Democrats & Liberals Archives

Changiness has come

For the past couple of months, those on the Republican side have been condescendingly posturing about President Obama and his claim that ‘CHANGE’ would come to Washington. “When is this ‘change thing’ coming? They mocked.

Well CHANGE sure has come and to those most affected by the change, many don’t like it.

Those pesky lobbyists, that for years had their pick of the litter when it came to pet projects, government contracts and favorable rulings are now crying foul. Times were great then, but all things must come to an eventual end. I laughed out loud when i read that the lobbyists are claiming it's a violation to their constitutional rights to not have the privileged access that the lobbyists once enjoyed.

Obama's transparency initiative has essentially stopped the flow of lobbyists into the White House and appeared to have stopped the back-room deals made famous by the likes of Jack Abramoff and his close contacts with the Bush White House.

Feeling muzzled, lobbyists now are being asked to write down their requests and watch as their requests appear online for all to see. (link). i like it.

Changiness has come.... finally.

Posted by john trevisani at March 27, 2009 4:12 PM
Comments
Comment #278944

Nah, just making sure the power stays in Washington.

Van Scoyoc and William Ferguson Jr., who heads the Ferguson Group, said they might increase the number of people at their firms who aren’t registered lobbyists. The law requires people to register only if they spend more than 20 percent of their time lobbying officials.

That exception will give a big edge to many of Washington’s law firms, which have some lobbyists but also plenty of non-lobbyist lawyers who could speak to government officials.

I will be watching to see, but surely the AFLCIO will have a seat at the table, as well as NOW, the teacher’s unions, etc. They will get around the rules just as has been described because they are ‘good lobbyists’. They’re influence has already been seen in Obama’s first Executive Orders.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 27, 2009 5:09 PM
Comment #278946

“Obama’s transparency initiative has essentially stopped the flow of lobbyists into the White House and appeared to have stopped the back-room deals made famous by the likes of Jack Abramoff and his close contacts with the Bush White House.”

I loughed out loud on this one. You, sir, have serious case of O-bammer cult. They stopped flowing into the White House because as soon as they step in they get a job offer. I guess, that is one way to get reed of lobbyist - can’t beat them, hire them.

Posted by: Crusader at March 27, 2009 5:27 PM
Comment #278958

Rhinehold:
Gotta love exceptions to the rule. To me, even it’s a baby step, keeping any of the cockroaches (lobbyists) out of the White House is a good thing.

Posted by: john trevisani at March 27, 2009 7:01 PM
Comment #278964

>For the past couple of months, those on the Republican side have been condescendingly posturing about President Obama…

John,

By the looks of the responses to your posit, it is still in vogue. And, they condescend not just about Obama, but anyone who speaks in a positive tone about him…hmmm…class envy? See, we could do that too, but why bother…darn, there I go again…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 27, 2009 7:14 PM
Comment #278982

Rhinehold, Obama stated this last week that the Teacher’s unions are going to have to sacrifice too, and going forward, poor teachers will have to be replaced by better teachers.

It was not a smiley moment for the Teacher’s unions. Nor was Obama’s statements regarding grading teacher’s by objective performance standards.

Your comment on this topic appears to fail to appreciate Obama’s real life actions in lieu of generalized assessment and projections of what an Obama non-supporter hopes to critique him on.

There are legitimate critiques of some of Obama’s policies to be made. But, I fail to see any evidence yet that Obama is winning friends with the teacher’s unions now that he is president and threatening the jobs of sub-standard teachers by attaching objective performance measures to federal dollars spent on teacher retention and acquisition.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 27, 2009 8:44 PM
Comment #278984

Rhinehold, as for NOW, I have never contributed to nor supported the NOW organization. That however, does not mean that I don’t believe women should receive the same pay for the same work. And conversely, while I have never contributed to Planned Parenthood, I still favor abortion.

The point being, that just because Obama favors choice regarding abortion, or at the most relegating it to a state’s rights issue, does not mean that he is courting NOW as lobbyists. Pres. Obama had his own values as any and every president does upon stepping into to office, quite apart from the views of lobbyists. And a president with integrity will stand true to their values regardless of who is lobbying for or against.

It is presumptuous and illogical in the absence of empirical evidence, to assume that “surely the AFLCIO will have a seat at the [Obama] table, as well as NOW, the teacher’s unions.” I have already witnessed Obama giving the Republicans a seat at his table regarding the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Doesn’t mean Obama is going to follow the Republican agenda, now does it?

From what I can tell, as many groups as have a position on any federal issue have access to Obama’s ear. Obama will shows every sign of making decisions based on his convictions of what will be best for the nation and the majority of those who elected him, in that order, regardless of what ANY lobbyist’s position is.

Your perspective will surely be different. I think perspectives should be based on what is observable, not on simply being ideologically and politically opposed in general, which can lead to all manner of distortions of real events in perception?

Having voted for Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians and even Green candidates, my view is to judge candidates on what they promise to do, and elected officials on the outcomes of their actions. It is not fool proof, but, its the best method of objective assessment I have found so far.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 27, 2009 9:01 PM
Comment #278994

Obama has been having trouble finding people to work in his administration who have not cheated on their income tax. That is why he is so slow off the mark.

I am disappointed in his apparent weakness and lack of attention when it comes to the likes of Nancy Pelosi and by his inability to say anything without the help of his teleprompter. So far, he is in over his head.

But he seems to be a quick learner. I am encouraged by his speech about Afghanistan today. He has evidently taken good advice and our success in Iraq allows us to shift resources. His plan is not significantly different than one we could have expected from John McCain or even George Bush, but it sounds better when Obama says it.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Obama’s sugar will get us any more REAL cooperation than we got with Bush’s vinegar.

The demonization of business and the selective use of the tax code is dangerous. Those kinds of things happen in Argentina or Russia, not America … usually. The irony is that these sorts guys were big contributors to the Democrats.

The economy seems to be recovering a little. The timing is a little inconvenient for Obama,since the stimulus package cannot be credited, but he will still get credit for it.

There is a very good South Park episode about the economy - http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/220760

Posted by: Christine at March 27, 2009 11:42 PM
Comment #278995

Christine,
How can you be encouraged by his speech about Afghanistan if he is only reading a teleprompter?

Our “success” in Iraq allows us to shift resources? Please. US troops don’t do the kind of patrols that incurred so many casualties anymore. They stay on their bases. The US is not welcome in Iraq. Never was, as far as most Iraqis are concerned. Meanwhile, Baghdad has been ethnically cleansed. There are two million refugees abroad, and another two million are homeless within Iraq. Most will not return to their former homes. It’s too dangerous. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been squandered. No one knows how many Iraqis have been wounded. Over 4,000 Americans soldiers are dead, about 30,000 wounded, and we haven’t even begun to deal with the after-effects. Soldiers have been on tours much too long in combat zones. There will be a percentage of veterans who are damaged by PTSD and other ailments. They will have a difficult time re-integrating into society.

It turns out Saddam Hussein did not even have a way to threaten US security, and had nothing to do with the terrorists of Al Qaida.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians are dead.

All that suffering and loss was unnecessary.

“Success”?

When you refer to Iraq as a “success,” you willingly dip your hands in the blood of hundreds of thousands of dead human beings. I’m sure that’s not what you want to imply. Iraq was a disaster. Please call it for what it is. That kind of unjustified human slaughter must not be hidden from view or given approval in any way.

The economic statistics suggesting the possibility of recovery are there, but it would be unwise to assume too much. The financial markets responded favorably to Geithner’s latest plan for dealing with ‘toxic assets.’ Durable goods increased after months of horrendous statistics. Consumer confidence seems to be stabilizing, and retail is hanging in there. Some intangibles such as confidence can be attributed to the leadership of Obama. Under Bush and Cheney, the fish rotted from the head down. But the opposite can also be true. Self-confidence and competence and intelligence can be inspirational.

Posted by: phx8 at March 28, 2009 12:41 AM
Comment #279002

>The economy seems to be recovering a little. The timing is a little inconvenient for Obama,since the stimulus package cannot be credited, but he will still get credit for it.
Posted by: Christine at March 27, 2009 11:42 PM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/27/7-states-see-jobless-rate_n_180154.html

Signs read both ways…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 28, 2009 4:32 AM
Comment #279009

john

“For the past couple of months, those on the Republican side have been condescendingly posturing about President Obama and his claim that ‘CHANGE’ would come to Washington.”

and just what was it that you have been doing for the last eight years? short memory eh?

Posted by: dbs at March 28, 2009 9:14 AM
Comment #279013

Telling the truth??? Said condescendingly…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 28, 2009 10:27 AM
Comment #279014

Phx8

I don’t expect people to acknowledge success in Iraq for a couple of years. Passions are still too high. When the history is written, it will say that we blundering into Iraq and flailed until around late 2006. At that time, a lot of things came together to make success possible (a change in U.S. strategy, Anbar Awakening, AQI blunders, bad leadership among our opponents …)

In other words, all sides on this debate are right and wrong depending on which part you are talking about. You can argue that we should not have gone in 2003. I think it is very clear that we should not have implemented the way we did. It was wrong. But you have to adjust your decision based on changing circumstances. By late 2006, the best decision was the one we made: change strategy and finish the job. The problem is that those few people who still support Bush have trouble admitting that the events of 2003 were mostly mistakes. Those people who still hate Bush can’t admit that he did the right things – against their advice – in 2006. Both sides give too much credit and blame to Bush and both are too invested in their battles of the past to think clearly about the future.

I don’t know what would have happened has we left Saddam Hussein in power. He was working hard to undermine everything we supported worldwide. As we have discovered now, he had no WMD on hand. When that fact came out, he would have been off sanctions and out of that box that wasn’t holding him very well anyway. I don’t think that would have been better than what we have today.

President Obama seems to have taken the lesson from the recent past and is applying to Afghanistan. The plan he outlines parallels the military, diplomatic and civilian surge strategy we applied in Iraq in 2007. Many of the same people are managing this, so they can apply what they learned. The implicit acknowledge of the success in Iraq is that opponents of this strategy sagely point out that “Iraq was easy” and that Afghanistan will require a different implementation. Of course, those actually involved know that, but it makes the non-participants feel smart to speak this way to their betters.

The thing that is great about American democracy is its simultaneous capacity for continuity and change. Candidate Obama we knew a couple years ago would have done inappropriate things in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, President Obama is doing the right things.

Intelligent people can judge and make reasonable distinctions. They also recognize that circumstance change and that the plans and idea appropriate for one set of circumstance are wrong for another. President Obama has shown that capacity in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of his supporters don’t seem to have gotten the word.

Posted by: Christine at March 28, 2009 10:28 AM
Comment #279017

“Telling the truth??? Said condescendingly…”

his statement not mine. democrats bitched, whined, and complained for eight years. i was just making an observation. now that your guy’s in office some how the other side complaining is unwaranted or petty? interesting take.

Posted by: dbs at March 28, 2009 11:12 AM
Comment #279023

>As we have discovered now, he had no WMD on hand. When that fact came out, he would have been off sanctions and out of that box that wasn’t holding him very well anyway. I don’t think that would have been better than what we have today.
Posted by: Christine at March 28, 2009 10:28 AM

Christine,

We did not ‘discover’ that Saddam did not have WMD, we just did not do due diligence discovery before we invaded another nation. Since our operation was based on faulty, and weak intelligence, and since Cheney/Bush had to know it was faulty and weak, he should have done about anything EXCEPT invade a sovereign nation, and as a result we lost face and credibility in the world. Which means, of course that following Presidents are negotiating from a less than admirable position. Untold damage, loss of life, and loss of national standing are all good reasons for assuming that ‘success’ is impossible. We may be able to come out of it with less embarrassment, but the costs have been too high for ‘success’ to be a factor.

Barring a direct assault (unlikely) on Israel or Saudi Arabia, Saddam was harmless to the US. His teeth had been pulled in ‘91. His war with Iran had pissed off his few friends, and everyone else looked upon him as a local pain in the arse. We likely have more to worry us from Venezuela right now than we did from Iraq in ‘03.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 28, 2009 1:13 PM
Comment #279024

Nope, Democrats did not bitch in a meaningful way for the whole eight years. In fact, although many Democrats thought Cheney/Bush had stolen the ‘01 election, he had a fairly free ride through ‘04. It was when the truth started coming out about Iraq, Katrina, Plame, et al, that we actually began to carp in any serious way.

Give the same slack to Obama for a couple of years and we’ll all be happy.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 28, 2009 1:18 PM
Comment #279026

“objective performance standards for teachers”

I’m curious where those exist. Wasn’t that the whole premise of NCLB?

Posted by: gergle at March 28, 2009 1:43 PM
Comment #279028


The good old boy’s network in D.C. is alive and well. The Obama Administration will not deter it in any significant way.

Posted by: jlw at March 28, 2009 1:50 PM
Comment #279041

Marysdude

I don’t have a problem using a word other than discover, if you still want to argue that old point.

All I mean to say is that since we stipulate that we now know that Saddam did not have WMD on hand in 2003 and we assume that this fact would have been confirmed sometime soon after that, Saddam would have been out of sanctions and, using your phrase, he teeth would have been unpulled. We could no longer patrol the no fly zones and he would be free of inspections.

Beyond that, the oil price rises of a couple years ago were demand driven. Saddam was reaching the physical limit of the amount of oil he could pump. Presumably in the absence of sanctions, he would have updated his oil infrastructure, but those investments would have been coming on line only around now (as they are now). We can assume that Saddam would have earned at least that 80 billion Iraq got in 2007. In addition, his continuing ability to threaten oil supplies could have made the price even higher. All this means that Saddam would have the funds to made trouble and the incentive to do it.

I don’t know if this scenario is better than the one we have today.

We probably agree that invading Iraq when and as we did was a bad idea. But it would have been really stupid to compound the mistakes we made in 2003 by doing the wrong things in 2006/7 and punishing ourselves and the people of Iraq in a kind of atonment.

Reality branches out. Once we start down a path, we can only make choices about how to go forward. After that, we go from there.

I understand that you might find it offensive that I use the word “success” in Iraq. I am using the term in a practical sense. Our success in Iraq since 2006 allows us to shift focus to Afghanistan w/o letting Al Queda get out of hand back in Iraq. Had we “failed” in Iraq, we would be in deeper trouble and it would make our task in Afghanistan more difficult.

We learned from some of the failures and successes in Iraq. Some of the lessons can be applied in Afghanistan. I don’t believe anybody can have a problem with this statement. Please put aside your hatred for Bush. He is cutting brush back in Crawford and is no longer a player in this game. We now depend on Obama’s choices. We all wish him well and presumably will support the success of our country.

“Should have”, “could have: or “would have” are concepts that look backward. The Bush administration is now history. Learn from the past if you can, but always look toward the future.

Posted by: Christine at March 28, 2009 2:37 PM
Comment #279044

“Nope, Democrats did not bitch in a meaningful way for the whole eight years.”

i’ve been posting here for at least 4 years now and i can tell you this statement isn’t even close to being true. the capital hill, and dem pundits bitched up a storm as well.

“In fact, although many Democrats thought Cheney/Bush had stolen the ‘01 election,”

of course they did, because things didn’t go in thier favor, and would not have been happy until they had fingered the ballots enough, and made the fact there was a snot bubble on al gores name, count as a vote for them. go ahead keep beating that dead horse. and BTW they never quit bitching about it, and still do to this day as your comment proves.

“he had a fairly free ride through ‘04. It was when the truth started coming out about Iraq, Katrina, Plame, et al, that we actually began to carp in any serious way.”

BS. plame was not under cover, and her own husband was running around outing her at lunchins. just another non issue manufactured by the left to smear bush. katrina was bungled by ray nagin, and the state of LA.. it was his, and the states reponsibilty to prepare for katrina and they did nothing. when all hell broke loose it was bushs’ fault.

Posted by: dbs at March 28, 2009 3:17 PM
Comment #279046
I don’t know if this scenario is better than the one we have today.

You can ask the family and friends of the U.S. miliatary who lost their lives in Iraq, which scenario they prefer?

Posted by: Cube at March 28, 2009 3:23 PM
Comment #279048

Well, it seems like I’ve been mistaken all this time. Or, perhaps we’ve been living in parallel universes.

* The Iraq stupidity, if all turns out okay, can be called a success, hence from now on dishonorable war making is okay as long as we can call it a ‘success’ (the bully who kicks the little girl on the playground can call it a success as long as the principal doesn’t expel him).

* Even though I indicated that many thought Cheney/Bush stole the ‘01 election, and never mentioned my personal views on that subject, I’ve been deemed a ‘chad’ trouble-maker.

* Although Plame had run several clandestine operations in the past, her associations with them was unimportant compared to the need to ‘out’ her, and as a consequence, those operatives who were used in those operations.

* Assuming Nagin was the first failure of Katrina, why would not Bush be held accountable? Was he not the President? Could he not see that Nagin could not handle the situation? Were the Gulf Coast citizens not also American citizens? Was Katrina a catastrophe under anyone’s definition? Are not catastrophes part of the national agenda, especially when they are obviously more than inept local officials can handle?

Posted by: Marysdude at March 28, 2009 4:18 PM
Comment #279052

Cube

I assume from your statement (since nobody would presume to say such a thing otherwise) that you also have friends killed in Iraq, so we share that experience and we both have to make our own emotional choices. I don’t assume to make it for you and you should not assume about others. You will recall that bravery and duty still are meaninful concepts to some people. My friend chose to serve his country. He didn’t weigh domestic political considerations or the popularity of the president into the balance. My husband also served in Iraq. He came safely home, but it was a hardship. We serve our country, not the current occupant of the Whitehouse.

Now that we have exchanged misery, maybe we can return to discussing our opinions.

Marysdude

Get over it. We don’t have the option of a do over. Where do we go from here? I talked to you about the future. If you merely wish to wallow in your despair of the past, I guess that is your choice of location. I don’t live there. I don’t even visit.

George Bush is back in Texas. He doesn’t care what you think and you don’t have to think about him anymore. It is past. As for the present, I support our president, now Barack Obama, in our struggle against terrorism. He promised that we will defeat them and I believe him.

Posted by: Christine at March 28, 2009 5:02 PM
Comment #279054

I wonder why it so difficult for some to just speak the truth. The words victory, success, etc., are anything but in regards the Iraq stupidity. To just go on into the future with a clear head, we must first call that spade what it was, accept the facts as they dictate. I agree that shaking loose from Iraq in the best way we can, with as little damage as we can muster, but first, perhaps we could apologize for creating the fiasco in the first place. Apologize to the Iraqi people for the devastation we have caused in the name of…what…Democracy? Give them back their lives as best we can, and get the hell out of their country.

Every time we use the words ‘victory’, ‘win’ or ‘success’ when we speak to the Iraqi people, and about Iraq to ourselves and the world, we diminish them as a nation and as a people. It’s no miracle most of them think we are devils. We act like devils, by an uncalled for invasion, then talk like devils by pretending that there can be a successful conclusion to that uncalled for invasion.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 28, 2009 5:31 PM
Comment #279080
I wonder why it so difficult for some to just speak the truth.

I wonder that as well. It is sad, IMO, that you appear to view history through revisionist glasses, but then to assert that your view is ‘the only truth’ is … interesting.

First, you seem to think that we could find out if Iraq had WMD, old or new, when three separate inspection groups could not do their jobs, under three different presidents through twelve years, but a few more months and all would be known when even at that time Blix reported that there still being prevented from doing their jobs. I find this level of optimisim dangerous, IMO.

Remember, even Hans Blix said he would not be surprised if we found WMD in Iraq because of the constant blocking and subterfuge he was getting from the Saddam regeime.

Second, you say that there were no ties between Iraq and al Qaeda when even Clinton, Clarke and Berger were the first ones to suggest such a thing. Something that they, to this day, do not back off from.

Third, you assert that they posed no threat to the US at all, when not only did Iraq support several international terrorist organizations that had killed Americans:

* Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) - Killed 407 (10 Americans) and Wounded 788 (58 Americans)
* Ansar Al-Islam - Killed 114 (1 American) and Wounded 16
* Arab Liberation Front - Killed 4 and Wounded 6
* Hamas - Killed 224 (17 Americans) and Wounded 1,445 (30 Americans)
* Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - Killed 44 and Wounded 327 (2 Americans)
* Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) - Killed 17 (7 Americans) and Wounded 43 (1 American)
* Palestine Liberation Front - Killed 1 (1 American) and Wounded 42

and was hiding several dangeroius international terrorists:

Abu Abbas
Khala Khadr al Salahat
Abu Nidal
Abdul Yasin

you seem to think that they didn’t have the means, desire or fortitude to do such a thing as give WMD or money to terrorist organizations that would harm US Citizens, even though Saddam clearly expressed interested to do so.

This is all of course ignoring the fact that Russia, between 9/11 and the Iraq War, had provided the US of evidence of Iraq planning on doing just that.

But finally, you are ignoring the horrible situations that were going on in Iraq at the time of the invasion. For anyone to suggest that things are worse now than they were then is to really be blind to the suffering that Saddam was pouring onto his people.

Here’s what I wrote in 2004 about this:

Human Rights Violations

This is a well agreed upon area of disagreement with Iraq under the leadership of Saddam Hussein. For those unfamiliar with the extent of the violations, this is from the UN condemnation of Iraq’s Human Rights Violations in April of 2001, sponsored by the EU.

(a) The systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror

(b) The suppression of freedom of thought, expression, information, association, assembly and movement through fear of arrest, imprisonment, execution, expulsion, house demolition and other sanctions

(c) The repression faced by any kind of opposition, in particular the harassment and intimidation of and threats against Iraqi opponents living abroad and members of their families

(d) The widespread use of the death penalty in disregard of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations safeguards

(e) Summary and arbitrary executions, including political killings and the continued so-called clean-out of prisons; the use of rape as a political tool, as well as enforced or involuntary disappearances, routinely practiced arbitrary arrests and detention, and consistent and routine failure to respect due process and the rule of law

(f) Widespread, systematic torture and the maintaining of decrees prescribing cruel and inhuman punishment as a penalty for offences

As for details, I’ll list a few of the more egregious of them. There are a large number that I won�t be including for space reasons.

(a) public beheadings of women who were accused of being prostitutes, which took place in front of family members, including children. The heads of the victims were publicly displayed near signs reading, “For the honor of Iraq.”. 130 documented and many more suspected cases.

(b) human rights violations directed against children. Children, as young as 5 years old, were recruited into the “Ashbal Saddam,” or “Saddam’s Cubs,” and indoctrinated to adulate Saddam Hussein and denounce their own family members. The children were also subjected to military training, which includes cruelty to animals. Parents of children were executed if they object to this treatment, and in some cases, the children themselves were imprisoned.

(c) Full political participation at the national level was restricted only to members of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, which constituted only 8% of the population. Therefore, it was impossible for Iraqi citizens to change their government.

(d) Iraqi citizens were not allowed to assemble legally unless it is to express support for the government. The Iraqi government controlled the establishment of political parties, regulates their internal affairs and monitors their activities.

(e) Police checkpoints on Iraqi’s roads and highways prevented ordinary citizens from traveling abroad without government permission and expensive exit visas. Before traveling, an Iraqi citizen had to post collateral. Iraqi women could not travel outside of the Country without the escort of a male relative.

(f) The activities of citizens living inside Iraq who received money from relatives abroad were closely monitored.

(g) In 1988, the Hussein regime began a campaign of extermination against the Kurdish people living in Northern and Southern Iraq. The attacks resulted in the death of at least 50,000 (some reports estimate as many as 100,000 people), many of them women and children. A team of Human Rights Watch investigators determined, after analyzing eighteen tons of captured Iraqi documents, testing soil samples and carrying out interviews with more than 350 witnesses, that the attacks on the Kurdish people were characterized by gross violations of human rights, including mass executions and disappearances of many tens of thousands of noncombatants, widespread use of chemical weapons including Sarin, mustard gas and nerve agents that killed thousands, the arbitrary imprisoning of tens of thousands of women, children, and elderly people for months in conditions of extreme deprivation, forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of villagers after the demolition of their homes, and the wholesale destruction of nearly two thousand villages along with their schools, mosques, farms, and power stations.

(h) In June of 1994, the Hussein regime in Iraq established severe penalties, including amputation, branding and the death penalty for criminal offenses such as theft, corruption, currency speculation and military desertion.

(i) In April of 2003, CNN admitted that it withheld information about Iraq torturing journalists and Iraqi citizens that were interviewed by CNN in the 1990s. According to CNN, the channel kept the information secret because they were afraid that their journalists would be killed if they reported it.

http://www.worldhistory.com/wiki/H/Human-rights-violations-in-Iraq.htm

Other links of atrocities:

web.amnesty.org/web/ar2000.nsf/f5ea2b18926bc708802568f500619c95/24fe8ccc9d037845802568f200552932!OpenDocument
www.hrw.org/reports/1993/iraq/
www.iraqfoundation.org/archives/hr/hrarchindex.html
www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/nea/8257.htm
www.phrusa.org/campaigns/action_alerts/alert47.html

I think that most agree that the Human Rights violations that occurred during Hussein’s rule were atrocious. Some argue that other countries are also Human Rights violators and that this by itself is not a reason to invade a sovereign country. I would challenge this, first that there was another country this cruel in its violations and on such a scale, but also that we should turn a blind eye to anyone suffering at this level.

That the UN refused to act, as it is refusing to act in the Sudan Genocide, makes me think that perhaps a new way of looking at and dealing with these issues needs to come about. If you had asked any human rights organization for a list of the top 5 violators in control of a county in 2001 my guess is that Iraq and Afghanistan would have been in that list. This is based on human rights organizations listing the number of countries committing each different kind of violations; Iraq and Afghanistan were committing nearly if not all of them.

The real issue here is that millions of children were dying every year under the yoke of Saddam Hussein and the way he ran his country, rape rooms, torture, fear and oppression were systemic and expansive. Using gas on his own citizens, killing opposition leadership and the put down of revolutions were present in this hellish place.

And you, in your wisdom, think the best course of action for those people was to let that situation continue under the sanctions and leadership that Iraq had at the time? How much longer and how many more millions of children had to die for this failed policy?

And lest you forget, I was one of those calling for the removal of US troops in 2005, because of the horrible way we were trying to keep the peace there, thankfully, even though the administration refused to pull out, they did change the way they were dealing with the situation so that it became almost a non issue in the 2008 campaign.

oh, and btw, it was not the ‘01 election, it was the ‘00 election, I’m not sure why you keep making that error…

As for ‘bush getting a free ride’, that has to be the most humerous (and sad) thing I’ve seen. Just look at the website democrats.com during the ‘00 election and on at the wayback machine: web.archive.org/web/20001008141741/http://democrats.com/

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 28, 2009 8:49 PM
Comment #279083

Marysdude
I suspect you have actually spoken to very few Iraqi people. I suspect that you may be appealing to a moral authority that is beyond your personal experience and simplifying a complex situation to fit into a preexisting framework long since overtaken by events.

If you want to get to know the Iraqis, maybe you can start with the 20% of Kurds and ask them about the good time they had under Saddam. Or you might try the 60% Shiites and see if they want Saddam back. The irony is that the Sunnis are now among our biggest supporters. They all want us to leave and we want to go. We share that aspiration. The problem is in the details of when and how.

Try to hold what evidently seems to you some contradictory concepts in your mind at the same time. It is possible for people not to like a particular outcome but also not to have wanted the previous situation to continue. It is also possible to look back at an unpleasant past with more toleration or even nostalgia than it merits. It is possible for people to want two or more things that are incompatible. Welcome to the real world. And it is always possible to imagine a situation better than you can achieve.

In the real world, you have a range of options, but rarely a clear choice. The choices look very clear only to the non-participants.

If you drop the quasi-religious idea that the U.S. should do penance for doing what you consider the wrong thing back in 2003, it is much easier to see the way forward. The strategy we followed since 2006 has brought success for us and our Iraqi allies in that the place is relatively stable, on the way to recovery. Al Qaeda has been defeated on its chosen battle ground in Western Iraq. And despite all its corruption and flaws, Iraq is the most democratic country in the Arab world. This portends well for the future.

Now remember that intelligence requires the ability hold nuanced points of view. I believe it was a mistake to go into Iraq as we did in 2003. The mistake was compounded by poor implementation early on. But the change in circumstance and strategy in late 2006, as well as significant change in personnel turned around this situation. That gives President Obama options he would not have enjoyed had President Bush done what Candidate Obama and most others advocated back then.

I understand that your ideology makes it impossible for you to accept the use of the words “success” or “victory.” I would like to speak in your language. Can you accept “option creating”. It is a cumbersome construction but it allows us to avoid the S-word or the V-word and still describe the reality where we have achieved both those things.

Posted by: Christine at March 28, 2009 9:49 PM
Comment #279086

“Apologize to the Iraqi people for the devastation we have caused in the name of…what…Democracy? Give them back their lives as best we can, and get the hell out of their country.”

yes i’m sure they’de love to have thier lives under sadam back. they were much better off. am i the only one that thinks this is nonsense. as far as that war being illegitimate, how do you figure? even if you believe we shouldn’t have invaded iraq, we had justification after the numerous times they violated the original cease fire. did we do the right thing? only time will tell, but they are better off today than they were under sadam. i’de call that a huge improvement.

Posted by: dbs at March 28, 2009 11:11 PM
Comment #279090

dbs,
Can you name a way the Iraqis are better off today than under Saddam? As a result of the war, hundreds of thousands are dead (I’m reasonably sure they would rather have Saddam around than be dead), there are two million refugees, another two million homeless, torture has run rampant- the Shias prefer using power drills, in case you were wondering- Baghdad has been ethnically cleansed, the Kurds are fighting with Turkey, the Kurds do not even allow the Iraqi flag to be flown in their region, the al-Maliki government is closely allied with Iran, the infrastructure is about the same shape today as before the invasion, they lack clean water, there are cholera outbreaks… Seriously, dbs, what on earth are you talking about?

Christine,
You are so invested in defending Iraq, I don’t think you understand what you are saying. For example, you parrot the line about Iraq being the most democratic Arab country. It’s a very convenient way of limiting the definition. Two of Iraq’s immediate neighbors, Turkey and Iran, are far more democratic than Iraq. They share long borders with Iraq. And do you really think a country can be self-governing when it is being militarily occupied by a foreign army against the will of the people?

So, Christine, do you know anything about the Kurds? You seem comfortable condescending to others, and implying you somehow know more about Iraq. I haven’t been to Iraq. I was in Turkey last year. Wonderful people. Beautiful country. Istanbul is the busiest port I have ever seen in my life, busier than NY or SF or London or any other in Europe. It’s phenomenal. Turkey is a secular democracy. By almost any measure they are very successful in running their country, more so than the United States in some respects. It’s population is overwhelming Muslim. There are many separate ethnic groups and differing cultures. In order to unify the country, Turkey imposes one culture and language upon the various groups, and some don’t like it, especially the Kurds.

The Kurds want to preserve their cultural identity and their language, which is quite understandable. As a result, they have engaged in fighting with both Turkey and Iran. No one wants to see them independent- not the Iranians, not the Turks, not the Sunni Iraqis, and not the Shia Iraqis. You can probably include the US on that list, although no one wants to come out and say it.

The Kurds do not integrate the Pesh Merga into the Iraqi military. The Pesh Merga are the most effective indigenous fighting force in Iraq. If the US withdrew tomorrow, the Pesh Merga could defeat any other Iraqi force you’d care to name, hands down. (Remember, the US does not allow the Iraqi military to possess significant armor or an Air Force with offensive capabilities). The US let the Kurds into Fallujah the first time in, and then had to call them off. The Pesh Merga were a little too zealous in suppressing the Sunni Arabs. Those guys don’t fool around.

And don’t feel too sorry for the Kurds. When they had their chance, they were enthusiastic participants in the Armenian genocide. They slaughtered other ethnic groups in the past, and they’ll do it again if given the opportunity.

You write: “Al Qaeda has been defeated on its chosen battle ground in Western Iraq. And despite all its corruption and flaws, Iraq is the most democratic country in the Arab world. This portends well for the future.”

There are so many things wrong with those sentences it’s hard to know where to start. Unfortunately, it’s time for me to wrap up this comment.

The future of Iraq is still undetermined. The disposition of Kirkuk remains to be determined. The Turks will not tolerate continued Kurdish attacks, and the Iranians don’t like the attacks either. The Sunni Iraqis have the water and the Shia Iraqis have the oil, so they’ll probably work out an uneasy coexistence. There are points of agreement among them. They all hate Israel. With the exception of the Kurds, most hate the US. And the ruling government will be a close ally of Iran. Not the US. Iran.

Our best bet is to make nice with the Iranians.

Posted by: phx8 at March 29, 2009 1:25 AM
Comment #279091

Phx8

That is why I used the modifer Arab and not Middle Eastern. Sorry if it bothers you that I try to put it into its proper cultural context. We tend not to include Iran, Turkey, Israel even though they are clearly also part of the Middle Eastern region. If there is an Arab country that is more democratic than Iraq (again for all its faults) please let me know. The Middle Eastern country where Arabs enjoy the most political freedom is certainly Israel, but I don’t think anybody would call that an Arab country.

I have been to Istanbul three times and to Ankara twice, BTW. I am aware of the ethnic makeup of Turkey and Iran, which is why – to repeat – I used the modifier Arab. In case you still want to play games, I understand that only around 80% of Iraqis are Arabs. We can say, predominantly Arab if you prefer about Iraq.

It is interesting the animosity you have developed toward the Kurds. I merely point out that they were not happy being gassed and murdered by Saddam and you have to attack them as a people for wanting to maintain their cultural identify. I also like the Turks. They are easy to like. I respect Ataturk’s achievement. But you must know that the Kurds were in what became Turkey and Iraq before either the Turks or the Arabs arrived. I have no trouble with assimilation, but I can understand why some may be less enthusiastic.

Iran leaves a lot to be desired, BTW. I bet you would be a lot more critical of them if they had been friendly to President Bush, because there is a lot not to like. The best thing you can say about the Iranians rulers is that they are rather lazy despots, but they still do things like stone gay people and beat women with monotonous regularity. We all have heard that when President Obama tried to put out the hand of friendship, the Iranian leadership bit him. Less well publicized was the manifesto to our President from Iranian bloggers and dissidents. They reminded us that while we have one Guantanamo, Iran has thousands that are a lot worse. And all you have to do to get in is to disagree with the government. They ended by cautioning us about being too nice to the government that controls their country.

I applaud President Obama’s Nowruz initiative, but we need to recognize that we face the same sort of moral hazard we did in the old Soviet Empire. When we make nice with the rulers, we may be trading off the oppression of the people. We may want to hold our noses and do it, but it is a necessity, not a virtue and future generations of liberals will criticize us for doing it. No matter what they say today about realism, eventually freedom will again become an imporant value to them.

Besides, now that the price of oil is down, the Iranians are much less able to project power. Don’t overestimate them.

We agree that the future of Iraq is still undetermined. It looks a lot better now than it did in 2006, however. And I will say again that I am using the term success in the sense of creating options. If you don’t like the S-word or the V-word, you don’t have to use it.

Posted by: Christine at March 29, 2009 2:24 AM
Comment #279096

Rhinehold said: “First, you seem to think that we could find out if Iraq had WMD, old or new, when three separate inspection groups could not do their jobs, under three different presidents through twelve years, but a few more months and all would be known when even at that time Blix reported that there still being prevented from doing their jobs.”

In all those years, with all those inspections, without a hint of tangible evidence of any WMD, one would think the mere absence would suggest the possibility that there were NO WMD, as some objective minded CIA Analysts suggested in proposing the notion that Hussein may have viewed discovery by outsiders of WMD a cause of action to take his regime out. After all, he had demonstrated a remarkable ability throughout his reign to cover and protect his ass from his enemies, big and small. But such objectivity was dismissed out of hand by the Bush Administration which had an agenda to invade, set out in a memo back in the 1990’s, called the Downing Street Memo.

End result, a token gesture at the terrorists who attacked us in Afghanistan, and an all out bankrupting ill-conceived invasion of Iraq having nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. Hey, what’s 3/4 of a trillion dollars and more than 4000 GI lives, and 30,000 plus injuries, when so much fun can be had playing Commander in Chief pushing and pulling the levers of the greatest military industrial machine on the planet, and such vast profits to be made with investments in that machine’s corporations like Haliburton and oil markets.

YaHOOO! Ride ‘em, Cowboy. Cheney looks a bit odd in a cowboy hat, I always thought.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 29, 2009 4:21 AM
Comment #279097

DRR,

Please don’t put Cheney/Bush’s cowboy hat wearing down…I probably look a little odd in mine too…:) It’s his cowboy attitude that was so bothersome.

All invasion defenders,

Let’s see…first we use the flimsiest of excuses to invade a country. Then we fail to plan for the people not ‘greeting us with open arms’. Then we allow the treasures and artifacts of the nation to be looted. Then we encourage a terrorist organization to enter the country and recruit insurgents. In the mean time,and in a much shorter time, we kill or watch being killed more Iraqis than than Saddam killed in his entire time as leader, and hundreds of thousands of wounded, many thousands disabled, plus uncounted property damage, shrunken business platform, burned oil fields, unsafe travel and more refugees (in-country and out-country), and the possibility of the three main bodies of peoples falling on each other like rabid dogs after we depart.

If the Iraqis don’t hate us and look upon us as devils, I’d be disappointed in THEM.

There are plenty of despots and crazies running nations in the world as bad or worse than Saddam. His ‘badness’ cannot be a real excuse for the poop that’s gone on in that nation in the cause of ‘freedom’??? You see, I still cannot name the real reason we invaded there. Try as I might, I stumble around like a drunken sailor when I attempt to give a name to our actions regarding Iraq. Every time I come across one I think will fit, it vaporizes…WMD, despotic leader, the cause of Democracy, oil leases…nothing works. I don’t think we had a reason…I think we had such a success going through Afghanistan, our head swelled up, and we just invaded Iraq, ‘cause we could.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 29, 2009 5:53 AM
Comment #279104
Let’s see…first we use the flimsiest of excuses to invade a country.

If flimsiest you mean:

* 12 years of defying UN Resolutions in place as part of Iraqi’s requirements for a cease fire, including several Chapter 7 resolutions (that is important, if you are really interested), just to meet the demands that they were to give full and unfettered access to inspection teams to ensure they had destroyed all of their WMD programs (which they were supposed to do in 90 days).

* Shooting at US and UK planes on a daily basis.

* Being the largest supporter of international terrorists, giving millions of dollars to several different terrorist organizations.

* Continuing to make a mockery of the UN food for oil program by using those funds to fuel more terrorist activities instead of feeding their own people directly causing millions of children to die.

* Attempting genocide

* Putting down revolts with the use of WMDs while under a cease fire and being ordered to destroy those WMD stockpiles past the 90 days.

* Attempting to purchase yellowcake from Niger.

* Some of the worst, if not THE worst, human rights violations that existed at the time in the world.

* Actively planning attacks on the US.

then yeah, flimsiest. I might remind you that those reasons were a lot more valid than the ones we used to get ourselves into Kosovo/Bosnia… But of course, that was a Democrat president, wasn’t it?

Then we fail to plan for the people not ‘greeting us with open arms’.

Yep, huge failure of the administration there.

Then we allow the treasures and artifacts of the nation to be looted.

See above.

Then we encourage a terrorist organization to enter the country and recruit insurgents.

Ignoring the several other terrorist organizations that were already there in the meantime? I mean, what’s another one, right?

In the mean time,and in a much shorter time, we kill or watch being killed more Iraqis than than Saddam killed in his entire time as leader

Bull. As I already pointed out, MILLIONS of children were killed directly because of the sanctions placed on Iraq and Saddam’s refusal to get the aid that was given to him to help them to them. Many many more died under Saddam’s rule than were killed in both wars. To try to revise this part of history is really despicable IMO.

If the Iraqis don’t hate us and look upon us as devils, I’d be disappointed in THEM.

They already did because we incited them to revolt and then stood by as Saddam massacred them.

There are plenty of despots and crazies running nations in the world as bad or worse than Saddam.

Um, name one other than Mugabe? Even Kim Jong isn’t nearly as bad as Saddam was, especially at the time.

His ‘badness’ cannot be a real excuse for the poop that’s gone on in that nation in the cause of ‘freedom’???

Yes, it can. It was the reason that Clinton decided we would support any action for having him removed, only the Republican congress prevented him from using military force. It was the reason we bombed them several times during Clinton’s administration, including working with al Qaeda at the al Shifa pharmaceutical plant. It was the reason that over 70% of the people in the United States supported an invasion before Bush even took office.

You see, I still cannot name the real reason we invaded there.

I’ve given many to you several times, many you continue to ignore. You may disagree with them, may find them lacking, but others didn’t. And to pretend that you are the final arbiter of all that is moral is a bit of hubris, don’t you think?

Try as I might, I stumble around like a drunken sailor

As a former drunken sailor, I commiserate.

when I attempt to give a name to our actions regarding Iraq. Every time I come across one I think will fit, it vaporizes…WMD, despotic leader, the cause of Democracy, oil leases…nothing works. I don’t think we had a reason…I think we had such a success going through Afghanistan, our head swelled up, and we just invaded Iraq, ‘cause we could.

That requires ignoring a LOT of history or putting on revisionist glasses to peer through. And you are entitled to your opinion but I think most people who have been around long enough can give you at least a couple of reasons, though they may have disagreed with them, for our actions in regard to Iraq.

And let’s not combine the issues of removing Saddam from power and the several years of incompetently trying to keep the country stable. Those are two entirely different issues. In fact, had we left Iraq right after Saddam was deposed and we found him hiding in a hole, or perhaps have kept the option of splitting Iraq up on the table (Rumsfeld really was an idiot, there was no reason not to since it was pieced together by the west to begin with), I daresay we would hardly be mentioning it at all other than to say we would have had another successful and short military action.

But that’s just my opinion…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 29, 2009 8:34 AM
Comment #279106

Everything you said rings hollow against other nations that have defied UN mandates, even some mandates that did not spring from the over imaginative minds of US foreign policy…other despots that threw up the gnarly finger of contempt at America and the world, Pol Pot, Kim…ah hell, there are too many to mention…please quit isolating Iraq from the world when you start enumerating its sins. Face it, we had NO reason…ZERO reason for that dishonorable invasion, and we have less reason for staying there, other than we messed it up and in good conscience, we should clean it up a little before we leave. We should apologize, ask the UN to take over the mess we’ve made and back out now, perhaps with our tail between our legs.

The school yard bully should not take pleasure in kicking the little girl after he’s knocked her down. He should pick her up, brush her off, kiss her boo-boos, and go someplace to hide his head in shame.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 29, 2009 8:49 AM
Comment #279110

Marysdude

Your simple school yard analogies are simple school yard analogies. When we put away childish things, we find a more complex reality.

You say we should both clean up the mess and leave. Even adjusting for you ideological commitment and guilt feelings, it is impossible to do both these things at the same time.

I also wonder what condition you want to return. I assume that even opponents of the U.S. action would not advocate a return to a Saddam Hussein conditions. The Saddam Hussein regime was really horrible. Don’t let your desire to blame America first blind you to that fact or allow you to minimize it away. So “cleaning up the mess” probably requires the types of activities the U.S. has been engaging in since 2006.

Whether you know it or not, you are advocating almost exactly what I have been explaining that the U.S. has been doing. The only difference is that you spice your recipe with lots of guilt and you want to add that apology thing. After we clean up the mess you talk about, you can apologize to whoever you think in Iraq would have preferred to live under Saddam Hussein.

As for turning it over the UN, the might look into the UN successes in establishing peace in the Balkans, Middle East, Central Africa or … anyplace else.

Maybe you should take your own arguments seriously. You reference the countries that have defied UN resolutions. It is a long list. How does that inspire confidence in the UN’s capacity?

Rhinhold

You are using logic and facts to counter hatred, guilt and ideology. In response to your list of good arguments, you get the remembrance of childhood tramas. You did an excellent job of laying out your arguments, but I doubt that it was read in that schoolyard.

Thank you for doing it. Arguments like your will eventually be part of a comprehensive assessment of our Iraqi policy. But for now, too many of our fellow citizens are unable to understandthem. They are just interested in kissing boo-boos and hanging their heads in shame.

Marysdude and others

The UN does an admirable job of maintaining the peace when nobody wants to fight anymore. Their record standing up to men with loaded guns and the inclination to use them is not so good. Of course, the UN depends on member states for its forces an consent. I suppose you like what is happening in Darfur, where the U.S. is not deeply involved. If you want to learn a little more about UN operations in action, google “Srebrenica” or “UN peacekeepers in Congo.”

Posted by: Christine at March 29, 2009 10:21 AM
Comment #279113
Everything you said rings hollow against other nations that have defied UN mandates

No, not Chapter 7 resolutions. See, I told you we could discuss what that means, it appears you aren’t really aware of the difference between Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 resolutions…

there are too many to mention

So, you named Kim (who is not as ‘bad’ of a guy as Saddam was) and Pol Pot, who I don’t think was doing anything much in 2003…

Care to mention one that was in power in 2003 that was worse than Saddam, other than Mugabe as I asked?

Face it, we had NO reason…ZERO reason for that dishonorable invasion

I just listed out several, you attempted (and failed) to counter 1 and then say that there were zero reasons.

Yeah, that passes the logic test.

and we have less reason for staying there, other than we messed it up and in good conscience, we should clean it up a little before we leave.

On this I agree, as I wrote several years ago. These are two different things though.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 29, 2009 10:48 AM
Comment #279115

Christine,
I have no animosity towards the Kurds. They want their independence in order to protect their cultural identity, and they are using the US as a means towards that end. Virtually no other country in the region wants to see the Kurds succeed, because their own restive Kurdish populations would threaten terrirotial integrity. This is true for countries like Iran, Turkey, and Syria. They are very diverse countries with many ethnic groups, and a move towards Kurdish independence would be extremely hazardous for these countries.

There is a good reason Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton let Saddam Hussein stay in place. He kept the Kurds under his thumb. He also kept the religious crazies under his thumb. Overthrowing Saddam Hussein resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

By the way, Lebanon could be considered half Arab, and it is far more democratic than most countries of the region.

Iran has been a problem for a long time. Their democracy was overthrown by the US in 1953. Most repressive, authoritarian regimes in the region are the direct result of the immplementation of the foreign policy of the United States. Iran overthrew its US imposed dictatorship when they threw out the Shah.

There is every reason for the US to form close relations with Iran. The Mullahs want a society which cannot survive close contact with western culture. If we’re smart, we’ll ignore every insult and threat, and draw them into contact with our culture. The result will inevitably be the end of religious extremism in Iran. Changing the relations in a way that is good for BOTH the US and Iran can be done peacefully and without the loss of life.

The bloody-minded, xenophobic militarism of conservatives will only create more confrontation, violence, death, and suffering.

Posted by: phx8 at March 29, 2009 12:18 PM
Comment #279116

I’m sitting here reading and I cannot believe that no one can brainstorm a list of oppressive governments in power in 2003. How about:

Omar al-Bashir of Sudan
Myanmar Military Junta
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya
Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan
Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan


Also, don’t forget the many atrocities committed during the Second Congolese Civil War.

If we were going to spend our resources toppling evil thugs halfway around the world, there were plenty of thugs worse than Saddam that we could have targeted.

Also, I see people are having trouble brainstorming Arab democracies. How about Tunisia, Morocco and (to a limited extent) Algeria?

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 29, 2009 12:32 PM
Comment #279117

Warped,
Morocco is like Jordan, a constitutional monarchy. In both countries, the King retains significant powers. Having said that, they are still far more benign and their parliamentary systems are far more ‘democratic’ than the government of Iraq.

The talking point that Iraq is the most democratic Arab country is fundamentally dishonest.

Posted by: phx8 at March 29, 2009 12:49 PM
Comment #279118

””“Gulnara Karimova, who has been ducking an arrest warrant from New Jersey, United States[19] serves as an advisor for Uzbekistan’s ambassador to Russia and is believed to have built an extensive business empire that includes the largest wireless telephone operator in the country, night clubs, and a large cement factory.[20]

Despite the fact that Karimov is criticized in the West, he had good relations with then Mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac. Once Chirac gave a surprise and unofficial visit to Tashkent on Amir Timur’s anniversary, and the two spent their time together like friends.[citation needed]

Gulnara Karimova is closer to Karimov than his younger daughter Lola Karimova. Gulnara once admitted that it was her father who gave her the nickname “Googoosha”.”“” Favoritism and Diplomatic Immunity!

Posted by: Rodney Brown at March 29, 2009 1:08 PM
Comment #279119

Phx8

I agree that we should approach Iran. But we always have that moral dilemma, the same one you mention with regards to the Shah or Saddam. As we get involved with despots, we become part of their enterprise.

It is impossible for a country with our power and influence to remain neutral, since every one of our actions or omissions has a deep effect.We become complicit in their transgressions.

I don’t see an alternative. It is the burden of being a superpower. You get blamed for what you do and for what you don’t do and often for both at the same time. People more easily recall faults than they do favors and we do a lot of both just by being who we are. We don’t have the option of non-participation.

Remember the Balkans, Rwanda, Congo or Darfur. W/o strong U.S. participation the death rates soar. It is just that we tend to hear less when they don’t have the U.S. to blame. Congo and Central Africa makes Iraq look like small very potatoes when you look at civilian deaths. It is the worst human catastrophe since Pol-Pot or maybe even China’s murderous Cultural Revolution, but it has barely been noticed by the media.

We have to be careful not to let our domestic passion cripple our foreign policy. President Obama is now engaged in a surge in Afghanistan. I think it has a decent chance of success, but as in Iraq it will not produce a perfect result. Obama’s opponents will use this against him and U.S. interests may become collateral damage. While I believe that conservatives will be less vitriolic in doing this to Obama than liberals were in doing it to Bush, it will come, as we saw with lukewarm conservative support for President Clinton in Kosovo.

Warped

You would really call Tunisia, Morocco or Algeria democracies? I suppose it depends on how wide you draw the definition.

You are right to mention the carnage in Central Africa.

BTW – we didn’t go after Saddam because he was a tyrant. President Bush believed he was a gathering threat and wanted to deal with the challenge before it became imminent.

Posted by: Christine at March 29, 2009 1:09 PM
Comment #279121

Christine,
Well said in your last comment. I agree.

Isolationism is not an option for us. However, we do have a moral obligation which is too often sacrificed to business interests, an obligation to set the example and encourage human rights, values like liberty and freedom etc. Really, when it comes to foreign policy, it’s the only thing worth doing. Use of force is a last resort, and I should note the exception; we have have a moral obligation to prevent genocide.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban could have turned over Osama bin Laden. They refused. We were left no choice but to go into their country in pursuit of him and his organization. We failed, but I don’t blame the failure on Bush. Catching him (if he’s even still alive) as well as his cohorts is not easy. I do blame the subsequent lack of focus & diversion of resources on Bush. It drags down Obama’s administration in the same morass that helped collapse the USSR.

Posted by: phx8 at March 29, 2009 1:58 PM
Comment #279123

US troops in Iraq victims of faulty Inspectors found potential electrical hazards at 15,000 of the 41,000 visited since the task force’s inception wiring . http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/27/military-deaths-electric-shocks

Posted by: Rodney Brown at March 29, 2009 2:05 PM
Comment #279126

phx8,
Morocco is very much on the way to becoming a Constitutional Monarchy much like the UK. King Mohammad VI is pushing reforms in there in order to democratize the nation, much more than in Jordan. Given the momentum of the situation, I bet the Moroccan Monarchy will be only symbolic in a decade or two. I know there are issues there, but I think they will be worked out in the coming years.

I also want to mention that Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy that is also transitioning to democracy, but unfortunately at a slower pace.

Also, Yemen has a representative democracy, unfortunately, it is completely dominated by a single political party, nevertheless it rules with the consent of the people it governs.

Lastly, I don’t know much about the government of Bahrain, but I think it has several democratic components alongside the constitutional monarch.

Christine,
Democracy vs Authoritarianism is a spectrum. You would be correct to say that no country in the Middle East/Arab World is as Democratic as our own government. Nevertheless, we need to recognize that many countries are well on their way on the road to democracy or actually, Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchies (like the UK). Iraq is one of those counties on the road to Democracies, but by no means is it the furthest along that path (in my opinion).

Regarding why we went in, while I was only thirteen years old when we invade Iraq, I wasn’t deaf. I know the diatribe of mushroom cloud smoking guns and whatnot. The issues regarding that decision are more properly debated by historians because the fact is that we are there now, and we need to figure out what is the best way to move forward. In any case, my opinion on the invasion is that was a poorly thought out decision that came to be from a preplanned desire to make facts to fit an ambition rather than make an ambition fit an ambition. There was a great deal of incompetence in the intelligence gathering. Much of the “evidence” came from one or two exiled Iraqi dissidents of questionable trustworthiness. There were many questions raised regarding Iraq’s alleged purchase of uranium from Niger, but no effort was made to verify any of these claims.

Posted by: Warped Reality at March 29, 2009 2:33 PM
Comment #279131

Christine,

In your post #279110, you jumped pretty hard on my saying we should clean up our mess and get out. But, my exact words were:

we should clean it up a little before we leave.

I’m not talking about setting it back up on its feet, making sure no one is still mad at anyone else, rebuilding all that we have damaged…I’m talking about washing off a little dirt, and packing our bags. We have done enough damage there…staying just makes it worse. My analogy is as fitting a one you might make up in a more ‘grown up’ fashion. I tried to make mine simple and to the point. If you don’t like it, ignore it…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 29, 2009 3:28 PM
Comment #279132

John wrote; “I laughed out loud when i read that the lobbyists are claiming it’s a violation to their constitutional rights to not have the privileged access that the lobbyists once enjoyed.”

If PO has in fact helped reduce the influence of lobbyists in America’s business I hail that as a great achievement.

Posted by: Jim M at March 29, 2009 3:53 PM
Comment #279147

I don’t think we have to sacrifice our LEGITIMATE business interests. Legitimate trade and investments make everybody better off.

The problem comes in with these oppressive governments, again. How much do you deal with the powers that are in control of the country? If you are trading in oil, you are in bed with the government that controls that resource, since there is very little exportable oil that is not under control or heavy influence of some government. Most oil controlling government are oppressive (Iran), fundamentalist (Saudi), run by A-holes (Venezuela) or unstable kleptocracies (Nigeria). How can you do legitimate business with the likes of any of them? Any interaction with them is a moral hazard, but if you don’t deal with bad there is nobody to deal with. Beyond that not dealing with them may well create greater problems for the world and their people.

I have mixed feelings about Afghanistan. We have to be careful in how we define success. Afghanistan has been a S-hole since before the Alexander the Great arrived. It will always be thus. We can make it a less dangerous place.

Marysdude

I don’t mean to jump on you too hard. If you want to put the place in the rough condition it was in 2002, we have already done that. The war actually damaged less than most people think. The sanctions and mismanagement under the Saddam times destroyed Iraqi infrastructure. Almost none of it was maintained after it was installed, usually by Soviet Block firms back in the 1980s.

Your alternate scenario – leaving Saddam in power – might have worked out okay for that reason. You might argue that it is possible that Iraq would have collapsed on the weight of its decaying infrastructure. However, Saddam didn’t care about his people. His income didn’t depend on them or their good will. I am debating myself here, but that is because we are talking counter factual.

Iraq will provide a fantastic market for infrastructure materials. We Americans should not let the Chinese and others get all the contracts. I am afraid that the idea that we should hang our heads and get out will result in exactly that.

Besides being a little childish, I think your analogy is indeed based on a false premise. You are seeing Iraq under Saddam as a nation united in conflict with coalition forces. Most of the Iraqi people were indifferent to the fight. Saddam’s forces stripped off their uniforms and ran off. Most of the people, even in Anbar didn’t support the insurgency.

It is always a risk to make human analogies to countries. In the case of Iraq, it is especially dangerous.

Posted by: Christine at March 29, 2009 6:37 PM
Comment #279156

All the more reason that Cheney/Bush knew Saddam was no threat, and all the more reason for us to get out…now.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 29, 2009 9:19 PM
Comment #279157

So, Marysdude, do you have any comment on the several reasons why Saddam was a threat that I provided, or are you just going to keep ignoring them?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 29, 2009 9:25 PM
Comment #279162

Marysdude

I am really trying to understand your thinking. You insist on dwelling on the past. Even if your interpretation of the past is correct (and Rhinhold has raised lots of doubt about that) circumstances have changed. It is not smart to make decisions based on six-year-old information and neglect to make adjustments based on subsequent developments.

In 1939 World War II broke out in Europe when Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia made a deal to divide Poland. About six years later, the war was over with the U.S. allied with the Soviets to defeat the Nazis. How much sense would it have made for us to reestablish the Nazis because the Soviets has been in on the events that provoked the war and we had “enabled” them to profit from it?

Posted by: Christine at March 29, 2009 9:51 PM
Comment #279182

Christine,

You continue to refer to my ‘dwelling on the past’…it is there that we flubbed our dub. Rhinehold’s ‘reasons’ have nothing to do with going to war, and everything to do with making post invasion excuses for our having done so, i.e., oops, we’ve done it now, we’d better figure out why.

I’m trying to figure out how you can talk about successes in Iraq, when we had no business there to begin with. If we had no business there to begin with, we have no business there now. It is a simple right and wrong issue. We are occupying a nation that held no more threat to us than several other nations on the globe, i.e., Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Russia, blah, blah, blah. We are occupying a nation that had a dictator who violated no more civil rights laws than several dictators/despots who’ve existed before Saddam, while Saddam, and after Saddam, yet we are not occupying those nations.

Until we can state unequivocally that Iraq was a direct threat to the United States of America or one of its defense treaty allies, in the year 2003, we are committing gross misconduct, are in a dishonorable enterprise, and should withdraw from it immediately…or sooner, if possible.

You speak of my being childish, and you must be serious about it because you’ve mentioned it twice, so I’ll give you another example of childishness…”wah! I don’t like that guy Saddam, and he tried to hurt my daddy, and he’s got lots of oil and he’s meaner than a snake, let’s go invade his country”. Now THAT is childish. It is childish, because it was done with the intent to defraud the American people, and without regard to the lives that would be lost and ruined, and was committed to on a whim.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 30, 2009 3:10 AM
Comment #279183

PS:

Please don’t compare anything about WWII with our stupidity in Iraq. They are not just apples and oranges…they are a rotten apple and a bright, fresh orange. They are both fruit (conflict), but the resemblance ends there.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 30, 2009 3:15 AM
Comment #279184
Rhinehold’s ‘reasons’ have nothing to do with going to war, and everything to do with making post invasion excuses for our having done so

What a load of crap, Marysdude. These reasons were given before going in, as if they were needed. Over 70% of Americans supported an invasion of Iraq before Bush even took office, so there was no need to ‘sell’ a war.

Deal with the reasons or ignore them. But don’t say that they don’t exist, that’s just weak.

Until we can state unequivocally that Iraq was a direct threat to the United States of America or one of its defense treaty allies, in the year 2003, we are committing gross misconduct

And I’ve done just that. Perhaps you should go back and read my original post on this site years ago?

http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/001765.html

These are not something I’m pulling out now, they existed then and were as valid then as they are now.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 30, 2009 3:22 AM
Comment #279186

BTW, don’t get me wrong, I begrudge no one for not thinking we should have invaded Iraq, it was not an easy thing for anyone to support because it is war. I have never thought less of anyone who disagreed.

I *DO* however have a problem when people say there are no reasons and then, when given a list of reasons that, when taken together, present a clear picture, go on to dismiss them as being invalid without even debating them.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 30, 2009 3:33 AM
Comment #279187

Or worse, who try to act ‘morally superior’. If you can’t do the same and admit that it was not a clear picture and move beyond the issue with those 70% some odd Americans who supported the war instead of trying to act as if your **** don’t stink…

Well, I think that tells more about yourself than anything else.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 30, 2009 3:35 AM
Comment #279194

Hmmm…and the list goes round and round. That list is a list of reasons to keep an eye on a nutcase, much like we keep an eye on Kim’s bunch and what’s ‘is Irani name, and Chavez and…and…and. If war were as easy to decide as you indicate by your list we’d have declared on Russia decades ago, wiped N Korea off the map years ago…and…and…and…

So if I believe myself to be morally superior because I think we stink, it translates to you thinking I stink like s***?…well okay then. You’re probably right…I don’t mean to say you are right, right, but merely correct about everything, because I know for a fact my s*** does stink, and if you’re right about one thing…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 30, 2009 7:58 AM
Comment #279197

Ok, Marysdude, how many Chapter Seven resolutions did Kim violate? How many millions of dollars does he give to international terrorist organizations? How many terrorists is he hiding? Have we received information that he is planning on attacking the US like we did with Saddam? How many US or UK planes does he shoot at DAILY?

Same question with Chavez..

We were keeping an eye on him, he was still doing this stuff AND the sanctions placed upon him by the UN was KILLING millions of children. We either had to stop the sanctions or remove him from power, there was no other option available to us IMO. Are you suggesting we should have just let the situation continue as it was? Do you really understand what that would have meant?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 30, 2009 8:20 AM
Comment #279198

Marysdude

I am not speaking of childish literally, but rather in reference to inexperience in the world (or perhap inability to learn from experience).

The idea that you would throw away opportunities and create additional misery for the people you supposedly would help because you feel mistakes were made six years ago is a kind of rookie mistake. It is based either on inexperience, hatred or a profound ideology bordering on religious faith. I am being generous to assume it is merely a matter of inexperience, which can be most easily corrected by additional information.

I just cannot understand your point w/o reference to one of the above conditions. I understand that you feel the U.S. violated a moral stricture. Even if we stipulate that is true, it s just silly to create worse consequences in order to do penance, or more precisely to make innocent people do penance. Presumably, you consider Bush and Cheney the sinners, but they are beyond your power to punish. I suppose that is what you find morally offensive. But to lash out an victimize current Americans and innocent Iraqis today makes no sense to me.

You may recall the famous line, “the moving finger writes and having write moves on. Not all your piety nor all your wit can coax it back to cancel a single line, nor all your tears wash out one word of it.” Anger, hatred, and indignation also cannot change the past. All they can do is poison the future and they often are most poisonous to the person holding on to them.

Ask yourself this simple question. If you were faced with the situation at hand with no knowledge of the past, what would you do? Now do that. It is like the man almost to the far side of a frozen river with the ice cracking who would prefer to drown rather than make it to the other side because he believes he should never have set out in the first place. If you want to make that choice, go ahead. But we aren’t coming down with you.

Posted by: Christine at March 30, 2009 8:22 AM
Comment #279204

BTW, Marysdude, do you have the same outrage for Clinton for his actions in Bosnia/Kosovo?

Certainly no threat to the US…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 30, 2009 8:58 AM
Comment #279222


Excuses for the invasion of Iraq:

Saddam has weapons of mass destruction: Many countries have weapons of mass destruction. Some might argue that WMD’s are restricted to nuclear, biological or chemical weapons but, IMO, nearly all weapons are WMD’s. During the Civil War, the cannon was a WMD. We use WMD’s guite frequently.

Saddam violated U.N. sanctions:

Israel violates U.N. sanctions. Does that sanction an invasion of Israel by Russia?

Saddam gave money to terrorists:

Quate, Dubai, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have all given money to families of suicide bombers and terrorist regimes like the Talaban. Most of the terrorists that attacked us on 911 were from Saudi Arabia and learned to hate the U.S. in the schools that the Saudi’s built and maintain.

Saddam committed human rights violations:

China is very close to the top of the list when it comes to human rights violations and our capitalists had no problem whatsoever in sending millions of American’s jobs to China.

Reasons for the invasion of Iraq:

Saddam cannot be allowed to maintain his control of and nationalization of Iraq’s oil. Now, if Saddam had been a good boy like the Saudi’s and let Exxon and Haliburton in, perhaps the war would have been unnecessary. I forgot, Haliburton was doing business in Iraq, in violation of U.S. law when Dick Cheney was Haliburton’s CEO.

Oil is the straw that broke Saddam’s back. I am certainly not sorry that Saddam is gone but, as Alan Greenspan put it, let’s admit the truth about Iraq and it’s oil, and stop making excuses for oil guys like Bush and Cheney. I wonder how much money the Bush and Cheney clans made off oil during their years in power?

With millions of jobs outsourced, millions of low wage workers insourced, the dot com bubble, the oil extortion($4 per gal. gas), Freddie and Fannie, AIG, the banks and the auto companies, seems to me that Wall Street is a greater threat to the American workers than Saddam could have ever been.

Posted by: jlw at March 30, 2009 12:27 PM
Comment #279226
Saddam violated U.N. sanctions:

Israel violates U.N. sanctions. Does that sanction an invasion of Israel by Russia?

How many Chapter 7 resolutions have they violated? Do you understand the difference?

Saddam gave money to terrorists:

Quate, Dubai, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have all given money to families of suicide bombers and terrorist regimes like the Talaban. Most of the terrorists that attacked us on 911 were from Saudi Arabia and learned to hate the U.S. in the schools that the Saudi’s built and maintain.

Saddam was the largest state sponsor of terrorism in 2003. Where the terrorists came from is good to know but is not the fault of the government. And no, I do not like Saudia Arabia, but let’s not like them for honest and factual reasons. The only other countries that sponsored terrorism on the level of Iraq at the time were Afghanistan and Iran.

Saddam committed human rights violations:

China is very close to the top of the list when it comes to human rights violations and our capitalists had no problem whatsoever in sending millions of American’s jobs to China.

Iraq was at the top of the list, not just near it. Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, WHO, etc, etc all were screaming for years about the violations in Iraq, that is why the sanctions were lessoned a bit to allow for the Oil for Food program, which Saddam exploited to line his own pockets and rebuttress his power while stil starving millions of children during that time.

Now, did China violate several Chapter 7 resolutions AND rise to the level of top supporter of international terrorism AND top the list of human rights violations all at the same time? Did any country in 2003 or since? Even Darfur, which is enormously terrible, isn’t supporting international terrorism…

Opponents of the action in Iraq love to try to pick on one thing and say ‘well, other countries did X’ and ignore the combination of things as if the entire list were a house of cards and if they can just minimalize one thing, then it’s an immoral action… And they think that this is a good plan. Then defend Clinton and Kosovo. It’e really interesting to watch the mental gymnastics…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 30, 2009 12:41 PM
Comment #279231

Those Chapter 7 violations you are so proud of were nearly all proposed and pushed through by the United States, and with the same basic premise as the reasons given, by our own Secretary of State, to the UN for the invasion.

Saddam was a show-off, a huckster and a despot, but we had continually swatted him like a fly. We marched from Kuwait to near Baghdad without any serious opposition, flew over his nation at will, and inspected his facilities until we had cleared him of any real WMD threat.

But, mostly, Saddam is dead. The WMDs are disproved, and except for the problems we have had a direct hand in causing, i.e., the introduction of terrorists, the recruitment of insurgents, the looting, the burning, the killing, the destruction, the blah, blah blah…we should leave…NOW!

Posted by: Marysdude at March 30, 2009 1:50 PM
Comment #279232

PS:

I should rephrase…we should not have invaded, we should have left when the first facts came out, we should have left when we found out we were importing terrorists, we should have left when we decided we needed a so-called ‘surge’, we should have left after the first democratic election, we should have left, we should have left, we should leave…NOW!

Does no one understand…we are occupying a nation that we had no business being in to begin with. We, the people of the United States of America, the great bastion of Democracy, are occupying a nation, because we made an error, or lied, or…or…or…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 30, 2009 1:57 PM
Comment #279262

Marysdude

I guess you are a lot more ideological and religious than I am. I am practical. I really have not believed in penance since I stopped listening to the nuns.

I made as much headway with the nuns as I am making with you and I now realize the reasons are very similar and guilt based on a concept of original sin. In the nuns case, it was Adam’s fall. In the Iraq case, it is evidently the inital condion of motivation. In both cases, there is nothing anybody can do to convince the believers.

Posted by: Christine at March 30, 2009 8:28 PM
Comment #279284

Christine,

True, so true…I’m an honest advocate of honor and honesty…and, have had made no more headway with you than you have with me…so you are an honest advocate of what…’pragmatism’…’excuse making’…and your philosophy is what…’well we dug the hole, now let’s pull the dirt in over us’…’all mistakes are equal, so this one is no different than when I use Neosporin instead of Colgate’…???

A nation without honor, is Iran…Libya…Sudan…why would I want to encourage my country to become one of them?

Posted by: Marysdude at March 31, 2009 6:15 AM
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