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blue girl

I think the title of Peter Galbraith's new book is so perfect: "The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End"

Here's an excerpt from a review...

The End of Iraq describes the administration's strategic miscalculations behind the war as well as the blunders of the American occupation. There was the failure to understand the intensity of the ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq. This was followed by incoherent and inconsistent strategies for governing, the failure to spend money for reconstruction, the misguided effort to create a national army and police, and then the turning over of the country's management to Republican political loyalists rather than qualified professionals.

Oh well, at least Saddam's gone.

Ken Muldrew

In a recent comment on Brad DeLong's blog, comparing the rejection of Trotsky's "means-end" argument with rejection of the ex-Trotskyite neo-cons, Scott Martens sums it up nicely:

"If the installation of peace, democracy, human rights and international law and order requires the destruction of international law, a plethora of lies, arbitrary imprisonment and torture and open-ended war, then those means constitute strong grounds for scepticism towards the stated ends."

And by the way, Saddam isn't gone yet.

Deep Thought

It just keeps getting better!
"Shock and Awe" was not the conceptualization of "destroy everything". It was the idea that if there was an overwhelming display of force it could cow people into surrender *even if it didn't do any damage*. So that is way off base.

Thanks for not cherry picking my comments too badly, but my point seems to have been opaque. Things suck in Iraq right now. Things sucked in Iraq when Saddam was in charge. The difference is that at least now they are on the way to no longer sucking so damn bad.

This is akin to whining that the allies are no better than the Nazis 'cuz at least with Hitler they had electricity and hot water, while the allies destroyed everything! As a matter of fact, its virtually identical. Saddam held Iraq in an iron fist, used chemical weapons on his neighbors and his own people, and had an institutionalized terror organization specifically to crush the will of his own people.

While the invasion destoryed a lot of infrastructure - we are rebuilding it. While people are dying in fire fights, it isn't because Americans are dragging Iraqis off to be fed into meat grinders; it is because Jordanian, Saudi, etc. jihadists are using Iraqi civilians as shields while they attack schools, markets, and bus stops.

Your desire to paint American actions as no better than Saddam's, possibly worse, is moral bankruptcy on par with holocaust revisionism.

Rana

It isn't that they are "no better" it's that the examples of how they are "better" are so weak.

So the lights are on in Tikrit? Well, whoopee. They were on before the war, too. It's a good thing, but it's not worth going to war for, this destroying of infrastructure so one can partially rebuild it. Nor is it anything in which to take particular pride, as presumably it was part of the plan from the outset.

One can make similar arguments about things like taking out Saddam's rape rooms -- this is a good thing, yes, but the goodness of it is somewhat (somewhat!) undermined when our troops are given the authority and the facilities to engage in other forms of torture against innocents.

Or about the oil wells. Or about the environment.

Being better than Saddam is pretty weak -- he set the bar awfully low. This isn't about our failure to be marginally better than Saddam, this is about failing to meet the much higher standard we set for civilized countries, and the yet still higher standard we purport to set for ourselves.

(Saddam was better at least one thing than us, judging by the evidence you yourself offer, Deep Thought -- keeping insurgents in check. I disagree with his methods, and I'm not calling for us to emulate them, but this is an undisputable fact: there is more random street violence in Iraq now than there was under Saddam.)

Deep Thought

Rana,
Again, your argument boils down to "So Hitler had camps? People are still starving because allied plains bombed their cities! We're no better!" Weak and foolish. You are judging the height (as it were) of Saddam's rule with a war zone and surprised its little better. You should be disgusted that Saddam's best was so damn close to living in a war zone.

Saddam did have insurgents; the Kurds and the Shi'a. And he was much *cough* "better" at dealing with them; he used poison gas, scorched earth, and carpet bombing to supress them. Or haven't you heard of Halabja, or the najaf uprising of the '90's? Yup, that Saddam was awfully efficient at slaughtering insurgents, as well as everything downwind of his sarin/mustard gas attacks on villages that might harbor them. Yes sir, he kept *them* in check.

And the street criminals then were working for Saddam's government. Haven't you heard about his sons, for heaven's sake?

Kevin Wolf

I'm loathe to engage you, Deep Thought, in your many misconceptions of Iraq - especially since Lance's place is where I go to avoid a lot of this sort of "debate" but:

Things suck in Iraq right now. Things sucked in Iraq when Saddam was in charge. The difference is that at least now they are on the way to no longer sucking so damn bad.

Reports from the ground in Iraq, for instance from Patrick Cockburn of The Independent (UK), put the lie to this view. Things are not better, or getting better, in Iraq. Our Iraq adventure is a catastrophe.

You could argue that, as bad as Saddam was when in charge, he targeted his violence and perpetrated it on a smaller scale than that experienced every day by Iraqis today. Instead of thousands dead, we've got tens of thousands.

Thanks to this completely unnecessary invasion, Iraq is unravelling, crime is rampant, and violence is common. Worse, US troops are being dragged into it all, as they try to "police" a civil war.

Add to that the US forces who have committed exactly the type of activity Saddam indulged in - torture, murder and rape - and I fail to see what we've got to crow about.

Simplifying my points, somewhat, but still I think, DT, that you're all wet.

Deep Thought

Really? So, while all but Baghdad had electricity only 3-6 hours a day before, now it averages closer to 12 hours a day, because electricity generation is up 33% from before the invasion? They haven't elected their own government? The Shi'a still can't at least try to control their own destiny? The Kurds must still wonder if they will be gassed or bombed by the Iraqi military?

And, just like your companions, you fail to mark a key difference between American crimes and the crimes of Saddam's regime. Saddam and his officers *led* the crimes, instigated them and *rewarded* their people for them. American soldiers that may have committed crimes are exposed, tried and, if found guilty, punished for it.

Your attitude is like claiming their is no difference between crack dealers and cops. "After all" you whine "The crack dealers put money in the neighborhood, the kept violence off the streets where it would interfere with their business. Sure, they killed people who crossed them, but the cops killed a lot more when they raided that crack house! I mean, cops carry guns, too, right? Those kids the crack dealers used as human shield got shot up real bad after the dealers opened fire on that SWAT team - those SWAT team guys are murderers! And there are corrupt cops, right? So they are morally the saame, I tell you!"

Uh, no; American aberrant behavior is recognized, viewed as abhorrent, and punished. Saddam's behavior was the norm and resulted in rewards.

See the difference? Grasp the not-subtle-at-all gap between a government that *is* the criminal agency and one that fights a criminal agency? Can you admit, even grudgingly, that an organization that is dedicated to doing the morally right thing is, yes, morally superior to one that is dedicated to the morally wrong thing *even if it isn't perfect*?

KC45s

Again with the manful stride into argumentative waters, Lance. Having mostly avoided the Hitler vs. Saddam argument with conservative friends for the past few years--and now faced with, alas, months of arguments I'll have to avoid with other friends vis-a-vis the latest Israeli-Arab conflict--I'm not going to bite here. Except to say (there had to be an "except to say") that arguing about war on strictly moral terms is analagous to arguing about the relationship between a brothel and true love. I understand why conservatives do it. The realpolitik argument is gone--the Mid-East isn't stable, and that's just for starters. The economic argument is gone--those captured oil fields aren't working out. The War on Terror argument never existed. That leaves "Saddam was bad!", and always with the exclamation point.

There's a lot of work to do when it comes to Iraq (and Iran). It seems to me, and what do I know, that we as a people might start to get constructive on the matter once we move past the "good vs. evil" nonsense and have a national discussion somewhat above the level of Marvel Comics.

Not that I'm discouraging you from posting on Marvel Comics. Lord knows, after watching the news this morning, it'd be a nice distraction....

blue girl

Can you admit, even grudgingly, that an organization that is dedicated to doing the morally right thing is, yes, morally superior to one that is dedicated to the morally wrong thing *even if it isn't perfect*?

I've always thought about the "intentions" argument. Our "intensions" are good, therefore no matter what we do, we are good.

The strongest military in the world kicked their butts in 2 weeks, but our government never planned for the aftermath, even though Bush could have utilized a lot of brain power around him had he wanted to or cared to actually listen to people who knew what they were talking about.

Even when things (like looting, etc) started to go wrong (almost immediately), people rationalized and ignored it. And just *stayed the course.* Ad nauseam

Caring more about photo ops and PR than actually doing something concrete to make things right.

The list goes on and on.

I don't think the "intentions" argument stands up. I think it's a cop out. It's a cop out to fall back on the line of "even if it's not perfect." -- "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want."

Give me a break.

I think those who make a decision as important as going to war better make darn sure they have their ducks in a row before the first bomb flies. Not to do so is and was completely irresponsible -- no matter what grand intentions anyone cares to claim at any given moment regarding this war.

...And there have been a lot of those, too.

Jennifer

"The economic argument is gone--those captured oil fields aren't working out."

Were they ever supposed to work for us or were they just supposed to be taken out of the play thus allowing the oil men more control, more money? Less oil seems to have worked to their advantage.

BG- "but our government never planned for the aftermath"... I was thinking the same thing as I read the debate above... where was this war's version of the Marshall Plan? It seems to be missing and that alone is unforgivable, I don't care how morally superior you think your reasons for war are... to go into a place, knowing you will be uprooting everything whether good or evil and not have some aftermath plan or 10 ready to go is not acting in a morally superior manner. And even if they didn't have a plan, they've had time to work on one have they not? Has anyone really seen any plan in action?

Linkmeister

Kevin Phillips has a theory about those oil fields.

Baghdad's electricity was low pre-war because power was rationed throughout the country in an attempt to buy off the Shi'a in the south and the Kurds in the north.

Nobody here is an apologist for Saddam. Most of us are, I suspect, honest enough to admit that our government has created a disaster where one didn't exist prior to our intervention. And our intervention was taken not for lofty goals like "exporting democracy," but for what increasingly looks like a grasp at oil and a desire to finish what Bush I and Cheney didn't finish in the first Gulf War.

I don't think those are particularly good reasons for doing what we did.

Deep Thought

KC45s,
You missed a key point; no one compared Saddam to Hitler; I compared the dismissal of American forces as no better/different than Saddam as akin to claiming the allies were no better/different than Nazis.

Big difference. Makes most of your "point" moot. I don't recall a single economic argument (well, no positive one)and when has the middle east been stable? I don't recall claims it would be; just that Saddam would be gone.

Blue Girl,
So you reject the idea that a group that tries to do good and falls short of perfection is no better than a group that tries to do evil? Hope you aren't in the PTO.

LM,
Power generation pre-war was low because it was obsolete, poorly maintained, and generally aimed at Baghdad and factories to begin with. It also sidesteps the fact that current electricity generation is darn near equal to the peak levels of pre-Gulf War.

Let's be clear - as my own blog makes clear - I think the invasion was a dim idea and I opposed it. But the claim that there is no moral difference between Ba'athist thugs who run rape rooms and the American army that investigatges, prosecutes, and punishes soldiers who break the law.

blue girl

So you reject the idea that a group that tries to do good and falls short of perfection is no better than a group that tries to do evil? Hope you aren't in the PTO.

Too easy, Deep Thought! Try again!

There's no such thing as perfection.

There's only knowing (or at least giving a damn to try to find out) to the best of your ability the situation you're about to get involved in and then planning it to the best of your ability.

These guys didn't even get close.

And then, like teenagers, made one excuse after another. Gave us all one story after another to explain away the imperfection.

You would do more good if you held them accountable, than to be here arguing with me. That would truly be supporting the troops.

sfmike

The Iraq invasion wasn't a "dim idea." It was a crime, and continues to be one, and anybody who doesn't understand those basics isn't worth speaking to, Shallow Thought.

The fact that it's also an ongoing kleptocracy to funnel billions to Friends of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld for corporations employing mercenaries, along with defense contractors, arms merchants, Christian missionaries and American engineering companies just makes us all, as Americans, that much more complicit in the horror.

I can't think of a single thing we've done in the Mideast over the last six years that hasn't caused me shame, and having idiots defend it with "33% of electricity generation" stats is frankly creepy, especially since you don't acknowledge that we never did stop bombing Iraq after Gulf War I, so maybe there was that pesky little bombed infrastructure problem. Jesus H. Buddha.

Deep Thought

blue girl,
Condemning Bush, etc. is fine - free country. But to claim that American soldiers are no different than Ba'athist thugs is, well, loony. And to claim that Bush is no better than, maybe *worse* than, Saddam is just as loony.

Making sweeping statements like 'everything is worse off now than before' is to invite facts that say, well, no they aren't. Like my dad always said - everyone who makes a broad generalization is an idiot.

sfmike - yeah, "shallow thought" - that was brilliant

blue girl

And to claim that Bush is no better than, maybe *worse* than, Saddam is just as loony.

I never said that.

But, here's a thought to deeply ponder...

No matter what the intentions are -- when you're dead -- you're dead.

The members of my family who have served have been spared that fate in Iraq so far -- and so have the kids of my friends who've been there and may be going again.

They deserve the best planning possible -- not just simplified arguments about good vs. evil.

Work for them and stop arguing with me.

Jennifer

"Making sweeping statements like 'everything is worse off now than before' is to invite facts that say, well, no they aren't. Like my dad always said - everyone who makes a broad generalization is an idiot."

I'd say you left yourself wide open with that one...

jill_bryant

Maybe this is a naive thing to say but, from what I can tell, "liberals" set a higher standard for our government. Maybe that is the nasty "elitism" I've heard talked about - or maybe what conservative pundits like to call "whining." I think we expect more of America than Bush-supporters do. America was founded by some of the smartest men with the highest aspirations for this country possible. And, I think every time we fall short of being the America envisioned by our Constitution, liberals speak up.

Besides everything else we think America stands for, when we invade another country (not even getting into how we got to this point), we expect Americans to make d@mn sure we know what we're doing. Marshall worked in Washington coming up with the post-war reconstruction he knew was necessary in Europe. This administration was told what was necessary and went into denial - including firing Larry Lindsey when he said the costs were going to be between $100 - $200b - at best.

And, our soldiers are held to a higher standard - let's say an American standard. No, no rape rooms but four soldiers raping a girl and then murdering her family is not what we think will happen with American occupation.

The Pentagon did a study back in 2004 that showed we had lost the Iraqis hearts and minds: that we've increased support for Al Qaeda and turned ordinary Muslims against us. I doubt if anything we're doing now is changing that.

blue girl

And one more thing Deep Thought --

And to claim that Bush is no better than, maybe *worse* than, Saddam is just as loony.

How do you know that?

How do you know?

I know I'm opening up myself to your wrath with that question, but why do you trust these guys so much? I thought Republicans/conservatives didn't trust the government?

Why would you ever think these guys would give a hoot about you and what you even thought of to begin with?

My hunch is that they don't.

I just don't get why you support these guys after everything you've witnessed over the last 5 years. I know it's not like Clinton getting a haircut on Air Force One, but there's a little there to think about.

Deep Thought

blue girl,
No, you didn't - but that is the implication that *I* originally responded to, the implication that Bush=Saddam, US GIs=Ba'athist thugs

Jennifer,
Pleae look up "irony"

Jill,
I agree. And our soldiers *are* being held to a higher standard - after all, they *are* being investigated. And if the Abu Ghraib trial is an indication, the guilty will serve. Indeed, the the rape/murder charges are proven, those soldiers face the death penalty.

What I, as a conservative, object to is not 'high standards', it is the argument that 'well, things aren't what they should be, or what they could be, therefore America/the Army/etc. are morally equivalent to groups like the ba'athists. *That* is what I reject. Should the pre-planning have been better? Heck, yeah. Are crimes committed by soldiers? Dammit, they are, to our shame. But to go from there to 'we are no better than Saddam and his professional rapists' is to go far too far.

And that's really it. I am a veteran; I objected to going to war; I object to the planning; I RAGED against the execution of the war; i think the post-major combat has sucked. That doesn't mean that the Army is the same as Uday and Qusay. To say that the Iraqi people as a whole are worse off and would be better off under Saddam is to ignore the reality of a largely-autonomous Kurdistan in place of a region swept by gunships; to ignore that the majority Shi'ites are creating a local government rather than waiting for the next round of poison gas attacks; to deny that there is no some hope of Iraqis controlling their own fate rather than being ruled by a tyrant.

Deep Thought

blue girl,

"And to claim that Bush is no better than, maybe *worse* than, Saddam is just as loony.

How do you know that?

How do you know?"

OK - Saddam Hussein: Seized power in a coup and immediately initiated purges; used terror squads to round up anyone who might dissent and had them and, often their family tortured to death as an 'example'; had an adcisor that upset him and sent the chopped up pieces of his body delivered to the man's wife; initiated a war of conquest against Iran and used chemical munitions on military and civilian targets; used chemical weapons on his own citizens in the Kurdish and Shi'ite regions, often wiping out entire villages to 'teach a lesson'; provided training and safe haven to some of the worst terrorists on Earth throughout his rule; conquered another neighnoring nation and looted it down to the bathroom fixtures in an orgy or rape and murder; sponsred suicide bombers throughout the world; set up terror programs where the wives and daughters of people who were political foes, dissdents, etc. were gang-raped and then killed and forced their families to watch tapes of these vile acts; was responsible for the deaths of no less than one MILLION of his own people through purges, torture, war, and chemical weapon attacks.

And you then ask how I can be sure he's worse than George Bush.

You didn't incur my wrath. My contemptuous pity, but not my wrath.

Jennifer

Thank you Deep Thought. Thank you for coming in for setting us all straight. We obviously understand now that the ends justify the means even if the ends don't end up anywhere close to where promised. We also understand that if the guy we go after is a bigger bad ass then all rules are off and we are free to do anything we choose and will still be the better guy.

Grizzled

"Thanks for not cherry picking my comments too badly, but my point seems to have been opaque. Things suck in Iraq right now. Things sucked in Iraq when Saddam was in charge. The difference is that at least now they are on the way to no longer sucking so damn bad."

Yes, things certainly did suck when Saddam was in charge, but it wasn't costing the US hundreds of millions of dollars a day. I am guessing you will tell me that we should have a heart and the cost is worth it. Only .02% of our budget goes into our Head Start program and yet Grover Norquist thinks it should be eliminated. Where is the heart for the people of our own country? Thank God George Bush & Co. took the 2nd largest developed oil reserve out of circulation with their war. My heart just swells with pride when I think of the contribution my piddly salary makes to the inflated profits over at Exxon. And gee whiz I'm looking foward to paying off my $30,000 (and growing) portion of the national debt. Oh, oh, oh....and don't forget the $90,000 for my two kids and my wife as well. Gosh, I was so impressed with what Neil Bush did with the S&L scandal back in 80's, I'm disappointed it's taking so long for this administration to totally bankrupt us. Oops, I'm sorry. I got a bit off topic...What were you saying?...

Jill_bryant

DT -
I probably should just reply to you but...I'll try this one more time. If you are going to use Abu Ghraib as an example of American soldiers being held to a higher standard, let's not forget this was not something the Administration wanted out - it was exposed by the traitorous media. Who also leaked a memo cleared by our ATTORNEY GENERAL that argued laws prohibiting torture do "not apply to the president's detention and interrogation of enemy combatants." How do they define this torture that is not prohibited? Pain caused by interrogation must include "injury such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions — in order to constitute torture".

And, I have to say, I don't know what's going on there and I don't think you do either. I know you served in the first Gulf War. Have you thought maybe this isn't even the Army you know? This has been a strategic disaster. And, if you don't want to look at the Army, look at all the contractors over there. When Rumsfeld was asked what law governs their action, he thought Iraq's laws would. When, later it was said to Bush, Iraq clearly is not capable of enforcing these laws against American contractors, Bush joked around and said he'd call Rumsfeld to find out what was being done.

There is Riverbend's blog http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/ about conditions in Iraq from an Iraqi. I don't know if she is for real or not. She seems to be. This is what she says in a recent post:
"Rape. The latest of American atrocities. Though it's not really the latest- it's just the one that's being publicized the most. The poor girl Abeer was neither the first to be raped by American troops, nor will she be the last. The only reason this rape was brought to light and publicized is that her whole immediate family were killed along with her. Rape is a taboo subject in Iraq. Families don't report rapes here, they avenge them. We've been hearing whisperings about rapes in American-controlled prisons and during sieges of towns like Haditha and Samarra for the last three years. The naiveté of Americans who can't believe their 'heroes' are committing such atrocities is ridiculous. Who ever heard of an occupying army committing rape??? You raped the country, why not the people?"

Again - I go back to the PENTAGON saying we've lost the hearts and minds of the people. I'm not sure where our bulletpoints of improvements they have to look forward to alter their awareness of the day to day deaths Lance described.


Deep Thought

Jennifer,
I have never stated that the ends justify the means, nor do I think that; in fact, just the opposite. What I *am* saying is that there is no moral equivalence between Saddam's regime and the Bush white house or the Ba'athist thugs abd the US Army. This is a simple point.

Grizzled,
OK, as far as I can tell, you think Iraq is bad because it is expensive. Is that right?

Jill,
No, Abu Ghraib was not a secret exposed by the media unless you count "evidence made public by Army investigators" as an "expose" [sorry, darn accent mark not working]. Army criminal investigation division lawyers made the public evidence public as per American law as they investigated Abu Ghraib. The Media didn't risk life and limb to get the story, they just used the investigators' press releases. Go look it up, you'll see the attribution in the earliest storeis and sets of pictures.

And that leaked memo was not policy, but an argument over what the law might allow. See, the army doesn't uses "memos" in the field, they use the sets of rules that result from memos and the discussions over policy, laws, and legal definitions sparked by memos.

Surrisingly, the contractors over there are being watched. Not only do I still have many acquiantances in the Army, I have many within the contractors - including a brother-in-law. They are not running around like Vandals looting Rome.

It i a sad fact tht with almost a million servicemen and women rotating through Iraq that there will, indeed, be murder, rape, theft, and other crimes committed. It would be the same if you sent a million college students, sheet metal workers, lawyers, or liberal bloggers through an area in chaos. But those who commit crimes are investigated and tried and, if guilty, punished. That is a change for the better.

I wasn't aware that we went there for hearts and minds, or any other such goal. Post-WWII most Germans hated Americans, too. And those day-to-day deaths that Lance is speaking of A) existed long before we arrived and B) are the result of terrorists using private citizens as targets and shields. Terrorists that are usually foreign-born or at least foreign-led. It isn't the result of the US Army just deciding to shell an entire town to the ground, the deaths are because terrorists trained by Saddam or Hezbullah or another such group and funded by Saddam's loot, Iranian cash, or al-Qaeda 'donations' continue to set off car bombs in markets and by schools, send suicide bombers to bus stops, and ambush American and British soldiers while the terrorist take cover in people's homes.

Why aren't you railing against the foreingers from lands other than America that are *instigating* the violence, who have killed thousands upon thousands with their suicide vests and mass executions? Like I said before, this is lik blaming the cops for drug violence.

Grizzled

Deep Thought-

Yes, this war is about money and if you think otherwise you are fooling yourself. It's about oil,the seize of natural resources and a reach for power. LBJ did the same thing only everybody was asked to sacrifice. This war is not about morality and never was.

These men came into office saying they were going to run this country like a lean, mean business. They have not done that, but are instead running it into the ground. They are not running it like a business unless that business is Harken Oil.

This war was and is about money.

Deep Thought

Grizzled,
So, the economy is down, there are fewer jobs, the stock market is tanking? No, none of that is true. I know! The deficit is up and tax receipts are down! No, that isn't true, either. Huh. There are more jobs, the stock market is up, the economy is growing at a healthy clip, tax receipts are *up*, primarily from greater total corporate tax receipts and an increase in receipts from the wealthiest 1% of Americans, allowing the deficit to shrink to less than 60% of what was projected in 2002 [and this despite the billions of dollars wasted by both parties in "earmarks"].

Don't get me wrong, the Government wastes money. But it isn't running the nation into the ground!

DuWayne

I have to beg to differ on the economy. Jobs are not in fact "up" if you adjust for increasing population and don't try to pretend that those who are timing out of unemployment actually have jobs.

The stock market is a lousy indicator of the economy - it reflects how well a small percentage of the population is doing.

The fact that your president decided to allow your congress to legislate contract fraud by letting them out of their pension obligations to workers is just indicitive of this regime's priorities. They could give a damn about the American people, except for the top quarter percent.

Your president claims to be entirley above the law. He has trashed our constitution and eliminated due proccess where he thinks it appropriate. That alone is "running this country into the ground."

Deep Thought

Jill,
Stunning. The stock market is an indicator of the open market values of all publically-traded companies in the particular market. So while a small number of people who are invested in stocks (like, say, everyone with a 401(k), indexed fund, or other such retirement portfolio - about 50% of ALL households in America) (yes, that is sarcasm) *profit* directly from the stock market, the rise in the market does, in fact, indicate a rise in the economy as a whole.

And the bureau of labor statistics (which, BTW, Howard Dean uses for *his* numbers) reports that long-term and discouraged unemplyed workers are down, not up. And considering that the number of *working age* people added to the population in the month of May totaled about 80,000 and the number of jobs added was about 121,000, that sounds like jobs *are* increasing faster than population, doesn't it? In fact, in that month job growth outpaced population growth by 50%.

Since you keep speaking about 'my' president, and 'my congress', can I assume you are Canadian?

Deep Thought

Ooops - that last one was for DuWayne, not Jill - I apologize.

David

DT:

It seems to me that much of the argument here seems to be stemming from, IMO, a fundamental misreading of Lance's argument.* Specifically:

This is akin to whining that the allies are no better than the Nazis 'cuz at least with Hitler they had electricity and hot water, while the allies destroyed everything!

You're saying that Lance is arguing that the Americans are no worse than Saddam, but I don't read it that way at all. It seems to me he's arguing that the conditions in Iraq under the American occupation are no better than they were under Saddam. Different, but not better. Under Saddam, there was violent repression, rape rooms, torture chambers, and so on. Under the American occupation, there's anarchy, daily bombings, kidnappings, sectarian violence, torture, and so on. Is it better to live with the fear that government thugs will drag you out of your house in the middle of the night, never to be seen again, or the fear that you'll be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a bomb goes off, or that you'll be murdered by militiamen for the crime of belonging to the wrong ethnic group? Seems to me that both are equally intolerable.

I don't think that we're as bad as Saddam. Hell, I might even allow that our intentions were good. But being good or having good intentions alone isn't enough. You can't expect the Iraqis to feel grateful that violent tyranny has been replaced with violent anarchy. And justifying this by arguing that "Things sucked in Iraq when Saddam was in charge. The difference is that at least now they are on the way to no longer sucking so damn bad" isn't much of a justification at all.

Rana

Deep Thought, you missed my point entirely. Convenient, since it seems you don't have an answer to it.

The problem with the war in Iraq is not that we have toppled Saddam.

Nor is it a question of whether there is the possibility that in some distant future, our intervention may eventually lead down a road to a better experience for the Iraqi people.

Whatever the reasons, real or imported or made-up, we are in Iraq:

We are not living up to our own standards while we are there.

American troops are not supposed to rape the people they are helping, and when they do, their leaders are not supposed to turn a blind eye.

American troops are not supposed to torture the innocent, and when they do, their leaders are not supposed to write it off as an inevitable cost of war.

Our leaders should be able to lecture other nations about human rights violations without being hypocrites.

We are supposed to be a nation that gets the job right the first time. We are not supposed to be one that fails to anticipate potential problems, nor are we supposed to be one that blames everyone but ourselves when easily anticipated difficulties take us by surprise.

We're supposed to be the good guys, the can-do, the shining beacon on the hill.

Right now we're not.

That's not hyperbole, it's fact.

Pointing that out is the height of patriotism: I want my country to be that shining beacon.

Pointing out when it fails is essential to improvement.
Excuses like yours condone that failure.

If you spent half as much energy as you're spending here, chiding us for expecting more of our beloved nation, on getting our government to recognize and fix these problems -- which do exist -- then you would be in a place to act like a scold.

Instead, you're giving them cover for failing to do their job, for failing to make America the best it can be, settling instead of a merely adequate version, and justifying it as "better."

That's pretty weak patriotism in my book.


Deep Thought

David,
I appreciate your comment, and I agree that things are bad. Above I admitted that the only real advantage today over Saddam's rule is that the future has a better chance of being better than it once did.

Deep Thought

Rana,
You are making my point, to a degree. You seem to be saying that since we didn't get it right, the first time, just so - we are all failures. That because it dodn't go as well as it could have, because people made mistakes - we're rotten.

I would hate to be your kid!

And as far as soldiers not supposed to be rapist - true, I wholeheartedly agree. Teachers aren't supposed to sleep with 13 year-old students, either. Should we condemn all teachers? Lawyers aren't supposed to cheat their clients; should we kill all lawyers? (OK, I take that one back).

My point is - we are working to fix our mistakes, like Americans always do (do you think we started WWI perfectly? WWII? Heck, the constitution was a second try to fix all the mistakes in the Articles of OCnfederation!). Criminals ARE prosecuted.

And as far as my right to "scold" - OK, I'll bite.

How many times in the last year have you met with your senator? Your congreesman? Your local or state officials? The local Democratic and Republican party? Do you go to town hall meetings? state legislature sessions?

As for me it is - once with each of my senators, twice with my rep, 4 times with state legislators, twice with county commissioners. I've met with the local heads of the DNC, the RNC and the Consitution Party. Two town hall meetings and 3 sessions of the state legislature.

Oh, and I write my own political blog, write for three more (one much larger) blogs, letters to the editor all over, and even correspond with a number of writers from CounterPunch about politics.

AND three visits to the local army base to meet with returning or about to depart soldiers and their officers to find out what *they* saw, etc.

AND I speak at college campuses, church groups, and youth clubs.

I am very involved politically, and I don't mean reading the daily kos.

Is that enough street cred for ya'? I can even forward old email chains with Senator Wellstone (God bless him) if you want to see what a nice guy he was, even when he was totally opposed to you.

DuWayne

I have been going through the painful expierience that for the first time in my life I do not have a president. I am not a Canadian - I am an American. I believe in my constitution, I believe in the ideals I learned about in school, about what this country represents. Your president believes in none of that. Your president is a war criminal and a sociopath. Your president is bent on the destruction of everything this country was built upon. So, as much as it pains me - goes against everything I was raised to believe - your psycho in the oval office is NOT my president.

Fledermaus

My point is - we are working to fix our mistakes, like Americans always do (do you think we started WWI perfectly? WWII? Heck, the constitution was a second try to fix all the mistakes in the Articles of Confederation!).

But there comes a time when supporters need to realize that we just are not helping by being there. Funny you should mention WWII. In November of this year the Iraq War will have lasted longer than our involvement in WWII. Let that sink in for a moment. Furthermore I see no progress in establishing a secure and stable US friendly democracy.

Sure we've taken out Saddam, nabbed a terrorist or two and had some elections. But there is daily random violence that we cannot control or contain - and it has been going on for over three years. Not every war is successful and if we want to keep to WWII anaolgies this is like being stuck in trench warfare on Normandy beach for years on end. And the scary part is no one in the executive branch seems to care that we are not succeeding. They are just running out the clock and leaving the problem for the next guy, like everything Bush has undertaken.

Deep Thought

But we are nowhere near to the duration we were engaged in WWII AND creating democracies in Japan, Italy, and Germany, are we? They, too, were fraught with corruption, terrorist attacks, etc. Not on this scale, but then the war wasn't nearly as destructive before hand, either. It took much longer to build civic institutions in Germany and Japan than you seem to realize, long after the "wars" were won.

And that was without neighboring nations sending in guerrillas to ambush Americans and put bombs in schools.

And your inability to see progress is probably because you are ignoring things like, say, the Iraqis taking over military responsibilities (total) for a province already - long before (in WWII terms) Germans were ready to defend Germany from the Soviets. Or the fact that the Iraqis got their own government in place in less time than it took MacArthur to just make one in Japan.

FDR died, Truman was out, and Eisenhower was retired, and the creation of a Japanese government was still a novelty when JFK got us into Vietnam.

Wanna' rethink that whole "still on the beaches of Normandy" analogy now?

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