Reflections on the Capture of Saddam

News Abroad




Mr. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. His website is http://www.juancole.com/.

Seeing a captive, disheveled Saddam on television released a cascade of memories for me. I remembered the innocent Jews brutally hanged in downtown Baghdad when the Baath came to power in 1968; the fencing with the Shah and the Kurds in the early 1970s; the vicious repression of the Shiites of East Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala in 1977-1980; the internal Baath putsch of 1979, when perhaps a third of the party's high officials were taken out and shot, so that Saddam could become president; the bloody invasion of Iran in 1980 and the destruction of a whole generation of Iraqi and Iranian young men in the 1980s (at least 500,000 dead, perhaps even more); the Anfal poison gas campaign against the Kurds in 1987-88; Halabja, a city of 70,000 where 5,000 died where they stood, their blood boiling with toxic gases, little children lying in heaps in the street; the rape of Kuwait in 1990-91; the genocide against the Shiites that began in spring of 1991 and continued intermittently thereafter; the destruction of the Marsh Arabs; the assassinations, the black marias, the Fedayee Saddam. Yes, the United States was not innocent in some of this. Perhaps they cooperated in bringing the Baath to power in the first place, as an anti-Communist force. They certainly allied with Saddam against Iran in the 1980s, and authorized the purchase of chemical and biological precursors. But the Baath was an indigenous Iraqi phenomenon, and local forces kept Saddam in place, despite dozens of attempts to overthrow him.

A nightmare has ended. He will be tried, and two nations' dirty laundry will be exposed, the only basis on which all can go forward towards a new Persian Gulf and a new relationship with the West.

What is the significance of the capture of Saddam for contemporary Iraqi politics? He was probably already irrelevant.

The Sunni Arab resisters to US occupation in the country's heartland had long since jettisoned Saddam and the Baath as symbols. They are fighting for local reasons. Some are Sunni fundamentalists, who despised the Baath. Others are Arab nationalists who weep at the idea of their country being occupied. Some had relatives killed or humiliated by US troops and are pursuing a clan vendetta. Some fear a Shiite and Kurdish-dominated Iraq will reduce them to second class citizens. They will fight on, as Mr. Bush admitted today.

My wife, Shahin Cole, suggested to me an ironic possibility with regard to the Shiites. She said that many Shiites in East Baghdad, Basra, and elsewhere may have been timid about opposing the US presence, because they feared the return of Saddam. Saddam was in their nightmares, and the reprisals of the Fedayee Saddam are still a factor in Iraqi politics. Now that it is perfectly clear that he is finished, she suggested, the Shiites may be emboldened. Those who dislike US policies or who are opposed to the idea of occupation no longer need be apprehensive that the US will suddenly leave and allow Saddam to come back to power. They may therefore now gradually throw off their political timidity, and come out more forcefully into the streets when they disagree with the US. As with many of her insights, this one seems to me likely correct.

The capture of Saddam is probably more important for US politics than for the Iraqis. The Baath Party and the Saddam cult of personality were spent forces by the end of the Gulf War, which was why Saddam was forced to rule by sheer terror. You don't have to put thousands of people in mass graves if you have a large popular mandate. So when Saddam fell, and when the Republican Guard tanks corps disintegrated last April, it was over with. Saddam could never have come back. His actual capture is just a footnote in Iraq. Of course, there are still Baathists, and some of the violence has come from them (as I have repeatedly suggested), but they are a small minority that knows how to rig bombs, not a mass movement.

Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post have more on the complex tasks that remain in Iraq. I am quoted there saying, "Today represents the beginning of the final struggle for the shape of post-American Iraq. The Baathists were a spent force. But what does inspire Iraqis is the vision of Iraq as part of Arab nationalism or as part of the trend toward Islamic governance. ... With the removal of Saddam, the issue is the shape of Iraq's future, and these are the issues that will come to the fore."

The commentators on cable news shows on Sunday seemed to think that Saddam's capture guarantees Bush's reelection in November of 2004. Well, incumbents have great advantages, and most often do get reelected. But Saddam won't do it for Bush. In a way, the capture came too early for those purposes. It will be a very dim memory in October, 2004.

The Sunni Arab insurgency will continue at least for a while and the possibility that the Shiites will make more and more trouble cannot be ruled out. The US military is stuck in the country for the foreseeable future at something approaching current troop levels. The move to give civil authority to a transitional Iraqi government may not go smoothly. The administration will have to ask Congress for another big appropriation for Iraq sometime before the '04 election, and that won't help Bush's popularity. The Iraqi economy is still a basket case, the oil pipelines are still being sabotaged or looted, and a whole host of everyday problems remain that having Saddam in custody will not resolve. If Iraq is still going this badly in October of 2004, it would be a real drag on the Bush campaign. Yes, I said"this badly." One arrest doesn't turn it around, except in the fantasy world of political theater in which pundits seem to live.

Howard Dean and Wesley Clark were far more gentlemanly about the news than one might have expected. I suppose their handlers told them that capturing Saddam is very popular with the US public, and they had to find a way to applaud it and to avoid seeming petty toward Bush on his day of victory.

But in the coming year the Democratic candidates just have to take off these kid gloves. I'd begin by asking some hard questions about Republican administrations' past relationship with Saddam. Put that photo of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand in 1983 in the commercials; ask hard questions about former Reaganites now serving in the Bush administration who supported Saddam to the hilt while he was gassing Iranian troops and Kurds; find out who authorized the US sale of chemical and biological precursors to Saddam; and be so rude as to bring up the horrible betrayal committed by Bush senior when he stood aside and let Saddam massacre all those Shiites in 1991, after they rose up in response to a Bush call for the popular overthrow of Saddam. The US military could have shot down those helicopter gunships that massacred Shiites in Najaf and Basra. Bush senior clearly told them to let Saddam enjoy his killing fields. And imagine, the Bush administration officials are actually getting photo ops at the mass graves their predecessors allowed to be filled with bodies!

What happened Sunday was that the Republicans captured a former ally, with whom they had later fallen out.



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Jerry West - 1/5/2004

FUCK all you NIGGER loving dick's! I am only 15, but the power in the Holy Bible has told me to not mix with other mixes! So FUCK you, you stupid BASTARD. Please make sure all of your little NIGGER LOVING friend's get this one, BITCH. What's wrong, god put pubic hair on all of your lover's? Why don't you FUCKING burn in HELL? HITLER IS, WAS, AND ALWAY'S WILL BE THE RULER UNDER GOD


Steve Brody - 1/3/2004

.


Jerry West - 1/2/2004

t


Jerry West - 1/2/2004

Steve Brody is comunista


Steve Brody - 12/30/2003


This is a tempest in a teapot.

The Bureau has always had the power to get these records in criminal investigations via a Federal Grand Jury subpoena. No “probable cause” showing or “neutral detached magistrate” required.

All this does is bring the power to obtain these records into National Security investigations, something long overdue in today’s environment of international terrorism.

Big deal.


Josh Greenland - 12/29/2003

Did you know that parts of Patriot 2 were being rammed through Congress or that Bush had signed them into law? I didn't:

Parts of Patriot Act II Signed Behind Media Smokescreen
http://www.sacurrent.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=10705756&BRD=2318&PAG=461&dept_id=482778&rfi=6


Jerry West - 12/21/2003

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Fred,

I don't know if they were misguided or not, but deceptive, certainly. One can assume that deception is a main ingredient in policy. What is remarkable about the Bush bunch is that their lies are forgiven so readily. Kind of makes me think of Jim Jones and others who could sell ice cubes to Inuits. :)

I don't know, either, if Bush had intentions of dealing with Saddam. Was he just waiting for something like 911 to provide the catalyst to set up the nation for knee jerk response, or did the nut-bars in the administration use it to push their own agenda which he isn't bright enough to totally comprehend?

Take your pick, cunning devil or organ grinder's monkey. :)


Jerry West - 12/21/2003

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CRW wrote:

This will lead to several problems down the road. I stand by my point that privelege - responsibility = disaster,....

JW:

This is the same kind of rationale that says only land owners, (or nobles, or people worth over so much) should be allowed to vote. We tossed that principle out eons ago in modern democracies. We should not be dragging it in when expanding democratic process on a more international level.

CRW:

This does not mean other geopolitical considerations for liberating Iraq are without merit.

JW:

Yes, nor does it mean that they have any merit either. :)

CRW:

Any enhanced security that results from Saddam's removal and one more country on the way to becoming a free democracy not hostile to us is a benefit that a no one can be excluded from enjoying.

JW:

There are a lot of presumptions here:

1. Saddam's removal will enhance security.

2. Iraq is on the way to becoming a free democracy.
a) That we even care that Iraq becomes a democracy, rhetoric aside.

3. That a democratic Iraq will not be hostile to US domination or even US aspirations in the Mid-East.

What we do know is that most of this affair is going to be funded by US taxpayers and that certain well heeled taxpayers (or theoretic taxpayers, depending on their ability to dodge taxes) with close association to members of the administration are going to be a big beneficiary of those tax dollars being spent.

We also know that if the media spin can be managed properly and events well choreographed, there will be political rewards in the next election. Not an personal economic bonanza to be sneezed at by those making the decisions. This, however, is a bit more problematical given the history of a premature victory photo op, a way overcooked POW rescue PR event, plastic turkeys, and now possibly a staged Saddam capture.

CRW:

No offense, but I would have trouble finding anyone who really buys this.

JW:

You seem to mistake the rhetoric of Karl Marx and his followers for socialism. Not an uncommon thing, even dictionaries tend to veer in that direction, but it can be argued that socialism is much more than that limited definition. People cooperating together for the common good at the expense of private rights or advantage is a form of socialism. The founding fathers did not need to write or even know the phrase "workers of the world unite," to create institutions that were socialist in nature. They did so merely by putting the common good ahead of the individual one.

CRW:

But there are surely no serious constitutional scholars who would think that promoting the general welfare should come at the expense of securing the blessings of liberty, at least not without severe problems arising down the road.

JW:

OK, perhaps the last time the question got lost in the my comments. Please explain why the blessings of liberty should be more important than the general welfare, and if they are not, what serious problems will arise.




C.R.W. - 12/20/2003


JW

I agree that France should not be able to dictate the will of the Council, but neither should the US or any other country. Instead, both France and the US, among others, should be obligated to follow the will of an overwhelming majority.

CRW

This will lead to several problems down the road. I stand by my point that privelege - responsibility = disaster, and allowing the overwhelming majority to be a part of the French-style security equation would set the stage for horrible patterns.


JW (in response to power, interests, and incentives)

Like understanding the incentive of profit to be made in Iraq by various US companies, some connected quite closely to the US administration, and US domestic political interests, and such and how they affect the use of US power in Iraq.

CRW

This does not mean other geopolitical considerations for liberating Iraq are without merit.


JW

In our case some individuals benefit from it far more than others, in fact we could argue that some actually suffer negatives effects from supporting it. In some ways, rather than a public good it has become a private cash cow funded by the tax payer. :)

CRW

Any enhanced security that results from Saddam's removal and one more country on the way to becoming a free democracy not hostile to us is a benefit that a no one can be excluded from enjoying.


JW

Balancing individual rights is an act of promoting the common good and makes individual rights subservient to the common good. Whether the founding fathers used the term socialist in their thinking or not, they were promoting, to a degree, socialist concepts.

CRW

No offense, but I would have trouble finding anyone who really buys this...

Karl Marx began his career quite some time after the Constitutional Convention, and I never noticed that "Workers of the World, Unite!" appears on founding documents.


JW

But, it can be argued that the blessings of liberty can only be fully realized for all citizens by promoting the general welfare and raising it above the liberties of any one individual.

What severe problems do you see arising down the road from this other than perhaps an increase in activity by nut-bar miltia organizations? :)

CRW

I'm not sure what you're trying to get at with this other than perhaps some sarcasm. Weak, but points for attempted entertainment. ;-)


C.R.W. - 12/20/2003


Makes sense, Fred. We should definitely judge the administrations of Presidents based on their first year in office, not the remaining three. We should judge them based on actions before a crisis, not on how they handle the job afterward. We should judge the outcome in Iraq not based on how future developments (many of which remain largely unforeseen) will affect the overall success of the reconstruction, but on the fact that they arise in the first place.

Not a formulaic approach, but surely not misguided or deceptive either.



Fred Ferrel - 12/20/2003

Jerry,

Do you suppose it has it ever occurred to CRW and his formulaic neo-con buddies here at HNN that Chirac and Bush might BOTH have been misguided and deceptive as to their true motives last Winter ?

Chirac had no credible plan for dealing with Saddam and with the untenable mess of a sanctioned-impoverished unstable Iraq.

Bush had no intention of dealing with Saddam until 9-11 made it look politically expedient. And has had no plan since for putting this forced regime change into some larger and consistent context of dealing with the broader international problems he spent the first half of 2001 running away from (i.e. nuclear proliferation, international human rights violations and economic threats to global stability).

Down with blundering and hypocritical politicians, right, left, center, longhorn or frog.


Steve BRody - 12/19/2003


And right back at you, NYG.


NYGuy - 12/19/2003

Thanks Caleb,

My best wishes to all for a happy holiday and a wish that we have a prosperous New year not only in the US but through out the world.

Best to you and your family.

Cheers to all.


NYGuy - 12/19/2003

Thanks Caleb,

My best wishes to all for a happy holiday and a wish that we have a prosperous New year not only in the US but through out the world.

Best to you and your family.

Cheers to all.


Jerry West - 12/19/2003

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CRW wrote:

Perhaps the improvements you believe the U.N. could use would apply to the institution itself. I happen to think that the improvements need to come from a good number of the member states, or perhaps refined definitions that could be required in order to permit their admission, and therefore, legitimize their participation.

JW:

I agree that improvements need to also come from member states, admission to the organization should require conformance with the organizations standards of conduct, and failure to join the organization should carry negative impacts, such as loss of trade with members and other sanctions.

The organization should also consider it within its purview to intervene in the affairs of non-member nations upon application to do so from members of that nation to protect basic human rights.

Like George Bush, I do not object to interventionist policy. Unlike George, however, I want such intervention based strictly on moral grounds, not for reasons of personal, political or economic advantage. And I want it ordained by a power superior to any individual nation. I also think that receiving any direct economic benefit from such an intervention should be considered a conflict of interest.

CRW:

Surely any perceived lack of a U.N. blessing to use the necessary means to enforce the terms of the first Gulf War could be seen as a failure or flaw on the part of France (the single permanent member of the security council threatening to veto a resolution explicitly authorizing use of force).

JW:

Part of the problem with the UN system is the veto power in the Security Council held by several countries. This veto power should be rescinded and system such as a 2/3 majority vote to pass a resolution should replace it. I agree that France should not be able to dictate the will of the Council, but neither should the US or any other country. Instead, both France and the US, among others, should be obligated to follow the will of an overwhelming majority.

CRW:

If you want to understand policy or politics, you need to understand the use of power, and to understand the use of power requires a frank admission of the role of interests and incentives.

JW:

That is correct. Like understanding the incentive of profit to be made in Iraq by various US companies, some connected quite closely to the US administration, and US domestic political interests, and such and how they affect the use of US power in Iraq.

CRW:

National defense is a common (or "public") good because it is impossible to exclude individuals from benefitting from it,....

JW:

In our case some individuals benefit from it far more than others, in fact we could argue that some actually suffer negatives effects from supporting it. In some ways, rather than a public good it has become a private cash cow funded by the tax payer. :)

CRW:

Establishing justice requires adherence to the rule of law. Although a system of laws can be seen as neutral with regards to protecting individual rights vs. common good, it would appear that the long tradition of English common law which we inherited was devoted to resolving disputes between and violations of individuals, and not inordinately disposed toward specifically enforcing adherence to national projects designed by the monarchy. Socialist theories simply weren't a part of the perspective of 18th century political philosophers, the framers included.

JW:

That, I guess, depends on how you define socialist. Balancing individual rights is an act of promoting the common good and makes individual rights subservient to the common good. Whether the founding fathers used the term socialist in their thinking or not, they were promoting, to a degree, socialist concepts.

CRW:

But securing the blessings of liberty is obviously an objective that applies most directly to individuals. The only subordination of individual interests that I think can be explicitly inferred by founding documents, in order to workably achieve that end in a democratic republic, is to the primacy of rule of law and the equality of its application.

JW:

Yes, and the laws set the boundaries of individual liberty, which makes individual liberty subservient to public will as expressed in the legal codes.

At the moment I think we have an example of those in charge of protecting the public good setting out quite a number of restrictions on individual liberties. :)

CRW:

But there are surely no serious constitutional scholars who would think that promoting the general welfare should come at the expense of securing the blessings of liberty, at least not without severe problems arising down the road.

JW:

But, it can be argued that the blessings of liberty can only be fully realized for all citizens by promoting the general welfare and raising it above the liberties of any one individual.

What severe problems do you see arising down the road from this other than perhaps an increase in activity by nut-bar miltia organizations? :)


C.R.W. - 12/19/2003


Perhaps the improvements you believe the U.N. could use would apply to the institution itself. I happen to think that the improvements need to come from a good number of the member states, or perhaps refined definitions that could be required in order to permit their admission, and therefore, legitimize their participation.

Surely any perceived lack of a U.N. blessing to use the necessary means to enforce the terms of the first Gulf War could be seen as a failure or flaw on the part of France (the single permanent member of the security council threatening to veto a resolution explicitly authorizing use of force). If you want to understand policy or politics, you need to understand the use of power, and to understand the use of power requires a frank admission of the role of interests and incentives. Allowing France all the priveleges of a superpower when it lacks so many of the necessary responsibilities is a flawed approach because it denies the role of incentives in guiding France toward a coherent defense policy. (If you don't believe me just ask the representatives of every other E.U. nation, aside from Germany and Belgium).

National defense is a common (or "public") good because it is impossible to exclude individuals from benefitting from it, and the emergence of rivals (i.e. competing militias) would drastically decrease its effectiveness. This is Econ 101 stuff, yet somehow the framers had the foresight, it seems, to recognize it.

Establishing justice requires adherence to the rule of law. Although a system of laws can be seen as neutral with regards to protecting individual rights vs. common good, it would appear that the long tradition of English common law which we inherited was devoted to resolving disputes between and violations of individuals, and not inordinately disposed toward specifically enforcing adherence to national projects designed by the monarchy. Socialist theories simply weren't a part of the perspective of 18th century political philosophers, the framers included.

Perhaps insuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welfare are collective goals. Although, insuring domestic tranquility could surely be seen as a consequence of establishing a national defense, which I already addressed. But securing the blessings of liberty is obviously an objective that applies most directly to individuals. The only subordination of individual interests that I think can be explicitly inferred by founding documents, in order to workably achieve that end in a democratic republic, is to the primacy of rule of law and the equality of its application. But there are surely no serious constitutional scholars who would think that promoting the general welfare should come at the expense of securing the blessings of liberty, at least not without severe problems arising down the road.


Caleb - 12/19/2003

It is unfortunite that people would use someone elses name in a web-site that presumably attracts people intreeteed in current events and history.

BTW
The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was a grievous error, largely attributable to the fact that it occurred in the midst of the confusion of a full-scale war in 1967. Ten official United States investigations and three official Israeli inquiries have all conclusively established the attack was a tragic mistake.


Caleb - 12/19/2003

Bill (i.e.NYGuy)
I agree, and must add that I have really enjoyed our exchanges. I hope that we may have more in the future.

Take care and have a wonderful holiday!!


NYGuy - 12/19/2003

Caleb,

As I mentioned my career has been as an analyst. Reviewing our extended exchanges I have come to the conclusion that perhaps we don't see eye to eye on some subjects. Since we both have made our points I suggest we let the audience decide. After all I am a fair and balanced guy. I am not a partisan but an open minded thinker.

Bill O'Reilly alias NYGuy :)

Cheers


Steve BRody - 12/19/2003


I think we may have our culprit right here.


Steve BRody - 12/19/2003


Apparently someone is so ashamed of his own name, that he's decided to use yours.

The last post he made in your name WAS offensive drivel.

It's happened to me twice. I DO wish he would go away and let the adults talk.


Steve Brody - 12/19/2003


Some A-hole posted some dispicable comments in your name.

It was so obviously not you that the webmaster has apparently already purged them


John Kipper - 12/19/2003

In answer to your question about the attitude of the troops, I would refer you to the spontaneous asnd overwhelming "oohrah" of the soldiers as President Bush walked out. Of course, I understand from reading your posts over the last several months, primary, spontaneous evidence will never disturb your preconceived world view.

AS for your statement that Clinton is "undeniably more intelligent" than Bush, I would ask for further detail: after all, Bush knows what the meaning of "is" is. Come to think of it, so does my 4-year old grandson. Of course, he isn't nuanced, he's just an honest kid.


Jerry West - 12/19/2003

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Hopefully, when and if the list administrator gets around to checking email addresses the above bogus post will be pulled.

I do appreciate the fact that it is not offensive drivel.

:)


Jerry West - 12/19/2003

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C.R.W. wrote:

Jerry, this is the most salient point. Have you ever seen how the U.N. works? I wouldn't trust them to run a town hall meeting. As long as the member states remain largely undemocratic, it needs to be acknowledged that engaging them in a quasi-democratic process is a bit disingenuous. Further, what branches of government does the U.N. provide? Legislative? Where's the executive branch?

JW:

You won't get any arguments from me opposing the idea that the UN could use a lot of improvement. That said, however, I believe that we are in a place in time that if we do not make an effort to improve it and give it more power, or replace it with something better, we will all be losers in the long run. The world has become too close and interconnected, and the resource to population ratio too reduced to not have some method of insuring uniform rights and standards of conduct in those areas of society where we impact on one another.

One could argue that in a way that is what the Bush policy is doing now. What is wrong with this is that it is being undertaken as a unilateral, imposed policy based on national interests.

What we should be doing is developing the mechanism for creating a multilateral, cooperative policy based on universal interests. One would not expect to get everyone to agree to everything at once, but policy enacted by a broader coalition that was open to all who wanted to participate, and that served interests greater than national ones would certainly be preferrable to the present one based on US force majeure.

Nations like France and Germany should certainly be part of this, and the failure to make a deal with them on Iraq was not so much a failure of the UN system, flawed as it is, as a shortcoming on the part of those who wanted to rush to war.

CRW:

The purpose of government is not to subordinate individual interests to an ill-defined collective "good," but to facilitate, enhance, and protect the individual interests that many parties happen to share in common.

JW:

And what about those interests that are diametricly opposed?

Perhaps to "establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty" is more in line with what the Founding Fathers thought government was.

Justice, tranquillity, defense and welfare all have an important part in the mix, and liberty can only be allowed to be exercised to the degree that it does not over ride any of the other factors, else our system falls apart.

What some of us learn in sports, and in at least some areas of the military, is that team work, not individual action, is the formula for success, and the individual is in fact subordinate to the group. This does not mean that there can not be a considerable amount of leeway for individualism, but when conflict between the needs of the group and the individual arise, it is the welfare of the group that should prevail.

I would argue that government can not protect and support interests unless they are subordinated to it. If they are not, what authority or power does it have to protect them? Protecting one individual interest from another, after all, requires some superior power over individual interests.


Jerry West - 12/19/2003

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Did I miss something? I had to take the day off and go into town.


Caleb - 12/19/2003

1) “The polls may not be old by your standards but they are irrelevant to your argument.”

Considering that my argument is that Bush is very unpopular throughout the world, I consider polls that demonstrate that empirically to be exceptionally relevant.

2) “Still you present nothing to contradict my opinion that Bush now has broad support by the World Leaders as his popularity is growing.”

If that is the case, I can presume that nothing will contradict your opinion and I shall not waste any more time trying on this issue of Bush’s so-called “support.”

3) “Are you one of those people who want the French and others to get the contracts for their smaller and less experienced construction companies?”

If they are smaller and less experienced, then surely do not fear that they would outbid US companies, which are superior? The whole point is that Bush will not let them BID, no one is asking for the US to simply give it to them (as we did Halliberton, for example). In any event, I digress, I simply used the event to signal that nothing I have seen would change the attitudes the world has of Bush, but I am willing to drop the case since it seems we are simply arguing past one another on this issue.

4) “Has nothing to do with me personally. I say that Clinton’s politics were wrong and for his own personal reasons and that he inflamed the muslin/Jewish hatred by escalating a local dispute to a world wide, high visibility issue, while there were major world issues that he ignored or didn’t understand. You obviously disagree and think that Palestine/Israel is a worldwide problem that belongs on center stage. Well, we disagree.”

I am willing to leave it at that.

5) “You are really kidding me with posts that are over a year and one-half years old. Do I have to repeat Bush’s acceptance by world leaders in his trip to Asia, the support he is now getting from just about every country in the world. And his popularity is on an upswing and will get even better in the future as the economy and the stock market continous to boom.”

Again, if international polls, massive protests, and worldwide condemnation do not convince you that the man is unpopular, nothing I can say will do it. However, Clinton was president from 1992-2000. You say Clinton was hated because he focused on the Mid East conflict. I just presented a quote that said world leaders WANT more of that, not less, as you say. What does the timing of the article have to do with anything? It exactly proves my point that Clinton’s action did not generate the hatred that you credit to him.

6) “By the way where are all those anti-war people who opposed the war? There are less today then there was in the first quarter of 2003. Another indication of the increasing support Bush is getting.”
Do you really believe that the absence of anti-war protesters means that those same people protesting the war have now come to their senses and support the war? It is theoretically possible, I will admit, but I don’t buy it for a moment.

7) “There were a progression of events that are well documented and reasoned out between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. We have not invaded any other country but we and the rest of the world have said they are taking back the world from a bunch of thugs and terrorists and if they have to invade another country to stop them they will. Sounds reasonable to me, although I hear many angry liberals would prefer to have Saddam still at large.”

I would prefer if Saddam was gone, if Bashir of Sudan was gone, if Arafat was gone, if Kim Jung Ill was gone, and so on and so on. I would also think the world would be a better place with no WMD anywhere, international peace and cooperation, and much more. Now, those said, does that mean I think WE should go out and do those things simply because the world would be better off for it? I think not, and there was a time (right before Iraq actually) where the conservatives in this country, including Bush, agreed with me.


8) “I was talking about Clinton’s actions but I believe many believe his actions in the Mid East were geared toward him getting the Nobel Prize for Peace. I will take back any motives and just say that he had failed policies that inflamed hatred around the world.”

NYGuy, to be honest, as an avid listener to conservative talk radio and follower of the news, I have never before heard such a theory. I respect your opinion on it, but I have simply never encountered it before either in the press or from foreign leaders.

9) “Wrong. He wants to invade Mexico so he can help business lower costs and get more votes. He is taking a page from the Democratic playbook.”

I won’t disagree with you on that.

10) “Are you presenting a partisan viewpoint here? I feel betrayed.”

I could pretend that I am presenting accepted fact that is widely known and almost universally agreed, but I would have nothing to back that up with. In fact, it is a partisan viewpoint. I disagree with Bush’s policies and as a result, believe that he is a poor president. What I may think of him as a person if irrelevant to my vote in 2004, as is the fact that there have been specific things he has done that I agree with 100%. Unless his political beliefs are alters to better conform to my own, I intend on speaking out against them. That is, after all, the nature of our system of government.

11) “If you liked him in 2004 you’ll love him in 2008.”

God bless those wise Congressmen who, fearing future presidents would follow FDR’s precedent, created the 22nd Amendment. That means Bush will be gone one way or another by 2008.


NYGuy - 12/19/2003

This is clearly over the line. We have disagreements but this is just a hate filled post.

Jerry West does not deserve to be treated this way and I agree with you that those who know JW understand that this post was not made by him but by a low level coward.

"He who steals my pursue steal nothing, he who steals my name steals everything."


NYGuy - 12/19/2003

Caleb,

I would hardly call 6 months old polls “living in the past,” unless you can offer some contemporary polls that (for reasons unknown to me) would be very different. Good luck finding any thaT support your conclusions.

I really don’t see what has changed other than Bush preventing other countries from bidding on Iraqi contracts (not likely to shoot those numbers up). As for Clinton causing all the troubles in the world, I must challenge your contention that you are “an opened minded fair person who does not engage in partisan politics.”

NYGuy

The polls may not be old by your standards but they are irrelevant to your argument. Still you present nothing to contradict my opinion that Bush now has broad support by the World Leaders as his popularity is growing.

In the bidding for contracts Bush is protecting US interest by letting those who want to play politics know that he can also play hardball. Seems like a very intelligent and dedicated leader who puts his country first. Are you one of those people who want the French and others to get the contracts for their smaller and less experienced construction companies?. Hmm. I thought you might want the best for the US soldiers and Iraqis.

Caleb,

I can't get inside your heart, so I don't know what kind of a person you really are, nor do I claim to. With respect however, I can personally think of no other reason than your visceral hatred for Clinton and your incredible deification of Bush that includes dimissing anything that contradictis your idealized image of gim, other than partisan politics. With all respect, your comments on both men simply donot conform to reality.

NYGuy

As I told my kids know the rules of the game. I know the rules and play accordingly. Has nothing to do with me personally. I say that Clinton’s politics were wrong and for his own personal reasons and that he inflamed the muslin/Jewish hatred by escalating a local dispute to a world wide, high visibility issue, while there were major world issues that he ignored or didn’t understand. You obviously disagree and think that Palestine/Israel is a worldwide problem that belongs on center stage. Well, we disagree.

Caleb

“Blair has defended the Bush administration's Middle East policy, even as many other leaders have criticized Washington for not being more involved in the region.”
http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/04/05/bush.blair/index.html

NYGuy

You are really kidding me with posts that are over a year and one-half years old. Do I have to repeat Bush’s acceptance by world leaders in his trip to Asia, the support he is now getting from just about every country in the world. And his popularity is on an upswing and will get even better in the future as the economy and the stock market continous to boom.

By the way where are all those anti-war people who opposed the war? There are less today then there was in the first quarter of 2003. Another indication of the increasing support Bush is getting.

Caleb

Except for one rather large problem: Iraq had nothing to do with that, according to your Washington. By the same logic, we could have invaded many countries that were as great a threat to us as Iraq was.

NYGuy

There were a progression of events that are well documented and reasoned out between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. We have not invaded any other country but we and the rest of the world have said they are taking back the world from a bunch of thugs and terrorists and if they have to invade another country to stop them they will. Sounds reasonable to me, although I hear many angry liberals would prefer to have Saddam still at large.

Caleb,

The UN inspectors left Iraq in anticipation of an American attack in 1998 so I am not really sure what you are referring to. In any event, the war is over… we won! What is left is nation-building and there is no reason why we would willingly want to pay for that by ourselves.

NYGuy

The UN has cut and run period. We would still be paying in terms of money and causalities if the UN took over. The only difference is we would be less protected as other interests are put before American interests.

Caleb

Again, I simply don’t think empirical reality supports such a contention. If you think Clinton did everything for some shallow reason, couldn’t I say the same about Bush, like we went into Iraq for oil (which I don’t believe for a second, don’t get me wrong). In both cases, we are making speculations about a man’s motivations. Do you really believe that you are not a partisan person (I don’t ask to be mean)?

NYGuy

I was talking about Clinton’s actions but I believe many believe his actions in the Mid East were geared toward him getting the Nobel Prize for Peace. I will take back any motives and just say that he had failed policies that inflamed hatred around the world.

Caleb,

I have no doubt that if he chooses to invade Canada, the conservative will be right behind him talking about how Clinton is the reason Canada is such a threat to us right now and that the WMD will turn up there eventually.

NYGUY

Wrong. He wants to invade Mexico so he can help business lower costs and get more votes. He is taking a page from the Democratic playbook.

Caleb

If Iraq is a defining point in history, I suspect it is because it was the solidification of the arrogance many in the world see us being transplanted into reality by a President whose evidence for why this war was never corroborated.

NYGuy,

Are you presenting a partisan viewpoint here? I feel betrayed.

Caleb,

No WMD, no 9/11 link. Americans might decide to keep Bush around because they think he is doing a good job. History will not be so lenient.

NYGuy

If you liked him in 2004 you’ll love him in 2008.


Steve BRoce - 12/18/2003


This post is Bull. The real Jerry wouldn't post anything this puerile.


Caleb - 12/18/2003

Well said, NYGuy, I think we call all agree on that.

God bless the US!


Caleb - 12/18/2003

NYGuy,
1) "These links are all over six months old and and well known. As stated in the reports the growth in any hatred came from the growing hatred of the muslins. (See the EU article last week). As I have said this hatred had been escalated by President Clinton and his naive policy of making a world issue out of the Palestine/Israel disagreements, which only inflamed both sides throughout the world. Beside Bush is now hailed by all the major world leaders today, so let us not live in the past.”

I would hardly call 6 months old polls “living in the past,” unless you can offer some contemporary polls that (for reasons unknown to me) would be very different. Good luck finding any thaT support your conclusions.
I really don’t see what has changed other than Bush preventing other countries from bidding on Iraqi contracts (not likely to shoot those numbers up). As for Clinton causing all the troubles in the world, I must challenge your contention that you are “an opened minded fair person who does not engage in partisan politics.”

I can't get inside your heart, so I don't know what kind of a person you really are, nor do I claim to. With respect however, I can personally think of no other reason than your visceral hatred for Clinton and your incredible deification of Bush that includes dimissing anything that contradictis your idealized image of gim, other than partisan politics. With all respect, your comments on both men simply donot conform to reality.

“Blair has defended the Bush administration's Middle East policy, even as many other leaders have criticized Washington for not being more involved in the region.”
http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/04/05/bush.blair/index.html

2) “Remember it was the taking down of the Twin Towers, that precipitated the “War on Terror” that was supported by all Americans and our congress. Bush is just doing his job of protecting us from those who want to play dangerous games with WMD's.”

Except for one rather large problem: Iraq had nothing to do with that, according to your Washington. By the same logic, we could have invaded many countries that were as great a threat to us as Iraq was.

3) “It is just that when someone or an organization turns tail and runs they show their character and capacity to do the right thing.”

The UN inspectors left Iraq in anticipation of an American attack in 1998 so I am not really sure what you are referring to. In any event, the war is over… we won! What is left is nation-building and there is no reason why we would willingly want to pay for that by ourselves.


4) “I was talking about Grant’s ability as a Commander in Chief. He did not wake up in the middle of the night and lose his nerve. I give you credit for not mentioning them both as alcoholics.”

A fair point. As far as I am concerned, Bush’s past is behind him and I give him credit for overcoming his obstacles. It is not easy overcoming alcoholism and for that, he has my respect.

5) “I said he laid the groundwork. Unlike Clinton whose only policy was to get himself a Nobel Prize, Bush put the protection of Americans first. He recognized that the attention and Presidential photo-ops given to Israel and the Palestinians was only inflaming anti-Semitism and in the process greater hatred for the US.”

Again, I simply don’t think empirical reality supports such a contention. If you think Clinton did everything for some shallow reason, couldn’t I say the same about Bush, like we went into Iraq for oil (which I don’t believe for a second, don’t get me wrong). In both cases, we are making speculations about a man’s motivations. Do you really believe that you are not a partisan person (I don’t ask to be mean)?

6) “Bush has already solidified his position as one of the greatest Presidents the US ever had.”

NYGuy, this is an opinion, and yet you say it as fact.

7) “Can “George Washington of the 21st Century” be far behind? Wait till you see what he does in his second term.”

I have no doubt that if he chooses to invade Canada, the conservative will be right behind him talking about how Clinton is the reason Canada is such a threat to us right now and that the WMD will turn up there eventually.

8) “Iraq is a defining point in history, which will show how good leadership can make the world a better place. As for the anti-war people I still hear their defeated ideas I just don’t see many of them around anymore.”

If Iraq is a defining point in history, I suspect it is because it was the solidification of the arrogance many in the world see us being transplanted into reality by a President whose evidence for why this war was never corroborated.

No WMD, no 9/11 link. Americans might decide to keep Bush around because they think he is doing a good job. History will not be so lenient.


NYGuy - 12/18/2003

Thanks SCott and Caleb,

It is always enjoyable to read two well argued posts which you both have presented. I don't think that anyone does not feel the hurt when a soldier is killed.

Like police and firemen, military men are in a dangerous professioon and all face high risks, but they also know they must do their jobs whether in Iraq or running into the World Trade Center. These actions are a part of life and have to be dealt with as such. Since our country was attacked all three professions put themselves on the line to protect us. It is hurtful when they are injured or killed, but it is part of what these professionals do, and many of us feel the pain of their sacrifices both as family members and as Americans.

God Bless them and let us never forget them.

Remember the Twin Towers.


NYGuy - 12/18/2003

Caleb,

If that is the case, I can think of no one who would not meet your definition of a genius. If you disagree, you simply can't see the genius yet.

NYGuy

That is not so since the genius’ ability will be revealed in time. Meanwhile you should remember that, “it takes one to know one.”

Caleb,

The tone of your post indicated that you would dimiss anything I could offer as liberal lying propaganda, but here goes anyway:

http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=175%20AND
http://www.iht.com/articles/98398.html
http://www.local6.com/news/1882168/detail.html
http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/06/09062003173358.asp

NYGuy

You hurt my feelings. I am an opened minded fair person who does not engage in partisan politics.

These links are all over six months old and and well known. As stated in the reports the growth in any hatred came from the growing hatred of the muslins. (See the EU article last week). As I have said this hatred had been escalated by President Clinton and his naive policy of making a world issue out of the Palestine/Israel disagreements, which only inflamed both sides throughout the world. Beside Bush is now hailed by all the major world leaders today, so let us not live in the past.

Caleb

I guess we simply diagree. I would call a North Korea with an arsonal of nuclear weopons to sell to the highest bidders to be more than "a petty disagreement."

NYGuy

North Korea lives in a part of the world where we have the largest world population, China, India and Pakistan. All have nuclear weapons. Do you think they are going to stand by and let some kook in North Korea destabilize the area? I think not. North Korea continues to bluster, but they are now at the end of their lease. The links you presented merely show how little bargaining power North Korea has particularly since Bush understands the above situation and just treats them as they should be treated not as a major world power. That is why we no longer have a big target on our back.

NYGuy

"Bush defined his policy as a “War on Terror.” Angry liberals redefine the policy"

Caleb,

Not redefine, my friend, merely interpret in a way that makes the enemy actual terrorists, and not countries having nothing to do with 9/11. Remember Bin Laden? The liberals sure do.

NYGuy

Remember it was the taking down of the Twin Towers, that precipitated the “War on Terror” that was supported by all Americans and our congress. Bush is just doing his job of protecting us from those who want to play dangerous games with WMD's.

Caleb,

How does Bush or anyone else know that the UN would be worse than we are doing in Iraq?

NYGuy

Interesting point. It is just that when someone or an organization turns tail and runs they show their character and capacity to do the right thing. Fortunately we had Bush and did not have to learn the hard way. Still liberals have more faith in the UN then their own country. As the Democrats say, US out UN in, so I guess liberals agree with you.

Caleb,

Grant went on to be a corrupt president whose administration was marred with scandel.

NYGuy,

I was talking about Grant’s ability as a Commander in Chief. He did not wake up in the middle of the night and lose his nerve. I give you credit for not mentioning them both as alcoholics.

Caleb,

WHAT? Are you suggesting that Bush made peace between Israel and the Palestinians? What have I been seeing in the news then (although, it is the NY Times so they might be lying).

NYGuy

I said he laid the groundwork. Unlike Clinton whose only policy was to get himself a Nobel Prize, Bush put the protection of Americans first. He recognized that the attention and Presidential photo-ops given to Israel and the Palestinians was only inflaming anti-Semitism and in the process greater hatred for the US. He therefore restored the issue back to the local area where it belongs and so far seems to be working.

NYGuy

I think he will be remembered as the George Washington of the 21st century."

Caleb,

I am not really sure how you see it but only history will tell.

NYGuy,

Bush has already solidified his position as one of the greatest Presidents the US ever had. Can “George Washington of the 21st Century” be far behind? Wait till you see what he does in his second term.

Caleb,

Johnson (a liberal Democrat) lied in order to get support for his war in Veitnam. History has revealed this and vindictaed the anti-war people of the time. I believe history will do the same for Iraq.

NYGuy

Iraq is a defining point in history, which will show how good leadership can make the world a better place. As for the anti-war people I still hear their defeated ideas I just don’t see many of them around anymore.

Caleb,

Again, I am content to let history be the final judge.

NYGuy

We can at least agree on some things.

Cheers


DRJ - 12/18/2003

Thank you Mr. Cole for an interesting article. I thought facts were presented as facts and opinions were presented as opinions. There was no hyperbole and no rancor or partisan politics that i could see. The troubles in Iraq and throughout the arab world are not simple and we are fools to assume that they are. I appreciate you observations about why various groups are struggling in Iraq and your suggestion that some may even be emboldened to more action by Saddam's capture. There is ,of course the possiblity that the U.S. will do as it says and as it has historically done...rebuild and move out and leave the conquered country better off. The dissident groups may indeed end up being better represented in the mix which is the new Iraq. I think the causes of fighting in all of the arab world are myriad,just as you intimate. Time will tell whether violence will increase or decrease as a result of U.S. actions. I predict a decrease. It has to go down from nearly 500,000 in mass graves does it not? I also agree that Saddam was irrelevant long before he was captured. Thanks again for your interesting article.


Abe Pinchot - 12/18/2003


I'm not at all sure about the "closer" part. I don't have time now to immerse myself in the Bellesiles controversy, but if I did, the two articles just posted would certainly not be the first place I would turn. I've wasted enough time wading through endless unintelligible hot air spouted on that topic many times here already. Going from history being irrelevant to history being a malleable propaganda tool for neophyte propagandists is not progress in my book.


C.R.W. - 12/18/2003


"What I am saying is the we need to be thinking more about collective security and less about individual national interests. We can circle the globe in hours, send messages around it in seconds, and what we do in anyone place can have reverberations far and wide quickly. It is not the world of the tall ships, or even the steam ships and C-47. Nations are becoming what states and counties used to be, and if we don't start cooperating and dealing with it democratically it will deal with us otherwise"

Jerry, this is the most salient point. Have you ever seen how the U.N. works? I wouldn't trust them to run a town hall meeting. As long as the member states remain largely undemocratic, it needs to be acknowledged that engaging them in a quasi-democratic process is a bit disingenuous. Further, what branches of government does the U.N. provide? Legislative? Where's the executive branch? Until they have one, I believe you're looking at it, and since our history of intervention includes some pretty noble, effective, and security-enhancing actions (not all, but I'd certainly put Germany, Japan, and hopefully Afghanistan and Iraq in there), then the acting in accordance with the individual interests of the lone superpower will have to suffice.

The purpose of government is not to subordinate individual interests to an ill-defined collective "good," but to facilitate, enhance, and protect the individual interests that many parties happen to share in common.


Caleb - 12/18/2003

Scott,
I must disagree with your interpretation of "the left." I would remind you and others that of the serious contenders for the Democratic nomination, several of them are highly supportive of the war. They do not hope that things go poorly; they merely think that they can do better (just look at Leiberman or Gephardt).

I also resent any implication that the left "are secretly glad to see deaths caused by suicide bombers." I find such an accusation to show the same level of contempt for the left that you argue they show for Bush.

I do agree on the following thing you said:
"There are many in both Britain and the US that feel this way, though they usually hide their satisfaction under appropriate but unconvincing words of regret."

You are right, there are those whose mind is so warped by hatred for Bush, they want to see America fail, and those people are usually radical liberals just as Nazism was radical conservatism. These radicals, however, are not representative of "the left."

These people who hate Bush so much had no more love for Clinton, a liberal, because it is American policy in total that they hate, it is our free market society, our freedom to express our thoughts, no matter how "bad" some may see them. These people call themselves liberals the way Saddam called himself popularly elected.
http://www.carolmoore.net/photos/12-98-antiwar-photos.html

I also agree with something else you said:
"It is true that many on the right had a similar visceral hatred of Bill Clinton while he was in office" however I seriously recall the same level of hatred towards Clinton by “the right.” Conservatives did (and still do) blame Clinton for anything and everything you can imagine, from causing anti-Semitism in the world, to bombing Iraq for no other reason than to take attention away from his impeachment (which conservatives to this day lament in the same way liberals recall the 2000 election).

Scott,
I get the impression from your post that you are an intelligent person who seems genuinely disillusioned by the so-called left. As a liberal, I would ask that you look at the protesters burning Bush in effigy and realize that this is NOT the left (at least, not in the political/conventional way).

The Democratic party is torn by this war (which might cost them the election in 2004) but even those who are against it (such as myself) does not want our troops to die or civilians to be killed. It is the policy that I oppose, not the brave men and women who are risking their lives to liberate and stabilize a broken country.


Scott Burgess - 12/18/2003


The reaction of many on the left to Saddam's capture once again throws light on what is to me the single most reprehensible aspect of modern leftism - a usually veiled, but sometimes overt hopefulness that things under a conservative/right stewardship will go badly, whether in Iraq, the Middle East or in the US economy.

Impelled by a visceral hatred of President Bush and a naked desire for "their side" to be in power, many on the left are secretly glad to see deaths caused by suicide bombers ("see, I told you so!") and civilian casualties caused by coalition forces (best when children are involved). They hope that US unemployment will rise, and wish for a weak stock market - never mind if it costs the elderly their retirement funds.

There are many in both Britain and the US that feel this way, though they usually hide their satisfaction under appropriate but unconvincing words of regret. Seldom are they as forthright as this, from the executive editor of Salon, Gary Kamiya:


I have a confession: I have at times, as the war has unfolded, secretly wished for things to go wrong. Wished for the Iraqis to be more nationalistic, to resist longer. Wished for the Arab world to rise up in rage. Wished for all the things we feared would happen. I'm not alone: A number of serious, intelligent, morally sensitive people who oppose the war have told me they have had identical feelings.

Here's another example (thanks to Andrew Sullivan):

I Hope the Bloodshed Continues in Iraq
[...]

They [American and British soldiers] need to die so that we can be free. Soldiers usually did that directly--i.e., fight those invading and harming a country. This time they need to die in defense of a lie from a lying adminstration to show these ignorant, dumb Americans that Bush is incompetent. They need to die so that Americans get rid of this deadly scum.


For people like this, Saddam's capture is terrible news, as revealed here:

I had a horrible feeling in my stomach this morning when I saw that Hussein had been capatured [sic].

I believe that this kind of thinking stems in large part from a deep-seated hatred of President Bush. Where does this hatred come from?

Many on the left would probably point to the notion that he's a spoilt child of privilege who'd be nothing without his father's influence, and who "stole" the Presidential election. Well, these points can be debated by reasonable people, but are in themselves insufficient to explain the hatred, since exactly the same charges can be levelled against the sainted JFK.

Perhaps it's his religious faith - the faith that has given him the strength to forswear drugs and alcohol. Maybe it's the fact that he abstains from orgies in the White House pool and fellatio in the Oval Office, acts repeatedly enjoyed by St. Jack and the other, lesser hero of the left, Bill Clinton. Maybe that's why Bush is hated so.

Invading and bombing other countries? Nope. Kennedy did that in both Cuba and Vietnam, and Clinton in Kosovo. So that can't be it.

George W. Bush simply appoints Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to two of the most powerful positions in the world, and tells them to get on with it - without paying proper lip service to politically correct code words like "inclusion" and "diversity." Is that the problem? Who knows?

It is true that many on the right had a similar visceral hatred of Bill Clinton while he was in office, but I honestly don't recall having the impression that there were right-wingers hoping for military casualties or civilian deaths, or upset that the economy was doing so well. And I do feel that I would have noticed such a tendency, since I was both politically observant and broadly supportive of the Clinton administration at the time.

There was a time when principled men of the left - whether politicians like Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, or writers like George Orwell - expressed a morality that could be respected. Even if one disagreed with their means, they sincerely wanted a better life for all and did what they thought was right to help make that happen.

Sadly, what's all too evident on today's left wing is a politics driven by hatred, a morally indefensible mindset that would prefer to see mass murdering dictators free rather than captured. A politics that actually hopes for killing, unemployment and poverty, if it helps make their point and helps bring their side to power - and it's all wrapped up in words like "compassion" and "caring."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is nauseating.



Caleb - 12/18/2003

NYGuy,

1) "After all a genius is one who sees a target no one else sees and hits it. Like a laser Bush has hit his target."

If that is the case, I can think of no one who would not meet your definition of a genius. If you disagree, you simply can't see the genius yet.

2) "Where are all these international polls that people keep talking about... Of course you may be reading unscientific polling done by the NYTimes that proves your point. But when I listen to world leaders they are all supporting Bush and the US."

The tone of your post indicated that you would dimiss anything I could offer as liberal lying propaganda, but here goes anyway:

http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=175%20AND
http://www.iht.com/articles/98398.html
http://www.local6.com/news/1882168/detail.html
http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/06/09062003173358.asp

3) "The dirty little secret about North Korea is that they have already been warned by China to wise up. Part of Bush’s genius is he does not put the US prestige on the line to handle small petty disagreements as we did with Israel/Palestine."

I guess we simply diagree. I would call a North Korea with an arsonal of nuclear weopons to sell to the highest bidders to be more than "a petty disagreement."

4) "As result we do not put a big target on our back. China has more to lose than we do, so Bush told them to take care of the problem, which they are doing. What a guy."

Huh? We must be getting our news from different sources because the news I watch tells me that China basically got us to pay them for something they would have done anyway. Also, do your sources tell you that we are uninvolved with this? I admit, the "liberal" media have been ignoring this dangerous situation, but it is out there and Bush has to deal with it.
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/asiapcf/east/12/15/nkorea.nuclear.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/asiapcf/east/12/09/nkorea.nuclear/index.html

5) "Bush defined his policy as a “War on Terror.” Angry liberals redefine the policy"

Not redefine, my friend, merely interpret in a way that makes the enemy actual terrorists, and not countries having nothing to do with 9/11. Remember Bin Laden? The liberals sure do.

6) "If Bush doesn’t want to follow a failed idea it does not make him arrogant or dismissive."

How does Bush or anyone else know that the UN would be worse than we are doing in Iraq?

7) "As we learn from history Sherman was a more elegant communicator than Grant but Grant went down in history as the great leader of the North in the Civil war. This is just a case of history repeating itself."

Grant went on to be a corrupt president whose administration was marred with scandel.

8) "Bush will go down in history as a genius that got the world out of the Mid-east quagmire and laid the groundwork for a more peaceful and prosperous world that will lead to more individual liberty for people around the world."

WHAT? Are you suggesting that Bush made peace between Israel and the Palestinians? What have I been seeing in the news then (although, it is the NY Times so they might be lying).

9) "I think he will be remembered as the George Washington of the 21st century."

I am not really sure how you see it but only history will tell.

10) "You mean it permitted the slaughter of millions of innocents by Pol Pot and others. Isn’t that the same position liberals are taking with Saddam?"

Johnson (a liberal Democrat) lied in order to get support for his war in Veitnam. History has revealed this and vindictaed the anti-war people of the time. I believe history will do the same for Iraq.

Again, I am content to let history be the final judge.


Caleb - 12/18/2003

Steve,
I would like to say first how much I have enjoyed your posts. I think, of all the people who support this war, your has been the most intelligence and well-articulated rationale for it.
I disagree with you on the following points, but want you to know how enjoying it was to read them.

1) "My point is that since early in the Afghan war, pundits, primarily liberal ones, like Prof Cole, have been predicting disaster, suggesting that the war has been mishandled, and implying that Bush has generally “screwed it up”. I believe these pundits have been wrong and that anti-Bush sentiment colors their punditry."

As somewhat of an anti-Bush man myself, I agree with your analysis. I think you are right, many people allowed their dislike of Bush to color their worst-case scenerio fears. Those people were also mostly liberals.

2) "What I lament is that these pundits continue to have credibility despite being wrong about almost every prediction of impending disaster."

I can sympathize with your frustration and I would by lying if I thought that these people deserved the credibility they have. However, I also feel that the predictions by the administration have so far been way of the mark, not only regarding WMD, but the nature of reconstruction, and the attitude of the Iraqis. Virtually everything I read (although some dismiss ALL papers and magazines of liberal lies) repeat that this administration was simply not prepared for what would happen after the war.

3) "What I do ask is that there be some consistency. If you supported Clinton’s Bosnian campaign (I did), on humanitarian grounds, which were the only grounds offered, then how can you credibly oppose deposing Saddam, who unquestionably presided over a far worse disaster for humanity?"

For me the answer is simple and might explain why liberals are so angrey with Bush. Iraq was the first war sice Vietnam where (and I know people disagree on this, but it is my own opinion based on my own observation) the administration lied about the reasons. They may not have lied intentionally, perhaps Iraq had WANTED the world fooled, and Bush was only doing what all presidents do: rely on the intelligence data availiable (although even that was not as conclusive as he let on). We KNEW why we went into Bosnia, or Somalia, or the Gulf in 91. I, for one, and not willing to simply forget that the principle reasons for going in were wrong (SO FAR) simply because it was a vile and cruel regime. Had we won Vietnam, it still would not have been right.

Similarly, I do not measure my support for Bush in terms of success in Iraq. I will support him only when his pre-war predictions about what Iraq had come true, or he simply confesses that the intelligence data he relied on was inaccurate (as he did regarding the uranium from Niger, to his credit).

Just some examples (of many) to let you know what I mean:
3/16/03 Cheney: “We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” (The Washington Post, 5/20/03)
10/06/02 Bush: Saddam Hussein could strike without notice and inflict "massive and sudden horror" on America. (AP, 10/6/02)

Most of the Democrats who claim that intervening in Iraq was wrong, supported Bosnia. It’s clear to me that their opposition is partisan, not principled.

And by the way, Caleb, regardless of how you feel about the war in Iraq, how can you justify three Democrat congressmen, Thompson, McDermott, and Bonier cuddling up to Saddam and telling the world, from Baghdad, that we should “take Saddam at his word”?

4) "No Democrat questioned Clinton’s decision to bomb Iraq in 1998 to punish him for failing to cooperate with UN inspectors. No UN resolution and a big fat objection from France and no one called Clinton “unilateral”."

Again, the reasons was that (and I almost have to giggle as I say this) Clinton was honest about why he was going in. IN FACT, there are some on this post who argue that Clinton was WRONG even though Bush is RIGHT (these are the same people who believe that Hillary is still going to run in 04 just to confirm their hatred about her overwhelming ambition). Furthermore, many Republican leaders at the time oppossed Clinton so assuming that the liberals are being inconsistant (a possibility), can you can any better about the conservatives in 1998?

5) "Something else is starting to bug me, Caleb. All this garbage about the US being responsible for creating Saddam."

Steve, I can see why that would upset you, I find those arguments rather unconvincing (to say the least). This is not a perfect world and sometimes we have to support the lesser of two evils (or even the greater) as a matter of national defense. Either lets go make all countries like us or accept the fact that we have to deal with bad people sometimes. We didn't make Saddam anymore than France and Britain MADE Hitler simply because they did nothing to stop his rise. The blame lies with the tyrant, not wuth us.

6) "But aside from that, doesn’t it strike you as a little dangerous to give France veto power over our national security decisions?"

To be honest Steve, I do not support Howard Dean (although I will if he wins the nomination because I agree with his overall ideology more so than Bush). In principle, let me say I agree with you, neither France, nor anyone else should have any say with whether or not we go to war, but in fairness, I don't think Dean meant that.

If I may speculate, Dean like others saw this war as a war of choice to topple someone who was not a threat to America, but might be a threat to the UN or to internaitonal stability one day. I believe that without a UN mandate, this war would have been seen as it has been seen, as an American invasion of a country it dislikes.

I don't neccessarily agree with that perception, but it is out there. I also think that IF things went wrong and Iraq fell apart, let it fall on their shoulders, not ours. The point is that if you begn with the assumption that Iraq is not a threat to us, I think you come to different conclusions regarding whether or not the UN should have done this (or not done this). Remember many people like myself believed that, regarding the threat, containment was working. Bush (again, to his credit) got the inspectors back in the country.

As a final note, I believe that Bush and others really believed that Iraq had what they say he had, and this colored their interpretation of the avaliable data. I don't think we went in for oil, or for Bush's personal reasons, or anything like that. He took a gamble based on what he was told by others, and in my opinion, the gamble failed. It is like a police officer suspecting a crime had been committed, lied in order to get a warrent, and then went inside a house to find nothing there.


Caleb - 12/18/2003

NYGuy,
1) "Bush has been a strong leader and like a laser focused on the task he defined."

Do you honestly believe that? Where did Iraq come from? Bush has made it clear that there was no link between Iraq and 9/11, a fact that I hold him morally responsible for misleading the people on. So how was he focused on the task when Bin Laden is still at large, and Afghanistan is still under seige by the Taliban? I know you feel that Iraq is great and Bush is great and all of that, but I don't see how this demonstrates "a laser focused on the task he defined." Can you concieve of a country where we could invade that you would NOT support Bush?

2) "The anger felt by liberals is not that they are unpatriotic it because they are so wrongheaded in their understanding of the real world."

You are going to need to provide some backup with that statement to defend the position that such noted liberals as News Gingrich are not in the "real world" (whatever that means)
http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/04/22/gingrich.powell/index.html

3) "Further they are even more frustrated since they don't know what to do and can't engage in any meaningful contribution of sensible solutions to the imagined problems they see."

So you believe that all the healthcare problems, Bush's unfunded mandates to the states, historic deficits, the international war on terror, the Middle East, education, the environment, campaign finance, etc. are not "real-world" problems, just fairy tailes the liberal media fool us of?

You don't really believe that, I suspect, I believe your adulation of Bush simply translated into demonization of anyone who dares speak ill of his policies. It's OK, the liberals said the same thing when conservatives hated Clinton. It was wrong of them then, and it is wrong the conservatives now (who says history doesn't repreat itself?).

4) "That is a tough position to be in: A) Not knowing what is going on in the world and B)unable to come up with any sensible solutions. That is why they sound so foolish."

Funny, I was just about to say that that is a tough position for conservatives to be in.


NYGuy - 12/18/2003

Caleb

I must confess, you are addressing someone who most definitely does not. (understand Bush’s genius).

NYGuy

That is a fair statement and just shows a disagreement between us. Although Bush has already proved himself, it will take more time for others to understand. After all a genius is one who sees a target no one else sees and hits it. Like a laser Bush has hit his target.


Caleb

International polls have shown repreatedly how little regard much of the world has for the United States and for Bush. You may credit them to whatever you like, but I have read enough to be convinced that many countries simly do not like the man and do not agree with his war.

NYGuy

Where are all these international polls that people keep talking about. At the beginning of the war there may have been some opposition overseas. Just like the failed anti-war demonstrations, (which were never very large) which opposition has disappeared. Of course you may be reading unscientific polling done by the NYTimes that proves your point. But when I listen to world leaders they are all supporting Bush and the US.

Caleb

I don't know if I would agree with your analysis about Europe, but you will get no defense of the UN out of me.

NYGuy

There is nothing wrong with our disagreeing. My comments about Europe are not out of hatred of France or Germany but are based on the limits of these countries economically, the rapid immigration of muslins and others and their heavy social burdens.

NYGuy
4) "This is a defining moment in history because the Mid-east will never be the same again."

Caleb

I would agree with that.

NYGuy

Wow sounds like we are winning you over to our side. :)

Caleb

This I would not agree with. I see no evidence that N. Korea is being scared into giving up its nukes. Quite the opposite, they say the need them because they are afraid of us.

NYGuy

The dirty little secret about North Korea is that they have already been warned by China to wise up. Part of Bush’s genius is he does not put the US prestige on the line to handle small petty disagreements as we did with Israel/Palestine. As result we do not put a big target on our back. China has more to lose than we do, so Bush told them to take care of the problem, which they are doing. What a guy.

Caleb

What bothers me is Bush's (and others) utter contempt for anyone who disagrees with them. I believe the war in Iraq was a mistake but far worse was the attitude Bush has towards anyone who wants to ask, "why are we doing this?" If you believe that liberals argument are "a joke," you are not alone. The president stands with you. It takes an arrogant and shortsighted ideology to be so dismissive, and THAT is why many liberals are angrey.

NYGuy

Bush defined his policy as a “War on Terror.” Angry liberals redefine the policy and say no respects them. For example we have the favorite democratic position, “UN in and US out.” If Bush doesn’t want to follow a failed idea it does not make him arrogant or dismissive. It makes him a great leader since he focuses like a laser on his objective and is proved correct. Playing the victim as is done by so many is just a political maneuver. I would go on but I can’t remember any other constructive program that angry liberals have put forward.

Caleb
If you really want to hear a great leader, listen to Tony Blair sometime, addressing his opposition in the House of Commons. I disagree with his position on the war, but his wonderful articulation of the rationale and his oratory skills gives even me pause to reconsider. He is a true leader that has taken an unpopular position for his principles, and I respect that. Bush is politician (nothing wrong with that neccessarily) who seems simply unable to comprehend how anyone can ever disagree with him... on anything. Many of his supporters share his inability to see thinks from more than the prism of their own minds.

NYGuy

As we learn from history Sherman was a more elegant communicator than Grant but Grant went down in history as the great leader of the North in the Civil war. This is just a case of history repeating itself. I agree with you Blair showed great character and in that area is just like Bush.

Caleb,

Funny, I would have given that credit to Bin Laden. (Defining movement in history).

NYGuy

I have to disagree. Bin Laden will go down in history as an engineering genius by taking down two110 story buildings in hours. Bush will go down in history as a genius that got the world out of the Mid-east quagmire and laid the groundwork for a more peaceful and prosperous world that will lead to more individual liberty for people around the world. I think he will be remembered as the George Washington of the 21st century.

Caleb

I believe that history will vindicate the liberals position on the war, just as it did with Vietnam.

NYGuy

You mean it permitted the slaughter of millions of innocents by Pol Pot and others. Isn’t that the same position liberals are taking with Saddam?

Caleb

THAT I cannot defend. (Photo of Saddam). Saddam Hussein is exactly what liberals say he is: a brutal monster who terrorized his people and without whom Iraqis can finally sleep easy. It is for their sake that I am elated we finally caught him and look forward to giving him the opportunity to play poker with Hitler, Stalin, and Mao very shortly

NYGuy

Again we agree, but I appreciate your comments and respect your positions, but I sincerely believe that the US is on the right track now. But time will tell.

Cheers.


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/18/2003

In response to Mr. Brown, I don't have a bold thesis of my own. I don't claim the sort of omnicompetence that would permit me to predict events in complicated situations in far-off places from the comfort of a professor's chair stateside, nor the desire to propound a thesis qualified to within an inch of its life. I may not be a cordon bleu chef, but I can still recognize dogshit when it is served up to me.

On another subject, the origin of a critical philosophy may be viewed as pre-dating even Socrates. Aristotle said Zeno was the father of dialectic, and he is most commonly viewed as not propounding a thesis of his own, but merely showing the insufficiency of the philosophy of Parmenides. It was not until the discovery of the concept of the mathematical limit that Zeno's most famous paradox was resolved, or the calculus put on a firm theoretical foundation.


Jerry West - 12/18/2003

-
Steve Brody wrote:

Jerry, when France stated in February that they would veto ANY resolution that involved the use of force in Iraq, "whatever the circumstances", the die was cast. At that point, no UN action was possible. Yet despite France's intransigence and history of arms sales to Iraq, it somehow occupies the moral high ground for you. I don’t get it. Don’t you remember that it was France that built the Iraqi reactor and weapons lab at Osirak?

JW:

At that point is the key. This does not prove that further negotians might not have either changed the minds of the French once a better case for war was made, or those of the US if a good case could not be made. The fact that France built the reactor has as much relevance as the pre-1990 support that Iraq received from the US. Both were wrong, but neither address the necessity of a war, and both need to accept part of the blame for the Iraq situation. Morally both do address the bankruptcy of the US and France in global affairs.

SB:

Here’s my prediction: By the end of Saddam’s trial this summer, the world (and US voters) will be so disgusted with Saddam’s horrors that France and Germany will be clamoring to get on board the Iraq train. US politicians that based their candidacy on the notion that we shouldn’t have bothered Saddam will have a very tough go.

JW:

You are assuming a trial this summer. A convenient timing for Bush, no doubt, depending on what Saddam says and what gets reported.

For any politician worth their salt who has a shred of morality in them this trial will be a good back drop to point out a number of other dictators, butchers and atrocities that still need attending to, some of them quite embarassing to the US. Perhaps Bush could pull off a pre-emptive strike and give HK over to the Chileans now as well as clean out Miami, just for starters. Then there is this ally in where, Uzebekistan? Isn't he the one who boils his opponents?

He might also release all of the documents he is holding back from the Reagan and GHWB years so people see that he isn't hiding any dirty laundry. Strange that he put the clamp on them.

SB:

Really. Well you know, Clinton didn’t have any UN resolution when he initiated Operation Desert Fox in 1998. The French also objected and didn’t participate. Were you critical of Clinton back then?

JW:

Actually, I was. But this isn't about Clinton, you can have him.

SB:

You know, Clinton didn’t have a UN resolution when he took us into Bosnia, either.
Did you criticize Clinton then?

JW:

I had criticisms of Bosnia (not that I remember a lot of it now), all is not what it could be there either, and among other things we backed the KLA who, I believe, turn out to be allies of Al Qaeda. But Bosnia is not Iraq and there was more support for intervention there.

I am not happy with the UN either, but from my perspective I would like to see it more independent (remove the veto powers) with a beefed up security force of its own for initial interventions.

SB:

what you’re saying is that if the French decide that it is in their national interest to oppose us, that trumps our own decisions about our national security?

JW:

What I am saying is the we need to be thinking more about collective security and less about individual national interests. We can circle the globe in hours, send messages around it in seconds, and what we do in anyone place can have reverberations far and wide quickly. It is not the world of the tall ships, or even the steam ships and C-47. Nations are becoming what states and counties used to be, and if we don't start cooperating and dealing with it democratically it will deal with us otherwise.

Preventive war and US dominenance are not the solution but the seeds of disaster.

And one should be careful not to confuse fortitude with intelligence.




Steve BRody - 12/18/2003


Jerry, when France stated in February that they would veto ANY resolution that involved the use of force in Iraq, "whatever the circumstances", the die was cast. At that point, no UN action was possible. Yet despite France's intransigence and history of arms sales to Iraq, it somehow occupies the moral high ground for you. I don’t get it. Don’t you remember that it was France that built the Iraqi reactor and weapons lab at Osirak?

“Dean's statement may ring well with a lot of people.”

Well, Dean must think it will ring better with people, since it is a complete repudiation of the position he was talking up until today. I think in politics they call it a waffle. A big one.

“Francophobia and Germanophobia may be two more blunders for the administration in the long run.”

Jerry, I love an optimist. Here’s my prediction: By the end of Saddam’s trial this summer, the world (and US voters) will be so disgusted with Saddam’s horrors that France and Germany will be clamoring to get on board the Iraq train. US politicians that based their candidacy on the notion that we shouldn’t have bothered Saddam will have a very tough go.

“Had Clinton or any other previous or possible presidents taken us into this war against international approval, you can bet that I would still be among the critics.”

Really. Well you know, Clinton didn’t have any UN resolution when he initiated Operation Desert Fox in 1998. The French also objected and didn’t participate. Were you critical of Clinton back then?

You know, Clinton didn’t have a UN resolution when he took us into Bosnia, either.
Did you criticize Clinton then?

So basically, Jerry, what you’re saying is that if the French decide that it is in their national interest to oppose us, that trumps our own decisions about our national security?

“One needs to test the supporters and ask where would they be if this was Al Gore or Hilary leading us into this same battle?”

Frankly, Jerry, it is difficult for me to imagine either having the fortitude to take us into this same battle. But, I supported Clinton’s use of force.


Steve BRody - 12/18/2003


Jerry, the weapons sales data comes from the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute web site. It is a Swedish peace think tank


Jerry West - 12/18/2003

-
I think that there would have been a lot more support for the war if the UN would have approved it and sent troops.

Dean's statement may ring well with a lot of people. Francophobia and Germanophobia may be two more blunders for the administration in the long run.

Had Clinton or any other previous or possible presidents taken us into this war against international approval, you can bet that I would still be among the critics. One needs to test the supporters and ask where would they be if this was Al Gore or Hilary leading us into this same battle?


Jerry West - 12/18/2003

-
Steve Brody wrote:

All this garbage about the US being responsible for creating Saddam. It’s a myth. During the early 80’s, we didn’t even have diplomatic relations with Iraq. Once he started the Iran/Iraq war, we did tilt towards Iraq. But so what. Should we have buddied up to Khomeini? Two years after he took our hostages?

What “tilting towards Iraq” meant was that we gave them some targeting info and that was about it. Myths continue to abound that we sold him all kinds of weapons, gave him chemical weapons, and gave him biological weapons. The truth is....

JW:

I would like to see the references for your truths.

I also think that any disucssion of supporting dictators and despots has to begin at as far back as the end of WWII where we had a very good opportunity to remake the world the way that some are paying lip service to now. In fact if I recall correctly FDR had plans to prevent recolonization after the war, too bad he did not live out his term.

We could even track back to the end of WWI to find the seeds of some of our problems. (and other eras, too, in case you want to mention it).

Forget crying about Stalin, WWII was a real crisis and a far more desparate situation than the managed tempests that we have carried out over the succeeding five decades.

One also needs to keep in mind, when trying to separate US from foreign support, that many of the major players today are multinational corporations, and though they may be based in France or Germany, the US or Botswana, it does not mean that a huge chunk of their ownership is not US and can be counted as US support.

Personally I think we need to be rid of dictators and tyrants, oligarchs and plutocrats, and put a lid on terrorism. But, I do not think that we can credibly do this until our own house is clean first and we not only stop supporting the above, we round up and bring to justice those within our own borders who are responsible for that support over the past five decades.

At this point in time the best we can characterize our two big name (and overlapping) wars is as the war between terrorists and the war between drug dealers.

Here are a few articles that might be of interest.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/PrintStory.pl?document_id=2001814605&zsection_id=268883724&slug=iraqsunday14&date=20031214

http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/globalissue/usforeignpolicy/iraq1980scontent.html

http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/congress/1992/h920325wp.htm

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/EL16Ag01.html


Steve BRody - 12/18/2003


Jerry, I can see that hope springs eternal in you.

I was floored when Dean said today that he would have supported the war if the UN would have approved. In other words, if France approved.

I think he is starting to buckle from the Saddam capture.


Jerry West - 12/18/2003

-
Dr. Dresner,

You think malice is more prevalent than ignorance? Ignorance at least can be forgiven.

Your right about the insults and, I would add, childish kneejerk reactions that permiate the discussions here, it would be good to reduce them to somewhere below a roar.


Jerry West - 12/18/2003

-
You should drop me from your list of Clinton fans, I think that I have stated more than once that I make little distinction between Bill and George. Clinton, undeniably is more intelligent, but that means little in itself.

As for the troops, it is way too early to tell what many of them really think, particularly the NG boys and girls who are spending a lot more of their life than they bargained for doing something that can be reasonably argued did not have to be done. I haven't been compiling the data, yet, but there have been frequent items coming from the troops quite critical of this war which no doubt will lead to criticism of those in charge of it. Whether they or anyone likes Bush better than Clinton is really of no importance here.

And, I wonder if Bush has such a good standing with the military, how does one explain such respected leaders as Gen. Zinni and others (Clark not included) who oppose this war, or the fact that neither Franks or Abizaid were willing to take on the Chief of Staff job, highest post in the Army?

This flu is a turkey, and not plastic. :)


Jonathan Dresner - 12/18/2003

Mr. West,

I know you're trying to lighten my mood, but that's precisely the kind of blow-for-blow insult-trading I'm trying to avoid personally and reduce generally.

I don't think Mr. Dyke's comment was made out of ignorance, but malice. It was an efficiently constructed, even elegant, statement, which struck me as very deliberate and carefully targetted. If I am wrong, then I am entirely open to an apology (even of the contemporary non-apology sort, if that's all I'm offered).


Jonathan Dresner - 12/18/2003

Mr. Pinchot,

Yes, there is some sensationalism in the article selection and the article titles. But we've got a long way to go to refute the perception of history as irrelevant, and making strong connections between past and present issues, and demonstrating the heated nature of discussion on historical issues are both, I think, legitimate.

I don't think it's "hits at any cost" as much as it is "we've got to start somewhere." But I'm complicit, as you point out.


Jerry West - 12/18/2003

-
Some other articles around this topic:

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1071488603589&call_pageid=970599109774

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/17/opinion/17BRUC.html?th

http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/121503A.shtml


Let's see, we have the Jessica Lynch fiasco, the carrier landing fiasco, the plastic turkey fiasco. Is the Saddam fiasco brewing? In a way I feel sorry for these guys trying to create some solid nuggets for the upcoming campaign.




Steve Brody - 12/18/2003


Jerry, did you apply that same standard to Clinton who squirmed for more than Bush did to get out of military service.

I can't remember ever hearing you call Clinton a "chickenhawk"
when he ordered our military into action.

By the way, wouldn't you agree that if anyone has a right to resent Bush sending our troops into combat,after only serving in the TANG, it is the troops who currently serve and are being sent into combat? Wonder why they like him so much more than they liked Clinton?

Hope you got over that flue. I had it and thought I was going to die.


Steve Brody - 12/18/2003


Caleb, you missed my point. I’m not railing against every liberal who is against the war in Iraq. I understand that reasonable people can oppose that war.

My point is that since early in the Afghan war, pundits, primarily liberal ones, like Prof Cole, have been predicting disaster, suggesting that the war has been mishandled, and implying that Bush has generally “screwed it up”. I believe these pundits have been wrong and that anti-Bush sentiment colors their punditry.

What I lament is that these pundits continue to have credibility despite being wrong about almost every prediction of impending disaster. What finally tore it for me was Cole’s piece, which in sum and substance says that now that Saddam has been captured, things are really going to hit the fan. Why does anyone believe this stuff anymore?

“It is almost as if opposition to any conflict means you have to be against ALL conflict. Iraq is not Afghanistan, and it is not Germany or Japan either. It is not Korea and it is not Kosovo. It is a conflict that many people in the world were against.”

I know that all wars aren’t the same. I don’t ask that anyone support all of them. What I do ask is that there be some consistency. If you supported Clinton’s Bosnian campaign (I did), on humanitarian grounds, which were the only grounds offered, then how can you credibly oppose deposing Saddam, who unquestionably presided over a far worse disaster for humanity? Most of the Democrats who claim that intervening in Iraq was wrong, supported Bosnia. It’s clear to me that their opposition is partisan, not principled.

And by the way, Caleb, regardless of how you feel about the war in Iraq, how can you justify three Democrat congressmen, Thompson, McDermott, and Bonier cuddling up to Saddam and telling the world, from Baghdad, that we should “take Saddam at his word”?

It is stunts like that, that resulted in their patriotism being questioned.

No Democrat questioned Clinton’s decision to bomb Iraq in 1998 to punish him for failing to cooperate with UN inspectors. No UN resolution and a big fat objection from France and no one called Clinton “unilateral”.

Something else is starting to bug me, Caleb. All this garbage about the US being responsible for creating Saddam. It’s a myth. During the early 80’s, we didn’t even have diplomatic relations with Iraq. Once he started the Iran/Iraq war, we did tilt towards Iraq. But so what. Should we have buddied up to Khomeini? Two years after he took our hostages?

What “tilting towards Iraq” meant was that we gave them some targeting info and that was about it. Myths continue to abound that we sold him all kinds of weapons, gave him chemical weapons, and gave him biological weapons. The truth is we sold him less than 1% of the weapons that he purchased between 1973 and 2002. Less than Denmark. That’s right; Denmark sold Saddam more weapons than we did. This can be confirmed at the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute web site. We gave him no chemical weapons. Iraq did get some biological samples, ostensibly for research, under a program run by the CDC. Many other countries also got these samples under this program.

But Coles continues to propound the myth that we somehow are responsible for Saddam.

Since I’m getting all this stuff off my chest, Caleb, let me also say that for Howard Dean to now say that he would have supported the war in Iraq if the UN had authorized it floored me. Dean appears to be buckling under the strain of Saddam’s capture. But aside from that, doesn’t it strike you as a little dangerous to give France veto power over our national security decisions? People who say that Bush acted “unilaterally” and should have given France more time to get on board kid themselves. In February 2003 France stated their position clearly. They said that they would veto ANY Security Council resolution involving the use of force “whatever the situation”.


Jerry West - 12/17/2003

-
He is a chickenhawk, Dave, along with most of his cabinet and close advisors.

He will get a pass from me if he says that he opposed the war in VN and that is why he hid out in the Guard, otherwise we can safely assume that most of those joining the Guard after 1964 did so to avoid the draft and service in VN.

To avoid the draft and VN service while supporting the war, to me, and other veterans that I know, is most odious and rates the term chickenhawk when in polite society.

Everybody in my age group that supported that war and had at least two arms and legs and eyes should have volunteered and done a tour there. Those who supported it and ducked deserve no respect.


Jerry West - 12/17/2003

-
Dave,

I heard a story that Saddam wasn't hiding, that he was being held prisoner by Iraqis who were going to turn him in for the reward and got sand bagged by the Army. Haven't tracked the details down yet but this could turn out to be like the rescue of Jessica.


Jerry West - 12/17/2003

-
Dr. Dresner,

One should not be offended by comments based on ignorance and lack of civilized cultural values. :)


Caleb - 12/17/2003

NYGuy,
1) "As I have said many people do not understand Bush's genius."

I must confess, you are addressing someone who most definitely does not.

2) "Who are all these world leaders that oppose him?"

International polls have shown repreatedly how little regard much of the world has for the United States and for Bush. You may credit them to whatever you like, but I have read enough to be convinced that many countries simly do not like the man and do not agree with his war.

3) "We have found out that the UN is useless paper tiger and as I have pointed out before Europe is rapidly lossing its position in the world and becoming second class nations."

I don't know if I would agree with your analysis about Europe, but you will get no defense of the UN out of me.

4) "This is a defining moment in history because the Mid-east will never be the same again."

I would agree with that.

5) "Nations with WMD are cowered and Asian countries are not being threatened by terrorism."

This I would not agree with. I see no evidence that N. Korea is being scared into giving up its nukes. Quite the opposite, they say the need them because they are afraid of us.

6) "What is it that bothers you and the other angry liberals on this post."

What bothers me is Bush's (and others) utter contempt for anyone who disagrees with them. I believe the war in Iraq was a mistake but far worse was the attitude Bush has towards anyone who wants to ask, "why are we doing this?" If you believe that liberals argument are "a joke," you are not alone. The president stands with you. It takes an arrogant and shortsighted ideology to be so dismissive, and THAT is why many liberals are angrey.

If you really want to hear a great leader, listen to Tony Blair sometime, addressing his opposition in the House of Commons. I disagree with his position on the war, but his wonderful articulation of the rationale and his oratory skills gives even me pause to reconsider. He is a true leader that has taken an unpopular position for his principles, and I respect that. Bush is politician (nothing wrong with that neccessarily) who seems simply unable to comprehend how anyone can ever disagree with him... on anything. Many of his supporters share his inability to see thinks from more than the prism of their own minds.

7) "No wonder they don't understand that Bush has created a defiing moment in history."

Funny, I would have given that credit to Bin Laden.

8) "Give them 10-15 years and they may be able to read about it in books."

I believe that history will vindicate the liberals position on the war, just as it did with Vietnam.

9) "Do you really believe this false claim of Saddam being humiliated by doctors engaging in illegal medical practise."

THAT I cannot defend. Saddam Hussein is exactly what liberals say he is: a brutal monster who terrorized his people and without whom Iraqis can finally sleep easy. It is for their sake that I am elated we finally caught him and look forward to giving him the opportunity to play poker with Hitler, Stalin, and Mao very shortly.


NYGuy - 12/17/2003

Caleb,

Bush said we are in a "War on Terror". All the other attempts to redefine that statement and use other reasons for the US actions are only spin conjured up to have a beginning point from which they can win an argument. Bush has been a strong leader and like a laser focused on the task he defined. The fact that some naysayers had other ideas, and were wrong, does not make their arguements more persuavsive.

The anger felt by liberals is not that they are unpatriotic it because they are so wrongheaded in their understanding of the real world. Further they are even more frustrated since they don't know what to do and can't engage in any meaningful contribution of sensible solutions to the imagined problems they see.

That is a tough position to be in: A) Not knowing what is going on in the world and B)unable to come up with any sensible solutions. That is why they sound so foolish.


NYGuy - 12/17/2003

Caleb,

As I have said many people do not understand Bush's genius. Who are all these world leaders that oppose him? The largest populated countries in the world, China, India, Pakistan, the US and the list goes on all support his war on terrorism as well as many other countries.

We have found out that the UN is useless paper tiger and as I have pointed out before Europe is rapidly lossing its position in the world and becoming second class nations.

This is a defining moment in history because the Mid-east will never be the same again. Nations with WMD are cowered and Asian countries are not being threatened by terrorism.

What is it that bothers you and the other angry liberals on this post. Their arguements are a joke and repeated by no-nothing historians who know more about political spin than they do about real history.

No wonder they don't understand that Bush has created a defiing moment in history. Give them 10-15 years and they may be able to read about it in books. Even then they will still be stuck in their historical quaqmire.

Do you really believe this false claim of Saddam being humiliated by doctors engaging in illegal medical practise. But wait there will be more nonsense imagined by these angry people.


tcg - 12/17/2003

If so, what indeed is your "bold thesis"? Since responding to line by line criticisms is below sophomoric, what might be worthy of a junior or senior? Gosh, all this time I thought this sort of thing went by the name of some early philosopher or other, though there were an awful lot of those types.


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/17/2003

You can access the article through http://www.instapundit.com


Phil Albert - 12/17/2003


The link won't work for me.
Can one of you revise ?


Hugh High - 12/17/2003

Further to what I wrote, above :

I have just heard on the news that Madeline Albright, when asked today about her earlier speculation with Kondracke, said she was just joking. I have not heard this from Albright; I cannot verify it, nor do I know whether Albright, usually a careful commentor, is now merely disembling as a result of being caught out, or whether she is now serious.


Hugh High - 12/17/2003

As confusion as to what Madeline Albright did/did not say regarding Osama Bin Laden and the Bush Administration, I have not read that written by B. Cornett as I much earlier learned that reading drivel by her was a complete waste of time -- and like others, I must put my time to the highest alternative use, and reading what she writes is not it, so I don't know what she said, or has written.

That noted, in response to Mr. Albert and others, it might be useful to know the following :

This morning (Wed., 17 Dec., at approx. 7;45 EST ) while being interviewed by others on the Fox morning show, Mort Kondracke was asked about his recent visit/interview with Madeline Albright, and he related the following : he and Mrs. Albright were sitting in the anteroom of one of the Fox Studios and were discussing various matters, including the capture of Saddam. And, in context, Mrs. Albright apparently said to him 'have you considered whether the Bush Administration has already captured bin Laden and is awaiting a good political opportunity to display him to the world ? ' Kondracke asked her if she was serious. He emphasised that Albright was in no way asserting that bin Laden has been captured, but equally that she was serious in raising the question and not merely be frivolous.

Perhaps this will add some factual context to the speculative statements. That said, I was not present at the Kondracke/Albright discussion so can only relay what I heard on television and cannot aver as to its truth or falsity.


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Richard,
That does clear things up, thank you.


Hugh High - 12/17/2003


How rational, mature and sophisticated, Mr. Stemler.

And, as I have otherwise asked : do you bang your head on the floor when you are disappointed ?

My, my, my !!!!


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Phil,
I believe I may not have been as clear as I would have liked.

I know that some members of the administration subscribed to the PNAC belief system. However, I do not believe that either Bush, nor his primary advosors (Cheney, Powell, Rumsfield, Rice) have anything to do with either the organization, or its expressed policies. The only person whom I believe was a member was Wolfowitz and perhaps a few others.


Phil Albert - 12/17/2003



Caleb, I appreciate your insights, but dissent from both you and Barbara on question of PNAC.

I don't think Bush subscribes "to their belief system" to any deep or substantive extent.

Remember this is the candidate who just over three years ago said "we don't do nation building". Bush's embrace of PNAC is mostly tactical in my view. He declared a few days after 9-11 that his (then briefly named) "crusade" against terrorism would be the central focus of his Presidency henceforth (google corroboration pending), the subtext of which was, I believe: "at last, a good issue I can run in 2004". Iraq did not fit the anti-terrorism priority very well, but Bush embraced the PNAC regime change scheme, and winked at the Pentagon’s doctoring of intelligence "links" to Al Qaeda because he, in his unfamiliarity with foreign affairs, believed Wolfowitz and the chickenhawks when they opined that it would be a "cakewalk" (ditto on the google footnote).

As for the "Zionist" connection, this, I think reflects an unfortunate habit of Barbara's which she ought to try harder to overcome, namely that of over-generalizing about certain religious, regional, and ethnic groups. There are important connections between PNAC and more extremist elements within the Likud Party of Israel (don't think I need to google that one), whose agenda, from all I can gather, is pretty much a betrayal of the original Zionist ideal of a peaceful Jewish homeland in Palestine on good neighborly relations with the non-Jewish populations there.


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/17/2003

Perhaps this will clarify matters.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,106012,00.html


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/17/2003

"His [Saddam's] continued life is creating huge problems. And while the [Bush] administration is basically saying none of this matters any more, I think it does matter."

Who would have thought we could quote Albright in opposition to Juan Cole?


Phil Albert - 12/17/2003


I tried googling Albright, Osama, and C-span but could not corroborate Barbara's theory of him being already captured.
I would not put it past the Bushies at all, to pull such a stunt, but there does not seem to be any good evidence of it being alleged by Albright. She has made some comments recently about the desirability of capturing Osama, but nothing remotely like the "Bush White House is waiting for an opportune time to display him", that I could find.


The closest item I came up with was the following. Maybe there is a smoking gun hiding in the ...., but I am doubtful:


ttp://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1208/p25s02-usmb.htm

Madeleine Albright
Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast on: capturing Saddam Hussein, North Korea, and foreign fighters in Iraq

By David T. Cook


On the failure to capture or kill Osama Bin laden and Saddam Hussein:

"Saddam Hussein's continued life is more of a problem than Osama bin Laden's. Because if we look at what has been happening with the insurgency [in Iraq] and stories in the last few days [about] funds that Saddam Hussein somehow has access to ... in many ways he has a lot of levers he was used to pulling. The question is whether the strings are attached... His continued life is creating huge problems. And while the [Bush] administration is basically saying none of this matters any more, I think it does matter. Whether they capture him there is no way of telling. Osama bin Laden ...I think it would be better if Osama bin Laden were captured. That is what they promised us and it hasn't happened."


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/17/2003

"You have to go to extraordinary lengths in order to make a reasonable person actually feel sorry for Saddam but I think that is what the media and their proping up of the Bush White House has done."

"Madeline Allbright has stated that she thinks we have caught bin laden and that the Bush white house is waiting for an opportune time to display him as their winning campaign gambit."

"We went into Baghdad and seized their oil"


res ipsa loquitur


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Barbara,

I took your suggestion and did a goole search but could not find anyone with any credibility (i.e. non-bloggers) who actually believes we caught him and are waiting. Plus it makes very little sense to me. Why would Bush risk such a potentially fatal lie when he could be honest and reap HUGE political benefits from the capture?

I will not dispute your claim but suggest perhaps she was offering a possibility some say and not her own beliefs.

"We know he is in Pakistan and Bush earlier agreed with the leaders of Pakistan to leave him alone because of the fear of Islamic reaction in Pakistan."

I don't think we do KNOW this although we suspect it and I have seen no evidence that we are letting him be left alone. If we could get him, I have little doubt that we would do so.

"If you do further research into the ideas of PNAC you will see that their philosophy is using the strength of our miltary to persue empire."

I am not really sure what PNAC has to do with anything other than the fact that members of the administration subscribed to its belief system. If America doesn't like what is going on with Iraq, it will do as I plan on doing: vote for someone else in 2004.

"The EU has failed in getting their new Constitution because of Poland. But they are already planning their own military in order to counter ours where before Bush they had no such plans."

I really don't think any European military will match ours nor do I see evidence that is their plan. If the world wanted to turn against America, it could do it far cheaper economically rather tham militarily.

"Bush is causing us more problems then he is solving."

On this comment, I could not agree more.

"The US desperately needs leadership right now but not the kind we are getting from oil men, the military/industrial complex and Zionists."

Zionists? Where did THAT come from? What does Zionism have to do with anything??


Barbara Cornett - 12/17/2003

Caleb did you read the information regarding our economic situation?

I heard the information about Albright saying bin laden has been captured on C-Span, it seems she stated this on a cable news channel. she is not the only one saying it, put bin laden captured into a google search and see what you turn up. We know he is in Pakistan and Bush earlier agreed with the leaders of Pakistan to leave him alone because of the fear of Islamic reaction in Pakistan.

If you do further research into the ideas of PNAC you will see that their philosophy is using the strength of our miltary to persue empire. With the falling of the former Soviet Union there is no other power to challenge us. They believe we should do whatever is necessary to maintain our global supremacy. But as you can see we are already losing that supramacy and our military is all we have left.

The EU has failed in getting their new Constitution because of Poland. But they are already planning their own military in order to counter ours where before Bush they had no such plans. Bush is causing us more problems then he is solving. Formerly the EU looked to us for fairness and trust but now they don't and the 'new' Europe that we are creating might not be as desirable as the 'old' Europe that Bush scorned.

England has to depend upon us for any military actions because they have allowed their military to decline. That will change when the EU gets their Constitution and begins building a military.

The US desperately needs leadership right now but not the kind we are getting from oil men, the military/industrial complex and Zionists. What will we do when the EU has a powerful miliary? Go to war with them?


Hugh High - 12/17/2003

What an incredibly mature, insightful, and probing statement !!!

Do you bang your head on the floor when you don't get your way ?

My, my , my !!!!!


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Barbara,

There were a few things in your post that I don't think I agree with the following I really must inquire:

You say that:
"Madeline Allbright has stated that she thinks we have caught bin laden and that the Bush white house is waiting for an opportune time to display him as their winning campaign gambit."

I don't think I believe that the former Sec. of State would say such a thing, and am going to need some kind of confirmation before I believe it.


Hugh High - 12/17/2003

Mr. Morgan's careful, logical, and temperate observations are refreshing (as well, of course, as correct ) given the ( often of dubious maturity ) frequent mere assertions which all too often appear on this forum.

Among other things, he has reminded us of the fact that seldom can statutes, and particularly international agreements, be read in the simplistic manner which many seem to think. The entire realm of law is, often , highly subject to interpretation, with something less than hard and fast rules -- something non-lawyers often do not realise and, when this is pointed out, frequently dislike.

Related to this, the initial assertions that the photo of Saddam being examined were "clearly and obviously" violations of the Hippocratic, or similar, oaths and/or conventions, and, as a consequence, bad things should happen to the person examining Saddam, indicates (a) ignorance of this and (b) a pre-disposition to judge without knowing facts, mounting evidence, or inquiring of the underlying situation.

All too common,indeed, but hardly likely to promote justice for anyone. It serves little purpose other than to make the individual making such blanket assertions feel better.

Many at this forum might take a note from Mr. Morgan and endeavour to model their comments along the logical, temperate lines he has -- and done so well.


Barbara Cornett - 12/17/2003

You have to go to extraordinary lengths in order to make a reasonable person actually feel sorry for Saddam but I think that is what the media and their proping up of the Bush White House has done. The loop of Saddam that showed over and over was a sickening display on the part of the media in their continuing efforts to sell this 'war' to the American people who are getting more and more sick of it all. Look at this! Bush is a hero! we caught Saddam who is bad but we are good! I ain't buying. Someone should tell the American people the truth.

Madeline Allbright has stated that she thinks we have caught bin laden and that the Bush white house is waiting for an opportune time to display him as their winning campaign gambit.

Republicans have long wanted to make our government powerless so that business could not be regulated and the market could overwhelm democracy and a government of, by and for the people. The fact that this administration has run up a historic debt that will weaken our government and make it too weak to have any say over business is just what the republians and their corporate supporters want.

Citizens should be alarmed that the Pentagon military/industrial complex can now make war on its own without the consent of the people and that the Congress turned over the job of declaring war to a White House which took power thur an event which has never happened before, the Supreme Court settled who would be president rather than recoutning all of FL votes. The Patriot Acts represent the means by which this complex is coming after us next.

The fact is that the US is losing its ecomomic supremacy and Saddam's evilness had nothing to do with our going into Iraq. Most of the people in this White House have had dealings with Saddam for years and they never woke up one day recently with an epiphany that he was evil, it was something they have always known and when it was convenient they used.

Terrorism had little to do with our going into Afganistan where the Taliban is already back.

With the complete overthrow of democracy and the takeover by business of our government, they have presided over the downfall of America. Nothing can save us but old fashioned, authentic democracy where the people would have a strong voice in our domestic and international affairs.

We went into Baghdad and seized their oil because we are economically desperate and we have thugs in the White House who think our military can solve our problems and they are so without morals or decency and so lacking in statesmenship that they were willing to go that route even tho it would make them worse then Saddam.

Put Saddam in the context of where he actually belongs and then see what you can say about him.

http://fpif.org/papers/02power/index_body.html


http://www.monthlyreview.org/1203duboff.htm


Jonathan Dresner - 12/17/2003

Mr. Dyke,

I take full exception to your attempt to characterize me and others who agree that this was handled shoddily as supporters or admirers of Saddam Hussein. I am offended and outraged at your cheap, low attack.


Abe Pinchot - 12/17/2003

Jonathan Dresner,

I have nothing at all against raising "the level of discourse" (especially if I am being invited to raise mine, because of the validity of my views), but what I am not hearing yet from you or anyone else, is the frank acknowledgement that the obviously more important priority of HNN is to provoke heated debate of a type very commonly (in modern American culture at least) associated with incivility.

The ratcheting of the temperature often starts with a deliberately provocative or sensationalistic headline. The authors of the articles thus headlined rarely relativize, tone down, or explain these overhyped titles (in the body of the piece) in many cases it seems, because they did not write the headlines, but had them added to their already written articles after submission. In traditional print journalism where "audience feedback" is limited to a few often highly selected and abridged published letters appearing a day or two after the article they refer to, sensationalistic headlines and provocative articles are not normally also uncivil. In a dialogue of many people all together at once (and no one banging the gavel, directing the discussion, or answering raised hands) things are very different. This was, I think, very obvious years ago at HNN. By failing to even acknowledge the real structural essence of the problems of incivility and rancorous irrelevance, let alone address them, you and other HNN article writers are unfortunately contributing to a process that is helping to drive away the sorts of more senior potential mediators who (as you point out) work on an often voluntary basis at places such as H-Net. I appreciate your non-executive position at HNN, the budget limitations of any relatively new venture, and the positive intent of your well-meant, if frankly rather token, case by case interjections, but why not at least admit, if not discuss, the real core of the problem: dramatic incivility, for Jerry Springer and HNN, is one excellent way of attracting attention and building up "ratings".


Richard Dyke - 12/17/2003

Mr. Dresner is right on target. The photography on Saddam Hussein was fully intended to debase, humiliate, defame, and demystify him. It was victor's revenge. Whether you feel sorry or not depends on whether you liked him BEFORE, or not.


C.R.W. - 12/17/2003


I have trouble believing that the Iraqi public would have been so accepting of the possibility that the tyrant who so viciously terrified and humiliated them for so long could have actually been safely and legitimately detained had they not witnessed the humiliatingly necessary processing which he, himself, was forced to undergo at the hands of *his own* captors.

The stark visual reality of the details surrounding his processing made it that much less likely that Hussein's custody would be questioned.

I appreciate everyone else's concern for Hussein's rights, the image/honor of our military, and the entirely accurate points concerning the shortcomings of the administration with regard to handling the aftermath of the war and its P.R. I agree with Professor Dresner that we will have to agree to disagree for now, and just wanted to post the preceding paragraphs out of a hunch that there was still a better way to state my interpretation of the CPA's actions. I doubt I can sum up my initial and current agreement with their decision to broadcast better than that, and hope that whatever impact that idea has will be digested along with all the valid opposing arguments, until such time as we are able to contribute anything more illuminating to the matter.

Thanks Everyone.


C.R.W. - 12/17/2003


I would surely agree with you that the administration/DOD has consistently underplanned for dealing a large number of predictable outcomes during the course of the war.

Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it. ;-)


C.R.W. - 12/17/2003


"and if you did not mean to insinuate that any Catholic official's opinion is defective because some Catholic priests are or were pedophiles"

Protecting the pedophiles was policy. Was it "official" policy? I don't know. I know there is a hierarchical structure and lower officials are generally not authorized to deviate from whatever policy is outlined, stated, or informally adhered to by higher officials.

In any event, this rhapsody has long since deviated from what most of the posters are interested in, so I feel that your concerns have been adequetly addressed and look forward to debating issues on the merits of the arguments in the future.

And I would like to express my appreciation to Professor Dresner for his consistent appeals to analysis, lest it get lost in personal attacks or overheated rhetoric.


C.R.W. - 12/17/2003


Defend its relevance after TWENTY years and three subsequent changes in administration. Things have long since changed in the Middle East (and all over the world).

It's about as relevant to the Democrats as showing a picture of Nixon.

It's not unfair, it's irrelevant. Even moreso with Hussein in U.S. custody. Once Albright's colleagues remove Kim Jong Il from power then Clinton's policy in N. Korea will be vindicated.


Dave Livingston - 12/17/2003



Who are you Fred Ferrel, to refer to Bush as "Chickenhawk?" What are your credentials of wearing the uniform? And if you disapprove of the Guard unit in which he served, then perforce you disapprove of the son of Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen, who served in the same unit as did Geo. W. And too then you must rail against the son of Democratic Governor John Connelley, who also had a son to serve in that same unit. Oterwise, your complaint is pure partisan B.S.

D.L.,

Lieutenant, 1st Ifantry Division, Viet-Nam, 1966-7; Captain, 101st Airborne, Viet-Nam, 1969-70 & one subsequent to being WIA hauled back all the way across the Big Pond on a stretcher. Whoee, talk about miserable trips, that was one. But the experience taught me what a jerk Dr. Jack Kervorkian is with his murders of people feeling depressed.


Willie Paterson - 12/17/2003

Dave is the guy who defends My Lai and other US war crimes and then has the nerve to suggest the US should invade Iraq and look for Saddam.

Hey Dave, let's talk about Vietnam. Did you forget that Nazi war friend and comrade?


Dave Livingston - 12/17/2003

Caleb,

Your mentioning the Bastard from Hope reminded me of George Will's assessment of his Presidency, "Clinton isn't the worst President we've ever had, but he is the worst man to ever serve as President."


Caleb - 12/17/2003

NYGuy,
"Bush's actions have created a defining moment in history and all the angry liberal can do is repeat an old mantra. Because of his vision the world now looks to Bush for leadership."

The old mantra is that the American people were led into this war under false pretenses. Had we won the war with zero casulties, zero cost (relatively) and captured Saddam on the first day, it would not change the facts, nor would it change the "old mantra." Therefore, the capture of Saddam, while wonderful for the Iraqi people and for President Bush, does nothing to alter the reality of why some people oppossed this war.


Dave Livingston - 12/17/2003

David,

I don't give a hoot about what French politicians think, but the French as a people are more than O.K., I having been there several times.


John - 12/17/2003

I can think of nothing more partisan and hypocritical, nothing so transparently bias, than conservatives complaining about how unfair it is to use that 1983 photo! If it were a Democrat in that photo, can there be any doubt- seriously folks- ANY DOUBT that it would be all over the news, in every political commercial and cries for resignation? Can there be any doubt that it would be used against ALL liberals, just as anti-war marches have been?

Seriously, the people on this post are honest and intelligent people, don't you find anything a little unfair about all this? Defend the picture, defend the rationale for the current Secretary of Defense to meet with Hussein, and by all means, point out how Albright met with Kim Jong Il (which she did and is often used by conservatives against her) as defense, but please, in all fairness, do not suggest that it should be ignored, or out of bounds for discussion.


Caleb - 12/17/2003

1) "Bush's actions have created a defining moment in history. Because of his vision the world now looks to Bush for leadership."

I have seen no evidence of this anywhere.

2) "As I have pointed out in the past it is not what angry liberals think it is what world leaders believe."

Some would argue that it is not what world leaders believe, it is what the people in those countries represent believe, especially in the democratic countries.

3) "By the way Bush's support is soaring not only in the US but throughout the world."

Again, I have seen zero evidence for this, although his poll numbers in the US did shoot up upon the capture of Saddam- certainly predictable. The long term trend in the polls however only goes down, with a few ticks whenever something good happens.

4) "He is making the world a safe and improving place economically for all countries."

Argueable. But I don't buy it.

5) "I think he will go down in history as the George Washington of the 21st century."

Also argueable, but to me, this is more partisan adulation than serious analysis (no offense intended). Many people thought the same about Reagan, others thought the same about Clinton (both sides acqusing the other of blind loyalty to a criminal). If Bush is the best we will have for 100 years, I think that really says something about the quality of our futures, but that's just me.


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Steve,
I think you are confusing liberals who were against the war, and people who were against the war who might also have been liberals. The war in Afghanistan was hailed by almost the entire Congress, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, as well as numerous so-called liberals in that most hated of liberal areas: Hollywood.

Yes, I am aware there were many radicals out protesting there who call themselves liberals when they are really radical liberals, as they are against ALL war for any reason and at any time. The most liberal president we might have ever had, Lyndon Johnson, faced similar protesters that contemporary partisans also call liberals.

When black people are murdered out of hate or homosexuals are attacks, I would never think of using it as proof for what the conservative believe in, even if the perpetrators happen to be conservative.

I supported the war in Afghanistan 100% and so did every liberal I know. The fact that these same liberals are being bashed at every turn for being unpatriotic only gives legitimate fodder to the anger liberals feel about being stabbed in the back for partisan reasons by our so-called conservative compatriots. It is almost as if opposition to any conflict means you have to be against ALL conflict. Iraq is not Afghanistan, and it is not Germany or Japan either. It is not Korea and it is not Kosovo. It is a conflict that many people in the world were against.

What amazes me is the audacity to blame the liberals for pessimism when a) many in the administration also predicted certain humanitarian disasters that never came, yet unsurprisingly, no one called them naysayers, and b) while I am sure some will deny this fact or dismiss it, many military analysts, politicians, journalists, and Iraqis believe that America was simply not adequately prepared for the reconstruction of Iraq.
Of course, they are all simply liberal peaceniks, right?


Dave Livingston - 12/17/2003

Professor Dresner,

It appears to me you'd grumble about practically ANYTHING Bush did or said. Typically, most folks out there in Left field are so frustrated that so many voters are supportive of Bush & his policies, that Lefitist notions are found wanting, especially in light of the success of Bush's tax cuts giving a big boost to the economy, the DOW has soared through 10,000, at least for the nonce, the campaign in Iraq is showing more success. IMHO not nearly the attention has been paid to the factor that much of the supposed opposition to our occupation of Iraq comes from non-Iraqi militant Islamists who've gone there specifically to fight us & are not welcomed guests of Iraqis, rather most unwelcome ones. Indeed, that they are unwelcome is a major factor in our recent success, native Iraqis are increasingly assisting us in tracking down foreigners who are a principle cause of the disturbances in Iraq.


NYGUY - 12/17/2003

Good Post Steve. After we elected a lawyer for President is it any wonder why every one wants to be a lawyer and win their case.

My background is as an analyist and as such one of the first things you do is prioritize items and focus on the major forces that will shape the future. Since no one has proved anything about the photo in question, despite the "opinions" of dozens of experts, this accusation has no merit in the long term outlook for history. But, in the area of "Publish or perish" an item like this can take on a life of its own.

Do you wonder why I talk about the real world?

Bush has crearted a "defining moment in world history" and none in the history profession have recognized it. So much for history as a predictor of the future.


NYGuy - 12/17/2003

Bush's actions have created a defining moment in history. Because of his vision the world now looks to Bush for leadership.

As I have pointed out in the past it is not what angry liberals think it is what world leaders believe.

By the way Bush's support is soaring not only in the US but throughout the world. He is making the world a safe and improving place economically for all countries.

I think he will go down in history as the George Washington of the 21st century.


NYGUY - 12/17/2003

Meo,

Bush's actions have created a defining moment in history and all the angry liberal can do is repeat an old mantra. Because of his vision the world now looks to Bush for leadership.

As I have pointed out in the past it is not what angry liberals make up it what world leaders believe.

By the way Bush's support is soaring.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/17/2003

Mr. Brody,

I am not concerned about Saddam Hussein's welfare. Give me a break, please. Honestly, if I thought he was thinking that far ahead, I would argue that his surrender was his final revenge on us: forcing us to figure out what to do with him, instead of solving the problem for us by getting himself killed.

I am concerned about the state of our national soul. I am worried that our haphazard approach and our contradictions will create precedents that others will follow (or at least cite) to our detriment. It is not Saddam Hussein's dignity, but ours, that is at risk.

Is it not perverse that the liberators, the bringers of justice, should be the ones violating 2500-year old principles of dignity and fairness? Is it not ironic that the most powerful military in the world can't plan ahead for the nearly inevitable success of one of their highest priority missions? Is it appropriate for the US to say, "well the ends justify the means" when that is precisely the attitude which justifies terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and all the evils which we so rightly fear and oppose?

Perhaps it is a small thing. But that doesn't mean that doing it poorly isn't a bad thing.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/17/2003

Mr. Pinchot,

Yes, I'm inconsistent: I task those people whose incivility I notice in discussions that I care enough about to read. Believe it or not, I often target people whose points I agree with, because I want those points to be made effectively, not dismissed as hotheaded slander. And I don't like to go back too far in the discussion, either, since an intervention that isn't current is likely to be even less effective.

I don't know about comparative budgets between H-Net and HNN (though I think H-Net is way in the lead), but I do know that H-Net's moderation is done by hundreds of volunteers, scholars who donate considerable quantitities of their time to edit and approve posts. That is facilitated by the e-mail structure, which provides a natural filtration point between submission and distribution.

I'm not opposed to a moderated discussion. But I'm not going to give up on HNN or stop trying to raise the level of discourse just because it's not in place.


Abe - 12/17/2003

Okay, Dr. Dresner. Formality is not civility, but if makes you happier, fine with me.

I will not haggle over the relative incivility of me versus CRW since you have taken both of us to task and not without some slight justification. (Perhaps a comparative scale is needed, might I suggest the “Heuisler Index” ?). I will look forward to your vigorous defense of Gus Moner should he ever return here to say that the Israelis never "gave a damn" about the human rights of Palestinians, or words to that effect, as "perfectly legitimate political commentary". The important things about CRW's criticism of the French are not the probably intended insult to Stemler (who it will be noted, was the one who initiated insults on this page - but do you seriously think he thought he was deviating from fundamental tenor of HNN ?) nor the probably insinuated blanket stereotyping of French people in furtherance of the insult. The much more significant points to note are that criticizing the French was plainly irrelevant to the original article, and obviously helped to further provoke a series of additional irrelevant comments. The examples of irrelevant threads of this type are so frequent (and often longer, more irrelevant, and less civil than in this case), one is almost tempted to conclude that they are THE main goal of HNN. Hits über alles.

I accept your experience as an historian and with the HNN staff. You points about mediated discussion nevertheless remain very unconvincing to me. H-Net manages to mediate their lists, without begging members for money, and I doubt that the overall budget per message posted is much different than on HNN. If you have numbers showing otherwise, please disclose them. As I see it, it is a question of quantity versus quality, and HNN has consciously, decisively, and quite clearly chosen the former over the latter. That means long, often poorly informed and "uncivil" shouting matches of political partisans, debate team practicers, and cranky retirees instead of the crafted insights of scholars and politely interested members of the general public. We don't get much explanation as to ultimate reasons and motivations here from the editor, or the board, but there is little question in my mind that if they cared as much about "incivility" as you appear to, they would have done something effective against it years ago.

"Abe"


Stevce Brody - 12/17/2003



Dr. Dressner, do you not see anything perverse in your suggestion, at a time when many of the mass graves of Saddam’s victims are still undiscovered, that what really needs to be investigated are the circumstances surrounding the video taping of his scalp examination?

Do you really think it appropriate, while millions of Iraqi’s are now discovering the horror, at Saddam’s hand, that befell long missing family members, that you should suggest that it is our military that is “trying to get away with something improper and damaging without getting caught at it.”

Do you not see any irony in all of the outpouring of concern that the genocidal monster may have been “humiliated” by the filming of the collection of his DNA?

Dr Dressner, isn’t it obvious to you that, with the exception of a few anti Bush posters here at HNN, this is an issue that nobody cares about?

Or perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps the whole world seethes with rage at the “inhumane” treatment that the monster has received.


Abe - 12/17/2003

CRW,

My comment "...vs wishful thinking" was mainly directed at Mr. Dresner's remarks about "unnecessary incivility" (as criticism of me !) not about your "bigotry" (Dresner's terminology again, which I adopted mainly in order to save space, "biased" would probably better describe many of your voluminous postings). In any event, if you meant French government instead of French people, you could have said so, and if you did not mean to insinuate that any Catholic official's opinion is defective because some Catholic priests are or were pedophiles, you might have made that explicit. Whatever I "awakened", if it leads towards careful precision and away from broad inflammatory generalization, I'll consider it an improvement, and would assume that Dresner would concur.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/17/2003

Mr. Pinchot
(if we've met, I don't remember it, but I'm not on a first name basis with most of the posters here),

First, the C.R.W. comment which you cite as uncivil is perfectly legitimate political commentary, in my view. I'm not convinced that he's right about the French, but that's a matter of fact and interpretation for discussion. And there are many conflicts in the world which involve groups and deep-rooted hostility or competition for resources, or even oppression and violence. We must be able to talk about these conflicts frankly, and sometimes groups are responsible.

I have been a part of many discussions, on the boards and with HNN leadership, about the unmediated nature of these discussions. In the absence of a huge donation to HNN which would allow them to pay someone (several someones, given the 24-hour nature of the internet) to serve as mediator, the boards remain open. There is post-censorship, in the form of deletion, for comments which go beyond simple incivility to purely offensive speech, but only if someone brings the post to the attention of the HNN editorial staff, which does not have the resources to monitor these boards consistently.

Yes, I use exhortation and example to raise the level of discourse. It's not as effective, perhaps, as moderated access, but it's what I, as a citizen of the internet community, and a professional who enjoys the candor and range of these discussions, can do.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/17/2003

C.R.W.,

I'm not sure that intent is a necessary component of determining whether a rights violation has taken place. Rights can be violated unintentionally and rights can be violated (or at least abridged, if prior consideration is given as in a judicial warrant) to achieve "more important" goals, but the rights are still violated.

And, if you'll pardon a cheap political aside, your conclusion that "I'm not sure there was a more feasible way to accomplish this as successfully as it was under such short notice." is entirely typical of this whole mess: rushed, ill-considered, expediency at the expense of principle. They were looking for Saddam Hussein for over six months, right? In that time, they could easily have developed a plan, a procedure to be followed, and they could have consulted doctors, media specialists (we don't call them propogandists anymore), Arab culture experts, Iraqis. Capturing Saddam Hussein has been a high priority since the beginning, and they didn't plan out what they were going to do when they found him?

Sorry, this really is a small thing, but so powerfully revealing.


Steve Brody - 12/17/2003


About a month into the war in Afghanistan it started. The liberal pundits started saying, “we’re losing”. “This isn’t going well” “we’re not going to beat the Taliban”

A week later, the Taliban were gone, Karzai was in.

Then, in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, they told us, “Tens of thousands of US troops will die”. "Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s will die”

Never happened

Just before Operation Iraqi Freedom started, it was “we can’t do it without the 4th ID”, “we don’t have enough troops”

Wrong again

Once the war started, they told us “it not going well” “the supply lines are to long” “ we didn’t bring enough fire power” “shock and awe isn’t working.”

The Iraqi’s crumbled.

Then it was “the blood bath will start when we get to Baghdad”

Doh!

After major combat operations ended, they started again “Bush let 170,000 artifacts be looted by mobs.”

Ooops.

Now we have, “Oh, Saddam Hussein was captured? The shit is really going to hit the fan now!”

Apparently liberal punditry is an occupation where a solid record of being galactically wrong doesn’t hurt one’s credibility.

Never right, but never in doubt.


C.R.W. - 12/17/2003


When most people think of bigotry, they believe that a group of people possess inherently negative traits. The fact that I said "for at least 12 years or so now" indicates that I don't view the lack of regard with which the French government or society addresses a realistic assessment of the Iraqi people or their needs, as an endemic or immutable trait.


C.R.W. - 12/17/2003


...although if that's the case it comes at the expense of ignoring Ricardo Stemlers precipitating comment referring to Amerikans (sic) as "louts and oafs."

If we presume the back and forth banter to be based on a disdain for specific cultural values then this is a game Ricardo started weeks ago on a different post, as I'm sure many will remember. As for my own use of the term "the French," anyone adept at using the English language understands that a reference to nationality, when preceded by the definite article, can substitute for its government. There is no "American" ethnicity to speak of when one refers to actions taken by "the Americans" as a way of speaking of their government. Further, I never noticed that "the French" as an ethnic group constituted a targetted or persecuted minority. "The French" are a multicultural society too large to feign indignation at a reference that is too broad to refer to anything other than their society or government at large.

Nice try, but still pretty pathetic overall.

Now let's get over it. The offending remarks were stated one time many posts ago, and the discussion has been continued in a different direction and toward other topics by virtually every other poster. If it continues to remain an issue for you alone, then I hope my remarks in this post allow you to feel comfortable putting it to rest. However, if it persists, then I can only assume that the indignation is feigned, and I'm afraid there's nothing more that can be said.

Bon nuit.


Michael Meo - 12/17/2003

Most Europeans think Bush has made the U.S. dangerous to world peace.

Most citizens of the U.S., according to polls, think the U.S. is no safer thanks to your paragon's policies.

By asserting that this is probably a minor victory in possibly a losing war, I "prove your point" that it has world-historical significance?

"shrug"


NYGuy - 12/17/2003

C. R. W.

You are so right. Since this adminstration has been masterful in the war on terror the angry liberals have to go to extreme lengths to try to undermine a great president. The story of the picture has no legs and will be forgotten in a couple of days. Bush's great leadership however will be heraled in history books for years to come. Let them blow off some steam it is better than having them jump out of windows.


NYGuy - 12/16/2003

Michael,

You prove my point. Bush has made this world a better and safer place and the world agrees with him. Pretty good for less than three years in office. Imagin how great our country will be in his second term.


Michael Meo - 12/16/2003

Please, NY Guy, touch base with reality.

Yeah, this thread is pretty picky, and the main issue is being ignored (although it was dealt with pretty succinctly in the posted article).

Please wait a decent interval before proclaiming "world historical significance" to what may well be a minor victory in a losing war.


Ralph E. Luker - 12/16/2003

Caleb, Can't you see that the quote from Time solves nothing? You've heard of medics? The quote from Time proves nothing one way or the other.


Abe Pinchot - 12/16/2003

“Bigot” (according to Websters) is “one intolerantly devoted to his own church,party, belief, or opinion”

CRW’s comment above - one of the first on this screen of comments (http://hnn.us/comments/26155.html ) - would seem to be a fairly clear example, if not, perhaps, rising quite all the way to your proposed standard of “evidence of blatant bigotry”:

“The French have shown a great willingness to not give a damn about the needs of the Iraqi people (not to mention, a bizarre compulsion to work actively against them), for at least about 12 years or so now.”

If you don’t think this is bigoted, try substituting “Jewish Israelis” for French and “Palestinians” for Iraqi people, or “American blacks” followed by “Asian immigrants in LA”, if that helps make CRW’s uncivil, unwarranted, and biased stereotyping more obvious.

I note further your unwillingness to reply to Quentin Public’s advocacy of editorial monitoring for “relevancy, historical competency, and contribution to an informed dialogue. Had his proposed policy been in place, CRW’s slam on the French, and the prior slam on American “imperialists” would have never appeared, due to their obvious irrelevancy and non-constructiveness (Cole’s original article had nothing to do with France’s Iraq policy and said nothing about the medical exam of Saddam).

Omitting those two early comments would have prevented most of subsequent “uncivil” posts, clearly a traceable outgrowth of these original irrelevancies, from ever showing up in the current sets of comments.

You dislike the incivility of comments posted here, Jonathan, but are evidently unwilling to even consider the most obvious solution.

My solution above was to use hyperbole to underscore CRW’s uncivil wholesale generalized slams. You consider this “name-calling”, by some logic or definition which I am unable to follow. I would nonetheless be more than willing to drop that tactic in favor of proper editorial screening of posts. Is there any other feasible alternative ?

Your solution to the problem of uncivil posts appears to be moral exhortation combined with the power of the positive example.

Is there any evidence of that ever really working here at HNN ?

Would the HNN editor want it to work ?

Are HNN’s headlines fashioned to promote civility ?

You can decry the frequent downward spirals of incivility, or you can refuse to question the basic structural flaws of HNN. I fail to see the logic of doing both simultaneously.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


I don't know if it's still up on the website, but one place it was broadcast (aside from all over the world), was at a briefing by Paul Bremer on behalf of the CPA in Iraq. There were Iraqi journalists who looked up and shouted "Saddam!" There were pictures of Iraqi journalists crying afterward as they were overwhelmed with the emotion they felt at seeing what to them was unequivocal proof that the man who so brutalized, terrorized, and terrified them was now safely being held under U.S. custody. It doesn't get any more real than that. The need to convince Iraqis that the military *had* Saddam was overwhelming, it outweighs his right to dignity under such narrow circumstances, and it worked.


Caleb - 12/16/2003

The following is a post I made earlier in this article that I find useful now:

"TIME simply says this of the ordeal:
"It was soldiers from the Raider Brigade of the Army's 4th Infantry Division who dug him out of the 8-ft.-deep spider hole... His captors picked through his shaggy hair, the raccoon beard. They scraped his throat, checked his teeth." http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/12/15/timep.capture.tm/index.html

Thus, they were not doctors and were not bound by medical ethics, only military rules. I hope that helps settle this issue.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


I credit you for showing that at this point the converse can't be conclusively proven either, Dr. Dresner. But one important element in establishing a breach of someone's rights (under most systems of law, I'm sure Geneva included) that would be harder to construct is intent. Did the military intend (merely) to humiliate Mr. Hussein by broadcasting the tape? We don't know for sure, and that lack of knowledge is compounded by the fact that I sincerely believe that the stark visual reality of Mr. Hussein's circumstances regarding his custody provided Iraqis sorely needed evidence that his capture could not have been a hoax. Why would the U.S. military be conducting such procedures on anyone else? The before, during, and after photos (and the videotaped context linking them) provide evidence that he was disguised while in hiding and has now been groomed while in custody to resemble his former self. Both before and after photos are more plausibly believed to be the same person and not a substitute at either stage because a videotape links the images visually.

As humiliating as one might claim it to have been, I do believe the military had a case that resolving any outstanding doubts among the Iraqi public regarding Hussein's circumstances had implications for security, for the success of the governing council, and therefore the success of the operation. As such, the right to broadcast it might be viewed as outweighing Mr. Hussein's right to dignity. I respect your view, but maintain that he was, again, no ordinary prisoner, and that the overwhelming need among the Iraqi public to trust that our apprehension and custody of Hussein is genuine, needed to be considered. I'm not sure there was a more feasible way to accomplish this as successfully as it was under such short notice.

Thanks.


Caleb - 12/16/2003

NYGuy,
Supporting one's country does not mean supporting the President, other than to the extend that he takes actions in benefit to this country. Theodore Roosevelt said that.


NYGuy - 12/16/2003

Bush's brillant efforts in fighting terror has created a defining moment in history. Of course there are always meaningless issues that get blown out of proportion which I believe is the case here. It has no legs and will be forgotten in about a week or less when the media finds another item to focus on.

What won't be forgotten is the great leadership of Bush in his fight against terrorism. And the world now understands it.


NYGuy - 12/16/2003

The media broadcasts the pictures around the world. So you see a large number of people disagree with you and many of them are liberals.


NYGuy - 12/16/2003

The media broadcasts the pictures around the world. So you see a large number of people disagree with you and many of them are liberals.


NYGuy - 12/16/2003

Bush achieved brillant results in his fight on terrorism and a few angry liberals go out of their way to try to undermine his great achievement. What is particularly laughable is that thise losers now want to give Bush advice. Since they don't know what is going on how can they give any meanful advice.

The Bush's leadership and the capture of Saddam is one of the major defining moments in the history of the world. Let us stop the nit picking and see if the liberals can say something meaningful. I understand they know all about the past but we are now living in present and the future. We have a safer and more prosporous world because of Bush's leadership. Let's all start being good americans and support our country.


JQP - 12/16/2003


Fine, Caleb. Fair points.

But why broadcast moving pictures of the exam around the world ?


Jonathan Dresner - 12/16/2003

Mr. Pinchot,

I've read a great deal of C.R.W.'s comments over the last few weeks (months? I don't remember exactly when s/he joined the board) and though I've often disagreed with both tone and content, I don't recall any evidence of blatant bigotry.

Your initial post was certainly worth discussing, in the light of the overall conversation, but there's no probative value in name-calling.


Jake Lee - 12/16/2003

When one posts dozens of comments per day, it can be hard to remember what one is talking about, especially if one is fairly clueless of recent history to begin with, and/or focused on distorting history for partisan purposes.

To recap the three previous posts in this thread:

1. In his first post, CRW voiced skepticism about the claim of some unidentified poster elsewhere, that Baathists today were a "small minority" not a "mass movement", pointing out (correctly, in my judgement) that in Iraq today "a successfully rebuilt nation is far from a given."

2. In my response, I agreed, and further pointed out that the likely (not certain, but probable) ultimate failure of America's current “nation-building” in Iraq raises the historical question of why the Bush Administration did not plan more carefully, or work more consistently with international partners (like the rebuffed and insulted Canadians, for crying out loud) and potential financial backers, in pursuing this high risk venture to depose America's one time ally in the Mideast.

3. Instead of dredging up the usual lame Bush apologist excuses, such as "weapons of mass destruction" (Pakistan has fewer ?) "Al Qaeda links" (Saudi Arabia has fewer ?) for a sudden and unilateralist invasion of Iraq, Mr. CR now professes confusion as to my quite direct statement and question.


NYGuy - 12/16/2003

C.R.W.

The angry liberals are just scapping the bottom of the barrel seeking to cause some mischieve. Here are all these great historians telling us that they can predict current events from history and not one of them has realized that Bush and his team have created a defining moment in the history of the world with the capturing of Saddam. But in their anger they can not see straight and understand what is happening in the real world

How much more petty can they get. I bet they can go a lot lower.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


Maybe it would help if you view Stemler's remarks and the responses to them in the context of the annoying French chauvinism and anti-Americanism (complete with "best of/who's better" lists) he subjected many of us to just two weeks ago.

As far as the Vatican goes, I can't seriously name one of many Catholics I know personally who feels that every statement that is proclaimed by the Holy See is reflective of their own view personally.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/16/2003

C.R.W.,

The problem is that the converse questions are equally valid:

Is there any evidence that the medical exam wasn't being done by a medical worker who should be bound by confidentiality?

Is there any evidence the release was done with consent?

Wasn't there other tape that could have been released instead of the exam?

Isn't there virtue in preserving evidentiary materials until they can be brought out properly at trial, rather than tainting the potential jury/jurist pool (since we don't know what kind of trial he'll get)?

Can we grant, at least, that US authorities have the sense to know that doing something blatant would backfire? (Though I have to admit, the idea of the Saddam-bathroom-cam has a certain grotesque elegance, but in the long run it would probably create more support for him than embarassment.) That's why this is such an insidious issue: I think they're trying to get away with something improper and damaging without getting caught at it.

But frankly, I don't think that the issue is going to be resolved without further investigation: the ambiguity allows both of us to draw reasonable and opposed conclusions.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


1. Sorry. I must stand by my original contention that Saddam's capture was at least as important for Iraqi politics as it was for the U.S. I see no way that removal of the Baath regime from power (which is an event of far greater political magnitude to Iraq than who wins the next presidential election is the the U.S.) could be seen as symbolically assured without the capture of Saddam.

2. Manipulated, no. Although Saddam is probably, like most despots, somewhat delusional. I still don't understand what you mean by saying that he "had to resort" to the tactics he did in order to maintain power after the first Gulf War. Was Halabja (which occured before the Gulf War) just for kicks?

3. Again, I would have to refer you to the recent protests in support of Saddam in Tikrit. Apparently enough people feel emboldened enough to not mind shouting to the rest of Iraq that "Saddam is in (their) hearts, Saddam is in (their) blood!" You don't have to be in the majority to wield power over others.

(The Iraqi police, to their credit, responded with "Saddam is in our jail!")

4. This is speculative, and I'm not sure what you base it on. Whether it would have taken a different shade of tyrrany, I'm not sure, as I am unsure of what the significance would have been. It's also entirely possible a renewed tyranny would have been Ba'athists in everything but name.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


Sure thing. Here's the silence you've been waiting for.







Caleb - 12/16/2003

J.Q.P.,
For the record, I consider myself to be a liberal who opposed this war and oppose it still (I have just posted some of my reasons for this on another article). As someone who has NO intention of voting for Bush in 2004, not that I feel the need to defend my statements with any caveats, I can assure you, I would not have said it if I did not believe it.

I genuinely feel that Saddam's treatment was nothing more then euphoria of capturing him and an eagerness to get some footage out to confirm it as soon as possible. I do not believe it was "public humiliation" at all. The fact that he looked bearded, and weak is a result if his own choices over the past several months, not the outcome of prolonged incarceration by the US military.


Abe Pinchot - 12/16/2003

CRW,

Pending a web search for Moslems, Hindus, Jews, and Zoroastrians who might once in their lives have suggested a flaw or two in George W. Bush's Iraq policy, maybe you would like to make your anti-Moslem, anti-Hindi, Anti-Semetic, and anti-Zarathustra-spake sneers and slanders now, in advance, so we can get it over with.


JQP - 12/16/2003



delete "far from it" from my final sentence above, which should read:

By the way, critics of Bush certainly have their recurring flaws too, but they do not seem to have that particular flaw - "our 'side' is always correct, no matter what" - to the same extent as the pro Bush partisans posting here.


J. Q. P. - 12/16/2003


Caleb,

What was unnecessary was the public humiliation of Saddam on TV.
All the needed double-checking (pun intended and unintended) and evidencing to skeptical Iraqis that he really was Saddam etc. etc., could have been accomplished without the deliberate humiliation. That Saddam was a thousand times worse in the way he handled his captives, does not excuse America mishandling him.

Otherwise, I see nothing else so far wrong with the handling of Saddam's capture, but that particular aspect was a mistake and there is no good reason for C.R.W. et al to go on and on ad nauseum trying to dream up excuses for the inexcusable. As if questions about how America's foreign policy should be run is some kind of sports match where your side (the Bush Administration) has to fight every inch of the way in order to
ensure maximum chances of "winning" against any and all critics, left, right, center, foreign or domestic. When a mistake is made, admit it, and move on, already.

By the way, critics of Bush certainly have their recurring flaws too, far from it, but they do not seem to have that particular flaw - "our 'side' is always correct, no matter what" - to the same extent as the pro Bush partisans posting here.



C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


There's certainly no better source for overstating the rights of criminal maniacs than the Catholic Church. But in all fairness, I'll hold off on responding to a statement from the Vatican until any evidence emerges that Saddam may have been a pedophile, too. I'm sure that's when we can expect they'll provide us with an even more vigorously mounted defense of him and his sickness.


Caleb - 12/16/2003

C.R.W.
You ask if anyone agrees with the statement:
"The capture of Saddam is probably more important for US politics than for the Iraqis."

I have to say that I do. I believe it to be a misconception that the Iraqis that are against us must be for Saddam. Many Iraqis want neither (note: I say many, not most or all).
The following article talks about how bin Laden is using Iraq to be the battleground against America. The arrest of Saddam will, however have huge benefits for Bush (even though it changes nothing about the intelligence of this war as far as I am concerned).
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3660179/

2) "I'm not incredibly sure of this, but I would feel safe to assume that "*forced* to rule by sheer terror" is a stretch."

I believe the author was using the force to describe how that was the only way he could on to power, just like Stalin. I don't believe the author was trying to imply that he was somehow manipulated into being a murdering despot. He simply had to resort to that to maintain his power.

3) "There's no reason to disbelieve that his two rapacious sons could have provided at least another generation of similar rule. The Tikriti clan was a tough bunch, as we can see, and formed the core of the loyalty to which the Republican Guard was committed. I believe the author underestimates the tribal ties that bind alliances in Iraqi society."

I think once Saddam fell, the people would never have allowed his to return and set up a new terror apparatus. Saddam was popular only among a number of Sunni Iraqis, which represent a small part of the country. The rest of the country is, I believe, glad to be rid of him and would not be eager to see his return.

4) "There are many far from stable possibilities which could wind up doing little more than paving the way for a return to Ba'ath rule.

I sincerely doubt that although I do believe that there are many far from stable possibilities which could wind up doing little more than paving the way for a return to tyrannical rule. Whichever form that takes, I do not believe it would have been Ba'athist.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


"He was clearly recognizable even with the beard."

I guess that's the needed proof that it couldn't have been one of the many body doubles. The body doubles never wore beards. Ergo, it was Hussein. Clearly.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


Does this have anything to do with my post?


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


I would have no problem with videotaping the entire DNA extraction procedure all the way through gel electrophoresis. The more evidence the better - he'll be going on trial eventually.

Y chromosomal DNA is preserved through all male paternal siblings, antecedents (and heirs). Hopefully the bioidentity (beyond suspicion) of Uday and Qusai have been preserved since I don't know how many other possibilities exist. But if they do, samples taken previously from presumably Hussein himself would not be necessary.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


Harvesting of buccal tissue swabs for purposes of bioidentification is hardly a standard component of necessary medical treatment, and in only slightly less infrequent instances, diagnosis. I've seen it done on Oprah to ascertain the questionable paternity of deadbeat dads.

If you want to argue the humiliatingly violative nature of broadcasting a videotaped examination for lice, or for a dental examination which might have served more ostensibly for purposes of identification, as well, then let's take it from there.


Caleb - 12/16/2003

John,
I don't disagree with your recommendation of international principles (so long as they can be conformed to Iraqi standards of punishment, if they opt to use the death penalty).

However, you statemene that "he was clearly recognizable even with the beard" is meaningless, as is your accusation that he was being used for "politically-motivated photo ops."

I don't recall anyone being in the picture with Saddam as to accuse them of simply using a photo-op. In fact, I find this entire debate to be rather silly in light of the more serious issues of war and peace, occupation and insurency that would seem much more important than whether or not Saddam was shown too soon to the public or in an embarassing way. Nevertheless, what do you believe was the best way to handle his capture?


John Quentin Public - 12/16/2003


The proper way to handle the captured Saddam is to put him on trail in accordance with international principles, and in such a manner that will be conducive to a maximum disclosure of what he knows and what he did. He was clearly recognizable even with the beard. Using him for politically-motivated photo ops is foolish and wrong. The outpouring here of weird rationalizations for this mishandling simply shows the shallow thought processes of the comment writers.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


Let's restate all pertinent items regarding the Hussein tape and its release:

1. Is there evidence that the technician was a physician?

2. Is there evidence that Hussein's permission was not sought?

3. Is there reason to believe that release of the video was intended merely to debase Hussein, rather than to reassure the Iraqi public that evidence linking the identity of the captive to Hussein was properly procured?

4. Is there seriously any reason to doubt that videotaped documentation of the gathering of evidence linking bioidentification of Hussein to the man in custody would eventually become a matter of public record? I remind you of the incredibly slim likelihood that a war crimes tribunal would refuse to honor an attempt to subpeona and display any records that would otherwise be protected by medical confidentiality in proving that you have established the identity of a man who has killed and tortured millions.

If we wanted to debase Hussein based on his medical status, we could simply put a videocamera above the toilet in his cell, and broadcast the images around the world, or images of him showering, any time of day or night. The reason we don't do that is because it would be gratuitous and not necessary for allowing Iraqis and the world to put to rest any lingering doubts as to whether or not the man resting in U.S. custody has indeed been identified, to a scientific degree of certainty, to be Hussein. This was a one-time deal. If your aim is to humiliate someone you generally don't have a problem doing it over and over again on a persistent basis. In this case his humiliation was incidental, and based on a singular event.

I appreciate everyone who has contributed to restating each of these elements after they got lost in the emotionalized rhetoric of subsequent posters. I do not mind being considered close to the core of controversy on this side of the debate - it makes it more likely that I'm doing the job of contributing to more poorly understood, (but no less relevant), points of the discussion. If you disagree then simply find a way to successfully refute all of the 4 points above. Correctly addressing relevant issues is not something I could imagine that anyone would take offense to, myself included, and sincerely appreciate, as well, any efforts that are directed with at least that aim in mind.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/16/2003

Mr. Livingston,

Pleased as I am to have your support on the important question, I have to disagree with your assessment of the "Good Riddance" debacle. How many newspapers used that headline? How many news stories started with that quote? Sure, if the president were speaking informally, privately, I'd be willing to discount it. But he was speaking publicly, as President, and I think he and his handlers were looking for a chance to get that line out so it could be the headline (which is why it didn't fit the question all that well).

Nor have I seen any indication that the administration thought it was a misstatement or in poor taste or evidence of prejudgement or any such qualifier. It was a deliberately constructed and implemented sound bite, and he should be held responsible for it.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/16/2003

C.R.W.

I got it the first time: there is a good reason for videotaping the process. But the idea that the DNA analysis will be more convincing to anti-American skeptics because we showed the sample collection (if, in fact, that's what it was; I didn't think the tongue depressor was the preferred implement for that procedure) is absurd: did we also videotape the entire process of the sample through the lab, and where is the comparison sample coming from?

And you may disagree with me, but I see a difference between making light of an obscure pseudonym and derogatory comments about someone's actual name.


Caleb - 12/16/2003

Saddam Hussein was a Stalinist monster and I credit the Church for showing pity upon him and all of God's children.

For myself however, I have no such pity, especially for something so mundane as filming his mouth being inspected.

Have we become so sensitive to high-profile people that the bodies of women and children being carted off in Iraq are dismissed while the butcher who did it to them is sympathized with because his captors shows him in an embarrassing moment??

Perhaps they should have shaved him first, given him a suit, let him relax for a couple of days, and then asked if he would be comfortable enough to give a press conference.


Caleb - 12/16/2003

Ann,
I admire you going right to source, but I find it unconvincing to prove any wrong doing by American doctors for a few reasons:

1) The issue of medical privacy is never absolute, especially in the case of criminals, and even less absolute in wartime. Medical records can be supeanaed, and investigated, and medical exams as rutine as Saddam's are ruitinely done in public settings. As we speak, Rush limbaugh is trying tp prevent the release of his medical records by the courts.

2) We are not sure that the person looking at Saddam was a medical doctor who is bound by the oath and not an army specialist looking for anything hidden in his mouth. This would make the argument moot.

In fact, TIME simply says this of the ordeal:
"It was soldiers from the Raider Brigade of the Army's 4th Infantry Division who dug him out of the 8-ft.-deep spider hole... His captors picked through his shaggy hair, the raccoon beard. They scraped his throat, checked his teeth." http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/12/15/timep.capture.tm/index.html

In closing, I would like to look at a comment Mr. Stemler said:
"Bush belongs in a hole too but if he came to France, and needed medical care, he would be treated accorded to universally accepted medical standards."

Is this the same universal standards that used torture and murder of dozens of Algerian civilians between 1955 and 1957— which were both common and known to France's political leaders, including the late François Mitterrand (who in the 1980s and 1990s became France's longest-serving president)??

http://www.hrw.org/press/2001/05/france-0516.htm

America certainly has dirty hands when it comes to human rights, but you fool yourself, sir, if you believe the French are one bit better! Remember French Indo-China, otherwise known as Vietnam? I don't know if French school children have ever learned the old maxim, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, especially if those houses are busy with its own problems at home:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2806627.stm


Ralph E. Luker - 12/16/2003

Clever subject lining, "Jason." As if I claimed to be an m.d. or an expert in medical ethics! Really cool knockout line.


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/16/2003

"The photographing of a patient being examined by a physician, without the patients consent, DOES violate the Hippocratic Oath."

And yet we don't actually know that any of the conditions of the above statement actually pertain. Was it a physician, someone who has taken the oath? Was it without permission? Were it a physician, would the violation accrue to him if he had no say in whether it was filmed, since the physician had a positive duty under the Convention to render medical assistance? And so it goes. Moreover, the other posts of Ricardo Stemler demonstrates that he seems to have simply assumed that the person in the video is a physician -- he certainly cites no evidence to that effect. If he's a physician I hope he is more careful in his use of assumption and evidence vis-a-vis his patients.


Jake Lee - 12/16/2003


C.R.W.: "There are many far from stable possibilities which could wind up doing little more than paving the way for a return to Ba'ath rule."

Baathist-like tyranny in a new guise, is very good possibility, if and after a Republican is elected to the White House in 2004 (for the first in 16 years), and needs to put American deaths in Baghdad "behind him". What then, did America bankrupt its public finances and ruin its overseas alliances for ? (Under the son of a Bush blundering his way around Washington in his first term, and now trying to figure what to do next, since competent American intelligence and military forces, overcoming the incompetency of their top commander, have finally put a final end to the career of one of yesterday's tyrants.)


Abe Pinchot - 12/16/2003



http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=586&e
=2&u=/nm/20031216/wl_nm/iraq_saddam_vatican_dc


Cardinal Says U.S. Treated Saddam 'Like a Cow'
Reuters
Tue Dec 16, 8:04 AM ET

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A top Vatican official said Tuesday he felt pity and compassion for Saddam Hussein and criticized the U.S. military for showing video footage of him being treated "like a cow."

Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace department and a former papal envoy to the United Nations, told a news conference it would be "illusory" to think the arrest of the former Iraqi president would heal all the damage caused by a war which the Holy See opposed.

"I felt pity to see this man destroyed, looking at his teeth as if he were a cow. They could have spared us these pictures," he said...


Fred Ferrel - 12/16/2003


Yes, it makes me sick that this hypocritical chickenhawk with the old European last name has hijacked American foreign policy. We need to replace the wet-behind-the-ears frat boy in the White House who appointed Saddam's former buddy to head the Pentagon blown up on his watch. Even if he is just a token "leftist academic" for HNN, Juan Cole has it right this time.


John Quentin Public - 12/16/2003


Not without monitoring of these comment boards, for relevancy, historical competency, and contribution to an informed dialogue.

Clearly these are not the prime objectives of HNN, Mr. Dresner.


Tom Santos - 12/16/2003

Of course, when the "physician" was examining the scalp of Saddam, it was not for a medical purpose. No he was looking for weapons of mass destruction. You know VX, nerve gas, botulin, the works. It was not a medical intervention but HazMat team trying to protect us on main street from his weapons in his head.


R. Stemler - 12/16/2003

Well, that settles that does not it. I will leave you wonderful American alone for the rest of this year. Ask yourselves if Bush is a war criminal, if Kissinger was, if LBJ was, if your neocons who run American foreign policy get a pass for killing Iraqi innocents in an unlawful war.

Might makes right? Bush belongs in a hole too but if he came to France, and needed medical care, he would be treated accorded to universally accepted medical standards.

Enjoy your Enola Gay, murderers and war criminals.


Ann - 12/16/2003

I checked the Hippocatic Oath and found this portion:

"I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God."


Jason Oliver - 12/16/2003

Yes, I am not Jason Oliver. Yes I am a third year medical student in the Midwest. No, I am not a physician. No I am not an expert but...

I think R. Stemler is absolutely correct. IF Saddam was being treated by a physician, then he is entitled to normal procedures of confidentiality. It is highly irregular for a physician to allow, sans consent, the photographing of a patient. We are told that the patient's comfort must be primary. One of the primary manifestations of comfort is confidentiality and the right to privacy. The photographing of a patient being examined by a physician, without the patients consent, DOES violate the Hippocratic Oath. It is a form of damage to a patient. It is an egregious violation of privacy.

MR Luker is not an authority on medical ethics. To be fair, I don't think he is right about the Geneva Convention in that Saddam is not necessarily a prisone of war.

Yet R. Stemler who I have heard of is quite perspicacious folks.


dave levy - 12/16/2003

This thread is absolutely unbelievable--could really be a parody. A dictator responsible for the deaths of millions and torture of vast thousands is finally going to be brought to justice and this Stemler character waxes indignant about videotaping said tyrant's throat checkup. Leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. What's scary is that Stemler firmly believes in the righteousness of what he is saying. Would be funny if it wasn't so...


Dave Livingston - 12/16/2003

Because Saddam was known to utilize several doubles it was absolutely necessary for proper political reasons to determine past reasonable doubt that the man claiming to be Saddam was indeed he. Even so, we shouldn't deliberately debase him.

The hole in which Saddam was hiding was pathetic for a head of state, but a better hole than the few I dug for myself when fighting in Viet-Nam. For all Saddam was head of state, he was also, once-upon-a-time, a soldier innurred to the discomforts inherent to soldiering. So viewed from that angle his cowering in the hole isn't, shouldn't be, so very shocking.


Steve Brody - 12/16/2003


Does all this wailing about video of Saddam getting a scalp and mouth exam strike anyone else as desperation on the part of liberals to find something, anything negative in Saddam's capture?

As I've said before, liberals have gotten themselves into a predicament. What's good for America is now bad for liberals.


Dave Livingston - 12/16/2003



For a change of pace, I agree with Professor Dresner. I strongly agree that we should not have not out of our way to denigrate Saddam (or anyone else) once he was captured. To do so is the bully's manner and debaing someone else tends to cause debasement of oneself, splattered filth sticks to whomever it touches. Although a particularly nasty dictator Saddam nevertheless was the head of state of a major Arab state. And certainly there was good reason to document and to photograph every instant that Saddam is in our hands.

Perhaps too much is being made of Bush's casual "Good riddance" remark. It wasn't in good taste, but it isn't important either. Dwelling upon it is making a mountain out of a molehill. Yes, surely "we can make our points in a civil and more effective manner ." And we should strive to do so. But isn't Bush to be forgiven a casual remark of relief?


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003

"The capture of Saddam is probably more important for US politics than for the Iraqis."

Does anyone agree with this?


"The Baath Party and the Saddam cult of personality were spent forces by the end of the Gulf War, which was why Saddam was forced to rule by sheer terror. You don't have to put thousands of people in mass graves if you have a large popular mandate."

I'm not incredibly sure of this, but I would feel safe to assume that "*forced* to rule by sheer terror" is a stretch. He took his political inspiration was Stalin, he was a committed socialist Arab Nationalist early in his career as a dictator, and it sounds plausible that his slight shift to outright tyranny required little in the way of external coaxing, as evidenced by Halabja.


"So when Saddam fell, and when the Republican Guard tanks corps disintegrated last April, it was over with. Saddam could never have come back. His actual capture is just a footnote in Iraq."

There's no reason to disbelieve that his two rapacious sons could have provided at least another generation of similar rule. The Tikriti clan was a tough bunch, as we can see, and formed the core of the loyalty to which the Republican Guard was committed. I believe the author underestimates the tribal ties that bind alliances in Iraqi society.


"Of course, there are still Baathists, and some of the violence has come from them (as I have repeatedly suggested), but they are a small minority that knows how to rig bombs, not a mass movement."

In a society so fearful of violence, perhaps that's all that's needed. Does the author seriously believe that any Iraqi "movements" were both strong and broad enough pre-Iraqi Freedom to appeal to a sufficiently large and mobilized section of Iraqi society? Even in the immediate aftermath of the war, a successfully rebuilt nation is far from a given. There are many far from stable possibilities which could wind up doing little more than paving the way for a return to Ba'ath rule.


John Brown - 12/16/2003

Picking apart an article line by line like this was one of my favorite exercises when I was a freshman. A few of my professors were amused by my precocious wit. The better ones, though, encouraged me to offer a "bold thesis" of my own.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


This is 2003. Any criticism of our relationship with Hussein devoid of the context provided by the Gulf War and other time-dependent events (i.e. the gassing of the Kurds) is completely irrelevant. There is no way the Democrats would be so ridiculously stupid as to use the 1983 photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam when anyone associated with Clinton's legacy would provide numerous pictures of Madeline Albright meeting with Tariq Aziz to appease and be duped by the failed weapons inspection regime.

I've got a picture of Chirac meeting with Saddam in an Iraqi nuclear facility in the 1970s. It doesn't mean nearly as much as evidence of what the two were doing in the 1990s. Even a negative presidential campaign ad will fail if it ignores the time-dependent context of world events, so it's not too much to ask someone performing an historical analysis to be similarly considerate of such factors.

"It's the chronology, stupid."



Richard Henry Morgan - 12/16/2003

No, actually I think "buck naked" falls closer to disemination of photos of a digital rectal exam, than to photos of an examination of hair and mouth (and would thus be prohibited). Parading would continue to be verboten, even if the prisoner were dressed.


Ralph E. Luker - 12/16/2003

Richard, This is a legal parsing worthy of you. By your reading of the Geneva Convention language, I take it, it would be acceptable to disseminate pictures of a buck naked Saddam across the world, so long as he was not paraded buck naked through a public square in Tikkrit.


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/16/2003

...beggars would ride.

"and two nations' dirty laundry will be exposed"

Why two nations? Why not twelve? Pick another number, if you like.

"He was probably already irrelevant."

Then again, that leaves open the possibility that he was not irrelevant. Don't go out on a limb, now.

"may have been timid about opposing the US presence"

Then again, may not have.

"the Shiites may be emboldened"

Then again, they may not.

"They may therefore now gradually throw off their political timidity"

Then again, they may not.

"this one seems to me likely correct."

May, probably, likely. Gee, what an incredibly bold thesis. I can't think of a better example of domestic ideology driving conclusions in a subject far afield. As Julius Caesar once wrote: Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/16/2003

I beg to differ on the notion that release of pictures is a per se violation of the Geneva Convention. There is no such specificity in the Convention, and when I served in Humint, no such prohibition was communicated to us in our classes on the Law of Land Warfare.

There are some provisions that make the release of photos potentially problematic, but they are vague in the extreme.

Article III, Section 1 of the Convention Relating to Prisoners of War contains the follwing language: prisoners "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria."

Photos, per se, are not inhumane treatment.

Article III, Section 1 (c) contains the following prohibited conduct: "Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment"

One may argue whether photos of an examination of the hair and mouth by medical personnel counts as an "outrage" -- though perhaps a recorded digital rectum exam would more clearly qualify.

Article 12 contains the following language: "Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."

This is the most problematic. Clearly violative would be the parading of prisoners in public, or the public display of prisoners. The current case is close to the line, but not clearly over the line, I would say. The language of the prohibition suggests a concern with public display of the person, not his image. Dissemination of images that are clearly degrading would fall under conduct prohibited by Article II, Section 1 (c).




C.R.W. - 12/16/2003

Last word (hopefully) on releasing Hussein video

Since it still seems to generate controversy.


Q. Why are medical records/proceedings concealed?

A. (Short Answer) To protect someone's identity.

Now I want you to honestly tell me that you think that a simple "After" shot of Hussein, without any "Before" or "During" shots wouldn't have been received by Iraqis with a considerable degree of skepticism, or worse, disbelief bordering on outrage.

He was no ordinary prisoner. Revealing our documentation of the fact that we correctly established his identity was entirely appropriate. Harvesting cheek cell swabs for extracting DNA is hardly an invasive procedure, and airing it, far from gratuitous. Hussein's identity and the manner in which it was established was bound to become public record in any event, so you might as well get over it. Whatever leeway courts receive in the way of access to medically privileged information would have certainly applied in this case, and if consent, either on the part of Hussein or his physician, can't be waived for the purpose of a subpeona in a war crimes tribunal, then God help us.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


for contributing to the clarification. Photographing a patient is not a violation of any medical practice, certainly not the Hippocratic oath. I tried to do the previous posters a service by clarifying that the only action which could have possibly been construed as violative was the nature concerning the video's release.


R Stemler - 12/16/2003

Of corse I meant may NOT be harmed.

Disgraceful butchers and imperialists.


R. Stemler - 12/16/2003

You are totally mistaken although civil. A patient may be harmed emotionally or psychologically by a physician or put on display. No medical records, or examination may be disseminated without the consent of a patient.

This was a clear and gross violation of even basic elementary ethics. The examples you gave or most of them could be overridden with parental or guardian consent.

That physician is a disgrace and should be expelled from the field of medicine.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


For anyone who was alive during the trial of O.J. Simpson, you might remember that the proper procurement of forensic evidence can be hotly contested. The videotape is the best way I can think of to show that the man they caught was indeed the individual whose cheek scrapings provided cells matching known DNA samples of Saddam Hussein. Given the propensity in that part of the world for wild conspiracy theories, a poorly established tradition of any free and professional media, my aforementioned acknowledgment of body doubles and a fear on their part of Saddam's return should he have evaded capture, I believe the U.S. was perfectly justified in showing the Iraqi public whatever documentation is necessary to remove any doubt that material evidence establishing Hussein's identity did indeed come from the captured individual in U.S. custody.

"This is the DNA. Notice how it matches known samples from Saddam Hussein."

"And did the DNA come from the man in custody?"

"Yes."

"And how do we know that?"

The Iraqis may not be a California jury, but we're in no position to underestimate their need for not only the truth, but its establishment as scrutinized in a manner that removes any shadow of a doubt.

Plus, Mr. Dresner, if you don't like the nature of my response to the previous poster, perhaps you could actually read his post in whatever detail is required to notice his name-calling and scold him for beginning it.

Thanks.


Ralph E. Luker - 12/16/2003

R. Stemler's point about the release of pictures of Saddam Hussein being a violation of the Hippocratic Oath cannot, of course, be correct. The release of the pictures did violate the Geneva Convention's agreements about the treatment of prisoners of war and did so after administration officials had said that Hussein and other prisoners would be treated according to the agreements in the Geneva Convention. NyG's point that "liberals are angry" seems to be a mantra meant to end all discussions. GWB is a world historical genius; liberals are angry; people who disagree with me are not to be treated with respect. Nothing can be learned from them. No need to pay attention to them. Pitiful.


NYGuy - 12/16/2003

Great post Steve. Good analysis and perspective for the future.

The Saddam story becomes interesting. First the critizism was we have not captured him and when we do capture him the critizism shifts to what about the future of Iraq. Well, yes everything is about the future and there is uncertainty when we look ahead. What is new.

To look at the future however, we must consider all the forces that are at work in the world and they are currently working in favor of having a stable Iraq which will benefit the world. Will there be some problems. Yes there will be some, but a failure to improving Iraq and the lives of the people is not in the cards since it would benefit no one. That is the main point and squabbling over small details are only part of the bickering for political advantage.

Bush's war on terrorism is succeeding and that is good for the US which is the main point. Talking about Iraq and re-election of Bush is just part of the bickering for political advanctage.

Remember the slogan on a famous coffee shop in NYC:

"Keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole."


NYGuy - 12/16/2003


I don't know who took the pictures, we can only know who published the pictures. If there is something wrong with the picture than it is another example of the media looking for sensationalism, and ignoring some supposed codes of conduct. But this happens constantly. The story is not about the misconduct of the press, it is about a major event in history, and a monsterous killer being stopped.

Oh had we only stopped Hitler in the 1930's there would have been a lot less bloodshed in the 20th century.

Good Job coalition forces.

It seems for some there is no good deed that goes unpunished.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/16/2003

C.R.W.

Surely you can make your points without making fun of people's names? That's just puerile.

But you're both missing the point. Yes, there is a legitimate political and legal context for documenting nearly every minute of Saddam Hussein's early captivity, to provide clear evidence of his existence, health and treatment. But there was no good reason to choose specifically the medical exam as the portion to release to the public, unless they were deliberately trying to embarass and debase Hussein. I'm not going to argue that Hussein deserves particularly good treatment, but if we are going to stake our claim to being more humane and just than he, then we have to start acting like it. Taunting presidential comments (and by the way, "Good riddance" sounds a little like Saddam's sentence has already been passed down, or that he's just been thrown from power; it was clearly a soundbite in search of a question; and if you had the 101st Airborne, etc., looking for you, you'd find a hole to. Since the US president has the most advanced and hardened set of holes in the world, which Dick Cheney could tell him, it is unbecoming of Bush to use such petty turns of phrase when there are so much more damning things to say about Saddam Hussein.) and airing a medical exam should be beneath us.

We can make our points in a civil and more effective manner.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


And it would be another incredibly deft accomplishment for the Bush team if they're able to pull it off according to the timeline you lay out. But given the demands from so many interested parties that Saddam be tried in Iraq by Iraqis, how likely is it that their dismembered judicial system will have the capacity to proceed with such an event so soon?

Dean has already been incredibly weakened by this, to the benefit of Lieberman, and hopefully Edwards, the only one among them with an actual political future. Kerry and Gephardt never stood a chance, but still moreso than Kucinich, Braun, and Bookman from Good Times (I'm sorry, I meant Al Sharpton).


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


It's true. Doctors never need to document their findings. I made it up.

Although I'm sure you could attempt to argue that there's never a medical reason for documentation, that would be specious. The legal and procedural reasons for doing so, however, are incredibly relevant, even if lost on webnut ignoramuses. You could even argue that there was no medical reason for examining Saddam, just as there is no medical reason for examining a corpse or preforming an autopsy.

But forensic scientists don't exist for no reason.

The examination was at least largely in part for purposes of identification. It's certainly unfortunate if you can't understand that. Further, if you feel the Iraqi people aren't owed as much evidence as possible in the way of witnessing the fact that Coalition Forces correctly apprehended a brutal dictator with numerous body doubles, whose return to power was feared, then be a man, (not a juvenile), and try that argument out.

Otherwise, go re-try out some of those twisted air hand-to-hand scenes for your uncle, Bruce.


Jake Lee - 12/15/2003


Now that you've had your juvenile bashing of Doctors Without Borders, and America's oldest ally, France, and anyone else your feeble imagination can conjure up, do you actually have a relevant comment, mister initials ?

Was there a medical reason FOR filming the exam of Saddam ?


In no way do I condone Stemler's silly America bashing, but if his only contact with Americans is with rude ignoramuses like Confused Ridiculous Webnut, I can understand it.


Steve Brody - 12/15/2003

This article is a combination of misinformation and wishful thinking.

“They certainly allied with Saddam against Iran in the 1980s, and authorized the purchase of chemical and biological precursors.”

We did tilt towards Iraq in the Iran/Iraq war. What that amounted to was giving them some Iranian target intel. What we did not do is give or sell them significant amounts of conventional weapons or any chemical weapons. They were given Anthrax samples under a CDC program for research purposes, as were many other countries.

Saddam went to Russia, France Germany and China for his real weapons.

“.. two nations' dirty laundry will be exposed.”

I suspect many more than two countries will see their dirty laundry exposed.

“The Sunni Arab resisters to US occupation in the country's heartland had long since jettisoned Saddam and the Baath as symbols. They are fighting for local reasons.”

Pretty definitive statement. What does Prof. Cole back it up with? His own blog, one newspaper story by a Canadian reporter and his wife’s opinion. I must admit, I’m under whelmed. The pictures of pure joy on the faces of the Iraqi’s shown all over the world refute Prof. Coles assertion that Saddam had become irrelevant to the Iraqi people.


“But in the coming year the Democratic candidates just have to take off these kid gloves. I'd begin by asking some hard questions about Republican administrations' past relationship with Saddam.”

Prof. Cole’s insinuations that the Republicans are somehow responsible for Saddam are utter nonsense. Saddam, of course, bears the ultimate responsibility for his actions. But you must save some of the blame for the French, Germans, Russians and Chinese for selling Iraq so many weapons.

“…committed by Bush senior when he stood aside and let Saddam massacre all those Shiites in 1991, after they rose up in response to a Bush call for the popular overthrow of Saddam. The US military could have shot down those helicopter gunships that massacred Shiites in Najaf and Basra.”

Prof. Cole does have a point here. We should have shot down those helicopters. Everyone acknowledges this mistake. The problem for the Democrats is that they have no one to make that argument. How is Dean, the likely nominee, who based his candidacy on the notion that intervening in Iraq was a mistake, going to credibly argue that Bush, Sr. should have intervened? Dean will have no political standing to make that argument.

Plus, I don’t think running against a former President is likely to resonate with the American public.

“..guarantees Bush's reelection in November of 2004. Well, incumbents have great advantages, and most often do get reelected. But Saddam won't do it for Bush. In a way, the capture came too early for those purposes. It will be a very dim memory in October, 2004.”

This is my prediction: Starting in mid-summer, Hussein will be tried in Iraq. The trial will be televised and well reported throughout the world. The world will be treated to a steady flow of all the monstrous deeds that Saddam inflicted on his people. The coverage will be very dramatic and graphic. By the end, the world and the American electorate will be so disgusted with Saddam that no politician will dare to suggest that we shouldn’t have intervened.


C.R.W. - 12/15/2003


Just to cover all the bases (don't want to make Ricardo's mistakes). First off, I am not sure that the individual examining Hussein was a physician; it was initially reported that it was a medical technician. Second, although I understand that to the French public the medical status of a political figure might be inconsequential (especially with regards to mental function), it cannot be denied that there was an overwhelming interest on the part of the Iraqi public to know whether or not Saddam, once found, was alive or dead, and that his identity was unequivocally confirmed. Both of these details are best required through medical technology/examination.

If you disagree that access to information regarding the status of Saddam and the certainty of his identity (as well as visual proof that it was gathered legitimately), was not well within the rights of the Iraqi people, it wouldn't surprise me. The French have shown a great willingness to not give a damn about the needs of the Iraqi people (not to mention, a bizarre compulsion to work actively against them), for at least about 12 years or so now.


C.R.W. - 12/15/2003


Perhaps I should defer to the Oberlin trained historian in my estimation of the state of light capturing and imaging technology in Ancient Greece. Although I believe its existence would have greatly accelerated the development of medical advances. Unfortunately for the rest of us, had Hippocrates agreed with Ricardo, medical education as we know it could not exist. No publicly available texts for purchase, no live patient models, no photographs of pathological samples, or histological renderings. Just doctors without education. (Sorry - without "borders.")






Cram - 12/15/2003

"It is violative of the hippocratic oath for a physician to allow the photographing of a patient under his care."

Mr. Stemler,
Can you confirm this charge, because it sounds odd to me. Do you mean to say that patient's who are technically under the care of a doctor cannot be photographed? What if the patient is a child with cancer? What if the patient is in a coma? What if the patient is an infant? I have never heard of such a charge.

The hippocratic oath, to my knowledge, simply says that a doctor may do no harm to his or her patents. This has almost universally been interpreted to mean the prohibition of killing or torturing them, neither of which Saddam's doctors have done.


R. Stemler - 12/15/2003

The physician who attended President Saddam Hussein should be delicensed and frankly court martialed. It is violative of the hippocratic oath for a physician to allow the photographing of a patient under his care.

Note you gloating imperialists, that a physician was seen examining the scalp and the mouth/teeth of patient under his care. The professionalism of medical ethics is not restricted to those patients deemed noncontroversial.

I can assure you no physician of Doctors Without Borders would be on staff very long if she allowed the photographing and the public dissemination, without consent, of a patient.

You Americans are simply louts and oafs.

Ricardo Stemler


Cram - 12/15/2003

Mr. Cole,
I found your article to be well written and informative. I appreciate how you first disarm your detractors by acknowledging Saddam's numerous crimes and admitting how much of a Stalinist animal he was.

I also agree that the Democrats ought to be asking some very tough questions to Bush, including why was have found no WMD yet, and who is to blame for that, the intelligence community, or political leaders? Why did Bush allow almost 70% of the nation to believe that there was a link between 9/11 and Iraq before acknowledging that this is not the case? Why was the administration so unprepared for the post-Saddam reconstruction, and so miscalculating regarding the degree of difficulty?

These should not be partisan questions, even though they will undoubtedly fall along partisan lines. Vietnam split the Democratic party, and the Republicans would not hide their contempt for Nixon’s crimes. But today is not then Perhaps this is the Republicans revenge for so many Democrats siding with Clinton during his impeachment or perhaps it is just good to have one of their own in office.

Of course, I understand that many Republicans truly believe that this was the right thing to do (despite Bush’s comments in 2000 about his disdain for nation-building and the Republican antipathy towards "policing" the world), and I respect their opinions, even if I disagree with them.


Kurt - 12/15/2003

Mr. Cole, you have written a truely pathetic article. You know (and list)most of the reasons why Iraq, the middle east and the world are better off without Saddam. Yet the real problems in the world are because of - Republicans!.
You are an educated idiot.