I cannot believe we are still having this discussion

Note: I had thought this topic long dead, as the title indicates. Since someone brought it up again, I reprint my previous thought on the subject, not seeing the need to add or subtract any words.

A reader who, on other topics, I deem worthy of respect, has ventured the following comment in regards the Iraqi war:

“When we invaded, freeing the Iraqi people was not anywhere near the top of the list of reasons given to the American public. Only after a succession of the original rationals turned out to be hogwash, did the administration start using the “promote democracy” argument.”

The implication here seems to be (I am not sure I get his point) that since the “promote democracy” argument was not argued vehemently at first, therefore the democracy in Iraq does not count as really “real”. He is intellectually aware of it, in some distant, numb way, but that is not where the spotlight of his reason and passion are focused: the spotlight is on Bush and Cheney, whom he regards as sinister figures, and he says these public figures were obviously not sincere in their desire to go to war for the right reasons, so we must not trust them now. Freeing people doesn’t “count” unless your motives were too pure to be slandered from the get-go. Or something. Actually, I don’t understand his point at all. So let us put that to one side for now.

If I did not have respect for this man, I would simply call him a liar. As it is, I will argue as if his recollection of the event leading up to the war are valid, and therefore he need only be told the facts of the matter to correct him.

He makes one statement of fact which can be proved wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt and to a moral certainty. The original rationale for the war is the same now as it has always been.

Since someone else has done the work for me, I will simply post his line of argument in full, saving my comment for the end.

Note particularly item 7, the argument to end the brutal repression of the Iraqi people; which is not only not at the bottom of the list, it is the second item after item 6, the argument of a threat from weapons of mass destruction.

http://qando.net/archives/002062.htm

With the end of the Iraq war, comes the question…was the war justified?

Of course, one must define the justification for war first.

Was it human rights? Was it terrorism? Was it WMDs all along, with the others justifications only claimed after the fact?

Well, there’s only one definitive answer, and it always suprises me that this is still debated. The justification for war has long been codified and official.

It is described in the October 10th, 2002 “House Joint Resolution Authorizing Use of Force Against Iraq“, and it is quite clear.

We’ll list the justifications and see if they have been confirmed, or found wanting.

1: First justification:

Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq’s war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;”

Simple statement of fact. The UN resolution which authorized the Gulf War can be found here.

Conclusion? Accurate

2: Next justification:

Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

As stated, Iraq accepted these terms on April 6th 1991.

Conclusion: Accurate

3: Next justification:

Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

Statement of fact. These were the circumstancesthroughout the inspections.

Conclusion: Accurate

4: Next justification:

Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

Iraqi intransigence with regards to the UN inspections is listed on the UN Website.

Conclusion: Accurate

5: Next justification:

Whereas in Public Law 105-235 (August 14, 1998), Congress concluded that Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in ‘material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations’ and urged the President ‘to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations’;

The cited Public Law 105-235 can be found here.

Conclusion: Accurate

6: Next justification:

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

Here are specific and contested claims. Let’s examine them one by one:

a: “Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace…”

- Says who?
Well, the UN said so in resolutions up to and including 1441, where they say “Recognizing the threat Iraq’s noncompliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security,”

The United States concluded such in 1998, when President Clinton said “There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us.”

The CIA concluded such in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, when it stated “Iraq probably would attempt clandestine attacks against the U.S. Homeland if Baghdad feared an attack that threatened the survival of the regime were imminent or unavoidable, or possibly for revenge. Such attacks–more likely with biological than chemical agents–probably would be carried out by special forces or intelligence operatives.”
Tenet, who also said that Saddam was more likely to cooperate on attacks against the US as he grew stronger, later added “Let me be clear: Saddam remains a threat.”

So, while there was no claim that Iraq was an imminent threat, there was broad consensus that Iraq was a “grave and gathering” threat.

b: “….remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations…”

- Per Resolution 1441“…Iraq remains in material breach of council resolutions…”.

c: “…continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability…”

- Did Iraq do so? Let’s reference the evidence:

We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipmentthat Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002.
……
Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist’s home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.
…..
New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.
…..
With regard to biological warfare activities, which has been one of our two initial areas of focus, ISG teams are uncovering significant information – including research and development of BW-applicable organisms, the involvement of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) in possible BW activities, and deliberate concealment activities. All of this suggests Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of BW agents.

Clearly, Iraq did continue to possess and develop significant chemical and biological weapons capability, in violation of the UN resolutions.

d: “…actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability,”

- Again, to the evidence:

“With regard to Iraq’s nuclear program, the testimony we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior government officials should clear up any doubts about whether Saddam still wanted to obtain nuclear weapons. They have told ISG that Saddam Husayn remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. These officials assert that Saddam would have resumed nuclear weapons development at some future point.
……
Starting around 2000, the senior Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) and high-level Ba’ath Party official Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Sa’id began several small and relatively unsophisticated research initiatives that could be applied to nuclear weapons development. These initiatives did not in-and-of themselves constitute a resumption of the nuclear weapons program, but could have been useful in developing a weapons-relevant science base for the long-term.

This justification is less clear than the preceding. It appears that Saddam had an ongoing interest in a nuclear program, and had maintained programs for turning that interest into a program and some point in the future. It is not clear that he had taken material steps toward acquiring those items necessary to actually builda nuclear weapon.

e: “…and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations”

- The list of State Sponsors of terrorism has not changed since 1993, and Iraq remains on that list.

It was also the judgment of the world that Iraq continued to support terrorism, per Resolution 1441 , which states “Deploring also that the Government of Iraq has failed to comply with its commitments pursuant to resolution 687 (1991) with regard to terrorism…”

Conclusion: Largely accurate
***The only justification, among those cited in item #6, that can be questioned is the claim that Iraq was actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability. It is not clear, with publicly available evidence, that Iraq was doing so…although such cannot be ruled out, yet. Certainly Iraq was maintaining the potential to regain the capability.

7: Next justification:

Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolution of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

- This is a no-brainer. According to human rights groups, the Iraqi government was oppressing its people.
Human Rights Watch says:

“The Iraqi government continued to commit widespread and gross human rights violations, including the extensive use of the death penalty and the extrajudicial execution of prisoners, the forced expulsion of ethnic minorities from government-controlled areas in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and elsewhere, the arbitrary arrest of suspected political opponents and members of their families, and the torture and ill-treatment of detainees.”

The UN agreed:

Iraq has been condemned by the United Nations’ top human rights body for conducting a campaign of “all pervasive repression and widespread terror”.

Post-war findings once again vindicate this claim, while debunking the myththat the suffering was “caused by the sanctions”.

Conclusion: Accurate

8: Next justification:

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

- A clear citation of history.
Specific instances…….”1986 March – UN Secretary General reports Iraq’s use of mustard gas and nerve agents against Iranian soldiers, with significant usage in 1981 and 1984.” and “1988 March 16 – Iraq attacks the Kurdish town of Halabjah with mix of poison gas and nerve agents, killing 5000 residents.”

Conclusion: Accurate

9: Next justification:

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

- The attempted assassination of former President Bush, in 1993, is a matter of record, as is President Clintons response.

- The attacks on US/Coalition planes enforcing the No-Fly zones is also a matter of record. These attacks constituted a violation of UN resolution requirements, whichbrequired Iraq to cooperate with the UN resolutions, and which expressly prohibited Iraq from taking or threatening any “hostile acts directed against any representative or personnel of the United Nations or the IAEA or of any Member State taking action to uphold any Council resolution.”

Conclusion: Accurate

10: Next justification:

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

- This is a two-parter.
Were Al Qaeda members known to be in Iraq, prior to the war, andwere those claims justified by post-war evidence?

Claims:
a: The Powell-cited case of Abu Mussab Zarqawi, who sought medical treatment in Baghdad.
b: Ansar Al-Islam operated out of Northern Iraq, out of Saddam’s immediate control, but without any attempt to quell their operations.
c: Powell also claimed that “There have been contacts over the years….” between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Post-War:
a: Regarding Abu Mussab Zarqawi…..

“U.S. forces near Baghdad have captured a man they describe as a midlevel terrorist operative with links to al Qaeda, a counterterrorism official said.
The operative, whose name was not provided, works for Abu Musab Zarqawi, a senior associate of Osama bin Laden…”

b: Regarding Ansar Al-Islam….

Evidence has been found in the Kurdish-controlled regions of northern Iraq that the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam was working on three types of chlorine gas and ricin and has ties to Al Qaeda….”

c: Regarding the claimed contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda:

Iraqi intelligence documents discovered in Baghdad by The Telegraph have provided the first evidence of a direct link between Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’eda terrorist network and Saddam Hussein’s regime.Papers found yesterday in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq’s intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qa’eda envoy was invited clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998.

There is also this article, full of additional connections.

Conclusion: Accurate
While individual charges may, or may not, turn out to be accurate, that is within the normal range of intel-reliability. However, the post-war findings are quite conclusive that the charge, itself, was accurate.

11: Next justification:

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;

- Reference Iraqi support of terror organizations, which has been widely ackowledged for a decade or more.

Many of these groups and terrorists have been caught or killed since the war.

Conclusion: Accurate

12: Next justification:

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

- Hard to explain this one. Either you get it, or youdon’t.
Bush confirmed that 9/11“changed my calculation”.

This is not to say that the authorization claimed revenge as justification. It simply underscored the danger of allowing nations, like Iraq, to freely maintain WMD capability and support terror.

Notable figures like John Kerry, Tom Daschle, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman and others concurred in that assessment.

Conclusion: Accurate, albeit opinion

13: Next justification:

Whereas Iraq’s demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

- The capability, willingness and risk has already been discussed above.
The magnitude of the harm of such an attack would depend on the nature of the attack, of course.

Conclusion: Accurate, still

14: Next justification:

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 (1990) and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 (1991), and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949 (1994);

- Simply a recitation of relevant documents.
Review 678, 660, 687, 688 or 949to verify.

Conclusion: Accurate

15: Next justification:

Whereas in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1), Congress has authorized the President ‘to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolution 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677′;

Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it ‘supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),’ that Iraq’s repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and ‘constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,’ and that Congress, ‘supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688′;

Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support effortsto remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

- A citation of the 1991 authorization and for war against Iraq, a supporting resolution, and the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.
Review transcript of authorization here, supporting resolution here, and the Iraq Liberation Act here.

Conclusion: Accurate

16: Next justification:

Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to ‘work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge’ posed by Iraq and to ‘work for the necessary resolutions,’ while also making clear that ‘the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable’;

- A citation of a speech given by Bush, to the UN, on September 12th, 2002.
It is important to note that Bush made it clear that we were not just dedicating ourselves to renewed inspections, or renewed negotiations, but to actual action….either on Iraq’s part, or, absent that, our own.

Some now claim the October 2002 resolution was just a profession of “support for the Security Councils decisions”….one should remind them of this speech, nearly a month ahead of that resolution, in which Bush said “But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced — the just demands of peace and security will be met — or action will be unavoidable.”
It was clear to everybody that the only outcome was full and immediate compliance. It was for Iraq, alone, to decide whether that would be voluntary or forced compliance.

Conclusion: Accurate

17: Next justification

Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

- Two controversial statements herein:

a: Iraq’s “development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire…”
- This had been going on throughout the inspections of the 90s, and continued thereafter, according to the Kay report, which notes “ISG teams are uncovering significant information – including research and development of BW-applicable organisms, the involvement of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) in possible BW activities, and deliberate concealment activities” and “…ISG teams have developed multiple sources that indicate that Iraq explored the possibility of CW production in recent years, possibly as late as 2003.”

b: “it is in the national security interests of the United States…”
- One might argue whether this is true, but this must be a decision made by those given responsibility to make that call. And did they decide such was the case?

The President, CIA, UN, and Congress have all affirmed this decision, in variousstatements, UN resolutions and Congressional resolutions.
One may disagree with their judgments, but their authority was clear and due process was followed.

Conclusion: Accurate

18: Next justification:

Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

- A citation of the Congressional authorizationfor the war on terror.

Note: Authorization includes those responsible for 9/11, but is not exclusive to those responsible.
Iraq, per preceding citations, was unequivocally a supporter of terrorism.

Conclusion: Accurate

19: Next justification:

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40);

- A citation of the previous authorizations.

Conclusion: Accurate

20: Next justification:

Whereas it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region:”

- One can hardly argue that a peaceful Middle-East would not be in our national security interests.

President Clinton and Congress certainly believed Iraq constituted a threat when they passed Public Law 105-235, which stated “…Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threaten vital United States interests and international peace and security”.

President Clinton and Congress even voted to “support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”

Again, one may argue that this potential threat was not the case today, but the figures tasked with making that determination decided differently.

Conclusion: Accurate

Final Conclusions:
The inescapable conclusion is that, with the sole exception of the claim that Iraq was “actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability”, the justification for war was completely accurate. And that claim has yet to besettled either way.

No facts subsequent to the war have proven any of the official justifications false.

Even the nuclear claim may be described as accurate depending on the extent to which Iraq is alleged to have “sought” the capability.

Me again: not only do I agree with the above assessment, I don’t even see wiggle-room whereby an informed and rational opinion can be held on the other side. You can say the above-given reasons are insufficient to justify the war, but you cannot say that the reasons were not given. Each one of these was propounded over and over again ad nauseam in the public press.

But let us say for the sake of argument that the entire war was hatched as a scheme for some sinister and ulterior purpose, such as to distract attention from the president’s coming impeachment, or to seize control of the world oil supplies in Alaska, or because the Moon People are controlling Area 51. Let us grant as moonbatty an assumption as you can find on the Internet.

Still. Let’s be serious. They voted in Iraq. It is a frivolous matter (for those who argue consequences justify deeds) to argue that the consequences in this case are regrettable because the administration had the wrong state of mind.

Still. They voted in Iraq. Let’s be serious.  The American soldier gave those women a chance to vote.

Now, granted, it all might blow up in their faces, and it surely will if we pull out now and abandon them to the death camps. It was only a vote or two. Or three. In bigger numbers than the last election in America. While the war with Saddam ended years ago, the war with the Jihadists will continue as long as they have hope and resources.

Our side will prevail if we do not run out of hope first. What do we need for hope? We need people to cheer for our side.

What should we say to our Leftist friends who can give only grudging love, or none at all, either to their own country, or to the people we saved?

Let me quote another who speaks more simply, and more from the heart, than I.

http://youtube.googleapis.com/v/LrhsZ9IgzxQ&rel=1

About John C Wright

John C. Wright is a practicing philosopher, a retired attorney, newspaperman, and newspaper editor, and a published author of science fiction. Once a Houyhnhnm, he was expelled from the august ranks of purely rational beings when he fell in love; but retains an honorary title.
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51 Responses to I cannot believe we are still having this discussion

  1. oscillon says:

    Man, that’s a long post. I have to submit a motion to delay.
    I can only answer this part tonight.
    “The implication here seems to be (I am not sure I get his point) that since the “promote democracy” argument was not argued vehemently at first, therefore the democracy in Iraq does not count as really “real”. He is intellectually aware of it, in some distant, numb way, but that is not where the spotlight of his reason and passion are focused: the spotlight is on Bush and Cheney, whom he regards as sinister figures, and he says these public figures were obviously not sincere in their desire to go to war for the right reasons, so we must not trust them now. Freeing people doesn’t “count” unless your motives were too pure to be slandered from the get-go. Or something…”

    I said, nor do I think I implied, any such thing. I am 100% for democracy in Iraq. No reservation. My comment was purely about the fact that it is not strange that people do not trust the administration and therefore, they look at the current message with skepticism. My point is that the administration used deceptive methods to convince the public (we can argue about the the accuracy of that later). That in no way implies that I care more about the deception than the sucessful outcome of the venture.

    “he says these public figures were obviously not sincere in their desire to go to war for the right reasons, so we must not trust them now”
    I think this goes to the point. I do not trust them. In my opinion, they are not trustworthy on this and many other matters. To not trust someone does not mean I would do the opposite of what they are telling me. It means I put little stock in thier statements. I get my evidence elsewhere. I may very well come to the same conclusion and go the same way.

    I do not think I in any shape or form, implied that I do not agree that democracy would be a good thing to take hold in Iraq. The fact that I post a comment about deceptive messenging breeding skepticism does not mean “that spotlight of my reason and passion are focused” on this. Just because someone comments on a particular aspect of an issue, does not in any way imply that it is the most important issue. If I could have sucess in Iraq only if it proves everything they said is right, I would take the deal in a second. The two are on different orders of magnitude.

    • oscillon says:

      Some seriously bad grammer and typos in that. I assume you can read around them.

    • jordan179 says:

      But the Administration did list bringing democracy to Iraq as one of their motives for the war, and they did in fact bring democracy to Iraq, as Iraq is now ruled by a democracy which would not have existed had we not invaded and overthrown Saddam by force. In other words, they were right on this issues.

      How does the fact that Al Qaeda and Iran have invaded Iraq and murdered lots of Iraqis prove them wrong?

    • admin says:

      Displacement

      “I do not think I in any shape or form, implied that I do not agree that democracy would be a good thing to take hold in Iraq.”

      Perhaps I misunderstood you, but in the context of the conversation, I cannot see how the misunderstanding could be avoided. Here is my recollection of the conversation to date:

      1. I asked why the Left does not celebrate victory in Iraq; 2. Arvan replied that we should not celebrate victory over an enemy we created by invading Iraq; 3. rather that argue with his evil moonbattery, I merely asked in return why the Left does not celebrate the victory of Democracy in Iraq, no matter its origin. 4. You replied that you do not trust the administration, giving as your reason a patently (and offensively) false statement, namely, that the administration did not have the salvation of Iraq as one of its goals. 5. I asked you why, despite that, you were not celebrating the victory of democracy in Iraq? Why aren’t you cheering? 6. You said you do indeed support democracy in Iraq.

      Fine. Let us say I misunderstood you. I will now ask a completely different and new question: Let us suppose for the sake of argument that George Bush is a combination of Doctor Doom, Emmanuel Goldstein, the Antichrist, Stalin, Doctor Evil and James of Team Rocket. He is the epitome of all earthly evil.

      The Antichrist now intends to involve the United States in an utterly pointless war with Iran. Let us just say. As an inevitable side-effect of that utterly pointless war, the Iranian people will be freed from oppression, and a democracy will be attempted there, as it is being attempted in Iraq.

      I call the attempt to democratize Iraq inevitable because not even Doctor Evil could make the American soldier or the American press support the imposition of an imperial military governor or even the support of a local strong man, not until after democracy had been attempted. Agreed?

      So: let us suppose (1) The administration is lying to get us into a war and (2) the Iranians will get a chance to vote. I would cheer for that.

      Would you?

      If not, why not?

      The alternative is (1) President Hillary chides Iran and does nothing, but does nothing truthfully, avoiding open war and (2) The Iranians continue to languish beneath the whips and chains, the secret police and torture cells of their tyrants. I would not cheer for that.

      Would you?

      If so, why?

      I just do not understand the psychology involved. I don’t understand why the allegedly patriotic Left is on the side of people who stone women to death for wearing makeup, throw gays off rooftops, smash printing presses, and who hate all of you with an unappeasable hatred.
      Someone who says she understands the psychology involved calls it a displacement syndrome: http://drsanity.blogspot.com/2005/11/lets-discuss-bush-derangement-syndrome.html

      Her theory — the Left cannot face the pain of 9/11, and they dare not criticize the terrorists who have (successfully) terrorized them, and so they turn to criticize Bush, who has done them no harm, but whom they can insult without consequences.

      Meanwhile, this hated and allegedly dishonest Mr. Bush has awarded a medal to a brave Cuban suffering years of persecution at the hands of Castro. Thi is something a damn sight more honest than the fawning on Castro, and the lies about Cuba, routinely embraced by the Left.

      http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=/ForeignBureaus/archive/200710/INT20071030b.html

      So — the only effective force for democracy in the world these days is America, and, for whatever reason, the Left is not cheering for it. Why? When asked, the replies are frivolous and lighthearted beyond the psychological norm: as if a man protested the English war with the Nazis on the grounds that Churchill had not been sufficiently anti-German during the Great War.

      • oscillon says:

        Re: Displacement

        I would cheer for the Iranians. Then I would demand the impeachment of the President.
        You seem to be proposing that the ends justify the means. The problem is that it is a short sighted strategy. You won’t get a second chance. Everyone will know you’re a liar and won’t support you when you try it a second time. There are more than one or two dictatorships in the world. You need a strategy that will actually work in the long haul.
        Also, what happens when the Iranians start shooting at you after you knock off their dictator? They know you’re a liar, why should they believe your protestations that you’re only there to free them and you will leave when the shooting stops. If I were them, I would believe you were there for the oil. We’re only speaking hypothetically here, right?

        • oscillon says:

          Re: Displacement

          (And why don’t I get emails anymore when there is a reply to a post?)

        • admin says:

          Re: Displacement

          I am glad you would cheer for the Iranians. No, I am not advocating that the ends should justify the means, which is merely the dictionary definition of evil. I am asking you to get your priorities straight. Bombing cities at night by air during World War Two was a bad thing, clean against the laws and usages of war, but Hitler was a worse thing. To me, the evil of Hitlerism seems immediate, and the evil of the aerial bombing seems remote.

          To you, the evil your wrongly and with stubborn stupidity attribute to the current administration seems immediate, and the evil of Saddam seems remote. Unlike aerial bombing, we are not talking about a real evil: your claim was that the administration did not make clear the justifications for war, or did not do so in the proper order, or which the proper emphasis. I have cited the public documents refuting your assertion. The war justifications are not a matter of opinion: they are a matter of legal record.

          I could understand, even if I respectfully disagreed with, a pacifist who thought it would be better for Hitler to rule Europe than that a single English soldier should take a single innocent German life. I understand the philosophy and the values involved. I could not understand a sulking, sneering protester against the war whose argument was that Churchill had not given as sufficiently stirring speech over the radio explaining the Casus Beli to him, or that the several reasons given by Churchill were in the wrong order, and with insufficient emphasis. Why, at the beginning of the war, we were all talking about Poland! Now, we are all talking about France!

          I don’t understand the Left. I don’t understand your values or your psychology.

          • watermelonyo says:

            I don’t understand the Left.

            I can certainly agree with that! The problem is that what you think of as “the Left” exists only as a self-contradictory strawman you have constructed in your mind. It does not represent actual people.

        • jordan179 says:

          Re: Displacement

          I would cheer for the Iranians.

          You would want a system based on religious fundamentalism, and the oppression of women, homosexuals, and religious dissidents to triumph?

          Gee, too bad we won World War II. A system very much like the one you claim you’d cheer for would have triumphed, if only we wouldn’t have intervened.

      • oscillon says:

        Re: Displacement

        “American soldier or the American press support the imposition of an imperial military governor or even the support of a local strong man”

        Do the names, Hosni Mubarak, Fulgencio Batista, The Shah of Iran, King Fahd, Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein, etc. etc. etc. ring a bell?

        • admin says:

          Re: Displacement

          In the hypothetical, we are a assuming a boots-on-the-ground war. None of those local strongmen were emplaced as American military governors after we displaced the previous regime. Do you actually think the American public would stand for an invasion followed by an imperial governorship? If that is what you think of us, then there is no hypothetical to discuss.

        • admin says:

          Re: Displacement

          Beats me, friend. I have not changed the settings on the livejournal.

      • oscillon says:

        Re: Displacement

        I love the other recipient of the Medal of Freedon, Henry Hyde.
        “There are things in the Constitution that have been overtaken by events, by time. Declaration of war is one of them. There are things no longer relevant to a modern society. Why declare war if you don’t have to? We are saying to the President, use your judgment. So, to demand that we declare war is to strengthen something to death. You have got a hammerlock on this situation, and it is not called for. Inappropriate, anachronistic, it isn’t done anymore”
        Strict constructionism indeed.

        • admin says:

          Re: Displacement

          My main objection to this war is that it was not declared by Congress. I regard that as more offensive to morals, to honor and to simple decency than any other single aspect of the war.

          • oscillon says:

            Re: Displacement

            If we are talking about “main” objections, I would list them this way:
            1. No draft. Some of those guys are on the 4th tour of duty in Iraq.
            2. No declaration of war. I don’t agree with Ron Paul on a lot of things, but this speach has a lot of food for thought. http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2002/cr100302.htm
            In general, the part I agree with most strongly is that without a declaration of war, the executive branch ends up “owning” the war. When things get tough, we end up with silly arguments from senators about what they meant when they voted for an authorization of force bill. They can vote without assuming responsibility.
            3. The decision to “do it on the cheap” by sending minimum forces that were plenty for the early stage but insuficient to hold the ground.

            The common thread here is that the government (admin and congress) wanted to go to war. But they did not make a clear, full, and open commitment. War requires commitment.

    • wlinden says:

      Actually, I think the implied premise to “Our [meaning Their] REAL reasons were greedy/Machievellian/discreditable” is that if something leads to benefit to US interests, THEREFORE it should not be done.

      This would also explain the prevailing silence over involvement in Uganda, where there is no visible gain to the US.

  2. mentalguy says:

    The reason the House’s resolution is seldom brought up in these discussions is because it’s distinct to the case that the Executive branch made to the public. There is some overlap (for instance the threat of Iraq deploying WMD against its neighbors or our personnel), but notably the House resolution makes no attempt at rhetorical linkage between 9/11 and Saddam’s government, which was (at least as I remember it) a conspicuous feature of the White House’s pitch to the public.

    Of the reasons given in the resolution, I think Iraq’s persistent violation of the ceasefire (up to and including the attempted assassination of a former head of state) is both the gravest cause for resumed war and an entirely sufficient one, which makes the administration’s emphasis in the case it presented to the public all the more unfortunate.

    • admin says:

      My recollection disagrees with yours. I recall the Administration and the right-leaning press repeating, over and over and over, the justifications for the war, which match the resolution given above. I recall the left-leaning press, at the same time, criticizing the administration for saying Saddam was responsible for 9-11, something the administration never said.

      • mentalguy says:

        With respect to claims about Saddam and 9/11 specifically, I remember Cheney persistently saying things like:

        If we’re successful in Iraq, if we can stand up a good representative government in Iraq, that secures the region so that it never again becomes a threat to its neighbors or to the United States, so it’s not pursuing weapons of mass destruction, so that it’s not a safe haven for terrorists, now we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11. (full interview)

        Phrasing it this way is inviting misunderstanding at a time when polls were showing that a large proportion of Americans believed that Saddam’s government was party to the 9/11 plot and that some of the attackers were Iraqi. I remember both left-leaning and right-leaning press choosing to focus on this issue; on the right-leaning side I’d see things like:

        Extraordinarily rare is a figure like Dick Cheney, who as Secretary of Defense, supported the decision to end the 1991 war with Saddam still in power, but after the 9/11 attacks was prepared to recognize the evidence suggesting an Iraqi role in those attacks and memorably remarked that it was rare in history to be able to correct a mistake like that. (full article)

        People in the Administration certainly did make cases on points in the House resolution as well (Cheney touches on some of them even in the quote above). The problem is primarily one of emphasis, but it was unfair of me to assign blame to the Executive branch alone. Our recollections could easily differ if you were reading better quality right-leaning media than I was four years ago.

        • admin says:

          Why don’t they cheer when they see oppressed people freed, and freed people vote?

          I respectfully disagree. You are claiming the statement is unclear, even deliberately unclear.

          The sentence says that if we can (A) erect a democracy in Iraq (note the emphasis) the region with cease to be a threat to (1) the United States and (2) its neighbors (by which he means primarily Israel, but Iraq also invaded Kuwait and had ambitions all over the region).

          The sentence goes on to say (B) Iraq, once conquered, will cease to pursue weapons of mass destruction.

          And it says (C) Iraq will no longer be a safe haven to terrorists

          And it says terrorists have had us under assault for many years now, especially on 9/11.

          It does not say Saddam sent the planes into the Twin Towers. Phrasing it that way does not invite misunderstanding, not to someone who reads the sentence.

          Indeed, this seems to be to be strong evidence for my case that the same several reasons were given over and over again. Point A given above is paragraph 7 in the document that was not a declaration of war but should have been. Point B is paragraph 8. Point C paragraph 5.

          Since there was an official reason and justification given, written into law as an official document, we have no real margin for a counterargument. The reasons given above were the real reasons we went to war, no matter what the press said, no matter what the public thought. It is a matter of record. I cannot believe we are still having this discussion.

          You and I no doubt saw different media, and interpreted the emphasis differently.

          What I saw, and what I recall, was justifications for war that, for the first time in history combined the pragmatic arguments favored by the Right with the progressive revolutionary idealism favored by the Left. it was the first time in history the Leftist notion that force should be used to halt oppression, spread democracy, free women, and so on also had the very pragmatic argument that our national honor could not, after 9-11, tolerate a tinhat dictator to continue to defy us, shoot at our planes, and fund terrorism in Israel, invade his neighbors, toy with a nuclear program.

          What I recall next will live in the annals of shame for our nation for as long as we continue as a nation, which, I fear, will not be long. (Nations suffering the political equivalent to senile dementia do not last long.)

          What I recall next is that the Left, without a trace of maturity, sobriety, shame, or attention to facts, leaped into a clownish anti-war posture, and tried to revive the glory days of Vietnam. The Left simply and completely embraced treason, not just to the United States, and to Western Civilization, but to all humanity, and wished that the suffering people in Iraq should die under the tortures of Saddam, rather than that we should unseat him. It was one of the most heartless things, and the most craven, I have ever seen, merely wishing so many brown people into nonpersonhood.

          At the same time, the Left degraded the polite standard of discourse rapidly to the Al Frankin level. They collectively put their fingers in their ears and screamed. Serious political debate in the nation is over.

          I have not recovered from the shock and I doubt I ever will. The Left betrayed everything it once stood for. Even the short-sighted and degraded ideals of the socialists, the progressives, those who cry after so-called social justice were all abandoned without a tear or trace of shame.

          There must be some well-meaning people on the Left who are as appalled as I am by the embrace of this anti-war lunacy, at the expense of democracy, liberty, equality. I am waiting for them to shout down, or even to criticize, this nakedly evil and abhorrent course on which their party is embarked. I am waiting for them to sing their silly songs about revolution and social justice, and to stop advising preemptive surrender to an inferior, vile and dishonorable foe.

          Why are they supporting dictators? Why don’t they cheer when they see oppressed people freed, and freed people vote? Aren’t these people real to them?

          0024

          0006

          • oscillon says:

            Re: Why don’t they cheer when they see oppressed people freed, and freed people vote?

            “The Left simply and completely embraced treason, not just to the United States, and to Western Civilization, but to all humanity, and wished that the suffering people in Iraq should die under the tortures of Saddam, rather than that we should unseat him. It was one of the most heartless things, and the most craven, I have ever seen, merely wishing so many brown people into nonpersonhood. “

            Hmmm…. anyone who is for leaving is treasonous. I suppose that extends to the soldiers on the ground.
            “The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.”

            http://zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1075

            (I’m not for leaving, just commenting on your logic here)

            • admin says:

              Re: Why don’t they cheer when they see oppressed people freed, and freed people vote?

              If logic is your concern, avoid the straw man argument. I did not say “The Left advocated leaving Iraq; anyone who advocates leaving Iraq is a traitor; therefore the Left are traitors.” What I said was, “The Left simply and completely embraced treason, not just to the United States, and to Western Civilization, but to all humanity, and wished that the suffering people in Iraq should die under the tortures of Saddam, rather than that we should unseat him.”

              I am speaking here of the thousand things they did before, during, and after the war against Saddam, and which they continue to do during operations against the Jihadists.

              These people are not real to you. Their suffering is not real; the good we did by overthrowing their vile dictator is not real to you.

              My reluctant and shocked conclusion is that the Left does not actually believe in revolution and progress, breaking chains, freeing workers, equality for woman, all the rest. All the stuff you and yours have been saying to the world for a century and a half: all lies.

              • jordan179 says:

                Re: Why don’t they cheer when they see oppressed people freed, and freed people vote?

                My reluctant and shocked conclusion is that the Left does not actually believe in revolution and progress, breaking chains, freeing workers, equality for woman, all the rest. All the stuff you and yours have been saying to the world for a century and a half: all lies.

                There was a time when the Left did believe in these things. But the long corruption of the Left by the Comintern and KGB during the 20th century, and the utter failure of socialist ideas to produce economic or social progress, has led Leftists to become nihilists. They no longer believe that they can achieve anything great enough to capture the human imagination and thus gain control over society; their only hope now is that the Right, and “bourgeois” capitalist culture in general, will fail so spectacularly that the people will turn to the Left out of desperation.

                Compare the vision of the (Fabian, later Technocratic) H. G. Wells and the (openly Stalinist at points) Futurians to the rabid Luddism of the modern Left. It’s sad to see greatness so declined, like a lover of Classical Rome watching Fascist Italy.

          • mentalguy says:

            Re: Why don’t they cheer when they see oppressed people freed, and freed people vote?

            I respectfully disagree. You are claiming the statement is unclear, even deliberately unclear.

            Yes.

            And it says terrorists have had us under assault for many years now, especially on 9/11. It does not say Saddam sent the planes into the Twin Towers.

            The last portion of the sentence appears to name Iraq as the base of the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. I do not think anyone who knew otherwise would read the sentence that way, but it is a possible reading.

            Phrasing it that way does not invite misunderstanding, not to someone who reads the sentence.

            It is problematic if the audience is predisposed to the reading that Saddam (Iraq) was behind 9/11 in particular, rather than just sponsoring terrorism. Cheney made that particular statement about a week after the widely publicised poll which indicated that 70% of the US public believed Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks, so at best his phrasing represents carelessness on his part.

            Indeed, this seems to be to be strong evidence for my case that the same several reasons were given over and over again. Point A given above is paragraph 7 in the document that was not a declaration of war but should have been. Point B is paragraph 8. Point C paragraph 5.

            I noted this in the post you replied to (“Cheney touches on some of [the points in the resolution] even in the quote above”). Also note that in my original post I described the problem as one of emphasis (i.e. rather than omission).

            The argument I’m trying to make is narrow: given the popular mood at the time, Cheney was either persistently careless in his language, or he was playing slimy rhetorical games. Either way, the proposition that Saddam’s role in 9/11 was a cause for war came to dominate public discourse, so that is one reason why the house resolution is often ignored (it is immediately relevant to why our government went to war, but less so to why the public supported that action).

            Now, my opinion has changed in four important respects since my original post as I’ve heard your argument and researched more:

            1. this appears to have been an issue with Cheney more than with the administration as a whole
            2. the house resolution reflects well the reasoning given by the administration as a whole
            3. the press deserves much of the blame for the version of the administration’s case that actually reached the public
            4. my experience of conservative media was not entirely representative

            With respect to the second point, while I do think Cheney deserves criticism (whether for carelessness or duplicity), criticism of his ambiguous statements earned them far more attention than they deserved, to the exclusion of reporting on clearer statements made by him and other members of the administration. If Cheney is responsible for creating the public misconception about Iraq’s role in 9/11 and the administration’s reasons for war, the press is at least as complicit.

            None of this has relevance to arguments about whether we should remain in Iraq. Even if we suppose that we went to war under an entirely false pretext, it seems to me that we have an obligation at this point to aid the establishment of a functioning democracy, rather than simply abandoning the Iraqi people to the Islamist wolves that would immediately fill the power vacuum otherwise.

            Regarding the Left in general: the problem is that the Left hit bottom during the Vietnam era with the likes of Hanoi Jane, and never came up for air. Even revolutionary idealism is beyond it now. I think does a pretty good job of explaining why.

            I’ll save my comments on the remaining points for when they arise in other posts/threads.

  3. zac_wight says:

    I think that it would be more how the justifications were presented to the general public rather than the justifications that were passed by congress that would be the problem.

    What I remember from conversations was that the majority of people I knew believed that Iraq was going to have nuclear weapons within a couple of years if we didn’t invade. Also that Saddam was was directly helping Al Qaeda.

    I would say that the degree to witch this was certain was mis-represented. Also that the ease of resolution to the conflict was estimated or represented too optimistically.

    I would say that we did give them the opportunity to vote, but that we have done so to the detriment of our immediate national stability. Of course we could bounce back quickly… but we wont know that until it happens.

    • admin says:

      organized mass-self-delusion

      My recollection is that these justifications were presented to the public ad nauseum, but that the left newspapers simply continued to act as if nothing had been said. The administration and the congress and the press would report the reasons given for the invasion, over and over and over (They were, in order: Saddam’s breech of the cease fire; Saddam’s unwillingness to prove his nerve gas stockpiles were destroyed; to free the Iraqi people) and the Leftist press would “reply” by saying that no connection had been proved between 9/11 and Saddam.

      It was an organized mass-self-delusion of an unprecedented scale. Half the nation simply did one of those things you see Lucy Ricardo do in a sit-com, when an arguing wife pretends she cannot see or hear her husband. It was, and still is, remarkable to me.

      I recall the same tactic used during the Clinton years. The Right would say that the president should not perjure himself or suborn perjury, and the Left would “reply” that the Right should not have so many sexual hang-ups, and then not answer the comment about perjury.

      • oscillon says:

        Re: organized mass-self-delusion

        My recollection is that the administration did use the reasons you state. They were not getting anywhere near enough support to get congress to authorize an invasion. Then after 9/11, they juxtaposed Iraq and Al Qaeda at every opportunity. No paragraph could mention one without the other. Not in a way that said Saddam did it, that’s true. But the association was intentional. It was a tranference propaganda technique. The press was not the one making the connection originally, the administration was in speaches. The press was asking for proof of statements made in speaches.
        It was this association that got them enough public support to start the war.
        You and I may agree on many of the other reasons stated, but those reasons did not generate enough support prior to 9/11.
        My original statement really is to that point. I think people have watched as one after another of the administration’s major figures have backed off the Iraq/Al Qaeda connection post invasion (with the exception of Cheney) In addition, most of the supposedly neutral reports (Defense department Inspector general’s report, 9/11 report) have said there was no material connection. People feel like they were tricked. I don’t find it surprising that they don’t trust the same messenger.
        I will support any achievable plan we can come up with that results in thee Iraqi’s getting the government they deserve. I will not support abandoning them to thier fate. With the track record of this administration on coming up with realistic plans and executing them, I would look elsewhere for an answer.
        In order to support those women, it is not enough to cheerlead the people that have proven they are incompetant. It is not the complaints from the wacky far left that have resulted in the current situation, it is incompetence. Somewhere between 100,000 and a million of those nice folks in the pictures are dead. Blind loyalty to the Bush administration will not help those women.

  4. gryphmon says:

    “How does the fact that Al Qaeda and Iran have invaded Iraq and murdered lots of Iraqis prove them wrong?”

    Al Qaeda and Iran for the most part did not “invade” Iraq. Their presence was gladly welcomed and invited in by Shiite and Sunni extremists to kill the infidels.

    I supported the war, but re-writing history isn’t going to help make anything better there now.

    • superversive says:

      The Red Army was similarly ‘invited’ into Afghanistan in 1979, but nobody shies from speaking of the following military operation as a Soviet invasion.

      If you cross a country’s border with a large military or paramilitary force, and begin shooting people in large numbers, it’s an invasion in my books no matter who invited you.

      • jordan179 says:

        If you cross a country’s border with a large military or paramilitary force, and begin shooting people in large numbers, it’s an invasion in my books no matter who invited you.

        And, before anyone brings this up, yes the French did invade Great Britain’s North American colonies during the American Revolutionary War. They did not, however, invade the United States of America. One of the differences between the French conduct in the American Revolution and the Iranian conduct in the Iraqi War is that the French did not attempt to remain against the will of the American people.

        Oh yeah, and there’s the whole feeding sons to their fathers bit. That is Al Qaeda cuisine, not in the French culinary tradition.

    • jordan179 says:

      Al Qaeda and Iran for the most part did not “invade” Iraq. Their presence was gladly welcomed and invited in by Shiite and Sunni extremists to kill the infidels.

      Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed forces entered Iraq without the permission of the Iraqi government, in order to carry out violent attacks against Iraq and seize control of Iraqi territory. This fits the normal definition of an “invasion.” The Iraqis who welcomed them in were acting against the democratically elected Iraqi national government.

      Also, very notably, now that the Iraqis want the Al Qaeda Arabs and Iranian backed guerillas to leave Iraq, they are refusing to leave.

      I supported the war, but re-writing history isn’t going to help make anything better there now.

      I support the war, and we are winning it, in part becuase the Iraqis themselves are coming to see the difference between a foreign liberator who will leave when asked (ourselves) and foreign invaders who pose as liberators (Al Qaeda and Iraq).

      In the end, it is this epiphany on the part of the Iraqi people that will help make things better there in the future :)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Open Fire by Paul W. Schroeder

    Open Fire: The U.S. needlessly inflamed Iraq in the vain hope of sparking a democratic revolution. We got an inferno instead.

    http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_09_24/feature.html

    by Paul W. Schroeder
    The American Conservative
    September 24, 2007 Issue

    … In Iraq, military conquest and armed occupation by Western forces were supposed quickly to produce a liberal, constitutional, democratic state with a free-market economy and a strong, stable civil society. Parts of the West, including the United States, have now more or less achieved these goals—but only through an historical process that, ignoring its roots in ancient Greece and Rome, took about a thousand years and involved numerous stages—medieval constitutionalism; the administered police (i.e. social discipline) state; the constitutional Rechtsstaat; the parliamentary state, liberal-representative but not democratic; and finally, liberal-constitutional democracy. The evolution involved deep, wrenching social, economic, intellectual, and cultural changes—religious reformation, class struggle, scientific discovery, technological innovation, massive developments in education, literacy, and the growth of a public sphere, industrialization, modernization, urbanization, and so on. It was tortuous, convoluted, and twisted almost beyond belief, full of blind alleys and wrong turns, choked with violence, war, imperialism, and revolution, marked by as many defeats and failures as victories and advances, costly and dangerous, with numerous times when the process seemed hopelessly stalled or defeated. Yet we proposed to bring about this transformation in Iraq through one short easy war. What were we thinking?

    This is not to say, as some do, that Iraqis, Arabs, Muslims in general, or other non-Westerners cannot achieve liberal-constitutional representative democratic government because their religion, culture, ideology, values, and history render them unfit. I consider that view profoundly mistaken, if not a lie. Nor does this imply that non-Westerners can learn nothing from the Western experience. It is full of lessons, positive and negative, for West and East alike. I am saying only that if Iraqis and others are to gain the blessings of freedom and democracy, they cannot get them this way.

    Even more pertinent, they cannot acquire them at our hands. Americans, especially in this administration, seem oblivious to the disconnect between the characteristics and persona of America as a country and people and the ideals it supposedly pursues in Iraq. The U.S. is Western; it is imperialist in the sense of leading Western expansion into the non-Western world; it is overwhelmingly Christian, strongly pro-Israel, individualistic, and materialist in spirit, culture, and lifestyle; it is capitalist, rich, and extremely powerful. Unlike other American traits like self-preoccupation, provincialism, and widespread ignorance of other peoples’ languages, culture, and history, these are basic American characteristics that we will not change, and in many respects should not want to. Collectively, however, they disqualify America from being a direct agent of the fundamental changes we are trying to promote in Iraq or the Arab and Muslim worlds. The United States is an alien presence in that world, and a highly intrusive one, with bases, fleets, capital, and corporations, an invasive and subversive culture, and now an occupying Army. It is not merely the way the United States has conducted itself in Iraq that has fomented resistance and turned it into a breeding ground for more Islamic terrorism. It is the simple fact that being what we are, we are there at all.

  6. Robert Mitchell Jr says:

    Given the current Libyan mess, and the utter silence from the Left about it, this post is a terribly sad record of how dishonest the Left is…….

  7. Off-topic: I just put together a rough draft of a Choose Your Own Adventure-style dialogue on the issue of abortion. It’s pretty comprehensive, or as much as I could make it.

    Anyone here up for proofreading? (Playtesting?)

  8. I have done a great deal of reading about history, particularly American wars. The sum total of wars in which the US has engaged which were “about oil” consists of, at the most generousl, 3.

    1) World War II –> Hitler and the Japanese militarists explicitly stated access to resources, including oil, as a casus belli. This was NOT the reason the Americans, Russians, or British went to war (we had plenty), but certainly oil stimulated the fascists to action. So while about oil, at some level, the US was not complicit.

    2) The Gulf War 1991 –> Iraq invaded Kuwait to steal its oil. We intervened to prevent the oil theft. Clearly this war was all about oil. Those who disapprove of the US intervention then I imagine must believe that either the world would have been better off if Iraq controlled more oil, or feel that the dozens of American deaths outweighed the potential thousands of Kuwaiti deaths.

    3) The Iraq War 2001 –> arguably about oil. I don’t think it was, but then I am a Jacksonian barbarian.

    In fact if the British are still thinking that America goes to war over oil, they are basing this on 2 conflicts only, at least one of which was not instigated by the USA. I think there is no doubt that the US would have remained at peace in 1990-91 if Iraq had not taken its actions. This does not speak well of English political savvy.

    In another Should-Be-Obvious side notes. If the US only cares about oil, why do we support Israel? That has done nothing but hurt our oil policy?

    Also note that from 2001 to 2012, the American-produced proportion of our own oil has risen from 40% to 70%, and it looks like within a decade we will become an oil EXPORTER. So for all our supposed Wars For Oil, we have not managed to get much foreign oil. Our companies are emphasizing domestic production instead of exploiting the poor Libyans and Syrians. What’s up with THAT?

    In summary, the English argument that America “tends to go to war for oil” is ludicrously false on the face of it.

  9. kjwkjw says:

    John, I loved the Golden Age Trilogy. I read it maybe 5 times and I thank you for creating them. But I’m surprised that you, as a christian, would back any war or use this type of language:

    “Our side will prevail if we do not run out of hope first. What do we need for hope? We need people to cheer for our side.”

    Our side? Cheer? Did not Jesus live a peaceful life and preach a message of peace and love for all? And what of his death? Did he resist when he knew he was to be arrested? No. He put up no resistance at all, accepted his fate and was brutally tortured and hung on a cross.

    And while he was dying on the cross, he prayed for the forgiveness of those who just had tortured him and murdered him.

    Jesus’ death was his final lesson, delivered in the most powerful way. One that goes over most people’s heads and that’s a shame. Life is but a blink of an eye, an illusion, compared with the everlasting afterlife. While you are here love each other no matter what, help each other no matter what and do no harm.

    I’m not a christian btw, I think it’s BS. But I respect Jesus and his life.

    • If you respect Jesus Christ, the real one, why do you not do as He says, be baptized, and serve Him? If you do not serve Him, on what grounds do you believe His servants do not know what He said or what those words meant, and that you do?

      Please ask St George, St Constantine, and the apostle St James the Moor-slayer if Christians are pacifists.

      • kjwkjw says:

        I just read things like the Sermon on the mount where he says stuff like:

        “offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.”

        and

        “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”

        And then I look at the way he died and the way he lived and put two and two together. I don’t give a rat’s behind what any of his followers have done. Or maybe I should go to church every sunday so some kid toucher in a robe and cape can feed me Jesus’ flesh and blood and then I’d understand his message better? That’s not crazy at all.

        And about Sadam, even if he was a threat to america, which is laughable, why would you be afraid? Are you afraid he’d blow us all up and you and your loved ones would go to everlasting paradise?

        Whatever happened to “thou shall not kill”?

        • I am amused at how tone-deaf the argument is for a Christ-hater who upbraids a true Christian for not being Christian enough.

          The Gospels have plenty of opportunity to preach pacifism, but the only thing ever said to the soldiers was for them to be content with their pay. This is in Luke 3:14. Christians are not pacifists, and never have been, nor were the Jews before them.

          I did not write the article given above. The religious belief of the man who wrote it is unknown to me. Logically, the argument stands or falls on its own merit.

          Ad hominem is the only argument the Left can ever give.

  10. Robert Mitchell Jr says:

    If you are trying to show that the Left is not dishonest here, “Heads I win, Tails you lose” is not the way to do it. Even so, I was not speaking of the physical intervention in Libya, I was pointing out that the Left, so concerned with process when we invaded Iran (“Where was the Declaration of War? Where were the WMD?”), as we see in the posts above, were quite silent about how we decided to invade Libya. Especially since Libya can actually be seen as a “War for Oil”, as opposed to the lies the Left marched to over Iraq. Where are the marches now?…..

  11. Robert Mitchell Jr says:

    Neither are Wife-beaters or Communists a specific body. There are women who enjoy being beaten by their men, and there are Jewish Communists. This does not stop us from “generalizing”, and certainly, the Left was quite quiet about the Libyan war. You hope to remake all of society, yet you can not tell the difference between a cake and a crumb……

    Deal with the plank in your eye before you help me with the splinter in mine. Before you lecture me on “bias”, look back on how many times you have brought up what you believe to be the English viewpoint (certainly I believe it is common for those on the British Left to speak of “Wars of Oil”, not England) up on this blog, one that is written by an American, dealing with American issues and politics. Perhaps it is those who try to bend an ongoing discussion to their comfort zone are the biased ones, yes? “New York Times: World to End Tomorrow! Women and Minorities hit hardest!”….

  12. Robert Mitchell Jr says:

    I’m not seeing them differ significantly. I see the very tepid reaction to Libya, and I compare it to the Riots over Iraq and the E.U “austerity” measures and I think I know which issues they actually care about.

    “Everyone who I have conversed in any depth with”? We are not conversing? You have not conversed with Mr. Wright? Neither of us have made that claim, so your claim is obviously false. I know where the phrase “War for Oil” comes from, and all you have done is show how well the Left’s propaganda has taken your community. Not good when you are trying to show that the Left is not a organized movement….

  13. John Hutchins says:

    I don’t know, Afghanistan doesn’t seem to have been about oil. Korea (still technically an ongoing conflict) doesn’t seem to have been about oil. The special forces operations in Africa doesn’t seem to have a thing to do with oil. The base realignments in the pacific can’t be considered to be about oil, although what it is about is not exactly clear (China?, Indonesia?, providing better beaches for the troops??, keeping stability in the ever unstable Australia???). I am sure the troops in South America are doing more than picking up hookers and while Brazil is becoming an oil powerhouse the troops aren’t in Brazil. The bases in Germany, western Europe, and Japan don’t seem to have anything to do with oil.

    But the case can certainly be made that Libya was in large part about oil, especially given similar situations where the US hasn’t cared to assist at all.

  14. JJ Brannon says:

    Let’s see, of Wars, Rebellions, and Other Military Actions…

    Revolutionary War — Definitely for oil.
    Early Amerindian Wars — oil
    Shay & Whiskey Rebellions — oil
    Barbary Pirates — oil
    War of 1812 — oil
    Late Amerindian Wars — oil
    Spanish & Mexican Wars — oil
    Japan & China — Possibly for oil, more likely coal.
    Civil War — oil
    Korean War — oil
    Colombia/Panama — oil [or a RR portage route, maybe a future canal passage; hard to tell]
    Spanish-American War — oil
    WWI — oil
    WWII — oil
    Greece — oil
    Berlin Airlift — oil
    2nd Korean War — oil
    Taiwan — oil
    Vietnam — oil [or maybe Domino Theory of Spheres of Influence]
    Egypt, Lebanon, & Haiti — oil
    Cuba — oil [or rum & cigars -- there are priorities!]
    DR, Congo, Cambodia, & Laos — oil
    Yom Kippur War — Israel’s oil
    Nicaragua — Wow! This might be for oil [and/or Domino Theory].
    Libya — when the US sent a fleet, shot down jets & confiscated all the Libyan oil.
    Lebanon — oil
    Grenada — oil
    Persian Gulf — potentially, oil, where US attacked oil rigs & Iranian mine-laying.
    Colombia, Bolivia, & Peru — oil or, maybe, drugs interdiction.
    Panama — oil
    More Persian Gulf — definitely oil or an invasion of ally, whichever floats your boat.
    Bosnia, Albania, Serbia, & Macedonia — oil
    Iraq — oil or removing a genocidal tyrant.
    Afghanistan — oil

    branabus — you’re right! I bow to your superior knowledge of history. Clearly America **tends** [your words] to go to war over oil.

    JJB

  15. “The Left is not, as yet, defined.”

    You are boasting of a victory here. I just had a conversation with a die hard pinko, who both solemnly assured me that he was a libertarian and not a liberal — a “libertarian” who hated venture capitalism and thinks it absurd that parents should send children to schools of their choice — and that the Second Amendment is in no danger, and that CNN is solidly rightwing.

    One of the victory conditions of your cult of anti-reason is to remove the words we use to identify things, since to identify socialism, nihilism, antinomianism, for what it is, that would be tantamount to robbing it of all its showy glamor, and the con game would be up.

    So preventing anyone from defining Lefty philosophy — if it can be called that — is one of the central efforts of the Left.

  16. First, let me say that you are a liar. You are both a despicable liar, and bad one, because you tell lies not even you believe.

    You know perfectly well that the Left has been defined many times, and that it represents a group of core concepts that do not change over time. You also know very well that you yourself are guilty of that which you with sneers accuse others of: Leftist cannot define the Right, except by lumping together their enemies, whether anarchists or libertarians or republicans or monarchists or national socialists or imperialists or economists, not one of which has any trait in common with the other, except that they all oppose your utopian folly. You see, I understand that the point of your comment is the sneer, not the content of the comment.

    Out of courtesy to my readers, I will repeat my definition which I have posted more than once, and which other writers, nearly every conservative who takes pen to paper, has also defined, in whole or part.

    Here is my definition.
    In Epistemology, the Leftist is a mystic who denies that he is a mystic.
    In Ethics, the Leftist seeks the abolition of standards of decency and self-control, particularly in the area of sex and reproduction. He is a sexual revolutionary.
    In Physics, the Leftist seeks to apply the findings of the physical sciences to areas where they do not belong, such as using Darwin to define human social relations, or using Einstein to support the idea that all ideas are relative. He says he is an empiricist, but he is really not. He merely uses the standards of empiricism to quell debate on topics not open to empirical investigation, so that ethics and economics and so on can be dismissed as unscientific without actually being examined.
    In Ontology, the Leftist does not actually believe in the real world, or that objects exist. He often doubts whether he himself exists. The Leftist is prone to Gnosticism.
    In Aesthetics, the Leftist yearns for the ugly and incoherent, gibberish in his poetry, distortion in his paintings, noise in his music.
    In Politics, the Leftist lusts for state control of the market, and ultimately of the minds of men: he is some variation of Socialist or Communist, but he rarely wishes to be called by those terms. He ascribes any differences of judgment or conclusion with himself to three causes: racism, sexism, and homophobia. Occasionally, he adds that you are a fascist. In sum, his politics consists of a lust for wealth he has not earned, and a hunger for control over your life and thought, and an accusation that you are a racist.
    In Semantics, the Leftist is unfailingly a nominalist: he believes words are arbitrary, merely labels applied to things as part of a power struggle. The meanings of words are something manmade, not something men discover.
    In Theology, the Leftist is vehemently anti-Christian, and his support of other faiths is proportionate to how well they can be used to oppose Christianity.
    In Logic, the Leftist is allured to anything that seems to undermine or erode classical logic; the Leftist prefers paradox to syllogism.
    In Metaphysics, the Leftist mouths self-contradictory statements, paradox, gibberish, and nonsense. An Leftist indeed can be defined as someone pretending to be a philosopher, but who cannot understand or follow a metaphysical argument.
    In person, the Leftist is someone stupider than you who tells you he is smarter than you, and his whole ego hangs by that one slender thread of unrealistic self-assessment, or, to use an older and clearer term, vainglory.

    Not all Leftists have all the traits, or, rather, these symptoms, in equal strengths. Different schools and schisms of the movement differ.

  17. wlinden says:

    You forgot Somalia. Well, it’s in north Africa, so that MUST have been about oil, and besides Everybody Knows that “we” (meaning They) only go to war over oil.

    I have also been told that the Falklands war was “obviously all about oil”.

  18. The OFloinn says:

    @wlinden:
    Surely. When one has a Theory, one sees confirmations everywhere. The Falklands War was All About Oil because, well, um, it’s all about oil. This evidently refers to the greedy desires of the quondam fascist junta in Buenos Aires who, after all, started the war.

    We were told back in the day that Vietnam was All About Oil and there were secret underground reservoirs waiting to be tapped. Evidently they were double-plus secret, since the Vietnamese have not tapped them in all the decades since.

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