End the Occupation Now
I STILL REMEMBER when I read a New York Times news story in February 1997 that left me shaken. Tapes of phone conversations made by President Lyndon B. Johnson had just been released. It turns out that in 1964, Johnson already knew that the United States could win the battles, but not the war, in Vietnam.
Johnson called the war"the biggest damn mess I ever saw" and said,"I don't think it's worth fighting for and I don't think we can get out." Though he viewed the war as pointless, he -- like all sitting presidents -- was unwilling to lose the war on his watch."They'd impeach a president...that would run out, wouldn't they?" he asked. Johnson also spoke emotionally about endangering American soldiers in Vietnam."It just makes the chills run up my back," he said to Sen. Richard B. Russell, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Russell responded,"It does me, too. We're in the quicksands up to our neck, and I just don't know what the hell to do about it."
For 10 years, Vietnam shadowed my student life. I believed the war was morally wrong; I thought it was unwinnable. But until I read that story, I never imagined that Johnson knew it as well.
Today, we are faced with a similar conundrum. The United States can win the battles, but it cannot win the war in Iraq. History teaches us that no occupation can last indefinitely. People are humiliated -- not only by depraved and violent interrogations as happened at Abu Ghraib prison -- but by the mere fact of being occupied. They inevitably resist.
Many people in Washington surely know that the war in Iraq is unwinnable and that, sooner or later, the United States will have to leave. As a sitting president, however, George W. Bush, who promoted a unilateralist pre-emptive foreign policy, is not likely to concede defeat and lose the war in Iraq on his watch.
That is why Sen. John Kerry must offer an alternative. As Bush's Democratic challenger, he has to pledge that if he's elected president, he will end the war by calling upon the international community to help Iraq hold early elections and by setting a date for an orderly and phased withdrawal of American troops.
If Kerry refuses to do that, then he, too, could turn into a sitting president who would also be reluctant to lose a war on his watch.
Why should the occupation end? Because WMDs have never been found, which was the reason the president said it was necessary to invade Iraq. Because Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's incompetent planning sent too few troops to prevent widespread looting or to maintain electricity and the water supply. Because this was a war of choice, not of necessity. Because most of the Iraqi population now views Americans as occupiers, rather than as liberators. Because photographs revealing brutal and humiliating atrocities committed against Iraqi prisoners have shredded American moral credibility. Because the U.S. occupation of Iraq has provided al Qaeda terrorists with powerful propaganda for recruiting new suicide bombers and for justifying their barbaric act of beheading an American civilian.
This is not a time to gloat at Bush's self-inflicted disaster. Nor is it a time to escalate into a cycle of revenge that may very well end up killing Americans on our own soil.
It is time to set things right. As New York Times columnist David Brooks has wisely suggested, we have to be prepared to permit the Iraqi people"to have a victory over us. For us to succeed in Iraq, we have to lose." Neither radical insurgents nor an American puppet government will create stability in Iraq. We must allow -- even encourage -- moderate Iraqis to express their resistance to the occupation and to prevail in Iraqi elections.
The idea of democracy spreading throughout the Middle East is still a noble idea, but, as Jonathan Schell, author of"The Unconquerable World" (Cosmopolitan, 2003) has written,"democracy cannot be shipped to Iraq on a tanker or a C-5A. It is a homegrown construct, which must flow from the will of the people involved. The expression of that will is, in fact, what democracy is."
For democracy to have a chance, the United States must withdraw its troops, leave no military base in Iraq and not try to control that nation's oil policy. The United States must also pressure Israel to commit to a clear timetable to create a coherent Palestinian state. This is a precondition for peace in the Middle East.
It's an act of patriotism to call for an end to the occupation. President Bush has damaged our national reputation and undermined our democratic ideals and traditions. To paraphrase a poignant question posed by a young John Kerry: How do you ask a soldier to be the last person to die in Iraq?
This article was first published in the San Francisco Chronicle and is reprinted with permission.
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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007
A caveat and an addendum to your useful message above:
1. If war is the last resort, after all other means of foreign policy implementation have been exhausted, then one has to expect a variety of different wars over time. I am not saying that your list of recent American wars fall into that category, but it is also not reasonable to expect, as your comment (probably unintentionally) implies, that it makes any particular sense, normally, to tally up and assess wars against a standard of "military brilliance".
2. As George McGovern pointed out on TV today, it is not really fair to blame the soldiers or even the military top brass for unworkable campaigns foisted upon them by bungling civilian leaders.
Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007
Ex-professor Rosen has written many fine columns. Congratulations to HNN for dredging up what must surely be one of the most egregious exceptions.
We started this war, we did not intervene in someone else's war. Nor did McNamara go around insulting everyone in sight, or LBJ think that tax cuts for the wealthy and shopping would pay for the war. And John Kerry hypocritically voted to let the bumbling incompetent W. Bush and his team of corrupt chickenhawks botch one step after another in this non-Vietnam quagmire.
Having supported Saddam for many years, betrayed those who rebelled against him in '91, ignored the failed sanction regime which followed, lied to the world about WMD, and now delivered Iraq from our former-friend-turned-enemy, by putting it into the hands of looters and terrorists, we have a moral obligation to help clean up the many messes we have helped create.
Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007
1. An old perennial dichotomy: Heuisler English versus Dictionary English. In the latter, more highly recommended language, a war is a state of armed conflict. Breaking an agreement or commitment MAY justify a war, it is not war.
2. Iraq was not in civil war from 1993 to 2003, and the U.S. did not intervene there to support one half of the country against the other.
3. Clinton and Gore are irrelevant to a comparison between the Vietnam War which occured when they were nobodies, and the Iraq War which occurred when they were has beens.
andy mahan - 9/19/2006
Good mind experiment. I'm sure it is real stimulating in the liberal echo chamber. But for we of the real world there is plenty of proof of the existence of al quada. And email to John Walker Lindh might help resolve the question. I understand that the preceeding rant is an attempt to be intellectually compelling but again, in the real world a position such as this is dangerous. I thank God every day for bringing us George W. Bush. History will remember him as the first American president to take action against the rapidly expanding threat of global terrorism. Had prior administrations done what is right the circumstances would not be as dire. This fight will continue for decades to come. It is a fight that the free world can not afford to lose.
andy mahan - 9/19/2006
I have been following your well-reasoned and accurate argument, and empathize with your frustration. Not to interfere with your one on one with Mr. Shcherban, but can you give me your source that VX components were discovered in trucks from Syria driven by Al Qaeda members? I was not aware of this source of WMD. I am aware that we have verified the manufacture of 3.9 tons of VX but I thought it had not been accounted for as yet.
With WMD being one of various motivations to expand the war on terror to Iraq, the motivation has been justified by the discovery of sarin having been used in the roadside bombing about 2 weeks ago, the 25 or so missiles with long range capability prohibited by the U.N., and the hundreds of discoveries of facilities to test and assemble WMD as well as the verification of Saddam trying to purchase components of WMD. All of these conditions being blatant violations of resolution 1441.
andy mahan - 9/19/2006
The email statement was a suggestion that a conversation with John Walker Lindh might verify the existence of alquada. I reject your statement that, “Based just on that kind of evidence no jury(except of course, racially or ideologically motivated and corrupted) in this country would never found(and never did) any American citizen guilty of even much lighter crimes.” There are lots of American citizens that are found guilty by a jury of their peers of great and lesser crimes with little or no evidence. The perpetual charge that discrimination is at the heart of everything is uninteresting. I hear this argument all the time. Concerning everything. It indicates a lack of substantive argument. That charge is for the weak and the promoters of perpetual victimhood.
For some, I am afraid not enough evidence exists to establish the fact of the existence of alquada. I purposely avoided engaging in a listing of the hundreds and hundreds of references and testimony and prisoners verifying the existence of alquada, merely for you to contend that the evidence is not sufficient. If exposed to the “reasonable person standard” of law, I suspect the court would find that alquada exists, in disregard to any obtuse claim to the contrary.
I long ago have tired of even discussing the “discrimination” implications of every issue. Sorry, the fight against terrorism has NO discrimination component. I’m done with that. The U.N. has a long and documented the growing threat of global terrorism. (not to mention the violations of Saddam) Look, alquada just killed almost 20 people today in Saudi.
Yeah, I saw somewhere on this site that most of those that frequent these boards hate our President. Sad. Sad that people that contend that they view events dispassionately and take into account all the information, would make sully their reputations by making a judgment about a sitting President long before they have all of the information, sad that they are so angry, sad that they are so destructively partisan. The results of that poll are about as relevant as claiming alquada does not exist. The poll only represents the political leanings of the respondents, silly, really.
Arnold Shcherban - 7/19/2004
You disagree with my conclusion on the major motivatiing
force behind the US foreign policy.
Now ley me ask you a pertaining question: If this is not so, what is the major principle behind the US geopolitik
that gives it a right to interfere in any part of the world, and when it pleases in direct violation of the main principles of international norms of coexistence, the right that the overwhelming majority of the international community does not recognize?
This right apparently has been just postulated by the American public and intellectual opinion long ago and never has been seriously questioned(except by a few left intellectuals).
(The excuse of superpower status is obviously just a
sham, since somehow it didn't apply to let's say former
Soviet Union, who was fiercely attacked by the politicians and intellectuals for any similar
interferences, and on many more reasons.)
It is long due for this country to put its money where
its mouth is and show the world that for once it really stands for the principles of democracy, freedom and sovereignity not only when the American nation is concerned, but for every nation in the world. That's what the world is waiting for this country to do, not to continue the occupation out of its own egotistic fears of what might happen if it does pull out from Iraq.
You, on the opposite choose, in unison with ruling corporate elite, continue the old pattern of scaring the American people with possibility of something even more terrible happening in Iraq, than what's already happened, as Bush administration continue to scare this nation with the new allegedly planned terrorist attacks in orderx to win the approval of its belligerent foreign policy and the upcoming elections.
That's not what the majority of Iraqis and the world think though, and that's what should matter in this situation.
James E. Thornton - 7/19/2004
Well said Bill. Nice to see you still haunt HNN.
Arnold Shcherban - 6/5/2004
For the first time over my participation on any
discussion boards, I met a fellow who cares more
about the gist of the discussion and a search for the thruth, than about the establishement of his opinions.
I may sound too sentimental, but thank you Adam for being an exemplary observer and polemist.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/5/2004
Your entire post is absolutely correct. My statement about Stalin may have been hyperbole. My blame on the proliferation does not fall squarely on Russia, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, much of the information and material were (and remains today) unguarded and exposed, while scientists with nuclear knowledge now live in poverty and squalor, and very susceptible for hire.
Certainly, Russia is only one example. Certainly, France and indirectly, the United States is responsible for the spread of biological and chemical weapons at least, and nuclear weapons potentially. Frankly, I have often argued that if North Korea currently possesses nuclear weapons, I place much of the blame on the United States, who chose hostility and threats while ignoring its obligations under the 1994 agreement.
In any event, you are quite right.
Bill Heuisler - 6/4/2004
Either you're not paying attention or my communications have failed miserably. You wrote: "Actually, what you have just cited is not evidence, they are statements. The VX from Syria could have come from anywhere, including Syria, as I reported earlier in our discussion."
But my citations were from major news sources like Reuters, AP, CNN and BBC; they all contained quotes and numbers and specific descriptions. The AP article and the Al Qaeda truck drivers admitted the VX came from Syria (so it wasn't your reporting after all). The point has always been that the Syrians do not have the facilities or the capabilities to make VX. Iraq has that capability and has used VX at Halabja. The point has always been where Syria got the VX. So, Sat photos from just before the resumption of the Iraq war showing convoys of covered trucks crossing from Iraq into Syria and heading toward the Bekaa Valley (AP, BBC) might convince even sceptics.
Second, the Sarin bomb contained hundreds of pounds of precursor and catalyst, and was found by a main road. To call this unwieldy canister-type explosive device marked in Arabic letters unidentified or "left over" implies an excessively serendipitous Iraqi ignorance or perhaps an excessive amount of wishful thinking on your part.
That last is a little sad. You'd think validation of our war effort would be good news to Americans. Why isn't it?
Arnold Shcherban - 6/4/2004
I wholeheartedly agree with you on the danger of the proliferation of nuclear and other WMD and I'm for the
full destruction of them all by all states with both hands.
The thrust of my last comments, though, was obviously not
my support and indifference to proliferation of WMD, but
that the pundits of belligerency, especially in this country, are always ready to concoct one excuse(no matter how lame) after another to justify the needs and wants of the military-industrial complex.
I'm sure you remember that it is the major "evil empire"
- Soviet Union, under Gorbachev(and even before that) who put on the negotiations table the very solution of WMD problem that both you and me are so enthusiastic about - full destruction of them. We also remember who
respond with categorical 'no' to that solution, under
the ridiculous excuse(not worthy of any discussion) that the Star Wars was already promised to American people.
One thing, however, I disagree with you about.
I think one has to be very careful stating that Russia was the only/main reason behind the WMD proliferation and that Stalin sold them to other country/ies.
On one hand, there is plenty of evidence of domestic and international origin that the US and France(I know much less about UK in this regard) were, at the least, as guilty of the proliferation, as was the former Soviet Union.
On the other hand, there is also plenty of evidence that
the former USSR and Stalin himself was pretty cautious about selling the WMD or WMD secrets it possessed at the time.
For example, as it is well known, China, the Soviet Russia's major and closest ally and "junior brother" didn't have nuclear weapons under Stalin's rule, not mentioning the other, less "important" states.
Moreover, one of the main causes of the USSR and China split in the end of 50s and beginning of 60s was Mao's burning desire for nuclear armament of China, and the refusal(although not explicitly verbed) of the Soviet leaders to provide him with any considerable help in that task.
It is not coincidental that communist China became a nuclear power only after the above-mentioned
split and 11 years after Stalin's death(in 1964).
If you know any state whom Stalin or the Soviet Union after his death did sell nuclear weapons and have solid evidence of these alleaged facts, I'm eager to hear.
The notion that such a large and educated country as
China with its enormous human and natural resourses(including uranium) could not acquire needed knowledge and develop respective technology on its own is outright ludicrious(the analogous costly mistake made by this country's "specialists" on Russia regarding its capability to develop a successful space, i.e. missile program).
Conserning your remarks of some statements of some political leaders about the use of nuclear weapons.
As we consider ourselves good students in spheres of ideological and political activity, we should clearly distinguish political rethoric from political and military practice.
I already mentioned the pretty agressive stance of Mao, just being accompanied by the relatively extremely cautious practical steps.
Just one more example: Khruschev's famous/infamous
solemn promise to "bury" capitalism, that only half-brained and zoological haters of Russia received as
the plan to launch a first nuclear strike against USA and its "capitalistic" allies, which had never been
meant or realized.
Having time and space I could also remind you of a miriad of other statements of different political leaders with much more political and military influence than the Arab leader you referred to, that were nothing
more than rethoric, regardless of their apparent strong ideological or geopolitical motivation.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/4/2004
You make some excellent points and I was against this war even when I thought Iraq did have WMD. However, this was only because I believed there were other methods of disarming him. Personally, I tend to dwell on the WMD and 9/11 link because that is what pushed Americans to war. If those things were true, than Bush would have told the truth and the American people (right or wrong) supported that in large numbers. Thus, from a democratic standpoint (small “d”) there would be no problem.
To address your points however, I find the spread of nuclear weapons in particular to be a major threat. Russia did have them and much of the proliferation has occurred because of it. I would just as soon destroy them all, but since that cannot happen, it is important that the world make the decision that there should be no more nuclear states, by force if necessary. India and Pakistan might end up destroying each other now, whereas they could not before.
My point is that Stalin was deterred from using them but he was not deterred from selling them, and neither is Pakistan. In an age of terrorism, where the #2 man in Iran recently said that any Arab nation with a nuclear weapon should use it against Israel and the simply absorb the response, I do not believe the spread of WMD can be tolerated as it once was.
Your points however, are well taken and I respect them.
Arnold Shcherban - 6/4/2004
May I pour more (Iraq's) oil into a flame of pundits of
Let's assume Iraq/Saddam did have WMD, all of it:
nuclear, chemical, and bacteriological.
Would, in this case scenario, it pose any real and imminent, or immediate danger?
As briefly as possible I'll try to show here that it
More than ten years ago the American Institute of
Strategic Studies(AISS) issued multiple-page report on the research of the possibility of wars between countries possessing WMD arsenal, mostly nuclear one. They came to the conclusion that it's sufficient for any state to possess several nuclear bombs and means of their delivery to the territory of the potential adversary to deter the use of it against itself.
And they primarily talked about not major nuclear powers,
but such countries as Pakistan and India, Israel(it's well known among interested parties that the latter does possess from 100 to 200 nuclear shells and bombs, though never directly admitted it).
This country not only enjoys the status of the only superpower on our planet, having many thousands of
nuclear shells and bombs, but in all other aspects
of military and economic might dwarfs even such major nuclear powers as Russia, Britain, France, and China.
Despite these facts, we are told, in contradiction with
the conclusions of AISS, now that even much
lesser dwarfs, such as Iraq, or Iran, or North Korea
present such a serious threat to the US national security
that they should be dealt with through ultimatums, economical and other sanctions, and at the failure of the latter through "preventive" wars.
But this is just theoretical speculation
the "pundits" and supporters of belligerency and preventive(read 'agressive') wars might say.
Yes it is, and by itself it's far from being sufficient,
to prove the legitimacy of the AISS (also supported by common sense) conclusion.
Can we get some support from the recent history, i.e.
facts? The answer is 'yes' again; we certainly can.
The Soviet Union, being "evil empire" all along its existence by the unilateral opinion of conservative and "democratic" thinking was the second military power
in the world and sworn enemy of the US and its allies. By, also overwhelming opinion of American political and ideological pundits, that evil empire has not
initiated massive nuclear strike against
this country just because it feared the devastating counter-strike. This conclusion granted, only mad scientist(pundit?), or hypocrite can fear the respective attack coming from Iraq, Iran, or North Korea.
The Peoples Republic of China(long for communist China)
under Mao dictatorship was also a sworn enemy of the US
and its allies and also "evil" state. It had/has a massive stockpile of nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons. Mao used to call nuclear bomb a "paper tiger" and brag Chinese didn't fear nuclear Holocaust, and consequently -US imperialists, as if saying 'bring it on'.
American pundits and mass-media considered him almost crazy and capable of any most terrible deed in violation of world peace. However, in his practical military and diplomatic activity, he, as all Chinese goverments were, was very cautious, obviously being afraid of the US offensive potential much more than the US was of him and never brought his country to the brink of nuclear confrontation with any state.
Pakistan and India - old enemies and countries of approximately equal WMD potential have exchanged by military strikes several times, but never dared to escalate those strikes to nuclear ones, again on the reasons elucidated by AISS.
I know, I know... How can we "forget" the new, albeit so lame, pundits' excuse for treating the present threats differently than the mentioned ones, despite the latter
were much more imminent and dangerous: the so-called "rogue states" possessing WMD and the possibility of its sale to international terrorists.
Oops, not a good one... Some of us have not been born
yesterday and remember very clearly that the USSR and
China had been considered rogue states too, and as dangerous, murderous, and cunning ones, as it gets. Moreover, they used to be considered the ideological founders, major sponsors, and masterminds of international terrorism all over the world.
Somehow, I guess by pure chance, WMD terrorist attack against this country or its allies did not happened then.
Thus, factually, historically and logically, the danger posed by the "rogue states" of today, or their union, to
the national security of this country is much less than
the danger posed by the nuclear reactor on its territory.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/3/2004
1) “Please respond to my examples instead of avoiding them.”
Perhaps I misunderstand your request. You have cited the attempted attack on Jodan and the comments made by Adbullah and I have addressed it. In what way did I avoid this example?
2) “You often try to set parameters, conform to them and then draw hollow conclusions from your inventions.”
How so? I do not know what you are referring to here?
3) “My evidence of VX from Syria, Sarin by the road, massive records, chemicals in the Tigris, trace chemicals in warheads and pages of testimony by men like Kemal and Woolsey is never countered.”
Actually, what you have just cited is not evidence, they are statements. The VX from Syria could have come from anywhere, including Syria, as I reported earlier in our discussion. I have acknowledged the Sarin bomb in Iraq, and maintain that (a) officials speculate that it was left over from before the first Gulf War and was unidentified (and thus could have been overlooked by Saddam) and (b) does not constitute the massive stockpiled Bush spoke of before the war. As for the rest of your “evidence,” I am afraid you do not give me much more information to go on. Perhaps if you could be more specific, citing your sources, I would be more than happy to consider them.
4) “You simply say the President hasn't spoken of such evidence and let it go.”
You are correct, but the word “simply” implied that the administrations avoidance of this evidence is some minor technicality. To me, it is not. Their avoidance of citing the evidence as proof represents a lack of confidence in it (at the least). It would be like me trying to prove that someone won the lottery but not being able to produce any evidence that they claimed their prize.
5) “Then you misquote what the President actually said and ignore his words about Al Qaeda in Iraq.”
Actually (you and others have mistakenly accused me of this all the time) I quoted him exactly accurately. What you mean to say is just that I ignore the rest of his argument. I do not ignore it, I disagree with it and thus have no reason to cite it. I have demonstrated many times how the “evidence” of a connection was very weak (to the extent that it existed at all). My point was simply to clear up any connection between 9/11 and Iraq, which I did with Bush’s (correct) quote.
6) “You wrote, "Today, no evidence of such weapons exist and the available evidence suggests that it never existed, save for some random shells left over from the 1980’s. No evidence exists of any link to Al Qeada either,"
But you know full well each of the above statements is either false or specious because of evidence presented in past HNN posts (or referred above).”
You are quite right. Allow me to restate my premise: no conclusive evidence exists and the available evidence suggests that it never existed. No conclusive evidence exists of any link to Al Qeada either. I recant my prior statements, which implied a level of certainty that was not there. My apologies.
7) “And how can you add insult to ignorance by writing, "..available evidence suggests that it never existed..." Evidence for a negative, Adam? Produce it.”
Bill, you should well know that you cannot prove a negative. However, I stand by my statement when I say that AVAILIABLE evidence SUGGESTS. I cannot prove that you are not an alien impersonating some human victim you murdered, but available evidence suggests that this is not so. I find nothing wrong in that statement.
8) “Explain the VX. Explain Zarquawi? Explain Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, Lieut. Colonel in Uday's Saddam Fedayeen (see the WSJ editorial on May 27). But don't tell me all the evidence is wrong because President Bush hasn't used it.”
I have explained everything you have given me enough information to comment on. I do not believe it is wrong simply because Bush has not used it, although I consider his avoidance significant. In fact, I cannot say that any of the evidence is wrong, as I clarified above. All I can say is that it is not at all convincing to me. It is possible some evidence will be uncovered to prove all of your claims. Right now however, I cannot help but see many of your evidence grasping at straws.
9) “Since when have you hung on the President's every word? Has it occurred to you that this administration has not bothered to defend itself on any of these matters unless called in front of Congress? Has it occurred to you there might be a reason?”
I hang on very little of what the president says, but I will use him to justify something if I feel it helps my argument and I see nothing wrong or unusual about this. No, it has not occurred to me that the president will only defend himself when called on by Congress. There is an election going on and the war on Iraq is a major political issue that people are feeling increasingly worried about. So, again no, the idea that Bush would fail to defend his comments unless asked by Congress has not occurred to me, nor do I consider it now. I believe it makes more sense that Bush will not defend them because he does not have the information with which to do so.
10) “Please deal with my evidence and leave the dialectical maneuvering to pundits.”
I don’t consider my responses to be semantic strategy, although everyone on this site is a pundit. I have addressed the issues which you have presented and will continue to do so as long as I have some free time to do so.
Look forward to your response.
Bill Heuisler - 6/3/2004
Please respond to my examples instead of avoiding them.
You often try to set parameters, conform to them and then draw hollow conclusions from your inventions. My evidence of VX from Syria, Sarin by the road, massive records, chemicals in the Tigris, trace chemicals in warheads and pages of testimony by men like Kemal and Woolsey is never countered. You simply say the President hasn't spoken of such evidence and let it go. Then you misquote what the President actually said and ignore his words about Al Qaeda in Iraq.
You wrote, "Today, no evidence of such weapons exist and the available evidence suggests that it never existed, save for some random shells left over from the 1980’s. No evidence exists of any link to Al Qeada either,"
But you know full well each of the above statements is either false or specious because of evidence presented in past HNN posts (or referred above). And how can you add insult to ignorance by writing, "..available evidence suggests that it never existed..." Evidence for a negative, Adam? Produce it.
Explain the VX. Explain Zarquawi? Explain Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, Lieut. Colonel in Uday's Saddam Fedayeen (see the WSJ editorial on May 27). But don't tell me all the evidence is wrong because President Bush hasn't used it.
Since when have you hung on the President's every word? Has it occurred to you that this administration has not bothered to defend itself on any of these matters unless called in front of Congress? Has it occurred to you there might be a reason? Please deal with my evidence and leave the dialectical maneuvering to pundits.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/3/2004
Not at all, Arnold. I consider my objections to Bill's posts pretty standard, and I welcome your contributions to the discussion.
The simple fact is that what Bush and the administration said would be in Iraq was not in Iraq. It is as simple as that. Did he lie, was he lied to, is it just a matter of time, or what, I won't go into (although I have become convinced based on the available evidence that the administration did indeed use foul play and deception in selling this war).
In any event, conservatives on the radio, TV, and on this site are so intent on having Bush be proven right, they are willing even to dismiss his own comments rather than admit the truth.
Liberals will do this as well, finding fault with Bush that is unfair and ignoring their own leaders shortcoming, but I have never seen such mass denial among Democrats and liberals as I have seen among mainstream Republicans with Bush.
Note that in 1998, most Democrats did not think that Clinton should be impeached but few actually denied that he did lie. I don’t know anyone who claimed that Clinton never admitted to having misled the country (when he did on national television), or that Clinton never denied having a sexual relationship with Monica (which he also did on national television).
Today, those same Republicans who spent 8 years lamenting the deception and lack of any accountability (often times, justifiably) will now twist the truth any way they can to make Bush look correct, ignoring certain evidence, holding other evidence on a pedestal as if it is the smoking gun we have been waiting for.
I will say once again, as I will repeat was always my central argument: The administration claimed that Iraq had massive WMD, and would either use them against us, or give them to Al Qeada, of which they were extremely close, if not fully allied.
Today, no evidence of such weapons exist and the available evidence suggests that it never existed, save for some random shells left over from the 1980’s. No evidence exists of any link to Al Qeada either, a fact confirmed by President Bush himself.
Whew, glad to get all that off my chest! :)
PS: The following is the comment of a true statesman, defending his decision in the first Gulf War:
“If we had gone into Baghdad to look for Saddam Hussein and to establish a government more favorable to our point of view, two things would have happened. First, our coalition would have shattered, and our Arab friends would have lost their trust in the United States. Second, American troops would have been bogged down in a very dangerous kind of urban warfare, and I was not going to let that happen to our people.
The UN Resolutions were limited for a purpose. I believe that because we respected and adhered to them the way that we did, we gained a great deal of goodwill and credibility that later enabled us to restart the peace process between Israel and her Arab neighbors. So a lot of good has come from it.
It's a complicated matter — diplomacy usually is — but I am convinced we did the right thing when we stopped the war.”
- President George H.W. Bush
Arnold Shcherban - 6/3/2004
Your remarks and addendum are welcome and granted
permanent residence in my weak mental frame.
1. If my comments about American wars makes the impression you pointed out, I never intended it,
as you kindly assumed, and apologize for not
making my thoughts clear enough.
But actually wars, in general, can be and always
have been assessed by militarty historians and specialists against standards of military brilliance.
What I wanted to emphasize, though, was that the US agressive wars don't fall under the category of "brilliant" even from the mentioned point of view( contrary to the official Washington and US mass-media
resume), regardless of their moral status.
2. I never "blamed" soldiers or their immediate commanders in the field for the, as you named them, "unworkable"(which I, being politically incorrect,
prefer to call imperialistic and criminal) campaigns.
I just expressed my indignation of applying the term
"heroes" to the pilots who dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or to the pilots who executed
"carpet bombing" of Cambodian territory or to the pilots
who participated in "shock and awe" air raids on Bahgdad, or Belgrad, etc. They are, of course, not criminals, just moral victims of the US official propaganda and Washington's deceit.
Arnold Shcherban - 6/3/2004
I read you response to Bill on the alleged VX trucks issue only after I answered him along the same lines you did. Had I known your responce before, I would just refer him to yours. So, don't take my answer as the plagiarism, ok?
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/3/2004
Sorry to have been away for so long. My problem now is the same as it was when you first pinned your argument on Abdullah’s statement.
President Bush said that there is no evidence of a link between 9/11 and Iraq, and the American team of inspectors have said that there is no evidence of massive WMD after 1998. My question is this: Why is it that you and others seem to have found evidence the administration refuses to confirm or utilize? The administration’s silence on what you consider to be damning evidence of Iraq WMD and Iraq connections to Al Qeada says more than I ever could on the subject.
I have never disputed the attempted attack on Jordan or the claims of Abdullah. But I have a choice: Believe his comments, or believe the intelligence of my own government. Granted, my faith in the latter is extraordinarily low, my faith in the former is zero.
As of this writing, the American public is highly suspicious of the war and Bush’s poll numbers are at their lowest since he took office. You seem to believe that you are sitting on irrefutable evidence confirming everything the administration implied before the war. Again, why no comment from the administration?
Bill Heuisler - 6/3/2004
Google Jordan gas attack or Abdullah says 20,000 would have died or Jordan VX gas attack or Al Qaeda VX attack.
The story was on BBC, CNN Fox and Reuters, but didn't get much coverage because it runs counter to Liberal pc.
"Jordan King says WMD Vx gas attack stopped. Al Qaeda/Syrian connection suspected."
WABC Radio | 4/19/04 | John Bachelor
WABC's radio's Bachelor & John Loftis (sp) reporting
"Syria gave Iraq's chemical WMD to Al Qaeda. Captured trucks in Jordan with chemicals with Vx attack would have killed 20,000."
The AP wire covered it and there was heavy coverage in the Israeli press. This happened within a day or so of the Sarin gas discovered by the side of the road in Iraq.
The Left's denial of WMDs in Iraq will soon come undone.
You're correct, Mr. Shcherban's giving me the run-around.
Arnold Shcherban - 6/3/2004
I'm not lower myself to return the insults you threw
at me just for my natural and logically justified intention to go back to the INITIAL topic.
Surely, it's much easier to do than to come up with a logically and factually coherent rebuff, for example,
to the arguments I indicated on my approval of the Chomsky's statement about the US war in Indochina influence on Pol Pot and Jeng Sari genocide.
But let's get back to our sheep.
I reread your statements on those VX trucks, and I cannot comment on their credibility, since I'm not
aware of the events described by you(never heard, saw,
or read before).
But it seems extremely unlikely to me, as I'm sure to
any unbiased observer, that provided the trucks have been found in the circumstances described by you and actually could serve as the strong and reliable evidence to the confirmation of the Iraq's possession of WMD, so desperately needed by Bush and Blair administrations and by the innumerable US and UK mass-media sources that second it on the reality of Iraq's WMD before the war, and as the pretext for the war, the US and UK would not victoriously declare to the entire world that finally
happened in the way that not only myself, but the deaf
and blind would know about it.
Since nothing like this happened, we can with a negligible probability of making an error conclude that
something very important was amiss or wrong about those trucks(even if we take their existense for granted), and exactly on that reason they could not be used as a reliable and strong evidence by the interested parties, being afraid to get embarrassed and critisized, as it repeatedly occurred before.
Bill Heuisler - 6/2/2004
Your said I was using White House information, accused me of doubtful quotes and now you accuse me of bringing up Noam Chomsky when you used him to give your anti-US blather credibility. Your tattered dialectic slip is showing and you try to change the subject...again.
My original premise used facts to show an Al Qaeda presence in Iraq both before and after 9/11. You have not countered one fact with fact, but constantly bash the US and our foreign policies since Ho unleashed his VC killers on the Republic to the South.
You are wasting my time with misdirection; you cover ignorance of current events with excess verbiage and then fall back on a hypocritical cretin for validation. When the validation is exposed as sham you misdirect again.
Instead of wasting everyone's time, answer one question:
Why don't VX components in trucks from Syria driven by Al Qaeda members working for a Saddam compatriot for the purpose of killing thousands of US allies in Jordan implicate Saddam's Iraq with those oft-denied WMDs?
Arnold Shcherban - 6/2/2004
Whether it was done deliberately, or in the heat of
polemics, but you obviously deviated from the main topic
of our and others' discussion: the Al-Qaeda scare, its actual existense as the well-defined terrorist organization(the existense I threw some doubts on), and
whom that scare is profitable to.
Instead, you shifted the focus on Noam Chomsky's works,
whose name and some ideas I initially and briefly mentioned just as an example of the fact that despite the vast difference in my and some Americans' descent and experience our views on many political or/and social
issues match. (I hope this and my previous comments explain to you why I have read only two of his books.)
You, along with other participants, still haven't presented any solid evidence in favor of the reality
of this Al-Qaeda hidra with the heads/cells spread all over the world, according to the official version you support.
When I expressed strong doubts and the reasons behind these doubts in that regard, you just verbally attacked me and those reasons without actually responding to the essense of the matter.
Partially, I take the blame for the deviation on myself,
since I shouldn't respond to your anti-Chomsky remarks,
but continue to pound the issue in question.
On the other hand, don't take this message, as my surrender to those remarks of yours, and I didn't "accuse" you of false quotation, on the contrary -I expressed hope that they are accurate, just taken out of context(it is in my last comments for everyone to verify). Your misinterpretation/misquoting(?) of my comments, however, really slants that hope under the accuracy "angle". And I will check the Chomsky's books
you referred me to and will be back to you on his quotations.
As far, as the last accusation you advanced against
Chomsky: "He finally admits Pol Pot committed genocide,
but claims the US bore the brunt of the blame", I
fully agree with him on that.
It is well-known "reaction effect", when after crimes commited by one side in the conflict against another, the opposite side commits crimes(sometimes even gravier ones) against the first one or against the groups of people associated(correctly or incorrectly) with the first side.
It is not coincidentally, therefore, that the Pol Pot and Jeng Sari genocide targeted primarily the intellectuals, artists, and well-educated(by Cambodian standards of that time) folks, in general and was perpetrated by the peasantry, ignorant soldiers and
mobs of armed teenagers(many of the Red Khmers' soldiers
were under age themselves).
If the populus of the most civilised and educated world countries(take Germany) can be so gullible to racial and genocidal propaganda, it should come as no surprise to any historian and sociologist that such a metamorphosis can occur with the people living in terrible, practically
medieval conditions right after the devastating and
murderous air-bombing campaign.
To completely dismiss the influence the US devastating
war in Indochina has on the after-war cruelties committed
by the majority of the populus who suffered the most in and after the war is like to completely dismiss the influence of Nazis' killing many millions of the Soviet populus on the brutality which Russians treated German's POWs with.
Bill Heuisler - 6/1/2004
Interesting that you should be an admirer of Noam Chomsky and only have read two of his books. Thanks for your left-handed accusation of "false quotation". Typical Leftist, you can't argue facts so you attack my veracity.
A lesson: The easiest way to find quotes is to Google Chomsky + (whatever the main words are). For instance there was a Forum in New York in 1967 where Chomsky defended both the NLF and the slaughter of landlords. Look up an exact quote ending, "If it were true that the consequences of not using terror would be that the peasantry in Vietnam would continue to live in the state of the peasantry of the Philippines, then I think the use of terror would be justified." He was of course referring to the "slaughter of landlords in North Vietnam".
Look it up.
Read Chomsky's reviews in The Nation June, 1977 of two books - "Murder of a gentle Land" by Barron and Paul and "Cambodia Year Zero" by Ponchaud - where he defends Pol Pot. Also read Chomsky's book "After the Cataclysm" co-authored with E.S. Herman where he defends his defense of Pol Pot and mocks the suggestion the death toll might have reached a million.
He said, "The deaths in Cambodia were not the result of systematic slaughter and starvation organized by the state, but rather attributable in large measure to peasant revenge, undisciplined military units out of government control, starvation and disease that are direct consequences of the US war or other such factors."
Look it up. I've done enough for you.
Also look up Chomsky's book in 1988, "Manufacturing Consent" where he finally admits Pol Pot committed genocide, but claims the US bore the brunt of the blame.
Like I said, publicly admiring Chomsky is risky.
Arnold Shcherban - 5/31/2004
I have no right to blame you for false quotation taken
from Chomsky's works, since I haven't read his books or articles you extract those quotes from, but I'm quite certain that the quotes you presented are taken out of context. It is a commonplace that the latter pattern of quotation can and did lead to the most brutal misinterpretation of author's thoughts and intents.
The reason I'm quite certain that what has happened in
this case is that in the two books of Chomsky I have read, I found no occasions of him defending "tyrants and mass murderers". On the contrary, when analyzing the
paradigms of the US foreign and internal policies and the actions of US goverments, caused by the practical implementation of these paradigms he often makes comparisons with the respective ones of the totalitarian communist regimes, condemning the wrongs made by the latter. Chomsky continuously stresses the fact that he's not communist, but democratic anarchist and he condemns
totalitarism in all its aspects and forms and in any part of the world.(The other thing that he doesn't recognize this country social-economic structures as truly democratic either.)
I cannot imagine that he, according to your allegations, defends Pol Pot, provided you meant murdering millions of Cambodians. I cannot imagine Chomsky defends Mao's regime, in general, and cultural revolution, in particular, in regard of the murderous repressions of innocent Chinese citizens on the part of the mobs of "revolutionary" youth or the goverment.
I'll be much obliged if you give me the titles of the
books or articles I can find those quotations and
"hundreds more" in?
I already mentioned in previous comments the almost complete match between my own views on many aspects of the US internal and external policies and the respective Noam Chomsky's ones.
These views necessarily include the most fierce condemnation of and protest against any regime, group, or goverment of any nation that commited mass murders, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, whoever the victims have been(as long as they are humans), regardless of their racial, national, political, or
religious "features". All deeds have to be measured by
the same, not double standards. This is the main characteristic that distinguish Chomsky's(and my) approach from the exercised by the intellectual establishment of this nation.
That's why to Chomsky and me the US invasion to and war in Indochina is no less amoral, illegal and murderous, than the USSR invasion to and war in Afganistan;
the suppression of the will of the people in Central America and South America and sponsorship and support by the US of repressive regimes there is not a bit better
(and in some aspects much worse) than the suppression of
the will of the people of Eastern Europe and the support of the totalitarian regimes there by Soviets; imperialism was and still is not a bit better than the so-called Soviet expansionism; corporate control is not
a bit better than state control, etc.
Noam Chomsky's semantics, though, is not "fierce", his style is more ironic and satiric than accusative, much more balanced than, say, mine(not mentioning his brilliant command of language, while mine leaves much to be desired). But the essence of our(his and my) conclusions(as you might noticed) are almost indentical.
Bill Heuisler - 5/30/2004
We have something in common. I've gotten to know Noam Chomsky well by struggling through most of his work. As with you, the more I know the less I understand. The man is a seething mass of contradiction and hypocrisy. Noam Chomsky isn't a historian. He's a philosopher who seldom writes anything complimentary about the US, but finds nice things to say about tyrants and mass murderers.
After 9/11 Chomsky said the American death toll was minor compared to the list of Third World victims of "the far more extreme terrorism of US foreign policy". But Noam defended Pol Pot in the late 70s and still does. He's called Mao's China "quite admirable...realtively livable" and described China as a "just society" in 1967 - only five years after the end of the Chinese famine where the collectivization Chomsky so admired caused the starvation deaths of nearly thirty million Chinese. Odd? Chomsky is consistently blind to offenses except those of the US, the country that's given him wealth and prominence.
For instance, at a 1967 forum in New York Naom Chomsky acknowledged "the mass slaughter of landlords in China" and "the slaughter of landlords in North Vietnam". He dismissed the "comparative costs" when discussing how this "use of terror would be justified" to elevate the state of the peasantry.
There are hundreds more examples. Admiring an unbalanced hypocrite reflects poorly on you. How can you defend the defender of monsters? Can you really take Noam Chomsky's tiresome hatred of the US seriously in light of his well-documented selectivity with far less-free, but vastly more collective societies?
Arnold Shcherban - 5/30/2004
As far as the difference of our experiences is concerned,
I'm sorry, but remaining logical and objective I cannot
buy this argument. As, I mentioned in my previous response in anticipation of your current argument, ma- ny political observers, analysts, historians, sociologists, etc. around the world have
very different personal experiences in any sense you can name, have come, however, to the same or close to mine conclusions, about this country internal and "external"
To give you just one example:
Nobel prize winner Noam Chomsky, perhaps the most famous American political author and scientist on the left has
completely different social and personal experience from
mine, but, his analysis and conclusions on the respective issues match the ones I came to long before I read a couple of his books in most even little details.
Since I never heard or read any author who was capable
factually or logically beat or just shake his(and others' I mentioned, in general) arguments and analysis, I tend to believe that you are the one who's, at the best mistaken, at the worst - innocent(to say the least).
The comparative argument you introduced on the poverty issue is designed for gullible, ill-informed, and ingnorant folks.
No doubts, as I already mentioned in regard of other issue on this board, everything can be compared to anything else, in general. However, as everyone knows, there are bad and good comparisons, or perhaps better to say - correct and incorrect ones.
To compare the poverty levels, gradations of the countries with the vast differences in historical, racial, cultural, social, economical and other kind of developments is commonly a frustrating and mostly fruitless endeavour. This is primitive, ideological, non-historical approach.
It is just as illustrative for the issue in question, as comparing the strength of American to Egyptian or French tennis players.
Where in the world have you seen the country/nation, taken as a whole, as rich, as the American one?
Only half-brained would not realize that its poor folks
HAVE to be less poor, in relative terms, than their French or Spanish counterparts, and by far so - than the Mexican ones. Unless, of course, the American corporate financial elite is much less skillful in constructing a
social consent of majority or less economically savvy than their collegues in those countries, which as we know - they are not.
The point is that this nation, to much more extent than any other, has currently all the means necessary to completely eliminate poverty and dramatically reduce unemployment rate too(defined by its own standards), irrelevant to the level of poverty of other nations, but the powerful of this world have different goals and designs.
Besides, I don't no if you are aware of this quite interesting fact, but according to UN, i.e. by international standards of overall quality of life,
this country is not enjoying the leadership role,
it is somewhere at from 5th to 12th poisitions, year after year.
The pointed fact somehow never revealed to general American public by the so-called free, independent
It looks like your confidence in the dominance of the US
in the areas under discussion(not only the poverty issue) contradicts the opinion of international community and wisdom too often.
It seems to me that you(as many other even well-educated Americans) lack broader historical and humanitarian perspective, understanding of other nations' historical and cultural developments.
It is useful sometimes to get out of the Pan-American
closet, and see the world and your own country without ideological aberrations.
Bill Heuisler - 5/29/2004
Our experiences are so different our reactions to some things should differ. But most of our political realities cannot contradict the way they do unless one of us is mistaken or innocent.
One instance of a major difference in perceptions is your claim of millions of poor in the US. Assuming you've traveled widely in the world - and have some experience in so-called Third World countries - you know perfectly well that most "poor" people in the US live far above any standards in any other country where people can be classified as poor. Our poor invariably have TVs, cars, microwaves and other conveniences that people in rural Mexico (for instance) can only marvel at. In my travels in France and Spain I've observed a sub-strata of people who exist at an economic level equal only to the poor in Morocco or Egypt. They seem cut off from the Social-service networks in these "modern industrial" countries, but they also seem to choose their lot as independence. We have such in the US called "homeless", but they also choose or flee or shake off the coils of control. To call these - or others under a certain income - poor is to misuse the word or to misunderstand what you are seeing. To carp at our (literally incomparable) social/political system on the basis of misunderstanding is misguided. Can you name another more equitable or more productive?
Thanks for your exposition. You prompted more questions than you answered, but that's sometimes inevitable.
Arnold Shcherban - 5/29/2004
Just look whom this country dares to throw its military might at after WWII: North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Grenada, Panama, Iraq(twice), Afganistan.
The first two countries having greatly inferior defencive and offencive capabilities, economies and
allegedly moral stance; the second two are even more so,
the next two were having no capability at all- just dwarfs(complete shame!), the next one even in much, more worse shape and situation, in the regard discussed, than the first two.
In Korea, despite 10-year devastating and murderous air-bombing campaign that killed hundreds of thousands Koreans, and other military operations that killed another 1.5-2 million of natives the US could not defeat North Korea, overthrow communist regime there and occupy the country. Why?
The answer given by many analysts and observers and reiterated by Pentagon and White House officials then or later: they feared Red China or Soviet Union entering the
In Vietnam, the US not only was incapable to defeat North
Vietnam and Vietkong and overthrow communist regime, but lost its South Vietnam, on the way, again, through the air-bombing strategy, killing another couple of millions of natives.
The same answer: it could in principle, but feared Red China and Soviets entering the war.
(In fact, as it became known later from the declassified
American documents, when starting Korean and Vietnam wars
the US goverments were pretty sure those major enemies
would not directly interfere, as long, as the existence of the communist regimes themselves in North Korea and North Vietnam were not immediately endangered.)
The same fierce air-bombing campaign was used against
all other states mentioned above, in understandably much less measure - against Grenada and Panama.
So, the patterns we see here is clear:
For the last 60 years US started, at the very least count, eight wars against different Third World countries, but never against its graviest(by the omnipresent opinion) enemies: China and USSR, for the
fear of heavy retaliation.
All the wars were against the much more inferior adversaries, and even at that the victories were obtained not as the result of some brilliant plans, or command or leadership, but as the result of the preexisted absolute dominance in the air space of the
attacked countries and horrific, essentially criminal, air campaign(especially in the Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos cases), less horrific, but with still 'impressive' number of "collateral damage" in the case of Afganistan and Iran.
The resume is that American military has nothing to be proud about, and neither does its most belligerent mass-media, praising the mentioned "brilliant" military operations.
We are proud of WWII veterans and those who died fighting
Germans and Japanese, but we can feel only sorry and empathic for those soldiers who lost their lives over injust wars in Indochina, Central America, and Iraq.
Arnold Shcherban - 5/29/2004
What "e-mail" are you talking about, what exactly does it say, and whom do you know about its existence and contents from?
That's all "evidence" you got?
Based just on that kind of evidence no jury(except of course, racially or ideologically motivated and corrupted) in this country would never found(and never did) any American citizen guilty of even much lighter crimes.
But sure, when it is concerned non-Americans, perceived
enemies of this country, any flimsy, ridiculous or even fabricated evidence will do.
This is exactly what presents "imminent and present" danger to democratic institutions and idea of justice all over the world - this country's double standards.
And this is not theoretization any more, it's as real as it gets.
By the way, are you aware that 80% of the American historians consider Bush presidency the WORST presidency
in all American history; and this is while they also recognize the fact that some others were terrible too?
Arnold Shcherban - 5/29/2004
May I add that even if Iraq(or any other other sovereign country at this matter) was in civil war, none and no legal international principle gave US or any other state the right to invade the country on behalf of any side of the internal conflict without the explicit permission of UN. On the moral side: no political force representing the Iraqi majority was asking for the intervention either, neither did its closest neighbors, the ones who
shoud have been worried first and foremost, provided
Saddam's regime was such a deadly threat to the world.
Arnold Shcherban - 5/29/2004
Politics, and the individual perception of it is not an exact science, so I cannot "think" anything of the
originality of your political and ideological "thoughts and opinions". My statements in this regard just reflect the contents of yours.
And the latter show me no more no less, as far as their origins are concerned, than what I mentioned in my last comments.
Briefly about my information sources you expressed
As far as the ideology is concerned, I'm not an apologet
of any particular standard one, or to be more exact I
"preach" what makes sense to me based on real(non-distilled with any ideological or social views) historical facts and events, and not having any illusions about the character and intentions and deeds of any political party and individuals, but judging those essentially the same way the investigators resolve criminal activity: the pertaining evidence, the logic of the events, who benefits from the pertaining deeds, whose interest they might represent, whether some pattern of similar behaviour exists, etc.
Unfortunately, when I apply those and other considerations to many well-known actions of this country, especially on the international arena, I cannot find much of the clear and factually confirmed legal or moral justifications of those actions. On the contrary, I find the full spectre of the respective facts that lead me, as I'm sure any other unbiased, attentive, and consistently logical observer, to the conclusions, some of which I mentioned earlier in my messages on this board.
Now - about my background, "personal story".
I'm a Jew and an immigrant from the former USSR, that came to this country 15 years ago, not on the material reasons, as the majority of recent immigrants from the Soviet Union did, but, primarily, on ideological ones(tell now that one don't have any ideology, right?).
I was persecuted, and prosecuted by KGB, and in general,
despised Soviet totalitarian regime.
Thus, logically I must have been natural ally of the mainstream US ideology and its by-partisan system.
However, I have to add that I despise any totalitarian system, in all its forms, and under any cover.
What I found here is the totalitarian system all right, just being a corporate totalitarian one.
Noone can argue that it is as brutal, and non-selective
as the former Soviet one, not mentioning the murderous
and criminal Stalin's regime, and noone can insist the American system doesn't have incomparably greater religious and ideological versatility and tolerance,
and noone can deny the much greater economical freedom this system presents, but in many other extremely important aspects it is far from being what the official
propaganda tries to instill in your brain it is.
Free political system is in ruins, since just two parties dominate the political arena - financially and ideologically - through the corporate-owned means of mass-media, elections are being practically bought(if one doesn't have enough finances, no matter how good his political platform it's doomed to failure), the internal and foreign policy is dictated, directly or indirectly
by the Big Business. In the economical sphere of this richest and most equal country in the world there is an enormous gap between the richest and poorest folks; on the poor side we are not talking about thousands, but millions of people.
The system of wealth distribution is DESIGNED with
a steep slope towards the rich, under the trumped-up excuse of the necessities of the free market economy, with the latter non-existent, since it has been killed by the state-corporate alliance/merger decades ago.
Striking actual(on paper everything is OK) inequalities in social and legal spheres, racism and nationalism, open and disguised, violence and moral corruption widespread not just among general populus,
but essentially popularized by mass-media and so on and so forth.
I don't want to mention the US foreign policy, as you already know my basic views on that one.
Moreover, in the areas, abovementioned, I discovered
to my amazement that almost everything Soviet propaganda used to tell its citizens about this country is either
completely true, or lies pretty close to the truth.
On top of that I found that many great thinkers(besides
founders of Marxist ideas and theories) around the world, this country not excluded, have the views on
that identical or close to mine, not mentioning many
I'm sorry, if I upset someone's Pan-American set of mind,
but this the truth, as I know and see it and no references to the overall goodness and/or noblest intentions of this country's ruling elite cannot shake it.
Kenneth T. Tellis - 5/29/2004
That very statement is a misnomer. It should have been "End the illegal occupation now." Because that is what it was from the beginning and continues to be. Was the US invited into Iraq? No, it never was. Thus it is there illegally. No matter what George W. Bush tells the world. Under those circumstances the US should pressured into withdrawing all its forces from Iraq immediately. To further defuse the Iraqi situation the United Nations should be asked to use its good offices to bring about a peaceful return to normalcy to Iraq, by the use of peacekeepers from neutral nations. To reach a time frame for the complete withdrawal of allforeign peacekeeping forces from Iraq.
Bill Heuisler - 5/28/2004
You've sadly underestimated me when you claim my information comes from the White House or "Right wing mass media managers". Don't you think I'm capable of original thoughts or personal opinions? My library has few equals and my sources span the spectrum from The Guardian to National Review, from Hobsbawm to Ferguson. My opinions are my own, distilled from years of study and experience - both of which I'll gladly match to yours.
Your jaundiced view of me and of the US prompts me to question your information sources also. Assuming your answer will be somewhere left of center, would you remit criticism a moment and tell me where in the world today there's more individual or economic freedom than the US? Explain problems you have with our form of Government, what changes you favor and why?
Your EE Cummings delivery muffles the message - perhaps due to format or E-mail, but the ire shines through. Such unremitting anger and suspicion about your own country interests me. Your personal story must surely be complex and fascinating. Care to share?
Arnold Shcherban - 5/28/2004
I'm sorry to say but somehow, I've never heard any info
coming off your keyboard, except official, originated either in White House or in the inflamed imagination of right wing mass-media "managers".
It is no surprise that this info as accurate and objective, as other similar "data", say about Iraq's WMD,
or the Al-Qaeda plans, or the love Iraqis feel to the
aggressors and occupants, as it happening in so many cases before(Korea, Vietnam, Mid-East, Cuba, Iran-Nicaragua, Guatemala, and so on and so forth).
As the result, American people don't even know up to now who actually designed and prepared the 9/11 attacks and how, not mentioning the real basis for the cointinuing claims coming from FBI and Ashkroft, and Home Land Security about the new allegedly planned by so-called Al-Qaeda attacks on the US soil, any of which so far reamain just what they apparently were initially - alleged.
Moreover, no concrete and solid evidence has ever been presented that such network does exist. In fact, the reason Al-Qaeda was named "network" is just because its existence as the organization in the sense assigned to the latter term has never been proved, but was just postulated by the FBI and other national security agencies to show the American public that they are capable to obtain some reliable data on something.
It is no surprise that they talk about this network in indefinite, vague terms, calling it "amorphous", without actually definite structure organization, simultaneously justifying their own ineffectiveness in obtaining reliable intellegence info on it and in the fight against it.
Thus, your info on Al Zaquiri controling the
Iraqi's WMD(on top of that non-existed at the time ascribed) is nothing but a sham and a fraud.
You and your friends in power are like the ones trying
to catch a black cat in the completely dark room without
knowing whom you are trying to catch and whether it is in the room.
But it is OK, as long as of your kind don't try to defraud others.
No country or nation becomes the enemy of the single superpower in the world, except of the ones created by this country's quest for world hegemony and dictate shown time and time again. And the US ruling corportate elite perpetually NEEDS these enemies in order to justify
Only ideological fanatics or liers, similar to religious ones, preach otherwise.
Arnold Shcherban - 5/28/2004
I've never contented that goverment of EVERY country seeking independence and sovereignity was subverted
and overthrown by the US and it allies/satellites. Such contention is ascribed by you to my comments.
First of all, as you mentioned, it concerned only the countries whose either economic or political or social
structure was counter this country's perceived interests.
Secondly, being a realist, you should understand, that
the exceptions always exist in any area of human activity.
But the pattern I sketched clearly shows if you look closely into the overwhelming majority of the US goverments' dealings with the other nations, especially, as I emphasized previously - Third World nations.
If you wish, I can elaborate.
Bill Heuisler - 5/28/2004
It's great to discuss without rancor; that's what HNN is all about as far as I'm concerned. Thanks.
You asked for certainty about VX. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton said Syria had delivery systems, but he knew quite well Syria couldn't produce VX. Why not? Volatility and scarcity. Let me illustrate the vast implications of trucks with large quantities of VX being driven to Amman from Syria on April 17th, 2004 (last month, Adam).
VX is the deadliest nerve agent ever created. In the early 1950s a British scientist developed the basic compound of the V-series nerve agents while researching pesticides - V stands for venom - but the new compound was deemed too deadly for commercial use. VX is a clear, colorless liquid the consistency of motor oil. A drop of VX, absorbed through skin kills by severely disrupting the nervous system. There are antidotes, but VX acts so quickly victims have to be injected almost immediately to have a chance at survival. VX is the only significant nerve agent created since World War II. Synthesizing VX is complicated, extremely dangerous and requires the use of toxic and corrosive chemicals at high temperatures in a sophisticated chemical laboratory.
The only countries that have VX are the United States, Russia and Iraq, which weaponized VX in the late 1980s. According to health officials and WHO reports, Saddam used VX against Iranian forces in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War and in the 1988 chemical attack on Iraqi Kurds in the town of Halabja. That massacre reportedly killed 5,000 and created serious health problems for thousands more.
So, since Iraq is the only country that could've produced the VX on the three Al Qaeda trucks stopped near Amman last month (according to Jordan's King Abdullah who was not contradicted by anyone since they were found 4/17/04) we've found Iraq WMDs. Further, the WMDs were under the control of Al Zaquiri a known Al Qaeda member.
As to that, you wrote, “Zarqawi was not an al-Qaeda member but the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group who occasionally associated with al-Qaeda adherents.” So what? That's like saying Pete Licavoli wasn't a member of the Mafia, not from New York, but only an affiliated hood from Chicago. Al Qaeda means "The Base" in Arabic; it's not some exclusive club, but a terrorist network that attacks the US under different names for Militant Islam. Differentiation among our enemies makes no sense. The difference between Hamas, Taliban, Al Qaeda and Hezbollah is countries and sponsors. They've all killed Americans in the name of Islam and are all equally our enemies.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/28/2004
I am not exactly sure why my post made so little sense to you. Perhaps I will try to be more clear in the future. In any event, here is my response.
1) “Your response makes no sense. The VX plot cannot be simply shrugged off. Rice hasn't said anything about Abdullah since April.”
I have made no attempt to “shrug off” the attempted attack. If I understood your post correctly (and correct me if I am mistaken), the point you were trying to make was that the weapons for the attack came from Iraq via Syria. My point is that I have seen no evidence that Iraq transferred its so-called stockpile to Syria, nor do I believe such a massive transfer as would have been required logistically feasible without detection.
2) “David Kay alluded to the WMDs and posited that they were transported to Syria.”
Indeed he did. However, he was making a guess and admitted that he did not really know. I am denying that Iraq somehow moved all its WMD to Syria, mind you. I am simply saying that since we went to war over these so-called stockpiles, I am going to need some evidence that does not amount to mere speculation.
I would also remind you again that Key testified that he did not believe Iraq had stockpiled the WMD the administration said it had.
3) “Syria does not have the capability to manufacture VX in such bulk. No other country within driving distance from Jordan has that capability except Iraq.”
Are you certain of this? Because the State Department tells a different story. Testifying September 16 before a House International Relations subcommittee, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton said that Syria has "one of the most advanced Arab state chemical weapons capabilities" and is continuing to develop an offensive biological weapons capability. In addition, Syria has "a combined total of several hundred Scud and SS-21 SRBMs [short-range ballistic missiles], and is believed to have chemical warheads available for a portion of its Scud missile force."
4) “Zarqawi has had proven ties with Saddam and spent over a year in Baghdad after being wounded in Afganistan.”
I do not dispute this, however, U.S. intelligence concluded long ago that “Zarqawi was not an al-Qaeda member but the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group who occasionally associated with al-Qaeda adherents.” Recently, this position seems to have changed, meaning that either new evidence has come to light, or his affiliation changed. In any event, the link was not conclusive at the time the administration said it.
5) “Your response that everyone is either lying or contradicting each other is wrong. Rice did not contradict Abdullah, Clapper did not contradict Kay and to say multiple news sources are lying makes this discussion useless.”
Perhaps if you could elaborate on why this is wrong, we can come to some understanding. As it is, I stated clearly contradictory claims by different people and made a logical conclusion that one of them must be wrong. I stand by my accusations unless you can demonstrate otherwise.
6) “Let's make a deal. Show me where Condi Rice said there's no evidence to support Abdullah's statement outlining Zarqawi's aborted VX attack on Amman in April. If you show me a credible source, I'll declare you victor and join the No WMDs in Iraq group.”
Well, the bad news is that I have no such source. The good news is that I never deputed that the attacks were thwarted, and thus it has no relevance to the subject, which is whether Iraq’s missing WMD went to Syria. Rice says that no evidence demonstrated the WMD transfer. If she changed her mind in the past 4 montsh, I am forced to assume that such information would have been widely publicized.
Bill Heuisler - 5/27/2004
Your supposed rebuttal makes no sense. What does a statement by Presidential Advisor Rice last year have to do with an attempted WMD attack on Jordan last month?
Here's the AP report:
"Al-Qaeda planned chemical bomb attack (Jordan)
AP via News.com.au ^ | April 19, 2004 | From correspondents in Amman, Jordan
AL-QAEDA LINKED terrorists were plotting to detonate a large-scale chemical bomb in Jordan that could have killed up to 20,000 people, plus also attack the US embassy and Prime Minister's office with poison gas, officials said yesterday."
"Officials close to the investigation said several terror suspects arrested in Jordan last month had confessed that the plots were hatched by Jordanian militant Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, thought to be a close associate of al-Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden. The officials said the terrorist cell was planning to attack Jordan's secret service, the General Intelligence Department, with a VX chemical bomb that would have killed up to 20,000 people and caused large-scale destruction within 1km."
"Jordan's King Abdullah II said in a letter of thanks published this week to his intelligence chief, General Saad Kheir, that the arrests of the terror cell members had "saved thousands of lives'".
"Had the VX chemical bomb plot not been uncovered, King Abdullah wrote, Jordan would have seen "a crime that would have been unprecedented in the country in terms of the size of explosives mounted on the vehicles and the methods of carrying out the attacks or the civilian locations chosen". Yesterday, the officials said the terror cell was also apparently planning to carry out simultaneous VX gas attacks against foreign diplomatic missions, including the heavily fortified US embassy in Amman, vital Jordanian public establishments such as the Prime Minister's office and civilian targets."
"Jordanian officials say the arrests occurred after suspected militants entered Jordan from neighbouring Syria in at least three vehicles filled with explosives, detonators and raw material to be used in bomb-making.
Among those arrested last week were two Palestinian militants identified as Suleiman Darweesh and Muwafaq Adwan, thought to be close associates of al-Zarqawi.
Another Palestinian militant, Azmi al-Jayoussi, is thought to be at large."
The Associated Press
Your response makes no sense. The VX plot cannot be simply shrugged off. Rice hasn't said anything about Abdullah since April. David Kay alluded to the WMDs and posited that they were transported to Syria. Syria does not have the capability to manufacture VX in such bulk. No other country within driving distance from Jordan has that capability except Iraq. Zarqawi has had proven ties with Saddam and spent over a year in Baghdad after being wounded in Afganistan. Your response that everyone is either lying or contradicting each other is wrong. Rice did not contradict Abdullah, Clapper did not contradict Kay and to say multiple news sources are lying makes this discussion useless.
Let's make a deal. Show me where Condi Rice said there's no evidence to support Abdullah's statement outlining Zarqawi's aborted VX attack on Amman in April. If you show me a credible source, I'll declare you victor and join the No WMDs in Iraq group.
Christopher Alan Danielson - 5/27/2004
I am not sure if you were directly accusing me of this, but for the record I will say that I do not consider myself an economic determinist in the William Appleman Williams fashion. However, I do think economics plays a significant role and often trumps other factors, to the point that the self-interest becomes identified with corporate interests over strategic and other issues. I don't necessarily think this is the case for Vietnam, for example, but I do think it is for the Spnaish-American War, for example.
Regarding the bit on China, I do not think we are in disagreement, or you see a difference where there is none. Checking Chinese influence is part and parcel of the domino theory and the concern over worldwide communism. That is a strategic/geopolitical concern (and economic, since the noncommunist areas were open to U.S. capital and trade)over ideological. The ideology is there, but I believe that ideological factors like that serve more as justifications for other factors than as independent factors themselves.
On a final point, I've always had a reservation against the use of "we" in historical discussion. I avoid the use of "we" when speaking of the U.S. in my classes since it blurs the objectivity the profession should strive for and has a tendency to make the lessons too presentist. Just my two cents on that subject, but to each his or her own.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/27/2004
1) “you're unfailingly polite.”
I appreciate the compliment, especially as I genuinely try to present my arguments as fairly and unobtrusively as possible.
2) “The term, chickenhawk is offensive to me because it usually comes from an inconsequential type who's never heard a shot fired in anger - alligator mouth and hummingbird ass - the kind I've met in bars all over the world; the kind you seldom meet in barracks.”
I do not use the term myself, but frankly, I find it far less offensive than digging up the war records of Vietnam veterans in an attempt to find some dirt on them even while they were risking their lives in combat. The fact that Clinton never criticized Dole or Bush about their service did not make him immune from continuous attack about his draft-dodging record every time he sent troops into the field.
Frankly, I consider the entire debate on both sides to be offensive. Our Founding Fathers put the military under civilian command for excellent reasons. To criticize any president for lacking military experience ignores the very basis of our armed forces: that policymakers, and not generals, should determine foreign policy. It worked 200 years ago and it works today. The fact that Bush served in the Guard but not in Vietnam should not matter to conservatives or liberals… but of course, it does. Such is the terms of civil debate today.
3) “Jordan's King Abdullah said a few weeks ago that vehicles containing chemical weapons and poison gas that were part of a deadly al-Qaida bomb plot came from Syria - the country named by U.S. weapons inspector David Kay last year as a likely repository for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.”
This claim is not supported by the administration. National Security Advisor Rice said early this year that there is not a shred of evidence to support such a contention. Thus, either Abdullah is lying, Rice is lying, or the source where you retrieved the information is lying.
4) “In testimony before Congress last year, weapons inspector Kay said U.S. satellite surveillance showed substantial vehicular traffic going from Iraq to Syria just prior to the U.S. attack on March 19, 2003. Kay said one of his top advisers described the evidence as "unquestionable."
I don’t know why Key would cite his top advisor and then say the exact opposite. Kay did suggest that there was “ample evidence of movement to Syria before the war -- satellite photographs, reports on the ground of a constant stream of trucks, cars, rail traffic across the border.” However, he added, quite importantly, “We simply don't know what was moved.” Again, either Kay is lying, his top advisor is lying, or your news source is lying.
5) “James Clapper, Head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency was quoted by the New York Times on Oct. 29. 03 "People below the Saddam-Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse."
Again, who is telling the truth, because this contradicts what David Kay said when he suggested that Iraq may never had the WMD the administration claims it had. “We were all wrong,” Kay said, regarding that matter.
6) “According to Jerusalem Post and Haaretz articles over the past year, Israeli intelligence believes the delay in US invasion plans - so weapons inspectors could search for Iraq's WMDs - allowed Saddam to move WMDs to Syria, the only other country ruled by the Ba'ath Party.”
It is possible that such weapons were moved to Syria. However, the evidence thus far remains inconclusive, and indeed Rice would have us believe that there is no evidence for such a contention. Perhaps Israeli intelligence is simply wrong, as some claim that ours was wrong.
7) “As you know, the recent appearance of WMDs undercuts the arguments of the Left that our President lied; VX and Sarin in the hands of Al Qaeda from Iraq connects the two.”
I am aware of no such connection between the two before the war.
As for the recent discovery, if I may posit an analogy I find useful: Suppose a racist cop sees a black man walking into a building, and, wanting to bust him for something, makes up some story to a judge in order to get a warrant to enter the man’s home. Upon entering the home, as luck would have it, the cop actually finds some drugs. Question: Did the cop lie? In my book, yes. Thus far, to my knowledge, we have found one bomb containing Sarin, and possibly another containing mustard gas. In 1990, Iraq admitted to the United Nations that it had built some Sarin gas artillery shells -- prototypes that it insisted had all been destroyed during testing. Obviously, Saddam retained some, either intentionally or unintentionally (since WMD were not labeled as such, some analysis believe this latter may be the case).
Frankly, the fact that some war-supporters can feel so redeemed on such a minor discovery demonstrates to me how weak the initial case was. The “A-HAH” reaction from some conservative circles simply sounds odd, given the massive stockpiles that the administration assured us Iraq possessed. In short, for me, the discovery remains unimpressive.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/27/2004
You make some excellent points and I do not dismiss any of them as possibilities. However, my response is intended to signify my skepticism on some of them, even while acknowledging their potential validity.
1) “So what exactly are U.S. interests? Solely ideological? Are they not economic at all, which would necessarily involve corporate influence? And what about Eisenhower himself warning of the influence of the complex on American society as it related to the Cold War?”
An excellent question. Certainly, America has many economic interests and military interests and we will react when such interests are threatened. However, to suggest that since all foreign policy has an economic effect, it must all be motivated by corporate elites is a claim I do not accept. Such a claim is not falsifiable and is nothing more than a hypothesis that is supported by little else than circumstantial evidence at best. The alternative, that political leaders take any action that will secure their re-election or retention of power, seems far more compelling to me in most circumstances. This hypothesis may or may not overlap with the corporate elite one.
2) “At the risk of getting counterfactual, a non-communist (or even communist and U.S.-allied) Vietnam would act as part of the check on China.”
This is very true, as are other claims by people who blame the Vietnam war on various factors. But I do not believe that such a desire would have provided enough motivation to enter into such a conflict without the national security fear of a domino effect and the concern of world-wide communism. After all, at that point, there were a number of other countries in the region that would have also been ripe for invasion or takeover of some kind that never materialized.
3) “Perhaps this is just a philosophical or interpretative difference between us or a misreading of your intentions by myself, but I generally think that a multiplicity of interests guided the U.S.'s Vietnamese policy”
That is a fair comment, and I certainly do not dismiss your interpretation in any way. It is only to say that I have not yet been convinced that the evidence supports the contention that all foreign policy intervention (as was the contention I was addressing) is motivated by corporate elite interests.
Derek Charles Catsam - 5/27/2004
As is typical of you, you criticize someone else for using what you perceive as insults, and then you write: "The term, chickenhawk is offensive to me because it usually comes from an inconsequential type who's never heard a shot fired in anger - alligator mouth and hummingbird ass - the kind I've met in bars all over the world; the kind you seldom meet in barracks."
Dishes it out. Won't take it. Others who speak aggressively are alligator mouths. He speaks aggressively, its salient point-making. Sad. I like the aggression, frankly. I don't like the whining from your corner when it comes back at you.
Kenneth T. Tellis - 5/27/2004
Iraq is certainly not Vietnam, but there is commonalty here. In Vietnam as in Iraq the US was not invited, and that continues to be her present status. What gave the US the right of intervention in Vietnam? We all know how the US got embroiled in that conflict. Especially so in my own case. And that was because the USS Maddox attacked my ship the M/V Kohinur, a British merchantman on that night in early August 1964. Beyond that I do not for anyone knew better.
In the case of Iraq, it was similar to Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939. The only difference being, that Germany wanted lebensraum, and the United States of America wqnted oil. In fact the whole operation should be renamed "Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL). As that what it was all about. As for Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, he would do better at a janitorial position. I am sure that the White House can find him a job in that area of his expertise.
Bill Heuisler - 5/27/2004
Your answer is always welcome. Mr. Clarke rarely rises above insult, but you're unfailingly polite. The term, chickenhawk is offensive to me because it usually comes from an inconsequential type who's never heard a shot fired in anger - alligator mouth and hummingbird ass - the kind I've met in bars all over the world; the kind you seldom meet in barracks.
Evidence? Search Congressional testimony, S.F. Chronicle, NY Times, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz for WMDs in Syria. (Google responds to WMDs in Syria with hundreds of pages)
To save you some time:
Jordan's King Abdullah said a few weeks ago that vehicles containing chemical weapons and poison gas that were part of a deadly al-Qaida bomb plot came from Syria - the country named by U.S. weapons inspector David Kay last year as a likely repository for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. "It was a major, major operation. It would have decapitated the government," King Abdullah told the San Francisco Chronicle. Jordanian officials estimated that the death count could have been as high as 20,000 - seven times greater than the Sept. 11 attacks.
In testimony before Congress last year, weapons inspector Kay said U.S. satellite surveillance showed substantial vehicular traffic going from Iraq to Syria just prior to the U.S. attack on March 19, 2003. Kay said one of his top advisers described the evidence as "unquestionable."
James Clapper, Head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency was quoted by the New York Times on Oct. 29. 03
"People below the Saddam-Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse."
According to Jerusalem Post and Haaretz articles over the past year, Israeli intelligence believes the delay in US invasion plans - so weapons inspectors could search for Iraq's WMDs - allowed Saddam to move WMDs to Syria, the only other country ruled by the Ba'ath Party.
As you know, the recent appearance of WMDs undercuts the arguments of the Left that our President lied; VX and Sarin in the hands of Al Qaeda from Iraq connects the two.
Christopher Alan Danielson - 5/27/2004
To Mr. Moshe:
You make a reference in the last part to "our interests" in guiding U.S. relations to other countries, including democracies. Yet you seem to take issue with the idea of economic self-interest (in the form of the military-industrial complex and corporations) in the first part of your response to Mr. Shcherban, even contending that such a complex had little to do with Vietnam. So what exactly are U.S. interests? Solely ideological? Are they not economic at all, which would necessarily involve corporate influence? And what about Eisenhower himself warning of the influence of the complex on American society as it related to the Cold War?
Regarding ideological hegemony as the only gain the U.S. would get from winning in Vietnam, I think this is in error. At the risk of getting counterfactual, a non-communist (or even communist and U.S.-allied) Vietnam would act as part of the check on China (especially in the pre-Nixon Vietnam years) that Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan already provided - thus giving a strategic interest to staying in the country. Indeed, the Soviet Union behaved in a similar fashion after the communist victory by giving aid to Hanoi and establishing naval bases to help hem in Beijing. I am sure there are other issues I am not addressing that influenced U.S. actions in favor of a Vietnamese presence. Perhaps this is just a philosophical or interpretative difference between us or a misreading of your intentions by myself, but I generally think that a multiplicity of interests guided the U.S.'s Vietnamese policy (even from the 1940s, when Truman's desire to get the French to agree to a defense pact against the Soviet Union influenced his acquiescence to France's return to Indochina). I look forward to you response.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/27/2004
I sympathize with your positions, even if I disagree with how far they go.
1) “And this answer is: The major motivating force [in Vietnam and Iraq] was this country's ruling corporate elite strife for the world economical, military, political, and ideological hegemony.”
I disagree. Truman was the first person to commit American interests in the country, with Eisenhower furthering that interest, and Kennedy sending troops. Finally, Johnson escalated the conflict into the mess it eventually became. At the time, Johnson had little choice: Vietnam was very popular among the American people and especially among conservative Congressmen, whose support he needed to pass his Great Society legislation. He could not pull out or else his policies would have been over and he could not increase the severity because he feared Chinese intervention.
Corporate elite (especially the military industrial complex) did benefit from the war, as some people always have. But that does not mean they had anything to do with it. Furhtermore, with the exception of ideological hegemony, Vietnam would have provided little in terms of economic, military, or political clout had we won.
2) “Now, one of the many reasons any person, claiming to be a democrat(with lowercase 'd'), freedom lover, and true American patriot MUST be an opponent of "staying the course" strategy is that the rest of the world, especially the Third World KNOWS the answer, exactly as I presented it, and who didn't know it before know it now.”
With all due respect, I reject your contention that any international action must, by definition be opposed regardless of the conditions or circumstances simply because they all must conform to one particular ideological position. There are some excellent reasons to pull out of Iraq. However, the fact that we should do so simply because we are there is not compelling to me.
3) “Therefore, any goverment installed/elected/created(you choose the verb) under the US-UK military occupation, whether it be maskeraded by the cosmetical UN participation or not, will be considered illegitimate and anti-democratic by Iraqi society, the democracy of which we allegedly are struggling to create or help to create(for purists) and support.”
You may very well be right, of course. This is certainly the fear and a very real possibility that I would have preferred we avoid by not starting this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, installing/electing/creating a government, even an illegitimate one, does seem preferable to the potentially catastrophic alternative.
4) “Your and others solution: "the creation of an effective military Iraqi force" is the clear expression of solidarity with the imperialistic foreign policy course of this country.”
The last part of your post, while a bit oversimplified, is generally correct, with one exception. The United States has never had a problem with any democratic society… unless it goes against our interests. The fact that it wants independence or sovereignty has never been opposed for countries whose interests match our own. This is not a defense of such policy, mind you. It is simply a caveat to the contention that any country seeking sovereignty is automatically overthrown one way or another.
Arnold Shcherban - 5/27/2004
You arguably understood a lot in Vietnam case, but didn't understand the main thing: what was a major motivating force behind it. If you understood it, you would realize the reason behind its similarity(along with big differences) to the Iraq case: the answer to the 'what' question stated above is identical in both cases.
And this answer is: The major motivating force was
this country's ruling corporate elite strife for the world economical, military, political, and ideological hegemony.
(Basically, if you look at any major foreign policy actions taken by this country over the last 50 years
of its history, you can make a case in favor of validity
of that answer.)
Now, one of the many reasons any person, claiming to be a democrat(with lowercase 'd'), freedom lover, and true American patriot MUST be an opponent of "staying the course" strategy is that the rest of the world, especially the Third World KNOWS the answer, exactly as I presented it, and who didn't know it before know it
Therefore, any goverment installed/elected/created(you choose the verb) under the US-UK military occupation, whether it be maskeraded by the cosmetical UN participation or not, will be considered illegitimate and anti-democratic by Iraqi society, the democracy of which we allegedly are struggling to create or help to create(for purists) and support.
Of course, there are more reasons than the pointed out as the major one, leading to the same anti-staying-the-course recipe, but I'm trying to be brief here.
Your and others solution: "the creation of an effective
military Iraqi force" is the clear expression of solidarity with the imperialistic foreign policy course
of this country. This force will primarily serve the interests of ruling local elite, since as the history
of US foreign policy in the Third World shows, the US ruling elite never allows widely supported by demos
goverment in any country of that World; the moment it gets lucky to be formed and follows independent, sovereign policy course, slandering propagandist campaign
gets initiated by American mass-media and govermental
institutions, usually followed by the covert and open subversive operations, then by economic sanctions, and
if all that doesn't "help", by the overthrowing of that
democratic goverment and its structures over the direct invasion or reactionary coup-d'eta - the well-known and
repeated over and over again pattern of the democratic
changes sponsored and imposed by the reigning forpost of world democracy.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/26/2004
Although the post was in response to Mr. Clarke, I hope no one minds if I respond to it.
1) “Using the term, chickenhawk, for the Bush cabinet ignores President Clinton's deliberate draft-dodging and Veep Gore's body-guarded, real-echelon reporting for Stars and Stripes.”
No one denies that Clinton was a draft dodger. However, Clinton never had the audacity to challenge Dole’s service, or the elder Bush’s, arguing that they were really cowards and than fishing through war documents to find dirt. Bush supporters, sadly, have no such hesitation.
In fact, while many of his contemporaries were scrambling to avoid service, Gore enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1969. After basic training at Fort Dix, he was assigned to Fort Rucker in Alabama as a Public Affairs Officer. In 1970, he went to Vietnam. Gore was assigned a position as reporter covering the activities of the 20th Engineer Brigade in Bien Hoa, South Vietnam.
According to Bill Turque, Gore “pulled his weight, which in his case meant choppering around to report features about the good works of the 20th Engineers, who were tasked with paving roads, building bridges, and clearing jungle to support combat operations. William Smith, another reporter attached to the 20th, recalls the morning in early 1971 when a sergeant asked him to go to Khe Sanh, fifteens miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, to cover the engineers' role in reopening an abandoned airstrip. When Smith said he was scheduled to leave for R&R in Hawaii, the sergeant called for volunteers. Gore stepped up and spent a cold night in a foxhole. "Al did what everybody else did," said Mike O'Hara, the photographer who shot the Khe Sanh assignment.” He carried an M-16 rifle all over Vietnam and walked like that in every part of the country.
It is true, Gore did not see combat, did not kill any enemies, or get shot, but he was in a country where no one was safe (as the Tet offensive demonstrated) and more than that, he volunteered when he could have gotten out.
2) “Who in the Clinton administration can match the military service of either Bush or Rumsfeld? When you served in the military did you scorn those who didn't face hostile fire? If not, why now?”
The following site and many others notes Bush’s (lack of) service. Going over his experience does not bear repeating.
Cheney got a deferment during Vietnam and Rumsfeld served in the U.S. Navy from 1954-57 as an aviator and flight instructor. In 1957, he transferred to the Ready Reserve and continued his Naval service in flying and administrative assignments as a drilling reservist until 1975. I do not believe he ever served in combat. That makes Gore the winner in my book. Certainly, there can be no question when comparing the administration to Kerry, although that goes without saying.
3) “When you served in the military did you scorn those who didn't face hostile fire?”
Frankly, is this question not incredibly hypocritical given your prior comments on Gore?
4) “Saddam invaded Kuwait and signed a Cease Fire agreement to save his job and life.
He broke that agreement 17 times, fired on coalition planes and expelled UNSCOM, thereby reinstating the war.”
It was the United States that began the new war. The fact that Saddam violated UN resolutions does not change that fact. You may support this war, but there can be little question who initiated it.
5) “Every member of every cabinet since Reagan has stated publicly their belief Saddam had WMDs. French, German, British, Italian and Spanish leaders all agreed.”
This is true, but none of them would go to war on their hunch, and in any event, most of them were using our intelligence in the first place. The burden lies on Bush and those who agreed to the war, not those whose opinions were not enough to motivate them into action.
6) “We have found traces of chemical, bio and nuclear weapons and we have evidence convoys moved WMDs into Syria just before the hostilities resumed last year. The truckload of Iraqi VX in Jordan last month and the large Sarin bomb last week further support this widely held belief.”
I am not aware we have found the evidence you speak of and would like some documentation, particularly about sending WMD into Syria. Do you have any evidence for this claim? As for the recent Sarin bomb, that certainly is the first evidence I am aware of, and am willing to consider it. However, as of now, officials only know of the one and they believe that it was made before the 91 war but was not destroyed because such weapons were not marked. As of right now, this is speculation and I await further analysis.
7) “When you say "lied" don't you realize how malicious and awkward you appear? Please argue facts without the insults.”
Saying someone lied is not an insult, it is an accusation. Bush said that there was “no doubt” that Iraq had WMD. Tenet said that there was doubt and those doubts were raised in the reports. He added that nothing was ever conclusive. Bush and the administration said that it was conclusive. Either Tenet is lying about the reports, and should be held accountable, or Bush lied and should be held accountable. My speculation is that Bush and the administration lied.
Bill Heuisler - 5/26/2004
While agreeing about Ruth Rosen's article, we part company (as usual) on two minor and two major points:
1)In effect, your LBJ statement implies his tax and spend policies were better for the country than Bush's tax cuts.
2) Using the term, chickenhawk, for the Bush cabinet ignores President Clinton's deliberate draft-dodging and Veep Gore's body-guarded, real-echelon reporting for Stars and Stripes. Who in the Clinton administration can match the military service of either Bush or Rumsfeld? When you served in the military did you scorn those who didn't face hostile fire? If not, why now?
1) you wrote, "We started this war, we did not intervene in someone else's war." Wrong. Saddam invaded Kuwait and signed a Cease Fire agreement to save his job and life.
He broke that agreement 17 times, fired on coalition planes and expelled UNSCOM, thereby reinstating the war.
2) You wrote, (we) "...lied to the world about WMD...". Every member of every cabinet since Reagan has stated publicly their belief Saddam had WMDs. French, German, British, Italian and Spanish leaders all agreed. We have found traces of chemical, bio and nuclear weapons and we have evidence convoys moved WMDs into Syria just before the hostilities resumed last year. The truckload of Iraqi VX in Jordan last month and the large Sarin bomb last week further support this widely held belief. When you say "lied" don't you realize how malicious and awkward you appear? Please argue facts without the insults.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/26/2004
I could not agree with your post more. As stability is the key to any effective government, the creation of an effective military force is the perfect oppertunity to leave Iraqi to the Iraqis.
Ben H. Severance - 5/26/2004
I agree with you that we must "stay the course," but add only until a new Iraqi government can organize and train a loyal and reliable Iraqi military. Only then can the U.S. confidently transfer real sovereignty (in terms of law enforcement anyway).
It was this issue that most interested me about the President's "fireside chat" on Monday night. He spoke of American efforts to raise a force of 35,000 Iraqi soldiers organized into 27 battalions. This is a good start, as is the experiment with the Fallujah Provisional Army under General Latief. We have to beware the possibility of a "Freikorps" development, but Bremer and others seem ready to take the necessary risk.
Some media pundits recently contended that the current Iraqi constabulary was unwilling to fight the Shiitte insurgency. True, some refused orders to engage Al-Sadr, but they did so because they did not want to follow on the heels of punitive U.S. action. Under different circumstances, many other Iraqi police units have performed well, conducting raids and making arrests, all for the sake of good order. Iraqis may not like the U.S. occupation, but most do not like the militant radicals in their midst either. A reporter (for Harpers I think) made the telling point that more Iraqi police officers have been killed than U.S. soldiers; quite a testament to their commitment to a new Iraq.
So, stay the course, stabilize the countryside, and await the creation of genuine "republican guard" for a genuine Iraqi republic.
Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/25/2004
There is much in this article that I agree with. Vietnam was a disaster both morally and militarily and much of that blame falls on Johnson, who knowingly send troops into a no-win situation. Bush, like Johnson, used deception to rally the nation behind the war.
Where I disagree with the article is the solution to our problem. The author suggests that Kerry pledge that “he will end the war by calling upon the international community to help Iraq hold early elections and by setting a date for an orderly and phased withdrawal of American troops.”
Question: Isn’t Bush doing that already, more or less? Early elections compared to when? A date has been set for handover of sovereignty already, and national elections on the table. A specific date for troop withdraw seems, at this point, a bit premature. When should this date be? Tomorrow? Next week? What conditions should be in place, if any?
Iraq is like Vietnam in many ways, but not in every way. Had South Vietnam fallen to Communism and the US had failed sooner, the consequences would have been nil. The Domino theory was wrong and little would have suffered from it. Iraq does not have that luxury.
I agree with Colin Powell: you break it, you bought it. We decapitated a government and removed all existing institutions of stability (primarily the military). To leave the Iraqi people, who had no say in whether or not to be “liberated” to chaos, civil war, and anarchy would be morally wrong. Furthermore, the total destabilization of an oil rich country neighboring other oil rich countries would have international repercussions that will last decades, perhaps longer.
Perhaps we could have solved the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948 if the international will was there, saving the region from 50 years of violent conflict. Perhaps the Pakistan-India conflict could have been dealt with before both had nuclear weapons. The list goes on. 50 years from now, I do not want to be looking back, wishing that we had the opportunity to prevent disaster but choose not to. As for the war, the damage is done and I intend to express my anger by helping to punish Bush and the Republicans at the polls in November. Beyond that, I agree with the president, we must stay the course.
Finally, I would agree that solving the Arab-Israeli conflict is a necessary condition for peace, the slight blurb the author gives to its solution really needs to be elaborated on a bit more, or should probably not have been included in the article.