2004 September 30 Thursday
WSJ Reporter Farnaz Fassihi Email From Baghdad

An email about the deteriorating conditions in Iraq is being circulated (see below) which is reported to be from Wall Street Journal reporter Farnaz Fassihi in Baghdad. So is it real? Yes, Fassihi really did write this rather grim email.

A lengthy letter from Baghdad she recently sent to friends "has rapidly become a global chain mail," Fassihi told Jim Romenesko on Wednesday after it was finally posted at the Poynter Institute's Web site. She confirmed writing the letter.

Her editor is defending her right to have such a bleak private view of the war.

September 30, 2004 -- Wall Street Journal Editor Paul Steiger has come to the defense of his beleaguered Baghdad correspondent, who blasted the war in Iraq as a "disaster" that has deteriorated "into a raging barbaric guerilla war" that will haunt the United States for decades.

Here is the Farnaz Fassihi email as I received it from Greg Cochran. If anyone else has received it can you verify that this is the full correct version?

From: [Wall Street Journal reporter] Farnaz Fassihi Subject: From Baghdad

Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.

Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't. There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.

It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are thing?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad."

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.

A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said young men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground. They melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive, cover it with dirt and put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there were a dozen landmines per every ten yards. His car snaked and swirled to avoid driving over them. Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to detonate them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is in Shiite land, the population that was supposed to love America for liberating Iraq.

For journalists the significant turning point came with the wave of abduction and kidnappings. Only two weeks ago we felt safe around Baghdad because foreigners were being abducted on the roads and highways between towns. Then came a frantic phone call from a journalist female friend at 11 p.m. telling me two Italian women had been abducted from their homes in broad daylight. Then the two Americans, who got beheaded this week and the Brit, were abducted from their homes in a residential neighborhood. They were supplying the entire block with round the clock electricity from their generator to win friends. The abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m. when he came out to switch on the generator; his beheaded body was thrown back near the neighborhoods.

WSJ reporter Fassahi's e-mail to friends /2
9/29/2004 2:47:12 PM

The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming down. If any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated every day. The various elements within it-baathists, criminals, nationalists and Al Qaeda-are cooperating and coordinating.

I went to an emergency meeting for foreign correspondents with the military and embassy to discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly told our fate would largely depend on where we were in the kidnapping chain once it was determined we were missing. Here is how it goes: criminal gangs grab you and sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in turn sell you to Al Qaeda. In turn, cash and weapons flow the other way from Al Qaeda to the Baathisst to the criminals. My friend Georges, the French journalist snatched on the road to Najaf, has been missing for a month with no word on release or whether he is still alive.

America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National Guard units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being murdered by the dozens every day-over 700 to date -- and the insurgents are infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S. military has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just trained to get rid of them quietly.

As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for foreigners to operate that almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the $18 billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1 billion or so has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving security, a sign of just how bad things are going here.

Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of sabotage and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel. Who did this war exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer because Saddam is holed up and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?

Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler.

I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.

Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the importance of voting. He said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a democracy that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy, forget about being a model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before all is lost."

One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle.

The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months while half of the country remains a 'no go zone'-out of the hands of the government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the other half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at polling stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott elections, leaving the stage open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that will not be deemed as legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.

I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"

-Farnaz

My advice to this lady is to leave Iraq. I do not want to see her get her head cut off. The escape of her email into the public domain has made her whole trip there worthwhile. She doesn't have anything else to prove or to do that will accomplish as much as this one frank email.

The Bush Administration wants to restrict the release of bad news.

The Bush administration, battling negative perceptions of the Iraq war, is sending Iraqi Americans to deliver what the Pentagon calls "good news" about Iraq to U.S. military bases, and has curtailed distribution of reports showing increasing violence in that country.

On other Iraq news a US Army Reserve staff sergeant serving in Iraq, Al Lorentz, may be prosecuted for disloyalty and sentenced to as much as 20 years for an article critical of the war entitled "Why We Cannot Win" he wrote for LewRockwell.com. Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is taking steps to restrict the circulation of Kroll Security International reports on Iraq that quantify the deteriorating situation there. Another report by Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group claims the attack rate by the insurgency has risen to 80 per day.

Will the Iraqi government continue to release casualty figures? Ayad al-Dahwy of the Iraqi Health Ministry says the Iraqi Health Ministry will no longer release civilian casualty figures. Supposedly the figures will still be available but from a higher level. Will that higher level massage the figures? When you do see figures keep in mind that civilian deaths are far more likely to be reported than insurgent fighter deaths.

The ministry is convinced that nearly all of those reported dead are civilians, not insurgents. Most often, a family member wouldn't report it if his or her relative died fighting for rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia or another insurgent force, and the relative would be buried immediately, said Dr. Shihab Ahmed Jassim, another member of the ministry's operations section.

"People who participate in the conflict don't come to the hospital. Their families are afraid they will be punished," said Dr. Yasin Mustaf, the assistant manager of al Kimdi Hospital near Baghdad's poor Sadr City neighborhood. "Usually, the innocent people come to the hospital. That is what the numbers show."

The numbers also exclude those whose bodies were too mutilated to be recovered at car bombings or other attacks, the ministry said.

Over a quarter of reported deaths are in Baghdad.

The Iraqi Health Ministry began tabulating civilian deaths in April. The ministry's statistics show 2,956 civilians, including 125 children, died across the country "as the result of a military act" between April 5 and Aug. 31. Of those, 829 were in Baghdad, the ministry figures indicate.

Sadr City alone contains a tenth of Iraq's population. So the status of Sadr City as a "no-go" zone consigns a tenth of Iraq's population to rebel control.

As for what we should do about the mess in Iraq, it comes down to what I see as the basic question: Unilaterally Withdraw From Iraq Or First Partition? If you click through on that link you will also find links to a set of arguments on why democracy isn't going to succeed in Iraq or other Middle Eastern countries.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 September 30 11:42 AM  Mideast Iraq


Comments
Fly said at September 30, 2004 5:32 PM:

Sounds like the US is fighting a war.

Randall Parker said at September 30, 2004 5:46 PM:

Fly,

This is a strange way to fight a war. The US Marines are not doing as much patrolling in the Fallujah area in order to keep down casualty rates. How's that fighting a war? Sounds more like marking time until after the elections.

Also, if it was a war that we were fighting to win then wouldn't the President be going to Congress to get funding to build up a military force big enough to defeat an insurgency? I mean, the insurgency is growing in size. The US forces opposing the insurgency are not growing in size. Looks like we are just marking time.

Of course, the official line from Abizaid is that the new Iraqi forces being trained will do the extra needed fighting. But I expect they will desert or not fight or collaborate with the insurgents while pretending to fight (or a mixture of all those).

Alec Rawls said at September 30, 2004 6:05 PM:

What is this, the all-pessimism site? All we need is a little aggression. It is demented to think that the terrorist attacks are winning Iraqi friends. The harder we go after the dirtbags, the more forthcoming Iraqis will be with intel, which is the main thing we need. The Islamo-fascists are stateless. We have left them some large havens in Iraq, but those were policy choices, to focus on sovereignty. Those havens are going to be wrung out, and the fascists are going to be exterminated. In the meantime we can finally kick over the Mullahs next door, now that further dithering there is not an option, leaving the fascists stateless there too. The fact that we have to fight in order to win does not mean that we are losing.

There is, of course plenty of bad news. I am optimistic that Iraqis will choose religious liberty, but if we allow the Islamists to control the schools, they won't have a chance to choose. Still, if we take care of business militarily, issues like that can come to the fore. These matters are not lost causes, so long as we are pressing forward instead of pulling back, which is where your pessimism becomes... I don't know... John Kerryesque? If you only see through a pessimistic lens, you can't see to go forward, or at least, I don't see you seeing to go forward.

Anyway, lots of good posts. Just a little more attention to upside risk please.

Randall Parker said at September 30, 2004 7:36 PM:

Alec,

Realism translates into pessimism in the case of Iraq. Just because a bunch of hawks on blogs can speak in an echo chamber to each other saying that things look great doesn't make the reality any better. I refuse to wear rose-colored glasses.

Upside risk? There is very very little chance of an upside coming out of our invasion of Iraq.

Stateless Islamo-fascists? The bulk of the insurgency in Iraq is local. They aren't going to be exterminated because recruitment keeps happening faster than they get killed.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is pursuing a strategy aimed at getting Bush reelected. That translates into fewer patrols on foot or in ground vehicles and more air strkes. That, in turn, raises the ratio of death of Iraqi civilians to insurgents. That, in turn, genereates still more insurgents as Akmed joins the insurgency to get even for the death of his sister or cousin killed as collateral damage in an USAF air strike.

The Iraqis will choose religious liberty? Why? They don't want religious liberty. They want Islam. They also care less about democracy (those who even support it) than they do about security. We've made them love dictatorship because of our own conduct of the invasion and occupation. Way to go war hawks.

Invisible Scientist said at September 30, 2004 8:03 PM:

Randall Parker,

You said above: "We've made them love dictatorship because of our own conduct of the invasion and occupation. Way to go war hawks."

But even before the US occupation, the fragmented groups of Iraq favored a strong dictator like Saddam
Hussein because he protected each group in exchange for their loyalty. In a democracy over there, the
majority would vote to kill the minority, and this is why they needed a strong dictator. With the
removal of the uniquely secular Middle Eastern dictator Saddam Hussein (who protected even
Christians and atheists), the US started the inevitable Islamisation of Iraq.

Secondly, the stateless Islamic insurgents In Iraq seem to be not only local, but also heavily global,
they are flocking in Iraq from all over the Islamic world. Just like many Muslim warriors went to
Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, the same thing is also happening in Iraq. The US basically succeeded
in making every effort to become the most hated country in the world, making it possible for every
world leader to use the US as scape-goat for whatever that was destined to go wrong in this century.

lugh lampfhota said at September 30, 2004 8:45 PM:

We are engaged in a war with Middle Eastern fascists nominally operating under the banner of Islam. They attacked us. We didn't attack them. Trying to place the blame for this war on America is absurd.

The war cannot be ignored. No ceasefires nor negotiations are possible. Either we fight and win or civilization as we know it is over.

Fighting these fascists in Iraq is preferable to fighting them in Manhattan. War is a brutal, bloody thing. People die. And because the fascists have no respect for any life, many of the dead will be innocent men, women and children.

We are not responsible for the actions of these fascists. We are only responsible for our actions. And our behavior in this war has been noble by any standards. We care more about the relatives of the fascists than they care for their own family members.

From Randall's hysterical post it appears that he doesn't have the stomach for war. He should look away. He could not have handled the carnage at Guadacanal where 24,000 US troops died securing one airfield. Nor Kasserine Pass, Anzio, Normandy, Bastogne battles where thousands perished. Randall would have sued for peace at any cost with Hitler and Tojo. Better slavery than death, eh Randall.

If we have will, we will bleed the fascists dry. This is for-keeps poker and he who blinks first loses.......everything. The civilized world has blinked for decades. Now the vulture comes home to roost.

Tis time for the Chicken Littles of the world to run for cover and let the Men take care of the hard work that we have ahead of us. Let them go to the House of the Women to weep and lament. We shall tell them when it is over and they are safe again.

gcochran said at September 30, 2004 9:33 PM:

We lost 1,769 ground forces KIA or permanently missing in the battle of Guadalcanal. If you add in all the Naval and air losses, 7,100. You must not know much about history. Probably you were just born that way.


For your further edification, Iraq never attacked us. Pinhead.

Randall Parker said at September 30, 2004 9:45 PM:

Lugh,

Let me make this easy for you: Your "Islamo-fascists" who attacked us on 9/11 were not funded by Saddam Hussein and were not Iraqis working for the Iraqi government. The war against Saddam had nothing to do with the war against Al Qaeda except in the imagination of some neoconservatives.

Hysterical post? Lugh, you are funny. I'm showing you reality and you are telling me I'm being hysterical. Are you that amused by reality that you find it hysterical?

As for my stomach: I have no problem with killing real enemies by the thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands or millions if doing so helps us. But in Iraq we are killing more civilians than insurgents and very few of the insurgents are Al Qaeda. The vast bulk of the insurgents are local Iraqis.

The war party's attempt to label all their critics as doves is a cheap shot, it is factually wrong, and it is not productive toward the goal of improving the security of our country.

A macho tough guy pose is not a substitute for learning relevant knowledge and analysing it rationally. Nor is lashing out with pure blind rage. The war party's failure to analyse the threat from Al Qaeda rationally and its conflation of that threat with other unrelated foreign policy problems (helped along greatly by a bunch of neocon ideological nutcases who were pursuing their own fantasy about remaking the Middle East for Israel's benefit) has produced a counter-productive strategy that is highly damaging to US national interests. Simultaneously they are not advocating policies that really would make us more secure.

Alec Rawls said at September 30, 2004 11:11 PM:

Randall denies that there is any real possibility of success because: "The bulk of the insurgency in Iraq is local. They aren't going to be exterminated because recruitment keeps happening faster than they get killed."

If we can locate a dozen car bomb factories the insurgency is flatlined. This isn't an army we are fighting. It is unprofessional dirtbags. Big deal if dirtbag cousins follow after dirtbag cousins. So long as there are enough eyes and ears on our side to detect to them, we can grind them into the dirt. The scum is hanging on by threads. If you can't see the possibility of defeating them, your eyes are not open.

Here's what I would do. Get a controlled civil war going. Arm the Iraqis to the teeth by getting them to form militias of groups of people who are willing to vouch for each other's loyalty to the regime. Maybe say that anyone who can get five other people to vouch for his loyalty gets a permit to carry firearms. If he is caught acting as an insurgent, all five are disarmed. Alternatively, or at the same time, sanctions could also be applied to higher level militia organizations. If there is any pattern of disloyalty in the ranks, a militia might be disarmed, or be barred from accepting new members until they get their loyalty rating up. The most loyal militias would grow and would have prestige. Some such mechanism to arm the good guys while disarming the bad guys should work in Iraq just as it works with common crime in America, the difference being that Iraqi militias would be let loose to kill bad guys when they are discovered. These car bomb factories aren't hidden from ordinary Iraqis. Iraqis are just not empowered to take them out. That is the missing step. We need to LET them fight for their liberty.

lugh lampfhota said at September 30, 2004 11:24 PM:

Randall,

Those particular fascists who attacked NY and DC benefited from the hope that they received from eight long years of Bill Clinton doing absolutely nothing about either Saddan Hussein's fascist thugocrcay nor Al Qaeda's fascist terror organization nor Hamas/Hezbollah/PLO fascist terror organizations. Weakness begets despise. Hatred and despise begets attack.

The Taliban, Iranian mullahs, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, PLO, Hezbollah, Baathists, Wahabbis and ME criminal gangs are all part and parcel of the same Evil that has ruled the ME for three decades. Perhaps they can be ignored so long as they torment each other in the sandbox. But when they reach out to America, they can no longer be ignored. All give each other hope and sustenance, hence all must be destroyed. Ideally freedom does the heavy lifting but until we seed freedom our troops will have to do the work.

Hysterical as in 'psychiatric condition characterized by emotional excitability'. The insurgents are attempting to manipulate US public opinion and terrorize the fledgling democracy in Iraq. No surprise there. Being hysterical helps the insurgents. It is what they want you to do.

If the US military and Iraqi government don't know who the insurgents are, how do you? I've heard we have a mix of Al Qaeda, Baathists and criminals that number under 10,000. That is well under .01 percent. Shall we surrender Iraq and Western Civilization to 10,000 thugs?

gcochran said at September 30, 2004 11:42 PM:


We've captured thousands of insurgents. Of course we know who they are. They're a mix of many things, but more than anything else, they're local boys who want us the fuck out of their country. Go watch Red Dawn.

There is no fledgling democracy in Iraq, by the way. That's just a fairy story. What we have is a bunch of surly locals with a pitifully weak, US-installed puppet government. You'd think we might have picked someone who had actually lived in the the country sometime in the last generation, who wasn't a known CIA agent, and who had never been a Baathist hitman: but nooooooooo. We had to pick Allawi.

Randall, do you ever worry about all these insane people visiting your site? I think that the Internet has been an important facilitator: it lets silly people who want to believe in some particular falsehood get together and tell each other the lies they want to hear. This helped pump up the dot-com craze, and occasionally results in really florid folie-a-milliards such as the monopede mania sites which encourage you to unleash the amputee within, or the anorexia-is-ok sites. The "Good things are happening in Iraq' guys are becoming downright pitiful.


Alec Rawls said at October 1, 2004 12:18 AM:

Cochran:

If I remember Red Dawn, the occupiers were communist dictators, not liberators trying to establish freedom and democracy. Some of the dirtbags may be local dirtbags, but none of them are patriots. They are Baathists and Islamo-fascists. Those are the ones who don't want Iraqis to have free choice. That is going to be a limited group, but however big it is, "bring it on," they all need to die, and we absolutely can do it.

On a different note, do you have to reward yourself for every half reason by letting loose with a paragraph of absurd vitriol? Personally, I try to save my vitriol for the dishonest people who aren't even trying to think straight. Come to think of it, your Red Dawn analogy fits into the not trying really hard category.

Get serious for a minute. Don't you think my militia idea could work? Play devil's advocate if you want. Let's see what you got.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 12:30 AM:

Lugh,

I hardly know where to begin. The PLO, Hamas, the Hezbollah, and the Baathists did not conspire to stage attacks on American soil.

The same evil? Do you mean that they all believe in Islam? That is what they have in common. But Bin Laden's organization is Sunni Wahhabi whereas the Iranian mullahs and the Hezbollah are Shia. They don't play well together.

The Wahhabis are dominant in Saudi Arabia. I - R - A - Q does not spell Saudi Arabia. Saddam was not and is not a Wahhabi. Before we overthrew Saddam Iraqis were not volunteering for Al Qaeda in the large numbers that Saudis and Yemenis were joining.

You say:

Hysterical as in 'psychiatric condition characterized by emotional excitability'.

Well, that describes the Iraq occupation enthusiasts at this point.

You think the US military doesn't know who the insurgents are? I've posted quotes from US military officers on who they think the insurgents are. They think the vast majority are locals. Also, the estimates for the size of the insurgency run higher. A few months ago the insurgency was estimated to be 20,000 and mainly local Sunni Iraqis. The current size of the insurgency is obviously larger than it was 3 months ago. Also, obviously some are Shias as well. But the Shia especially do not have the same motivations as the people who join Al Qaeda. Many of them are motivated by a jumble of emotions but basically just want foreigners out of their country.

To characterize Iraqi insurgents, Al Qaeda members, and assorted others you list as "all part and parcel of the same Evil" misses a lot of differences in motives between the various groups. The PLO is a nationalist group. A lot of the Iraqi insurgents are nationalists as well. Al Qaeda is a different kettle of fish. When you miss the distinctions you come to wrong conclusions about how to handle each.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 12:35 AM:

Alec,

The locals in Iraq do not see us as liberators. When US forces were fighting in Najaf and Fallujah what we did not see were thousands of Iraqi freedom and democracy lovers running to take up arms against the Mahdists and Sunni insurgents. There are not large numbers of Iraqis burning with desire for free choice. But there are thousands of Iraqis burning with desire to kill American soldiers as long as American soldiers stay in the country.

Your militia idea? Why don't you get serious? There is nothing stopping Iraqis from forming their own militias to fight on the same side as US troops. Yet they are not doing so.

lugh lampfhota said at October 1, 2004 1:17 AM:

Randall,

You miss the essence....whether you are speaking of Zawqari, Bin Laden, Saddam, Arafat, Kim Jong Il or some run-of-the-mill thug with an RPG in Sammara. They are all the same. They are evil and intend to dominate the lives of others by violence. Nuancing their motives is absurd. They are enemies of civilization and worthy of destruction.

The world has grown too small, too crowded and has too many weapons that can end civilizations to ignore the monsters. They must be sought out and destroyed. A free, empowered people can do more to eradicate the monsters than divisions of troops. Middle Easterners have little experience with freedom and empowerment. But their children can learn if we make the effort.

This is a generational effort that will be long, hard work. Many will die, more will suffer. But we have no recourse. Civilization, maybe the future of mankind is at stake. I believe it is worth the effort.

Alec Rawls said at October 1, 2004 1:24 AM:

"There are not large numbers of Iraqis burning with desire for free choice."

Randall. You need to stop and question your assumptions. You are almost saying that Iraqis aren't human. Maybe they are not bold, yet, but all we need is for them to not be AGAINST free choice. Yes, there are a few thousand Iraqis "burning with desire to kill American soldiers." We can kill thousands. Do you seriously think that the numbers who are willing to blow up children in order to interdict free choice is large, and that it somehow grows as Iraqis are attracted to, rather than repelled by, the blowing up of children and other innocent Iraqis? At least admit that this thesis of yours is something less than certainly correct.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 1:27 AM:

Lugh,

No, you are the one who misses the essence. You do not realize just how different other cultures are from our own and how many factors beyond our control cause them to be so different. The war party is oblivious to many of those factors. The war party is hopelessly naive. US intervention is making Middle Eastern societies even less like our own, not more.

We can not change the whole world into liberal secular democracies. I've made arguments explaining a number of the reasons why.

As for nuclear proliferation control: If that is a goal worth pursuing then the Iraq invasion was a mistake. US forces are so bogged down that Iran has more freedom of movement than it had before the US invaded.

lugh lampfhota said at October 1, 2004 1:30 AM:

Randall,

Apparently you missed the fact that Iraqis did kill some of Sadr's thugs in Najaf. They were turning up dead on a daily basis with notes pinned to their bodies saying 'Get Out'. USN&WR had an article this week about an Iraqi volunteer battalion fighting with US Marines at Fallujah.

Iraq is not the quagmire that Kerry and friends wish it to be. Fifteen of eighteen provinces are capable of holding elections. The Iraqi security forces grow stronger every day. 26.9 million Iraqis are NOT part of the insurgency. Alawi has released US forces to go after insurgents in Baghdad and al Anbar. Insurgents are dying by the hundreds every day. Smells like victory to me.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 1:36 AM:

Alec,

I am very aware of my assumptions. My conception of the range of human cultures and hierarchies of values and structures of beliefs is obviously wider ranging than yours is. You say:

You are almost saying that Iraqis aren't human.

This is hopelessly naive. You can't imagine anyone but a non-human would oppose a free society. But the evidence is there staring you in the face. You ought to go read the values surveys that have been done across cultures. Not every society places as high a value upon freedom as ours does. Go read books on different cultures. Read, for example, Fouad Ajami's The Arab Predicament.

You don't seem to grasp just how differently people in other cultures think on average as compared to Americans. Stop reading blogs and go read some books. The ideological belief in the universalist appeal of freedom and democracy might sound nice but it is wrong and it is a dangerous myth that is doing a great deal of damage to American interests.

lugh lampfhota said at October 1, 2004 1:38 AM:

What a racist belief....Arabs can't live in a free society? Arabs need a thug-sheik to rule them? No-one expects them to have manicured lawns and shop at Pottery Barn, but could they possible elect leaders that don't rape, torture and kill them? 1.5 billion Muslims aren't rampaging over the globe sawing heads off and crashing airliners into buildings.

Regarding Iran....they are cornered and know it. The mullah's days are numbered as witnessed by more demonstrations this week. The Shia who come to Iraq on pilgrimage will infect Iran with freedom...and there will be no turning back. Can't you understand that freedom is a natural human desire?

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 1:47 AM:

Lugh,

I'm aware of small scale local opposition to the Mahdists in Najar. But that opposition really was small scale.

Fallujah: The Kurds stick with the US forces and fight. This infuriates the Sunni Arabs in Fallujah and other parts of Iraq. The Fallujans are killing and driving out the Kurds from Fallujah. The US has had major problems with desertions whenever the US tried to get new Iraqi Army troops to fight alongside US forces against insurgents.

There were big desertions in Najaf in August.

"We received a report that a whole battalion (in Najaf) threw down their rifles," said one high-ranking defense ministry official, who didn't want his name published because he's not an official spokesman. "We expected this, and we expect it again and again."

While Abizaid claims that Iraqi forces are soon going to be able to take over much of the fighting Iraqi government forces are declining due to desertions.

Take the status numbers on Iraqi security forces. The US has recently raised its estimate of the number of police Iraq will need by about 30 percent, to 135,000. About 85,000 are now on duty, but that figure has actually been declining of late, due to desertions and resignations.
Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 1:52 AM:

Lugh,

What a racist belief

It is a belief based on considerable empirical evidence. Whereas yours appears to be based on belief in myths and fantasies.

You make a serious mistake in your reasoning when you ask:

Arabs can't live in a free society?

Can't? Try "don't want to". They value other things more highly.

What an incredibly ignorant and parochial belief to think that everyone else has the same hierarchy of values that you do.

lugh lampfhota said at October 1, 2004 1:56 AM:

Randall,

You need additional news sources from Iraq. I'm not saying that everything is rosy. It is a long hard job and the insurgents are doing their best to terrorize the Iraqi people. But if we hold fast with unbending will, freedom will prevail in Iraq just as it has everywhere. Freedom is irresistable. Once the US gets GW Bush re-elected things will get back on track.

lugh lampfhota said at October 1, 2004 2:12 AM:

Randall,

Your assertation is that Iraqis prefer a patriarchal, tribal society ruled by a strongman who allocates resources based upon loyalty and uses brutal violence to maintain order in the tribe? Oh my.....how Dark Age. And based upon your 'empirical evidence' I suppose you would state that Dark Age Europeans preferred a feudal society where serfs lived under feudal Lords? And if offerred freedom you would claim that they 'don't want to'? How about plantation slaves in the South Randall? Was there 'empirical evidence' that they 'don't want to' be free? How about Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Romanians, Lithuainians and Czechs? Did the 'empirical evidence' suggest they preferred communist tyranny?

Rnadall....you better rethink your assertation...er...it might be faulty.

Alec Rawls said at October 1, 2004 2:25 AM:

Well, at least we seem to have gotten to the bottom of our disagreement. Lugh has already slammed you for imagining such a bald cultural determinism so let me try to address what I think is realistic in your concern.

Democracy is not in itself an ideal. Tyranny of the majority is tyranny just as much as tyranny by an autocrat. France was absolutely right not to accept the victory of Islamo-fascism by democratic election in Algeria. But Iraq is the place to introduce democracy to the Muslim world because it has the same advantage that America had: a bunch of different groups that are all afraid of being under the power of the others and so are motivated to install and maintain checks and balances. In our case the different groups were the different colonies. In Iraq the divisions are mostly ethnic and religious.

Iran is propitious for a different reason. They have already learned that they don't want to be under the mullahs and have been seeking escape for 15 years now. Afghanis may have learned the same thing from their stint under the Taliban. These situations all need to be managed but they are all propitious.

If cultural determinism is the dominant force you think it is, how do you account for Iran, aching to break free? Now in those cases where fundamentalist Islam remains ascendant, democracy is a no-go. Forget democracy in Egypt, Pakistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, maybe for decades, until liberty in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan start to transform Muslim culture. Saudi Arabia might just need to be ploughed under. But for the propitious nations, we have to give them a chance. We can't just nuke em. And they are propitious. That doesn't mean we can take anything for granted. We need to demand certain things, like universal sufferage, and religous liberty, but those are going to be easy in Iraq and Iran, with Iraq's religious divisions and Iran's anti-religion. You are missing alot of upside possibility here my friend.

gcochran said at October 1, 2004 7:33 AM:

Germany in the Second Reich, under people like Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm, had lived under a rule of law. For quite some time they had had a parliamanet, a diet, with real power. The system became a good deal more democratic under the Weimar constitution. Then they elected Hitler. Now,. did Germany hate Hitler? Did their armies fightly poorly or unenthusiastically against democratic states such as France, the US or Great Britain? Let's ask the French about that. Did the instatiable desire for Democracy that throbs in every human breast get in the way of their conquest of most of Europe?

Nope. I guess the Germans weren't human. Come to think of it, if you look at history, Earth must have been primarily settled by nonhumans. I mean, how could so many Greek city-states have supported Sparta instead of Athens? How could so many Japanese have dumped their parliamentary system for military dictatorship, and then fought with unsurpassed fanaticism? How could the Romans have given up the Republic for the Empire? Why is Putin popular, even as he dissassembles democracy in Russia? _People_ couldn't be like that!
Non humans who I guess just don't have that instatiable throbbing are everywhere you look. Sometimes I think they're gaining on us.


Derek Copold said at October 1, 2004 7:40 AM:

How depressing this debate is.

Apparently, there's a segment of the population who simply will not relinquish their outmoded fantasies in the face of changing reality. Reporters, military officers and intelligence personell, all "on the ground" have conclusively shown what a failure this war and occupation were. Yet with each new disaster and setback, Flys, Rawlses, Lughs and other assorted members of the wargasm crowd churn out ever more complex, fantastical and ahistorical theories asserting that these catastrophes are actually a Good Sign.

TangoMan said at October 1, 2004 8:45 AM:

For those commenters who are prone to conflate Al Queda with Iraq I encourage you to look at this map from the State Department that highlights the countries within which Al Queda has operated. Hint: Look specifically at the country south of Turkey and west of Iran.

gcochran said at October 1, 2004 9:05 AM:

The pinheads, in their denial, remind me of the MD reaction to Semmelweis. He showed that that doctors were the _cause_ of childbed fever - that they were (accidentally of course) killing huge numbers of women. And he showed how very simple sanitary precaution could almost completely eliminate this tragedy. His colleagues utterly rejected this: you see, in order to admit that Semmelweis was correct, they first would have had to admit that they had been terrobly wrong, that they had increased the risk of childbed fever manyfold. Rather than think this, which would have been really depressing and seriously damaged their amour-propre, they mocked him, rejected him and his ideas. He attacked them desperately, horrified at their murderous folly, but got nowhere. He eventually died in an insane asylum. Not a Disney story.

Here, people have to admit that their country, the government that they probably voted for (as I did) is criminally stupid, that it chose an aggressive war that has no practical purpose at all. Their government has embarrassed and discredited the country in the eyes of the world. Rather than believe that highly depressing fact, they spin fantasies. But let's look at the bright side: at least they wash their hands.

Derek Copold said at October 1, 2004 10:27 AM:

I voted for Bush, too, Greg. Not only that, I wrote a few pieces in favor of them. Camille Paglia reprinted one of my letters. Lord knows how I regret that one.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 11:25 AM:

Alec,

I've certainly been accused of genetic determinism before. Now I can say that I've been accused of cultural determinism as well.

Well, I am a determinist. I think there are causes and effects. Everything that happens has a reason (or complex set of reasons) for happening. I'm a reductionist. I break things down into their component causes and try to learn more and analyze them. I find that more useful than fantasizing.

Derek Copold said at October 1, 2004 11:55 AM:

Jeez, Randall, you don't believe there's some platonic Iraq whose form is being distorted by our senses via all those bad pictures? What an unpatriotic, Osama-Bin-Laden-loving, Islamofascist terror symp you are!

Matra said at October 1, 2004 12:16 PM:

"What a racist belief....Arabs can't live in a free society?"

I'm not even sure that even we in the Western world any longer understand the meaning of a free society. In the bureaucratic USA one can end up in prison for the most minor of environmental or gun law violations. In the UK the government of Tony Blair is in the process of criminalising a significant percentage of previously law abiding people in the countryside by outlawing foxhunting with hounds. In Canada and the US tens of thousands of divorced men are virtual slaves working to keep up unjust child support payments and can even be imprisoned when they legitimately can't afford to keep up such payments. Short term imprisonment without legal representation is a daily occurence in many parts of the US for such men. In Sweden a Protestant minister was recently given a prison term for expressing animosity towards the homosexual lifestyle. Virtually everywhere in the West there is a form of encroaching bureaucratic tyranny - sometimes with the War on Terror used as an excuse.

Given the very real cultural differences between the Islamic Arab world and the formerly Christian West it is idiotic to expect that both civilisations would have the same worldview and the same longterm goals. Those who say the same general form of government should be forced on the whole world are no different from the communist revolutionaries of the 20th century - though, of course, I would rather live in a Western mass democracy, with all its faults, than in a communist or Baathist society. The form of government a country has is a result of its history. Trying to export US-style mass democracy to Iraq is like trying to get Iraqis to accept US history as its own.

I know enough about Islam to despise it but personally I'm a lot less concerned about the threat from the Middle East than I am from the "well meaning" tyrants here at home. Besides, the primary reason for the Islamic threat is not from Iraqi insurgents but from the multicultural policy of allowing significant numbers of Muslims to move to the West.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 12:31 PM:

Derek,

I'm too scientific for my own good. If only I could accept that this is a solipsistic universe and start preaching "right thought" I could get my many readers to imagine and dream our way to a secular and free Iraq replete with an uncorrupt, benign and democratic government.

It is people like you and me and Greg who think negative thoughts about the Middle East who prevent the flowering of free market democracy and libertarian utopia.

With our negative thoughts we are stabbing the hawks in the back. This reminds me of the famous conversation between Ludendorff and B.H. Liddell Hart about the cause of defeat of Germany in WWI. Well we are to blame, not the neocons. We stabbed those noble armchair warriors in the back with all our criticism.

Derek Copold said at October 1, 2004 12:47 PM:

Hell, do you know how hard it is to ram a dagger through a barc-a-lounger, too? One chickenhawk nearly escaped because some back issues of the Weekly Standard and Commentary deflected my initial blow.

Alec Rawls said at October 1, 2004 1:23 PM:

Randall:

To be realistic, you need to distinguish between where prospects for liberty and democracy are propitous and where they are not. A people who have been under the boot for thirty years are liable to be ready for a change. We know this to be the case in Iran. As noted above, Iraq also has the benifit of ethnic and religious divisions, giving lots of incentive to create strong checks and balances. Then you have to consider the alternative. The only other choice is to nuke them. If Iran is not liberated, we will have to nuke them. If North Korea is not liberated, we will have to nuke them. If Iraq remained under Saddam until he could use his oil wealth to buy nukes for Al Qaeda, we would have had to nuke half the world. I think we have to give the Iraqis a chance before we annihilate them, and given that chance, I think they are going to prove themselves moral.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 1:32 PM:

Matra,

Besides, the primary reason for the Islamic threat is not from Iraqi insurgents but from the multicultural policy of allowing significant numbers of Muslims to move to the West.

Yes, exactly! What angers me most about the war advocates is that they are making us less secure by promoting US foreign policies that actually help> Al Qaeda recruitment while simultaneously failing to promote policies that will better defend us here at home.

For a small fraction of the cost of the Iraqi Debacle we could do a hugely better job of screening visa applicants, tracking visa holders in the US, tracking permanent residents of the US who are from Islamic countries, and also making it enormously more difficult to cross over US borders into the US illegally. This would reduce the number of Al Qaeda operatives in the US and make us safer.

TangoMan said at October 1, 2004 1:39 PM:

Alec,

To be realistic . . . Then you have to consider the alternative. The only other choice is to nuke them.

Talk about false dilemma and strawmen. Yikes. Quite a binary world view you have there. The Bush Doctrine or nuclear annihilation and no other paths can be considered. I'm not so sure that your exhortation to Randall to be realistic carries much weight when supported by this qualtity of argumentation.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 2:16 PM:

Alec,

No, we do not know that the Iranians are ready for change. If they were ready they'd be out there in the streets in large numbers either marching or shooting.

Facts are such troublesome things. Consider this line of yours:

If Iraq remained under Saddam until he could use his oil wealth to buy nukes for Al Qaeda

He also might have used his oil wealth to buy everyone in the world a Pepsi. Or he might have used it to support Tamil Tigers or the Shining Path in their fights. Or he might have developed a taste for expensive paintings. But where has Al Qaeda's money been coming from? Saudi Arabia. Where was Al Qaeda's state support coming from? Afghanistan under the Taliban and from Pakistan and especially from the Pakistani ISI.

A bunch of Saudi terrorists with smaller numbers of Yemenis and the occasional Egyptian attack the US and this leads to Saddam's door how exactly? Through torturous logic and lots of false facts conveniently supplied by neocons writing in the Weekly Standard and other neocon publications. But the real facts are obvious and Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 and he was not supporting Al Qaeda. Saddam was all about making himself into an Arab hero, not into helping some group that operates independent of any state into a bunch of Arab heroes. Al Qaeda is working for different goals and in some ways for purposes that conflict with Saddam's goals. I realise that is hard to grasp if you have been indoctrinated from reading large amounts of neocon nonsense. But if you can stop listening to the propagandists the facts are readily apparent.

Derek Copold said at October 1, 2004 2:21 PM:

Alec,

Two points.

First, the Iranians wanted change in 1979, and they got it. Not all change is good.

Second, it's no coincidence that the Iranian populace is the least anti-American in the region and the populace who has been the least affected by our foreign policy. If the Iranians can teach us any lesson, it's that we do best abroad when we do the least.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 2:26 PM:

Alec, Lugh,

You've been Rubes. You've been conned. Wake up.

If you want to understand what the Iraq war was about then go read A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm written in about 1997 (give or take a year) by Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser. They wrote it for Binyamin Netanyahu when he was Prime Minister of Israel. It lays out the neocon rationale for overthrowing Saddam. It even includes an anonymous quote which was obviously from Ahmad Chalabi. Also read my post Seymour Hersh: Israel Helping Kurds Financially, Militarily for my own commentary on Clean Break.

The irony is that the neocons have pursued a US foreign policy that has harmed Israel's national security, not helped it. These guys are bozos. They've damaged US national security. They've worked to benefit Israel but their machinations have backfired. They are not worthy of your respect or loyalty. Some of them belong in jail for spying and treason. Stop listening to their deceptions. Amerca's interests are being seriously harmed by their actions and propaganda.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 2:39 PM:

As for the argument from neocon Michael Ledeen that the Iranians are in a pre-revolutionary frame of mind, see my post from April 2003 Iranian People Not In Pre-Revolutionary Frame Of Mind. At the time I was arguing with other hawkish bloggers who were claiming that Iran was going to have a revolution in the summer of 2003. Well, wrong!

I really think the neocons in the Bush Administration are massively misunderstanding the Arab mind and the Iranians as well. Also see my posts Pentagon Hawks Pushing For Iran Regime Overthrow and US Military Officers Increasingly Critical Of US Strategy In Iraq.

Fly said at October 1, 2004 2:54 PM:

Randall, sorry I didnít reply earlier. (Not that youíd notice my lack of reply with all these responses.)

I believe this email reflects that Iraq is a very unsafe environment for non-Iraqis. Iraqi bloggers have written for months about rampant car jacking and kidnapping for ransom. Some are now irritated that the kidnapping of foreigners gets wide press when the kidnapping of Iraqis goes unreported.

My interpretation of the letter is that this newswoman has no appreciation that the US is at war. She apparently feels she is a spectator at some game. Or feels her journalistic occupation entitles her to special treatment.

I believe the US is at war. The people we are fighting are thugs and gangsters. Some with Islamic trappings. They have long used brutality to keep power and will apply the same brutality against the US. I donít expect this war to be easy. I believe it will get worse. Slowly US citizens will learn what real war is and what is required to maintain a civil world.

If the US fails to establish a secular democracy in Iraq, I expect that our troops will stay long enough to unseat the Iranian mullahs and enforce change in Syria and Saudi Arabia. Removing Saddam, unseating the Iranian mullahs, constraining Syria, and ending the Saudi funding and preaching of terrorism would be a decent consolation prize if we fail to establish democracy in Iraq.

PS
I donít believe it is racist to argue that it will be difficult if not impossible to establish a secular democracy in Iraq. Randall has supplied many links to back up his beliefs. Nor do I believe it is defeatist to argue the struggle in Iraq is going badly. At some point the US may have to settle for a non-democratic solution in Iraq. Blogs such as Randallís keep a spotlight on that option.

I disagree with Randall on these points:

The US has immense military, economic, political, and cultural power with which to influence Iraq. This power makes possible what would otherwise be hopeless.

The Iraq war is not a distraction but is strategically necessary for actions against Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Winning this war means cutting off the funding and support for Islamic terrorism.

I support increased funding for basic energy research. I believe new opportunities in nanotech and biotech mean that the money would provide major returns and significantly help the US within twenty years. However I donít believe that energy research will significantly affect the WoT. (I believe military force will be required to stop the funding of terror with ME oil dollars.) Nor do I believe that the Iraq war precludes energy research. The issues are independent.

The US should take back control of its borders. (Unfortunately neither Bush nor Kerry is likely to take this step.) However I donít believe controlling our borders will make the US safe. The US has enemies who, given an opportunity, will use nuclear or biological weapons against us. Active military confrontation will be necessary to deter these enemies.

John S Bolton said at October 1, 2004 4:04 PM:

What a lot of false dilemmas have been set up above, such as: either make us the lemmings of the planet, spending trillions to liberate people who have no impulse to move beyond passivity, or use racism to classify nations into the naturally free and unfree. Where, also, the definition of freedom is so slack, it just means representative democracy. The populations to be assisted in liberating themselves, should show some active uprising or resistance. Even if they are in that mode, doesn't it fit the definition of treason to transfuse the tax money of the citizenry to the foreigner? This government has got to stop pretending that all the world's people are our citizens. They are not to try to make themselves a shadow world government.

Alec Rawls said at October 1, 2004 4:21 PM:

Lots of good analysis Randall, just very incomplete: oblivious to the upside risk, and seemingly oblivious to the job that needs to accomplished. This scum bucket--the entire Arab world--needs to be hosed out. What we can't transform we are going to have to annihilate. Anyone who doesn't understand that now will understand it as soon as a nuke goes off in an American city. WMD get easier every year. We can't sit back and wait for it. Of course the ultimate goal is to chop off the head of the snake, Saudi Arabia, and pull the fangs, Iran and Pakistan. Iraq is a beach-head. We can't do this by sanctions. We have to take out regimes. Let's year your alternative war plan, because if you don't have one, you are just blowing smoke.

Randall Parker said at October 1, 2004 4:55 PM:

Alec,

1) Iran is very close to making nuclear weapons. The US invasion of Iraq actually gives Iran's mullahs more leeway in which to operate.

2) Iraq was not seriously working on making nukes and the Bushies misrepresented the evidence on this.

3) The US military is tied down in Iraq with too small a force by a factor of 4 to conduct an occupation and with no clear purpose even if it was going to conduct an effective occupation.

4) In order to have enough troops to occupy Iraq the US military would need to add about 1 million soldiers since a significant portion of them would be in training and in support and other activities not deployed.

5) I do not see the Bush Administration asking Congress for the money to expand the US military by 1 million troops.

6) Since we do not have enough soldiers to occupy Iraq I don't see how we can make the rest of the Arab countries "hosed out".

7) Most of the Arabs pose no threat to us as long as they are in Arab countres and the vast bulk of them are incapable of making nukes.

8) Close in defense at home to keep out bad guys would provide a real benefit to us. Compare that to the invasion of Iraq which provides no beneft and actually sticks us with many costs and it motivates more Arabs to become terrorists.

9) We didn't need a beachhead in Iraq to invade Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia would be very easy to invade. Though it would be a bitch to occupy.

10) Bush does not intend and never has intended to invade Saudi Arabia. Bush wouldn't do that to his good friend Prince Bandar.

11) Bush had a huge chance to kill a lot of Al Qaeda at Tora Bora and he blew it.

12) Bush pulled special forces out of Afghanistan along the Pakistani border and pulled them away from hunting Al Qaeda in order to do the Iraq invasion.

Alec Rawls said at October 1, 2004 5:20 PM:

Randall:

We are not going to remain occupied in Iraq. A little sustained aggression and we are going to win in Iraq, and win an ally that is going to help us deal with its nasty neighbors. In the meantime, we have plenty of available military power to deal with Iran. Once we win the air war, we just need to get small arms to the people, and give them air support, so the already armed bad-guys can't wipe them out. If we don't have good intel on who to support for a coup, the Israelis probably do.

The Saudis will indeed probably be left for another president down the road. Too bad Bush is not perfect.

TangoMan said at October 1, 2004 5:36 PM:

Alec,

In the meantime, we have plenty of available military power to deal with Iran.

Huh? Then why aren't we using it to more quickly pacify Iraq?

Once we win the air war, we just need to get small arms to the people, and give them air support, so the already armed bad-guys can't wipe them out.

Maybe we'll be greeted as liberators like we were in Iraq? Don't you think the NeoCon Liberation Paradigm has been falsified yet? How many iterations need we go through before people conclude it's unworkable?

Alec Rawls said at October 1, 2004 5:53 PM:

Tango:

We have gone easy in Iraq to try to keep our profile low while turning over power to the Iraqi intrim government. Now the Al Qaeda, Iranian, Baathist dirtbags are in an impossible position. All they can do is kill Iraqis, which makes Iraqis hate them, and you somehow think that they are in the catbird seat. No. They are between a rock and a hard place and they are going to get crushed.

Iran will greet its liberator as a liberator. They have been voting for liberation for a decade.

Brock said at October 1, 2004 9:39 PM:

Notice how it was an Iraqi brigade which took the Mosque in Sammara yesterday? Not too shabby for a first mission. There's like what, 70,000 Iraqi troops in training right now? I mean, hey, they speak the language, the know the people and the customs, they kill terrorist - there's something for everyone here to like. Maybe we don't have the funds to pay for 1 Million American soldiers, but if a few thousand Marine and Marine-trained Iraqis can take back a major city, we won't need to.

I love it when a plan comes together :-)

Wasup, Fly? Good to see you're still around.

Brock

lugh lampfhota said at October 1, 2004 9:47 PM:

Randall,

Saddam had weapons PROGRAMS that could rapidly make weapons. Dual use chemical facilities, biological samples and centrifuges which could and WOULD be used to make WMD. The Iraq survey team reported clearly that this was the case.

A bigger military force is merely a bigger target and looks more like occupation. Training Iraqis (like the two battalions that helped 1ID storm Samarra today) is the future. The Rumsfeld Doctine is smaller, high-tech units operating with local forces (as in Afghanistan). The days of unusable armored divisions are gone, like the horse=borne calvary of the 19th century.

Most Arabs are not a threat, but the tyrants with their gullible boy-troops are dangerous to us. Invading nations willy-nilly is just dumb. What is the pretense for invading Saudia Arabia? What would be the impact on global oil prices? Do you think these things don't matter?

General Tommy Franks stated clearly on numerous occasions that no troops were diverted from the Afghan campaign to Iraq. Graham made it up. It is a lie. And no one KNEW where Osama bin Lost was or is. Otherwise he would be dead or in custody. Besides....we are out to destroy Al Qaeda, not hunt single snipes. 75% of Al Qaeda is out of commission.

Finally....the best defense is a good offense. You could line troops up, hand in hand and NEVER secure the border. It is physically impossible. You couldn't deny me entry to your home if I wanted in badly enough. The Maginot Line should teach us something my friend.

So we take this war to them and display WILL. Bush is doing just that. We will prevail if we maintain will.

gcochran said at October 1, 2004 11:34 PM:


" If Iran is not liberated, we will have to nuke them."

I have nothing in particular against Iran. I do have something against anyone advocating casual mass murder. Assuming that I had to fight someone, I'd rather fight you. Am I making myself clear?

Alec Rawls said at October 2, 2004 12:19 AM:

Iran has already said it is going to use its first nuke annihilate Israel. Guess where the second one is going? I didn't say we should casually choose to nuke anybody. I said we would HAVE to, so get your dander down. (Jeez, you quoted me, and you still can't tell what I said?)

Since we WILL have to nuke them if we don't liberate them (because they will be nuking us, and supplying nukes to Al Qaeda to nuke us) we had damned well better liberate them. Don't go pretending I am the callous one. You are the one who does not want to liberate them, and save them from otherwise unavoidable annihilation.

gcochran said at October 2, 2004 12:48 AM:

I mean what I say. You spew nonsense and dream of mass murder. The hell with you.

Alec Rawls said at October 2, 2004 5:12 AM:

Cochran

Iran is six months away from having nukes and as far as you are concerned, anyone who wants to think seriously about the consequences is just plain mean. They yearn to commit mass murder. You sound like that asshole Gary Wills saying that anyone who owns a gun is an "anti-citizen," dreaming about murdering his fellows. You pretend you are all about reality, but when you run out of arguments for for maintaining your preconcieved ideas, you slander, even if you have to sound like Barbara Boxer and the Million-Mom marchers to do it.

Listen, this is your hangout. I'm just a visitor here. I don't want to humiliate you, but what the hell do you expect when you slander people as a tool of argumentation? I was civil to you before when I invited you to "show me what you got." I'd be glad to be civil still, if you would reciprocate. I've enjoyed engaging you guys. This was a good discussion. Don't throw it in the sewer.

jdwill said at October 2, 2004 7:06 AM:

Intriguing post.

I have a few problems with this viewpoint:

1. We have one person, who by self confession is sequestered, and reporting on hearsay
2. Your WAPO article is titled U.S. Effort Aims to Improve Opinions About Iraq Conflict, and is a fairly neutral article. Why don't you attribute the article as titled?
3. Lew Rockwell? Am I seeing the marrying of the far left and far right here?
4. How exactly do you tell a dead insurgent from a dead civilian once he, sans weapon, is taken to the morgue? And wouldn't you expect his family to claim he was innocent? These facts are very murky, yet you link articles with professional looking charts showing civilian war dead.

I don't trust the press, it's more laziness than ideology. They sit in the green zone and send out Iraqi's whose motivations are unknown to bring the story back to them. When a story hits the wire, you can use news.google.com to track the copycatting going on. I recommend balancing your perspective with some milblogs - here's one that has a well placed view.

Based on the exaggerations that occured since Afghanistan, I am very leery of your facts.

Fly said at October 2, 2004 11:15 AM:

Brock: ďWasup, Fly? Good to see you're still around.Ē

Thanks for the interest. Yes, I still read Parapundit and follow the discussions. I donít post as frequently because I have already stated my basic views and reasoning. When I have new information to contribute I will.

Alec, Greg insults people who disagree with him. He claims to be an authority. Greg does it here and on the GNXP site. As Greg provides no links and little analysis I ignore him. I donít take his comments personally as Iíve watched him do the same to others repeatedly.

There are people on this site who agree with your statements and there are people who will disagree respectfully. I hope you continue to post.

These discussions operate on multiple levels. People reading this blog likely have extensive background information. So people are aware of the strategic reasons for the Iraq war even if they discount those reasons. Likewise people are aware of Wretchardís Three Conjectures so they know what you mean about Iranís nuclear threat and how the US might respond. When people want to push a certain viewpoint, they sometimes pretend ignorance of information that doesnít support their view.

gcochran said at October 2, 2004 11:36 AM:

Somehow I think the proprietors of GNXP disagree with you, Fly. If you doubt me, just ask them.



Richard said at October 3, 2004 1:43 PM:

"Assuming that I had to fight someone, I'd rather fight you. Am I making myself clear?"

Greg,

These guys have no intention of fighting anyone. I know they like to use the first person plural, but be assured . they are safely at home behind the screen and in a little while they will get up and go to Subway, get a steak bomb and come back and post at another blog. If they are doing this from Iraq just after duty, they have my humble apologies, but I doubt it.

Adam Smith had their number more than 200 years ago:

"In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies. To them this amusement compensates the small difference between the taxes which they pay on account of the war, and those which they had been accustomed to pay in time of peace. They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war."

Book V, Chapter 3 of The Wealth of Nations


gcochran said at October 4, 2004 8:53 AM:

A bit of Red Dawn, from Steve Sailer:

>Later, after the boys have started an armed resistance using RPGs and IEDs, they capture one unharmed Soviet soldier and find out that one of their band is a traitor. Swayze decides to execute them both, but his brother cries out:


"If we kill them, then how are we better than the invaders?

Swayze replies, "Because we live here," and shoots the Russian. >


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