Sunday, March 2, 2008

"Defend Our Marines" Replies to Jason Washburn

David Allender of Defend our Marines addresses Jason Washburn's and the Times On Line's Haditha claims.

Defend Our Marines is the most extensive storehouse on Haditha related material anywhere. It is a shame that members of the IVAW didn't follow what the site has been presenting in detail fora long time, as opposed to what they did and still do, in Robin's words:
The Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) wasted little time tossing the Haditha Marines under the Humvee.

75 comments:

Army Sergeant said...

I am sorry that Mr. Allender feels the need to make attacks on Corporal Washburn. He claims to have given Sgt Dela Cruz the benefit of the doubt, but somehow, does not give Washburn either benefit of the doubt or sympathy. I wonder if in his eyes, being an IVAW member takes away the necessity for all that?

Jason Washburn is a fine marine and a fine individual, and if I was a marine and not a soldier, I would be happy to have him watching my back. I know that even though he is out of military service currently, I still could count on him were I ever in trouble, which is more than I can say for some of his detractors.

Denis Keohane said...

Sarge,

How about any single member of IVAW having ever publicly giving the Haditha Marines any benefit of the doubt - instead of piling on?

Jason Washburn may walk on water and be all that you say, except, how can he still be talking about "revenge rampage" when that has been thoroughly disproven time and time again! It never happened!

What about those Marines, Sarge! After all they've been through, they still have to have IVAW member vets repeating the lie????

Robin said...

Army Sgt - you are crossing the line when you make statements like David attacking Washburn. Washburn is the one spouting off "rampage" and other completely debunked facts. I guarantee you that David knows more about Haditha than all the damned IVAW members put together. Washburn may be a fine Marine but he is far from truthful about the events of Haditha. The facts have proven it in this case. And I would take LCpl Sharratt watching my back any day over some "I heard" claims from someone WHO DID NOT SEE IT.

talon said...

Army Sergeant's comments are quite revealing. The only reputations they are concerned with are their own. No pangs of conscience for the reputations of the men and women that IVAW throws under the humvee - THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS.

Army Sergeant said...

I try to do what you claim you want-speak from my personal knowledge of what I have seen. I have witnessed evidence of Jason Washburn's character. You haven't, which is why you believe he's less than truthful-even though he freely admits where he's getting his information. Where's the lie there?

Thus Spake Ortner said...

Let me get this straight, we should honor Washburn, but you are free to sell Wuterich down the river?

That's the kind of logic I have come to expect.

Army Sergeant said...

Do you know him personally? Are you vouching your honor for his?

Take a glimpse at the different tones being used-it's enlightening. Or, don't, I guess. Where have you seen me speak badly of Wuterich? Where have you seen me sell anyone down the river?

People aren't attacking Washburn's claims, they're attacking him , which is where I draw the line. They're not saying, "I think he got bad intel and the case is not like that." They're suggesting he's unworthy. There's a huge difference there.

talon said...

Where is Washburn's evidence to support his "rampaging Marines" claim? Where is his evidence to support the claim this "wasn't an isolated incident"?

Hearsay isn't evidence, particularly when it's coming from unreliable witnesses.

If Washburn is going to spread rumors of "war crimes" without any evidence, his character is fair game. After all, he has had no qualms making fair game of the character of the Marines he has slandered.

NAMedic said...

AS said,
"I have witnessed evidence of Jason Washburn's character. You haven't,. . ."
Since when do you have to have first hand knowledge of what brand deodorent someone uses to know about them. A person's published opinions, maintained in the face of contradicting evidence, says a lot about their character.

streetsweeper95B said...

This is the point at which I'll ask: Why didn't this man report his concerns immediately after his "observing" an act, to a superior following the logical steps of Company CO & not getting satisfactory results taking it higher up the chain of command?

A paper trail once established is sufficient proof that nobody was acting on the alledged complaint. Oh wait! Never mind, I'mthinking of in the real world of good citizen's who would & should make a suspected crime known & reported to the proper authorities.

Instead of it being fabricated or taken entirely out of context by said individual & helped along by an VVAW/VFJ or some other punkass lowlife.

It's very comparable to the old street anology: "Officer, officer! I saw the whole thing!"....and did nothing to deter the situation. IE- Call 911 right f'ng then!

Dissenting Patriot said...

If you go back to the article and actually read through it, Washburn never cites Dela Cruz, nor does he comment on the Haditha incident. Dela Cruz's name is not even mentioned in the article in fact. The writers of the article mention the Haditha incident, but Jason Washburn is never quoted as making any sort of judgement on it whatsoever. He was in fact in Haditha on the day that incident occured, and that is all he claims (I asked him personally). Nor does he at any point in that article claim that he will be testifying on the Haditha incident at Winter Soldier.

Mr. Keohane, it is in the interest of all parties concerned to check their facts before making these sorts of allegations in a public forum.

talon said...

Washburn most certainly DOES comment on the Haditha incident - quoting from The Times Online:

By the time Washburn served in Haditha he was on his third combat tour. He was there on November 19, 2005, the day of the massacre when 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians were killed, including women and children.

“My squad was doing medivacs out of the town. I was not there to witness the shooting, but I know many marines who were.”

It was a squad in his unit that went on the rampage after their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED).

“I have a lot of feelings about this incident. A friend of mine from my first two tours was in that squad. He was the guy they gave immunity to to testify against the squad leader.

“The people on the ground are looking at serious prison time. Like life. The people who were giving orders were only relieved of command. And I don’t think that’s right.”

Washburn says Haditha was not an isolated incident. “It’s the one that just happened to be uncovered.”


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3444835.ece?Submitted=true

If you've got a problem with Mr. Allender's article, you should take it up with him. While Washburn may have not received his info from Dela Cruz, and he may not be testifying at WSI2, that is not the point of the article. The point of the article, quoting the author, is:


So here we go again. Marines will be condemned for Haditha based on rumors and sea stories. After an exhaustive investigation, there is no evidence to support Washburn's claim of "rampaging Marines".

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Washburn claims that Haditha “wasn’t an isolated incident”...

...The media is standing by to destroy the lives of any military member accused of a crime even on the flimsiest hearsay evidence. And flimsy hearsay evidence is what Washburn has to offer."

I.e., the point is the rampant, unsubstantiated "hearsay" that IVAW leaders and members have substituted for evidence up to this point in time. Will this suddenly change at WSI2? I doubt it, and the media should demand hard evidence before it accepts the claims of the people testifying at WSI2.

Dissenting Patriot said...

I concede that that is a weak point of the article: the interviewer asks Washburn about an incident about which he has only second-hand knowledge, and therefore he can only respond within the frame of reference of his own experiences.

However, Washburn and others will be testifying at Winter Soldier about their first-hand experiences, which collectively point to command responsibility for indiscriminate fire incidents and other such violations of the Geneva Conventions.

These testimonies are not intended to vilify rank-and-file service members; on the contrary, placed in proper context, they will place the blame squarely where it belongs: at the highest levels of our government.

NAMedic said...

D.P.
"These testimonies are not intended to vilify rank-and-file service members; on the contrary, placed in proper context, they will place the blame squarely where it belongs: at the highest levels of our government."

This is the exact same garbage peddled by the winter soldier leaders in VVAW in 1971. Are these same despicable traitors actually writing your lines for you? Because their exact lines are what you are spouting. And it is a transparent and obvious lie, because the outcome for millions of honorable Vietnam Veterans was exactly to get caught up in the smear of innuendo and lying generalization. We all suffereed for it, and many still do to this day.

Now its your turn, and you willingly swallow the bullshit and spit it back out.

Has it ever occurred to you that unless they make the case that everyone is involved, then they have NO CASE. It does not accomplish their intended anti-war propaganda purpose if it is clear that the "few bad apples" narrative is in fact true.

Read the damn magazine cover out of London for God's sake. "We came, We Saw, We murdered."

That's the message, and it impacts everyone who served.

And now you are a part of this campaign of disninformation and slander against millions. Is it any wonder the vast majority of veterans from all wars including the current one despise you?

Take comfort in your 700 twisted budies. There are a million others who throw up at the thought of you. And seven times that many from my Vietnam era who feel the same.

Wake Up!

NAMedic said...

One more thing to get straight. I'm sick of these IVAW types referring to their critics as "pro-war" - as in "war monger."
This is a typical propaganda trick,a false distinction, to create a false impression.

I'm not "pro-war." I'm pro-truth. THAT is the distinction between what I know and believe, and what IVAW and its ilk are doing now and have done before.

Dissenting Patriot said...

IVAW does not claim a monopoly on truth, nor is Winter Soldier intended to criminalize members of the military collectively. Anyone who concludes from the Winter Soldier testimonies that soldiers are "baby killers", etc. is just as mistaken as people who deny the horrible things we are responsible for in Iraq.

For every jarring testimony that will be heard at Winter Soldier you can find a positive story about soldiers who have risked their lives in their efforts to help the Iraqi people. This of course makes it difficult to reconcile conflicting information; but that fact makes it no less necessary to take new information in and measure the validity and weight of it in order to make a responsible decision on whether or not to continue supporting the war.

As for the comment about language such as "pro-war" and "war-monger", I would reserve such terms for a select few individuals and not for everyone who supports the war. I believe we are by and large moral individuals who support inherently terrible things such as wars because we believe they are necessary from a utilitarian perspective- i.e., if we do not continue to fight, more innocent people will die.

I do not like being called "anti-war", "traitor", etc. because by the same token, I am not ideologically opposed to war, nor am I trying to undermine the well-being of this country. I personally believe the continued occupation of Iraq is harmful to the security of our country based upon my understanding of the situation there. On the other hand, I largely support the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Others have different views. IVAW, like the military, represents a fairly diverse cross-section of America.

I digress. Have you seen "Taxi to the Dark Side" yet or done some research into the political decision-making that has been linked to the abuses at Abu Ghuraib? I think that would be a good place to start before jumping to conclusions about IVAW or WSI2.

Zero Ponsdorf said...

DP:

"These testimonies are not intended to vilify rank-and-file service members; on the contrary, placed in proper context, they will place the blame squarely where it belongs: at the highest levels of our government."

Hogwash!

So... what you ARE saying is that the Rank and File service members are simply dumber than shit.

If they were as enlightened as yourself they would choose NOT to serve.

I know logic is slightly less important to you (and your ilk) than facts, but come on.

Heard it all before. Come up with something new and original, you are boring.

NAMedic said...

Why is it that all the IVAW's who post comments here sound like Berkeley liberal arts professors who have been through reeducation camp sensitivity training three times.

Dissenting Patriot said...

ZP:

"So... what you ARE saying is that the Rank and File service members are simply dumber than shit.

If they were as enlightened as yourself they would choose NOT to serve."

This has nothing to do with intelligence or enlightenment. It has to do with information and how you act on it, whether as a citizen or a soldier. There is nothing wrong with serving in the military. What is wrong is when American citizens allow their political and military leaders to violate the law with impunity. It is every soldier's duty to speak out against that, within proper channels if possible and publicly if necessary. We have exhausted the first option.

Zero Ponsdorf said...

DP:
"What is wrong is when American citizens allow their political and military leaders to violate the law with impunity. It is every soldier's duty to speak out against that, within proper channels if possible and publicly if necessary. We have exhausted the first option."

Dissent is a right, even a responsibility, of citizenship.

Dissent cannot occur in a vacuum, however. It comes with consequences!

It would be interesting to see just how the IVAW has exhausted the 'first option' noted above. Available public information suggests it was skipped rather quickly.

Oh well, in a short while we'll all get to see if dissent is the focus or not. There is not a single item on the published agenda that addresses either dissent or working within the system.

talon said...

DP -

No doubt you have repeated that line about your intent so many times that you have come to believe it. While that gratuitous psycho-babble might wash with the ANSWERniks who take everything you say at face value because you tell them what they want to hear about the war ("systematic brutality", "we came, we saw, we murdered", etc., ad nauseum)it's not going to wash with those of us who have seen and heard all of this before. All you're doing is white-washing your own conscience before you tarnish the honor of every serviceman and woman serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the world. In the final analysis, who gives a damn whether you did it deliberately or inadvertantly? All that matters is that you DID it, and that is all that is going to matter to the men and women you defame, and none of them are going to believe your words and deeds were accidental in nature.

Amid the endless stream of unsubstantiated allegations made by the members of IVAW, I have no reason to believe that the so-called witnesses who will be testifying at WSI2 have exhausted proper legal procedure. Many, if not all, of the reports of "war crimes" emanating from IVAW were never reported to the authorities to be properly investigated in the first place. Furthermore, when claims such as those made by Jimmy Massey were investigated by the proper authorities, they were found to be false.

I'll tell you something that is wrong, DP, and that is defaming US service personnel with impunity. Your handlers at VVAW got away with it in 1971, and it appears that they have convinced you that IVAW can get away with it in 2008. You won't, no matter what you have convinced yourselves about due process and intent.

While we're on the subject of semantics, another term that is being loosely thrown around is "testimony". No one is testifying under oath at WSI2 - the people telling their stories should be called exactly what they are - STORY TELLERS.

Dissenting Patriot said...

We have issued reports up the chain of command, we have gone to the voting booths, we have delivered petitions, written to and met with legislators, held vigils, protested in the streets, and on and on ad nauseum for 5 years. Not only IVAW members but service members across the military and public servants across the government have fought within the system, seeking accountability in the interest of the soul and security of our country. Many have suffered for doing so. These people have been marginalized, denied promotions, and lost their careers for speaking out.

To what avail? We have today a Congress of loyalists and cowards who refuse even to investigate the high crimes of this administration, let alone bring an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Winter Soldier would not be necessary if our legislators had the courage and integrity to hold this administration accountable for its abuses of power. Your time spent scapegoating IVAW would be better spent protesting your legislators' complicity in this contradiction of our nation's revolutionary principles and values.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Talon:

"All you're doing is white-washing your own conscience before you tarnish the honor of every serviceman and woman serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the world."

Talon,

Who appointed you the spokesperson of "every serviceman and woman...."?

Zero Ponsdorf said...

DP:
"Your time spent scapegoating IVAW would be better spent protesting your legislators' complicity in this contradiction of our nation's revolutionary principles and values."

Fascinating stuff... really!

And this has to do WS II just how? You've just read into the record parts of the left-wing playbook.

BTW, the IVAW is not being scapegoated in any way I can see. It is simply a part of something that needs to be challenged, a relatively trivial part, at that.

You folks dredged up this old idea because someone suggested it would work again. That just ain't gonna happen!

talon said...

DP -

One didn't have to be a spokesman for every serviceman and woman back in 1971 to recognize that VVAW sullied the honor of an entire generation of U.S. military personnel, and those dynamics haven't changed in this day and age, either.

Turning your question on yourself, who made you the spokesman for the American people and the men and women serving in the US Armed Forces? The fact of the matter is, your political faction lost the last presidential election and then failed to elect a filibuster and veto-proof majority in Congress in 2006. Your opponents have been to the voting booths, delivered petitions, written to and met with legislators, held vigils and protested in the streets, too. Obviously, the arguments and tactics of the "anti-war" movement have not been sufficiently persuasive. Not only that, the rhetoric and antics of this IVAW, ANSWER, SDS, Code Pink, 9/11 "Truthers", etc., have managed not only to alienate a large number of Americans, they have incited a backlash against the "anti-war" movement that spans the entire political spectrum.

As for whether or not the U.S. government has contradicted "our nation's revolutionary principles and values" - and one has to wonder exactly what you mean by "revolutionary" - that is a matter that is open for debate.

As for "scapegoating" IVAW and other elements within the "anti-war" movement, that is not the term that is applicable to exposing individuals and groups responsible for making false and unsubstantiated claims of "genocide", "war crimes" and "systematic brutality" in Iraq and Afghanistan. As for myself, I can think of few better ways to spend my time than to speak the truth to the lies of people like Jimmy Massey, John Kerry and Noam Chomsky.

Zero Ponsdorf said...

DP:

"Who appointed you the spokesperson of "every serviceman and woman...."?"

Just too easy...

Who appointed IVAW?

If every IVAW potential member and wannabe is counted, just what percentage of Iraqi combat vets do you represent?

Wishful thinking don't count, BTW.

Dissenting Patriot said...

ZP and Talon,

I don't believe I claimed to be speaking for anyone else but myself. Neither does IVAW claim to be speaking for all of the troops.

And to infer that the various groups mentioned (ANSWER, etc.) comprise some monolithic movement is grossly inaccurate. IVAW's 3 points of unity are (1) immediate withdrawal from Iraq, (2) full benefits for returning service members, and (3) reparations to the Iraqi people. Beyond that there are a diverse spectrum of opinions. Some members are Republicans, some are Democrats, etc. etc. etc. IVAW is not part of a "political faction". It occasionally works with various groups and has marched in some of the same protest marches, but to suggest that this makes us part of a faction is misleading.

It is also ridiculous to suggest that the lack of integrity of a few former IVAW members is characteristic of the membership as a whole.

On the subject of exposing fabricators we have everything in common. That is what the verification process is for.

NAMedic said...

It never ceases to amaze me how congruent this IVAW is with the VVAW of 1971.
Have they no ideas of their own at all?
Democratic Republic of Vietnam Peace Proposal, June 26, 1971
1. The withdrawal of all the forces of the United States and those of the other foreign countries in the U.S. camp for South Vietnam and the other Indochinese countries must be achieved in 1971.

4. The U.S. Government must assume the entire responsibility for the damage caused by the United States to the entire Vietnamese people. The DRV Government and the PRGRSV request from the U.S. Government reparations for damage caused by the United States in the two zones of Vietnam.

These are 2 of the 9 items in this version of the Vietnamese Communists “Points” proposals, which at different times consisted of 7, 8 or 9 points, but always included these two. That is, surrender and pay back.

These are the same points VVAW spokesman John Kerry picked up in Paris directly from enemy officials and was selling to the American public on behalf of our communist enemies, while our forces still engaged theirs on the battlefield.

“I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and of all eight of Madam Binh's points . . .”

--- John Kerry, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 22 April 1971

Of course, the Vietnamese communists were not demanding benefits for US services members, like IVAW is now. So, maybe IVAW has had a truly original idea here after all.

Truly original.

DP -
Time to ignore more and change the subject again.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Namedic,

You wrote:

"DP -
Time to ignore more and change the subject again."

What did I ignore and how did I change the subject? (Assuming I'm interpreting that correctly.)

You see withdrawal as surrender. Surrender to who? There is no government or army to surrender to. And in any case, there are smarter ways of fighting terrorism. What we are doing in Iraq is using a butcher knife to do the work of a scalpel. We are creating a breeding ground for terrorists by perpetuating this occupation which, according to polls and reflected in Iraqi parliament votes, is opposed by the vast majority of Iraqis. Viewed from that perspective, as well as taking into consideration the sheer cost of continuing it in terms of dollars, manpower, and other resources, it is in the interest of our national security to withdraw from Iraq. (I don't have the time or inclination at the moment to get into logistical details or security contingencies but suffice it to say for now that I am not oblivious to the critical importance of those considerations.)

As far as reparations go, I think even the staunchest defender of this administration, if they have done any reading whatsoever on the subject, will agree that it was grossly, if not criminally, negligent in the prewar planning phase of this invasion. While we are not the ones blowing up the pipelines in Iraq, we did set in motion the events that led us to this point, and we bear much responsibility for that. Our presence in Iraq is a destabilizing variable which is contributing to the violence there. And then there are the motives behind this occupation which ought to be examined in greater detail....

Anonymous said...

You see withdrawal as surrender.

Not only surrender, but capitulation in the face of Islamo-fascism. This war is and will be a generational undertaking to drag the Arab/Islamo dominated culture kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

We WILL defend our culture and way of life and (probably to your chagrin) the capitalist system that supports it and we WILL defend a system that will protect your freedom to preach appeasement to your heart's content.

talon said...

DP -

I have had the dubious pleasure of observing more than one ANSWER rally in Washington, DC, and no, ANSWER does not represent a cross-section of political opinion in this country (or anywhere else for that matter). This is what Christopher Hitchens - a Trotskyist, of all things - had to say about this in "Anti-War My Foot: The phony peaceniks who protested in Washington":

"...International ANSWER," the group run by the "Worker's World" party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the "resistance" in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the génocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a "wide range of progressive political objectives" indeed, if that's the sort of thing you like. However, a dip into any database could have furnished Janofsky with well-researched and well-written articles by David Corn and Marc Cooper—to mention only two radical left journalists—who have exposed "International ANSWER" as a front for (depending on the day of the week) fascism, Stalinism, and jihadism...

...Just to give you an example, from one who knows the sectarian makeup of the Left very well, I can tell you that the Worker's World Party—Ramsey Clark's core outfit—is the product of a split within the Trotskyist movement. These were the ones who felt that the Trotskyist majority, in 1956, was wrong to denounce the Russian invasion of Hungary. The WWP is the direct, lineal product of that depraved rump...

...To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh.

"Fascism, Stalinism and jihadism" - pretty accurate description if you ask me. I will have to grant you that this does represent a cross-section of radical Leftist and Right-wing thought, although the lunatic Leftist fringe is by far the best represented. One can never find enough Cuban flags, Che Guevara t-shirts and sundry Marxist iconography and messages at an ANSWER rally. Oh, and don't forget to drop-in on the booksellers who are ever-present at ANSWER's rallies, where you will find the works of Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, David Horowitz - NOT! Try autobiographies of Fidel's hit-man Che Guevara, Mao's little red book, etc., etc.

I don't doubt ANSWER may hjave 1 or 2 RINOs attending their rallies, but as everyone knows, Republicans have opposed and continue to oppose the ANSWER Coalition's positions on the war.

I'll address the other issues you raised in another post (this one's long enough, already).

talon said...

Lets' discuss your comments regarding reparations since your argument is based on flawed information and logic. You state:

"As far as reparations go, I think even the staunchest defender of this administration, if they have done any reading whatsoever on the subject, will agree that it was grossly, if not criminally, negligent in the prewar planning phase of this invasion. While we are not the ones blowing up the pipelines in Iraq, we did set in motion the events that led us to this point, and we bear much responsibility for that. Our presence in Iraq is a destabilizing variable which is contributing to the violence there. And then there are the motives behind this occupation which ought to be examined in greater detail...."

You're right that Americans weren't the ones looting in the streets and blowing up pipelines in the aftermath of the invasion, but you are wrong that the United States "set in motion the events that led us to this point, and we bear much responsibility for that." What you have conveniently overlooked is that it was Saddam Hussein and his Tikriti mafia that set in motion these events. It was Saddam who violated the Gulf War ceasefire. It was Saddam who violated 17 U.N. resolutions. It was Saddam who violated the terms of the corrupt U.N. Oil for Food program and was bribing his way out of the sanctions regime. It was Saddam who allowed Ansar al-Islam, al-Qaida's franchise in Iraq, to train and operate in Iraqi Kurdistan. Needless to say, I could go on - after all, Congress' authorization to go to war was about more than Saddam's WMD programs and the threat that he would eventually arm terrorists with these weapons.

As for the groundless argument that the "Our presence in Iraq is a destabilizing variable which is contributing to the violence there", how is it that the increased number of U.S. combat troops in Iraq (i.e., the Surge) has led to a dramatic DECREASE in violence and instability in Iraq? Your argument also implies that Iraq was a peaceful, stable society prior to March 2003, which it was not. Do places such as Halabja and Hillah conjure any images in your head - perhaps one that doesn't involve chemical weapons attacks or mass graves?

As for the allegedly nefarious motives behind this "occupation", I will leave that discussion to the fevered imaginations of the nihilistic, and oft anti-American, conspiracy theorists in this country.

I may disagree with you on the war, DP, but I have to give you credit - you're a very slick and eloquent propagandist. No doubt, Noam Chomsky would be proud of you, particularly given how well you echo his own rhetoric.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Talon,

I was not referring to ANSWER, I was referring to IVAW. IVAW's membership represents a wide spectrum of political ideas.

ANSWER, from my understanding, is a Communist organization- Communism of the sort that calls for a ubiquitous state bureaucracy that promises to take care of everyone in exchange for citizens' liberties. I was told they do not even have elections within their organization. Though our own current political-economic system has its flaws, I would much rather have what we've got now and debate the details of it than replace it with ANSWER's formula. So we are certainly in agreement in rejecting anti-democratic, delusional, and foolishly utopian politics.

As I said before, IVAW's members agree on 3 points of unity. Beyond that, there are many differences of opinion.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Anonymous, you wrote:

"Not only surrender, but capitulation in the face of Islamo-fascism. This war is and will be a generational undertaking to drag the Arab/Islamo dominated culture kicking and screaming into the 21st century."

You are making four assumptions here which I believe are dangerously inaccurate. The first is an overestimation of the support base of our enemies. The second is a partial misidentification of the causes behind Middle Eastern hostility to the U.S. The third is that the "Arab/Islamo dominated culture" can be dragged "kicking and screaming into the 21st century." The fourth is that they need to be dragged into it in the first place. These are all important questions.

You wrote:

"We WILL defend our culture and way of life and (probably to your chagrin) the capitalist system that supports it and we WILL defend a system that will protect your freedom to preach appeasement to your heart's content."

I don't know enough about the hard economics of capitalism to be able to offer an intelligent critique (and in fact, most people don't in my experience, whether they are for or against it). I do know that what we have today is far from the free-market capitalism of Adam Smith, with interesting implications for the future of democracy and national sovereignty and self-determination.

I appreciate your offer to defend my inalienable right of free speech but I can do that myself. I personally am not a pacifist.

What we are disagreeing on is a question of strategies and tactics based on different interpretations of the current and historical situation in the Middle East. It is encouraging that we have identified that and hopefully gotten past the mutual accusations of naivete, ignorance, and cynicism. What's the next step?

talon said...

DP -

Duly noted, however, IVAW's ties to ANSWER no doubt illustrate the ideological connections between the two organizations. If IVAW truly rejected "anti-democratic, delusional, and foolishly utopian politics", they wouldn't be caught dead leading the ANSWER Coalition down the streets of Washington, DC.

Another factor that contradicts the claim IVAW represents "a wide spectrum of political ideas" are the comments of IVAW National Board Treasurer Margaret Stevens, who stated the following the Jaunary 17, 2008 edition of "Workers World":

"Until we can link the fight against the imperialist war overseas to the fight against racism and sexism in the U.S., we are missing the point...we need to look at the root of the problem - not just the war but the capitalist system."

These statements were apparently made in reference to those made by IVAW Chair Camilo Mejia at an IVAW convention held in August of 2007. It is interesting, to say the least, that IVAW is chaired by the son of Carlos Mejia, the former Sandinista culture minister in Nicaragua.

I will also point out that IVAW doesn't get much ink from journalistic circles on the Right. Most of the articles I have read concerning IVAW are from the likes of Workers World and the World Socialist Web Site. I'm trying to think of the last time the Wall Street Journal interviewed a member of IVAW and I'm coming up empty here. In fact, the press you're getting from the Right doesn't support your claim that IVAW's political base extends beyond the "anti-war" Left in this country.

You know what they say, if it quacks like a duck...

Anyway, I think we've both made our points here. I am going to move on to the discussion concerning Islamist jihadism and the Middle East, since you have asked the all-important question "what is the next step?"

Zero Ponsdorf said...

DP:
"It is encouraging that we have identified that and hopefully gotten past the mutual accusations of naivete, ignorance, and cynicism. What's the next step?"

I dunno, I might use the word 'silly' in this context, but never "naivete, ignorance, and cynicism".

You present a carefully crafted position that belies those words. You have an agenda, you treat those ideas outside of that agenda as wrong.

You don't actually read or acknowledge the veracity of those ideas when they don't fit your agenda based talking points. [shrug]

In fact your essential points are rooted in a place you'd rather not openly admit to.

WSI II is but one instrument of hate being used to further your collective purpose(s). To suggest that attaching the word Veteran somehow makes it another thing is silly, or simply disingenuous.

Dissenting Patriot said...

ZP,

Can you be more specific on all the points you made in your last post?

talon said...

Concerning the Jihadist Internationale and the war in Iraq, there is no question that an immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be viewed as capitulation on the parts of Salafist and Khomeinist jihadists and their state sponsors, and these individuals have made a point of crowing how the US would abandon Iraq to the tender mercies of AQ, Iran and the Baath, just as we abandoned the people of Indochina to their Communist tormentors in 1975. There should be no question who and what we would be surrendering to - the regimes in Iran and Syria, as well as the Wahhabi establishment in Saudi Arabia, and terrorist groups such as AQ and Hizb'Allah.

Secondly, the claim that "We are creating a breeding ground for terrorists by perpetuating this occupation" doesn't jibe with several facts on the ground. First of all, this claim ignores the fact that al Qaeda (and this includes Ansar al-Islam) were around long before the US invaded Iraq. Secondly, the defeat that AQ is suffering in Iraq has not only crippled its forces in that country, but it is crippling its prestige througout the world. This is going to hurt al Qaeda where it is going to hurt the most - in propaganda and recruitment. The fact that AQ is now having to resort to using women and mentally disabled suicide bombers to attack their enemies in Iraq illustrates the deteriorating situation that the Jihadist Internationale is facing in the Middle East. AQ declared that Iraq was the central battleground in the global jihad, and they got their asses handed to them. That's not going to play favorably on the Arab street.

I will further point out that when US and Kurdish forces attacked AQ's franchise in Iraq, Ansar al-Islam, at the onset of the war, we were dealing with a force that possessed artillery and Katyusha batteries in their arsenal. To say that a scalpel is what is called for here is to underestimate the lethality of the jihadis that the US and its allies are fighting throughout the world. You don't go into a gun fight with a scalpel.

As for judging the threat of Islamist jihadism, it would be a mistake to assess its lethality based on the size of its support base. If one looks merely at the history of Islamic jihadism, the Arab "fatah" that began in the 7th Century CE was conducted by relatively small forces facing vastly superior foes (Byzantium and Persia) on two fronts, nevertheless, these forces managed to conquer a vast expanse of territory stretching from Western Europe to the Indian subcontinent. Military history is chock-full of episodes where superior nations and forces were defeated by smaller, more aggressive foes - it would be a major mistake on our parts to underestimate our enemies based solely on the size of their support base.

The second issue, and DP doesn't articulate himself/herself here is the "partial misidentification of the causes behind Middle Eastern hostility to the U.S.". I can only wonder what this alleged misidentification would be - perhaps a failure to blame ourselves for the centuries-long collapse of Islamic civilization that began before the gates of Vienna in 1683? Perhaps this misidentification concerns the Marxist narrative that economic conditions are responsible for the rise of jihadism and takfirism in the Islamic world? Well, that can't be the case, as scholar Bat Ye'or has pointed out - there is poverty in other parts of the world, why aren't we seeing this same violence in those countries?

If there is a misunderstanding concerning the Jihadist Internationale, it is the failure to recognize that this is NOT a reactive force. Groups like AQ and Hizb'Allah exist sui generis - they have their own aggressive impulses and agressions, i.e., they are offensive, not defensive, in nature.

I don't know if we can drag a civilization that exists in a total state of stasis and collapse into the 21st Century, but on the other hand, one has to contemplate the consequences of leaving hundreds of millions of human beings to suffer in a backwards, rights-repressive and uncompetitive part of an increasingly interconnected world. I think we learned our lessons about the consequences of ignoring the violent forces emerging from this region on 9/11 - either we do something to improve the situation, or we accept the status quo of the 9/10 world. There are no easy choices, but I can say that accepting the status quo is the least desirable of these options.

talon said...

Sorry, my second-to-last paragraph should read:

If there is a misunderstanding concerning the Jihadist Internationale, it is the failure to recognize that this is NOT a reactive force. Groups like AQ and Hizb'Allah exist sui generis - they have their own aggressive impulses and AMBITIONS, i.e., they are offensive, not defensive, in nature.

Zero Ponsdorf said...

DP:
"Can you be more specific on all the points you made in your last post?"

Nah.

If I wasn't clear all of the citations in the world won't change that.

The IVAW is but a small part of a greater whole. Unlike your precursor, the blanket you're hiding under is not going to pass without scrutiny this time.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Talon,

You wrote:

"It was Saddam who violated 17 U.N. resolutions. It was Saddam who violated the terms of the corrupt U.N. Oil for Food program and was bribing his way out of the sanctions regime. It was Saddam who allowed Ansar al-Islam, al-Qaida's franchise in Iraq, to train and operate in Iraqi Kurdistan...."

We are agreed on the first two points here. Your third point is somewhat problematic and misses an important point. It is problematic because, as far as I am aware, Saddam Hussein never had any real semblance of control over Iraqi Kurdistan, just as the Pakistani government does not have control over parts of its territory bordering Afghanistan. Secondly, there was never any credible evidence to establish an operational relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. Intelligence sources which did make that connection turned out to be fabricators, and this was known by the Bush administration prior to the invasion[!] To assert or imply that a government is sponsoring a terrorist organization based on the circumstantial evidence that that organization has a presence within its territory- which it may not even have effective control over -is at the very least dangerous in the precedent it sets. By that standard of evidence almost any military engagement by any country against another is justified.

You wrote:

"As for the groundless argument that the "Our presence in Iraq is a destabilizing variable which is contributing to the violence there", how is it that the increased number of U.S. combat troops in Iraq (i.e., the Surge) has led to a dramatic DECREASE in violence and instability in Iraq? Your argument also implies that Iraq was a peaceful, stable society prior to March 2003, which it was not. Do places such as Halabja and Hillah conjure any images in your head - perhaps one that doesn't involve chemical weapons attacks or mass graves?"

The decrease in violence is primarily attributable to three or four factors: (1) we are paying the Sunnis in Anbar not to fight us; (2) the Shi'ite militias/the Maliki government have forced the Sunni population of Baghdad out through a systematic process of sectarian killing; (3) Sadr has committed the Mahdi Army to a ceasefire; (4) the British have largely withdrawn from Basra. What happens when we stop placating the Sunnis with money? Is that a sustainable strategy? And if the political objectives of our government remain unacceptable to the Iraqi people, is any amount of military force/bribery going to be enough to permanently suppress violent uprisings. Our position in Iraq today is in many ways similiar to that of the British in the first half of the 20th century.

I do not deny that Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant. But what have we established in his place? Our government's foreign policy objectives in Iraq are irreconcilable. They are fundamentally contradictory. You cannot deny a country its sovereignty and expect democracy to take root there. It is like denying a plant of sunlight.

Dissenting Patriot said...

ZP,

Are you Red-baiting? The Cold War ended almost twenty years ago. I am perfectly capable and willing to critically examine ideas outside of my "agenda" (which is what?).

This country needs more people to challenge their own preconceptions, across the political spectrum. We often don't because it makes us uncomfortable. It causes us to realize that reality is not so simple and clear cut as we imagined to be. Perhaps that is why our government is locked in a stagnant debate on Iraq.

In any case, I would appreciate the benefit of the doubt.

NAMedic said...

When you get in bed with the entire available collection of domestic Marxist ideologues, don't be surprised if you get "red baited."

And what the hell does the Cold War's end have to do with Marxist-Stalinist idelogy still being alive and well here and now?

A classic case of egosyntonicity, no doubt. You get so immersed in the ditzy world of these subversive people, you think it's normal and traditionally American.

Zero Ponsdorf said...

DP:
"Are you Red-baiting? "

I have no idea what that question asks in this context?

"This country needs more people to challenge their own preconceptions, across the political spectrum. We often don't because it makes us uncomfortable. It causes us to realize that reality is not so simple and clear cut as we imagined to be."

Of course you are quite right!

It's odd that you would say such a thing, given your myopic world view?

Perhaps it's as simple as that? You DO consider Iraq the focal point of all things! That's just sad... But your point is well taken. We must broaden the scope of our vision to include the future. Time spent on the past is of no small value, but not in isolation. The IVAW and it's progenitors must learn that simple truth.

In practical terms this year's elections may well be a defining moment. I would like to see the IVAW endorse someone, or anyone?

Let 'the great unwashed' in on the plan and live with the results.

Dissenting Patriot said...

NAMedic,

You are quite the mind reader. Don't quit your day job.

streetsweeper95B said...

If you go back to the article and actually read through it, Washburn never cites Dela Cruz, nor does he comment on the Haditha incident. Dela Cruz's name is not even mentioned in the article in fact. The writers of the article mention the Haditha incident, but Jason DP/AS said: "Washburn is never quoted as making any sort of judgement on it whatsoever. He was in fact in Haditha on the day that incident occured, and that is all he claims (I asked him personally)."

Ok, so you ASKED him personally. My point was & still is; Why if he knew of incidents did he NOT report to higher up's? Your reading more into what I posted than your capable of answering without putting your spin on it. You can't have your cake & eat it too, Sergeant.

"Nor does he at any point in that article claim that he will be testifying on the Haditha incident at Winter Soldier."

Oh really? Where are the written statements? Where is the paper trail? After you've been used by the Leftists & Commies? Whatcha gonna do? You'll be dogmeat in their eyes....dogmeat.

Maybe then you'll get out of the US Army & move to Canada?

Army Sergeant said...

I'm glad someone else is taking this battle, I really don't have the time. However, I will comment that since investigations were already ongoing, I doubt that he felt the need to report what was already reported and opened. I don't think the Army requires multiple reports. I could of course be wrong.

Dissenting Patriot said...

ZP,

You also assume too much based upon your demonstrably limited knowledge of the political composition of IVAW's membership. Not everyone who opposes the war is an anarchist, Communist, or other such political ideologue. There are valid national security reasons for opposing the continuation of this occupation, and many current and former officials within the U.S. political/military establishment do so on those grounds. Does that necessarily make them appeasers? I think not.

You wrote:

"Time spent on the past is of no small value, but not in isolation. The IVAW and it's progenitors must learn that simple truth."

Can you elaborate? Perhaps you might care to advise us on our strategy.

I do not see how you can label my viewpoints as myopic when I have not even articulated them to you. Again you assume, and thereby underestimate.

Lastly, IVAW is not in the business of endorsing political candidates. Nice try ZP.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Talon,

You wrote:

"Concerning the Jihadist Internationale and the war in Iraq, there is no question that an immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be viewed as capitulation on the parts of Salafist and Khomeinist jihadists and their state sponsors...."

The term Jihadist Internationale presupposes a monolithic movement, which is not the case. Of course AQ, the Iranian government, etc. would thumb their noses at us, but we should also be concerned about the political costs of funding the occupation of Iraq with foreign debt. We cannot indefinitely fund an occupation in this manner without it having an impact upon our national sovereignty. And there are other military/political/economic tools available to constrain and undermine aggression from Iran as well as eliminate AQ.

You wrote:

"There should be no question who and what we would be surrendering to - the regimes in Iran and Syria, as well as the Wahhabi establishment in Saudi Arabia, and terrorist groups such as AQ and Hizb'Allah."

Again, we have more than a choice between surrender vs. absolute physical annihilation of our enemies.

You wrote:

"Secondly, the claim that "We are creating a breeding ground for terrorists by perpetuating this occupation" doesn't jibe with several facts on the ground. First of all, this claim ignores the fact that al Qaeda (and this includes Ansar al-Islam) were around long before the US invaded Iraq. Secondly, the defeat that AQ is suffering in Iraq has not only crippled its forces in that country, but it is crippling its prestige througout the world. This is going to hurt al Qaeda where it is going to hurt the most - in propaganda and recruitment. The fact that AQ is now having to resort to using women and mentally disabled suicide bombers to attack their enemies in Iraq illustrates the deteriorating situation that the Jihadist Internationale is facing in the Middle East. AQ declared that Iraq was the central battleground in the global jihad, and they got their asses handed to them. That's not going to play favorably on the Arab street."

All well and good, but it is also not playing favorably "on the Arab street" that our government has ignored the Iraqi parliament's resolution calling for a timeline for withdrawal, undeniably reflecting the wishes of the large majority of the Iraqi people.

You wrote:

"I will further point out that when US and Kurdish forces attacked AQ's franchise in Iraq, Ansar al-Islam, at the onset of the war, we were dealing with a force that possessed artillery and Katyusha batteries in their arsenal. To say that a scalpel is what is called for here is to underestimate the lethality of the jihadis that the US and its allies are fighting throughout the world. You don't go into a gun fight with a scalpel."

That's what close air support is for. I very much doubt that Ansar al-Islam's arsenal warranted an occupation army.

You wrote:

"As for judging the threat of Islamist jihadism, it would be a mistake to assess its lethality based on the size of its support base. If one looks merely at the history of Islamic jihadism, the Arab "fatah" that began in the 7th Century CE was conducted by relatively small forces facing vastly superior foes (Byzantium and Persia) on two fronts, nevertheless, these forces managed to conquer a vast expanse of territory stretching from Western Europe to the Indian subcontinent. Military history is chock-full of episodes where superior nations and forces were defeated by smaller, more aggressive foes - it would be a major mistake on our parts to underestimate our enemies based solely on the size of their support base."

You are generalizing too much here for me to be able to offer an informed counterargument.

You wrote:

"The second issue, and DP doesn't articulate himself/herself here is the "partial misidentification of the causes behind Middle Eastern hostility to the U.S.". I can only wonder what this alleged misidentification would be - perhaps a failure to blame ourselves for the centuries-long collapse of Islamic civilization that began before the gates of Vienna in 1683?"

This comment is about as ignorant as that of the Islamo-fascists you are so preoccupied with. I believe the psychological term for that is 'projection'.

You wrote:

"Perhaps this misidentification concerns the Marxist narrative that economic conditions are responsible for the rise of jihadism and takfirism in the Islamic world? Well, that can't be the case, as scholar Bat Ye'or has pointed out - there is poverty in other parts of the world, why aren't we seeing this same violence in those countries?"

Poverty is only a symptom. A history of U.S. complicity in the oppression of these people by their governments is what I was referring to. Even the Bush administration has admitted to that. And despite their rhetoric about democracy, that policy has been so selectively applied that it stinks with hypocrisy and cynicism.

You wrote:

"If there is a misunderstanding concerning the Jihadist Internationale, it is the failure to recognize that this is NOT a reactive force. Groups like AQ and Hizb'Allah exist sui generis - they have their own aggressive impulses and agressions, i.e., they are offensive, not defensive, in nature."

Agreed, despite the misleading term "Jihadist Internationale". The million dollar question is how to most effectively deal with each of them.

You wrote:

"I don't know if we can drag a civilization that exists in a total state of stasis and collapse into the 21st Century, but on the other hand, one has to contemplate the consequences of leaving hundreds of millions of human beings to suffer in a backwards, rights-repressive and uncompetitive part of an increasingly interconnected world. I think we learned our lessons about the consequences of ignoring the violent forces emerging from this region on 9/11 - either we do something to improve the situation, or we accept the status quo of the 9/10 world. There are no easy choices, but I can say that accepting the status quo is the least desirable of these options."

See: "Manifest Destiny" and "White Man's Burden"

Dissenting Patriot said...

Talon,

You wrote:

"Concerning the Jihadist Internationale and the war in Iraq, there is no question that an immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be viewed as capitulation on the parts of Salafist and Khomeinist jihadists and their state sponsors...."

The term Jihadist Internationale presupposes a monolithic movement, which is not the case. Of course AQ, the Iranian government, etc. would thumb their noses at us, but we should also be concerned about the political costs of funding the occupation of Iraq with foreign debt. We cannot indefinitely fund an occupation in this manner without it having an impact upon our national sovereignty. And there are other military/political/economic tools available to constrain and undermine aggression from Iran as well as eliminate AQ.

You wrote:

"There should be no question who and what we would be surrendering to - the regimes in Iran and Syria, as well as the Wahhabi establishment in Saudi Arabia, and terrorist groups such as AQ and Hizb'Allah."

Again, we have more than a choice between surrender vs. absolute physical annihilation of our enemies.

You wrote:

"Secondly, the claim that "We are creating a breeding ground for terrorists by perpetuating this occupation" doesn't jibe with several facts on the ground. First of all, this claim ignores the fact that al Qaeda (and this includes Ansar al-Islam) were around long before the US invaded Iraq. Secondly, the defeat that AQ is suffering in Iraq has not only crippled its forces in that country, but it is crippling its prestige througout the world. This is going to hurt al Qaeda where it is going to hurt the most - in propaganda and recruitment. The fact that AQ is now having to resort to using women and mentally disabled suicide bombers to attack their enemies in Iraq illustrates the deteriorating situation that the Jihadist Internationale is facing in the Middle East. AQ declared that Iraq was the central battleground in the global jihad, and they got their asses handed to them. That's not going to play favorably on the Arab street."

All well and good, but it is also not playing favorably "on the Arab street" that our government has ignored the Iraqi parliament's resolution calling for a timeline for withdrawal, undeniably reflecting the wishes of the large majority of the Iraqi people.

You wrote:

"I will further point out that when US and Kurdish forces attacked AQ's franchise in Iraq, Ansar al-Islam, at the onset of the war, we were dealing with a force that possessed artillery and Katyusha batteries in their arsenal. To say that a scalpel is what is called for here is to underestimate the lethality of the jihadis that the US and its allies are fighting throughout the world. You don't go into a gun fight with a scalpel."

That's what close air support is for. I very much doubt that Ansar al-Islam's arsenal warranted an occupation army.

You wrote:

"As for judging the threat of Islamist jihadism, it would be a mistake to assess its lethality based on the size of its support base. If one looks merely at the history of Islamic jihadism, the Arab "fatah" that began in the 7th Century CE was conducted by relatively small forces facing vastly superior foes (Byzantium and Persia) on two fronts, nevertheless, these forces managed to conquer a vast expanse of territory stretching from Western Europe to the Indian subcontinent. Military history is chock-full of episodes where superior nations and forces were defeated by smaller, more aggressive foes - it would be a major mistake on our parts to underestimate our enemies based solely on the size of their support base."

You are generalizing too much here for me to be able to offer an informed counterargument.

You wrote:

"The second issue, and DP doesn't articulate himself/herself here is the "partial misidentification of the causes behind Middle Eastern hostility to the U.S.". I can only wonder what this alleged misidentification would be - perhaps a failure to blame ourselves for the centuries-long collapse of Islamic civilization that began before the gates of Vienna in 1683?"

This comment is about as ignorant as that of the Islamo-fascists you are so preoccupied with. I believe the psychological term for that is 'projection'.

You wrote:

"Perhaps this misidentification concerns the Marxist narrative that economic conditions are responsible for the rise of jihadism and takfirism in the Islamic world? Well, that can't be the case, as scholar Bat Ye'or has pointed out - there is poverty in other parts of the world, why aren't we seeing this same violence in those countries?"

Poverty is only a symptom. A history of U.S. complicity in the oppression of these people by their governments is what I was referring to. Even the Bush administration has admitted to that. And despite their rhetoric about democracy, that policy has been so selectively applied that it stinks with hypocrisy and cynicism.

You wrote:

"If there is a misunderstanding concerning the Jihadist Internationale, it is the failure to recognize that this is NOT a reactive force. Groups like AQ and Hizb'Allah exist sui generis - they have their own aggressive impulses and agressions, i.e., they are offensive, not defensive, in nature."

Agreed, despite the misleading term "Jihadist Internationale". The million dollar question is how to most effectively deal with each of them.

You wrote:

"I don't know if we can drag a civilization that exists in a total state of stasis and collapse into the 21st Century, but on the other hand, one has to contemplate the consequences of leaving hundreds of millions of human beings to suffer in a backwards, rights-repressive and uncompetitive part of an increasingly interconnected world. I think we learned our lessons about the consequences of ignoring the violent forces emerging from this region on 9/11 - either we do something to improve the situation, or we accept the status quo of the 9/10 world. There are no easy choices, but I can say that accepting the status quo is the least desirable of these options."

See: "Manifest Destiny" and "White Man's Burden"

talon said...

DP -

Responding to your post of March 7, 2008 5:43 PM:

I noticed that when you quoted me in the onset of your post, you omitted my reference and evaded responding to Baathist Iraq's numerous violations of the ceasefire agreement that halted the Gulf War in 1991. The first of all the sequence of events that led to the Coaltion invasion of Iraq in 2003 were Baathist Iraq's violations of this legally-binding agreement which constituted a resumption of hostilities on the part of the Hussein regime. Saddam's Iraq - not the US, not the Coalition states - had resumed the Gulf War. If the reparations crowd is truly interested in holding the party responsible for the resumption of hostilities in Iraq, then it would demand that the party responsible for the resumption of hostilities, not the party that responded, be held accountable for reparations. Of course, rudimentary logic and holding the party responsible for the resumption of hostilities accountable for their actions isn't what is involved here - that wouldn't fit into the political agenda of the reparations crowd, much less its "illegal war" narrative. I've got to hand it to the anti-war/anti-American movement - aside from desecrating the graves and memorials of our nation's veterans, this has got to be its most illogical and assinine gesture yet.

As for the connections between al Qaeda and the Hussein regime, we know that Usama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, Al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for Al Qaeda. This information comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. The contacts began in 1990 when bin Laden sent emissaries to Jordan to meet with Iraqi officials, and expanded several years later (1993, to be exact) through Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi. These contacts continued later in the decade and included Ayman al-Zawahiri's meeting with the Iraqi Vice President in Baghdad in February 1998. The goal of that visit was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan, which brings us back full-circle to Ansar al-Islam - the branch of al-Qaida that operated out of the aforementioned camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Obviously, it was no accident that jihadis from all over the world, carrying Iraqi passports, happened to end up in Iraqi Kurdistan, where they could be put to the useful purpose of continuing Saddam's campaign against the Kurds while establishing a safe haven for jihadis fleeing the U.S. onslaught in Afghanistan. What's interesting here is that we see not only the connections between al-Qaida and the Hussein regime, but we see a connection between the war in Afghanistan and Iraq - a connection that "anti-war" activists have furiously attempted to cleave. In conclusion, I will note that if the US invaded Iraq based partially on the evidence of al-Qaida's presence in an area of limited sovereignty in Iraq, this would hardly qualify as a "dangerous" precedent - we have seen countries invade the lawless frontiers of neighboring states before, and we will see it again. Just recently, Turkish and Colombian forces attacked insurgent/terrorist groups operating out of their respective bases in Iraq and Ecuador.

As for the improving security situation in Iraq, one could begin seeing things turn in late 2006 when Bush sat down with al-Maliki in Amman and al-Hakim in Washington, and Dick Cheney met with the King Abdullah in Riyadh. While this round of diplomacy was setting the groundwork for the political and military developments that followed in 2007, including the marginalization of Muqtadr al-Sadr, the Sunnis in Anbar were finally getting tired of being brutalized by al-Qaida and stopped providing a host for AQ's terroristic parasites. The fact that the US and the Saudis are paying the Sunnis to fight AQ is secondary to that change in public and tribal opinion - the Awakening - in Anbar. What we see here is the central element in any successful COIN operation - turning the tide of public opinion against the insurgency. Of course, the addition of 30,000 combat troops and General Petraeus' new COIN strategy and tactics provided the necessary muscle to deliver the Sunni triangle and Baghdad from the hands of al-Qaida. Once the Awakening and Surge combined forces, AQ was effectively finished in Iraq.

As far as sovereignty is concerned, we have removed a regime whose sovereignty was illegitimate in the first place. In its place, there now exists the foundation for a consensual system of government that will exert increasing authority over the country as it transitions from a state of war to a state of general domestic stability. Our foreign policy objectives are consistent with the domestic policy objectives of the Iraqi people, so we're not dealing with irreconcilable and contradictory objectives here.

I'll try and respond to your other post at a later time.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Talon,

You wrote:

"I noticed that when you quoted me in the onset of your post, you omitted my reference and evaded responding to Baathist Iraq's numerous violations of the ceasefire agreement that halted the Gulf War in 1991. The first of all the sequence of events that led to the Coaltion invasion of Iraq in 2003 were Baathist Iraq's violations of this legally-binding agreement which constituted a resumption of hostilities on the part of the Hussein regime. Saddam's Iraq - not the US, not the Coalition states - had resumed the Gulf War."

Did the ceasefire violations warrant regime change, either from a legal or utilitarian standpoint? I considered your point about Ansar al-Islam to be more relevant to the discussion about compelling justifications for use of force than your points about sanctions violations or Saddam's mostly amusing pot shots at our pilots. (Perhaps the pilots did not find them so amusing. My mental images of that time are of virtually untouchable U.S. air power flying with near-impunity over Iraqi territory but then again, I was not in the pilot seat).

You wrote:

"If the reparations crowd is truly interested in holding the party responsible for the resumption of hostilities in Iraq, then it would demand that the party responsible for the resumption of hostilities, not the party that responded, be held accountable for reparations. Of course, rudimentary logic and holding the party responsible for the resumption of hostilities accountable for their actions isn't what is involved here - that wouldn't fit into the political agenda of the reparations crowd, much less its "illegal war" narrative."

Well this is sort of a moot point, considering most of the guilty officials on the Iraqi side have already gotten what they deserved or are waiting in line to. However the Bush administration also has a lot of blood on its hands, and hardly as a result of good intentions. But no one wants to open up an investigation into that. It's much easier to just keep telling ourselves that our leaders are different and special. They are American, and therefore they are honest and noble and well-intentioned; and if only the Iraqi people would stop fighting and let us democratize their country they would be so much happier.

You wrote:

"I've got to hand it to the anti-war/anti-American movement - aside from desecrating the graves and memorials of our nation's veterans, this has got to be its most illogical and assinine gesture yet."

I wouldn't consider myself to be anti-war or anti-American, and I certainly don't believe in desecrating the graves of veterans. Memorials which honor the sacrifice of our veterans should be respected. Memorials which glorify conquest, however, ought to be torn down. Unfortunately, sometimes our fellow citizens across the political spectrum fail to recognize the difference.

You wrote:

"As for the connections between al Qaeda and the Hussein regime, we know that Usama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, Al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for Al Qaeda. This information comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. The contacts began in 1990 when bin Laden sent emissaries to Jordan to meet with Iraqi officials, and expanded several years later (1993, to be exact) through Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi. These contacts continued later in the decade and included Ayman al-Zawahiri's meeting with the Iraqi Vice President in Baghdad in February 1998. The goal of that visit was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan, which brings us back full-circle to Ansar al-Islam - the branch of al-Qaida that operated out of the aforementioned camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Obviously, it was no accident that jihadis from all over the world, carrying Iraqi passports, happened to end up in Iraqi Kurdistan, where they could be put to the useful purpose of continuing Saddam's campaign against the Kurds while establishing a safe haven for jihadis fleeing the U.S. onslaught in Afghanistan. What's interesting here is that we see not only the connections between al-Qaida and the Hussein regime, but we see a connection between the war in Afghanistan and Iraq - a connection that "anti-war" activists have furiously attempted to cleave."

Can you post references to the sources of this intelligence? I would like to delve into this subject more with you if you're interested. I'll reserve my comments until you reply back.

You wrote:

"In conclusion, I will note that if the US invaded Iraq based partially on the evidence of al-Qaida's presence in an area of limited sovereignty in Iraq, this would hardly qualify as a "dangerous" precedent - we have seen countries invade the lawless frontiers of neighboring states before, and we will see it again. Just recently, Turkish and Colombian forces attacked insurgent/terrorist groups operating out of their respective bases in Iraq and Ecuador."

I think that in cases where enemy presence falls within ungoverned territory (e.g. portions of the Afghan-Pakistani border) or in territory contained within the borders of a failed state (e.g. Somalia), there is wider legal latitude (though not necessarily political latitude, as in the case of Pakistan) to engage. However, I think your counterargument here is weak because we did not just carry out a military operation within Kurdish-controlled territory- we overthrew an entire government and caused the Iraqi state to collapse. Not to mention the fact that five years later we continue to occupy an oil-rich country whose people are violently opposed to our continued presence. That's a pretty significant difference.

You wrote:

"As for the improving security situation in Iraq, one could begin seeing things turn in late 2006 when Bush sat down with al-Maliki in Amman and al-Hakim in Washington, and Dick Cheney met with the King Abdullah in Riyadh. While this round of diplomacy was setting the groundwork for the political and military developments that followed in 2007, including the marginalization of Muqtadr al-Sadr, the Sunnis in Anbar were finally getting tired of being brutalized by al-Qaida and stopped providing a host for AQ's terroristic parasites."

Marginalization? Maliki is fucked without Sadr's cooperation, and he knows it. It will be interesting to see if Sadr sells out for a piece of the pie or if he's biding his time. The ceasefire has been extended to August. U.S. elections are in November. I'm not making a prediction, just pointing out the importance of timing from his perspective.

I couldn't agree more with you about AQ shooting themselves in the foot. They're psychopathic murderers and sadists. It's equally frustrating to me as I imagine it is to you when people on my side of the fence fail to acknowledge that. Doesn't do much for our credibility.

You wrote:

"The fact that the US and the Saudis are paying the Sunnis to fight AQ is secondary to that change in public and tribal opinion - the Awakening - in Anbar. What we see here is the central element in any successful COIN operation - turning the tide of public opinion against the insurgency. Of course, the addition of 30,000 combat troops and General Petraeus' new COIN strategy and tactics provided the necessary muscle to deliver the Sunni triangle and Baghdad from the hands of al-Qaida. Once the Awakening and Surge combined forces, AQ was effectively finished in Iraq."

I celebrate with you on the demise of AQ. However, you seem to be implicitly equating AQ with the insurgency, which, according to the Bush administration's own facts and figures, is far from the case. The energy of the insurgency is rooted in the occupation itself. As long as the occupation continues it will be met with popular resistance, as reflected in the polls. That is why I say that U.S. presence in Iraq is inherently destabilizing. Perpetual instability, by the way, serves as a convenient pretext for perpetuating the occupation. Bravo Dick Cheney.

You wrote:

"As far as sovereignty is concerned, we have removed a regime whose sovereignty was illegitimate in the first place. In its place, there now exists the foundation for a consensual system of government that will exert increasing authority over the country as it transitions from a state of war to a state of general domestic stability. Our foreign policy objectives are consistent with the domestic policy objectives of the Iraqi people, so we're not dealing with irreconcilable and contradictory objectives here."

I was satisfied to see Saddam Hussein get what he deserved, but it was a bittersweet victory- more bitter than sweet. If I believed the rest of what you wrote I would still be in the military. Do you really want to debate the last few points you made?

talon said...

Better yet, articulate exactly what you mean by "Our government's foreign policy objectives in Iraq are irreconcilable. They are fundamentally contradictory." I should have asked you to clarify them previously. In the meantime, I'll try and catch-up on your most recent posts.

NAMedic said...

DP wrote,

"NAMedic,

You are quite the mind reader. Don't quit your day job"

presumably in "response" to this from me:
"A classic case of egosyntonicity, no doubt. You get so immersed in the ditzy world of these subversive people, you think it's normal and traditionally American."

Well, I don't have a day job, so maybe you should turn in your Mind Readers of America card too.

What you are avoiding addressing with your cute little dismissive retort is this:

"When you get in bed with the entire available collection of domestic Marxist ideologues, don't be surprised if you get "red baited."

"And what the hell does the Cold War's end have to do with Marxist-Stalinist idelogy still being alive and well here and now?"

While you want to air your prestentious theories on geopolitics on behalf of your campaign to become Foreign Minister of the Provisional Wing of the IVAW, the real subject here is the IVAW, what it is and who it is and who's behind it, and what its real objectives are.

I know, I know . . . everybody has their own opinion and we don't all agree and we are not a political interest group (the latter a necessary dishonesty to protect your currently serving military members who are otherwise constrained by military regs from even belonging to your Marxist front organization).

Right, and Noam Chomsky might just as well be a Republican.

Everything else you've written here is pedantic bullshit one can hear around the keg at any frat house discussion by the poly-sci geeks.

It's called hiding in plain sight from unpleasant truths you want to evade.

That's my answer to your totally disingenuous feint:
"What did I ignore and how did I change the subject?"

Dissenting Patriot said...

NAMedic,

As amusing as I find your paranoia, I don't have time to respond to it if you're going to insist on wildly fending off apparitions of Stalin at the entrance of your bomb shelter.

In all seriousness, how about we take each other a little more seriously instead of assuming we're both lunatics? I do not keep track of the radical movements in this country on either end of the political spectrum. It seems that there is a resurgence on both sides, and I would attribute this in part to a failed foreign policy and a failed economic policy. Radicalism in general is a symptom of a flawed system. Whether or not that system is fundamentally flawed I do not know because I have insufficient knowledge of how it works, let alone a practical proposal for viable alternatives. I think that if you actually spent time engaging people and respectfully listening to and challenging their ideas instead of demonizing them you could learn and teach a great deal.

In times like these people across the spectrum of ideas react out of fear without considering consequences or thinking through the often elusive linkage between ends and means. We need more people with the courage to listen and think. This is just as much a challenge for me as it is for you.

NAMedic said...

DP,

You pretend you don't know what you're inviolved with.

I'm not buying it.

You're the one who is not being serious. You just like to sound as if you are.

NAMedic said...

DP,
If you find "this" a challenge, you can get started in the right direction by reading this:

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=260

Then get yourself the hell out of the IVAW spiderweb of “ . . . pathetic memebots running the program of a dead tyrant."

And that does not refer to any sincere but misguided or duped soldiers, but the sponsors, funding sources, theoretical activists and others who are running the show, about whom you claim to be ignorant, and about whose motives and goals you claim to be unaware, uninvolved and unaffected.

talon said...

I wouldn't blame radicalism on "the system". More often than not, it is the radical that is to blame for his or her own radicalism. For example, nihilism is what afflicts the radical Leftist lunatic fringe in this country, not "the system".

talon said...

DP -

In response to your post of March 8, 2008 11:28 PM (your comments in quotes):

"The term Jihadist Internationale presupposes a monolithic movement, which is not the case..."

The term "Jihadist Internationale" does not imply that this "movement" is monolithic - it is merely a convenient term used to refer to the various terrorist groups, support organizations and state sponsors that form this movement (it is no secret that some of these organizations are more than willing to slit each other's throats). As for your comments concerning the funding of the war, I tend to agree with you, although it should be noted that the current and pre-Surge force levels will not be in Iraq indefinitely. Indeed, there are other military/political/economic tools available to constrain and undermine aggression from Iran as well as eliminate AQ, but there were other matters beyond Iran and AQ to consider in regard to the decision to invade Iraq.

"Again, we have more than a choice between surrender vs. absolute physical annihilation of our enemies."

On the other hand, surrender isn't a viable option when your enemies seek your own absolute physical annihilation.

"All well and good, but it is also not playing favorably "on the Arab street" that our government has ignored the Iraqi parliament's resolution calling for a timeline for withdrawal, undeniably reflecting the wishes of the large majority of the Iraqi people."

Are you referring to the non-binding resolution submitted by al-Sadr's bloc last year requesting the U.S./Coalition to provide a withdrawal timeline to the Iraqi parliament? If so, I would submit that the U.S.-led Coaltion's current security obligations under the Geneva Conventions supercede any non-binding resolutions that could lead to the violation of those obligations.

"That's what close air support is for. I very much doubt that Ansar al-Islam's arsenal warranted an occupation army."

I very much doubt you can dig any force like Ansar al-Islam out of mountainous terrain without boots on the ground, and that was certainly the case with Krekar's jihadis back in March 2003. We bombed the hell out of their enclave and it still took infantry forces to finish the job and gather intel.

"You are generalizing too much here for me to be able to offer an informed counterargument."

We were discussing was the assessment of a military or security threat based on the size of its support base. My point was that this can be misleading criteria, and I used the example of the mighty 7th and 8th century Arab caliphates that were originally founded by a single charismatic religious and military leader with a small support base. I imagine that the Maoist Shining Path in Peru would qualify as another example of a force whose capacity for destruction greatly exceeded its support base.

"This comment is about as ignorant as that of the Islamo-fascists you are so preoccupied with. I believe the psychological term for that is 'projection'. "

Your comments make abolutely no sense. As I stated, you failed to identify precisely what you meant by the "partial misidentification of the causes behind Middle Eastern hostility to the U.S." - by all means, feel free to clarify your remarks. My comment was in response to the shoddy, ahistorical "research" of Edward Said that informs much of the "anti-war" Left's perceptions and attitudes concerning the roots of Middle Eastern hostility toward the U.S. and the West.

"Poverty is only a symptom. A history of U.S. complicity in the oppression of these people by their governments is what I was referring to. Even the Bush administration has admitted to that. And despite their rhetoric about democracy, that policy has been so selectively applied that it stinks with hypocrisy and cynicism."

I have to agree with much of what you say here, but the U.S. is not solely responsible for the existance of these autocracies, much less the oppression of their populations. In fact, the vast majority of the kleptocracies in the Middle East and North Africa, such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Egypt, were either Soviet client states or non-aligned nations. Furthermore, the U.S. did not install the Saudi and Hashemite monarchies, much less the mullahcracy in Tehran.

As for promoting democracy in the region, this isn't as simple as one might think. I can't do this subject justice in this thread, but Barry Rubin has in his book "The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East". However, one thing I have found interesting is that when the U.S. has actually gone in and removed a despot from power and helped plant the seeds of democracy in its place, many of the individuals who complain about the U.S.'s failure to promote democracy in the Middle East condemn the United States for it. Obviously, America is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't.

talon said...

DP -

I forgot to respond to your last comment:

"See: "Manifest Destiny" and "White Man's Burden""

Clever, but wrong. Try Christopher Hitchens' "Fallujah" instead:

Fallujah
A reminder of what the future might look like if we fail.
by CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
Friday, April 2, 2004

There must be a temptation, when confronted with the Dantesque scenes from Fallujah, to surrender to something like existential despair. The mob could have cooked and eaten its victims without making things very much worse. One especially appreciated the detail of the heroes who menaced the nurses, when they came to try and remove the charred trophies.

But this "Heart of Darkness" element is part of the case for regime-change to begin with. A few more years of Saddam Hussein, or perhaps the succession of his charming sons Uday and Qusay, and whole swathes of Iraq would have looked like Fallujah. The Baathists, by playing off tribe against tribe, Arab against Kurd and Sunni against Shiite, were preparing the conditions for a Hobbesian state of affairs. Their looting and beggaring of the state and the society--something about which we now possess even more painfully exact information--was having the same effect. A broken and maimed and traumatized Iraq was in our future no matter what.

Obviously, this prospect could never have been faced with equanimity. Iraq is a regional keystone state with vast resources and many common borders. Its implosion would have created a black hole, sucking in rival and neighboring powers, tempting them with opportunist interventions and encouraging them to find ethnic and confessional proxies. And who knows what the death-throes of the regime would have been like? We are entitled, on past experience, to guess. There could have been deliberate conflagrations started in the oilfields. There might have been suicidal lunges into adjacent countries. The place would certainly have become a playground for every kind of nihilist and fundamentalist. The intellectual and professional classes, already gravely attenuated, would have been liquidated entirely.

All of this was, only just, averted. And it would be a Pangloss who said that the dangers have receded even now. But at least the international intervention came before the whole evil script of Saddam's crime family had been allowed to play out. A subsequent international intervention would have been too little and too late, and we would now being holding an inquest into who let this happen--who in other words permitted in Iraq what Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright and Kofi Annan permitted in Rwanda, encouraged by the Elysée.

Prescience, though, has now become almost punishable. Thanks in part to Richard Clarke's showmanship (and to the crass ineptitude of the spokesmen for the Bush administration) it is widely considered laughable to have even thought about an Iraqi threat. Given Saddam's record in both using and concealing weapons of mass destruction, and given his complicity--at least according to Mr. Clarke--with those who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and with those running Osama bin Laden's alleged poison factory in Sudan, any president who did not ask about a potential Baathist link to terrorism would be impeachably failing in his duty.
It's becoming more and more plain that the moral high ground is held by those who concluded, from the events of 1991, that it was a mistake to leave Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait. However tough that regime-change might have been, it would have spared the lives of countless Iraqis and begun the process of nation-rebuilding with 12 years' advantage, and before most of the awful damage wrought by the sanctions-plus-Saddam "solution." People like Paul Wolfowitz are even more sinister than their mocking foes believe. They were against Saddam Hussein not just in September 2001 but as far back as the 1980s. (James Mann's excellent book "Rise of the Vulcans," greatly superior to Richard Clarke's, will I hope not be eclipsed by it. It contains an account that every serious person should ponder.)

I debate with the opponents of the Iraq intervention almost every day. I always have the same questions for them, which never seem to get answered. Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein's regime was inevitable or not? Do you believe that a confrontation with an Uday/Qusay regime would have been better? Do you know that Saddam's envoys were trying to buy a weapons production line off the shelf from North Korea (vide the Kay report) as late as last March? Why do you think Saddam offered "succor" (Mr. Clarke's word) to the man most wanted in the 1993 bombings in New York? Would you have been in favor of lifting the "no fly zones" over northern and southern Iraq; a 10-year prolongation of the original "Gulf War"? Were you content to have Kurdish and Shiite resistance fighters do all the fighting for us? Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left, as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose?

I hope I do not misrepresent my opponents, but their general view seems to be that Iraq was an elective target; a country that would not otherwise have been troubling our sleep. This ahistorical opinion makes it appear that Saddam Hussein was a new enemy, somehow chosen by shady elements within the Bush administration, instead of one of the longest-standing foes with which the United States, and indeed the international community, was faced. So, what about the "bad news" from Iraq? There was always going to be bad news from there. Credit belongs to those who accepted--can we really decently say pre-empted?--this long-term responsibility. Fallujah is a reminder, not just of what Saddamism looks like, or of what the future might look like if we fail, but of what the future held before the Coalition took a hand.

Mr. Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. He is writing a study of Thomas Jefferson for the "Eminent Lives" series, from HarperCollins.


http://opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110004903

I'd be interested to hear your response to Mr. Hitchens' comments, DP.

Dissenting Patriot said...

I apologize to all but I will be out for the next few days and may or may not have access to the internet. I look forward to continuing these discussions with you all.

-DP

talon said...

No need to apologize, DP. Most of the regulars around here are going to be out of town for the next several days, as well.

Dissenting Patriot said...

NAMedic,

I apologize that I do not have time to address all the details of the thesis you sent me, but I think based on a brief review of it that the author credits Stalin with too much. Certainly the Cold War was a war of ideas, but not all the ideas which influence the various "leftist" schools of thought are rooted in Stalin, nor are leftist thinkers necessarily "memebots", any more than their political opponents (though there certainly exist enough of them across the political spectrum). I think that various leftist theoreticians have contributed to our understanding of history and of some of the root causes of conflict, but as is the case with any theory, there are shortcomings to each which require alternative theories and historical accounts to gain a more accurate picture. I am generalizing too much here but my main point is that valuable knowledge can be gained from Marx and no less from John Locke, Adam Smith, etc. I think that across the political spectrum, we as individual citizens and as a society suffer intellectually when we become so entrenched in our views that we are unwilling to challenge them in light of others. This common practice is intellectually dishonest, unscientific, and demonstrates a lack of courage.

Instead of pointing the finger this time I will engage in a bit of self-reflection. One of IVAW's points of unity is immediate withdrawal from Iraq. The actual implementation of such a policy could have some very serious consequences. I think that in order for me to make a morally responsible decision I have to do my best to think through some of those potential consequences and avoid the temptation of becoming entrenched in an idea that, in light of further information, might prove to be in fact immoral from a utilitarian standpoint. That is a temptation many of us on all sides of the debate fall into- all the more so when we become impassioned as the stakes rise. The stakes in the case of Iraq are very high indeed.

The last thing I wanted to respond with is that we are debating here about competing utilitarian moral calculations which are based on imperfect information, i.e. a limited grasp of history and a limited ability to accurately predict the future. I think it will prove a healthy and productive debate, so long as it is kept above mutual reduction to ideology and contemptuous dismissal.

I look forward to your response.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Talon,

On March 10, 2008 at 10:01 AM, you wrote:

'Better yet, articulate exactly what you mean by "Our government's foreign policy objectives in Iraq are irreconcilable. They are fundamentally contradictory." I should have asked you to clarify them previously.'

One of the Bush administration's foreign policy objectives in Iraq is the cultivation of democracy. I think that President Bush at least sincerely wants to see democracy flourish in Iraq. This objective is irreconcilable with the goal of controlling Iraq's oil however. (I am prepared to defend the assertion about oil if you'd like but I'll start with the short version.) The reason is simple: any Iraqi government which cedes control of the nation's resources effectively cedes its national sovereignty; therefore any government which acquiesces to the Bush administration's demands will be violently opposed by the Iraqi people.


On March 10, 2008 at 5:08 PM you wrote:

'I wouldn't blame radicalism on "the system". More often than not, it is the radical that is to blame for his or her own radicalism. For example, nihilism is what afflicts the radical Leftist lunatic fringe in this country, not "the system".'

Yes and no I think. We all consciously decide whether or not to ignore social injustices for example. But how we identify the causes behind those injustices is to some degree conscious and to some degree a factor of what social science theories and historical narratives we have been exposed to (which shape our paradigm of social reality). And I don't think that the term "radical" should be used in a necessarily negative context. I am certainly appreciative of the radicalism of our Founding Fathers for example, regardless of whether or not they were to blame for their own radicalization. They were the "leftists" of their time: against the concentration and abuse of power which naturally follows from it. That is not to imply that every "leftist" group is against the concentration of power. In fact it is ironic because, when it comes to the more fringe movements, they seem to have the most in common with people on the supposedly opposite end of the spectrum, especially in terms of their absolutism and desire to concentrate power. But i digress.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Talon,

On March 10, 2008 at 5:11 PM, you wrote,

"...As for your comments concerning the funding of the war, I tend to agree with you, although it should be noted that the current and pre-Surge force levels will not be in Iraq indefinitely. Indeed, there are other military/political/economic tools available to constrain and undermine aggression from Iran as well as eliminate AQ, but there were other matters beyond Iran and AQ to consider in regard to the decision to invade Iraq."

(You were referring to my concern about the national security implications of financing the war through foreign debt instead of taxes.) What force levels in Iraq will look like 6 months or a year from now is dependent upon a number of variables, but I think it would be a mistake to assume that AQ getting their ass kicked in Iraq is a sign of victory at hand. The insurgency is overwhelmingly comprised of Iraqis who continue to fight because of the continued presence of occupation forces in Iraq and continued efforts by the Bush administration to secure control over their natural resources through economic and legal mechanisms. To reiterate, this dynamic results in perpetual instability.

Regarding the other considerations influencing the decision to invade Iraq, I assume you mean WMDs. I don't think the Bush administration had the intelligence they claimed to have when they went to Congress and the UN, and I would like to see a deeper congressional investigation into the pre-war intelligence process. Maybe you will prove me wrong. I would still like to see your sources challenging my position on that matter (see your March 9, 2008 3:08 PM comments.)

In response to my comments about the Iraqi parliament's resolution demanding a timeline for withdrawal and its political impact on the legitimacy of the occupation, you asked,

"Are you referring to the non-binding resolution submitted by al-Sadr's bloc last year requesting the U.S./Coalition to provide a withdrawal timeline to the Iraqi parliament? If so, I would submit that the U.S.-led Coaltion's current security obligations under the Geneva Conventions supercede any non-binding resolutions that could lead to the violation of those obligations."

See:

http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/mnfindex.htm

You wrote:

"I very much doubt you can dig any force like Ansar al-Islam out of mountainous terrain without boots on the ground, and that was certainly the case with Krekar's jihadis back in March 2003. We bombed the hell out of their enclave and it still took infantry forces to finish the job and gather intel."

I'll concede that point. But again, did that require a drive into Baghdad? It depends on the validity of the intelligence you cited.

You later defended your point about how formidable a relatively small unconventional fighting force can be. Insurgents become even more formidable when you ravage the cities inhabited by the people caught between you and them. They also become more formidable when your government undermines your efforts to win hearts and minds by attempting to steal their natural resources.

You wrote:

'...you failed to identify precisely what you meant by the "partial misidentification of the causes behind Middle Eastern hostility to the U.S." - by all means, feel free to clarify your remarks. My comment was in response to the shoddy, ahistorical "research" of Edward Said that informs much of the "anti-war" Left's perceptions and attitudes concerning the roots of Middle Eastern hostility toward the U.S. and the West.'

E.g:

*The U.S. overthrow of a democratically elected government in Iran and backing of a repressive Shah

*U.S. backing of a repressive Saudi monarchy

*U.S. backing of a repressive Egyptian government

*U.S. backing of Saddam Hussein

*virtually unconditional support for the state of Israel

Etc.

(I am not placing the blame solely on us here, just pointing out our historical responsibility for provoking anger and resentment in this part of the world.)

I also have not read Edward Said. I don't think Bernard Lewis' historical narrative quite covers it either though. The retardation of political and economic progress in the Middle East has much to do with repeated European and more recently American interventions in the region. There must be some stability for societies and governments to evolve and progress. These countries have been denied that. I think we generally need a more hands-off approach (security situation dependent of course).

You wrote:

"...the U.S. is not solely responsible for the existance of these autocracies, much less the oppression of their populations. In fact, the vast majority of the kleptocracies in the Middle East and North Africa, such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Egypt, were either Soviet client states or non-aligned nations. Furthermore, the U.S. did not install the Saudi and Hashemite monarchies, much less the mullahcracy in Tehran."

True, though they've switched hands quite often. I would also point out that we haven't done such a great job with our own client states (Chile, Guatemala, Cuba, etc.)

You wrote:

"As for promoting democracy in the region, this isn't as simple as one might think. I can't do this subject justice in this thread, but Barry Rubin has in his book "The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East". However, one thing I have found interesting is that when the U.S. has actually gone in and removed a despot from power and helped plant the seeds of democracy in its place, many of the individuals who complain about the U.S.'s failure to promote democracy in the Middle East condemn the United States for it. Obviously, America is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't."

Very true, and very exasperating. Monty Python's "The Life of Brian" captures that well ("What have the Romans ever done for us?!?")

Dissenting Patriot said...

Talon,

On March 7, 2008 at 5:21 PM you wrote:

"I don't know if we can drag a civilization that exists in a total state of stasis and collapse into the 21st Century, but on the other hand, one has to contemplate the consequences of leaving hundreds of millions of human beings to suffer in a backwards, rights-repressive and uncompetitive part of an increasingly interconnected world. I think we learned our lessons about the consequences of ignoring the violent forces emerging from this region on 9/11 - either we do something to improve the situation, or we accept the status quo of the 9/10 world. There are no easy choices, but I can say that accepting the status quo is the least desirable of these options."

I responded:

'See: "Manifest Destiny" and "White Man's Burden"'

To which you replied with reciprocal zing:

'Clever, but wrong. Try Christopher Hitchens' "Fallujah" instead'

My comments below are in reaction to excerpts from his piece.

"...this "Heart of Darkness" element [referring to the savagery of the insurgents in Fallujah in 2004] is part of the case for regime-change to begin with. A few more years of Saddam Hussein, or perhaps the succession of his charming sons Uday and Qusay, and whole swathes of Iraq would have looked like Fallujah. The Baathists, by playing off tribe against tribe, Arab against Kurd and Sunni against Shiite, were preparing the conditions for a Hobbesian state of affairs. Their looting and beggaring of the state and the society--something about which we now possess even more painfully exact information--was having the same effect. A broken and maimed and traumatized Iraq was in our future no matter what."

No matter what? Perhaps, perhaps not. It is difficult to say. Going into Iraq without a plan certainly didn't improve our prospects. (Actually, I should say going into Iraq just 2-3 months after the Bush administration decided to scrap[!] what the State Department had spent about a decade preparing in the event of a U.S.-led regime change. Not that it was watertight by any means, but a plan is better than no plan at all.)

"But at least the international intervention came before the whole evil script of Saddam's crime family had been allowed to play out. A subsequent international intervention would have been too little and too late, and we would now being holding an inquest into who let this happen--who in other words permitted in Iraq what Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright and Kofi Annan permitted in Rwanda, encouraged by the Elysée."

Christopher Hitchins' has no way of knowing that. Saddam Hussein, despite his brutality, was a rational man. (Not very good at reading his enemies but rational nevertheless.) I am not suggesting we should have stood by and done nothing, but look where we are now. We should be holding an inquest into who set in motion the string of events which has led to the sectarian cleansing of Baghdad by the Iraqi government/Shi'ite militias. Life for most Iraqis today is undeniably worse than it was under Saddam Hussein, and we bear major responsibility for that. (As you can see I diverge from the masochistic, self-flagellating mentality of the Left ("everything is our fault"), but at the same I believe in taking responsibility for the consequences of our decisions.

"...any president who did not ask about a potential Baathist link to terrorism would be impeachably failing in his duty."

I absolutely agree. I would add a caveat to that however: any president who knowingly made a Baathist link to AQ that did not exist would also be impeachably failing in his duty.

"It's becoming more and more plain that the moral high ground is held by those who concluded, from the events of 1991, that it was a mistake to leave Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait. However tough that regime-change might have been, it would have spared the lives of countless Iraqis and begun the process of nation-rebuilding with 12 years' advantage, and before most of the awful damage wrought by the sanctions-plus-Saddam "solution."

Interventions of this magnitude must be planned as thoroughly as possible when the circumstances allow; they must also be viewed as legitimate and acceptable by the people who are able to make or break them depending on their own calculations of national self-interest; they must also operate within the existing legal framework unless in the case of some imminent threat. Outside of this, even the most well-intentioned interventions can have disastrous consequences.

"I debate with the opponents of the Iraq intervention almost every day. I always have the same questions for them, which never seem to get answered. Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein's regime was inevitable or not?"

Nothing is inevitable. Saddam Hussein apparently disarmed, but did not want his rivals to the east to know that. This is sort of a moot point now though. How best to fix the problem is the main concern.

"Do you believe that a confrontation with an Uday/Qusay regime would have been better?"

Definitely not.

"Do you know that Saddam's envoys were trying to buy a weapons production line off the shelf from North Korea (vide the Kay report) as late as last March?"

I was not aware of it, but it doesn't change my position.

"Why do you think Saddam offered "succor" (Mr. Clarke's word) to the man most wanted in the 1993 bombings in New York?"

I don't know the source so I don't know if its true. I wouldn't put it past him though.

"Would you have been in favor of lifting the "no fly zones" over northern and southern Iraq; a 10-year prolongation of the original "Gulf War"?"

No.

"Were you content to have Kurdish and Shiite resistance fighters do all the fighting for us?"

I'm not sure how to answer that without spending a lot of time on it.

"Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left, as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose?"

It depends on what sort of a confrontation you're talking about. An invasion resulting from a border dispute is much different than the prospect of a state-sponsored terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

"I hope I do not misrepresent my opponents, but their general view seems to be that Iraq was an elective target; a country that would not otherwise have been troubling our sleep. "

I believe Iraq was an elective target; if we left Saddam Hussein alone he would most likely have continued to be an irritant to the U.S. We now have much bigger problems on our hands however. I hope it will prove worth it in the long run, but I am not confident of that.

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