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Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Reg: " By any measure that was put forward as a rationale for the war, Iraq was clearly, at best, a mistake"

What a cowardly cop-out. What are YOUR measures, Reg?
Oh, I forgot -- you don't have any, since if you did you might be wrong, and Bush-haters can never be wrong; they keep changing the goalposts! Attack dog? check. Bush-hating sheep bleater: bad, baad, baaaaddd.
If you don't have the guts to say what your measures are, not those of Bush or Kerry or somebody else, YOURS, than YOU are an intellectual coward.

Marc, "I repeat, this is a by-product not a primary goal of the Bushies." You know Bush spoke of his primary goals in the SOTU early 2003. Freedom is in there. What is sad about the Left is the demonization of Bush to the extent of actually NOT SEEING the words he says, and publishes.

And the quote: " And as we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghanistan, we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies -- and freedom."

Yes, most of the Iraq stuff was about WMDs, and the NOT imminent threat but the plausible one of a state giving terrorists weapons.

By Bush's measure about Iraq giving terrorists WMDs, he looks pretty succesful. Terrorism has not, yet, increased in the US (though I think it will...) I'm not sure this is the right measure.

OTOH, "Not for any reason however beyond crass domestic political calculation." -- this is the strength of democracy. Even bozos like Bush or Clinton are willing to "do the right thing", if it means they get more votes. The problem is knowing what the right thing is.

Invading Iraq and creating a democracy is the right thing. It takes at least as long in Iraq as in Kosovo -- and the UN is still there, isn't it? Bush can NOT withdraw too many troops without having an "acceptable" Iraq democracy, because Reps lose.

Marc, if you read pro-war Michael Ledeen, you'll get more ammo against Bush's policy of too-fast "stability" through being too cozy with Saddamites.

I'm sorry you don't have a formula -- without one how can you be sure Bush's policy isn't best? wait for the Iraqi Constitution; then the new Iraqi gov't; then pull out some troops as the elected Shia take over.

How are the IRAQIS gonna handle the coup in Baghdad?


Marc Cooper writes: ``It would be great to find a way to wind down the US involvement, somehow internationalize the tutelage of Iraq...''

Now we're getting somewhere! This, not who's more anti-anti-anti humanitarian ad nauseum, is a relevant line of discussion about Iraq.

Put another way: the topic most in need of debate and careful discussion is not whether to withdraw and acknowledge the morally and politically sadistic failures of this war, but, as MC points out, HOW to withdraw.

No one I've read or heard, right, left or center has advocated that the U.S. ``just simply hand the keys over to the carbombers, jihadists and regrouped Ba'athists who seem to thrive on blowing up their own people.'' MC's suggestion, however lighthanded, that that is anyone's position is a rather putrid red herring.

So how to "internationalize" the war?
1. Declare all contracts awarded to American companies on a no-bid basis void. And reopen a portion, say half, to bidding by any company and set aside 25 percent for Iraqi companies and the other 25 percent for Arab countries only. I'm not pretending to know anything at all about how these types of contracts are actually disbursed in a fair and open way, but I present this idea as a starting point for discussion, or really just to note that the oil money, such as it is, needs to be taken away from the friends of George W. Bush and redistributed in a strategically intelligent way.

2. Undertake the prosecution of Saddam Hussein and his regime's leaders under U.N. auspices.

3. Bring the investigation and prosecution of alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Gitmo and other U.S. prisons under the International Criminal Court, or similar body.

That's a start. But none of this really matters, because we know that any serious exploration of how we got to where we are in Iraq leads inexorably to war crimes trials for Donald Rumsfeld and, ultimately, The Revenge-Fetishist Commander in Chief General Jesus George W. Bush himself.

The only realistic way out of Iraq is to remove the Bush-Cheney administration. Who knows...maybe the bottom for their approval poll numbers is a lot lower than we've seen so far. If thinks keep heading in the same direction: and why wouldn't they? Impeachment provides the long lost beginning of an exit strategy for Iraq.

jim hitchcock

"Yes, most of the Iraq stuff was about WMDs, and the NOT imminent threat but the plausible one of a state giving terrorists weapons."

Do you seriously believe that nonsense, Anon? If so, you are woefully ignorant on the subject.

Time to do a little reading. You'll find out that Saddam had no truck with terrorists, whatsoever. His security state ruthlessly rooted them out. One of the few bright spots of his dictatorial rule. Give weapons to terrorists? Get serious. Arming terrorists would have seriously put his secular rule at risk.

You could look it up.

jim hitchcock

You do have to wonder one thing, though...was Iraq seen as the real and ultimate target by itself, an end all and be all? Consider that Iraq may have been seen by the neocons as a convenient springboard for their ultimate goal to start the democracy domino theory a rollin' to the ultimate targets, Iran and eventually, Saudi Arabia. Iran, of course, IS a major source of funding for terrorists, and their influence in Saudi Arabia is growing steadily. But, of course, to get to Iran, ya gotta go through Iraq first...

You really have to admire the idealism, if not the ultimate rationality. Too damn bad the idiots behind this were spending so much energy trying to convince the gullible among us that Iraq was a `great and imminent threat' to us, rather than considering what would happen if we weren't, uh, greeted in the streets of Baghdad with flowers and open arms.

jim hitchcock

"The only realistic way out of Iraq is to remove the Bush-Cheney administration. Who knows...maybe the bottom for their approval poll numbers is a lot lower than we've seen so far. If thinks keep heading in the same direction: and why wouldn't they? Impeachment provides the long lost beginning of an exit strategy for Iraq."

Bunkerbuster, that just ain't realistic at all. Impeachment is just not going to happen. And you do remember what DID happen in Afghanistan after the Soviets were driven out, don't you? That's right, pal, the Taliban. Is that really what you want to see as the ultimate result of the folly of this war?


Jim Hitchcock is right. It is not realistic at all to hope for an impeachment. What I meant, though, is that it is unrealistic to expect success in Iraq without first removing the apparent war criminals. I did not mean to suggest that there is a realistic chance of actually doing that. But hey, what's more "unrealistic" than the fact that an inarticulate former drunk and failed businessman who doesn't read the newspaper is the president of the United States in the first place?

JH writes: ``And you do remember what DID happen in Afghanistan after the Soviets were driven out, don't you? That's right, pal, the Taliban. Is that really what you want to see as the ultimate result of the folly of this war?''

The outcome of Reagan/Bush's Afghanistan debacle was not just the Taliban. Rather, the jihadist movement as we know it, its financing, its leadership and its strategy were all catalyzed in the U.S.-funded war in Afghanistan. George Crile in ``Charlie Wilson's War,'' his account of the American support for the mujahideen in that war, argues that the victory there sent a powerful message to the fledging jihadists: they can kill giants, because Allah wants it that way. The jihadists have never looked back from that and that is why bin Laden is such a huge figure within the movement. He was among those who saw off the seemingly unstoppable Soviet army.

Yet a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would take place in a completely different set of circumstances than the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan once the mujahideen had booted the Russians.

Firstly, Afghanistan lacks oil wealth, so there is not the pot of spoils to tempt international participation, as there is in Iraq. Secondly, the Iranians and Russians have far too much at stake in Iraq to stand by and let it descend into the kind of situation that gave rise to the Taliban. This is not to suggest the Russian or Iranian government would not seek to take advantage of any instability in Iraq, but rather that neither of those would see it in their interest to allow the level of instability that would be necessary to impose a Taliban-like regime on the relatively secularized population of Iraq.

As I pointed out previously, the war in Iraq is brought to you by the same ideologues with the same corporate sponsers and mostly the exact same media toadies that brought us the war in Afghanistan.

These ideologues and their corporate sponsers and media-owning enablers must be stopped. If they are not, how can we not expect more Afghanistans, more Iraqs, more Patriot Acts, more Fox News Channel propaganda circuses and more body bags secretly flown home with "little people" inside?

The moral blank check has been in the mail for far too long. A change of pace isn't going to get it, we need a change of direction...


"anon" - I laid out four measures quite explicitly. One was the success of the Iranian mullahs in creating a Shiite dominated Gulf - which is well on its way.

For more on "pro-war Michael Ledeen", an extreme neo-con ideologue - not to mention a piece of shit left over from the Iran/Contra scandal - read this. http://www.amconmag.com/06_30_03/feature.html
Ledeen is a crackpot, and a dangerous one.


Marc - I think you might obsess on the "anti-war Left" a bit too much, at the expense of the anti-war sentiment that will actually drive the politics of this thing over the next year or so. I don't think that most of us who are "anti-war", obviously including yourself, think that Out Now is some magic bullet. But a phased withdrawal that forces the hand of the various Iraqi factions to take control of their own situation, politically and militarily, MIGHT isolate the foreign elements of the "insurgency" and draw the Sunni elements - or most of them - into some political bargaining that is tenable. A loosely federated Iraq seems to be in the cards, and probably is best given the British concoction that actually exists. I don't have a plan, and I doubt that the Bushniks are going to act in a way that facilitates the best outcome given their record, but prolonged occupation seems like it's at least one major ingredient in prolonging the infiltration of foreign crazies and giving them a rationale for their terror. In that insight, the "anti-war Left" has a point, if not a plan for dealing with it responsibly.

I think that at this juncture most anti-war Americans want to see something at least half-decent pulled out of the fire by using our role their strategically even as we plan to phase it out - even if it's simply the rough "self-determination" of a large Shiite state that's Islamic becoming the primary entity. Frankly, given the history and demographics of the region, that's probably an inevitable stage that the next generation of Iraqi liberals and rebels and radicals and feminists are simply going to have to take on by their own best lights. In a loose Iraqi federation people we'd identify with politically will have a better chance - be they Sunni, Shia or Kurdish ethnicity - than they did under Saddam. The vitality - under duress - of the reform movement in Iran, which has damned good prospects over the long term in my impression at least, is evidence of that. General Abizad - who's pragmatism will hopefully drive the next phase, with the civilian ideologues locked in the trunk - can't pull something out of his hat to hand to the Iraqis that doesn't have a social basis that's more legitimate on Iraqi turf than the U.S. military.


PS to anon - I guess I could go in a snit and call you an intellectual coward also, but there's nothing "intellectual" discernible in your silly rant and I don't want to unfairly impugn as cowardice mere incoherence.


I found this article in the Monthly review, before the war in Iraq...Marxist were more honest than the pro-war types...go figure!

by The Research Unit for Political Economy
December 2002

The justifications US imperialism is advancing for the impending assault on Iraq are absurd, often contradictory. Unlike in the case of the 1991 Gulf War or the 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, this time the US lacks even the fig-leaf of an excuse for its aggression. The major American and British media corporations have once again come forward as footsoldiers in the campaign.


Although some voices of caution were sounded at first among senior strategic experts and political figures in the US, there now appears to be broad consensus among the US ruling classes regarding this extraordinary adventurism and unilateral aggression. The manner in which the US President was able to ram through Congress his demand for sweeping and open-ended war powers makes clear that the corporate sector as a whole (not only the oil companies) is vitally interested in the war. It is significant that despite recession and economic uncertainty, despite deepening budget and balance of payments deficits, the US is willing to foot the bill for a massive, open-ended military operation. Evidently US corporations believe the potential reward will justify the war; or that the failure to go to war will have grave consequences for them.

It is more or less publicly acknowledged that the immediate reward is a massive oil grab, of a scale not witnessed since the days of colonialism. Caspian prospects pale in comparison with Iraqi oil wealth. Iraq has the world's second largest reserves (at present 115 billion barrels, but long-delayed exploration may take that figure to 220-250 billion barrels). Moreover, its oil is, along with that of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran, by far the cheapest to extract. The US is quite openly offering the French and Russians, who have giant contracts with the present regime that cannot be realised under sanctions, slices of the post-invasion cake in exchange for their approval in the Security Council.





Didn't millions of Roman Catholics and Lutherans admire Hitler? I mean, it wasn't just folks in the ME who lifted him to power.


someone wrote: In 1994, the Rwanda choice was war or accept genocide -- Clinton, faced with a hostile Rep Congress, preferred genocide acceptance to asking for war.

Fact-check time. The Rwandan genocide occured in the Spring of 1994. The Republicans won the congress in the fall of 1994. Clinton was faced with a "friendly Dem congress", not a "hostile Rep" one.

Randy Paul


Just read your comment. Let me call your attention to Paul Wolfowitz's comments in an interview in Vanity Fair (the transcript can be found here:


"Wolfowitz: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but -- hold on one second --


"Kellems: Sam there may be some value in clarity on the point that it may take years to get post-Saddam Iraq right. It can be easily misconstrued, especially when it comes to --

"Wolfowitz: -- there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two. Sorry, hold on again.

"Kellems: By the way, it's probably the longest uninterrupted phone conversation I've witnessed, so --

"Q: This is extraordinary.

"Kellems: You had good timing.

"Q: I'm really grateful.

"Wolfowitz: To wrap it up.

The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis BUT IT'S NOT A REASON TO PUT AMERICAN KID'S LIVES AT RISK, CERTAINLY NOT ON THE SCALE WE DID IT. That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there's the most disagreement within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we've arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his UN presentation." [MY EMPHASIS]

That's the #2 man at the Pentagon making that statement. It's post-facto ass-covering, period.



Cindy Sheehan seems to be channeling Paul Wolfowitz, of all people. Perhaps Mr. Wolfowitz needs a good "outing" by Michell Malkin and Bill O'Reilly for espousing views that serve Michael "Mephistopholies" Moore and all the rest of the "Hate America" crowd.


" I just as much disagree with the anti-war left's professed "fuck you" attitude toward the Iraqi people. "

This must be another example of Marc's attacking a strawman? What leftists have been saying 'fuck you' to Iraqi people? The unions calling for withdrawl? Chomsky? David Bacon? What a bizarre way to characterize the left's attitude. I always read people like Klein et al talking about the need for reparations for war damage, etc. This is isolationist 'fuck you'? Hardly.

"But imposing a privatization model on Iraq is something very different than suggesting that was actually the motivation for war. That is simply preposterous as it makes no economic sense from "their" perspective."

Indeed, and btw my MR piece certainly wasn't asserting that the invasion was for the purpose of privatizing Iraq alone. The privatization campaign [something Repubs and Dems are united in support of] reveals plenty about the futility of looking for a 'right' way to do the occupation however. The occupation and Iraq policy generally, before and after the invasion, was part of a broader corporate globalization policy of compelling 'closed' economies to submit to the neo-liberal regimen. To say that does not mean that privatization of Iraq's resources is or was the *only* reason for invasion or occupation.


I don't think there are many car thieves who would claim to steal cars for their oil...but if there is no oil in the car, it is less likely to be stolen.

The oil is needed...even if the thieves are doing it for the parts.


oil, as Noam Chomsky is certainly part of the motivation, but also not the only one. Ellen Wood's critique of the 'new imperialism' is perhaps even more to the point, weapons must get used and they serve a wonderful demonstration effect to nation-states that don't conform to US neo-liberal expectations...



Oil is undeniably the catalyst for this war. Ask yourself: if Iraq had no oil, would the U.S. military EVER have been involved in anything there?

Having said that, this doesn't mean I agree that the Iraq War was fought solely for Halliburton's sake. The point is more nuanced: Gulf War I was fought to soothe the fear that someone less pliable than the Kuwaiti monarchy would control the area's oil resources. Gulf War I led inextricably to the Iraq War.


nicely put Bunker. It's kind of funny, btw, how Chomsky is one of the most excoriated members of the antiwar movement intellectuals, yet he is one of the first to *not* say that it's 'all about oil'. So much for misinformed stereotypes of the antiwar movement.

Alex Constantine

Some belated comments, but as long as your self-pitying here is still posted,
why not?

"I, along with Holy Joe, am just one more blind shill for Bush and Bremer..."

That sums it up rather nicely, though your eyesight is clear enough to type
manipulative bullshit into your Bush-Bremer supprted propaganda bog.

But I do know that you didn't kill Allendé, so I'm not one of the straw loons
youe excoriate at every turn, as if anyone actually accused you of this particular
crime - an American pulled the trigger, though. That WAS an American "war,"
wasn't it? Do you offer a left-wing apologia for that one, too?

You cry over penguins? Do you cry for the children of Iraq wasted
by incendiary bombs, white phosphorus and depleted uranium? Tell the
truth. Have you ever shed a tear for the dead in Iraq? If they were penguins,
you might find a reason to denounce Hithcens - another shill for Bush and
Bremer, no doubt. The CIA's "Cultural Cold War" continues apace, and the
names Hitchens and Couper will figure prominently in the follow-up tome.

- Alex Constantine

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