In Defense of the War
Reader Comments (25)


Hawkins


awesome




Fabiana


This article was very interesting, and coincides with my general point of view on the war. However, i do have a question for you: what do you think will happen with the arising tensions between Israel and Iran? And do you think the War on Iraq will affect the United States' intervention between the growing problems with Iran?




HarrisG

http://borchersamgov.blogspot.com/

I could not agree with you more. The way the war has been carried out may not have been the best way, but we are finally starting to get on track. We cannot back out now. There is too much at stake. People believe that if we leave, our problems will simply go away. This is not the case. We must win in Iraq. Iraq is simply one stop in the war against terrorism. As much as I hate war, and oppose it, I recognize that it is necessary in this case. We have two options. Do nothing and let the terrorists blow up NYC, and destroy our nation. Or do something, with possible short term consequences, but a long term vision. You said exactly what I state to people all the time as evidence that whatever we are doing is working, and that is, "There has not been another terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11." Should we give credit to the Bush Administration for this? I don't know. But offense clearly is working. What I do disagree with the way we have acted after september 11, is the way our security has been. In the weeks and months after september 11, security was stepped up to a new level. Although people said we were becoming a police state, I had no problem with the added security. Check me all you want, I have nothing to hide. If we have to suspend some freedoms for security in the short term, so that in the future we can have a safer more open democracy, I am willing to do it. I value my life, and I value the life of others. I believe that this is the main difference between us and Radical Islam. People who kill themselves and other innocent people are looked down upon in America, but looked up upon in these terrorist states. I do not understand how someone can justify a suicide bus bombing that kills innocen Israeli children, a freedom fighters attack. What even drives me crazier, is that the same people who are the main supporters of civil liberties and rights(democrats), do not condemn the practices of these radical people who behead, torture, and rape innocent people. It baffles me.




Brian


I am sorry I did not have time to finish your article because I only have 15 minutes left in Mrs. Borcher's (Laylah Silva) Government class. I still wanted to address you though. Although I am not an advocate of the Iraq War, I truly enjoyed reading your article. It clarified many of the misconceptions I had of the war. We are where we are in this war and there is no changing the past. Thus, I do think it is important to finish what was started swiftly and effectively. I want to see action in removing our troops from harm’s way in the near future. What do you think about a plan for the removal of our troops? What tactics would you employ to implement this plan? How long do you think it will take to carry out our mission in Iraq?




diana garcia


I believe you make a great case for your argument; perhaps striking back was the best response initially. It appears to me that it is highly unlikely that we would have been attacked and had just remained still, but it is a war that has lingered on for more than five years—the number of innocent people who have been killed and continue to be massacred should be reason enough to retreat and recognize that the goal is simply not worth the price. I do believe that we have to beware of the potential dangers and terrorists that target our nation, but as opposed to keeping our troops at war, why not spend that money and focus that energy on increasing homeland security? The weapons of mass destruction have not yet been found, Saddham is no longer a danger to us, and although terrorist who hate America are still around there is no way to rid ourselves of all our enemies. We are in fact nourishing that spite those who hate America feel towards us; what else are you to feel towards people who pillage your country and your home, kill and kidnap innocent civilians to find the few who could in fact be a potential danger to us? We may be ridding ourselves of a handful of terrorists, but we end up paying for their loss with many more terrorists of that kind who hate us just as much or more. I agree that if we have the power to help those in need we should intervene to the benefit of humanity, but we are causing more damage than we are repairing. We have rid the nation of their leader, have not found the weapons we are looking for, why are we still there? If the reason is because of democracy, then I believe the reason is at fault to begin with. Although we cherish democracy for we love our form of government, it is not the right way for all. Who is to say that the nation wants that form of government? How do we expect it to function when? Unlike us, their government was not founded on the same ideals and has not experienced a period of 200 plus years to experiment and correct it. Are we supposed to stay and oversee the development of such a government for the next couple of centuries to make sure it works? Why don’t we focus on issues that are evidently more catastrophic, for example Darfur? Now that is a place where the homicide and suffering is evident. We have concrete evidence of the damage being done and what has to be done to solve it, where is the evidence and concrete facts that clearly tell us what the damage we are seeking to fix is in Iraq and how to come about it?




theycallmedrew


Nice. I've never heard such a convincing pro war argument, most of Bush's justifications come out garbled and smelling of manure.
The comparison between freeing Nazi concentration camps and invading Iraq is interesting. But where exactly do you draw the line between invasion and liberation? It just seems pretty arbitrary to me, the line is not clear. Thats the problem with doing things based on morality, everyone believes different things. Maybe another countries right to privacy is more important than their humanitarian needs. Who says that its ok for us to be the self appointed police officers of the world?

Europeans used to think that they had a moral obligation to subjugate and control other races. Maybe the white mans burden was only a pretense for imperialism, but people believed it.

There needs to be laws to replace morals, so that future administrations dont need to come up with weak justifications for making a big, controversial move (they have weapons of mass destruction!).

I got nothing else, have a nice day.




Lauren


I can honestly say that this is the most convincing rebuttal to the war that I have ever read. Like many others, I primarilly believed that we should have not gone in the manner we did, but after seeing your cases I have clearly changed my perspective. However, I do believe that the United States should have withdrawn our soldiers already and have a couple questions.

1. Who exactly are you quoting on each of your premises
2. What do you believe the U.S. should do staying in Iraq and for how long?
3. Who are you voting for ( if you don't mind) in this election?
4. How do you have any conception that "the actual population, and rightful owners of that country – were in fact liberated from the tyranny of a nightmare regime." Did you go to each and every civilian and ask everyone? In my opinion that is a complete misconception for you have no concept of what the majority wants. Although I do agree that it many did disagree with the Hussein regime, do you have enough proof and evidence to support this?




Kat R


Hi Michael Fuchs. You argue your points very well and are pretty straightforward, so I think I understood most of them. You also use humor well. I am not sure that you have proven anything, though. You say what opponents of the war have claimed and what the faults are in their arguments, but they never get to speak for themselves.
What I got from your article were the four reasons to preform the "intervention" (WMDs, the risk terrorism, help the people, ameliorate the situation and thus stop terrorism), and the mistakes in anti-war logic. Have they made any valid points?
You said that our politicians have not lied to us, for several reasons, and I agree that we are most likely led by "honest" men. I completely agree with the "illegal is not immoral" justification, but propose that we change the laws, not ignore them. If the U.N. is structurally unsound, we have to correct that, fix the root of the problem just like you say we have to make the Middle East better to prevent the breeding of terrorism.
Maybe we went into the war for oil but then realized we were being watched, so we switched over to being in it only for "justice." So you can't prove we went into it with honest intentions, we just keep up that appearance.
I definitely agree with you that we should intervene where we can, not everywhere or nowhere. By the same token, why Iraq and not other issues? Should we go for the easiest "good" course of action? Or the "most" that we can? Would Darfur be easier? Or should we go for the harder, longer-lasting solution of making the U.N. stronger and more "moral"? Why Iraq first?




AngryTreeHuggingLiberal

http://www.borchersamgov.blogspot.com/

As an angry tree-hugging liberal, I will now take the time to attempt a refutation of many of the points you have made in an effort to justify the Iraq War.

First of all, I will not disagree that the policies for going into the Iraq War were not a result of any kind of conspiracies of our politicians (that is an absurd notion) nor a product of a goal for oil (a potential argument but not a particularly provable one).

While you maintain that we have an imperative to invade countries that are controlled malevolently or "psychotically" and "criminally", I do believe that we set standards by our actions. By invading Iraq, why not invade Myanmar, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Libya, Sudan, and other such countries with disagreeable governments to our American sensibilities.

I think you discount the importance of precedence. By setting the precedent for attacking a country out of a clear blue sky, a country that DID NOT attack us, we give room to future presidents to make similarly offensive wars with less obvious reasons. I think we should have learned our lesson from Vietnam.

As to 9/11 being a credible reason for attacking Iraq, there has been no veritable link between the 9/11 attack and the Iraqi government, or at least none that would SO implicate the Iraq government to attack their country.

War is a last measure, not a tool of policy. Though this is an opinion, I believe that it is reasonable. Who are we to assume that we can go into any country because we believe practices are moral or immoral. Morality is something that is entirely subjective and we cannot impose ourselves on countries of the world without clear incentive. The United States is not an instrument of righteousness in the world. We are a country, not a force of morality. Though the Baathist regime is surely evil by anyones standards, what of the disorder and unrest that was being held together? It seems that violence in the country has in fact been augmented to a greater level than it ever was in the controlled violence during Saddam's regime.

Though I agree that the U.N is an ineffective, corrupt, blundering body and that its stipulations account for next to nothing, the fact that our intervention has created more harm than good effectively eradicates the view that we have a duty to impose democracy and "liberty" on other groups of people in the world.

As to the WMD argument, I believe you distract from the fact that once again, there were no WMDs in Iraq. This is indisputable. The attack was based on a half-assed report by an Iraqi known as Eightball who ran to Germany. He wanted a green card and thus he spawned a story of a nuclear silo that he was working on that took the guise of some kind of fruit-production plant or something (I don't remember). Anyways, the not-credible story was proven to be completely wrong (he was lying), but we took this intelligence and justified an attack on Iraq.

Though your "4 reason" argument is strong, this is not the stated reasons for our invasion. Our reasons for the invasion have changed as things are either proved wrong or the war develops. We have changed from opponents of nuclear proliferation, to avengers of 9/11, to liberators of an oppressed people, to peacekeepers of a currently-"psychotic" country.

While Saddam might have been a psychotic ruler, the entire country is in a state of extreme psychosis. The surge is not working, and we are gradually wasting time, money, resources, and human lives in fighting a futile war for intangible reasons. Our actions have caused more bad than good.

Possibly you could argue that our "intentions" were good, but the end result could never be seen as desired. A bad regime is gone. Now Iraq is becoming a greater terrorist haven than ever.

And to the fact that we have not seen a new attack on our soil. That probably has nothing to the war in Iraq. It is like correlating the fact that we are in Iraq to the fact there hasn't been a hurricane in Florida this year. Because we are in Iraq, Tony Blair is in fact, biologically, a poodle (this may be true). And even if they are distracted attacking our troops, are we to use the United States army as living bait for terrorists? This seems a little wrong (just a tad). We can't beat terrorists as they don't go away. There is an unlimited reserve of crazy Islamic radicals to fill the places of the fallen.

Also, I would call the "invasion" more a "dumb decision by a mentally-incapable and fanatical administration" as opposed to a "fanatical attack by an administration that is dumb".

HILLARY CLINTON 08!




FlamingTruth

http://borchersamgov.blogspot.com/

I think this is an extremely rational argument, and certainly one that is hard to dispute. But in the end, a consensus on this depends on what you personally believe America's role in the world is. It's very difficult to reach a concrete, absolute conclusion that America should become the world's liberator. Why? It is the moral thing to do, and it would have a massive impact on the future of the world. But, no one can honestly say what the consequences of such actions would be. America would be scrapping together every resource possible to wage such a campaign. How many lives would be lost, and would it be worth the overwhelming risk of failure? While I don't think anyone can dispute your reasons for entering the Iraq war in the first place, it's also reasonably difficult to argue that the war has been a success. Maybe it never ends; maybe we become so swamped in this stinking quagmire that we reach an ultimatum: pull out, or DIE (lose the war). Plus, we can't forget the inevitable deaths of hundreds (or thousands) of civilians that have no connection with the actual fighting. It's happened in Iraq; I don't know the exact numbers, but I know it's a lot. Obviously, you believe America should have an active role in world affairs. I'm more cynical. I believe there's always going to be oppression, persecution, and violence in the world. I believe there's no way to possibly eliminate it all. I don't believe that that's a reason not to try, but it's all personal opinion on whether America should start liberating countries. There's no evidence to support or refute that viewpoint, and moral arguments are shaky, because of the number of factors you have to take into account. I think I'm done.




G man


Your argument is intensley compelling. I am not pro-war, but your argument is fascinating because it uses humor and simple facts to justify what some people may think to be a useless mission. This essay cleared-up and gave me a much better insight on reasons for the US "intervention". My favorite simple point was that the war really has made a difference in A) we have not seen any form of attack in the last 6 years. Now that we are in, it would also be a bad strategy to remove our troops so suddenly, as you mentioned in vietnam, we just abandoned innocent people that were counting on us. So what do we do? Victory, as you stated, and proved by naming credible sources (more professional opinions than mine (that Princeton guy)) is achievable. This honestly gives me a better notion of our mission and I will be able to go home and spark an argument with my dad to justify aspects of our intervention.

I also have one irrelevant but important question where complexity must be developed.
Would you agree that Thomas Jefferson outfederalized the federalists?
Remember...this is complex stuff...




FlamingTruth

http://borchersamgov.blogspot.com/

Sorry I accidentally sent it a bunch.




Barthalimu George The Third


Dear Senor,
It is with great pleasure that there is at least one person who can with logic and humor give an argument against the growing tide of irrational anti war liberalism within the world. Being quite liberal myself, i have heard every argument in the book bashing the Iraqi war and the "War on Terror". The War of Terror, many call it, is said to be nothing but an illusion placed infront of our eyes so that the wealthy capitalist pig republicans can make a quick buck. A very unlikely explanation, however very popular amongst Americans.
I am for the Iraqi war for the simple reason that i am intolerant of inhumane regimes. In this modern age where global interactions are not only unstopable but necesary, dangerous countries, which usually contain totalitarian forms of government, will soom become great nuisances to global security and prosperity. Terrorism, genocide, etc, cannot be tolerated, nor can the many countries who support such actions. Iraq is undoubtebly one of these countries. I believe that there are many more, however iraq is a stepping stone in a major pro democratic movement, which is only right according to our western morals, ethics, and standards.
Personally, I am not a Bush supporter, for many reasons which do not include the Iraqi war or the war on terror. Could it have been handled in a more efficient manner, possibly, but i am not educated enough on the topic, and nor are most people who criticize it.
Being on the left myself, i have become increasingly frustrated by my fellow left wingers, and their great irrationality. Yes, i do have a great dislike for social intolerance, unregulated capitalism, and people who do not care about the environment. I also have a great dislike for people who call themselves liberals, yet who do not care about persecuted and opressed peoples around the world. Iraq is a country which harbors such people, and as long as the U.S and other countries have the means to insure freedom and liberty around the world, so let it be.




Jen


I strongly agree with your view on the war in Iraq. As I was reading the article to myself I consistently found myself nodding my head in agreement to almost every point you made. It frsutrates me when I constantly hear people making false and absurd accusations, such as, 9/11 was a conspiracy set up by Bush and Bush lied about the weapons of mass destruction. It's crazy to me that people have that much doubt in our country's capability.

Despite that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I strongly believe that that is absolutley no reason to pull out of the war. I completley agree with you in the fact that once we go in we can not just pull out and leave Iraq a mess. It is our responsibility to set up a democracy and make sure that the inncocent citizens of Iraq stop being opressed. I mean come on...rape rooms?! How could any decent person argue against the fact that we are helping noraml, decent people, just like you and me. And people have the audacity to critisize and bash Bush's decision?! Personally I am appalled by our countries response to the war. We are supposed to be united and we should besupporting the soldiers who are putting their lives on the line for a cause that they obviously feel is worthy for.




Michael

Goodness. Apre blogue le deluge. (Laylah taught me that one, actually . . .) I was briefly flashing back to the time Andrew Sullivan linked to my pix from the London March for Free Expression. But, in this case, I seem to have become an American Government assigned reading item.

Thank you all for your remarkably thoughtful and literate comments. Thanks for the kind words. Thanks for the criticisms and rebuttals.

I will try and respond to some particular points tomorrow, if I can take a bit of time out from killing time at my job.

Cheers,
Michael




Whatcha name,T-good, whacha do? How u do it? With two hands and a smile. True

“You know that guy who could get every girl, I’m him. On Crack.”



I have been warned that you are intelligent and my words should be highly monitored, and that I should fear a fierce response. Unlike my classmates who seam to be so shocked that you can refer to a topic with some logic to give a certain viewpoint, I remain unimpressed. I will not laud your blog for the use of unnecessary vocabulary and supporting facts. I get it. You got an education, no need to send me to dictionary.com (my 1st reference) to look up words where a much simpler one would do. As for the blog I prefer to call it a “fluffy inquiry” as opposed to “inuit propaganda” I personally don’t like to be tendentious in how I label things, for it seems a little pointless…?



“The Attack of Godzilla on Tralfamadore”
My name is Yon Yonsen, I come from Wisconsin

Granted you have some valid points, for instance in regards to Russian and France opposition to the Iraq war b/c of oil contracts. While I am not an expert in either country’s foreign policy nor on their exports/imports and commodity intake, I would assume based on what you have said that a large oil contract could cause a country not to support a war. Just as the US has not supported “intervention” (or hey since I seem to be a tendentious kind of person) “liberation” in Darfur, for we are in a political quagmire with Sudan due to their former involvement with Obama, ohhh sorry Osama.

Mr. Walker Texas Ranger was recently laughed at in the UN by the Sudanese delegates for calling the crisis in Darfur a genocide. They thought it was as funny as William Miller’s face. Hahahhah that Miller always peeing on people.

“That idiot look at him pull that political scheme. We’ll look like douches (showers, yes I speak 11 languages, I know it’s impressive) but who cares about those liberal media, fukers”

Perhaps because Americans don’t see Sudan as a terrorist threat in a post 9-11 world.
Perhaps because Sudan wasn’t a Middle Eastern country made famous with an unfinished job by a certain persons father. (I am not a conspiracy theorists, do not label me or respond to me as such)
Perhaps because Americans don’t recognize the leader as a notorious totalitarian
Perhaps because we got solid intelligence that the war would result in a quagmire
Hey, Perhaps I just farted so bad my dog cleared the room.


“No I will not Make Out with you”





“Hold on. Hold on. We have some breaking news here Jim.”
“No one wants to hear about my botox to spike up the networks ratings anymore?”
“Apparently the United States has now officially become the World Police. They have dispatched all their troops into countries with undemocratic governments and suspicion of WMD’s.”
“Ohh, wonderful! I knew that since Bush meticulously stuck to the U.N./international law route with Darfur; and everyone's died. We would get rid of those climate change hating delegates. But wasn’t it true that Iraq didn’t have WMD’s or NBC’s?” (Those liberal bastards)
“No no Iraq has had WMD’s, they used ridiculously hard to make nerve gas in the 80’s and they might have gone nuclear had Israel not stopped those French pussies from aiding them.”
“Jim you can’t curse on the air”





“OO that is a potent form of Bull shit you got there, must have gotten it organic?”





No your right, “Uday and Qusay would still be raping and torturing with perfect impunity, and in great luxury and comfort. Instead of rotting in Hell as they should be, and happily now are.” Instead we’ve replaced them and found people who were harder to pinpoint then two rich kids living in luxury.

You seem to fail to acknowledge the ways in which this administration profited from the war. Granted they, to the best of both of our knowledge, are not sitting on some secret Iraqi oil reserve for their own profiting. They did privatize the Iraq war more than any previous war in history. Companies such as Halliburton, CACI, Blackwater, and others all gave generously to where money was due, and profit (specifically Blackwater) on the political equivalent of insider trading. Thank you, you sweet revolving door. (Evidenced by “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers”)



“Get ouda here”





I once was a Christian conservative.
I was friends with powerful men.
I had money.
I had a private army, but they killed civilians.
So it goes.

Let’s be serious here, While you have proved that you are competent and able to write fairly well, why not bring up the issues of the American Presidency, the choice of Iraq, the privatization of Iraq and specifically those who have profited off the war’s privatization. And it seems strikingly clear that it is in the best interest of Bush and his “cronies” to stay in this war. Why not support the people who support you?






“My theory on Feds is there like Mushrooms, Feed ‘em shit and keep ‘em in the dark”




Seriously, (I find myself saying this a lot lately) is Iraq Free? Is Afghanistan free? How many Iraqi emigrants have there been? Why would they leave a free country? How much better has Iraqi life gotten during the Iraq war? There’s still persecution of gays, there still is corruption, and there still exists lack of civil liberties. One ex-Iraqi engineer told German forces that he made Biological WMD’s, despite the fact he couldn’t verify it, should not have played a role on our intelligence to, “liberate Iraq.” Countries today do not become free by occupying troops in their nations. They may change there policies based on embargos, trade incentives, monetary incentives, political relationships, reliance on commodities etc., but when the USA has an 8 trillion dollar deficit and a trade imbalance it becomes difficult to coax governments into freedom by any other way then “liberation.” We are digging our own geo-political, financial grave, no longer b/c of the foreign and fiscal policies of the United States will we be the superpower we once were. So maybe you are right. Maybe we should “liberate” Tibet by intervening, let’s see how it works out. And lets do so fast so Iraq can be done with (of course Blackwater will still continue our war) and we can move our stepping stones throughout the war, take up the next step to the containment policy and go full on operation liberation’s masturbation. (it just sounds catchy)





“I like ‘em salted with syrup”





Mr. Fuchs you made a comment about 9-11 conspiracy theorists and disproved it with the article on how the towers fell and I agree with you that the towers fell from the impact however that is not the only thing, people conspire about, such as the motives for war. The financing of the Bush administration, etc. though I am not one of “them” I find it amusing that you label them under one issue and finish them off with a reference to popular mechanics. You’re right on that issue it seems highly unlikely that anything other than those planes cause the crash but while it clearly disregards that aspect of their argument, the fact that planes caused the towers to fall does not apply to the motives for war and the results of 9-11, etc.






“C!.. A!.. N!… E!.. S!.. CANES, ahhhhhhhh wooooosshh!”







Today is the 18th anniversary of the 726308th (not including leap years for I do not know at what point we started to count leap years) day of Christ’s life. Also known as my 18th birthday (funny how it feels no different from being a kid) I can vote now and go fight in the valiant crusading war against the infidels. Whoopee!






“I wonder, what is in that magical wonder ball”







It shocks me to the freaking bone to read my classmates responses in regard to your article, with the exception of a few. It seems they all lack the ability to make a valid judgment of an article. I am not saying they should all attack it, but c’mon. I have maybe have read an article/blog/journal/book, regarding a war or politics, once or twice in my life where I absolutely completely agreed and yet somehow the majority of my class, “completely agreed” with you. Even Mr. Fuchs should find that odd. Granted Mr. Fuchs, you are able to present data that most of my classmates have yet to see, but a guess they have never had to assess blog/articles before (thought to those of you who took 10th grade AP World History, Mr. Andrew would be disappointed) Seriously, either you guys/girls (the class) wanted to get an easy grade with an easy question or (the copping out way) agreeing completely, or maybe you just lack all critical skills in which case you should practice it. Not to say mine are impeccable, but it’s a pretty necessary skill to be able to read an argument and find the faults and genius to it.

Sorry honestly I wish I could keep going, my arguments are not even close to as coherent and in depth as I would like, but seeing as time is my enemy given my new found “adulthood” I’ll leave you, unfortunately, with what I have. Large testicles.




“New study by the national crack advocacy research grouptm suggests crack is now good for the heart, People we must smoke crack.”





I hope I did not offend you, though I am sure me being an 18 year old little shit, my words probably won’t and were not intended to. However, I clearly disagree with your blog, and while you present data that on the surface seems to make sense, It seems evident you lack significant information, and you do not link foreign policy issues to the best of your apparent knowledge. I guess when you know a lot you can argue any issue you want. Here’s an assignment for you, I want 2000 words on the converse of all the issues you brought up. Would it be as coherent? Another question, living in England, Do you fill out an absentee ballot?



Notes: Your article failed to convince me that Invading Iraq was still the right thing to do.
Maybe I am stubborn (of course it is about as likely as finding the definite integral for e^x2)
Learn your Calculus.
And you failed to mention the numerous downsides of the war and the effects of it on Iraqi’s.




Michael

Thanks again - as noted above - for your remarkably thoughtful and literate comments. Thanks for the kind words. Thanks for the criticisms and rebuttals.

Here are a few responses. Me not responding to a point means neither that I agree with it, nor that I think it's not worth responding to - just that I didn't have anything very interesting to say in response.


Fabiana:
what do you think will happen with the arising tensions between Israel and Iran?

I think that Israel will not (and, incidentally, cannot) allow Iran to go nuclear. I think that's the main reason the U.S. will ultimately stop it if necessary - because if we don't Israel will, and that would be uglier (for the region). (See this bit, if you can bear another enormously long political screed.)


And do you think the War on Iraq will affect the United States' intervention between the growing problems with Iran?

I didn't talk about it much, but it seems pretty much to be the case that Iran is fighting a proxy war against coalition forces in Iraq - sending arms, explosives, and fighters across the border. They've actually be aiding both Shi'ite and Sunni militias, which can really only be interpreted as "they want the place to blow up". When Iranian ordinance is known to be blowing American soldiers into bloody meat, it's increasingly hard to let it slide. So, yeah, I think the war in Iraq and our pissing contest with Iran are intimately bound up. To make a guess, Iranian military action in Iraq may provide a cassus belli for us to bomb the shit out of them. I don't know.


HarrisG:
<deleted>

Nice - good stuff (in my slanted view). The only thing I might take issue with is:


Although people said we were becoming a police state, I had no problem with the added security. Check me all you want, I have nothing to hide. If we have to suspend some freedoms for security in the short term, so that in the future we can have a safer more open democracy, I am willing to do it.

Fair enough. But remember there's a tension between security and civil liberties, and it becomes acute during war-time. You may be willing to scoot down the suspending freedoms road a bit - but just remember, at the end of the road is totalitarianism, which is what we're fighting against. Becoming the enemy to defeat him is no victory. (You probably know that thing Ben Franklin may or may not have said: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (You sometimes hear it attributed to Thomas Jefferson, and you sometimes see this version, which I like better: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety will lose both and deserve neither.") Not that I totally agree - I think the scale has to slide a bit during war-time.)



Brian:
What do you think about a plan for the removal of our troops?

I'm afraid I think that a plan for withdrawal is a lifeline to the enemy, telling them exactly how long they have to hold out to beat us. I'm also afraid I think that many of the advocates of a withdrawal plan (harumph, Congressional Democrats, harumph) aren't actually real concerned with either the Iraqis, or the troops, but only on "ending the war" in the abstract, at best, or beating up on Bush, at the worst.


How long do you think it will take to carry out our mission in Iraq?

I'm with W here. My favourite right-wing nut-job columnist Mark Steyn pointed out that there are really only two types of exit strategies: victory or defeat. I think we leave when we're done - when Iraq is (more or less) safe, peaceable, and secure, and the Iraqi army and police can maintain civil order on their own. As a side note, I'd also like to see every single American soldier gone from Iraq at some point (whenever that is), because it will look a lot better and put the lie to the "crusaders/invaders/occupiers" claims. But I'm pretty sure there will be some U.S. troops there forever, as there are in Germany and Japan and actually most of the countries of the world . . .



diana garcia:
the number of innocent people who have been killed and continue to be massacred should be reason enough to retreat and recognize that the goal is simply not worth the price.

My opinion would be that your heart is in the right place, but that the facts are not on your side. There's every reason to believe that if we pulled out now there would be much more violence and death in the disorder, reprisals, and political vacuum that resulted. As Thomas Jefferson said of slavery, it's like holding a wolf by the ears - you don't like it, but you don't dare let go. Though, in this case, we can hope there's a decent chance that the wolf will change into a fluffy sheepdog if we hold on long enough.


as opposed to keeping our troops at war, why not spend that money and focus that energy on increasing homeland security?

Well, a lot of people see it your way. But the idea is that you can't really play defense against terrorism. As the IRA said in a statement after their 1984 bomb in Brighton failed to kill Margaret Thatcher (it killed several other people; Thatcher, not called the Iron Lady for nothing, walked out of the wreckage without a scratch): "Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You have to be lucky always." If you consider the enormity of our coastline - including the longest undefended border in the world, with Canada, and the rather sieve-like border with Mexico - not to mention the number of container ports, airports, etc. . . . it's a tough problem to solve defensively.

So, again the idea is that the only really good way to keep them from getting us here is to go get them there first. And the other idea, as I noted, is that by giving democracy and modernity and prosperity a chance in the benighted middle east, maybe they won't want to kill us anymore. They'll have better things to do, like go shopping.


We are in fact nourishing that spite those who hate America feel towards us; what else are you to feel towards people who pillage your country and your home, kill and kidnap innocent civilians to find the few who could in fact be a potential danger to us?

We may be generating resentment. But I really think you're giving our soldiers - once described by Thomas Friedman as "much better than we deserve" - really short shrift. Right now American GIs are over policing neighborhoods, providing free medical care, rebuilding electric and sewage infrastructure, helping organise local elections, and a lot more. All in 115 degree heat. I'm sure a few people along the line were pretty pissed off when their doors were kicked in and they were imprisoned under suspicion of terrorism which had no basis. But "pillage" is going a bit over the top.

In a piece today in National Review, Kurtis Wheeler (a Marine historian) reports that, "Active support for U.S. forces now predominates in [al Anbar Province], and is quickly spreading to other parts of Iraq." He offers an explanation of why:


Despite the well-publicized exceptions, U.S. forces have operated with an unparalleled degree of restraint, mercy, and professionalism. They have consistently professed their desire to help Iraqis rebuild and create stability, in order to turn areas over to local leaders and local security forces. By 2006, Iraqis began to note that American actions reliably matched its stated goals. They recognized that U.S. forces were more constructive and reliable partners than AQI. That recognition created the foundation for the progress in Iraq’s security situation that we see today. While the current cohort of warriors may also rate as one of the most effective in history in their martial skills, it is their judgment and compassion that may turn out to be the most decisive factor in the War on Terror. Critics may attack our Iraq policies at the highest levels, but at the human level our troops have been the greatest ambassadors for the real meaning of America. Neighborhood by neighborhood, and person by person, they have demonstrated our commitment to tolerance, justice, and peace. The humanity of our individual Marines and soldiers, offers a sharp contrast to the barbarity of al-Qaeda… and that may be our greatest weapon in the War on Terror.


Of course, that's one guy's view. (And he's in the Marines.) But I'd strongly suggest you go meet some of these guys yourselves--in the form of military blogs ("milblogs"). A lot of these guys are enormously sensitive, literate observers of things. And they're also, obviously, right there. If you read first-hand accounts, you might have a more accurate view of what's going on; and I virtually guarantee that if you get to know some of these guys, you'll feel bad about your kill/kidnap/pillage accusations. Start with these. Then try here.


We may be ridding ourselves of a handful of terrorists, but we end up paying for their loss with many more terrorists of that kind who hate us just as much or more.

Maybe.


I agree that if we have the power to help those in need we should intervene to the benefit of humanity, but we are causing more damage than we are repairing.

I'd say come back in five years.


Although we cherish democracy for we love our form of government, it is not the right way for all. Who is to say that the nation wants that form of government?

The 8 million Iraqis who turned out to vote. (See this dispatch, and this one.) That's 70% turnout, which dwarfs election turnout in the US.


Unlike us, their government was not founded on the same ideals and has not experienced a period of 200 plus years to experiment and correct it.

Telling point. The august conservative (curmudgeonly) columnist George Will agrees with you. He thinks it takes a lot more than putting on an election to a democracy make. (You need civil society, civic organisations, a certain mindset, tolerance, etc.)


Why don’t we focus on issues that are evidently more catastrophic, for example Darfur?

Because it wasn't chiefly a humanitarian intervention. It was a response to dangers magnified by 9/11. (Though I agree we should do something in Darfur.)



theycallmedrew:
most of Bush's justifications come out garbled and smelling of manure.

Too true. And rather of a shame, in my view. He makes it awfully easy for his opponents. Blair at least sounded smart when talking about the reasons for the war.


But where exactly do you draw the line between invasion and liberation? It just seems pretty arbitrary to me, the line is not clear. Thats the problem with doing things based on morality, everyone believes different things.

That's a brilliant point, and quite right. The only response I'd make is to suggest that we've drifted too far toward not making moral judgements. In the PC, multicultural era - at least for posh, educated people like us - anything anybody does is supposed to be about as good as anything anybody else does. Well, for me, personally, 9/11 changed my view of this a lot - the idea that all value systems are prima facie equal. Specifically: on that day, one set of values led some guys to murder 3000 people by crashing planes full of jet fuel and people into office buildings. And another set of values led a few hundred guys to charge into the burning, collapsing buildings to try and save those people. (And to perish in the attempt.) So, that got me thinking: you know, some belief systems really are better than some other belief systems. (I had a similar epiphany at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC, which if you haven't been, you should get on a bus now, and but which is another story.)

But you're totally right it's a really thorny problem. On a philosophical level, it's the problem of absolute versus relative morality. Which is really the problem of how to have any morality. See the sections on morality in this discussion, if you dare - it's heavy, I can hardly read it now myself. There's also a pretty serious discussion of this issue in my new book, not that I'm by any means telling you to buy it, just to say that it's really a problem that concerns me: How do you share a planet with a lot of different people with a lot of different belief systems, without either saying Anything goes, or else the strongest saying I'm right and we're all doing it my way? Etc.


Europeans used to think that they had a moral obligation to subjugate and control other races. Maybe the white mans burden was only a pretense for imperialism, but people believed it.

Yeah. Also, the checkered history of American intervention - central America springs to mind - naturally makes one skeptical now.


There needs to be laws to replace morals, so that future administrations dont need to come up with weak justifications for making a big, controversial move (they have weapons of mass destruction!).

I'd say that's a good suggestion. Mark Steyn, again, suggested that we start a new version of the U.N. - but democracies only allowed. ("Coalition of the Willing has a nice ring to it," he quipped.) If that body made the rules, I'd guess they'd be good and workable ones.



Lauren:
1. Who exactly are you quoting on each of your premises

Gack. Since it was a personal essay on a personal blog, I played a bit fast and loose with attributions. Some I could attribute, some I have to admit I just picked up along the way - most likely from right-leaning columnists whose views are like mine. But if you want to ask about specific facts, put it in e-mail to me, and I'll try to provide whatever sources I can.


3. Who are you voting for ( if you don't mind) in this election?

I don't mind. It's a fair and germane question. I've historically always voted Libertarian. But I'm becoming a one-issue (i.e. the war) voter; moreover, as per HarrisG's points above, civil liberties take a bit of a back seat in wartime (but hopefully not too much of one - and some would say civil liberties should be absolute). So right now, I'm pretty sure I'll vote McCain if he's nominated. He's one of the very, very few candidates I consider at all serious. (I.e. not completely full of shit.) He's actually also done things, important and serious things - not just fed at the public trough his whole life. He's smart, he's well-informed, he's got the gravitas for it. He's a defender of free trade, he tried to fix the awful corrupting power of money in politics, and he's about the last remaining fiscal conservative - i.e. someone who hestitates before burning great piles of my (and your) money. And, finally, mainly, he's right (in my view) on the war. He came out in favor of the surge - knowing full well that it might (and it really, really might) cost him the presidency. But he did it because he believed in it, and that it was important and right. In a word, he's not a politico arsehead. So I'm pretty bummed that he's lagging so far in the primaries.

I wouldn't be crushed if Guiliani won. But he seems NYC-sized, which is pretty big, but not Leader of the Free World sized, which is bigger. I suppose that's not a real reason.

I would be crushed if Clinton won. Devastated. Luckily, I think there's about zero chance of this.

If McCain isn't nominated, I may vote Libertarian. If neither McCain nor Guiliani (i.e. Romney) are nominated, I'll very likely vote Libertarian.


4. How do you have any conception that "the actual population, and rightful owners of that country – were in fact liberated from the tyranny of a nightmare regime." Did you go to each and every civilian and ask everyone? In my opinion that is a complete misconception for you have no concept of what the majority wants. Although I do agree that it many did disagree with the Hussein regime, do you have enough proof and evidence to support this?

I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask, Well, how the hell actually do you know this?. Start by taking a look at this. They also do regular surveys of Iraqi public opinion, which seem to be really mixed (i.e. not enormously positive about us or things), but I'm too tired to dig them up, but I bet you could.



Kat R:

Thanks for the kind words.


If the U.N. is structurally unsound, we have to correct that, fix the root of the problem just like you say we have to make the Middle East better to prevent the breeding of terrorism.

Fair enough. And, forgive for being a cynical, but: good luck. Also, funnily enough, Bush is on your side - rather than minimizing the UN, as he might be expected to do, particularly by his critics, he seems quite committed to UN Reform. See his 11 Sept 2007 address to the UN General Assembly - where he had the cheek to remind them of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pointedly. Watch the video, by the way - the reaction shots of the tinpot dictators in the audience, when Bush calls them out, are priceless.



AngryTreeHuggingLiberal:
I think you discount the importance of precedence. By setting the precedent for attacking a country out of a clear blue sky, a country that DID NOT attack us, we give room to future presidents to make similarly offensive wars with less obvious reasons.

I think that's an important point. We also give room to future despots to invade neighbors based on similar arguments. I think we're already seeing it with Chechnya, Kashmir, etc. It's a problem.


Morality is something that is entirely subjective

Then you will have no criticism of the 9/11 attackers - as they were acting in strict accordance with their deeply-held moral views. And their morality is just as valid as yours - right? If you don't agree with all that, then you'll have to explain what you mean by "entirely subjective."


We are a country, not a force of morality.

Well, we're probably a mixed bag (much like all people are, despite our tendency to peg them as either good or bad). But, you know, we did go over and stop Hitler - at the cost of a half million of our dead. I'd say that's acting as a moral force. I'd even go out on a limb, you know, in sympathetic company, and suggest that - despite all our missteps and misdeeds - the U.S. still counts as the greatest force for good the world has ever known. Discuss (though you may be here all night).


Though the Baathist regime is surely evil by anyones standards, what of the disorder and unrest that was being held together?

Isn't that offensive, though? To suggest that the only thing keeping these curs from tearing themselves to pieces was an iron-fisted dictator? That seems to say they're not good enough to live like normal people, they only get a prison state. (Incidentally, Bush has very specifically rejected this idea.)


eradicates the view that we have a duty to impose democracy and "liberty" on other groups of people in the world.

You hear that a lot, but it's rather self-negating, isn't it? Democracy and liberty mean you're free to run your own affairs. Sort of by definition you can't "impose" it on anybody. Fascism you can impose on people. Shari'a you can impose on people. But it's hard to imagine saying, "Now go elect your own leaders from among your people to run your society" and people reacting in horror. As far as I know, no one (I mean no people - not oppressor assholes like the Taleban or the House of Saud) has yet, and if they do I'll eat my words.


The attack was based on a half-assed report by an Iraqi known as Eightball who ran to Germany. He wanted a green card and thus he spawned a story of a nuclear silo that he was working on that took the guise of some kind of fruit-production plant or something (I don't remember). Anyways, the not-credible story was proven to be completely wrong (he was lying), but we took this intelligence and justified an attack on Iraq.

You clearly don't remember. If you think that's the entire dossier on Iraqi WMD/NBC activities, I'd suggest you dig a little deeper. (Deeper than moveon.org or The Nation, which are the only two places I can think of offhand where you might get something like that.) Start here.


Though your "4 reason" argument is strong, this is not the stated reasons for our invasion. Our reasons for the invasion have changed as things are either proved wrong or the war develops. We have changed from opponents of nuclear proliferation, to avengers of 9/11, to liberators of an oppressed people, to peacekeepers of a currently-"psychotic" country.

That's a very fair criticism. The fluctuating justifications have not inspired a lot of confidence.


The surge is not working
...
Now Iraq is becoming a greater terrorist haven than ever.

I don't think you're well-informed or up to date on the results of the surge. Try first paragraph of this piece in the Weekly Standard (which I should take care to admit is a famously right-leaning publication).


Also, I would call the "invasion" more a "dumb decision by a mentally-incapable and fanatical administration" as opposed to a "fanatical attack by an administration that is dumb".

You're hardly alone. I'd agree that a great deal of incompetence was shown in the way it was executed. And it's hard to deny the Administration was pretty set on the whole thing for a long time.



FlamingTruth:
It's very difficult to reach a concrete, absolute conclusion that America should become the world's liberator.

Yeah. Though the sad fact is no one else wants or is able to do it.


it's also reasonably difficult to argue that the war has been a success. Maybe it never ends; maybe we become so swamped in this stinking quagmire that we reach an ultimatum: pull out, or DIE (lose the war). Plus, we can't forget the inevitable deaths of hundreds (or thousands) of civilians that have no connection with the actual fighting.

Yeah.


Obviously, you believe America should have an active role in world affairs. I'm more cynical. I believe there's always going to be oppression, persecution, and violence in the world. I believe there's no way to possibly eliminate it all.

Yeah. I had this debate on the New Years Eve after the invasion with an English guy, of Indian descent, who was a cynical bastard. He said, "You guys have no idea what you've gotten yourselves into." I said, "Oh, well, we'll just see about that." Well, we did see and, and he was right - we bit off rather more than we could swallow (as I admitted to him a couple of years later).



G man:

Thanks for the kind words. I'm flattered to have influenced your viewpoint.


I also have one irrelevant but important question where complexity must be developed.
Would you agree that Thomas Jefferson outfederalized the federalists?

You're way above my head there. My only comment might be to suggest that Jefferson would be astounded and aghast at the current size and scope of the federal government. Anyway, he really just wanted to get out of Washington and go back to his farm . . .



FlamingTruth
Sorry I accidentally sent it a bunch.

No worries. I think it's a problem with the stoopid posting script. I went in and deleted the duplicate posts. (Including my own!)


Barthalimu George The Third
<snip>

Well said.


Personally, I am not a Bush supporter, for many reasons which do not include the Iraqi war or the war on terror.

I hear you. Bush pissed me off when he sold out free trade principles for votes from steel workers in Pennsylvania (free trade, not incidentally, being the second greatest source of prosperity and making people's lives better, after capitalism). And then he really lost me when he endorsed the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment - essentially enshrining bigotry and discrimination into our highest statement of equal justice. (Bastard.)

But I think that's the difference between us - and I really mean everyone here - and a lot of people out there: we're able to judge things, and this particular guy, on his merits. (He's a person, and like I said, people: always both good and bad.) I've sort of identified this Bush Derangement Syndrome out there. It's really almost clinical. I know you have it there, but man you should see it in the UK/Europe. I mean, if you even suggest that Bush could be on the right side of any issue . . . I've seen people literally get apoplectic. Flustered, speechless, incandescent with righteous and - when I'm talking to them - thwarted rage. You can't even get them to discuss anything. They just sputter, "Kyoto, Halliburton, stolen election, daddy issues, unilateralism, moron, monkey monkey monkey." And these are smart, educated people. I mean, top people.

What's actually worse I find is the media here. The Guardian and its readers are so committed to their image of Bush as the anti-Christ, that they actually don't want him to do anything they might approve of. A recent example is when Bush gave a big STFU to the PRC by welcoming the Dali Lama, and offering his respects, and saying what a great guy he is, and how the Chinese ought to give him and the Tibetans a break. Well, the Guardianistas (i.e. Euro-lefties) all think all that, too - but I think it would actually cause them physical pain to think that Bush could do anything decent - so you had to DIG to find this story anywhere here. I mean dig. They buried it.


Being on the left myself, i have become increasingly frustrated by my fellow left wingers, and their great irrationality. Yes, i do have a great dislike for social intolerance, unregulated capitalism, and people who do not care about the environment. I also have a great dislike for people who call themselves liberals, yet who do not care about persecuted and opressed peoples around the world.

Word. Brother, you need to get yourself to Brother Christopher Hitchens. He is your kindred. I don't know if you know Hitch, but he's an ex-Trotskyite ex-darling of the left, who used to write a regular column for The Nation, of all things. Anyway, a few years ago he was literally ejected from the Left for supporting the Iraq intervention. Well, he also kind of quit - saying what you did: that the left had gotten really good at moral posing, and were really keen on bashing Bush - but they no longer gave a shit about the persecuted and oppressed and victims of fascism. Hitch, for instance, has been outspoken about the plight of the Kurds (the largest stateless people on the planet) for ages. Anyway, here's his archive of 'Fighting Words' columns in Slate. I'd pick out some priceless ones for you, but I'd be here all day. Bon apetit. (He's also on hitchensweb.com.)



Jen:

Thank you, too.


How could any decent person argue against the fact that we are helping noraml, decent people, just like you and me.

I think that gets lost a lot. Hitch addressed it famously in this piece. (Which, not all incidentally, directly inspired an almost indescribably cool and good young man to enlist - and ultimately to give his life for the Iraqi people and for his beliefs.) Best bit:


Isn't there a single drop of solidarity and compassion left over for the people of Iraq, after three decades of tyranny, war, and sanctions and now an assault from the vilest movement on the face of the planet? Unless someone gives me a persuasive reason to think otherwise, my provisional conclusion is that the human rights and charitable "communities" have taken a pass on Iraq for political reasons that are not very creditable. And so we watch with detached curiosity, from dry land, to see whether the Iraqis will sink or swim. For shame.



we should besupporting the soldiers who are putting their lives on the line for a cause that they obviously feel is worthy for.

Good for you. (I'm all weepy now - reading your words, and thinking of Mark Daily - but I'm a sap.)


Ah, and at long last:

“You know that guy who could get every girl, I’m him. On Crack.”

Dude. Seriously. How can I tackle this? Here are just a couple of jabs. (Pardon mixed sports metaphor.)


no need to ... to look up words where a much simpler one would do.

Mark Twain's Rule #14 governing literary art: "Eschew surplusage." (Twain on the Literary Offenses of James Fenimore Cooper, incidentally, is the best literary flame job of ALL TIME. God, it's funny.)


“Apparently the United States has now officially become the World Police. They have dispatched all their troops into countries with undemocratic governments and suspicion of WMD’s.”

Yeah, they especially love that over here. And, digressing wildly again, I actually saw the UK premier of "Team America : World Police" at the National Film Theatre - draped in an American flag (brought by my wicked Irishman friend).


You seem to fail to acknowledge the ways in which this administration profited from the war.<snip> They did privatize the Iraq war more than any previous war in history. Companies such as Halliburton, CACI, Blackwater, and others all gave generously to where money was due, and profit (specifically Blackwater) on the political equivalent of insider trading. Thank you, you sweet revolving door. (Evidenced by “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers”)

Yes, you've got me there. I left that out (conveniently for my argument).



Seriously, (I find myself saying this a lot lately) is Iraq Free? Is Afghanistan free? How many Iraqi emigrants have there been? Why would they leave a free country? How much better has Iraqi life gotten during the Iraq war?

Fair enough. But at least now they've got a shot to make a decent place for themselves, which they had not before, and may never have gotten otherwise. (And you know full why they're leaving - not the police state (which they couldn't leave) but the civil unrest, which they can.)


Countries today do not become free by occupying troops in their nations.

You and George Will agree. But 80 million Germans and 125 million Japanese might disagree with you.


They may change there policies based on embargos, trade incentives, monetary incentives, political relationships, reliance on commodities etc.

I think the evidence is against you here. None of that crap appears to work very well. Witness North Korea.


but when the USA has an 8 trillion dollar deficit and a trade imbalance <snip> We are digging our own geo-political, financial grave, no longer b/c of the foreign and fiscal policies of the United States will we be the superpower we once were.

I won't argue macroeconomics with you. But you might look at GDP and, more importantly, growth rates. And unemployment rates - especially versus the EU. (Anyway, the vast majority of my money is in U.S. equities. Hope I didn't jinx myself there.)


Mr. Fuchs you made a comment about 9-11 conspiracy theorists and disproved it with the article on how the towers fell and I agree with you that the towers fell from the impact however that is not the only thing, people conspire about, such as the motives for war. The financing of the Bush administration, etc. though I am not one of “them” I find it amusing that you label them under one issue and finish them off with a reference to popular mechanics. You’re right on that issue it seems highly unlikely that anything other than those planes cause the crash but while it clearly disregards that aspect of their argument, the fact that planes caused the towers to fall does not apply to the motives for war and the results of 9-11, etc.

Yes, you've got me dead to rights. I tried to pull a rhetorical fast one there - "and I would have gotten away with it, too - if it wasn't for you meddling kids!" (Hell, it occurs to me that due to generational divide you guys might not even get that reference . . .)


I guess when you know a lot you can argue any issue you want. Here’s an assignment for you, I want 2000 words on the converse of all the issues you brought up. Would it be as coherent?

That's a pretty devastating point. My sister - who, amusingly, worked as an intern for The Nation - refuses to argue this stuff with me, because I know a ton about it, and of course all the things I know are on my side of the argument. In any case, I'm pretty sure the 2000-word exercise would be good for me.

With that, I yield the field to the man (man as of yesterday) with the largest sack in southern Florida.


You've all paid me an enormous compliment by reading this thing - I don't think very many of my other readers were up to an 8000-word political essay - and by taking it seriously and engaging it with your very serious thoughts. I hope I've done that justice in the way I responded to yours. (I know I just ate half my workday!)

All best regards,
Michael (nee Mr Fuches)




Kat R

hahaha you were right, the dictators' responses to Bush were funny, especially Sudan's. And yes, I remember Scooby Doo :)




AngryTreeHuggingLiberal

http://dfgfdg/

I really appreciate the criticism.

Many of my remarks were made in the 30 minutes of class time provided to respond to your well-written critique of the war, so there were some gaping holes in my logic that needed to be patched.

When I mean that countries can not dictate morality, I do not mean that on the personal level. Of course I hate the 9/11 terrorist bombers and think they are evil people fanatically guided by a disgusting distortion of Islamic principles. And yes, I want my country to respond and defend our country from terrorism. And in an ideal world, I would want our government to take out evil-doers (Bush's pet term) all over the world in all countries. But I do not believe we have the manpower to do this, and I feel that considerations to liberate a people should be made very, very carefully. Thus, I see us as not a power of morality. Maybe I am selfish, but I am against intervention. As the Flaming Truth hath said, evil will always exist. Thoulgh we definitely needed to attack the Nazis. That reached way over the threshold of what is wrong. But then again, what is this threshold? I define it loosely. Where do you see the threshold between non-intervention and intervention? If the Russian government silently dispatches its critics (with the exception of Gary Kasparov, best chess player ev0r), do we fight to liberate Russia? If we dislike North Korea's authoritarian rule of its people, do we liberate them?


I do think that Saddam was holding together sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis. It seems that the country is in complete turmoil with rampant violence all over the country. Granted, he is a bad person, but looking at it from a political point of view, it was not a wise decision to overthrow him without careful consideration of how we would keep everything stable. I don't feel this reflects poorly on the Iraqis. I don't see them as a savage people as you imply. It is a fact that there are vicious struggles all over the Middle East between Sunni and Shiite radicals (and there ARE many of them) and that they do want to kill each other. I feel that anyone extreme is capable of being deemed savage, including the fanatical Christians of our country (Jesus Camp is a terrorizing film on how similar these folks are to our enemies).

With the vacuum of power in Iraq, the ensuing ch aos has led to Iran now funneling munitions and other supplies over the border to BOTH Shiites and Sunnis, leading to even greater violence and more risk for our deployed troops.

Anyways, the Eightball report was from 60 Minutes and I have a poor memory occasionally which does not serve me well in political discussion, so it is hard to be accurate. Though it was one of many pieces of evidence, this one was the prize mule. It was the main source of legitimacy. And so in some ways, it is a minor point, but in other ways, it is a further condemnation of the lack of thoroughness in this administration's treatment of the war.

Also, I don't know if anyone mentioned tlhe financial implications of this war. A million dollars is spent in Iraq every 30 seconds. That is ALOT of money. With our current deficit, this is not going to help things. I would really love to see taxpayer money spent on things that concern us, like child healthcare which the Republicans seem to ignore.

As to the surge, I don't have any hard data. But from what I hear, it seems that people are seeking to get out of this war, and they feel it is a loss (from the news and newspapers) eventually. That EVENTUALLY we must pull out.

Couple of questions:

Do you feel the Iraq War will end in victory?

If not, when do you feel that we should pull out?

Why is admitting defeat so horrible? Prolonging it is not wise, we could always come up with a bullshit excuse as to why we are leaving so its looks more favorably on us (slanting it).


Also, one of the scariest things I read on this blog page was Jen's comment that implied we should not criticize the President as it would be "not supporting the troops" (thoughts of George Orwell's works spun through my head). What do you think about this, considering that our entire government was founded on principles opposite to comments such as this? Isn't criticizing authority and supporting the people that are willing to die for you two COMPLETELY different things?


Thanks for the responses. I really appreciate how in-depth you responded to all of us. Though I may come across as antagonistic, I am trying to develop my own views (though they obviously run slightly contrary to yours ;) ) and to learn more about the Iraq War from a perspective completely different from my own. From all the commentary I've seen on the war in support of it, your essay was one of the best written. When you ask the standard war-supporter what you know, they get something similar to the European disease of just calling Bush a monkey in fanatical fervor. They do not pose arguments but recite phrases robotically. Fight them there so we don't fight them there. Axis of Evil (what a joke of a phrase). Evil-doers. Cut and run. 9/11. Its regurgitation without logic.

My two cents,

Peace,
AngryTreeHuggingLiberal




MariaZ


Your argument is impressive and equally long; actually, I would like to know more about your research on the topic of “U.N. child prostitution rings” and other crimes by them because I always thought the implement of the UN was ideal. I guess with big organization will come some sort of big corruption… but I suppose this is where we must see if its benefits have outweighed the corruption.

I digress; that just struck me as interesting and I’d like to see what your source is.

And.. oh, the war.. well, I don’t know.. the Free Tibet comment.. its just.. I think of war: drove by this park on my way home today and saw this memorial that had these rows and rows of tombstones and names on them, names of soldiers that have died in this row. Nearly the whole park was full of these plastic white tombstones with names and birthdates.. I drove by, saw age 19, age 22, age 30, age 23… All these soldiers are dying and killing in a repetitive vicious cycle while you chastise a peaceful movement not worthy of those words.

I want to know where you would draw the line between humane and.. well, war.

Peaceful protests like Martin Luther King Jr’s have been used to change social views and government policies in America’s past. Mahatma Gandhi choose to fight with strength of will rather than arms, and suffered for it, but took on one of the strongest nations for independence and prevailed.

Now take a look at war. Bows and arrows, gunpowder, cannons, riffles, tanks, the use of our advancement of technology as a human race to destroy each other: the creation of chemical weapons, nuclear bombs, killing and endless strife.

Sorry, I guess I’m just a sucker for peace… no matter what the cause for going into Iran, we have no right to be harming civilians in their own country and causing the resulting prejudice for them at home because we generalize about the “enemy.”




Danit


I appreciate that you took the time to make sense of all the absurd arguments that constantly come up about the war. While doing so, you not only revealed the truth on many such issues, but definitely revealed a major problem with the American population and world in general. The fact that most of us, including myself, are so ignorant to the situation yet have such strong views on the war shows the weakness of the nation. If our class had to read this article after so many years of being in a war to understand the situation and reasons for engaging in war then something is clearly wrong. Maybe the problem is ignorance and misconception that lead us to war in the first place. Well anyways, your points are strong and straight forward. Maybe the president should learn from you and your logic.




Kat R


Hi Michael Fuchs! Thanks for the articles you sent me/us, they were really good. After reading them, I couldn't really come up with a counter argument to Mark Daily's reasoning that Iraqis need us to free them from an oppressive government that is killing people. It made it seem black and white- help or don't help. But then I talked to my parents (in an argument on war over breakfast, gotta love those), and they made me question the U.S.’s right to intervene and our methods in “correcting” their government. The main arguments I got from them were:

1. The U.S. does not have the obligation or even the right to be a police state 1) because our views are not necessarily the right views 2) because it's unfeasible
My dad gave the counterexample to #1 with the U.S. intervention in the genocide in Bosnia while all of Europe was debating whether to help out while millions of Muslims were being killed - My mom calls this American "arrogance," to assume that we have the right to intervene, that we are even capable of being successful, and that other nations need our help.

2. We support dictators and antidemocratic leaders if it suits our interests, i.e. Chavez in Venezuela, so it’s hypocritical to fight Hussein but not them

3. We are not really motivated by good morals but by oil 1) companies in Texas (connected to Bush) are profiting a lot from the oil supply in Iraq 2) Iraq should not be the first place we invade (there are African countries that have no oil but should be helped first)

4. The weapons of mass destruction claim was a total lie and everyone knew it (all the countries with intelligence in Iraq) and the U.S. was just using it as an excuse to get in.

5. 9/11 was not connected to Iraq in any way, yet it is used as justification. (btw I just learned that all but three of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, our ally!, and that Bush helped a bunch of rich Saudi business partners escape the U.S. right after the attack without questioning them, not kidding!!)

6. We are attracting more terrorists to Iraq with our presence, which makes the fighting never-ending.

7. No one ever mentions how many Iraqis have been killed (by us), only how many U.S. soldiers have died. (not that this is surprising, but my mom was kind of mad)

8. Iraq’s problems are mainly in its population and distribution of oil, not government. The minority, the Sunnis, are fighting for power over the majority, which causes problems. Also, there is a lot more oil in one area of Iraq than the other (over which the people fight), so it would be unfair to split the land ideologically or geographically into two countries and take the oil from the poorer half. Basically, the situation is complex and it will be hard to fix it quickly, for which reason the U.S. should leave, because it’s none of their business and they don’t have any solution either. Throwing out a dictator won’t get to the root of the problem and my mom says that we’re just covering their country “in soot and ashes.”

I think it has a lot to do with what we've discussed in my Philosophy class. You can never decide anything with certainty because there are always new arguments/variables that haven't been considered. For example, the war may be justified in respect to the Iraqi people's human rights, but not when it comes to U.S. nation-building. Shouldn’t the U.S. withdraw now that the dictatorship has been abolished? Or is the government still oppressive? Are we going to stay until they have a perfectly functioning democracy? What if that’s impossible? And is the U.S. still in Iraq to fight people that are killing Iraqis or to fight people that are killing us?

P.S. My family is German, if that helps you understand where we’re coming from. :)




Michael

Kat R:

Thanks for the articles you sent me/us, they were really good.

Glad you got something out of them. The first part of that glow teachers get, I gather, is, Ooh, all these bright young minds with new ideas and burning ideals! The second part, I gather, is, Wow, look at all I have to offer them. I got the first bit reading your responses; and the second bit, a bit, while I was furiously pasting out all those links to extra credit reading.


After reading them, I couldn't really come up with a counter argument to Mark Daily's reasoning that Iraqis need us to free them from an oppressive government that is killing people. It made it seem black and white- help or don't help.

I would never say a word against the guy. He did everything most of us - including and particular me - did not, namely put his ass where his ideals were. But I do think he's more idealistic than I am. We don't help people all the time. But, and this is the point I think, we have committed to helping these guys. We're in it, and perhaps we should all be in it together. Perhaps we should all do our bit. A columnist recently wrote that midwifing liberty in Iraq is incredibly noble, perhaps the most noble thing we've done in our nation's history. We should see it through, we should really see it through.


But then I talked to my parents (in an argument on war over breakfast, gotta love those), and they made me question the U.S.’s right to intervene and our methods in “correcting” their government.

Ah, let me guess: aging hippies. (Just kidding, that was well below the belt . . .)


- My mom calls this American "arrogance," to assume that we have the right to intervene, that we are even capable of being successful, and that other nations need our help.

Well . . . I don't know what to tell her. Sometimes people are very obviously asking for help. There was a very significant community of Iraqi exiles for many years who lobbied for U.S. intervention. Obviously the Holocaust called for intervention. It was a lot less obvious that, say, Panama did. The mixed history certainly makes one a little wary. But, at the end of the day, I guess I'd tell your mom (insert the your mom joke I'm *straining* not to make here) that the signature American peccadillo is not arrogance but idealism. We believe we CAN make things better. (At the same time, I'd hope she'd recognize a rather strong anti-imperialist, keep-ourselves-to-ourselves bent in the American psyche - we're generally pretty slow to start messing about with other peoples' stuff if we can avoid it.)


2. We support dictators and antidemocratic leaders if it suits our interests, i.e. Chavez in Venezuela, so it’s hypocritical to fight Hussein but not them

This, to my mind, is another example (if one were needed) of the enormous unimportance of the sin of hypocrisy. Either an act is a right act or it is not a right act - whether it comports with your other acts has exactly 0.00000 bearing on whether or not it's a right act. Moreover, pointing out hypocrisy turns out almost always to be just a way to feel cool and beat up on somebody else: Nanny, nanny, you're contraDICTing yourself . . . And I think about 8 times out of 10 it's used as a way to feel better about not doing the right thing yourself - by pointing out how others aren't perfect either.

Point being: I might or might not be thrilled about our support of Chavez (or, in a more germane example, Musharraf), but I sure don't give a single solitary shit about whether the U.S. gave a tank to Generalissimo Cletus Fuckhat when I'm trying to decide whether I support sending the U.S. military to shut down the the human shredders in Baghdad. I care, firstly, about the people being fed into the human shredders and, a trailing second, about whether the U.S. military is up to the job.

And if sometimes we fail to live up to our own stated ideals, I'd rather have the right ideals. (AND state them. At least then you can recognise and measure your failures.)


We are not really motivated by good morals but by oil 1) companies in Texas (connected to Bush) are profiting a lot from the oil supply in Iraq

Can she provide any proof of this? Look, again, if we'd wanted the oil, we could have gone with the French/Russian/Chinese plan of ending the sanctions, and then just bought the oil. And if you think that's more expensive than invading, running, and then rebuilding Iraq, then . . . you're not one of themany people on the left complaining about the enormous cost of the war.


Iraq should not be the first place we invade (there are African countries that have no oil but should be helped first)

I'd say there's an ethical case that can be made there. But, as I've stated before, it wasn't totally, or even primarily, a humanitarian intervention. As I've argued, *the ethical case alone* JUSTIFIES the intervention, in my view. But it was other factors that made the intervention imperative: specifically, that we didn't want "9/11 2 - Electric Boogaloo" to be a VX gas cloud in mid-town Manhattan because Hussein figured no one could prove he gave the shit to al-Zarqawi.

I don't really think Americans are saints, and can, want to (given the costs), or are going to save everyone in the world who needs saving. But I think we like to help out where we can, and I think sometimes, when our attention gets really grabbed, we get very intent on trying to help out. (Especially if it means beating the shit out of some arse-head tin-pot bully and saving some deserving underdog.) Leftie Euro-weenies like to point out that the U.S. foreign aid budget is a smaller percentage of GDP than theirs. But they ignore the fact that - in part because we don't outsource every aspect of life to a cradle-to-grave ennervating social welfare nanny state - the *individual charitable giving* of Americans is, by a healthy margin, the highest in the world. The highest, of any nation.


The weapons of mass destruction claim was a total lie and everyone knew it (all the countries with intelligence in Iraq) and the U.S. was just using it as an excuse to get in.

I've addressed this in my original essay. The technical term for this idea is "bollocks". Go read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_wmds again, or send your mother (oh, God, mustn't do it . . .) for the first time.


9/11 was not connected to Iraq in any way, yet it is used as justification. (btw I just learned that all but three of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, our ally!, and that Bush helped a bunch of rich Saudi business partners escape the U.S. right after the attack without questioning them, not kidding!!)

Yes, "our friends the Saudis". For the record, it wouldn't take much to get me behind an invasion of Saudi. Also, as I've liked to quip: bin Laden doesn't like U.S. troops in Saudi? *I* don't like U.S. troops in Saudi! I'm paying for them!

And, as I've also previously argued, 9/11 was connected to Iraq in extremely deep and important ways. You just have to be willing to think a little more deeply than, What passports did the attackers hold? (Again, see the 'Only Deep Response to 9/11' section of my original essay.) I'd guess your mother is perfectly *capable* of this kind of thinking - but she's not doing it, and George Bush is.


We are attracting more terrorists to Iraq with our presence, which makes the fighting never-ending.

Facts against you here, again. The fighting IS ending. al Qaeda is not only having the stuffing being beaten out of them, but *they are being discredited as a bunch of head-hacking assholes* in the heart of the Muslim Middle East. Having declared Iraq to be the central front of the war, bin Laden is now in the amusingly desperate position of having to decide whether to send even more guys to Iraq to get ripped to pieces by 3rd Division and the 1st MEP; or to cut his losses, and throw the towel in on the battle he already declared to be decisive. It's a nearly unbelievably envious situation for us to be in.

As I've argued, even a stalemate would be worth it - if it kept the terrorists fighting the Marines in al Anbar instead of fighting Christine Lee Hanson on American Airlines. But it's not a stalemate. We're kicking ass. (USA! USA!)


No one ever mentions how many Iraqis have been killed (by us), only how many U.S. soldiers have died. (not that this is surprising, but my mom was kind of mad)

Actually, quite the contrary. Every single damned time you hear a ritual recitation of the number of Iraqi civilian casualties since the invasion, you'd think U.S. soldiers we're going around machine gunning these people. In fact, these Iraqi civilians are being killed by the same assholes we're fighting! We're going around - sacrificing our lives daily - protecting people. Of course the four-year insurgency has been a pretty big tits-up. But there are certain people who are responsible for all the killing - and those people aren't us! We're trying to stop it. I have no doubt innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed by U.S. soldiers at checkpoints and whatnot. But, A) these are rare incidents, and B) they are accidents! When some al Qaeda jihadi asshole walks into a Sunday market wearing a dynamite and ball-bearing waistcoast, A) that's where almost all of the civilian deaths are coming from, and B) it's their whole big intentional idea, and C) we're trying to stop that. A little credit. Even My Lai was pretty much a one-off in Vietnam, and we're a long way from there. By virtually any conceivably measure, we are the good guys in Iraq.


Iraq’s problems are mainly in its population and distribution of oil, not government. The minority, the Sunnis, are fighting for power over the majority, which causes problems.

Yes, it's all complex - but the curse of oil is also a blessing. Would you rather try to build a new, free, fair country while sitting on a sea of money? Or without a pot to piss in?


Basically, the situation is complex and it will be hard to fix it quickly, for which reason the U.S. should leave, because it’s none of their business and they don’t have any solution either.

Yes, the situation is complex, and will take a long time to sort out. And you've heard the Democrats bitching about the lack of political progress; but, the fact is, the Iraqi politicians are acting like . . . a bunch of politicians! There's still political jockeying and bitch-slapping going on in the U.S. 231 years later, and there always will be. The point is that people get in the habit of solving their complex issues in a debating chamber rather than by shooting somebody. But that's the whole point of the occupation . . .


Throwing out a dictator won’t get to the root of the problem and my mom says that we’re just covering their country “in soot and ashes.”

... it's only when the guns are silenced, and some lasting security is established, that the political process can make headway. We fucked the job up fairly well for four years, but we seem to be getting it in hand. And your mother is unaware, or is ignoring, that if we left now the soot and ashes would pile above the highest minaret. She can maintain that we never should have gone there, she can claim that the problem is insoluable, but she can't make any credible case that bailing out precipitously would lead to anything but more chaos and violence, a lot more.

And your mother would likely feel more that "the dictator" was a root problem if she'd been one of the hundreds of thousands of families who had a member disappeared, or tortured, or gassed, or sent to die in human wave attacks on the Iran front. Or - pardon me putting it this way - if you were in a rape room. This is willful ignoring of literally life-or-death moral issues.


I think it has a lot to do with what we've discussed in my Philosophy class. You can never decide anything with certainty because there are always new arguments/variables that haven't been considered.

Oh, God, they've been teaching you Foucault in there again, haven't they? Makes me want to tear up my philosophy degree. (Or it at least makes me glad that I dropped Richard Rorty's class after three lectures, for the express purpose of spending more time drinking and carousing in my last fall semester of undergrad . . .)


Cheers,
Michael

P.S. Tell your mother I'll pick her up at eight - and it's her turn to buy the condoms. (Sorry, I just couldn't make it all the way to the end . . .)




Kat R


haha thanks for responding. I'll have to digest it all, and maybe start reading all of your "facts."




Anonymous Bastard

We put Saddam in power to keep the commies at bay.

There were NO WMDs, Saddam used mustard gas, not nuclear ICBMs; so was no threat to anyone but his own citizens.

We're the only country to ever use nukes in anger.

Abu Ghraib was a rape room.

We violated international law and Bush should be executed as a war criminal. So should Obama.

Guantanamo Bay is a rape room.

Saudi Arabia was responsible for 9/11 and most terrorism in the 21st century but they're our "ally".

That money went into a fund alright, that was paid out to US and UK contractors to come and build over top the graves of the civilians we massacred.

Bush absolutely did create a state of permanent war and shoved through legislation gutting our civil liberties.

9/11 was tiny in comparison to violence carried out by white christian domestic terrorists year after year with their unrestricted access to guns.

9/11 was tiny in comparison to the unarmed women and children we bombed. To the regimes we've propped up. To the wives and children of servicemen brutalized by ptsd soldiers.

9/11 was tiny. Period. Drunk drivers are a greater menace. The war on terror is a war OF TERROR. It's terrorizing the islamic world to win elections, to get rich, and to expand our imperial control over the world.

You have failed to observe anything about the real world around you.




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ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes, by Michael Stephen Fuchs