Friday, October 15, 2004

 

Security or Freedom?


Many Americans who wrote to me or commented on this blog constantly – sometimes fervently – maintained that no price is too high and no sacrifice is too dear for freedom. They urge us to endure and not to complain of the chaos, the violence, the loss of innocent life, the killing of children and the lack of security. Freedom is worth it.

This sounds fair and of a high moral tone.

But, what was the first thing Americans sacrificed for their security after 9/11?
Some of their freedom and personal liberties!

I can't complain about that. It is your country and it is your choice. (Anyway, there doesn't seem to be a consensus in the States. Americans are still debating that issue.)

But if you have a closer look at the patronizing rhetoric about freedom and the price that has to be paid for it, you will find that most it comes from pro-administration Americans. And this is where the irony lies. It is the same administration that is seeking measure after measure to improve your security at the expense of your freedom. Yet, here they are telling us that we have to endure the lack of security for the sake of freedom! Do I detect some double standards?

There are Iraqis who prefer "freedom from occupation" to security (and I'm not talking about terrorists here). And there are Iraqis who prefer some security to freedom. The American army (directed by the administration) is killing the first group and pro-administration Americans are scolding the second.

We need to make things honestly clear regarding the causes of the present bloody strife. Are your boys fighting in Iraq for our freedom or for your safety, or for both?

Are we sacrificing our security and the safety and of our families and risking the lives of our loved ones for your safety… or for the mirage of a freedom based on the word of your administration that they will succeed in this campaign?

Security and freedom. Most Iraqis and Americans would naturally like to have both. Wise old Benjamin Franklin! Someone quoted him a couple of posts back. Under the present course, we both now stand to lose much of both.


Comments:

Abu, I'm not anti-American, most of them I'm sure are nice people, but you do seem to be attracting some of the weirder ones here.
A bit of history: yes 9/11 was a terrible crime, yes going after OBL and his Taleban hosts was the right response, but for poor old Iraq:
- first it was WMD and links with Al Quaeda
- then it was "get rid of Saddam, he's a dictator"
- then it was: stuff around for a year while we decide what to do with our new conquest
- then, finally, its all about bringing "freedom" to the poor ignorant Iraqis
- and if they don't like it, we'll bomb them until they do.
And as you say, if they don't like being bombed, then we'll tell them patronisingly that its for their own good in the long run.
What I'd like to see is an American poster saying honestly, "Yes, Abu, we invaded your country by mistake, and we haven't handled the aftermath very well at all. What do you think we should do now?"
Fat chance.
 
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Can someone please tell me what "freedom" I have given up after 9/11??? PLEASE??

Also, yes I want security AND freedom for Iraq. I am not going to say that it was a mistake to topple Saddam but I will admit that we have made some agregious mistakes after the fact and I would love to know from Abu or anyone else what we should be doing differently (if possible without the EVIL US/ZIONIST COLONIALISM, etc rhetoric)..

However, as with any problem, we get different answers. Even amongst Iraqi's there seem to be differences of opinions. Some think the interim govt. and the US aren't being heavy handed enough, others think we are just murderers.

I also would NEVER tell Iraqi's not to complain. I even understand those fighting us that consider us "occupiers". However, those do not appear to be the only ones blowing people up or hacking off heads. We fix a pipeline, they blow it up. We open a water treatment plant, they blow up some children and a couple of soldiers.

How do you suggest we get at these people who hide in mosques, use innocents as cover, etc. without "collateral damage"??
 
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What I'd like to see is an American poster saying honestly, "Yes, Abu, we invaded your country by mistake, and we haven't handled the aftermath very well at all. What do you think we should do now?"
Fat chance.
I would say it if I thought it were true. WMDs were always the rationalization, ultimately seeding democracy was the reason. I really don't understand why the fact that he was shooting at our aircraft daily in the no-fly zone wasn't reason enough. You did know he was doing that, don't you? In violation of treaty?

Just move past the standard rhetoric and look deep into the writings of the key architects. Or listen to Bush's speech at the convention.

I will agree the post-war scenario has been screwed up. It will be fixed. I could care less whether Bush or Kerry does so, as long as it gets done. We owe that to the Iraqis.

How can you defend keeping Saddam in power? You know now what sort of country he ran, equivalent in oppression to the Soviets or Pol Pot at their best. Don't you think it's time the world got off it's lazy rear and stopped allowing these types of crimes of humanity to go on, hidden behind borders?

If you aren't defending Saddam, what was your plan for getting rid of him? Sanctions sure as heck weren't working.

As for sacrificing our freedoms, the post 9/11 "clampdown" has had zero effect on my life, other than to make lines longer at airports and public sites. I can't think of any thing that I did before that I can't do now. No martial law. No closing of newspapers. No burning of books.

There is definitely a balance between freedom and security, and it swings one way or the other in response to the times. But freedom is so ingrained in our culture that people won't tolerate its loss. And we can't imagine others not wanting it. That's what we want for Iraq. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We take it for granted that which so much of the rest of the world has never seen.

Your freedom will make all of us safer.
 
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The post-9/11 restrictions on "liberty" would be better describes as an enhancement to the power of the state. As such they're not directly felt by most citizens until they actually run into the law.

I can certainly understand Iraqi patriotic feelings and their reluctance to accept a foreign occupier. Of course there are lot of reasons for the war in Iraq. In a democracy, political administrations are supported by coalitions of groups with different interests. Some of those groups are interested in national security. Some of them want to spread democracy. The Iraq war could not have been launched without the support of a broad coalition of such groups. So to me there is no contradition in saying there was an array of reasons. Not just one or two.

In any case, at the moment the most important reason for continuing is because departure at this point would result in large sections of the country becoming a safe-haven for terrorists similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban. Obviously, we cannot allow that.

For the part of Iraqis, it would also result in a bloody civil war as the current Sunni insurgent groups seek to reestablish political dominance over the Shiite areas, and the Kurds move to take control of Kirkuk.

So the obvious thing to do is to hold the elections, even if imperfect, to move the democratization process forward, so that a government with the support of most of the population, and the acceptance of much of the rest, can be established.

One of the nice things about democracies is that they can fix their own flaws. So even if it gets off to a rocky start, over time parties can adjust in accordance with public desires and election laws can be modified.
 
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Abu Khaleel et al,

I'm at least a 3rd generation American who believes both that we invaded Iraq 'by mistake' and that we've been handling both the invasion and the occupation poorly. I am sorry for the civilian deaths our actions have caused as well as the infra-structure and cultural destruction we have either caused or failed to prevent.

There are many Americans who feel the same way. I have noticed that many Americans who originally supported the invasion of Iraq have become disillusioned with the policies and actions of the current American administration.

At this point I don't know what the best policy would be. The only thing I can think of is to empower the Iraqi people to build a stable nation, though I have no idea how this would be done given the groups competing for power and murdering Iraqi professionals.

May God be merciful to us all,
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
Finally you asked THE question! About the 'F' word. Civilization is impossible without security, 'freedom' is a mere luxury-but one which US bloggers claim they simply can't do without. Like the freedom to drive a gas eating SUV. The same bloggers who supported Bush's bogus minority election by the US Supreme Court. They don't value freedom as an abstraction, but they are talking about their own, private freedom. In this case, their freedom to 'defeat' Al Qaeda on Iraqi soil and keep it away from US shores. For these folks, freedom is the opposite of responsibility. Its just a code word for unfettered US power. America uber alles? This is their concept of freedom.
 
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The previous commenter really has a very poor understanding of the American concept of freedom.

Americans have always defined freedom in terms of the absence of state power. The power of the US federal government has always existed uneasily with American culture, and in fact more so on the right than on the left.

Americans see levels of freedom in the world in terms of degrees of state power, from weak federal capitalist states (preferred) to centralized totalitarian states (despised). Social democratic states lie somewhere in the middle because the amount of economic activity they control increases the power of the state above that of a decentralized market economy. This is the main reason why market systems are favored by Americans, not the utilitarian reason that it provides a more comfortable lifestyle.

So when American talk about their military defending freedom, to someone outside the US who does not understand the American view of freedom as the absence of state power, it may appear to be in defense of the capitalist lifestyle. In fact they are talking about opposing centralization of power - whether it be due to dictatorships supressing free speech, religious leaders imposing religious dictates on the population, or bureaucrats siezing land and property for the purpose of "redistribution". Countries like Saddam's Iraq, Iran, and Zimbabwe being extreme examples of these cases.

This view of the nature of freedom is evident in the tension between "liberty" and "security" in American culture. The fact that these two concepts are viewed in opposition to eachother is not a contradiction, though it may be confusing to outsiders. Like many things in society, the ideal is to strike a balance between them. Excessive focus on security enhances the power of the state, which ultimately restricts the freedom of the individual, while too much liberty for some makes it possible for them to restrict the liberty of others. Thus, the right balance is for the state to be powerful enough to prevent citizens from imposing their will on their neighbors outside of government channels, while not so powerful that the government can be used as a tool for some groups to control others through it.
 
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Good post. I wasn't going to be quite so eloquent in MY response.. ;-)
 
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Hello USAnonymous,

"The previous commenter really has a very poor understanding of the American concept of freedom."
Really?

"Americans have always defined freedom in terms of the absence of state power. The power of the US federal government has always existed uneasily with American culture, and in fact more so on the right than on the left."
American freedom is rooted in property rights-the freedom to own slaves, land, capital,etc. The state has the right to confiscate these thru taxation, this is why they oppose this restraint[the state] on their selfish freedom.

"Americans see levels of freedom in the world in terms of degrees of state power, from weak federal capitalist states (preferred) to centralized totalitarian states (despised)."
Yet America is the greatest centralized state power in the world at present, with tiny number of small, wretched 'totalitarian' states like Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea. China is now considered merely authoritarian by them for its devotion to globalization. State power is seen by the previous blogger as an evil but unrestrained global corporate power as a neutral or a positive good. In America, state power was required to counteract the effects of unrestrained corporate greed, raising workers wages, clean food and environment,etc. which no self-devoted market hero in his right mind would allow.
"Social democratic states lie somewhere in the middle because the amount of economic activity they control increases the power of the state above that of a decentralized market economy."
Social democrat institution like guaranteed national health care and government old age pensions are more evil than the mercy of crooked profit oriented HMOs? The previous blogger would sacrifice a helpless retiree to the corporate right to profit.
"This is the main reason why market systems are favored by Americans, not the utilitarian reason that it provides a more comfortable lifestyle."
Decentralized market system? Corporate power is paramount thanks to Bush and globalization, the small entrepreuer-decentralized market hero has no chance. More self-deception.

"So when American talk about their military defending freedom, to someone outside the US who does not understand the American view of freedom as the absence of state power, it may appear to be in defense of the capitalist lifestyle."
To people inside the US also. Talk is cheap so Americans talk a lot.


"In fact they are talking about opposing centralization of power - whether it be due to dictatorships supressing free speech, religious leaders imposing religious dictates on the population, or bureaucrats siezing land and property for the purpose of "redistribution". Countries like Saddam's Iraq, Iran, and Zimbabwe being extreme examples of these cases."
'Freedom' on their terms. And if you don't agree with their concept, you are evil and can be destroyed by US power.
"This view of the nature of freedom is evident in the tension between "liberty" and "security" in American culture. The fact that these two concepts are viewed in opposition to eachother is not a contradiction, though it may be confusing to outsiders."
Such Goodthink dialects have not been seen since "1984".
"Like many things in society, the ideal is to strike a balance between them. Excessive focus on security enhances the power of the state, which ultimately restricts the freedom of the individual, while too much liberty for some makes it possible for them to restrict the liberty of others. Thus, the right balance is for the state to be powerful enough to prevent citizens from imposing their will on their neighbors outside of government channels, while not so powerful that the government can be used as a tool for some groups to control others through it."
Ah, the right balance is needed? Except how can 'good' be balanced with 'evil'? What is need is clear thinking and honest self-criticism. This is beyond the capability of the 'US freedom' cult.
Blabbing about freedom is a convenient way of avoiding confronting the real challenges of life.
 
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The above argument illustrates perfectly how political leftism is linked to anti-Americanism. The American view of freedom - as the absence of state power -directly conflicts with the need for enhanced state power in socialist ideology, to support the array of services provided by the state.

The problem is that the Left assumes that the opposition to state power in American culture stems entirely from "greed". However, it was precisely because slavery contradicted the American understanding of freedom, that this ultimately led to a civil war and thus it's abolition in American society. The right to personal liberty is more highly regarded than the right to own property. The ordering of the words "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is in priority order. Life comes first, then liberty second, then pursueing happiness third (which includes owning property). If someone's happiness entails killing or enslaving someone else, they can't do that.

Protection of property rights does indeed underly capitalist economies. However, I know very few people today, even amount democratic socialists, who think that private ownership of property, even land, should be abolished. So I think we ought to agree that the right not to have one's property seized by the government for any reason should be protected, since nobody is actually willing to argue these days that it SHOULD be okay for the state to seize your house.

The commenter does make a good point about the US currently representing a great centralization of power in the world. That's exactly the kind of argument that speaks to American ears, because it illustrates how the concept of American empire conflicts with our own ideals of freedom. Unfortunately, he then goes on with the usual canard about "unrestrained corporate power", as if people have McDonald's hamburgers literally forced down their throats. "Corporate power" does not even exist without the willingness (i.e. freedom) of people to keep voluntarily buying their products. That makes it a fundamentally different animal from state power. Besides which, enhancing state power in order to restrict corporate power ultimately results in zero net improvement. The only difference is that the state can actually put you in prison, whereas a corporation can only pay you less or sell you shoddy merchandise.

The US does indeed have a number of institutions to support the poor and disabled. And as I said, this exists in tension with the US concept of freedom because it enhances the power of the state. That does not mean I think it should be abolished, it means that there is a continual balancing act being carried out through the political system in the US over this issue.

As Iraqis know from their experience with the oil-for-food program, government control of the supply of basic necessities can be a conduit for enormous corruption and tyranny. Similar things happened in the Soviet Union, when Stalin use the centralized farming system to starve the Ukranians as a means to force their submission to Soviet rule. Mugabe in Zimbabwe is currently using control of the food supply to starve his political opponents. Likewise, many other leftist governments have used, and continue to use (in the case of N. Korea, Cuba, etc.), their control over the economic system to entrench themselves in power and suppress their opponents.

As for being destroyed if you don't agree with the American concept of "freedom". Well, I doubt many people would consider Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe or Saddam's Iraq to have been "free" by anyone's definition.



To return to an earlier point, American talk of freedom when it comes to Iraq has little to do with SUVs, and everything to do with the idea that "all men" are endowed with the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".
 
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'What I'd like to see is an American poster saying honestly, "Yes, Abu, we invaded your country by mistake, and we haven't handled the aftermath very well at all. What do you think we should do now?"'

This is an American willing to say that. My president is an idiot. Please know that most of us did not vote for Bush and feel that he stole the election. And look what he has done.

I am embarrased by the Americans responding in these comments in such condescending tones as if they "know the truth" and will teach it to you, as if by virtue of being born in a rich and powerful country they are inherently more knowledgeable and skilled.

Abu, your posts on this blog are some of the most insightful I've seen anywhere. I hope you continue to write and demonstrate what "free thinking" is really all about. I find it useful and perhaps some of the Bush supporters will condescend to listen.

Andy
USA
 
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Hey Andy, I know a boatload of Americans that were not BORN into this "rich and powerful" country but love being here to take advantage of it's opportunities. Go read Abbas Khadim's blog, I am sure you will love him. He is sitting here in this free country spewing out all sorts of Anti-US BS and hatred..

I'll be happy to pay for your plane fare to Iran, China, North Korea or any other more "knowledgeable and skilled" country!
 
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Hello USAnonymous,
"The above argument illustrates perfectly how political leftism is linked to anti-Americanism. The American view of freedom - as the absence of state power -directly conflicts with the need for enhanced state power in socialist ideology, to support the array of services provided by the state."
What would be the economic justification for the rich to help poor or even average people[the justification of the state counterbalance]? The problem with the Right is they either are blind or inteelectually dishonest with respect to the idea of a Social Contract because of their worship of private property. In reality the state owns everything anyways and it is up to the state how much wealth to give itself and the wealthy. Incidently slavery was not ended by american understanding feedom but by a civil war started by slave owners who feared the loss of their property-which they in fact did lose.

What is interesting about this issue for Iraqis is that oil was always their state property and stupid attempts of Bush & Co. to 'give' development rights to US contractors (which failed of course) had no basis in Iraqi society of Social Contract.

" So I think we ought to agree that the right not to have one's property seized by the government for any reason should be protected, since nobody is actually willing to argue these days that it SHOULD be okay for the state to seize your house." Nonsense, don't you pay taxes every year, when you die you have probate. Taxes are as old as Iraq. Better the state than the repo man. At any rate, this is what is called a straw man--nobody wants to steal your house[empty threat].

"That's exactly the kind of argument that speaks to American ears, because it illustrates how the concept of American empire conflicts with our own ideals of freedom."
Yet you support "President Bush and our troops".
Who is the greater potential threat Bin Ladin in a cave or Bush in the White House with US armed forces? But Bush, the proven liar, must be believed.
"Unfortunately, he then goes on with the usual canard about "unrestrained corporate power", as if people have McDonald's hamburgers literally forced down their throats. "Corporate power" does not even exist without the willingness (i.e. freedom) of people to keep voluntarily buying their products."
Corporate power certainly seduces consumers, and fosters psychological addiction. [can you deny it?] Do addicts have free choice[not talking about the phoney choice of whether to have cocaine or heroine]? The circular argument could be applied to the state as well,i.e. if Iraqis( except disguntled types)didn't want to support Saddam, he wouldn't have been in so long.
"Besides which, enhancing state power in order to restrict corporate power ultimately results in zero net improvement."
This is nonsense. All large projects in the US are government funded, only the US government could afford them!
"The only difference is that the state can actually put you in prison, whereas a corporation can only pay you less or sell you shoddy merchandise."
You ignore types of corporate theft from consumer fraud to tax avoidance.
"The US does indeed have a number of institutions to support the poor and disabled. And as I said, this exists in tension with the US concept of freedom because it enhances the power of the state. That does not mean I think it should be abolished, it means that there is a continual balancing act being carried out through the political system in the US over this issue."
Private charity was tried by Hoover it doesn't work. The problems are too enormous only the state can deal with them. In the past, the state was willing to take responsibility for these people, but Rightists like Bush want that stopped.
"As Iraqis know from their experience with the oil-for-food program, government control of the supply of basic necessities can be a conduit for enormous corruption and tyranny. Similar things happened in the Soviet Union, when Stalin use the centralized farming system to starve the Ukranians as a means to force their submission to Soviet rule. Mugabe in Zimbabwe is currently using control of the food supply to starve his political opponents. Likewise, many other leftist governments have used, and continue to use (in the case of N. Korea, Cuba, etc.), their control over the economic system to entrench themselves in power and suppress their opponents."
And leftist governments have given their people free medicine, while millions of Americans are denied medical service( also a human right). Incidently in the Hoover years Americans also starved in the richest country on earth.

"As for being destroyed if you don't agree with the American concept of "freedom". Well, I doubt many people would consider Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe or Saddam's Iraq to have been "free" by anyone's definition."
You tell this to an Iraqi as military troops occupy his country[Iraq is free now correct?]..that's chutspah!
"To return to an earlier point, American talk of freedom when it comes to Iraq has little to do with SUVs, and everything to do with the idea that "all men" are endowed with the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".
Very good! So Iraqis are truly free now to pursue these beautiful things? No, it only a cruel hoax.
So the American salesmen endeavor to reassure Iraqis of their golden opportunity! No more selling, please just truth!
 
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"Corporate power certainly seduces consumers, and fosters psychological addiction. "

Oh those poor helpless people being seduced by blue jeans and Coca-Cola's! Oh the horrors! Save them from their terrible fate! Quick! Someone have them arrested or something to stop them from buying hambergurs!
 
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Circular

Abu must be very puzzled at having his Blog hijacked by a "capitalist versus socialist" debate. The Cold War's over guys, remember?
Saddam wasn't a Communist, remember?

Economic "freedom" and personal "freedom" aren't necessarily linked at all - New Zealand from 1940 to about 1980 at least was one of the most "socialist" countries in the world, in terms of state regulation or ownership of industry and commerce, and state provision of pensions, health services etc.
Yet it remained, and still remains, the most "free" and "democratic" of countries in terms of fierce preservation of individual rights and liberties, and constant vigilance against any tendency towards Government corruption.

On the other hand, the Kiwis happily sacrificed some of their rights and liberties during WWII in the interests of the war effort.

Seems to me that's all that has happened in the USA, they've sacrificed some of their rights and liberties because of the "war on terror."

The only problem is, when does it end? How do you win a war against a tactic, not a state? WWII ended with the unconditional surrender of belligerent states - how do you know when the terrorists, who are essentially stateless, are "beaten" so you can have your liberties back?

All of which has nothing to do with Abu's question: Are your boys fighting in Iraq for our freedom or for your safety, or for both?

Abu, I like the joke answer: they're fighting because YOU are hiding THEIR oil under YOUR sand.
 
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Circular

Oh yeah, and that reminds me: what did the invasion of Iraq ever have to do with the "war on terror" anyway?
Far as I'm aware, and I stand to be corrected, no Iraqi has been involved in any "terrorist" attack in Europe or America.
Certainly none were involved in 9/11 - 15 of the 19 were Saudis. Wouldn't it have made more sense to invade Saudi Arabia?
Come to that, the worst "terrorist" attack on America before 9/11 was Olkahoma City, wasn't it? (Spelling?)
Why isn't the USA bombing the hell out of Olkahoma?
 
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Circular,

If it was really just about the oil why would we have not just bought it under the table from Saddam and continue to let the Iraqi people suffer, like "our friends" the French?

I'm totally speaking out my ass but I think that we chose Iraq as part of the WoT because Saddam was an evil scumbag but was easier to take on directly than say Saudi Arabia or Iran. If, and I say IF, Afghanistan and Iraq can truely becomes models for some type of democracy and freedom it could have a domino effect on countries such as Iran who are already on the brink of revolution. If freedom and prosperity can take hold in the region then the War on Terror would most likely be over, though I figure there will still be some Wahabi types bent on the destruction of all non-Muslims.
 
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Barry wrote:

"Hey Andy, I know a boatload of Americans that were not BORN into this "rich and powerful" country but love being here to take advantage of it's opportunities. Go read Abbas Khadim's blog, I am sure you will love him. He is sitting here in this free country spewing out all sorts of Anti-US BS and hatred..

I'll be happy to pay for your plane fare to Iran, China, North Korea or any other more "knowledgeable and skilled" country!"

Barry, your angry comments are just the sort of thing that makes me embarrassed-by-association, that association being that we are both Americans. From what I read from Abu, he's is asking important questions. For example:

"Are your boys fighting in Iraq for our freedom or for your safety, or for both?"

This question is very personal for me, I have family serving in the US Marines in Iraq. I wish I could say they are fighting for both. I love the USA, I love my family, I wish the best security and freedom for Iraqis. But I don't believe that the end justifies this means -- that the death and destruction we are causing is a reasonable path to achieve that. The USA _chose_ to invade Iraqi and continues to choose to prosecute the war we started in this way. Now we have 1100 US soldiers killed, 8000 US casualities (some very horrible). In the US we rarely hear of Iraqi dead and wounded and what portion of those are civilian. 20,000 seemes to be the low number. Yes, Abu and his people are getting a good lesson in freedom and democracy. Pity the next country the becomes free in this way.
 
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From Circular

Barry can I suggest that you are finally NOT "speaking out of your ass" when you say that it was "easier" to take on Saddam. Al Qaeda grew out of a variety of roots (e.g. it was originally on "our" side against the Soviets in Afghanistan, remember) and it was only the most visible of a number of fanatical militant Islamic outfits. (This guy Al Zarqawi, for example, was actually a rival to OBL in Afghanistan. The two worst attacks since 9/11, Madrid and Bali, were carried out by Moroccans and Indonesians who had very loose, if any, links to Al Qaeda.)
These small numbers of extreme Islamic militants need to be fought, or resisted, in smart and subtle ways, not by displays of muscle. That's why so much of the world is upset by what you're doing in Iraq. Bombing innocent Muslim civilians (and let's not get into that one, the whole world knows that much of the Iraqi resistance has been caused by anger at "collateral damage") is NOT going to create a "model of democracy and freedom." Its just going to create dead Muslims.

30,000 down, only 1.2 billion to go. Right on.

Your army is starting to mutiny, and its asking the Brits, who are succeeding in Basra by NOT bombing, to come up north and help.

Sometimes taking the easier option is not a good idea. And all because George Bush wanted to show he could win a war just like his Daddy did.
 
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Actually, this is not a "capitalism vs. communism" debate. It is an "Americans are just greedy and want to exploit people" vs. "No, Americans are simply opposed to state power, including over economics." debate.

The original argument put forth by the earlier poster that Americans just want to drive SUVs, explicitly incorporates leftist ideological assumptions. That is why these debates always devolve into capitalism vs. communism arguments. It's because, as I stated, socialist ideology requires levels of state power which conflict fundamentally with the conception of freedom in American culture. Leftists seem to be either unwilling or unable to understand this. That's why anti-Americanism is so inextricably linked to leftist ideology.
 
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Andy,

Not to worry, I am embarrased you call yourself an American too..

Look at this link: http://www.pbase.com/kburch/the_picture_from_iraq_you_wont_see_in_the_news&page=all

To be fair, I googled for hours looking for pictures of the "resistance" helping wounded children or trying to do anything to rebuild their own country but for some reason was unable to find any.. Hmmm

Oh never mind...
 
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Hello Anonymous,

"The original argument put forth by the earlier poster that Americans just want to drive SUVs, explicitly incorporates leftist ideological assumptions."
SUVs are a good symbol of the US culture of self-aggrandizement and selfishness. They are oversized requiring larger parking spaces, dangerously unstable in turns, block the views of other drivers, produce far more pollution and waste non-renewable energy. The owners say they like the room inside for hauling around their frivolous possessions. Anyone who criticises this boorish behavior is a leftist and appeals to self-restraint, modesty, environment, responsibility are dismissed as totalitarian. Non-americans are often shocked and repelled by this vulgar attitude and the 'ugly americans' cry communist and whine about state power. This coming from citizens of the land of the free,a country with one of the highest rates of incarceration in the entire world with a barbaric death penalty on the books for show and one which is gutting its civil liberties in the name of more security. I can tell you that for these fearful souls there will never be enough security.
 
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Actually SUVs are really nothing more than the modern version of Station Wagons. They are used because the baby boomers right now are in the middle of raising their 2.5 children. The "frivolous goods" they haul around in them are usually their kids sports equipment. Thirty years ago the gas milage driven by a much smaller family car was worse than that of a modern SUVs. There is nothing wrong with criticizing SUVs. There is a lot wrong with asserting that all Americans car about is driving gas guzzling cars. Sorry that you don't share, or are incapable of understanding, American culture, but there is a lot more too it than driving big fat cars and eating hambergers and your assertion of such only shows how shallow and inadequate your understanding of human nature is.
 
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Hello Annon,
"There is nothing wrong with criticizing SUVs. There is a lot wrong with asserting that all Americans car about is driving gas guzzling cars."
Not all americans, but many put the right of personal irresponsibility above others. For example, the right to consume cancerous cigarettes is deemed absolute, or the right to have babies whenever you want to have sex,etc. "Sorry that you don't share, or are incapable of understanding, American culture, but there is a lot more too it than driving big fat cars and eating hambergers and your assertion of such only shows how shallow and inadequate your understanding of human nature is." I understand many Americans want to do whatever the hell they impulsively want without limits and without considering the rights of others. This is what is objectionable.
 
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The comments here go on for hundreds of words and they end up talking about SUVs! Good grief.
Forty-nine percent of Americans are trying very hard right now to kick Bush out of office. If we do, we will get out of your country as soon as possible.
(But at least we can all speak freely without somebody trying to kill us.)
 
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I think some of you need to read the recent post on Iraq The Model
 
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from Circular

Suddenly gone very quiet around here. Maybe because SUV's are so damn BORING?
Hey Abu, if you're there, a question:
This conflict is so hauntingly reminiscent of Vietnam. And during that disaster, various U.S. Administration and Military spokesmen came out with statements like "We have turned the corner," and "there is light at the end of the tunnel."
Blogs are full of principled people ready to fight for freedom to the last Iraqi, and optimists, including Iraqi bloggers, saying that it will all come right in time. But things seem to have gone rapidly downhill even in the last few days. Western news crews roamed the streets of Saigon in comparative safety right up until the end. In Iraq now they all seem to be confined to safe hideouts.
What is really going on there? Can you hazard a guess as to what proportion of the resistance activity is coming from real "bad guys," criminals and lunatic fanatics, and what proportion is just "freedom fighters," Iraqi patriots totally pissed of at a botched occupation and "liberation?"
 
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Forty-nine percent of Americans are trying very hard right now to kick Bush out of office. If we do, we will get out of your country as soon as possible.This is why I can't vote for Kerry. He'd do his best to see the US lose twice in his lifetime. I'd have been open to change, but the anti-war left owns the democrats. It's posts like yours that give hope to the insurgents. Not saying you can't say those things, it being a free country and all that, just reminding you that they can read too, and they most certainly like what you write.

You think getting out of Iraq as soon as possible, therefore leaving it to the Islamo-fascists, would be doing them a favor? Really?

I'm a second generation immigrant from the Balkans. Were it not for the US (Clinton at the time) my relatives would still be killing each other, if there were any left. I know the diff between here and there.

Abu, thanks for the blog. I wish more of us spoke/read Arabic or vice versa, so there would be more dabate across cultures.
 
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Though it appears that Circular and I are on opposite sides of the fence, I would be curious what your thoughts are too Abu.

I read a lot of blogs. Everything from the US is the Great Satan sites of Abbas Khadim and Riverbend to Road of a Nation, Iraq The Model, Hammorabi, and the Mesopotamian who seem to think we are doing the right thing.

The problem as I see it, is that this is a war of propaganda, on both sides. The US haters who say we are killing innocents on purpose to the apparent lack of WMD's and links to Al Qaeda (though I have read sites supporting both of those views).

Does anyone know what the truth is anymore??? The only condolence I have is that I have a friend in Baghdad who volunteered to go train Iraqi Police and even he says that it is not as bad as the media portrays. (Of course he doesn't see everything).
 
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Hello Balkan-Anonymous,
"If we do, we will get out of your country as soon as possible.This is why I can't vote for Kerry. He'd do his best to see the US lose twice in his lifetime."
What would you have the US fight for? To exterminate Muslims??? Unlike Clinton, we aren't saving people from ethnic clensing. American troops are the problem, not the solution. Have they been used effectively or just as targets for IEDs? Maybe you just want to win at all cost. Bush's war has gotten worse and worse thru pure incompetence.
"I'd have been open to change, but the anti-war left owns the democrats. It's posts like yours that give hope to the insurgents.Not saying you can't say those things, it being a free country and all that, just reminding you that they can read too, and they most certainly like what you write."
This is so stupid it is hard to believe. How many Al Qaeda will read this? They blog in Arabic. They hate the internet and the West. THEY DON'T BLOG HERE.
"You think getting out of Iraq as soon as possible, therefore leaving it to the Islamo-fascists, would be doing them a favor? Really?"
Let the Iraqis handle it! It is their country and their problem (exaccerbated by Bush's challenges).

"I'm a second generation immigrant from the Balkans. Were it not for the US (Clinton at the time) my relatives would still be killing each other, if there were any left. I know the diff between here and there."
Totally different war and US troops are not occupying the Balkins. We have international partners doing most of the work(NATO) unlike Iraq.
If you vote for Bush you will probably get 4 more years of the same mismanaged mess. For Iraq to survive we need a new approach.
 
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Hi,

I am an American and a fervent Bush supporter too. I just wish my nation was not so politically correct. We do have double standards, and the liberals in my country would put Saddam back in power (if they could) just because capturing him was Bush's act, and they hate a good man like Bush simply because he's a Republican and they are Democrats. If you remember, our president Clinton bombed innocent Kurds to get Monica Lewinsky off the headlines and liberals said nothing. Why? Because the bombs had a "D" on them. But bombs dropped by those evil Republicans, those "R" bombs, are always mistake and "just shows that Bush went to war to steal the Iraqi's oil."

TheEnemyWithin
http://sickofliberals.blogspot.com
(Congrats to Afgahnistan for their first election in 3,000 years!)
 
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From Circular

"I can't vote for Kerry. He'd do his best to see the US lose twice in his lifetime. I'd have been open to change, but the anti-war left owns the democrats."

Just a thought. There's about 400 million Americans, I believe, and about 6 billion other humans on this planet. And the majority of the adult ones who care about what happens to us all seem to be agreed that this invasion was not urgently essential to world order, and that this occupation has been managed in a criminally irresponsible manner. It's been a mistake from go to whoa.
Hell, we all make mistakes.
But now we are told that it's not a matter of right or wrong, it's just to do with pride. Don't want to be seen to lose twice.
And this coming from the great country that saved the world from the fascist empires in WWII.
Mate, the rest of us out here don't give a rats ass about Republicans or Democrats. We just need honesty and competence from your leaders.
 
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What would you have the US fight for? To exterminate Muslims???.

That is not a serious comment, and this topic deserves seriousness. What would I have the US fight for? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Within our borders. And without them too.
 
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"I'd have been open to change, but the anti-war left owns the democrats. It's posts like yours that give hope to the insurgents.Not saying you can't say those things, it being a free country and all that, just reminding you that they can read too, and they most certainly like what you write."

This is so stupid it is hard to believe. How many Al Qaeda will read this? They blog in Arabic. They hate the internet and the West. THEY DON'T BLOG HERE.
.

Many of them KNOW HOW TO SPEAK AND READ ENGLISH including the ones that flew their planes into our buildings. They cut off heads and do the other things so that THEIR STORIES WILL APPEAR IN WESTERN NEWS ARTICLES. They are well aware that THIS BATTLE IS BEING FOUGHT IN MEDIA AS MUCH AS IN THE STREETS. They LOVE AND USE THE INTERNET while hating the west that created it. I'll skip the ad hominem attacks, the topic is too serious for such a cheap ploy.
 
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Hello Sickof,
"I am an American and a fervent Bush supporter too. I just wish my nation was not so politically correct.{Why can't we be cool like the Nazis?] We do have double standards, and the liberals in my country would put Saddam back in power (if they could[a lie, who said that?]) just because capturing him was Bush's act[the Kurds say they did it but I credit some unnamed Iraqi, where was Bush?], and they hate a good man like Bush simply because he's a Republican and they are Democrats[no, Bush is no ordinary Republican]. If you remember, our president Clinton bombed innocent Kurds[a lie, Saddam was launching an offensive] to get Monica Lewinsky off the headlines and liberals said nothing[a lie propogated by Tom Delay]. Why? Because the bombs had a "D" on them. But bombs dropped by those evil Republicans, those "R" bombs, are always mistake and "just shows that Bush went to war to steal the Iraqi's oil.[possibly true, but where's the proof]"


""What would you have the US fight for? To exterminate Muslims???.
That is not a serious comment, and this topic deserves seriousness. What would I have the US fight for? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Within our borders. And without them too."
A perfectly serious comment--how will you deal with Islam is the heart of the war on "terror", especially as you are fighting for an idea against another idea. And to be honest, 'life, libert, and the pursuit of happiness' is not your real idea, just clap-trap. You want to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq.
 
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Circular (and others who might be interested in details):

Yes, I'm here. I assure you that I read every comment. I'm sorry for the delay but I only access the blog once a day.

I find it stimulating to know what people, ordinary people, think. You don't get that on any media. However, I do wish that discussions remain within the subject of the post.

As to your question regarding the various groups fighting the USA, things are far, far worse than officials think!!!!

I was reading an article by Pat Buchanan in "American Conservative" yesterday and he quotes people estimating the insurgents as… "A year ago, Gen. John Abizaid estimated there were 5,000 enemy fighters. After capturing and killing thousands, officials now estimate there are 20,000 enemy".

I don't think anyone knows the exact number. The number is also continuously changing. But I assure you that the new estimate of 20,000 is still unrealistically low. I would really be reluctant to hazard a guess as to the number of people in the various groups. I can only extrapolate from my own personal observations:

1. Criminals: Before the war, Saddam released all inmates from Abu Ghraib. Extremely few, if any, were political prisoners. The number was 64,000! Some of these are hard-core criminals already organized in gangs and were mostly responsible for much of the more serious looting of banks (How about more than $400 million in cash robberies?) and the Iraqi museum. Now some are unbelievably rich. Some of these have been specializing in drugs, kidnapping, and other such activities. Would 10,000 – 20,000 sound too much?

2. Religious people - "regular Islamists" defending faith and country against "infidels": Would something like 100,000 – 150,000 come like a shock? This seems to be the strongest, most motivated group. Many people who are not particularly religious operate under this umbrella.

3. I have no idea how many terrorists (of the Al Qaeda type) there are. Several estimates, better informed than I am, put the figure between 1,500 and 3,000.

4. Baathists as patriots, some 20,000 - 50,000. Most operate within groups 2 and 5.

5. "Freedom fighters": well everybody seems to be a sympathizer! But for people actually carrying weapons and ready to do some fighting… well, would something like 100,000 come as another shock? Most of these people do not seem to be organized on a national level. But I assume that they soon will be.

6. What I call "forces of darkness" doing all sorts of nasty, inexplicable things (to Iraqis mainly). I think that these have infiltrated all other groups. I have no idea how many there are. I will not even begin to speculate as to what these people want!

I cannot claim that these estimates are accurate in any way. They are just my own personal guess from what I see and hear, but I assure you that they are far more realistic than the "official" US numbers quoted above. Only time will tell.
 
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Let's get back to the point. Why are we fighting in Iraq? To protect America, to provide freedom to Iraq, or both? Actually, neither. We are there for the oil. Sound trite? It's not. It's just a fact. What really astounds me is the gullibility of the American people. We are being lead by an administration that is being decieved by it's own rhetoric. The real issue, for the leading elite, is to preserve their own power and economic interests. For the record I am a voting American, combat vet marine and politically independent.
 
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All too many Americans know too little about the long history of U.S. intervention in the Middle East and resulting Arab distrust. One wonders if they know many Arabs or how often they use their wonderful public library system. I learned a lot by meeting many Arab students in college.

It's always been about oil - back in the late 1940's the State Department was worried about the Saudi oil concession if the U.S. backed the establishment of Israel. In the 1920's, our ally Britain was quite blunt about oil being the main reason it was occupying Iraq. To think the U.S. meddles in the affairs of other countries to unselfishly "liberate" them is totally naive - but that's what the government tells its citizens and soldiers. The very fact that the U.S. is quite selective in choosing which tyrannical countries to oppose ought to tell you something.
 
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I just wanted to let you know that I used some things that you said in this post in one of my entries. I'm doing a research paper on democracy in Iraq and whether it will work. I would also like to know if it's ok if I possibly quote you in my paper and on the web page we are going to make from our topics when we are done.
 
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This is one of the most intetesting blogs I've seen. From a British prespective it is sad to see the knee-jerk reaction of many Americans to criticism. The standard response is that this is being anti-American, as if that by itself were a crime.
The British have acknowledged that we invaded Iraq (with the US)based on a lie. There are many poential "real" reasons why the invasion happened, from Bush needing a ratings boost, a desire to unseat Saddam, to secure oil etc. etc. None of them are justifiable.
It set an international precedant that if we do not like (despise) an incumbent we have the right to walk in and do what we like. To invade without a clear UN mandate was wrong.
 
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