Monday, December 18, 2006

IRAQ & ME

For those of us who felt in 2003 that the US/UK invasion of Iraq was - on balance - the right thing to do, 2006 has been a particularly humbling year. I had the utmost in confidence at the time that the militaries involved had it in them to bring that country out of the religious stone ages and into a secular-ish quasi-democracy, albeit one that would probably have to install or would beg for a strongman leader sooner or later. I overestimated the ability of our military to fight a true 21st century war - through no fault of the men & women on the ground - and severely underestimated how strongly the religious hatreds underneath the hand of Saddam were boiling, and just how violently evil the Shi'ites and Sunnis could be to each other when the kettle top was lifted. It sucks to be wrong, you know what I mean?

This war's led me to question my mislayed confidence in this particular branch of the government being able to run itself like a smart, streamlined, flexible organization, when I've never believed in the innate ability of any of the other branches of government to do so. It's led me also to harden my resolve against the nihilistic violence and fanatical zealotry of modern-day radical Islam, and to remember to never make common cause with its apologists, no matter how badly this war muddies the waters for what is essentially an assault on civilization itself. I honestly have no idea on how to stop 50-100 sectarian kidnappings, murders and drill-to-skull tortures every day. More troops, less troops, no troops, tough talk or appeasement - it all sounds bad, and the fundamental issues that we're fighting for don't resolve themselves in any case.

I continue to believe that we undertook this war with the best of intentions, but the United States and United Kingdom suffered from hubris, from a Cold War-era military mentality, and from structural blinders that I myself also had at the time. It's a mistake I won't make again.

27 comments:

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

1. While I don't say "this was a war for oil," there's no doubt that if the primary product of Iraq was cheese instead of oil this invasion would never have happened.

2. George Bush is an exceedingly stupid and arrogant man, and there was never a chance that he would be a competent wartime leader.

3. Iraq had the living hell kicked out of it in the first Gulf War, and had been under heavy sanctions and close observation ever since. Those of us who said he didn't have WMDs and was no threat to the US were absolutely correct. The way the goobers and sheep swallowed every last propaganda gambit of the Bushpigs was predictable but still amazing to watch.

4. In the first Gulf War there were some 500,000 coalition troops available and no invasion was actually foreseen. What sort of morons thought proceeding with half that number for a full-scale occupation would work? See #2.

5. The stupid bastard and his yes-men and Dick Cheney, his apparent owner, actually thought this would all go down as easily as awarding a no-bid contract to Halliburton! They thought we could invade a sovereign country, kill or imprison tens of thousands of its citizens, and be greeted warmly by people who would immediately demand the right to set up Lions and Rotarian Clubs and join the Repiglican party!

6. Shortly after and during the "successful invasion" unguarded ammo dumps all over Iraq were raided by some of these aspiring Rotarian types. Imagine that.

7. There was nothing even resembling a plan for the post-invasion Iraq. These people had no clue what they were doing - none at all.

8. But they almost immediately started letting Christian missionaries in!

9. Well-connected Repiglets were selected by the Heritage Foundation to go to Iraq and take important jobs setting up the new political and economic structures. Twenty-four year olds with no significant work experience were supposed to go to a war zone and set up banks and a stock exchange and so forth. You may be shocked to learn that they had no success. (Iraq currently has no banking system to speak of.) But Chip and Skip and Lance all have nice resume items as they sally forth into the corporate world.

10. Torture, torture, torture!

In conclusion - expecting this invasion led by these morons to produce any sort of stable, decent government in Iraq was like mating a snake with a hyena and thinking you'd get a dinosaur. It's not just that we're led by war criminals - we're led by STUPID war criminals. Dick Cheney, who will cash in tens of million dollars in Halliburton money as soon as he leaves office, said the other day that Donald Rumsfeld is the "best Secretary of Defense in our nation's history."

Uh-huh.

Anonymous said...

What the fuck?

Anonymous said...

Defeatist.

There are two books to read that are still hot 'n relevant: The Assassin's Gate, and State of Denial. Both were written by folks with your pre-war attitude who have since seen the light. Brutal, glaring, wince-worthy light.

There is an old dictum, war is good if you want to destroy something: Infrastructure, people, political power, etc. You can't build anything with warfare. Just like you can't take and hold territory with tanks or with predator drones. Boots, same as the Sumerians who were there first.

Bring back the draft. Or, let's formalize this process. When war is waged, the tax rate on the top 20% automatically doubles to pay for it. The rich provide the bucks, the poor provide the boots. Let's see how many wars get started then. This was the winning formula for WW II. All in!

-Ryan W.

Anonymous said...

Jay, did you seriously think your govt. originally waged this war with the best of intentions?? You have waaaaay too much faith in your politicians!

- Dave Lang

Anonymous said...

they are good at war profiteering, give them that much.

luKe said...

What else did you expect? Bush didn't even know the difference between shi'ites and soenits when he started his imperialistic war!

Seanrude said...

the return of Repiglicans, and the debut of Repiglets. Funny, and not shrill at all.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

I'm glad I give sean a purpose in life.

Anonymous said...

Jay, how much have you read about the neocons? About their origins and the way they think and plan? After my own readings, these guys come off like they waltzed straight out of Noam Chomsky's Central Casting for imperialist warmongers...really, all hyperbole aside. They are devoted to a world view that is depressingly Kiplingesque. Twenty years from now we might be musing to our own homegrown version of "Village Green Preservation Society". Those days gone by, when we had hot water 24/7...

Donald Rumsfeld is going to be SAVAGED by historians of every political stripe, by both pacifists and the heirs of the neocons alike.

Ryan W.

Anonymous said...

moelarry,

I have to say that your use of an epithet for Republicans is a major detraction from the fine points you often make. How about hanging it up or save it for you moveon.orr, Howard Dean or Kucinich sites you enjoy.

sean said...

MoLaJe,

First, there's actually two Seans on these boards. Don't worry we used to confuse a lot of club bouncers back in the day as well.

Even if I was to concede all of your other points, and you know I don't, just #3 renders you so full of shit your eyes are brown.

Let's start with just how you knew Hussein didn't have any weapons. Read it on the web somewhere? If there wasn't a consensus about the threat he posed, why were there eight zillion UN resolutions condemning him? Gassing the Kurds was the figment of some Zionist PR hack? If he had no weapons, or was not seeking the means to acquire them, why would he not permit continued inspections?

Second, heavy sanctions and observations. Please. They were working splendidly. For Hussein. And the French. And the Russians.
With a straight face you can conclude that Hussein was never going to be a threat to this country? What was that about the gooblers deluded into believing......?

Whatever else comes from the decision to remove to Hussein, he is no longer a threat to the US or his neighbors. He's not seeking a nuclear weapon and he's not cutting checks to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers either. Is that worth what has transpired? I'm guessing the answer to that depends on whether or not you think wars and reconstruction should be conveniently wrapped up between election cycles.

Yes, the Bush administration continues to change the rationale for the war and our continued presence in Iraq, stupidly in my opinion, hoping to induce public support for something everyone wants to end.

For what it's worth, here's my take. We went in to remove what we perceived to be a serious threat. Period. The whole standing up a secular democracy thing is secondary. As another poster noted, war breaks shit. So, we're obligated to try and fix it. Has there been one war that this country waged where there was a clear exit strategy? Should the administration have been better prepared? Of course. But here's a thought. If our intelligence was so flawed about the weapons, just how good a playbook should we be expected to have for the occupation? Are there still troops in Germany, Korea and Kosovo? I guess those administrations were run by idiots and morons as well.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

I don't have an "epithet for Republicans," anonymous. Repiglicans are a different breed of animal entirely from Republicans.

I don't go to any of the sites you've referenced. I do go to dailykos.com and Andrew Sullivan's site, among others. Sullivan's site is especially fun since he's a former supporter of the Iraq war who now spends most of his time detailing the many and varied ways in which Dumbya Bush and his Repiglican enablers fucked up the war and the country.

As for you , just hang out with the Little Green Footballs and Free Republic types. If you don't know who they are, just ask sean.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

sean (whichever one you are, not that it matters, because your opinions are interchangeable) - Saddam didn't have WMDs. Only the dumbest people in the country (see: Sean Hannity - hey, any relation?) still continue to insist that he did.

Sure, he did when he was gassing the Kurds, but then that was long before the first Gulf War, and he had them with the ASSISTANCE AND APPROVAL of the Rumsfeld/Cheney/Bush crowd. How quickly you forget.

But non-idiots know that those weapons degrade over time, and anything left over from that stock in 2003 was garbage.

You keep talking about what "we" knew as though there were no people saying that the Bush position was wrong. You're wrong about that. You also say Saddam wasn't allowing any inspections, when inspections were in fact ongoing. Of course he was resisting in some ways, but rational observers (in other words, not you) didn't think he had major weapons programs in the works.

Here's what was actually going on - Saddam was walking a tightrope, wanting to be seen as a strongman when his country was weaker than a Sean Lennon record. How hard is that to understand? Why the rush to invade a broke-dick country, anyway?

How many times do you Bush apologists - and Bush himself - have to be wrong before you admit that maybe - just maybe - the people who have been right all along about this situation may just have a better handle on it than you do?

That's a rhetorical question - I know your type, and you'd rather get herpes from Ann Coulter than admit you were wrong. You're too busy figuring out ways to blame the media and "leftists" for losing the war in Iraq. Which will be the inevitable screech of the dimwits on Faux News - they're already laying the foundation for.

By the way, the US beat Germany, Japan, and Italy in less time than Iraq has taken so far. And after that war was over, there were no "insurgencies" in Germany or Italy (I'm not sure about Japan, but if there was one, it was minimal.) But we were led by rational adults then, not by morons who hopped into flight suits for MISSION ACCOMPLISHED photo-ops.

PB said...

Sean,

How did we know Iraq didn't have WMDs? It's very simple. Hussein would have used them if he had them. That's just logical right? Isn't the whole point of having weapons like that to use them when you're being invaded?

Why do you think the US and Soviets never directly went to war with each other during the length of the cold war? Because we both had nukes and neither one of us wanted get nuked by the other. It's called mutually assured destruction. If Iraq was any sort of real nuclear threat you can bet we wouldn't have invaded in the first place. It is, however, somewhat likely that during the Reagan era, Cheney and Rumsfeld et al were giving Saddam the technology to make WMDs in order to fight Khomeini which may explain why they the current administration was shitting its pants over the prospect.

This war was such a bad idea for so many reasons. I think everyone though we would just waltz in, kick ass and it would all be over in a couple of weeks like the Persian Gulf war. Jay used the exact right word to describe this situation: hubris. Our leaders were so taken with "shocking" and "aweing" that it was as if no one stopped to consider that going into a sovereign nation and overthrowing their government is completely different than driving ivading forces out of a country (as in the Persian Gulf war).

I could go on about the many other reasons why this war was a bad idea such as the hypocrisy of disregarding the United Nations to enforce the rule of the UN, how there was obviously no connection between Saddam and Muslim extremists (didn't we fund him back in the 80s to battle Muslim extremists?), how we squandered all the worldwide good will towards the US post-9/11, and how killing Iraqi civilians is just, you know, wrong. I could go on but that would be saying I told you so and I have no desire get any feeling of Schadenfreude from this horrible fucking mess.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

As an afterthought - true, Hussein is "no longer a threat to his neighbors."

It would be indeed a terrible thing to have a "threat" - even a defanged one - to such splendid nations as Iran, Jordan, Syria, or Saudi Arabia. That would just be terrible. Friendly, peaceable, human rights-respecting nations like these should be defended with all of our "might." Boo yah. Yee hah. Because we're the rootinest-tootinest nation on Earth, and Jeezass luvs us. Our preznint tells us so.

tom said...

"(...)to bring that country out of the religious stone ages and into a secular-ish quasi-democracy (...)" - I'm afraid that's turning things upside down - if anything, Saddam's Baath regime was a secular regime and one of the consequences of the US invasion is exactly that it might catapult the country back into those religious stone ages (or already has). For the rest, I don't know what to think any more either...

Anonymous said...

Actually, there was ZERO insurgency in Japan, when we got the Emperor to go on the radio and say "It's over, we lost." that pretty much broke the back of the militarists for good.

In Germany, however, there was an insurgency in Allied occupied areas in early 1945, they were called the Werewolves. Hardcore ex-SS types. They went around blowing stuff up, they assassinated elected mayors, etc. It only lasted until Hitler died, though.

Iraq is an entire nation founded on 'unfinished business'. The Shiites have been waiting for their chance for about, oh, 1000 years. They will not be denied. Neocons and their apologists are kidding themselves.

Ryan W.

Anonymous said...

Last post, I swear.

WE, that's YOU and ME, have just been asked to pony up another 100 billion for this war by the Pentagon. Another 100 billion so our troops can stand around like well-armed hostages in a four-way shooting gallery. I can think of at least three things I would rather spend the 100 billion on...okay, four things.

Ryan W.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Ryan, they actually asked for 99.8 billion... I guess the idea is that if it's under $100B no one will notice.

Of course they're spending about 2 billion a day there, so it will only be a few months before they're asking for more. And at this point a lot of the money is just going for replacement parts - arms and guns that have broken down or been lost.

Oh, and since we're supplying our "Iraqi allies" with guns, and a lot of those guns are going missing (how mysterious!) we're also resupplying those guys.

Anyone who isn't a completely retarded Bush sycophant looks at that situation and realizes we're arming the insurgency pretty directly, but you'll never hear a Bush supporter say word one about that.

They're delusional, of course. At this point anyone who believes anything the Bushpigs say about this war is a certifiable wackjob, just like their Great Leader, who is now a worldwide figure of pity and horror.

Seanrude said...

I just want to put in a word for the Kurds. They are the unreported success story of the Iraq imbroglio. They are building a decent society and for that part of the world it is relatively democratic. If this country were to wash our hands of the whole situation and walk away, and leave them prey to the wolves who will certainly come circling, it will be tragic. They can and will defend themselves, but it will show the world yet again that it is better to be the enemy of the Untied States than its friend.

Any thoughts on the kurds from the non-retarded non-bushpigs who comment?

daryl licht said...

Well, J, it's about time that you and the rest of the losers who blindly suckled GW's warhead saw the light. Too bad it didn't happen way sooner, then maybe we wouldn't even be in this mess in the first place, but, hey, BTLN, huh? Nice picture to use. In fact, I used it on my blog (http://sonictroubadour.blogspot.com/) a month or more ago!

Jay said...

Daryl, nothing was "blind" about my initial support in the least, nor did it have anything to do with GW. Glad we got to use the same photo together, since it was the very first Google image that pops up when you search on "Iraq war". Imaginative and brave minds think alike, brother.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

I agree with seanrude about the Kurds. After Dumbya's daddy encouraged them to rise up against Saddam during the first Gulf War he abandoned them, and it was a disgrace. The no-fly zone policy did manage to give them some degree of autonomy/safety in the intervening years, but not enough.

I'd have no problem - after pulling out of the rest of Iraq, which should happen shortly - with leaving troops in Kurdish territory for some time and offering them real protection against the inevitable chaos. We should be generous in arming them, too - they're going to need it.

It's not their fault we elected a delusional fucktard.

Anonymous said...

The Kurds getting a homeland would probably, about 50/50 chance, initiate a preventive invasion by Turkey that we could not stop. Fuck the EU, they would say. Turks see an indy Kurdistan as taking a defacto 15-20% slice out of southern Turkey, which would be akin to us giving Arizona and Nevada back to Mexico. Cyprus is nothing compared to this. Problem is, we are the only ones keeping the Kurds in arms, if we pull out they are probably toast. They deserve a homeland, but we would have to talk Turkey into giving up some of their territory in the process. Good luck with that fantasy.

Vietnam was a pisspot compared to the stakes in play here, just an agricultural country on the far edge of a continent facing the open ocean with no oil, gas, or minerals in play, just symbolic importance to the Cold War chess masters. If Iraq goes up in flames, and it is starting now, the whole region goes up as well. Governments from Jordan to Syria to Kuwait to even Saudi Arabia would be under enough pressure to collapse, and not in a nice way.

Couldn't we have just waited for Saddam to die in ten years and then bought off his sons? That's what Kissinger would have done. That's what the Saudis would've preferred.

Ryan W.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

I don't agree with you about the Turks, Ryan. Being in the EU is extremely important to them, and I think they could be persuaded. Of course it's a factor to be considered, but if it helps add a little stability to the region it also helps the Turks, who don't want a sloppy civil war on their border any more than Saudi Arabia does.

Of course I don't have any faith in the Bush administration to manage any of this.

Could we give Texas back to Mexico?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jay. Long time no see.

I admire you for admitting you were wrong on this...a lot of war supporters haven't been quite so forthcoming.

I've always been amazed how many libertarians manage to be doggedly skeptical of the state, while maintaining a naive trust in the state's "good intentions" when it comes to launching wars...always seemed like a major disconnect to me.

Anyway, what made opposing the war a no-brainer for me was having followed Iran-Contra very closely, and knowing that the same criminals were agitating to invade Iraq.

Well, that and the fact that if you have a legitimate, compelling reason to do something, there's no need to make your case with lies, as the Bush administration did.

Cheers,

B. Kearney

Anonymous said...

How do you handle being a libertarian punk rock nostalgia merchant on one hand and a send-in-the-troops moralist on the other?

Saddam's government was many things but stone-age religious was not one of them. Like most Americans you tar the whole region with a single brush.

When will you realize, democracy isn't good for some places?