Monday, January 17, 2005

 

Control & Feedback


[Human society is so complex that sometimes one has to go back to basics to understand some of the dynamics, at the risk of over-simplification.]

In any control system, it is an elementary requirement that there should be some feedback for stability to be possible. Furthermore, this feedback has to be “negative”. Ask any mathematician, physician, engineer or biologist!

In simple terms, if your car moves too far to the right, you steer it slightly to the left. Right? Your eyes give you feedback and your brain decides how much correction is needed!

In a good control system, when there is no negative feedback, that indicates that the status is fine. This is the secret why people holding public office hate negative feedback.

This is also why democracy as a system of government has been more successful than other systems. Free speech, demonstrations, dissent, opinion polls, elections and media are all instruments of feedback (and sometimes of control too!).

Elections are of course the final tool, where the people can change the driver(s)… non-violently.

It would be difficult to over-emphasize the importance of the mass media as a feedback and a feedback-forming instrument. Rational people need data, information and other opinions in order to form their own opinion.

In practice, there are enormous complications to this simplistic picture and there are of course numerous channels that try to control this feedback. Political machinations, vested interests, media-controllers, are only a few examples of what are basically attempts to control the control system. Some of these tools have become rather sophisticated (sometimes to the extent of becoming almost invisible) in some developed societies.

It is also a feature of totalitarian systems that the “negative” feedback channel is severed. All factors that may lead to the generation of large feedback signals are carefully monitored and frequently oppressively filtered or blocked, sometimes using raw, brutal force. Numerous methods have been used over many centuries.

These practices can also be found in some democracies, but to a much less visible, and a much more subtle, extent. Society has also introduced many other tools such as debates, time-delays and “shock absorbers” to make the control process smoother and less disruptive.

***


What characterizes the attempts of the US administration in controlling Iraqi politics, implementing democracy and securing stability… is the almost total disregard or any negative feedback. They have always sought (and sometimes amplified) only positive feedback. Negative feedback was generally ignored and sometimes filtered out. This task is also assisted (wittingly or unwittingly) by many American super-patriots.

The result was that the enormous difference between the prevailing state and the desired state by the entity being controlled (ie the people) became so large only a few months after the invasion. It was ignored. The result was a total collapse of the control system! It went out with a bang.

So a hammer is being used instead of tuning the system.

The same thing is happening now with the elections. More and more individuals are coming out trying to convince the administration that the process will fail. Many of these are people who fully cooperated with the US administration for the past two years at least.

However, they are being ignored because their feedback is negative. The decision has been taken and the commitment has been made to go ahead with the elections regardless of any feedback.

No control system can be stable without negative feedback.


Comments:

Abu ,
In a very mechanical sense I agree with you about the value of Negative feedback . In human relations I prefer to think that " constructive criticism " is what works best to affect positive change .
The reason why I read these blogs , is to get some positive news out of Iraq , God knows we get enough negative news from the Media , everyday .
You wrote :"Elections are of course the final tool, where the people can change the driver(s)… non-violently."
I agree ! I think the only way the elections will fail is if the Iraqi people are scared away from the polls by those who do not want to see a free Iraq . I have no illusion that the elections will cure all of the problems in Iraq , but they will send a message , a positive message , that there are those in Iraq who want a chance to change their country peacefully .
Remember Abu , you also need Positive feedback .
 
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Mr. Khaleel,

Some good points as usual.

But won't the upcoming elections have any positive value? Won't they be a good thing even if they are not perfect?

It seems to me that just the process itself - the fact that the planned elections actually take place - will provide a legal and cultural foundation for the future. It will be a first step.

The process of elections IS the tuning device you speak of. Currently there is no tuning device. Only bombs and coercion.

Even if a majority of sunnis don't cast votes, does it really mean that in a broad sense the elections are not democratic? In the recent US elections, significantly less that half of US citizens cast votes. The results were split down the middle meaning less than 25% of US citizens voted for Bush. This happens in every single election. Does this somehow mean that 75% of country will be oppressed and no longer lives in a democracy?

An election will build precedent and establish tradition. This is a positive thing. Once the 'tuning' process is established, then the particular players in the democratic process become subject to the rules of the process.

"The same thing is happening now with the elections. More and more individuals are coming out trying to convince the administration that the process will fail. Many of these are people who fully cooperated with the US administration for the past two years at least."

Please define 'fail.' If you mean that elections at the end of the month will not represent a perfect domocratic process wherein every individual will directly have the opportunity for their particular agenda to be implemented, you are correct. But by those standards, there are no 'democratic' countries anywhere, nor will there ever be.

"they are being ignored because their feedback is negative. The decision has been taken and the commitment has been made to go ahead with the elections regardless of any feedback."

Sometimes its better to move forward in a positive direction - even if but one step - than to stand still.

If you need to go to the store, and someone slashes your tires, it does not mean that you no longer need to go to the store. It does mean that you need to change your tire.

Not having elections will alienate the majority shia, and cast doubt on the hope of any elections in the future. There is no reason to think that the terrorists/insurgency (tire slashers) will somehow decide that democracy is a good thing over the next 3-6 months. Unless of course, via VERY undemocratic such as murder and sabotage, they can escalate the violence and manipulate the electorate to support their platform(s). But that just perpetuates a spiraling cycle of violence.

I hope the Iraqi's will have patience and maintain perspective amid the noise and violence.

Good luck!
 
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From here it looks like Sistani has committed to not make a play until after the elections.

After the elections, Sistani will decide whether he will tell the Shia to join the Sunni rebellion or try to quash the rebellion, in part by getting the Americans out.

I don't think the security situation will get better over the next six months if there are no elections. The US will not be growing while the insurgency may well be better organized and more effective six months from now.

When the constitutional council asks for a withdrawal timetable and the US essentially refuses, that's when things get very interesting.
 
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More and more individuals are coming out trying to convince the administration that the process will fail.Are these individuals from across the board or are they from one segment of the population? If so, do they have a vested interest in having the process fail? Have they put forth an alternative process, a timetable, a course of action? Are these individuals willing to concede the violence may not abate even if elections are delayed?

Aren't there any proposals that could bridge the differences? Can absentee ballots be prepared for communities? Can a compromise be reached whereby a number of seats representing these communities be set aside for an election to take place on a future date?

Is there any truth to these quotes from Juan Cole?

"Sunni Arab parties' reluctance to participate may come from foreboding of Shiite victory, something to which many Sunni Arabs have not reconciled themselves."

"The tendency to blame everything on Zarqawi and a handful of foreigners is a propaganda move that suits both the Baath mukhabarat and the Bush administration." [Only 6% of those captured in Fallujah were foreign fighers.]

"the Baathists along with some Salafi (Sunni fundamentalist) allies are behind the guerrilla war,.. They want to drive the Americans out of Iraq and make a third Baath coup, putting the Shiite genie back in its bottle and restoring Sunni Arab primacy."
 
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Oxblog elaborates on the request for postponement. He links to an informative editorial by Larry Diamond in the New York Times.

Mr. Diamond favors postponment. He does write "In crises, democracy is not forged through a sudden moral conversion of warring parties to principles of freedom and the rule of law. Rather, bitter antagonists come to see a democratic accommodation as their second-best option - worse than the domination they would prefer, but better than the mutual destruction that they risk through continued strife."
 
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And when Paul Bremer leaves, that is not America listening to negative feedback?

I'm not sure what you are selling, but so far..no sale. Just because the leadership does not do exactly what you or your small group would like them to do does not mean your concerns are not being taken into account.

And as we had over here in America, the Left claimed that their message was not getting out, and that people were not listening. Problem was, we were listening...we just disagreed.

The Sunni need to get on board, or they could find themselves not only facing a Shia dominated gov't, but one that is disgusted with them, and one they have no influence in.
 
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This elections were forced on the US by Sistani as a nonviolent mean to bring the US out.

If the US had any say elections would take place in 2007 or 2008 or 2017 or 2018 (see Bremer in 2003), depending on when they had transformed the iraqi society to their own image, so that they could stay forever.

So what could the US do to foil Sistani? It's simple. Take aggressive actions to alienate great parts of the population (Falluja, next step Mossul) to make the coming government as weak as possible, and so dependant on US Force.

The crucial point here is: is the new shia-led government able to negotiate a timetable for a complete US withdrawl or not. If it is not, the government and the shia clergy will quickly loose any popular support.

On the other hand, as much as i can see, has the baath party a great hand in the strategy of the resistance. Their aim is, alongside the defeat of the US, the elimination of the shia clergy as an indepentant power base. Either in getting them depending upon the US and therefore loosing their whole credebilily or in forcing them to negotiate with the resistance and thus showing their limitations.

So, interestingly, in the question of this election the US and the resistance have common interests.

A postponing of the election would make no difference, unless Bush is is ready to negotiate with the resistance.
 
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"A postponing of the election would make no difference, unless Bush is is ready to negotiate with the resistance."

"... unless Bush is is ready to negotiate with the resistance."

"... negotiate with the resistance."

Hint, hint.
 
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I'm not sure about the above, maybe Abu can answer this:

Are the actions in Fallujah reflecting on the Shiites in any way?

Is there more popular resentment of the Shiites than there was before among Sunnis?

I really can't imagine that there is so I'd be surprised to learn differently.

If Americans believed in playing by the rules, they would leave when Sistani asks. But there are so many things that would have happened if the Americans believed in playing by the rules - Sanctions would have ended in the 1990s, there would have been no invasion and a lot of things in other countries.

The Americans are not going to play by the rules and Sistani will have his proof when he asks the Americans to leave and they don't.

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/outrage?pid=2132

Only if Sistani plays that situation very poorly will the Americans demonstrating that they were lying all along result in more hatred of him, even though Sistani will look mighty stupid for giving the Americans as much leeway as he did.

More likely he will do the sensible thing and at least start mass demonstrations and make Iraq a place the US forces cannot stay in cheaply.

Then we'll see exactly how much money and lives George Bush is willing to pay to eventually install a puppet regime in Iraq.

When Sistani asks the Americans to leave and the Americans don't - which is pretty much what will happen if Sistani's party wins - foreign nations at that point have every right to support the Iraqis. Not behind the scenes with deniability like today, but openly and using the more efficient official government apparatuses in unlimited amounts.

Obviously false election results, where Allawi ekes out a slim victory and asks the Americans to stay may be better for the Americans, and the Americans can make that happen. But Sistani and the Shiites would not be part of that government. That scenario avoids America technically legally being in the wrong and thereby avoids unlimited arms for the rebels. I think that is the most likely outcome, because that is what is best for the Americans and the Americans are the occupiers here.

Sunnis being prevented from voting given that the Shiites will likely vote as a bloc makes the false elections results marginally harder to accomplish, so the resistance is doing the right thing to some degree. I'm not 100% sure it is the best strategy but it's something. It's better than just watching the Americans install their own pro-American Saddam Hussein.
 
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Dear Mr. Abu Khaleel:

I realy think this is the sole feedback that Americans is capable to understand.

Al-Fallujah.

Al-Fallujah resident, outraged at loss of his home, shoots two US soldiers to death before American troops gun him down.

Two US soldiers were killed in al-Fallujah at 9:15am Tuesday morning by an outraged Iraqi citizen who had returned to the city and found that his home had been totally demolished.

A neighbor of Mr. Ahmad Hudayb, who was gunned down by US occupation troops after shooting two of them, said “Shaykh Ahmad Hudayb, may God rest his soul, returned to his house in the ad-Dubbat neighborhood in the east of al-Fallujah and found it totally destroyed. He started to cry, and to think of his house as a sacrifice for which God might reward him, and he called American soldiers over to talk to them about what happened to his house and why it was demolished.”

The neighbor went on, “Two of the soldiers were sitting in a house next door to Shaykh Hudayb’s but they arrogantly ignored him and didn’t even glance at him. He appealed to them again and again, wanting to ask them about how he might get compensation, how much it might be, and when he might get it. But one of the soldiers only screamed in his face and told him to get out into the street.”

“Then suddenly,” the neighbor continued, “we saw Shaykh Ahmad running at the soldiers and we thought he was going to have words with them after they had refused to come up to him and talk. But as soon as he got near them, he saw one of the soldier’s guns lying on the ground about five meters away from them. He snatched it up and fired off 30 rounds into the heads of the two Americans, killing them instantly. Then a bunch of soldiers who had been standing in a nearby street came running in and shot him to death.”


Is sad, but true. Since the genocide of the Amerindians, it is impossible to watever country to make a truce with the Americans, because their Government are betrayal by the very nature of their Capitalism.

It were be possible to make a truce with Hitler and the most "zombi"-Germam" people? It is be possible to made a truce with Bush and the most "zombi"-American people?

Sistany thought he make some truce, with the elections. He thougt it was possible to expel the occupiers by elections under the very boots of the occupiers. The Shia will win and ask the occupiers to leave the country. But the Americans attack Fallujah in order to promote caos, civil war, and be sure they will stay to "pacify the country", what means stole the oil, protect Israel and establish a base to attack Iran.

What feedback this situation needs? Mr. Ahmad Hudayb told his feedback. The Americans, of course, smiled and told him he was a fool. Then, Mr. Ahmad Hudayb told his feedback again, commiting suicide against Americans troops, killing two and being killed by the others.

And, after reading this, the "zombi"-Americans will say: Alvaro Frota is a terrorist! OHW!

Of course, I know it is an over-generalization. There are many Americans, the "non-zombi" ones, the human beings, those who don't see the world as a TV Cartoon of Mr. America. These Americans will understand my words.

Bests regards to all.

Alvaro Frota
 
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Just to make sure everyone understands why the US will not tolerate a democratic Iraq, let's imagine what a democratic Iraq would look like from America's point of view:

A democratic Iraq would have an embassy in Beirut. At some point a representative from Hezbollah will walk into that embassy and ask if the Iraqis can give them any support.

Statistically speaking, the Iraqi that Hezbollah's representative speaks to will have personally lost an immediate family member to the sanctions, that the Americans claimed were aimed at forcing Iraq to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction. The fact that the Americans hate Hezbollah will certainly *NOT* make the Iraqi less likely to give them the support Hezbollah asks for.

A democratic Iraq would have an embassy in Saudi Arabia. At some point someone is going to walk into that embassy with a plan to overthrow the monarchy. That person will ask will Iraq immediately recognize our new government.

Statistically speaking, the Iraqi in the embassy will know someone who was killed by American bombing, from planes that took off from Saudi Arabia with the permission of the monarchy. The Iraqi will know that basing US soldiers who killed the Iraqi's family or friend was not popular with the Saudi people but was imposed by the monarchy with the support of the CIA. That Iraqi has a very good chance of asking is there anything else Iraq can do to help.

All contracts put in place by the occupation government will be voidable by the legitimate Iraqi government. The Iraqi people will decide who should profit from those contracts, the Americans or the French, Germans, Russians and Chinese. If any of the people making that decision have ties to Fallujah, we know how that decision will turn out.

An anti-American democratic Iraq, aligning itself with the anti-American camp of Iran and Syria against the undemocratic pro-American camp of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Jordan, Egypt and Israel is in no way better for America than Iraq under Saddam Hussein, but that is likely to be what happens.

It seems some people have this mystical belief that Americans support democracy regardless of the outcome. That is a pathetically silly belief.

The Americans _cannot_ leave Iraq. So if a democratic Iraq would ask the Americans to leave, the Americans either have to be able to ignore the request or Iraq cannot be a democracy.

So what happens if the US does not fix the elections?

Sistani asks for the timetable, the US replies that it may be able to draw down the last troops by 2009.

Sistani says that's not acceptable, and asks for a plan removing all but 30,000 troops by the next election.

The US says that's impossible.

Sistani says the troops are here illegally and asks if Iraq has any friends who can help us remove them. Iran and Syria may become very friendly at this point. China and Europe, while not as friendly will not be the enemies of the Iraqi people.

Elections that can be won by Sistani's party are a complete nightmare scenario for the Americans, no matter what happens after.

If America is not able to fabricate the election results, we will definitely see the postponement some are asking for.
 
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Will Sistani, the man who so far seems to have completely negotiated the Americans into a corner be able to negotiate an arrangment that most Sunnis can live with?

I would bet yes.

Is Sistani really secretly a collaborator who has been bought off by the Americans?

I really don't know. We'll all know for sure when we see how he reacts to the American offer to maybe remove the troops by 2009.
 
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"In simple terms, if your car moves too far to the right, you steer it slightly to the left. Right? Your eyes give you feedback and your brain decides how much correction is needed!"
Aha! Analogy time!
The Bushmobile is hurtling down the Ey Rack highway, going to wherever it’s going. (There’s still disagreement about that: Mrs Great American Public, in the passenger seat, thinks they’re heading for Freedom and Democracyville, where there’s a MacDonalds on every corner. But some say that spooky little Mr Neocon, navigating from the back seat, is really aiming for Hegemony City, by way of Submissive Client State.)
Anyway, ole George is driving, singin’ folk songs at the wheel.
("Freedom’s jus another word for nuthin’ left to lose,
"Nuthin’ ain’t worth nuthin’ but it’s free ...")
Thing is, he’s driving really erratically, scaring the pants off his passengers and other motorists. The reason is obvious: he thinks he’s a great driver, so his feedback mechanism doesn’t let through the negative inputs (corner ahead, drifting off the road) until it’s almost too late. And then he over-corrects (Iran next) or blames his tyres (a few bad apples.)
Plus, he needs to stop soon for a tankful of Unleaded lo-octane Elections. But the gas station on this highway only stocks Leaded Insurgency Super, which will ruin his valves.
Uncle Powell and Auntie Garner done tole him ‘fore he started, git some Elections in yer tank, soon as. But George knew better.
This car’s gunna crash, nuthin’ surer.
Circular
 
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It seems most of the people posting here base their conclusions on assumptions that represent an extreme interpretation of events. In fact, they are not based on events at all. The assumptions stem from previously swallowed conspiracy theories that the posters are unwilling/unable to challenge critically.

Alvaro is the most far gone. I would ask him respectfully to conduct an exercise. Go back to your 'iraq-war' website and count up all of the US casualties, destroyed US armored vehicles, planes, etc., and give us some totals. Go back to March 2003 and start counting.

His totals will represent about half the US worldwide armed forces. According to Alvaro, the US has lost more troops and equipment than we did fighting the Japanese in WWII.

It seems to me that a reasonable person could draw the conclusion that since his 'reliable sources' are deliberately lying through their teeth in order to manipulate their respective readers' opinions, that the conclusions one would draw from those sources are hogwash. But hey - that's just me.

While most of the rest of you have far more intellectual dexterity than our friend Alvaro, you still seemed trapped in a 'circular' discourse that does not allow you to question your basic assumptions.

But the truth is, we all 'reason' and connect the dots based upon the reference points we accept as facts.

I will now present a few of my hard wired assumptions:

US/coalition invaded Iraq to verify and enforce compliance with UNSC resolutions that unanimously condemned Saddam for massive human rights violations, support for terrorism, failure to fully disarm as required by cease fire agreements, etc. Try readin the resolutions.

Saddam had a pretty lousy record. UN sanctions weren't working because they did not hurt him. Inspections were not reliable because it had been proven during the 90's that Saddam could easily deceive the inspectors. An example is that 4 years of on the ground inspections failed to identify his active bioweapons programs. It was just dumb luck that his son in law defected and spilled the beans in 95/96. So Bush knew, and even the French FM admitted just prior to war, that Saddam could NEVER be trusted (check out stephanopolous? interview with de villepain prior to war).

So, if faulty inspections regime were to "complete" its work, and leave a nasty Saddam in power with no sanctions, the world would have trouble on its hands for decades to come. Based on Saddam's record, risks to that vital region (read "oil" and "islamic terrorists") and world, Saddam had to go.

In a post 9/11 environment, US reassessed threats from rogue regimes and decided that setting a few obvious examples would in fact reduce the likelihood of having to use violence and military force in future to get rogue regimes to conform to internationally accepted standards of conduct. The UN should not be ignored or else...

If the civilized world had stood shoulder to shoulder and sent a clear message to rogue leaders (even the crazy ones aren't stupid), the Saddam's of the world would toe the line.

Alas, cynical self interest divided the civilized world and no clear message was sent. As it turns out, it was just the opposite. Saddam was pretty sure up until the end that the US would not attack.

So US invaded. Here come the conspiracy theorists: "Its all about oil stupid. US wants to steal the oil stupid and rape the girls." First of all, the US doesn't have a habit of stealing. US is happy to buy. This whole conspiracy theory crashes to the ground when it becomes clear that if it was just about oil, US would have used its evil power to remove sanctions and make deals with Saddam to increase supply = lower oil cost.

What say you conspiracy theorists?!? Isn't that the crux of your argument? Why didn't the US just use its power to coopt Saddam if all we wanted was oil?

This alone begins to erode the foundation upon which all of your arguments are based.

The simple fact is that the US invaded to overthrow a rogue regime that: threatened a region the entire world depended upon, had links to terrorists and openly sponsored suicide bombers that escalated violence in ME, which in turn increased islamic terrorist threats against US, provided an example to other baddies around the world that no one would hold them to account.

Most people would make the point that the invasion/occupation haven't gone smoothly. They are right. Not only are their preconceptions about the definition of "smooth" flawed when it comes to occupying another country, but in fact lots of mistakes have been made.

Was it a mistake to disband the sunni/baathist dominated security infrastructure? Maybe. It certainly made it difficult to maintain security. Imagine, 100000+ soldiers to secure all of Iraq when cities like NY, Chicago, etc., have more dedicated 'police' than we had soldiers in all of iraq. Would there have been downside to leaving baathist security in place? Probably. The vast majority in Iraq (shia/Kurd) would have probably rejected this immediately. The world would have said that the oppressive regime was still in place. Which is worse? I don't know.

Are soldiers who don't speak the language/understand culture going to make tragic mistakes? Sure. But it doesn't follow that those mistakes represent the intention of the overall operation as many would claim.

Is the goal of the US to establish a prosperous democracy in Iraq that will serve as example to region? I believe so. Doesn't it make sense?

All this talk of puppet regimes and imperfect democracy seems deliberately misguided. As I stated in previous posts, establishing the process of democracy is more important than the superficial and transient agents currently participating. If the process can be established, then Iraq will be on the road to democracy.

What if fanatics take power through populist support and proceed to dismantle the foundations of democracy, rule of majority, rights of minority, etc.? Well then my friends, it's no longer a democracy.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM I HAVE is that I do not know what is being communicated to Iraqi's. Please advise us Mr. Khaleel. Have US officials, Iraqi officials, etc., made attempts to clarify what the overall purpose of establishing a democratic system in Iraq would be? Do Iraqi's agree in principle? Or do most simply want to fight for their tribe to be dominant over the rest?

Sorry for my ramblings everyone.
 
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I think most of the people screaming from the back seat wanted the car left in Tyranny Town.
 
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To Charles:

What if fanatics take power through populist support and proceed to dismantle the foundations of democracy, rule of majority, rights of minority, etc.? Well then my friends, it's no longer a democracy.

You are meaning USA, aren't you?

It seems to me that a reasonable person could draw the conclusion that since his 'reliable sources' are deliberately lying through their teeth in order to manipulate their respective readers' opinions, that the conclusions one would draw from those sources are hogwash. But hey - that's just me.

As you are an American that see the world as a TV Cartoom of Mr. America, you are incapable to learn nothing about your own History in Vietnam. Whem the Communists defeated the American Military, the official causality amount is about 6.000. But it turned to be 56.000...

You buy all the lies your corporate media tells you as "facts". The real facts, to you, is only "conspiracy theories"...

Because too people of USA is like you, the only solution to the Iraqis is to kill as much American troops as they can, in order to defeat the occupiers.

And, as Iraqi Resistance is capable to do this, they are capable to form a Government that will bring security to the country.

Iraqi Resistance has nothing to do with the gangs of criminals. For example, The "Star From Mossul" girl reported that the criminals that abduced a relative of her speaking in Kurdish... Most of these criminals are being paid for CIA in order to establish a "psychological warfare".

With Iraqi Resistance Government, these criminals will go to jail. And American Troops will go HOME.
 
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I think most of the people screaming from the back seat wanted the car left in Tyranny Town.

You are meaning USA, aren't you?
 
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Is the goal of the US to establish a prosperous democracy in Iraq that will serve as example to region? I believe so. Doesn't it make sense?

All this talk of puppet regimes and imperfect democracy seems deliberately misguided. As I stated in previous posts, establishing the process of democracy is more important than the superficial and transient agents currently participating. If the process can be established, then Iraq will be on the road to democracy.
Hmmm. The road to democracy.

It seem as if what you're saying is that Iraq should remain lead by a US-installed leadership whose priorities and decisions are not consistent with the views of the population (but you don't like the term puppet).

And after some undefined amount of time living under this US-installed undemocratic leadership, Iraq will become more democratic.

In that case, Saddam Hussein was already leading Iraq down the road to democracy. Mubarak, Musharaf, Hussein of Jordan, the Saud family, Stalin, Hilter all leading their nations down the road to democracy.

Some of us disagree with that conception of democracy. If a government does not reflect the population today, the government is not a democracy today. Promises to be a democracy at some undefined point in the future are worthless.

You may actually believe you want Iraq to be a democracy some day far in the future, but just as likely, you are lying.

You have a vision of what the Middle East should look like that is at odds with what the people of the region want. There is no way to reconcile imposing your foreign vision with democracy.

You're lying either on purpose or by accident.
 
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"It seem as if what you're saying is that Iraq should remain lead by a US-installed leadership whose priorities and decisions are not consistent with the views of the population (but you don't like the term puppet)."

Where did I ever say that? I'm all in favor of Iraqi's voting for whomever they want as long as that person or party is committed to a democratic system.

"And after some undefined amount of time living under this US-installed undemocratic leadership, Iraq will become more democratic."

Well, since your first premise was wrong, your conclusion is wrong.

"In that case, Saddam Hussein was already leading Iraq down the road to democracy. Mubarak, Musharaf, Hussein of Jordan, the Saud family, Stalin, Hilter all leading their nations down the road to democracy."

What is anon talking about? Or were/are all of the people mentioned above committed to democratic forms of government?

"Some of us disagree with that conception of democracy."

Which one? What are you talking about?

"If a government does not reflect the population today, the government is not a democracy today. Promises to be a democracy at some undefined point in the future are worthless."

Well anon, if people choose not to vote then its unlikely the results will reflect their interests. Democracy is not just an election or referendum, it is a process committed to the election of officials who represent the will of the minority while respecting the rights of the minority under the rule of law. Its the process that counts.

"You may actually believe you want Iraq to be a democracy some day far in the future, but just as likely, you are lying."

Why would you say such a thing?

"You have a vision of what the Middle East should look like that is at odds with what the people of the region want. There is no way to reconcile imposing your foreign vision with democracy."

So citizens of middle eastern countries want to be ruled by dictators? Are they not capable of ruling themselves?

"You're lying either on purpose or by accident."

Maybe you just don't understand the concept of democracy? i'm not putting you down. As I understand it, democracy is not something widely taught or espoused in middle eastern schools.
 
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OK Charles, let's go back over this slowly.

You listed all the reasons, the US just had to invade Iraq - threatening other states, trying to get weapons of mass destruction, supporting terrorists in Palestine.

Problem is that a democracy could well do all these things. These aren't things that were necessarily unpopular with the people being ruled. Several of these things are things the people of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would be doing right now if they were not ruled by unpopular US-supported dictators.

If the US cannot tolerate these things, then it is simple, the US cannot tolerate democracy for Iraq. Or Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Emirates for that matter.

That is why claims to support democracy coming from supporters of invading Iraq ring hollow.

That is why opponents of the invasion believe the US intends to install puppet leadership on Iraq. Because the things you think are worth invading for are things only a US puppet government would reliably refrain from.

I thought you were arguing that complaining about puppet leaders was deliberately misguided as long as Iraq was on the road to democracy.

Any nation can claim to be on the road to democracy, with a temporary dictatorship. If that is acceptable for Iraq, dictatorship was no reason to remove Saddam Hussein.

If you want a government that will not do all of the evil things you accuse Hussein of doing, you do not want a democracy. If you don't want a democracy but you claim you are arguing for democracy, you are lying.

Your only credit is that you've probably successfully lied to yourself first, and can now lie to us with a clean conscience.
 
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This is not a fight between people who want democracy and people who do not want democracy.

This is a fight between people who want Iraq to be able to do things the population supports - such as build a military that certain Israeli US allies consider threatening, support the people you consider terrorists but they consider freedom fighters against the people you consider reasonable but who they consider terrorists, threaten the other corrupt, unpopular US-supported dictators in the region, use what control of oil they have to advance their own geopolitical agendas instead of the US' - and people who want Iraq to be unable to do those things.

You, Charles, for all your propaganda about democracy that you may or may not believe yourself, are fighting for an Iraq that cannot challenge the US, the US' Israeli allies, and the other stooge states maintained by the US.

What you are fighting for is completely inconsistent with democracy.

The invasion was not to create a democracy. The invasion was to create an Iraq that will not challenge the US or the US' Israeli allies.

If the Iraqi people succeed in creating a democracy, which I truly hope happens, it will be despite every effort by the US. And that democracy will be strategically worse for the United States and its Israeli allies than Saddam Hussein was.

And believers and purveyors of US propaganda, such as yourself, will demonize that government and at some point you probably call for more sanctions or another invasion of Iraq.
 
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On Sistani --

Sistani is undoubtably a very intelligent man. His political savvy and timing is impeccable. But he is a wild card. The question everybody wants to know is: has he joined Allawi et al in Bush's pocket where they can put on an impromptu puppet show, or is he playing a Trojan horse game where he suddenly wins and stabs the victorious puppeteer in the hand? The real test will be whether he sees IRAQI or SHIA interests as being the most important to him and his party ... and whether he sees these two concepts as the same or interdependent. It is not too late I believe, for a figure of stature like himself, to draw together all Iraqis in a multilateral fashion and to form a truly national consensus. The question is: will he want to?

"We'll all know for sure when we see how he reacts to the American offer to maybe remove the troops by 2009."

Indeed.



circular --

"Plus, he needs to stop soon for a tankful of Unleaded lo-octane Elections. But the gas station on this highway only stocks Leaded Insurgency Super, which will ruin his valves."

Circular, you crack me up. You may go ahead and pat yourself on the back.



Charles --

I would like to point out some alternative explanations to your 'hardwired' notions.

(1) The UN did indeed condemn Saddam of his human rights record. HOWEVER, as I have repeatedly pointed out in the past (and you would do well to read the exchange that TallDave and I had on the “The Other Side of the Story” thread) the UN did *not * authorize the US to either invade Iraq to rectify the situation nor to topple Saddam. Legally speaking, the UN was the sole holder of all the treaties signed with Iraq; the US as a subordinate country is unable legally to simply interpret these resolutions as it wishes and act accordingly. Enforcing compliance to resolutions was up to the UN, not US.

Related to this is this assertion by yourself, which lays a framework for justifying the invasion:

Charles : “Inspections were not reliable because it had been proven during the 90's that Saddam could easily deceive the inspectors. An example is that 4 years of on the ground inspections failed to identify his active bioweapons programs.”

The implications here are profound. Firstly, you are stating that unilateral opinions of individual countries of a world body are superior to consensus decisions. Secondly you are erroneously propagating the myth of an active bioweapons program, and hidden stockpiles; whereas we now know that Saddam’s double game was to destroy the weapons as stipulated and hint to potentially deadly neighbours (read Iran) that he still possessed these weapons. Reality check: there were no weapons to be found, and the ‘active bioweapons program’ consisted of a couple of test tubes forgotten inside an Iraqi scientist’s home fridge.

I don’t contest the fact that Saddam was deceitful. I do contest that that deceit forms an acceptable basis to invade and destroy another country. Consider: Bush has also been responsible for trying to deceive the world about the state of the Iraqi weapons program … resulting in a river of blood being spilled … does this then lay out an acceptable casus belli for the invasion of the United States with the aim of deposing and hanging Bush and his neocon pals? What do you think?

I do agree that Saddam had to go. I certainly do not agree with the methods nor the manner in which this was accomplished, which may well be far worse for the region than the containment option was. For example, Iran is hinting that the precedent set by the US in its policy of preemptive strikes might be used to excuse similar actions by itself.

(2) Your explanations regarding the fake oil motive for the invasion are good … but incorrect. Assuming that access to oil is all that the US wanted, I would have to agree with you.

However, access is not the problem. CONTROL is the problem. And – the answer to this question:

Charles:
” Why didn't the US just use its power to coopt Saddam if all we wanted was oil?”

The answer being:
Charles:” So Bush knew, and even the French FM admitted just prior to war, that Saddam could NEVER be trusted”

You need *trusty* footstools forming your oily base for global domination, not lackeys who might get delusions of grandeur and let you slip at the most inappropriate times!

Given the extreme reliance on oil of the US’s main emerging competitors in the far East and elsewhere, having a hand on the spigot of the oil flow is an incredibly powerful leverage to have. If China for example had to step out of line a little, a sharp spike in the oil price timed to the offensive actions would send a powerful message as to the consequences of defiance of the US would be. Not only would the money and risk of military action be avoided and saved through the employment of petroleum control, but favourable economic conditions for US companies could be created via the use of supplying cheaper oil to countries that toe the line and more expensive / go slow oil to countries less favoured. My point is that the CONTROL of the oil is more important than the cheap access to it, by far.

This is in keeping with previous US actions undertaken in order to ensure influence over the oil flow in the Middle East, and in keeping with the neocon types who want to ensure US supremacy in the coming century at all costs. Finally, to finish off this piece, remember that the companies supposed to be developing the Iraqi oilfields at the moment are American, and that they do not work for free. Coupled to the fees for ‘development’ might well be a profit sharing arrangement like BP (if I recall correctly) had in the early 1950’s with Iran, where the Iranians only received 25% of the profits from their own oil.

Quite frankly, it is not a silly ‘conspiracy’, it has been stated outright by both US presidents and through influential news outlets (over a long period of time) that the US has put dibs on the Middle East. The neocons are merely shifting this policy up a gear.

(As an aside, it is interesting to note the relative lack of enthusiasm the US has in promoting democracy and intervening in, say, central Africa, where much could be done at much less cost, than in the Middle East. If the oil in the Middle East suddenly, magically dried up overnight, Americans would be falling over each other in the stampede to get out.)

Charles, I wish that you would realize that democracies can be controlled and later subverted if that democracy “gets out of hand.” Look to Egypt and Algeria and Chile for examples. Iraqis rightly are suspicious of democracy imported by a violent, uncaring invader with some VERY vested interests in who finally runs Iraq. If one looks to Afghanistan precisely this happened – that under the guise of ‘democracy’ the US’s chosen stooge went up against a motley collection of unknowns and through the backing of his sponsors, won a presidency. I predict that in ten years Karzai will still be in power, and that the country will be a dictatorship, and that everybody will have forgotten the overwhelming importance for a democracy in Afghanistan because the US will no longer be interested in changing the status quo. I honestly hope that I am wrong and that the Evil US Empire ™ does not behave to form; God knows I doubt it though.

( Important Point of Interest: Most Middle Easterners do not seem to be at great odds with American values, from the polls I have seen. But they *are* very anti US. WHY ? Could it possibly be that America does not act abroad in accordance with the values it espouses at home? Could it be that these people are intelligent enough to discern the difference between rhetoric and action ? It is all very well for the US to lecture Arabs et al on democracy and its importance … but these words become somewhat hollow when one realizes that the US is supporting the same dictatorships it preaches against. )


Anonymous --

I agree with your sentiment that a truly democratic Iraq would probably be worse for US policy than one under Saddam; this is one of the reasons why I view these elections with skepticism. More smoke and mirrors is what they are, unfortunately.
 
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Bruno,

This is anonymous 1209, 929, 1027, 1037, 431, 1025 and 1125.

I'll come up with a name at some point.

Anyway we agree that Sistani is the wildcard. He's smart enough that he seems to have outplayed George W. Bush.

Maybe he's a genius, maybe he's just less of an idiot than George W. Bush.

I'm really nervous and worried about him. I will be very disappointed if it turns out he is a collaborator. But the day that everything becomes clear is coming soon and Sistani has never taken any action to delay that day, which he could have. I'm nervous but I have to say that right now I'm optimistic.

Charles agrees that Iraq just complying with the inspections and having the sanctions lifted with Hussein still in power would not have been an acceptable outcome for him. Bush feels the same way. Clinton felt the same way.

Given that it is unanimous that the Americans wanted more than Saddam was legally required to give, I think it is letting the Americans off too easy to claim Iraq was lying to trick Iran. I think the sanctions story can be explained by assuming that the party that was lying is the party that everyone agrees had the most incentive to lie. The US.

The simple truth, it seems to me, is that Saddam did not have to leave power according to the rules, so if the game was played according to the rules, Saddam would have won.

So the US cheated. Made the inspections as difficult to cooperate with as possible, even to the point of inviting Mossad agents onto the team, then kept making up new requirements.

I have not seen good evidence that Saddam was trying to fool the Iranians and I don't think it adds to the story. The Iraqi ambassador told the UN that the hand cannot give what the hand does not have. He was telling the truth. He had no reason to lie.

Anyway, this invasion with luck just might result in the disaster scenario for the US. A democratic unified stable Iraq. I'm hopeful. Sistani has good cards because he can may more than triple the resistance in a short time after the elections. It would be real hard for Bush to stay under those circumstances.

I marvel at people like Charles who don't realize when they call for a democracy to serve as an example for the dictatorships is that most of the dictatorships in that region are _MUCH_ more cooperative with the US than the populations want.

For example, as I write this, the US is shipping Muslims to Jordan so that the Jordanians can torture those Muslims without the CIA violating US Law. Do you think the Jordanians would vote for that?

A democratic Iraq will put pressure on Saudi Arabia to democratize. That is a disaster for America because a democratic Saudi Arabia would be in any camp but the American camp. It would put pressure on Egypt. A democratic Egypt would be a disaster for America and America's Israeli regional allies.

I hope that the complete ineptitude of George W. Bush produces this long term result that would be very good for the Middle East and very bad for America. There are people in the State Department right now trying very hard to make sure it does not happen that way.

I've said before that the US would rather see a civil war than a democratic Iraq. We'll see how the cards fall.

Its a nervous time. I hope it all works out.
 
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@ Anon

"OK Charles, let's go back over this slowly."

I'm ready.

"Problem is that a democracy could well do all these things. These aren't things that were necessarily unpopular with the people being ruled. Several of these things are things the people of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would be doing right now if they were not ruled by unpopular US-supported dictators."

Perhaps. But I think you confuse 'pent up populist outbursts based on socially engineered hatred' with 'responsible democracy.' It will take time I agree. I suppose the pendulum must swing both ways to maintain equilibrium so the short term outlook is risky. But I would take a longer view. Even if the pent up emotions of anti-americanism that has been fostered by these rulers in order to distract attention from their own inadequacies must be vented, it will blow over. They will grow up. Overtly government sponsored TV will not brainwash kids into dreaming of martyrdom. Covertly sponsored satellite channels will have competition.

Have you checked out the arab stations?!? It's ludicrous what they purvey as news. The editors of the opinion sections are really something!

On the bright side, I see a democratic Iraq providing much more positive and legitimate influence on the critical Isreali/Palestinian issue. Removing people like Saddam who sponsored the fruitless escalation of violence that BREEDs rabid anti-americanism will reduce the momentum of radicalism. Iraq will be listened to. The USA will be obliged to listen and the Palestinian cause will move forward. The likes of Ghandi and MLK were much more effective than the brainwashed kids who blow themselves up in Isreali mass transport (but what a show for the locals - together with saddam writing checks).

Getting rid of people like Saddam will help get rid of support for the diehards who under no circumstances would accept peace with Isreal. It will break or at least hinder deliberate escalation of violence which is the goal of the terrorists. Arafat's passing is also a potential boon. US wants this issue solved not just for some isreali illuminati conspiracy, but because it directly impacts the security of the US and is a (the?) major crux of ME tensions.

"If the US cannot tolerate these things, then it is simple, the US cannot tolerate democracy for Iraq. Or Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Emirates for that matter."

I think that the benefits of democratization and economic liberalization would tend to mitigate extremist tendencies in these countries over time. In fact I am quite confident this is the case.

Many ME countries are blessed with enormous resources which if exploited judiciously, would provide a solid base for development. I'm always amazed with countries like Finland, who don't have a bloody thing except for Santa Claus (laplandia), and they still do well.

"That is why opponents of the invasion believe the US intends to install puppet leadership on Iraq. Because the things you think are worth invading for are things only a US puppet government would reliably refrain from."

You seem to be of the school who thinks that arabs/muslims are ignorant dogs incapable of responsible leadership and participation in the world community. I haven't seen many examples of democratic countries engaged in the activities you envision, and that does not necessarily mean they are puppets of the USA.

"Any nation can claim to be on the road to democracy, with a temporary dictatorship. If that is acceptable for Iraq, dictatorship was no reason to remove Saddam Hussein."

Its not just the word "dictatorship." Don't be disingenuous. There have probably been a few benevolent dictators in history.

You keep circling back to issues we have covered. I'm all for a democracy in Iraq. If the baathists and jihadists don't demoralize them completely, the Iraqi's can make it. They seem a proud and resilient people, but I agree that very powerful and ruthless forces are doing their best to keep them cowered.

(let me save Alvaro time: "I know you are but what am I... na na na")

"If you want a government that will not do all of the evil things you accuse Hussein of doing, you do not want a democracy. If you don't want a democracy but you claim you are arguing for democracy, you are lying."

If I accepted your premise that Iraqi's are all murderous dogs, then your logic would ring true. But I disagree. Democracy is the best hope for the region (and the rest of us).

"Your only credit is that you've probably successfully lied to yourself first, and can now lie to us with a clean conscience."

Thanks for that at least.
 
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@ Anon

"This is not a fight between people who want democracy and people who do not want democracy."

Tell that to the moderates and intelligencia in Iraq who are being targeted. Tell that to the pieces of blown up civilians who were walking down the wrong street at the wrong time.

I know this whole 'partisan' insurgency thing sounds romantic, but a brief review of their methods should make a reasonable person question their good intentions. It is you sir who are naive if you attribute some mystical nobility to their cause.

"This is a fight between people who want Iraq to be able to do things the population supports - such as build a military that certain Israeli US allies consider threatening, support the people you consider terrorists but they consider freedom fighters against the people you consider reasonable but who they consider terrorists, threaten the other corrupt, unpopular US-supported dictators in the region, use what control of oil they have to advance their own geopolitical agendas instead of the US' - and people who want Iraq to be unable to do those things."

You throw a lot at me here - but I think it goes back to stuff previously covered. Your assumption is that since the arab man on the street has been worked up into a frenzy by the stuff he is fed by the government, that hatred will last forever and will deny all influence of democratic ideals/liberalization/free information. I think it will blow over. I think the Palestinian issue will be settled justly in the near future. The barriers to this are: leaders like arafat, leaders like saddam, terrorist groups who will not accept existence of Isreal under any circumstances, controlled media that manipulates the oppressed masses and focuses their hysteria externally, inability of Palestinians to form a leadership with authority to negotiate, and lack of legitimate voices in the arab world seeking to deescalate situation.

"You, Charles, for all your propaganda about democracy that you may or may not believe yourself, are fighting for an Iraq that cannot challenge the US, the US' Israeli allies, and the other stooge states maintained by the US."

Democracy and liberalization will provide a foundation for peace. Sooner or later. Less blood or more blood. The US doesn't mind being 'challenged' - its healthy. Unless you mean of course that Iraq will somehow become a democratic superpower bent on death and mayhem. Who knows - maybe...

"The invasion was not to create a democracy. The invasion was to create an Iraq that will not challenge the US or the US' Israeli allies."

The Iraqi's and other ME countries/people are not completely daft. If I read you right, you foresee that a democratic ME will try to blackmail the world with its control of the oil supply? I mean, if they really wanted to deliberately start WWIII they could, but again, I can't name any democracies that have instigated such worldwide catastrophies.

"If the Iraqi people succeed in creating a democracy, which I truly hope happens, it will be despite every effort by the US. And that democracy will be strategically worse for the United States and its Israeli allies than Saddam Hussein was."

Democracy is on the table. Its up to the Iraqi's. Even massive terrorist disruptions could not stop the process if it is what Iraqis wanted. They could toss the baathists/jihadists with concerted effort (and some serious help that is being offered), then stabilize and the US could leave.

Another benefit to getting rid of Saddam, BTW, is the fact that we would not have to maintain tens of thousands of troops in the region (Saudi Arabia) that is another root cause of anti-americanism.

"And believers and purveyors of US propaganda, such as yourself, will demonize that government and at some point you probably call for more sanctions or another invasion of Iraq."

Again - if Saddam wasn't a 'demon' then I admit I am totally wrong and the US is totally wrong. If he was, then we didn't demonize him. We just recognized him for what he was - at last - and did something the world should have applauded.
 
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Charles said:

Tell that to the pieces of blown up civilians who were walking down the wrong street at the wrong time.

Is that means it is necessary to tell that to the American troops in Tal Afar who killed the parents of six childrens in front of them? See the photos, Charles, because people like you is guilty of this war crime.

You personally is guilty. See the photos of the childrens crying, Charles, becouse you murdered their parents.

Yes, people like you, Charles, people that refuses to see the reality, these Americans are guilty of all USA's war crimes, in Iraq and around all the world.

Yes, people like you, Charles, people that by all the lies such as WMD, Iraq links with Al-Qaida, and whatever lies your corporate media tells, this kind of people is very alike German people under Hitler. You are guilty of the genocide of the Iraqi people.

And you told me "it is impossible to USA Military to hide their huge casualities". Whit such credulous and blinded people like you, Charles, yes, it is not only possible, but it is very, very easy...
 
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@ Bruno

"(1) The UN did indeed condemn Saddam of his human rights record. HOWEVER, as I have repeatedly pointed out in the past (and you would do well to read the exchange that TallDave and I had on the “The Other Side of the Story” thread) the UN did *not * authorize the US to either invade Iraq to rectify the situation nor to topple Saddam. Legally speaking, the UN was the sole holder of all the treaties signed with Iraq; the US as a subordinate country is unable legally to simply interpret these resolutions as it wishes and act accordingly. Enforcing compliance to resolutions was up to the UN, not US."

Well, since the US is the executor of those treaties, and the war clauses from res678 were directly incorporated into 1441, there are many avenues for debate. Bottom line is that the UN was not needed for military action in former yugoslavia, so its a no starter.

The implications here are profound. Firstly, you are stating that unilateral opinions of individual countries of a world body are superior to consensus decisions.

As per above. Yugoslavia was a bungled mess because the UN is dysfunctional. It was despicable. Kosovo. UNSC Russian veto. Military action anyway. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don't.

"Secondly you are erroneously propagating the myth of an active bioweapons program, and hidden stockpiles;"

Its not erroneous. You are propogating the myth that our concern about missing precursors that could have produced N tons of WMD that were never verifiably destroyed, somehow became N tons of WMD.

Saddam did this deliberately. It was a poor and costly bluff - or 'double game' - as you call it..

I don’t contest the fact that Saddam was deceitful.

Material breach of cease fire agreement! Unless you are referring to marital infidelity or something like that...

"I do contest that that deceit forms an acceptable basis to invade and destroy another country."

I guess you can join the multitudes who think that a unanimous UNSC ultimatum (last chance = NO MORE CHANCES PERIOD) was somehow mistranslated into something like last chance = a few more chances.

"Consider: Bush has also been responsible for trying to deceive the world about the state of the Iraqi weapons program …"

Who here is propagating myths?!? For all of his faults, less than superior intellect, etc., I do not doubt that Bush believed Saddam to be a threat based upon the information at his disposal. No one trusted Saddam to comply. He was forfeit. It would have been a lot cleaner if the world had joined US in overthrowing an obvious monster. Its almost ludicrous. If the world couldn't cooperate on such a clear cut case, then how can the world be expected to cooperate in dealing with other rogues?

"does this then lay out an acceptable casus belli for the invasion of the United States with the aim of deposing and hanging Bush and his neocon pals? What do you think?"

Well, it wouldn't be practical to begin with, because Bush will be out of office in a few years, but you can try. I mean, i know its the latest fad to bash USA and we are the center of evil in the universe, but i think the case might not make it past the UNSC.

"I do agree that Saddam had to go."

I'm sure another diplomatic yet forceful letter from the UN would have done the trick!

"I certainly do not agree with the methods nor the manner in which this was accomplished, which may well be far worse for the region than the containment option was."

OK - but for US, containment wasn't viable. First of all it would have meant disregarding a unanimous UNSC ultimatum (not good message for baddies of the world), second, sanctions weren't effective (which is even more evident now), third, it was one of the reasons OBL jihaded his way into the trade center (US troops on precious Saudi soil, bla bla).

"For example, Iran is hinting that the precedent set by the US in its policy of preemptive strikes might be used to excuse similar actions by itself."

As long as they are ready for the response.

"However, access is not the problem. CONTROL is the problem. ..You need *trusty* footstools forming your oily base for global domination, not lackeys who might get delusions of grandeur and let you slip at the most inappropriate times!"

So every oil producing country is a stooge of the US?!? Get serious.

"Given the extreme reliance on oil of the US’s main emerging competitors in the far East and elsewhere, having a hand on the spigot of the oil flow is an incredibly powerful leverage to have. If China for example had to step out of line a little, a sharp spike in the oil price timed to the offensive actions would send a powerful message as to the consequences of defiance of the US would be. Not only would the money and risk of military action be avoided and saved through the employment of petroleum control, but favourable economic conditions for US companies could be created via the use of supplying cheaper oil to countries that toe the line and more expensive / go slow oil to countries less favoured. My point is that the CONTROL of the oil is more important than the cheap access to it, by far."

That is a well thought out argument, and quite intricate - but alas, it fails the test. These so called puppet governments you claim we control in the ME ALREADY do not afford us such power. Why would that somehow change if we added but one more to the long list?

"Quite frankly, it is not a silly ‘conspiracy’, it has been stated outright by both US presidents and through influential news outlets (over a long period of time) that the US has put dibs on the Middle East. The neocons are merely shifting this policy up a gear."

Put 'dibs'? If you mean that we established rapid reaction forces in the 70's in the event of soviet incursion, and that we would certainly not tolerate someone turning off the faucet - then DUH.

"As an aside, it is interesting to note the relative lack of enthusiasm the US has in promoting democracy and intervening in, say, central Africa"

Common left argument. All I can say is that ME is more pressing in terms of national security - and not just because of oil. also, if we couldn't get help from the world on such an obvious case as Saddam, who would join us in Africa? Get real.

The most frustrating thing is that if the world had stood shoulder to shoulder against Saddam based on shared values, then his example would have made other baddies think thrice before causing trouble. Cynical self interest caused the world to break ranks, and we are no better off than before. Except that whole Libya thing.

"( Important Point of Interest: Most Middle Easterners do not seem to be at great odds with American values, from the polls I have seen. But they *are* very anti US. WHY ?"

Watch al jazeera. Read an arab newspaper. Hell - watch CNN! Watch the educational/documentary videos shown to palestinian children on the glories of martyrdom, etc., etc.

"Could it possibly be that America does not act abroad in accordance with the values it espouses at home?"

That's a bit over recycled. We had slavery once too! Times change.
 
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@ alvaro

We have covered the tragedy of the family that did not stop at checkpoint after being warned. It is a real tragedy.

We have covered your absurd numbers about Vietnam. Growing up in school we had teachers who had fought or known people who had fought. They told us how the names were listed every night on the news. Hundreds of names. You are not a liar, just a very ill person.

How about this:

I just heard that the blogger mesopotamian was shot dead.

I wanted to respond with witty comment about how you forgot to take your meds, but I'd rather you just go F* yourself.

You are a sick person. You are hopelessly deranged. Look in the mirror.

Your freedom fighters are bloody murderers. Period.

PS - Sorry for outburst folks. It just boggles my mind how people can be so sick as to support the murderers in Iraq.
 
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Re: Mesopotamian

Apparent false alarm. That decent person was not murdered - but several others were.

That doesn't make it any better.

I still think the methods of the 'freedom fighters' betray their true intentions and character.

Don't be fooled.
 
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Charles:
But I think you confuse 'pent up populist outbursts based on socially engineered hatred' with 'responsible democracy.'

Getting rid of people like Saddam will help get rid of support for the diehards who under no circumstances would accept peace with Isreal.

You seem to be of the school who thinks that arabs/muslims are ignorant dogs incapable of responsible leadership and participation in the world community.

If I accepted your premise that Iraqi's are all murderous dogs, then your logic would ring true.


This murderous ignorant dogs stuff is your invention.

Maybe your support of Israel derives from socially engineered hatred of Arabs. Maybe you're the dog.

I'm sure you've seen democracies acquire weapons of mass destruction. I'm sure you've seen democracies use weapons of mass destruction. I'm sure you've seen democracies invade other nations. I'm sure you've seen democracies support organizations that other people consider terrorists. You've even seen democracies give support to organizations you consider terrorists.

You say you're confident a democratic Iraq would never do any of those things?

It is very hard to believe you are being honest when you write that.

If those actions are unacceptable to you, then democracy in the Middle East is unacceptable to you. Not because the people of the Middle East are ignorant dogs or because they have been whipped into artificial hatred, but because they have a legitimate different point of view from yours.

When you are unable to accept that their point of view is legitimate, that says all that has to be said for your claims to support democracy for them. It is a lie. The good news is nobody believes you.

Your assumption is that since the arab man on the street has been worked up into a frenzy by the stuff he is fed by the government, that hatred will last forever and will deny all influence of democratic ideals/liberalization/free information. I think it will blow over.Well, Malawi and Zambia never reconciled with apartheid South Africa. When do you think that would have "blown over"?

Do you admit that you do not support democracy for Iraq and other people in the Middle East until it "blows over"?

Do you admit that if, for argument's sake, the opposition to Israel will not "blow over" you will never support democracy for Arabs?

Its one thing to disagree with the Arabs about Israel. But you go further when you assert that their opposition to Israel is somehow not real while your support for Israel is legitimate.

When you assert that, it lends support to the idea that Americans such as yourself do not see Arabs as full-fledged human beings.

It makes your talk about democracy seem not only dishonest but also paternalistic and condescending.
 
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Charles said:

We have covered the tragedy of the family that did not stop at checkpoint after being warned. It is a real tragedy.Chris Hondros, the photographer who witness these "unfortunate incident" in Tal Afar, Iraq, 20 January 2005 wrote:

It was a routine foot patrol. As we made our way up a broad boulevard, in the distance I could see a car making its way toward us. As a defence against potential car bombs, it is now standard practice for foot patrols to stop oncoming vehicles, particularly after dark.

"We have a car coming," someone called out, as we entered an intersection. We could see the car about 100 metres away. It kept coming; I could hear its engine now, a high whine that sounded more like acceleration than slowing down. It was maybe 50 yards away now. "Stop that car!" someone shouted out, seemingly simultaneously with someone firing what sounded like warning shots - a staccato measured burst.

The car continued coming. And then, perhaps less than a second later, a cacophony of fire, shots rattling off in a chaotic overlapping din. The car entered the intersection on its momentum and still shots were penetrating it and slicing it. Finally the shooting stopped, the car drifted listlessly, clearly no longer being steered, and came to a rest on a kerb. Soldiers began to approach it warily. The sound of children crying came from the car. I walked up to the car and a teenaged girl with her head covered emerged from the back, wailing and gesturing wildly. After her came a boy, tumbling on to the ground from the seat, already leaving a pool of blood
.

There was not a checkpoint. There was a foot patrol in panic (why? why?) that have standard procedure (it means orders: why? why?) to deadly shoot every car that moves to them in less than a second of the warning shoot.

Why they are in panic? Why they have these standard procedure? Perhaps because the true amount of causalities is much higher than the lies your Government and your corporate media tell you.

The parents of the children simple had not time to react. They were murdered in cold blood because the Usandals troops are too cowardly to stand Iraqi Resistance.

And, supporting these kind of action of your troops in Iraq, Charles, you become a murder too. The blood of that family is now in you hands. PeriodOf course you will say I am a sick person. It is too much guiltiness to a young person like you. But if you open your eyes, and fight in your own way against this illegal and imoral war, the guiltiness will cease.

Perhaps you are not too arrogant to see the truth, after all...
 
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Charles –


Your latest batch of statements on this thread are quite revealing. Simply put, you are making the case that the US, as ONE of the executors of UN policy vis a vis Iraq, had the right to completely distort the intent and spirit of the resolutions in concern. These resolutions, which, if you had read over that particular exchange like I had asked you to, categorically state that the territorial and national sovereignty of Iraq was to be respected. There was no clause in these treaties that ever authorized the US after 1991 to pursue an intrusive military policy versus Iraq. However, you seem to feel that it is acceptable for the US to interpret these resolutions in whichever manner it wishes.

The “ultimatum” given to Saddam was indeed that: cooperate or else. The ultimatum was delivered by the UN, the decision as to whether he was cooperating was up to the UN’s assessment, and the “or else” was also UP TO THE UN. A specific resolution for the use of force and the aims of that force was needed to form a mandate for action. By your reasoning, any country is able to decide for itself whether a UN resolution is being honoured, and take independent steps to ‘rectify’ the situation. Welcome to the wild west, gents.

Furthermore, you seem to approve of the idea that a single country can preemptively attack another in the absence of an immediate and imminent threat, with the only moral consideration being the amount of force the victim can muster to fight back, as per your Iran reply “As long as they are ready for the response.” Not to mention your response to the question as to whether deceit in a national leader is an acceptable basis for a casus belli for war, that reply being “ … you can try ” as opposed to “that would not be right.”

My conclusion? You value military muscle above other considerations, such as an international peace based on laws of consensus, and simply put, you scorn those not quick enough to leap up guns blazing to defend their interests. I must congratulate you, you have managed to essentially rubbish the entire history of human civilization, and have returned to the maxims of Attila the Hun, where might was right.

Your denial of Bush and his cronies’ deceit is equally telling, because you put partisan loyalty to a country above the truth. Feith’s office was specifically set up to gather damning data to condemn Iraq, and great efforts were made to discredit any denials of the allegations. This was not an objective assessment, it was a hatchet job. Dissenting scientists who disputed the “aluminium tubes” suitability to the enrichment process were “outvoted” to make a majority decision by uninformed twits seem like the consensus of experts; the person who discredited the Niger yellowcake assertions had his career ruined. The sole purpouse of this effort was to create an aura of fear that could be used to justify action against Iraq, no matter what had occurred in reality. That, my friend, is deceit.

And, your country never stated it was worried about a few missing precursors and was going to war on that basis – rather it made the case for existing stocks composed of hundreds of tons of chemical agents, active and hidden laboratories and production lines as well as missiles actually tipped with these agents. This was a complete lie, facilitated by *paying* the INC ‘informants’ millions of dollars to dream these fantasies up. I feel it is sad that you should even try to defend this. Any OBJECTIVE assessment of Iraqi capabilities would have resulted in these conclusions: (1) INC informants were unreliable (2) not enough was known about Iraqi abilities to make a clear cut decision (3) inspections should continue to finalise assessment of these capabilities. Powell’s perjury was simply outrageous, because it lied not only in the aspect of untrue facts, but also by omitting the fact that much of what he alleged was doubtful and / or disputed.

On the control of oil:

I never claimed that the US ‘controls’ EVERY oil producer. I claimed that it would like to control a major part of the oil flow. A case in point is the way the Saudi Arabians (those very good dictator buddies of the democracy uber alles Bush, in case you forgot) jumped to increase oil output when your dear leader requested them to. The US already has considerable leverage in the world’s premier oil producing country, and it would like more.

It is odd to note the way in which the Rapid reaction force has grown immensely in the absence of the Soviet threat; it seems like the “evil dictator” threat is greater than the combined might of the Warsaw Pact, I guess. The Carter Doctrine clearly states that the US will brook no interference in the Middle East. I guess that has been extended to include the Arabs not being allowed to control their own oil flow. I refer you to Kagan on Iraq " If we have a force in Iraq, there will be no disruption in oil supplies."

The reason that you are in the region and not, say in africa is indeed for ‘national security’ BECAUSE OF THE IMMENSE AMOUNTS OF OIL THERE. That is the reason Africa is neglected. Announce the discovery of a few hundred billion barrels of easily extractable oil in Zimbabwe, and watch how soon the plight of the starving Zimbabweans becomes a national crisis in the US necessitating any means possible to remove the evil dictator Mugabe.


On your remarks to Anonymous regarding democracy and hate:

One reason for much of the hatred of the US in the Middle East is the hypocritical way in which America claims to support democracy on one hand yet support the very same dictators it rails against on the other. “Down with dictators!”, cries the USA, while slipping a few billion in yearly aid to Egyptian dictator Mubarak with the other. Yeah, you are *real * convincing.

Cynical self interest is what has stopped the US calls for deposing Ghaddaffi. I’m glad that Lybia is now one of your bosom buddies, you now have another collectible toy to play with. Just watch out it doesn’t bite your hand, right?
 
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@ Anon,

Charles:

"This murderous ignorant dogs stuff is your invention."

Not at all. It is your underlying premise. You believe that the legitimate interests of the ME necessarily put them at murderous odds with the United States. If they achieved democracy, they would necessarily make war upon the United States. There could be no peace, etc.

Let's look at 'what's up' in the ME:

1. Isreal/Palestine
2. Oil
3. Dictatorships
4. Islam
5. Terrorism

These issues cannot be understood or resolved in isolation.

I think #1 can be solved. Terrorism/violence will not solve it. Isreal is in precarious position of having all its neighbors bent on its destruction. This is a bit too old testament, and not legitimate. The Palestinians have the right to a viable and secure homeland. This is legitimate and just. It seems to me that this legitimate goal has been hijacked by arab dictators who #1 - historically don't give a rats ass about Palestine, #2 use this as means to distract their masses. It has also been hijacked by terrorists whose ultimate goal is to destroy Isreal. They declare this publicly. Escalation of futile violence that provokes violent response ad nauseum in the hope that things finally get absolutely out of control and somehow Isreal is overrun and its people cleansed from the earth. Since the latter ain't likely to happen, the violence is futile. Conflicts like this, and Northern Ireland, are also encumbered by the fact that they devolve into a criminal/corrupt extortion excercise as well.

How do we begin a solution? First of all, we need to reduce violent provocations. Isolate the groups that will not accept peace with Isreal, and reduce/stop their funding. Second, support a democratic and accountable and responsible government for the Palestinians. They currently don't have one. No one has authority there to be responsible/accountable. People are hoping that passing of Arafat will lead to change. Democracy makes the people more responsible. It will certainly take time but it will happen. When it does, the major reason that the average arab 'hates' US will be removed.

#2 on list does not necessarily put ME on collision course with anyone. There are plenty of countries with oil that are peaceful, stable, and prosperous. The big difference that they have with ME is form of government.

#3 As per above, dictatorships are usually rather corrupt, and pent up frustrations need an outlet. The usual one is to focus attention on external problems. This puts them at odds with attempts to resolve those problems. In many cases, they will actively support those who foment violence.

#4 is tough. I'm not expert on Islam, but what I do know leads me to believe that it is a much more 'dynamic' religion and world view. An example is that while many 'christian' countries go to war, they can never do it based upon the teachings of christianity. Islam on the other hand, is quite graphic in its militaristic rhetoric and teachings. Many of the early 'peaceful' rhetoric is abrogated (superceded) by later writings. The hope I guess is that most people just want to live their lives, and that extremism will peter out if normalcy can be established.

#5 can never be eliminated entirely since you will always find motivated malcontents ready to cause trouble, but I think that democracy and isreali/palestinian just peace would pull the rug out from under various terrorist movements. Those that stubbornly remain will be isolated as their extremism will not resonate.

Maybe your support of Israel derives from socially engineered hatred of Arabs. Maybe you're the dog.

I have a great respect for Arab culture. Its based on very little knowledge, but what I do know leads me to believe that the current extremist ideologies are not the ones that brought the world reading/writing, law, mathematics, astronomy, and much of what remains of greek culture that we claim as foundation of western culture.

"I'm sure you've seen democracies acquire weapons of mass destruction. I'm sure you've seen democracies use weapons of mass destruction. I'm sure you've seen democracies invade other nations. I'm sure you've seen democracies support organizations that other people consider terrorists. You've even seen democracies give support to organizations you consider terrorists."

Life is full of compromises. Some ain't pretty. Mistakes are made. PEople are fallable. But to define a country/civilization/religion - whatever - by those contextual fringe activities and ignore the mass and momentum of its core beliefs and culture - is just plain obtuse.

"You say you're confident a democratic Iraq would never do any of those things?"

I believe a deomcratic Iraq (not just a populist referendum that installs some other dictator), would be a real positive influence on region and world. Why wouldn't it? Can you give me examples of major conflicts fought between truly democratic countries? a world with competing interests will always have rough edges, but human values are pretty universal.

"It is very hard to believe you are being honest when you write that."

I may be wrong, I may be naive in my interpretation of political history as a progressive process (not without setbacks of course), but I am being honest.

"but because they have a legitimate different point of view from yours."

Please specify what these differences are. I think we have far more in common than you think.

"When you are unable to accept that their point of view is legitimate, that says all that has to be said for your claims to support democracy for them."

You will have to be more specific.

"Do you admit that you do not support democracy for Iraq and other people in the Middle East until it "blows over"?"

You miss the point - IT WILL NEVER BLOW OVER UNTIL THEY HAVE DEMOCRACY!!!

"Do you admit that if, for argument's sake, the opposition to Israel will not "blow over" you will never support democracy for Arabs?"

I believe it will blow over once a just solution is reached. Look at history. Countries that once engaged in bloody wars later become great partners.

"Its one thing to disagree with the Arabs about Israel. But you go further when you assert that their opposition to Israel is somehow not real while your support for Israel is legitimate."

It is real, and it is just, and it will be resolved. But not through hatred propaganda and escalation of violence.

"When you assert that, it lends support to the idea that Americans such as yourself do not see Arabs as full-fledged human beings."

I feel great pity for the brainwashed children who blow themselves up.

"It makes your talk about democracy seem not only dishonest but also paternalistic and condescending."

Democracy is not the elimination of competing interests, it is simply the 'best yet' mechanism for managing those interests.
 
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@ Bruno

"the right to completely distort the intent and spirit of the resolutions in concern."

The 'intent and spirit' of the resolutions was to get Saddam to 'turn over a new leaf' and rejoin the world community as a fair and decent fellow according to the lofty goals of peace and understanding between nations, human rights, etc. To my knowledge, this was not done. The nmore we learn about Saddam and his 'cooperation' with the UN, the more this becomes apparent.

Your defense of UN inaction and Saddam has nothing to do with the intent and spirit, but rather the 'letter' of the law. The 'letter' of the law is NEVER perfect. In a non-exclusive forum like the UN, where theocrats, mafia oligarchs, autocrats, and various flavors of oppressive dictators somehow get legitimacy and the right to vote and even chair 'human rights' commissions, etc., we are so far from the ideal that the letter of the law becomes almost entirely disassociated from the spirit of the law.

If the UN really cared about people and peace and prosperity, its primary purpose would be the passive/active destruction of oppressive dictators. This is obviously not the case. It is a forum to regulate the status quo.

"These resolutions, which, if you had read over that particular exchange like I had asked you to, categorically state that the territorial and national sovereignty of Iraq was to be respected. There was no clause in these treaties that ever authorized the US after 1991 to pursue an intrusive military policy versus Iraq. However, you seem to feel that it is acceptable for the US to interpret these resolutions in whichever manner it wishes."

Pick and choose, pick and choose.

"The “ultimatum” given to Saddam was indeed that: cooperate or else."

Comply fully, immediately, and unconditionally. Even ommissions would be considered material breach. Failure in this would mean that Saddam would no longer be a party to the verification and/or enforcement of compliance. Any other interpretation voids the intent of an ultimatum.

I suppose you think that the 'or else' implied another nasty letter?

Just the fact that US/UK had to mass troops on the border and coerce Saddam meant that he was not in full compliance. Even the French admitted that this was the only reason piecemeal and superficial cooperation was achieved. End of story.

"the “or else” was also UP TO THE UN."

The 'or else' by definition was not ambiguous. 'Final opportunity' means no more opportunities. The only thing that could halt external enforcement would be the UN's deliberate refusal to enforce.

Similar situation in Kosovo (correct me if i'm wrong). Russia would have vetoed any action so the US (supported by NATO) went in to the cheers of all non-slavic folks.

Was it ever legalized after the fact? Who cares. The spirit of the law took precedence over the letter of the law.

Pick and choose, pick and choose. But don't get all high and mighty on me.

"A specific resolution for the use of force and the aims of that force was needed to form a mandate for action. By your reasoning, any country is able to decide for itself whether a UN resolution is being honoured, and take independent steps to ‘rectify’ the situation. Welcome to the wild west, gents."

That's a bit hackneyed and oversimplified.

"My conclusion? You value military muscle above other considerations, such as an international peace based on laws of consensus, and simply put, you scorn those not quick enough to leap up guns blazing to defend their interests. I must congratulate you, you have managed to essentially rubbish the entire history of human civilization, and have returned to the maxims of Attila the Hun, where might was right."

Disingenuous hyperbole?

Look, I'd be on your side if US out of the blue invaded Norway. Don't try to make it sound like we did.

The world community should have made an example out of Saddam a long time ago. It would have saved thousands of lives in this conflict and others. Failure to do this, and hide behind legal rhetoric is shameful. A few examples where the civilized world puts its values ahead of its pocketbook would send a very clear message to the baddies of the world.

"And, your country never stated it was worried about a few missing precursors and was going to war on that basis"

Try reading the original documents, and not just MSM reports that take on a life of their own.

" – rather it made the case for existing stocks composed of hundreds of tons of chemical agents, active and hidden laboratories and production lines as well as missiles actually tipped with these agents."

The unaccounted for stocks could have produced hundreds of tons of WMD. They were not accounted for.

In a regime such as Saddams, you can bet that some underling didn't just slip out into the desert and spill the stuff knowing full well that the cessation of hostilities in the war that ended weeks earlier (where they got trounced) was contingent upon full compliance. It wasn't a mix-up or mistake. If Saddam had wanted the UN to know he had destroyed things, he would have done it with UN participation, rock solid documentation in triplicate, etc.

All sorts of stuff turned up in the 90's that was never acknowledged previously.

Those who argue for containment/sanctions as a practical outcome, must necessarily ignore the final 1441 ultimatum.

"(1) INC informants were unreliable"

And Saddam was unreliable.

"(2) not enough was known about Iraqi abilities to make a clear cut decision"

And another decade or so of deceipt was not an option.

"(3) inspections should continue to finalise assessment of these capabilities."

If they couldn't be finalized after ten years, they weren't going to be settled ever. Everythng was contingent upon Saddam's good intentions.

"Powell’s perjury was simply outrageous, because it lied not only in the aspect of untrue facts, but also by omitting the fact that much of what he alleged was doubtful and / or disputed."

Doubts and disagreements mean only that there was no full, immediate, and complete compliance. Uncertainty was not an option.

"I never claimed that the US ‘controls’ EVERY oil producer."

You implied that the US supports puppet ME dictators in charge of oil so that we could control the oil. You implied same is happening in Iraq. My response is that those 'puppets' do not afford US control now, why would Iraq 'puppets' afford US control of their oil? This simple fact debunks the conspiracy puppet theory, and everyhting that arises from it.

"I claimed that it would like to control a major part of the oil flow."

Hey - and I'd like to win the lottery too. Who wouldn't? Gosh that would be sweet. But then I wake up and...

"A case in point is the way the Saudi Arabians (those very good dictator buddies of the democracy uber alles Bush, in case you forgot) jumped to increase oil output when your dear leader requested them to."

Its a business. They want to sell oil and make money. If the US economy stagnates because of oil costs, and drags the developed world with it (interdependencies, global marjkets, etc.), then demand drops, ppb drops, profits drop for EVERYONE.

"it seems like the “evil dictator” threat is greater than the combined might of the Warsaw Pact, I guess."

Fundamentalists seem to prefer their 72 virgins, while communists liked vodka and pickles. There is a principle difference. The status quo in ME was disfunctional. Maybe we made it worse. Time will tell.

"The Carter Doctrine clearly states that the US will brook no interference in the Middle East. I guess that has been extended to include the Arabs not being allowed to control their own oil flow."

Again, if you mean 'cut off the oil flow', then you are right. If anyone tried that, you would see the biggest, baddest, widest, deepest coalition in history. But that doesn't make any sense for anyone.

"The reason that you are in the region and not, say in africa is indeed for ‘national security’ BECAUSE OF THE IMMENSE AMOUNTS OF OIL THERE."

Let's just ignore ME islamic terrorists for a moment...

"That is the reason Africa is neglected. Announce the discovery of a few hundred billion barrels of easily extractable oil in Zimbabwe, and watch how soon the plight of the starving Zimbabweans becomes a national crisis in the US necessitating any means possible to remove the evil dictator Mugabe."

That dumb ass mugabe ought to go. Hasn't his little revolution turned zimbabwe from food exporter into impoverished starving nation? God forbid anyone should do anything though... the UN wouldn't hear of it!

But I'll bet if Mugabe started a few terrorist camps, his tenure would be shortened dramatically...

"America claims to support democracy on one hand yet support the very same dictators it rails against on the other."

Compromises - dirty compromises. We are damned if we do, damned if we don't. Promising big time aid to Egypt in return for peace deal is damned too. Damned for diplomacy, damned for lack of diplomacy.

Baby steps.

"Cynical self interest is what has stopped the US calls for deposing Ghaddaffi. I’m glad that Lybia is now one of your bosom buddies,"

Deliberate hyperbole. Its more like carrot and stick.
 
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On "murderous ignorant dogs"

Not at all. It is your underlying premise. You believe that the legitimate interests of the ME necessarily put them at murderous odds with the United States. If they achieved democracy, they would necessarily make war upon the United States. There could be no peace, etc.
No. Are you misreading what I've written on purpose? Iraq was not invaded because it was at murderous odds with the United States. You are the one who wrote the reasons Iraq was invaded and I summarized them. We can go over this again slowly.

Iraq was invaded because it 1) Tried to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction 2) Attempted to become a military threat to its neighbors, which happen to be Israel and a set of unpopular dictatorships that are more cooperative with the US than their populations would like and 3) Supported Palestinians you consider terrorists

None of those three things would be prevented by democracy.

If it is unacceptable for Iraq to do those three things, then the US cannot install a democracy in Iraq because a democratic Iraq is very likely to do those things if it can. You do not have to be a murderous dog to want to do those things.

This is very clearly stated in posts you've responded to. You've invented this stuff about murderous dogs, superpowers bent on evil, etc and ignored what was written clearly.

Now you seem like you believe you have all the answers about Israel. You know exactly how the Arabs are going to have to change for there to be any hope of peace.

A couple of points I think you should consider.

I think you perceive this situation as reasonable Israelis doing the best they can in a difficult environment. Sometimes unfortunately the Israelis are forced to kill civilians but that is ultimately not their fault.

Arabs just as validly perceive the situation as reasonable Palestinians doing the best they can in a difficult situations. Sometimes unfortunately the Palestinians are forced to kill civilians but that is ultimately not their fault.

I'm not trying to convince you the Arabs are right, but you are not going to impose your perception on people who have been watching this very closely their whole lives. Its not going to happen - you can just forget about that. The Arabs are not going to "grow up" and start thinking like you.

Al Jazeera seems to be the most widely respected and most watched Arab language news channel. People watch the news that they consider fair and balanced. If it does not seem fair, they watch something else. Arabs in democratic countries watch Al Jazeera more than any other Arab language news channel. They are not forced to do so by their governments. They watch it because it matches their perceptions.

People in Texas watch Fox News. They consider that fair. People in New York watch CBS News. They consider that fair. Giving Fox News competition from CBS News is not going to make Texans "grow up" and think like New Yorkers. Broadcasting Charles' idea of fair coverage of Arab/Israeli issues is not going to make Arabs "grow up" and start thinking like Charles.

This is not government sponsored hatred that will "blow over". This is how they honestly see the world. Which is different from how you see the world. There are plenty of channels that give a different point of view. Fewer Arabs trust those channels.

The Palestinians originally called for one secular state where Jews and Muslims could live in peace without discrimination. Many have given up on that idea but it is making some degree of comeback.

Israel as a Jewish state is as provocative to Arabs as apartheid South Africa was to Black people. You may think it shouldn't be. It may not be provocative to you. But you can not cause an the entire region of people to up and start seeing things your way.

If the region was democratic, the people of the Arab world would not be investing billions of dollars in the US stock market while Israel retains a nuclear monopoly over the region.

If the region was democratic, the people of Israel would have to accept a compromise that they currently do not find acceptable. They would have to do what white South Africans did and accept that their dream of a Jewish state cannot be sustained.

Otherwise, they would have to engage the oil producing world in an arms race that they would lose in only a matter of time.

I think a compromise could be worked out where Jews currently there get to stay with guarantees of freedom of religion, a secular government. But no immigration laws that discriminate against non-Jews and the state would not be a "Jewish" state, kind of the way South Africa today is not a "White" state.

The alternative is what we have today. The people of the region live under unpopular governments that depend on the US for their survival. Israel is today offering the Palestinians less autonomous bantustans that the ones Mandela rejected. That is what you are calling "justice". I expect you will be very disappointed to find that this is not an acceptable solution to many people in the region and will not end the opposition to Israel that you hope will "blow over" soon.

So to bring this back to democracy in Iraq. Israel's existence depends on its neighboring nations being unable to effectively confront it. But the populations of the neighboring nations find a state formed by evicting nearly a million arabs from their homes and that currently identifies itself by the the ideal of discrimination against non-Jews to be inherently confrontational.

A democratic Arab state with oil money and with the independence to enact policies that represent the will of its people would represent a fatal existential threat to Israel. If America is to be an ally of Israel, it simply cannot allow a democratic Iraq to happen.

It's not just Israel. Especially any more. The people of Iraq have been harmed greatly by the United States recently. You say its all Saddam Hussein's fault. Many Iraqis think the US was more to blame that Hussein. Getting rid of Al Jazeera will not change that.

This means that if the people of Iraq are free to choose which nations help develop its resources, they are unlikely to choose the United States. This means that if the people of Iraq are free to decide whether or not Iraq can be used as a base to attack other nations such as Iran, they are unlikely to agree.

But the US, the conquering occupying power. Has every intention of being the party the benefits from Iraqi oil contracts. And it has every intention of using its military presence in Iraq for further plans in the region. That means Iraq cannot be a democracy.

Bruno raised the point earlier that control of oil and the ability to set the terms by which competitors can access oil is more important than access with low prices at any given time. A democratic Iraq would not allow the US to control its oil. That means Iraq cannot be a democracy.

I hope Iraq becomes a democracy despite the resistance of the US. It may happen only because George W. Bush has made the most spectacular strategic blunders of any US president ever. If it works out, I will be very happy.

I have a final question for you: If the Iraqi government on February 1 asks that the United States leave Iraq by December 31 2005 do you think the US should leave?

Or do you think the US should stay until the US decides that Iraq has met whatever requirements the US wants to set, and in the meantime to effectively control the country against the expressed wishes of its people?
 
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@ Anon

I think we in more ways than you think, but I will start with the disagreements.

"Iraq was invaded because it 1) Tried to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction 2) Attempted to become a military threat to its neighbors, which happen to be Israel and a set of unpopular dictatorships that are more cooperative with the US than their populations would like and 3) Supported Palestinians you consider terrorists"

... and 4) was a brutal and ruthless dictator who killed more of his own people than he did his neighbors (and that's a lot). I would also add/clarify to #2 that he was a threat and did attack his neighbors in the worlds most strategic region and was bent on establishing a hegemony on much of the worlds oil supply. You present it as though its some theory. Try to understand - this guy was bad... Ir correct me if i'm wrong.

"None of those three things would be prevented by democracy."

Over time the underlying forces would be mitigated. Maybe the US, and the world in general, has built up some seriously bad karma that needs to be worked off. It would work itself out.

"This is very clearly stated in posts you've responded to. You've invented this stuff about murderous dogs, superpowers bent on evil, etc and ignored what was written clearly."

We just disagree. I don't think it would be bad for the US long term interests to have a democracy. We did far worse to Germany and Japan, and they turned out OK. In fact, they turned out fabulously well.

"Now you seem like you believe you have all the answers about Israel."

Honestly I don't. Those are just some ideas. I am no expert obviously.

"You know exactly how the Arabs are going to have to change for there to be any hope of peace."

Well, I did identify a few of the current strategies that have proven utterly counterproductive. Attacking Isreal directly failed on several occasions. That caused much of the problems the world faces now. The disputed/occupied territories would not be part of Isreal now if those countries hadn't attacked. Asymetrical warfare has not improved the lot of the Palestinians.

"I think you perceive this situation as reasonable Israelis doing the best they can in a difficult environment."

There is posturing and stonewalling on both sides. The more threatened the Isrealis feel, the less likely they are to make compromises. Keep in mind that there are very powerful liberal and democratic forces in Isreal that want a settlement. If they are threatened, they will get in their bunkers and fight. If they are assured security and peace, they will make a deal.

"Sometimes unfortunately the Palestinians are forced to kill civilians but that is ultimately not their fault."

Deliberately targeting civilians will not settle this. Period. Overt assault will not settle this. Period.

Al Jazeera seems to be the most widely respected and most watched Arab language news channel. People watch the news that they consider fair and balanced.

In general, I would consider most media outlets to be purveyors of entertainment. Sometimes they give the facts. Sometimes they just pander to their audiences for ratings. But there are different degrees of this. A free and critical media is a necessary part of any democracy. But freedom of speech/press/media is useless if there is no freedom of thought. I think the arab stations have a way to go in this department.

"Broadcasting Charles' idea of fair coverage of Arab/Israeli issues is not going to make Arabs "grow up" and start thinking like Charles."

Well, let's try not to get personal. My news show wouldn't get good ratings to say the least.

Do you believe that freedom of expression exists in ME? Truly? Just for the sake of argument will intellectuals debate both sides of an argument? Will the person taking the 'unpopular' side really dig deep? Or will that person not even risk expressing an opinion that is outside of the establishment's point of view? Democracy is not jsut elections and voting. It is a process that requires freedom of thought. You can't have democracy without it.

"Israel as a Jewish state is as provocative to Arabs as apartheid South Africa was to Black people."

Let me put it to you this way - there are Palestinians living in Isreal more or less comfortably (more so when there are fewer provocations naturally). But I'll bet you won't mind many Isreali's living comfortably in any ME countries. Who is more tolerant?

"But you can not cause an the entire region of people to up and start seeing things your way."

I don't expect them to see things "my" way. But they need to work it out. Shutting down the terrorists and establishing democracy is the best route.

"If the region was democratic, the people of the Arab world would not be investing billions of dollars in the US stock market while Israel retains a nuclear monopoly over the region."

Let them put their money where they see fit.

"They would have to do what white South Africans did and accept that their dream of a Jewish state cannot be sustained."

I suppose if the other countries in ME developed a proven tolerance for other cultures/people that brought them on par with Isreal, then it would be inevitable. At this point I'd much rather be an arab in Isreal than an Isreali (or Buddhist/Christian/Hindu, etc.) in an Islamic country. Until the ME countries reach that level (and I believe they can), there is no point in even discussing it. It is hypocritical beyond the absurd.

"Otherwise, they would have to engage the oil producing world in an arms race that they would lose in only a matter of time."

Maybe, maybe not. But an arms race is not the answer because overt destruction of Isreal would not be productive or achievable.

"I think a compromise could be worked out where Jews currently there get to stay with guarantees of freedom of religion, a secular government."

As per above. When ME countries can guarantee this level of enlightenment to its citizens and guests, then it will be a topic for discussion. Europe used to fight bloody wars on a scale unseen in history - now they hardly have internal borders at all...

"That is what you are calling "justice". I expect you will be very disappointed to find that this is not an acceptable solution to many people in the region and will not end the opposition to Israel that you hope will "blow over" soon."

Personally I'd like to take a pencil and redraw a few maps.

"Israel's existence depends on its neighboring nations being unable to effectively confront it."

'Existence' is not the question. Unless of course some irresponsible wackos decide its time to end life for the entire region.

"...currently identifies itself by the the ideal of discrimination against non-Jews to be inherently confrontational."

As per above. Walk the walk first.

"If America is to be an ally of Israel, it simply cannot allow a democratic Iraq to happen."

If Iraq is bent on war then nothing can stop it. Saddam was bent on war too - we already knew that. I just don't see it as a long term problem. A democratic peaceful Iraq will be in a better position to leverage moral authority than a warlike Saddam Iraq. I suppose there are all sorts of combinations and contingencies that could be imagined. Maybe the arabs and jews will go out in a blaze of glory - maybe we will all go with them. Maybe some people have already thought of this and figured democracy is the best hope...

"It's not just Israel. Especially any more. The people of Iraq have been harmed greatly by the United States recently. You say its all Saddam Hussein's fault. Many Iraqis think the US was more to blame that Hussein."

Maybe. As I said previously, nations that have fought wars to the bitter end have later become trusted allies.

"This means that if the people of Iraq are free to choose which nations help develop its resources, they are unlikely to choose the United States."

Maybe.

"This means that if the people of Iraq are free to decide whether or not Iraq can be used as a base to attack other nations such as Iran, they are unlikely to agree."

Maybe.

"But the US, the conquering occupying power....That means Iraq cannot be a democracy."

Iraq's best bet is supporting democracy. There are people motivated and murderous who want it stopped at any cost. If you side with them its the wrong bet for Iraq.

"A democratic Iraq would not allow the US to control its oil. That means Iraq cannot be a democracy."

With all of the US supposed puppet governments in the middle east, can you explain to me where and how we have excercised this magical influence?!?

"I hope Iraq becomes a democracy despite the resistance of the US."

Jeez.

"If it works out, I will be very happy."

Me too. You see - I told you we agreed!

"If the Iraqi government on February 1 asks that the United States leave Iraq by December 31 2005 do you think the US should leave?"

If a secure democratic government has been established - absolutely! In any case, since we are already having trouble with 1/5 of 1% of the country, if that gets over 50% then our position will become untenable.

"Or do you think the US should stay until the US decides that Iraq has met whatever requirements the US wants to set, and in the meantime to effectively control the country against the expressed wishes of its people?"

Well, the goal from the beginning was to establish some sort of democracy. They come in many forms. The one taking shape in Iraq, from its deliberate inception, is not modeled on the US system (its funny when people say that - they must not understand how our government is structured and how our elections work). The system taking shape looks more European with proportional represenation. In any case, if the basic minimum standards are met, then we are done and Iraqis will have the bright future they deserve.
 
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Let me put it to you this way - there are Palestinians living in Isreal more or less comfortably (more so when there are fewer provocations naturally). But I'll bet you won't mind many Isreali's living comfortably in any ME countries. Who is more tolerant?Here you're arguing that Israel is right. I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise. The point is not who is more tolerant. The point is that a potentially nuclear armed Arab state, democracy or not, is not acceptable to those interested in Israel's existence.

That's where your claims to support democracy crash into reality.

The US has a stated policy that Israel will maintain military superiority over the rest of the region. That policy cannot be maintained if the region is free to spend the money that it controls on ending Israel's military superiority.

Something has to give. The US resolves this conundrum by ensuring that the Arab people are not free to spend the money that comes through their hands in a way consistent with the wishes of the populations.

At that point, claims to favor democracy are just bald-faced lies that noone takes seriously outside of the US.

'Existence' is not the question. Unless of course some irresponsible wackos decide its time to end life for the entire region.Apartheid South Africa was nuclear armed and it no longer exists. A non-Zionist nation in Israel's borders, even if its still called Israel, means that what you think of when you say Israel no longer exists.

Walk the walk first.No. To say that Israel won't be resolved in the Arabs favor until the Arabs learn to walk the walk is to say that Arabs will not have enough control over their own economies to build a military that can defeat Israel until they learn to walk the walk.

You can say that. But now there is a structural impediment to democracy. Because democracy means the Arab people control their economies *now* whether they walk the way you want them to or not.

You try to square that circle by saying Democracy has a magic force that would make Arabs accept Israel. The important thing is that even if you believe that, which I kind of doubt, US decision makers obviously don't believe that.

Egypt for example is given large payments for maintaining its unpopular peace with Israel. If US policymakers thought peace with Israel comes free with democracy, those payments would be for democracy which as an ideal is much less unpopular among Egyptians than peace with Israel.

We did far worse to Germany and Japan, and they turned out OK.An important difference is that there is no nearby nation to which the United States policy explicitly attempts to grant perpetual military superiority over Germany, especially a nearby nation towards which the German people have a structural hostility.

If that had been the case, Germany would look a lot more like Saudi Arabia today.

Do you believe that freedom of expression exists in ME? Truly?There is a lot of debate in the Middle East. Many people sit together and discuss, among other things, the best way to overcome the hostility directed at them from the United States. And people disagree. Some think the answer is to turn to the Koran. Some think the answer is to join or support what you consider terrorist organizations. Some say they just can't figure out how to overturn America's regional hegemony, but they wish they could.

You think there is no freedom of expression because nobody says what you would say. "Hey America is right. If we oppose America we are just murderous dogs."

Given a reasonable definition of freedom of expression, there is freedom of expression in many places in the Middle East.

"This means that if the people of Iraq are free to choose which nations help develop its resources, they are unlikely to choose the United States."

Maybe.
Well, that's pretty much the key. The United States has not spent $200 billion gaining control over Iraq to "maybe" be the nation that benefits from control over the oil and "maybe" be able to stage further attacks and "maybe" ensure that Iraq is not a threat to the US' priorities in the Middle East and "maybe" Iraq will refrain from supporting what you consider terrorists and "maybe" Iraq will get along well with the corrupt unpopular US-supported dictators who allowed the US to bomb their families from nearby bases.

With all of the US supposed puppet governments in the middle east, can you explain to me where and how we have excercised this magical influence?!?Good question. I don't have a complete answer. I spent a couple of minutes googling for some official statement from an ambassador or the pentagon or CIA that advances the idea that the US considers its current leverage over these governments as strategically useful and I didn't find anything.

In the unforeseen future, in a conflict with an unforeseen rival, such as China, India, Europe or Russia, the ability to influence the price of oil may be useful and the inability of the rival to influence the price of oil may be useful.

If I find anything more specific I may post it here.

What the US certainly gets from its control over Saudi Arabia today is that Saudi Arabia is holding oil prices relatively low, not pursuing nuclear weapons, not building or buying missiles that could reach Israel and providing very minimal support to Palestinian organizations that Americans consider terrorists.

None of these positions necessarily are how Saudi Arabia's leaders would behave if they had to depend on elections instead of US support.

Mr. Democracy
 
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With all of the US supposed puppet governments in the middle east, can you explain to me where and how we have excercised this magical influence?!?I have something:

Charles:
I would also add/clarify to #2 that he was a threat and did attack his neighbors in the worlds most strategic region and was bent on establishing a hegemony on much of the worlds oil supply.You explain exactly what you think Hussein could have done with hegemony on much of the worlds oil supply and I'll change a few words around and explain to you what the US can do with hegemony on much of the worlds oil supply.
 
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The comment above is by Mr. Democracy again.
 
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@ Anon

"Here you're arguing that Israel is right. I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise. The point is not who is more tolerant. The point is that a potentially nuclear armed Arab state, democracy or not, is not acceptable to those interested in Israel's existence."

Isreal is far from perfect. I wasn't arguing thatthey are right. i am arguing that Isrealis will defend their security and are unlikely to compromise that security based upon assurances from countries that are bent on destroying it. These countries will have to walk the walk before Isreal will compromise its existence. You can't expect concessions from Isreal that will compromise its very existence. You need to change the equation.

"That's where your claims to support democracy crash into reality."

Not at all. We just disagree.

"The US has a stated policy that Israel will maintain military superiority over the rest of the region. That policy cannot be maintained if the region is free to spend the money that it controls on ending Israel's military superiority."

Worst case scenarion if neighbors decide on arms race, it will cost lots of money. It will be perceived (obviously) as a threat to Isreal meaning that territorial concessions are less likely. Neighbors need to decide if they want peace and solution, or war. Latter very risky as history shows.

Also, the Iraqi population might well have other priorities for those funds. You can argue that Isreal is the only cause of violence against the ME countries, but history has also shown a high propensity for intra-muslim conflict in region. The ME countries know from experience they are more likely to be attacked by eachother, then by Isreal.

"At that point, claims to favor democracy are just bald-faced lies that noone takes seriously outside of the US."

You opinion. I agree that it is shared by many. That doesn't mean it is correct.

"Apartheid South Africa was nuclear armed and it no longer exists. A non-Zionist nation in Israel's borders, even if its still called Israel, means that what you think of when you say Israel no longer exists."

Maybe. But that will not happen while Isreal's neighbors in theory or in practice threaten the its existence.

"To say that Israel won't be resolved in the Arabs favor until the Arabs learn to walk the walk is to say that Arabs will not have enough control over their own economies to build a military that can defeat Israel until they learn to walk the walk."

I hate to break it to you, but oil rich countries of ME are pretty darn wealthy. I'm not sure what you mean by 'control'.

"Because democracy means the Arab people control their economies *now* whether they walk the way you want them to or not."

??? i'm losing you. Forgive me. You may be going over board with this control issue. Most developed countries do not have 'control' over their economies. Command economies don't work. Economies are interdependent.

"You try to square that circle by saying Democracy has a magic force that would make Arabs accept Israel."

Define 'accept.' Do you mean accept its right to exist? or the current status quo? Or what? The rest of the world accepts Isreal's right to exist. Many muslim nations accept Isreal. Not that everyone is happy with isreal though.

"Egypt for example is given large payments for maintaining its unpopular peace with Israel. If US policymakers thought peace with Israel comes free with democracy, those payments would be for democracy which as an ideal is much less unpopular among Egyptians than peace with Israel."

I get your point. We keep going back and forth to no avail. The ME will certainly have a lot to work through and violence is possible. But democracy is the right direction and the best direction for everyone.

"An important difference is that there is no nearby nation to which the United States policy explicitly attempts to grant perpetual military superiority over Germany, especially a nearby nation towards which the German people have a structural hostility."

In general you are wrong - and the contexts were different as well. Germany's military has strict controls placed upon it. Fact. Only recently have they begun any sort of military actions beyond their borders and that is still hugely debated and proscribed by strict laws. Their long time rivals France/UK (with whom they have enjoyed the mutual slaughter of millions over the last century), are no longer a threat. The threat came from USSR.

"If that had been the case, Germany would look a lot more like Saudi Arabia today."

If we completely divorce ourselves from reality, we can argue that US and Saddam are one in the same, and that Saudi Arabia has a lot in common with the Federal Republic of Germany.

"Many people sit together and discuss, among other things, the best way to overcome the hostility directed at them from the United States."

With democracy, those discussions will widen further.

"You think there is no freedom of expression because nobody says what you would say. "Hey America is right. If we oppose America we are just murderous dogs.""

OK, OK. So you are saying that ME has unmitigated freedom of expression...

"Given a reasonable definition of freedom of expression, there is freedom of expression in many places in the Middle East."

Hmmm. Well, I think most people would disagree with you. Its more likely that if you said something against establishment you would get fatwad out of existence.

"This means that if the people of Iraq are free to choose which nations help develop its resources, they are unlikely to choose the United States."

We shall see - won't we.

"Good question. I don't have a complete answer. I spent a couple of minutes googling for some official statement from an ambassador or the pentagon or CIA that advances the idea that the US considers its current leverage over these governments as strategically useful and I didn't find anything."

I'm sure you will come to the realization eventually that positive relations between countries are of strategic value to both countries. Even if they don't have oil.

"In the unforeseen future, in a conflict with an unforeseen rival, such as China, India, Europe or Russia, the ability to influence the price of oil may be useful and the inability of the rival to influence the price of oil may be useful."

Uh-guh. so thats what your whole argument boils down to. A very nebulous hypothetical.

"What the US certainly gets from its control over Saudi Arabia today is that Saudi Arabia is holding oil prices relatively low,"

BS. Again. Supply and demand. ME leaders with any sense know that driving developed nations into deep recessions will collapse their own incomes. BTW - oil prices are VERY high right now.

"not pursuing nuclear weapons,"

I believe there are international treaties regarding this.

"not building or buying missiles that could reach Israel"

Be ralistic. What could Saudi's do productively?

"and providing very minimal support to Palestinian organizations that Americans consider terrorists."

Maybe.

"None of these positions necessarily are how Saudi Arabia's leaders would behave if they had to depend on elections instead of US support."

I grant that democracy is a risky gamble in short term. But I don't think there are any better options available. You focus most of your argument around desire for ME to destroy Isreal, arms races, etc. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. But that would be a futile waste of lives and resources.
 
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Isreal is far from perfect. I wasn't arguing thatthey are right. i am arguing that Isrealis will defend their security and are unlikely to compromise that security based upon assurances from countries that are bent on destroying it. These countries will have to walk the walk before Isreal will compromise its existence. You can't expect concessions from Isreal that will compromise its very existence. You need to change the equation.

I'm not discussing if Israel is right, or if its perfect, or what concessions it should make or anything about Israel itself. I'm just asserting that its existence as a Zionist state is as provocative to Arabs as South Africa as an Apartheid state was to Black people. If you wanted an African state to cooperate with South Africa, you had to have a dictatorship. If it was important to you that South Africa be as secure as possible and you had a choice you would not allow a government that represented the views of the people within striking range of South Africa. This has nothing to do with the peace process or compromises or whatever you're talking about.

If it is important to the United States that Israel be as secure as possible, which it is according to many informed sources, it will not allow a representative government, that represents people hostile to Israel to come to power within striking distance.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'control'.

To spend their money how they want, even if how they want may conflict with interests the United States feels are important.

Define 'accept.' Do you mean accept its right to exist? or the current status quo? Or what? The rest of the world accepts Isreal's right to exist.

A lot of the world accepted apartheid South Africa. Some African nations accepted apartheid South Africa. Many Arabs do not accept Israel. The question is will the US trust those people with control of a nearby state? My answer is it will not if it has a choice.

With democracy, those discussions will widen further.

You're going ... (I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean)

OK, OK. So you are saying that ME has unmitigated freedom of expression...

You're going ... (This is a silly strawman, but what is the relevance to anything?)

Hmmm. Well, I think most people would disagree with you. Its more likely that if you said something against establishment you would get fatwad out of existence.

You're gone. I guess this was your big point. Fatwas. If you say something against establishment in the US you can get Patriot Acted out of existence.

What specifically do you think people in the Middle East are not able to say for fear of being "fatwad"? If you have a point, make it.

If the people of the Middle East don't say what Charles thinks, the only possible explanation is that they are afraid of being "fatwad". It could never be that they honestly don't agree with Charles. Yet Charles poses as the Champion of Middle East democracy. How funny.

"This means that if the people of Iraq are free to choose which nations help develop its resources, they are unlikely to choose the United States."

We shall see - won't we
.

If its up to the US, we don't have to see, do we? The US could just install a puppet. Every indication is that but for unexpected resistance, Chalabi would be installed as "democratic" dictator by now.

Uh-guh. so thats what your whole argument boils down to. A very nebulous hypothetical.

Where's your argument? You made the same argument that Hussein was attempting to get hegemony over world oil supplies. You explain how it helps Hussein, and you've explained how it helps the US. What do you think Hussein might have done?

You focus most of your argument around desire for ME to destroy Isreal, arms races, etc. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Yes. My argument is that if the US is free to choose between Maybe and Definitely, the US will choose Definitely and lie rather than really choosing Maybe.

What is your argument? That the US would rather maybe see its interests advanced than definitely? Pretty silly.
 
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Well, let's stop lobbing rhetorical molotov cocktails through cyberspace.

We both agree that we want the establishment of a viable and successful democratic government in Iraq.

We agree that this is just and fair.

Now let's pray, or light candles, or chant, or beat drums, or justy hope, that the Iraqi's can make it through this.
 
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We both agree that we want the establishment of a viable and successful democratic government in Iraq.

Agreed.

And in your life, I wish you the best.

Mr. Democracy
 
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Oh and BTW - I few things occurred to me while I was out snowblowing the driveway... Let me know what you think.

Let's consider the resistence. Who are they?

1. Farm boys - Are they hard working farm boys who have oiled and sharpened up their rusty swords to do battle with the evil crusaders? To fight for freedom? Some - maybe. But still, they would need access to weapons, ordinance, financing, communications, training, etc. They are the pawns.

2. Baathists - They certainly have the motive, training, infrastructure, organization/heirarchy, financing, etc. They certainly have well honed skills at terror and no scruples. They are probably behind much of the real terrorist activity/assassination. Who would provide external financing and support? Syria? Maybe they didn't get along swimmingly with Saddam, but do they want a Shia neighbor potentially controlled by Iran? Other Sunni countries as well. Powerful Saudis? It might make sense for them to put their money on the former regime folks.

3. Shia - Their motive would be not wanting to let this one get away. This is their chance. Iran would back them (is backing them). Haven't US/Iraqi's already caught Iranian intelligence operatives? Their interest would be to keep things hot enough so that situation stays unstable, but not soooo hot that US leaves too prematurely. Taking pot shots at US forces also good for training/motivation/moral because they may need it later against their historic enemies (see #2). The mainstream shia are more likely to be the ones currently 'collaborating', while the more radical islamic types are controlled by Iran. When the time comes, the radicals might be able to step in and coopt the moderates - or more likely, simply take over. For now, it makes sense for them to sit back and watch US bleed AND weaken the #2's/#4's.

4. Jihadists - many of them simply 'imported' #1's, but also consisting of well trained and motivated forces excited about capping US soldiers and collaborating dogs. Their main goal is mayhem, but which side (#2 or #3) are they going to support? Aren't they primarily Sunni? But they would prefer fundamentalist regime. It must keep them up at nights wondering who to throw their support behind.

Did I leave anyone out? Do the criminal gangs count? I don't think so. They are just out to make a buck.

So what does all this mean (if it isn't nonsense to begin with)? First of all, there are NO freedom fighters. There is no organized grassroots insurgency. Many of the fighters maybe well intentioned #1's, but they are most likely fighting for #2 or #3 who may well at times use 'freedom fighter' rhetoric if it suits their needs.

The Baathists want to regain control and 'rightful' position with support of Syria? And the Shia (radicals) want a fundamentalist shia dominated regime with support from Iran? Are the countries running the insurgencies? Are they just using eachother jockeying for position? This is one hell of a stew cooking.

What are the options if a democratic Iraq is to emerge from all of this? What does the Iraqi government need to do?

1. First of all, identify to the Iraqi people who the players are, and what their motives and methods are. Things are such a muddle that any clarity would help. You can't fight an enemy if you don't know who they are. Iraqi government needs to understand who can be coopted, and who must be ruthlessly eliminated. Has this been done Mr. Khaleel?

2. Somehow win the people over. The trouble makers are probably way less than 1%. But they have far more people who are passively supporting them or on the fence. Somehow increase security, and provide the people with the basics (I still cannot fathom the electricity/water/petrol problems - what's up with that Mr. Khaleel?).

3. Elections. I think this would help by providing more legitimacy to the Iraqi government. Security is critical and the vast majority of Iraqi's need to feel they have a stake in the process. They are too passive in general (not that they don't have good reasons). I know you all think elections are a farce, but they are another step forward. Derailing process entirely will simply further motivate the baddies, and might lead to catastrophic collapse.

4. US/coalition. Somehow get the Iraqi security forces on their feet. Provide guarantee that when conditions x, y, and z are met, they are ready to draw down forces and leave. Those conditions should obviously be realistic, reasonable, and attainable in the eyes of the Iraqis.

5. Iraqi government, after elections, should really put on some serious PR and leverage their new legitimacy in Iraq and abroad - especially ME region - to garner support and mitigate/eliminate resistence. Let the people see that the government commands some level of respect from abroad.

Sorry for the ramblings - I'll go back to snowblowing. We are supposed to get another foot by morning...
 
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Charles, Charles, Charles ---


I feel that we have come to an impasse here. The view that Mr Democracy espouses and that I espouse are fairly closely linked. I agree that while not perfect, Democracy is the best way forward for a country to take, at the moment anyway. That much we agree on. However, where you and I (and Mr D) diverge, is when we come to the grey area of whether the United States is the vehicle through which Democracy ™ is to be introduced to the region. (Of course, this is a rather chauvanist statement, given that some peoples of the region may find tribal rule quite adequate and may not want other alternatives, but let us assume that Democracy is more or less desired across the board.)

The questions that I then have about the US being this vehicle for democracy are: (a) Will it be impartial – that is does it have vested interests in seeing a particular outcome? (b) Is it trustworthy, both from a moral and a legal viewpoint? (c) Is it competent enough for the task? (d) Is the manner in which it acts promoting the best interests of the people on the ground – ie - Iraqis?

Now THIS is what we are really arguing about. And, to my mind, the US scores a resounding NO! on all counts.

Looking at the big picture:

(A) The US certainly has an interest in the outcome of the elections. It has friendly states that it wants to protect, like Israel. It has need for access to bases on Iraqi soil due to the favourable geostrategic location of Iraq, and has stated that it would establish them there in the past. It has enemies in the region it must punish, like Iran. It has an oft stated and very large interest in Iraqi oil reserves.

This is a very good article on the behind the scenes machinations in Washington that deals eloquently on the oil issue and the lengths taken to secure it especially in the Middle East.

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2003/03/ma_273_01.html

It also has an interest in cutting off economic competitors like Russia and France which formerly did a lot of business with Iraq. Have I left anything out? This alone is enough to make one extremely skeptical of US motives there.

(B) Secondly, we come to the ‘trustworthiness’ angle. This is where my bile rises the most, because the US has played a cynical game of power politics and a double game of either playing rivals off against one another and then abandoning (Kurds) / stabbing them in the back (Iraq) at opportune moments, or has used moral motives as excuses for military action in the most cynical manner possible – the Shia insurrection being a case in point.

I can, of course, expand greatly on my assertions here. This is a précis. Now, you may argue that many countries engage in these practices, and you would be likely correct. That still does not detract from the argument that the US is, in this specific case, a very untrustworthy ‘choice’ to lead Iraq to democracy.

With regards to ‘legal’, we must return to the UN resolutions once more, I guess. (I have listed my arguments with regards to our previous exchange further down, so as not to interrupt this particular strand of reasoning) The consensus agreements that the UN Resolutions are possess inherently the interests of the greater global community at heart. Legally, the US has not only broken the Resolutions it has signed, but also ignored the need for these decisions to be taken through proceeding unasked with unilateral military action. As an extremely powerful country, I guess nobody can stop you from these actions. However, US ability to defend these actions in the framework of global law is very diminished by the continued oath breaking that has been indulged in. (This assertion by myself is usually followed by “Saddam also lied!” as a response. If you intend on taking this tack, you do realize that you are now debating the finer points of whether you are worse, better or the same as Saddam Hussein. Not encouraging.)

(C) Competency for the task. I do believe that events on the ground have completely and conclusively demonstrated the inability of the US to carry out even *its* plans for Iraq. I do not think there is any room for debate here. This clearly indicates the need for an international consensus on the problem, as well as a revising of whether the US ought to be trusted, (even *if * its intentions were truly honest and impartial), with the introduction of democracy via elections to Iraq.

(D) The interests of Iraqis – the manner in which the US acts in order to benefit Iraqis can also be seen as a tangible measure of the honesty of its intentions. And here it fails yet again, be it through the promotion of torture via ‘black ops’ programs against ‘high value’ targets, or be it through the laxity of application of the Geneva Conventions when ‘interviewing’ Iraqis. The callous manner in which Iraqi civilians are treated also springs to mind – where not only are their deaths trivialized, but also covered up. Given, not all soldiers act in this manner, but *something * must fuel the heavy animosity towards Americans, right?

Let us forget about the military sphere for a second, and look at the civilian programmes. Despite having considerable capacity to repair their own infrastructure such as bridges and buildings, reconstruction work has been farmed out to US companies in lieu of Iraqis. Despite having an acute electrical shortage, the US insists on a complete rebuild instead of opening up the markets to the non- US firms that built the stuff in the first place. Not to mention the privatization of Iraqi state assets so that they can be bought up on the cheap by US firms. I do not see, quite frankly, any real care being invested in the future of Iraq’s people that indicates that the US is sincere about what it preaches.

My conclusion? That the US excuse of propagating democracy is not only unbelievable in the light of its track record, not only probably destined to failure through sheer incompetency, but also very likely to be subverted through the considerable interests that the US has in Iraq.



On The Balkans and the UN

Firstly, I don’t really understand your defense of the US’s actions and how they are legally in line with the UN Resolutions. It seems as though you have taken the “UN is useless” route, with regards to the various dictatorships represented there, and have based your defence on that. This is a fine argument in the moral sense, as long as you do not try to elevate a country like the US to a greater moral stature. At that point people like me haul out the dirty laundry, and remind you that many of the dictatorships in the UN are actively supported by the US, that the US has actively undermined democratic countries in the past, replacing these with dictatorships; that the US has no compunction in sacrificing the lives of proxy parties by the thousand when trying to achieve its aims.

You made the case that intervention in the Balkans was a great moral action in the face of the UN. There are 2 points that I would like to raise here. (1) The action was hardly a unilateral stomping as this Iraq debacle is – NATO was involved, and there was a consensus amongst many European countries for the need to intervene. This multilateralism already makes the action more defensible (2) If one looks at Kosovo today, the expulsion of Albanians has been reversed into an expulsion of Serbians. Basically, the US / allies took sides with one side against another, and have not adequately protected the Serb inhabitants of Kosovo, essentially cleansing Kosovo in favour of the Albanians who are chasing them out.

“Was it ever legalized after the fact? Who cares. The spirit of the law took precedence over the letter of the law.” you say. I find it strange that you feel the killing of Albanians by Serbs is wrong but Serbs killed by Albanians are fine. My response is: the spirit of the law can be distorted and manipulated by those who wish to do so – which is why the strict literal interpretation ought to take precedence.

The UN, as a body operating by consensus, is naturally paralysed on many important issues. This is because there are many conflicting interests, and to my mind that is a problem but also an advantage. Why? Because the conflicting interests have a naturally balancing effect on each other, and the resolutions passed take into account the interests of all parties. They are also far milder than unilateral action by one aggrieved party. As a result of these factors, there is a greater moral legitimacy assigned to decisions agreed upon by the body as opposed to by a single party.

Now, I come back to the Resolutions passed. Saddam’s verification issues were a breach of the agreement that he signed. That’s bad. However, the US / Britain also breached the agreement, which kind of tells you what powerful countries think of the UN. To now have the US / Britain come back and say to the UN “there is not enough respect shown for the decisions of the UN and we are going to (out of complete disinterest, of course) do something about it, whether you like it or not” smacks more than just a little of hypocrisy. I also like the way in which the UN is useful when its decisions toe the US line, and useless when it does not. For example, the way in which resolutions against Israel (if by some miracle they are passed) are disregarded, but those against Iraq are taken too far.

The message that the US has given to the world by ignoring the fact that there was no mandate to invade Iraq is : “There is no law, and the only defence against us is possession of the nuclear bomb”. That is not very reassuring to me.

Oh and “"Cynical self interest is what has stopped the US calls for deposing Ghaddaffi. I’m glad that Lybia is now one of your bosom buddies,"

Deliberate hyperbole.”

Is of course correct, but you sadly left out the remainder which makes it funny. My problem is this: as the sole remaining superpower the US has decided to remould the world to suit it, through force. What compounds these evil intentions, is the fact that it is, especially under Bush, dirtying the ideals which a great deal of the globe holds dear, through using them as ‘spin’ to put a gloss on its deeds. (That is part of the reason why I get my underwear in knots about the issue.) If I thought that the US was really honest in its motives and had botched the job badly … I might think better of you. However, the Evil Agenda ™ shines through, if you read enough … hence my tone. You know what, things would be better if you were right (the US is being honest in its efforts) and I were wrong. I wish they were. But they are not.
 
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@ Bruno

I'll try to be brief

"I agree that while not perfect, Democracy is the best way forward for a country to take, at the moment anyway."

We all agree.

"whether the United States is the vehicle through which Democracy ™ is to be introduced to the region."

Um, were there any other candidates volunteering for the position? Iraq has pleaded for assistance, even the UN asked member states to help. The Iraqi's are still waiting...

So your whole post is just empty rhetoric. No one cared enough about Iraq to do anything. Not her neighbors, not the EU, not russia, China, Zimbabwe, etc. No one. Saddam would still be in power now. You may agree that's a good idea, but that is not the thrust of your argument being presented here.

"Now THIS is what we are really arguing about. And, to my mind, the US scores a resounding NO! on all counts."

OK. LEt's rephrase your support for democracy from above:

"I agree that while not perfect, USA is the best country to help the Iraqi's establish security, a democracy, and rebuild, at the moment anyway. This is primarily because no one else is willing to make the sacrifices to do it."

"My conclusion? That the US excuse of propagating democracy is not only unbelievable in the light of its track record, not only probably destined to failure through sheer incompetency, but also very likely to be subverted through the considerable interests that the US has in Iraq."

Believe me, the US and Iraq has asked repeatedly for assistance. Unfortunately the kiwis, norwegians, and finns have opted to pursue more convenient priorities. This goes for the rest of the world -both civilized and not.


"there was a consensus amongst many European countries for the need to intervene. This multilateralism already makes the action more defensible"

Did the UN authorize the action or not? You can't have it both ways Bruno.

"I find it strange that you feel the killing of Albanians by Serbs is wrong but Serbs killed by Albanians are fine. "

When did I ever say that? Please try to stop confusing the logic behind the decision to take action, with the success/failure of actually implementing the action.

"My response is: the spirit of the law can be distorted and manipulated by those who wish to do so – which is why the strict literal interpretation ought to take precedence."

So you think it was wrong for NATO to use force to protect people in kosovo.

"The UN, as a body operating by consensus, is naturally paralysed on many important issues."

Exactly.

"Now, I come back to the Resolutions passed. Saddam’s verification issues were a breach of the agreement that he signed. That’s bad."

If one party to an agreement breaks the agreement, then there is no agreement. I know that is real mind boggling. US forces (and all member states) were authorized to use whatever forces necessary to establish certain conditions that regulated saddam's relations with the world community. An end state was reached wherein if Saddam complied with XYZ, then the conditions were considered met. He never met those conditions.

But as anon or mr. dem or whoever said, we shouldn't take up space on this forum to argue points that are not directly related to current issues at hand.
 
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Charles –

*sigh*

Our fundamental difference will prevent us forever from reaching consensus on this issue. Boiled down to the essential arguments it is this: You believe that the US will truly try to introduce a genuine popular democracy in Iraq. I believe it will try to introduce a ‘democracy’ which will serve its interests and which can be manipulated, for all the reasons which I have already listed. Frankly, the idea is repugnant to me.

Your scenario of the US being perhaps an imperfect (ha! Understatement!) vehicle through which democracy will be introduced is to me analogous to having Ted Bundy look after little Timmy here while mom does the shopping because, well, nobody else wants to do the job.

I really can’t explain any better without launching into an endless diatribe about the Evil USA ™ and the way in which it hypocritically, simultaneously, both condemns dictators and supports dictators; saves Albanians but damns Serbs; condemns Saddam for torture, but continues to handsomely underwrite Islam Karimov in Uzbekhistan so that he can continue to boil people alive.

The common denominator here is if a country does not toe the US line it is evil, if it does then it is not. I’m sorry, but for a country that espouses such ideals as the US, and claims to act in accordance with those ideals, reality is a big rock in the path.

The action in Kosovo can be seen in two lights. (1) The US and NATO stepped in to prevent an ethnic cleansing of Albanians by Serbs … or … (2) The US and NATO stepped in to facilitate an ethnic cleansing of Serbs by Albanians. These are drastic oversimplifications of the situation, but they serve to illustrate that the action taken was not necessarily purely ‘good’. There are two sides to the coin. Reality is rather more grey than black and white. For example, even if I were to agree with you that the action against Serbia was ‘right’, it does not necessarily follow that it was legal (according to the UN) nor that the precedent of action in the Balkans excuses action against Iraq, given that the situations and protagonists and motivations are so different.

The UN:

I’m going to leave the UN debate here. You feel that the Ceasefire was void because Saddam broke it (hm. Are you *sure* he broke it *first* though?) and that is probably a legally correct stance to take. At the same time, and repeating myself again, it was up to the UN, as the legal holder of those documents, to decide what action to take. NOT its constituent members. That is the crux of the matter.

The UN is frustrating, I know. In fact, it is probably more frustrating for people other than the US, like the Arabs for example. The same as some countries blocked action on Iraq, another big, North American country blocks action on Israel. If the US did not use its veto to protect Israel, it would be toast, you know. Again, THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING. I like the idea of having to force a consensus, because this promotes those essential twins of dialogue and compromise.
 
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@ Bruno

Well I'm glad you finally came out and said it:

US = Ted Bundy (serial killer).

That is your fundamental premise. The US is the equivalent of an insane serial killer. All of your arguments spring forth from this sour soil.

I am 100% confident that the vast majority of people who hold your view, will mature in years to come and your positions will be mitigated by history, experience, and reality.

Remember:

Virtuous motives, trammeled by inertia and timidity, are no match for armed and resolute wickedness." W.C.
 
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Charles –

If the US has serious national interests in a country, and is faced with the choice of a hostile democracy or a friendly dictatorship, it will choose the dictatorship every time. The Bundy analogy holds. To claim that I view the United States as a whole in the same light is erroneous.

“I am 100% confident that the vast majority of people who hold your view, will mature in years to come and your positions will be mitigated by history, experience, and reality.”

You know what, I hope so too.

But you are right: reality will have to modify our views, and the criminals that currently govern your country are, um, *unlikely * to bring about that moderation of my views or of other similar minded people. Experience and history tell me current trends will continue.

“Virtuous motives, trammeled by inertia and timidity, are no match for armed and resolute wickedness." W.C.”

True.

However, in your zeal to fight ‘wickedness’ you are oblivious to the fact that you are becoming the very thing that you purport to despise. The means that you are using to achieve your ends are taking on a life of their own – be careful that in the final reckoning the two do not become indistinguishable from one another.
 
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@ Bruno

Are you some socialist wacko with an agenda??? Hmmm?

Comparing the US government to serial killers and calling the current administration criminals is just silly. Its beyond Silly. Its dumb. There - Iv'e said it.

Maybe the world stinks. I'm sorry but its dumb to contrive theories that place the blame on this or any other US administration.

"However, in your zeal to fight ‘wickedness’ you are oblivious to the fact that you are becoming the very thing that you purport to despise."

This sounds like a really crappy infantile hollywood drama - at the end - when someone is trying to present the 'moral of the story'.

Please explain to me how the enforcement of disramament resolutions against Saddam is somehow murderous or criminal? Doesn't history show us that it is more dangerous not to enforce these issues? What precedent does it send the rest ofthe baddies?

Please explain to me how the evil neocon Bush admin differed in argument and/or rhetoric from previous admins for the last 15 years re: Iraq? Or from the principles upon which the USA and most other civilized countries claim as their seminal values?

The US is a free country and we publish Congressional proceedings for anyone who wants to read. I really recommend you read that Ritter testimony before Senate n 1998. I'm sure that's the tip of the iceberg. Read the previous admins opinions and statements.

Please clarify how these positions were somehow different from the argument/rhetoric of other UNSC members re: Iraq?

As I have stated before, even the French admit that Saddam could never be trusted to comply.
 
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(Sorry - this ought to have been posted a week ago. My time lately is *limited *)

Charles –

My dear fellow. The US track record with regards to democracy is entirely in keeping with the description I have offered. Commercial interests in both Iran and Chile resulted in democratic countries being replaced with bloody dictatorships at the US’s instigation. There are currently numerous dictatorships, some relatively benign, some equivalent to Saddam, that the US supports Now … Countries where the majority would very much like to elect their own government but where the US backed dictators have either annulled unfavourable results or merely never held elections.

I challenge you, then.

Provide me with examples of a situation where the US, faced with important commercial / strategic / military interests in a country, and given the choice of a friendly dictatorship or hostile democracy, has chosen the democratic route. Heck, just find one example. That would go some way to mitigating my stance. Good luck.

UNSC resolutions:

It pains me to admit to myself that despite the fact that I initially thought you were somebody who possessed a modicum of critical intelligence, you are in fact willfully blind on this issue. Firstly, you are somehow completely unable to distinguish the fundamental difference between UN authority and US mandate.

“Please explain to me how the enforcement of disramament resolutions against Saddam is somehow murderous or criminal?”

The enforcement of these disarmament resolutions is neither murderous nor criminal. Your use of logic, however, might be described as such. You are trying to drive me into a false dilemma, where the only alternatives are WMD proliferation and outright invasion, as well as a straw man argument where only invasion is the solution to arms control.

Enforcement was effected through use of inspections. I guess you are deeply offended that these measures WORKED and that in fact the cowboy antics of Bush were not needed at all. I’m sorry about that. Enforcement was NOT a mandate for invasion. It never was. Launching an illegal invasion that was not only based on lies, but resulted in possibly upward of a hundred thousand Iraqis dying, that resulted in the undermining of international law, that set a precedent for similar, future action by *other* states (imagine India and Pakistan getting it on in a ‘preemtive’ war), that massively destabilized the region and that massively increased the popularity and streangth of the real (Al Qaeda) terrorists is certainly murderous and criminal.

I guess that the French were wrong in their assessments as well, then, because Saddam had complied – there were no NBC weapons in Iraq. The French, and most of the rest of the world, did not, however, invade Iraq on false pretences and without a global mandate.

The difference between Bush and previous Clintonian doctrine, for example, is the fact that while Clinton may have supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, he did not (a) invade Iraq or (b) have long term plans to base military forces on Iraqi soil. Hey, don’t get me wrong. I hardly support the machinations used by the US during his tenure that managed to turn sanctions into a weapon of destruction, nor the continued bombing of Iraq. That was, however, preferable to the absolute chaos that was unleashed by Bush’s adventure.

“"However, in your zeal to fight ‘wickedness’ you are oblivious to the fact that you are becoming the very thing that you purport to despise."

This sounds like a really crappy infantile hollywood drama - at the end - when someone is trying to present the 'moral of the story'.”

Aw, gee, I must apologise if I distorted the reality of what is happening.

I thought the difference between the US and the “Islamofascists” was that the Islamofascists torture people (unlike at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Camp Bucca and the CIA ‘rendering’ procedures) and kill innocents (unlike the numerous wedding bombings, checkpoint shootings and razing of civilian areas) and encourage the disregard for the value of human life (unlike the PC Marine training that instills a value for the lives of fellow humans * ) and take hostages (unlike the detainment of suspected insurgent’s families) and are religious fanatics (unlike Boykin and the rest of the far right pro war whack jobs that I keep running into on the net) and are against democratic rule (unlike backers of countries like Egypt, Kazakstan and Saudi Arabia) and are against free speech (unlike the closing of Al Sadr’s newspaper and the banning of Al Jazeera and so forth) as well as many other things related.

It must be infantile to imagine something that walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck … but is only smaller … might grow up to be a duck.


(* A Marine question/chant: “ What makes the grass grow !!??”)
 
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Hm. I thought that this had already been posted, but here goes:

Charles –

My dear fellow. The US track record with regards to democracy is entirely in keeping with the description I have offered. Commercial interests in both Iran and Chile resulted in democratic countries being replaced with bloody dictatorships at the US’s instigation. There are currently numerous dictatorships, some relatively benign, some equivalent to Saddam, that the US supports Now … Countries where the majority would very much like to elect their own government but where the US backed dictators have either annulled unfavourable results or merely never held elections.

I challenge you, then.

Provide me with examples of a situation where the US, faced with important commercial / strategic / military interests in a country, and given the choice of a friendly dictatorship or hostile democracy, has chosen the democratic route. Heck, just find one example. That would go some way to mitigating my stance. Good luck.

UNSC resolutions:

It pains me to admit to myself that despite the fact that I initially thought you were somebody who possessed a modicum of critical intelligence, you are in fact willfully blind on this issue. Firstly, you are somehow completely unable to distinguish the fundamental difference between UN authority and US mandate.

“Please explain to me how the enforcement of disramament resolutions against Saddam is somehow murderous or criminal?”

The enforcement of these disarmament resolutions is neither murderous nor criminal. Your use of logic, however, might be described as such. You are trying to drive me into a false dilemma, where the only alternatives are WMD proliferation and outright invasion, as well as a straw man argument where only invasion is the solution to arms control.

Enforcement was effected through use of inspections. I guess you are deeply offended that these measures WORKED and that in fact the cowboy antics of Bush were not needed at all. I’m sorry about that. Enforcement was NOT a mandate for invasion. It never was. Launching an illegal invasion that was not only based on lies, but resulted in possibly upward of a hundred thousand Iraqis dying, that resulted in the undermining of international law, that set a precedent for similar, future action by *other* states (imagine India and Pakistan getting it on in a ‘preemtive’ war), that massively destabilized the region and that massively increased the popularity and streangth of the real (Al Qaeda) terrorists is certainly murderous and criminal.

I guess that the French were wrong in their assessments as well, then, because Saddam had complied – there were no NBC weapons in Iraq. The French, and most of the rest of the world, did not, however, invade Iraq on false pretences and without a global mandate.

The difference between Bush and previous Clintonian doctrine, for example, is the fact that while Clinton may have supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, he did not (a) invade Iraq or (b) have long term plans to base military forces on Iraqi soil. Hey, don’t get me wrong. I hardly support the machinations used by the US during his tenure that managed to turn sanctions into a weapon of destruction, nor the continued bombing of Iraq. That was, however, preferable to the absolute chaos that was unleashed by Bush’s adventure.

“"However, in your zeal to fight ‘wickedness’ you are oblivious to the fact that you are becoming the very thing that you purport to despise."

This sounds like a really crappy infantile hollywood drama - at the end - when someone is trying to present the 'moral of the story'.”

Aw, gee, I must apologise if I distorted the reality of what is happening.

I thought the difference between the US and the “Islamofascists” was that the Islamofascists torture people (unlike at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Camp Bucca and the CIA ‘rendering’ procedures) and kill innocents (unlike the numerous wedding bombings, checkpoint shootings and razing of civilian areas) and encourage the disregard for the value of human life (unlike the PC Marine training that instills a value for the lives of fellow humans * ) and take hostages (unlike the detainment of suspected insurgent’s families) and are religious fanatics (unlike Boykin and the rest of the far right pro war whack jobs that I keep running into on the net) and are against democratic rule (unlike backers of countries like Egypt, Kazakstan and Saudi Arabia) and are against free speech (unlike the closing of Al Sadr’s newspaper and the banning of Al Jazeera and so forth) as well as many other things related.

It must be infantile to imagine something that walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck … but is only smaller … might grow up to be a duck.


(* A Marine question/chant: “ What makes the grass grow !!??”)
 
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