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Monday, January 10, 2005

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John Moore (Useful Fools)

Too bad it takes a socialist's death to prompt this call. The Baathists and the Islamists have been killing many innocent people. All of those attacks are tragedies.

Should the left only feel sympathy for the dead socialists and unionists, or do you have some compassion for dead capitalists also?

As for the call for the coalition forces to leave (in the face of a movement run, supplied and financed by Saddam's people in Syria), it has one thing going for it: it saves money and American lives. The Iraqis would be left with horrible chaos.

Read the blogs from Iraq itself. The trouble is almost all in the "Sunni Triangle" by folks who want to reinstate Baathism.

I have never understood the anti-war position. Saddam was a butcher somewhat worse than Stalin. Iraq was a danger to the region and ultimately the world. The sanctions were being manipulated to help Saddam and hurt ordinary Iraqis. Saddam was shooting at US warplanes daily, but if we removed the planes, the Kurds and Shias would have been slaughtered again. THe presence of the bases necessary to maintain the no fly zones was cited by Bin Laden as the cause of his attack on the US.

And now that we have caught the bastard and are fighting the remnants, we are pummelled as the bad guys.

Is there anyone that seriously believes that the Iraqis can sort out the problems themselves and arrive at anything that is remotely appropriate - when Iran and the Syrian/Iraqi Baathists are in the game, with the Russians waiting to get back in also?

steve

" Early this week Iraqi trade union leader Hadi Salih was brutally murdered by a barbarous gang associated with the “resistance.”"

I"m surprised by the black and white you talk in. Have you not read any of the reports from the numerous journalists in mainstream corporate newspapers that have spent time with the resistance? The groups are not nearly as uniform as you would have readers believe.
Yes, ugly violence comes from the resistance. Much more ugly violence and far more deadly comes from the occupation of Iraq by the United States at the moment and after the coming 'election'. I frankly don't see how any democratic left grow during a brutal occupation, unless it's had time to do so. Without the current and coming post-'election' US occupation there is at least the chance that that is possible.

PJ

You know, the reason I stop by here is because Marc is a leftist who has retained an ability of independent and critical thought. OTOH, when I see someone criticize the US occupation as inimical to a democratic left while ignoring Saddam's occupation, it makes me despair.

Michael J. Totten

Steve: "I frankly don't see how any democratic left grow during a brutal occupation, unless it's had time to do so."

Most of the democratic left sides with the occupation, at least to an extent. The enemy in Iraq is the secular and theocratic fascist far-right.

Interesting poll of almost 5,000 people in and around Baghdad:

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/009103.php

Do you support military action against the terrorists?

Yes = 87.7%
No = 11.1%
Don’t Know = 1.2%

reg

The left - or the various "lefts" - can raise all of the rallying cries in the world for the handful of secular democrats and liberals in Iraq. But the reality on the ground is that a civil war is being played out, it was triggered by the United States' clueless intervention, and it will end with a Shiite Islamic regime controlling most of the country. Frankly, at this point I refuse to be hectored about the responsibility of anti-war folks to figure out how something worth American blood and treasure can be rescued from the incompetence and dishonesty of BushCo's adventure. There's a point at which I frankly don't give a shit about what I should do in the name of some essentially irrelevant "international left" - I know I've been screwed as an American by Americans. I know these fuckers names. They're getting our kids killed because they lied, because they've wildly miscalculated and because they refuse to shoulder any responsibility for screwing up damn near from day one that they concocted this idiocy. I've never really opposed the war as a "leftist" - just as an American with a modicum of common sense.

I've never heard of this guy, but, sure, I'll support him. Now what ? Does anybody really give a goddam, except as a way of trying to pin some guilt-inducing bullshit on people who opposed the war because the pro-war mavens' rationales for killing tens of thousands of people have crumbled into dust for the world to see, and because it's become painfully clear that they invaded and occupied a country with no plan for securing the peace.

What am I FOR in Iraq...in a pragmatic political sense, really not a goddam thing that relates to the Iraq that actually exists, because it's a fucking crazy quilt so far as I can tell. How the hell could I possibly know who or what to be for in Iraq, beyond abstractions or a list of individuals on an Amnesty International petition. THAT'S THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT. Short of a clear and present danger to our national security, this war was crackpot and anybody who seriously thought they could transform one of the more politically complex countries in the Middle East by unilateral American military action is a goddam moron. It's really that simple.

There was a time when I was being told that Ahmed Chalabi represented the democratic hopes of the Iraqi people. There was a time when I was told that the American-based, Trotskyite professor, Kanin Makiya was going to write a new Constitution and that was supposed to make me feel good about the war as a leftist. Bullshit... And to hell with "leftism" as regards the war... I may be an arrogant blowhard, but I don't have the delusions of political grandeur that characterize folks like fallen Marxist Motor-Mouth Christopher Hitchens. I refuse to travel down that particular path to perdition of hair-brained intertnational leftist one-up-manship and self-promotion at the expense of my neighbors' children. Sorry. The world is not an experimental laboratory for recovering communists, Shactmanites, neo-left international comrades or neo-con Israel-uber-alles cadres. Nor am I part of their perverse debating society, once I've made it clear that so far as I'm concerned they can all to go to hell.

I'm appalled by the murderous insurgency the invasion has unleashed, but frankly to try to second-guess some solution to an occupation and a civil war that a bunch of morons and ideologues on the right triggered, and to do it in the name of the moral responsibility of "the left" is just rhetorical jive. What the fuck difference will it make ? We weren't able to stop the war and we were demonized for even trying. So don't demonize me because I don't know the names of every victim or I honestly don't know what will do the least harm at this point. The blood is not on our hands. It doesn't mean I sleep well at night, but damn if I'm going to beat myself up over this. The John Moore's of this world are too fucking obtuse to even comprehend their own hubris, much less the depth of their criminal perversity. They've had the wrong answer to every wrong question, so let America pile on their sorry asses as this thing goes South. Leave me alone. I've got fucking moral fatique, and those bastards are still hyperventilating to cover their cluelessness. Of course, I "support" democrats and trade unionists whereever they are in the world, but I'm not going to do it with bombs - or more to the point on this blog, bombast. Yeah, I'll sign the petition. But I'm not in the mood for beig on the receiving end of any the finger wagging. Direct the moralizing at people who actually need the moral lessons.

(This wasn't really directed at you, marc - it's admittedly an over-reaction to the specifics of your post. But as a hyperbolic rant, it's both an expression of my level of frustration regarding a "way out" and an anti-PC gut check that reflects what I perceive to be the authentic anti-war sentiment in this country and where my deepest feelings are coming from when I contemplate the Iraq madness. The real anti-war sentiment isn't about niceties (or not-so-niceties) of "the left" and it's got next-to-nothing to do with whoever the hell thinks they are organizing the anti-war forces via leaflets, demos, etc. The real anti-war sentiment - especially as it's grown into a majority opinion among Americans - has far more echoes of Pat Buchanan than Medea Benjamin, and I for one don't really have a problem with that. Because - unlike Sharon's neo-con comrades or our resident British blowhards, I don't have a problem with placing a priority on American interests. Pile on, lefties and righties, one and all...)

reg

"Interesting poll of almost 5,000 people in and around Baghdad:
Do you support military action against the terrorists?

Yes = 87.7%"

Then they need to fucking do it themselves...

Eighty-seven per cent of Iraqis resolve to fight the terrorists and guess what ? No problem...

It's funny how the overwhelming majority of people who "support" this war, American AND Iraqi, seem to want some other guy to fight it for them...

And, of course, if the counterinsurgency fails, it will be the fault of those of us who thought the whole idea of invading Iraq was nuts to begin with. The pro-war crowd's cowardice knows no bounds...

reg

I would suggest to all that they check out both Kevin Drum's Washington Monthly and Andrew Sullivan for some sobering posts on Iraq.

"Exit Strategy" seems to be the new buzz word. Remember when it was "WMDs", or better yet, "democratic transformation of the Middle East"

reg

Sorry for the compulsive posting, but here's a quote from Atrios that says it all: "All of these people who fought this war to, among other reasons, demonstrate the invincibility of American power have managed to clearly demonstrate its limits."

Apparently in some quarters, that's an accomplishment deserving of a Medal of Freedom.

rosedog

What Reg said. Pretty much word for word.

But none of it meant at you, Marc. Johanne Hari's column was heart rending. It’s just that I don't have a clue what in God's name I'm supposed to do about it, except despair. Or more accurately, despair to a greater degree than I already despair.

jim hitchcock

A great post, Reg. You certainly spoke for me.

John, you say you will never understand the anti-war folk...but then you go on to say: "Is there anyone that seriously believes that the Iraqis can sort out the problems themselves and arrive at anything that is remotely appropriate...".

I find it a little ironic that you are now stating one of the central theses of those who have opposed the war since long before the invasion.

Let me pose a hypothethical. Let's say we were still in the grip
of the cold war, focused on keeping the creepy crawly commies from achieving their aim of world domination...would you be so concerned about Saddam's butchery then (worse than Stalin?)? Would you be shouting from the rooftops that he is soon to be an imminent threat to world safety? Would you think draining the wealth of our country at the rate of a buck a day per taxpayer would be money well spent?

Personally, I think you buy into the elevaton of Saddam as
a threat to world safety because you no longer have the commies
to kick around anymore. No question he was an evil fuck...but an imminent threat? No sell, John.

Michael Turner

It's fundamentally against my nature to chime in with anybody, but ... geez, I am laid low. So here it is:

What Reg Said.

Except for one departure: Marc, you weigh in on the side Johann Hari - a pro-invasion leftist who doesn't understand much about the past (read about his conversation with Antonio Negri, then actually READ something about Negri) and who doesn't understand the most important thing about the future: the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Flailing around for some kind of purchase in those unleashed Consequences, who does Hari land on? The Left. Why? For not jumping all over some SWP flacks. Yes, by all means let's yell at the marginalized Left. For not yelling at an even more marginalized part of the Left. Let's yell at the Left for not noticing a particularly noisome little bubble-pop in the boiling ocean of dog vomit that is present-day Iraq.

Who would not deplore the savage execution of a anybody, including this trade-unionist. Who did it? Possibly an impotent splinter faction of the Iraqi Communist Party, possibly Saddamists, possibly Shi'a fundamentalists, possibly by Sunni fundamentalists, possibly ... well, at this point, who knows? Possibly by only-slightly-renegade death squads who are ultimately in the pay of the U.S., if I read Doug Ireland correctly. That's how ambiguous a tiny event like this can be in a boiling ocean of dog vomit.

To paraphrase a common sarcastic dismissal on the Web: Plenty to see here, folks. But move on quickly - to the next horror show.

So this is where I depart. What Reg Said, except for one thing: Marc, get a sense of proportion already. What we're FOR in Iraq? Yes, I am FOR that particular little noisome bubble having never popped. I wish that IFTU leader were alive today. But let's face it: 300,000 union members in a country of about 25 million people isn't much of a starting point for anything. If you want a real union movement, you gotta have jobs. And the economic terms imposed on Iraq seem almost designed to keep the unemployment rate high. And if anybody thinks high unemployment isn't feeding these insurgencies, well ... I have, shall we say, a "pre-owned" bridge in Brooklyn that I'm willing to let go for real cheap.

What we're FOR in Iraq? Start with a bigger picture than this, please.

too many steves

Well, if we are going to be appalled I'll tell you what appalls me: the pervasive attitude here and elsewhere (Germany, France, Canada, Mexico, Spain) of turning the back while whiffing "you created this mess, good luck getting out of it and don't come asking or expect me to help.".

Please, and spare me the list of "oh sure, but":

Saddam was evil but
Many innocents were killed but
Women were second class citizens and repressed but
Oil for Food was corrupt but
Children were dying but
Iraq was a threat to stability in the region but
Iran and Syria are supporting the "resistence" but
The "insurgents" do terrible things but...

Don't forget to remind me that there were no WMD's.

Michael Turner

I got e-mail from someone last week, asking why I take on John Moore. Was it some kind of Zen practice? I answered that I didn't really know.

So I don't know why I'm doing it now. It's a Zen thing. You wouldn't understand. Even I don't.

John: "Should the left only feel sympathy for the dead socialists and unionists, or do you have some compassion for dead capitalists also?"

Note the sneer. Leftists are incapable of feeling sympathy for anyone but leftists. They are an ant colony that only defends its own. It's some kind of genetic programming, I guess.

"As for the call for the coalition forces to leave (in the face of a movement run, supplied and financed by Saddam's people in Syria),"

Note the ignorance. The insurgency is more complex than this, and nobody knows how much help any part of it is getting from Iraqi Ba'athists in Syria. Are they "Saddam's people"? Well, why did they leave their hero, Saddam, down that spider hole, with little more than a bale of cash and a taxicab? I mean, they at least could've left him a shaving kit, right?

" ... it has one thing going for it: it saves money and American lives. The Iraqis would be left with horrible chaos."

Now here, I actually agree with John. It's Pottery Barn time: you break it, you buy it. An NYT regular, Kristof, wrote recently about how the elections on Jan 30 will enable the *right* kind of civil war in Iraq: Iraqis against Iraqis, without this troubling distraction of U.S. occupation. The *right* kind of civil war, Nicky? He has truly lost the plot.

John: "Read the blogs from Iraq itself. The trouble is almost all in the "Sunni Triangle" by folks who want to reinstate Baathism."

I've read some blogs from Iraq itself. They are all over the map. If you haven't found an Iraqi blogger opposed to U.S. occupation, you haven't looked.

John: "I have never understood the anti-war position."

Of course not, John. That would require taking seriously the opinions of people you disagree with, and checking out their reasoning. It would require dispensing with the assumption that You Have All the Answers.

John: "Saddam was a butcher somewhat worse than Stalin."

Reliable measures, please? In any case, Rummy sure helped this "Stalin" a lot at one point. And when Saddam was doing some pretty damn Stalinoid things.

John: "Iraq was a danger to the region and ultimately the world."

Oh yeah. That WMD. I forgot. That was all over the place in Iraq, wasn't it?

John: "The sanctions were being manipulated to help Saddam and hurt ordinary Iraqis."

Yes! By Kofi Annan, directly! Watch out for those black helicopters! I think I hear them in the distance even now! (Oops, just checked on early news from Paul Volcker's study group. Hm.)

"Saddam was shooting at US warplanes daily,"

Daily? Proof, please? A few times a month, on average. A couple times a week, peak.

"... but if we removed the planes, the Kurds and Shias would have been slaughtered again."

No amount of air support - and nothing but air support - could have prevented that, John, if he really wanted to do it.

John: "THe presence of the bases necessary to maintain the no fly zones was cited by Bin Laden as the cause of his attack on the US."

Actually, Bin Laden claims as the proximate inspiration for Al Qaeda something much earlier: the American military intervention in Lebanon, during which U.S. gunboats pounded civilian areas in the hills behind Beirut. And also, presumably, the suicide bombing that ended American presence, when it killed a whole bunch of GIs in one fell swoop, leading to a withdrawal. He took our measure then: we love bombing and shelling, but we hate taking lots of military casualties. So yesterday, when a 500 lb bomb hit a supposedly insurgent-infested house in Iraq, killing innocent people, he probably got what he wanted: more Iraqis who hate America enough to get behind the wheel of an explosives-packed truck and drive it against some symbol of the occupation.

John: "And now that we have caught the bastard and are fighting the remnants, we are pummelled as the bad guys."

Actually, the picture is more complex. Quite a few Ba'athist high level functionaries have been recruited into the Sunni fundamentalist crowd - possibly under duress to some extent. "The remnants?" Um, yeah, this is the "bitter-ender" argument again. The reality that this insurgency is always gaining recruits just doesn't get any traction with people like John, despite the ample evidence.

John: "Is there anyone that seriously believes that the Iraqis can sort out the problems themselves and arrive at anything that is remotely appropriate - when Iran and the Syrian/Iraqi Baathists are in the game, with the Russians waiting to get back in also?"

Yes. The Bush administration. To hear Wolfowitz tell it, anyway.

Now that Bush Sr.'s braintruster on this issue, Brent Scowcroft, has been thoroughly drummed out of any advisory role to Dubya, we're hearing from unmuzzled realism again. How refreshing. Sort of. I mean, really: "Hey, look: boiling ocean of dog vomit in Iraq!" - coming from Scowcroft? That's refreshing?! I guess my standards for what I consider refreshing have dropped, and perhaps out of some necessity.

jim hitchcock

Not that Scowcroft (or Poppy) were ever listened to in the first place, MT...Eight months or so before the invasion, the elders had
Junior to a weekend meeting at home where they made plain that Saddam was not one to dally with terrorists, and any weapons at his disposal would not be offered to same. Bush Sr. went so far as
to warn sonny boy that he'd better be sure of facts before proceeding.

steve

Totten quotes some ambiguosly unclear poll: "Interesting poll of almost 5,000 people in and around Baghdad:

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/009103.php

Do you support military action against the terrorists?

Yes = 87.7%
No = 11.1%
Don’t Know = 1.2%"

--Interesting that the word 'terrorist' is the subject, as opposed to resistance or insurgents? I suspect that Iraqis, from what I've read of reports in mainstream corporate newspapers from reporters that have the courage to actually go to Iraq and report on what is actually happening there, are not quite as simplistic as you are in defining the whole of the resistance as ''terrorists'. In fact, not even the US military believes anymore in this myth that you evidently cling to with great confusion.

reg

too many steves - there were no WMDs

Since you seem to know the "left" script so well, here are some punch lines you can match up to your list of "Yeah, buts"

...but that didn't stop the Reaganauts from helping him committ war crimes.

...but we stood by and watched when there was an armed uprising by regime opponents who expected we'd follow through on our winks and nods with air cover.

...but the U.S. knew it at the time and did nothing to stop it, and now, rather than let an independent investigation proceed to target the culprits, unsubstantiated charges are being floated for political reasons.

...but it took years for a smarter sanctions regime to gain any credibility and the warrior class couldn't really be bothered with issues like infant mortality anyway. (Bad for their image.)

...but the best evidence was that it had been successfully contained, that it had been weakened immeasurably and was a hollow shell of a regime, contrary to everything we were being told by BushCo - who were more interested in dominating the discourse to promote an agenda than in truth.

...but a good rule of thumb in our post-3/2003 world is not to believe much of anything that Michael Ledeen or William Safire are telling you if it involves military action against yet another Middle Eastern country.

...but asymmetric warfare is a bitch that only a fool would carelessly initiate. And anyone who couldn't have predicted this as a likely outcome of an "invasion lite" and the ensuing chaos should go back to the semi-private crony capitalist sector where their amateurish incompetence, dishonesty and arrogance at least doesn't get thousands of people killed.


Try to match 'em up.

reg

"Bush Sr. went so far as
to warn sonny boy..."


Oh shit ! Now I get it !

reg

"do you have some compassion for dead capitalists also ?"

Of course not, silly. Haven't you read the Manifesto ?

reg

Oh, too many...I forgot one of the "yeah but" match-em-ups.


...but their status was much higher with far more integration into the professions than in most other muslim countries.


Woody

I think I can simplify this.

Leftists hate this country and pounce on every opportunity to criticize it. The U.S. doesn't represent their world view and they resent that. Further, they think that they know everything and that anyone who disagrees with them is stupid--which is the most common word they use to describe the right and our president. Other countries can get away with murder (literally), but that is okay because we should accept their system.

I know that this will create outrage from the left, because they hate their true feelings to be exposed. But, their beliefs are clear as evidenced by their selective criticism and constant anti-U.S. remarks. I expect a pompous whinning from those to whom this actually applies, and maybe demands for an apology; but, you're not going to get it because if any apologies are due, it's from those who do everything to undermine this country and what is great about it.

There...now, I feel better for saying what a huge number of people feel.

rosedog

"Leftists hate this country and pounce on every opportunity to criticize it."

Good God, Woody. Look at the people you exchange with on this blog. We disagree, but do you honestly believe we hate this country?

Most of us who are critical of the present administration's actions view holding the administration to account as the deepest form of loyalty and patriotism. We are doing what we can to defend our country from what we see as their catastrophic leadership. Please separate criticism of politicians from criticism of the country itself. We can't possibly have a discussion if folks are going to play duck and cover behind that old, ragged trope.

Good posts, Reg, Michael T, Steve and Jim!!!

steve

Woody writes: Leftists hate this country and pounce on every opportunity to criticize it.

Translation: A leftist is anyone who disagrees with Woody and they hate America.

Marc Davidson

I think we can agree, Woody... except replace "this country" (especially in the second and second-to-last sentences) with totally immoral, arrogant, and incompetent leaders who are marching us into a hell hole.

Woody

Nice, logical analysis, rosedog--and, worth considering.

Certainly, I cannot say my conclusions apply to every leftist or specifically to you. That would be like reg saying that every conservative is stupid (not saying that he has).

I will say that criticisms of the administration from the left appear to stem more from a disagreement with the values of this country than specific policies or actions of the leaders. I don't classify that as patriotism. If I did, then the communist party in America would have to be labeled as super patriotic for its stance against America.

Maybe I would feel different if I ever heard anything positive about this country from the left. If you have a spouse who tells you how sorry you are all the time and never says anything nice, maybe you begin to think that he/she doesn't like you. (Of course, this doesn't apply to me in case my wife reads this.)

Okay, I'm keeping my ears and my mind open if anyone wants to disagree. Thanks for your tempered response.

steve

"I will say that criticisms of the administration from the left appear to stem more from a disagreement with the values of this country than specific policies or actions of the leaders."

Translation: ...with the values that I agree with, which I ascribe to something that I vaguely refer to as "this country". All others who don't subscribe to my beliefs and/or value system are to be regarded as not agreeing with the values of this country. The are no less than traitors.

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