OK I've been silent too long. But with every political pundit I hear, with every column or blog post I read, I've become more and more upset. I'm distiurbed by all the frivolousness out there when it comes to politics and the current slate of candidates.
Seven and a half years ago, we suffered an unimaginable tragedy. Close to 3000 innocent people died, for what? Thousands more suffered, for what? Because a group of fanatical religious zealots had some point to make. We were angry, we needed to do something. Those lunatics were out of touch with reality. They were driven by some ideology that had no basis in the real world. Sure there may have been underlying causes to their fanaticism. But that did not excuse the horrible act that they committed.
So what did we do? We first destroyed their camps, then we overthrew their supporters. We started off right. Then we had to finish the job in Afghanistan and help bring to life a stable society where respect for individual rights and the rule of law were the norm. But no. Instead we launch some idiotic war against another group who were not involved. After all they were "evil doers". They "hated us". They wanted to blow us up with a nuclear bomb. And so we made a plan.
We started to "collect evidence". We were going to "fix things". And we were going to spread the magical hand of the free market, our new God, our new religion. And we were going to rebuild the Middle East. All hail the mighty dollar. After all once they tasted the free market we were sure that they would turn their backs on their false religion, their nationalism, their suspicions. It was going to be infectious. They would embrace these "western ideals", they would love freedom, give us flowers, spread democracy across the entire regions. And as a bonus we would secure our energy supply. Of course this "we" did not encompass every individual. There were some of us who knew that Iraq was an original enemy of Osama bin Laden during the invasion of Kuwait. There were some of us who doubted that the Iraqis would welcome us. There were even some of us who worried that a bunch of right wing ideologues who didn't understand how to run this country could ever manage to build a society from scratch.
Some of us exclaimed, "Lets stop the madness." After all we had no reason for this war, only some crazy ideas. Did anyone try to stop this lunacy? Some tried. We marched. We protested. Some of our representatives also gave stern warnings. Some, who hold the constitutional power for declaring war, did not play this idiotic game. After all we wanted to bomb and invade a country who likely had nothing to do with the great tragedy. After all, the logic for the war started to resemble that coming from the group of fanatical zealots who attacked us in the first place. But some of our representatives, the ones who knew better, they caved in. Why? They were afraid of our American zealots. They were afraid of looking weak. They were afraid for their political careers. They did not care about rational arguments.
And so five years ago this week we violated international treaties, we bombed them, we invaded. We felt self righteous. And who wouldn't? The invasion took no time at all. But then we made mistakes. We didn't do enough. We let things slip. We took shortcuts. We cut corners. We were cheapskates. And things got worse. No government. No police. No electricity. No water. Nothing. People became upset. Ethnic groups started fighting. And the whole place went towards chaos. Yes folks you do need government, and police, and social stability before you have "freedom". But fear not, new religious zealots filled the vacuum.
Now where are we? We've killed somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 individuals directly or indirectly. We made millions of Iraqis into refugees. The worst part is that although we overthrew a dictator, we replaced his rule with anarchy.
And who is this we? Who made all these disastrous decisions? It wasn't our poor soldiers who courageously fought in Iraq. It wasn't our generals who weren't given the proper tools to rebuild society. No, it was our fanatical zealots. And it was those who gave into them. And they brought war, torture and other activities that are born in societies that are led by zealots.
This can never happen again.
This is not some small issue. This is not abortion or stem cell research. This is not race politics. This is not gender politics.
Do you remember how upset you were on 9/11? Imagine if it was hundreds to thousands of times worse. And imagine that it wasn't because of Islamic terrorists, but your own government. And then imagine that the whole reason that this happened was because of irrationalism on the part of some of our leaders and cowardice on the part of other leaders. Our actions, led by our zealots, killed a hundred times more people than died on 9/11. Our actions led by our zealots, destroyed millions of lives. We sent an entire country into anarchy. We destroyed America's standing in the world. We even inadvertently created more terrorists then we had before! We didn't even take care of our own soldiers after they came back from war. We let them rot. And we spent trillions of dollars. TRILLIONS. And for what?
We need to clean the slate. We need to vote out the zealots.
The last question is, would you vote for anyone who enabled this?
(And Ms. Ferraro, I don't care whether said candidate is a female, male, black, white or blue.)
I disagree with your views. The U.S. has been engaged in war with Iraq since 1990. During the Clinton administration, military targets in Iraq were bombed frequently.
In the post 9/11 world, President Bush ordered a land invasion of Iraq because, in his well-educated opinion, Sadaam Hussein was considered a threat to U.S. National Security. Keep in mind; the U.S. had bombed Iraq for over 12 years at that time.
Sometimes, people think that: if we leave our enemys alone, they'll still harm other people; but they won't bother us anymore. It is not true. It's called appeasement, and appeasement doesn't work. Appeasement isn't normal or logical.
Charles Holden isn't normal or logical.
Butler's response is typical. He's afraid. He's afraid because he doesn't want to accept the facts of life. He's scared because somewhere inside he realizes- a good person should try to do the right thing. When doing the right thing means fighting the good fight, it requires courage- not stupidity.
"They were driven by some ideology that had no basis in the real world."
Yeah, that's the Bush White House, all right.
The war lasted six weeks, from Thursday, March 20, to Thursday, May 1. Then came the 'peace', the occupation, which the neocons want to last forever, their idea of the Thousand Year Reign.
Note: This is mostly in response to the comments by Charles Holden.
There are many individuals and countries that may be a "threat to our national security." Does that give us the unilateral right to invade them, displace their governments and torture them. Even if it does, how are we planning on paying for all of this? And how does this make us the good guys? In my mind, we would have been much better off going to war with North Korea (which at least has a WMD program) or Iran (which is trying to get one) than Iraq. We should particularly be in many countries in Africa where genocide is occurring if we want to "do the right thing and fight the good fight." We can't afford these wars, and diplomacy and containment as policies are much more sustainable and cheaper (in treasure and life) than war. War should be an option of last resort when we are in imminent danger. That was not the case with Iraq, and if you believe it was, you weren't paying attention then and certainly haven't looked at any of the evidence that has come out since the invasion started. Diplomacy and containment are not the same as appeasement.
What Charles Holden says might make some sort of sense if a) the US were not already involved and far from finished with a war in Afghanistan, directly related to the pursuit of Al Qaeda, b) a war in Iraq were not a terribly expensive proposition, due to the nature of then occupying a nation composed of multiple, violent, antagonistic factions, and c) it actually were the case that Saddam had managed to reconstitute some WMD programs. In fact, none of these were the case. In order to sell the war, the Bush administration catapulted the propaganda on all three issues, falsely conflating the Iraq war with the pursuit of Al Qaeda, blatantly lying about the likely duration and cost of the war, and purposely relying on false evidence to magnify the danger Saddam posed. At this point in time, it is beyond absurd to argue the issue as if the Bush administration had acted with honest intention or serious investigation into whether that course of action was wise.
Charles Holden: you are a deluded fool, and you cannot spell.
First, I want to respond to Eric's comment about Afghanistan. The U.S. and our allies are fighting a war in Afghanistan for the cause of civilization itself. When Taliban invade a village in Afghanistan, they kill the schoolteachers who have educated female students. Many of the Taliban in today's Afghanistan are foreign fighters. Taliban soldiers customarily force Afghan girls into polygamous marriages. The Taliban thrive by extorting the illegal opium trade.
The U.S. military estimates that about 400,000 occupation troops would be required in Afghanistan to prevent most of the opium production, fight the drug lords, patrol the border with Pakistan, and conduct an aggressive campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It is difficult to raise an army from the native Afghan population because the nation's economy has become dependent upon opium production.
With regard to Eric and Russell's comments about Iraq, it is difficult to argue with you guys. You both point out a lot of facts about what has happened in Iraq. I don't completely agree with all of your assessments, while I have some opinions of my own about the subject.
I'm a conservative in Arizona who supports John McCain for president. He says, we should finish the job in Iraq. I agree with him. An insurgency existed in Iraq, when Sadaam Hussein ruled the country. A different insurgency is still present in Iraq. Regardless of what has happened in the recent past, I don't think we should abandon the Iraqis. I don't think Iraq is worse now, than it was under Sadaam Hussein.
Millions of native black Africans are crying for outside military intervention everyday. In the Congo, Sudan, Kenya, Zimbabwe and other places in Africa terrible violent conditions prevail. An occupation army of maybe 2 or 3 million troops could maintain a reasonable degree of order in Africa. It is a tough job, and it is a big job.
I think the crisis in Africa will inevitably be put under control with the development of new armnaments. Both lethal and non-lethal automated systems could be deployed in Africa. These more advanced systems will also require a large number of prisons to incarcerate the enemy, and reindoctrinate them.
Another thing is: the large occupation army required to maintain security in Africa could be recruited from the world population. Billions of individuals worldwide earn less than $10 per day. Through local advertising, millions of troops could be recruited from around the world. At a military payscale of say, $125/week- an Army to invade and occupy Africa could be recruited and trained. I don't exactly know how the money could be raised, but there are lots of possibilities.
Another thing is: the large occupation army required to maintain security in Africa could be recruited from the world population.
That gives you no pause? Are you proposing that the US hire and run that army? Or that we cooperate with other nations to do so?
Just what in US politics in the last seven years gives you the faintest notion that the US is either qualified for the first, or willing to endeavor the second? The US is at the tail end of the presidency that rivals only Nixon's for its disrespect for our own Constitution and laws and civil liberty. We need to put some serious work into restoring our own tarnished democracy before we start thinking about more foreign adventures.
The notion of raising an occupation army for Africa probably sounds ridiculous to many of the readers of this blog. I'm telling you: it could happen in the future. I mean, terrible human suffering persists in Africa on a daily basis.
As far as what Russell seems to imply about the U.S. Armed Forces, nobody agrees with him. The United States has the most powerful military in the world, and expertise equal or greater than any other country.
As far as what Russell seems to imply about the U.S. Armed Forces..
Say, what? I didn't imply anything about our military. I wrote about the current nature of our national politics.
Okay, I have some work to do now. I need to prepare a job for early tomorrow morning. Good luck, or if anyone plans on enlisting for Iraq or Afghanistan- good hunting!
A Conservative In Arizona, USA
Lets get the fact straight. Not opinions, but facts.
1) The Gulf war ended in 1991. We signed a treaty with Saddam. The idea that we've been at war with Saddam since '91 is false.
2) In 2002-2003, the American public, the US allies and the UN were offered evidence by the Bush administration to start a new war. That's why the senate voted. All war measured must be approved by the senate.
3) Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. To believe this idea, even BEFORE the war, is to be totally clueless in world affairs and history. Iraq was never a threat to the US. Their biggest enemies were Iran and Saudi Arabia.
4) No one here raised any opposition to an invasion of Afghanistan. That had to be done. I think that everyone here agrees with this. But we really screwed up that job in the same way that we screwed up in Iraq. We beat them (the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Baath Party in Iraq) militarily but then we never poured in the resources to build a stable society.
As for whether we should pull out, I'll be honest - I'm agnostic. And I don't think that Hillary or Obama could possibly pullout quickly, despite what they say. But we the voters must punish those in power that created this mess that we find our self in. The next time our leaders decide to do something stupid, I want them to think twice.
Look Charles, I want things fixed as much as you do, but indiscriminately starting wars is not the way to do it. We need to place ourselves in the shoes of an average Iraqi citizen. How would you feel if terrorists from Mexico killed 3000 innocent people in country X, and that country then took revenge by killing a hundred times more Americans, destroying our nation and leaving us to rot while proclaiming "we gave you freedom"?
Holden, I didn’t say you lacked courage - just normality (here optimistically defined as a grip on reality, or at least perception of some part of it) and logic.
By every geopolitical measure, the US is in much worse shape than it was before the present regime took power. Likewise the world.
"The notion of raising an occupation army for Africa probably sounds ridiculous to many of the readers of this blog. I'm telling you: it could happen in the future. I mean, terrible human suffering persists in Africa on a daily basis."
That's an indicator that it won't happen, not that it will.
If there's 1 thing you learned from Rwanda it should have been that the US, the UN, the African Union and the rest of the world is quite happy to wait out any atrocity, even those far more serious than the current.
"The Gulf war ended in 1991. We signed a treaty with Saddam. The idea that we've been at war with Saddam since '91 is false."
Then the whole issue of continuous bombings, overflight incursions, military control of airspace, armed interventions, sponsorship of coup attempts and pretty much every other US-Iraq interraction during that period becomes quite hard to explain and strikingly coincidental in its "tone".
Likewise, it opens up a myriad of options for bombing countries, routinely engaging their military and defense systems and commandeering sections of their country for your exclusive military use which won't be considered acts of "war".
"In 2002-2003, the American public, the US allies and the UN were offered evidence by the Bush administration to start a new war. That's why the senate voted. All war measured must be approved by the senate."
No, the senate voted in 2002, long before most of that evidence was presented.
It's actually quite informative to find the date of the senate resolution and work backwards through just how quickly and with how little presentation of evidence it took to get that war authorised, long before the US media got into full flight and Powell went to the UN.
"How would you feel if terrorists from Mexico killed 3000 innocent people in country X, and that country then took revenge by killing a hundred times more Americans, destroying our nation and leaving us to rot while proclaiming "we gave you freedom"?"
Well he'd probably feel the same regardless of the premise. However that premise is a little flawed.
"Not surprised" would be the answer if America wasn't a military superpower, country x was and America had spent more than a decade pissing it off and openly taunting it.
Have you never done the translation in your head to convert "Death to America" into "Death to the world's lone military superpower" and realised how ill advised that is?
Whoa, now Charles! Are you related to Mark, by any chance?
Most of the Holdens we have in Oz are cars. I see the General (as in GM) is going to export the good old Holden Ute to America in 2009. Watch for it!
It amazes me how everyone on both sides of this debate continually misses the whole point of what the Iraq situation is and has always been about.
The US breathes oil, they have none within their own borders, and they're running out of other places to get it from. Liberal-minded Americans were offended that 9-11 was exploited as a pretense for the invasion - this is understandable. But withdrawing from Iraq will not solve this energy crisis, and if it continues down the present path, you can expect many more invasions of oil-rich foreign soil in the future.
The Iraq invasion is a symptom of this much deeper problem, and yet still no one really seems to be discussing it.
Well I did mention it (sarcastically):
And as a bonus we would secure our energy supply.
And look at what's happened, oil is over $100 a barrel. That's the result of incompetency and a failure to invest in alternative energy and to lower consumption.
And it makes me even more angry at Clinton. The war was a waste of time, resources and distracted us from our real problems.
Alex: Another reason for the $100 barrel of oil is the effect of a collapsing dollar. The low interest rates of the housing boom started the fall, the ridiculous debt that this country has incurred due to the war has also seriously devalued the dollar. As the dollar goes down the cost of all imported goods goes up.
Notice the relationship, for example of the US vs Canadian dollar and the price of oil. A couple of years ago you would spend about 70 cents US to buy one Canadian dollar. At that time oil was around $60 to $65 dollars a barrel. Now it takes $1 US to buy $1 Canadian and oil is $100 a barrel. The increase in the cost of oil almost exactly matches the decrease in the value of the US dollar.
This is another side effect of the war that people aren't talking about.