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June 03, 2004

Comments

Aidan

I am curious about the point of this post. Of course, the difficulties we face in Iraq are not new and any occupying force will have troubles. It is the media's responsibility to keep people well informed about what is going on, not to gloss over the true difficulties of an action. Your stated purpose with this weblog is to start a discourse – but the majority of your posts are pointed, cliché’d jabs at the left.

What I would suggest is different about Iraq and Germany is the base cause of the action. The lack of true, compelling reasons for our invasion and occupation at this time make the true cost of it very hard to bear. The most important thing is for the public at large to realize how truly terrible war is - so they can more intelligently react when the President or Congress say we must enter it.

Curtiss Leung

The parallels are superficial at best. Points to ponder:


  • How many American solidiers lost their lives after the German surrender? How many American solidiers lost their lives since the President's "Mission Accomplished" speech?

  • What was Germany's form of government prior to the Nazi party's power grab? What was Iraq's form of government prior to the Ba'ath party's power grab?

  • What were and are the cultural norms and institutions that gave Germany social cohesion before the Nazis and after the American victory? What were and are the cultural norms and institutions that gave Iraq social cohesion before the Ba'ath and after their defeat—or rather, were there any in the first place?

  • What was the extent of German military power immeidately prior to D-Day? What was the extent of Iraqi military power immediately prior to 3/21/2003?

I could go on, but I'll stop there—although there are bonus points if you compare the state of the Jews in Europe immediately prior to D-Day to the state of the Kurds before the American invasion.

That said, historical perspective is definitely required for judicious evaluation of current events. I look forward to actually seeing some in this weblog, for I do believe you have it in you. Until then, I suppose I'll have to content myself with ridiculing the idées reçus you seem to think will stimulate serious discussion. After all, If you think gentle insults that amuse you will add spice to the proceedings, you can hardly blame me for following your lead.

Adrian Spidle

I am curious about the point of this post. Of course, the difficulties we face in Iraq are not new and any occupying force will have troubles.

YOU ANSWERED YOUR QUESTION RATHER WELL.

It is the media's responsibility to keep people well informed about what is going on, not to gloss over the true difficulties of an action.

MAYBE, MAYBE NOT. HISTORICALLY, WE'VE DONE POORLY IN OUR WARS SINCE THE MEDIA ASSUMED THIS POLITICALLY ANTI-WAR ROLE AND WE DID VERY WELL WHEN THE MEDIA WAS (PROPERLY) PART OF THE WAR EFFORT.

Your stated purpose with this weblog is to start a discourse – but the majority of your posts are pointed, cliché’d jabs at the left.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE AN AUTHOR HERE SO YOU COULD MAKE YOUR OWN pointed, cliché’d jabs at the RIGHT?

What I would suggest is different about Iraq and Germany is the base cause of the action. The lack of true, compelling reasons for our invasion and occupation at this time make the true cost of it very hard to bear.

1 - WE REMOVED A TERROR SUPPORTING REGIME,

2 - WE REMOVED A REGIME THAT USED WMDS IN THE PAST AND HAD ACTIVE WMD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS.

3 - WE REMOVED A REGIME RESPONSIBLE FOR MURDERING MILLIONS OF INNOCENT MUSLIMS AND OTHERS.

4 - WE PLANTED ANOTHER SEED OF DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST WHICH, IN THE LONG RUN, WILL TRANSFORM A MOST DANGEROUS PART OF THE WORLD.

5 - WE'VE MADE THE WORLD SAFER.

NOT BAD, IN THE VIEW OF MILLIONS OF VOTERS I'M SURE.

The most important thing is for the public at large to realize how truly terrible war is - so they can more intelligently react when the President or Congress say we must enter it.
Posted by: Aidan

WRONG. THE BEST THINGS IN THE MODERN WORLD WERE EARNED BY BLOOD IN IMPORTANT WARS:

1 - CYRUS THE GREAT LIBERATED THE ISRAELIS BY DEFEATING THE BABYLONIANS,

2 - THE GREEKS SAVED THE CRADLE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION BY DEFEATING TWO GREAT PERSIAN KINGS,

3 - ROME UNIFIED AND CREATED MODERN EUROPE WITH ITS LEGIONS,

4 - CHRISTIANITY WAS SPREAD BY THE SWORD,

5 - CHARLES MARTELL SAVED EUROPE FROM BEING TOTALLY ISLAMIC AT TOURS.

6 - WILLIAM MIXED HIS NORMAN FRENCH LANGUAGE AND CULTURE WITH THE ANGLO SAXON'S LANGUAGE AND CULTURE WHICH PRODUCED THE MOST ADVANCED, MOST DOMINANT CULTURE THE WORLD HAS SEEN,

7 - THE AMERICAN COLONISTS DEFEATED ENGLAND CREATING THE WORLD'S BEST HOPE FOR LIBERTY FOR ALL,

8 - WELLINGTON STOPPED NAPOLEAN AT WATERLOO,

9 - LINCOLN FREED THE SLAVES FOR GOOD IN THE CIVIL WAR,

10 - WE DESTROYED THE TWIN EVILS OF NAZI GERMANY AND IMPERIAL JAPAN,

11 - WE STOOD UP TO THE COMMUNIST HORDES IN KOREA AND VIETNAM WHICH LED TO THE FINAL DEFEAT OF COMMUNISM,

12 - WE WLL DEFEAT AL QAEDA AND ALL ITS SUPPORTERS BY KILLING THEM.

SHEEZE, YOU ANT-WAR TYPES NEED TO STUDY THE PAST.

ADRIAN

Adrian Spidle

That said, historical perspective is definitely required for judicious evaluation of current events. I look forward to actually seeing some in this weblog, for I do believe you have it in you.

SEE ABOVE POST. WHERE DO YOU DISAGREE?

Until then, I suppose I'll have to content myself with ridiculing the idées reçus you seem to think will stimulate serious discussion. After all, If you think gentle insults that amuse you will add spice to the proceedings, you can hardly blame me for following your lead.
Posted by: Curtiss Leung

BRING IT ON! MY FRIEND.

ADRIAN

Keep in mind, the reason we were IN Germany is because our allies needed our assistance and the whole of Europe was at stake. Iraq didn't ask for us to be there. The UN didn't want us there. In other words, we just took it upon ourselves to stick our noses in where they don't belong and we are now paying the price.

Adrian Spidle

Keep in mind, the reason we were IN Germany is because our allies needed our assistance and the whole of Europe was at stake. Iraq didn't ask for us to be there.

THE KHURDS AND SHIA (A GREAT MAJORITY) WANTED US THERE.

The UN didn't want us there.

THE CORRUPT UN HAD MAJOR BUSINESS REASONS TO NOT WANT US THERE.

In other words, we just took it upon ourselves to stick our noses in where they don't belong and we are now paying the price.

DISAGREE,

ADRIAN

Curtiss Leung

"See the above post. Where do you disagree?

Goodness...where to start?

  1. We removed a terror supporting regime
    1. The extent and depths of the Ba'ath party's ties to al Qaeda are, to be polite, a matter of controversy. No one will deny that they sheltered some terrorists: for example, Abu Abbas, the bloody thug behind the Achille Lauro hijacking probably thought he could die in his bed in Baghdad. Instead, he expired in our custody. That justice was served in this matter is a desirable, but unintended consequence of invading Iraq. More to the point, no valuable al Qaeda 'assets' have been recovered or destroyed as a result of the Iraq invasion.
    2. This statement elides the difference between terrorism and conventional warfare. Conventional warfare seeks to capture territory, hold it, and reinstitute or reorganize the sovereign power over the seized territory. Terrorism seeks to effect policy changes by murdering civilians and undermining support for a standing government's policies. It's worth noting that as a strategy, terrorism usually has the opposite effect on the populace. You may object that Osama bin Laden's stated objectives are nothing less than the defeat of the west, but there are two counter-objections: first, that if he limits his efforts to terrorism, he will fail; and second, that there are good reasons to believe he is engaging in inflammatory rhetoric to gather suppport for a more limited regional goal, which is the overthrow of the House of Saud.
  2. "We removed a regime that used WMD in the past and had active WMD development programs"
    Did the Nazi use gas on the battlefield? Or are you referring to the use of Zyklon B in the camps? The latter is an atrocity, but if we are going to be strict and sober about things, does not count as WMD use as such. On the other hand, what WMD programs Iraq had at the time of the war were scams that lined the pockets of well connected scientists which could not and were never intended to produce weapons.
  3. "We removed a regime responsible for murdering millions of innocent Muslims and others"
    If you had said "removed a regimes guilty of genocide," I'd have to agree. But "millions" and "Muslims" turns this into hyperbole.
  4. "We planted another seed of Democracy..."
    I doubt this was ever the intent of the current administration. I might have believed them if they were open to partitioning Iraq. Instead, the stated policy towards post-war sovereignty was always that Iraq's "territorial integrity" would be maintained. See, for example, Douglas Feith's testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations of 2/11/03. Iraq was an artifical construction of the British from the first, and since '92, the Kurds had a autonomous—and secular!—region in the north. The institution of traditional Islamic law over the "unified territory" of Iraq does not bode well for democracy.
  5. "We're made the world safer."
    You're a history buff. Do you remember what Herodotus recounts of Solon's meeting with Croesus?

As far as the Civil War freeing the slaves—as a right-wing history buff, aren't you supposed to be reminding those to your left that the war was fought to preserve the Union?

No doubt that wars have had consequences for the better in human history, but they are not the sole source of progressive change. What did it take to really stop lynching and oppression of blacks in the South? Did women have to take up arms to get the vote in the United States? How were the British expelled from India? What caused the Eastern bloc to crumble?

Adrian Spidle

We removed a terror supporting regime

The extent and depths of the Ba'ath party's ties to al Qaeda are, to be polite, a matter of controversy. No one will deny that they sheltered some terrorists: for example, Abu Abbas, the bloody thug behind the Achille Lauro hijacking probably thought he could die in his bed in Baghdad. Instead, he expired in our custody. That justice was served in this matter is a desirable, but unintended consequence of invading Iraq. More to the point, no valuable al Qaeda 'assets' have been recovered or destroyed as a result of the Iraq invasion.

WE AGREE ON FACTS BUT DISAGREE ON THREAT IMPLICATIONS.

...

"We removed a regime that used WMD in the past and had active WMD development programs"

Did the Nazi use gas on the battlefield? Or are you referring to the use of Zyklon B in the camps? The latter is an atrocity, but if we are going to be strict and sober about things, does not count as WMD use as such. On the other hand, what WMD programs Iraq had at the time of the war were scams that lined the pockets of well connected scientists which could not and were never intended to produce weapons.
"We removed a regime responsible for murdering millions of innocent Muslims and others"
If you had said "removed a regimes guilty of genocide," I'd have to agree. But "millions" and "Muslims" turns this into hyperbole.

YOU BASICALLY AGREE.

"We planted another seed of Democracy..."

I doubt this was ever the intent of the current administration.

IT CLEARLY WAS.

I might have believed them if they were open to partitioning Iraq. Instead, the stated policy towards post-war sovereignty was always that Iraq's "territorial integrity" would be maintained. See, for example, Douglas Feith's testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations of 2/11/03. Iraq was an artifical construction of the British from the first, and since '92, the Kurds had a autonomous—and secular!—region in the north. The institution of traditional Islamic law over the "unified territory" of Iraq does not bode well for democracy.

I TOTALLY AGREE. KHURDISTAN, SUNNISTAN, SHISATAN MAKE SENSE TO ME. I'D EVEN TAKE A BIG CHUNK AND MAKE IT NEW PALASTINE.

"We're made the world safer."

You're a history buff. Do you remember what Herodotus recounts of Solon's meeting with Croesus?

NO. PLEASE EXPLAIN...

As far as the Civil War freeing the slaves—as a right-wing history buff, aren't you supposed to be reminding those to your left that the war was fought to preserve the Union?

THE WAR WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT THE TENSIONS FROM THE SLAVERY ISSUE DRIVING IT.

No doubt that wars have had consequences for the better in human history, but they are not the sole source of progressive change...
Posted by: Curtiss Leung

OF COURSE. MOST PROBLEMS HAVE POLITICAL OR DIPLOMATIC SOLUTIONS. BUT THE REALLY BIG PROBLEMS USUALLY CALL FOR WAR.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE AN AUTHOR HERE SO YOU COULD START ANY THREADS YOU WANTED?

ADRIAN

George

A recent front page headline from the Washington Post: "From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity: Scholars Say Campaign Is Making History With Often-Misleading Attacks."

Our country needs better than this. It is time for a change.

Adrian Spidle

A recent front page headline from the Washington Post: "From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity: Scholars Say Campaign Is Making History With Often-Misleading Attacks."

Our country needs better than this. It is time for a change.

GEORGE, MY FRIEND, YOUR MAIN MENTAL ERROR IS THAT YOU CAN'T TELL A HAMBURGER FROM THE PICTURE OF A HAMBURGER ON THE MENUE. YOU CONSIDER THAT POST HEADLINE A DATAPOINT IN YOUR POLITICAL CONSTRUCT WHICH MEANS YOUR POLITICS ARE AS SOUND AS PTOLEMY'S COSMOLOGY.

IT'S TIME FOR YOU TO LEARN HOW TO THINK CRITICALLY AND RECHECK YOUR DATA.

ADRIAN

Curtiss Leung

Herodotus on Solon and Croesus: Solon visits Croesus, who wants to impress the Athenian with a show of his wealth. Croesus asks Solon if he—Croesus, that is—is not the most fortunate of men. Solon says no, that the most fortunate man he knew was a fellow Athenian named Tellus (a not very subtle pun on τελος) who had a prosperous family, and died heroically in a battle where the Athenians routed an enemy; he was buried him where he fell and gave him great honors. Croesus, vexed, asks Solon who would be next after Tellus. Solon then names Cleobis and Biton, two young athletes who drew their mother in a cart a great distance to the festival of Hera. This was an amazing feat, and their mother prayed to Hera that her sons would know the greatest fortune man can know. Then they feasted, the sons lay down, and did not wake from their slumber. Finally Croesus can take it no more, and asks Solon if he doesn't despise Croesus' wealth and fortune. Solon replies:

Croesus, you ask me about human affairs, and I know that the divine is entirely grudging and troublesome to us....To me you seem to be very rich and to be king of many people, but I cannot answer your question before I learn that you ended your life well. The very rich man is not more fortunate than the man who has only his daily needs, unless he chances to end his life with all well. Many very rich men are unfortunate, many of moderate means are lucky....Whoever passes through life with the most and then dies agreeably is the one who, in my opinion, O King, deserves to bear this name. It is necessary to see how the end of every affair turns out, for the god promises fortune to many people and then utterly ruins them.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0126;query=chapter%3D%2332;layout=;loc=1.31.1

Fast forward to the fall of Croesus at the hands of Cyrus. Cyrus has him on a pyre with 14 other Lydians, either as an offering to some God, fulfillment of a vow, or just to see how Croesus dies.

As Croesus stood on the pyre, even though he was in such a wretched position it occurred to him that Solon had spoken with god's help when he had said that no one among the living is fortunate. When this occurred to him, he heaved a deep sigh and groaned aloud after long silence, calling out three times the name “Solon.” Cyrus heard and ordered the interpreters to ask Croesus who he was invoking. They approached and asked, but Croesus kept quiet at their questioning, until finally they forced him and he said, “I would prefer to great wealth his coming into discourse with all despots.” Since what he said was unintelligible, they again asked what he had said, persistently harassing him. He explained that first Solon the Athenian had come and seen all his fortune and spoken as if he despised it. Now everything had turned out for him as Solon had said, speaking no more of him than of every human being, especially those who think themselves fortunate.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0126;query=chapter%3D%2386;layout=;loc=1.85.1

Croesus' words touch Cyrus, and after a bit of drama with the fire (extinguished by a sudden rain storm that follows closely on Croesus' plea to Apollo), they sit together:

He [Croesus] for his part was silent, deep in thought. Presently he turned and said (for he saw the Persians sacking the city of the Lydians), “O King, am I to say to you what is in my mind now, or keep silent?” When Cyrus urged him to speak up boldly, Croesus asked, The multitude there, what is it at which they are so busily engaged?” “They are plundering your city,” said Cyrus, “and carrying off your possessions.” “No,” Croesus answered, “not my city, and not my possessions; for I no longer have any share of all this; it is your wealth that they are pillaging.”

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0126;query=chapter%3D%2388;layout=;loc=1.87.1

I do not think we are likely to end up on a pyre like Croesus, either in the short or long term. But the story of Croesus and Solon resonates with me, for I think those who planned the war in Iraq thought and acted as though our fortune was limitless; they did not look to the end of events, and there was no shortage of thoughtful commentary on this before the run up to the war, either. Besides the Cordesman paper I've mentioned elsewhere, I think Bush 41 and Brent Scowcroft made a good case for not pushing to Baghdad in their memoir, A World Transformed.

We still are not at the end of this affair, but we should starting considering how it should end and what a good end would be. You say that to partition Iraq would make sense to you—then what do you say of our pre-war commitment to keeping Iraq one country? If you think a partition would make sense, then you aren't in accord with at least a major piece of the administration's post-war plan for Iraq.

Aidan

"SHEEZE, YOU ANT-WAR TYPES NEED TO STUDY THE PAST."

Well - that is a way to shut down a conversation.

Your listing of major military conflicts really bares no relevance to the point at hand. You've labeled me anti-war: I would hope everyone would attempt to avoid conflict. While I would strive to avoid it, I do not mean it is not necessary at times.

"1 - WE REMOVED A TERROR SUPPORTING REGIME,

"2 - WE REMOVED A REGIME THAT USED WMDS IN THE PAST AND HAD ACTIVE WMD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS.

"3 - WE REMOVED A REGIME RESPONSIBLE FOR MURDERING MILLIONS OF INNOCENT MUSLIMS AND OTHERS.

"4 - WE PLANTED ANOTHER SEED OF DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST WHICH, IN THE LONG RUN, WILL TRANSFORM A MOST DANGEROUS PART OF THE WORLD.

"5 - WE'VE MADE THE WORLD SAFER."

I basically disagree with points 2, 4 and 5. You have no evidence that our action has actually made the world safer. If we’ve created 10,000 parent-less children who hate the United States, we have not made the world safer. If the Kurds form a separate nation in the north, Turkey and Iran could react strongly and violently. If the mullahs of Saudi Arabia use the invasion as basis for inciting destruction of the oil infrastructure our nation could be brought to its knees.

As you state that you are somewhat libertarian I’m shocked that you wouldn’t place more weight on the importance of an action being self-driven. The Iraqis have been handed a tremendous opportunity in which they can shape a new country – but they didn’t drive the change and therefore may not be able to be cohesive enough to do so.


Adrian Spidle

Herodotus on Solon and Croesus: Solon visits Croesus, who wants to impress the Athenian with a show of his wealth. Croesus asks Solon if he—Croesus, that is—is not the most fortunate of men. Solon says no, that the most fortunate man he knew was a fellow Athenian named Tellus (a not very subtle pun on τελος) who had a prosperous family, and died heroically in a battle where the Athenians routed an enemy; he was buried him where he fell and gave him great honors. Croesus, vexed, asks Solon who would be next after Tellus. Solon then names Cleobis and Biton, two young athletes who drew their mother in a cart a great distance to the festival of Hera. This was an amazing feat, and their mother prayed to Hera that her sons would know the greatest fortune man can know. Then they feasted, the sons lay down, and did not wake from their slumber. Finally Croesus can take it no more, and asks Solon if he doesn't despise Croesus' wealth and fortune. Solon replies:

GREAT STORY. DID YOU KNOW THAT THE FIRST COINS EVER WERE MINTED BY CROESUS PREDECESSOR IN THE SEVENTH CENTURY BC FROM ELECTRUM, A NATURALLY OCCURING ALLOY OF GOLD AND SILVER THAT WAS FOUND IN ALLUVIAL DEPOSITS IN THE STREAMS OF LYDIA.

IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT COINS AND THE CONCEPT OF MONEY IS ONLY 2600 YEARS OLD.

CROESSUS WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO REFINE THE ELECTRUM INTO GOLD AND SILVE TO PRODUCE GOLD AND SILVER COINS.

CYRUS COPIED THAT IDEA AND IN JUST A FEW DECADES COINS WERE MINTED ALL OVER THE MEDITERANNEAN REGION.

...We still are not at the end of this affair, but we should starting considering how it should end and what a good end would be.

1 - A DEMOCRATIC REGIME IN IRA AND A BETTER LIFE FOR IRAQIS

2 - A WEAKENED TERRORISM INFRASTRUCTURE AND GREATER SECURITY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

You say that to partition Iraq would make sense to you—then what do you say of our pre-war commitment to keeping Iraq one country?

I DON'T LIKE IT.

If you think a partition would make sense, then you aren't in accord with at least a major piece of the administration's post-war plan for Iraq.

E PLURIBUS UNUM

Posted by: Curtiss Leung


CHEERS,

ADRIAN

Adrian Spidle

"SHEEZE, YOU ANT-WAR TYPES NEED TO STUDY THE PAST."

Well - that is a way to shut down a conversation.

AW C'MON. CAN'T WE HAVE ALITTLE FUN? ON THIS BLOG IT'S OK TO DIS GROUPS AND ORGANIZATIONS BUT NOT OK TO DIS INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE.

HATE THE SIN AND LOVE THE SINNER.

Your listing of major military conflicts really bares no relevance to the point at hand.

NOT IF THE POINT AT HAND IS THAT WAR IS NEVER GOOD.

You've labeled me anti-war: I would hope everyone would attempt to avoid conflict. While I would strive to avoid it, I do not mean it is not necessary at times.

AGREED.

I basically disagree with points 2,

YOU DISAGREE THAT SADDAM USED WMDS AND HAD WMD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS? I FIND THAT HARD TO BELIEVE.

4

YOU CAN DISAGREE WITH THIS... I DEFINITELY BELIEVE IT... THE FUTURE WILL REVEAL WHO'S CORRECT.

and 5. You have no evidence that our action has actually made the world safer.

IT'S MUCH TOO SOON FOR EVIDENCE TO SHOW UP.

If we’ve created 10,000 parent-less children who hate the United States,

IF THE QUEEN HAD BALLS SHE'D BE KING.

we have not made the world safer. If the Kurds form a separate nation in the north, Turkey and Iran could react strongly and violently.

SEE QUEEN COMMENT ABOVE.

If the mullahs of Saudi Arabia use the invasion as basis for inciting destruction of the oil infrastructure our nation could be brought to its knees.

SEE QUEEN COMMENT ABOVE.

As you state that you are somewhat libertarian I’m shocked that you wouldn’t place more weight on the importance of an action being self-driven.

I GUESS WE DRAW THAT LINE IN DIFFERENT PLACES.

The Iraqis have been handed a tremendous opportunity in which they can shape a new country –

THANKS TO GW BUSH.

but they didn’t drive the change and therefore may not be able to be cohesive enough to do so.

MAYBE, TO A DEGREE. AGAIN, TIME WILL TELL. I BELIEVE THEY WILL SUCCEED, WITH A LOT OF OUR HELP.

Posted by: Aidan

THANKS FOR YOUR THOUGHTS.

ADRIAN

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