Thursday, June 23, 2005

 

7. Leading America into Perpetual Conflict


Possible Motives for the Invasion of Iraq

Theory of Perpetual War

This theory is another possible explanation for the events in Iraq over the past two years. It is different from, and less ambitious than, the ‘world domination theory’. In this post, I will only give a very brief outline of this theory but will come back to it in future posts to examine it in greater detail and apply it to the US administrations’ performance in Iraq.

This discussion is no more than a proposal of a possible theory and should not be seen as an attempt at any absolute revelation of the truth. It is simply just another attempt to fit sense and logic into what is otherwise seen as irrational, senseless or inexplicable. I may well be wrong on the theory I am proposing in this article. I certainly hope that I am; otherwise we are in for a gloomy future.

The basic premise of the theory is not built around Iraq! It is basically an approach to the long term defense of the United States.

Brief Outline of Theory

Problem:

With the end of the cold war and the crumbling of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war, there was no longer an immediate visible threat to America as seen by the lay public.

Due to the resulting public and Congressional mood, and because of the mounting national debts, military expenditure was reduced considerably (during the Clinton administration). Some of the consequences would be that the arms industry will suffer without much influx of capital, arms research will be weaker. The army will be reduced in size and in capability. America will become weaker.

While this is taking place, other nations (some of them strong candidates to be US competitors or adversaries) will be busy building their economic and military strength. This can already be seen taking place at a horrific rate in China. Some observers are already worried about recent trends in Russia. Other countries will soon follow.

Central to all these strategic considerations is oil… the present civilization’s most crucial raw material.

These possibilities cannot be taken lightly by truly concerned patriots. It would be quite irresponsible from a certain patriotic point of view not to be strongly concerned with these potential future dangers.

The long term cost of relaxing the nation’s readiness and military capability can be catastrophic.

Up to this point, the arguments are familiar and have been advocated frequently during most of the 90’s. It is the natural conclusion that follows from these arguments that is the basis of the ‘undeclared’ Perpetual War Theory.


Solution:

In practical terms, there is one solution.

Due to the nature of the US democratic political system, the country cannot be made to increase the defense budgets and maintain the military strength at adequate levels without a visible threat. It cannot be made to fight without a conviction subscribed to by a majority of the population.

People need to feel threatened, and convinced of the immanent nature of that threat, to rally to the call. In this respect, a PNAC document entitled “Rebuilding America's Defenses” published in 2000 actually mentions the positive effect of “some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [I am definitely not contending that they had anything to do with 9/11; I am only trying to portray an attitude that may lead to certain conclusions.]

Once that is achieved, the rest of the agenda will be relatively simple to implement: Elected politicians, for the very purpose of getting elected, generally reflect the mood of the people. The required legislation and budget allocations necessary to achieve the major objectives will pass through Congress almost unhindered.

The only possible way to achieve these strategic objectives is for the nation to be kept in a state of constant war or a constant threat of war.

But it would not be prudent or even beneficial to initiate strong confrontational positions with major potential adversaries such as China at present.

The best solution is to engage the nation in a series of continuous small wars (‘good’ wars fought on US terms) and not wait for the other sides to start it when they are ready.

Therefore, to achieve the objective of putting the nation in conflict and hence in a state of alert, a smaller enemy is necessary to start with for a good part of this century. Enemies are therefore needed (there certainly is no shortage of these, but the American public has to believe those enemies pose an eminent threat to the US). A war in which the US would quickly prevail due to its superior power is not good enough. This was clearly demonstrated by the relaxed public mood that followed the first Gulf War. The war (or series of wars) has to be a long-term one… preferably continuous.

***


Although the doctrines of ‘The Project for the New American Century’ (PNAC) and the related neo-conservative school of thought are important corner stones to understanding this theory, it is not limited to them!

Several political observers have wondered like Seymour Hersh how a small ‘cultist’ group of people could totally hijack the foreign policy of a thriving democracy in the world’s major superpower. The answer is simple: it is not a small cultist group. The ideals of these people can be seen as part of larger, ‘more subtle’ currents in the United States that began to take root immediately after the end of the cold war and reached similar conclusions regarding the need for America’s military readiness.

This is not seen as an evil scheme by its subscribers! Some (perhaps many) of the people who hold this vision believe that America’s political system is the most humane and its economic system the most efficient. It is built around individual rights and freedoms. Human dignity is almost sacred and is enshrined in the constitution. Democracy is central to government structure. Open government is a guaranteed by various checks and balances built wisely into the system. The American model, when applied to other countries such as Japan or Germany among others has led to thriving countries and just, non-aggressive societies. From a patriotic American viewpoint, such ‘dominance’ is good for the country and good for the world as a whole. It can be subscribed to by people with moderate views and mild dispositions!

From this brief outline, it may not be difficult to realize the extent of the influential forces in the States that may subscribe to this undeclared agenda. The neocons are only the publicly visible, ‘intellectual’, active, outspoken (and perhaps fanatic) advocates of the extreme version of this vision. They also happen to hold the reigns of power in America. And some of them, for example John Bolton, have been accredited of getting the religious fundamentalist movements of America on the bandwagon.

***


In coming posts, I will go into this theory in some detail to include the need to defend the conventional American values of freedom, democracy and religious faith.

I will then hope to apply this theory to the war in Iraq to offer explanation of events that seem so far inexplicable unless one assume an unbelievable degree of poor planning and total incompetence. I also find this theory capable of explaining the ferocity of the antagonistic attitude towards ‘old Europe’ and the UN as well as the evident apathy to American and other casualties and expenditure.

***


A motive to invade Iraq? Iraq just happened to be the best, almost ideal, candidate!

According to this theory, what has been happening in Iraq is the plan! It would not have been sufficient for the US army to prevail, institute a solid democracy in a stable country… and leave soon afterwards. The motive in this case is the conflict itself that may result in log-term strategic gains, not short-term profits, to America… at a minimum level of losses.


Comments:

I appeal to skeptic readers to bear with me a while and allow me to elaborate on these points in coming posts before deciding to use their keyboards to try and blast this theory into oblivion!
 
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I think that Thom Hartmann are very close to the real reason for war in his articel:"They Died So Republicans Could Take the Senate" where he write:
"In order to bring about this neoconservative paradise, Bush knew he'd need considerable political capital. And that kind of capital didn't come from his being selected as President by the Supreme Court.

Such political capital - such raw political power - would only come, he believed, by his becoming a "war president."" and 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.'
 
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Perhaps the most troubling interpretation, Abu Khaleel.

That there are people who want war for its own sake is a fact. History is replete with examples. However there is one contradiction in the reasoning that you present which I would like to point out:

To start a perpetual war in an oil-rich country, within an oil-rich region, does not serve the long-term interests of those who seek to extract that oil.
 
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History of U.S support of Osam bin laden and his group in Afganistan: U.S was not interested in ending the war between Afganistan and Russia, it was intrested in contiuing the war in order to make Russia weak. Who got killed, how many got killed, what happend to the country was not important, they just wanted along war to weaken Russia.
 
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Abu Khaleel:

I will keep this brief since I am interested in seeing how you flesh out your perpetual war theory. Much of the analysis makes perfect sense.

However, it suffers from several serious drawbacks, including: (1) war fatigue typically undermines public support for conflict in democratic countries, (2) long term wars tend to weaken, not strengthen combatant countries both politically and economically (see anonymous' excellent example of the Soviet Union in Afghansitan) and, (3) a better PNAC strategy would be to win the war in Iraq, stablilize it and efficiently rebuild it, then move on to invade the next PNAC target on the enemies list, for example, Iran or North Korea. This last strategy has the virtue, from a PNAC viewpoint, of illustrating to the public the costs of such an aggressive military policy are not too high to bear.

Perhaps, you could consider those issues in your next posting on your theory.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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" military expenditure was reduced considerably (during the Clinton administration)"

Could you provide some reference for this assumption as it would seem to be central to your argument.
 
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"I have been enjoying much of this debate. (Please note that I have not mentioned Circular.)"
Sheesh, you can’t have much fun round here. Maybe I better go and play in another room.
OK then, be serious. Ahem.
I’m glad you’re only putting this forward as a tentative theory, Abu, because as Mark points out above, there’s quite a few holes in it. Despite my constant ranting about the duplicity, stupidity and cupidity of America, I’m really only thinking of the lunatic right - I believe that the majority of Americans, despite their having perhaps acquired a cold-war "habit" of being over-armed, and despite the shock of 9/11, not only don’t want to be in an Orwellian state of permanent war, but ultimately won’t allow themselves to be sucked into this state. (Maybe I’m a silly optimist, but I imagine that the uproar over any attempt to instigate some sort of draft at present would be deafening.)
ON THE OTHER HAND, old Shrubby has just said, very specifically, "Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home," hasn’t he?
In other words, he’s still totally committed to his world-wide War on Terror; again, "we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens."
I mean, can he really believe that if the Marines just keep going until they get every last one of them pesky critters "out there," everything will magically come right? Even if he doesn’t listen to Generals who say they are creating more "terrorists" than they are killing, he must be aware at some level that deploying several billion dollars worth of ships, planes and tanks every time a few hundred desperate ragged-ass insurgents pop up in Whereverstan is just plain bad bidness - the returns ain’t worth the investment?
Except if you’re an arms manufacturer or a war contractor. (On either side - whoever makes the ammo for the AK47 must be laughing all the way to the bank.)
It’s more or less a truism now that 9/11 gave Bush and his cabal the excuse they needed to carry out their long hoped for conquest of Iraq. But does it go deeper than that? Is Iraq really just a sideshow? Was 9/11 also the excuse for an indefinite, unwinnable but very profitable WOT that can be cranked up virtually anywhere anytime it’s needed? Seems to make more sense than most other things these nuts have done.
Heck, I’m just depressing myself. Can I go back to being frivolous, Abu?
Circular
 
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IF THIS WAS TRUE ...
(from Dahr Jamail)

"Near the city of Buhrez, 5 kilometers south of Baquba, two Humvess of American soldiers were destroyed recently. American and Iraqi soldiers came to the city afterwards and cut all the phones, cut the water, cut medicine from arriving in the city and told them that until the people of the city bring the "terrorists" to them, the embargo will continue."
The embargo has been in place now for one week now, and he continued:
"The Americans still won’t let anyone or any medicines and supplies into Buhrez, nor will they allow any people in or out. Even the Al-Sadr followers who organized some help for the people in the city (water, food, medicine) are not being allowed into the city. Even journalists cannot enter to publish the news, and the situation there is so bad. The Americans keep asking for the people in the city to bring them the persons who were in charge of destroying the two Humvees on the other side of the city, but of course the people in the city don’t know who carried out the attack."

I am reminded of the great Australian war memoir, The Naked Island, by Russell Braddon. In it he describes Aussie troops on their way to Singapore in a Dutch troopship. They rebelled at being confined to the sweltering lower decks, and took over the main deck. Eventually the last of them, a studious serious obedient type, decided to join his comrades above, and they listened to him climbing the interminable gangways, until he lost his footing at the top and tumbled all the way back down to deck Z. From the bowels of that horrible ship came his verdict: "Yew bastard! Yew
bloody bastard! Yew bloody bastard of a bloody Dutch bloody ship!" Braddon comments: Seldom have I heard the Great Australian Adjective and the Great Australian Noun used to such effect!

I mean, if the above story was true:
Bearing in mind that it’s high summer, and that 70% of the inhabitants of that town are women and children:
Then I would say:

Yew bastards.
Yew bloody bastards.
Yew amoral, arrogant, animal bastards.
Yew bullying, brainless, butchering bastards.
Yew cowardly, craven cringeing bastards.

And so on through the rest of the alphabet.

Charles, Mark, Madtom, I would say, go and rip those "Support The Troops" stickers off your cars.
Or go to hell.

Scuse me.

Circular
 
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F. in Amsterdam, Mark,
Good points. I look forward to discussing them.


Circular,
You sound quite angry. We need all the ‘coolness’ that we can muster.


Tom,
Are you serious? This is so reminiscent of an older discussion.

On the Google search window type the words “us military expenditure clinton administration decline”

The first item will be

http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/BG1244.cfm

Is the Heritage Foundation good enough on this? Click on that! Or any of the others on the search results.

The number of words and clicks you require to get an answer to your question is less than those you used to post that comment.

While reading that report, please note the amounts being talked about (keeping Bosnia in mind) and compare them to the sums being spent now to liberate the Iraqi people.

Once that “central” point is confirmed, are you prepared to consider the rest of the argument?!!!!
 
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Abu Khaleel --

Such a permanent – war scenario makes no sense to me … UNLESS it is in order to achieve short term goals at home, for example. If we look at the US system at home, the “Republican” faction is seen as more hard line, tougher and business-oriented. The “democrat” faction tends to be more multilateral, socialist and ‘wimpy’, for want of a better word. If this is true or not, is beside the point.

To me, your ‘perpetual war’ scenario makes sense if there was some sort of move afoot to permanently restructure the US domestic political scenario, so as to lay the US mindset onto a new track, and keep it there. To do that, the stress of war makes people naturally turn to people that they perceive as strong and able to protect them, and this would fit the bill of the Republicans (and the sub-faction of Neocons) rather well. Look at Iran, for further confirmation of this theory. Despite a rash of relatively ‘moderate’ candidates available, the Iranians turned out in greater numbers than ever to support two hardline candidates. Why? Because they are under the spectre of war, that’s why.

Now, I don’t pay very great attention to US domestic policies, but some commentators have made a big deal over how the GOP is trying to cram its own members into the judiciary and other power structures, and trying to dismantle the vestiges of the “New Deal”. Whether this is indeed the internal shift that I’m speculating about, or whether this is merely a big load of sour grapes, US natives might be able to explain better.

Oh, and another thing that just came to mind … how come the pro-war / invasion types are almost exclusively Americans, whereas those opposed to these policies are a mix of Americans and “the rest of the world”. Perhaps the US slide to the right has already occurred, with relation to the rest of the world, and current events are merely deepening the rift.


Circular --

Uh, if you go and check out Cryptome, you can find links to pictures of US soldiers planting weapons next to a bunch of teenagers that they just killed in Buhriz. That oughta really get your pressure up.
 
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Circ:

Dahr Jamail? If he was a "journalist" rather than an "advocacy journalist" (which translates in "non-PC speak" as propagandist), I would give far more credence to your posting. BTW, did you know your man "Dahr" also believes he will be targeted for assassination by his own goverment (yes, he's an American).

Come on man, don't edit out the material that shows the tenuous nature of the report you quote. In the original post by Dahr Jamail, his introduction to the quote states:

"People like Edelman don't want people to know what one of my sources in Baquba just told me today. His e-mail reads:” (The link is http://www.antiwar.com/jamail/ .)

This is not journalism. Responsible reporters carefully verify facts. They do not publish articles with extensive quotes from “just received” e-mails as if they contained gospel truth.

Your citation to Dahr Jamail is a bit like Charles citing Michael Yon's glowing reports of American heroism (ex-special forces/novelist) as the sole arbiter of unvarnished truth in Iraq. His link is http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/ .

Circ, please tell me you haven't become so jaded that you no longer bother to either read carefully or to consider "the source" when assessing media reports.

As to bumper stickers, I don’t believe in cheerleading for war. It is far too serious of a business.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Mark
Don’t want to get into an argument, but I will say this:
a) I did write "if this is true ..."
b) I’ve been reading Jamail almost since he started posting, and have found him to be a reasonably moderate and responsible "independent" reporter on conditions - much like Chris Allbritton used to be.
c) It happens that there is a journalist here in NZ, Jon Stephenson, who has made several trips to Iraq and sold stories to our media. (Not available on the Internet.) I know he is reliable from his local reporting. Last year he did a very informative interview with Allawi, and another with some part-time insurgents. His most recent descriptions of conditions in Baghdad, a month or so ago, tally exactly with Jamail’s descriptions.
d) I frankly find the report unfortunately quite believable. It’s the sort of action you would expect from an occupation Army growing increasingly frustrated by the situation it has been placed in.
e) And after Fallujah, I would say anything’s possible for this Army. Possible doesn’t mean acceptable.
Circular
 
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I don't know for sure, but I don't doubt the story Circular posts. I saw video footage on a PBS documentary that showed a U.S. commander (Colonel or General) threatening a tribal leader with arrest and a long prison sentence if he didn't give up the names of terrorists within his village. The obvious problem with that tactic was that:

a) The terrorists knew he was talking to the Americans
and
b) If any number of the terrorists got rounded up, they would attack the tribal leader's family for bloody reprisals

So really the tribal leader was faced with either going to prison personally, or avoiding prison and then risking harm to his family from a "bloody bastard stupid tactic" as one might say.

Informant networks should be SECRET. But there's no attempt to make them secret.

Care should be taken to AVOID PUNISHING THE INNOCENT. And there is no such care.

If the definition of terrorism is to punish the innocent as a symbolic threat against the guilty, then both sides in that war are actually terrorists.

I was an "American hawk" until last week. Now I am an angry-as-hell dissident in America, because I've also learned the truth about 9/11.
 
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Circ:

You have an odd way of expressing yourself for someone who doesn't want to get into an argument. Which part of your closing lines should I have intrepreted as being non-confrontational?

"Then I would say:

Yew bastards.
Yew bloody bastards.
Yew amoral, arrogant, animal bastards.
Yew bullying, brainless, butchering bastards.
Yew cowardly, craven cringeing bastards.

And so on through the rest of the alphabet.

Charles, Mark, Madtom, I would say, go and rip those "Support The Troops" stickers off your cars.
Or go to hell.

Scuse me." End Quote.

Circ, as to Dahr Jaimal, have you read this interview with him. The link is http://www.antiwar.com/news/?articleid=4095 . Here is a nice bit of self importance from your "moderate journalist:"

“I am concerned about my safety, of course. This is the most dangerous place in the world for a journalist to be, especially those of us who are reporting the reality of what is occurring here. I have concerns of reprisal from the military and my government – because they don't like to have the facts get out. I've consistently been a minority voice with my reporting in Iraq, which has led many to discount my reports and call me biased.”

This pretty much makes his paranoid, anti-U.S. bias explicit. I seriously doubt that his brand of hack, advocacy journalism rates even five seconds of the time of a "special ops" planner. It seems to me the U.S. army has much bigger problems than this particular self-important, third rate “journalist.”

Of course, if his report on Buhrez is true (after all, even a broken clock is right twice a day), it constitutes “collective punishment,” which would violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. This type of conduct is both immoral, strategically counterproductive and should be criminally prosecuted. I suspect that other media members will be able confirm his report if it has any merit. To date, I haven’t seen any confirmation of the story by other journalists (googled it, but his was the only hit).

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
I know this is off topic but do you have any opinion on the effect of the election of Ahmadinejad? This seems very ominous.
 
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Anon,

I wonder if it might not be a positive development. That Rafsanjani fellow was considered a conservative reformist - as if that has any meaning. He shouldered the blame for the lack of reforms when in fact he did not hold true executive power. So the reform minded electorate was disillusioned and stayed home, while the more fundamentalist types came out in droves.

Now the 'conservative conservatives' have all the power - both explicit and implicit. Iranian economic stagnation, high unemployment, etc., will now be their overt responsibility. No more excuses. I don't have the exact number in my head but as I recall the vast majority of Iranians are under 25.

Just let them try to tighten the screws and we'll see where they are in 5 years.

It might get a bit hairy in the short term rhetorically, but I do believe it may be positive.

Of course the new fellow may want to keep things hot in Iraq to make sure there is no progress there. That might confuse his unemployed red staters.

On another note the new prez looks a lot like my Sikh friend Deepinder so he can't be all that bad.
 
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Hello Anon,

I don’t think you question is off-topic: I haven’t seen any factual reports from Iran yet, but I tend to agree with Bruno’s remark above. I have also alluded to this in my previous post. When people feel their country is threatened, they tend to go for the ‘tougher’ candidate. In this respect, they are not different from Americans (or anybody else for that matter!)

Iran will probably play a tougher game regarding the nuclear issue. I also expect the new administration to try and play a more active role in Iraq both covertly and overtly (through SCIRI and Badr).

On the other hand, there is the ‘fact’ that hardliners usually have more leeway to compromise!

Circular,

I can now vouch for Jmail’s story. I was at the farm and talked to some people who have relatives there.

Believe me, I know how you feel, but how do you think I do, living here? But outbursts of strong language do not help. I am gratified that only Mark took you up on your comment. Anger is a privilege of youth! No more foul language, please?
 
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While I am still online, may I seek regular readers’ opinions on how to discuss the Perpetual War Theory in greater detail?

My monologue is some 9000 words long. I know that such a long post will be quite boring to most people… but breaking it down to several posts may also stretch the patience of people like Circular. In principle, I can publish a short resume and link to an ‘invisible’ long post, but I don’t know how to do that on Blogger. Any suggestions?
 
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From Circular
Well I’m sorry if I’ve upset you, Abu. Actually "bloody" and "bastard" are no longer regarded as strong language in the Antipodes - more just punctuation marks.
How to address the "permanent war" theory? My suggestion would be, don’t! Why waste a lot of effort on the misguided policies of a failed superpower? I’ve just been reading "House of Bush, House of Saud," by Craig Unger. I’m up to the bit discussing the way different elements in the Reagan Administration, including several people well known to us, variously supported both sides in the Iran/Iraq war. I don’t think I’ll finish it - it’s too disgusting.
Your Blog is "Iraqi Letters." I respectfully suggest that wandering too far into murky world affairs could lose the primary focus ... ?
On the positive side:
First Rugby Test, Christchurch NZ, tonight:
NZ All Blacks 21
British Lions 3
Here, pussy, pussy, pussy ...
Michael Campbell, NZ, beats Tiger Woods for US Golf Open
Here, pussy, pussy, pussy ...
Four Female Marines killed, eleven wounded in Fallujah
Juan Cole reports:
The Marines responded by putting all of Fallujah under a strict curfew. Al-Jazeera is saying that the Marines are sending automobiles through the streets with loudspeakers, calling on the residents to inform on the guerrillas to the Americans, and threatening that if they did not, they would be trapped in their homes by a continued curfew. The US military frequently employs forms of collective punishment in Iraq, and resorts to locking down an entire city where it feels it necessary.
I know I’m being offensive, but
Here, pussy, pussy, pussy ...
I apologise for sidetracking your blog topic, Abu, but really: we can’t discuss "how did we get into this" without some occasional reference to what "this" has become and is becoming, can we? Helena Cobban ( http://www.justworldnews.org/ ) has recently speculated that a precipitate or forced US withdrawal from Iraq could be accompanied by vindictive US retaliation. We seem to be there already.
And with all due respect to Mark, "collective punishment" sounds a bit mealy-mouthed to me.
"Atrocities" is the word he’s looking for. And what his Army is getting into.
Nobody, not even Dumbsfeld and Shamey, plotted or planned for this.
Circular
 
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As Usual, circ is a wellspring of profound optimism and constructive criticism!

So let's imagine that the US is, as circ suggests, a bloody stupid murderous thug with a military awash with sadistic criminals who joyfully slaughter civilians.

OK. If he is correct than what should be done? I think the time for bemoaning the appropriatness of US invasion of Iraq is better left to the historians.

What can be done to protect the innocent who are still alive in the short/medium term? What goals/milestones must be reached so that the soldiers of satan retire themselves from Iraq?

Seems to me that a stable democratic Iraq with a viable security force is a reasonable and just goal. Is that goal furthered through divisiveness and slander?

Is Iraq more likely to achieve stability sooner if the world does not actively participate and make sacrifices to overtly pursue that end? Does slandering the democratically elected shia dominated 'puppet' regime assist that regime in the critical tasks that ley before it?

However glorious and righteous the insurgents may be, their violence is unlikely to sway Mr. Bush into a unilateral withdrawal. Hint: The insurgents can lay down their weapons, help secure and rebuild Iraq, and then sweep to victory in the next election. There is no need to kill people and blow things up.

Why doesn't the world take a straight forward, unequivocal position that a democratic Iraq is the goal, and then support it with action. Forget about the evil and blundering US, help the Iraqis. If the US is the problem, then negotiate with the Iraqi government the displacement of US troops with the Red Army, or the NZ 'All Blacks' . Let the leaders lead.

Of course that depends on whether any one really gives a damn about the Iraqi's. That's the crux. The time has long passed for empty rhetoric. Let's see some action!
 
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"The first item will be

http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/BG1244.cfm

Is the Heritage Foundation good enough on this?

No this is not good enough, this is internal partisan politics. You'll have to do better than that.

"Once that “central” point is confirmed, are you prepared to consider the rest of the argument?!!!!"

I give consideration to all argument based on the merits and internal consistency of said arguments.
 
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Mad Tom,

We are talking about the military expenditure in America, not the Soviet Union or China. All facts and figures are out there. I just gave you one example. Please do your own search. I would be delighted to hear your conclusion on the matter but only if your search turns up results that contradict my contention.
 
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Look this article basically refutes any notion that there was any reduced military expenditures during the "Clinton Administration"
 
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Perpetual war..hmm.
Iraq certainly has been under perpetual war since 1980. America has been under a perpetual war mentality( as opposed to actual war) since 1941[war weary Americans have been fighting wars both on the big and small scale for a very long time]. America as the world's policeman is the analogy of most Americans. Before the hyperpower, the world was divided up by the strong into zones of influence(exploitation) and depended upon a balance of power to maintain peace which is necessary for commerce. This lead to wars between regional powers and injustice to the exploited. Since the cold war, the US had become the defacto world leader by reputation and willingness to support that mission. What kind of leader does the world need?(yes-it needs one-for the sake of efficiency). A leader(as a first among equals) who 'rules' even-handedly, attends to the world's many crises and enforces peace between states. The US has never made a good occupier compared to the British and prefered to support nationalist leaders to colonization. Natural challenges to a single world leader can obviously not be tolerated, but handling them must be done with great care.
What Bush proposes is to enforce the new world order but seems blind to the possibility that he is also undermining it. As a Marxist might say a worldwide hegemony contains certain contradictions which threaten it, so there is no way to force a solution, though the inevitable may be delayed for a considerable time by cunning maneuvers
(judiciously avoiding wars). Why Iraq? Oil is necessary for the stability of society and survival of the world order as you have stated.
 
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marhaba Abu, shlonek?
I suggest to follow similar discussions as well, as for example at the *World Tribunal on Iraq* now taking place in Istanbul. Taking into account the different 'connectivities' in the differing places, but the transcripts of quite some of the speaches are on-line.

http://www.worldtribunal.org/main/?b=1

bil-gidma ;)
cecile
www.streamtime.org
 
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Ahlan Cecile,

Yes, I have been following some of that. Very interesting, especially the part where someone calculated that America, through sanctions and bombs killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein!! What we need is a yearly Oscar Award to those who kill most Iraqis. I nominate the Forces of Darkness.

Correction: It is Egyptians who say bil gizma. Iraqis more frequently say: bil qundara ;)

Cheers


Circular,

But I have already written that thing!
 
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I don't know if it is possible to set the date on a new posting.

If it is, you can add a post an earlier date so that the long post will not be on the front page, then you can link to it from the front page.

Or you can open another blogger account just for the one long post and link to it from here with the shorter post.

Anyway, I think the argument is very strong that the planners of the invasion were hoping to get in Iraq what the US got in Afghanistan - a state where the US Ambassador had the nickname President Khalizad.

The close invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan provide something like a controlled experiment. I would say that most differences between Iraq and Afghanistan, good and bad, are the results of unwanted factors outside of the control of the invasion planners.

I am very willing to be convinced, but the US, with its volunteer army could not support five more years of Iraq the way it is now, much less perpetually.

Many of what I believe are the US motivations for the invasion - as stated in other posts - have already been met and now can be cheaply safeguarded even when the US leaves in "defeat".
 
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Mr. Democracy,

Thank you. That’s what I think I will do.

Meanwhile, I thought perhaps I can attempt a response to the points raised by F. in Amsterdam and Mark… to try and strengthen the theory through some combat!! In this regard, I welcome more, similarly thoughtful criticisms.

But first, your observation: I sometimes tend to agree with you that there were factors in the Iraq invasion that the planners hadn’t anticipated (perhaps the level, ferocity and ruthlessness of the adversaries?). The problem I have with this is that they have been ‘too consistent’ in making those ‘mistakes’.

And even if the US army cannot remain for 5 more years in Iraq, the objective of creating unprecedented animosity to America in the region and worldwide has been successful. Threats are real… and seen as real by the American public. Military budgets are unlikely to be reduced significantly for some time to come. Perhaps a break of a few years between one small war and the next would be sufficient?

1. To start a perpetual war in an oil-rich country, within an oil-rich region, does not serve the long-term interests of those who seek to extract that oil.

Control of oil has already been demonstrated to be a long-term objective. The perpetual war itself may eventually move away from the oil wells.

On the other hand, I am sure that you are aware that this approach was fought by the State Department and CIA establishments. From what we have seen of the plans that they had in mind, evidently they wanted stability to be established soon after the invasion. There were also several reports that the oil industry did not like it either. S0, not everybody in the US Establishment subscribes to this theory.

I am inclined to think that advocates of this doctrine think in longer terms than the oil industry.


2. War fatigue typically undermines public support for conflict in democratic countries


True, unless the threat is seen by the public as still real. The cold war lasted for 50 years, with little weakening of public support. It is a high level of casualties that may undermine the public support for an ‘unconvincing’ war (e.g. Viet Nam). The threat of international terrorism is likely to remain ‘real’ for some time to come. Threat maintenance is an important component of this theory.

3. Long term wars tend to weaken, not strengthen combatant countries both politically and economically.

Not necessarily. This contradicts a basic dictum of this theory: conflict is seen as a main reason for strengthening the military muscle of the nation. Military strength is seen as essential to supplement economic strength and provide some protection from military and economic antagonists. Wars are seen by war advocated as having a stimulating effect on nations. I would expect subscribers to this theory to hold such views.

Only major, economically burdensome wars that stress and deplete the nation’s resources may sometimes weaken the country, but not always. Witness the effect of WWII: It left America and Russia ber, but weakened Britain. The cold war strengthened America but weakened the Soviet Union.

A series of small wars may not have that effect.

The two world wars and the cold war are seen by many historians as major sources of America’s strength, both military and economic.


4. A better PNAC strategy would be to win the war in Iraq, stablilize it and efficiently rebuild it, then move on to invade the next PNAC target on the enemies list, for example, Iran or North Korea. This last strategy has the virtue, from a PNAC viewpoint, of illustrating to the public the costs of such an aggressive military policy are not too high to bear.

This was indeed the declared naïve intention of the neocons (and they wanted to do it their own way… by leveling the country to the ground first!)

The question whether the neocons are naïve or whether they knew that their recipe for nation building would not work and was only a smokescreen… remains open. Can anybody be that naïve and yet manage to reach and hold the reigns of power in America… for two terms?

The important point is that major decisions made after the invasion (mostly by neocons) are not compatible with this! Apparently perpetual war theorists disagree with you and me! Perhaps such an approach would not generate sufficient hatred and mistrust of America to produce the required number of enemies sought and hence the desired level of threat to America.
 
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Well since you are still pursuing the topic, is naughty Circular allowed a contribution here?
One problem, it seems to me, with the "hidden long-term agendas," "secret manipulators of power" theory of history is that history tends to be too unpredictable and uncooperative to fit in obediently with this scenario.
It’s been said quite often that militaries tend to be prepared to fight the last war they had, not the one they actually get. Case in point, of course, was the US military designed to fight, superbly, Gulf One all over again, but not prepared or trained for an occupation and stabilisation operation.
Similarly, the US military and political establishment is said to have been caught almost totally unprepared by the rapid collapse of Soviet communism, and 15 years on has still not fully come to terms with it. (Incidental to which, it would be interesting to know the current status of the French and British independent nuclear deterrents - is the Force de Frappe still ready to fly, are the British Polaris subs still at sea?) And presumably they’ve spent many worried years preparing to counter the Peoples Liberation Army if China attempted military expansion. This did not anticipate the US ending up deeply in hock to China through the sale of T-Bills.
Locally, the Syrian presence in Lebanon seemed to be a convenient "causus belli" for anyone interested in starting up a small war in the region. Did anyone expect that the Syrians, when nudged, would just say "OK then, stuff it" and quietly go home?
Isn’t history literally littered with similar examples of the unexpected? Bruno could doubtless tell us about the consequences of the sudden and unanticipated dissolution of white dominance in South Africa.
So does it matter that much whether the Iraq mess is due mainly to secret long-term agendas or due mainly to simple neo-con naivety? In either case, mightn’t the verdict of history just be that Iraq was much more complicated, and much more difficult, than anyone expected?
Circular
Oh yeah, and doesn’t history tend to be rather forgiving of nations which start off badly in defensive wars, but win through in the end? And rather unforgiving of aggressors whose plans go astray?
 
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Abu Khaleel:

There are two different questions:

Why did the US invade Iraq? and

Why has the invasion produced the results it has?

And a sub question of the second question is

What results has the invasion produced?

For the first question, I think the planners of the invasion have been open enough for a long time that they plan to reshape the middle east to fit their agenda and what their agenda is has been pretty clear for a long time.

For the second question - it seems that I disagree substantially with you.

If the plan is to go from small war to small war, maintaining a sense of fear that will result in a strong military - then Iraq as it is has not been the small war the planners wanted.

What I am about to write may be painful for an Iraqi nationalist and I hesitate to write it but the resistance so far has really helped Iran.

The next small war would have been Iran, but with troops tied down and Iran not even really working to make life hell for the US (given that it could do a lot more than its doing) attacks on Iran seem to be off of the table now and the resistance is primarily responsible for that.

This is the opposite of what the planners wanted, assuming the planners wanted to use small wars to maintain a national mood for a strong military. The polls show that Iraq is draining the US mood for a strong military. Parents will not allow their children to join the army today.

But on the other hand, we've only had one election where all of the major lists pledged to ask for a withdrawal schedule.

There will be other elections and if this government will not come to terms with the nationalist resistance then another government will.

About "resistance" - I'm not counting those attempting to create sectarian strife as the resistance at all. My feeling is that while terrorists are attacking softer targets and getting high numbers of casualties, they are not part of the mainstream of support for the fight against the occupation. I will not link the two different groups together just because they are both armed. But it is clear that there is a large element of Iraq resisting the occupation and for those people I think resistance is the correct term.

Anyway, the resistance, not the terrorists, are what is preventing the US from installing a puppet and drawing down as it is doing in Afghanistan.

This also ties with the subquestion - what has the invasion produced?

It is very convenient for me that Afghanistan was invaded right before Iraq.

Compared to Afghanistan, Iraq is independent.

There are a lot of changes the US has wanted to make in Iraq that it simply will not be able to make.

Future elections will answer more questions, but it is not clear at all that the current Iraq is strategically better for the US than Iraq under Hussein. Compare that to Afghanistan.

The US now seems to be stalling before it will declare "victory" and leave Iraq largely hostile to the US, almost fully hostile to Israel and refusing to host US troops.

It will be very difficult to convince me that this is happening by design.
 
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Bruno,

I came across a slightly different version of the buhrez story. This was apparently written by the lieut. who led the attack and took the pics.

http://roadstoiraq.com/

One does wonder why a group of boys would be playing soccer in a palm grove in the middle of a firefight - but that's only if you have a critical eye for details...
 
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"It will be very difficult to convince me that this is happening by design." (Mr Democracy)
I agree. For one thing, no matter how cunning and devious your long-term planning, it is by definition very difficult to anticipate and factor in "blowback."
In arming and assisting the Afghani mujhadeen, the US planners aimed to use the Afghan war to weaken the USSR. In also arming and assisting Bin Laden’s fanatical Arab jihadis (matched dollar for dollar by Saudi Arabia) they inadvertently created Al Qaeda - and didn’t anticipate that after the Soviet infidels were defeated, the US ones would be next in the queue. Blowback.
Insofar as there was a plan for Iraq, it seems unlikely that it was to destabilise the Middle East with a drawn-out war of occupation (although this obviously is helpful to Israel.) More likely, as Mr Democracy suggests, the intention was to install an obedient puppet regime in Iraq to facilitate use of it as a launching pad against Iran and Syria. (Plus of course the oil.)
The emergence of a theocratic-leaning Shiite regime in Iraq, which will doubtless object to being used as anyone’s launching pad, especially against their Iranian buddies, looks more like blowback than devious planning to me.
And if George W was a convenient credulous string puppet for dark imperialistic forces to manipulate, it looks like some of the strings are broken - he sure ain’t dancin’ too good at present.
Circular
 
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MadTom,
A quote regarding www.fas.org (the Federation of American Scientists) from www.strategypage.com/messageboards/messages/13-58.asp
(taken from Googling "Federation of American Scientists" conservative)
"The more
conservative among you may dislike FAS' political agenda, ..."
I checked three links from google, and all indicated a non-conservative bias on the part of FAS.
The links I checked are listed below:
acuf.org/issues/issue37/050602gov.asp
www.zmag.org/ZMagSite/Feb2003/berkowitz0203.html
www.amexpat.com/display_0046_en.html
On the other hand, the Heritage Foundation is well respected among members of the current administration, as well as conservative and neo-conservative intellectuals.
Given this, which set of claims do you expect members of the current administration and Republican members of congress to believe?

----
As a Left-leaning ex-fundamentalist, I personally would believe the FAS site, however my experience as a fundamentalist was that most of my fellow fundamentalists had a confrontational approach to anything outside of a narrow conservative presentation. Given the number of fundamentalists associated with this administration, and given its appeal to American fundamentalists, I would expect similar behavior.

In other words, both Abu Khaleel AND you made his case, since the conservatives STATE that military funding went down during the Clinton administration, and a source which they would tend to disbelieve states that it increased.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin
 
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Bob Griffin,

Welcome back!


Circular, Mr. Democracy,

I find myself in agreement with much of what you are saying. However, it seems to me that we are probably talking about two different issues.

The original contention is about motives and intentions. Much of your debate is about what actually happened on the ground.

I do not claim that everything went according to this plan! I think we all agree that many things went wildly out of control. To remove these confusing elements, it’s best to go back to the beginning and examine the invasion itself and the very early decisions made afterwards.

Therefore, if we agree that not all elements of the US establishments went along with the plan (we now know for example that the oil industry didn’t)… and that not everything went according to plan, then perhaps we can find more grounds of agreement.

I still find it plausible that probably some elements of this administration who were in a position to influence decisions subscribed to this doctrine.

Having said that, I find myself bewildered by the array of conflicting signals coming out of Washington to the extent that I wrote a fiery post last night bubbling with anger (Circular would have loved it!) Luckily (!) I could not secure an internet connection to publish it.

Are we perhaps taking these people too seriously? Their incompetence appears to be almost unbelievable.

It seems to me that the leading figures of this administration know roughly where they want to go… but do not know exactly where they are… or how to get there!
 
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Charles –

[charles] “One does wonder why a group of boys would be playing soccer in a palm grove in the middle of a firefight - but that's only if you have a critical eye for details...”

I did read that link on the Buhriz incident. Of course, we come down to the essential question of : is somebody (soldiers) lying, or is somebody (hersh) confused. On the one hand I must admit that the soldier’s accounts are pretty compelling … on the other, we know for a fact that soldiers have lied before. We would need an actual eyewitness or participant in the affair who is not American to vouch for the other side of the story … and all we have are the photos and the soldier’s word.

To me it is strange that what, six to eight kids (13-17 years old?) would try to attack a heavily armed, numerically superior force of professional soldiers with a single RPG.

Suicidal bravery?

Or cover up?

Hmmm.
 
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Hi Bruno,

I just thought a differing, and no less reasonable account, might temper things a bit.

The truth could be somewhere in between, i.e. the kids were caught up in the firefight by accident, but I tend to lean towards the officers account.

As I recall different sources confirmed that the fighting lasted for hours that day. Firefights tend to be noisy affairs so I doubt those boys weren't aware of what was going on, and were therefore deliberately in the thick of things. Maybe they were just runners/spotters for the real insurgents? Although the record does show that young kids were involved in the fighting.

Why would apparently lightly armed poorly trained kids fight US soldiers? You could pose that question more generally about the whole insurgency. There are lots of possible reasons. Young people think they are invulnerable. There is plenty of propaganda - even on this site - that attests to the incompetence and cowardliness of US soldiers. I'm sure the insurgents tell lots of fireside stories of how easy it is to kill US soldiers. Money? Several dozen virgins?

I still think that a more reasonable approach for the insurgents would be to lay down their weapons, help rebuild the country, and vote for legitimate political groups that represent their interests.
 
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