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A dove meets a victim of Saddam...

Media Op-Ed Nicholas Kristof Iraq

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#1 MuseZack

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Posted 27 June 2003 - 03:05 PM

Here's an interesting op-ed from Nicholas Kristof in Iraq, which is a lot more nuanced than most of the reflexive pro- or antiwar editorializing.  I thought folks should have a look:

The Man With No Ear

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

I really tried to help the White House find those missing weapons of mass destruction. I searched last week around Iraqi factories and found looters; I patrolled highways and found bandits; I visited the ziggurat at Ur, which was already built many years before Abraham was born there, but found only sweaty U.S. troops.
No luck. And Iraq is an oven now, so I've given up my hunt for W.M.D. The White House is on its own.
But let me tell you about another missing thing an ear.
Since I've been accusing the Bush administration of cooking the intelligence on Iraq, I should confess my intentions. Countless Iraqis warned me that they would turn to guerrilla warfare if U.S. troops overstay their welcome, so I thought I'd find an Iraqi who had had his tongue or ear amputated by Saddam's thugs and still raged about the U.S. That would powerfully convey what a snake pit we're in.
So I began asking for people with missing tongues or ears. I got a tip about a man in Basra who had had his tongue amputated for criticizing Saddam. He had moved away, but I found a friend of his, Abdel Karim Hassan.
"A thousand thanks to Bush!" he told me. "A thousand thanks to Bush's mother for giving birth to him!"
Hmmm. I hadn't expected a tribute to the Mother of all Bushes.
Then I heard about Mathem Abid Ali and tracked him down in the southern city of Nasiriya. I've posted a photo of him on nytimes.com.kristofresponds (parental guidance is suggested). Mr. Abid Ali deserted the Iraqi Army, was caught, taken to a hospital and given general anesthesia and woke up with no right ear.
"Children looked at me, and turned away in horror," Mr. Abid Ali said bitterly.
So I asked Mr. Abid Ali what he thought of the Americans.
He thought for a moment and said: "I'd like to make a statue in gold of President Bush."
So, facts got in the way of my plans for this column. But sometimes that's a good thing. I do think it's important for doves like myself to encounter Saddam's victims like Mr. Abid Ali and their joy at being freed. Iraq today is a mess, but it's a complex, deeply nuanced mess, etched in shades of gray.
Hawks need to wrestle with the reckless exaggerations of intelligence that were used to mislead the American public. Instead, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared Tuesday, "I don't know anybody in any government or any intelligence agency who suggested that the Iraqis had nuclear weapons."
Let me help. Mr. Rumsfeld, meet George Tenet, director of central intelligence, who immediately before the Congressional vote on Iraq last October issued a report asserting: "Most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program." Meet Vice President Dick Cheney, who said about Saddam on March 16: "We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
Yet at the same time that we doves hold Mr. Rumsfeld's talons to the fire, we need to grapple with the giddy new freedom that in spite of us pullulates from Baghdad to Basra. I got a warm and fuzzy feeling each time I saw an Iraqi newsstand, overflowing with vibrant newspapers and magazines that did not exist six months ago.
One of the central moral questions for our time is when to intervene militarily on humanitarian grounds. My judgment about the invasion of Iraq remains unchanged I don't think that it was worth it but I'm still hoping that democracy will flower in Iraq and prove me wrong. And in any case, I accept what apparently is Mr. Bush's broader principle, that some countries are so drenched in blood that we should invade to save their peoples.
If we were willing to rescue Iraqis, should we intervene (multilaterally) to stop the far worse bloodshed in Congo where 3.3 million people have died since 1998? Or in Liberia, to try to shore up West Africa before it crumbles as well?
I'm suspicious of any answer that is too quick and too glib. But my fear is that the mistakes and poor planning that are now miring us in Iraq will unfairly discredit humanitarian intervention more broadly, even when saving people pleading to be liberated. That would be another terrible cost of Iraq.

"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#2 Rov Judicata

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Posted 27 June 2003 - 03:11 PM

Wow.

Thanks for sharing this Zack. Please post editorials like this more often. :eek:

It's VERY powerful. And it matches my perceptions almost exactly (although I started out as a hawk and am now more concerned... where he's a dove who's probably more optimistic. Fascinating).

I also admire him for admitting his own initial bias.

I hope we can do right by the Iraqi people. I really do...
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#3 GiGi

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Posted 27 June 2003 - 03:16 PM

Excellent Editorial - Thanks for posting!
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#4 Nick

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Posted 27 June 2003 - 04:25 PM

That editorial powerfully expresses *precisely* my sentiments on the whole Iraq thing.  Thank you for posting it, Zack.

-Nick

#5 Morrhigan

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Posted 27 June 2003 - 06:40 PM

Excellent article. Thank you for posting that, Zack. It illustrates beautifully how I feel about the war, and why I am not willing to call myself either a "hawk" or a "dove." There are benefits and drawbacks to either side. That's why it bothers me so much when I hear it argued as a black-and-white issue, with one side trying to prove the other wrong (and both sides try to do this). It's far more important, IMO, that all facets of the situation be examined than it is for anyone to declare themselves the winner of an argument.

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#6 Ogami

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Posted 27 June 2003 - 10:50 PM

From Mr. Kristof's article:

Since I've been accusing the Bush administration of cooking the intelligence on Iraq, I should confess my intentions.

Do so, since you're also accusing former President Bill Clinton, his entire staff, and the entire Democrat leadership of the same crime. Hefty charge pal, prove it. (Man, these Bush haters sure make this easy.)

Countless Iraqis warned me that they would turn to guerrilla warfare if U.S. troops overstay their welcome, so I thought I'd find an Iraqi who had had his tongue or ear amputated by Saddam's thugs and still raged about the U.S. That would powerfully convey what a snake pit we're in.

Translation: Countless Bush-hating liberals hoped and prayed there would be a difficult post-war Iraq, they must be rubbing their hands with glee with every new difficulty. It sure is easy to carp from the sidelines, as Bush's critics promised they would heartily do, how about offering some help instead?

So I began asking for people with missing tongues or ears. I got a tip about a man in Basra who had had his tongue amputated for criticizing Saddam. He had moved away, but I found a friend of his, Abdel Karim Hassan. "A thousand thanks to Bush!" he told me. "A thousand thanks to Bush's mother for giving birth to him!" Hmmm. I hadn't expected a tribute to the Mother of all Bushes.

Zack, I really don't see how you can be dismissive when I post essays by Victor Davis Hanson, if this is what you consider deep intellectual commentary. Any one of his essays should be okay alongside this.

So, facts got in the way of my plans for this column. But sometimes that's a good thing. I do think it's important for doves like myself to encounter Saddam's victims like Mr. Abid Ali and their joy at being freed. Iraq today is a mess, but it's a complex, deeply nuanced mess, etched in shades of gray.

There is an orgiastic dog pile from leftists piling over each other to condemn Bush over lying about WMDs in Iraq. So one of them takes a few moments off to lament the human suffering in Iraq, before going back to his main activity. Should I give him a hanky? There are only shades of gray if one believes the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam Hussein and his goons. No reason to pussy foot around this, Kristof.

Hawks need to wrestle with the reckless exaggerations of intelligence that were used to mislead the American public. Instead, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared Tuesday, "I don't know anybody in any government or any intelligence agency who suggested that the Iraqis had nuclear weapons."

Uh, like how the hundreds of thousands of missing Iraqi artifacts is now down to 33?

http://more.abcnews...._artifacts.html

The left has no monopoly on the truth, Mr. Kristof. You and your buddies are guilty of reckless exaggerations for the purpose of misleading the American public.

Let me help. Mr. Rumsfeld, meet George Tenet, director of central intelligence, who immediately before the Congressional vote on Iraq last October issued a report asserting: "Most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program." Meet Vice President Dick Cheney, who said about Saddam on March 16: "We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Let's see, the looted nuclear complex could, according to Kristof's own New York Times, make an endless supply of dirty bombs. Saddam didn't have to make neutron bombs to make nuclear weapons.

Yet at the same time that we doves hold Mr. Rumsfeld's talons to the fire, we need to grapple with the giddy new freedom that in spite of us pullulates from Baghdad to Basra. I got a warm and fuzzy feeling each time I saw an Iraqi newsstand, overflowing with vibrant newspapers and magazines that did not exist six months ago.

Donald Rumsfeld has won two wars against two enemies deeply hostile to the United States. He will be remembered as one of the best defense secretaries we've ever had, these are amazing achievements. Kristof is kidding himself. You doves haven't been holding anyone's talons to the fire, he's been running rings around you.

One of the central moral questions for our time is when to intervene militarily on humanitarian grounds. My judgment about the invasion of Iraq remains unchanged I don't think that it was worth it but I'm still hoping that democracy will flower in Iraq and prove me wrong. And in any case, I accept what apparently is Mr. Bush's broader principle, that some countries are so drenched in blood that we should invade to save their peoples.

Odd, I don't recall any essays by Mr. Kristof railing against the immorality of Clinton bombing the hell out of the Serbs. For two months straight, Bill Clinton bombed civilian population centers to induce the Serbs to the peace table, and we had no military interest in the matter at all. It was strictly a case of intervening on humanitarian grounds. When Mr. Kristof can explain his personal hypocrisy on why his attitude changed with a Republican president, then he might be credible.

If we were willing to rescue Iraqis, should we intervene (multilaterally) to stop the far worse bloodshed in Congo where 3.3 million people have died since 1998? Or in Liberia, to try to shore up West Africa before it crumbles as well?

Goodness, people were making these arguments before the war, sounds like a broken record. France is already "stabilizing" the Congo, aren't they? Those bright blue helmet (god help them) UN troops are already there, hope they don't draw beads with those things. As for Liberia, President Bush urged the president of that country to leave power, sound familiar? Operation Liberia Liberation might be around the corner.  ;)

I'm suspicious of any answer that is too quick and too glib. But my fear is that the mistakes and poor planning that are now miring us in Iraq will unfairly discredit humanitarian intervention more broadly, even when saving people pleading to be liberated. That would be another terrible cost of Iraq.  

So the terrible cost of Iraq will be discrediting "successful" humanitarian interventions of the Clinton Administration, like Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and North Korea. Spare us.

It rather looks like Kristof and his buddies are incredibly desperate to find anything, anything to attack Bush on. One can picture them salivating at the thought of Iraq being a quagmire, Iraq being a Vietnam, as many of them have publicly expressed hope for. There's a difference between warning against Iraq being a Vietnam, and doing everything in your power hoping it will come true.

-Ogami

Edited by Ogami, 27 June 2003 - 11:12 PM.


#7 Rhea

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 01:31 AM

Ah, Ogami. Predictability is highly underrated. :p :p

And LOL at the "Mother of All Bushes."  :lol:  :lol:  Thanks, Zack.
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#8 Ogami

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 02:11 AM

Rhea, I love how columnists like this Kristof frame the issue. If Bush and Cheney were wrong about WMDs, so their argument goes, then we can't believe anything they say.

So with the left proven thoroughly wrong on several dozen predictions about the war with Iraq (tens of thousands of civilian casualties, thousands of U.S. casualties, troops mass gassed), can we then assume they are discredited, too? I don't see why that argument can't go both ways.  :D

-Ogami

#9 Rhea

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 02:22 AM

Ogami, on Jun 27 2003, 08:12 AM, said:

Rhea, I love how columnists like this Kristof frame the issue. If Bush and Cheney were wrong about WMDs, so their argument goes, then we can't believe anything they say.

So with the left proven thoroughly wrong on several dozen predictions about the war with Iraq (tens of thousands of civilian casualties, thousands of U.S. casualties, troops mass gassed), can we then assume they are discredited, too? I don't see why that argument can't go both ways.  :D

-Ogami
Actually, the mass gassing of troops was a cry of the Bush administration, with their infamous red line.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#10 QuiGon John

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 02:46 AM

The thing that gets me about the article... he expected to find somebody who'd been personally mutilated by Saddam, who still wasn't pleased to see Saddam gone?  In the first place, that seems like it would be against human nature, and in the second, going out to search for such a person does not speak well of his journalistic slant...

That said, he should be commended for admitting that, and turning out a thought-provoking article all the same.

#11 Ogami

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 02:49 AM

So Rhea, you missed the hysterical prewar columns demanding that 1) there was no proof of WMDs, and 2) our troops would have them used against them? I think the liberal columnists posted these on alternate days, just so no one would think their charges were mutually contradictory. They swiped at Bush coming and going, a neat trick that they're still engaging in.  :eh:

The left has all their bases covered, prepared to "zing" Bush from every angle no matter what arises. That tactic might be more effective if they didn't contradict their attacks every month. (Witness the Kerry speech in my other thread.)

-Ogami

Edited by Ogami, 28 June 2003 - 02:52 AM.


#12 MuseZack

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 03:03 AM

John, Nick Kristof is an op-ed writer.  He's supposed to have an editorial slant on what he does.  However, unlike Victor Davis Hanson sitting in his comfy chair in Fresno making pronouncments, Kristof actually went to Iraq to look at the situation for himself.  And unlike some of the people on this board, his mind can actually handle ambiguity along with facts that don't support his worldview and is willing to admit it.   As soon as I see an Iraq hawk editorialist who's willing to admit that the neocons' image of an easy occupation and WMDs thick on the ground was as much of a fantasy as the left's fears of a Stalingrad on the Tigris, I'll be as impressed with him or her.

But for now, I think Thomas Friedman was right in one of his earlier editorials.  In any occupation, you want the majority of your major indicators to be headed in a positive direction.  When he was in Iraq a month ago, he found it pretty evenly split between positive and negative indicators.  It could go either way.  The next six months could either see the situation stabilize and improve or get much, much worse.  And I hope for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people that it gets better.  Contrary to Ogami's nasty and unfair little stereotype of the left, I'd rather see our troops safe and the Iraqi people happier, even if it helps an administration I otherwise dislike.  

But it is far from a foreordained conclusion that things will improve, and only an objective, hard-headed look at the situation will help us get an accurate view of what's happening on the ground in Iraq.  Kristof's article is a contribution toward this.  Hanson's easy triumphalism is not.
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#13 Ogami

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 03:50 AM

MuseZack wrote:

John, Nick Kristof is an op-ed writer. He's supposed to have an editorial slant on what he does. However, unlike Victor Davis Hanson sitting in his comfy chair in Fresno making pronouncments, Kristof actually went to Iraq to look at the situation for himself. And unlike some of the people on this board, his mind can actually handle ambiguity along with facts that don't support his worldview and is willing to admit it. As soon as I see an Iraq hawk editorialist who's willing to admit that the neocons' image of an easy occupation and WMDs thick on the ground was as much of a fantasy as the left's fears of a Stalingrad on the Tigris, I'll be as impressed with him or her.

I value Victor Davis Hanson for his detailed historical analogies that he brings to current events, he's deadly accurate as well. I think he's well spoken and far more well-spoken than Kristof. I don't mind if Kristof cracks jokes about "Bushes", but clearly you're applying an arbitrary and unfair standard to Hanson by comparison. He's clearly more professional and dispassionate than Kristof, and they're both commentators.

But for now, I think Thomas Friedman was right in one of his earlier editorials. In any occupation, you want the majority of your major indicators to be headed in a positive direction. When he was in Iraq a month ago, he found it pretty evenly split between positive and negative indicators. It could go either way.

It took a decade for Japan and Germany to get out of total depression and recovery. Both of those countries were far more educated and industrialized than Iraq, despite its oil wealth. So a fair "major indicator" for Thomas Friedman would be to wait until 2013 and then make his chicken little pronouncements. I may not be a Pulitzer-winning journalist like he is, but I certainly can count how long it took to rebuild our former adversaries.

Friedman's ludicrous assertion is that if Iraq isn't rebuilt to a model democracy in 6 months, then Bush is a failure. That's absolutely irresponsible and not backed up by any historical context at all for any country's rebuilding. Iraq has to rebuild from three wars (Iran, Gulf War I, Gulf War II), and he seriously expects it to be a tourist paradise in six months. Tell me why this guy is considered an expert again? Friedman would benefit from reading William Manchester's American Caesar, MacArthur had many local difficulties as communist agitators sent from Russia and China tried to unseat his imposition of Democracy in those islands, it was no cakewalk. Who in their right mind claimed Iraq's rebuilding was supposed to be a cakewalk?

Contrary to Ogami's nasty and unfair little stereotype of the left, I'd rather see our troops safe and the Iraqi people happier, even if it helps an administration I otherwise dislike.

Your view is a minority on the left, and I can point to a body of columns, editorials, and essays that support our (Bush supporters) impression of the criticism. It's crass political opportunism by the left.

Oh wait, I know my impression holds no weight, let's look at a typical Democrat site:

http://moveon.org/

But it is far from a foreordained conclusion that things will improve, and only an objective, hard-headed look at the situation will help us get an accurate view of what's happening on the ground in Iraq. Kristof's article is a contribution toward this. Hanson's easy triumphalism is not.

Like Reagan's cold war vision was simplistic? And Bush's? I get the general gist. What our kind opponents have never realized, fortunate for us, is that Bush's vision is firmly grounded in a strong grasp of history. Reagan knew historical consequences for action and inaction, and the left tried to minimize him by calling him a reckless cowboy. The same for the current president. President Bush's foreign policy is outlined with a firm understanding of history. The left thinks he's looking for photoops, and he's been proceeding on firm principles. Saddam Hussein made that mistake about the shallowness of Bush, I have been greatly pleased to see Bush's critics make that same mistake.

It's also a mistake to dismiss Hanson's essays, firmly rooted in historical examples, as triumphalism.  :lol:

-Ogami

Edited by Ogami, 28 June 2003 - 03:55 AM.


#14 Rov Judicata

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 04:01 AM

John Burke, on Jun 27 2003, 08:47 AM, said:

The thing that gets me about the article... he expected to find somebody who'd been personally mutilated by Saddam, who still wasn't pleased to see Saddam gone? In the first place, that seems like it would be against human nature, and in the second, going out to search for such a person does not speak well of his journalistic slant...

Not at all. He wanted to open an editorial with, "Even those who suffered the most from Iraq's war are deeply opposed to American presence in Iraq...". And it *is* an editorial.


Ogami:

Quote

Do so, since you're also accusing former President Bill Clinton, his entire staff, and the entire Democrat leadership of the same crime. Hefty charge pal, prove it. (Man, these Bush haters sure make this easy.)

That one is a good point, and one that gets overlooked in hte "Bush lied!" allegations.

However....

Quote

Translation: Countless Bush-hating liberals hoped and prayed there would be a difficult post-war Iraq, they must be rubbing their hands with glee with every new difficulty. It sure is easy to carp from the sidelines, as Bush's critics promised they would heartily do, how about offering some help instead?

I'm sure that countless Iraqis predicted guerilla warfare. You know, somebody is killing those troops at the rate of one a day, and others knew it would happen. It's not a veiled comment or a stretch at all. That doesn't invalidate the initial rightness of the war itself, but the guerilla warfare situation *is* playing out.

What's more, I think it's blatantly unfair to claim that anti-Bush means that the writer is also anti-Iraqi people and anti-American.

Quote

Zack, I really don't see how you can be dismissive when I post essays by Victor Davis Hanson, if this is what you consider deep intellectual commentary. Any one of his essays should be okay alongside this.

I find myself wondering if Hanson would report it if he came along a group of Iraqi's who hated Saddam, yet also hated Bush. I somehow doubt it. If he did, he would marginalize it.

Quote

There is an orgiastic dog pile from leftists piling over each other to condemn Bush over lying about WMDs in Iraq. So one of them takes a few moments off to lament the human suffering in Iraq, before going back to his main activity. Should I give him a hanky? There are only shades of gray if one believes the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam Hussein and his goons. No reason to pussy foot around this, Kristof.

See, here's the flaw in that argument: Many of those who supported the war are deeply concerned about the post-war situation. I don't know how you *can't* be. Even if you argue that things are going to improve (and I think they are), the situation at present is perilous, and that's a perfectly valid concern.

Quote

The left has no monopoly on the truth, Mr. Kristof. You and your buddies are guilty of reckless exaggerations for the purpose of misleading the American public.

The 33 is actually back up to a few thousand. I've come to the conclusion that we'll never know how many artifacts were REALLY gone.

Quote

Let's see, the looted nuclear complex could, according to Kristof's own New York Times, make an endless supply of dirty bombs. Saddam didn't have to make neutron bombs to make nuclear weapons.

Semantics. When they alluded to 'mushroom cloud', it was with the understanding that it was, in fact, a 'traditional' nuclear weapon.

Quote

Donald Rumsfeld has won two wars against two enemies deeply hostile to the United States. He will be remembered as one of the best defense secretaries we've ever had, these are amazing achievements. Kristof is kidding himself. You doves haven't been holding anyone's talons to the fire, he's been running rings around you

That part is true. And, in both cases, it was predicted that America would have far more difficulty in the war itself than it actually did. Remember those endless CNN 'specials' about how the US was little better prepared than the Soviet Union to take on Afghanistan?

Quote

Odd, I don't recall any essays by Mr. Kristof railing against the immorality of Clinton bombing the hell out of the Serbs. For two months straight, Bill Clinton bombed civilian population centers to induce the Serbs to the peace table, and we had no military interest in the matter at all. It was strictly a case of intervening on humanitarian grounds. When Mr. Kristof can explain his personal hypocrisy on why his attitude changed with a Republican president, then he might be credible.

I doubt such an essay exists. That point I agree with.

Quote

Goodness, people were making these arguments before the war, sounds like a broken record. France is already "stabilizing" the Congo, aren't they? Those bright blue helmet (god help them) UN troops are already there, hope they don't draw beads with those things. As for Liberia, President Bush urged the president of that country to leave power, sound familiar? Operation Liberia Liberation might be around the corner.

I think the point is that France can't do it alone, as it lacks a credible military. But you have to admit, our indignitation over human rights is pretty damn selective. I acknowledge that we can't do everything, but the fact is that we *do* choose our battles in this regard.

Quote

So the terrible cost of Iraq will be discrediting "successful" humanitarian interventions of the Clinton Administration, like Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and North Korea. Spare us.

Bingo.

Quote

It rather looks like Kristof and his buddies are incredibly desperate to find anything, anything to attack Bush on. One can picture them salivating at the thought of Iraq being a quagmire, Iraq being a Vietnam, as many of them have publicly expressed hope for. There's a difference between warning against Iraq being a Vietnam, and doing everything in your power hoping it will come true.

And I think they're doing the former. It sounds like this man was opposed to the war, but has moved on from that. I think he wants Iraq to become the jewel of hte middle east, so that America can bo proven right. I think he's a patriot first, unfairly condemned by those who think patriotism = supporting war.

JMTC.
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Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
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~~ Josh, winning the argument.

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#15 Ogami

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 04:07 AM

Javert asked:

Many of those who supported the war are deeply concerned about the post-war situation. I don't know how you *can't* be.

Of course I'm unconcerned. Ask me in 10 years whether Bush's rebuilding was a failure. That's the benchmark they set for Japan and Germany. Did you know there was mass starvation in Germany in 1946? Japan's industry was in complete ruins for years before MacArthur got some of them on their feet again. Iraq has its oil wealth, but that doesn't translate into instant results.

10 years may be too short an estimator for just having a presence in Iraq. We've been in Korea 50 years now, why not 50 years in Iraq? Bush said in November 2001 that the war on terror would need to be fought by several presidents, but that we would win. No one from his administration predicted a cakewalk in either winning the war or rebuilding, yet that is ridiculously what the critics charge was promised them.

-Ogami

#16 MuseZack

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 04:15 AM

I'll respond to the part of Ogami's post that wasn't the usual smear of the left and actually made an interesting point.

Re:  examples from history.

Frankly, fatuous historical analogies have been a problem on both sides of the political debate, and obfuscate more than they illuminate.

Iraq is not Vietnam.

Iraq is not Afghanistan.  

Iraq is not Chechnya.

Iraq is not the West Bank.

Iraq is not Germany or Japan in 1945.

Baghdad was not Stalingrad.

Saddam Hussein was not Hitler, and the decision over going to war in 2003 was not the same as appeasing Hitler Munich in 1938.

Iraq in 2003 is its own unique situation, and while looking at history can sometimes be useful and interesting, all that I usually see is people cherry-picking the examples that best support the narrative they've already constructed.   And when you've got 6,000 years of recorded history to draw from, you can always find a historical parallel to whatever conclusion you wish to draw.  "It's the British in Malaya!"  "No, it's Napoleon in Spain!"  "No, it's the Macedonians in Bactria!"   Whatever....
"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#17 Bad Wolf

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 04:24 AM

I think it's a very powerful editorial.

Ogami I confess I'm a bit surprised by your hostility to it as what it boils down to is a "dove" admitting that it's not as black and white as he once claimed.  Seems to me a "hawk" like you'd be happy about that...

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#18 Ogami

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 04:25 AM

Zack, it is fatuous to claim (or imply or hint) that Iraq should look like Disneyworld in 6 months. Bush never promised that, neither did any other hawk. We did make the claim that Iraq would be easier to rebuild than Afghanistan, because Iraq can pay for its rebuilding while Afghanistan is a charity case. That still seems to be true, but you haven't addressed how Friedman expects Bush to go against history and rebuild Iraq in 6 months, when that has never happened before ever, anywhere.

-Ogami

Edited by Ogami, 28 June 2003 - 04:27 AM.


#19 MuseZack

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 04:37 AM

Here's ex Army Secretary Thomas White on how Rumsfeld and his gang underestimated the challenges of postwar Iraq:

http://edition.cnn.c...te.iraq.troops/


And here's a choice tidbit from February, when Wolfowitz slapped down Shinseki's suggestion that several hundred thousand troops would be required for a proper occupation:

In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq. He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo. He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that "stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible," but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it. "I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction," Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help.

Let me say this again.  Wolfowitz claimed there was "no history of ethnic strife in Iraq."  Words cannot describe what a deeply delusional statement that was to make.
"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#20 Ogami

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Posted 28 June 2003 - 04:43 AM

Zack wrote:

Here's ex Army Secretary Thomas White on how Rumsfeld and his gang underestimated the challenges of postwar Iraq:

You mean in order to win this argument, I have to prove that 1) There was no discussion or disagreement on the troop strength for occupying Iraq, and 2) That Bush and Cheney made godlike predictions of absolute perfection about what it would cost and how long it would take.

I would submit to you that you would win that argument, fortunately that's not one I'm on. That's ludicrous.

-Ogami



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