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Peters is throwing in the towel
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ralph Peters is all but writing off Iraq as a failure:
Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. Even six months ago, there was hope. Now the chances for a democratic, unified Iraq are dwindling fast. The country's prime minister has thrown in his lot with al-Sadr, our mortal enemy. He has his eye on the future, and he's betting that we won't last. The police are less accountable than they were under Saddam. Our extensive investment in Iraqi law enforcement only produced death squads. Government ministers loot the country to strengthen their own factions. Even Iraq's elections — a worthy experiment — further divided Iraq along confessional and ethnic lines. Iraq still exists on the maps, but in reality it's gone. Only a military coup — which might come in the next few years — could hold the artificial country together.

This chaos wasn't inevitable. While in Iraq late last winter, I remained soberly hopeful. Since then, the strength of will of our opponents — their readiness to pay any price and go to any length to win — has eclipsed our own. The valor of our enemies never surpassed that of our troops, but it far exceeded the fair-weather courage of the Bush administration.

Yet, for all our errors, we did give the Iraqis a unique chance to build a rule-of-law democracy. They preferred to indulge in old hatreds, confessional violence, ethnic bigotry and a culture of corruption. It appears that the cynics were right: Arab societies can't support democracy as we know it. And people get the government they deserve.

For us, Iraq's impending failure is an embarrassment. For the Iraqis — and other Arabs — it's a disaster the dimensions of which they do not yet comprehend. They're gleeful at the prospect of America's humiliation. But it's their tragedy, not ours.
Peters, perhaps one of the staunchest supporters of the war, seems to be suffering from the same problem I noted a few days ago when I said:
In an email discussion recently, concerning Iraq, I agreed that probably the most frustrating thing about this war is seeing things you think should be obvious and not understanding why others who could do something about it don't see it, and if they do, why they don't do what they should do.
This is what has happened to Peters and many supporters of our effort in Iraq. The frustration of watching what could have been become what will not be because of stupidity, cupidity, incompetence, poor planning, no planning, lack of initiative, misplaced priorities and inconsistent leadership has been awful. Peters is probably more frustrated than I am because he knows, given his numerous trips to Iraq, the situation better than I do. And he knows pretty well what we could have done, probably should have done, and what we didn't do.

Given the CENTCOM slide everyone is referencing, you can see the literal slide toward chaos graphically depicted. It is a real pity, because, as Peters notes, it didn't have to happen. And yet, even with the evidence of the violence and the march of the arrow to the right on the slide, we have Dick Cheney saying that things are going pretty well in Iraq.

There's a difference between being positive and delusional.

Peters lays out when he began to think the Iraq venture's failure was all but inevitable:
My disillusionment with our Iraq endeavor began last summer, when I was invited to a high-level discussion with administration officials. I went into the meeting with one firm goal, to convince my hosts that they'd better have Plan B in case Iraq continued to disintegrate. I left the session convinced that the administration still didn't have Plan A, only a blur of meandering policies and blind hopes. After more than three years, it was still "An Evening at the Improv."
This, unfortunately, has become obvious to Iraq supporters such as myself, even without the access Peters had. Maybe it's my years in operations in the military, but I saw nothing which resembled a comprehensive plan or strategy reflected in our effort. It has been a poorly conceived and poorly executed effort which has mostly been reactive and has only offered piece-meal solutions which many times have been overcome by events when they're finally implemented.

That, folks, is a leadership failure. And that leadership failure lays in only one place.

Peters gives one last glimmer of hope for Iraq:
Iraq still deserves one last chance — as long as we don't confuse deadly stubbornness and perseverance. If, at this late hour, Iraqis in decisive numbers prove willing to fight for their own freedom and a constitutional government, we should be willing to remain for a generation. If they continue to revel in fratricidal slaughter, we must leave.
Or said another way ... it is now completely, not mostly, out of our hands.

The British army used to form ad hoc units called a 'Forlorn Hope'. The unit was manned by volunteers who agreed to take on suicidal missions such as being the first to charge a breach in a wall of a fortified position. The promise was that if any of those in the Forlorn Hope survived the engagement they'd be promoted. For the most part, it was never necessary to issue many promotions.

The will of the Iraqi people to make this work is Iraq's "Forlorn Hope". I truly hope they survive it.
 
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Iraq is a failure because the US really is weak and divided, just as OBL and the Islamists said we were. We proved the Islamists correct, and the price we pay may be a nuked US city or two (if we are lucky, as it could be worse).

We could have won this. Look up the Malaysian Emergency. The odds of succeeding in a counter-insurgency were in our favor.

But Bush and the hawks tolerated the media and the Left and their borderline treason. Bush and the hawks let the Left and MSM set the agenda and talking points and expectations. It’s the fault of YOU AND ME and every other Iraq War supporter that millions of Iraqis will be murdered in gulags and death camps. Why? Because we let the Left and media subvert the war effort. We were outflanked and crushed by our own "loyal opposition." They took the "moral highground" and called us fascists for trying to liberate a fascist dictatorship. They called us "racists" for trying to create a mutli-cultural democracy in a 3rd world nation. They called us "warmongers" for trying to bring peace, law and order to Iraq. And we knew it was happening and we did nothing about it.

Iraq really is Vietname Part 2. We won on the battlefield, but lost at home because of a fifth column. We didn’t learn from history. And the price will be terrible.
 
Written By: Terrible Truths
URL: http://
Or not...Iraq may work out...In 1942 Churchill despaired after the loss of the Far East and the defeat in the Gazala Battles and the loss of Tobruk...McQ and Ralph might just want to decide to keep fighting..I suggest a No Confidence Vote for PM Maliki..suggested by the US Ambassador to Iraq....Or we can just succumb to the "Tet Offensive" of the Oct. 2006. Good thing Peters and Goldberg weren’t advising Churchill in ’42, a pity they’re around in ’06.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The main problem is we do have a strategy, but each of the 3 prongs needed are stove-piped in different agencies, none of which cooperate very will with the others.

Security - train the Iraqis, and provide security until they are able to.

Politics - form a representative, democratic government

Economy - rebuild infrastructure and encourage business investment

All three prongs are on shaky ground. We are making progress, only not fast enough, cheap enough, or with enough momentum to be self-sustaining.

The problems are many. One main one being the corruption that exists in the government, and police force. We’ve done a good job instilling the right attitudes in the military part of their security services, but the police are not trusted.

We ought to either be all in, or all out, in Iraq. Since the long term cost of getting out, far exceeds the cost of getting all in, I think, the choice is obvious. Now, what that means in terms of strategy and tactics, beats me.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
McQ - the latest Brookings Institute numbers are out as well, http://www.brookings.edu/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
"No honest observer..."

Well, I guess that settles that. Since I like to think of myself as honest, I obviously have no choice but to agree.


"We won on the battlefield, but lost at home"

So when will our fearless leaders and military experts learn from history that the home front IS, I reiterate IS, a part of the battlefield and take that into consideration in any planning BEFORE they get us involved? At this point in history it doesn’t speak very well of the knowledge and judgement of political and military leaders(or even some some amateurs) that they are unprepared for domestic opposition. "Fool me once..."
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Iraq failed because of a fundamental truth: you can’t shape political and social realities with military power. It is wrong to consider this just a failure of tactics — it’s another example where people want to avoid confronting real strategical flaws by imagining that other tactics would have worked. Many of us saw this coming even before March 2003 because if you know how political systems operate, and you know about the Mideast, it was obviouis that the goal of a stable, democratic, pro-American Iraq was delusion from the get go.

But we can still leave Iraq with some semblance of stability and avoid all out civil war. We have a responsibility to do so; our actions have decimated a political system (and Peters is dead wrong to say it’s not our failure but an Iraqi failure — that’s an immoral abdication of responsibility for our actions). The key is Syria and Iran. The key is a Nixonian diplomatic opening which not only can allow us to leave Iraq without it disintegrating, but can also help shift the "clash" between Islam and the West from one of violence and terror to one where the two sides can co-exist. Nixon and Kissinger’s detente set up a peaceful end to the Cold War; without detente, Reagan and Gorbachev would not have been in a position to engineer a peaceful conclusion of that "global struggle." Syria and Iran are the key here. Mao’s rhetoric before 1972 was as vehement as Ahmadinejad’s today. The USSR was an evil empire. But talking and diplomacy still were the right move.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
our actions have decimated a political system
Which political system are you talking about? The one Saddam ran, or the one we are trying to grow?

While talking and diplomacy are needed, what concessions can we safely make? Personally, I’m all for opening up lines of discussion, but not at the price of giving carrots in return for nothing.

I also think Syria or Iran would decline to participate if it were an American led effort at diplomacy. Not without concessions on our part.

With Iran and Syria being the cause of much of the instability in the Middle East, how can we honestly start diplomatic efforts, unless that situation is also on the table. They are supporting terrorists and trying to destabilize other nations (for example Lebanon.)

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003914.html
I was beginning to think I was incredibly naive or out of the loop historically to keep pressing the argument that some regional security forum was in order to keep the Big Bang on some sort of life support while dealing with the collective issues of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Israel/PA. Obviously, Iraq would be the immediate driver, but all such regional security issues would naturally find some expression in a CSCE-like (Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the key regional dialogue than cemented detente) entity that included all regional actors plus all significant outside interested parties.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
Iraq failed because of a fundamental truth: you can’t shape political and social realities with military power
WOW, won’t Carthage and Napoleonic France, plus Germany and Japan be amazed by THAT statement... not to mention my home state in the aftermath of the "Recent Unpleasantnesses Between the States/War of Northern Aggression" or for that matter the people of Kampuchea or Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City....Scott you really do damage the value of a Poli Sci degree with such pronouncements.
But we can still leave Iraq with some semblance of stability and avoid all out civil war.
Ah yes, the ever-present "need for stability"...BTW for 50 years the Kolyma Camps were STABLE, for 2-3 years Auschwitz was stable, for 40-plus years the DDR was STABLE...you guys in opposition act as if stability is a good thin in and of itself....
our actions have decimated a political system
Yes and THANK GOD, just like the Nurnberg Trials decimated a political system...
The key is Syria and Iran.
BRILLIANT the two nastiest dictatorships in the region now get to have a say in how Iraq is run...that’s a plan....of course it will produce that vaunted..."Stability".
The key is a Nixonian diplomatic opening which not only can allow us to leave Iraq without it disintegrating
"Peace with Honour" this just gets better.....
The key is a Nixonian diplomatic opening which not only can allow us to leave Iraq without it disintegrating, but can also help shift the "clash" between Islam and the West from one of violence and terror to one where the two sides can co-exist.
EXCEPT the Jihadis, to include IRAN , DON’T WANT CO-EXISTENCE!!! They want DOMINANCE!

Which segues nicely into:
Mao’s rhetoric before 1972 was as vehement as Ahmadinejad’s today. The USSR was an evil empire. But talking and diplomacy still were the right move.


Except Mao attacked the USSR and Ahmadinejad ATTACKS THE US AND ISRAEL, so the analogy is a little strained. Plus I think you ignore the whole Cold War II interlude, it wasn’t taling and diplomacy that defeated the USSR, Scott, but an Arms Race and Confrontation, resulting in the implosion of the USSR.

Beyond your historical amnesia, common to Politcal Scientists, I’m saddened to say, you are spot on...




 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Scott is just polishing the ole’ Viet-Nam argument. No word if he is accepting responsiblity for those re-education camps, boat peoples, etc. But Scott is right, pulling out of Vietnam only led to 30 years of oppression of the Vietnamese people. What’s 30 years of slavery compared to making hippies FEEL GOOD?

With any luck, the next war with a dictatorship (in 2037) will be a chance for the ANSWER and Kos kids to have their nostalgic chance to subvert democracy in favor of dictatorships, just as their hippie parents did in the 1970s and 2000s.
 
Written By: Stop Hippies
URL: http://
Oh and BTW, I wrote poorly:
Beyond your historical amnesia, common to Politcal Scientists, I’m saddened to say, you are spot on...
I meant more to say that
Beyond your historical amnesia, I’m saddened to say common fault of Politcal Scientists, you are spot on...except for being wrong about everything you’ve proposed.

And one more thing, Scott you’re not getting "attacked or insulted" it’s called being "Criticized" now in your cocoon in the Grove of Academe you may not be familiar with it, but to the rest of us, it’s common. But get out more often, because criticism and debate USED to be the core values of the University and generally exposure to alien ideas and concepts is a good thing, it sharpens one’s wits and arguments...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Iraq failed because of a fundamental truth: you can’t shape political and social realities with military power.
Military power specifically exists to shape political and social reality.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
This Iraq debacle can be understood simply by recalling the information on why we invaded in the first place. The administration could have presented this war as what it is, an attempt to change the face of the Middle East by establishing a stable democracy in Iraq. That is not a bad purpose. The problem that the administration had, and the all the problems since then, are the result of their opinion that the American people would not support such a nation building effort, they had to perceive a concrete threat to warrant majority support for military action.

For someone to suggest now that it is the American people’s (or left wing media or any opposition) fault for turning against this war is delusional. Of course they would turn against the war if the reason they believed they were supporting the war disintigrated.

Perhaps we would not have supported the war if it was presented as PNAC type nation building, but at least if they did gain support under the honest purposes, the support never would have evaporated.

Don’t get mad at Americans who now feel they were misled, get mad at the administration who did the misleading.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
This Iraq debacle can be understood simply by recalling the information on why we invaded in the first place. The administration could have presented this war as what it is, an attempt to change the face of the Middle East by establishing a stable democracy in Iraq. That is not a bad purpose.


Uh captin S.....you might have missed this so I’ll put it out for you, the following is from 2003 and references a speech in FEBRUARY 2003....when you advance an alternative theory you really ought to "Google" it first....Otherwise you come out like CindyB, does quite often, not looking so good.
As President Bush said in February, "The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life."

Let us be clear: America and the coalition went to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein’s regime posed a threat to the security of the United States and to the world. This was a regime that pursued, had used and possessed weapons of mass destruction; had links to terror; twice invaded other nations; defied the international community and 17 U.N. resolutions for 12 years — and gave every indication that it would never disarm and never comply with the just demands of the world.

Today that threat is gone. And with the liberation of Iraq, there is a special opportunity to advance a positive agenda for the Middle East that will strengthen security in the region and throughout the world. We are already seeing evidence of a new commitment to forging ahead with peace among Israelis and Palestinians.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"Iraq failed because of a fundamental truth: you can’t shape political and social realities with military power"

This is nonsense. The Islamists are proving this wrong every day. They are using military force to shape Iraq. And luckily for them, they have quislings on the Western Left and MSM to help them with their goal.
 
Written By: Time
URL: http://
Not really Cap.

While I would cede that the emphasis was on the threat Saddam posed, especially with regards to WMD, but there were many reasons presented for changing the regime there. In fact, there was a NYT article deploring the many justifications being given.

And the media is complicit in the way things were presented. I still remember the speech Bush made to the AEI, where he did not mention at all that Saddam was an imminent threat, and yet the headlines for the speech were "Bush says Saddam imminent threat." Now some have said that the administration should have been out correcting the media over things like this. I think, that is a ridiculous proposition. Should any admin correct misstatements in the press that furthers the admins cause?

For instance:
THE PRESIDENT: "The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life. ... A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region." (President Bush, Remarks, Washington, DC, 2/26/03)
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
Don,
Iraq failed because of a fundamental truth: you can’t shape political and social realities with military power.

Military power specifically exists to shape political and social reality.
Yoiks! And that comes from a Political Science professor.

Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning? Even rarelier asked, what is they learning? I’m ascairt to know!
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Uh captin S.....you might have missed this so I’ll put it out for you, the following is from 2003 and references a speech in FEBRUARY 2003....when you advance an alternative theory you really ought to "Google" it first....Otherwise you come out like CindyB, does quite often, not looking so good.
This is not an alternate theory, this is simple a factual accounting of what the American people believe they were told about why went to war.

Regardless of the multitude of reasons that were bandied about, the adminsitration focused the American public on a single, narrow, defined purpose for invading Iraq, to neutralize a direct threat that WMD’s presented to American security. Even Wolfowitz admitted that although WMD’s may not have been the main purpose that the administration wanted to invade Iraq, it was the pretext the administration settled on for "bureacratic reasons".

For many of us that have been paying attention, we all knew that WMD’s were just a piece of the puzzle, some of us agreed with the multiple reasons as a whole and supported the war (you), some of us did not (me), but none of this is relative to what the American public in general (as opposed to us wonks) were told about the reason for this invasion.

The American public doesn’t do nuance, they don’t read blogs, but they do listen to the President, and the President focused laserlike on WMD’s as the justification, and everything else as gravy.

Disarm Saddam.

If you want to suggest that administration made all the reasons clear and it’s not their fault that the American people only heard that one part of it, that’s fine, but don’t whine about the American people responding exactly as you would expect when the reason THEY understood we went to war disintigrated.

This war was poorly sold (if not dishonestly) and then poorly executed. Don’t blame opponents for the failure of this administration, the buck stops right where it should.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Uh Gee Captin, so that whole AUM thing listing a HOST of reasons doesn’t count, and all that talk about the UN Resolutions, and the discussion of human rights, didn’t happen....

Yeah balme it ont he Sheeple’s focus on WMD, led there by Dubya...Well the guys and gals that AUTHORIZED the war had multifarious reasons for their authorization.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I also think Syria or Iran would decline to participate if it were an American led effort at diplomacy. Not without concessions on our part.

With Iran and Syria being the cause of much of the instability in the Middle East, how can we honestly start diplomatic efforts, unless that situation is also on the table. They are supporting terrorists and trying to destabilize other nations (for example Lebanon.)
Since they are a source of instability, since given the current situation military options are off the table, and since economic sanctions are likely to be weak, negotiation and diplomacy are really the best option. But it can’t be a one way street. I suspect that just like Nixon could triangulate China and Russia, we would find opportunities in dealing with Syria and Iran (Syria secular Baathist/Sunni, Iran fundamentalist Shi’ite). But Syria and Iran have influence on the competing groups in Iraq, and they don’t want to see Iraq descend into total civil war and chaos. They’d have an incentive to cooperate. They also will likely work to prevent civil war even if we left quickly; they have a lot to lose if Iraq disintegrates.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Iraq failed because of a fundamental truth: you can’t shape political and social realities with military power
WOW, won’t Carthage and Napoleonic France, plus Germany and Japan be amazed by THAT statement...


Not at all — they tried to shape reality through conquest and failed.
not to mention my home state in the aftermath of the "Recent Unpleasantnesses Between the States/War of Northern Aggression" or for that matter the people of Kampuchea or Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City....Scott you really do damage the value of a Poli Sci degree with such pronouncements.
War causes change, but military power is not what shapes how a social and political system ultimately looks. You win or lose a war, but the shaping of a system and the development of a society requires much more.

War can destroy existing cultural stability and open the door to atrocities, as we’ve seen in Iraq.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
This is nonsense. The Islamists are proving this wrong every day. They are using military force to shape Iraq. And luckily for them, they have quislings on the Western Left and MSM to help them with their goal.
I don’t consider creating chaos and misery to be shaping anything — it’s destruction.

The fact you blame the media and the left for a failed and misguided policy is all too typical these days. Reality bites. Hard.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Iraq failed because of a fundamental truth: you can’t shape political and social realities with military power" alone.
Think you missed out the final word, probably a typo. You can shape political and social realities through the use of indoctrination, education, detainment, taxation and propoganda (and population limitation). All of these potential modifiers are much more effective if you are the primary power in country to carry them out, military power is useful to obtain the position of power that maximises your political and social effectiveness.

 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Social and political systems are not created by the military, but are defended by one, and thus shaped. Hence the 200+ different nation-states across Really, do I have to point this out to you? A 12-year old can understand this. Carthage, Napoleonic France, Germany and Japan didn’t fail because of gravity or dilectual materialism or the boogerman. These regimes were destroyed by military force.

Trying to use your magicial powers to turn the word "shape" into some sort of morality is dishonest. It’s common sense that military force can shape a society any number of directions. Just because the shaping isn’t toward mutlicultural welfare-statism doesn’t mean it isn’t shaping. The British were tossed from America by a military force of musketry and cannons, and Hilter shaped Germany on the Night of Long Knives using rifles and pistols.

(And actually I blame the media and the left for SUBVERTING policy for petty political power or out of spite. Your forked-tongue denial about this is all too typical these days.)
 
Written By: Time
URL: http://
The British were tossed from America by a military force of musketry and cannons, and Hilter shaped Germany on the Night of Long Knives using rifles and pistols.
And Bush tried to stop Iran and Syria and Saudi from sending troops and support and weapons into Iraq by asking them not to, then asking them again, then by asking them not too with a cherry on top, then asking them like he really meant it and by never ever using military force. Basically took the Erb approach gifting power to Syrian, Saudi and Iranian backed militia to create "chaos and destruction" in Iraq with no military reprecussions.

Frankly I fail to see how this decision by Bush was due to the Left and the media.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Yeah balme it ont he Sheeple’s focus on WMD, led there by Dubya...Well the guys and gals that AUTHORIZED the war had multifarious reasons for their authorization.
Multifarious.. big word for such a small point.

Perhaps they voted for it because the President told us and Congress that the best way to prevent having to go to war with Iraq is to show them a united front and a willingness to go to war if we had to?

Here is the key to the Iraq resolution...
(b) Presidential Determination.—In connection with the exercise of
the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President
shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible,
but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make
available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the
President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that—
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or
other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately
protect the national security of the United States against the
continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to
enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council
resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent
with the United States and other countries continuing to take
the necessary actions against international terrorist and
terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations,
or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the
terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
The President sent a message to Congress saying essentially, "yeah, we determined that stuff".

But the fact is that they did not determine that stuff at all, and because it was never really the reason for the invasion, it was irrelvant.

If the reasons cited as required for an invasion were the actual reasons for the invasion, we have to call the invasion a complete policy failure. We did not need to invade to protect national security, and Iraq was far more compliant than the administration has presumed, and of course the terrorist connections have been thoroughly debunked.

I can see that you are not going to get this, and apparently the administration doesn’t get it either, but what we are experiencing now is evidence pointing the validity of my argument.

If what you say is relevant, then the American people would not be throwing the party that brought us into war, out of power.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
"you can’t shape political and social realities with military power"

I think you can. The problem is that sometimes you don’t always get the shape you expected. The current situation in Iraq was certainly at least partially shaped by military power. Much depends on the quantity of military power and the method(s) used. Chairman Mao, the Great Helmsman, would also disagree with you.


" The key is a Nixonian diplomatic opening..."

Ah, yes. When military force fails, we must resort to words, the ultimate weapon. If you can’t shape political and social realities with military power, you certainly cannot do it without military power.


"The administration could have presented this war as what it is, an attempt to change the face of the Middle East by establishing a stable democracy in Iraq."

Yeah, they could have, but I think we all know there is no way in Hades that they could have gotten the votes, congressional or electoral.

**************************

"Not at all — they tried to shape reality through conquest and failed."

Any guesses on why they failed? *snicker* I am sure you could consult your academic peers at the Univ. of Carthage for some information.

"but military power is not what shapes how a social and political system ultimately looks"

Maybe not by itself, but it shure as sh*t has some effect on the final shape. You can argue how much in a particular case, but you shouldn’t deny any effect.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

Ah, yes. When military force fails, we must resort to words, the ultimate weapon. If you can’t shape political and social realities with military power, you certainly cannot do it without military power.
Why do you think weapons can yield a solution here? Look at the reality as Iraq descends deeper into chaos. Weapons have been the problem.

Look, despite all the bravado, the reality in Iraq cannot be denied. As long as the US tries to demonize and act against Iran and Syria, the more incentive they have to make things tough for us at very little cost to themselves. The only way out is to recognize reality, recognize that there is no military solution in Iraq or the Mideast, and start working on developing relationships that can yield stability and avoid the death of tens of thousands of innocent people.

Some of you guys talk about war as if it’s some kind of abstract game; more civilians die in modern war than military personnel, and when you think of the children, civilians and families destroyed by conflict — people not much different than you or I — to glibly hide behind abstract militarist rhetoric seems almost unhuman. I wonder sometimes if the hawks who love rhetoric of power, control, dominance and strength ever think about the real human costs of the policies they promote. We got so upset over 3000 Americans killed, but seem to think the large number of innocents we kill are not going to have a negative effect on the population of countries in the Mideast. We are seen as soulless butchers because of our apparent disregard for life in our policies. I don’t think you quite comprehend that.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m wondering, since so many of the above comments blame this debacle on "The Left", if the roughly 60% of the American public that now says they are against the war are all just a bunch of "Leftists"? Either that or they are a bunch of dupes. It has to be one or the other.

It’s time for those who promoted and executed the war, Bush, Cheney, Rummy, etc., to step up like men and accept responsibility. These guys were given the authorization, the money and the military might for the mission they didn’t accomplish. They were denied nothing they wanted.

Scapegoating those who didn’t conduct the war for the failure really looks pretty whiny at this point.

 
Written By: Pug
URL: http://
Look, despite all the bravado, the reality in Iraq cannot be denied. As long as the US tries to demonize and act against Iran and Syria, the more incentive they have to make things tough for us at very little cost to themselves. The only way out is to recognize reality, recognize that there is no military solution in Iraq or the Mideast, and start working on developing relationships that can yield stability and avoid the death of tens of thousands of innocent people.
It is in Syrian, Iranian, Saudi and even Turkish interests to have a stable, friendly, cooperative country in Iraq. This provides all the incentive that they need to act. As a matter of fact I predict that after the USA leaves they will continue to act in pursuit of this interest. Why is it that Americans see international tension solely as a product of American action?

They act because the disincentives to their action are very small, they incur "very little cost to themselves". The demonisation is insufficient to deter them and very little action has been taken. Therefore more action should be taken.

If action is to be abandoned (as you suggest), you need to provide evidence a realistic negotiable soultion is possible. The contrary interests of secular Arab nationalist Syrians, secular nationalist Turks, pan-Islamic Shia fundamentalist Iranians, pan-Islamic Sunni fundamentalist Saudis need to be accomodated with the people of Iraq. How is this possible? As an example of the problems likely to be faced once upon a time the pan-Islamic Sunni Muslim Brotherhood attempted to challenge secular Arab nationalist Syria and 25,000 of them and their families were massacred by Syrian troops. I argue that the conflicting interests involved will lead to a conflict where civillians will suffer casualties.

It seems to me that you are most concerned about the image of the USA, that the blood is not seen to be on your hands - in this you are not disimilar to the Bush administration that after having invaded has made only pitiful efforts to stop Iranian, Syrian, Saudi incursions because to do so would be to look coldly militaristic. Yet this overt concern for American image fails in its aim of protecting American image, because by failling to act effectively America has set conditions for an ongoing sectarian war that will kill a great number of people. These deaths will be blamed on America, with removing Saddam being the original sin that caused the sectarian war.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Superb post, McQ. Thank you.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com
It is in Syrian, Iranian, Saudi and even Turkish interests to have a stable, friendly, cooperative country in Iraq. This provides all the incentive that they need to act. As a matter of fact I predict that after the USA leaves they will continue to act in pursuit of this interest. Why is it that Americans see international tension solely as a product of American action?
Yes, I think that predictions of a genocide or massive civil war after the US leaves are overstated. Right now the various sides in Iraq have incentive not to deal because they think they can use the Americans to help them get a better deal, or they like having the Americans as targets. But when we leave, a massive civil war could spread and engulf the region, and none of the states around Iraq want that. Ultimately even Turkey will have to tread lightly with the Kurds, given their desires for a closer tie to the EU.
If action is to be abandoned (as you suggest), you need to provide evidence a realistic negotiable soultion is possible. The contrary interests of secular Arab nationalist Syrians, secular nationalist Turks, pan-Islamic Shia fundamentalist Iranians, pan-Islamic Sunni fundamentalist Saudis need to be accomodated with the people of Iraq. How is this possible? As an example of the problems likely to be faced once upon a time the pan-Islamic Sunni Muslim Brotherhood attempted to challenge secular Arab nationalist Syria and 25,000 of them and their families were massacred by Syrian troops. I argue that the conflicting interests involved will lead to a conflict where civillians will suffer casualties.
Most of the governments want stability and don’t want a sectarian war to rage across the region. They also think the US is making things worse; King Abdullah of Jordan is fearful that revolt and jihadism could expand, the Saudis are worried about their grip on power, and the Syrian-Iranian alliance is in part predicated on the idea that it has to be possible for a Sunni Arab secular Baathist state to cooperate with a Shi’ite Persian fundamentalist state.

Moreover, it seems that our "actions" — military actions — have led to far more death and destruction and danger than would have otherwise occurred, at least in the short to middle term. Action that is diplomatic, cooperative and bridge building may allow us to play a positive role. I think the west and especially the US trying to project military power in that region is inherently destabilizing, contrary to American interests, and dangerous. Also, the American people are not going to stand for it much longer.
It seems to me that you are most concerned about the image of the USA, that the blood is not seen to be on your hands - in this you are not disimilar to the Bush administration that after having invaded has made only pitiful efforts to stop Iranian, Syrian, Saudi incursions because to do so would be to look coldly militaristic. Yet this overt concern for American image fails in its aim of protecting American image, because by failling to act effectively America has set conditions for an ongoing sectarian war that will kill a great number of people. These deaths will be blamed on America, with removing Saddam being the original sin that caused the sectarian war.
It is not the job of the US to stop regional conflicts when the socio-political conditions make them happen. And, to be sure, I’m convinced that efforts to militarily fix the situation will do more harm than good, we’ll be seen as an outside neo-colonial power interested only in oil, and it will aid the more extremist elements.

The Islamic world is going through a change, what Reza Aslan calls an Islamic reformation. New interpretations of the Koran are constantly being debated, CNN a couple years ago showed an interesting look inside Saudi Arabia and the different movements there by moderates trying to counter the Wahabi extremist interpretation of the faith. All of this will take time. It may be bloody (the West’s reformation was). We can’t prevent it; we can stand out of the way and let the region go through the change it must go through.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
When you write "it is now completely, not mostly, out of our hands" you pretty much invalidate everything you wrote before. You can’t complain about lack of American plans when it is up to the Iraqis to make their country work.

At this point, short of invading Iran to stop their interference in Iraq, the US military and US policy are not really part of the solution.
 
Written By: dvorak
URL: http://
Key lessons:

Bush was right...in 2000: no more nation building.

The future will be brutal punitive invasions leaving scorched earth where appropriate. Once you’ve killed all the scientists and burned the WMD research labs to the ground, the troops simply pull out.

The future will be "kill lists" of nations that will be nuked to the ground in the event of a single terror nuke hitting the US or an ally, regardless of actual blame.

The future will be eagerly breaking nation states up if it will make it easier to deal with the problem, ala Yugoslavia. We didn’t make the mistake there of attempting to paper over the ethnic differences.

Oh, these futures mainly apply to the third world and cultures like the Pashtun or Arab that seem to be very unlikely to reform for structural reasons. Somewhere like Belorussia or even China and what not would probably be doable.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Just an example: Darfur.

It would be far easier to intervene, set up an independent Darfur, and bomb the Sudanese military to destruction than to convince the Sudanese to become like Sweden.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
It may be bloody (the West’s reformation was). We can’t prevent it; we can stand out of the way and let the region go through the change it must go through.
Why is it you think Islamic reformation will be triggered by a period of isolation? The Christian reformation was in part driven by the threat of the Turks and happened after the Black Death.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Every one of you moronic brownshirt f*cks who have been sucking Bush’s dick the past three years and yelling "traitor!" at anyone who told the truth should be strung up by your f*cking balls.

You’re all a bunch of lying Nazi scum. You’ve sold this country down the river. Death by slow torture is too good for you pricks.

Do us all a favor and drink some f*cking Drano.
 
Written By: dave
URL: http://
"Why do you think weapons can yield a solution here?"

Where did I say that? That is your assumption of what I think, not necessarily what I actually do think.

" Some of you guys talk about war as if it’s some kind of abstract game; more civilians die in modern war than military personnel, and when you think of the children, civilians and families destroyed by conflict — people not much different than you or I — to glibly hide behind abstract militarist rhetoric seems almost unhuman"

Puhleeze! *sniff* *choke* I can’t bear it! I repent! I yield to a superior moral sensibility. Does this cr*p work on your students? Probably not after their sophomore year.


" I wonder sometimes if the hawks who love rhetoric of power, control, dominance and strength ever think about the real human costs of the policies they promote.

I do not consider myself a particularly hawkish, but I do recognize the reality and the occasional necessity of the use of force. You are new here, but that is not a good excuse for such bs. Do I think about the "real human costs" of violence? EVERY FRIGGIN DAY you ignorant, sanctimonious, pretentiously patronizing little weasel. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the pretty ribbon to put on it(only one, my standards being a little higher than that *ss from Mass.). I am sure there are a few others here who do too.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"Every one of you moronic brownshirt f*cks who have been sucking..."

A student of yours, Professor?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It’s all my fault. If only I had learned to tell a better joke. I have enrolled in the same comedy school Borat went to.

Not!
 
Written By: John Kerry
URL: http://www.johnkerry.com/
The Christian reformation was in part driven by the threat of the Turks and happened after the Black Death.
Not that I am saying the Muslims need to be invaded by a massive army intent on their enslavement and then have 2/3 of them die as result of a mystery plague whilst suffering from famine, but that’s what preceeded the West’s reformation....
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Peters’ most glaring error was the complete absence of Iran from his column. Both al-Maliki and al-Sadr are deep in the mullahs’ pockets.

As for Syria, I am stunned at the Professor’s ignorance. The Assad regime that runs Syria is Alawite Shiite, NOT Sunni. The majority population is Sunni, but their power is zero. It’s pre-liberation Iraq in reverse.

More to the point, Syria will NEVER split off from the Iranian mullahs so long as the Shiite Assad family is in power, period.

The proper historical precedent here is Central America. El Salvador faced a nasty Communist rebellion fueled by Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega. The U.S. responded by funding the anti-Ortega contras; El Salvador was able to stabilize and set up a strong democracy, while Ortega was forced to hold an election in 1990; the voters bounced him.

If we support pro-democracy elements in Iran and Syria, that will partially solve the Iraq problem. However, we must do something else, something the Administration doesn’t see - we hve to make clear to every single Iraqi that we are staying until the Iranian infiltrators are kicked out. This would dramatically improve the Iraqi Sunni view of us, and give some badly needed attention to the anti-Iranian Shiites.

Iran is the enemy; it’s time we treated it as such.
 
Written By: D.J. McGuire
URL: http://china-e-lobby.blogspot.com
So, Iran and Syria want stability and peace in the region...

And yet they continue to fund terrorist groups in the region, including Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.

But you can’t shape political and social realities with military power...

Someone better tell that to Syria and Iran.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
I think it’s time to leave Iraq. Seriously, we are being called "warmongers" and "fascists" for trying to build a democracy there. Yet the "liberal" Left doesn’t support a democracy in Iraq. Yet most of the Iraqis don’t support a democracy in Iraq. The "democratic socialists" in Europe don’t support a democracy in Iraq. WHY SHOULD WE?

So why should we "right wing fascists" even care anymore, especially since we will be maligned and slandered NO MATTER WHAT WE SUPPORT. So F-it. Let’s take the Iraqi’s oil, wall off the oil fields and B-52 them if they get in our faces. What are we afraid of? That we will be called "fascists" or "nazis" or "warmongers"? That people will accuse us of "being all about the oil"? Well they already call us these things when we tried to HELP the Iraqis. So why should we help people who hate us?
 
Written By: Professor PoliScit - Moral and Smart and Rightous
URL: http://
Yet the "liberal" Left doesn’t support a democracy in Iraq.
Yeah, it’s only liburuhls that think it’s a mistake to try build a democracy at the point of a gun.

The real reason that a majority of Americans are against the Iraq adventure is not because a majority of Americans are liberals, it is because the prinicpals of both liberals AND conservative AND libertarians argue against building democracies with our military.

It was (real) conservatives who were most correct about the reasons we should not have gone and results if we did...
Charley Reese, a staunch conservative, who was selected a couple of years ago as the favorite columnist of C-Span viewers, wrote that a U.S. attack on Iraq: "is a prescription for the decline and fall of the American empire. Overextension – urged on by a bunch of rabid intellectuals who wouldn’t know one end of a gun from another – has doomed many an empire. Just let the United States try to occupy the Middle East, which will be the practical result of a war against Iraq, and Americans will be bled dry by the costs in both blood and treasure."
Paul Craig Roberts, who was one of the highest-ranking Treasury Department officials under President Reagan and now a nationally-syndicated conservative columnist, wrote: "an invasion of Iraq is likely the most thoughtless action in modern history."
It is a traditional conservative position to be against the U.S. being the policeman of the world. That is exactly what we will be doing if we go to war in Iraq.

It is a traditional conservative position to be critical of, skeptical about, even opposed to the very wasteful, corrupt United Nations, yet the primary justification for this war, what we hear over and over again, is that Iraq has violated 16 U.N. resolutions.
Fortune magazine said: "Iraq – We win. What then?" "A military victory could turn into a strategic defeat. . . . A prolonged, expensive, American-led occupation . . . could turn U.S. troops into sitting ducks for Islamic terrorists. . . . All of that could have immediate and negative consequences for the global economy."
The Atlantic Monthly magazine said we would spend so much money in Iraq we might as well make it the 51st state. I believe most conservatives would rather that money be spent here instead of 7,000 miles away.
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Yeah, it’s only liburuhls that think it’s a mistake to try build a democracy at the point of a gun.
That’s the only way democracy has ever been built.
It is a traditional conservative position to be against the U.S. being the policeman of the world.
And the Dems usually love the idea, even if it means unilateral bombing campaigns that kill thousands of innocent people. But on the bright side, maybe we can finally get our troops out of Bosnia.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
"Yeah, it’s only liburuhls that think it’s a mistake to try build a democracy at the point of a gun."

No liberals think it’s a mistake to DEFEND democracy with the point of a gun. So do dumb "libertarians" and "conservatives."

Conclusion: These so-called anti-war/pro-democracy morons are A) Dishonest and lying to score political points B) Stupid and being counter-productive to their own aims, or C) In favor of dictatorships.
 
Written By: Time
URL: http://
Conclusion: These so-called anti-war/pro-democracy morons are A) Dishonest and lying to score political points B) Stupid and being counter-productive to their own aims, or C) In favor of dictatorships.
That’s it, no other options?

Okay, I’ll choose C

But of course this conclusion is based the logical fallacy called a false dilemma, you must choose X or you are in favor of A, B, or C.

I present you with D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, AND Z....


Written by Ron Paul before the war...

I urge the Congress to think twice before thrusting this nation into a war without merit – one fraught with the danger of escalating into something no American will be pleased with.

Thomas Jefferson once said: "Never was so much false arithmetic employed on any subject as that which has been employed to persuade nations that it is in their interests to go to war."

We have for months now heard plenty of false arithmetic and lame excuses for why we must pursue a preemptive war of aggression against an impoverished third world nation 6000 miles from our shores that doesn’t even possess a navy or air force, on the pretense that it must be done for national security reasons.

For some reason such an attack makes me feel much less secure, while our country is made more vulnerable.

Congress must consider the fact that those with military experience advocate a "go slow" policy, while those without military experience are the ones demanding this war.

We cannot ignore the fact that all of Iraq’s neighbors oppose this attack, and our European allies object as well.

If the military and diplomatic reasons for a policy of restraint make no sense to those who want a war, I advise they consider the $100 billion cost that will surely compound our serious budget and economic problems we face here at home. We need no more false arithmetic on our budget or false reasons for pursuing this new adventure into preemptive war and worldwide nation-building.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to offer another quote from Jefferson. Jefferson said: "No country perhaps was ever so thoroughly against war as ours. These dispositions pervade every description of its citizens, whether in or out of office. We love and we value peace, we know its blessings from experience."

We need this sentiment renewed in this Congress in order to avoid a needless war that offers us nothing but trouble. Congress must deal with this serious matter of whether or not we go to war. I believe it would be a mistake with the information that is available to us today. I do not see any reason whatsoever to take young men and young women and send them 6,000 miles to attack a country that has not committed any aggression against this country. Many Americans now share my belief that it would be a serious mistake.

First, there is a practical reason to oppose a war in Iraq. Our military now has been weakened over the last decade, and when we go into Iraq we will clearly dilute our ability to defend our country. We do not enhance our national defense by initiating this war. Besides, it is impractical because of unintended consequences which none of us know about. We do not know exactly how long this will last. It could be a six-day war, a six-month war, or six years or even longer.

There is a military reason for not going to war. We ought to listen to the generals and other military experts, including Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, Anthony Zinni, and Norman Schwarzkopf, who are now advising us NOT to go to war. Some have even cautioned against the possibility of starting World War III. They understand that our troops have been spread too thin around the world, and it is dangerous from a purely military standpoint to go to war today.

There is a constitutional argument and a constitutional mistake that could be made. If we once again go to war, as we have done on so many occasions since World War II, without a clear declaration of war by Congress, we blatantly violate the Constitution. I fear we will once again go to war in a haphazard way, by executive order, or even by begging permission from the rotten, anti-American United Nations. This haphazard approach, combined with a lack of clearly defined goals for victory, makes it almost inevitable that true victory will not come. So we should look at this from a constitutional perspective. Congress should assume its responsibility, because war is declared by Congress, not by a President and not by a U.N.

This is a very important matter, and I am delighted to hear that there will be congressional hearings and discussion. I certainly believe we should have a balanced approach. We have already had some hearings in the other body, where we heard only one side of the issue. If we want to have real hearings, we should have a debate and hear evidence on both sides, rather than just hearing pro-war interests arguing for war.

There are even good political reasons for not initiating this conflict. War is not popular. It may seem popular in the short run, when there appears to be an immediate victory and everyone is gloating, but war is not popular. People get killed, and body bags end up coming back. War is very unpopular, and it is not the politically smart thing to do.

There are economic reasons to avoid this war. We can do serious damage to our economy. It is estimated that this venture into Iraq may well cost over a hundred billion dollars. Our national debt right now is increasing at a rate of over $450 billion yearly, and we are talking about spending another hundred billion dollars on an adventure when we do not know what the outcome will be and how long it will last? What will happen to oil prices? What will happen to the recession that we are in? What will happen to the deficit? We must expect all kinds of economic ramifications.

There are countless diplomatic reasons for not going. All the Arab nations near Iraq object to and do not endorse our plans, and none of our European allies are anxious for this to happen. So diplomatically we make a serious mistake by doing this. I hope we have second thoughts and are very cautious in what we do.

There are philosophical reasons for those who believe in limited government to oppose this war. "War is the health of the state," as the saying goes. War necessarily means more power is given to the state. This additional power always results in a loss of liberty. Many of the worst government programs of the 20th century began during wartime "emergencies" and were never abolished. War and big government go hand in hand, but we should be striving for peace and freedom.

Finally, there is a compelling moral argument against war in Iraq. Military force is justified only in self-defense; naked aggression is the province of dictators and rogue states. This is the danger of a new "preemptive first strike" doctrine. America is the most moral nation on earth, founded on moral principles, and we must apply moral principles when deciding to use military force.


Ron Paul, M.D., represents the 14th Congressional District of Texas in the United States House of Representatives.
So do dumb "libertarians" and "conservatives."
Stupid is as stupid does. If you don’t pay attention and study and work hard to be smart, you end up getting us stuck in Iraq.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Scott Erb says:
Iraq failed because of a fundamental truth: you can’t shape political and social realities with military power. It is wrong to consider this just a failure of tactics — it’s another example where people want to avoid confronting real strategical flaws by imagining that other tactics would have worked.
Where were you when Clinton tried this in Kosovo? That mess still hasn’t been resolved, but liberals all said it was a success. NATO and the UN still have troops in Bosnia and Kosovo and the UN is just now, seven years later, appointing a commission to decide if Kosovo should remain part of Serbia or become a separate country. It has no government and the ethnic factions are still killing each other. Almost seven years after the bombing campaign had ended in Kosovo, the BBC reported that it "...left an embittered population and a number of unresolved, and potentially dangerous problems..."

Unfortunately, I tend to agree with your conclusion about nation building, I just have a problem with how politicized the criticism of our efforts in Iraq has been. The one aspect of Iraq that resembles Viet Nam is the way in which domestic politics have hampered our ability to win militarily. As one of many examples, we spent the better part of two years fighting in specific areas, cleaning out the terrorists and then leaving so that they could come back and re-establish themselves. We were too worried about appearing to be heavy handed and not worried enough about defeating the enemy. If the people who declared Kosovo to be a victory had applied the same standards to Iraq, things might have turned out differently. And while Democrats deserve much of the blame for undermining our effort in order to weaken Bush, Bush deserves lots of blame for letting politics influence the way we have waged this war.
 
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
Where were you when Clinton tried this in Kosovo? That mess still hasn’t been resolved, but liberals all said it was a success. NATO and the UN still have troops in Bosnia and Kosovo and the UN is just now, seven years later, appointing a commission to decide if Kosovo should remain part of Serbia or become a separate country. It has no government and the ethnic factions are still killing each other. Almost seven years after the bombing campaign had ended in Kosovo, the BBC reported that it "...left an embittered population and a number of unresolved, and potentially dangerous problems..."
Where was I when we failed in Kosovo? And yes, I agree it was a failure, Clinton’s PR team just put lipstick on it and called it a success. I had a letter to the editor published in Time harshly criticizing the war (the issue with the women’s soccer team on the cover), and I started what really was my first blog (though I didn’t know the word at the time):

I’ll go farther: Clinton (and really the Europeans’) policy of bombing at 15,000 feet to avoid casualty was immoral in that it made us unable to help those who needed help, while fueling Serb anger against them. The war was a wrong choice, the tactics were atrocious.

So I am perhaps one of the few who condemned the Kosovo war (and defended Republicans who Democrats called unpatriotic when they criticized that war)and the Iraq war. It’s not about Bush or Clinton, it’s about principle. When Madeline Albright said, "what’s the use of having a big army if you’re not going to use it," promoting a role for a world cop NATO that would make neo-conservatives proud, she captured the essence of the problem underlying the thinking going into both Kosovo and Iraq. Speaking of the neo-cons, it’s interesting how they now are thinking about the war.



 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Well. Good for you for being consistent. The same cannot be said for Susan Sontag, James Carville, Wesley Clarke and a whole host of liberals. You are correct about the bombing campaign failing to accomplish the stated goal of stopping the ethnic cleansing. Here is what one of the NATO generals in charge of the bombing campaign told Reuters back in 1999:
Britain’s General Sir Michael Rose said NATO and British politicians were running a propaganda campaign to persuade people that the air war met its objectives.
The alliance had been forced to redefine the objectives of its air war against Yugoslavia after it “manifestly” failed to accomplish its initial aims.
In a letter to The Times newspaper published on Wednesday, Rose said NATO had defined its initial objective as the prevention of more suffering, repression and violence against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians. “After 11 weeks of one of the most intensive air campaigns in the history of warfare, it is clear that NATO has tragically failed to accomplish these initial objectives. For thousands of people were brutally murdered and more than a million people were driven from their homes by the Serbs,” said Rose, who has retired from the British army.
We can agree that the tactics in Kosovo were atrocious and that "nation building" has so far proven to be all but impossible. However, as much as Bill Clinton was a despicable man looking for his "Presidential legacy", I think that the war was justified for humanitarian reasons. They tried negotiations with Serbia but they didn’t work. I think a reasonable person could certainly oppose both of these wars, but I don’t see you or any other opponents offering any meaningful alternatives. I don’t have any either, but until someone can figure out a way to peacefully deal with the North Koreas, Irans, Saddams and Serbias of the world, it doesn’t seem like we have any other choice. And just saying that we need to involove our allies and try diplomacy doesn’t cut it because that hasn’t worked any better than nation building. If left alone, these situations fester and get worse.
 
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
We can agree that the tactics in Kosovo were atrocious and that "nation building" has so far proven to be all but impossible. However, as much as Bill Clinton was a despicable man looking for his "Presidential legacy", I think that the war was justified for humanitarian reasons. They tried negotiations with Serbia but they didn’t work. I think a reasonable person could certainly oppose both of these wars, but I don’t see you or any other opponents offering any meaningful alternatives. I don’t have any either, but until someone can figure out a way to peacefully deal with the North Koreas, Irans, Saddams and Serbias of the world, it doesn’t seem like we have any other choice. And just saying that we need to involove our allies and try diplomacy doesn’t cut it because that hasn’t worked any better than nation building. If left alone, these situations fester and get worse.
We have a fundamentally different view on the nature of these issues. Serbia was brutal, but the worst atrocities came after the NATO bombing began. Ultimately I side with Gandhi who argued that violence only increases the scope and depth of violence. There are times when it is necessary, but I think that in this globalized economic world we can recognize that change is slow and progress can focus self-interest and gradual change.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I don’t think we have a fundamentally different view. I agree with you in principle, the only problem is that your response is philisophical and devoid of specifics as to how to deal with a Kososvo or a Rwanda or a Darfur.

Violence may increase the scope and death of violence in the short to medium term, but it may end it in the long term (e.g. Europe after WWII). Once again, I applaud your commitment to non-violent solutions. I just don’t know how you propose to deal with these real world situations non-violently. I don’t know anyone who would rather use violence when a peaceful solution would work. Even self serving politicians can find significant self interest in avoiding war.
 
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
I don’t think we have a fundamentally different view. I agree with you in principle, the only problem is that your response is philisophical and devoid of specifics as to how to deal with a Kososvo or a Rwanda or a Darfur.
The only way we’ll deal with something like Rwanda or Dafur with efficacy is if there is a true international commitment to contribute to both military enforcement and to aid.

Here’s what I wrote on my blog on October 6 about Sudan:

"Maybe we should rethink the approach. Emphasize humanitarian aid and humanitarian workers going to the region. Bring in military force primarily to protect the workers, not to engage the Janjaweed or other militias directly, unless necessary to provide protection. Have media sources embedded with these humanitarian efforts, showing the misery, how important help is, and to document aggression from militias. The media can also win hearts and minds for this kind of battle, one where we need military protection, but can focus on humanitarian assistance as the emphasis. The level of military involvement would likely be large — protecting humanitarian conveys in Africa isn’t something for a few bodyguards, and will require rules of engagement that go beyond simply ’firing back when fired upon.’ But perhaps the left in Europe, and people opposed to the war in the US will come to embrace this use of military force, if they see the good being done.

This does mean perpetrators are more likely to go free; it does mean that militias won’t be destroyed if they pull back. This doesn’t solve the problem. There is no quick fix. Also, this won’t work everywhere. Similar efforts failed in Iraq, as a generous and ambitious reconstruction effort was ceased due to the inability to protect workers. The military forces in Sudan and elsewhere in Africa are different than those in Iraq, and in many cases a strong presence will deter them from direct attacks, especially if they can survive by avoiding such engagement. I don’t think there is political will for this sort of thing, and I’m just thinking on my keyboard here, the logistics and details of such a plan would take a long time to develop, and require coordination between countries, NGOs and militaries. But something has to be done. We can’t go in and colonize or militarily stop all the violence — and trying to do so would like spur a new cycle of violence, as well as renew anti-colonial sentiments. With this, as with many problems in the world, old thinking no longer applies. We need to be creative."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

As for Syria, I am stunned at the Professor’s ignorance. The Assad regime that runs Syria is Alawite Shiite, NOT Sunni. The majority population is Sunni, but their power is zero. It’s pre-liberation Iraq in reverse.
You miss the point. An Iraqi civil war would threaten a regional Shi’ite-Sunni war which would be very harmful to the Syrian government’s interest. The fact Syria is majority Sunni (75%) means that the Iranian-Syrian alliance has a strong incentive to maintain stability and avoid a Shi’ite-Sunni regional war. Moreover, don’t forget that the Baath party and Syrian government is secular, quite different than the Shi’ite fundamentalists.

Also, Iranian reformers oppose our efforts to try to ’support democratic elements’ in Iran, noting that our "help" does more harm than good. As for staying in Iraq until every Iranian supported infiltrators are kicked out, well it ain’t gonna happen. The American public won’t let it. Good thing too — it’s an impossible task that would cost too many lives and create too much instability to even attempt.

Reality requires a political solution, and the dream of imposing western style democracy on a region of a different culture and tradition is dead. It was ridiculous to start, democracies are constructed. If outsiders tried to say "you have slavery and don’t allow women to vote" in 1830 and then invaded to try to force us to take what we now have developed as a modern democracy, it would have led to a strong insurgency here too. The ethnocentric arrogance of American policy makers is a major cause of the current fiasco.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott,

On Sudan.
I don’t think there is political will for this sort of thing, and I’m just thinking on my keyboard here, the logistics and details of such a plan would take a long time to develop, and require coordination between countries, NGOs and militaries.
I agree that there is no will to infuse a massive humanitarian effort for the sake of the Fur people.

There is however a tried and tested solution - have a bordering country supply arms and provide a logistical base to the Fur rebels. This worked well in Southern Sudan with the SLA (backed by Uganda) securing a peace deal just recently, demonstrating that this plan actually saves lives. The bordering country shall likely be Chad, which has significant benefit (because they have just developed oil & gas and need this to be protected) in seeking a quiet border region. And because of the oil and gas there is actual political will to stabilise the situation in Chad.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
I agree that there is no will to infuse a massive humanitarian effort for the sake of the Fur people.

There is however a tried and tested solution - have a bordering country supply arms and provide a logistical base to the Fur rebels.
That will give the Sudanese government more reason to crack down, expand violence and expand death. The problems of Africa — the wars stretching across the continent and ethnic rivalries — are fueled by well armed militias and violence as a solution.

Ultimately that could turn against the West. But whatever we do, sending in more arms is only sending more death. One conflict might end, but the arms are still there, and greedy warlords will find a way to use them.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
That will give the Sudanese government more reason to crack down, expand violence and expand death.
Arming the rebels will make the Sudanese government less able to crack down, reduce violence and reduce death.
But whatever we do, sending in more arms is only sending more death.
This peace deal was instituted between 2 armed groups, ending a 21 year conflict and saving thousands of lives. If the rebels had not been armed there would be no peace, as proven by the Darfur conflict where the Sudanese carry out genocide against unarmed civillians. Peace deal enforced by armed militia = good, versus mass killing/genocide of unarmed civillians = bad.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
This peace deal was instituted between 2 armed groups, ending a 21 year conflict and saving thousands of lives. If the rebels had not been armed there would be no peace, as proven by the Darfur conflict where the Sudanese carry out genocide against unarmed civillians. Peace deal enforced by armed militia = good, versus mass killing/genocide of unarmed civillians = bad.
Peace deals in that part of the world tend not to last, and only come about after extensive fighting and loss of life. I’m think the odds are great that your solution would lead to more lives lost and more misery than trying to work through the international community now to enforce international law and try to limit the violence. Weapons and armed militias kill people; and often rebel groups in fights like that will kill the other sides’ civilians and do things just as bad as the government side.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The international community has proved unable to stop or prevent any violence occuring internally in any of the African countries. The actions of armed Tutsi stopped the genocide in Rwanda after the international community passively observed and did not interfere in the killing of 1,000,000 people. Now the armed militia in Southern Sudan has defeated the aggression of the Khartoum government and secured peace; this peace may not last, but is much better than the genocide that would occur if the militia were not present. The peace obtained by the militia in Southern Sudan has also cut supply lines (by the Khartoum government) to the LRA (child killing, homicidal maniacs) in Northern Uganda, thus perhaps delivering peace to millions.

These are positive results that show effectiveness of this approach. Please show any effective action by the international community that has helped victims of African ethnic cleansing.
Peace deals in that part of the world tend not to last,
I suggest you give peace a chance.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Peace deals in that part of the world tend not to last,
I suggest you give peace a chance.
But not by arming another group, one which has been accused of terror activities as well (which is usual for such ethnic rivalries — today’s victim is tomorrow’s perpetrator). If I thought it would work out so nicely as you theorize — the rebels will be strong, the government will negotiate, and voila, they’ll get a peace treaty that will hold, with fewer overall deaths than otherwise — I’d agree. But very little in the history of these insurgencies and rebellions suggest that is likely, and there is a huge risk it will make things much worse.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Let us be clear we are talking about stopping genocide.
today’s victim is tomorrow’s perpetrator
Yes, and the Sudanese in Khartoum know this. In the absense of any opposing force (international or rebel or otherwise) they are genociding the Fur people. Today the Fur people are a potential threat to the Arabs, but tomorrow they will become the same threat the Helvetii became to the Romans or the Armenians are to the Turks or the Jews are to the Germans. Todays victim will not live to see tomorrow. (As an aside this genocide will result in peace.)
there is a huge risk it will make things much worse.
That is so laughably wrong. Right now the Arabs are having total success in genociding the Fur, arming the rebels will mitigate this. War is better than genocide.

The motivation of Chad is to have border security. They shall arm the rebels as a buffer against the Khartoum government, containing the conflict and its resolution inside Sudan. If they do not arm them (and the international community does what it normally does - sweet FA) then the Arabs will complete a genocide within Sudan and commence attacks against refugee camps in Chad, which BTW they have begun to do. This will mean war between Chad and Sudan, expanding the conflict to include many millions of people, with both sides much better armed than the Fur rebels or the Janjaweed can ever hope to be. A small war is better than a genocide leading to a larger war.

Peace has been found after conflict in Rwanda, Southern Sudan, Ivory Coast/Sierra Leone, is being sought in Angola and genocide has been avoided by the Karen people of Burma fighting back against the Junta. I still wait for any example of the international community stopping an ethnic cleansing through humanitarian work. Please provide this evidence to support your case and please explain why the military advantage of the genocidal Khartoum regime over the Fur people needs to be maintained.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
That is so laughably wrong.
That could be better said as:

That is so sadly wrong.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/

 
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