Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

PROGRESS IN IRAQ?....It took two weeks instead of the two days it usually takes in America, but Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari's insistence that he would never ever step down turned out to mean exactly the same thing it means in America: that he would agree to step down. The Washington Post reports:

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari has "given up his bid and is ready to quit the candidacy in the best interest of the country," the second-highest-ranking member of Jafari's Dawa Party, Jawad al-Maliki, said at a nationally televised news conference.

Only a day before, Jafari himself had said in another news conference that such a withdrawal was "out of the question."

This is, I hope, good news, although most of the alternatives to Jafari aren't exactly comforting propositions themselves. Presumably we'll find out what deals have gone down over the weekend.

Kevin Drum 12:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (64)

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I would check out americanfootprints.com for analysis.

Posted by: theCoach on April 20, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it's "news" at any rate. Could you elaborate on how it's good, rather than potentially good or bad?

Posted by: PapaJijo on April 20, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Rove has more time now... maybe he's going to step in there.

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

That's one forward step, but there's a ways to go yet before they have a stable government that can withstand things like the mosque bombing, or a major assassination, without falling apart again.

The next major problem will be if the government does look like it might stabilize with the Shiites not in absolute control. Look for Sadr to start something that's going to take some violence to put down, and he has influence in the security system, especially the police.

We're going to regret not doing something Sadr during his earlier uprisings.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 20, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

We're going to regret not doing something [to] Sadr during his earlier uprisings.

I suspect what we're really going to regret is spending all this blood and treasure trying to maintain a fictional country. If Iraq should really be three countries, why are we trying to hold back that tide?

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK
We're going to regret not doing something Sadr during his earlier uprisings.

We ought to be regretting causing his uprisings by working so hard to exclude his group (as an Iran-linked armed extremist group) while enthusiastically including SCIRI (an Iran-linked armed extremist group).

And, even more fundamentally, we should regret causing all the uprisings by invading Iraq based on lies, with a strategy based on fantasies.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK
Well, it's "news" at any rate. Could you elaborate on how it's good, rather than potentially good or bad?

Well, one of two sides that seemed to be at complete impasse blinked.

Neither blinking is unequivocally bad, so one blinking is at least a glimmer of good news, even though actual good results might not materialize. It is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for any positive progress toward forming a stable government.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

You're correct in that Sadr isn't the only problem. Just the most obvious one at this point. A lot (not all) of the problems after the mosque bombing can be laid at his door.

In the longer run, much also hinges on whether Sistani is the tolerant (relatively speaking) leader he appears to be.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 20, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, I still don't quite understand. Who gets to be the "decider"?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on April 20, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK
You're correct in that Sadr isn't the only problem.

That wasn't even one of my points. My point was that, inasmuch as Sadr is a problem, that problem is and was a direct and predictable response of a mind-bogglingly stupid, incoherent policy choice on the part of the occupation and, more fundamentally, a dishonestly justified and idiotically planned invasion.

Just the most obvious one at this point.

I wouldn't even agree with that.

A lot (not all) of the problems after the mosque bombing can be laid at his door.

And more of them -- a strict superset of the problems that can be laid at Sadr's door, I would argue -- can be laid at George W. Bush's door.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

off topic: I read "Deception Point" by Dan Brown, and one of the shadowy groups corrupting American democracy was Rotary Rocket: funneling millions of dollars in illegal funds into off-shore accounts to help the campaign of the bad, bad candidate in order to ... whatever. Pretty impressive for a company that was bankrupt by the time the book came out.

Maybe if they were better at actually at running their business they'd still exist as more than a email domain for unemployed cranks with too much time on their hands?

/wheeee!

Posted by: IOKIYAR on April 20, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

I'd be fascinated to hear what approach you would have taken to neutralize Sadr, assuming we still invaded Iraq.

And if I'm reading you wrong, and you're assuming we should never have invaded Iraq?

I know, I know. We should have left Saddam in power. The obvious solution to Iranian sympathizers and radical Islamists would have been to let Saddam continue to kill them off wholesale (some gratitude we get from Sadr for imprisoning the man who killed off his relatives).

Whatever else you can say about a tyranny, they don't have a lot of problems with uprisings or political strife.

Funny. Back in the days when the far Left was still pretending to care about human rights and freedom around the world, the strife involved in throwing off a tyranny was called "struggle."

Posted by: tbrosz on April 20, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Is there an obvious or agreed upon successor for him at this point?

I'm wondering why this isn't to be interpreted as a bad thing since technically this leaves the head of state in Iraq a big question mark.

That usually means chaos as all the major players duke it out to exploit the power vacuum.

Again, I think this is a bad occurance, not a good one.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 20, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

So is Jafari's successor any more likely to have some influence beyond the Green Zone?

Posted by: sglover on April 20, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK


PAPAJIJO: Well, it's "news" at any rate. Could you elaborate on how it's good, rather than potentially good or bad?

I think the simple logic is that Jafari was bad, so if he's out there's the chance to get someone better.

But on a deeper level, I think some of his initial enthusiasm for the Iraq invasion lingers in Kevin's heart, causing him to root for its success. The logic was the same all along: If Saddam was bad, taking him out meant a chance to get someone better.

Trouble with all this simple logic is that it ignores all the immorality and illegality in between. We have no right to root for any success in Iraq as long as we are still occupying the country and imposing our will on its citizens. If improvement occurs during our stay, this would only result in future justification for similar actions elsewhere.

For those who think that the bottom line is the well being of the Iraqi people (so any rooting against the occupation's success is purely political), I say such potential results oriented thinking is akin to Bill Bennett's claim that "you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." If something is wrong and illegal, as this war surely is, it can't be rooted for--or even praised indirectly--should some aspect of it provide the opportunity for a positive impact on current conditions. It can only be opposed, with calls for its discontinuation.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 20, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz
Funny. Back in the days when the far Left was still pretending to care about human rights and freedom around the world, the strife involved in throwing off a tyranny was called "struggle."

You want answers? They're only selling snark here.

I'm waiting for the day when one of the locals writes, "Going forward from this point..."

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the insurgency cares who the PM of Iraq is. This doesn't stop Shite death squards from killing Sunnis and vis versa with the US in the middle.

Posted by: the fake Fake Al on April 20, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Tbroz is soooo funny.

"We should have left Saddam in power"

Like maybe we shouldn't have PUT him in power in the first place to kill them socialists.

Like maybe later on we shouldn't have armed him to the teeth so he could do some Iranian killin' for us... but then we couldn't have sold arms to the Iranians... to fund our own illegal terrorist groups in Central America.

Evil begits evil begits evil... the chain goes on and on.

Posted by: Buford on April 20, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I know, I know. We should have left Saddam in power.

I don't know which is more pathetic, tbrosz' fantasies about what "we" should have done to Sadr or his continued spouting of this hogwash.

tbrosz has been attemtping to adopt his "tweedy reasonable libertarian" pose lately, but he just can't resist his usual bullshit. Shame on you, tbrosz.

Posted by: Gregory on April 20, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK
I'd be fascinated to hear what approach you would have taken to neutralize Sadr, assuming we still invaded Iraq.

Well, if we were accommodating Iranian-backed armed Shi'ite extremist groups because they had some degree of popular support, we should have worked hard to include Sadr's group in the interim governing process as we did with SCIRI.

If we weren't, we probably shouldn't have included SCIRI, and actually insisted that the various militias disband and disarm.


And if I'm reading you wrong, and you're assuming we should never have invaded Iraq?

I'm not "assuming" that, but, yes, we never should have launched an unprovoked war of aggression based on lies and with no reasonable path to strategic success.

I know, I know. We should have left Saddam in power. The obvious solution to Iranian sympathizers and radical Islamists would have been to let Saddam continue to kill them off wholesale (some gratitude we get from Sadr for imprisoning the man who killed off his relatives).

Since we actually supported him while he was doing the killing, I can see why he has little gratitude for us imprisoning him later. If I hire a hitman and later turn on him and lock him up somewhere, I wouldn't expect much gratitude from the people I paid him to kill.

Should we have worked to encourage regime change in Iraq? Certainly. Would an invasion honestly justified on humanitarian grounds and with the resources needed for success and with some reasonable strategy have been a desirable means of acheiving that change? Maybe there is an argument for that, but that has nothing to do with the actual invasion that occurred.

Whatever else you can say about a tyranny, they don't have a lot of problems with uprisings or political strife.

Actually, I think you'll find that tyrannies have more problems with uprisings and violent political strife than liberal democracies.


Funny. Back in the days when the far Left was still pretending to care about human rights and freedom around the world,

The Left still cares about human rights and freedom around the world, hence the left's objection to the present administration's widespread violation of international norms and basic human decency in that regard, while the Right seems to care very little.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Trouble with all this simple logic is that it ignores all the immorality and illegality in between. We have no right to root for any success in Iraq as long as we are still occupying the country and imposing our will on its citizens.

So let me get this straight. You are not rooting for success in Iraq.

Are you rooting for failure? Hoping for it silently? Taking active steps to hinder it?

If something is wrong and illegal, as this war surely is...

No war to overthrow a brutal dictator can ever be wrong. And any system of law that says a genocidal maniac can hide behind arbitrary lines on a map and gas his own people is a system of law worth ignoring. You're just hiding behind the law because you lack courage.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK
Is there an obvious or agreed upon successor for him at this point?

I'm wondering why this isn't to be interpreted as a bad thing since technically this leaves the head of state in Iraq a big question mark.

Well, no. Techincally, it doesn't. The head of State is the President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani.

The head of government was already a big question mark, since Jaafari wasn't able to gather the support to form a government. One side in the impasse there blinking was a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for any government to be formed, so that that has happened is a step toward the formation of a government.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Going forward from this point...

We must make sure idiots like RedStateMonkey never have any real say in anything ever again.

Or since anybody who is to the left of Gengas Kahn is a Lenin lovin commie, why dont we just give in to our dark side and start shooting assswipes like him for entertainment during halftime Soviet pomgram style.

And some lions for all the good Faux news Christians(hint-the pharisee and false prophet wing ot the tratiorous GOP).

There..you got your wish. Feel better now?

Posted by: SnarkyShark on April 20, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

You want answers? They're only selling snark here.

Hey, Mike, I've got an answer for you and tbrosz. As I see it, the prevailing opinion among the opponents to Bush's reckless policy is that the invasion of Iraq was not worth the cost in American lives and treasure.

And you know what? By backing a President who insists that the spiraling costs of the war be paid for with a tax cut, not to mention your rather conspicuous presence here rather than in Iraq, you and tbrosz seem to agree with us. In that context, tbrosz' speculation about what "we" should have done with Sadr is especially pathetic.

Posted by: Gregory on April 20, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK
No war to overthrow a brutal dictator can ever be wrong.

Yes, it can. The goal of overthrowing a brutal dictator may itself not be wrong, but wrong can be done in pursuit of that goal, and any war that can only be rationally expected to cause harm disproportionate to the good that can be reasonably expected to come from it, compared to alternative policies, is wrong.

And any system of law that says a genocidal maniac can hide behind arbitrary lines on a map and gas his own people is a system of law worth ignoring.

In point of fact, when Saddam did that, he wasn't hiding behind arbitrary lines from the international outrage that it produced, but behind the full and unqualified support of the US government for his war effort, including the unsavory tactics he employed.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

No war to overthrow a brutal dictator can ever be wrong.

So you're advocating a coup against W then?

Posted by: SnarkyShark on April 20, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK


RED STATE MIKE: So let me get this straight. You are not rooting for success in Iraq. Are you rooting for failure? Hoping for it silently? Taking active steps to hinder it?

It's so clever the way you back me into a corner, ready to pounce on me with charges of subversion. I'd better back off quickly before you report my IP address to the Gestapo. Please reserve your vigilante ambitions for your divorced neighbor, whose suspiciously provocative attire causes you concern for her children's well being. CPS wants to hear from you. As for me, I'll be silently hoping they discover your sticky telephoto shots of her sunbathing. Oh, and I'll also be taking active steps to avoid responding to you in the future.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 20, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

You're just hiding behind the law because you lack courage.

You've been willing to excuse and ignore the outright lies, ulterior motives, and considerations of profit that were the primary motivators for this war because you lack wisdom - and even worse, you're apparently lacking a properly formed sense of human empathy that is able to discern the disproportionate suffering happening now in Iraq versus the events that happened in the past.

The Iraqi people chose relative safety over the chaos of ousting Hussein. The United States violated that choice -and now their country is a daily horror show, a nightmare that no one has any clue how to stop.

Self-determination is the most fundamental human right. You don't get to choose the level of suffering for Iraqis because you don't like their situation, particularly when liberation was neither an aim nor a legal justification for this war.

Posted by: Windhorse on April 20, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz
Funny. Back in the days when the far Left was still pretending to care about human rights and freedom around the world, the strife involved in throwing off a tyranny was called "struggle."

Superb line.. Really. sums it all up.
(your either emotionally invested in a just outcome, or your emotionally invested in defeat) people tend to pick & stay on their sides.

Posted by: Fitz on April 20, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
In point of fact, when Saddam did that, he wasn't hiding behind arbitrary lines from the international outrage that it produced, but behind the full and unqualified support of the US government for his war effort, including the unsavory tactics he employed.

And you support that? I mean, every time Iraq and Saddam comes up, you say we supported him, and therefore...for all future time until infinity we lack any moral standing to make any moral statement about Saddam forever.

OK, the last part is my interpretation of your meaning. but what *is* your point? Other than a hearty dish of snark?

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

We're going to regret not doing something Sadr during his earlier uprisings.

What do you mean "we," white man? Wasn't it Bush and Rumsfeld's responsibility to do something?

But no, that would mean actually holding them accountable for their failures, something Flanders is ideologically and emotionally incapable of doing....

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

jayarbee
It's so clever the way you back me into a corner, ready to pounce on me with charges of subversion. I'd better back off quickly before you report my IP address to the Gestapo.

Actually I apologize. You answered my question in your previous post.

It can only be opposed, with calls for its discontinuation.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, the spin-bots are really foaming today.

tbrosz: Funny. Back in the days when the far Left was still pretending to care about human rights and freedom around the world, the strife involved in throwing off a tyranny was called "struggle."

Yeah, and back then an "invasion" was called an "invasion". Throwing off tyranny is something done by the people who have a tyranny upon them. What we've done in Iraq is something rather different.

It's so bizarre to see these Republican apologists pretending to care about the Iraqi people, simply because it's the only way to rationalize their support for Dear Leader.

Posted by: S Ra on April 20, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm waiting for the day when one of the locals writes, "Going forward from this point..."

It's here.

Going forward from this point, let's turn things around by replacing the chief strategist of the current failure, Donald Rumsfeld, with a competent Secretary of Defense. We also need to stop enabling Iraqi procrastination when it comes to making very hard compromises. We need to set firm deadlines for removing American troops, whose presence may be causing as much violence as it deters. We need to abandon any plan for permanent bases, since the balance of power will be delicate enough in Iraq without introducing the aggravation of U.S. bases. We need to negotiate with other countries for help in Iraq as an equal rather than as an arrogant superior. In order to do these things, we need to ask the leaders who lied to get us to invade Iraq to resign. They are seriously handicapped by their lack of moral standing due to their lies, and their inability to see, much less admit to, their mistakes. They have demonstrated repeatedly that they will continue to pursue the same bad policies in Iraq. They want to extend these bad policies into Iran. If they will not resign, they must be impeached.

I am 100 percent for going forward from this point. That's why I'm out working for Democratic candidates in 2006. That's the ONLY way we're going to see any significant changes in our current policies that might pull us out of the mess in Iraq. Out of stupidity, ego or evilness, or some combination of the three, this administration is committed to NOT going forward.

In the meantime, what else can we do except scream with frustration at the driver who ignored all our warnings, drove us into the ditch, and who keeps on revving the engine even though the tires will eventually get hot enough to ignite the gas tank?

Posted by: cowalker on April 20, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse
The Iraqi people chose relative safety over the chaos of ousting Hussein.

Whaaaa? Are you kidding me? Where on earth do you get that? Thousands of Shiites and Kurds died in rebellion against Saddam. We're still digging them up in mass graves over there.

Self-determination is the most fundamental human right.

And Saddam gave them that???

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

So you're advocating a coup against W then?

If be "coup" you mean "win an election" let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever else you can say about a tyranny, they don't have a lot of problems with uprisings or political strife.

What an ignorant thing to say. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with history (which, granted, excludes Flanders) would know that tyrannies, far more than democracies, are likely to have quite serious problems with uprisings and political strife -- the fact that viable democratic alternatives are blocked off leaves violence as the only way to express resistance to the ruling goverment.

The Soviet Union, for one example, was plagued by various rebellions and uprisings throughout its history, as were the various African, Asian and South American tyrannies in the last century. And Saddam's Iraq, as we know, was plagued by quite frequent revolts by the Shiites and the Kurds.

The more accurate rephrasing of the above sentence would be that "whatever else you can say about a tyranny, they don't have a lot of problems with violently responding to and using torture and repression to combat uprisings or political strife."

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

cowalker -

Thank you.

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it can. The goal of overthrowing a brutal dictator may itself not be wrong, but wrong can be done in pursuit of that goal, and any war that can only be rationally expected to cause harm disproportionate to the good that can be reasonably expected to come from it, compared to alternative policies, is wrong.

I agree with you. I also know for a fact that we don't know for a fact whether this war is wrong, by your definition. Time will tell. It is still early days yet, in the grand scheme.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm waiting for the day when one of the locals writes, "Going forward from this point..."

Let me add this coda to cowalker's excellent summary.

One reason I resist simply saying "ok, moving forward" is because it legitimizes what has gone before. It allows the architects (if that word is even remotely appropriate) of this mess to simply wave it away, and say "ok, what now?"

Meanwhile, those of us who were saying "no no no" and who were being vilified as treasonous traitors for our trouble, are supposed to just drop all that and move forward?

That sticks in my throat. You want me to say "ok, moving on...", then what I want is an apology and an admission of guilt and failure from the people who designed, supported, encouraged, and led this travesty. Call me small-minded, but I think I'm owed that.

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Cowalker, thank you. I disagree with a timeline for pulling troops. we're like a heart-lung machine, keeping hte patient alive while they transplant a new form of government. I agree we would be well served by Rumsfeld's departure. I agree outside help would be huger. Asking for the resignation of higher authority is a waste of time. If you're going to support a democrat in 2006, I'd suggest James Webb (senate for VA). He's got his s--- together.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

And you support that? I mean, every time Iraq and Saddam comes up, you say we supported him, and therefore...for all future time until infinity we lack any moral standing to make any moral statement about Saddam forever.

Actually, for all future time until infinity the Republicans, who fully armed, funded and supported Saddam during his genocidal campaigns, only to then flip-flop when he was no longer a convenient tool for them to use, lack any moral standing to make any moral statement about Saddam forever, yes. Republicans didn't suddenly turn on Saddam because of any moral opposition, they did so because he threatened their economic self-interest in the form of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait's oil supply.

It's called hypocrisy, and people who exhibit large doses of it are generally considered to be suspect in their selective bleats of feigned moral outrage.

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

I also know for a fact that we don't know for a fact whether this war is wrong, by your definition. Time will tell. It is still early days yet, in the grand scheme.

By that same reasoning, of course, we don't know for a fact whether this war is right.

What we do know for a fact, of course, is that the vast majority of the predictions made by liberals about this war have been proven right, and the vast majority of predictions made by conservatives (flowers, no ethnic strife, the war will pay for itself, six months and out, yadda yadda) have been proven dead wrong.

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

I agree we would be well served by Rumsfeld's departure.

Then why doesn't Bush fire him?

I agree outside help would be huger. [sic]

Too bad, then, that Bush and Cheney pissed off, alienated and drove away anyone who could help us.

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan
Then why doesn't Bush fire him?

Beats me.

It's called hypocrisy, and people who exhibit large doses of it are generally considered to be suspect in their selective bleats of feigned moral outrage.

Rwanda.

There, I've said it. All democrats are now considered to be suspect in their selective bleats about their feigned moral outrage or of others.

Now everybody's opinion is worthless and there's nothing to be done, and we just wait for the bad guys are are unconflicted in their evil to whoop are collective asses.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Rwanda.

Well, there's a new low of misdirection.

Did the Clinton Administration arm, aid and abet the Hutu interahamwhe butchers in their genocide, as the Reagan and Bush (the competent one) did for Saddam Hussein?

Clinton failed to intervene in Rwanda, something that was wrong at the time and that he soon after admitted was a mistake. Most liberals believe we should have intervened. I note, though, that there was a noticeable absence of conservative voices calling for a US military response to the Rwandan genocide. How you think that's in any way comparable to the Republicans' overt support and aid for Saddam is, to say the least, confusing.

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Self-determination is the most fundamental human right.

And Saddam gave them that???

No, actually the Creator did. It was up to them to exercise it, even at great cost. That would not only have meant risking their lives for change, it would have meant risking their ego and pride by overcoming the prejudice born of sectarian differences and reaching out to build bridges with the other religious and ethnic groups to agree on a new vision for Iraq and together overthrow Hussein.

By contrast, an ill-conceived invasion which lacked any real moral grounding allowed an utterly predictable civil war, the reaction to which has been to try and side with "the good guys."

The problem is that there are no good guys, just people fighting for self-preservation and over old grievances. Upon the invasion the Baathists were the bad guys. Then when the insurgency grew it was all Sunnis who were bad. Now Sadr and the pro-Iranian Shiites are the bad guys and the thinking is we should have retained the Baathists. In six months or a year it will be the Kurds as they decide to keep the regional oil revenues for themselves and ignore the Central government if there even is one by then. Moral culpability is predictably morphing so often tbrosz is having trouble keeping pace with revising his history and updating his propaganda to make it appear as if he knew this would happen all along and was on the side of the angels the whole time.

Americans don't get to choose whose children die in Iraq. They don't have a moral right to choose whose parents die or whose wives or husbands die. The depravity of the occupation is made worse by the fact that most Americans couldn't as much as locate Iraq on a map prior to the invasion, much less understand its history, cultures, or regional challenges well enough to make an informed decision about "liberating" it.

Sadly,they didn't even have a chance to when all they heard were falsehoods about "mushroom clouds" and WMD's. They were never even given an opportunity to to weigh the case for a war of liberation. And now in order to save face and retroactively try and wring some moral justification out of a stance which has been repudiated, war supporters are forced to rewrite the case for invasion by making grotesque arguments that callously ignore the current horrific suffering of the Iraqis to stubbornly assert that if any good happens in Iraq no matter what the cost to them and even if it's decades in the future -- then they will have been "right."

That is inhuman, it's nothing but sheer ego disguised as high-mindedness, and it is exactly the kind of thinking displayed by the administrations that supported a genocidal Saddam fifteen years ago in his war against Iran and the groups inside his county that supported Iran.

Posted by: Windhorse on April 20, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton failed to intervene in Rwanda, something that was wrong at the time and that he soon after admitted was a mistake. Most liberals believe we should have intervened.

But you didn't. Yes, you got all weepy-eyed once the damage was done and the danger passed. But you lost any moral authority as you looked the other way while hundreds of thousands were massacred. All the weeping in the world won't make up for the inaction. Clinton had it in his power act. Moral authority lost. To argue about relative moral authority between repubs and dems after Rwanda and Iraq is therefore like arguing about virtue among whores. We can say nothing about anything. And so now we just wait for unconflicted bad men to clean our clocks.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse: Self-determination is the most fundamental human right.

RSM: And Saddam gave them that???

Windhorse: No, actually the Creator did.

No actually we did. At least we gave them the ability to exercise it. See pictures of voters with purple fingers.

The premise that the Iraqis somehow chose Saddam, or were glad they were dominated by him, is monstrous. The gassed Kurds and massacred Shiites who fought to get out from Saddam prove you oh-so wrong.

The problem is that there are no good guys, just people fighting for self-preservation and over old grievances.

Your inability to see black and white does not imply it's all a single shade of indiscernible grey. The baathists were not all bad. Some just held jobs. Shiites not all good. Sadr bad. And so on and so on. It's complicated. Too complicated for you? To bring up the creator, we are all sinners.

I assume if you see a crime occurring, maybe someone being mugged, you will sit back and watch while they attempt to exercise their right for self-determination, offering no aid.

I know, that would never happen. But there's not so much difference between that and watching Saddam gas Kurds or Janjaweed kill indiscriminately.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike.

Its true, what you said about Rawanda (above)

The international communities failure to act in Rwanda and Clintons failure to lead, along with the U.N.s complicity in that genocide and inability to act in Bosnia, helped make Bushs case for action in Iraq much stronger. These yahoos forget that with all their he lied b.s. & overt anti-Bush hysteria.


(oh ya- and Clinton adopted our overt U.S. policy of regime change against Sadam and supported the invasion) they forget so easily huh?

Posted by: Fitz on April 20, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike - wake up and grow up. There was nothing we could have done in Rwanda. Most of the killing took place in jungles. Most Westerners couldn't differentiate between a Hutu and a Tutsi, who was a good guy and who as a bad guy.

"Wait, should we kill all the guys with machetes?"

"Well, some may be defending themselves from the other guys over there with machetes."

"F*ck it, shoot 'em all and ask questions later."

See, that's why you don't use the military in humanitarian missions.

The military fights wars.

The UN brokers and enforces peace agreements.

That's something Republicans and conservatives used to know. That all changed with GWB and his cronies.

Posted by: Monkey Butt on April 20, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you. I also know for a fact that we don't know for a fact whether this war is wrong, by your definition.

Well, certainly (outside of the kind of abuse of language that takes place in legal circles), whether a belief is "reasonable" or not is generally a subjective rather than an objective determination, so it is impossible to "know for a fact" what you claim.

I do think, however, that we have more than ample reason to believe that this war (which, after all, was never sold as being for the purpose which you now claim justifies it, but instead for self-defense against a non-existent, deliberately invented, WMD threat) had neither in broad outline nor particularly in the specific approach taken any reasonable prospect for acheiving positive change without disproportionate harm along the way.

Time will tell. It is still early days yet, in the grand scheme.

Strange that its too early to judge this policy course where Americans and Iraqis are dying to no apparent end, but it was too late to consider any but the most precipitous action with regard to Iraq and the supposed WMD threat when no one was dying from it, and there was no strong evidence that there was any particular threat of anyone ever dying from that supposed threat.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK
In point of fact, when Saddam did that, he wasn't hiding behind arbitrary lines from the international outrage that it produced, but behind the full and unqualified support of the US government for his war effort, including the unsavory tactics he employed.

And you support that?

No, I oppose it, just like I oppose you lying about it and characterizing it as Saddam hiding behind liberal ideas about international law.

I mean, every time Iraq and Saddam comes up, you say we supported him, and therefore...for all future time until infinity we lack any moral standing to make any moral statement about Saddam forever.

Er, no. In fact, when there was a just war against Iraq in response to Iraq's aggression against Kuwait, I urged that the US-led, UN-authorized coalition ought to set as its condition for terminating the war the unconditional surrender of the Iraqi regime.

What I disagree with is the idea that offenses which the US sponsored at the time in and of themselves justify, decades later, a US invasion for allegedly humanitarian reasons. If those war crimes were that heinous (and they were) the US should have invaded at the time (when there was a real and immediate therat of the continuing, providing the kind of urgency that justifies war), and at the same time should have imprisoned and prosecuted the US policymakers responsible for backing, encouraging, promoting, and condonign such atrocities (including, inter alia, one Donald Rumsfeld, now serving as Secretary of Defense.)


OK, the last part is my interpretation of your meaning. but what *is* your point? Other than a hearty dish of snark?

My point is that you are liar, and that you are trying to blame liberal support of the concept that war actually ought to have an urgent justification for Saddam's safety in committing atrocities, when in fact liberals objected at the time to those atrocities, and called for a response then, and what protected Saddam from any consequence for many years was the right's support for his atrocities, not some overwhelming support for inviolate national soveriegnty from the left.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Ok. Since RSM seems to want to hear this: Moving forward from this point, the first thing we need to do is punish those in our nation responsible for the lies, abuses of trust, and serious crimes against the laws of nations and the laws of our nation that have gotten us to this point. This is essential to create a deterrent to repeats of the disastrous, immoral, costly acts of this administration. Its also necessary to restore our moral credibility as a nation, to enable us to undertake the kind of work we will need to to clean up the mess that has been made, inasmuch as that can be done at all.

Once we can get that underway, we can talk about what comes next.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Moving forward from this point, the first thing we need to do is punish those in our nation responsible for the.....Once we can get that underway, we can talk about what comes next.

Well why don't you just say we need to wait until fairies spring fully formed from your rectum, which realistically has a better chance of happening in our lifetime.

Or just admit you're nothing but backbench snarker.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK
I assume if you see a crime occurring, maybe someone being mugged, you will sit back and watch while they attempt to exercise their right for self-determination, offering no aid.

I know, that would never happen. But there's not so much difference between that and watching Saddam gas Kurds or Janjaweed kill indiscriminately.

And I assume that, placed in the same circumstance, you'd pay and arm the mugger, congratulate him and reassure him that you will protect him from any repercussions that the police and law enforcement would want to mete out, then get in a brawl with him a few years later for unrelated reasons, then a decade and change after that brawl, shoot up his neighborhood, kill a bunch of bystanders, kidnap him, chain him up in your basement and, when the police come around, try to use the earlier crime that you sponsored and praised as an excuse for your spasm of violence.

I know, that would never happen. But there's not so much difference between that the right-wing approach to Saddam that you seem to wholeheartedly support.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Well why don't you just say we need to wait until fairies spring fully formed from your rectum, which realistically has a better chance of happening in our lifetime.

Presidential impeachment proceedings -- which aren't the only way such accountability could be addressed, but certainly could be a powerful component in it -- have been rather seriously pursued twice in my lifetime (once culminating an impeachment with no Senate conviction, once with a Presidential resignation when both impeachment and conviction were clearly foreseen), arguably both for lesser offenses. The popularity of this President is nowhere great enough to make it any less politically viable in the present circumstance, nor is the war in Iraq popular in a way which makes it seem likely that holding someone accountable for it would be politically counterproductive.

So, no, I don't see how, absent a massive national lack of will and moral fiber, holding the criminals responsible for the various offenses of the last several years accountable is anything like magically appearing fairies, whether from my anatomy or elsewhere.


Or just admit you're nothing but backbench snarker.

Not being a member of the legislature, I am neither a "frontbench" or "backbench" anything. And there is no snark at all in the suggestion I've made.

If you don't think we should hold people accountable, maybe you should tell us why we shouldn't, rather than merely snarking that it is unlikely with fanciful analogies.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

I love the Left, they never give up!

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari's is now agreeing to step aside allowing for the possibility of Iraqs first ever democratically elected government to form. Shitte, Sunni, & Kurds will be working together to establish this new government, and there still stuck arguing the rational for war & hoping that Bush somehow gets impeached over it!!

Do you guys know what that State Department official meant by reality based community?

Hint: He mean that some people shape events and others are stuck responding to them. Reality changes and you have to deal with the new reality. (simple)

Hey guys Bush stole the 2000 election, are ya gona get revenge for that one of these days?

Posted by: Fitz on April 20, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

See pictures of voters with purple fingers.

It's hard to see the purple now that those fingers are jammed up our ass.

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK
Do you guys know what that State Department official meant by reality based community?

It was, as I recall, an unnamed White House aide, not a State Department official.

Hint: He mean that some people shape events and others are stuck responding to them.

And, largely, he was wrong. The people that think that they are creating their own reality are no less stuck reacting to the reality exists, and when they forget that fact, they find themselves stuck in spiralling disasters that are increasingly unpopular, as their supposed power to create their own reality runs into the wall created by the pre-existing reality that they have been so blithely ignoring.

Hubris has a habit of rebounding on you like that.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

"We're going to regret not doing something Sadr during his earlier uprisings."

I can only shake my head. What can this statement imply other that killing or arresting Sadr? Either of those actions would backfire so big that even the Bushies thought better of it.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on April 20, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Impeachment of Bush provides the nation with President Cheney.

Cheney is just the man to fire Rummy, not.

Posted by: blert on April 21, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Not withstanding the critics, the political progression within Iraq is far ahead of historical templates:

Reconstruction
Germany
Japan
Korea

We are in a conflict so extensive that Iraq is just a campaign -- not the war.

The errors of Bush & Co are trivial compared to prior war experience.

Gulf War I was terminated by an armistice -- not a treaty. The terms were profoundly broken relentlessly through 1991-2003. The US Government voted for regime change for Iraq in 1998.

Essentially all of the dirt on WMD is only now coming out. Bush & Co have been so incompetent that they sat on the documents all these many months. The transcripts and testimonies are damning in the extreme. Much of the CB weaponry intel has been surpressed because it is too sensitive. (In a nation of IED's your don't inform the unlawful combatants that they ought to be looking through their inventories for binary shells.)

The 'hydrogen generating' rigs presented by Powell at the UN are plainly bio-weapons facilities designed for botulism: anaerobic cultures. Botulism has great appeal since any spilt organism dies in air. Yet, under nitrogen or hydrogen it can bloom into a nice tidy batch. The actual amount of parent culture is trivial, and easily disposed of. (Micro-bio experts were hired to inspect these rigs. What do you bet that not one ever worked with anaerobes? (Only weaponeers would have an interest in them.) Yet the manufacturer, the al Kindi company, was long known to work with botulism.)

The high rate of murder in Iraq is endemic to the culture. Even before the British arrived it was the norm for the locals to go after each other. They have always been well armed. What were bolt action rifles a century ago are now fully automatic AK-47s. No house is without one. All of this firepower seems to have always been directed locally, for not only are the Iraqis well armed so is every other Arab.

All of which is to say that much of the death in Iraq is completely independent of the war. What used to be horse rustling is now kidnappings of doctors and dentists.

Araby lacks an economy in the western sense. Everything flows from patronage keyed to monument rents (Najaf, etc.) or mineral royalties (oil, oil and oil).

BTW, major oil deposits are scattered all over Iraq to include the Sunni homelands. Anywhere else, they would have been exploited by now. But, Iraq has so much right next to the pier that inland deposits have been left idle.

If Iraqi could get its house even somewhat in order, then it could be pumping as much as the Saudis. Their average well kicks out 1,000 bbl per day ! I takes about six weeks to punch a well. She is producing less than half of what she did a generation ago. She has the reserves to pump 10,000,000 bbl per day for decades. Her lifting costs are a joke: right down there with Saudi Arabia.

What Bush & Co didnt figure on is Iran being able to play the Sunnis and the Shiites like a violin. Iran is behind both. Without Irans involvement the civil war would be over overnight.

Bush & Co are too slow. But at least they are stumbling in the right direction. Wiser men would have not wasted a year. Continued expansion of the new Iraqi Army will double its size. Continued experience will double its effectiveness per man.

We are now looking at an army that can really handle the unlawful combatants. Most of the country has gone quiet, even al Anbar. Expect the IA to flood Baghdad until activity winks out.

Posted by: blert on April 21, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK
Impeachment of Bush provides the nation with President Cheney.

Not if Cheney is impeached first, or simultaneously.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 21, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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