Column: The U.S. Must Leave Iraq Now





Mr. Carpenter holds a Ph.D. in American History and is a syndicated columnist.

With hat in hand, the Bush administration now wants -- or, rather, needs -- a United Nations peacekeeping force in Iraq. As all the world knows by now, only a wretched combination of lies and gross miscalculations put beleaguered American troops there to begin with, and of course that folly was compounded by the administration's postwar insistence on exclusive occupational rights. To the Bushies, Iraq was a sandbox in more than one sense, and it was all theirs to control -- at least, that is, till everything under the blistering Iraqi sun started unraveling.

Virtually all major editorial pages have applauded the administration's new-found spirit of global cooperation and recognition of reality. The ruling neocons finally get it, say these observers. The United States cannot go it alone, and, however belated, their appeal for international teamwork is the right step in a much better direction.

Hogwash.

The famously corrupt rationalizations for military intervention made a productive U.S. presence in postwar Iraq not just untenable, but impossible. And that, precisely, is what the United Nations Security Council should tell the hapless Bushies as they commence begging. For everyone's security -- and that includes ours -- U.S. troops should be sent packing, replaced by a true coalition of peacekeeping forces. Each added day of American occupation assures only snowballing violence and perpetual disruption.

George W. Bush and his principal handlers have reveled in needless hardball tactics since day one, thumbing their go-it-alone noses at every difference of sensible world opinion. Their Ramboism has brought even greater turmoil to the Middle East; heightened Islamic hatred and distrust of the United States; turned a non-terrorist state into a leading manufacturer of terrorism; and converted an economically abysmal nation into an absolute basket case.

With or without U.N. assistance there is no way the United States can now turn things around for the better. Our presence is beyond redemption. Continuing it at any force level will just make things worse. The U.S. must go.

Naturally, the Security Council won't reciprocate the administration's maximum hardball tactics. It won't say what needs to be said and it won't unveil the obvious. It won't, in short, tell the now-supplicant Rambos to stuff it -- for their own good, if nothing else -- and let adults take over. Instead, the Security Council will tinker with and bicker over the administration's submitted resolution, assume as fact a continuing presence of American troops, and thereby prolong the misery.

Yet, just as naturally, the Rambos wouldn't listen anyway. After all, according to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, his boss's radical reversal of postwar philosophy isn't even a mild departure from what previously stood. How does one get through to distorted, deceptive minds like that?

The consequences of this self-imposed mess are staggering. The worst, of course, is that of lost lives. As hard-liners in their comfortable domestic settings persist in a doomed policy abroad, America's youth will continue dying daily -- and in vain. There is no greater cost, no greater waste.

And the financial fallout? It plunges off the radioactive scale. Forty-five billion dollars for the official war and a projected $300 billion for a 5-year occupation. A few billion for immediate humanitarian aid, a few billion more for Iraqi salaries, $3 billion for refugee resettlement and about $7 billion to restore the public utilities we blew up -- all of which is peanuts compared to a lowballed 10-year miscellaneous tab of another $200 billion (roads, communications, hospitals and so on). Keep in mind that Treasury doesn't have any of this money, so it will borrow and dun us for the interest as well.

To editorially applaud the Bush administration for reaching out to others at last is as wrong-headed as the war was itself. Such approbation only encourages more of the same: the drip-drip torture of an ill-fated occupation. The U.S. must go. That's the message.


© Copyright 2003 P. M. Carpenter

Mr. Carpenter's column is published weekly by History News Network and buzzflash.com.


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Gus Moner - 9/20/2003

It seems to me that the converting of 9/11 into the Afghan operation was an unpleasant and unsavoury course to take, but yet I chose to accept it. However, the subsequent conversion of this into an endless, worldwide war, rather than a one-off and let coordinated police action take over was wrong-headed and not very well thought out.

In fact, most success against terrorists after 9/11 and Afghanistan has come from concerted international police action and has far surpassed in efficiency and effectiveness the actions undertaken by the armed forces.

These facts speak for themselves, left vs. right and patriotic vs. non-patriotic considerations aside.


Gus Moner - 9/20/2003

Well said.


Gus Moner - 9/20/2003

Mr Heuisler,
“Are you claiming the failure to find WMD in quantity so far in Iraq means there never were any? Or are you saying Saddam had every WMD destroyed prior to the renewal of the Gulf War?”

I am saying they are not there in the way we were told, and may not be there at all. I have always contended there probably were WMD in Oiraq but that the policy being undertaken was tinged with a vengeful, crusading air. There were once WMD there; the UK some Europeans and we sold them the elements to make them. In answer to your other query:

“Would you rather trust a dictator to do the right thing than trust your President? Has hatred of Bush clouded your reason? And what will you say when WMDs are discovered?”

Well, frankly I trust neither. Politicians tend to be power mad, driven by illusions of grandeur, places in history and enrichment of their cabal. They’ll trample over anything and anyone to get their way.

As to what I’ll say if the WMD are found, I’ll say what I have said many times before. That they do not represent the level of threat required to justify an illegal, world order shattering pre-emptive strike and that the invasion and conquest was motivated by:

1-Desire to favour Israeli conquest and prominence
2-Secure oil resources
3-Avenge Dad
4-Fulfil the design of the PNAC, AEI, AIPAC, DPB, Weekly Standard etc. whose members populate the administration.

We disagree, but that’s my belief and has been throughout the duration of this manufactured war. Would I offer our blood for them and their policies? No sir.


NYGuy - 9/17/2003

Jerry,

I have learned that history enables us to project the future, and because of GW's leadership in office that is why I made my Mount Rusmore projection. :)

We do have the world's attention, which is good, and helps get us out of the quaqmire of the past 10 years. Continuation of that era would only lead to our being unable to exchange ideas, because nuclear weapons leave nothing behind. :)


Jerry West - 9/17/2003

NYG wrote:

A list of other achievement are listed on the following web site:

JW:

Would love to see it, but the URL was either incomplete or non-functional. Try sending it in two pieces.

NYG:

-Call it a case of Iraq-a-phobia, an affliction that analysts say will prove fleeting if Washington — or Americans in general — grow weary of U.S. troops dying while serving on missions that become lengthier and more lethal than expected.-

JW:

The grow weary part is key. Being lied to is not a favorite American past time, and GWB's whoppers surpass those of Slick Willy. At least Willy's were not directly lethal to American troops and the US Treasury.

He is also a weasel as his military history shows, that too may eventually bite him in the backside.

NYG:

-"There's little doubt that the U.S. pre-emption policy has, for example, made perennial state sponsors of terrorism less inclined to act provocatively," said Jonathan Stevenson, senior fellow for counter-terrorism at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.-

JW:

Less provocatively is not the same as giving up or even being less inclined to oppose the US, it only means resistance goes more undercover. Sometimes not a good thing.

NYG:

One of the greatest Presidents in our history. Get him ready for Mount Rushmore.

JW:

Great does not necessarily equate to good as history will attest. To use a historical analogy with another great leader, perhaps Iraq is his Ethiopia. :)


Jerry West - 9/17/2003

Further information on what effect the Iraq escapade may have on the political future of Mr. Bush:

....What should be a nonpartisan issue has become very political. The Democrats, with support of a hand full of Republicans, are pushing in favor of veterans benefits across the board while it appears the GOP leadership will go to no end to deplete as many as possible. The present administration, the administration that sent our warriors to war to be killed or permanently disfigured, should not be trying to cut back on benefits to care for them.

Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of veterans are promising to keep their promise and not vote for those who don’t support them. Many were registered GOP members. Their new motto is "Out the Door in 2004." Veterans in Florida have even gone as far as to start their own political party, the Veteran's Party of Florida (VPF). In 67 counties across Florida, veterans, family members and friends changed their voter registration to the VPF. They said they were "tired of not having their voices heard by members of congress, and broken promises from the Bush administration."

http://www.military.com/NewContent?file=Youmans_091503&ESRC=marine.nl


NYGuy - 9/17/2003

Jerry

"Views like OIL, A need to distract public attention form domestic problems, Imperial designs for world domination, Over inflated egos connected to visions of grandeur and tempered by too much testosterone, and OIL, just to name a few. One could also list stupidity, but I don't believe that."

NYGuy,

As I have pointed out many times, GW is a genius, i.e., someone who sees a target no else sees and hits it.

To help you understand his genius read the following: :)


From Yahoo:

Tue Sep 16, 9:40 AM ET
By MARK FRITZ, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - Iran's legislature mulls a plan

The United States and its bare-knuckled diplomacy may have alienated old allies and inspired armies of vengeful extremists, but the last superpower's might and money — along with its military conquests in Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites) — has commanded some measure of respect among enemies who wouldn't mind being showered with cash instead of cluster bombs.

Call it a case of Iraq-a-phobia, an affliction that analysts say will prove fleeting if Washington — or Americans in general — grow weary of U.S. troops dying while serving on missions that become lengthier and more lethal than expected.

"There's little doubt that the U.S. pre-emption policy has, for example, made perennial state sponsors of terrorism less inclined to act provocatively," said Jonathan Stevenson, senior fellow for counter-terrorism at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

More....

A list of other achievement are listed on the following web site:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=540&e=17&u=/ap/20030916/ap_on_re_mi_ea/the_iraq_effect_3her achievement are on the website:

One of the greatest Presidents in our history. Get him ready for Mount Rushmore.

Best Wishes


Derek Catsam - 9/16/2003

It's good to see that such an esteemed poster as Bill Bailey decided to weigh in on the value of my posts on HNN. I see a lot of selective reading going on here. Sure, I have posted and written articles in support if Israel and opposed to terrorism. That certainly does not make me conservative -- most democrats support Israel and have since 1948. I spent a lot of time debating supporting the war with Iraq, as did many Democrats who have supported it, though not for the reasons the President outlined and with significant chagrin over all that has happened in the last few months. However, to say that these issues prove my conservatism, a conservatism that does not exist, would be to be blind to other issues about which I have written about on this site. I have also written rather extensively about race from what has been termed a "hate America leftist" perspective. It is as absurd to call me a hate America leftist as it is to call me a conservative, but that is what happens on this site -- someone disagrees with you and they label you in a way that poses you not just as someone with whom you disagree, but as the enemy. Anyone who bothered to search my past posts would have found lots of them justifying my claims of liberalism. Anyone who thus found a slew of posts and still insisted that I was conservative clearly has an odd axe to grind. If someone claims that they are of "X" political persuasion, what right does someone else have to come out and claim that they are not? What right does Frank Lee or Bill Bailey have to define my politics for me? Especially on an issue, Israel, that has supporters and detractors on both sides. Since Mr. Lee apparently shares a great deal of their foreign policy views with Pat Buchanan, does this make them Buchananites? By the logic of their posts, it sure does. Alan Dershowitz has a new book out that defends Israel. Is Dershowitz now a conservative just because he supports Israel? Donna Brazile? Frank Lautenburg? Is Joe Lieberman a republican on this issue? This is intellectual sophistry. Finally, most of my posts do not in fact support the current government of Israel per se -- I have been consistently clear that were I an Israeli I would certainly vote Labor, but to know Israeli politics at all is to know that there are very many within Labor who also support strong security, and that indeed Sharon took most of the heat from his right-wing flank for his statement about the settlements back in the late spring.
As for typos and calling someone a punk who in fact is rather infuriating about thrusting labels onto someone , well, while I may acknowledge those to be problematic, I have no idea what qualifications Bill Bailey has to judge my scholarship or my ideology. Sometimes things get heated on these sites. I'd at least rather see the flash of emotion from Mr. Lee than the flash of condescension from Mr. Bailey. I encourage Mr. Bailey to go and look at the articles I have written, as they are far different in tone, purpose, intent and significance than these discussion boards. But yes, I was furious at consistently being labeled by someone who barely knows my politics and was unwilling to ytake off his blinders about the range and extent of the ideological spectrum in America.


Jerry West - 9/16/2003

NYG wrote:

Since there are other views on the importance of our being in Iraq, ....

JW:

Views like OIL, A need to distract public attention form domestic problems, Imperial designs for world domination, Over inflated egos connected to visions of grandeur and tempered by too much testosterone, and OIL, just to name a few. One could also list stupidity, but I don't believe that.

Here are a couple of views from the right of center that one might consider:

http://www.sftt.org/cgi-bin/csNews/csNews.cgi?database=Hacks%20Target%20Homepage.db&command=viewone&op=t&id=31&rnd=717.8587094165875

http://www.sftt.org/cgi-bin/csNews/csNews.cgi?database=DefenseWatch.db&command=viewone&op=t&id=196&rnd=670.8929374485316




J. Bartlett - 9/16/2003

Well, Bill, you are in an entertaining mood for a change, which nonetheless does not disrupt your usual habits of nitpicking and misattribution.

I did NOT say WMDs were not the issue, I said that their existence in Iraq and Saddam's evil desires for them were not AT issue (in the discussion). In particular, your prior rhetorical questions were trivial nonsense because no sane person (even those border-line sane cases which deny the Holocaust or global warming) would ever answer yes to them:

"Are you claiming the failure to find WMD in quantity so far in Iraq means there never were any? Or are you saying Saddam had every WMD destroyed prior to the renewal of the Gulf War?"

By the way, I have had letters to the editor published in dozens of newspapers across the country over several decades, but your point is well taken, I will now stop talking to you, my writing and thinking skills are certainly at risk of atrophying around here.

And I said goodbye for good to the East River many many years ago.


Bill Heuisler - 9/16/2003

Mr. Bartlett,
You say WMDs are not the issue, but then say W lied about WMDs. Contradicting yourself is not a good way to win arguments. An excellent way to win arguments is to supply facts in support of your position. You attempted refutation with callow, baseless opinions and the "maybe evens" and "would haves" would've surely embarrassed a freshman debating class. Don't bother thanking me for the advice and corrections, but in your current state you'll never get a letter to the editor printed in the Guardian.

Complaining about W and giving Clinton and all those aye-voting Dems a pass seems a little unfair, not to mention illogical. If you really cared about the US, the possible presence of WMDs would be a great deal more important to you than a few months argument in that worthless house of Babel on the East River.

You're confused, contradictory, don't care about WMDs, and don't mind being unfair or illogical. But you forgot to mention how you were robbed in the 2000 election.
Bill Heuisler


J. Bartlett - 9/16/2003

As usual, Bill Heuisler misses the point and concocts flimsy new arguments to try to cover his errors.

Whether Saddam wanted WMD, got a few, and maybe even was foolish enough to not to destroy his last remaining stockpiles last March, is NOT at issue. The point is that Dubya deliberately deceived the public about there being a threat so imminent that we could not wait a few more months, as for example, Canada (that post-global warming tropical hotbed of socialist mooses) suggested at the UN.

If Dubya would have violated his oath of office by not "acting" what in Limbaugh's name did Reagan do in response to the gas attack on the Kurds, and what did Bush the First do when the Shiites and Kurds revolted in 1991 ? Shall we start the ex-post impeachment trails now, or first send Ken Starr to investigate the Gipper's sex life ?


NYGuy - 9/16/2003

James,

Good to hear you have grown up. But I don't know if I can accept your argument:

JJ

"I agree with those who say we have to stay in Iraq, but think we went in for the wrong reasons led by people not worthy of our trust, let alone the blind trust evident in Mr. Thomas's unenlightening comment, and that getting out eventually will require new and better leadership."

Since there are other views on the importance of our being in Iraq, your starting point may be flawed and you may not see the big picture. Thus your perceptions are not a valid argument that no one else knows what is going on in the world, particularly when the major powers, (not the stupid French and Germans who have plunged the world into chaos for centuries), are beginning to understand that we live in a small world which could be destroyed by a few atomic bombs.

We shall see who is right.


James Jefferson - 9/15/2003


Does Mr. Thomas have a pertinent comment to make about the historical arguments for or against staying or leaving Iraq ?

After the insightful observations of Mssrs Greenland, West, Bailey, etc., which I generally endorse, Mr. Thomas's crude irrelevancies remind me of my frat house days, years ago, on a morning after a party with too much booze and not enough females.

I agree with those who say we have to stay in Iraq, but think we went in for the wrong reasons led by people not worthy of our trust, let alone the blind trust evident in Mr. Thomas's unenlightening comment, and that getting out eventually will require new and better leadership.


Jerry West - 9/15/2003

-
A piece describing GWB's declining fortunes which may or may not prove to deliver the projected result, but do contribute to the discussion about getting out of Iraq:

....This is George Bush's unsolvable dilemma. If he stands firm, but resolves nothing in Iraq, his likelihood of reelection will diminish radically and rapidly. If, however, he doesn't stand firm, he will be ridiculed as someone who talked big and couldn't stand the heat in the kitchen. His principal danger is not losing the center, but losing his own firm supporters on the right. Many of them are already unhappy....

http://fbc.binghamton.edu/121en.htm


Bill Bailey - 9/15/2003

What do we call a commenter who fires off a message in such a hurried rage that there is a typo in practically every line, in order to accuse another commenter of being "childish" ?

What do we call a commenter who complains about ad hominem attacks and then ends his long statement with, "what you are, in fact, is a punk" ?

Knowledgeable historian, hardheaded Liberal, or compassionate Conservative are not the first words that spring to mind.

Derek Catsam espouses a view of the history of war and terrorism that is oddly congruent with statements, regularly heard on the American news media, coming from spokesmen of the current government of Israel. I have checked the HNN archives for Mr. Catsam’s prior postings and Frank Lee is essentially correct on this, though he exaggerates the quantity and downplays the topical range of those postings.

Mr. Lee challenges Mr. Catsam's views as to where, in the light of history, to draw the line between terrorism and war. The motives of both Lee and Catsam are open to question. The benefits for historians from this dialogue, after the latest back and forth, unquestionably approaches the null set.


Stephen Thomas - 9/15/2003

Post like Mr. West's and Mr. Bailey's make one wonder who's minding the store in our high schools and colleges.

When I read such base stupidity, I often wonder who in the hell our children should consult.

Mr. Bush may fail at creating a democratic government in Iraq. It is no small task, that's for certain. The constant jibes against him because he resides in the south are so boneheaded you wonder why people like Messrs. West and Bailey don't refrain out of embarassment.

It isn't Mr. Bush who is parochial, dumb and a product of regional fanaticism. No, the majority of the people who post to this board suffer from those afflictions.

So, here's the formula. I'll save you from having to repeat it incessantly. The south is evil. Traditional macho men are the cause of all evil in the world. Do I have to continue?

Why don't you just get some kind of aerosol can that burps out this party line every time you want to repeat it? You won't have to waste so many words saying nothing.


Bill Heuisler - 9/15/2003

Mr. Moner,
Are you claiming the failure to find WMD in quantity so far in Iraq means there never were any? Or are you saying Saddam had every WMD destroyed prior to the renewal of the Gulf War?

In August of 1995 the chicken farm of Hussein Kamel (who had testified to a Senate Committee of the partial completion of Iraq's Nuclear program) was searched by UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors. They found over a hundred trunks containing documentation of ongoing programs develpoing all catagories of weapons, including chemical and nuclear. At that point Iraq also admitted to its "extensive biological warfare program including weaponization". They issued a "Full Final Complete Disclosure Report" and turned over documents about nerve agent, VX and nuclear weapons. Saddam soon lured his talkative son-in-law, Kamel, back to Iraq and killed him and 40 of his relatives.

But Saddam admitted having WMD in three UN "Disclosure Reports". German Intelligence reported in early 2001 that Hussein may be three years away from being able to build nuclear weapons and that Iraq would soon have a missile with sufficient range to reach Europe. French President Jacques Chirac said (also in 2001) that there were probably weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that "we have to find and destroy them." You remember President Clinton's statements on the subject, I'm sure.

Would you rather trust a dictator to do the right thing than trust your President? Has hatred of Bush clouded your reason? And what will you say when WMDs are discovered?
Bill Heuisler


Jerry West - 9/15/2003

-
I thought that this piece from the San Jose Mercury News might be an appropriate addition to this discussion:

http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/editorial/6769302.htm


Jerry West - 9/15/2003

-
Bill Heuisler wrote:

You're making the assumption that W did not believe there was a threat from Iraq or to the immediate security of the US. Have you any evidence for this?

JW:

And you make assumptions that he did, with the same evidence. Whether there was a serious enough threat to the US (apart from selected US economic interests) is a debatable issue with the evidence apparently pointing to the answer NO, at least in regards to the claims made by GWB and his handlers to justify outright invasion and conquest rather than continuing more civilized methods of containing Iraq.

BH:

President Bush's leadership ability is quite evident to those of us who decided not to split nominal hairs after 9/11.

JW:

You mistake testosterone stimulating outbursts for ability. This kind of behaviour is particularly disgraceful coming from someone who ran and hid when it was his turn to actually make a sacrifice for his country over 30 years ago.

BH:

We believe the protection of our country is paramount....

JW:

We agree on something. But from my viewpoint GWB and a number of his predecessors were not acting in the best interest of the majority of the people in the country. Supporting, even creating dictatorships (Saddam for one), funding terrorists (even Al Qaeda) and so on in a list large enough to fill several volumes supports neither the principles embodied in our founding documents nor in subsequent documents on human rights and such that we have subscribed to.

One thing you can say for the Bushies is that they are honest enough to have started withdrawing publicly from these principles and making it plain that they do not believe in them.

BH:

In the end the President is ultimately responsible.

JW:

As any good Marine would know.

BH:

Try to think about what's best for our country and get over your irrational hatred of one man.

JW:

Getting rid of GWB and those who pull his strings, particularly those who pull his strings, would be best for the country.

I don't hate the man, by the way, although I must admit I intensely dislike what he stands for and what he is doing to us all, and have no respect for him based on his hypocrisy and weasel activities surrounding his military career.


Derek Catsam - 9/15/2003

Ahhh, well Frank Lee has given up. That might be because Frank Lee is so simplistic that he conflates a pro-Israeli approach to being conservative. This is p[ecxuliarly stupid for anyopne who reads a newspaper, for exammple. Look at the criticism Howard Dean has received within his own party (Now, Mr. Lee, I bet even you know what party that is. Well, maybe you do.) when he intimated that the US should not take sides on the Israel question. American democrats and liberals have supported Israel since its conception (Hint: Mr. Lee -- first President to recognize Israel? Come on -- you're a condescending fella, so you must have tyo come up with a conservative Republican . . .). The list of American liberals who have supported israel is so demonstrably long as to make you wonder if your wilful blindness on this issue reflects an utter inability to deal with complex thought, or just if your inclination to go for the reductionist ad hominem is your knee jkerk response. I am supportive of Israel and I have also been a life long liberal and democrat. Meanwhile, once again, I oppose Bush on many, many things. He is not my hero, far from it, and so beyond showing a juvenile capacity to continue to repeat something that is wrong and that implicitly impugns my beliefs and my character, what is your point in saying something both vacuous and factually wrong? Are you that childish, or simply that incapable of puting forth a reasonable argument?
Asa for my experience in international history, well, I guess since you know my politics so well you also are qualified to tell me that I have not lived or spent extensive time in Africa or Northern Ireland, and of course you are so well acquainted with who I did and did not meet in what Parties (Hint: You are wrong. You are substantially wrong. We met Israelis from across the political spectrum, including Israeli Arabs and a good number of people on the left whose politics substantially oppose Likud, as some of mine would as well were I an Israeli citizen. So I ask you -- do you always comment on tjhings about wehich you have no clue? Is it done out of sheer ignorance, chutzpah, brazenness, demogoguery, or rudeness? Yes -- I have written in support of Israel, though my hundreds of posts also include full-fledged articles. You have no clue what my depth of background is on Israel or any other international issue. And in any case, I am curious why you resort tothe adhominem in any case -- why don't you address the arguments I haver posed in my articles? Why do you instead insist on making a personal attack that you would not dare make to a person face to face. Is it the protection of the internet that emboldens you? Perhaps the internet covers the fact that a person with any sense of dignity wopuld be ashamed to make the assertions about others that you persist in doing.
No, Mr. Lee, I am not a conservative. But irrespective of your politics, I can assert that you are very much an illiberal thinker, because you are utterly unwilling to acknowledge anything beuond your own very narrow focus as legitimate even within your own circles. Forget the liberals out there scolding Howard Dean for his comments of late. You define liberalism. Yopu are the gatekeeper. But as I asserted in my last missive, what you are, in fact, is a punk.


Michael Meo - 9/14/2003

It is absurd to suppose that the United States has some obligation to continue shooting innocents to avoid what it has already precipitated.

We never should have invaded. We ought to retire as fast as we can.

We spent years bombing Vietnam to prevent what eventually happened anyway. Let's not do it all over again.


Gus Moner - 9/14/2003

Hello Mr Heuisler,
This argument would work if the premise of danger had been true. Iraq had the fourth largest army, WMD, was going nuclear and for as yet unexplained reasons was an imminent threat.
None of those arguments has held up.


caro - 9/14/2003

You need help.


George Oilwell - 9/14/2003

Well, that settles it for me. No need for any kind of investigation. After all, we already know what happened: 9/11 was only the most recent Government-sponsored self-attack - carried-out as the necessary first step in justifying endless invasions, the theft of oil from Iraq, and payoffs to those rich corporations who plotted with DICK Cheney to divy-up the booty (that's why they can't release the records of Dicks meeting - it might reveal that they were plotting the illegal invasion of Iraq waaaaaaaaay back there right after they stole the 2000 election).


Bill Bailey - 9/14/2003


First, the guy with the loose radioactive grenade has to get rid of the Texas alcohol that has clouded his judgment and caused him to trip all over himself. Then historians, like the AA here, can help to prevent relapses into drunkenness and proliferation of future grenades.

BB


Thomas Gallatin - 9/14/2003


In his generally excellent comment (several levels of clarity and consistency above the typical level here), Jerry West makes the following remark which I will take mild issue with:

"Are they [the Bush Administration] making errors? Probably not in their eyes and possibly not in the context of what they want to accomplish. They may find war and the threat of terror very convenient tools for steering their agenda, whatever it is."


It strikes me as crystal clear that Bush and crew, even from their own myopic and special-interest-blinded perspectives, realize that they have made errors. Hyping the weapons of mass destruction, talk of a "cakewalk" to Baghdad, of Iraq being out of the headlines by summer, of self-financing reconstruction paid entirely out of oil revenues or costing $10-20 billion only, of how the U.S. doesn't need Turkey or “Old” Europe or the UN, of how we can invade Iraq on the cheap and still press North Korea hard, etc., etc...the list of blunders, exposed deceptions and blatantly broken promises appears almost boundless. Bush, and the real shot-callers behind him, are continuously inventing new ways of combining arrogance with ineptitude. While they make oodles of errors, they are pretty skilled at learning from them (though they will squirm and squeal like a cornered pack of wild dogs before ever acknowledging their mistakes), throwing sound bite patches over past blunders while rushing on to commit fresh new ones.

To simplify, but only slightly, 90% of the "agenda" which "they want to accomplish" is to succeed at the next (and, barring a coup d'etat, the last) chance of getting Junior Bush elected ONCE to the Presidency (something Daddy accomplished) and at the same time having him be chosen for a second term (something Daddy did NOT manage). And it would seem that no betrayal of American ideals or traditions is too outrageously hypocritical, no mortgaging of America's future too costly, and no seed sowing of future instability and terrorism too ghastly, to inhibit this error-ridden steamrolling exploitation of our country.


Frank Lee - 9/14/2003


I don't "dare" to define your politics, Derek, you define them yourself in your hundreds of pro-chickenhawk, pro-Likud posts over many weeks on this website. I've got better things to do now than dig them all up but they are there and they define your politics whether you like it or not, and I for one am getting tired of your periodic feeble attempts to deny the overwhelming thrust of your commentary here. I gave you clear some historical paradigms to consider rationally but I guess they don’t fit the Likud guidebook, so you ignore them to rant on against me. You may be a qualified historian of the Civil Rights movement, but one trip to Israel (which seems to have included little or no contact with Arabs or even Labor Party members) hardly qualifies you as knowledgeable about Mideast history let alone international history generally.

Sharon probably supports affirmative action, abortion, and government funded health care (none of which have been more than minimally related to anything significant or praiseworthy about America and still less related to the open and fair attitude towards the world that made America the envy and hope of the world until your incompetent hero Bush got in).

That does not mean America therefore has to do 100% what Sharon wants it to do. Give the Palestinians a state like the terroristic Israelis were given in 1948 and then we can see about whether it makes sense for America have a policy tilted 95% towards one side over there. Until then, Likud propagandists can go over to their beloved settlements and stay for all I care, bulldoze American protesters to death if it comes to that, but if they stay HERE they ought to have the decency to keep out of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Despite their huge flaws these parties are, or at least should be, both for AMERICANS.


Derek Catsam - 9/13/2003

Ahh, I appreciate Mr. Lee's patronizing and condescending attemps to define my politics for me. But alas, name any domestic issue, and my stances are left of center. I am a pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, anti-death penalty Democrat willing to tax to do those things for which I think government is responsible. I'dfd like tose a far more comprehensive health care system and I've never voted republican in national office. Just because I don't agree with you on foreign policy, don';t dare have the arroganvce, audacity and ignorance to think that you can define my politics. Meanwhile, while I appreciate your telling me I have a smattering of historical intelligence, I don't need your validation. As for your continuing insistence that I am somehow a propogandist, I write about things I believe in. I'd ask you to buy my forthcoming book on the Freedom Rides, but I'm then afraid you'd say I'm merely a propogandist for civil rights. Don't be such a punk.


Bill Heuisler - 9/13/2003

Mr. West,
You're making the assumption that W did not believe there was a threat from Iraq or to the immediate security of the US. Have you any evidence for this? Do you really think President Bush does not have the best interests of the United States at heart?

President Bush's leadership ability is quite evident to those of us who decided not to split nominal hairs after 9/11. We believe the protection of our country is paramount and trying to define differences between Al Quaeda, Moslem Brotherhood or Hamas is a waste of time. In fact, we shudder to think of the vaccillation and soul-searching that would've resulted as a Gore Presidency tried to react to terrorism.

Imagine the Ed Grimley scenario in the Gore Oval Office. Who've we offended? Where did we go wrong? What to do? Mustn't offend the good Moslems...while doing nothing. The evidence for this non-reaction is the Clinton Administration's eight years of impotence and irresolution during multiple attacks.
Did you prefer that?

In the end the President is ultimately responsible. Try to think about what's best for our country and get over your irrational hatred of one man. The name-calling is becoming tiresome.
Bill Heuisler


tcg - 9/13/2003

A tape recorded by one of the 9-11 terrorists was just recently released. He identified himself as an Al-Queda member. Seems like that is pretty damning proof that it was an Al-Queda operation. A new (maybe old) tape recently aired by Al-Jazeera quotes OBL as calling for more attacks on the US. Now maybe this was all a sham, put together by the CIA and Haliburton, but I'm rather inclined to think that the "Official Conspiracy Version" is the correct one. What proof can you present against the "OCV"? Also, it is difficult to equate 9-11 with the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. 9-11 was televised live, we all witnessed it, even if some can't or won't understand it.


Peter K. Clarke - 9/13/2003

Jonathan Dresner, I respect your optimism, but seriously, how many professional historians do you know (of any political persuasion) who would ever want their (real) names to appear on the same website that had had over thirty articles by Daniel Pipes over a two year period ? I appreciate your willingness to stick your neck out and hope that some day, in some other, more viable, forum, your efforts can be more productively tapped.


Albert - 9/13/2003


I appreciate your trying to be a bit more polite, Elia, but you still make very little sense.

Bush not being HARD enough on the Saudis ? He gave Osama's family a red carpet exit while stepping all over the Geneva conventions and the Bill of Rights in order to scrounge up minor underling scapegoats for Guantanamo, and throw the book at that ridiculous Marin County airhead "Tablian fighter".

A real U.S. leader would have announced on Sept 12, 2001 an immediate crash program to put an armed marshall on every air line flight, as I understand El Al has done for years. Finally, LAST WEEK, two YEARS later, Tom Ridge got around to upping the number of guards on planes slightly. Okay, it would cost a bit, but a minuscule amount compared to $87 billion (which is anyway only a small down payment on Bush's big Iraq blunder -review headlines of the past year for the "cascading" aspect). I could go on to talk about the minuscule costs of replacing madrasses with real schools and of hiring some experienced diplomats to woo back the needlessly insulted "Old" Europeans so we don't have to go it alone in Iraq, but I'll leave all that for another time.

As for Perle & Co they are neither a conspiracy, still less are they associated with the fictitious "Elders of Zion", but they sure have launched a lot of American Jews and a whole lot of other Americans on a wild and reckless ride that will cost our country trillions, for all we know, so I'm glad to hear you were not part of that very anti-American clique.

One final point. Israel is "occupying" the West Bank in the same general sense that the British were occupying Israel after 1945, in suppression of the legitimate sovereign rights of a people. The Jewish refugees in 1948 were the Palestinians of their day, and they had their terrorists among them. But they were allowed to start up their country despite the atrocities of their extremist elements. It really is that simple, if you look at it from an AMERICAN perspective, by which I don't mean the current electoral perspective of U.S. politicians, but what is really in America's long term interest: two democratic states in peace in the Mideast, instead of two sides using occupation and terrorism respectively as excuses to continually torpedo outside efforts at peace.


Frank Lee - 9/13/2003


Gore was an incompetent (maybe not as Senator or VP but as presidential candidate). A competent Democrat would have thrashed Mr. Dry Drunk Tax Cuts. On that one point we are in solid agreement conceptually if not semantically.

I do not agree that you are a left wing Democrat or opposed to Bush (or opposed to Sharon for that matter either). It doesn't matter how many times you make these hollow claims, when you present long repeated comment after comment that drastically and quite consistently contradict such protestations, they become simply not credible. I'm not keeping a running tally, but your hundreds of prior postings reveal your real feelings.

It is possible (if just barely) that you are only an unwitting not a conscious propagandist, and you seem to have a smattering of historical understanding, so let's see if we can penetrate here and maybe rescue your evidently intelligent mind after all.

NOTHING substantive changed on 9-11. We were vulnerable before, our leaders were not doing their jobs properly, and we are still vulnerable because they still are failing us. There is a long history of war, and a long history of terrorism, and a long history of masses being duped by unscrupulous fearmongering leaders. Do your history homework, Derek, and then we can talk about which subset of these three histories is most relevant to Bush and his $87 billion.

And please don't waste any more time on non-historians like Bill Heuisler (unless he can explain why he is so down on his own excellent senator McCain, who would have been a vastly better candidate from the Republican side and defeated almost any conceivable Democrat without having to wrangle in Florida).


Jerry West - 9/13/2003

-
Carpenter is right in that we must leave Iraq. How to do it with the least amount of damage to either the Iraqis or our own troops is the $64k question, however.

Think of GWB and the US as a drunk with a radio active hand grenade in a closed room where the pin has been pulled from the grenade and fumbled into and lost through a grate in the floor.

The problem is how to get rid of the grenade safely before you die from radiation sickness? :)


Jerry West - 9/13/2003

-
Bill Heuisler wrote:

W took the safe bet for the US. The argument could be made that not acting would have been a violation of his oath of office.

JW:

You are making the assumption that W really believed that there was a threat from Iraq to the immediate security of the US. What if he was a knowing participant in lies?

And if he was not, what does that say for his leadership ability? In the end he is ultimately responsible and gets to carry the can, though one could expect him to try and weasel out of it.

One could argue that taking an action that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of US service members to date, not counting even more maimings and other casualties, nor thousands of civilains in Iraq, was anything but a safe bet for the American people, though it may have been advantageous to the political and economic program of certain special interest groups heavily invested in Mr. Bush.


Josh Greenland - 9/13/2003

Jerry,
That was an excellent post: intelligent, thoughtful, calm and well-written. We need more like you here.
- Josh


Bill Heuisler - 9/12/2003

Derek,
Perhaps you meant a Blue Dog Democrat. In spite of our frequent disagreements - and your being wrong most of the time - you could never ever be described as yellow.

Aside from Salman Pak, Abbas, Abu Nidal and Czech Intelligence, those who insist so vociferously there was no connection between 9/11, WMD and Iraq should make the calculation Blaise Pascal made about the existance of God. If there is no God, then it really doesn't matter, but if God exists, it matters greatly.
W took the safe bet for the US. The argument could be made that not acting would have been a violation of his oath of office.
Best, Bill


Derek Catsam - 9/12/2003

Well look how long it took to start calling names -- in his first response to my first post, Mr. Lee reveals both a flair fopr ad hominem and an incredible ignorance about that of which he speaks. You write this bit of piffle: "Dear Mr. Catsam, the thinking intellectual behind the Bush propagandists at HNN."
But here's the thing. I am not a Bush supporter. In fact I am a yellow dog Democrat, a lifelong liberal. I voted Gore in 2000 will vote for the Democrat in 2004 and do not support Bush. I took a long time to conclude that I could support this war, but not for the reasons Bush et al were advocating -- other Democrats supported this war as well; defense of it, or some aspects of it, or in any case asking someone to clarify unbleievably sloppy criticisms of it (which in fact is all that I did) does not make one a Bush or HNN propogandist, even if the easy thing to do is to resort to name calling, guilt by association, and what have you.
Osama may be deranged, but what he did was clearly ansd demonstrable an act of war. One, alas, does not always get to choose those who take up arms against them to insure that they are among the right types with whom we would deign to take up arms. It isn't about conferring legitimacy; it is about stomping out evil and responding to 9-11 in hopes of eradicating the evil that you acknowledge they represent.
The links between Iraq and 9-11? I agree, they are not, from what I can tell, there. Historians (and people in other professions, most of which are represented here) rely on evidence to draw conclusions. So far we have speculation, coincidence, circumstance, and speculation, but no link. But I can easily separate 9-11 and Iraq and still find merit in removing Saddam Hussein, just as I can justify a small number of US troops in Liberia to help smooth the post-Taylor transition.
As for Bush being selected -- fine. I agree inasmuch as the whole procedure of 2000 was a nightmare. But neither side came out especially well, and I always found it interesting that for no ap[parent ideological foundation each side took the stance that it did, even though the operatives of bnoth parties, who anticipated such an event but with Gore winning the EC and Bush winning the votes, prepared to take the arguments that their opponents ended up taking. I also continue to think that had Nader been truly committed to a third party, he'd have contested in states where the outcome was not in doubt and where he could get 5% of the vote and develop a third party infrastructure. (And for those whose argument consists of dwelling upon Bush and co. being evil and mendacious, you must then acknowledge that Nader was making a vacuously twirpy argument when he claimed that there was no difference between the parties.) Finally, had Gore run an even semi-competent campaign, we would have an entirely different spectacle on HNN these days.


Stephen Thomas - 9/12/2003

The George Oilwell moniker says it all about this guy.

The supposed humor is pretty dumb.

Without U.S., Dutch and English investment and technology, the oil economy of the Middle East would not exist. The West has a huge ownership interest in that oil economy.

The ideology of the feminized, voluntarily castrated man is all over this post and this site. It flows from the first demand placed on the leftist man. The leftist man is supposed to demand nothing for himself, and he gains in stature in the leftist community by always putting the interests of blacks, women and gays first. In the academic world, the leftist man succeeds by playing the weasel... constantly scolding and ridiculing white hetero men as a means of advancing his career.

This George Oilwell character has the weasel personna down to a science. He ridicules the U.S. for pursuring its self interest. After all, the U.S. must be evil to insist that it has an interest in an oil economy that resulted from U.S. investment and technology. We're supposed to just give it away and want nothing in return. That's the obvious extension of the ideology of the leftist voluntarily castrated man.

It all flows from this. It's sick. It's morally disgusting. But it works for the leftist weasel. He can advance to some degree in academia by playing this game.


Jerry West - 9/12/2003

-
Elia Markell wrote:

....and other quite reputable sources that have established an al Qaeda presence in Iraq far more solidly than the Bush critics ever acknowledge.

JW:

An interesting topic to examine, but I am not sure how it relates to the statements from Albert and myself regarding opinion within the military on Iraq to which it was posted as a reply.

As I recall Albert said "....the many deceptions and half-truths used for this latest war gives the older soldiers pause." And I provided a couple of examples of high ranking, highly decorated soldiers with combat experience that validated Albert's statement.

How this morphs into a discussion of Al Qaeda seems like either a purposeful dodge or an inadvertant mental lapse, but it does bring up more fertile fields to plow.

EM:

Regarding the Bush administration's arrogance, I do not doubt they have made errors (the biggest being, in my view, the unwillingness to take on the Saudis hard enough -- yet anyway).

JW:

Errors and arrogance do not go hand in hand. Are they arrogant? Arrogant would be a mild description for this bunch. Are they making errors? Probably not in their eyes and possibly not in the context of what they want to accomplish. They may find war and the threat of terror very convenient tools for steering their agenda, whatever it is.

As for the Saudis, I agree. The question to ask, however, is why didn't they (which includes decades of past administrations) take them on years ago. We should also ask why they tolerate Pakistan and a number of Central Asian countries, some whose regimes may be worse than those of Saddam.

Given their selective focus on regimes and their support of dictators and terrorist equally as brutal as the ones they now challenge, one has to rule out all of the BS about human rights, democracy, eliminating evil and such that fills their propaganda as even one scintilla of the reasons that drive their policy. Which leaves us with the question of what is really going on.

EM:

It is crystal clear that the past ten year upsurge of terrorism directed at the U.S. is a response to our perceived flabbiness and a hypersensitivity to world criticism.

JW:

Those are merely catalysts precipitating reactions to a much deeper and serious problem. Without a host of underlying reasons there would not be this degree of terrorism.

EM:

The U.S. as a world leader CANNOT avoid being resented even as we are admired. So better to be feared than loved.

JW:

Much the same can be said for any number of historic regimes, some of whom we fought wars against. It would be better to focus on the causes of resentment and work towards their alleviation rather than continue to errode our own freedoms in an effort to stem a growing tide of hate. A tide that we encourage with our actions. Of course there is a lot of money to be made in certain quarters by exploiting our fears. Maybe that too, is a factor. When examining the administration one might look upon terrorists as partners rather than true adversaries.

EM:

As Iraq settles down, which it will, the Europeans, for all their indignation about us and our cowboy president, will come back in under our wing and get on the gravey train.

JW:

No doubt Iraq will settle down some day. When and how are still open for debate, however. And of course various nations will continue to exploit whatever situation in anyway they can for their own advantage. Don't mistake getting on the gravey train for anything more than a cynical cashing in on the situation, however.

EM:

Which brings me to Jerry and his links to Zinni and Hackworth, two long time opponents of Bush. I am sorry, being in the military does not give anyone ONE iota of credibility more than not being in it regarding current policies,....

JW:

And finally we get to the original topic. If one is examining what the military attitude towards the current program is, then one would think that looking at the opinions of highly regarded, experienced and decorated military men, particularly high ranking ones freed from the immediate obligation to support the administration no matter whether they agree with it or not, then I think that there is some credibility there.

The real mess will hit the fan when even those still on active duty start publicly echoing leaders like these two, if it ever happens. Zinni getting (reportedly) a positive response for his views from fellow officers indicates that the military isn't as uniformly behind the President as some would like to believe, and this certainly makes Albert's case that some old soldiers have questions about the direction that the President is leading them in.

When it comes to military policy, particularly regarding war, who is the more credible: a draft dodging alcoholic who couldn't even show up for minimum National Guard duty in the middle of a war, or decorated, high ranking officers with considerable hands on experience in these matters?



Elia Markell - 9/12/2003

First, Albert.

Maybe we are actually getting somewhere. On the matter of "WE," I merely mean the literate public, in which I actually DO include you, that has available articles in places such as the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New York Post (Amir Taheri, in particular) and other quite reputable sources that have established an al Qaeda presence in Iraq far more solidly than the Bush critics ever acknowledge.

Regarding the Bush administration's arrogance, I do not doubt they have made errors (the biggest being, in my view, the unwillingness to take on the Saudis hard enough -- yet anyway). In any case, politicians never apologize. In any case again, I see no "cascading" series of blunders and believe the war on terrorism is proceeding largely successfully. But apart from that, I think there are good realpolitik reasons for the current administration's "arrogance." It is crystal clear that the past ten year upsurge of terrorism directed at the U.S. is a response to our perceived flabbiness and a hypersensitivity to world criticism. The U.S. as a world leader CANNOT avoid being resented even as we are admired. So better to be feared than loved. You watch. As Iraq settles down, which it will, the Europeans, for all their indignation about us and our cowboy president, will come back in under our wing and get on the gravey train. Their own interests will dictate that they do so every bit as much as their interests dictated before that they pander to Saddam et. al. when we appeared weak-willed.

Regarding who I am, believe me I am not an ex-staffer for Perle, though my ethnic heritage makes me, in the eyes quite tragically of a growing number on the left, an automatic member of the "neocon" conspiracy, the latest incarnation of the Protocols of Zion, and that's that.

Which brings me to Jerry and his links to Zinni and Hackworth, two long time opponents of Bush. I am sorry, being in the military does not give anyone ONE iota of credibility more than not being in it regarding current policies, and absent something substantive to say. If you can point to wherein either of these guys said something substantive worth responding to, I will.


Jonathan Dresner - 9/12/2003

Thanks for your kind words. There are times when I wonder why I'm one of the few professional historians commenting on this website, and then there are times when I don't wonder at all.....

As to the bias and sensationalism of the editors, I have my doubts. For all my distaste for Daniel Pipes, for example, his worst articles have prompted some of the frankest and most fully developed arguments on this website. I think, frankly, that the editor may be baiting us academic lefties just a little bit. Though it hasn't worked, so maybe a shift in emphasis wouldn't be a terrible idea.

I think a moderated forum might be more fruitful, (And I'm very pleased that this site has implemented a civility policy including expelling the most egregious repeat offenders) but if we can't stand up to a little intellectual push and shove, maybe we need stronger positions. Though I do wish there were a few more participants: I'm getting a little tired of being one of "the usual suspects."

Oh, and I've been feeling a lot better about this site since I started ignoring *almost* everything posted by pseudonymonous ideologues. It's impossible to shut them out completely, but discounting about 80% of what people who won't shut up about everything except their name is a useful filter.


Frank Lee - 9/12/2003


Dear Mr. Catsam, the thinking intellectual behind the Bush propagandists at HNN:

In light of your comments, I stand marginally corrected. If my statement is amended to read "wars occur between countries, OR WOULD-BE COUNTRIES OR WOULD-BE GOVERNMENTS of countries", I think that covers all of your cases.

No doubt there are a few other odd exceptions, but if you put aside your propaganda megaphone for a moment, I think you'll agree that the "war against terrorism", like the "war on drugs" or the "war on poverty" is mostly a metaphorical war. However, goes beyond most metaphorical wars in that it is being used as an umbrella justification for more circumscribed real wars (e.g. in Afghanistan and Iraq) and as an excuse for the suspension of civil liberties, the waste of public finances, and the outpouring of jingoism that typically accompany real wars.

Osama and crew are not fighting on behalf of any country or for the rule of any country or even for any religion (any more than David Koresh or the Jewish Defense League were legitimate leaders in a religious war). It is probably the most disgusting of all the chickenhawk neo-con deceptions to confer the legitimacy of "war" upon the very clever but very deranged violence of a bunch of extremely dangerous and powerful fanatics who commit doubly evil mass-murdering suicide and who so obviously and desperately CRAVE the legitimacy so cravenly handed to them by the Bushies.

It is even arguable whether Al Qaeda's nihilistic rage really qualifies as full-fledged "terrorism". I will settle, though, for a scrapping of the lazy phrase "war on terrorism", which is and always was a pure propaganda ploy designed to give meaning to, and gain votes in 2004, for a purposeless regime SELECTED in 2000.


Josh Greenland - 9/12/2003

"And if the U.S. and the international forces there pull out now...then what happens? Carpenter isn't right, because he wants the non-Iraqi forces out yesterday, not in a few months time (which is how long it would take to impliment your solution anyway). There'd be no coherent government and no security structure in place whatsover...."

There isn't one now. Just the US military protecting the Oil Ministry, US officials and itself. From what I gather, the de facto attitude of the US military toward the Iraqis, is "too bad, you're on your own." When our people feel the least bit threatened, they wildly blow the crap out of everything non-American around them. This has happened again and again. When the Iraqis try to patrol their own neighborhoods, they are treated like the criminals by our forces. Water and oil pipelines are being blown up. Iraqi girls and women are being forced into an Afghani reactionary's dream world of cloistering, non-employment and non-education. Criminals are kidnapping, raping and murdering now, mostly it seems with impunity. As far as evil Moslem theocrats taking over, Islamobigots are already intimidating and murdering women, liquor store owners and others they don't like.

This is the government, the order that we are providing for the Iraqis now.

The only bad things we don't have now in Iraq are invasions by neighbors and civil war. I think we might have an obligation to help Iraq avoid those things in the near term before we leave, but nothing else. Most of the bad things that would supposedly happen if we left precipitously are already happening.


Jerry West - 9/12/2003

-
Albert Madison wrote:

....the many deceptions and half-truths used for this latest war gives the older soldiers pause.

JW:

For instance see below which is probably only a miniscule tip of a very large iceberg:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27846-2003Sep4.html

One might also want to check out the columns on this sight by a highly decorated combat veteran officer of Korea and Vietnam:

http://www.sftt.org/hackstarget.html


Derek Catsam - 9/11/2003

Perhaps war USED to be something that states declared against other states. But in an era of stateless actors who have all of the possible apparatus to wage war, isn't it myopic, anachronistic, ahistorical, and just a bit silly to argue that only states can declare or wage war? And in this case, doesn't that remove the prospects of a civil war existing, since ina civil war there is only one state? What about guerrilla warfare in liberation movements? Are those not wars in any sense of the word? The Palestinians have declared an intifada against israel. Do they not see themselves in a war? Does Israel not see itself in a war? Or are you asserting that wars only happen between states because it happens to confirm your own fears and suspicions about this particular conflict? I bet many within the ANC and Mkhonto we Sizwe in South Africa and the surrounding states in the 1980s would disagree with your conception of what war is, and might even resent your implications that one who buys a broader concept of what war is or is not is somehow ignorant.


George Oilwell - 9/11/2003

History is full of conspiracies. 9-11 is only a fairly recent example. Just as there are plenty of Holocaust deniers around, so too, are there "historians" who fail, or refuse to recognize the reality and role of conspiracies in shaping our own country.

Why don't you study a little bit more history? That way, you wouldn't have to "cop" out because you aren't knowledgeable enough to talk about it, and are too embarassed to say so.



Peter K. Clarke - 9/11/2003


George's post is good example of the third most important reason why this website is a failure. Not only are there deeply-rooted biases in the editorial selection, and, at best, a limited ability of the editors to distinguish genuine analysis and bona fide history from sensationalistic hype in their choice of articles, there is also no mechanism for filtering out crackpots. The quantity of material here is high. The quality is very unreliable and uneven.

I've enjoyed your posts, Jonathan Dresner, but since you are real historian with a professional respect for and knowledge of the study of the past, I will understand when you too finally get so disgusted that you stop sending in comments.

It's too bad because a solid, balanced on-line discussion of the current implications of the past would be a valuable resource. History News Service seems little better in the selection of articles and there is no comment board, while H-Net is not set up for discussions of current events.


Albert Madison - 9/11/2003


Okay, Elia you are 60, even though your prior posts make you sound like 26. 60 is older than me even, and I have enough respect for age, and for sticking to the subject (leave Iraq or no) not to continue going in perpetual circles around your blind stubbornness. But, in your 60 years, did you never encounter the concept of saying "I'm sorry" ? Why can't Bush people EVER apologize for their never-ending cascade of blunders ? Rumsfeld is persona non grata across much of Europe, not because Europeans (understandably) despise his failed policies but because he is such a needlessly arrogant SOB. Why the continual arrogance ? Is this supposed to be some kind of new "family value" ?

"WE have solid evidence of meetings" between al Qaeda officials and Iraqi officials, you say. And "WE have evidence of meetings of Atta with Saddam contacts...WE know Ansar al-Islam was operating in northern Kurdish Iraq and was connected with al-Qaeda...WE know of terrorist training camps in Iraq."

Never mind that the same kinds of bland generalizations re terrorist training and contacts could be said about many other countries (US and the Nicaraguan contras, for instance), but tell me, Elia, who is your "WE" ? Now that I know you are not a bored college kid with a face full of piercings and tattoos, I wonder who "WE" might be. Are you an ex-staffer for Richard Perle ?

Finally, although I am also too old to serve in Iraq today, and we do have a VOLUNTEER Army, Elia, thanks to a little war in the '60s and '70s which you probably recall, it has been my experience that older combat veterans are usually more cautious about throwing young soldiers half way around the world. If they served in a war like World War II where the cause and reason were crystal clear, the many deceptions and half-truths used for this latest war gives the older soldiers pause. Somehow you are different and there is probably a tale there too, and I doubt it involves combat medals.


Frank Lee - 9/11/2003


The nitwit Cheney and Wolfowitz apologists who have never read the U.S. Constitution and who think Jesse Lamovsky is "left" probably have never cracked a history book to realize the wars occur between COUNTRIES. Where is Al Qaeda's "country" ? Saudi Arabia, sort of, maybe, and that is why we had to attack Afghanistan and Iraq and let NATO and the UN go to pieces ? War is an historical reality, not what chickenhawk puppet Bush speechwriters say it is, still less what their uneducated worshipers here scream.

Finally here is someone who has read the Constitution and its phrase about "letters of marque and reprisal", ignored by the incompetent U.S. Congress. Thanks, Jesse.

I'm not sure whether using privateer armies is, strictly speaking, a feasible approach, but it at least underscores the arsenal of resources which the founding fathers bequeathed to our government. Spending a fraction of $87 billion to replace madrasses with real schools would do vastly more to combat terrorism pouring it into Rumsfeld's swamp in Baghdad. There is no need for greenhorn bumpkins from Texas or their coward-Zionist string-pullers to be given huge unprecedented powers just so they can cover up their blunders.


Jonathan Dresner - 9/11/2003

While I've been known to think the worst of our current administration, this just doesn't work. Since you don't want nitpicking on details, I won't bother, except to point out: A, too many people were involved in rescue and recovery and investigation for the "missing" Pentagon plane to remain a secret; B, not to mention eyewitnesses to the crash.

But if this scenario has any basis in reality, why hasn't al-Qaeda or some other hostile entity made this case. The only way this works even as a theory is if the group "responsible" is too dumb to claim innocence, or is somehow coopted by the conspiring agencies.


George Oilwell - 9/11/2003

http://www.serendipity.li/wot/operation_pearl.htm

Read first, howl later - if you must. If you can purge the urge to avoid critical thinking; your REASONED response is invited. Not a cheap shot at some irrelevant detail, please.

NOTE: THIS is not an "Operation Northwoods" scenario.


Stephen Thomas - 9/11/2003

The left doesn't recognize the war for what it is because the left refuses to acknowledge true religious faith.

This is a religious war, and the left has its own religion. That religion revolves around abolishing sexual difference, which is currently the leftist Utopian prescription.

The left fails to see its role as a combatant in this war because it believes that religious faith can simply be extinguished. Yet, the left fails to see its own religious agenda -- feminism and gay rights -- for being precisely that. The left has fooled itself once again (as it did repeatedly in the 20th century) into believing that humans simply need to be remade in an ideal image. Thus, the left is now magnificently and blinding imperialistic... it seeks to destroy traditional religious culture throughout the world (while absurdly braying about diversity).

No, it doesn't look like a war to the left because the left is busy trying to bury the traditional religions. The other side sees clearly that this is a religious war, perhaps the greatest in a 1000 years. The left sees itself as an innocent educator, just trying to eradicate the dumb vestiges of backward religious belief. The other side knows it is in for a war of survival.

The other side has religious faith and clear values on its side. The left will have a new fashion for saving the world and producing Utopia within a few years. Which side would you bet on?


Stephen Thomas - 9/11/2003

Here's the dilemma for every man who continues to be foolish enough to parrot the Party Line of the PC left. Carpenter is quite an extravagant example. He's got to bow to the hatred of masculinity that is required of every good leftist, although his language of is that of the macho man. The trick is to properly accuse other men of machismo, while employing it oneself in the service of feminism. Quite a feat of linguistic acrobatics.

It's a tough trick to pull off, and it always makes the good leftist man look like what he is -- a weasel and a suck up.

So, haughty contempt for the U.S. is a prerequisite for any good lefty. That contempt is based, of course, on hatred of our cowboy culture.

This Carpenter fool is so confused that it's uncertain how he puts on his own underwear in the morning. On one hand, he hates the macho cowboys, but he clearly would like his own chance at playing Stalin. This is the dilemma for the PC man.


Elia Markell - 9/11/2003


"What happened on September 11 was a crime in the legal sense more than an act of war."

This is the sheer fantasy at the heart of the critics' incomprehension of what appears pretty obvious to most others. That is, that Sept 11 was not a crime but a declaration of war, and that the thousands of terrorsts who we have only begun to root out are themselves merely the surface face of a vast infrastructure that depends on actual states to survive. The evidence of linkages to states is enormous, from ties between the Taliban, al Qaeda and Pakistan's ISI, to Saudi charities, mosques and institutes that spread Wahhabi Islam and act as covers for actual terrorists, to Sadam's funding of Palestinian suicide bombers and terror camps such as that of Ansar al-Islam, to Lybia and Sudan and other safe havens for these barbarians. How anyone can think this nexus can be uprooted by private citizens or police forces simply does not understand how vast an amount of police resources have already been devoted to this problem for 30 years. Images of beared jihadists storming beaches may evoke all-knowing snickers, but they do little to enlighten anyone as to the unique nature of the threat that we now face.


Herodotus - 9/11/2003

And if the U.S. and the international forces there pull out now...then what happens? Carpenter isn't right, because he wants the non-Iraqi forces out yesterday, not in a few months time (which is how long it would take to impliment your solution anyway). There'd be no coherent government and no security structure in place whatsover...We've been down that road before. It's called Afghanistan. Think seriously about the implications of a complete withdrawal. The circumstances of the original intervention are no longer relevant...you just can't leave Iraq in the lurch.


Elia Markell - 9/11/2003

ALBERT
1) Israel has been occupying the West Bank in violation of the UN for 35 years...

ME
Really, this ought to be enough to turn any sane person off right at the start. Albert, why, if Israel is "occupying" the West Bank do we constantly hear about Israeli "incursions" into the West Bank"? Odd metaphysics, to say nothing of plain physics, in your notion of "occupied." In fact, much of the West Bank is now occupied by the Palestinian Authority, for all the good it's done any Palestinians except those fortunate enough to get some suicide-bomber relief money. In any case, Israel's "occupation" is most certainly NOT illegal. Israel is obligated to return lands (never specified as all the lands) as part of a peace deal with the aggressors of 1967. It did so instantly with Egypt, even though Egypt has fulfilled the absolute bare-bones letter only of the accord. The resolutions pertaining to Israel on this score are Chapter 6 resolutions that obligate BOTH parties. Only the most myopic can convince themselves the Palestinians, who still teach their kids to hate all Jews, have done diddly to meet their obligations under those resolutions, under Oslo, or under any other fig leaves. In any case, Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 resolutions are worlds apart. The Chapter 7 resolutions that pertained to Iraq are far more serious. And Saddam's flaunting of them made a joke of the UN. All the UN-ites should have been in the forefront of demands to salvage the UN's credibility, at last, by ousting the tyrant. Eleven years was long enough.

ALBERT
2) Accepting your dodge of Rumsfeld’s hypocrisy and spurious World War II analogy for the sake of argument, let’s just ask how many American cabinet officials shook hands with Adolf Hitler after he took power in Germany ?

ME
Look Albert, what do you want from me. I have several times in these discussions said I opposed AT THE TIME the U.S. warm up to Saddam. The U.S. strategy of playing off secular dictators against Islamofasicist theocrats has not worked. You seem to think past mistakes are like legal precedents in some court proceeding of your imagination. Most of us are not focused on retrospective blame, apart from learning from one's mistakes and correcting them. Other than that, our focus is PRO-spective. What to do now. The idea that you cannot do right because you once did wrong is not going to fly. Except with those wedded to score-settling at the expense of the job at hand.

ALBERT
3) “what, since the 9-11 attackers were Saudis, does invading Iraq have to do with 9-11 ?” That question was for YOU, Elia, not the Saudis, since YOU have been clinging to the old lie about Saddam and Osama being buddies.

ME
I do not believe I said they were buddies, Albert. We have solid evidence of meetings of al Qaeda officials with top Iraqi officials going back to the early 1990s. We have evidence of meetings of Atta with Saddam contacts (disputed but still maintained by many in the know), we know Ansar al-Islam was operating in northern Kurdish Iraq and was connected with al-Qaeda. We know of terrorist training camps in Iraq. Buddies or no, these two phases of the same hatred were as fully capable of putting aside their mutual hatreds as Tojo and Adolph. And in any case, al-Qaeda is in Iraq now, as are many Saudi fanatics. My point to you about this was that it indicates the Saudi terror-masters certainly see the danger a free Iraq poses to them, hence they get the link between 9/11 and Iraq even if you do not. I can't make it any clearer than that.

ALBERT
Meanwhile, as first year European history students know already, American troops went to North Africa in 1942 not to film Humphrey Bogart, but because we were at war with Hitler (who declared it on us first by the way), and that was the first place we liberated from his occupying forces.

ME
There was plenty of contention about whether that strategy was wise. Just ask Uncle Joe. But your response to me goes to the heart of the issue here, which is who exactly IS our enemy in this fight. Hitler was our enemy in Europe and North Africa. Those who think the equivalent of Hitler in this case is an isolated band of fanatics hiding out in the hills who simply have to be rounded up and brought to justice do not get what we are doing. They do not see, for instance, that you do not get the kind of ability the terrorst groups have to train, equip themselves, gather intelligence, and hide without the assistance of states. Iraq was one of those states. In my view, we chose it first for EXACTLY the same reason that we chose North Africa first -- it was a good place to start and gain some leverage for the heavy lifting yet to come. Whether that heavy lifting in this case will involve actual warfare or a different mode of conflict, I cannot say. But there is heavy lifting to come, that's for sure.

ALBERT
4) "why they have to fight in the first American war condemned by almost the whole rest of the world" I will rephrase this using simpler language so maybe you can understand, Elia: "How bad do you have to suck to lose in a popularity contest with Saddam Hussein ? "

ME
I do not really care about this. Your view that "they all hate us" now and loved us two years ago today is simply untenable. They hate and love us and have for a long time. Read Fouad Ajami here. I can't add to what he's said.

The Falseness of Anti-Americanism
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/story.php?storyID=13852

ALBERT
5) why you aren't there with them ?

ME
It's still beyond me what moral capital your side thinks it has accumulated to justify the condemning tone of this sort of question (the tone comes through here even though I've removed the most pompous and silly of your ad hominem invective). I am not there because I have not taken on the specific assignment that those who joined the military have. At sixty, I doubt they'd have me even if I tried. What I'd do if I were 20 I cannot say and won't make any claims regarding at all. But you are not there either, Albert. Do you think you are under any less obligation on this score than I simply because you do not approve of the policy? Your obligations as a citizen are set by laws the democratic polity have put in place. You can complain about the laws. That's surely your right. But you bear EXACTLY the same obligation as I to uphold them, and the governmental decisions based on them. Like or not.


Herodotus - 9/11/2003

This would be humorous if it weren't such a sad issue.


Jesse Lamovsky - 9/11/2003

Mr. Markell,

I've heard this pro-active, "we'll pick the time and place" argument, and I must confess I don't quite understand it. It's not as if an army of heavily-bearded jihadists hit the beaches on September 11. Nineteen murderers committed their crime on American soil because, thanks to lax immigration laws, sloppiness on the part of federal agencies, and inattentive baggage screeners, they were allowed to do so. These are the people we need to worry about, not tinpot dictators in third-world countries.

As for tracking down the men behind this crime, why not give contracts to private citizens, to raise private armies, under letters of marque and reprisal?

What happened on September 11 was a crime in the legal sense more than an act of war. Treating it as a crime, a mass murder, would have made more sense and caused a lot less bloodshed than sending our military machine hither and yon.


Jonathan Dresner - 9/11/2003

Mr. Markell,

I think the disdain cuts in a couple of directions.

Social conservatives are shocked that we poor benighted liberals still think free divorce is a good idea; libertarians are bemused that taxation is still redistributive; literalists of all stripes can't quite get their minds around the simple popularity of affirmative action programs with unenlightened lefties.

Nobody thinks they are wrong. John Kenneth Gailbraith said that "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof." And very few people don't think that if more people thought like they did, the world would be a better place.

It's not a particularly liberal attitude, perhaps, but it's not a peculiarly liberal attitude, either. If you know what I mean.

I, for one, don't think the "masses" are dumb, so much as most of them don't get good information or proper training in thinking issues through. My opinion? The vast majority of the population is entirely capable of making good decisions if presented with a reasonably even-handed and clear information; sometimes they even suprise us and make good decisions in spite of terribly biased and uneven propogandistic bombardment. That's why we're here, right? To present our arguments to the public and help a few more people see things our way.

I do wish the debate were on a more civil level more of the time, and I wish more people were really up front about their positions and reasons.


Albert Madison - 9/11/2003


1) Israel has been occupying the West Bank in violation of the UN for 35 years, and in violation of its own security interests for the last 5-6 years. War criminal Sharon gives not a hoot about the latter, but if you are planning to move to Israel, on your way to Baghdad, perhaps, you might inform yourself of the fact that there is more than one political party in that U.S. taxdollar-funded economic basket case.


2) Accepting your dodge of Rumsfeld’s hypocrisy and spurious World War II analogy for the sake of argument, let’s just ask how many American cabinet officials shook hands with Adolf Hitler after he took power in Germany ?


3) “what, since the 9-11 attackers were Saudis, does invading Iraq have to do with 9-11 ?”

That question was for YOU, Elia, not the Saudis, since YOU have been clinging to the old lie about Saddam and Osama being buddies. Even the right-wing think tank apologists don’t try to claim this, so I think you’d better update your propaganda script. This part is now obsolete.

Meanwhile, as first year European history students know already, American troops went to North Africa in 1942 not to film Humphrey Bogart, but because we were at war with Hitler (who declared it on us first by the way), and that was the first place we liberated from his occupying forces. The constant comparisons of Iraq with World War II are unworthy of even a drunken C student in a Yale history course and certainly not part of your History 101 course, Elia.


4) "why they have to fight in the first American war condemned by almost the whole rest of the world"

I will rephrase this using simpler language so maybe you can understand, Elia:

"How bad do you have to suck to lose in a popularity contest with Saddam Hussein ? "


5) why you aren't there with them ?

Answer the question please, if you aren't too much of a coward to do so. A lot of guys in Baghdad and Tikrit would like to know why they are there and the chickenhawks who sent them aren't.


Elia Markell - 9/10/2003

Pop Quiz. Easy, Way to Easy.

1) why they have to die to enforce UN resolutions and look for illegal weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but not Israel

Well Albert, there is the little matter of there being NO resolutions regarding Israeli WMD to inforce, and NO Chapter 7 UN resolutions at all (since you know so much, I assume you understand why a breach of these -- as Saddam was of 17 of them -- is so serious), and, most importantly, because Israel is not threatening to invade anyone, is a democracy, allows even Arab fifth columnists in its midst to sue it in its Supreme Court and sit in its Knesset, and pretty much qualifies as a civilized place even you would be fine about bringing your kids up in if you just put away the abstractions that blind you.

2) why they have to take orders from the same people who shook hands with and supported the enemies they are now fighting

For the same reason my father took orders from American officials who had shaken hands with the Japanese and Germans. I mean what kind of wacky question is this, anyway? You take orders when you are in the army. Didn't Willie and Joe ever explain anything to you. Or do you think you know how to run and army better than them? I doubt it seriously.

3) what, since the 9-11 attackers were Saudis, does invading Iraq have to do with 9-11

Well, perhaps you should ask the Saudis, since they were opposed to regime change in Iraq and now are sending in their lumpen-Wahhabi to do what they can to take it down. Don't you wonder why they are all so nervous? Does that really NOT suggest to you that THEY at least understand what is at stake in Iraq? And, oh yes, what WERE we doing in Algiers and Egypt in 1942 when, and here's the shocker, they had NOTHING to do with Pearl Harbor?

4) why they have to fight in the first American war condemned by almost the whole rest of the world

Handy little world, that, "almost." It sort of makes this a trick question, but I will take it anyway. Since when does the national security of the United States depend on a popularity poll with the likes of France, Germany, or Burkino Faso? I doubt you know, in any case, what the whole "world" thought of Vietnam, Korea, the Mexican War or the War of 1812. Why do I doubt that? Aside from my suspecting you are not the greatest historian on earth, it's because the notion of the whole world having an opinion is itself a mind-numbingly meaningless concept. Do you REALLY think you know what the man in the street in say, Bangladesh or Pakistan or Nigeria or Japan actually thinks? No.

5) why you aren't there with them

Oh, oh, oh, you've found me out, you clever guy. I am a sixty-year-old chickenhawk. Just love to see younger boys do my fighting for me. Yep. Jes shootin' tin cans with a sawed off shot gun.


Albert Madison - 9/10/2003


If you feel safer in Baghdad than in lower Manhattan, Elia, please leave here and go there. If you want young soldiers to die there for you, it would be more "democratic" to explain to them:

1) why they have to die to enforce UN resolutions and look for illegal weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but not Israel

2) why they have to take orders from the same people who shook hands with and supported the enemies they are now fighting

3) what, since the 9-11 attackers were Saudis, does invading Iraq
have to do with 9-11

4) why they have to fight in the first American war condemned by almost the whole rest of the world

5) why you aren't there with them


Elia Markell - 9/10/2003

"If Al Qaeda operatives are in Iraq in large numbers ... it is most probably because a lot of sitting ducks are now there to be blown up in furtherance of Jihadistic dreams."

Oh, yes, much better to have the sitting ducks sitting in the Twin Towers, I suppose. Happy 9/11 to you, too. I have a feeling yer average Al Qaeda guy does not exactly regard our boys over there as sitting ducks in quite that sense. In any case, if they want to shoot it out, I say better we pick the place than them.

"Even more unfortunate are the large numbers of Americans willing to blindly follow..."

Really, this could stand in for about 70% of the posts on HNN. The poor dumb citizenry. If only they were as smart as us, if only we had the power we so clearly deserve, if only they deferred to their true betters -- why then THAT would be democracy, wouldn't it?




Albert Madison - 9/10/2003

The conspiracy theories of "Oilwell" et al are not only unsubstantiated and irrelevant, they are quite unnecessary. Pure incompetence more than suffices to explain 9-11. The real issue now should be how to rescue the foreign policy hijacked AFTER 9-11.

The Bushies are right about one thing, at least in a sense. The situation in Iraq IS very different now than it was six months ago: it is worse for America. Before the ill-fated "shock-and-awe" followed by "self-financing reconstruction" fiasco was unleashed, terrible problems in Iraq were blamable on Saddam Hussein. Now America has to take the rap.

This debacle served up by an incompetent President and a supplicant Congress poses something of a dilemma for succeeding leaders, who will have to deal with the mess. If they wash their hands and leave (as Mr. Carpenter suggests) and the place spirals downwards, as it likely would, then that "proves" Wolfowitz & crew right for wanting to stay in there regardless of cost. If, on the other hand, a new President and new Congress resolve to tough it out and entrench the country ever deeper in a quagmire (a quite likely scenario for a least the medium term), then it "proves" that the so-called "neo-conservatives" were right for forcefully addressing the threat and the need for intervention, and any skeptics are just soft on terrorism. Either way, the onus is going to be on the clean up crew, not the mess makers. Until the history books are written that is, (and, thank God, there are few real historians here at HNN).

The one clear way out of the box into which the neo-conservatives have thrust the country is for the country to rise up, throw the incompetent rascals out, and make it clear to the world that the rascals are being thrown out BECAUSE of their idiotic Iraq policy (not because they are not spending enough on prescription drugs or hurling enough quixotic lances at globalization windmills, etc.). Then the clean-up squad can work with a clean slate, and possibly even give America the sort of workable and cooperative
foreign policy it needs and has been racing away from during the last two and a half years.


George Oilwell - 9/10/2003

Herodotus:

Do you have any evidence to substantiate the Official Conspiracy Theory version of what happened on 9/11, who did it, who supported it, and who benefits from it?

Can you help us out on a minor issue: why hasn't OBForgotten or Al Kaola ever taken credit for 9-11?

Do you still contend that the Gulf of Tonkin incident wasn't a lie?


Robert Dearborn - 9/10/2003


"Success" to Al Qaeda means being able to convert their exaggerated grievances, warped views of reality, and murderous slaughter into something more like a legitimate global war. Puppet Bush has fallen into their trap headfirst and dragged the rest of us with him.

If Al Qaeda operatives are in Iraq in large numbers (a reasonable possibility, though not a proven certainty), it is most probably because a lot of sitting ducks are now there to be blown up in furtherance of Jihadistic dreams of endless violence and endless martyrdom. If one thing is clear, it is that Al Qaeda masterminds are highly opportunistic. Unfortunately, a lot of people in the Islamic world, angry at injustices done to them, have been willing to play along with Al Qaeda or even worse, be recruited by them.

Even more unfortunate are the large numbers of Americans willing to blindly follow a very cynical and very opportunistic U.S. presidential administration, whose short term goals overlap quite well with those of Al Qaeda. To be sure, Al Qaeda would like their angry young men to kill Americans while the chickenhawk top brass of American military and their think tank gurus, from the safety of Washington and Florida, would like to use young American soldiers to kill Al Qaedas and violently confront the coalition of their willing supporters, in Iraq and elsewhere, but the bottom line for both sets of “generals” is war, and to heck with the long term interest of Moslems, Iraqis, Americans, or anyone else, and to heck with the underlying problems that keep generating fresh recruits for suicide terrorism.

Not that all of this probing of Al Qaeda’s motives even begins to explain the confluence of deceptions and blunders which led to the bungled invasion and occupation of Iraq, let alone address Carpenter’s (I think) well-intentioned but misguided solution. But, Bush apologists are clearly running out of excuses for their mess in Baghdad, and so they fall back on blind fear. And there are reasons aplenty of for fearing Al Qaeda. To deal with that challenge, however, we are going to need to liberate ourselves from the grasp of those whose overriding interest is to exploit fear for short term political advantage in America.


Herodotus - 9/10/2003

I still ask for an explicit statment from Mr. Oilwell: does he believe that the United States government perpetrated the attacks of September 11, 2001?


Elia Markell - 9/10/2003


Robert,

Odd you should be bothered by my simple "proclamations" and assertions given that P.M. never does anything but proclaim, without logic or fact -- and he takes a good four or five times as many paragraphs as I do. I respond to him on his level. Hence, proclamations is what you get. If you want to point out a substantive fact in his screed to me, I'd be interested. I couldn't find one.

In any case, your point about my knowing what lurks in the soul of Al Qaeda is half worth responding to, so I will. Al Qaeda now is sending men into Iraq, no? The Washington Post recently detailed the evidence of its efforts to undo what has been done there. Why do you suppose they are doing this, if not out of fear of what might happen if they do not do it? After all, your side is the one that kept insisting Al Qaeda had no interest in Iraq or Saddam before (despite copious evidence to the contrary, however). So what's there interest now, exactly? Instead of Al Qaeda bringing the war to the enemy's homeland, the enemy has brought it to their part of the world. I do not claim any insight into their souls. But simple logic ("convoluted neo-logic" to you") would suggest they see that they have got to prevent our success on the very borders of their strongholds no matter what. Unless you assume they operate on some plain of totally idiotic and blissful optimism (I only wish they were that stupid), it is logical to assume this situation frightens them. I assume it.


Farem A. Labouche - 9/10/2003


I don't think so, Jesse. There is however, an outlet for Mr. Thomas's blind hatred of Arabs. The initials of the organization he needs to contact are IDF. Unless, of course, he is too much of a chicken to fight for what he believes in.


Jesse Lamovsky - 9/10/2003

"Iraq was a geographic sanctuary for anti-American Arab-Islamic terrorists."

Perhaps. Of course, so was Pakistan, Germany, the UK, and certain parts of south Florida.

"Iraq gave social and cultural support to Anti-American Arab-Islamic terrorists."

Not true, or at least nobody has found any proof of this. Saddam did give financial support to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. But last time I checked, that was Israel's problem. I know our foreign policy is being directed by people who are for all intents and purposes agents of Israel... but it's still not our problem. Isn't Israel the regional superpower? We don't give them all that weaponry just to beat up on Palestinians, do we?

"Does Mr. Carpenter think that since past Presidential administrations have make tragic mistakes in the Middle East that this justifies the deaths of Americans?"

When did Mr. Carpenter say this? When has anyone said this? Among those against this war are people who lost family members on September 11. By their opposition, do these people "justify" the murder of their loved ones?

"The tribal areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Central Asia are time warps to a medieval Arab-Islamic world where patriarchal society holds such dominance that women are still gang raped on the basis of an accusation of adultery."

True enough. So, why are we there again? Womens' Lib? Mr. Thomas, you're a conservative, right? Does "gender equality" sound like a good, conservative rationale for sending American troops into battle?

"Is Mr. Carpenter so blinded by the failings of the American republic that he can not recognize the true threat that the cultural hatred existing in the Arab-Islamic world harbors for United States citizens in the United States?"

How's that? If we pull troops out of the Arab world and restrict immigration from those countries, we can negate any kind of physical threat from terrorists. The only real danger is from the kind of cultural suicide, the combination of low birthrates and unlimited immigration, that is taking place in Europe. But we don't have to let that happen, and we can prevent it without firing a shot. Remember, we're still sitting on the most defensible piece of territory in the world.

"Mr. Carpenter needs to watch the planes fly into the World Trade Center Towers once a day to be reminded of the threat we are up against."

Come on, Mr. Thomas. I've read your other postings. You're better than this tripe.




Dave Thomas - 9/10/2003

What Mr. Carpenter fails to perceive is that Arab-Islamic terrorists are now killing American soildiers in the Middle East instead of American civilians in the United States. Does he really believe that Arab-Islamic terrorists will quit attacking United States citizens anywhere in the world over the next generation? Iraq was a geographic sanctuary for anti-American Arab-Islamic terrorists. Iraq was a source of financial suppport for Anit-American Arab-Islamic terrorists groups. Iraq gave social and cultural support to Anti-American Arab-Islamic terrorist. We can not tolerate any nation giving any type of support to our enemies. Does Mr. Carpenter remember the film of Palestinians dancing for joy in the West Bank and Gaza on September 11? Does Mr. Carpenter think that since past Presidential administrations have make tragic mistakes in the Middle East that this justifies the deaths of Americans? Does Mr. Carpenter really believe that the current terrorist threat to the United States is limited to a small handful of radicals in the Arab-Islamic world? The United States is "HATED" on the Arab street as much for its own historical crimes in the Middle East as it is for being the symbol of Christian, Gender Equal, Western Capitalism. Three things that the Arab street absolutely rejects in the worst quarters of the Islamic world. The tribal areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Central Asia are time warps to a medieval Arab-Islamic world where patriarchal society holds such dominance that women are still gang raped on the basis of an accusation of adultery.

Is Mr. Carpenter so blinded by the failings of the American republic that he can not recognize the true threat that the cultural hatred existing in the Arab-Islamic world harbors for United States citizens in the United States?

Thank goodness Mr. Carpenter is in charge of nothing more important that a word processor. He does not have the backbone to do what is necessary to prove to the medieval mindset of the tribal Arab-Islamic world that the United States not only will not suffer attack, but will leave no stone unturned throughout the face of the globe to eliminate such a threat. The governments of the Arab-Islamic world need to be given a clear choice, cooperate fully and uncategorically with any and all United States demands for an end to aid and sanctuary for Arab-Islamic terrorists or face the fate of Iraq.

The invasion of Iraq and maintenance of an American military presence in the Middle East is an absolute necessity for the next twenty years. It will take that long to eliminate a threat that refuses to be placated in any way shape or form.

Mr. Carpenter needs to watch the planes fly into the World Trade Center Towers once a day to be remineded of the threat we are up against.


John Kipper - 9/10/2003

Mr Oilwell's impressive ability to backtrack on inflamnatory statements has rarely been so naked exposed. First he flat out states that 9/11 was either self-inflicted or supported by the US government (read Pres. G. Bush). When called upon to verify his statement, he retreats to a feeble disclaimer that he has no more idea of what happened than Herodotus.

What is it, Mr. Oilwell, that causes your backoff? Lack of proof or lack of guts to defend your statement that causes this turn around?


NYGuy - 9/10/2003


It might be noted that the economist for a leading NYC bank said he would not change his estimate for the budget deficit in 2004. He pointed out that the funds would be spent over time and does not affect his 2004 forecast. He also forecast a 5% increase in GNP next year. Thanks to GW’s leadership.

As I listen to the Democratic Presidential candidates tonight at the Black Caucus I don't hear of new solutions or programs of what should be done differently, except the U. N. in and the U. S. out. But, like PM they follow the party line, "attack, attack, and complain, except if you are an enemy of the U. S." And of course get more money from the taxpayers so the Democratics can spend it.

Poor jokes put forth as reason, but the only excitement was the interruption by the protesters.


Robert Dearborn - 9/10/2003


Elia is back, but rational reasoning is obviously not what he studied during his break. Now, instead of convoluted neo-logic, we get proclamations.

Bush is right. Carpenter is wrong. Take it or leave it. With us or against us. Stay the course behind our great non-nation-building leader. The transparently pitiful pretense that Elia knows what lurks in the soul of Al Qaeda is a minor flaw for a modern neo-con. Al Qaeda, for the unscrupulous fake imperialists, is just a tool, a bogeyman for currently fashionable neo-con sound-bites. Meanwhile real Americans die for a war designed to make the world hate them.


Josh Greenland - 9/10/2003

This anti-imperialist anti-interventionist thinks that Carpenter is right.

We should exit quickly, perhaps giving the Iraqis just enough time to jerryrig a defensive military out of indigenously available forces whether we like them or not, and we should funnel money through acceptable third parties into Iraq to pay for the destruction and the injuries we've caused.

We should never have invaded Iraq in the first place.


George Oilwell - 9/10/2003

That's because they've all be co-opted by the conservative-owned liberal media.


George Oilwell - 9/10/2003

Our Father of History doesn't any more know the truth about who is behind the 9-11 attacks and how they happened, than me or anyone else. ( He may believe a tall caveman is the masterfiend, but I would be surprised if he thinks that. After all, Father isn't stupid. )

Like that unpleasentness in Hawaii and the Gulf of Tonkin; it may take a while for mainstream opinion to consider alternatives to the Official Story Conspiracy.

Another Warren Commission commission is as unlikely to uncover the truth as the official investigatory commission did about the FJK assassination.


Herodotus - 9/9/2003

It certainly says something about Carpenter's extremism and irrelevance in the larger debate that even staunch antiwar types on here have commented that the U.S. cannot just up and leave.


Elia Markell - 9/9/2003

Like the rest of the media, P.M, appears to see in W's speech what he wants to see -- an admission of failure and a suddent turn to the UN.

In fact, what W asked of the UN is EXACTLY what he asked for prior to the war, no more nor less. He asked, quite specifically, for UN assistance under American command. I agree he is unlikely to get it, and I suspect he is perfectly calm about that prospect. For contrary to P.M. and the rest of the media, things are not deteriorating in Iraq.

P.M. will scoff at that claim for one reason and one reason only. He has come to believe that scoffing is a substitute for reason and fact. In fact, much of Iraq is quiet. Local government and policing is emerging in much of Iraq. And the very desperation now observable by Al Qaeda (gee, I didn't think they were supposed to care) and others to get into Iraq is a measure of their growing fears that it is going to work and is going to spell their doom. They are right. P.M. is wrong.


Thomas Gallatin - 9/9/2003

Howard Dean has been the clearest candidate speaking against the duplicity and stupidity of Bush's Iraq folly, and the most energetic, outspoken and consistent (except for Kucinich, whose fervor is unfortunately muddled by a naive pacifism), with Bob Graham a close second, followed at some distance, and with far less media attention, by Sharpeton and Mosley-Braun.

The first thing Bush did after 9-11 was to declare a "war against terrorism" as the "defining theme" of his Presidency. It was a shameless admission that he had no real policy or purpose before that. Ignoring the clear trail to Saudi Arabia, he then proceeded to depose the Taliban (after finding Afghanistan on the map) but that was not enough for his chickenhawk phony-imperialist advisors.

The American government has committed many immoral acts in its long history (and many moral and positive acts too, but they are not the subject of this thread), however it is hard to find anything comparable to the willful, premeditated destruction of fifty year old transatlantic alliances, of twenty year old peace efforts in the Mideast, and of a two hundred year old tradition against cold-blooded aggression and conquest, all in order to start a war to help give a shapeless and not even quite legitimately elected administration a new set of campaign sound bites. It is reprehensible in the extreme, it will take decades of hard work to repair, and all other differences between Democratic opposition candidates pale in comparison to their positions and records on this issue.

Gephardt, Lieberman, and Kerry, in full knowledge of the Bush Administration's track record of unilateralism, hypocrisy, and diplomatic incompetence, nonetheless voted to allow that Administration, without convincing evidence, without genuinely trying to secure broad-based cooperation of other countries (as in 1991), and using proper the barest modicum of any kind of diplomacy, to launch its war against Iraq allegedly to rid it of Al Qaeda and the great arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons ready to be fired at the West in 45 minutes (and of Rumsfeld’s buddy Saddam, who is now perhaps living in Bin Laden’s cave).The other candidates either voted against the shameful Iraq resolution if they were in Congress, or spoke out clearly against it if they were not.


Herodotus - 9/9/2003

Let's just get this right out in the open: Is it your belief that the attacks on 9/11 were acts perpetuated by the United States government?


George Oilwell - 9/9/2003

There are many reasons why bush carried out the illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq. Most of those reasons were driven by corrupt financial considerations (to steal Iraq's oil, provide corporate welfare to the CarlylebinLaden Group - and so many more, and to help divert the public from figuring out that the 9-11 attacks were either totally self-inflicted, or just supported by the U.S.).

Dean could easily be a Republican. He will actually be worse than bush, because he will continue the center-right policies of the DLC. So, the public's expectation of progressive ideas on health, education, fair trade, and fair tax policies will be put on ice for at least another four or eight years.

Is that what you want?


Michael Meo - 9/9/2003

It seems to me, Thomas, and George, that you both agree with P. M. Carpenter that the U.S. should get out of Iraq. The fiasco raises the question of why the U.S. ever got in in the first place, and there you are right to suggest that there are a lot of problems with the political system in our country.

Dean in 2004, for the immediate problem; but a third political party for the rot in the system.


Jonathan Dresner - 9/8/2003

As much as I agree with Dr. Carpenter's appraisal of the error made in going to war with Iraq, I have to disagree with this very self-centered proposal.

Whether it was a good idea or not, we are in Iraq as the conquering power, and we have an obligation to remain in Iraq until our departure will not cause greater chaos and suffering than our staying.

We should not be debating timetables for withdrawal (now, next year, next decade). We should be discussing what we can and should do in Iraq to establish a reasonably stable civil society and functioning services and infrastructure. And before anyone suggests that the US doesn't have that obligation because it didn't destroy "that much" in its latest campaign, I would say that as far as the Iraqi people (and most of the rest of the world) are concerned, the war has been going on since 1991.

It would be great if we could get the rest of the world to contribute ideas and expertise to the reconstruction and revitalization of Iraq, but there is no moral foundation on which we can base passing the costs to anyone else.


Thomas Gallatin - 9/8/2003


Thanks for the comment, George. I think Howard Dean and Bob Graham have been as solid on the unworkability of Bush's Iraq blunderings (not sure about Mosley-Braun) as Kucinich and Sharpeton. Alternatives to public funding of elections include running internet-campaigns, forcing broadcasters (who after all only rent the PUBLIC airwaves) to provide more frequent, more open, and better run interviews and debates, and adoption of instant run off voting - to remove discrimination against third parties.


George Oilwell - 9/8/2003

Amen, Mr. Gallatin.

Regarding the Democratic Party candidates; my own view is that unless Sharpton or Kucinich wins the nomination and subsequent election (and are allowed to be sworn in as President), very little will change. The "way things work" in our national and state governments preclude more than a little nibbling around the edges.

A more educated and enlightened public that votes, would be helpful. But that is becoming an even lesser likelihood. In fact, I believe that soon we'll hear right-wing "Think" tank TV talking heads explaining the unfairness of public-funded education.

A less venal body politic would also help; but how is that even remotely possible unless we move to federal/state-funded elections? Does anyone believe the rich & powerful would ever allow that to happen?


Thomas Gallatin - 9/8/2003


Carpenter's prescription is a non-starter:

"U.S. troops should be sent packing, replaced by a true coalition of peacekeeping forces."

No other country or "coalition" of countries comes close to the military capabilities of the United States. A "true coalition" can only happen if America, finally, accepts responsibility for its past blunders instead of arrogantly telling others how they have to fix them, e.g. contribute the lion's share of troops to an Iraq occupation under full, unequivocal, and legally approved U.N. control. On current evidence, acceptance of this sobering but unavoidable reality is going to require regime change in Washington D.C..

The U.S. needs to stay in Iraq for for many months, if not years, unless it is willing to risk the high likelihood of a reversion to some kind of destabilizing despotism there. The rise of a new Saddam-lite would nullify the only remaining justification for the chickenhawks' war in the first place, and solidify the deeply (thanks to Bush & Co) held international conviction that we are ruled by a bunch of ignorant and reckless cowboys. Rather than the "U.S. leaving Iraq now", Americans will have to settle for the arrogant and inept neocons leaving Washington in about 18 months. Then, responsible statesmen may be able to begin cleaning up the colossal mess these cowardly amateurs have left us, and finally, perhaps, start to seriously address the fundamental challenges of international poverty, tyranny, lawlessness, and unsustainable economic practices which have roots far deeper and wider than the actual reality of fanatical terrorism currently obscured beneath mythical soundbites about "evil."

Instead acting as a trumpeter for the professional “anti-war movement”’s quixotic crusade to revive and relive glory days of the anti-Vietnam War effort, Carpenter’s considerable rhetorical talents would be far better spent helping his fellow Democrats organize an effective alternative to Bush’s “flavor of the month” bogus imperialism. The field of credible candidates to replace the abysmally incompetent President-select is quite narrow if you discard the spineless hypocrites Kerry, Gephardt and Lieberman who betrayed their party by voting for the outrageous and unAmerican Congressional blank check of October 11, 2002.