller for the rest of it, and I loved it.

But that was '91, and this is '03. Hard for me to believe, but I've now been out for as long as I was in.

Depressing.

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on December 18, 2003 07:57 PM

To LabRat, I agree with your point about our being used in the Middle East by local regimes, most certainly by the Saudi royal family. But then again, the al-Sauds and other conservative regimes in the area are not too popular among the ordinary Arab people either as I understand it. All the complaints I read about in the papers concerning the al-Sauds are that they've sold out their country to the West to protect their own interests (i.e staying in power). However, you make a very good point about the "two way street" right now, certainly between our governments.
GHS, thanks for talking about the Air Force. Could you clarify one thing though, what exactly are "Air Force Special Forces" supposed to do? Thanks in advance. Don't let being out of the Air Force grind you down!
As I stated before, I probably will not be able to post until the first of January. So, in advance I wish everyone here a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! (And if you don't know what to do for the vacations everyone, go and see The Return of the King, it rocks).
See you all in ten days!

Posted by: Ryan on December 20, 2003 10:36 AM

I agree with you Ryan, but the problem is that in the game of foreign policy we HAVE to deal with governments and not masses. I agree the al-Sauds are loathsome, but right now they're the Saudis' problem and there's really not much we can do about it except distance ourselves from them now that it's no longer necessary to hold our nose and be friendly with them.

As for the masses, they need to realize that blaming so many of their problems on the Americans and the Israelis isn't actually helping them one iota.

Happy holidays!

Posted by: LabRat on December 20, 2003 08:31 PM

Hello again LabRat.
we many have to deal with governments and not masses, but the actual problem we're facing is precisely NOT the governments, it's a terrorist movement. The only way to end it is to "dry up the sea" that those "fish" swim in, basically by changing the way the masses feel about us. And the governments aren't about to help us do that, so supporting them seems sort of counterproductive.
Agree with your last point about blaming America for everything, though.

Posted by: Ryan on January 4, 2004 07:48 AM

Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow have publicly jumped on the bandwagon against our President. No doubt the main reason for their treasonous words, is President Bush's declaration of war. Thus, showing the world what unintelligent,treasonous people Madonna and Gwyneth are! (Should we cut them some slack because they are blondes?) They have each committed a blatant act of treason. I say "President Bush, HANG THEM BOTH, right next to Saddam and Osama, oh and the Dixie Chicks". (Hey, aren't they blondes too?)

Posted by: Darste Amelia Reel on January 14, 2004 10:46 PM
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