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Editorial: Why the anti-war movement was right

Anti-war Iraq Editorial

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#1 Rov Judicata

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 09:41 PM

Yes, I disagree.

But fair is fair, here it is:

http://www.alternet....l?StoryID=15663

My point-by-point response will follow soon
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#2 Palisades

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 09:44 PM

In the meantime, I find it humorous that while giving his speech today, Bush slipped up and said that we have hundreds and hundreds of sites to "exploit" in Iraq while looking for WMDs.

Edited by QuantumFlux, 02 May 2003 - 09:49 PM.

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#3 MuseZack

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 09:54 PM

Arianna Huffington's an odd duck.  Once a solid Republican, she's now a politically all over the map populist.  I don't agree with her all or even most of the time, but she argues her positions well and uses language with real verve.

"polygamous potentates"?  William "nattering nabobs of negativism" Safire would be proud.

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#4 Rov Judicata

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 09:55 PM

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From the moment that statue of Saddam hit the ground, the mood around the Rumsfeld campfire has been all high-fives, I-told-you-sos, and endless smug prattling about how the speedy fall of Baghdad is proof positive that those who opposed the invasion of Iraq were dead wrong.

I believe the specific comments were those that said that there would be thousands or millions of casualties in urban warfare, and that we would be bogged down for months seizing the city were dead wrong. They were. I was wrong too; I expected it to be far bloodier.

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What utter nonsense. In fact, the speedy fall of Baghdad proves the anti-war movement was dead right.

Setting up a no-win situation. If we do poorly, we’re unprepared. If we do well, it’s proof that the war was unjustified.

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The whole pretext for our unilateral charge into Iraq

Please explain how the support of 60 nations is unilateral.

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was that the American people were in imminent danger from Saddam and his mighty war machine.

Wrong. It was a variety of factors. The legal justification was the violation of the cease-fire. And nobody, by the way, denies that Iraq *did* violate the cease fire.

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The threat was so clear and present that we couldn't even give inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction - hey, remember those? - another 30 days, as France wanted.

12 years isn’t enough? And do you honestly believe that they would have supported action-against their financial interests-after 30 more days?

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Well, it turns out that, far from being on the verge of destroying Western civilization, Saddam and his 21st century Gestapo couldn't even muster a half-hearted defense of their own capital.

The resistance was stronger in the south. Lest it be forgotten, the prevailing theory is that Saddam et al had no idea how badly things were going... because the messengers wanted to live.

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The hawks' cakewalk disproves their own dire warnings; they can't have it both ways.

There’s irony here, if only I knew where to find it.

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Back in 1991, more than a half-dozen Arab nations were part of our Desert Storm coalition. Operation Iraqi Freedom's "coalition of the willing" had zero.

Um... huh? Saudi Arabia isn’t an Arab nation? Kuwait isn’t? Turkey isn’t? Where do you think our troops were based?

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Not even the polygamous potentates of Kuwait - whose butts we saved last time out and who were most threatened by whatever threat Iraq still presented - would join us.

Which war are you watching? Our troops were based in Kuwait! How is that not joining the coalition?

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In fact, almost everything about the invasion - from the go-it-alone build-up to the mayhem the fall of Saddam has unleashed - has played right into the hands of those intent on demonizing our country. Islamic extremists must be having a field day signing up recruits for the holy war they're preparing to wage against us. Instead of Uncle Sam wants you, their recruiting posters feature a different kind of patriotic image: an American soldier ill-advisedly draping the American flag over Saddam's face.

This is argument from adverse consequences. “We should do nothing, or they’ll hate us!”. Guess what? They hated us before.

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The anti-war movement did not oppose the war out of fear that America was going to lose. It was the Bush administration's pathological and frantic obsession with an immediate, damn-the-consequences invasion that fueled the protests.

How is 12 years of build-up and violation immediate?

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And please don't point to jubilant Iraqis dancing in the streets to validate the case for "pre-emptive liberation." You'd be doing the Baghdad Bugaloo too if the murderous tyrant who'd been eating off golden plates while your family starved finally got what was coming to him. It in no way proves that running roughshod over international law and pouring Iraqi oil - now brought to you by the good folks at Halliburton - onto the flames of anti-American hatred was a good idea. It wasn't before the war, and it still isn't now. The unintended consequences have barely begun to unfold.

Naturally. Anything positive is unimportant. Typical. But you magically know what those unintended consequences are going to be?

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And the idea that our slamdunk of Saddam actually proves the White House was right is particularly dangerous because it encourages the Wolfowitzes and the Perles and the Cheneys to argue that we should be invading Syria or Iran or North Korea or Cuba as soon as we catch our breath. They've tasted blood.

Seen any buildup to war with any of those countries? Syria is backing down, North Korea is making concessions. Cuba and Iran are a bit more troublesome, politically, but nothing we can’t handle.

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It's important to remember that the Arab world has seen a very different war than we have. They are seeing babies with limbs blown off, children wailing beside their dead mothers, Arab journalists killed by American tanks and bombers, holy men hacked to death and dragged through the streets. They are seeing American forces leaving behind a wake of destruction, looting, hunger, humiliation, and chaos.

And worse conditions existed before the war. How about condemning those?

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Who's been handling our war PR, Osama bin Laden? The language and imagery are all wrong. Having Tom DeLay gush about our "army of virtue" at the same time we're blowing up mosques is definitely not sending the right message to a Muslim world already suspicious that we're waging a war on Islam.

We did our best to avoid blowing up Mosque’s; it’s not our fault that Saddam parked tanks in them.

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Neither is Ari Fleischer's claim that the administration can't do anything to keep Christian missionaries - including those who have described the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a "demon-possessed pedophile" and a "terrorist" - from going on a holy crusade to Baghdad. You think the Arab world might take that the wrong way? If there is one thing that could bring Sunnis and Shiites together, it's the common hatred of evangelical zealots who denigrate their prophet.

That paragraph I totally agree with. But without restricting freedom of movement unconstitutionally, there’s little we can do.

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And it doesn't help to have the American media referring to Jay Garner, the retired general Don Rumsfeld picked to oversee the rebuilding of Iraq, as "viceroy." It reeks of colonial imperialism. Why not just call him "Head Bwana?" Or "Garner of Arabia?" I didn't realize the Supreme Court had handed Bush a scepter to go along with the Florida recount.

So, now you’re just quibbling over WHAT THEY CALL IT? How petty can you get?

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The powerful role that shame and humiliation have played in shaping world history is considerable, but something the Bush team seems utterly clueless about. Which is why the anti-war movement must be stalwart in its refusal to be silenced or browbeaten by the gloating "I told you so" chorus on the right. On the contrary, it needs to make sure that the doctrine of preemptive invasion is forever buried in the sands of Iraq.

Naturally, an elite team of Yale and Harvard-educated professionals has no idea what they’re doing. But you do.

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Especially as the administration, high on the heady fumes of Saddam's ouster, turns its covetous eyes on Syria. I give it less than a week before someone starts making the case that President Assad is the next, next Hitler.

‘Someone’? I’m sure somebody already has. What’s your point?


Zack-- Agreed. I disagree with her, but she's coherent.

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In the meantime, I find it humorous that while giving his speech today, Bush slipped up and said that we have hundreds and hundreds of sites to "exploit" in Iraq while looking for WMDs.

QF-- How is that a slip-up? The teams that look for WMD's are called mobile exploitation squads, if I recall correctly.

Edited by Javert Rovinski, 02 May 2003 - 10:11 PM.

St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. § 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#5 Laoise

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 10:21 PM

Javert Rovinski, on May 2 2003, 01:45 PM, said:

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In the meantime, I find it humorous that while giving his speech today, Bush slipped up and said that we have hundreds and hundreds of sites to "exploit" in Iraq while looking for WMDs.

QF-- How is that a slip-up? The teams that look for WMD's are called mobile exploitation squads, if I recall correctly.
Well, "exploit" isn't a term that's going to make people believe the US was went into this war for any reason other than "We can, so na nana boo boo!"  A lot of people will probably point to the use of the word "exploit" to say things like, "See, the Americans are just using the Iraqis for their own purpose!  Americans suck!"  It certainly would have made me stop and blink if I'd heard it.

I wouldn't have known they were called mobile exploitation squads.  I bet a lot of other people don't either and although ignorance isn't a very good excuse, 'exploit' still just doesn't bring to mind the best images.
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#6 Kosh

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 11:09 PM

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Well, it turns out that, far from being on the verge of destroying Western civilization, Saddam and his 21st century Gestapo couldn't even muster a half-hearted defense of their own capital. The hawks' cakewalk disproves their own dire warnings; they can't have it both ways.


She's got a good point here, they were not a threat to anyone other then there own citizens. Of coarse, some of those citizens were children being held in prison.


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And please don't point to jubilant Iraqis dancing in the streets to validate the case for "pre-emptive liberation." You'd be doing the Baghdad Bugaloo too if the murderous tyrant who'd been eating off golden plates while your family starved finally got what was coming to him.

Hurting her own cause here.



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#7 Palisades

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 11:46 PM

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Please explain how the support of 60 nations is unilateral.
Yes, Bush had a coalition of the willing to be coerced and bought off. It’s still the U.S. that was calling the shots.

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The legal justification was the violation of the cease-fire. And nobody, by the way, denies that Iraq *did* violate the cease fire.
I disagree that Iraq’s violations of the cease fire legitimize the invasion. The cease fire was a UN resolution. The UN didn’t authorize GWB to attack Iraq.

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12 years isn’t enough? And do you honestly believe that they would have supported action-against their financial interests-after 30 more days?
The inspectors were in Iraq for much less than 12 years.

From early on GWB was dismissive and disdainful of our allies and took them for granted. If instead he and top administration officials had flown to the capitals of France, Germany, and Russia starting a year ago, treated these allies with respect, and worked with them to lay out a timetable, I think the UN would have approved a resolution authorizing military force. And if the UN didn't, the world would still be more supportive of the US's decision to use military force against Iraq without the UN's support. Instead Bush basically told our allies to kowtow to the US or become irrelevant.

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Um... huh? Saudi Arabia isn’t an Arab nation? Kuwait isn’t? Turkey isn’t? Where do you think our troops were based?
AFAIK no Arab nation sent any troops to fight in the war.

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Guess what? They hated us before.
They hate us much more now.

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How is 12 years of build-up and violation immediate?
More like a year of build up.

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That paragraph I totally agree with. But without restricting freedom of movement unconstitutionally, there’s little we can do.
For starters Bush could ask the “evangelical zealots” to stay out of Iraq during this sensitive time. But that would alienate the religious right and hurt his chance of being reelected.

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Naturally, an elite team of Yale and Harvard-educated professionals has no idea what they’re doing. But you do.
Quite possibly. Bush isn’t an intellectual heavyweight, and his advisors ultimately do what he wants. Furthermore, the person who went to the better school isn’t always right.

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QF-- How is that a slip-up? The teams that look for WMD's are called mobile exploitation squads, if I recall correctly.
How many people are familiar with this military jargon? At best it’s a very bad word choice.

Edited by QuantumFlux, 03 May 2003 - 12:03 AM.

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#8 Christopher

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 12:47 AM

Javert Rovinski, on May 2 2003, 02:45 PM, said:

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What utter nonsense. In fact, the speedy fall of Baghdad proves the anti-war movement was dead right.

Setting up a no-win situation. If we do poorly, we’re unprepared. If we do well, it’s proof that the war was unjustified.
I think that's exactly the point -- that this was a no-win situation, because hardly anybody in the Mideast wants us to be the ones doing the winning.  Either we stayed out of it and let Saddam destabilize the region, or we got rid of him and ended up destabilizing it ourselves.  And by choosing the latter course, we've just painted a bigger target on ourselves.

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This is argument from adverse consequences. “We should do nothing, or they’ll hate us!”. Guess what? They hated us before.

So that makes it right to invite more hatred by repeating the interventionist mistakes of the past?

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But you magically know what those unintended consequences are going to be?

You don't need magic.  You just need knowledge of the region and the ability to follow patterns.  Before the war, people predicted that the museums and archaeological sites would be in danger.  They were right, even more than they knew.  They predicted before the war that neighboring nations might make incursions into Iraq in "defense" of their ethnic kindred.  Now we've already seen Turkey sending in military advisors to help the Turkmen minority.  They predicted before the war that the large Shi'a population of Iraq, once liberated, might rise up and attempt to create an Islamic republic.  They have now begun efforts to do just that.

We have known all along what the possible negative consequences of the war might be, and one by one they are coming to pass.  It's just that the administration didn't care to listen to these warnings.

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So, now you’re just quibbling over WHAT THEY CALL IT? How petty can you get?

What you call things is vitally important in a situation like this.  Words have power, they have historical baggage, and the wrong words can do great diplomatic damage.  Remember when Bush carelessly used the word "crusade" to describe our fight on terrorism?  Even though his advisors promptly told him what a mistake that was and he hasn't used it since, the anti-American activists are still using it against us.  Because in that part of the world, "crusade" is a word with great historical baggage, a fighting word.  It means the invasion of their homeland by murderous religious fanatics who want to destroy their way of life and plunder their lands.

The word "viceroy" has similar historical baggage, because it screams of colonial exploitation, and that's exactly what the people of the Mideast have come to expect and fear from the West.  The choice of words is not trivial to them.  To say the issue is petty is to say that their opinions and history and cultural psychology don't matter.  And that's exactly the kind of attitude that keeps getting us in trouble in that part of the world.
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#9 Kosh

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 01:51 AM

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QUOTE
Neither is Ari Fleischer's claim that the administration can't do anything to keep Christian missionaries - including those who have described the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a "demon-possessed pedophile" and a "terrorist" - from going on a holy crusade to Baghdad. You think the Arab world might take that the wrong way? If there is one thing that could bring Sunnis and Shiites together, it's the common hatred of evangelical zealots who denigrate their prophet.


That paragraph I totally agree with. But without restricting freedom of movement unconstitutionally, there’s little we can do.


Don't they still need Iraq's permission to enter the country? I think the army could denign permission to enter till there is a new government in place. We do not have to let them go. The Iraqi's can decide later.
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#10 Rov Judicata

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 02:36 AM

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Yes, Bush had a coalition of the willing to be coerced and bought off. It’s still the U.S. that was calling the shots.

Again, you’re setting it up so that Bush is wrong no matter what he does. If he has few nations, it’s unilateral. If he has many, he bought them off.

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I disagree that Iraq’s violations of the cease fire legitimize the invasion. The cease fire was a UN resolution. The UN didn’t authorize GWB to attack Iraq.

So, you agree that Iraq violated the cease-fire. I don't think we should put our security in the hands that put Cuba in charge of human rights.

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The inspectors were in Iraq for much less than 12 years.
The UN had 12 years to deal with this. They failed.

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From early on GWB was dismissive and disdainful of our allies and took them for granted. If instead he and top administration officials had flown to the capitals of France, Germany, and Russia starting a year ago, treated these allies with respect, and worked with them to lay out a timetable, I think the UN would have approved a resolution authorizing military force. And if the UN didn't, the world would still be more supportive of the US's decision to use military force against Iraq without the UN's support. Instead Bush basically told our allies to kowtow to the US or become irrelevant.

I disagree that they would have. Even if they would have.. that's admitting that we were right, but we just didn't ask nicely enough.

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AFAIK no Arab nation sent any troops to fight in the war.

That's not terribly relevant. I'm not as much a military as others, but no Arab nation could have sent in a significiant force.

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They hate us much more now.

Again, I'm not sure we can know that. How exactly did you measure that degree of hate?

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More like a year of build up.

We've been dealing with this for a dozen years; no-fly zones, bombings, etc. This didn't appear overnight.

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For starters Bush could ask the “evangelical zealots” to stay out of Iraq during this sensitive time. But that would alienate the religious right and hurt his chance of being reelected.

He could try that, sure. I would support that request.

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Quite possibly. Bush isn’t an intellectual heavyweight, and his advisors ultimately do what he wants. Furthermore, the person who went to the better school isn’t always right.

No doubt. But I'm really sick of the dismissive attitude toward this team of highly educated scholars. Our President isn't the quickest thinker on his feet; that doesn't mean he's an idiot.

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How many people are familiar with this military jargon? At best it’s a very bad word choice.
In conjunction with replying to Laoise:
I don't know. I don't think it's fair to ask George W. Bush to change military terminology because you don't know it.

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I think that's exactly the point -- that this was a no-win situation, because hardly anybody in the Mideast wants us to be the ones doing the winning. Either we stayed out of it and let Saddam destabilize the region, or we got rid of him and ended up destabilizing it ourselves. And by choosing the latter course, we've just painted a bigger target on ourselves.
We're not sure what the long-term ramifications are going to be. We'll see how much destabilazition actually occurs....

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So that makes it right to invite more hatred by repeating the interventionist mistakes of the past?
Not at all. But saying, "If we attack Iraq, we'll be hated, perhaps enough to provoke terrorist attacks!" is like saying "If we prosecute murderers, we'll be hated, and maybe there will be more murders!".

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You don't need magic. You just need knowledge of the region and the ability to follow patterns. Before the war, people predicted that the museums and archaeological sites would be in danger. They were right, even more than they knew. They predicted before the war that neighboring nations might make incursions into Iraq in "defense" of their ethnic kindred. Now we've already seen Turkey sending in military advisors to help the Turkmen minority. They predicted before the war that the large Shi'a population of Iraq, once liberated, might rise up and attempt to create an Islamic republic. They have now begun efforts to do just that.

We have known all along what the possible negative consequences of the war might be, and one by one they are coming to pass. It's just that the administration didn't care to listen to these warnings.
This is unfair. You're cherry-picking the very few anti-war predictions that actually came to pass. I could just as easily conjure up a list of what didn't come to pass. Two weeks into this war, we were told by the NY Times that the 'comparisons to Vietnam were unavoidable', arguing that the combat would be unwinnable. The vast, vast, vast majority of predictions like that have been proven untrue.

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The word "viceroy" has similar historical baggage, because it screams of colonial exploitation, and that's exactly what the people of the Mideast have come to expect and fear from the West. The choice of words is not trivial to them. To say the issue is petty is to say that their opinions and history and cultural psychology don't matter. And that's exactly the kind of attitude that keeps getting us in trouble in that part of the world.
I looked in all the Arab news sources I could find, most of them uncompromosingly anti-American, and a few still pro-Saddam. I couldn't find a single mention of this 'issue' on any of them.

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Kosh:
Don't they still need Iraq's permission to enter the country? I think the army could denign permission to enter till there is a new government in place. We do not have to let them go. The Iraqi's can decide later.

I'm really not sure.
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. § 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#11 Laoise

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 02:47 AM

Javert Rovinski, on May 2 2003, 06:26 PM, said:

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How many people are familiar with this military jargon? At best it’s a very bad word choice.
In conjunction with replying to Laoise:
I don't know. I don't think it's fair to ask George W. Bush to change military terminology because you don't know it.
It may have been smart to explain it, though.  Not everyone has military experience.  Unless the speech was only directed to people who do know, but I didn't get the impression that it was....
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#12 Rov Judicata

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 02:49 AM

Laoise, on May 2 2003, 05:37 PM, said:

Javert Rovinski, on May 2 2003, 06:26 PM, said:

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How many people are familiar with this military jargon? At best it’s a very bad word choice.
In conjunction with replying to Laoise:
I don't know. I don't think it's fair to ask George W. Bush to change military terminology because you don't know it.
It may have been smart to explain it, though.  Not everyone has military experience.  Unless the speech was only directed to people who do know, but I didn't get the impression that it was....
I'll try to dig out a transcript. :).
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. § 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#13 Delvo

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 04:18 AM

Javert has already saved me from having to respond to the whole message point by point, since he said mostly the same stuff I would have here, but just a few more points...

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Yes, Bush had a coalition of the willing to be coerced and bought off.
Another way to expose this, instead of just "setting it up so Bush is wrong no matter what", is the violation-of-logic angle. Your assertion that Bush and/or the USA is being a belligerent, pushy bully is supported by accusations with only one reason to believe THEM: the starting assumption that Bush and/or the USA is being a belligerent, pushy bully! You're trying to use your "conclusion" as the evidence to prove itself. Sorry, but any given idea can only be the input to valid reasoning, or the output, not both.

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It?s still the U.S. that was calling the shots.
Yes, because it's our problem that they see we need to deal with. When you're helping someone, you do it on his/her terms. You put the furniture where they want it or there wasn't any point in helping them move it in the first place. What's so evil about the USA "calling the shots" in a war that's about protecting Americans? Shouldn't Chile's or Finland's allies let them "call the shots" in a Chilean or Finnish war?

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The UN didn?t authorize GWB to attack Iraq.
Yes they did, actually. Jaques Iraq's subsequent denials of this and tampering with the system to make it appear not to be the case don't make it not the case. (Not that this one matters to me anyway, since there's no legitimacy to be gained from an organization that's always been pure illegitimacy to its core...)

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Um... huh? Saudi Arabia isn?t an Arab nation? Kuwait isn?t? Turkey isn?t? Where do you think our troops were based?
AFAIK no Arab nation sent any troops to fight in the war.
So what? One minute you're saying there were no Arab allies, and now you're talking about something else. MOST of the countries that supported us didn't send troops. Many of them did, however, contribute intelligence (ESPECIALLY the Arab nations, since they had the most of it). BTW, Javert, the most notable one you left out is Qatar.

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Guess what? They hated us before.
They hate us much more now.
Not true.

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For starters Bush could ask the ?evangelical zealots? to stay out of Iraq during this sensitive time. But that would alienate the religious right and hurt his chance of being reelected.
Not to mention ridiculous for its futility and its being far outside of what a President can and should do...

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Bush isn?t an intellectual heavyweight
So we're going back to THAT silly tripe again? Don't you guys get tired of that?

#14 Palisades

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 08:13 AM

Delvo: <Another way to expose this, instead of just "setting it up so Bush is wrong no matter what", is the violation-of-logic angle. Your assertion that Bush and/or the USA is being a belligerent, pushy bully is supported by accusations with only one reason to believe THEM: the starting assumption that Bush and/or the USA is being a belligerent, pushy bully! You're trying to use your "conclusion" as the evidence to prove itself. Sorry, but any given idea can only be the input to valid reasoning, or the output, not both.>

Actually, I was parodying Bush’s repeated references to a "coalition of the willing." I’ll reword my statement: Bush had a coalition of the coerced and bought off; he did not have a coalition of the genuinely willing.

Edit: My argument isn't circular; I think you meant that my characterization of the coalition was unsubstantiated. Here are some analyses. The authors aren't impartial, but they support their positions with facts.
Link 1
Link 2 (IPS report)
Link 3 (this appears to be a summary of the IPS report linked to above)
Link 4 (More from the IPS)
Link 5
Link 6



Rov: <Again, you’re setting it up so that Bush is wrong no matter what he does. If he has few nations, it’s unilateral. If he has many, he bought them off.>

No, it’s unilateral because the US made all the decisions (with a little input from England). The fact that Bush had to coerce and buy off nations to get them to sign their names on the list is icing on the cake. Giving two reasons why GWB’s so-called coalition is thinly disguised unilateralism does nothing to diminish the validity of either reason. Bush acted unilaterally; he did not assemble a coalition where the members are partners who believe in the rightness of their cause and assume their fair share of the military and financial burden.


Delvo: <Yes, because it's our problem that they see we need to deal with. When you're helping someone, you do it on his/her terms. You put the furniture where they want it or there wasn't any point in helping them move it in the first place. What's so evil about the USA "calling the shots" in a war that's about protecting Americans? Shouldn't Chile's or Finland's allies let them "call the shots" in a Chilean or Finnish war?>

You agree that the US was calling the shots. You add that it’s the US’s problem and the US’s war -- not the coalition’s problem or the coalition’s war.  That sounds unilateral to me.

Also, I dispute your assumption that Iraq posed a significant, imminent threat (see my next paragraph).


Rov: <So, you agree that Iraq violated the cease-fire. I don't think we should put our security in the hands that put Cuba in charge of human rights.>

Yes, Iraq violated the UN cease-fire resolution, but that doesn’t legitimize a non-UN invasion of Iraq. In any case, you seem to be shifting the emphasis from the cease-fire violations justifying the war to our security concerns justifying the war. What evidence do you have that Iraq posed a significant, imminent threat? Saddam didn’t use WMDs against us in either the first or the second war. A few months before the second war, the CIA said that Saddam would only use his WMDs against us if he was cornered or desperate.


Rov: <The UN had 12 years to deal with this. They failed.>

Did Iraq attack or use WMDs against any country in those 12 years? The UN was successfully containing Iraq.


Rov: <I disagree that they would have. Even if they would have.. that's admitting that we were right, but we just didn't ask nicely enough.>

If they went along with us, it wouldn’t be admitting we were right; it would only mean that they weren’t opposed enough to face the consequences of angering us. As an aside, almost nothing about the way Bush treated our allies was right.


Rov: <Again, I'm not sure we can know that. How exactly did you measure that degree of hate?>

We don’t need a quantitative hate meter to know that our handling of the Iraq situation has pissed off the Arab world. The increased number of rather passionate anti-US demonstrations in Arab countries and the tone of the editorials in Arab papers are more than sufficient.

On a related note, most of the foreign students I know -- some of them Arab -- are really pissed about US foreign policy right now.


Delvo: <Yes they did, actually. Jaques Iraq's subsequent denials of this and tampering with the system to make it appear not to be the case don't make it not the case. (Not that this one matters to me anyway, since there's no legitimacy to be gained from an organization that's always been pure illegitimacy to its core...)>

The UN never passed a resolution authorizing the US to use military force. Did the Security Council make a back-room deal that I don’t know about?


Rov: <We've been dealing with this for a dozen years; no-fly zones, bombings, etc. This didn't appear overnight.>

It was fairly low level until GWB sharply escalated things several months ago.


Delvo: <So what? One minute you're saying there were no Arab allies, and now you're talking about something else. MOST of the countries that supported us didn't send troops. Many of them did, however, contribute intelligence (ESPECIALLY the Arab nations, since they had the most of it).>

IIRC the original point was that active, visible support of Arab countries would have made the war more palatable to Muslims. The governments of the Arab nations in the coalition (with the possible exception of Kuwait) desperately played down their token participation out of fear that even this small amount of support would incite their population to rise up against them.

What intelligence did these Arab countries provide? The US and England provided the vast majority of the intelligence information.


Rov: <That's not terribly relevant. I'm not as much a military as others, but no Arab nation could have sent in a significiant force. >

It’s symbolic. For the most part, the members of Bush’s so-called coalition were committed enough to put their names on a list (sometimes secretly) but not committed enough to carry their fair share of the burden. Or is it merely a coalition of list signers?


Delvo: <So we're going back to THAT silly tripe again? Don't you guys get tired of that?>

I’ll never get tired of disputing the notion that Bush can't be wrong -- which is clearly what I was doing when my words are considered in conjunction with the surrounding context.

Edited multiple times because none of the quote tags would work

Edited by QuantumFlux, 03 May 2003 - 12:30 PM.

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#15 G1223

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 05:03 PM

So for us to be right in the use force we are to wait till thousands if not millions are dying from his bio or chem attack? Why do it then I mena would it be more practical to beg him to not so again? I mean isn't that what appeasing is all about?
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#16 Rov Judicata

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 05:56 PM

Quote

No, it's unilateral because the US made all the decisions (with a little input from England). The fact that Bush had to coerce and buy off nations to get them to sign their names on the list is icing on the cake. Giving two reasons why GWB's so-called coalition is thinly disguised unilateralism does nothing to diminish the validity of either reason. Bush acted unilaterally; he did not assemble a coalition where the members are partners who believe in the rightness of their cause and assume their fair share of the military and financial burden.

Okay, you changed the definition of unilateral on me while I wasn't looking.

And I disagree. By Tony Blair's request, we went through more UN diplomacy than we would otherwise. And we have no idea how the military plans were drawn up. We know the basic idea came from the US, but the exact details of who edited what and why is classified. We honestly have no idea how much input other nations had.

Quote

Yes, Iraq violated the UN cease-fire resolution, but that doesn't legitimize a non-UN invasion of Iraq.

Then what exactly is the point of a cease-fire? Since the UN has no desire to enforce its resolutions, then any nation that's in trouble militarily can just sign a cease-fire, then ignore it.

That's far more dangerous than anything that went down in the war.

Quote

In any case, you seem to be shifting the emphasis from the cease-fire violations justifying the war to our security concerns justifying the war. What evidence do you have that Iraq posed a significant, imminent threat?

We know he violated the cease-fire, and we know he's used WMD's against civilians, and we know he probably has al-Qeada ties. Lest it be forgotten, al qeada fighters were found fighting in the country on his behalf, and it seems we're finding a paper trail within Iraq.

We could have waited ten, twenty years for Saddam (or his sons) to posses a nuclear weapon capable of wiping out a large city. I'd really rather not.

Quote

Saddam didn't use WMDs against us in either the first or the second war. A few months before the second war, the CIA said that Saddam would only use his WMDs against us if he was cornered or desperate.

Not against us, no. Want to go find the footage of the bloated bodies of women and children?

Setting that aside, I think that CIA report is important. As I alluded to before, I think there's a few factors involved in that:

-- I honestly don't think Saddam knew how badly things were going. He literally shoots the messenger, and probably thought US forces were contained.
-- In the most recent UN incursion, he had spent the better part of a year hiding and moving his weapons. No doubt, at least some of them weren't immediately usable
-- When he used WMD, all support for him would fall away. Perhaps he was saving it and got caught up in events.

And, again, this is a no-win situation you're setting up. If Iraq does use chemical weapons, we should have waited more time for the UN to find and destroy them. If Iraq doesn't, then the war is unjustified.

Quote

Did Iraq attack or use WMDs against any country in those 12 years? The UN was successfully containing Iraq

And it had nothing to do with no-fly zones and other US-led pressure?

Quote

If they went along with us, it wouldn't be admitting we were right; it would only mean that they weren't opposed enough to face the consequences of angering us. As an aside, almost nothing about the way Bush treated our allies was right.

I'll leave the int'l diplomacy to somebody else. Let me just say this: In your opinion, nations that supported us were bought off or coerced. Nations that opposed us WOULD have been afraid of us, but.. they didn't like Bush's manners? I honestly don't know what you're saying here

Quote

We don't need a quantitative hate meter to know that our handling of the Iraq situation has pissed off the Arab world. The increased number of rather passionate anti-US demonstrations in Arab countries and the tone of the editorials in Arab papers are more than sufficient.

There have always been demonstrations and those editorials. I've been keeping up on Arab editorials (in English, due to my own limitations linguistically), and they were more hostile before the war than after.

As for demonstrations, do you have any hard numbers? I haven't seen any, anywhere.

Quote

On a related note, most of the foreign students I know -- some of them Arab -- are really pissed about US foreign policy right now.

I don't know many Arabs, due to my location in the country. I do know a French student disgusted at France's actions and very supportive of George W. Bush and America in general.

Quote

It was fairly low level until GWB sharply escalated things several months ago.

I disagree. Sending our pilots into harms way is never low level.

Quote

It's symbolic. For the most part, the members of Bush's so-called coalition were committed enough to put their names on a list (sometimes secretly) but not committed enough to carry their fair share of the burden. Or is it merely a coalition of list signers?

It wouldn't have been helpful. It makes no sense to ask nations with outmoded military force to put forward a military contribution when it will strain their economies and provide little in return. One division of US troops is equal to the armies of several of these nations. Given that public support was low in many of these nations, we saved our allies the headache.
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#17 Christopher

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 07:30 PM

Javert Rovinski, on May 2 2003, 07:26 PM, said:

You're cherry-picking the very few anti-war predictions that actually came to pass. I could just as easily conjure up a list of what didn't come to pass. Two weeks into this war, we were told by the NY Times that the 'comparisons to Vietnam were unavoidable', arguing that the combat would be unwinnable. The vast, vast, vast majority of predictions like that have been proven untrue.
Ohh, it is way too early to say that.  Sure, we overthrew the regime, but what about the rank-and-file public who are now demanding that we leave?  What about the Shi'a agitators who want an Islamist state?  What about the Ba'ath loyalists who are still free to wage guerrilla attacks?  There have already been firefights between coalition forces and civilian agitators.  And we've only just begun the rebuilding process, and the intention is for us to remain there for years.  What if an intifada begins?  What if a large portion of the population decides we have to go and begins a large-scale guerrilla war against US forces?  Can you really assume that won't happen?

Let me make one thing clear for you: I never doubted for a second that we would defeat Saddam swiftly and easily, but I was still against the war.  Because defeating Saddam is not the end of anything.  It's just a transition to a new, unstable and very unpredictable situation.

The thing that bugs me about the pro-war factions is how short-sighted they are.  The way they assume that short-term goals justify anything and the long-term consequences don't matter.  The way they assume they can glibly say the war is "over" on a certain day and everything will be hunky-dory after that.  Wars are never "over."  Hell, the whole modern Mideast situation is part of the aftermath of WWI, of the ongoing conflicts between Imperial Britain and Russia, even of Napoleon's conquest of Egypt.  A war which is waged in pursuit of a single short-term goal will always send out ripples that resonate through centuries of subsequent history.

If you define this war as being about getting rid of the Saddam problem, then yes, it was an unqualified success.  But that definition is what I disagree with, because that problem did not exist in a vacuum.  It was just one card in a whole flimsy house of cards.  And it's ridiculous to play Monday-morning quarterback and say mere weeks after the overthrow that it's been an unqualified success.  Tell me again in a year, a decade, a century.  Beating Saddam was the easy part.
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#18 Rov Judicata

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 07:38 PM

Javert Rovinski, on May 2 2003, 07:26 PM, said:

You're cherry-picking the very few anti-war predictions that actually came to pass. I could just as easily conjure up a list of what didn't come to pass. Two weeks into this war, we were told by the NY Times that the 'comparisons to Vietnam were unavoidable', arguing that the combat would be unwinnable. The vast, vast, vast majority of predictions like that have been proven untrue.

Quote

Ohh, it is way too early to say that.  Sure, we overthrew the regime, but what about the rank-and-file public who are now demanding that we leave?

I was addressing the editorials—and there were many—saying we wouldn’t win this war. The broader issues could still go either way.

Quote

  What about the Shi'a agitators who want an Islamist state?  What about the Ba'ath loyalists who are still free to wage guerrilla attacks?  There have already been firefights between coalition forces and civilian agitators.  And we've only just begun the rebuilding process, and the intention is for us to remain there for years.  What if an intifada begins?  What if a large portion of the population decides we have to go and begins a large-scale guerrilla war against US forces?  Can you really assume that won't happen?

We can’t assume any of that won’t happen... but we can’t assume it will either. So far, the events that have gone down so far have been favourable.

Quote

Let me make one thing clear for you: I never doubted for a second that we would defeat Saddam swiftly and easily, but I was still against the war.  Because defeating Saddam is not the end of anything.  It's just a transition to a new, unstable and very unpredictable situation.

A transition, yes. We’ll see what kind of situation we find ourselves in.

Quote

The thing that bugs me about the pro-war factions is how short-sighted they are.  The way they assume that short-term goals justify anything and the long-term consequences don't matter.  The way they assume they can glibly say the war is "over" on a certain day and everything will be hunky-dory after that.  Wars are never "over."

I agree. I’m also sick of the far-left practice of ignoring success and spouting out more doom and gloom predictions... many of them the same pundits who said a siege of Baghdad would cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Quote

Hell, the whole modern Mideast situation is part of the aftermath of WWI, of the ongoing conflicts between Imperial Britain and Russia, even of Napoleon's conquest of Egypt.  A war which is waged in pursuit of a single short-term goal will always send out ripples that resonate through centuries of subsequent history.

True. We just don’t know whether it will be for the better or for worse. I honestly don’t know which way is going to go, but I do believe what’s gone down so far has been mostly positive.

Quote

If you define this war as being about getting rid of the Saddam problem, then yes, it was an unqualified success.  But that definition is what I disagree with, because that problem did not exist in a vacuum.  It was just one card in a whole flimsy house of cards.  And it's ridiculous to play Monday-morning quarterback and say mere weeks after the overthrow that it's been an unqualified success.  Tell me again in a year, a decade, a century.  Beating Saddam was the easy part.

We’ll see. We’ve done well so far in Iraq. I honestly think we have the strength to do this right.

The only thing I was objecting to was your statement that the pre-war predictions were right. Most of the anti-war predictions were, in fact, spectacularly wrong. Not necessarily from you, but I read the NY Times every day and got a wealth of doom and gloom scenarios, must of which haven’t come to pass. <Siege of Baghdad, civilians fighting for Saddam in mass numbers, significant incursions from Turkey, supply lines, terrorist attacks...>.

Neither side can claim omniscience. But I do think, on the whole, the more extreme elements of the anti-war crowd were proven wrong in many ways.
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#19 jon3831

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 08:57 PM

Javert Rovinski, on May 3 2003, 08:46 AM, said:

And we have no idea how the military plans were drawn up. We know the basic idea came from the US, but the exact details of who edited what and why is classified. We honestly have no idea how much input other nations had.
Just to add to the definition of "unilateral", apparently "Shock and Awe" was moderated by our coerced and unwilling allies the British...

Britain reined in US military’s shock and awe strategy

Money quotes:

Quote

BRITAIN played a defining role in blocking an American plan to open the Iraq war with up to six days of shock and awe airstrikes on Baghdad, The Times has learnt.

American commanders halved the planned bombing campaign after Air Marshal Brian Burridge, the commander of British Forces in the Gulf, argued that it would have disastrous political consequences.

Right or wrong, this isn't the act of a coerced and cowering ally. This is an act of a partner in the proceedings.
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#20 Palisades

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 09:11 PM

^ Yes, the British gave input, but by your own quote it was still the Americans commanders who made the decision: “American commanders halved the planned bombing campaign . . . .”
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