Anti-Americanism: Iraq, Afghanistan & GW Bush

Talking about the U.S. image w/o reference to Iraq & Afghanistan is like asking, “Besides that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” It is the nature of conflict that people die and property is destroyed. In the age of video, every thing will be seen. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but can create more heat of emotion than light of understanding. As long as large numbers of American troops are deployed, it will weigh on our reputation.

(We should be clear that American and coalition forces have behaved in a more humane way than any army in the history of the world in similar situations and have been extraordinarily successful in avoiding the kind of wholesale destruction and death characteristic of previous wars. For some interesting background click here. But in any conflict mistakes will be made. Some people will act badly and even in the most benign war, people die.)

It is important to understand that BOTH Iraq and Afghanistan are irritants. Those who like to think of Afghanistan as the "good" war and Iraq as the "bad" one should remember that Afghanistan generates more than enough problems. Traffic accidents or misplaced operations have deadly consequences, and we should recall that the prisoners at Guantanamo are from the Afghan conflict. Radicals sure make no distinction, as the recent terrorist plot in Canada shows. Canada contributed to the effort in Afghanistan, but conspicuously criticized the U.S. and did not participate in Iraq. (Short of allowing the practice of Sharia law in Ontario, Canada could not have been more accommodating, yet radicals still plotted to kill and behead Canadians.)

Both Iraq and Afghanistan are part of America’s post 9/11 assertiveness. During the 1990s, the world worried about just the opposite, that the U.S. would return to its habitual isolationism and abdicate the role its power dictated. Tony Blair fretted that the "forces of isolationism will gain the upper hand" in the U.S. Of course what most people had in mind was a United States that would act within multinational frameworks. (Some people, in fact, used the image of the American Gulliver tied down by the bonds of the world's Lilliputians.) They were less enthusiastic about the angry giant that woke up to the crash of the Twin Towers. American unilateralism is a persistent theme in the complaints people around the world have about the U.S. And they have reason to complain.

Although Afghanistan contributes, Iraq is clearly the big dog hounding Americas image. We clearly miscalculated in Iraq. The list of miscalculations is long, but probably the one big assumption that colored the rest was our belief in a "Wizard of Oz Momen". In the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy's house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, the Munchkins happily govern themselves w/o pause. They require little in the way of reconstruction and no civil disorder ensues. That was not the exact belief about Iraq, but American leaders thought that when the wicked leaders were dispatched the country would remain more or less intact, just under better management. But Iraq, after years of Saddam’s mismanagement and oppression was in much worse shape and the terrorists and insurgents much stronger. Thinkg did not go as anticipated.

The U.S. reputation plummeted as a result of Iraq, with majorities in many countries believing that the U.S. went into Iraq to get Iraqi oil or as a step in U.S. world domination. Perceptions of the U.S. have rebounded a little from lows registered in 2002 & 2003, but we are unlikely to recover substantially as long as large numbers of U.S. troops are deployed in Iraq.

It is also true that President Bush is personally associated with U.S. policies in Iraq. This has both good and bad aspects. On the plus side, it means that when President Bush leaves office in 2009, the next president will have the opportunity for a fresh start. President Bush will take much of the opprobrium with him back to Crawford and he seems to accept that burden as he awaits the verdict of history. We can hope that by that time, U.S. involvement in actual combat will also be winding down so the new president will not have a short honeymoon as the same reality sets in (as would have happened to Kerry in 2004, BTW).

I am optimistic, but I try to refrain from making firm predictions, especially about the future.

Posted by Jack at June 8, 2006 5:38 PM
Comments
Comment #155747

Jack, I am glad you are not a policy maker. Because policy making requires planning and planning requires peering into the foreseeable future and making intelligent fact based educated guesses.

It’s well balanced article you wrote. I agree with most of your assessment. My only point of contention is that if we don’t plan the draw down and out of Iraq, we won’t get out. To dump that responsibility and abrogation of duty to end the conflict on the next President, is unforgiveable.

Many of you debated me vehemently in years past when I forewarned of the quagmire that is now Iraq and the ineptness and incapacity of Bush to lead a ship of state this complex and huge. Now, about 30 - 40% of Republicans agree with me, though not entirely for the same reasons.

There is value in looking into the foreseeable future and demanding policy and planning that addresses it. Otherwise, we will always be a dollar short and day late trying to address coming problems. Need I say illegal immigration? Medicare? Unsecure borders? Growing National Debt? Diminishing education standards. Rapidly growing insecurity in the lower and mid- Middle Class? And of course climatological change. We have the ability to see what’s coming. We don’t have the leadership capable of responding appropriately to it. Iraq is costing is far, far too much in lack of resources to effectively deal with this myriad of other priorities.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 8, 2006 7:27 PM
Comment #155750

Jim, your comment was deleted for Critiquing the Author instead of what he wrote. Critique the Message, NOT the Messenger, or lose your privilege to comment here at WatchBlog.

—WatchBlog Managing Editor—

Posted by: Jim at June 8, 2006 7:30 PM
Comment #155775

David

I believe Iraq will be a success. But it is like an operation that is painful and draws a lot of blood. The good thing is that Bush will take the blame in the short run. In the long run, I believe historians will criticize initial implementation, but decide that it was worth it to break the pernicious stability of the Middle East.

P.S. I wonder what Jim said.

Posted by: Jack at June 8, 2006 8:39 PM
Comment #155787

Good article Jack, I agree with much of what you say, although I also agree with David re lack of foresight and planning before the invasion of Iraq. However you last post about your belief that Iraq will be a success, I have to query. Opinions are like a……….rmpits, everyone has them. On Iraq’s future, that is very much in the hands of Iraqis, and they are a very divided house right now. Taking that into consideration together with the culture of corruption and tribal patronage that almost reaches Republican proportions, the future of Iraq is very uncertain. We both know that only Iraqis can make it work. Was it Ho Chi Minh who, when asked what he thought about the French Revolution, said he thought it was too soon to say?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at June 8, 2006 8:59 PM
Comment #155798

Paul

It was Zhou Enlai who said that. Probably an attempt at humor.

The situation in Iraq and the Middle East was horrible in 2003. It is not like we broke up a peaceful kingdom. It is certainly not worse than it was and now there is a chance. It has already been worth it for people in the Middle East. Whether or not it will be worth it for the U.S. is still a question. It will end up costing the U.S. a lot.

Posted by: Jack at June 8, 2006 9:12 PM
Comment #155813

Jack, the situation in Iraq in 2003 was a country that had considerable stability, and, for those who took care not to draw the attention of the regime to them, life was not too bad, apart from the sanctions. It is unarguably much much worse now for Iraqis, where the threat of death is far more ubiquituous than ever. See this link:

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

As for the rest of the middle east, most of the turmoil is driven by US unquestioning support for a rabid Israeli land grab and ethnic cleansing. As for Saudi Arabia, well, we all know who their friends are, and who has sustained them in power for generations. It’s like a nascent cancer, instead of being treated immediately, was offered optimum conditions to grow and flourish. Oh, and I almost forgot, how come the Iranians overthrew that nice Shah man, who the Americans so graciously gave them? That kind of meddling doesn’t have a very successful history.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at June 8, 2006 9:30 PM
Comment #155814

where the heck is that book ,oh here It is, Reflections on the french Revolution. by Edmund Burke. 1729-1797.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 8, 2006 9:31 PM
Comment #155818

Ah yes Ron, another fine Irishman! ;-)

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at June 8, 2006 9:41 PM
Comment #155820

Jack, If our stated goal in Iraq was to dispose of Saddam Hussien and to rid the Country of WMD’s that could be used against us, it seems we were successful. Then we stayed, and now we are forced into staying because we dont have a plan. After the good news today why is it we cant make a plan and establish a date that we can turn the country over to the elected officials and let them govern?

Posted by: j2t2 at June 8, 2006 9:42 PM
Comment #155831

Jack is also ignoring the blood feuds that are raging in Iraq with kidnappings, heads in groups on the side of the road, etc. - Very personal stuff this; and these Hatfield & McCoy blood feuds create a vicious cycle of escalating violence that has nothing to do with al-Queda or insurgents, once begun.

The Gov’t of Iraq, nor the US Military, can protect people in Iraq. That is the elephant in the room which no policy makers want to discuss, and which renders the Iraqi situation one of growing civil war without anything approximating a sufficient force to lock the country down into martial law and halt the violence until passions ebb.

Not worse than before, Jack? Tell that to the 100,000 dead Iraqis who wouldn’t be dead had we not invaded. Better yet, tell it to their families. Whether things are better or not in Iraq for the Iraqi people depends entirely on who you ask and when, and in what setting? What good is a democratic vote if you can’t hold elected office without fearing for your family’s lives, or, can’t walk the streets or travel in your own country without fear of being beheaded or worse. Yes, it very much depends on who you ask, when, and where.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 8, 2006 9:58 PM
Comment #155834

Paul (& David)

Many of the same people who now decry the situation in Iraq claimed at the time that 50,000 children were dying each year because of sanctions. It is also true that the country was falling apart. Coalition bombs destroyed very little of the infrastructure. It was already run into the ground.

The Middle East is and has been a mess. The U.S. contributed to this mess by seeking stablity over liberty, but in all fairness, there wasn’t much of either in the region in general. If the U.S. had never involved itself at all in the Middle East, I believe we would have a different set of tyrants, but we would still have tyrants.

The current set of problems began with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the rise of the house of Saud and the discovery of oil. None of these was much related to the U.S. The first thing destroyed the oppressive but lazy sort of Islam that was not very threatening outside the Sultan’s lands, replacing it with more agressive groups both religious and nationalist. The second brought wahhabism from a local nuisance to a worldwide menance and the unearned wealth from oil made it all possible.

The curse of the Middle East is oil. Oil allows these bad guys to stay in power and it is the revenues from oil that make them dangerous. Saddam was probably a tyrant of the level of Robert Mugabe. But oil wealth magnified his power and made him more than a small time thug.

Posted by: Jack at June 8, 2006 10:02 PM
Comment #155836

Jack, but Saddam was not worse than Kim Jung Il, or aspects of the Chinese Politburo, or tribal leaders in Nigeria, Sudan, and other countries. In fact, in some ways he was better, and Iraq was a whole nation with law and order far exceeding what is present in current day Iraq in some places. No question, for Saddam’s victims, life in Iraq was abominable. But for those who were not victims of his thugs, life was far better and safer under Saddam than it is now under U.S. occupation in parts of Iraq.

In many areas of Iraq, life is very much better today and more secure than under Saddam. That is why I say, whether Iraq is better today than before our invasion depends very much on who you ask, where, and when.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 8, 2006 10:08 PM
Comment #155848

David

According to the same people who made those high estimates of deaths after Saddam, 50,000 Iraqi children died from sanctions. Saddam was not importing the food or medicine he was allowed to import. He used his people’s suffering to instramentally. There were lots of victims.

During Saddam’s time literally millions died. But that is not the reason we invaded Iraq. Saddam was unstable. He had the history of attacking others. He sponsored terror. He vowed to take revenge on the U.S.

As long as Saddam was in power, there was little chance for change. One thing he was good at was maintaining his own power. And his psycho sons were in line behind him.

As I wrote to Paul, I do not know whether it was worth it for the U.S. But it is worth it for the people of the Middle East. Of course some will be better off and some worse off, but on balance we now have a chance of something better.

There still is danger. I fear Saudi will be unstable soon. If (when) the situation there goes south, I prefer NOT to have Saddam next door. This is simple Realpolitik.

Posted by: Jack at June 8, 2006 10:30 PM
Comment #155852

David R.Remer

My base assumption is that Iraq will be far better off next year than this year and this year,despite the violence,was better than last.

We are (at least I am) witnessing the birth of a democracy and all the infighting that it entails. I am staggered at what those poor people have accomplished this year….several nerve-wracking elections,wrangling over a constitution,a provisionial government,an interim government,the building and re-building of security forces…….all since January.

Recall Italy had over 20 governments that were formed and then fell post WWII.Here,before our eyes,a democracy in the most inhospitable place in the world has been formed.

I credit the military for their perserverance and also our military.

I do not credit,however,the American public. A statisticial majority developed cold feet,sensing another Vietnam. The overall message from the minority who stubbornly fought tooth and nail to hold on to principle seemed to have been the right choice.

Every politician who mounted the rostrum and criticized the war also criticized the ongoing process there…putting doubt into the minds of those who needed most the support there.

As the coming weeks unfold and the nacent government begins to take shape and security improves,I wonder how those who fought tooth and nail against us staying there…the Jack Murthas of the world..the Ted Kennedys of the world..will react when things stabilize.

Those who fought against this democracy,history will show,were on the wrong side.

Honestly,the president will be vindicated.His legacy will be democracy..in a very strange land.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at June 8, 2006 10:38 PM
Comment #155906

Jack,

American unilateralism is a persistent theme in the complaints people around the world have about the U.S. And they have reason to complain.

And from my point of view, it is way more an anti-americanism factor than wrong/unjust/mishandled/or whatever war(s) your country is fighting. Maybe it’s even the #1 factor.

In fact, this unilateralism, which we could also call New American Century foreign policy isolationism, have fueled the UNSC debate months before march 2003. Many nations, France included, were not totally against military challenging Saddam, but within an international framework to keep some legitimity *and* share the responsabilities (and costs and forces, no doubt) with others nations. But Bushies didn’t want to wait inspections to complete (and we could all guess why…) and didn’t care to listen the several warnings made.

The Bush’s “us or them” (black & white/good & evil/oversimplification), “we will do as we will” (because we CAN), combined with “do as we say, not as we do” (hypocrisy) and the propaganda about WMDs (believe us/oh look, this is antrax!/Powell’s poor show) made huge damage to US image. Way more than the war(s) itself.

Since Bush & co displayed so much certainty about Iraq (hypothetical) international threats and the plan to fix them, most people worldwide have today no pity for any mistakes and image problem the US is now facing: your country asked for them, so deal with them.

And I doubt it will just disapear with Bush in 2009. Most probably it will decrease as soon as the US foreign policy will be seen worldwide as less selfish/egocentric but more collaborative with the leaders of these 6.2 billions of people that happens to live on the same planet than americans.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 9, 2006 5:09 AM
Comment #155911

SE said: “My base assumption is that Iraq will be far better off next year than this year and this year,despite the violence,was better than last.”

It was good that you used the word assumption. Because by any objective measure, to date, Iraq is worse off for a great many Iraqis. A primary measure of success for a society-nation is whether its people live in relative productive peace improving their quality of life, or at least not letting it deteriorate. In some places infrastructure is still worse than under Saddam. In other places peace does not exist and fear is a daily ritual even for those who never step out of their hovels.

To be sure, many others in Iraq are better off. The Northern Kurdish areas overall have never had it so good under Saddam. But, law and order does not yet exist for large segments of the Iraqi people. Orphan and widow numbers continue to escalate, and government officials and their families have become primary targets for violence. In these and some other ways, Iraq is not better off than a year ago, but, worse.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 9, 2006 5:47 AM
Comment #155912

Jack, I pretty much agree with your last reply given the current state of events.

A few comments are over the top. During the last decade or two, millions of Americans have died too! That is not saying much of import. Many of those deaths occured in times of war, Iraq was engaged two wars prior to this one over the last couple decades. How many died in New Orleans due to government neglect of the levees and canals? How many died on 9/11 due to government neglect of national security needs. How many died in America from lack of responsible health care over the last 2 decades?

Yes millions died under Saddam’s regime, some as a direct result of orders by Saddam and his henchman. Many others from simple ineffective, inefficient, and irresponsible government. Saddam should be held to account for those as well, but, then, so should American government if one is to be consistent in that line of argument.

Saddam was a brutal and heinous dictator. But, he was no threat to the U.S. homeland or Americans in America. His reward for suicide bombers were directed toward those acting against Israel. NOT the U.S. And that’s the whole point. We will not invade N. Korea on the basis of Il’s rule over his people. We will not invade China for its torture prisons and deprivation of human rights policies. We will not invade the Congo or Sudan where atrocities as great and greater than under Saddam are currently taking place.

And if OIL was the reason for invading Iraq, what a blunder that was. Invasion helped diminish world oil supply and hike energy costs, and consume vast quantities which othewise would not have been consumed by the invasion and occupation.

So, two conclusions are evident. Invading Iraq was a huge blunder with unintended consequences far outweighing any benefits of invading. And, historical judgement of the invasion of Iraq rests not with the Americans or our military, but, on the Iraqis and their new government. Whether we leave now, later, or never, whether historical judgement of the invasion of Iraq is not in our hands, but, in the hands of the Iraqis. Which begs the question, why are we so far, unwilling to let the Iraqis determine the fate of their own nation independently? Every day that we remain in Iraq makes Iraq and what happens there our responsibility, and not that of Iraqis. The day we leave, everything that happens in Iraq will become the responsibility of the Iraqi people and their government.

My daughter will be 18 in 30 months. As her father, I have to be willing to let her stand or fall on her own because if I don’t let her go, I am responsible for the consequences of her dependency and failure to achieve independence. Enslavement and fear often hide behind a cloak of benevolence.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 9, 2006 6:11 AM
Comment #155913

David R. Remer

Tell you what:let’s pick some modest goals between you and I and see within three months if the situation improves.
Let’s pick the government itself:Is it stemming the bloodshed?It is creating jobs for the disaffected?
Then let’s pick the security services:are they continuing to stand on their own?Are they protecting the people?
Finally let’s pick the economy:Are jobs being created?Is oil being pumped at acceptable levels?Have the pipeline attacks subsided any?

Let’s discuss again say,Sept.15th,..agreed?

Posted by: sicilian eagle at June 9, 2006 6:17 AM
Comment #155922

David:

My mother played tennis for 2-3 hours a day at age 78 this winter. She was involved in singing in choir, active in numerous committees, helpful to others who needed her support, took up playing the recorder for fun, traveled to visit family etc. She was vibrant and full of energy.

Over the past few months, though, she has been undergoing chemotherapy following unsuccessful surgery for cancer. The surgery reduced her ability to even walk to the toilet from her hospital bed while the chemotherapy has sapped her energy, requiring at times that she be fed liquid nutrition through an IV PICC line, given her chills and fevers, and caused her hair to fall out.

Is it not right, then, to conclude that the surgery and chemotherapy were terrible things to inflict on her? The surgery itself almost killed her, with her blood counts dropping into dangerous territory, and everyone knows the chemicals they inject into her actually destroy parts of the body.

Don’t I have the right to be angry with the doctors who have put her through this? Before they intervened, my mom looked just fine. Then the doctors did all their tests—probably just to make money for themselves—and now look at my mom. She’s worse than she was before. We should have just left the tumor alone—it wasn’t doing anything. How much better off mom would be if we had just sat back and monitored everything, rather than taking action!!

Posted by: joebagodonuts at June 9, 2006 8:02 AM
Comment #155930

joebagodonuts,

She’s worse than she was before. We should have just left the tumor alone—it wasn’t doing anything. How much better off mom would be if we had just sat back and monitored everything, rather than taking action!!

I hope your mother will regain as much as possible her former health. I’ve lost my dad due to cancer years ago. But your mother cancer experience don’t work that much as an analogy of Saddam’s Iraq. Because you mother agreed to go thru this, she always had the choice to refuse. She asked doctors to help her figgting her cancer and never show opposition to their actions, right?

When did a majority of iraquis had ever a voice in US (Nations doctor?) decision about Iraq War? They show some opposition to it, even. US “doctor” don’t have that much Nation Fixing skills to show (when your mother’s doctors seems to be more skilled regarding cancer). And US “body” is not in worse shape than it was before, while it’s debatable for Iraq “body”.
Okay, maybe US “mind” is worse than before…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 9, 2006 8:38 AM
Comment #155935

JBOD, I don’t see the correlation of your analogy to what I wrote.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 9, 2006 9:16 AM
Comment #155939

Philippe (and David):

Thanks re my mom.

The correlation is that sometimes things need to get worse before they can get better. If left alone, my mom’s health would not have plummeted downward, yet she would have ultimately been worse off. The tumors, while not visible, were nonetheless there. She could have waited, done more and more tests, waited some more etc., but taking action was the right thing to do.

In the same way, Saddam was Iraq’s tumor. Iraq was not in good shape before, despite how people want to revise history. As Jack pointed out, many were claiming that up to 50,000 children annually were dying as a result of sanctions (yes, the same sanctions that anti-war folks NOW say were keeping Saddam in check—they seem to have forgotten the children).

Had we left Iraq’s tumor alone, Iraq would have been more stable, and things would have seemed less chaotic. But….would it have been the best thing? As in my mom’s case, I’d say that intervention was the best overall solution, despite knowing that going into Iraq would cause strife and difficulty (just as surgery caused strife and difficulty for my mom).

Philippe, you are correct about the choice involved. Unfortunately, in global politics, you can’t really get a fair response from the people. For example, I’m sure the “people” in Darfur would want intervention to stop the slaughter, but there is no means of asking them. The government there does NOT want intervention, and that is the only documented answer. Yet just because its documented does not mean its the correct answer.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at June 9, 2006 9:30 AM
Comment #155945

David

Oil is the key. It gives the bad guys like Saddam power. And the world economy needs oil. The U.S. does the rest of the world a service by protecting oil supplies. As for supplies, they are at highs right now. The price is up because of increased demand.

Philippe

I think the Iraq invasion was justified for good, practical reasons. But we do need to address the problem of legitimacy. Joe’s example is valid. What constitutes legitimacy? You are right when you say that the Iraqi people had no say in the invasion plans, but it is also true that the Iraqi people were not sovereign. Saddam led the country w/o the consent of the governed, so he was an illegitimate ruler. The question of justification and consent, therefore, is not really on the table for either option.

As a practical matter, most counties recognize the sovereignty of other countries. To do anything else would cause us lots of trouble. The practice originated in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. It essentially said that rulers had a right to do whatever they wanted in their countries. But this scheme was never perfect and it has broken down a lot. The Helsinki agreements broke down a lot of barriers. It is interesting because at the time Helsinki was vilified as a sell out of human rights. Perspectives of history are often different than those of people at the time. I think the same will be true of Iraq.

Had we respected sovereignty, we would not have engaged in the Kosovo operations. If we had waited for UN sanction, we could not have done Kosovo. So a lot of justification depends on ex-post-facto judgment. I believe that Iraq will evolve into a reasonably democratic state. It is already the most democratic Arab country in the world, although it is not hard to be democratic champion in that particular league. The world may still hate the way the U.S. accomplished this, but it will soon have to recognize that the result was good.

Posted by: Jack at June 9, 2006 9:39 AM
Comment #155949
Yet just because its documented does not mean its the correct answer.

Sure. That’s also why, when one nation want to go against a nation’s sovereignty it’s important to build with others nations some concensus. To share the doubts with them and take responsability of decision all together.
When you do it all by yourself, be ready to take full responsability, or at least be seen as the lone responsible for a wrong decision.

Doctors, when they face an hard medical choice, most often consult their pairs, not to share responsibility but because it increase the probability to take the best decision…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 9, 2006 9:53 AM
Comment #155950

Speaking of those wonderful sanctions, the same sort of people who now decry the U.S. action hated sanctions. There line was different, but the direction was the same as now. They will never support U.S. action and always give dictators who claim to be fighting us the benfit of the doubt.

This is the Google search page re. I respect the integrity of those who left their earlier mistakes up on the net. I recall many more at the time. We should point out that (like the peace movements and nuclear freeze folks of the 1980s. another overlapping group) they were wrong then and are probably wrong now. It is always easy to show suffering. It is much hard to indicate why that suffering is taking place and propose real solution.

Sometimes force is necessary. American airpower freed the women of Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq. All the hand wringing and conferences by concerned citizens did nothing. Sincere talk works in democracies. It is not so good against the Taliban or Saddam.

Posted by: Jack at June 9, 2006 9:54 AM
Comment #155954
Oil is the key. It gives the bad guys like Saddam power. And the world economy needs oil.

The sentences are not logically ordered here.

Both removing Saddam from power and removing world economy addiction to oil could have made Saddam powerless. When the first is a very short term solution working only on Saddam, we all know that the long term solution is better solution to make many others bad guys powerless.

Alas, new bad guys will get power from the next world economy addiction soon…

The U.S. does the rest of the world a service by protecting oil supplies.

Yeah, how could you be such altruist!
;-)

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 9, 2006 10:03 AM
Comment #155960

JBOD, Iraq is going to get worse before it gets better with us there or, without us there. The constant and continuous escalation of violence makes that abundantly clear. The Difference is, We can walk away from Iraq, your Mom can’t walk away from her illness.

The fact that it is going to get worse regardless is precisely why we need to give the Iraqis a date, and say, you are on your own to solicit UN or other help but, we are out of here since, our presence, if not making things worse, is not making things better in your country in regards to the violence and sectarian civil struggles.

Besides saving American lives, if not dollars (since we would still provide them financial assistance), our departure may actually decrease the violence in Iraq in relative short order. A potential this administration does not want to test, for it would be damning indeed if our departure actually reduced violence.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 9, 2006 10:30 AM
Comment #155963

Jack, so invading Iraq and bringing about 100,000 Iraqi deaths for oil, makes us the good guys? I gave you credit for a better argument than this.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 9, 2006 10:32 AM
Comment #155964

Yes. Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble.

I agree that oil addiction is a problem, but not only for the U.S. The problem with oil is not the energy source so much as where a lot of it is located. God made a big joke on us by putting the most easily accessible oil under some of the most troublesome people in the world. Or maybe, as many have said, the presence of a resource such as oil, which comes w/o much effort corrupts. Arabs did almost nothing to develop the resource. That kind of wealth is the worst kind.

What I mean by giving bad guys power is just that. Who would care about the Middle East w/o oil? It would just be a place of picturesque people and ancient ruins. Even with oil, the GNP of all the Arab countries is only as great as that of Spain, or as the late unlamented terrorist leader Zarqawi called it, the lost province of Andalusia. But oil concentrates power. It makes a guy like Saddam, who might push drugs or be a loan shark in a place with a diverse and healthy economy like France or the U.S., a player on the world stage.


Posted by: Jack at June 9, 2006 10:33 AM
Comment #155965

Jack:

Back then, sanctions were bad….baaaad, I tell ya. Now, those same sanctions were good—-why oh why didn’t we just keep the good ole sanctions that were containing Saddam.

What about the 50,000 children that were dying annually? Three options: A) the numbers were just made up to oppose the sanctions. B) The net result is fewer deaths in Iraq withOUT the sanctions, even though there are many deaths in wartime. No credible source is claiming that over 500,000 people have died in Iraq—the 500,000 being the number of children who allegedly died due to the sanctions. C) The anti-war left has no answer to this, so its unfair to bring up these deaths. The war is wrong…lets leave it at that.

Philippe:

I’d agree that the US did a poor job of building consensus for the invasion of Iraq. While we did have a coalition, it was not nearly the strong coalition we had in 1991. No doubt on that. That we didn’t have a strong enough coalition doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have gone in. As an aside, I think we should do something militarily (or have done something) in Darfur, whether we have the support of a coalition or not. I’m in favor of stopping the bloodshed there, whether other countries would help or not.

Posted by: jeobagodonuts at June 9, 2006 10:34 AM
Comment #155968

David

Everybody gives me credit for being better than I am. I count on maintaining the illusion.

I think invading Iraq does make us the good guys. My point about the civilian deaths is that the invasion probably actually saved lives. That is NOT the point of the invasion, but the argument that it has been costly in non-American lives does not hold up.

I think there is a valid question re whether or not it was worth it FOR US. We expended American blood and treasure to do this. But from the local perspective, it is a necessary, although (in Joe’s) metaphor, unpleasant operation.

BTW - nobody wants to stay in Iraq any longer than we need to be there. As soon as the job is done, most of our guys will come home. That will surprise the cynics.

Posted by: Jack at June 9, 2006 10:40 AM
Comment #156152

Managing Editor, Jack and those that are curious,

What I said in the second reply to this article was that I believe we, as Americans are underestimating those of us who are currently wearing the cloth of our nation.

It seems that we consistently route for the other team or underestimate our warriors efforts when discussing foreign policy.

I would think that the words of an actual participant in our current struggle with the forces of terrorism would be privileged enough to reply to some of the authors on this page. I did, in fact, help to give many of you the right to make whatever comments you seem compelled to argue or comment on. I would appreciate the same in return.

With respect to Jack, I apologize if you feel that I attacked your character or personality. That was never my intent. I am a conservative service member who is concerned with what I see in writing as it relates to the great things that ordinary people in the military do every day.

If this is offensive to the editors of this BLOG, than I question the authenticity of the “Conservative BLOG category” on this web site.

Posted by: Jim at June 9, 2006 7:16 PM
Comment #156192

Jim

I think you misinterpreted my writing, or maybe I did not make it clear. I support our efforts in Iraq and respect our troops there. If you read my other posts, I think that will be clear.

What I was trying to do is understand and explain the anti-Americanism that we see worldwide. I think you cannot ignore Iraq and Afghanistan. If you read my other replies, you know that I believe what we leave there will be better than what we found. I am trying to characterize opinion worldwide.

I am very happy to hear your opinions. If you are currently in Iraq or Afghanistan and would like to share your opinions, I would be glad to hear them. We hear too little from the actual participants.

BTW - I supportthe President. I voted for him, contributed to his campaign and worked as a volunteer. I am confident that the American people made the right decision in November 2004. But as an American, I am pleased that he is taking much of the heat personally. It takes some of the pressure off our country. I believe he also welcomes it as his duty. As I wrote “President Bush will take much of the opprobrium with him back to Crawford and he seems to accept that burden as he awaits the verdict of history.” I believe that history will judge him more favorably than the current polls indicate.

Posted by: Jack at June 9, 2006 10:44 PM
Comment #156223

Jack, the President will only take a book deal and millions made in the oil stock markets back to Crawford with him. The rest is lip service. Blood in the sand in Iraq is the real price paid, and the President could not possibly hope to make ammends or hold himself responsible for that without mountains of rationalization and justification.

In fact, he has said as much, to his credit.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 10, 2006 1:53 AM
Comment #156256

David

Yes, Bush will take much of the blame and then he will get much of the credit when we see that the Iraq invasion was the catalyst to breaking the benighted equilibrium the Middle East suffered for more than half a century.

The time was right to push it over the edge.

Posted by: Jack at June 10, 2006 10:38 AM
Post a comment