Democrats & Liberals Archives

Iraq is Like Vietnam, Not Japan

President Bush made a speech in which he compared our efforts in Iraq to what America did in Japan. He said that Japan was made a democracy and so will Iraq. As someone who was in Japan for 4 years immediately after the end of World War II, I can say with confidence that post-war Japan was NOTHING like post-war (if I may use the term) Iraq. The quagmire in Iraq we face now is more like the mess we endured in Vietnam. The first chance we get, let’s declare victory and go home.

Disregarding all the negative news emanating from Iraq, Bush said:

"The document they have produced protects fundamental human freedoms, including freedom for women, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. This constitution is the result of democratic debate and compromise, and the Iraqi citizens can be proud of what they have accomplished."

This short quote is packed with distortions. Where is this document they produced? Is it the same one the Sunnis are demonstrating against and the American ambassador is trying to change? Where is the freedom for women? Is it guaranteed at the same time that Sharia law, which subjugates women to men, is guaranteed? Will the Shiites allow "freedom of conscience" in their region? Democratic debate? Where? Does the average Iraqi even know what's happening?

OK, maybe he can be forgiven for trying to drum up support for the Iraqi war. But when Bush offered post-war Japan as an analogy for what's happening in Iraq, I felt I had to object. I have at least 5 reasons why post-war Japan was very different from the chaos we have now in Iraq:

  1. THE JAPANESE ATTACKED US - The Japanese started the war when they attacked us in full force at Pearl Harbor. All Americans were in favor of taking the war to the enemy. We won the war and then occupied the country. Our current Iraqi debacle was produced when America attacked Iraq. Only about 70% of Americans were in favor of this move, even after the big sales pitches of Bush and other administration officials. We are now reluctant occupiers.

  2. JAPANESE HAD A SUPERIORITY COMPLEX - The Japanese believed that they were superior to all other people. When America accomplished what the Japanese deemed impossible and won, they were faced with the unavoidable conclusion that Americans were superior to them. I could see it in their dazed expressions. They agreed to everything Americans asked, wanted or did. Although at first I could not believe it, I felt safer in Tokyo than in New York. In Iraq, nobody is safe, especially not an American.

  3. AMERICA WAS PATERNALISTIC - After winning the war, we decided that instead of rubbing their noses in the dirt, we were going to treat the Japanese in a paternalistic manner. General Douglas McArthur was the supreme commander, emphasis on "supreme." He told the Japanese to write a constitution. He did not like what they produced so he wrote another one and the Japanese adopted the constitution. In the years ahead, it was impossible for the Japanese diet to enact a law McArthur did not like. He was the BOSS. But McArthur helped the Japanese rebuild their country, and to rely primarily on Japanese businesses to do so. The Japanese did not develop into a democracy until many years after McArthur left. Contrast this with the isolated and protected Green Zone, our antagonistic attitude toward Iraqis and the imposition of American businesses (ever hear of Halliburton?) upon the Iraqi people. In this situation, America has the superiority complex.

  4. NO RELIGIOUS FERVOR - Some Japanese were Shinto, some were Buddhists, some worshipped the emperor. They had their ceremonies and rituals. Sure, there were a few kamikaze. But the typical Japanese was not very religious. It's difficult to see any of them killing, let alone committing suicide, for religious reasons. In Iraq, religious fervor is strong, a major reason for sectarian conflict.

  5. SPIRIT OF COMMUNITY - The Japanese were not individualists. They believed in working for the good of all Japanese. They saw that they could get much further by cooperating with the occupation than by resisting it, and this is what they did. I don't believe the Iraqis understand such a spirit. Maybe the adherents of a religious sect feel close to other members of the same sect. But do they think of the good of the entire country?
There is no way to compare the Iraqi quagmire with the Japanese acceptance of their fate. Nor is there a way to compare American belligerence toward Iraq with its paternalism in Japan.

If you are seeking an analogy, look at Vietnam. We attacked them, ruined their infrastructure, and divided the American people because of the injustices we performed.

Iraq is like Vietnam, not Japan. Maybe we can do a little better than in Vietnam. We can find an event - a vote on the constitution, for instance - as an excuse for declaring victory and going home.

Posted by Paul Siegel at August 31, 2005 6:07 PM
Comments
Comment #76713

If you are seeking an analogy, look at Vietnam. We attacked them, ruined their infrastructure, and divided the American people because of the injustices we performed.

Attacked Vietnam? I expect you mean the north, but even there you are using that word attacked very loosely.

Iraq is like Vietnam only because Americans are involved and we have a peace movement that is eager to leave. Otherwise, there are few similarities.

The Iraqi infrastucture is better today than it was before the war.

As for destroyed infrastructure, take a look at the Iraq Index published by the generally liberal Brooking Institute.

Oil production is about at prewar levels. Electricity generation is up slightly from 3958 to 4020 megawatts. Telephones are up a lot from 833,000 prewar to 3,959,562 today. Internet is even more as a percentage up from 4500 to 147,076. Commercial television stations went from zero under Saddam to 29 and there are now 170 independent newspapers and magazines, as opposed to zero under Saddam. There is still a lot of recovering to be done, but the most important impediment to recovery (Saddam) is now gone.

Posted by: jack at August 31, 2005 6:36 PM
Comment #76721

Paul, I couldn’t agree more.

Jack, we’ve already argued about this, and I doubt we’ll find common ground, so I’m not going to beat our dead horse. ;^)
I do, however, take issue with this statement:
“the generally liberal Brooking Institute.”
People on the right are always claiming this, but it just isn’t the truth.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 31, 2005 7:16 PM
Comment #76733

Bush is an idiot. Japan submitted to Democracy because their people’s spirits and hopes for self-determination had been decimated and obliterated along with Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Nothing remotely close to that scenario exists in Iraq. In fact, quite the opposite. The Factions in Iraq all have hopes of one day becoming self determinate. That sows the seeds for civil war in Iraq which is already underway. Bush is not just an idiot on this topic, he is an ignorant idiot, lacking both sufficient historical reference as well as logical thought processes to realistically compare and contrast.

But, what’s new? He still says cutting taxes will reverse our national debt. My 14 year old daughter has more sophisticated historical knowledge and mental processing power than he does.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 31, 2005 8:15 PM
Comment #76739

Iraq vs Japan (WWII)
hmmmmm

One was about a coutry that used WMDs to bring others to their knees, and the other was about trying desparately to find WMDs.

Posted by: tony at August 31, 2005 8:25 PM
Comment #76742

Adrienne

I simply meant that Brookings is not known as pro-Bush.

There is less and less that can be called liberal, I guess, because fewer and fewer Americans are liberal.

Posted by: jack at August 31, 2005 8:31 PM
Comment #76754

Jack:
“There is less and less that can be called liberal,”

Yeah, you guys really did an amazing job of transforming that into a dirty word, didn’t you?

“I guess, because fewer and fewer Americans are liberal.”

Nope. They just switched to the term Progressive.
I use either term, but still prefer Liberal.
Anyway, a rose by any other name still smells as sweet…

Posted by: Adrienne at August 31, 2005 9:18 PM
Comment #76760

Thrust, parry, thrust. I love it. Civilized fencing in debate is an art form WatchBlog nurtures. It is the only spectator sport I enjoy. Makes me proud to be on a first name basis with folks such as yourselves, Adrienne and Jack. Good show!

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 31, 2005 9:42 PM
Comment #76763

Isn’t it obvious?

Iraq is not analogous to Vietnam; it’s Yugoslavia, except it’s a man made disaster, not natural.

Think back. Tito dies & the USSR implodes. Hundreds of years of sectarian and ethnic resentment and chauvinism explode into violence in a country that had been carved out the defunct empire Austro-Hungarian Empire by the victors of WWI.

Replace “Austro-Hungarian” with “Ottoman” and Tito with Saddam, and you’ve got Iraq.

I agree with Paul, but not for the reasons he states. Japan didn’t disintegrate into chaos after WWII for two reasons. First, we allowed them to keep their emperor, albeit as a figurehead, in order to perpetuate governmental continuity. Second, and most important, Japan was a cohesive nation with a strong and homogeneous cultural identity, unlike Iraq.

The bottom line is this. Is there anyone who doesn’t think for a minute that, if we abandon Iraq, the “country” will degenerate quickly into a tempest of civil war and ethnic (or sectarian) cleansing?

Iraq isn’t a war of national liberation against a colonial oppressor, like Vietnam; it’s an incipient civil war.

Didn’t Colin Powell say, “You break it; you own it”? Well, he was right. Like it or not, regardless of the validity of the reasons we deposed Saddam, WND or no WMD, links to al-Qaeda or no links to al-Qaeda, we own Iraq. We have a moral and ethical obligation to keep the peace as best we can and help them to rebuild.

We shouldn’t have permitted Srebrenica. We shouldn’t have permitted Rwanda. We shouldn’t be permitting Darfur. We cannot permit Iraq to degenerate into genocide or civil war. It’s simple common decency.

Our post-Vietnam aversion to nation building is wholly inapplicable and doesn’t obviate our responsibility to stabilize Iraq.

We’ve got to face the fact that we’re stuck there for the long haul. Who will Sheehan and Feingold blame if the Shiites exterminate thousands of Sunnis or if the Sunnis massacre thousands of Kurds if not themselves?

Posted by: Chuck Hanrahan at August 31, 2005 9:48 PM
Comment #76778

Actually, Paul supports the Presidents analogy quite well…

THE IRAQIS ATTACKED US - The Iraqis and others started the war when they supported the different attacks on the US, which culminated in 9/11. All Americans were in favor of taking the war to the enemy. We won the war and then occupied the country. (Just because some of the terrorists were born in a particular country, does not mean they are “from” that country.)


SADDAM (and the Baathists party) HAD A SUPERIORITY COMPLEX - The Baathists believed that they were invincible to all other people (with the help of the UN).

AMERICA IS PATERNALISTIC - After winning the war, we decided that instead of rubbing their noses in the dirt, we were going to treat the Iraqis in a paternalistic manner, not dictating the outcome but coaching and encouraging them.

THERE IS RELIGIOUS FERVOR - I’ll give you this one.

SPIRIT OF COMMUNITY - The Iraqis are not individualists. They believe in working for the good of all Iraqis. They saw that they could get much further by cooperating with the occupation than by resisting it. There are a small number that are trying to pit different groups against one another and build dissention (just like here in the US). If the minority doesn’t get their way, does that mean it’s not democratic? (Wow, you would think I’m talking about another country). The good democratic thing is, that they can be heard and contribute, but they cannot dictate policy.

So…
What’s your point?

Posted by: Discerner at August 31, 2005 10:28 PM
Comment #76783

Paul,

I hope they don’t pay you to write this garbage. “Sure there were some kamikaze. But . .” Besides the fact that grammatically this is a stupid collection of sentences, your perception of reality is skewed.

The reason we dropped the bomb on them was because of how fanatical they fought. They would not surrender and cost us so much in casualties. Duhhhh….

Japan attacked Hawaii which at that time wasn’t even a State. 911 occurred in New York and that is what precipitated our eventual action in Iraq.

“Disregarding all the negative news from Iraq” - How many American soldiers have you interviewed this year to tell a true account of what is happening there?

“Only about 70 percent of Americans were in favor” - Only 70 percent… Only 70 percent… Huh??

What percentage of Americans were in favor of Bill Clinton and Janet Reno running tanks over innocent kids in Waco Texas??

I’ll bet it wasn’t 70.

Posted by: todd gandee at August 31, 2005 10:39 PM
Comment #76792

Chuck said: “The bottom line is this. Is there anyone who doesn’t think for a minute that, if we abandon Iraq, the “country” will degenerate quickly into a tempest of civil war and ethnic (or sectarian) cleansing?”

I absolutely agree. But to me, that hardly justifies our sacrificing our young men and women in perpetutity. It’s their problem to fight out. In exactly the same way our own Civil War was ours to fight out, so we could get past it and find a more peaceful direction, regardless of which side won or lost.

Pulling out in 6 months, or 6 years, is not going to make any difference. The Hatfields and McCoys will have no choice but to put off their civil war until after we leave now and then, but they will remain waiting for it for generations. And while we are there, they will be honing their civil war killing and destruction skills on our troops while biding their time until we leave in 2006 or 2026.

I really find it difficult to understand why so many folks can’t see that if our pulling out will result in civil war, time will not correct that situation. How many American lives trillions of dollars are we going spend delaying the inevitable?

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 31, 2005 11:01 PM
Comment #76794

The thing I find really touching, is the on-going thread about how we should treat Iraq the same way we treated Japan, also in the blue column.

tony & Adrienne,

I didn’t see you telling AP how poorly these two examples compare. So, the comparison is okay if AP makes it, but not if Bush does?

Posted by: Stephanie at August 31, 2005 11:05 PM
Comment #76798

David,

“It’s their problem to fight out. In exactly the same way our own Civil War was ours to fight out, so we could get past it and find a more peaceful direction, regardless of which side won or lost.”

Since we did we fight the Civil War alone? I wasn’t made aware of that revisionist’s history lesson. Both sides had help from across the seas. The many, many troops the North got shipped to them is part of why they won!

Posted by: Stephanie at August 31, 2005 11:09 PM
Comment #76802

Stephanie, was the length of our Civil War or its inhumanity affected by that outside help? Could the onset of our Civil War have been prevented by outsiders? Of course not.

Your comment is irrelevant to my argument.

Outside help made no difference whatsoever in whether we would fight the Civil War, suffer the war, and end the war, to find our own more peaceful path, which was my point in the first place.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 31, 2005 11:18 PM
Comment #76807

David, that is not very historically accurate.

The diplmatic and even military involvment of Europe (esp. involving naval blockades) was of vital importance to both sides throughout the Civil War.

If and if you read any account of the Civil War you see how obsessed Lincoln and Davis were with trying to get material and tactical support from Europe. The entire Civil War was fought with an eye towards how the Euoropeans would react.

The South tried very hard and without success to be get diplomatic recognition from Euorpean capitals, and very likely could have fought the North to a standstill—thus winning the war—if they’d managed to lift the blockade of their goods to Euorope and succeed in buying munitions. The Euoropeans actually militarily siezed Confederate warships and trade vessels and contributed greatly to the South’s economic—and hence military—downfall.

Posted by: sanger at August 31, 2005 11:50 PM
Comment #76817

David,

Nothing is inevitable.

I find your cavalier attitude toward the possiblity of human death and misery on a horrific scale within Iraq profoundly disturbing.

Your US Civil War analogy is irrelevant. Want to make it relevant hypothetically? Let’s say that the French or the British or whomever invaded and conquered the US in the middle of the 19th century to end (or extend) slavery. The side they opposed then undertakes an inchoate insurgency. Now suppose, having destroyed the civil infrastructure and brought American sectional strife to a boiling point,they withdraw the modicum of stability their military forces provide. Under those circumstances, which are analogous to those that we confront in Iraq, the ethical culpability for any subsequent internecine warfare would rest squarely upon their shoulders.

It’s not their problem; it’s our problem. Just because it’s our problem for all the wrong reasons doesn’t lessen or obviate our responsibility to put forth our best efforts to resolve it.

Although we may not be able to prevent civil war or genocide in Iraq (and, given the competency of the current Administration, I have some serious doubts), we are nevertheless compelled to try. Perhaps, with stonger leadership, with an impartial approach to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, with a stonger effort to create a cohesive nation, with a comprehensive vision of what a peaceful Middle East should look like, we might be successful.

Regardless, we owe it to the Iraqis to try. We simply cannot abandon them to their own devices, whether it takes 6 months, 6 years or 6 decades.

I can think of no more ignominious end to this ugly, stupid and discretionary little war than risking civil chaos, national disintegration, genocide and the rise of a secular dictator or religious zealot who would surely seize power needlessly. Risking it simply because we came down with a collective case of premature battle fatigue. Simply because we didn’t have the integrity to honor the commitments we made by deposing Saddam. Simply because we lacked the guts to do what we said we’d do.

Posted by: Chuck Hanrahan at September 1, 2005 12:58 AM
Comment #76824

Chuck,

“It’s their problem to fight out. In exactly the same way our own Civil War was ours to fight out, so we could get past it and find a more peaceful direction, regardless of which side won or lost.”

I couldn’t agree more. And I believe the best way to do that is to empower the Iraqis enough for them to determine their own course, with us offering whatever assistance they need along the way. They seem genuinely dedicated to form a democracy. If that doesn’t turn out to be the kind of democracy we have, that’s fine with me. I see no reason why it should. Perhaps, in time, theirs will work even better than ours. Sometimes that doesn’t seem like such a difficult thing to accomplish.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 1, 2005 1:44 AM
Comment #76829

Stephanie:
“I didn’t see you telling AP how poorly these two examples compare. So, the comparison is okay if AP makes it, but not if Bush does?”

American Pundit’s quote from his article:
“The post-WWII German and Japanese governments turned out the way they did because we maintained control until they had strong, self-sustaining democratic institutions.”

AP stated an historical fact that is perfectly correct — so why would I argue with that?
The problem with this war has been that we haven’t had any true measure of control since shock and awe, nor have we been much of a guiding force behind the draft of Iraq’s constitution. This is why it has turned out to be a Islamic Fundamentalist Theocracy, instead of a Secular Liberal Democracy. (Indeed, the idea of separation between church and state is the perfect guiding wisdom that has always made, and still makes, America a truly great and free country.)

Now where AP and I differ is in whether we should keep our troops in Iraq. I think that we should leave for the many reasons you’ve seen me relate in this blog. AP seems to feel that bringing in a lot more of our troops can still bring us some sort of a “win” there. And the president, as usual, wants to “stay the course” with the troops that are there now — until we somehow “prevail” without a plan or an exit strategy.

In my opinion, the president’s choice is nothing more than Madness. It is completely illogical and totally disconnected from reality. In fact, if I am to be truthful, I must admit that almost all of the choices and decisions he has made as president I consider to be illogical and disconnected from reality.

AP on the other hand, I highly respect, and have frequently agreed with over a vast array of topics* — but not on this. Not at all.

(*Does that fact make me more willing cut him some slack when we disagree? Hell yeah…)

In my view, this war should never have been fought by us unilaterally. More importantly, we should have finished the job in Afghanistan and captured and killed Bin Laden. If we had to fight in Iraq in order to remove Saddam, it should have been done at some future date. And such an undertaking should ONLY have been waged by a firmly solidified consensus of our allies — and executed with massive and overwhelming force.

But here we are, and the time when we could have won this war by bringing in many more troops is long gone (IMO), because the insurgency has grown too large. And every single chance we once had to guide them to a true state of freedom and democracy has tragically passed, as well.
The majority of the Iraqi people have chosen to have Fundamentalist Islamic Law rule their nation, and that can only be changed now if they manage to alter the course of their history by fighting a civil war.
Perhaps I’m alone in this blog in feeling this way, but I find it absolutely horrifying to think that our soldiers will continue to fight, die, lose limbs, be severely wounded, and become psychologically traumatised only to protect the installation of same sort of fanatical ideology that gave birth to the hate-filled brutality of Bin Laden and will keep women permanently crushed under the iron heel of religious extremism — rather than fighting to bring our own form of government to people who have lived for so long under the tyranny and oppression of a dictator.
Instead of pouring any more of our blood onto Iraqi soil, or anymore of our taxpayer dollars into this lost cause, we need to bring our troops home as soon as it is possible to do so, and begin spending every dime of money we have on trying to protect ourselves against the next terrorist attack — which will surely come whether we keep fighting or not.

David:
“I really find it difficult to understand why so many folks can’t see that if our pulling out will result in civil war, time will not correct that situation. How many American lives trillions of dollars are we going spend delaying the inevitable?”

Spot on.

Posted by: Adrienne at September 1, 2005 2:13 AM
Comment #76830

With 65% of the American people staying home when it is time to vote in the off year congressional elections and about 50% not bothering when it’s time to elect a president and the other half of congress, how would one know if there are more or less liberals or conservatives for that matter?

Some representative democracy, ugh?

Posted by: dtom21 at September 1, 2005 2:20 AM
Comment #76835

I already pointed this out in another thread, but it’s applicable here, too.

Instead of using the typical comparison between Iraq and Vietnam, Timothy Garton Ash has written an interesting article comparing Iraq to the Boer Wars.

It’s worth checking out.

Posted by: LawnBoy at September 1, 2005 2:46 AM
Comment #76839

Adrienne,

“This is why it has turned out to be a Islamic Fundamentalist Theocracy, instead of a Secular Liberal Democracy. (Indeed, the idea of separation between church and state is the perfect guiding wisdom that has always made, and still makes, America a truly great and free country.)”

Perhaps you should read Paul’s five points again.

First of all, “has turned out to be…” is totally incorrect. It hasn’t “turned out” yet, the constitution isn’t even ratified. The constitution they’re voting on does NOT make it a theocracy; it’s how it could POSSIBLY used that MIGHT make it a theocracy.

Second of all, you have not forced a secular liberal democracy on the US, why do you think you can force it on the Iraqis?

“… because the insurgency has grown too large.”

Only in our minds; we still have a lot of power we can muster. Here, I must say I agree with AP, just not on what he’d like to do with that power.

“And every single chance we once had to guide them to a true state of freedom and democracy has tragically passed, as well.”

As determined by you, sure, but that chance never existed in the first place. We haven’t got that here.

“The majority of the Iraqi people have chosen to have Fundamentalist Islamic Law rule their nation, and that can only be changed now if they manage to alter the course of their history by fighting a civil war.”

Opinion and conjecture. Where are your facts? How do you come to the conclusion that they have chosen this, somehow, when neither the reality nor the unratified constitution exemplifies this? Civil war can be avoided, if the Sunnis accept that they will no longer rule with Saddam’s (or anyone else’s) iron fist.

“Perhaps I’m alone in this blog in feeling this way, but I find it absolutely horrifying to think that our soldiers will continue to fight, die, lose limbs, be severely wounded, and become psychologically traumatised only to protect the installation of same sort of fanatical ideology that gave birth to the hate-filled brutality of Bin Laden and will keep women permanently crushed under the iron heel of religious extremism — rather than fighting to bring our own form of government to people who have lived for so long under the tyranny and oppression of a dictator.”

You’re probably not alone on this, but that doesn’t make it any more firmly based in reality. Could this possibly happen? Yes, but that’s true no matter what we do. Is it likely with what’s been presented? Not at all.

“Instead of pouring any more of our blood onto Iraqi soil, or anymore of our taxpayer dollars into this lost cause, we need to bring our troops home as soon as it is possible to do so, and begin spending every dime of money we have on trying to protect ourselves against the next terrorist attack — which will surely come whether we keep fighting or not.”

And that’s what it comes down to…you just don’t think Iraq or the Iraqis are worth the trouble and expense.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 1, 2005 3:00 AM
Comment #76850

Chuck, I find your cavalier predisposition to throw American GI bodies at the insurgents with no historical basis for presuming Iraq will remain an integrated country without outside occupation, rather disappointing. We will just have to agree to despair at each other’s positions.

We entered Iraq to remove Saddam and free the Iraqi people from his rule. Mission Accomplished when we apprehended Saddam and his family. End of story. Bring the troops home. When we bring the troops home, then, and only then, will Iraqis be FREE to determine their own future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 1, 2005 5:17 AM
Comment #76851

Chuck said: “Nothing is inevitable.”

I guess you didn’t see the movie Joe Black. Death and Taxes, Chuck, death and taxes. Your statement is patently false on its face to any objective living human being.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 1, 2005 5:20 AM
Comment #76853

Sanger said: “The diplmatic and even military involvment of Europe (esp. involving naval blockades) was of vital importance to both sides throughout the Civil War.”

It is irrelevant. The US was going to fight that civil war whether outside nations were aiding or not. Just as in Iraq, they are one day going to fight their civil war and remain an integral nation at conclusion of that war, or not. Our involvement cannot change that unless we commit to staying there in perpetuity, which polls show the American people will not support by an ever growing majority. The writing is on the wall.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 1, 2005 5:24 AM
Comment #76873

David
Quick David…answer this question without Googling an answer:

Who destroyed the tombs of the Phrophet and his Companions?Who destroyed the Pilgramage sites marking the birthplace of Muhammad and his family?Who set fire to every book they could find except the Quran?Who massacred 2,000 Shia worshipers on the holy day of Ashura?Who smashed the tombs of Ali,Husayn and the Imams..even the tomb of the Phrophet’s daughted Fatima?
Who wanted to forbid the veneration of and commeration of acts centered on the Phrophet?

Christian,you say? No.
The British?,you say? No.
Saddam? No.
US forces? No.
Bush? No.
Ted Kennedy? No.
Mickey Mouse?(I know it’s redundant with the above name but)…… No

The answer to this question(I will save you the trouble) is …….The Wahhabis.

You have to understand that what is going on in Iraq is an INTERNAL struggle withing the Muslim world…not an EXTERNAL struggle with the West….Iraq is merely the current battlefield….and the winner(Wahhabism versus BOTH Shia and Sunni traditionial thought) shapes history for the next 100 years.

You,Pundit,Steven continue to pile on to the Adinistration(who probably also does not grasp fully the concept of what I am talking about….then again,neither do the Democrats) and pay only a courtesy acknowledgement to the root causes of this present conflict…..paid for in large part by the Saudi’s…the Keeper of the Keys.

We (the West since 1802)…are bystanders who got dragged in…the victims .

What these guys(who have been preparing for the World conflict since 1802 when Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (now that’s a guy everyone should Google!) and Ibn Saud(check out the guy’s last name….maybe now it will dawn on you…Google this guy too)have done with the sword and gun to Islam…and believe me,Bin Laden and Al Queda place this philosophy at the conerstone…the nexus ..of their belief and you can then connect the dots.

We are fighting an enemy that history has told us repeatedly is impervious to suppression.They feed off it like a chia toy….the more you strangle it,the stronger it becomes.The more you kill,the more martyrs you create.

It reproduces like rabbits in heat.

Unless you understand this fundamental issue(and you need to go back a couple hundred years here) you are doing a disservice to your readers when you offer a principled opinion.

Again,I am a novice to the study of Islam..I study it because Islamic fundamentalism is our scourge…and I believe that we have to understand the ememy in order to defeat him.

Please…let’s integrate a discussion of Wahhabism now…this minute…into the discussion.

Posted by: Sicilian Eagle at September 1, 2005 9:03 AM
Comment #76908

Jack,

Take a look at page 22 of the Brookings PDF that you linked to. Does it appear as if we’re really serious about training Iraqis to secure and police their own country? It certainly doesn’t look like it to me. What a failure.

Posted by: Burt at September 1, 2005 11:02 AM
Comment #76940
AP on the other hand, I highly respect, and have frequently agreed with over a vast array of topics* — but not on this. Not at all.

Thanks, Adrienne. I’m a big fan of your posts, too. Your last post in particular was one of the best I’ve seen here — and I could almost agree with it, except that al Qaeda is using Iraq as a training ground.

We’ve already lost the polictical war in Iraq. Iraq will never be the strong, dependable US ally President Bush was trying to create. That dream is dead. But what we can do, before we pull out, is secure the country until the Iraqis are capable of doing it themselves. President Bush is failing us in that mission.

I think we see the same thing in Iraq, but differ only on what should be done before we leave. If President Bush continues to allow al Qaeda to recruit, train, and operate out of Iraq… well, it’s going to have to be addressed at some point. Better to do it now while the Iraqi government still wants us there. If we wait until after they kick us out, we’ll have to go through all the trouble of invading again — probably after an Iraqi-based 9/11: part two.

Second of all, you have not forced a secular liberal democracy on the US, why do you think you can force it on the Iraqis?

Stephanie, unlike Iraq, the US does not have an official state religion specified in our constitution. We are a pluralist society, just as our founding fathers intended, because our government doesn’t favor any one religion over another. I’m pretty sure that’s what Adrienne means, and I suspect you’re getting hung up on the word ‘secular’ where she should have said ‘pluralistic’, or ‘non-theocratic’ liberal democracy.

Opinion and conjecture. Where are your facts?

Stephanie, Adrienne’s opinion is based on the reality of the situation. Your opinion that everything will work out fine doesn’t jibe with what’s going on over there. The Iraqi constitution clearly creates an Islamic republic that gives experts in Islamic religious law the power to override the will of the people.

Civil war can be avoided, if the Sunnis accept that they will no longer rule with Saddam’s (or anyone else’s) iron fist.

If you think that’s why Sunnis are fighting, I can understand your misconceptions about the situation in Iraq.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 1, 2005 12:41 PM
Comment #76960
In fact, if I am to be truthful, I must admit that almost all of the choices and decisions he has made as president I consider to be illogical and disconnected from reality.
Adrienne


Whoa, no partisanship there, huh?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 1, 2005 1:22 PM
Comment #76967
Whoa, no partisanship there, huh?

Well, it depends whether it’s a cause or an effect.

Does she disagree with Bush’s choices because he’s a Republican? Or is she a Democrat because she agrees more with their positions?

Posted by: LawnBoy at September 1, 2005 1:34 PM
Comment #76979

The big disagreement, it appears, is between those who feel we owe the Iraqis something and should stay until the society is stabilized, and those who feel that we will never stabilize it so we may as well go home.

I can see the arguments on both sides. But when I compare them I come out on the side of getting out of there. I say this because I do not know what winning means. I have no idea what we would call success. Regardless of what we do, the Iraqis are bent on going their own way.

Furthermore, the majority of Iraqis say (through polls) that they want us to leave. We are an obstruction to their development. We showed them the way (somewhat) toward a democracy. They can only achieve it on their own.

If we leave and they fall into civil war and they ask us to help, we may then consider coming back.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at September 1, 2005 2:10 PM
Comment #76984

I think Iraq is like … Iraq. While I’m sure it has many things in common with many previous wars, it’s lazy thinking to try to say it’s just like one thing. When we’re taught history in schools the idea is that we synthesize all that information and form conclusions based on the whole of our knowledge (although I’ll grant the educational system has lost sight of that goal).

So, yes, Iraq is like Japan. It’s also like Vietnam. It’s also like an onion, Kevin Spacey, and herpes.

Posted by: Alejo at September 1, 2005 2:16 PM
Comment #76991
It’s also like an onion, Kevin Spacey, and herpes.

Shrek: Ogres are like onions.
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes. No.
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry.
Shrek: No.
Donkey: Oh, you leave em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin’ little white hairs.
Shrek: NO. Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.
[sighs]
Donkey: Oh, you both have layers. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions.

So, I understand the onion analogy…

Posted by: LawnBoy at September 1, 2005 2:26 PM
Comment #77029

Whew, busy morning for me…

American Pundit:
“Thanks, Adrienne. I’m a big fan of your posts, too. Your last post in particular was one of the best I’ve seen here — ”

Thank you… Thank you verrra muuuch… (channeling Elvis there by way of a recent topic-derailing exchange with Rocky :^) That’s very kind of you, AP.

“I could almost agree with it, except that al Qaeda is using Iraq as a training ground.”

Very true, but then, if we pull out Al Qaeda guerilla’s automatically lose the uniformly dressed training targets which are our troops as well as the tanks, humvees (jerry-rigged with armor which is too heavy for them), miltary planes, helicopters, etc. etc., yes? It seems pretty apparent to me that the longer we remain an occupying force, they can only keep getting better and better at attacking us.

“We’ve already lost the polictical war in Iraq. Iraq will never be the strong, dependable US ally President Bush was trying to create. That dream is dead.”

I agree. Completely.

“But what we can do, before we pull out, is secure the country until the Iraqis are capable of doing it themselves. President Bush is failing us in that mission.”

Yes, failing in that mission for a long, long time now. The problem is - and has been ALL along - that this administration doesn’t seem truly interested in securing the country.
Instead, it’s been more like a half assed Neocon experiment in how to wage war on the cheap with as few troops as lightly equipped as possible. And we must face the terrible fact that these clowns are going to remain in office for THREE more years. Worst of all, they obviously had/have no plans to change anything. Not tactics, not troop numbers, not a draft, not raising taxes to pay for the war, no massive speed-up in training Iraqi forces. Nothing! A recipe for disaster and failure all around.

As David said at the top of this thread: “Bush is an idiot” — but I’ll go even further and say that his entire adminstration is clearly comprised of idiots and numbskulls who obviously don’t have any f*ucking clue what they’re doing. From waging war, to addressing domestic problems and concerns, to dealing with our economy, to international interests — jeeze, these guys just suck at everything.

“If President Bush continues to allow al Qaeda to recruit, train, and operate out of Iraq… well, it’s going to have to be addressed at some point. Better to do it now while the Iraqi government still wants us there. If we wait until after they kick us out, we’ll have to go through all the trouble of invading again — probably after an Iraqi-based 9/11: part two.”

I get the sense that if we announced that we were going to pull out by a certain date, not only would more Iraqi’s step up to the plate for training (because we’ll no longer be there fighting for them), but a large number of the nationalist inspired insurgents might possibly stand down. Then, what would be left of the insurgency would be forced to follow our withdraw and we’d have a much better sense of the numbers of foreign Al Qaeda fighters there actually are.
Does that make sense? Not sure if I’m describing that perfectly.

“I’m pretty sure that’s what Adrienne means, and I suspect you’re getting hung up on the word ‘secular’ where she should have said ‘pluralistic’, or ‘non-theocratic’ liberal democracy.”

Yes, I meant secular in the first amendment sense that our government CANNOT ascribe itself to any one religion, but must allow and accept all religions or none at all, and the constitution itself claims that no religious test will ever be required by a holder or potential holder to public office.

“opinion that everything will work out fine doesn’t jibe with what’s going on over there.”

Nope. And personally I’m so damn sick of all the starry-eyed, misplaced optimism, when none of the facts actually give reason to be drawing such a conclusion.

“The Iraqi constitution clearly creates an Islamic republic that gives experts in Islamic religious law the power to override the will of the people.”

Right. Sharia Law will always trump Freedom and Democracy.

jbod:
“Whoa, no partisanship there, huh?”

Against the Far Right Neocon’s? You betcha honey.

Lawnboy:
“Does she disagree with Bush’s choices because he’s a Republican?”

I disagree with his choices because being far right choices, they are positively moronic, and quite thoroughly divorced from clear thinking and reality.

“Or is she a Democrat because she agrees more with their positions?”

Well, since the last election, I’m offically I’m registered with the Green Party — this because the Dem’s didn’t stand together when it became obvious that election reform in this country is necessary, no, make that mandatory.
Have to say though, I am extremely fond of the members of the Democratic Black Caucus, and quite a few other Dem’s also.
Truth is, my political position is dead center on the left — not as far left as many of the Greens, not as far right as the Dem’s seem to be currently.
Still, if there were two people drowning (that I didn’t know personally), and one was wearing a “GOP in 08” t-shirt, and the other was wearing a “Dem’s in 08” t-shirt, I’d no doubt swim out towards the Democrat first! ;^)

Posted by: Adrienne at September 1, 2005 4:00 PM
Comment #77039

Adrienne,

Sorry about that. I knew I was taking a risk referring to you as a Democrat. However, I couldn’t find a non-clunky way to say “Or does she allign herself with non-Republican ideologies because she disagrees with the positions typically taken by the Republicans?”

Posted by: LawnBoy at September 1, 2005 4:18 PM
Comment #77071

AP,

First, I’d like to say I enjoy your posts whether I agree with you or not…I just rarely agree with you.

“We’ve already lost the polictical war in Iraq. Iraq will never be the strong, dependable US ally President Bush was trying to create. That dream is dead.”

I don’t think that dream is dead. Dying? Yes. Bush’s fault? Yes. Only Bush’s fault? No, the insurgents do hold their own responsibility, but that’s besides the point. IF we do this right, and do it soon, we could regain the Iraqis trust. IF we provided them what we promised (or should have promised), i.e. security, freedom, restoration to pre-war infrastructure and preferably beyond, then bowed out with commitments of friendship, THEN we could have them as an ally. That is what I consider success (if you still believe I’ll buy whatever Bush is selling, get past that now please).

“…I suspect you’re getting hung up on the word ‘secular’ where she should have said ‘pluralistic’, or ‘non-theocratic’ liberal democracy.”

No, I’m getting hung up y’all saying Iraq is (or is going to be) a theocracy, when they state clearly that they won’t have any laws that go against democracy. Call them a “theocratic liberal democracy” if you will, but that’s the difference. Or even, a “theocratic conservative democracy.” Your notion that if it’s not secular based laws it can’t possibly be democratic offends me and is based on no evidence that you’ve shown.

“Your opinion that everything will work out fine doesn’t jibe with what’s going on over there.”

What’s going on there is chaos, brought about by the insurgents and Bush’s poor strategy. How exactly does that chaos determine for you what will happen after that chaos is cleared up? The insurgents aren’t going to accept any constitution, because a constitution is contrary to what they want.

“The Iraqi constitution clearly creates an Islamic republic that gives experts in Islamic religious law the power to override the will of the people.”

It’s funny that you say so, since the constitution only becomes law with the will of the people behind it.

“If you think that’s why Sunnis are fighting, I can understand your misconceptions about the situation in Iraq.”

The common Sunni, no. They’re fighting for the same reason we’re debating, because they don’t agree with what’s going on. Those who lead the insurgents are another matter entirely. I do think they are fighting for power. If you don’t, please explain.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 1, 2005 5:31 PM
Comment #77073

Paul,

“Furthermore, the majority of Iraqis say (through polls) that they want us to leave. We are an obstruction to their development. We showed them the way (somewhat) toward a democracy. They can only achieve it on their own.

If we leave and they fall into civil war and they ask us to help, we may then consider coming back.”

This is the sanest approach to leaving Iraq immediately that I’ve heard yet. I still disagree that this is the proper approach, but at least it shows you care.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 1, 2005 5:33 PM
Comment #77214

There is no question that our nation is divided politically. Mr. Bush won two very close elections, and we all suffer because of it. What a difference a few votes could have made.
I blame the religious right. I am a christian and probably fall under that category but I don’t espouse to everything President Bush says. We as free thinking individuals should not vote for someone just because they say they are a christian. Jesus was not a Republican! I know that may come as a shock to some people. If anything Jesus was liberal and made us all to be free to choose right or wrong.
A President should not try to legislate his morals, but rather let people decide for themselves. After all that’s what Jesus did.

I am not sitting in judgement but rather observing the fruit that he bares. Not very tasty.

We should get out of Iraq and care for our own country, after all, they don’t really want us there.

Posted by: Darby at September 2, 2005 3:47 AM
Comment #77302

Had to add my thoughts on this:

We have just suffered one of the worst Natural Disasters in our nations history, but where are our troops, oh that’s right, They are over seas in Iraq, Rebuilding a once Sovereign nation, That we(Bushco) destroyed/invaded under FALSE Pretenses. Our government Lies To it’s own citizens, And we are wondering why the Iraqi People don’t trust us. We can’t even trust our own Government to not LIE to us.

These are my humble opinions on the matter at hand.

Just passing Gas,
As Always,
Wayne

Posted by: wayne at September 2, 2005 11:08 AM
Comment #77363

Maybe one of the reasons we succeeded in japan and germany, is that we sent enough troops there to get the job done properly, not just throw a insufficent number of our boys at them and try to make the rest of us believe that we are gettin the job done, WRONG

Posted by: Bill G. at September 2, 2005 1:21 PM
Comment #77792

You know I hate to admit it but I do find most (not all, but most) of the comments to be more civil and reasonable on this side of the blog than the other. It’s a pity because I generally disagree with this side on many issues but I find the discussion more pleasant to read at least.

Intersting because while I was growing up I remember it being the other way around with the liberal mainstream shouting down opposition and now things have switched to some degree. Too bad, but I guess everything is cyclical.

Posted by: Stalwart at September 3, 2005 4:43 PM
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