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2005-06-30 15:45:07.05333+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

The comments are down on Larry's Log, so I'm going to respond to his "Just wanted to make it clear where I stand." notes on the U.S. involvement in Iraq here.

I agree with you that we need to be committed in Iraq until there's a stable consensus government there. A pull-out isn't feasible now, and probably won't be for another five or six years. But the focus of the occupation needs to be on concensus building and ways to increase local autonomy. Part of that needs to be a strong statement at the highest levels that we're willing to go out of our way to follow the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War in our foreign policy activities, and that we're interested in instituting a fair and just legal system.

When the President asked "Is the sacrifice worth it?" in his recent speech (as I noted on my blog), I've got to admit that I'd be willing to accept more U.S. casualties if I felt that we were portraying to the world a shining example of instituting the rule of law in a nation formerly ruled by the whims of a few men. We're not, and I believe that that's not the fault of our troops on the ground, or even of our mid-level military command, but of the tenor set at the highest levels, where giggling over "extraordinary rendition" is the norm.

The "in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions" argument comes across to me as a total red herring. If that were the case we'd have B52s over Israel, and Morocco and Turkey wouldn't be far behind. When I try to build a model that makes sense based on the U.N. Security Council resolutions I keep coming up short.

So I'm not sure that the invasion of Iraq is still righteous. In fact, I think it began as something that wasn't. It could yet become so, but we have to start holding our leadership accountable to righteous ideals, like truth, before that can happen.

And, yes, I agree that the loyal opposition also needs to be willing to stand this one out. Our nation has fucked up. Big time. The way to solve that isn't to wash our hands of the situation and run away. It's not to allow moral relativism to run amok, because that'll just reinstate the less than optimal situation we saw there before. We must acknowledge the screw-up, claim a moral high ground, and then execute a strategy for reform of a corrupt culture (in which we've become an integral part of the ecosystem) which focuses on openness, justice, and the rule of law.

And we need to stop conflating a tin pot dictator with a big mouth with our real enemies, who are still on the loose.

[ related topics: Politics Ethics History moron Law Current Events War ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-06-30 16:53:49.868632+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Dan--I agree with much of what you write. However, I have far less faith in our government's ability to actually execute such a righteous, right, and sensible plan.

I'm not sure if anyone knows how long the current "insurgency" will last, or whether it will slowly permute into full civil war (just ask Donald Rumsfeld, and you'll get half a dozen answers). If you ask Dick Cheney, we'll be out of Iraq before the end of GW's term. Five or six years? Maybe. Maybe not. What does the phrase "stable consensus government" actually mean in objective terms? Do we leave when there are only 5 insurgent attacks a day instead of 60?

I might add that there are far more able and willing suicide bombers in the Middle East than there are workers at the lone plant in the US (St. Louis) which makes our "smart bombs." Secure Iraq's borders from Iran and Syria? Pure folly. We can't even secure the border of Texas.

For all the supposed "thinking" that took place before a decision was made to go to war, what was the post-war "plan" to placate 6 million Sunnis and a full 1.5 million Baathist party members? These are the disenfranchised people who formerly held power. Short of ethnic cleansing on a grand scale, they won't simply slide into the limelight without a fight. A REAL way to incorporate them back into the Iraqi political process must happen, and be given TOP priority.

The bottom line is that a political solution is necessary and needed. In total agreement with you, part of that solution includes "cleaning up" the image of America which has been utterly DEVASTATED by this administration. Despite what we've been told, this war was NEVER about "terrorism." The "truth" needs to be told, and actions speak louder than words.

Several months ago I saw an interview with Pat Robertson (700 Club) in which he stated that he had just returned from Israel, where he had spoken with the top leaders of Mossad (Israel's equivalent to the CIA/NSA). Pat began telling his viewers that IRAN's nuclear power plant(s) must destroyed by the end of this year--even if it meant deployment of US forces to Iran. (The idea of one of our quasi-religious leaders working directly with a foreign government promulgating war could be the subject of an entirely different thread).

We're now apparently stuck in Iraq for five or six years with no easy way out. Is IRAN next? I think that it is EXTREMELY important to discuss THIS subject BEFORE a potential invasion of IRAN occurs; NOT AFTER. We've already seen the previous "after" results.

How does everyone weigh in on IRAN?

#Comment Re: Iraq made: 2005-07-01 12:48:29.994599+00 by: m

This is a war that should never have been fought. Its initial rationale was criminal, and its execution no better. Not having learned anything from the first two years of this bloody destructive experience, or its predecessor in Southeast Asia, we compound this failure on a daily basis.

The Iraqi government may have been a cruel one, but like so much wartime propaganda, the mass grave stories were a fabrication. The real mass graves in Iraq seem to have been filled by us. We have accepted or supported governments that have been so much worse, that to speak of our intervention as humanitarian is laughable.

We have an obligation to repair this horror to the best of our ability. But we must look at the continuing degradation at the society of Iraq and its physical plant. Nothing is getting better, it is demonstrably becoming worse over time. It is clear that we have broken something that we do not have the ability to fix. If the window of time for that possiblity ever existed, it is sure closed now.

The only moral behavior is to surrender our fantasy of omnipotence, and allow what is happening in Iraq to take its own course. To watch this course; to understand and accept that the destructive consequences are our responsiblity.

It is truly horrible to learn that we can not fix what we have broken. To learn that we are not only capable, but guilty of depraved acts against others. But without this acceptance, there can be no change. Without change, there will be repetitions in Iran, Lybia, Syria, and elsewhere.

Once upon a time the United States had a lot to offer the world. Concepts of freedom, democracy, dignity, elections, compassion and justice. Some of this we gave to the world at the end of World War II. The Marshal plan was one such idea, but more importantly the trials at Nuremberg. The establishment of international rules of conduct that we in our developing hubris seem to have forgotten.

The only way that we can redeem our acts would be to set a new example for the world. We can try this administration for war crimes. Not justice forced on a nation from outside its borders, but growing from within. To truly make aggresive war a punishable crime, even for the "victor".

We might just regain our nation's soul.

#Comment Re: I Still Like Ike made: 2005-07-01 14:08:48.651911+00 by: BC [edit history]

There was an excellent article written with the above title in The American Conservative recently. If I can post it here I will. It was in the June 20th issue. A must read.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-07-01 14:18:40.805304+00 by: jeff [edit history]

I totally agree that the hidden rationale for this war was blatantly criminal, but I also think that the "jury is still out" whether we can turn a horrible mistake into something altruistic, and ultimately worthwhile. But time is running out, and quickly. Nothwithstanding the rest of the country, Baghdad is a tinderbox ready to explode. This, quoted from yesterday's news:

"Mayor Alaa Mahmoud al-Timimi's threat to resign over the dismal state of the capital's infrastructure was an indication of the daily misery that Baghdad's 6.45 million people still endure more than two years after the U.S.-led invasion. They are wracked not only by unrelenting bombings and kidnappings but serious shortages of water, electricity and fuel."

"It's useless for any official to stay in office without the means to accomplish his job," al-Timimi said Thursday.

Al-Timimi wants $1.5 billion from the Iraqi national government for Baghdad in 2005 but so far has received only $85 million, said his spokesman, Ameer Ali Hasson. Some complain their water smells bad, and Hasson acknowledged that in some areas, it gets mixed with sewage. "The problem is escalating," said al-Timimi, a Shiite who took office in May 2004.

According to City Hall, Baghdad produces about 544 million gallons of water per day, some 370 million gallons short of its required amount. Some 55 percent of the water is lost through leakage in the pipes.

Iraq Revenue Watch

MY QUESTION: How is the original $18B earmarked for reconstruction being used? Perhaps the link above can explain. I heard several months ago that only about $1B had been spent? But only $85M for Baghdad? That's hard to believe. Can you say "Watts riots" magnified ten-fold?

NEXT UP: IRAN? (The Bush administration has embarked on a fishing mission there. The last I heard, research in this area was being done in the private sector by Douglas Feith, who many believe "cooked the books" on Iraq, when he was in public office). Feith and Richard Perle make excellent bedfellows.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-07-03 17:01:03.992338+00 by: polly

screw all this...let iran fix itself and bring US soldiers back home. i do NOT want my brother's life (army blackhawk pilot/101st) or any other american soldier jeoparidized by bush's nonsense.

at this rate we/US government will be taking over all third world countries for WHATEVER reason...does the US have enough soldiers/citizens to do that? how do we pull the reins on bush?