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You left out the bit about how many counterprotesters – babes or otherwise – there actually were. The AP report said 100, subsequent reports said 400. They expected 20,000.
The anti-war protest drew between 100,000 and 500,000, depending on who you believe. A US government appeal for private reconstruction funds for Iraq stands at … $600.
There can be no doubt that the public mood in America is turning against the commitment to Iraq (check the recent polls). If it were only the idiots in government at risk, that wouldn’t worry me.
But I have my doubts about the wisdom of a hasty withdrawl, risking civil war (as opposed to the best-case scenario: rule by the local religious lunatics). On the other hand, last week’s incident in Basra shows how destructive and difficult staying put will be. And the Iraqi Army can’t weigh in because between one and two *billion* dollars has been embezzled from the Iraqi defence budget.
I can’t see sloganeering doing anything to fix this debacle.
I just thought it was a funny method of determining political validity. Though I did appreciate the pics.
I don’t think the “pull out now” crew, are any more sensible than the “yay Bush” faction, but i’m glad that Americans are beginning to realise what they’ve got themselves into. So much for uniting the country…
Oh, let DPF have his fun. The pro-war guys don’t have much left as it is.
In fact, the pro-war bloggers are starting to remind me of Stalin and Kruschevs ‘useful idiots’. Intelligent and educated westerners who were put in the position of defending the Soviet Unions totally indefensible foreign policy because they felt that failure to do so was to abandon the cause of socialism.
Seems to me that DPF et al are in the same unhappy position – apologising for the immoral and inexcusible actions of a state which has long since ceased to stand for any kind of ideology or moral code, because they have a sense of loyalty to the political ideals it pretends to represent.
The Brit army Basra jail brake showed at least the Iraqi government is not some US / UK puppet. The left can trot out all the tired pro Saddam Hussein talking points but if were as bad as they like to make out the Kurds would have split from Iraq a long time ago.
Let us remember the great tradition of opposition to war within the classical liberal movement. Remember that war expands the power of the state. In this case we should not forget that almost 2000 Americans died to help install an Islamic government with a new constitution forbidding anything contrary to Islamic teaching. It is one that “protects” rights provided the govt. doesn’t decide to deny them. It says people have a right to a public trial unless the courts decide it should be held in secret. It says people have rights unless a law takes them away.
Nor should we forget the billions of coerive taxes required to fund the war. Yet we have a war that is fueling terrorism not defeating it. Meanwhile the war president continues to push his warfare/welfare state. And as John T. Flynn warned in the 40s in his As We Go Marching that is true fascism.
Nice to see so many Saddam apologists are prepared to come out of the woodwork. The invasion killed a few people huh, and how many did Saddam kill, by poison gas, by his murderous actions over many years ?
I don’t know how you apologists can live with your explicit support for Saddam and his policies. Did you like seeing all those Kurds get it by poison gas, is that it ? Did you like seeing them squirm, did you get off on all those deaths, get excited at the prospect of 20 more years of Saddam, the tortures, the killing ?
You can always go to the Sudan now, you can see plenty of deaths there. No one wants to help the inhabitants of Darfur, so you can safely support the Khartoum regime in their attempt at genocide.
Ed, no one is saying Saddam is a nice chap who should have been allowed free dominion over his murderous ways. The invasion was premised on mendacious justifications. The invaders took a holier-than-thou attitude, not just to the Hussein regime, but to anyone who thought invasion was a bad idea, and then they turned out to be crass and human and fallible. Sure, not anywhere near as horrible as the regime they were overthrowing, but horrible none-the-less and amplified by their own self-righteous rhetoric and their historical hypocrisy. That stuff pisses people off. And not just bleeding heart liberals in the West, but also a significant number of Iraqis and Arabs and Muslims. Which is, of course, totally counter-productive to the stated US intentions in Iraq. The only people who didn’t see the chaos that wracks Iraq now were those too blinkered by faith or ideology or hatred to step back and take a look at the religo/ethnic dynamic within Iraq, the regional power paradigm and fact that together, Bin Laden and Bush had together ignited a fundamentalist war that was always going to find a flash point in an occupied Iraq (it was even the rather farcical contention from the White House, dismissed by every intelligence chief, that Iraq was one of it’s homes). The process of the invasion saw the utter decimation of Iraqi infrastructure. The aftermath of invasion demonstrated a dismal degree of planning for the inevitable post-war realities. All of that pisses people off. It doesn’t make them love Saddam Hussein. It makes them dislike the US administration for forcing a war, lying to them, planning the post-war poorly and giving the “War on Terror” another breeding ground for its terrorists.
And then when you take another look at it, you can see now lost, real promise for a more sustainable solution to the Iraqi regime. Iraq was an increasingly pariah state in the Middle East, even within the Arab League who traditionally supported Saddam against all-comers. The regime had a limited life-span without decimating the country and making large scale militancy (if not civil war) inevitable. You can argue the semantics of the nature of what that change would have been and how it would have affected US/Western strategic and cultural interests. But in the end, that’s probably the most beguiling thing about Saddam Hussein, George W. and the Iraqi invasion, there is no position that is not bad for someone. There is no real or potential solution that avoids violence and tragedy and bullshit. And there never was. The reality is that the US did a whole lot of bad stuff in terms of inventing its invasion justification, in terms of managing the post-war situation, in terms of being a complete hypocrite. They will no doubt rest on the laurels of their achievement, but it is right that they should be called on what they did wrong. Calling someone a Saddam apologist because they attack the failings of a country that strives to be the exemplar of righteousness is kind of lame. You’re lame Ed.
Heheh, you geopolitical noobs entirely missed the point of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US is trying to open up trade in Central Asia, establish a friendly power bloc in either Iraq or Iran, preferably Iran, as a stabiliser to Chinese and Russian expansion.
The new order the US has established in that region affects the lives of billions and is our only hope of preventing the mad scramble for the former Soviet Republics’ resources from decaying into conflict. It always better to have a small, simmering, controlled conflict than a big, out of control one.
There is no injustice in US/British/Australian strategy when observed in that context.
” Did you like seeing all those Kurds get it by poison gas, is that it ? Did you like seeing them squirm, did you get off on all those deaths, get excited at the prospect of 20 more years of Saddam, the tortures, the killing ?”
Didn’t worry Donald Rumfeld at the time, in fact he effectively endorsed it – all of that happened PRIOR to the infamous handshake with Saddam photo-op.
No shit BJ (it would seem to be an appropriate moniker). Thanks for being a patronising knob, and completely missing the big picture to a degree that makes your analysis completely noob-like (I decided noobian just didn’t sound right).
For a start, opening up trade is certainly a strand of the US policy. However, it is no longer the driving motivation in the execution of US policy in this regard. It has transformed from being predominantly an end to being predominantly a means. And it’s a means that’s mired in all of the complications of two hastily executed wars that look little account of both contemporary on-the-ground realities and fairly formidable historical precedent. As a result of manner in which the US has set out to “open up trade in Central Asia” they have jeopardised their own goal. They have galvanised opposition to their influence both within their nations and in neighbouring countries. They’re being asked to leave half of their new Central Asian bases and they’re antagonising a range of Middle Eastern nations in all new ways with their presence and incompetence in Iraq (which you’re welcome to believe is a good thing, but does nothing for their cause).
Furthermore, there is absolutely no reason to believe that without US troops on the ground in the Middle East, Central Asia was going to collapse into a deeper chaos than the invasion of Iraq has achieved. If you think that Russia, China and Iran, have any strategic interest in anarchy in Central Asia and are somehow more prone to precipitating massive conflict than the US, then I would charge you with gross hubris and a total alienation from current affairs. Which is of course not to say that they are necessarily less prone (Chechnya). But certainly no more, and all had a more immediate geographic interest in promoting stability. For Iran at least, that interest flies out the window in the face of a US presence in Iraq.
As to whether the US vision is any more virtuous than alternatives… it is probably nominally less self-interested in some aspects, and aims for a concrete end that Westerners can relate to and feel comfortable with. However, that is totally moot. The US have no capacity to achieve the goals you’ve ascribed to them (whether they are the true central goals or not).
If you want to describe the current “simmering” situation that’s brewing in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as controlled then you are a very optimistic person. But when you add to that the simmering conflict brewing in fundamentalist churches and fundamentalist madrassa from Houston to Kuala Lumpur then your optimism is starting to look like ignorance. All Afghanistan and Iraq have done is turn up the heat.
So there is no point in excusing US/British/Australian injustices on the basis of some pie-in-the-sky ideal you’ve bought into. Frankly, now, good luck to them. But shame on them for their lies and their planning and the crimes they’ve committed along the way. There is no realistic end justifying the means here. So don’t preach to us about your superior grasp of geopolitics, your perspective is at least as flawed as anyone else with an opinion on this thread (myself included).
Ms Marple just about everyone thought Hussein had WMD. If the Bush and Blair were lying about WMD then they would not have let Hans Blix and the UN to stuff around Iraq for six months prior to the invasion.
So what was 12 years of no fly zone enforcement by the US & UK air forces about? Did Iraq and Hussein have a history before Bush became president?
Christ. The world is a complicated thing. You have Peak Oil (major world powers scrambling for energy to grow economically), currency issues, massive national debts and trade deficits, China and other nations seeking more power, nuclear weapon problems, terrorism, fundamentalism.
How many people in this thread could possibly understand all the complicated interactions between these things? How many could possibly understand what effect the Iraq war might have on these things?
None. Not a single person. And how many people does that stop from having an opinion? NONE. NOT A SINGLE PERSON.
Oh and Simon, the US knew with almost absolute certainty Iraq didn’t have WMDs. The US massed/concentrated their troops in Kuwait prior to the war. You don’t do that if there’s any risk of WMDs.
Marple, what an essay, what a load of sod. I just gave you a broad overview of one context in which the West makes its foreign policy in that region. Alex is right about the complexity of the situation but I don’t think that should stop anyon from attempting get a clearer picture. Here are a few brief things for you to consider:
Russia/China/Iran – the Prisoner’s dilemma in their strategies has been the curse of Afghanistan.
Problem 1: Oil can get to China either overland from Iran and the Caspian Basin, or from the Arabs through the Indian Ocean. If it can’t come overland, China will build a navy to ensure it can get past India/Vietnam etc. but this would indirectly challenge the US in the Pacific.
Solution to 1: the US attempts to open up Central Asia to ship oil to China and others.
Problem 2: The Russian Empire is falling apart and there is a risk of China filling the vacuum and getting to big to handle.
Solution to 2: Take Saddam out of the picture so Iran is more secure and stable, remove the Taliban so trade can flow through Afghanistan, but keeping the fundamentalist muslims in the picture in case they need to deter China/Russia. In the meantime, US forces are needed to stabilise and establish the other former Soviet states as a political unit.
Add to all this the European competition for energy from the Caspian and you have a potent cocktail.
I say we are best to leave them to it and maybe profit from it where we can, but that’s just me.
er RB, I was actually in Washington over the weekend.
Nope no way in hell there were 100,000 protesters here. I think if you counted the 70-80,000 here for the national bookfair also held in the mall over the weekend you could get to that number, but it was a pretty feeble protest from a bizarre collection of anti-everything protesters – no disruption whatsoever and washington basically didnt notice. Camp Casey is also a Heap smaller in the flesh than on TV and extremely sparsely attended.
Sorry, much of the newspaper footage is heavily cropped to make the crowds look bigger, just as well the media isnt biased or anything isnt it?
BJ, stop getting your policy advice from Stratfor. They’re ex-CIA for a reason.
For a start your curse of Afghanistan is much more squarely placed at the feet of the USSR, the US and Pakistan. China has had practically nothing to do with Afghanistan and Iran has dabbled in the west, but has had little impact and little interest in expanding its impact in the rest of Afghanistan.
Then China does not needs US support in developing access to energy. There are other, substantially more secure routes for China to get its hands on Russian oil. And the US has little interest in ensuring a supply for them. The US’s interests in Afghanistan have never related to securing supply for China. Their support of the Taliban was all about securing supply for themselves. They pulled out when they found easier ways of getting that supply. And in the current environment, the last thing the US is going to focus on is helping China get its share. China’s navel expansion is an inevitability, China’s various territorial conflicts ensure that. So there is no benefit on trying to offset it. That whole strand of strategic analysis has been hanging with Kate Moss for too long.
I don’t know where to begin with your second bit. Perhaps the notion that the US is somehow permitting fundamentalism to exist in a managed form as a foil to China. When Islamic fundamentalism is a hugely bigger problem for the US (both inside and outside occupied areas) than for China. And when the US capacity to delicately manage and manipulate fundamentalist groups has had such disastrously catastrophic results to date.
As for the suggestion that the US troops on the ground anywhere in Central Asia or the Middle East are providing a net gain in stability, it’s a complete fairy-tale. They have managed to piss off most of their guest governments (including those they’ve set up themselves). They are pissing off neighbouring countries and they’re creating focal points for malcontents and militants. You could claim that this is part of a dastardly sophisticated long term plan, but I would call bullshit on you if you did.
Now Simon, what people though 12 months out from the invasion has nothing to do with what they thought 1,2 or 3 months out from the invasion. And a conviction in Iraqs desire to posses WMD has similarly little to do with their possession or ability to posses them. No one with any strategic oversight thought Iraq had WMD the day the US invaded.
A basic summary is that A Western presence is required in Central Asia to prevent a mad scramble between Russia, China and Iran to fill the power vacuum there.
I also forgot to mention the other reason we need to be in Iraq: Anyone can see Iran is going nuclear. When they do, it will be impossible for Iraq to maintain its security without our help. Until you can overcome that one, we need to have forces either in, or readily deployable to, Iraq.
Yep – the American civil war really solved all those race-based problems in the US. And the New Zealand Wars finally settled the question of who owns what in New Zealand. Imagine if we were still debating THAT issue a century later!
More to the point even if they had WMD’s was it a reason to launch an attack? From memory around 90% of the world thought no. Containment was always a better option. It didn’t take much foresight to see the potential for disaster and opponents of the war have certainly been proven to have offered the wiser counsel. We are going to be faced with the same choice with Iran and are being set up in exactly the same way we were with Iraq.
Even if they didn’t have WMD, the fact that Iran did have WMD and was pursuing nuclear armaments meant Saddam’s position was becoming untenable and therefore ther were grounds to enter Iraq to stabilise the region.
It is intriguing watching the debates on this subject. How many contributors have actually been to any of these regions, speak any Arabic, Kurdish, Farsi or Turkish? How many of you have lived in these areas and been in touch with what people on the ground actually think?
Or like Rumsfeld and his cohorts did you all imagine that the streets would be lined with happy Arabs throwing rose-petals lining up for US style ‘democracy’?
I was back in that region 2 years ago, and spent time in Syria and Turkey. Despite being offered a trip to Iraq by a friendly Kurdish taxi driver in North-Eastern Syria, I decided it wasn’t a wise move.
Everyone there loathed Saddam, but they all loathed the US as much, if not more. In Syria they loathe their leadership as well, but loathe and mistrust the US as well.
The actions of the US and its Allies were seen as nothing more than another colonial grab for mid-east oil wealth, with no concern for the people.
I think that analysis is still spot-on. All reports tell us that the US has not even bothered to secure the road into Baghdad from the airport, but it does ensure its own people get through safely. The well-being of the ordinary citizens of Iraq doesn’t matter a jot to the US or any of its allies.
This was a war built on lies, greed and a sad miscalculation of its outcomes.
Iran has been developing WMD and long range missiles for a while now and it became obvious to most observers that Iran would pose a threat to Iraq if the state of affairs continued.
Since nobody could stomach re-arming Saddam for a face-off with Iran, it was decided that replacing Saddam with a more humane regime would be the most appropriate option for maintaining stability in the middle east. Whether Iraq also possessd WMD is a moot point, but irrelevant to the decision of whether or not to invade.
It is ironic that one should invade one country because its neighbour is getting stronger, but when you look at it closer you see that it was the most attractive option available and there was only a brief window of opportunity provided by Sept 11 when the American public would allow it.
The point was not to destabilise Iran, but to prevent it from dominating Iraq. The former Iraqi regime was in no position to resist an Iran armed with nuclear weaponry.
American policy towards Iran is aimed at, among other things, redirecting Iranian foreign policy and trade efforts towards Afghanistan, Turkmenistan etc. and using that trade to assist the Central Asian nations in their attempts to form a bloc capable of resisting the advances of Chinese and Russian power(http://www.sais-jhu.edu/pubaffairs/PDF/Strategy.pdf). that salon article is nonsense.
There is certainly a distinct peaceful intent in dealings between the two countries and that was one of the objectives the US and allies had in mind.
It is hoped that the Iranians can be enticed into more taking a more moderate path by dangling the trade carrot in front of their noses while at the same time blocking any military expansionist fantasies they might harbour.
The salon article suggests this somehow goes against what the US had in mind before the invasion and that’s nonsense.
Like I said, read the Johns Hopkins University link. It’s a much more thorough analysis and I think you will be enlightened.
To focus on one of the stated aims of the American invasion “establish a friendly power bloc in either Iraq or Iran, preferably Iran, as a stabiliser to Chinese and Russian expansion.”
I don’t see that happening. The opposite in fact is happening as Iran and China move ever closer. If you feel the occupation of Iraq has been a success well then we are clearly not living on the same planet.
Ok BJ. I went and read that paper. And it was fascinating. It was written by an experienced and respected academic who for the most part has spent his career focused on issues that give him a degree of gravitas on the subject at had. I found his thoughts on the matter very interesting and would recommend it to anyone looking for further reading in this direction.
The paper was not an exploration of why the US acted as it did. It was speculation on the benefits of the action from someone outside the administration. Indeed, from someone with a great deal more academic rigour to his perspective than I would grant any political establishment (yeah, I’m not going to get sidelined by petty Bush bashing). I would be prepared (in my great munificence) to accept that the long term strategic abrogation of Central Asian conflict through the carefully managed establishment of US military presence in the region by way of spurious wars and years of violence and civil disorder, could have been raised at some point in the policy process as a beneficial side effect from actions that were on the table because of much more simplistic and immediate reasons like ideology, hubris and ego. Because your academic perceives the potential advantages some years after either invasion took place does not mean he is providing an authoritative basis for you to laud a deeper sophistication in your understanding of geopolitical motivations that other contributors on this thread.
Furthermore, his paper is all about the potential advantages of the invasions. But the advantages he discusses are ALL predicated on the effective establishment of a US driven multipartite co-operation between Central Asian nations and selected strategic players. The mere possibility of this rests on some many maybes that it renders the paper entirely useless as a justification for invasion.
He makes the assumption that relations with Central Asian nations remain strong. As he hints at the end of his first page, this is already showing cracks. And it has developed in the seven months since the paper was published, in the wrong direction for his grand plan. As has the security situation in both Iraq and Afghanistan, which further undermines the practicality of his plan. As for Iran, it has reacted in what I figured was a fairly predictable way. Having worked to position itself as something of a regional power (not necessarily a bad thing given that it had pursued a popular political softening in parallel), they were suddenly faced with the projection of US power and influence on their doorstep. And they went hardline and hard-nosed. There’s no trade carrot anymore. While we’re talking Iran, it’s rubbish to suggest that Iran has pursued nuclear technology to threaten Iraq. It has much more to do with Israel. And if they are developing nuclear weapons, it’s not so they can use them. Nations develop nuclear capability as a deterrent or to redress a perceived imbalance. Where is your geopolitical genius now?
A final flaw in your academic’s great hopes for the region, is that it’s dependant on US political will, which is very much dependant on US public opinion. The United States need to stay in Iraq long enough to establish a permanent presence in your chap’s plan. The current trends in US popular opinion don’t make that a very likely scenario. Particularly when viewed in conjunction with the trends in militant activity and US casualties. The same goes for Afghanistan, which gets away with being a bit anonymous under the shadow of Iraq at the moment. But insurgency is on the rise again in the South and most of NATO are unwilling to get involved in aggressive action. That unwillingness is actually on the quite sensible grounds that they believe it will undermine good will towards the policing and peace-keeping endeavours of NATO troops in the rest of the country. So either the US keeps losing kids in the South, making their long term presence untenable, or they undermine their long term strategy nation-wide. Sticky.
That is why, while I enjoyed reading the paper, I totally reject that it has any bearing on whether the US should stay in Iraq or whether they should have gone there in the first place. And I didn’t even get to the bit where there is a tacit assumption that US influence is an unmitigatedly good thing… next time.
The occupation of Iraq is a success in that it is forcing Iran to alter its national strategy towards peaceful, commercial expansion, rather than military expansion, without the need to re-arm Saddam.
As for China and Iran, the United States WANTS them to develop trade links through central Asia. Any such trade will only strengthen Afghanistan and the other Central Asian States, and reduce the need for China to project naval power into the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Just what news feed do you watch BJ?
And precisely what about Chinese trade in Central Asia abates China’s desire to expand it’s navel influence in the East? How many latent territorial conflicts does China have in Pacific and the South China Sea? How central to it’s military expansion is the Taiwan conflict, which is supported by which role model? How does being able to call Afghanistan a mate mitigate any of these Eastern pressures on Chinese military growth?
Have to agree with Ms Marple on this one. The assumptions on which Starr has based his paper are already dated. Virulent anti-Americanism and militant Islam are just as likely outcomes of the great game being played.
The notion that ‘the US’ has a plan in central Asia is laughable. The United States is a shifting and intricate assortment of interests and powers, not a centralised organisation. Corporations, power blocs within the political parties, lobby groups, powerful individuals and various factions of Americas vast intelligence and military apparattus all influence foreign policy. Their goals are usually pretty different – often they’re in direct conflict with each other. The US has no single articulate plan for central Asia or the Middle East.
A growing proportion of China’s expected energy needs over the next 25 years will be shipped from the Persian Gulf, around the Indian Subcontinent, through the Straits of Malacca and up through the South China Sea.
This round trip is strategically risky as it passes through Indian, Indonesian and Vietnamese controlled waters. India has been at war with China twice and Vietnam once in the last 60 years.
It is also economically wasteful. I have yet to calculate the fuel, insurance, manpower costs sending an oil tanker on such a massive circuit but you can imagine that they are huge compared to the cost of piping oil in a comparitively straight line across Central Asia.
The raison de’tre of Chinese construction of a blue-water navy is the security of its energy supplies from Indian interference. Therefore it is in the interest of the US (not to mention Australia and New Zealand) to provide China with the option of the overland route.
I don’t think US analysts necessarily see militant Islam in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a bad thing full stop. It is their plan B for keeping Russia and China out of the region if the plan A outlined by Starr goes awry. But that would be a matter for a Democrat administration to oversee if it ever came to that.
In the meantime, Afghanistan appears to be powering ahead with the construction of transport infrastructure etc. Most Western nations and Japan have now tied their fortunes to Afghanistan by way of development loans and I think you will be surprised at their willingness to deploy more troops.
It is very much in New Zealand’s interests that this plan succeed as Chinese naval expansion is a threat to our trade with Japan etc.
“I don’t think US analysts necessarily see militant Islam in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a bad thing full stop.”
Of course not – it’s well known that US interests have bankrolled Bin Laden when they believed it suited them.
dim’s right – treating the US as some kind of monolithic entity is a joke.
We apparently have many excuses for imperialism ranging from the “kill the bastards” to “it’s for their own good”. But the one lesson from history is that imperialism abroad reduces domestic freedom. Of course the socialist of the Progressive Era knew this which is why they advocate Bushian policies of global interventionism. They believed, rightfully so, that such ventures would help bring about socialism on the domestic front. Certainly the Bush regime shows this to be the case. Government powers have expanded at a rate 4 times faster than under Clinton and all in the name of the global war on terror.
American citizens are now in jail with no charges filed against them, denied access to attorneys, kept from their families and held indefinetly under such conditions, all in the name of the war on terror. New broad powers to wire tap any citizen or search records without court permission now exist. Of course the welfare state has jumped ahead in leaps under the war president. The biggest increase in socialised medicine in the US came from the “compassionate conservative” also known as the “big government conservative”. Compared to Bush old Helen is practically a fiscal conservative and Reaganesque leader. Of course compared to Reagan she’s more like Stalin.
You can not escape the fact that the warfare state leads to a massive growth in the welfare state. Powers granted to the state during war are rarely rescended during peace. If you want global interventionism be prepared for the state directed economy and welfare state that comes with it. Do not, I repeat, do not pretend that you are advancing freedom. You might, if things go exactly as you hope, redistribute it but you will not expand it. You may, though I suspect this is unlikely, promote freedom abroad but it will come at the expense of freedom at home.
Global interventionism no more increases freedom than economic interventionism creates wealth. The socialist may take wealth from some and give it to others but the total amount of wealth is probably reduced by that venture. The globalist may take freedom from some and give some more to others but the total amount of freedom is probably reduced by that venture. The price for making Iraq into an Islamist republic is the massive reduction of freedom in the United States.
Only a few years ago the US was in the top five when it came to economic freedom. It has been steadily dropping under Bush both in absolute terms and in relative terms. And that is without the new socialised medicine programs going budget yet. And what are the Americans getting for this?
Well, they have destroyed billions of dollars in wealth through the war. Every billion spent to blow things up makes Americans one billion dollars poorer. They have seen almost 2,000 young Americans killed. They have unleashed Islamic forces in Iraq that were previously contained. A nation that had zero terror suicides per year now has hundreds killing thousands. The oil supplies were not stablised as promised And Iraq, with US funds, is putting into a place a constitution that forbids any freedom in Iraq unless it is consisten with Islamic teaching and which grants the state almost unlimited powers.
Surely that is not the freedom for which 2000 Americans were sent to their deaths. Of course we must not forget that tens of thousands of National Guard, who usually deal with disasters and domestic disturbance, were fighting in Iraq. So they were not there to evacuate New Orleans or control the looting. Anywhere from a third to half of the National Guard in the disaster states were gone to Georgie’s war.
So I would contend, in the tradition of the classical liberals who opposed foreign interventionism that long term we are destroying freedom at home. Similarly we are not expanding it abroad either. It’s not a lose domestically but gain internationally. It’s a lose-lose situation. But even if we managed to increase freedom in Iraq by restricting it in the US is that morally correct?
Should Americans be forced by state power to surrender their freedom so others have a bit more? If you say yes then tell me why the rich should not be forced to surrender their wealth so that the poor might have a bit more? Socialism and imperialism go hand in hand. The conservatives today are rabid advocates of redistribution. They may not want to redistribute wealth (though Bush clearly does want that) but they want to redistribute “freedom” and take from the haves and give to the have nots. Prick a conservative and he bleeds bright red.
BJ you have spent a great deal of time trying to convince us that the reason for the invasion of Iraq was to create a friendly regime in Iran as a counter to Chinese and Russian designs on Central Asian oil. Now you are telling us it is in the interests of the US to provide the Chinese with an overland route.
“Solution to 1: the US attempts to open up Central Asia to ship oil to China and others.”
I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to realise you don’t know what in the fuck you are talking about.
LMD, all the major American and British oil companies have stakes in Central Asian and Caucasian oil; Exxon Mobil and BP are two notables. Western investors are now able to gain leverage to Russian oil and gas companies as well, via depository receipts listed on the LSE and NYSE, among others.
Nowhere did I say that the US was trying to prevent China from getting access to that oil.
What I said was that the US doesn’t want China to be dependent on shipping lanes for its energy needs because it will need to build a blue water navy to ensure their safety. The last thing anyone needs is a naval arms race in the Pacific.
They also do not want either Russia or China to extend military or political power over the Central Asian countries. The presence of a small number of American troops and advisors (i.e. CIA) is necessary to prevent that happening. Allowing Russian and Chinese companies access to Central Asian resources also reduces domestic pressures for the two superpowers to compete in the region, thus, less big wars and all you small town minds out there should like the sound of that.
Richard, repatriation of profits from Iraq, Afghanistan etc is one, albeit relatively small reason why the US can maintain the huge trade deficit and high standard of living.
Repatriation of profits from Iraq! Oh I missed that one. I didn’t realise it had turned out to be a profitable adventure which in some way was keeping up US living standards. And such gentlemanly behaviour in the coming resource wars. My history lessons were all for nought, I didn’t realise great powers competed like this.
Paul Roberts has a good summary of the costs of this war.
“The Iraqi war has three beneficiaries: (1) al Qaeda, (2) Iran and (3) US war industries and Bush-Cheney cronies who receive no-bid contracts.
Everyone else is a loser.
The war has bestowed on al Qaeda recruits, prestige, and a training ground.
The war has allied Iran with Iraq’s Shi’ite majority.
The war has brought soaring profits to the military industries and the firms with reconstruction contracts at the expense of 20,000 US military casualties and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties.
The Republican Party is a loser, because its hidebound support for the war is isolating the party from public opinion.
The Democratic Party is a loser, because its cowardly acquiescence in a war that is opposed by the majority of its members is making the party irrelevant.
The Bush administration is churning out red ink in excess of $1 trillion annually. The federal budget deficit is approaching $500 billion. The US trade deficit is approaching $700 billion
Compared to US budget and trade deficits, terrorists are a minor concern. The greatest danger that the US faces is the dollar’s loss of reserve currency role. This would be an impoverishing event, one from which the US would not recover. “
He fails to mention that is foreigners who are paying for the reconstruction through their purchases of US treasury securities and near zero real interest rates. Japan, China, Europe have no alternative but to keep pumping the US full of money.
“Out of Iraq? What about Germany, Japan, and South Korea?”
Well, last year Bush laid out plans to withdraw troops from bases all of the world, including 70,000 troops from Germany alone. It was widely reported that the mayors and “concerned citizens” of several towns near the soon to be closed bases were protesting about the potential damage to the local economy because of the withdrawal.
Gee, maybe the US should just send those Germans a few billion a year to keep them happy? Why not, most of Germany’s on welfare anyway.
Not too many years in the future, DPF will be sagely opining about how the entire Iraq adventure was a regrettable debacle.
That’s what happens when you rely on received wisdom. Not to worry, there’ll be Rambo-style movies about liberating mythical US POWs still being held by evildoers in picturesque desert strongholds, and a Miss Baghdad musical about the aftermath of the whole mess.
There might be the occasional troll who’ll venture that the US could have avoided humiliation by using the nuclear option, but you’d have to dig pretty deep.
The case for war was that Saddam was violating numerous UN resolutions as well as the ceasefire agreement he had signed as a condition for being left in power.
The onus was not on the US or even the inspectors to prove that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD. The onus was on Saddam to account for the anthrax and VX and other weapons he had in the past, and had used in the past, against the Kurds, among others.
The onus was on Saddam to account for his WMD and the equipment used to make them, and to destroy them in a verifiable manner. Saddam refused to do so.
“You can not escape the fact that the warfare state leads to a massive growth in the welfare state.”
Yes you can, because its not true. Throughout the 19th century whenn the British Empire was at its hight, when Britian maintained a powerful military and fought several wars, Britian still had a small state and no welfare state as we understand the term today. In fact, the welfare state in Britain grew dramatically after WW2 when the British Empire waned and Britain was involved in less, not more wars.
The warfare = welfare idea is popular with devotess of Mises and the Austrian school, but it does not stand close objective scrutiny.
On to the other issue, what have we achieved in Iraq and the war on terror?
Christopher Hitchens, a Leftist no less, gets it right:
“(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi’s Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction–a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.
(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.
(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.
(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schr
“In right-wing-PC-fairyland, yeah right.
Of course he bloody well did, when it was expedient to do so, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.”
Sorry bub, but wrong, and provably so.
Dispelling the CIA-Bin Laden Myth
By Richard Miniter
Two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, no memorial service, cable-news talkfest or university seminar seemed to have been complete without someone emerging from the woodwork to wonder darkly why the CIA ever financed Usama bin Laden “in the first place.”
Everyone from Washington Post reporters to Michael Moore seems to buy some version of this.
It is time to lay to rest the nagging doubt held by many Americans that our government was somehow responsible for fostering bin Laden. It’s not true and it leaves the false impression that we brought the Sept. 11 attacks down on ourselves. While it is impossible to prove a negative, all available evidence suggests that bin Laden was never funded, trained or armed by the CIA.
Bin Laden himself has repeatedly denied that he received any American support.
I find it amusing to see conservaties arguing like a bunch of socialists over what big government should do with other people’s money. But where the socialists only want to spend the money of others the conservatives want to take lives as well. I’m glad they are such staunch defenders of individual liberty.
Don’t you guys find it bizarre that you pushing to have big government completely remake naions when you argue they can’t be trusted to take out a pair of tonsils? There is a double standard that is awesome going on.
And still freedom is diminishing rapidly in the US so that Iraq can set up an Islamist state with a constitution that if imposed on NZ would have conservatives up in arm (well only if they could get someone else to do the fighting for them).
“So yes bub, the Internet IS a wonderful thing, especially when it can used to skewer stupid left wing lies propagated by stupid left wing idiots ”
Or provide a venue for a bucket of cut & paste drivel from a wingnut think(sic)tank.
Seriously, this need to place one’s faith in a morally irreproachable world power, whether its politburo be in Beijing, Washington, Pyongyang or wherever, must surely stem from some awful childhood trauma over the discovery that one was deceived about the existence of Santa Claus . . .
“Don’t you guys find it bizarre that you pushing to have big government completely remake naions when you argue they can’t be trusted to take out a pair of tonsils? There is a double standard that is awesome going on.”
No, because I’m not a libertarian and I dont agree with the libertarian claim that government cannot be trusted to do anything at all. I dont make the argument your claiming, and in fact I dont know any genuine conservatives who do. The only people who claim the government can’t be trusted to take out a pair of toenails are Libertarians. Im a conservative yes, but that simply means that I think government is some areas should be smaller and more efficient. It does not mean I’m anti-state. On the contrary, conservatives have always argued that in some areas, particularly immigration, border control, law and order and national defense the state needs to be stronger not weaker.
Libertarianism, especially paleo-libertarianism, is every bit as wrong as Marxism, and for almost exactly the same reasons.
Also, the claim that the US is trying to completely remake nations is quite false. A basic federal democratic system is hardly an attempt to remake the entire nation, and as you point out the Islamic based constitution is proof of that. And I have no problems as a conservative with Islamic based constitutions. The only thing I care about is whether or not the nation in question is carrying our terrorist attacks on the West or in any other way helping terrorist groups. So long as they are not doing that, I could care less how they order their societies.
Must be annoying to have your claims proven false. Now can you provide proof that what I posted was wrong and that your claim is right?
Either you can, or your just another lying left wing bullshit artist.
“Seriously, this need to place one’s faith in a morally irreproachable world power, whether its politburo be in Beijing, Washington, Pyongyang or wherever, must surely stem from some awful childhood trauma over the discovery that one was deceived about the existence of Santa Claus . . .”
I dont place my faith in anything except my own reason and the evidence.
But the need to slander another country without even having evidence is surely the action of an adolescent narcissistic personality. If you made the claim that your nieghbour was a pedophile or a wife beater and had no evidence for it you would be rightly condemned and liklely charged with slander.
Yet that is exactly what your doing here. You have no evidence for your claim but you make it neverthless. This has nothing to do with faith in America and everything to do with facts and evidence. You dont seem to have any. So it seems reasonable to me to assume that your just basing your claim on an irrational, adolescent and possibly psychotic rage against the US.
Perhaps you should think about getting some help or some form of medication?
Such swaggering certitude Shawn. It brings to mind the observation Lewis Lapham made of the torch bearers of the right at Fox News and the Weekly Standard.
“I found it increasingly depressing to listen to prerecorded truths dribble from the mouths of writers once willing to risk the chance of thinking for themselves. Having exchanged intellectual curiosity for ideological certainty, they had forfeited their powers of observation as well as their senses of humor; no longer courageous enough to concede the possibility of error or enjoy the play of the imagination, they took an interest only in those ideas that could be made to bear the weight of solemn doctrine, and they cried up the horrors of the culture war because their employers needed an alibi for the disappearances of the country’s civil liberties and a screen behind which to hide the privatization (a.k.a. the theft) of its common property
It’s widely known (by everyone except yourself, apparentlty) that the US was heavily involved in the training and funding of non-Afghan combatants in the struggle against the Soviets. They provided US based muj with training at Langley, gave billions of dollars to the Pakistani ISI, who were patrons of bin Laden, and gave billions more directly to him through the local CIA front in Central Asia, Maktab al Khidamar. They provided equipment, weapons and recruits for the ‘training camps bin Laden constructed.
All of this was endlessly regurgitated shortly after the 9/11 attacks and US invasion of Afghanistan. Dozens of books – the best of which are: ‘Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism’ by John Cooley and ‘Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001′ by Steve Coll. Both of them are award-winning journalists with decades of experience in the region. Numerous ex-agents have come out of the woodwork to discuss the nexus between Pakistan, Al Quaida and the CIA.
woppo, are you implying we’re riding the short bus of debate?
If not, then I’m inferring it!
And in a pointless extension of the analogy I bags being wheelchair rugby and I’ll nominate BJ for blind shot put
“woppo, are you implying we’re riding the short bus of debate?
If not, then I’m inferring it!”
Duh . . . I wouldn’t want to commit myself to anything as definite as ‘implying’ – I’d prefer something a little more fluid, like ‘actually’, in the sense that it’s been habitually used hereabouts.
Appreciate your post, makes me feel ‘special.’ : )
yes people are getting hurt, but they were getting hurt before americans even set foot in iraq…..must i revisit saddam hussein’s use of biological weapons to destroy the Kurds? we are helping them dont be a fool.
I think all of BJ’s analysis suffers from one flaw. He assumes that huge power blocs dividing up the world militarily and economically is somehow a good thing and we should jump behind one of them.
I see it as immoral and stupid, not to mention impractical and dangerous. The most likely outcome is huge scale conflict. I personally would rather that didn’t happen.
I’m kind of surprised that hasn’t been noted by anyone here. Perhaps people are so impressed by a well researched strategy document that they can’t step back and go “ok, do we have the right to push this ‘strategy’ onto millions of other people?”.
You can come back and say the Russian and Chinese will aggressively follow their strategy, so we have to do it too. I don’t agree with that. If we are to take our lead from countries that are professed to be backwards then we are going backwards.
A forwards movement would be one that sought an alternative route than a scramble for world domination which has hurt the world countless times, each one being worse than the last. The final one could be the end of us.
Projecting military power only perpetuates the need to project more power, until confrontation becomes inevitable. This is a dark path humanity has visited so many times it makes me sick to think that we can be that stupid. I just finished Well’s ‘Short History of the World’ and I was struck by the sheer number of times megalomaniacs have attempted world domination, and how shortlived their successes were, and how damaging to the regions in which they occurred.
Therefore I do not trust any ‘strategy document’ for ‘projecting our interests and dominance’ any more than I would have trusted Gengis Khan, or Augustus Caesar, or Alexander the Great, or the Popes, or Napoleon, or Hitler, or any of countless petty tyrants between or since, including the current US leadership.
This is naturally so obvious to anyone who is outside of the power bloc which dominates, that it doesn’t even need to be said to them, which is why most of the world opposed this war, however much BJ would like to rewrite history.
Don’t let any of that distract you from my opinion on the original question in this blog. I totally opposed the war before it began, but now I can see that matters are not so simple that an instant withdrawal is rational or moral.
It seems to me that the only moral course would be for the US to rebuild *with their money* the damage done to Iraq. How they can get out without sparking a catastrophic conflict is not obvious. It was not obvious before the war, and it is not obvious now. It was, in fact, obvious that it was not obvious. Which is why it was so opposed.
Instead of poring over strategy documents for projecting our power over the world, it would be wonderful if the same amount of energy could be spent working on a strategy for withdrawal. The US army has proven utterly incompetent in this respect, which is not surprising, since they aren’t paid for that sort of thing. They’re a killing machine, a power projection machine, not a country building machine.
You’d think maybe there is some part of the US government where there are earnest scholars and seasoned practitioners working on this, but I’ve never heard of it if there is. It doesn’t exist. That explains the lack of competence, without excusing it.
Which is why the problem is being worked on by the people who should have had the biggest say in the matter in the first place – the Iraqis themselves. That they seized it out of the hands of the indifferent proconsuls in their besieged fortress was no surprise, since they showed no interest or taste for the job anyway.
I think that we’ll end up being surprised by the Iraqis. They may salvage something from this mess, if foreign agitation can be kept to a bare minimum. It’ll probably be something we don’t particularly like, but hey, that’s what happens when you get democracy – it often makes strange decisions that reflect other people’s views, not our own.
As for stability in Iraq, the only thing that will drive that is economics. Since things have gone backwards since the US stuck their cock up Iraq’s arse, most people there are sympathetic to their ejection (don’t confuse with erection or ejaculation). But that in itself won’t improve living standards. The only cure will be money. If the US really truly wants a secure and democratic Iraq they will have to pay for it, as they did in Germany and Japan.