History's Against Us in Iraq





Mr. Engelhardt is the author of The End of Victory Culture and co-editor of History Wars, The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past.

Empires invariably think that it's they who are bringing civilization and progress in their train and that only the barbarians, the terrorists, the bitter-enders resist for fear of being thrown onto that dust heap of history. But history is, as it turns out, filled to the brim with barbarians, terrorists, and bitter-enders, not to speak of enraged ordinary people who have seen their friends and relatives die, who feel the discomfort - which has only grown more psychologically unbearable over the last century -- of watching well-armed, well-paid foreigners walk with impunity across their lands. They do resist, exactly as Americans would. Afterwards perhaps they fall on each other's throats. Such things are unpredictable.

But in recent centuries, if empire - the Great Powers, the Great Game, Global Domination, the Great Rivalry, the Great Arms Race - has been the Great Theme of history, the less publicized but perhaps more powerful one has been resistance. Resistance everywhere to occupation of any sort. Resistance by forgotten millions (not all of them wonderful human beings). If you need to be convinced of this, just read Jonathan Schell's new book The Unconquerable World.

Sooner or later, regimes of occupation withdraw or collapse. Or both. In our times, it seems, ever sooner. Even the Soviet Union didn't make it past one long human lifetime. Of course, we've never been in a single hyperpower version of an imperial world before. But I think it might be possible to start into the subject of withdrawal from Iraq by saying one thing: There's a great deal of "hype" in that "hyperpower." American power has been distinctly over-hyped. The leaders of other countries have perhaps taken us too much at the Bush administration's overheated estimate of ourselves. Yes, our military can destroy much, quickly and from afar. Yes, we have the economic power to punish in various ways. Yes, you wouldn't want to find yourself in a dark alley or even a cul de sac with this administration in a bad mood. But being powerful and being all-powerful are two quite different things which the utopian dreamers of Bush's Washington have confused utterly - to their ultimate detriment I believe. Yes, militarily, our power is awesome and no other country can come close to matching it in conventional war settings. But it is most powerful withheld. As Iraq shows, once we commit ourselves to action, we are likely to find ourselves strangely overmatched. The irony here is that what an Iraqi military of 400,000 couldn't hope to do, relatively small groups of ill-armed men and women are doing.

Having taken Iraq, eager to nail down its resources, to establish an imperial "democracy" as well as a string of permanent military bases there, and then drive a policy dreamt up inside Washington's Beltway directly through the Middle East, the sole Great Power on this planet, issuing documents on Global Domination till the end of time, without a Great Rival, playing a Great Game with no one, and in an Arms Race of one (but still developing plans for ever higher-tech weaponry for future decades), nonetheless finds itself driven by a modest if growing resistance movement in Iraq. The president of the greatest power on Earth is being forced by events in "5% of Iraq" to call in his advisers for endless meetings, shake up the structure of his administration, hold sudden news conferences, offer new and ever more farfetched explanations of American actions, and backtrack on claims -- all because of Iraqi resistance.

I think one thing is predictable in a world where predicting anything accurately is a low-percentage bet: Sooner or later, the time of withdrawal will be upon us. Some of us would like it to be sooner, not later.

An antiwar movement shut down for months - but still emotionally in place - is now reconstituting itself and one of its demands is already for withdrawal, for an "end to the occupation," for "bringing our troops home." But this demand still has the feel of a slogan without particular resonance or content. Part of the reason for this is quite logical. Everyone knows to the point of despair that we - the antiwar movement, the anti-imperialists -- are not in control. They are and they don't want to leave. "We" will not withdraw from Iraq. They will, or they will feint at it anyway, but only under the pressure of impending catastrophe, literal or electoral. Withdrawal will not be directed by us or according to any plans the experts among us might draw up. Yes, we want this over. Except among military families, however, "bring our troops home" or "end the occupation" are at the moment are just feeble slogans, raised to put a little pressure on the administration.

Still, a demand is being made in the face of all those people who claim that we can't "cut and run," that we must "stay the course," that, whatever our thoughts about the war once were, we are all now somehow committed to an Iraqi occupation lest American "credibility" suffer grievous harm -- all statements that would have sounded no less credible, or incredible, nearly four decades ago when they were indeed part of the Vietnam playbook and the language of that era. Right now in the mainstream, with the exception of a few columnists like James Carroll of the Boston Globe and Bob Herbert of the New York Times, and the odd intellectual figure like the economist Jeffrey Sachs, withdrawal is not yet on anyone's agenda. The Democratic candidates, Kucinich aside, are criticizing how we got into the war without suggesting ways to get out any time soon.

But, given ongoing events in Iraq, the idea of withdrawal is already on an inexorable course into the mainstream world. One sign: The administration has begun floating stories about withdrawing some troops next year. As withdrawal comes to seem like an actual alternative, we're going to be challenged on it. And by then, it better be something more than a vague slogan for us. By then, we should have explored the subject as carefully, honestly, and fully as we can.

Just the other day, a friend challenged me to stop ducking the subject. He claimed that in my dispatches I was taking the easy way out. And I think maybe he was right. It's time for us to do our best not just to put withdrawal on the American agenda as a slogan but to give it some thought and content.

Here, then, is my modest attempt to begin to think this out and get a discussion started.

Why we must leave Iraq

The Path of History: It's not only that history - in its last centuries - speaks eloquently against the imperial occupation of any country; a far more circumscribed, recent, and specific history speaks against this occupation as well. So let me start with that:

The United States has long been involved with Iraq and the record doesn't make for pleasant reading. The CIA had a hand in Saddam Hussein's rise and the success of the Baath Party. The Reagan administration supported Saddam during the years of some of his worst crimes because he seemed a reasonable, if somewhat shaky bulwark against the evil Shi'ite regime in Iran. The first Bush administration, having decided not to march on Baghdad at the end of the Gulf War (during which we slaughtered possibly tens of thousands of Iraqis), despite full command of the skies over Iraq, proceeded to look the other way while Saddam crushed a Shi'ite uprising (itself filled with bloody revenge killings). We let him use his helicopters and other weaponry against the Shi'ite rebels for fear of an Islamic Republic in Baghdad. This resulted in the killing fields whose graves Paul Wolfowitz and others now visit regularly and use as the very explanation for our invasion of Iraq. The first Bush and Clinton administrations then enforced a fierce and unrelenting version of UN-sanctions supposedly against Saddam but crushing to ordinary Iraqis and, though it's seldom mentioned, so destructive to the various Iraqi support systems (electricity, water purification, oil fields etc.) that, under the pressure of war, looting, occupation and resistance these more or less collapsed. The second Bush administration then launched a savage war against Saddam's regime which only lasted a few weeks but again killed many thousands of soldiers and civilians. The killings of civilians have yet to end.

Though we arrived in Iraq speaking the language of liberation (in English only) and most Iraqis were relieved initially to have the sanctions regime and the war ended as well as a horrendously abusive regime gone, we did not arrive as liberators. Though almost all of the above had largely been forgotten by Americans and could barely be found in our media, it was certainly in the minds of many Iraqis, who had to assume, on the basis of the historical record, a distinct self-interestedness on our part. We arrived in Iraq thinking utterly beneficently about ourselves, but undoubtedly from the Iraqi point of view (dangerous as it is to assume that there is only one such) we had much to prove (or perhaps disprove) - and fast. The proof in the last six months has been painfully in line with the previous historical record cited above.

No exit: When thinking of withdrawal, it's important to remember that it was never a concept in the Bush administration's vocabulary. Despite all those years of Vietnam "lessons" and Colin Powell's "doctrine" which said that no military action should be undertaken without an "exit strategy" in place, Bush's boys had no exit strategy in mind because they never imagined leaving. Of course, they expected to quickly draw down American forces in the face of a jubilant and grateful population. But there was no greater signal of our long-term intentions than our dismantling of the Iraqi military, and their planned recreation as a lightly armed border-patrolling force of perhaps 40,000 with no air force. Put that together with the four permanent bases we began building almost immediately and you know that we were expecting to be Iraq's on-site military protector into the distant future.

Iraq itself was to be the lynchpin of an American empire of bases that was to extend from the former Yugoslavia to Uzbekistan, right across the "arc of instability" which just happened to coincide with the major oil lands of this earth. Occupying Iraq would also - of this the neocons were quite confident -- tame Syria and Iran, settle the Palestinian question on grounds favorable to the Sharon government, and solve the awkward problem of basing our troops in Saudi Arabia about which Osama bin Laden had so long been bitter. This is what "liberation" truly meant.

So when considering withdrawal, you can't think only of Iraq. When occupying it, the Bush administration had far larger fish to fry. They had a global no-exit strategy of domination they wanted to put fully in place.

It has often been said - and on this score there has been much complaint in the military - that our troops were never trained to be policemen or peacekeepers (and that we didn't bother to bring into Iraq any significant number of military police) - but that's the narrowest way to look at a very large problem. We arrived in Baghdad as a victorious, or more bluntly, a conquering army, not as peacekeepers. And we have continued in that vein.

In the weeks before, during and after the war, the administration itself often compared the occupation of Iraq to the Japanese and German occupations at the end of World War II. But we did allow actual Japanese and Germans to rebuild their countries economically, more or less to Japanese and German specifications. Iraq has been another matter. At every level, the Iraqis themselves have been sidelined. Reconstruction has been a kind of economic pillage, booty offered to huge American corporations linked to the Bush administration - and the future economy of Iraq has been declared a free-fire zone for international finance. This is not what the Americans did to Japan, but what the Huns did to Europe, even if dressed up in modern capitalist garb. When mobs of Iraqis began to loot museums, ministries, stores, homes, oil refineries, electric plants, anything in sight, we were all shocked. When the power occupying Iraq opens the country to foreign (read American) corporations for the wholesale looting of its wealth and economic well-being, no one so much as blinks.

Again, history tells us that the Iraqis - and not just thugs, terrorists, and "bitter-enders" - will not live long on the sidelines of such a situation. Soon, they will challenge us about withdrawal, something never previously part of the Bush agenda. It must be part of ours.

The time of withdrawal: When considering the issue of ending the occupation quickly and bringing our troops home, perhaps the most important matter to think about is time itself. As we hear endlessly, we must not "cut and run," but instead "stay the course." The implication in all such statements is that, if only the United States toughs it out, on the other side of this rough patch of resistance lies another far less chaotic world in which a new and more peaceful Iraq will play at least something like the role the Bush administration imagined for it. Perhaps it was once true, when news traveled slowly and the colonial world was in more or less another universe, that an imperial power indeed did have five or ten years in which to pacify, at least for a time, a conquered and occupied land. Time like that is no longer available to the United States or to the Bush administration.

It is far more reasonable - given what we know of history and of the present situation - to assume that time is not on our side. What is bad now for us - and for the Iraqis - will only be worse later. The resistance will be greater, more organized, and more determined. Our allies, both within and without Iraq, ever more distant; American troops more isolated, angry, and embattled; money in shorter supply; military morale lower; and the antiwar movement here stronger. This is a prediction, of course, but a far more reasonable one, I think, than those that we hear every day. And if "staying the course," toughing it out, only makes a bad situation worse, then withdrawal when it comes, as it will, will only be that much harder and the results only that much more catastrophic for all parties concerned.

Let me sum up in four sentences:

History, long term and more recent, is not on our side.

We are a war-making and an occupying force, not a peacekeeping force.

We never planned to leave Iraq.

Time is against us.

Or to boil all this down to a sentence: We are not and never have been the solution to the problem of Iraq, but a significant part of the problem.

If this is true, then that's what we'll remain as long as our troops are there, all of which speaks to the need for a quick withdrawal from Iraq. I don't claim to have a plan for doing so. Withdrawal plans must come, but probably not from the likes of me. A look at history (by those more expert than I) might be of use. There are endless imperial withdrawals from various occupied lands to consider -- some more embattled and horrific, some more peaceful, some braver, some more cowardly, some showing foresight, some barely ahead of collapse itself. And sometimes, of course, there was no withdrawal at all. The occupying forces were simply driven out. Examples obviously range from the French in Algeria and the Portuguese in Africa to the Israelis in Lebanon and the Russians in Eastern Europe. How this might be done and whom Iraq would be handed off to must be considered as well. Would the UN take some responsibility for Iraq or, for that matter, the Arab League? I don't know. All I know is that If the will to withdraw, and withdraw quickly, is there, withdrawal is what will happen.

I'm no expert on Iraq. I can hardly keep the Shi'ite groups straight even with the help of the writings of Juan Cole. I do think it would be a mistake for any of us to claim that we know what would happen during a genuine withdrawal. It could indeed be a terrible mess or simply a true horror. Iraq could split in three - an embattled Kurdish semi-democracy in the north (under the ominous shadow of Turkey), a Sunni dictatorship in the center, and a harsh Islamic Republic in the South. There could be bloodshed or civil war. Or not. The future has a way of surprising - and since the American occupiers have chosen not to trust Iraqis with either responsibility or power, we have no idea what they might have done with it, or might someday do with it.

All of that is speculation. But what we can see is what a long-term horror an American occupation and reconstruction of Iraq is likely to turn out to be. We can see the rising death toll; we can read about the civilians slain; we can note the mini-gulag set up there. We can mull over the greed and corruption in what passes for "reconstruction." All this we know. The rest is possibility. This we should not want to continue in our names. This "course" we should not want to "stay." Alternatives should not be considered "cutting and running."

For me at least, the imperial occupation of the lands of this earth - whatever the empire - is unacceptable. Any armed occupation will always be part of the problem not the solution on this planet. In our present world, such acts can only lead to hell. We need to pressure this administration hard to step outside the box it has created for us, our troops, and the Iraqi people who truly did deserve a liberation and not the occupation and looting that they are living through. They are not the spoils of war.

Let us offer Iraq genuine help, reconstruction aid, and support of all sorts afterwards, possibly indirectly through groups whose interests can't be mistaken for ours. But our troops are an occupying army. They can't keep the peace. They are the war.


A longer version of this article first appeared on www.tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, a long time editor in publishing, the author of The End of Victory Culture, and a fellow of the Nation Institute.


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Alec Lloyd - 11/12/2003

Mr. Moner, you are making a common mistake. Because inspectors could not find WMD or that WMD did not exist at a particular point, does not mean that they could never exist again.

We know for a fact that Saddam had the capability to produce WMD. We also know that no inspection regime, no matter how through, could stop him from resuming production.

You see, a “credible weapons programme” has been discovered. The Kay report documents it at great length. Saddam’s Iraq possessed the talent pool, financial resources and equipment necessary to make WMD. It simply didn’t bother to leave them lying around for everyone to find.

Many people naively assumed that Saddam would have huge dumps of chemical weapons, perhaps with giant skulls and crossbones outside. This was of course absurd. Saddam didn’t need to have stockpiles, only the ability to quickly spin up production when desired. He unquestionably retained that capability, and no inspection regime would ever find or dismantle it.

Saddam had the means and the motive to use them. According to our prisoners, his plan was to seemingly disarm and then rearm after sanctions were lifted. Missiles (that is, delivery systems) were of greater interest to him because he had not yet achieved proficiency in their production. He knew how to make VX and mustard gas. Having mastered the technique, he could afford to store the blueprints, leave the precursor chemicals unmixed and devote his full energies to missile research and production.

We have already recovered extensive proof of this. We’ve found missiles built in blatant violation of sanctions and materials for continued improvements. The delivery system was almost complete.

When that happened, he could then resume full chemical production. It’s that simple.

We would have no warning, no declaration, no chance to react until it was too late. Iraq would announce missiles capable of hitting Central Europe with chemical weapons, perhaps test fire one into the Mediterranean, and then we would deal with a new strategic menace. This is what we stopped from happening.

I must also take issue with this statement:

“We disagree on that we are empowered to change regimes no matter how onerous; people have to sort out their own fate. If ridding the world of onerous regimes is the policy, which I disagree with, we must change each and every one or we don’t change any at the risk of being considered to have hidden interests. Bad policy.”

Mr. Moner, how do slaves “sort out their own fate?” Saddam’s people were enslaved. It was, quite simply, beyond their power to do anything but die under his rule. For you to shrug and say “sorry, not my problem” is to essentially abdicate any pretence of humanitarian interest.

Furthermore, it is NOT necessary that we change every regime. Using your logic, police shouldn’t investigate any crimes unless than can guarantee solving them all.

It isn’t hypocrisy to be constrained by one’s own resources. It is reality. We do what we can. Simply refusing to do any good because you cannot achieve perfection is the equivalent of unilateral surrender to the forces of ambition, oppression and brutality.

Finally, our interests are hardly “hidden.” I don’t think anyone in the world has any question as to how the US operates. The US will act forcibly to oppressive regimes that threaten our national security and the world economy. Iraq’s strategic position, political instability and economic clout meant that had to be dealt with sooner or later. It is that simple.

As other threats emerge, we deal with them in turn. This is the way of the world, the way nations have always operated and always will operate.

Our motives combine humanitarian goals with enlightened self-interest. Except for a few paranoid random idealogues, that’s been clear from the beginning.

We are human, and have finite resources. While we would like to see all dictatorships ended, our priority is to deal with the threatening ones first. It may not meet some exalted standard of moral purity, but it is practical.

Until paradise comes to earth, it is all we can do.


Gus Moner - 11/10/2003

Hello Mr Lloyd,

Thanks for your comments regarding my post. I’d like to make some observations.

“And we now know that inspections would never have found WMD, either because of their destruction or Iraqi cleverness at hiding them.”

Regarding these, I ask you if there were no WMD, what was the point of the war? Regarding the Iraqi cleverness, the US often claimed to know just where the weapons were. We now have full access to everyone and every site. Remember I once believed Iraq had these weapons but that action had to flow from the UN. I still believe the latter, at least until a credible weapons programme is discovered.

We disagree on that we are empowered to change regimes no matter how onerous; people have to sort out their own fate. If ridding the world of onerous regimes is the policy, which I disagree with, we must change each and every one or we don’t change any at the risk of being considered to have hidden interests. Bad policy.

But no, our policy is not consistent. Those satraps we now support that have oil or geo-strategic position and play ball with the US get to stay in power, just as Iraq once did when it played ball. Read: Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Algeria, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan etc. Is this not a double standard that calls into question the veracity and honesty of the intentions on Iraq?

Thus: in these nations people are still being boiled, opposition imprisoned, families humiliated, people raped and tortured, others are executed in solitary roads, freedom is curtailed, well; you name your evil.

Forgive me, but I find that an unfavourable outcome for humanity as well.

”Inaction in the face of evil” Well, if there was so much evil the Iraqis could have asked for help, shown symptoms of it. In today’s international structure, that’s the place to gain consensus. I am sorry, there is evil everywhere and choosing to slay Iraq’s evil is highly suspect today, even more than before the war.

“We have not always done the right thing, but that should not mean we should never try, nor that we can do no right in every circumstance.” I continue to contend that the US has not been anointed to change regimes or do the right thing anywhere, nor is it written into the constitution, either.

“UN legalisms shielded a dictator. They allowed him to brutalize and starve his people while he built palaces and financed terrorists.” And US policy shields and subsidises at least 10 equally evil dictators today. What do you propose we do?

“And, at a time of his choosing, he could have unleashed whatever weapons he desired. Saddam's Iraq was thus a blight on humanity and an unacceptable security threat.”

The difficulty of the war and the non weapons belie the above assertion.


Marianne - 11/10/2003

Oh, I see.

This is about framing the discussion in leftie/rightie terms.

Which must be why I feel so displaced as I was approaching this topic walking down the middle, sincerely trying to understand what the Iraqis might be thinking/feeling right now. Not trying to spin or parse or divine special meanings.

Mr. Markell, you write:

If you knew about the poll, why not say so in the first place.

Because I did not "know" about it in a substantive enough way to use the data in this discussion. It was a vague memory of something I read a while ago. Reading your "poll after poll" statement reminded me. When you posted your references, I did a google search and found the sites I posted.

I guess I could have first posted my vague sense of what I'd read but that seemed irresponsible to me since I could have been remembering inaccurately . So I did the search so I could refresh my memory and respond with actual data. I'm sorry if that approach offends you.

As I've already said, I was looking for information. I'm sorry if that expanation seems suspicious to you.

By the way, I wasn't parsing any numbers. That was James Zogby responding to a Cheney quote. And I noted his obvious partisanship when I posted his comments.

I'll parse now:

What I see in their poll numbers does not reflect a resounding Iraqi support for either pro- or anti- sentiment of Western engagement there. Rather, it reflects the uneasiness of those polled with the occupation, and a relief that Hussein is gone, and a desire to get on with self determination.

But since I didn't enter into this discussion to debate--merely to understand the basis for statements being made, I'll end here. This isn't the forum for that kind of input apparently and I'm uncomfortable constantly being asked why I ask a civil question.


Marianne - 11/10/2003

Oh, I see.

This is about framing the discussion in leftie/rightie terms.

Which must be why I feel so displaced as I was approaching this topic walking down the middle, sincerely trying to understand what the Iraqis might be thinking/feeling right now. Not trying to spin or parse or divine special meanings.

Mr. Markell, you write:

If you knew about the poll, why not say so in the first place.

Because I did not "know" about it in a substantive enough way to use the data in this discussion. It was a vague memory of something I read a while ago. Reading your "poll after poll" statement reminded me. When you posted your references, I did a google search and found the sites I posted.

I guess I could have first posted my vague sense of what I'd read but that seemed irresponsible to me since I could have been remembering inaccurately . So I did the search so I could refresh my memory and respond with actual data. I'm sorry if that approach offends you.

As I've already said, I was looking for information. I'm sorry if that expanation seems suspicious to you.

By the way, I wasn't parsing any numbers. That was James Zogby responding to a Cheney quote. And I noted his obvious partisanship when I posted his comments.

I'll parse now:

What I see in their poll numbers does not reflect a resounding Iraqi support for either pro- or anti- sentiment of Western engagement there. Rather, it reflects the uneasiness of those polled with the occupation, and a relief that Hussein is gone, and a desire to get on with self determination.

But since I didn't enter into this discussion to debate--merely to understand the basis for statements being made, I'll end here. This isn't the forum for that kind of input apparently and I'm uncomfortable constantly being asked why I ask a civil question.


Alec Lloyd - 11/10/2003

Mr. Moner’s statement is key:

“By 2004, unless an impressive cache of WMD mysteriously turns up before then, there would have been proof that there were no WMD, thus, no violations of UN sanctions and therefore there are no reasons to go to war.”

That is correct. And we now know that inspections would never have found WMD, either because of their destruction or Iraqi cleverness at hiding them.

Thus: the rape rooms would still be in operation. Saddam’s terror links would still be active. The mass graves would still be filling and the Marsh Arabs would still by dying.

Forgive me, but I find that an unfavorable outcome for humanity.

In essence, you are hiding behind legalisms to justify inaction in the face of evil. We have not always done the right thing, but that should not mean we should never try, nor that we can do no right in every circumstance.

UN legalisms shielded a dictator. They allowed him to brutalize and starve his people while he built palaces and financed terrorists.

And, at a time of his choosing, he could have unleashed whatever weapons he desired. Saddam's Iraq was thus a blight on humanity and an unacceptable security threat. Thankfully, we have acted before it is too late.


Alec Lloyd - 11/10/2003

Posted elsewhere by mistake:



The 1991 campaign was about restoring the status quo. Given the international situation, it was in France’s interests and those of the tottering USSR to support us.

The current campaign is about changing the status quo, and both France and Russia have vested interests in stopping that. No amount of diplomacy will prevail under those circumstances.

Diplomacy is not a magic wand, that can be waved by the Metternich’s of the world to create super-alliances. Were national interests collide, there can be no accommodation. French policy has changed since 1991 and the US is no longer viewed as a protector and ally but rather as a rival. Read the French media if you don’t believe me.

Thus the end result of your demand for UN approval would be a Franco-Russian veto over American foreign policy – an unprecedented situation in American history. The Bush administration went to the UN because it was uncertain as to how far France would go in blocking the US. Many at the State Dept. believed the French could be persuaded. Their betrayal of Colin Powell proved this belief to be false and revealed France’s motives.

You cannot blame US diplomacy for French duplicity. Or rather you can, but it isn’t credible.


Elia Markell - 11/10/2003

If you knew about the poll, why not say so in the first place. I do not doubt Zogby, a rabid anti-Israel guy, wants to spin his own findings as he does. In any case, other polls bear out the general point (I gave you just one Gallup among several) that the Iraqis are glad we got rid of Saddam and want us to make damn sure he stays gotten rid of. As for your parsing of half-year, one-year, two-year, it's you who are spinning things there. Of course the Iraqis want us to leave and want to run their own country. And they differ as to how long that ought to take. Big deal. The point is THEY WANT TO RUN THEIR COUNTRY -- SOMETHING THEY COULD NOT DO UNTIL WE WENT IN AND SOMETHING NOT A SINGLE LEFTIE I KNOW OF EXCEPT CHRIS HITCHENS EVER CARED TO HELP THEM DO BEFORE WE WENT IN.


Alec Lloyd - 11/10/2003

Mr. Birkenstock, you are comparing two dissimilar things.

The 1991 campaign was about restoring the status quo. Given the international situation, it was in France’s interests and those of the tottering USSR to support us.

The current campaign is about changing the status quo, and both France and Russia have vested interests in stopping that. No amount of diplomacy will prevail under those circumstances.

Diplomacy is not a magic wand, that can be waved by the Metternich’s of the world to create super-alliances. Were national interests collide, there can be no accommodation. French policy has changed since 1991 and the US is no longer viewed as a protector and ally but rather as a rival. Read the French media if you don’t believe me.

Thus the end result of your demand for UN approval would be a Franco-Russian veto over American foreign policy – an unprecedented situation in American history. The Bush administration went to the UN because it was uncertain as to how far France would go in blocking the US. Many at the State Dept. believed the French could be persuaded. Their betrayal of Colin Powell proved this belief to be false and revealed France’s motives.

You cannot blame US diplomacy for French duplicity. Or rather you can, but it isn’t credible.


Alec Lloyd - 11/10/2003

Show me where I am wrong. The author unabashedly condemns the liberation of Iraq and urges immediate retreat. If we had not invaded Saddam would still be in power.

Thus, Saddam should still be ruling Iraq.


Marianne - 11/10/2003

The article can also be seen on the Zogby International site here:


http://www.zogby.com/Soundbites/ReadClips.dbm?ID=6164


Marianne - 11/10/2003

Mr. Markell,

I find it revealing that you perceive my polite request for more information as a "challenge". It was a request, a statement that I wanted to know more.

In fact, I had heard of the Zogby poll. I didn't think it was one of the ones you were referring to when you used the phrase "poll after poll" because I remembered the numbers as indicating something different than you stated. In fact, I recalled after the Bush administration and their advocates had publicized their versions of the poll that I read Zogby felt they were misinterpreting his findings.

Turns out it was James Zogby's article I saw. he's the pollster's brother and wrote a piece in The Guardian a worthy and very partisan counterpoint to the AEI's partisanship. Anyway, his piece is published on the Zogby International site:

http://www.zogby.com/soundbites/ReadClips.dbm?ID=6168

One of his pertinent points:

"When given the choice as to whether they "would like to see US and British forces leave Iraq in six months, one year, or two years", 31.5% of Iraqis said these forces should leave in six months; 34% say a year, and only 25% say two or more years. So while technically Cheney might say that "over 60% [actually 59%] ... want the US to stay at least another year", an equally correct observation would be that 65.5% want the US and Britain to leave in one year or less. "

John Zogby himself published an interpretative piece on the poll in the Los Angeles Times, and also does not match the optimistic tone of the AEI site:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-zogby27oct27,1,2088302.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions




Elia Markell - 11/9/2003

It's really quite revealing, you know, this challenge to me. Everyone should know these polling numbers since they are vital and relevant. The fact that you do not know about them is itself the best proof anyone could ask for that the media is horribly biased in its reporting on Iraq. In any case, here goes.

One of the first measures of opinion was undertaken for American Enterprise Institute (yes, yes, they are conservative)by Zogby International. Zogby is himself Arab and is critical of the administration on several points on its Middle East Policy, especially respecting Israel. But here is a good summary of his group's results last August.

http://opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110003991

Then there is this result from Gallup, among many others from them.

"In the first rigorous, scientifically conducted sampling of public sentiment in Iraq, residents of the country's capital say -- by a 2-to-1 margin -- that the ousting of Saddam Hussein was worth any hardships they might have personally suffered since the U.S. and British-led invasion." (9/23-03)

Mind you, this is BAGHDAD, in the heart of Sunniland. It is where you would expect the most "resistance" from the supposed victims of American imperialism.

I could go on, but I won't. You OUGHT to know about such polls, and you OUGHT to be willing to find them yourselves if you care even a tenth as much about the Iraqis as you pretend to. I am quite sure you don't. But you could prove me wrong.


Gus Moner - 11/9/2003

Yes, I do bear that in mind. It's sometimes unbearable to think of it!

However, whether one likes to accept it or not, the fact is that most of the US is marching lock-step to the beating drum of war in support of the Bush administration's policy. To the bombed, maimed or their relatives, it's all the same. They wear the stars and stripes and reprsent the nation.


Gus Moner - 11/9/2003

This is the last paragraph. I cut and pasted, accidentally omitting it.

What is the beef about the loans? I do not see the US forgiving Argentine, Bolivian, Paraguayan, Brazilian or Peruvian debt entered into by the dictators they loaned the money to, to prop up brutal satraps. But we are into mashing France for asking for its money, Herodotus?

Why should other nations not enter the Iraqi market? Oh, the Judeo Christian warriors are saving it all for their corporate chums, the FDR gang. Got it!


Gus Moner - 11/9/2003

Herodotus’ comment was:
“You'll recall that in 1991 France joined the coalition in full force after Iraq attacked its embassy in Kuwait. (...) Now we've found their missiles used in the major hotel attack last week. And a refusal to yield on Iraq's Ba'athist era debts. And a demand to allow French firms in to bid on the oil contracts”.

He has kindly provided his ethnocentric sources for this. I accept them for the sake of argument.

Yes the French ambassador’s residence was broken into, fine. How does that prove the assertion that the French participation in the Gulf War was only forthcoming after this? There's nothing of the sort to back up the claim he made.

It anyway would be logical that as a reaction to that event that France would join up, if that is the correct sequence. It does not preclude that they would have anyway joined up to a UN mission at a later date, assuming they had not done so before the break in, which we haven't got proof of.

Anyhow, the US did not consider any action against Iraq until its interests were at stake in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. So, the French action, if the assertion is true that they only joined because their embassy was broken into, would mirror the US’ in that they acted out of safeguarding national interests, as the US did.


Gus Moner - 11/9/2003

Thanks for the info on the country of origin for the rockets. If the source is accurate, seemingly the entire thing was a Heinz 57 mix rigged up for the event. Russian and French weapons were indeed involved, not just Russian, as I had read.
Very well, now, that that is sorted out, what were you trying to prove with this? That the French government deliberately sold these weapons to Iraqi guerrillas fighting today? That’s a huge leap, as you are well aware.
The international arms market is so porous as to define it as uncontrollable in the best of circumstances. France sells weapons round the world, as do most other weapons producing states from Switzerland, to Sweden, to Belarus, Ukraine, Israel, India, well, you get the drift. Why did you not mention the Russians? In fact, Russian or former Warsaw Pact nations’ weapons have been the staple of Iraqi armament for decades and most attacks on US occupation forces or their token coalition forces occur with Russian weapons. So, shall we rename Borscht to say, Freedom Soup?
In fact, all weapons producing nations sell weapons through a myriad of false companies and obscure, mostly illegal merchants. Most sales are unlicensed and go through various intermediaries so as to make their being traced rather complicated. To insinuate the French government had something to do with the attack, such as supplying the weapons, is impossible to prove and pure speculation.
Having reviewed the press briefing by Bush 41 you offered, I read the comments he made about the breaking into the French ambassador’s residence and US support for any action France might consider. There is absolutely no reference to your inference that this is the moment and reason that made the French decide to join up to the Gulf War, and only because of this apparently relatively minor event. However, if it was, would it not have been a logical move?


Edmund - 11/9/2003


Good points, Gus. Just remember please that the administration of President Select Bush is not identical to "the US".


Edmund Birkenstock - 11/9/2003

I put little stock in the Ansar Islam stuff. Run of the mill Bush propaganda for the most part. On the other hand, a very credible sounding Swedish ex-inspector (not Blix) on the radio (think it was BBC) last summer expounded the theory then, that Saddam in the last months of his regime was trying to maintain the capability to quickly gear up his arsenal some time later down the road, without actually reacquiring WMD while international scrutiny was upon him. Kay's report corroborated this. This does not by any means exonerate the crass distortions of Bush, Powell, Rice etc. last January about imminent mushroom clouds, etc..

Something like the Carnegie Endowment's recommendations ("armed inspections) should, in my opinion, have been pursued long ago (e.g. during mid '90s cat and mouse period). Within a context of strict and internationally CONSISTENT inspections, Saddam would have been forced to shape up (like Iran recently) or stumble, as he has many times into actions that offered a real pretext for an invasion. Every president before Bush had the common sense to realize that the proper and credible way to proceed is to make sure that the other side is as clearly as possible in the wrong (Polk, McKinley, LBJ, even Hitler (!) understood this). It takes an internationally inexperienced dry-drunk C minus History major, I guess, to fashion his international politics in the mold of the Israeli Likud coalition (strike ‘em first and often and hard), rather than follow American traditions he is evidently ignorant of. As a tactic against specific terrorists, "preemptive" attacks can SOMETIMES be a sensible “offensive defense” As the cornerstone of an endless unwinnable "war" against an ever-shifting set of enemies, this is folly and will not, indeed cannot, stand.

The 1990 French embassy story is factually true, I think, but certainly does not prove, as Cheney-apologist propaganda claims, that France would not have joined with the U.S. later anyway as nearly every other major ally did, or that the French (regardless of their motives) did not have other valid reasons to be skeptical about the radically different American policy of 2002-03.

What did Jessica say ?


Gus Moner - 11/9/2003


1) Ansar al Islam in the north had WMD. The Special Forces team that cleaned the place out discovered them. This was widely reported.

I have read about this group. It operates as an anti-Iranian fundamentalism paramilitary force, or did. The group you refer to was protected by the US during the war and it’s current status is ‘fluid’ as far as I know.


(2) Read the Kay Report, available from, I think, the CIA's webpage. It contains the explanation for the Iraqi capability, and the discovery of a second, secret network of labs and facilities that even the UN inspectors had not discovered. They were located in the prison system, and there is evidence to think that some testing was done on prisoners.

Having read the report’s summary, and if these allegations are ever confirmed, we’ll chat about it then. For now, nothing has come close to meeting the WMD threat threshold as it was put to us.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

(1) Ansar al Islam in the north had WMD. The Special Forces team that cleaned the place out discovered them. This was widely reported.

(2) Read the Kay Report, available from, I think, the CIA's webpage. It contains the explanation for the Iraqi capability, and the discovery of a second, secret network of labs and facilities that even the UN inspectors had not discovered. They were located in the prison system, and there is evidence to think that some testing was done on prisoners.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

http://www.intelmessages.org/Messages/National_Security/wwwboard/messages_03/5971.html

This webpage reprints a New York Times article that explains that the rockets were French in origin and were relatively new, meaning that they had been acquired by Iraq after the arms embargo began in 1991.

The French embassy was attacked in September 1990.
http://bushlibrary.tamu.edu/papers/1990/90091407.html


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

This moral equivalency is weakly constructed. Just think for a minute between how the U.S. handles things and how the Ba'athists have.


Her - 11/8/2003

You're leaving the French as a straw man. You're not assigning them any agency in this, when it is widely understood that the French role is crucial in understanding this.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

Three possibilities spring to mind.
One, urge the administrators of this site to impliment a registration system that allows aliases but requires a concrete application. This is in place both on the Democratic Underground and Free Republic, two very busy debating sites on either end of the spectrum. It's the only way to give the administrators a way to block people who are disruptive or who are pretending to be others.

Two, ignore them and hope it works out for the best. Unlikely to yield good results.

Three, flee the site.

One can't fight trolls/imps directly.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Thanks for the details on 1931. I was familiar with them and was not questioning what happened then, but rather your application of them to Iraq 2003.

My fourth paragraph reads:
“If the UN walked away from them, it would very well have been like 1931 all over again”. Well, the UN was not walking away from them but rather inspecting to determine if further action was required. Not “1931 all over again”.

The entire premise you offer as the basis for your argument which is that the UN was walking away from Iraq is what is dead wrong. The results in 1931 are not in argument here, at least not by me. I say that the issue was not the UN walking away from Iraq now, for they got up the courage to act. True, thanks to the USA’s vested interests in invading Iraq and removing the government, but that’s another story altogether.

The US rightly brought the UN back to the issue and should have stayed the course without bullying. We would have got the same result, no WMD, without thousands of dead Iraqis, 80% of the world angry at the nation, mounting casualties along with the incredible costs (over 120,000 million so far and it’s not over yet), and US credibility shot - helping rile and recruit new Muslim warriors.

I agree with your history summary, but it is not applicable to Iraq 2003.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Edward Sir,

“Saddam clearly kept his capabilities for rapidly reacquiring weapons of mass destruction. As for his manifold violations, just read the UN resolutions and review the ten year history of cat and mouse with the inspectors”.

I did not question the details the UN had on Iraq nor the past failures to get closure on the matter. However, there is a case to be made that the US and Iraq were both stringing along the UN bit to keep their interests afloat. Iraq to appear to be stronger than it was, avoid attack and influence nations in the region and the US to keep having a monster to scream about, being able to bomb Iraq and control it with sanctions.

There is no evidence Iraq kept any “capabilities for rapidly reacquiring weapons of mass destruction.” If you have some, please pass on the info or link. In fact, there is to date not a shred of evidence of anything that would justify an invasion, more so with the latest revelations from the NY Times that Iraq offered to let US troops in to inspect just days before the invasion, still another bit of proof that the US all along wanted the war. Imagine all the lives that would have been saved, the maimed not mutilated, the injured not scarred (the false heroine, now in my eyes a real heroine for telling the truth, Jessica Lynch, is still on crutches).

Iraq allowed the inspectors in, later even following their instructions to destroy missiles (the only thing found to violate the UN requirements), that barely exceeded allowable range by a puddle, 20 km. US inspectors, in six months with all of Powell’s secret intelligence and 14 times the personnel, have found nothing.

I already prevail when I am right and fall on my face when wrong, quite enough for me. Those gentlemen often have good points even when I disagree. But anyway thanks for the encouragement!




Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Shock and Awe from Livingston!
What an incredile tirade.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Well, this is getting bizarre. Expropiating identities! A job for Sherlock. Some people really must be bored...Do not let it trouble you.

Anyhow, whichever Elia you are, I haven't a clue why that post regarding the trials was made, or made in your name. It seems to come out of the blue. Is it wrong in some way?


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

“1441 was the November 2002 resolution requiring Iraq to take the inspections. That vote was unanimous. Even Syria voted for that one.

If the French had agreed to vote for the new resolution, what do you really think the others on the council would have voted?”

Yes, and they took the inspections.

Now we are resorting to pure speculation to bash the French. If the French had favoured the resolution you fill in the rest. What are we doing, practicing conditional phrase construction or a history debate?

Well, I’ll try. That left 10 states opposed two of them with vetoes. I haven’t a clue what would’ve happened, and neither do you. All we say on it is pure speculation. No one will know. Dead end.

My point has constantly been that everyone wants to bash the French as the method for making the US look thwarted and victimised when in reality the entire world except for some thirty odd nations opposed the precipitous road to Baghdad. Cry babies all.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Ok, I checked the thread again. I got a clearer picture, and thanks. Still, I think the questions were making a point, without the evidence you demanded of him. But, it’s not very important, so let’s give it a pass.

”Is it your contention that U.S. forces are torturing and raping ordinary Iraqis the way that the Ba'athists did a year ago?”

There is no ‘implying’ of the sort, so if that is what you read into it, it was poorly written, my error. I’ll expand a bit to clarify. What I am saying is that between the Guantanamo camp, night time raids and arrests in both Iraq and Afghanistan, we are doing the same thing as the Iraqi dictator. There is no law we follow, no due process and no respect for people’s intimacy or privacy. We are acting as they did, thugs with weapons terrorising civilians n the middle of the night.


Edmund Birkenstock - 11/8/2003

By "take out", I meant remove from power, not assassinate. Poor word choice on my part, but 'til you showed up here I was fighting three diehard Cheney apologists single-handed and pressed for time.

I think you are quite right, Gus, about the chickenhawk neocon coalition needing to strike before their bogus reasons were exposed. I should have noted that myself. But there were still good reasons trying to build a genuine multilateral effort to liberate Iraq. Far beyond the competency of Colin Powell, hamstrung by his own inexperience and Cheney&Rumsfeld's usurpation of his job, but solid reasons nonetheless. The moral case was a strong one well before the book "Republic of Fear" came out - in the late '80s if I recall correctly. Do a bit of comparative history of dictators and a bit of counterfactual thinking about paths not taken, and I think you'll get my drift.

Ed


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Person Herodotus again tries hard to make the case against France saying it was French rockets that did this or that in Baghdad. Prove proof, please. This is obviously NOT an opinion but a purported fact that can be proved or disproved. News account mentioned Russian made rockets.

Moreover, there’s no move afoot to fry Russia, Iraq’s main arms supplier. Why the parroting behaviour on frying France? Can’t find any more demons out there?

Who supplied Iraq with the know-how, plants, agents and such for the WMD they once
had? France, UK, Germany, USA, USSR, etc. Who gave Iraq daily satellite intelligence on Iranian formations during its war with Iran? Is there a move afoot to stop buying Chevrolets or Fords in retaliation for aiding a satrapy? It is all hypocritical trill.

“You'll recall that in 1991 France joined the coalition in full force after Iraq attacked its embassy in Kuwait”.

Please provide proof of this heretofore unheard of claim, I’d like to learn more about it. If true, it would be yet another example of nations acting to defend their interests, and what a surprise that would be to all of us, eh?

Mr Birkenstock may be arguing from an ethnocentric point of view. However, he is entitled to his point of view, and in fact, may be guilty of US education’s ethnocentric view of the world. That being said, the US has been a major player there for three decades, since Rummy went and got chummy with Saddam, the ‘moderate Arab’. So, from all we know and need not repeat now, the US does have a major share of the burden for events there, and indeed in most places it seems to crawl into for geopolitical or financial rewards.



Edmund - 11/8/2003


I cannot decipher your link. I'm beginning to think you're right about the "imping", although so far it consists only of irrelevant noise. So, assuming you have correctly identified a problem, the question remains: What to do about it ?


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

“Mr. Birkenstock, you have once again demonstrated the bizarre condescension of the anti-war movement: namely that other actors (states, governments, parties) seemly can have no motivations of their own, they may only react to the US”.

The blanket accusation that you have made, using the single example of one Mr Birkenstock and then apply to the entire anti-war movement is ludicrous.

But lets move onto the more reasoned comments in your post. France’s government views the US as an ally and a partner not a rival. Most people in France respect and admire the US for its entrepreneurship, some of the modern aspects of US culture, and the US / French collaboration during the European Wars of the first half of the 20th Century and the following Cold War. Examples:

All nations are rivals. In Afghanistan, the US had an Argentine firm as rival in the pipeline project until the US took control of Afghanistan. Morocco plays off Spain and France, former colonial powers there, in its award of exploration and development contracts. German firms frequently compete with US firms for technological and manufacturing business. These events are secondary to the primary political ties.

The strategic balance has shifted in favour of the USA and the symbiotic link of ‘free’ Europe and the US when they opposed the USSR is gone. Yet, a partnership remains. In Afghanistan, NATO is now in charge, with French and German participation, in no small measure because of UN approval for the mission, but also in support of an ally attacked. To me, that is friendship, allegiance and cooperation between partners.

Constant pronouncements by certain parrots on this site against France sound ever more like childish tantrums, repeated over and over in an effort not to stop being unhappy. Get over it.

Yes, the UN approved 1991 action against Iraq and that made a whole world of difference. US diplomacy worked better at aligning disparate interests and got financial burdens allayed to the tune of a profit on the operation for the US. In effect, the US used its armed might at the pay of other nations to achieve the UN’s goal as mercenaries of sorts. Was it contracting out? Call it what you like.

Each nation asked for what it wanted and needed and contributed in accordance to its national interests. Japan plumped a bunch of cash on the table for the US protects it and its constitution forbids armed action except in self-defence. Kuwaiti sheikhs drew down their petrodollar reserves to get their oil wells back. Saudi Arabia provided limited armed forces and territory from which to invade, France troops and diplomatic assistance, Arab states token troops that did not engage the enemy, etc. etc. It’s normal in the international arena to defend national interests. The USSR tried to stop the war but eventually sided with the US because it needed to demonstrate the scope and value to the US of its changing relationship.

You then say that “When you get down to it, all the UN agreed to do in 1991 was reestablish an oil-soaked satrapy, keeping a tight lid on democracy and self-determination, while at the same time mouthing empty tributes to human rights and international law”.

Unfortunately that first part is basically true. The UN and the Arab League felt that the removal of a central authority in Iraq, in the shadow of looming Shi’ite fundamentalism from Iran would topple the stability of the central government in Iraq and create what the US has just created in Iraq, the destruction of central authority and the chaotic splintering of the nation, with much lawlessness. Iraq now has three rival governments- two vying for regional control and a third one for the entire state.

“When faced with the resulting uprising - by Iraqis who naively believed the UN would help them - the august body turned away and let them be slaughtered”.

Regime change was not on. However, before you place too much blame on the UN, it spoke for prevailing world opinion then. Moreover, the US politicians and or military (and it would not surprise me if it was in concert with Iran), were the ones that instigated the Shi’ite revolt, not the UN. Faced with the potential splintering of Iraq and total disorder creating fertile ground for terrorism and the spread of Iranian fundamentalism, the UN at the insistence of its members did nothing to help Iraqi Shi’ites in order to maintain Iraq as a stable bulwark against those threats.

Iraq, and its satrapy dictatorship you may recall, was propped up for just that reason by the US; UK, France, etc. until the invasion of Kuwait and through the gassing of its own people with barely a peep from the US. Remember that only when oil got in the way did the US react to Iraq and Saddam. Don’t pontificate now on the UN letting the Shiites be slaughtered, as if they were responsible or the ones that caused the revolt. .

“Call it what you will, it was hardly a victory for humanity.” Agreed, but I would hardly call the 2003 US invasion a victory for humanity either. Some people seem to have a fervent mission to spread democracy, western values and goods everywhere. Most people outside the US view that as unwanted interference. Most people in the US cannot understand why that is so, or why the US government is disliked because of it.

Finally, you say that “If your definition diplomatic success entails democracies acquiescing with genocide and idly watching cease-fire agreements being violoated, we could use with more ‘bungling’."

Yes, appallingly, democracies acquiesced to slaughter with WMD, but hardly genocide, in Iraq and Iran. France, Germany, the Swiss, the US and Britain along with the non democratic USSR all sold weapons or agents for weapons, equipment, plants, granted loans and otherwise propped up Iraqi’s satrapy government whilst it suited them. Do you want more of that bungling?

Not I. It is an example of national self-interest prevailing in the international arena over people’s rights. Not for believing this should end do I support pre-emptive war, regime change or interference in nation’s socio-cultural, economic and political development, for in the end, who will the arbiters be? The UN? The US? The ‘coalition of the willing’? It’s too dangerous and unnecessary.


Goeff Ericson - 11/8/2003

"This entire article can be summed up in one sentence:

'Saddam Hussein should still be ruling Iraq.' "


Thanks for showing your true colors.


Edward - 11/8/2003

Gus,

Maybe its "splitting hairs", but Saddam clearly kept his capabilities for rapidly reacquiring weapons of mass destruction.
As for his manifold violations, just read the UN resolutions and review the ten year history of cat and mouse with the inspectors.

You will have better chances to prevail against the Lloyd's and Herodotuses (not that they are contenders in real scholarly forums) if you avoid their tactics of selectively biased generalization. Keep trying, their crazy ideas are ruining America.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

I've noticed posts of mine disappearing too.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

Someone has imped James Thornton down below here as well. It's starting.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

1441 was the November 2002 resolution requiring Iraq to take the inspections. That vote was unanimous. Even Syria voted for that one.

If the French had agreed to vote for the new resolution, what do you really think the others on the council would have voted?


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

As for your fourth paragraph: in 1931 the League of Nations failed to compel Japan to leave China. The parallel with 2002 is that if the UN failed to compel Hussein to adhere to the 14 previous resolution on disarmament, then the UN Security Council resolutions would be meaningless in the eyes of the world when it applied to real issues, like the settlement of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 ceasefire following the Iraqi defeat. The UN was close to walking away; over the past ten years all of the significant participants in the containment of Iraq had left, except for the United States and Britain. Hussein's campaign was to push and push and push until there was no more support for the resolutions and the sanctions, which were the only barriers to French, Russian and other investment in the oil industry there.

Failure to stand up to Hussein now meant the eventual removal of the outstanding resolutions. Removing the resolutions without having made Hussein do what he said would have meant the Security Council resolutions were irrelevant. Irrelevant Security Council resolutions would have been like 1931.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

Read my post again, and the thread again, and then read your post again. I asked Edmund a question, and questioned his reasoning. I wasn't making a point with my questions.

Is it your contention that U.S. forces are torturing and raping ordinary Iraqis the way that the Ba'athists did a year ago? You imply as much in your second paragraph. I'm sure that's not the point you're really trying to make.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

“There's still more infrastructure, education, health care, political order, security (yes security...far fewer people are being rounded up and sent into horrible prisons or being raped in front of their family members), and justice than there was a year ago”.

Well, rather emotive comments here by person Herodotus. A real tear jerker if I ever read one. Now it’s not Ba’ath government doing the rounding up, rather the US troops. I doubt the victims see much difference in the result. Undoubtedly they receive exquisite kid glove treatment at the hands of the interrogators.

Well, you say the part of the UN resolution cited was too thin. Then you pose a multitude of questions but provide no evidence to support your claim, whatever it may be. Try making a point here. Where is the freedom to attack Iraq, by your evidence?

Then we are treated to this pronouncement: “ If the UN walked away from them, it would very well have been like 1931 all over again”. Well, the UN was not walking away from them but rather inspecting to determine if further action was required. Not “1931 all over again”. What a dream world you invent.

“Instead, the U.S. took up the intent of all those resolutions--to force compliance with Hussein's original agreement to remove his WMD and adhere to the UN's wishes--and acted on them”.

Without UN approval, interrupting a UN inspection process, the US acted unilaterally, not following UN resolutions but rather interrupting its work. Quite like a bull in a china shop. In the end, there are not, nor were there, any WMD posing any immediate threat. So, the entire justification for the invasion falls to pieces, no matter what UN resolutions you care to look at, they cite WMD.

After much negotiation, the UNSC members were opposed by 11-4 (US, UK, Spain and I cannot recall the fourth) to military action at that point, thinking, correctly as it turns out, that it was premature until inspectors determined there really were WMD. The US, not liking the decision withdrew the resolution and invaded. Clearly, invasion was in the cards all the time and the UN was just a ploy for legitimacy. Can you see George 43 saying well, we were wrong; there are no WMD so bring the army home?

The UN, to its credit, did not bite and put up a good effort to not be bullied by the military behemoth. Since then, the US has egg on its face from the multitude of errors and lies proven to have been made and said.

You keep trying to blame France. However, 11 of the 14 members of the UNSC were opposed. Go eat French Fries if you cannot swallow that reality. The French veto? Not needed.

Herodotus’ world is indeed like that of a Teletubie. There are happy Iraqis everywhere, cheers and joy from all, wee, how happy we are, the Iraqis chant enthralled with their occupiers. They pave the streets with flowers for the tanks rolling in, tumultuous welcoming crowds with US flags greet the invaders, women are kissing soldiers in thanks and relief (having escaped certain rape in front of their families), and it’s all there for us to see. Soldiers drop their weapons feeling so safe and secure. Come on. Get real.

As to your query “Now who's looting the country?” The reply is Betchel, Halliburton & fellow corporate welfare gangsters.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003


Herodotus person, you assume there was a “failure of the Ba'athists to adhere to 1441”
The UNSC in a 11-4 majority felt it was not the case. Mr Birkenstock may make a lot of inconsistent comments. However, at first glance this might not be one of them.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

As for the inconsistency, I do not see it. The UN resolutions were toothless until the U.S. put some teeth in them. What's the problem?

Well, the problem is the UNSC was unable to see the need for an invasion, and it is the only authorised body to act. Even you could understand that. It is not up to two nations to start a war against the will of the UN.

But then, Israel does it all the time. It ignores UN Resolutions (oh, wait, except the one it likes, granting it part of Palestine), assassinates, invades, performs collective punishment, tattoos civilians with numbers, it does pretty much as it pleases, a lawless nation in international affairs, being prosecutor, jury and judge as its leader sees fit. And the UN is toothless to do anything about it. That, thanks to the US veto, which is apparently cool to use, but when the French or Russians use it, bad to use.

So, perhaps the organisation is indeed toothless. Still, no one granted teeth to the UK and US to invade a country that so far has been proven not to have violated UN Resolution 1441 or the earlier ones on WMD and was in the midst of a UN verification process.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Not the surname, but the words, are what give you away. Don't try implying bias here.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

“There were legitimate arguments for a first-strike to take out Saddam”

Excuse me Mr Birkenstock, what are the legitimate arguments for assassinating someone? Under what law can one nation assassinate a person? Or are you advocating that like Israel, selective assassinations by armed forces ‘following orders’ are legal?

“A rationale of exhausted alternatives probably could have been employed successfully to obtain real substantive international support for an invasion in 2004 (ala 1991) had Bush been indifferent to his 2004 election chances or capable of exhausting alternatives to war before resorting to it”.

This comment fails to take reality into account, a rather frequent undertaking here.

By 2004, unless an impressive cache of WMD mysteriously turns up before then, there would have been proof that there were no WMD, thus, no violations of UN sanctions and therefore there are no reasons to go to war.

Clearly Bush & the cabal of Judeo Christian Crusaders were not willing to gamble that no weapons existed and thus lose their only internationally viable rationale for unleashing a preventive, pre-emptive or regime change war. Remember what the expectations were. Wolfowitz said the only way this was being done was because
Iraq was sitting in a sea of oil. The implication of a pay-as-you-go war financed by the Iraqi oil bonanza they expected to harvest, along with the cheering multitudes, was clear. Other, myself included, believe that comment was meant to say that it was the oil, stupid, however, some disagree and hold to the first version, and frankly, who knows what he and the other war conspirators were thinking?


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Well, it's a pity it was lost. The server seems to be malfunctioning, as a number of posts I have tried say the page cannot be found.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

“I disagree slightly with Gus. Saddam was not fully and freely disarming as the UN required him to”.

I appreciate your attempt to split hairs here. But the fact remains that so far the only WMD were in Chabili conspirators’ heads and Feith’s Office of Special Plans. Paying for false information from exiles was ridiculous. The inspectors found nothing, even after getting ‘sure’ US leads from ‘sensitive’ sources. The US inspection team, 14 times as large as the UN team, with all the supposed secret intelligence the US could not divulge to the UN and also without restrictions of movement , has found even less than the UN team, which only found some rockets that exceeded range by some 20 Km, hardly a cause to invade a nation.

“There were grounds for regime change, in a least the limited sense of October 2002”.

I assume you mean legal, internationally recognised grounds and not unilateral US decisions based on a given President’s perception or philosophy. Would you be so kind as to share those with us? I was taught at school that none exist.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Well yes, that seemed such an obvious fabrication by Mr Markell I never bothered to call him on it. I too am curiouis where he's got those polls


Marianne - 11/8/2003

Mr. Markell, you cited:

"Poll after poll makes clear that the Iraqis themselves fear our leaving too soon, not our determination to stay."

Can you direct me to these polls? I've never heard them and I'd certainly like to see them.


Marianne - 11/8/2003

Mr. Markell, you cited:

"Poll after poll makes clear that the Iraqis themselves fear our leaving too soon, not our determination to stay."

Can you direct me to these polls? I've never heard them and I'd certainly like to see them.


Gus Moner - 11/8/2003

Ah, Mr Lloyd, there is plenty of evidence of he cabal. One may choose to ignore or deny it, but the evidence is there. I cannot prove the man is an idiot, however.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

I think HNN's server is buggy tho; I've posted things that have ended up disappearing entirely, particularly when i include links.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

You'll recall that in 1991 France joined the coalition in full force after Iraq attacked its embassy in Kuwait. This time round France had already decided a priori not to support the U.S. effort against Hussein. Now we've found their missiles used in the major hotel attack last week. And a refusal to yield on Iraq's Ba'athist era debts. And a demand to allow French firms in to bid on the oil contracts.

Alec Lloyd is right: you're arguing from an arrogant amero-centric position. It's always the U.S. as the main actor, not anyone else.


Herodotus - 11/8/2003

http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/2002_10_06_corner-archive.asp

search for "edmund birkenstock". Besides your postings here, it's the only major hit online.


Dave Livingston - 11/8/2003

In error. Nixon was not impeached. Only two of our Presidents have been impeached, Andrew Johnson & the Bastard from Hope, Arkansas

Englhardt's tirade would make more sense if he hadn't partly ducked the reason we conquered Iraq, & it wasn't to take control of its oil.

Too bad the terrorists of 9/11 didn't crash their aircrsaft into the U. N. building rather than the WTC, then perhaps the Left would remember the events of 9/11.

Engelhardt is evidently correct, if "Stratfor.com" is to be believed, that indeed one of the reasons we conquered Iraq was to emplace permanent, essentially permanent, for the next generation or two, a dominating military prescence into the Middle East in order to accomplish at three purposes: 1) to pressure regional governments into depriving al-qaeda of recruiting groiunds & fund-raising efforts within those governments' borders. The implication being if those governments fail to rein in al-qaeda & other militant Islamic groups' operations, we'll do it for them & by the by brushing aside the given government(s), 2) to deny al-qaeda of operating room in friendly environments, & 3) to give us secure operations bases from which to launch future attacks upon al-qaeda in Afghanistan, East Africa and West and Central Asia.

A fourth possible goal was to discredit al-qaeda among the Islaamic masses by demonstrating all al-qaeda accomplished with its attacks upon the U.S. was the loss of Afghanistan and Iraq to the West.

Bleating about whether or no we complied with some U.N. resolution is fruitless. The U.N. is a creature made and financed by us, it doesn't rule us. If the petty windbags in the U.N. get our way of defending ourselves they will regret it.

The whining Left keeps complaing about the misrule of this administration. They bleat away, the weak sheep that threy are, but they shouting fruitlessly into a hurricane. This is made evident by by recent elections. In the past twelve months, according to the columnist Cal Thomas, the G.O.P. has won 5 of 5 elctions for governor, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland & Mississippi, boosting the G.O.P.'s total control of statehouses to 29. Among those 29 are the four largest states in the Union. As Cal says, "It looks like a trend..."

Moreover retiring Democratic Senator Zell of Georgia has openly stated he plans come next November to vote for Bush, that in his opinion "Bush is doing a good job," and that none of the Democratic canfdidates are worth his vote--that's a Democratic Senator who also says he's never before voted for a zRepublican for President.

The Democratic Party's leadership has become so radical and out-of-touch with ordinary Americans it has endangered the very existence of the party in the South.


Edmund Birkenstock - 11/7/2003

I disagree slightly with Gus. Saddam was not fully and freely disarming as the UN required him to. There were grounds for regime change, in a least the limited sense of October 2002. But, it was very clearly left up to the UN, not Karl Rove, to decide how and when to use military means to enforce compliance with its resolutions.

1990 was very different. That time the UN did grant member states authority to use military force to repel Saddam from Kuwait. We could then have gone after him in Baghdad, for war crimes, and probably had real Iraqi allies with us as well, but Daddy Bush decided not to. Much less competent Junior wanted to "correct" Daddy's mistake, and has instead turned a large mess into a gigantic one.




Edmund - 11/7/2003


See the comment "So", placed on the wrong thread, above.
(My mistake, not a virus).


Edmund Birkenstock - 11/7/2003

There were legitimate arguments for a first-strike to take out Saddam, though the Bush administration failed to make them effectively, and had a credibility deficit due to its earlier withdrawal-from-the-world policies. A rationale of exhausted alternatives probably could have been employed successfully to obtain real substantive international support for an invasion in 2004 (ala 1991) had Bush been indifferent to his 2004 election chances or capable of exhausting alternatives to war before resorting to it. Instead we had the rushed 2003 invasion which failed to get much support abroad. Dubya obviously gambled that America could pull it off with just the UK with us. This politically-motivated blunder is now costing America dearly.


Edmund - 11/7/2003

Therefore ? You will soon reveal your real name ?


Edmund - 11/7/2003


Nothing to do with Goldberg, whoever he may be, unless by pure coincidence.


Edmund Birkenstock - 11/7/2003

Lloyd, will you ever learn to stop arguing by making up fables about other posters ? I am not part of your straw man "anti-war" movement, never was, and probably never will be, so kindly desist from that BS. The last "war" I was "against" was Grenada, if you are old enough to remember that one. I am not against war in general. I am against badly managed and counterproductive war. I would not have been against a well-planned and well-managed war to replace Saddam waged by a U.S. government that had a clue how to go about it. They got lucky in Afghanistan and it went to their arrogant and incompetent heads.

If UN approval in 1991 was just a fluke, not likely to be repeated, why did Bush Junior try so hard and express such firm hopes (though obviously dashed in the end) that he would get it in 2003 ?

Face it: Daddy Bush was competent, if limited in international affairs, Junior is incompetent.


Rapunzel - 11/7/2003


Guess it was a good thing that the "traitor" Richard Nixon, who was in the government that "refused to win the war" in Vietnam, was impeached.


Alec Lloyd - 11/7/2003

I just penned a lengthy reply that explained how campaigns of this sort entail detailed planning but it has disappeared into the ether and I am not minded to type it again.

Suffice to say that logistics are far greater constraints than campaign cycles. Indeed, given the frequency of American elections, it is impossible to train, deploy, initiate and conclude a campaign of this size without it overlapping some political season.

The date is far from as arbitrary as you imply. If you require an additional explanation I will provide one.


Herodotus - 11/7/2003

I like the term oil-soaked satrapy. Good turn of phrase.


Herodotus - 11/7/2003

Long and harrassed supply lines were part of the original plan. The role of the 101st and 82nd Airborne in the campaign was to work the supply line protection. Note that the only significant casualties along the supply lines were from the 507th, and they took a wrong turn.


Herodotus - 11/7/2003

I'm not trying to imply anything. I chose it at random. Your name, a google search turns up, seems to come from a note by Jonah Goldberg.


Gus Moner - 11/7/2003

“No other army has advanced so rapidly into hostile terrain while subsisting on its own supplies”
What? Get real, 500 kilometres? Mr Lloyd, with your proven knowledge of military history, I am surprised.

The Germans marched into France through Belgium on their own, before that into Norway, before that into Poland, later into Greece, N Africa, etc. and finally into the USSR, well over 3,000 km. Let’s not get carried away over a few hundred kilometres.

Hostile terrain? When the entire Iraqi enemy army melted away to fight another day? All resistance given was sporadic so their troops could escape. It was often a no-man’s land, with sporadic resistance. Hostile terrain would be the ferocious defence of the USSR.

It is too soon to determine just how much planning has taken place – not for the military operation but for the post-war contingencies. It all seems haphazard at best, for now.

“Bush (…) somehow (…) keeps achieving his goals”. That depends. If only the goals didn’t keep changing, we’d know if this comment you have made is true. You too, come to see, keep changing the goal posts and are becoming more propagandistic than factual. Pity.

You claimed that Bush accomplished his goal “the removal of a brutal, terrorist-sponsoring dictatorship” The original debate on Iraq after 9/11 was whether the US had a serious and gathering threat, later whether the US had the right to invade Iraq to ‘disarm Iraq’ that is, remove WMD, without UN approval. Iraq did not support terrorists, as both Condi and George 43 admitted in interviews after Cheney again tried to link them. How can you write such rubbish now?

Then you go even further:
“America's liberation and now pacification of Iraq is, quite simply, an unprecendented success”.
Where the war has just begun you too precipitously declare victory or rather ‘success’ a tad early, like your hero Bush 43. Invasion and occupation did happen, yes. Liberation and pacification are rather debatable. Iraq was rather quiet before the US and UK invaded it. No WMD, no terror connections. Now about ½ is a chaotic hornets’ nests.

”No general can see the future, and expecting the Pentagon to somehow know everything that would transpire 6 months after its troops crossed the start line is quite frankly, insane”.

Now, now, we’re not asking for crystal balls. However, Iraq repeatedly warned us of guerrilla war and not set-piece battles. They warned of drawing us in and then little by little another Vietnam. It should have been part of the planning. The ease of advance upon entering hostilities should have been a tell tale sign the enemy was not going to come out and fight US superior weaponry in battle, but rather engage in guerrilla tactics.

”No military campaign is flawless. Victory and defeat is never uniform, but rather the aggregate of many local successes and setbacks. Take the most lop-sided battle and the loser will still be able to point to some area where things went their way, or, failing that, where they at least disrupted the attacker's plans”.

I agree here, as in the Marne. Both sides claimed success but the victory went to France, which avoided losing its army in the infamous ‘sack’ and halted the Germans.


The war was planned to fight battles in the desert. When that did not happen, the US declared victory. It seems to me they were utterly unprepared for the enemy, which seems to have begun fighting shortly after Bush’s declaration of the end.

I disagree that anti-war organisations are pro dictatorship or favour its adherents and trappings. It is sheer lies and propaganda to claim that on the basis of your assessment of a single, solitary group- assuming your out-of-context quotes and assessment are right.


Gus Moner - 11/7/2003

Mr Markell mentions the “obvious justice of ending Saddam's totalitarian rule” In his own mind, in his peculiar thinking, the US is obliged to dethrone despots at will. This one yes, that one no. If they have oil, OK, better if Israel fears them.

Just who gave the US the right to change regimes? Did anyone ask the Iraqis?

Just how was 1441 violated? Iraq gave their report, inspectors were allowed in, and nothing was found. Iraq was anyway invaded, and still nothing was found. 1441 gave no right to change regimes. Nor, did the signatories and those who voted it believe there would be unilateral action without UN approval. Iraq did not thrash its last chance. The US/UK thrashed it for them. You are mad if you think the US had a right to invade at this stage of the game.

It’s not about exalting Saddam or thrashing Bush, poor fellow, who seems to have been misled by his trusted newsreaders. It’s about whether one state has the right to invade another without being threatened or without a real reason.


Gus Moner - 11/7/2003

Mr Markell believes, as does Mr Lloyd, apparently, that the writer and any other people who oppose the US invasion, occupation and exploitation of Iraq see the choices as either Saddam or what we have now, guerrilla war. Frankly, it is a bit simplistic. The issues are not so clear cut.

Given that we have already invaded Iraq and removed Saddam and if Saddam was the target, then the mission is accomplished because it seems there were none of the weapons of mass destruction they flogged upon us, which were the supposed reason that Saddam was the target in the first place.

But the issue is not either the US invasion or keeping Saddam. The ceaseless arguments about this sidestep the crucial question. Why is it the US’ role to go to war to make this (or any other) regime change? Who anointed the US with the right or power to establish who should govern where?

It is not the role of any nation to interfere in the internal affairs of others. This is precisely what is being done. The US will never win a guerrilla war against Muslims in the midst of the Muslim world.

Now that we have an Iraqi advisory council, the error to disband the security and military can be corrected. They can be empowered to provide Iraq’s security. The US can help maintain basic services in the interim and help draft the constituent process. Once the system is in place, the electors can choose their government and we can depart.

Now, the author claims the US does not want to depart, never did, and offers just enough proof to make a case. That has a different odour and is another discussion.

All the good being done will never be enough, for occupier we are to many still, and no number of schools or newspapers will ever eliminate that for its a question of the heart and soul of a people. It cannot be bought with schools or set aside villages as was tried in Nam.

We cannot undo Bush’s error in Iraq. I won’t go into whether it was deliberate; perhaps he truly believed all he was told, after all he admits he gets all his info from very limited sources. We can do the best we can to set up a new regime and go home.

Mr Markell has gone a bit far to say the author wants the defeat of the US when he says that "For me at least, the imperial occupation of the lands of this earth - whatever the empire - is unacceptable." I do not read that into the statement and it seems a typical hysterical, semantic reaction to not having a proper argument for the author’s comment.

It is false that no one was concerned about brutal Iraqi crimes before, since many organisations opposed to the war also pointedly accused Iraq of human rights violations before and after the threat from Bush. Why do we not invade Tajikistan, where they boil opposition members? Or Burma, Ukraine and Belarus, where the opposition is killed or imprisoned with regularity? Or Russia where the opposition with money is imprisoned and their property seized?

It’s the hypocrisy of singling out Iraq for attack, for the benefit of oil companies and Israel in an administration populated by Judeo Christian fundamentalist crusaders many with links to the profiteering corporations whilst dressing it up under the mantra of the 11th of September and the fight against terrorists that galls and gnaws at people.

Now, Bush having made a speech this first week of November 2003 before the Council for Democracy, on democracy in the Muslim world, full of warnings to the region’s US stooges to democratise or lose aid and support, has started a democratisation crusade. The speech told all in the region they will force democratic changes, who knows by what methods.

In the region mentioned are Iran, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Azerbaijan. All of these nations, except Iran and Libya, have undemocratic client regimes propped up by the USA.

Simultaneous to Bush’s grandiloquent uttering this first week of November the USA agreed and announced a collaboration agreement with the puppet military regime in Algeria for a listening station in the desert for X millions of dollars in “assistance.” It is all baloney, this democratising crusade and none of our business to initiate it and interfere in people’s governance. It is hypocritical window dressing to put another face on the occupation of Iraq.

It was intelligent from the dictator’s point of view to keep the world believing he was armed to the teeth in order to stave off the wolves. However, if the US had really believed there were WMD there, in the numbers and at the levels of danger that required invasion, there would have been negotiation. Look at N Korea.

So, in the end, we all have a bloody nose, and unfortunately thousands of US soldiers are maimed and wounded whilst over 300 are dead. Saddam fooled everyone, the exiles fooled their mates in Washington, who fooled the President and everyone ended up on the wrong side of the WMD issue. We have spent 120,000 million dollars and counting on what Gerhard Schroeder correctly called and adventure.

Yes, the author is unfortunately right. The exit strategy was never there, for there were no plans to leave. The plan was that once we entered and were hailed as liberating heroes, set up our bases and our puppets there (the Jordanian convict Chabili, and gang) and got the oil under control, we would be there at the request of the Iraqis. The hitch is, that many Iraqis don’t like that plan.

The terrorist see this as a brilliant opportunity to not have to cross the ocean to give us our bloody nose. After having directly and indirectly contributed to some 4-5 million Muslim deaths we set our own trap for their revenge.

Now, if we do not leave with some haste and with a government in place, we will be trapped in what was not there before the invasion, a terrorist web in Iraq. The result of all this is that we have turned a country with a nasty dictator but no links to terrorists into a terrorist’s paradise and no dictator to control it; a lawless land, bereft of governance with porous borders, full of weapons and in near civil war, beckoning people who have developed a hatred for US policies towards Palestinians and Muslims the past 30-50 years. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the cumulative result of US policies by all the presidents since Kennedy for ignoring US national interests and blindly siding with Israel. However, in all fairness to them, the current state of guerrilla war and the mess in Iraq is mostly the result of the Bush Doctrine.

Mr Merkell says that the pacifists “raise no concerns or effective political opposition to four million dead in the Congo, two million dead and enslaved in Sudan, two million starved and the rest enslaved in North Korea, hundreds of thousands dead in Chechnya, etc., etc.”

Well, apart from being wrong, pacifists do complain of these abusive situations, the US warmongers gun ho for Iraq for the black gold and they do nothing about these other places either. What have they done except nothing?

Chechnya lies in Russia’s sphere of influence, Congo is valuable to the US as a disaster area from which to extract minerals from. North Korea, unlike Iraq can fight back; Sudan is a battleground between Christian missionaries and Muslims, a settlement there may be possible if we can save the missionaries.

Call a spade a spade. Israel and the US are the great imperialist threats today. Name all the great powers or pretenders currently invading and occupying foreign soil? Israel, the USA, … and perhaps one could make the case for China in Tibet. End of imperialist threats.

All the other potential invading nations, some 190, are staying home and looking after the garden.


Alec Lloyd - 11/7/2003

An admirable try, but even that doesn't wash.

Turkey is not a unitary actor; it's own political situation is far from stable and it is clear that internal factions carried far more weight than any external influence.

Mr. Birkenstock, you have once again demonstrated the bizarre condescension of the anti-war movement: namely that other actors (states, governments, parties) seemly can have no motivations of their own, they may only react to the US.

This is an amazingly egocentric view of the world; in essence it assumes that if the US does not pull the strings, the rest of the world will sit, inert. In fact, they have their own strategies and motivations, many of which do not conincide with our.

Diplomacy has its uses, but it cannot reconcile factions in fundamental opposition. You, any many, simply assume that the right turn of a phrase could magically make hitherto feuding parties agree. That simply isn't the case.

The example you give is far more indicative of Turkish vacillation than the failure of American diplomacy. Similarly, the fact that France unilaterally and premptively vetoed any subsequent UN authorization in Iraq has more to due with Gallic intransigence than American diplomatic ineptitude.

The strategic balance of power has changed since 1991, and France now views the US as a great power rival, not a protector.

The "unamimous" UN support in 1991 was the result of peculiar tradeoff and circumstances, not the least of which was the Soviet hope that the US would help shore it up in exchange for UN support in Iraq. At the same time, the UN limited the scope of action, guarenteeing Saddam's murderous dictatorship would stay in power - exactly what the UN tried to do this year as well.

When you get down to it, all the UN agreed to do in 1991 was reestablish an oil-soaked satrapy, keeping a tight lid on democracy and self-determination, while at the same time mouthing empty tributes to human rights and international law.

When faced with the resulting uprising - by Iraqis who naively believed the UN would help them - the august body turned away and let them be slaughtered.

Call it what you will, it was hardly a victory for humanity.

If your definition diplomatic success entails democracies acquiescing with genocide and idly watching cease-fire agreements being violoated, we could use with more "bungling."


Edmund - 11/7/2003

For one example of many bunglings, just look at Turkey. Incredible bribing and arm-twisting and hue and cry by Powell etc, last winter and what was the result ? No second front, massive reshipment of US troops through Suez, delayed invasion, long and harassed supply lines, aggravating the problem of insufficient US forces. Then this summer, more long bribe-filled negotiations to obtain Turkish occupation forces, which then aren't going to come after all and realistically never were a good idea to start with. Lost opportunities and mistakes all over the place.

The point about the UN was that competent US diplomats in 1990 got it behind us. Incompetent US leaders this time failed, embarrassingly and miserably, to do the same, and America is now paying a high price for a costly go-it-alone occupation.


Edmund - 11/7/2003

I was using a nickname for you but did not intend to imply historical meaning thereby. What meaning are you trying to imply by your choice of pen name ?


Edmund - 11/7/2003

I said, "preventative" not "preventable". We can discuss policies, if we are willing to read what the other discussants say.

The motives were corrupt in that the timing was set to suit the election cycle not America's interests. It would have been just as valid to go to war in 2001 or 2002 or 2004 as in 2003. The ineptitude is illustrated by the bungled diplomacy which (unlike 1990) means that America has had to pick up almost the whole tab this time.


Herodotus - 11/7/2003

Herod was king of the Israelites at the time of the early Roman Empire. Herodotus the historian lived much earlier than that along the coast of what is now Turkey.

I hope you can keep them straight.


Alec Lloyd - 11/7/2003

Perhaps Mr. Birkenstock will show an example in military history where an outnumbered attacker advanced at greater speed, using longer supply lines to achieve a swifter victory?

The classic example of a "walkover" has been Poland in 1939. In that case, two noted military lightweights (Nazi Germany and the USSR) combined to hit Poland and even then, with the advantage of concentric attacks and strategic surprise, the Germans sustained 10,000 battle deaths and took one week longer to gain the capital.

Should our forces have teleported into Baghdad? Maybe used their new "suppression rays" to stop anyone from being hurt?

Any legitimate criticisms you may have are completely undermined by remarks such as this.

By historical standards (and this is a history web site) both the invasion and the occupation were flawless. In terms of deaths, they rate little more than a plane crash.

If your standard for something that isn't "bungled" is world-historical perfection where nothing goes wrong and no one dies, than Robert E. Lee, Napoleon Bonaparte and every other great captain in history is a hopeless incompetent.

Yet another example of how some criticisms simply can't be taken seriously.


Alec Lloyd - 11/7/2003

Mr. Birkenstock, I am happy to discuss our policy with you. However, before I can do so, I must correct your premise:

“Foolish and unworkable policies of unilateral preventative war, corruptly motivated, and very ineptly implemented were the point of my first post.”

Once again, you can’t even being a discussion without throwing perjorative language around. Have you any proof that the “motives” of this war were corrupt? That its implementation was inept?

These are throwaway attacks, garbage that adds nothing to debate and has no basis in fact - indeed, can have no basis in fact, unless you have a new “morality meter” that can detect individual levels of purity.

This war was not preventable, indeed it was started in 1991 and had never really ended. You want to paint a picture of perfect peace, when in fact this situation was highly unstable. This tension could not last. At some point, one side or the other would give. Either Saddam would escape from his “box” or we would remove him. The current course of action, where he is deposed, his people freed and his sadistic sons killed seems far better than one where he completes his WMD research, passes them onto his psychotic progeny, and launches a new conflict.

Your next statement is most revealing:

“(Successful and skillfully implemented policies occurred in the 1991 war, when full UN approval was obtained and the U.S. paid almost none of the costs. The peace was then blown, but at least there was a peace to blow.) “

First off, I cannot help but notice your use of the passive voice. These policies just sort of “happened?” Hardly. They were implemented in the teeth of anti-war resistance. George H.W. Bush’s decision to use military force happened BEFORE the UN acted, and UN support was only obtained after the United States had committed to a course of action. We led, the UN followed.

This veneer of international consensus came with a high price: US action was severely constrained. The US could have deposed Saddam with minimal difficulty at that time, saving hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. Instead, we deferred to the UN, let the Shias get massacred, doomed the Kurds to another bout of genocide, watched as the Marsh Arabs were decimated, and earned a reputation for fickleness that dogs us to this very day.

You see, Mr. Birkenstock, there was no real “peace.” There was the “peace of the dictator” which is different from what most people consider peace. To a dictator, peace means the ability to kill without consequence. Saddam certainly had that peace and was able to slaughter Iraqis with little outside interference.

But this “peace” was a strange one: the US was forced to keep extensive forces in the region on constant alert. We and we alone paid that cost, and the cost associated with our bases: namely the anger of Bin Laden and his radicals.

This “peace” was the most violent and expensive in history, for it was no peace, merely and extended lull in the fighting. If you cannot accept this reality, further discussion is pointless.

But to continue, you remark:

”It was you, in fact, who misleadingly brought up "hatred" and "conspiracies" of "imagined people behind them". “

Again, re-read your above remarks. You can’t write a word about this administration without inserting insults and perjorative adjectives. For your, it is received knowledge that George W. Bush is stupid and his staff motivated solely by nefarious schemes. For the rest of us, it is merely evidence of your own hatred.

And finally:
“And please, no fables about Saddam bin Laden.”

I’m not sure what you mean. If you are attempting to deny that Saddam Hussein had clear and proven ties to terrorist groups, we can again abandon this discussion right now. The ties are obvious to anyone seriously examining the matter.

Part of the reason one resorts to using terrorist proxies is plausible deniability. Terrorists are hard to trace and give the host country an “out” when they ignite global outrage. They don’t wear uniforms and carry neat little tattoos explaining where they come from and who is paying them. Instead, we must use a careful investigative process and, yes, some intuition to determine their origin and funding.

Fortunately, the evidence for Saddam’s terrorist support is clear even without guesswork – at least for those who aren’t afraid to look. Numerous notorious terrorists had the run of Baghdad under his regime and were captured once we invaded. Saddam has a proven track record of sponsoring terrorist activity and operations, the only question is how deep his links go. Certainly he had the motive and the means – and a history of such activity. To deny he had any role in terrorism at this point is willfully closing one’s eyes to the facts.

Sadly, that seems to be the mean feature of much of the “anti-war” lobby (as opposed to ANSWER, which has objectively thrown its lot in with our enemies).


Herodotus - 11/7/2003

bungled bungled bungled. There's still more infrastructure, education, health care, political order, security (yes security...far fewer people are being rounded up and sent into horrible prisons or being raped in front of their family members), and justice than there was a year ago.

At any rate, I invited you to investigate whether the outstanding resolution from 1990/1991 was the precept for intervention this time. You quote a single paragraph at me from the resolution. That's too thin. Not interested in unravelling the complexities of this? What did the members of the Security Council think of the original resolution? Did it form the precedent for the 1998 actions? What about the 14 others that the UN Security Council had passed in the meantime? If the UN walked away from them, it would very well have been like 1931 all over again. Instead, the U.S. took up the intent of all those resolutions--to force compliance with Hussein's original agreement to remove his WMD and adhere to the UN's wishes--and acted on them. We offered to put this under a new cap of yet another Security Council resolution, but the French announced that they would veto it regardless...even before we might have begun negotiating terms for some compromise that would have allowed it to be multilateral. Since the French weren't interested, it didn't happen. But the administration put up a good effort nonetheless.

So the U.S., Britain, Australia, Poland and others did what the UN Security Council could not do because of French intrasigence. So now the Iraqis are happy (and if you don't believe that I invite you to check out any number of bloggers in Iraq who are saying as much). Meanwhile the French, those champions of the rights of the oppressed worldwide, are demanding that the Iraqis pay back the loans incurred under the Ba'athists. No liberation, but please pay up. Now who's looting the country?


Herodotus - 11/7/2003

A virus would not likely be so specific as to make a related posting on a single thread in a single webpage.

There was someone spoofing the name Herodotus elsewhere a few weeks ago, and I've seen it done with other names in here. It's going to grow into a larger problem soon, as it has on some of the comments sections of independent blogs. I predict about a month or two.


James Thornton - 11/7/2003

"The irony here is that what an Iraqi military of 400,000 couldn't hope to do, relatively small groups of ill-armed men and women are doing." - Tom Engelhardt

With this statement Mr. Engelhardt suggests that the US Military is losing the war in Iraq. This is highly offensive and skirts on treason. War is a contest of will and only very rarely is it over when one side is annihilated by the other. Invariably, one side gives in and the other claims victory. Mr. Engelhardt and those like him who call for an unconditional withdrawal from Iraq are wrong to the point that they are harming national security. In Vietnam, the US lost because the government refused to win the war and ultimately lost the support of the American people. So long as this administration makes its best attempt to win this war then it will retain my support.

We cannot allow those with a lack of intestinal fortitude to lead us to failure in such a critical endeavor as the war in Iraq.


Edmund - 11/7/2003


And its not you, Herod. You are not long-winded enough to qualify as a bonafide propagandist. Often you even make good sense, even if your "name appropriation" is not very original.


Edmund - 11/7/2003


Doubt it. Off topic remarks are not a "fight". Maybe a virus on Markell's computer ?


Edmund - 11/7/2003

Foolish and unworkable policies of unilateral preventative war, corruptly motivated, and very ineptly implemented were the point of my first post.(Successful and skillfully implemented policies occurred in the 1991 war, when full UN approval was obtained and the U.S. paid almost none of the costs. The peace was then blown, but at least there was a peace to blow.)

It was you, in fact, who misleadingly brought up "hatred" and "conspiracies" of "imagined people behind them".

And please, no fables about Saddam bin Laden.


Edmund - 11/7/2003

The relevant portion of the relevant earlier resolution (687 from 1991) states that the UN:

"34. Decides to remain seized of the matter and to take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the area."

No carte blanche for Rumsfeld to launch a bungled war and an even more badly bungled occupation.


Herodotus - 11/6/2003

two thirds of the HNN propagandists...

who would the third be? Pipes? Carpenter? Your screeds become tiresome.


Herodotus - 11/6/2003

name appropriation, or Imping, as it's known, is starting to happen more frequently. It's the last refuge of those who cannot win their fight with words.


Herodotus - 11/6/2003

Mr. Birkenstock might wish to examine whether the failure of the Ba'athists to adhere to 1441 meant a defacto reversion to the original Security Council resolution, from 1990, that authorized force to make Hussein comply, and the subsequent resolutions to compel Hussein to continue to comply with the terms of the ceasefire.

You're being inconsistent on the toothless/Iraqi people happy for liberation bit.


Alec Lloyd - 11/6/2003

Playing a large role does not mean running the show from the background. Many leaders achieve greatness not through their individual actions but through their choice of subordinates.

All of which is immaterial, since you don't have a problem with who's calling the shots, you simply don't like the policies being implemented.

At the same time, you feel the need to denigrate your "enemy" (Bush, not the terrorists, of course) so you pick the easiest insult in the book: you call him stupid.

But this then leads to a problem: if he's stupid, how come he keeps racking up victories at your side's expense?

The answer is twofold: the people are stupid as well (except when they pick your side, of course) and Bush isn't actually doing anything, it's his evil genius handlers that are responsible.

Might I suggest a better activity would be to dicuss the policies themselves, rather than the (real or imagined) people behind them?


Elia Markell - 11/6/2003

Guess I should be flattered to think you've read all my posts.

As for the inconsistency, I do not see it. The UN resolutions were toothless until the U.S. put some teeth in them. What's the problem?


Elia Markell - 11/6/2003

I am not sure what the point is of expropriating my name, but I did not post the above note on Nuremberg, nor do I understand the point it is meant to make.

THE Elia Markell


Elia Markell - 11/6/2003

The Allies had been preparing for war crimes trials since
1942 and a UN War Crimes Commission had been gathering
evidence since October 1943. The International Military
Tribunal was created in August 1945, indictments were served
on 18 October 1945, and the trial commenced on 20 November.
It did not conclude until 31 August 1946


Edmund - 11/6/2003

UN resolutions are toothless.

or

Iraqis are jubilant because Cheney and his Administration enforced UN resolutions.

Just go ahead and choke on your uneaten cake, Elia while you rationalize that inconsistency.

I only know about you what you have revealed in your 278 posts here. Or is 279 ? Nobody gives a hoot about my last name, why should I give a hoot about yours ?


Elia Markell - 11/5/2003

Neocon?

How is it, Birkenstock, you know this about me. Perhaps it's my last name that gives it away? Oh well.

As for your UN parsing. What exactly does this phrase mean:

"it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;"

I guess you like the idea of the UN issuing toothless threats it never intends or tries to enforce. I don't. The U.S. did the UN a big favor. It postponed a day of reckoning for an institution that devotes a third of its time hectoring Israel while crimes go unpunished. It's enough for me that we took the action we did. As the Iraqis themselves say, "better late than never."



Edmund Birkenstock - 11/5/2003

Like many chronic propagandists, Lloyd has trouble distinguishing his own mischaracterizations from reality. I said nothing about any "conspiracies". For evidence on relative importance of Dick Cheney as compared to George Bush in the obsessive drive to "preventative" war in Iraq on a unilateralist timetable, see the Wall Street Journal, page 1, March 17, 2003: "the vice president has played the largest role of all".


Alec Lloyd - 11/5/2003

Thank you for clearing that up. So Bush is, in your worldview, utterly idiotic, but is surrounded by a cunning cabal, right?

Do you have any evidence of this, or is this simply your propaganda?


Edmund Birkenstock - 11/5/2003

Mssrs. Markell and Lloyd, two thirds of the HNN commenters trio of Cheney administration propagandists, have given us the latest installments of their half-truths, misattributions, and obfuscations.

Nowhere did I ever endorse ANSWER or the so-called anti-war protesters. On the contrary, I quite plainly labelled their critique "misplaced". Nor do I "hate" Bush. He means well, but readily confuses his own political survival with the interests of America, and is all too often manipulated by older and cagier ex-cronies of his Dad who surround him.

To hide the phoniness of their "conservatism", neo-cons like Lloyd and Markell have a recurring need to lump real thinking conservatives in with wishy washy pacifist "liberals" and let the truth be damned. This bogus tactic will not stand the test of time.

UN resolution 1441 did NOT authorize America and Britain to invade Iraq without UN approval. The text of that resolution is available on the web. The concluding portions of 1441 state that the UN Security Council

"11. Directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director-General of the IAEA to report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution;

12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;

13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;

14. Decides to remain seized of the matter."


David - 11/5/2003

You're right about U.S. troops not being able to keep the peace. That's why we are training and deploying the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis necessary for the job.

Except this isn't accomplished in 3 weeks. Yes, we must leave Iraq, just as we left Germany and Japan. But we must leave on the Bush Administration's timetable, not yours, not Osamas, not the baathists.

Everything else you say about "imperialism" and "occupation", etc is just rhetoric. It doesn't help improve the lives of a single individual in Iraq, or our troops. All it does is make the U.S. and Bush look bad. That's your goal isn't it?


Alec Lloyd - 11/5/2003

Mr. Birkenstock's reveal two salient facts: that he intensely dislikes the Bush administration and that dislike is so powerful as to overcome all reason.

Military operations require extensive planning. The war in Iraq involved the most impressive display of logistical planning in world history. No other army has advanced so rapidly into hostile terrain while subsisting on its own supplies.

The buildup in Kuwait took months. It was not flawless, but no military operation is. Apparently in Mr. Birkenstock's world, Napoleon, Manstein and Patton never suffered a single setback, either.

This is where the wheels really fall of the anti-war cart. They demand absolute perfection in planning, which is of course impossible. Using their logic, D-Day was an abject failure, since none of the first day's objectives were seized. Indeed, it was a total debacle because the PLANNING didn't take every single German strategem into account.

This may come as news to Mr. Birkenstock, but military historians have long known that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. Those commanders that have rigidly adhered to their plans in the fact of rapidly changing circumstances have uniformly gone down to defeat.

Mr. Birkenstock believes in a series of deep contradictions. He believes Bush is an absolute moron, but must also credit him with supra-genius level cunning because somehow he keeps achieving his goals.

Elia Markell has already noted another one: because Bush is so evil, he can do no right. Thus, the removal of a brutal, terrorist-sponsoring dictatorship has to have been a mistake because Bush did it.

And because it wasn't done on a perfect timeline with zero casualties, it must be a disaster. Again, this utterly ignores every shred of historical evidence to the contrary: America's liberation and now pacification of Iraq is, quite simply, an unprecendented success. This does not mean that it is without setbacks or losses, merely that compared with any similar adventure, its low cost in lives and speed is without peer.

No general can see the future, and expecting the Pentagon to somehow know everything that would transpire 6 months after its troops crossed the start line is quite frankly, insane.

No military campaign is flawless. Victory and defeat is never uniform, but rather the aggregate of many local successes and setbacks. Take the most lop-sided battle and the loser will still be able to point to some area where things went their way, or, failing that, where they at least disrupted the attacker's plans.

Mr. Birkenstock is therefore utterly irrational in his criticism. The war was planned out amazingly well and the Pentagon has showed impressive flexibility in shifting to various pacification strategies.

If anyone is rigidly adhering to a failed plan, it is the anti-war left. So overcome with hatred are they, many (like ANSWER) are now openly siding with Saddam's Baathist hold-outs and Islamofascist allies.

When ANSWER calls for "unqualified support" for the "insurgents" but sends no troops, does that make them "chickenhawks" as well?


Elia Markell - 11/5/2003


Poor Edmund.

He labors so mightily to reconcile the irreconcilable. To wit: How Edmund can square the obvious justice of ending Saddam's totalitarian rule with his equally obvious spiteful hatred of George W. Bush. Not an easy task. Hence we get nonsense like this:

"The only sensible way forward now is a mass repudiation of an inept and corrupt presidential administration, an apology to the world for the idiocy of that administration, followed by an attempt to salvage something out of the Iraq mess, by the only way that was ever possible: multilaterally."

Resolution 1441, violated (by Dec. 8) as all the others were violated, was passed unanimously. It gave Saddam one last chance. Remember? What did the so-called "international community" do "multilaterally" when Saddam trashed his last chance? NOTHING. Oh, sorry, let me amend that. It acted vigorously to protect the UN's disgrace and humiliation by trying at every step to thwart the U.S. from doing its dirty work for it.

So I am sorry, Edmund, you cannot eat your cake and have it. Either it was right for the U.S. to remove Saddam (messily, to be sure, as everything in real life is, by the way) or it is right to assail George W. You cannot have both, though mightly you may try to.


Edmund Birkenstock - 11/5/2003

It is misleading to accuse the Cheney-Rumsfeld administration of "never planning" to "leave Iraq". More correct would be: they never "planned" anything. This whole Iraq fiasco has been a never-ending series of improvisations, justified by a cascade of ever-shifting rationalizations. A weak president needed a campaign issue in order to get elected legitimately to national office for the first time. Old geezer chickenhawks, from his Daddy’s time and earlier, cooked up a foreign adventure for him and have bungled the heck out of it. Period, end of story. Forget this old Sixties fantasizing about oil and imperialism.

There was nothing inherently wrong or even inherently "imperial" with America wanting to liberate Iraq from Saddam. There are many things wrong with doing so incompetently, on the cheap, and with gratuitous insults and never-ending deceptions galore, as Americans who are not HNN propagandists for Cheney & Co are finally starting to realize.

The only sensible way forward now is a mass repudiation of an inept and corrupt presidential administration, an apology to the world for the idiocy of that administration, followed by an attempt to salvage something out of the Iraq mess, by the only way that was ever possible: multilaterally. Realistically, this cannot really start happening before November 2004, by which time it will probably be too late to stop a backwards slide towards authoritarianism in Baghdad, but at least America could then begin to restore some of its besmirched honor and reclaim its violated traditions.


Elia Markell - 11/4/2003

It's hard to believe anyone can believe nonesense like this:

"The irony here is that what an Iraqi military of 400,000 couldn't hope to do, relatively small groups of ill-armed men and women are doing."

The only way to account for this statement is to see it as a wish masquerading as a statement of fact. All that these "groups of ill-armed men and women" (are there any women among them?) are doing is further alienating their own people while exciting the defeatist juices of news reporters, Democrats and a few others who really do see Baathism's return to Iraq as preferable to a US-guided success of any sort.

Poll after poll makes clear that the Iraqis themselves fear our leaving too soon, not our determination to stay. The superior force that enabled us to end the conventional war in a few weeks (despite the quite extensive series of claims by the Engelhardts of the world that all was collapsing), will soon mop up these dead-enders, who do not constitute a guerrilla force of any sort no matter how much the critics of the U.S. try to spin them as such.

Engelhardt tells us he is no expert on Iraq. This has to be one of the more trustworthy of the statements in his Jeremiad, given the utter lack of anything factual about the conditions actually on the ground in Iraq now. Nothing about schools, hospitals, markets, the 170 plus freely operating newspapers, local councils, restored electricity and water, etc.

But in fact the conditions on the ground in Iraq itself are the last thing of interest to Engelhardt, as this statement of his makes crystal clear:

"For me at least, the imperial occupation of the lands of this earth - whatever the empire - is unacceptable."

In otherwords, it is the defeat of the U.S. that is the issue for Engelhardt, not anything at all having to do with the Iraqis. This statement is, of course, also a thoroughly dishonest claim given the fact that Saddam's Baathist thugs ran Iraq itself as a hideous empire for decades without Engelhardt's or any of the rest of the "peace movement's" raising any voice of concern at all. And it is this Baathist remnant that Engelhardt dignifies now as a "resistance" and is perfectly willing to see reinstalled.

Just as today he and his peace movement, his generation of "anti-victory culture" ideologues, raise no concerns or effective political opposition to four million dead in the Congo, two million dead and enslaved in Sudan, two million starved and the rest enslaved in North Korea, hundreds of thousands dead in Chechnya, etc., etc., but who, like the majority of Europeans apparently, see the democracies of Israel and the United States, as the great imperial threats, the greatest threats to peace today. A cruel age we live in, indeed. Crueler yet to be if we should withdraw from Iraq as Engelhardt urges.


Alec Lloyd - 11/4/2003

This entire article can be summed up in one sentence:

"Saddam Hussein should still be ruling Iraq."

Thanks for clearing that up.

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