The Iraqi Vote on the Record

The Iraqi referendum will go well. Turnout will be high among the Sunnis as well the others. The constitution will easily pass and the country will find a workable modus vivendi. Al Qaida will occasionally stage spectacular events, but - like the Marxists twenty years ago - they are a spent force. They just still ain’t got the word that they are already sitting on history’s trash heap. Save the papers from last week because maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon everyone will say they predicted this successful outcome. And they will say it was inevitable.

I wanted to get this out before all the votes were cast and counted. Who will put their own comments on the record? All of you who can so easily predict the past, might try the future.

Posted by Jack at October 15, 2005 12:56 AM
Comments
Comment #85899

Getting a Constitution voted on by a majority of voters who know NOT what it contains, is a success of sorts. But a constitution does not an integrated and peaceful nation make! Its just a piece of paper.

Unless its contents are adopted in the hearts and minds of the vast majority of citizens in Iraq, it is a relatively meaningless exercise in nation building. Iraq is a very, very long way from being a stable integrated nation capable of sustaining itself under the rule of law and with relative domestic peace.

Many folks will be want to call this event a small miracle. But if you put a gun to someone’s head, you can get them to do just about anything. Or, offer them peace, prosperity, and freedom, and they too will do just about anything, for as long as they believe the prize is forthcoming.

But if the Iraqi government cannot deliver on that promise, or maintain a gun to the people’s head, Iraq’s chances for the future drop precipitously. And that is the conundrum which is Iraq.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 15, 2005 1:20 AM
Comment #85903

Jack-
What you’re inviting is more people imagining things the way they want to imagine it. Let me go one better than you.

If this vote goes well, and the insurgency settles down (and not just for a few weeks), then I think it will be a good idea to push for an all around reconstruction bonanza. This time, we should seek out local contractors, or in fact train them where possible. Naturally, an increase in the training of the military and the police is in order.

The question is not what you predict will happen after this election. No, that’s too easy, too susceptible to pie-in-the-sky thinking. The question is what you are prepared to do in case this vote doesn’t make that difference, or worse, goes in the other sides direction. What then? Does Bush have a plan B? Do you?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 15, 2005 1:36 AM
Comment #85906

Prediction:

Two provinces will reject the constitution.

In two others it will be close, but pass. This will be due to voter fraud, perpetrated by the US and the current Iraqi government. Because both the US and the current extremely corrupt Iraqi government have a vested invested interest and a history of committing voter fraud, so it will receive little attention. No one except the Sunnis stands to benefit from advertising the fraud, so the results will go unchallenged by everyone- except the Sunnis, who will respond wiht votes in the form of bullets & IED’s.

Western reporters, confined to Bagdhad, will dutifully report from their limited perspective, using information provided by the US and the current Iraqi government.

Desperate for good news, but chastened by past experience, the Bush administration will be relatively restrained in celebrating the referendum. No purple thumbs this time.

Turnout will be slightly less than the 58% of the previous election, with the tally showing 57%. Kurds & Shias will vote in similar numbers, with the slight drop occurring among the Sunnis, who will show up in even fewer numbers than before.

Attacks per day currently average 90. After a brief lull, the number will stay at 60 or higher. In practical terms, the situation will remain unchanged between now and the end of the year… and that’s not good.

The most ominous development will be the mounting tensions between Shias and Sunnis, and the increasing involvement of Iran, which will intervene more and more openly on the side of the Shias.

Posted by: phx8 at October 15, 2005 1:59 AM
Comment #85908

Considering that all cars are banned and the borders are closed and Allah knows what else is being enforced, I predict a peacefull Election.

I predict that Bush and Company will harp on this endlessly for a week.

I predict that the violence will return just as bad in a week.

I predict that the Red Column will brag about the Election for a week then whine about the UN Oil for Food Scandal when the bombs go off.

I predict we will pass the 2,000 dead mark in a week.

Posted by: Aldous at October 15, 2005 3:38 AM
Comment #85914

Angels in 7. Cardinals in 6.

Posted by: Burt at October 15, 2005 8:25 AM
Comment #85915

Spence Spencer, Director of the Public International Law and Policy Group, who has been instrumental in drafting the Iraqi Constitution is on C-Span’s Washington Journal as I write. He says:
1) the Constitution is a necessary step for democracy and stability in Iraq, but, by no means is it sufficient.

2) The population is far more concerned about getting electricity and halting the ethnic violence than they are about drafting a Constitution.

3) The Constitution was drafted in two months, and is more a result of backroom deals and accords, than a specific prescription for the shape and function of government. He indicated a number of specifics like how Islamic leaders are to be chosen, and how many, will be selected to the Supreme Court, are not addressed. Much of the process of erecting the structure and defining the roles of officials in government are left out of the Constitution, which he says will have to be amended and tweaked and expanded after its adoption before it becomes a functional document guiding the way.

4) The security issues will require the US to remain there for an indefinite time, since without US imposed security, limited as it is, the process of government would not move forward.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 15, 2005 8:32 AM
Comment #85921

So far, it looks good. The turnout in Sunni areas is high. Of course, many of these guys are voting against, but voting against is better than blowing things up. And according to news reports, major Sunni groups are split. While this sounds ominous, of course it is good news, since it means that the previously solid opposition is now not. It also shows that people have confidence in voting.

Of course this is not the end of the story. History is never finished. Things get better and things get worse, but that doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge a good day.

This is good news. Security is high, but the bad guys have been unable to do anything big. How unbelievable is that!

Yes Aldous, I will celebrate this result, not as a Republican, but as an American and as a human being. A good result is positive for person of good will. We all should celebrate. Don’t worry. As I wrote in the intro, people will soon say this was just an inevitable outcome. Bush opponents will figure out ways to explain it in ways that don’t include George Bush. So maybe you can just be happy for the Iraqis.

Posted by: Jack at October 15, 2005 9:42 AM
Comment #85923

Let’s hope it goes well and passes. Regardless of whether or not one opposed this war, and I did, we must support the Iraqi people in moving towards self-determination. If this event will help get our folks home faster, then I hope it passes overwhemingly.

Posted by: Dennis at October 15, 2005 9:55 AM
Comment #85926

Stephen,

“What you’re inviting is more people imagining things the way they want to imagine it. Let me go one better than you.

If this vote goes well, and the insurgency settles down (and not just for a few weeks), then I think it will be a good idea to push for an all around reconstruction bonanza. This time, we should seek out local contractors, or in fact train them where possible.”

Let me go you even one better.

Let’s use local materials as well. Iraq was an exporter of concrete before we invaded. Let’s stop importing building materials and allow the local economies to flourish on their own.

The money we are being overcharged by Halliburton and their ilk would be better spent by local companies.

Posted by: Rocky at October 15, 2005 10:32 AM
Comment #85927

Yes, Bush is making this nation building thing look easy isn’t he? Hooray for Bush. Not entirely sure what’s to celebrate though. Is having a constitution always a good thing? Is hoping the Iraqis vote against their constitution now to be added to the ever growing list filed under “supporting the terrorists”?

The problem is that the constitution leaves many open questions, especially thorny ones such as the issue of federalism. The passing of this constitution, and perhaps more importantly the elections in a couple of months and the political wrangling after, could lead to stability or it could lead to civil war and balkanisation. It’s too early to be celebrating the passing of the constitution in more ways than one.

Posted by: Paul at October 15, 2005 10:44 AM
Comment #85928

These past years, my problem with the way the Bush administration has handled political development has been its pairing of the reluctance to commit the resources necessary for a full securing of the country, with it’s zeal to move on the political formalities of creating a Democracy.

With any system of government, especially a democracy, the social context of how power flows from the people to the government matters. By constantly juggling a half-hearted counter-insurgency effort with relentless efforts to push a western Democracy on a nation that’s never known one, the Adminstration has put us at a constant disadvantage to those willing to use violence to both sabotage reconstruction efforts, and agitate the Iraqi society as a whole. We’ve put them in the position of being able to force us to go on wild goose chases.

All in all, not the best position from which to found a Democracy. Peace is generally the best position from which to found a Democracy. Democracy is above all else a triumph of rationalism, and it helps to have people at their most clear-headed, rather than hot-blooded.

There exists the possibility that this may work out as planned, at least in the short term. But we have to ask the real question of what comes of this election if it is successful under these circumstances.

I’m not going to play the prediction game because events like this are highly contingent on details, and I think predictive thinking without the benefit of more contingent thought is more or less what got us into this problem.

Contigent thinking isn’t perfect, but it considers one thing that predictive thinking won’t necessarily engage: What if we’re wrong? What if our plan goes wrong? What is our plan B, and what does that plan depend upon.

It’s a less arrogant way of engaging things. You’re not expecting the world to move your way because you’re so damn smart. Additionally, there’s less psychological investment in appearing to be right. Instead of stalling in the face of questions about the failure of one’s predictions, one can say “It’s not what we hoped for, so we’re going to take a different tack now and try this.”

If consistency is your particular hobgoblin, it appears like waffling, but the fact of the matter is, consistent strategies can come in many flavors of appropriateness to the problem at hand. Nothing like being consistently wrong to ruin your day. Those who take pride in consistency must take pride in the accuracy and precision of their strategies as well, or risk perpetuating their own problems.

Like a certain someone we know.

Maybe, by sheer luck, this election will do what it was supposed to do. If so, then we must do what it takes to get Iraq back on its feet, and independent of the need for our resources.

That will be complicated by the fact that we’ve been using outside rather than local contractors to do much of the work, by the acts of violence and sabotage that are almost certain to continue in some form, and by the weakened state of law, order, and security that exists in Iraq right now. In future military efforts, we will do well not to repeat the mistake of starting out from such a disadvantage.

In essence, the spectre of what we do with future military efforts is part of what drives objections to this war. Those leading this war effort have gotten into some terrible habits in terms of how they deal with the basics of war fighting. They tied our hands behind our back by going in too light, for a cause that rapidly lost credibility as we proceeded. They ignored the warning signs of an incipient insurgency. The undersupplied, undermanned, and underthought the whole enterprise, putting the world’s greatest superpower at a disadvantage to a considerably less substantial enemy.

Worst of all, they left us exposed to a counterattack by our foes that was enabled by a wrong choice of battleground, not to mention our inability to secure the territory we broke and therefore bought.

What I call for here is contingency plans from your side, Jack, as to what we should do if we are put in the position of having to deal with a failed, sabotaged, or unfavorable outcome in this election.

How about it? What are your plans then? What ways could this vote fail, and what will your response be?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 15, 2005 10:50 AM
Comment #85929

Burt,

I agree with your prediction.

ROcky,

Good ideas….but with the track history of our intervention….it’s pie in the sky. Haliburton and other contractors are concerned about money and bottom line more than they are concerned about rebuilding Iraq’s economy.

As far as the election goes…I hope all goes well and the constitution passes IF that is what the majority of Iraqi’s want. IF it isn’t I hope it doesn’t pass. Their newfound independence will only last as long as the vast majority have faith in the constitution and the government. Prediciton: The Iraqi peoples will democratically vote for a theocratic government. What that means for the future is probably somewhere between Iran and the old byzantine empire. That, if civil war is avoided.

Posted by: Tom L at October 15, 2005 10:53 AM
Comment #85933

Tom L

Halliburton stock was worth more in the last years of Clinton than it is today. I guess their Bush bonanza wasn’t as good as we hear.

Stephen

We don’t need plan B if plan A works. Of course we have contingency plans. As with any venture, there is a chance for failure. We have whole groups of people studying what can go wrong.

While both risks and rewards are important, winners think more about how to assure success and loser worry more about the costs of failure. Often these ways of thinking become self-fulfilling. The fact of life is that the future is uncertain. You can prepare for some contingencies, but you certainly cannot anticipate them in detail.

The probability is that we will achieve reasonable success in Iraq. That should be our working hypothesis and preparing for this probability is where we should put most of our effort.

A reasonably democratic Iraq with a reasonably functioning market economy is likely and that is far and away a much better scenario than we had in 2002 or indeed any time since around 1958.

Posted by: Jack at October 15, 2005 11:37 AM
Comment #85935

We should have given Iraq our Constitution - after all, WE aren’t using it.

Posted by: ElliottBay at October 15, 2005 11:49 AM
Comment #85936

Elliot

Many people talk like that. What unconstitutional indignities have you recently suffered?

Posted by: Jack at October 15, 2005 12:14 PM
Comment #85937

I predict there will be little if any violence during and shortly after the vote.

I give the constitution a 60% chance of passing. It is looking a lot better since the compromise brokered last week/earlier this week.

I predict that even if it does pass, it will have little to no effect on the overall violence in Iraq and on the date on which our troops can leave. Their constitution is a piece of paper that really has no power without enforcement.

The Iraqis are in no position to enforce their constitution, in spite of the happy talk emanating from the civilian side of the Bush administration.

Until they are in position to enforce their constitution, our troops will remain hunkered down over there, getting picked off one by one.

Posted by: spongeworthy_us at October 15, 2005 12:17 PM
Comment #85941

Is the left really so full of doom and gloom that they cann’t see a positive side to anything? Or are they just so blinded my hate for Bush? Or both?
I’m not going to try to predict what’s going to happen. I know that I would like to see a positive outcome to the vote and a constitution installed. I would like to see peacefull elections of leaders.I would like to see our troops to be able to come home, in victory not defeat, and then be treated with the honor due them.
If this is pie-in-the-sky wishing then I have a lot of company.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 15, 2005 1:02 PM
Comment #85944

Jack,

It was a joke. Lighten up.

Posted by: ElliottBay at October 15, 2005 1:36 PM
Comment #85945

Nothing wrong with being optimistic, with visualizing a worthy goal, with having a dream.

The problems we face in Iraq come from a characteristic flaw of the Bush administration. They confuse visualizing a goal with the goal itself, as if the simple act of visualizing makes it so. After all, it’s all politics. For the Bush administation it’s all photo ops, it’s all fixing intelligence around the policy, it’s all about perception, and the imagined perception is the reality.

It’s as if they are not just observers, but the biggest, baddest, and only observer ever- and when it comes to whether Schrodiner’s cat is alive or dead, there’s no need to open the box, because the Bush administration has already declared the cat alive.

No need for decision trees. No need for trees whatsoever. It’s all forest, existing at the pleasure of the Bush administration, and not terribly useful unless the forest dies and, after millions of years, contributes itself to the hydrocarbon pool.

Posted by: phx8 at October 15, 2005 1:38 PM
Comment #85946

Ellliot

Humour can be deadly serious. The jokes always go in the same direction.

Posted by: jack at October 15, 2005 1:40 PM
Comment #85947
A reasonably democratic Iraq with a reasonably functioning market economy is likely

Not with this constitution. It creates a constitutional theocracy with clerics having complete control over all legislation. And it creates a centrally controlled socialist economy. It’s just another Islamist petrostate. At least Carter didn’t spend American lives and taxpayer dollars creating the one in Iran.

Here’s my pie-in-the-sky wish: The constitution is rejected, the Shiites and Kurds wise up and include the Sunnis in the political process producing a new constitution that guarantees a liberal democratic free market society with equal rights for women and protection for minorities, and President Bush trebles the number of troops to maintain security so the reconstruction can finally start.

The Iraqis are hand counting votes by kerosine lamp light because there is no electricity.

Posted by: American Pundit at October 15, 2005 1:42 PM
Comment #85951

Jack-
I have no doubt that if plan A works in any given situation, plan B is unnecessary. But what do you mean by that? Your point is unclear, as I have already said that Plan B is needed in case plan A doesn’t work. That point is implicit to the one that I’ve already made.

I also have no doubt that we have contingency plans, and people studying what can go wrong. Neither will help, though, if Plan A is not moved out of the way when it fails to fulfill the desired objective, or if nobody listens to the right people as to what the contingency plan should be.

Winners, to assure success, must be able to accurately guage the cost of failure, because each failure can take away the resources or opportunities necessary to succeed. Situations like this have histories, which cannot simply be wiped away. You cannot now change the shortage of soldiers we started out with, or the consequences up to this point of such low numbers in the battlefield. You cannot take back all the lives lost, the cities destroyed or damaged or anything else. These are losses and damages that can be recovered from, but you have to win back what you lost, if it’s recoverable, and that takes effort and resources that could otherwise be used elsewhere.

Not all details are event dependent. This is part of my complaint about how the Bush administration set up the war. Why didn’t they anticipate a long term occupation? There are things needed for such an occupation that could have been dealt with ahead of time: more armored vehicles, more soldiers, a more sensible fiscal arrangement, state department lead on setting up the government, the use of local firms to do reconstruction, etc, etc.

The problem is, they’re thinking like you are: success in their view is very probable, so they don’t need to have things arranged so they can handle the loss. If you can anticipate how you might lose, you can halt that loss sooner, and by doing that mount a counteroffensive on your problem, or on your enemy. This will give you an advantage where you otherwise would have only greater liabilities.

We can tell ourselves how things are going to be, or how they are supposed to be, but my experience is that prediction-based thinking is often much more vague by necessity than more contingency based sensibilities.

We all have seen the science fiction out there that has flying cars and mile high buildings and other far-fetched things like that. Why do they have them? Because they don’t have to build them. They don’t have to figure out how the base of a mile high building is going to carry the load of that much structure, or the materials that will support that weight. They don’t have to figure out how to oppose the gravitational resistance of a vehicle in a safe, mass-produceable way. They can think of laser guns and lightsabers because they don’t have to work out how these things would actually work with our laws of physics, and the amount of energy one would need to pack in a carryable weapon.

So too can people talk about spreading Democracy, defeating insurgents, and mean it, without necessarily having any practical idea of how to acheive it, or what to do if it doesn’t go right.

I asked you quite directly what your strategy or what the strategy of your president might be if things don’t turn out as planned. Such thinking requires knowledge of the state of affairs as they are, and of the elements involved. It’s easy to speak in generalities about what the Iraqi people might do, or are probable to do, but can you conceive of plan B in this case, what form it might take?

All along, with this war, the President has told us: have faith in me first, then I’ll have the means to do this right. Agree with my predictions as to how this turns out, then we’ll be able to win this war.

Trouble is, we can all agree that we can win the war, but if certain things just don’t get done, then we will nonetheless fail at our endeavor. That failure is not something that can be perpetually denied, and it will eat away at artificially maintained morale.

Belief can only carry a person forward if it conveys them to the means to succeed. If all the belief does is send them on a Quixotic wild goose chase, people will justifiable despair of victory. Bush cannot simply demand people’s support for the war. They must give them objective cause to believe that victory is possible. That might begin with a successful election, but it doesn’t end there. Moreover, if the election is not successful, then the GOP had better get cooking on Plan B. There are many reasons why we cannot afford to lose this war, and unfortunately many are the result of the very fact we decided to fight this war.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 15, 2005 2:16 PM
Comment #85956

Predictions mean nothing. Voting, in and of itself does not make a country a democracy. Ratifying a constitution does not mean much either, especially since nobody except a few leaders has any idea what the constitution says.

Democracy cannot be imposed on any country. It must come from within. Once it starts, we may help it along. This is not where Iraq is.

If we truly want Iraq to become a free country, we must leave the country and let it develop in its own way. This does not mean we should not be ready to help it militarily if asked.

Liberals don’t believe in doom and gloom, just as conservatives are not paragons of hope.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at October 15, 2005 2:27 PM
Comment #85958

Paul

That is silly.

Democracy doesn’t develop by itself everywhere and some places it can use a boost. And it can easily go the wrong way.

Take the examples of Japan and Korea. Look at North versus South Korea. South Korea is a reasonable democracy. North Korea is a poverty stricken concentration camp. Random chance? Or more recently, Afghanistan. Afghanistan has a chance for democracy only because of foreign intervention. No other reason.

We should not go around using force to establish democracy all over the world. But in the case of Iraq, we already have used force to depose a terrible dictator at some significant cost. If Iraqi politics had developed in its own way Saddam would still be in power and his sons in line to take over after him.

We have a chance to finish the job. Remember the complaint about Afghanistan, that we helped kick out the Soviets then forgot about the place.

Step by step is good strategy sometimes but you cannot jump a chasm in two steps.

Posted by: Jack at October 15, 2005 3:52 PM
Comment #85961

In spite of all the Liberal’s doom and gloom hype, it looks like President Bush’s Iraq plans are working.

To paraphrase the posts above “Even if they get a constitution, it don’t mean anything because Bush was still wrong.” I think if we stayed in Iraq for one more year and Iraq built their country to 21st century standards there would be many on the left who still wouldn’t call it a victory.

Posted by: tomd at October 15, 2005 4:03 PM
Comment #85962
Halliburton stock was worth more in the last years of Clinton than it is today. I guess their Bush bonanza wasn�t as good as we hear.

Jack,

Halliburton stock was around $40 at the end of the Clinton administration and around $60 today. I guess you can try and spin just about anything.

Posted by: Burt at October 15, 2005 4:18 PM
Comment #85964

Jack-
I can’t figure out where you stand here. On one hand, you say that we can get a Democracy all of a sudden in the midst of open insurgency just by holding a vote. Then you say we have to get this done step by step. Well, the Bush approach has been one leap across the chasm after another. We cannot expect even a twentieth century Democracy to function under these conditions.

Unfortunately, Bush has been marching this war along to a political drumbeat, trying to fit the progress in this war to his election schedule, rather than taking the time and the resources to do it right.

His first mistake was handing over the sovereignty of Iraq without having ever secured control of it. In essence, by rushing that, he essentially handed nothing in the way of real control to the Iraqis. He also gave away our direct control of the country, which makes it much more difficult to bring additional troops in without compromising the government in question.

It doesn’t help that he’s still trying to push things forward, despite the lack of real progress getting the country back together.

Bush is using the aegis of boldness and the cloak of righteousness to deny his recklessness, and sidestep the consequences of his dishonesty.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 15, 2005 4:50 PM
Comment #85966

tomd-
We would have an easier time sympathizing with this administration’s optimism if it wasn’t so arbitrary to what actually was going on.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 15, 2005 5:19 PM
Comment #85968

Tomd:

To paraphrase the preceding posts above “Even if they get a constitution, it don’t mean anything because Bush was still wrong.”

On the contrary, a paraphrase of most of the posts would be “Even if they get a constitution, it’s just a piece of paper.” That Con/Repub-produced strawman that goes “Libs/Dems think that even if {insert something really cool and good} happens, Bush is still {insert something crass and bad}”, is hogwash and it doesn’t help facilitate dialog. Maybe some Libs/Dems seriously subscribe to that, but most don’t.

On the other hand, I would like to see you or any other real conservative or Republican address the “Even if they get a constitution, it’s just a piece of paper” proposition. I agree a constitution is a step in the right direction but per se doesn’t mean much near-term.

Posted by: spongeworthy_us at October 15, 2005 6:04 PM
Comment #85971

Burt

As you recall, stocks began to decline at the end of the Clinton Administration. The market had declined significantly before Bush became president. Some Dems can’t remember that, but it is true. I should have been clearer that when I said last years, I didn’t mean precisely the last year. If you look at the long-term chart, you see that Halliburton hovered around $60 in 1997/8. More if adjusted for inflation than today.

The point is that Halliburton has been a good stock, but by no means anything special. Even if we take you $40 to $60 it is not amazing. It is worth 50% more. I bought Starbucks back in 1998 and it is worth more than five times what I paid for it - more than 500%. Surely we didn’t have war to trade blood for coffee. Only people who don’t invest or don’t make money investing believe this Halliburton fairy tale, although I expect that many more cynically pass it along.

Stephen

Bush has been acting under a lot of political pressure at home and abroad. I believe he has tried to move a little too fast, but his alternative was to give up or not move at all because of the hostile political environment.

That said, Iraq has been progressing very well. Each step has gone better than the Bush critics had anticipated. From sovereignty to the elections in January and soon to this referendum. If you want reference on these things, just go back to entries on this blog. We keep on moving forward and we keep on being told that it won’t work. But it does.

I am inspired by today’s events. I know that it is not over. It never is over. But it is a lot better than it was last year and it will be better still a year from now.

Posted by: Jack at October 15, 2005 6:56 PM
Comment #85973
The point is that Halliburton has been a good stock, but by no means anything special. Even if we take you $40 to $60 it is not amazing. It is worth 50% more. I bought Starbucks back in 1998 and it is worth more than five times what I paid for it - more than 500%. Surely we didn’t have war to trade blood for coffee. Only people who don’t invest or don’t make money investing believe this Halliburton fairy tale, although I expect that many more cynically pass it along.

Well, Jack, if you want to play it like that, consider this. Since the war in Iraq started, Halliburton stock has tripled. That’s a better ROI over time than your Starbucks.

Now, you can argue that improving Halliburton shares wasn’t the reason we went to war, and I’d agree with you. But it sure didn’t hurt. And to argue that the War in Iraq didn’t directly help Halliburton is painfully false.

And how about the oil industry in general? These corporations are reporting the largest quarterly corporate profits in the history of the world. Ever. For any company. Anywhere. And yet your friends in the Republican party just voted to give them even MORE corporate welfare. Where’s the outrage, Jack?

P.S. Your arrogance is showing. You like to assume that Republicans are the only ones with a knowledge of investing or financial markets and that Democrats don’t have a pot to piss in, let alone an investment portfolio. But like most of your other prejudices, they are not based in fact.

Posted by: Burt at October 15, 2005 7:17 PM
Comment #85976

tomd
I think if we stayed in Iraq for one more year and Iraq built their country to 21st century standards there would be many on the left who still wouldn’t call it a victory.

Of coarse not, The left is so full of hate for Bush that they would call it a failure.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 15, 2005 7:41 PM
Comment #85977

“The Constitution was drafted in two months, and is more a result of backroom deals and accords, than a specific prescription for the shape and function of government.”

This all sounds SO FAMILIAR! It will be a success because it sounds an aweful lot like or own government and their ‘backroom deals and accords’.

Posted by: bugcrazy at October 15, 2005 7:47 PM
Comment #85978

“The problem is that the constitution leaves many open questions” - Paul said.

This too sounds familiar!

Posted by: bugcrazy at October 15, 2005 7:49 PM
Comment #85984

bugcrazy obviously has no history of even our own Constitution given the remarks above.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 15, 2005 8:51 PM
Comment #85985

tomd, Iraq could be a glaring success in one year, and Bush have still have failed in so, so many ways, establishing torture as a US policy, deficits and national debt that makes Democrats look like the fiscal hawks, Soc Sec. reform which the public bitch slapped him in the face over and which we now hear nothing about due to that bitch slapping…

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 15, 2005 8:53 PM
Comment #85987

Jack-
You’re feeding me a bunch of vague optimism, and you still haven’t answered my question about what you would consider a good alternative plan to the one we got if all this doesn’t succeed.

I feel I’m entitled to more than just a circular argument here, more than a veiled allegation that Bush has been screwing up because the Dems won’t let him have his little war in peace.

The president, though, is supposed to be able to make his policy work under pressure. If a candidate can’t stand the heat, he shouldn’t be running for head chef of the kitchen. Besides, don’t you remember what we said all those months ago? We were suggesting putting off elections until we could get matters under control. The Pressure from us was opposite of what you say!

Iraq has not been progressing well. People don’t lose faith in a war this fast simply because folks are flapping their gums. It takes some serious problems, persistently manifested for people to lose this much faith. You may think it’s working, but you guys haven’t been letting the facts get in the way of your optimism for some time now, and although there’s a chance you may be right about this, it will be more because of the quality of the Iraqi people than the leadership of this president.

Ron Brown-
Should I comment on how full of hatred for liberals Republicans are? No. I shouldn’t. It’s ad hominem, and it doesn’t lend an iota credibility to anything I write. Moreover, many Republicans will think it unfairly inaccurate of us to paint them with such a broad brush. And they’ll be right. Add something productive to the argument, please. There are websites full of people who just dismiss Democrats. You got the opportunity here to actually engage fully with some on the issues. Don’t settle for some freeper propagandizing.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 15, 2005 9:08 PM
Comment #85993

I was referring to people who claim our constitution is a ‘living, breathing, document’ while in the same breath saying the new constitution in Iraq really doesn’t matter because it is not exactly the way ‘it should be’.

Then there are those who say that our constitution is perfect and should not be changed while stating the Iraq constitution can be adjusted.

It all depends on ones own political philosophy.

Any of us claiming to have the answers from how many miles away?, never having stepped foot in Iraq before or during the war …

So many ‘experts’ with so many different conclusions.

Posted by: bugcrazy at October 15, 2005 10:28 PM
Comment #85994

Bug,
The Iraqi government announced a ‘deal’ on October 12th changing the constitution, a document which was supposed to have been completed and approved by all parties months earlier. Versions of the constitution were already published & distributed to the populace without the latest change.

No, I’m no expert, and no, I’m not in Iraq. But I know of no political philosophy which advocates popular voting ‘in the blind.’ This vote represents a sort of general referendum on the idea of a constitution. That can be considered a good thing. However, to suggest the Iraqis just approved a ‘living, breathing document’ is one serious stretch. Changes have been made & most likely will continue to be made without any input from the Iraqi people, & without any pretense of a legislative process.

Ron,
Here’s an optimistic scenario:

After the December elections, the US withdraws from Iraq. Insurgents cease their attacks, since the target left their country. Foreign jihadists are rejected by the resurgent Sunni Baathists and other insurgents. Why allow the foreigners to attack Shias, when it turns out the Shias are willing to buy off the Sunni leaders?

Corruption does have its upside.

With the withdrawal of foreigners from their country, Iraqis cease sabotaging oil production, electrical generation, and so on.

Feingold is right. There is absolutely no reason for the US to still be in Iraq beyond 2006. Hell, we can even declare victory when we withdraw! It’s just a matter of the Bush administration properly setting expectations.

Posted by: phx8 at October 15, 2005 10:48 PM
Comment #85998

Burt

I understand that many Democrats are very wealthy and are heavily invested in the stock market. In fact, the richest zip codes in the U.S. like Beverly Hills and Manhattan vote Democrat.

I only contend that the idea that we went to war to help Halliburton is silly and anyone, Republican or Democrat, who believes that is probably not a successful investor. Halliburton has been a good stock to own recently, as have many others since the economy began to grow again back in 2002. If you focus on selected short time periods, many things become possible to believe. Halliburton has not been the best stock to own during the Bush Administration. If you bought Halliburton the day Bush was elected, you are ahead today. But you were in negative territory throughout the whole first term and in fact until just a few months ago. And if you owned and held Halliburton for the last ten years, you made about as much as you would have if you just put your cash into your local credit union. Evidently the Bush guys are so good at hiding money that they put it where even they can’t find it.

The stock market, unlike politics, has a bottom line, however. If you believe what you say, buy the stock. You can give the profits to the poor or fund anti-Bush television ads. If you make the big money. If is an important word.

Stephen

It is an old PR trick to get your opponent to describe a worst-case scenario. “Sure the weather is good now, but what if a storm blows in.” It is always easy to pick apart hypothetical solutions by adding more hypothetical problems. But it is sometimes fun to play the game. If everything in Iraq goes to hell, we are all in trouble. Let me drop to the worst case.

If the terrorists win in Iraq, they will probably be able to expand their influence all over the Middle East. They will destroy the economies of the region through mismanagment and the price of oil will go way up. I suppose we will be in a state of perpetual war, as the oil revenue supports ever greater terror operatons. and we will face the kind of world it looked like we would face right after 9/11. I will hunker down on my tree farm and shoot at anyone who looks threatening. It will be sort of like Mad Max. I don’t think that is a probably scenario. The realistic worst case is that we are forced to pull our troops out prematurely and Iraq descents into a Lebanese style civil war. BTW - this is about the best-case scenario we could expect if we take the advice of the peace movement people to pull out right away.

The most probable scenario, however, is a reasonably stable Iraq. Not a problem free place, in ten years maybe something like Malaysia, which also had (has) its hostile ethnic groups. More of a reach, but still a good probability is a stable Iraq that contributes to the stability of the region. And let’s remember that the situation in the Middle East before the Iraq war was very bad. It is not worse now and is in many respects better.

Posted by: Jack at October 15, 2005 11:52 PM
Comment #86005

David

My thoughts exactly!!!!!

I want to see across the board cuts not reductions in growth. your telling me we can’t find 500 million in a budget that is 2,000.00 BILLION DOLLARS.

Posted by: CAD at October 16, 2005 2:02 AM
Comment #86014

Jack-
Your objection seems to be that I want you to think of the worst case scenario. That’s not what I mean. What I mean here is that I want you to parse out what the condtions for victory might be, how we might fall short of those conditions, and what our options might be if that happens. I don’t want a context-poor best- or worst-case scenario. That’s just the kind of highly predictive thinking I’m wanting people to avoid.

What I want is more fact-integrated thinking. I’m tired of these debates being a competition between two diametrically opposed oversimplifications. I’m tired of not having the middle ground of some kind of consensus as to what needs to be done. I’m tired of people making idols of policy positions and worshipping at them. I didn’t come to my point of view on the war by repeating what other people have said. I came to it because I did my research and formed my conclusion from that.

Even now, I maintain the belief that we should fight this war to the finish, and not bug out. I retain that belief because my research hinted that doing otherwise would cost us dearly. Even now, I don’t object to the forming of a mainly Shia government, much less object to it on the grounds that some of my colleagues here do so on.

It frustrates me not to encounter the kind of stonewalling I typically get from this side. It frustrates me that folks keep on unfairly alleging that all we’re doing is having a hatefest for Bush. That just makes me tired all over, because my research gives me very rational reasons not to like Bush or what he’s done.

You may end up coming to the same conclusions you do now. But I think you may be better able to explain your point of view and better able to retain the flexibility to disagree to take your own point of view, separate from your party, as I’ve been able to do.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 16, 2005 9:03 AM
Comment #86016

Stephen

You are asking me for a detail of information and analysis beyond my expertise. I am sorry. I don’t say this to obfuscate. It just is beyond my pay grade. I suspect that the reason you don’t get the analysis you are looking for is that very few people can provide it. Given the uncertainty, I am not sure anyone can. I am sure you know the difference between uncertainty and risk. Risk can be quantified or assessed. Uncertainty is just an ambiguous not knowing. We face some risks and a lot of uncertainty.

But you asked for my opinion and I am willing to pontificate, with the caveat that it is only me.

I can give you what I believe are the three likely risk scenarios. The interesting thing is that our response is very similar for 90% of the probability. It is just that we get very different payoffs.

Scenario 1 is that Iraq establishes a reasonably stable democracy and the country holds together. In this case, U.S. troops remain there long enough to train Iraqis then most of them come home. Some stay as trainers and advisors, as they do in many other places. Talking about this is enough a topic for a whole library. We spent many years helping NATO aspirant countries develop their civilian led militaries. “Little things” such as developing a working NCO corps take a lot of time - essentially a generation, which is about ten years in such organizations. My (arbitrary - see above) probably for this is 50%

Scenario 2 is that Iraq fails to hold together and breaks up into three parts. I think this would be defacto and not official, as least for a long time. It is kind of slow motion civil war. In this case, it is still in our best interests to defeat the insurgency and go home. We would follow similar scenarios as above, but focused on each regions. Talk about uncertainty here. I am reasonably certain that the Kurds could form a decent entity. Ironically, we would probably be supporting the Sunnis, who would eventually figure out that we are the best guarantors they have. Probability here is about 40%.

Scenario 3 is that the place disintegrates into civil war and insurgency. The Kurds can form a viable state, as long as they don’t call it a sovereign state. The Shiites would probably drift under an Iranian hegemony. Our only strategy would be to try to quarantine the hot regions. This scenario would require a longer-term commitment of U.S. troops. The interesting permutation in this is Iran. Iran is currently a benighted place, but it is fitfully evolving toward a stable democracy. We may find in the medium run that the situation improves because of events we don’t control This is a 10% probability.

This is the best I can do.

Posted by: Jack at October 16, 2005 10:11 AM
Comment #86017

GET REAL FOLKS, DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE IN WORLD WAR 3 AND WILL BE UNTIL ALL THE RADICALS IN THE WORLD ARE KILLED. IRAQ IS A MAGANET DRAWING THE RADICALS AND WE ARE USING IT FOR OUR KILLING FIELD. BETTER THERE THAN HERE.

BUSH SAID WE WERE IN THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL AND IT MAY GO ON FOR 20 YEARS AND WILL UNLESS THE STUPID NATIONS (LIKE FRANCE) DOESN’T SEE THE LIGHT AND HELP STAMP OUT THE RADICALS.

THERE ONE GOAL IN LIFE IS TO KILL YOU AND ME, OUR WIFE AND KIDS. SO WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES ALL YOU PEOPLE THAT IS AGAINST THE WAR. PERHAPS YOU WOULD RATHER LET THEM BLOW UP YOUR FAMILY.

Posted by: Walter Flatt at October 16, 2005 10:12 AM
Comment #86022

Walter, say what you want about the terrorists, but they don’t post in all caps on their websites.

Posted by: Burt at October 16, 2005 10:51 AM
Comment #86023

Yes, Jack. That huge run up in Halliburton stock since the Iraq war began is probably just a “short term” abberation. Just a crazy coincidence. And thanks for the investment advice, but I have a personal policy to not invest my money in war profiteers.

No comment on corporate welfare for oil companies? How strikingly typical.

Posted by: Burt at October 16, 2005 10:55 AM
Comment #86025

The truth about Halliburton.


http://mysite.verizon.net/vze1tvxm/thepoliticalarena/The%20Truth%20About%20Halliburton.htm

Posted by: Luis Gonzalez at October 16, 2005 11:07 AM
Comment #86026
The Clinton administration made the same calculation in its own dealings with Halliburton. The company had won the LOGCAP in 1992, then lost it in 1997. The Clinton administration nonetheless awarded a no-bid contract to Halliburton to continue its work in the Balkans supporting the US peacekeeping mission there because it made little sense to change midstream. According to Byron York, Al Gore’s reinventing-government panel even singled out Halliburton for praise for its military logistics work.

So, did Clinton and Gore involve the United States in the Balkans to benefit Halliburton? That charge makes as much sense as the one that Democrats are hurling at Bush now. Would that they directed more of their outrage at the people in Iraq who want to sabotage the country’s oil infrastructure, rather than at the US corporation charged with
helping repair it. (Rich Lowry National Review Editor Sept 22, 2003)

Under the Clinton administration, Halliburton received hundreds of millions of dollars worth of construction contracts for rebuilding efforts in Kosovo and Haiti.

In a deal cut in June 2000 under President Clinton, the New York Post reports that Halliburton won 11 Navy contracts worth $110 million to build jails at Guantanamo Bay, a base in Kuwait, a ferry terminal on Vieques, an air station in Spain, a breakwater in the Azores and facilities slammed by a typhoon in Guam.

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze1tvxm/thepoliticalarena/The%20Truth%20About%20Halliburton.htm

Oh, those evil conservatives!

Posted by: Luis Gonzalez at October 16, 2005 11:11 AM
Comment #86027

Burt

The oil industry has been a good investment recently because of a general upward trend in commodity prices generally. If you bought oil firms last year, you probably made money. If you bought something like iron ore or cement producing firms you also made money. The price of oil is not particularly tied to the war. More oil is being produced worldwide, but demand has increased, especially in China and India. The biggest way to make money since 2003 has been to try to figure out what the Chinese were going to buy, not the war in Iraq.

You can study the balance sheets and annual reports of any publicly traded firm. It is very clear why firms related to the energy industry (not only oil) have been profitable and it has to do with demand. The Iraq war has done essentially nothing to stimulate this and in fact may have dampened it a bit.


You are pursuing an archaic line of argument. In fact it wasn’t true when initially made (you recall – Krupp or IG Farben started world wars so that they could sell munitions. That is your root argument). The modern economy just doesn’t work that way. I don’t think you have to worry about making money from war profiteers.

Posted by: Jack at October 16, 2005 11:20 AM
Comment #86031

Jack,

Let try and state this more simply. You seem to have a problem comprehending the question.

As I said before, the world’s oil industry has been reporting the largest corporate profits in the history of the planet earth this year. I didn’t say it was because of the Iraq war or any other reason. I simply stated a fact.

I also stated that Republicans in Congress just voted on a bill to give these corporations more giveaways at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer. That too, is simply a fact.

So, I ask you again Jack. As a fiscal conservative, where is your outrage at this egregious corporate welfare?

Now, in regards to Halliburton, I’ve already stated that I didn’t think the Iraq war was started to benefit them. Yet, you still try and assign that to me as my “root argument”.

But can you honestly deny that Halliburton has profited from the war? Can you honestly say that they haven’t mismanaged and misspent much of the tax dollars handed to them?

Posted by: Burt at October 16, 2005 11:49 AM
Comment #86033

Luis,

Thanks for link. Very interesting considering all the information is 2 years old.

The arguments are not only old, but misleading too. Regarding campaign contributions, why would Halliburton need to make large campaign contributions when they have their CEO sitting in the White House?

And I’m not sure what you are trying to get at with your quotes involving Halliburton during the Clinton years. Yes, it’s true that Halliburton existed and even got government contracts during the Clinton administration. Is this supposed to be shocking?

Posted by: Burt at October 16, 2005 11:56 AM
Comment #86034

Jack-
Thank you. I recognize that it is easier to think these things out with training in the fields, but I am grateful for your candor in this. Hopefully, the first is the most likely. In my mind, the threshold has always been how invested people are in their peaceful, everyday lives, rather than in the perpetual crisis mode of a country at war. I think we have the advantage of a modern, mostly secular, mostly well-educated population that really doesn’t crave the violence like some of the jihadis do.

We got a taste of it this past year with the invasion of our country by two rather powerful hurricanes. To be in the midst of such a crisis is to be loosed from the ordinary rules and support of society, but not from your daily needs.

In war, it pays to get people both on our side and theirs out of that mode of thinking as quickly as possible, and back under the restraints of typical society. This is why the mistakes with manpower and half-heartedness in fixing that and other problems has been so problematic. I think the Republican approach has highlighted the necessity of endurance in the face of the enemy, but has neglected the strategic problem that an extended insurgency poses to those occupying a country, much less reconstructing it.

We should hold fast in the face of our enemies, but that doesn’t mean that we got any business letting this get started or letting it persist for so long. Our inability to finish the insurgency off, prevent its violence, has taken more out of us than the death toll or the controversy on the WMDs, in my opinion. Those issues just make the persistent failure to defeat them a greater issue.

Walter Flatt-
This is nowhere near World War III, and hopefully, it never comes to that. Iraq is not flypaper for the radicals. They’ve proved in Java, London, and Madrid that they can walk and chew gum at the same time. Hundreds are now dead in a string of non-Iraq attacks.

You can’t can’t kill every radical, and violence will not destroy violence. radicalism and violence are sadly part of life in the real world. What we can do is put them at a disadvantage and remove the support that makes them powerful. That, however, will be complex issue to deal with, and no honest person can make promises that there will be a sure-fire solution.

We are going to have to deal with this for some time, but this talk of having it go on for years is vague and counterproductive. Truth is, nobody is really in the mood to take twenty years to deal with this. It will be a chronic problem, but the severity will be function of just how well we are able to make things difficult for them.

As for France? I think France knows where it’s interests lie. Fact of the matter is, insulting the French, making cracks about Old Europe, and similar foolishness, will not appeal to their sense of self preservation.

And us Liberals? I think you vastly underestimate how well we understand the situation. In fact, we’ve understood it well for some time. We haven’t gone on tangents in to Laurie Mylroie land, or justified a war in Iraq on terrorists that didn’t exist. Our support for our actions in Afghanistan was solid, and the longtime failure of this administration to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden counts as one of our grievances against this president.

Wake up and smell the coffee- the Democrats in this country are waiting for people like you to figure out that they are as fervent in their wish to see our nation secure as any Republican. They are wishing for the Republicans here and elsewhere to stop arrogantly assuming that we are just peaceniks waiting for a chance to committ treason.

This partisan rancor has to end. This has to be about mounting an effective defense of our country against all enemies, not about who’s the better defender of the realm.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 16, 2005 12:06 PM
Comment #86038

Burt

The pork laden energy bill and the highway bills are very bad. I am disappointed that the Republican controlled congress passed it and that the President signed it. BTW - I am also disappointed that we seem to be throwing money at the Katrina rebuilding. I would prefer government stick to its core functions. I would not spend significant federal money to rebuild below sea level New Orleans. My energy policy would be to allow prices to rise or fall and I wouldn’t subsidize energy production or consumption in any way. In fact, I would tax gas up to about $5 a gallon. Neither party is for that. But there always is a “but”. Democrats often advocate even greater interference with prices, demand and the market.

Democrats can also do a good job. I was more or less satisfied with most of the Clinton economic policies in the middle years of his presidency (1994-8) But he did that because of his weakness in relation to a Republican congress and he often defied his base (as with NAFTA and welfare reform). His triangulation was good for us. If Dems nominate someone like Vilsack in 2008 we may be on the right track. But if you give us another Kerry or anyone near the Dean line, we are in trouble.

Re money and stocks - The second round of Bush tax cuts were aimed at the growth side of the ledger. They were good for the economy and good for firms. Nothing wrong with that and there is no need to apologize for doing the right thing.

It doesn’t bother me if energy firms make money, just like it doesn’t bother me if they lose money. That is how the free market distributes resources. As profits rise, more firms will enter the business until the profits become “normal” again. I would quickly point out that the energy business includes a lot more than oil as competitors. Coal, nuclear, wind, solar and even firewood are competitors. Even David Remer’s earth berms are a type of competition. There simply is no problem with them making money.

Since Halliburton is involved in logistical support, they benefited from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in that their business was in demand. Also benefiting were a variety of firms from those that make MREs to those who bottle water. Luis has pointed out the many firms that were involved. Halliburton’s activities represent a meaningless correlation, once you abandon the idea (as you have) that the war was created for firms like Halliburton. What you have is that the U.S. needed logistical support and among the firms to provide it was Halliburton. So what?

Posted by: Jack at October 16, 2005 1:34 PM
Comment #86048

Jack,

I apologize. I thought that you were familiar with the most recent legislation that I was referring to. I know it is hard to keep up with all of the useless, pork-laden legislation that Republicans have pushed through Congress lately. But the one I was talking about was the most recent giveaways to the most profitable corporations on earth - just coincidentaly the corporations that most of the administration used to work for.

Here’s some information for you to peruse. Comment if you wish.

P.S. I’m not aware of any water bottling companies contracting with the government that have been acused of wasting (or just outright losing) billions of dollars. Until I hear of some, I’ll focus my energy criticizing those companies who do waste tax payer dollars (aka Halliburton).

Posted by: Burt at October 16, 2005 5:50 PM
Comment #86052

“Yes, it’s true that Halliburton existed and even got government contracts during the Clinton administration. Is this supposed to be shocking?”

I guess it’s only supposed to be shocking when they get government contracts under a Republican administration.

Question….did Clinton get involved in the Balkans to help Dick Cheney and Halliburton?

Posted by: Luis Gonzalez at October 16, 2005 6:17 PM
Comment #86054

I don’t know that I want to get into the posturing going on here, but I would like to share my observations. Some just want to blow off steam; understandable. Some have steam that is a little…extreme?

I do not want to be rude, but the reason I logged on was that it says “Republicans & Conservatives.” I know it’s a free country, but as long as I’m being honest, I really would have preferred it was really Republicans and conservatives talking, not defending their views in every response. There is also a site called “Democrats & Liberals,” maybe some people should check that one out.

Let me be a little clearer about what I am actually opposing. As I read the entries, I realized that instead of being a place for me to put out my ideas and opinions or even express how excited I am about what I perceive to be a great thing in the world, I would have to spend my time defending myself and each word I write.

Stephen,

I’m sorry, but considering you are in obvious disagreement with the ideals and beliefs of most of the other participants in this forum, perhaps your entries shouldn’t be the longest and most frequent. If you disagree, of course you have the right to do so under the constitution of our great nation, but can you please not make this site about you and your beliefs? As I mentioned before, there is another site specifically for that purpose. It’s not that you can’t speak out on this site, but common courtesy would know not to stomp around demanding attention when others are trying to have a conversation.

Hopefully I won’t end up getting everyone mad by writing this. I just wanted to find a place to peacefully discuss things I feel about the world condition and learn more from others. People with completely opposing views don’t teach me anything but how opposite some people are from me.
Quite frankly, I get enough of that from the media.

Wow! That was way longer than I meant it to be.


Posted by: Victoria at October 16, 2005 6:23 PM
Comment #86055

What’s shocking is that Cheney would be so heedless of the appearance of impropriety as to hire a company he formerly ran in a no-bid process. He should have had greater regard for the reputation of our government. He should have known better.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 16, 2005 6:25 PM
Comment #86056

More recent information on Halliburton’s Iraqi “boon”, first quarter 2004 earnings:

According to Halliburton’s most recent quarterly results, released yesterday, its KBR unit
lost $15 million in the first quarter, largely because of a $97 million loss on
an ill-fated project in Brazil, even though revenues for the unit doubled to
$3.7 billion. Iraq was a fairly dim bright light. “Halliburton’s Iraq-related
work contributed approximately $2.1 billion in revenues in the first quarter
2004 and $32 million in operating income,” the company reported. That’s a margin
of 1.5 percent. — Profitless Profiteering — slate.msn.com

We’d fire our Board if the company’s profits were 1.5%.

Posted by: Luis Gonzalez at October 16, 2005 6:26 PM
Comment #86058
“Halliburton’s Iraq-related work contributed approximately $1.4 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2005 and $48 million of operating income, or a 3.4% margin.” — Halliburton Announces Record Second Quarter Results Halliburton Friday, July 22, 2005

Most companies post a 6% net profit; Halliburton’s “lucrative contract” over the length of their involvement in Iraq may be at about 2.1%; a mere pittance when compared with a company such a Heinz USA, with net first quarter 2005 earnings of 8.4%.

Posted by: Luis Gonzalez at October 16, 2005 6:50 PM
Comment #86064

Victoria,

If you are not interested in seeing the numerous sides to an issue you do not want to stay here on Watchblog. While my own views are conservative/independent, I very much enjoy and appreciate Stephen’s contributions to this site and will tell you he has as much right to post here as anyone else. We’re here to debate the issues… not just pat each other on the back and agree. There are plenty of blogging sites out there that are dedicated to that; here at Watchblog you’ll see many sides to the issues and you usually can debate these issues in a friendly courteous manner, that’s what makes this site great.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 16, 2005 7:06 PM
Comment #86065

A question for Republicans:

If the arrangement with Halliburton is as blameless as some say, wouldn’t it be appropriate for both Halliburton and the White House to ease back from their friendliness for the sake of PR, considering how much flack they get over this?

Posted by: Stephanie at October 16, 2005 7:09 PM
Comment #86066

It’ll be interesting as hell to see how a multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural country like Iraq turns out

I’m tuned in heavily.

Posted by: Mike T. at October 16, 2005 7:10 PM
Comment #86067

jack,

I believe the Iraqi referendum will pass, though not quite as easily as we’re led to believe via the media. I also believe the Bush administration will mess up at least once more (in a big enough way to cause trouble for the US) before we can finally get out of Iraq. Yet I still hope we can leave it 1) predominantly peaceful, 2) significantly restored & 3) as friends. The last bit is only my hope though, not my prediction.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 16, 2005 7:13 PM
Comment #86068

Victoria,

I’ll stop posting on *your* site as soon as you stop voting in *my* elections.

Thanks for illustrating how closed minded the red column can be.

Posted by: Burt at October 16, 2005 7:38 PM
Comment #86069

Luis,

Well thank you for at least getting up to the present year. Of course, we all know that there are many ways to mess with accounting that could show profits from one area of business actually show up in another.

Maybe someone should audit them or something.

Posted by: Burt at October 16, 2005 7:43 PM
Comment #86070

Burt,

Thank you for demonstrating the friendly and coureous nature of debate on Watchblog. *sigh*

Posted by: Stephanie at October 16, 2005 8:05 PM
Comment #86074

Victoria, it might help to understand the structural makeup of WatchBlog. The Red column hosts only Conservative or Republican views/news in the published articles. The comments sections however, are not restricted in any way to those of a particular political bent and are by design, open for counterpoint, discussion, and debate over the merits of points made in the published articles. The same of course is true for the other two columns.

Hence, if it is just a conservative/Republican view you wish to read here at WatchBlog, simply read the articles, and avoid reading the comments. Many folks however find as much or more educational value in reading the exchanges in the comments sections, as they do in reading the published articles themselves.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 16, 2005 8:54 PM
Comment #86075

David
If it were any other way I wouldn’t be here.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 16, 2005 9:29 PM
Comment #86077

Stephanie,

So be it, but my patience with the red column has grown very very thin.

Posted by: Burt at October 16, 2005 9:49 PM
Comment #86078

Burt

That Gasoline for America’s Security Act of 2005 doesn’t seem particularly odious. I only know what I read via your article and internet search, but it looks mostly like a way to expedite refinery construction - something we certainly need to do.

It won’t help much in the short term, but refinery capacity could be on line in a couple of years. It also limited the number of types of gasoline. That makes sense too.

As I wrote, I would prefer an energy policy that relied on the market and prices. I have read about the serious impediments to building new refineries. Many of these are legal and regulatory problems, so they are effectively the realm of government.

Posted by: Jack at October 16, 2005 9:59 PM
Comment #86083

Oh well, another miserable day…for liberals.

Posted by: John at October 16, 2005 11:03 PM
Comment #86087

Victoria-
If this place teaches one positive thing, it’s that there’s always a place to express yourself. Defense of your ideas is as much an expression of what you believe as is the original presentation. It’s like with a Bach fugue- you start with a theme, then spin off into an array of different variations on that theme. This place isn’t about views expressed in place, static and unchanging- it’s about the marketplace of ideas, where people contend over meanings, and bargain over beliefs.

Too many places leave views unchallenged, or allow pointless flamewars to preoccupy the discussion between rivals. Here, there’s the right mix of rivalry and civility

Now as to your direct response, I think people will volunteer quite readily that I rarely write short entries. It’s not to crowd others out. It’s just the sort of stream of thoughts I tend to have. I don’t do it to demand attention. It’s just my style. Some people like long entries, some short.

The thing about learning from other people though, is this: demanding that it happens on your own terms practically defeats the purpose. Part of learning from other people is learning their style of logic, and where their views separate from yours. There’s a lot to be learned simply by listening.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 16, 2005 11:53 PM
Comment #86088

Jack,

“It won’t help much in the short term, but refinery capacity could be on line in a couple of years. It also limited the number of types of gasoline. That makes sense too.”

You really don’t think that a petroleum company such as Exxon/Mobil, for instance, would want to sink hundreds of millions of dollars into a new facility that could be obsolete in the next decade or so, do you?

Posted by: Rocky at October 16, 2005 11:56 PM
Comment #86094

So Burt, your proof of how evil Halliburton is, and how in cahoots they are with this administration is the fact that this administration seems to be prosecuting them for every instance of apparent impropriety they can find?

Posted by: Luis Gonzalez at October 17, 2005 12:44 AM
Comment #86112

“What’s shocking is that Cheney would be so heedless of the appearance of impropriety as to hire a company he formerly ran in a no-bid process.”

Clinton’s Undersecretary Of Commerce Says Halliburton Allegations Overblown. “William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council in Washington, is a Democrat who served under Clinton as undersecretary of commerce. He said he disagrees with most of the Bush administration’s policies, but thinks the Halliburton controversy is overblown. ‘Halliburton has a distinguished track record,’ he said. ‘They do business in some 120 countries. This is a group of people who know what they’re doing in a difficult business. It’s a particularly difficult business when people are shooting at you. … I don’t think we went to war because we thought it would help selected American companies.’”
(James Rosen, “Is Iraq’s Reconstruction Rigged?” The [Raleigh] News & Observer, 10/5/03)

And do what Stephen?

Hire someone other than the best available to help the troops in order not to give an appearance of impropriety?

Posted by: Luis Gonzalez at October 17, 2005 8:51 AM
Comment #86113

Luis Gonzalez-
Forget evil for the moment, try conflicts of interests: How can we be sure that Cheney’s interests in serving our needs trumps serving the needs of Halliburton?

He certainly hasn’t done a very good job of making it clear that he skews in our direction. Halliburton got the contracts without even a bidding process to ensure that merit or cost efficiency would guide the decision of who would be involved. Halliburton has been shown to have wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, but how does Cheney punish them? He doesn’t. Can we assume that Cheney is not punishing them for good reasons? No, we can’t, because his relationship to his company is all too clear. Would Cheney have the heart to say no to old friends and co-workers?

What makes people associate the term evil with all this, I think, is that there is little in the way of remorse for such corrupt behavior. It seems that this government doesn’t care if it looks like they gave special treatment to a company the VP once led as CEO. They don’t seem to give a crap that they’ve allowed this company to overcharge us and build wastefully luxurious bases when we’re stretched thin financing this war as it is.

Evil, at the very least, is doing the wrong thing, and not caring that you’ve done wrong. With this administration’s consistent denial of the wrongful character of morally and legally objectionable behavior, is it not inevitable that people would speak of this administration as evil in its character?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 17, 2005 9:03 AM
Comment #86119

Stephen:

Halliburton has been shown to have wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, but how does Cheney punish them? He doesn’t.

Perhaps you’d be kind enough to show me instances in which Halliburton has been convicted of such fraud. I’ve seen many accusations, and even a few indictments, but I have apparently missed the convictions that you speak of.

You seem to misunderstand the process, though. Cheney did not have the authority to give the contracts to Halliburton, nor does he have the authority to ‘punish’ them. Surely someone with your knowledge of how government works would understand that the Vice President’s role is not to be the judge and jury.

Stephen, you ignore the fact that Halliburton revenue from the DOD doubled from 1998-2000, during the Clinton Administration. Did Cheney have authority then too?

You also ignore that some of the Halliburton ‘no-bid’ contracts were simply extensions of previous contracts already in place, and that the Clinton administration awarded no-bid contracts to Halliburton during its White House days. This is not to say that the Clinton Administration was wrong to do so, but rather to pointedly show the hypocrisy of those who say that no-bid contracts prove the evil of the Bush administration, while giving the Clinton administration a clean bill of health for doing the same thing.

You may check out the following site as the source for my comments: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=15426

Stephen, in some cases no-bid contracts are necessary. In other cases, they are no-bid because the shell contract HAS been bid (as in a company having been pre approved to be on a state contract, so that individual purchases do not have to be bid—they’ve already been bid). The media does not distinguish between the various types of contracts.

In any case, IFFF the Bush admin is guilty of catering to Halliburton, then so too is the Clinton administration. Where is your uproar over that—or is it that Clinton being a Democrat obscures your vision?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at October 17, 2005 9:45 AM
Comment #86125

“Is the left really so full of doom and gloom that they cann’t see a positive side to anything? Or are they just so blinded my hate for Bush? Or both?”

They aren’t full of doom and gloom, the left is full of delusion and ignorance. What passes for left wing “logic” on any subject is built upon a sandbar of myths, urban legends and a 19th century political treatise penned by a drug addicted rapist.

You might as well discuss the issue of the day with a housepet - at least the housepet will enjoy the attention, while your average leftist will only become enraged and possibly violent.

Posted by: Brian at October 17, 2005 10:17 AM
Comment #86128

WALTER… er, sorry, Walter,

Get real folks, don’t you understand that we are in World War 3…

Nope.

… and will be until all the radicals in the world are killed.

Unless war prediction?

Iraq is a *maganet* drawing the Radicals and we are using it for our killing field. Better there than here.

Yeah, the “Not In My Backyard” policy moved into military tactic. Some Iraqis kids really wants to thanks you personnally for such great altruism of you, except they’ve lost theirs hands/legs/arms/lives by *maganetization*.

Bush said we were in this for the long haul and it may go on for 20 years and will unless the stupid nations (like France) doesn’t see the light and help stamp out the Radicals.

Did Bush seeked France help on his divine war against terror Radicals by calling her a “stupid nation”?!
How could I miss such smart diplomatic way to request help from my country???

Their one goal in life is to kill you and me, our wife and kids. So wake up and smell the roses all you people that is against the war. Perhaps you would rather let them blow up your family.

Walter, as you seems to be american, why you aren’t with troops in Iraq soil already?
What? And what about me? Sorry, I can’t because I’m stupid (read french) and I don’t want to kill way too many innocents guys, their wives and kids to feel wrongly safe that nobody will blew up my family one day.

PS: Quotes were un-WALTER’ed for audience reading pleasure. No capslock key were harmed while writing this post.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 17, 2005 10:46 AM
Comment #86136

“Walter, as you seems to be american, why you aren’t with troops in Iraq soil already?”

Philippe, are you for education? Why aren’t you teaching children in schools? Phillippe, are you for feeding the poor? If you’re not feeding them, you’re obviously for letting them starve. Are you against murder? Then why haven’t you joined the police? Why are you aiding murderers?

“I don’t want to kill way too many innocents guys, their wives and kids to feel wrongly safe that nobody will blew up my family one day.”

Yes, that would be so un-French. Better that the French government sell Saddam the weapons to kill the kids and the wives, while French bureaucrats reap the benefits of the UN oil-for-bribes program.

The French have never found a murdering right or left-wing dictator they were not sophisticated enough to appease and profit from.

BTW, I’m traveling to Paris in November. Are there any good restaurants there?

Posted by: Brian at October 17, 2005 10:59 AM
Comment #86138

Brian,

“The French have never found a murdering right or left-wing dictator they were not sophisticated enough to appease and profit from.”

And why does this sound familiar?

Pinochet, Noriega, Marcos, the Shah of Iran,….. Oh, and let’s not forget we put Saddam in power and kept him there.

Posted by: Rocky at October 17, 2005 11:04 AM
Comment #86139

Luis,

You must not have actually read the material I posted, such as:

On February 8, 2005, the Pentagon ignored its own auditors and decided to pay $1.8 billion to Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary for work that nobody can prove ever took place. The work was allegedly performed in Iraq and Kuwait under the Army’s LOGCAP contract. The Army could have suspended or banned Halliburton from future contracts, but decided to take no action. In what the Washington Post called “a departure from normal policy,” the Army decided to ignore its own auditors and pay KBR for all costs, plus the standard one to three percent fee, without any explanation that could justify the company’s suspicious bills.

Joe,

It must be hard trying to work Clinton into every single discussion. Of course, Halliburton had contracts during the Clinton administration. Those contracts however were not as large, numerous, or as wasteful as those under the Bush administration. I used to be amazed at the lack of outrage from you fiscal conservatives at this kind of government waste of tax dollars. But I’m no longer amazed, because you simply apologize for it or shrug it off over and over again.

Additionally, for your request of actual smoking gun evidence against Halliburton here is an article detailing Halliburton paying back the government millions of dollars it overcharged them - although admitting no “wrongdoing”.

Finally, here’s a nice little piece about another government worker whose career was demolished because they dared to blow the whistle on this administration and its dealings with Halliburton specifically.

Posted by: Burt at October 17, 2005 11:10 AM
Comment #86145

joe-
Conviction? We have an army investigation highlighting the taxpayer abuse. If this is how Republicans think about waste, that it has to be found criminal and people get convicted, then its no wonder you guys have failed to curtail government spending. The waste has been proven.

Cheney may not have much statutory authority, but his informal authority and influence with the president expands the amount of power he has on his side.

I’m not going to deny that Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary enjoyed the benefit of the Clinton administration, and that no-bid contracts were secured for them. That said, two things are true: Cheney instituted the policy of privatizing logistical support for the military while he was Secretary of Defense, then became CEO of that company. Secondly, giving Halliburton that contract under and administration with Cheney in it presents conflicts of interest that were not present for the Clinton administration.

One more point: I take issue with the Clinton administration for continuing Cheney’s policy and outsourcing logistics. That constitutes a strategic weakness in my view, and it is one of many military policies I dislike from the Clinton Era. It encouraged waste, and forced our military supply lines to depend upon private individuals not obligated to stick it out or take orders, nor equipped or trained to defend themselves.

You’ll find that not all of us support the decisions of the Clinton White House with the same absolute fervor that Bush Supporters do for their administration.

Brian-
And you guys complain about the irrational hatred of the left for Bush. Doom and Gloom. You know, it’s the current Republican attitude that is based on Doom and gloom- The Republican leadership is so pessimistic about America’s ability to secure itself that it believes that we can’t possibly remain a nation of laws, of integrity, and of civilized behavior, and defeat our enemies abroad. It’s pessimistic about our economy’s ability to handle the removal of the tax cuts, pessimistic about any other course of war than Bush’s, and pessimistic about the rationality and character of half of America’s citizens.

The GOP point of view is that we can’t maintain a high standard of living and a living wage, and still have a prosperous economy. The GOP point of view is that Americans will not gravitate to morality and religion naturally, but have to be forced to it by making Christian values an explicit part of official government. The GOP point of view is that homosexuality is contagious, and that people will not naturally commit to each other in heterosexual union without the Federal government getting involved.

The GOP believes that the courts cannot be trusted to make the right decisions without people on there who interpret the law without variation or independent though. They raise prison sentences to higher and higher levels, and leave fewer options for mercy.

Again and again, the Republican message from the leadership is that Americans apart from the party cannot be trusted to make the right decisions. The modern Democrat is more hopeful, believing in the free market, in people’s freedom to determine their own religion and their own lives for the best. They believe we can choose courses of action that at least attempt to preserve our integrity, and present America to the world in a fashion consistent with our ideals. We believe we can change our minds about our approaches without dooming our efforts to failure. We also believe we can get something from our allies in terms of cooperation, without having to require complete loyalty to our own particular interests.

Most of all, we don’t believe that the defeat of Bush’s policies means our defeat as a nation.

We Democrats don’t attack Bush’s policies because we believe America is destined to fail. We attack them because we believe we can and should do better than this, that America and the world deserves better than this. We are the optimists, the hopeful ones, the ones who don’t feel like they have to commit our country to endless war and alienation with the people of the Middle East to protect our homeland.

Ours is a philosophy of hope, of progress, of advancement, of not having to fear the changes leading to the future.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 17, 2005 11:41 AM
Comment #86146

J. Anthony Matel,


This sounds alot like the absurd statement”Mission Accomplished.”

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at October 17, 2005 11:47 AM
Comment #86147

“Oh, and let’s not forget we put Saddam in power and kept him there.”

We’ve kept him there? And what cell block does he control now? Is it the one Noriega controls? Have you read a newspaper in the past 30 years?

“the Shah of Iran” - Jimmy Carter solved that one, another Democrat Party success. Replaced a relatively benevolent monarch with the bunch of death cult terrorists.

Marcos - I seemed to remember us bringing a peaceful end to that debacle, and quickly agreeing to remove our bases from the Phillipines. If Marcos would have been a thieving, murdering Marxist like Castro, he would likely with the aid of Democrats, still be in power.

Posted by: Brian at October 17, 2005 11:47 AM
Comment #86149

“The GOP point of view is that we can’t maintain a high standard of living and a living wage, and still have a prosperous economy.”

“Living wage laws” only help unions and hurt low-skilled poor people. Gas-pumpers were replaced by self-serve pumps years ago, why was this? Because it was cheaper to invest in a machine than pay the minimum wage.

“The GOP point of view is that Americans will not gravitate to morality and religion naturally, but have to be forced to it by making Christian values an explicit part of official government.”

What codified Christian values (as you put it) are Democrats against exactly? Thou shall not kill? That’s pretty much the only one that’s against the law. Wanna get rid of that one? Or does your state force you to attend church on Sunday?

“The GOP point of view is that homosexuality is contagious, and that people will not naturally commit to each other in heterosexual union without the Federal government getting involved.”

This is simply inane and obviously based on your “feelings” and not reality.

“The GOP believes that the courts cannot be trusted to make the right decisions without people on there who interpret the law without variation or independent though. They raise prison sentences to higher and higher levels, and leave fewer options for mercy.”

No, the American people simply got sick of “root causes of crime” policies that allowed criminals to prey upon the law-abiding, and forced politicians to keep murderers/rapists etc., locked up. I don’t see Democrats campaigning to go back to the days of parole and short sentences (other than safe, gerrymandered Democrat districts).

Democrats believe in the free market? Really? Why do they bash business at every opportunity? Why do so few national Democrats have business experience (managing billion dollar trust funds, e.g. Kerry, Kennedy, doesn’t count either).

Democrats don’t believe in “choice” with regards to public schools - they believe those who would rather send their children elsewhere should be forced to pay for an “education” they do not agree with.

Democrats are the party of 60’s ideas put forth by 60 year old trust fund billionaires and the spouses of trust fund billionaires.

Posted by: Brian at October 17, 2005 12:02 PM
Comment #86153

Brian,

Philippe, are you for education? Why aren’t you teaching children in schools?

I am, in part time. Okay, they’re not children anymore, but CS students, and it’s not in school but university, but let’s hope I still qualify…

Phillippe, are you for feeding the poor? If you’re not feeding them, you’re obviously for letting them starve. Are you against murder? Then why haven’t you joined the police? Why are you aiding murderers?

Hum, because I’ve already enough jobs? And your antagonist assertions looks weird. Everyone except policemem are aiding murderers???
What your point exactly?

Mine in my reply to Walter was that he sounded so much like a recruiter for his War On Radicals, thru Us or Them mantra and so on that I wondered why he’s not fighting already these radicals before they blow up his family.

Yes, that would be so un-French. Better that the French government sell Saddam the weapons to kill the kids and the wives, while French bureaucrats reap the benefits of the UN oil-for-bribes program.

I didn’t say France or I was perfect. Like any (hypocrits at highest, indeed) weapons vendors, we close our eyes and ears trying to ignore the buyer may or will actually use them.
Regarding UN Oil For Foods scandal, I’m ashamed as you guys that some frenchs were that easy corrupted by Saddam. But sadly there’s more than just french bureaucrats involved, right?
Big Money tends to attrack bad apples, whereever they came from.

No, what I just said: I didn’t want to kill many innocents in the “kill them all (radicals)” war Walter seems after.
If it was not enough obvious, it’s because I think you can’t tell an innocent from a radical at sigh. They both wear the same uniform after all…

The French have never found a murdering right or left-wing dictator they were not sophisticated enough to appease and profit from.

Could you provides facts here?
I’m sure we miss many of such occasions in fact. So many countries are competiting in this worldwide game, that’s fatal we lost at least one of these runs?

BTW, I’m traveling to Paris in November. Are there any good restaurants there?

Sure, plenty, everywhere.
None with “freedom” fries written on the menu, though. Sorry. Looks for “french fries” instead, that’s the same.

:-p

If you can read french, here a web site to search a restaurant in Paris:
http://www.restoaparis.com/accueil.html

From EuroLand,

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 17, 2005 12:33 PM
Comment #86157

First of all, I apologize. I truly did not understand the structural makeup of this site. It seemed to me that once again my views (i.e. me) were being attacked in a place I thought was safe. I know there are rude people on all sides, especially in politics. Thank-you, David for explaining it so well and not twisting what I said, as Stephanie did.

In my posting I specifically did not ask Stephen to leave, I said, “It’s not that you can’t speak out on this site, but common courtesy would know not to stomp around demanding attention when others are trying to have a conversation.” Now, of course, in light of what David has explained about the purpose of this blog, I would not have said that. Personally, he still comes across to me as preachy (somewhat like myself) and arrogant, but I guess this is the forum for that.

As to the comment from Stephanie, “If you are not interested in seeing the numerous sides to an issue you do not want to stay here on Watchblog.” That was the rude thing that I did not say to others. Interesting that you would say that, considering your point was who should be able to speak out. The other things you twisted from my words I won’t dispute individually, just know that although we both write in English, you don’t understand me.

Stephen, your first paragraph in response to me was great! Very well put. That, along with David’s response, make total sense. I apologize that my misunderstanding of this forum caused me to criticize you. As to your second paragraph, if not wanting to fight and argue back and forth is demanding that I learn from others on my own terms, then yes, I am guilty of that as well. I don’t have a problem hearing or seeing where another’s views are different and where they come from, and there is definitely a lot to be learned from listening. I just don’t choose to put myself in a learning situation where I feel yelled at, or stand there while everybody is yelling back and forth. I say I feel yelled at because maybe the rest of you don’t feel that you or the others (except WALTER and Burt) are yelling.

Ideally, I would find a site where my postings would be met with “Wow! You are way more intelligent than we are, please say more!” with one or two negative comments that quickly get shut down because of my obvious genius. How is that for being closed minded?

As to being closed minded; I am not. It may seem that way to some because I do not want to argue and fight about it. I have heard numerous sides to many issues and haven’t fainted or anything! I have had enough civil discussions with people having opposing ideas to know that it is possible, but then that would mean the other person is willing to discuss things in the same manner. I am a very relational person, so in disagreements or debates I do better when it is with someone I know well enough to see the whole picture, and take it all in as I process their ideas. Normally, I see why they feel the way they do, and I can express what and why I feel without us getting into a fight. I just really hate fighting!

I appreciate the feedback I have gotten, except where I was told that I shouldn’t vote, and had my words twisted to sound ignorant. Luckily, I am not obligated to be accept everything said to or about me. The way I live and interact is not aggressive towards others. I guess you could compare it to different kinds of missionaries throughout history. There were those who demanded the “natives” convert, using loud attacks on the intelligence and worthiness of the “heathen,” and there were those who lived with the people and just lived their beliefs and spoke with respect to their new friends. I am the second kind. Not that my mouth hasn’t gotten me into trouble a time or two, but it’s who I am and what I’m about. It’s just my style.

So, I probably won’t come back or join other similar political blogs because it just isn’t my style. Thank-you all for an experience that could have been much worse, but wasn’t.

Posted by: Victoria at October 17, 2005 1:10 PM
Comment #86159

“Phillippe - you used the tired, “chickenhawk” argument, I was asking why you don’t provide direct support to things you are presumably for (e.g. education, police). I am a Gulf War Vet, but that doesn’t make me more right or wrong about the current war in and of itself.

Suffice to say that both America and France have throughout history supported vile regimes for reasons of national interest; I do believe however that America has done more to right these wrongs than perhaps France has. I hope France proves me wrong by giving more vigorous support to the new government in Iraq.

Thanks for the link - I can read a little french and will definitely look at the website. I was just kidding - looking forward to enjoying Paris and trying to eat everything possible.


Posted by: Brian at October 17, 2005 1:28 PM
Comment #86161

Rocky et al

About putting and keeping Saddam in power remember the number.

0.46%. That is the total amount of Saddam’s arsenal supplied by the U.S. I know that our stuff is very good, but I don’t think that even we can put or keep someone in power by leveraging less than 1/2 of 1% of the total.

We didn’t put Saddam in power. We didn’t keep him there. He was mostly a Soviet client until the fall of the Soviet Empire, which was right about the time of Gulf War. That is why his weapons were mostly Soviet.

Posted by: Jack at October 17, 2005 1:34 PM
Comment #86168

Jack,
Well, you asked for predictions, to put it in writing, and looks like I pretty much nailed it:

“Two provinces will reject the constitution.”

Yep.

“In two others it will be close, but pass. This will be due to voter fraud, perpetrated by the US and the current Iraqi government.”

Yep. Articles are already appearing on yahoo about the fraud. The Iraqis just can’t help themselves. In the two provinces where it was supposed to be close, too many votes are showing up, and the Sunnis in these two provinces exhibit different voting patterns from the Sunnis in the two provinces that refected the constitution.

I missed the turnout, predicted 57%, appears 63% voted, with Sunnis showing up in unusually large numbers to vote against the constitution.

“Western reporters, confined to Bagdhad, will dutifully report from their limited perspective, using information provided by the US and the current Iraqi government.”

Yep. Fox coverage was hilarious. One reporter, in the Green Zone in Bagdhad, of course, tried to make it seem like a horse race, as he breathlessly recounted the results from a nearby polling station. Priceless exercise in propaganda.

“Desperate for good news, but chastened by past experience, the Bush administration will be relatively restrained in celebrating the referendum.”

Yep. So far, they’ve been relatively restrained, I’d say.

So! A pretty good track record for the short run. We’ll see about the long one…


Posted by: phx8 at October 17, 2005 2:59 PM
Comment #86184

The results of the Iraqi elections will be absolutely meaqningless. They will not be a democracy. There will not and cannot be seperation of church and state, human rights will still be surpressed and subversive activities, assissinations and so on will be the norm.

Posted by: steve smith at October 17, 2005 5:15 PM
Comment #86191

It looks like the the ugly aftermath of the Iraqi constitutional vote will soon be upon us -not outright rejection by the Sunnis, which I believe would have been at least a starting point for the next dialogue, but worse.

With 12 Shiite dominated provinces claiming 99% votes in favor of the constitution(a virtual statistical impossibility in a truly open election) and claims by Sunnis of Shiites traveling to vote in their provinces, the constitutional vote will be called illegitimate by many.

For Bush, a political no-win scenario. He will have the equally poor choices of:

(1) claiming victory while supporting a fraudulent election and inciting even more mistrust of the U.S. in the region;

(2) declaring that his push for constitutional elections was a failure as Iraqis were not ready to hold a fair vote; or

(3) calling for a new vote on the constitution, effectively a vote of no confidence for this latest interim government and several steps back for true Iraqi self-rule (and our exit).


This doesn’t even address the growing list of stories where our military is claiming a successful, large strike against insurgents while locals are claiming substantial civilian deaths. This looks more like Vietnam everyday.

Regardless, national support for Bush’s position on Iraq by Thanksgiving will make today seem like a high point.

Posted by: CPAdams at October 17, 2005 6:20 PM
Comment #86196

Jack,

From wikipedia;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein

“After Khomeini gained power, skirmishes between Iraq and revolutionary Iran occurred for ten months over the sovereignty of the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway, which divides the two countries. Iraq invaded Iran by attacking Mehrabad Airport of Tehran and entering the oil-riched Iranian land of Khuzestan on September 22, 1980. Saddam declared Khuzestan a new province of Iraq. During the war, Saddam was supported by the United States, the Soviet Union, as well as most of the Arab countries in the region.

Iraq quickly found itself bogged down in one of the longest and most destructive wars of attrition of the twentieth century. During the war, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces and Kurdish separatists. Many of these chemical weapons, along with Iraq’s nuclear program, were developed with the help of Germany.

([5]) On March 16, 1988 Iraqi troops, attempting to crush a Kurdish uprising in the Al-Anfal Campaign, attacked the Kurdish town of Halabjah with a mix of poison gas and nerve agents, perhaps killing around five thousand people, mostly civilians. Iraqis claimed at the time that Iran was responsible for that and some other chemical attacks, yet no supporting evidence has ever been found.

Saddam reached out to other Arab governments for cash and political support. Iraq successfully gained the support of the United States of America (Ronald Reagan). The Iranians, claiming that the International community should force Iraq to pay the casualty of the war to Iran, refused any suggestions for a cease-fire. They continued the war until 1988, hoping to bring down Saddam’s secular government and instigate a Shi’ite rebellion in Iraq.

The bloody eight-year war ended in a stalemate. There were hundreds of thousands of casualties. Perhaps upwards of 1.7 million died on both sides. Both economies, previously healthy and expanding, were left in ruins.

Iraq was also stuck with a war debt of roughly $75 billion. Borrowing money from the U.S. was making Iraq into its client state, embarrassing a strongman who had sought to define and dominate Arab nationalism. Saddam also borrowed a tremendous amount of money from other Arab states during the 1980s to fight Iran. Faced with rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, Saddam desperately sought out cash once again, this time for postwar reconstruction.”

You don’t have to sell weapons or WMD’s to someone to support them.

also from wikipedia on the situation with Kuwait;

“U.S. ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie met with Saddam in an emergency meeting on July 25, 1990, where the Iraqi leader stated his intention to continue talks. U.S. officials attempted to maintain a conciliatory line with Iraq, indicating that while George H. W. Bush and James Baker did not want force used, they would not take any position on the Iraq–Kuwait boundary dispute and did not want to become involved. Later, Iraq and Kuwait then met for a final negotiation session, which failed. Saddam then sent his troops into Kuwait.”

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Brian,

You missed my point by light years.

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at others living in glass houses.

Posted by: Rocky at October 17, 2005 7:04 PM
Comment #86199

One more thing Jack,

Back to the old wikipedia;

“In foreign affairs, Saddam sought to have Iraq play a leading role in the Middle East. Iraq signed an aid pact with the Soviet Union in 1972, and arms were sent along with several thousand advisers. However, the 1978 executions of Iraqi Communists and a shift of trade toward the West strained Iraqi relations with the Soviet Union, which took on a more Western orientation from then until the Persian Gulf War in 1991.”

Actually, though Saddam may have been the power behind Iraq as early as ‘72’, he actually didn’t assume the Presidency of Iraq until ‘79’, long after the relationship with the Soviets had cooled off somewhat.

Posted by: Rocky at October 17, 2005 7:14 PM
Comment #86203

Brian,
The Shah of Iran “benevolent?” Are you kidding?

With CIA help, the Shah overthrew the Iranian government, and within a few years did away with a multi-party political system.

The Shah’s intelligence organization, SAVAK, was extremely brutal. The Iranians are still pissed about that.

After being deposed and exiled, the US allowed the Shah to enter the country for medical treatment. Whoops! Turns out the Iranians wanted the Shah for a show trial and execution. This provided motivation for the Hostage Crisis.

Backing Iraq in their war against Iran didn’t exactly win the US warm and grateful feelings from the Iranians, either.

Guess they’re just not feeling the benevolence.

At some point the situation in Iraq will require a re-assessment of US policy towards Iran. Sadly, the current administration seems utterly incapable of making anything better unless it involves using force, or the threat of force.

Posted by: phx8 at October 17, 2005 7:41 PM
Comment #86206

phx8,

“After being deposed and exiled, the US allowed the Shah to enter the country for medical treatment. Whoops! Turns out the Iranians wanted the Shah for a show trial and execution. This provided motivation for the Hostage Crisis.”

Boy, Carter sure took care of that one didn’t he?

Posted by: Rocky at October 17, 2005 7:45 PM
Comment #86208

Rocky,
There were so many screw-ups in our relations with Iran it’s hard to even know where to start… or when to stop!

But at some point, you’d think we would stop. Personally, I’d like to see us collectively grit our teeth, put up with Iranian vitriol, and concentrate on mending fences with them. It would make more sense for us to be confident in our strength, let the fires of revolution exhaust and burn out, and help them get past the current historical stage. They can transition past the Guardian Council. The framework is in place for Iran to become a true, representative democracy.

The Bush approach, one of saber-rattling and talk of an “axis of evil,” is setting us back years, even decades.

Posted by: phx8 at October 17, 2005 7:55 PM
Comment #86213

phx8,

Until we (America), can get over our collective paranoia about all of the things we don’t understand about foreign cultures, I really don’t see that happening any time soon.

If you just sit down and have a beer with the locals in a foreign country, you find that, culture aside, they are just like us.
Yeah there are bad guys, usually in the government, but the regular folks, the you and me of China, for instance, are the same everywhere.

Posted by: Rocky at October 17, 2005 8:08 PM
Comment #86232

Rocky

0.46%. That is the extent of our support. The U.S. tilted toward Iraq in a war involving two bad choices. You can call that support in the sense that Libya supported the U.S. after 9/11. It is a far cry from putting and keeping Saddam in power. Most of what Saddam had came from the Soviets. A lot of what Saddam had came from the French. Much of what Saddam had came from a variety of smaller powers such as Czechoslovakia and Brazil. A little came from the U.S. We really don’t need to get the blame for this.

April Glaspie screwed up. Some people who know the situation think it might have been that she was in over her head and had her position for politically correct reasons. In any case, it clearly was not the U.S. policy to let Saddam take over Kuwait. If Saddam misunderstood (a big IF) that is terrible, but not uncommon in international politics. Wars often result from such misunderstandings.

The bottom line is that Saddam was never a U.S. client. He never received very much U.S. support. In the conflict with Iran, he looked like the lesser of the two evils, and he probably was. We had nothing to do with putting Saddam in power. You can argue that we helped keep him in power by helping prevent his defeat by Iran, but that is as far as it goes. BTW - even with the benefit of hindsight, an Iranian victory looks like a worse outcome. And the 0.46% remains the extent of what the U.S. supplied to Saddam.

Posted by: Jack at October 17, 2005 10:58 PM
Comment #86235

Jack,

“The bottom line is that Saddam was never a U.S. client.”

How much money did Reagan lend him?

Like I said before, you don’t have to sell weapons or WMD to Saddam to support him.

Posted by: Rocky at October 17, 2005 11:22 PM
Comment #86236

Jack:

You’re favorite guy Donald Rumsfeld supplied Saddam with Military Intelligence during the Iran-Iraq War. The US also blocked the UN Resolution condemning the gassing of the Kurds.

Posted by: Aldous at October 17, 2005 11:29 PM
Comment #86437

Oh. Now I know why my prediction for voter turnout was wrong. I was only counting real people.

But no one cares, not really. It’s kind of funny, the way the Iraqis got into the spirit of the thing. Corruption & fraud & graft are commonplace. It’s like, you know, expected. Even in provinces with no chance of turning down the constitution, ballot boxes were stuffed. It seems huge numbers of imaginary people voted. Just fraud for the sake of fraud.

Mention Iraq in conjunction with corruption & fraud & graft, and most conservatives will reflexively bring up Oil-for-Food. Conservatives will readily condemn the UN, but bless their little hearts, it just never seems to occur to them, but it takes two to tango, and Iraqis were on the other side of that equation.

Did $8.8 billion disappear from the CPA? The silence from Republicans is deafening. Did almost the entire Iraqi defense budget, somewhere between $500 - $800 million, get siphoned away in corruption & graft & fraud between January and August of this year alone?

Now, this latter case might be safely ignored; after all, that was Iraqi money. Unfortunately, those funds were supposed to go towards equipping the Iraqi army- you know, the one that be replacing American troops- so in fact, the corruption & fraud & graft do matter, a great deal.

So! I’m well aware few people will ever read this post, and even fewer will care about the amateurish fraud surrounding the Iraqi referendum. No one will care.

But you should.

Posted by: phx8 at October 18, 2005 12:37 PM
Comment #86462

Rocky & Aldous

Yes, there are lots of ways to support. We sought to prevent an Iraqi defeat by Iran. That was the lesser of the two evils and even after all that has happened it still looks like the better course. The trouble with your analysis is that you stop short of looking at alternatives. Everything is bad compared to some ideal outcome. How many ideal outcomes have you all witnessed? Especially in the Middle East.

You both imply that the U.S. was the major supporter, the key supporter or the one that put or kept Saddam in power. That part is incorrect. It is kind of an American narcissism to take the credit or blame for everything that happens. Saddam was first an foremost a local creation. If you want to look to foreign help, the first place to go is the Soviet Union. Then you can look to other Arab states. Then maybe France. Even Czechoslovakia and Brazil were bigger suppliers to Saddam. After a long way you come to the U.S. If you want to take this tortuous road, you can say the U.S. was a cause, but certainly not the proximate cause.

BTW re loans - Iraq got some millions in U.S. loan guarantees related to agricultural sales. This is standard procedure. If this concerns you, you would have to say that the U.S. supported the Soviet Union and at one time or another most of the countries in the world. Once again, you have something, but nothing special.

Support is a very broad word and I will give it to you. But when you take it out of context it is meaningless.


Posted by: Jack at October 18, 2005 2:59 PM
Comment #86516

I think this article demonstrates nicely my point about the strategic problems of reconstructing a nation and fighting an insurgency all at once.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 18, 2005 7:20 PM
Comment #86527

Brian-
Living wages means people aren’t relying on other taxpayers to supplement their incomes with food stamps and other entitlements. As a Republican and a capitalist, I can’t see what your problem would be with that. Think of it this way: with fewer people having to rely on the government for entitlements necessary for survival, we would save tax dollars. Saving tax dollars, we could apply that investment elsewhere. As for technology, it can give as many jobs as it takes away. The position I now hold as a computer tech would not have been as common when I was born as it would be now. While the computer took away some jobs, it provided some folks new ones, me included.

On the topic of Christian values, I’m Catholic, and a strong believer in the gospel message. Especially when it comes to the Kingdom of Heaven being a state of mind- God’s mind. As a Democrat I believe the separation of church and state is good for both entities. It keeps the churches capable of prophetic opposition to the evils of the state when they come along, and the Government’s hands off the spiritual teaching of our fellow Americans. Some lament that, but in reality, it was necessary for us to come together as a nation. It was a truce between faiths that keeps each free from the political interference of the other, and prevents the rat race and rivalries among churches to become the representative faith of the country. The indirect role of faith in governance, for me, is a small price to pay for the unlikely peace that many rival faiths enjoy here. Catholics and Protestance, Atheists and Fundamentalists, Muslims and Jews, Sunnis and Shia dwell side by side peacefully where in other countries entrenched sectarian laws keep them at each other’s throats.

As for Homosexuality, Conservatives regularly speak about courts and other entities promoting homosexuality, and are right now alleging that we must be defended from that threat we call allowing gays to marry.

I don’t see much in the way of Democrats campaigning about letting criminals out early, but the fact of the matter is you guys have taken all the discretion away from the judges that you can, and that’s making the system very inflexible. People do plea deals now, rather than go through that, so the short sentences and other elements already figure into it. What you see as a tough system, in essence, is actually one that encourages a great deal of informal deal making.

Yes, we believe in the free market. We also believe that law and order cannot end at the streets, and theft cannot only be prosecuted when the criminal wears a gun and not a tie.

We don’t bash business as much as business practices. We don’t think that investors should have to add the risk of being defrauded to the risk that already comes with investing. We don’t think employees should be at the mercy of bosses without at least some protections. We don’t think business should be able to create hazards to the community then expect people to just be grateful for the jobs. People remember a time when people valued their employees, rather than treating them like liabilities. We think business should be about more than stock market speculation, especially that of the people whose responsibility is to run the company. In short, we believe in business, just not that Business priorities should dictate everybody’s lives.

As for Kerry, he’s rich now, richest guy in the senate, but growing up he was upper middle class. Additionally, your favorite president is a trust fund baby himself, whose long string of failures only ended with a very suspicious land deal concerning lands surrounding the Ranger’s new stadium, where Bush and his allies used eminent domain to kick those people off who wouldn’t sell willingly.

As a product of the Public school system, from a family that likely couldn’t have afforded private education for me, I am glad that I had the choice to go to school at all. I’m fine with choice. A professor of mine homeschooled his kid, who last I knew was capable of assembling a computer on his own. My aunt is a Montesorri teacher, and I don’t mind people going to private schools. I just don’t think its a good idea to have our taxpayer dollars pay for tuition to those kinds of schools. First, it defeats the purpose of a school being private. Second, it drains money from Public schools, which compounds the situation in problem areas.

Democrats don’t believe in “choice” with regards to public schools - they believe those who would rather send their children elsewhere should be forced to pay for an “education” they do not agree with.

First and foremost, the question you ask for vouchers, can also be asked against vouchers. Why should taxpayers who don’t agree with the sectarian or political views of a person be forced to pay for private education of another person. Second, it should be noted that the school boards who run public education are elected offices. Third, Public school was never meant to cater to anybody’s interests in particular. Like many other public institutions, it exists in a neutral ground where different beliefs and politics are meant to coexist.

Democrats are the party of 60’s ideas put forth by 60 year old trust fund billionaires and the spouses of trust fund billionaires.

Riiight. I did mention your president’s background, didn’t I? Well, there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy among us Democrats. After all, JFK and FDR were both rich men. But that’s beside the point. Your party is trying to revive the spirit of far older times, going back even before the last turn of the century before us. If we could stereotypically be shown to be creatures of the 1960s, you guys would be creatures of the ’60s- the 1860s. Whether it’s labor unions and regulations, environmental and conservational regulations, the sanctity of the National Parks and wilderness areas, the progressive income tax code- hell, if we were to go by stereotypes, there is nothing about modern American government that you would like.

Of course, that’s probably an exaggeration where it concerns the rank-and-file. Unfortunately, it seems to fit your leadership with much more accuracy.

Reality is, this is a middle class kid from the suburbs telling you this from a one story house in a room too small for him. I would be happy to have a hundred bucks in my account. I think the Democratic party is my party, personally.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 18, 2005 9:38 PM
Comment #86532

And look Victoria, a one sentence reply from Stephen.

Posted by: ray at October 18, 2005 10:11 PM
Comment #86564

Brian,

Suffice to say that both America and France have throughout history supported vile regimes for reasons of national interest; I do believe however that America has done more to right these wrongs than perhaps France has.

It’s unfair, France is way older than USA!

I hope France proves me wrong by giving more vigorous support to the new government in Iraq.

We’ll see. I hope so too, after all there’s no reason to not support democraties for reasons of national interest.

:-)

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 19, 2005 5:53 AM
Comment #86766

Philippe,

“We’ll see. I hope so too, after all there’s no reason to not support democraties for reasons of national interest.”

Except, of course, if they don’t vote the way you want them too.

Posted by: Rocky at October 20, 2005 7:48 AM
Comment #87008

Stephen wrote: On the topic of Christian values, I’m Catholic, and a strong believer in the gospel message.

Reply: I wonder what Gospel message that would be, Stephen? With respect to the Bible I *choose* to read the black part of the page and therein I find a moral system completely at odds with democratic,”progressive” “values”.

Stephen wrote: As for Homosexuality, Conservatives regularly speak about courts and other entities promoting homosexuality, and are right now alleging that we must be defended from that threat we call allowing gays to marry.

Reply: As of this writing I am in agreement with Chirac (a minor miracle) on the subject of gay “marriage” in that it makes a mockery of marriage. But beyond that it is shown to have a most deliterious effect on the family and on marriage itself. Once you peel back the phoney civil rights argument (one curiously absent for the past several thousand years) what you find is that the this liberal extremist left wing movement is not about gaining rights its about corrupting us as a people, destroying a imminently keepable traditional society. See the Old Testament for the evidence thereof. If you’re not keen on the bible I’d google this issue as it pertains to Sweden and scandinavia. There marriage and faith have been virtually obliterated because of this “progressive” movement.

Stephen wrote: I just don’t think its a good idea to have our taxpayer dollars pay for tuition to those kinds of schools. First, it defeats the purpose of a school being private. Second, it drains money from Public schools, which compounds the situation in problem areas.

Reply: I think it is you who are living in the 1860s, Stephen. You have a very pollyanna respect for public schools. But the values that have slowly gained prominence at those institutions are completely at odds with Christian values. How is it that Christian homeschoolers, who choose not to allow their children to be defiled by the left-wing garbage passed off as “multiculturalism” and “tolerance”, must be required to pay school taxes to support the public school system you cherish so much? How is it logical to require that citizens pay taxes to support the unsupportable? All I would want is that the government allow me to take my school tax money and use it to educate my child properly.

Stephen wrote: Democrats don’t believe in “choice” with regards to public schools -

Reply: I love the irony of this statement. Democrats stand up on their secular soapbox, invent a “right to privacy” not foudn in the constitution to justify every ungodly thing you can think of (“choice”) but when it comes to public education (AKA secular indoctrination centers) suddenly we must all be conscribed. What crap.

Stephen wrote: …Third, Public school was never meant to cater to anybody’s interests in particular.

Reply: Stephen, the idea that public school doesn’t cater to an agenda is laughable. IT caters to every agenda under the sun—as long as its “politically correct”—except if its a christian agenda. Curious.

Stephen wrote: Like many other public institutions, it exists in a neutral ground where different beliefs and politics are meant to coexist.

Reply: Like I said, Stephen, I think it is you who are living in the 19th century. And I guess from the tone and tenor of your post as well as the presumptions you made that you’re 19th century all the way, including the subject of evolution.

Anyways, good luck, bud. I always suggest to my many catholic friends that they pick that book up and actually read it. After all, that’s really all Martin Luther did.

Posted by: John at October 21, 2005 11:28 AM
Comment #89233

John,

Sure. While we’re at it, let’s change the national anthem to “Onward Christian Soldiers”. Maybe we could force all the non-Christitans to wear …oh, I don’t know … maybe little yellow stars on their sleeves. For their own protection, of course.

Posted by: ElliottBay at October 31, 2005 7:14 PM
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