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Black Hawk Down Redux It's déjà vu, but different; it's post-Clinton.

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  • Black Hawk Down Redux It's déjà vu, but different; it's post-Clinton.

    by Rich Lowry

    The downing of a U.S. Chinook helicopter during the weekend in Iraq is a gut-check for the nation and for President Bush. The comparisons to the "Black Hawk Down" battle in Somalia in October 1993 are unavoidable, from the celebrations of the natives on the ground to the heartbreaking death toll (18 in Somalia, 16 now).

    What should be different is America's response. The kind of sweaty-palmed cut-and-run sentiment now gripping the Democratic party over the question of Iraq was personified in the Oval Office ten years ago by a panicked President Clinton, as I write in my new book Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years. His hasty retreat after the "Black Hawk Down" battle created an image of American weakness that was noted by Islamic terrorists at the time and that the United States is still working to undo to this day.

    In 1993, the forces of Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aideed ? hunted by U.S. forces ? brought down two Black Hawk helicopters and precipitated a vicious daylong firefight. In the immediate aftermath of the battle, Clinton managed a burst of bravado, telling an aide: "I believe in killing people who try to hurt you." But soon enough he would be worrying to George Stephanopoulos: "I hope I didn't panic and announce the pullout too soon."

    The Clinton administration had chosen in early 1993 to expand the limited humanitarian mission in Somalia it inherited from the first Bush administration into a grander effort to rebuild the strategically marginal country. Madeleine Albright hailed it as an "unprecedented enterprise aimed at nothing less than the restoration of an entire country." These ringing statements were empty since Clinton wasn't willing to pay any price to back them up. The first major blow sent him reeling.

    Clinton briefly faked resolve publicly, vowing that "you may be sure that we will do whatever's necessary...to complete our mission." About a week later he was saying, contradicting his administration's own policy to that point, "It is not our job to rebuild Somalia's society." In a letter to Congress, the White House promptly began rewriting history: "The U.S. military mission is not now nor was it ever one of 'nation-building.'"

    Massive reinforcements were sent to Somalia, but only for show. Just days after Aideed's forces had killed 18 Americans, Clinton dispatched former ambassador to Somalia Robert Oakley to Mogadishu to tell Aideed that he was off the hook, the United States would no longer seek his capture. Aideed's clan, perhaps taken aback by the American pusillanimity, didn't believe it.

    Mark Bowden, author of the book "Black Hawk Down," writes of how terrified the warlord's allies were after the battle: "Some of Aideed's strongest clan allies had fled the city fearing the inevitable American counterattack. The clan's arsenals of RPG's were severely depleted. Others were sending peace feelers, offering to dump Aideed to ward off more bloodshed." They didn't have to bother. Aideed could look forward, shortly after his attack, to becoming part of negotiations for peace.

    Clinton's retreat broadcast a signal of weakness around the world. As it happens, al Qaeda operatives had provided assistance to warlord Aideed's forces. "It cleared from Muslim minds the myth of superpowers," Osama bin Laden said of Somalia in his interview with ABC News journalist John Miller in May 1998. "The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat."

    After "Black Hawk Down," bin Laden probably asked himself: If 18 dead could shake America, well then, what could be accomplished by killing thousands? There were two lessons for the United States from Somalia: (1) Don't send U.S. troops somewhere unless it's truly important; (2) don't let setbacks scare you into retreat. The Bush administration seems to have learned both, and perhaps the world will eventually get a very different object lesson in U.S. staying power.
    "Speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own Michael Moore, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities." - Christopher Hitchens

  • #2
    Originally posted by kid kool
    The Bush administration seems to have learned both, and perhaps the world will eventually get a very different object lesson in U.S. staying power.
    The World already knows about US staying power, the US stayed 8 years in Vietnam (Mar. 1965 - Feb. 1973), but the World also knows it won't work.

    Comment


    • #3
      There are alot of differences between Iraq and Somalia. The most notable is the President's own resolve, which in part is sustained by Congressional and public support.

      Clinton had little interest in Somalia. When events did turn south, his primary objective was finding a solution that minimized his political risk, while still portraying resolve. This led to a confusing policy, which resulted in the October 3, 1993 raid, and America's withdrawal.

      There was discussions within the Clinton White House to expand the military effort. However, Oakley felt further military action would lhave resulted in Congress cutting spending for the operation. There was little public support. Everyone wanted out. So Clinton walked away.

      I agree with the assessment that Somalia led reignited questions about America's resolve. For people like Osama Bin Laden, OPERATION: RESTORE HOPE suggested the US could still be challenged and forced out because people fear casualties. For allies, America's withdrawal made them weary of contributing to US efforts. They feared we would cut and run, leaving them high and dry.

      Some people, mainly Iraqis, do fear America will leave Iraq before the mission is complete. Yet, overall, most believe resolve will not be an issue. Dispite last weeks accident, casualty rates in Iraq are rather low. The average is something like four to six KIA per week. America should be able to sustain these numbers for a very long time. According to the Pentagon there are an average of 175 to 245 attacks on Coalition troops per week. A ten or fifteen percent fatality rate makes our own resolve the greatest enemy, because the attacks are ineffective.

      Not all attacks are related to Iraqis who want freedom. Crime, among other things is very high in Iraq. The Coalition forces are the police, who are impeding these operations. Pushing troops out of areas is the logical objective of warlords and thugs who really have no other way to support themselves and their family. Events in Iraq resemble the collapse of Communism in Europe. You have a multitude of problems, and we're right smack in the middle of it.

      Bush will stay in Iraq. The gains still justify the risk. Much is still on the US side. If Bush would just focus more on succeeding, rather than his vision of success, I believe America might be able to pull this off. The political gains won't be so great. However, the US will certainly be a better position in the region than it would be if we withdrew.

      I will say this though, we'd can't keep loosing helicopters like this. Another has gone down. I'm not sure if was due to hostile fire or not. Either way, it is a real problem. (As is everything about Iraq.)
      "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

      Comment


      • #4
        Looking back it was a good move by Clinton to get the US out of there when he did. What would of happened if the US stayed? More dead American GIs and Somalia still would of been a poor, backward country.
        "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."

        Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

        Comment


        • #5
          Deltapooh,

          I agree with some of your points. A surprise to say at least to me!

          I believe that the United States should now relcutantly turn away from hunting for WMDs and get back Iraq in control before everything over there collapse to the point of no chances for reversing the damage. The first order of business should be the hunt for RPGs and the other shouldered-weapons that can easily bring down the heliochopters. They're ones that pose the most serious threat to the Coalition forces in Iraq.

          Don't get me wrong, it's important for Bush to keep up the search for WMDs, however, if the control over Iraq is already lost, then what's the point in looking around for WMDs if Iraqis aren't cooperating and too busy to fight us?

          A second point is that the US troops are in "force-protection" mode, I don't know if this is good for Iraqis or our morale, I think, we're going to have risk more casualties if we want better results by mingling with Iraqi population a little bit more openly thant what is now. We can't keep our troops sheltered forever, soon or later, they're going to have to come out of their barracks and patrol the streets. I believe that these troops should be given appropriate training before going out in Iraq. It was a mistake of tragic porportations that we didn't do that much earlier when we started deploying for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

          In any case, I think America has to risk more casualties if it wants better results, and I fear our resolve will wane as the election turns to focus on economic woes, partial-abortion ban, health care, and other stuff that takes preceding concern over Iraqi stuff. It couldn't have come to worst time as Bush desperately needs a real victory, not a prryhic one. Of course, it's more likely Bush will win the next election, but which he wants: a slim majority or a two-third majority?

          In all, I think we're doing okay in Iraq, but I sure would like to see Rumsfeld fired or forced to resign, so far, I think he's been Bush's biggest mistake of his presidential career. I've lost trust in Rumsfeld's judgment, especially after using a horrible term, "slog of war" in his leaked memo.

          Dan
          Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

          "Aim small, miss small."

          Comment


          • #6
            I think we're long past the stage when WMDs in Iraq matter. Everyone is cluing in that WMD was a giant sham by now anyways. It's kind of sad that most of the electorate, not just in the US, doesn't really give a damn that they're lied to. You can't have a truly functioning democracy if your leaders and government constantly lie to you. It's more like a friendly dictatorship. Just ask Jean Chretien, Canada's friendly dictator.

            Anyways, at this point the US had better not bail out on Iraq and make it open season for Iraqi civil war. Clean up the mess you made and leave with a functioning government (preferably one that the US doesn't have a stranglehold over in regards to international and domestic politics), of whatever sort, because we all know democracy isn't going to easy (or if its even possible right now) in Iraq.

            $13 billion in aid from the international community isn't bad... relatively not up to snuff, but then this is primarily America's burden anyways.

            ^ I know Deltahpooh read that last line and wants to respond by telling me that Iraq not falling into chaos is in everyone's interest and that's true, but as I've said in the past: if the US thinks it can go intervene around the world (and worse on bogus pretenses) and leave cleanup for the rest of the world to deal with, I think an Iraq in chaos would be relatively minor to the damage Bush and his hawkish advisors could do by invading and making a mess in Syria, Iran, North Korea, etc. Bush once praised the policy of opening up corrupt or otherwise closed regimes through economics (either imploding them, as looks to be the caes with North Korea or reforming them as with China, whose citizens enjoy increasingly large numbers of rights - they even indirectly vote for their leadership [still a flawed process in the democratic sense but its getting there]). It's too bad he 'forgot' all that when he got oil on the brain.
            "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

            – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MikeJ
              I think we're long past the stage when WMDs in Iraq matter. Everyone is cluing in that WMD was a giant sham by now anyways. It's kind of sad that most of the electorate, not just in the US, doesn't really give a damn that they're lied to. You can't have a truly functioning democracy if your leaders and government constantly lie to you. It's more like a friendly dictatorship. Just ask Jean Chretien, Canada's friendly dictator.
              At least we elect so-called "friendly" dictators. About half of America elected for Bush and got him into the office regardless of what you claim about the Supreme Court's decision. The counts after the decision clearly showed Bush was still in lead regardless of what was said and done.

              Nobody claimed Bush was an angel or a boy scout. There's consequences to be paid if somebody is lying, and certainly in my mind, Bush's paid for it by running into a lot of trouble in Iraq. That's what he got for so-called "lying" to the public.

              I don't think WMD is a gaint sham. I believe it has some substance to a certain extent. In any case, I still believe that America's mission in Iraq is a noble cause, worth to be dying for, in that we did successfully eliminated one major Arab power from ever pursuing WMD programs. Now all that left is Iran, which is only one that can reasonably pursue such programs.

              One troublesome spot is certainly better than say, oh two possible WMD-capable Arab countries (Iraq and Iran). You can argue all you want, but as an American citizen whose support of American Hegemony is strong, I do feel much safer now that Iraq is safely eliminated.

              Anyways, at this point the US had better not bail out on Iraq and make it open season for Iraqi civil war. Clean up the mess you made and leave with a functioning government (preferably one that the US doesn't have a stranglehold over in regards to international and domestic politics), of whatever sort, because we all know democracy isn't going to easy (or if its even possible right now) in Iraq.
              As the victors and occupier of Iraq, I feel that USA has the right to have a say in how Iraq is formed by its own citizens lest we have to go back again to cless up their own mess. Whatever you say, it's in the best interests of world that we ensure there won't be a fundamentalist government in Iraq. The fundamentalist government is the worst kind of system to be set up in Middle East, we needn't to remind ourselves of Iran and Afghanistan. The best we could hope is for a kind of Turkish system, while not democratic, it's certainly better than the other systems -- dictatorship and monarchy (Saundi Arabia).

              $13 billion in aid from the international community isn't bad... relatively not up to snuff, but then this is primarily America's burden anyways.
              Surprisingly enough, I agree with you on this one. Oh my....it must be really bad for me today...

              ^ I know Deltahpooh read that last line and wants to respond by telling me that Iraq not falling into chaos is in everyone's interest and that's true, but as I've said in the past: if the US thinks it can go intervene around the world (and worse on bogus pretenses) and leave cleanup for the rest of the world to deal with, I think an Iraq in chaos would be relatively minor to the damage Bush and his hawkish advisors could do by invading and making a mess in Syria, Iran, North Korea, etc. Bush once praised the policy of opening up corrupt or otherwise closed regimes through economics (either imploding them, as looks to be the caes with North Korea or reforming them as with China, whose citizens enjoy increasingly large numbers of rights - they even indirectly vote for their leadership [still a flawed process in the democratic sense but its getting there]). It's too bad he 'forgot' all that when he got oil on the brain.
              At least America is in reality while the world is shutting itself off from the real problems that nobody has guts except America to face them. America made a lot of mistakes including supporting bin Laden during Soviet-Afghanistan War, Saddam during Iraq-Iran War, and some other crises. But we're making amends for these mistakes by getting rid of them and protecting our national interests. That's certainly better than what the world would have done.

              I would like to remind you that for many Americans, we think the world has made a lot more mess than America had done, and we are left with pieces to clean up the world's mess. For many of Americans, we tend to feel that the EU and the rest of world have to go through something like 50 committees before giving a soldier permission to pee. Americans are getting tired of throwing money at everything in sight, having to sit through scores of UN committees with no solution in sight, of sending arms only to find they're being used by wrong parties, ineffective UN peacekeeping forces that are largely funded by USA, and so many other things that we Americans have go in and clean the world's mess all by ourselves WITH NO positive results.

              We (for most of Americans) are disgusted with Clinton's foreign policy that he was so ambigious and unsure of himself. America time and time again is embarrassed that the cruise missiles are largely ineffective and that UN is really dragging itself into whatever crisis. It is Clinton's fault that he didn't see it clearly enough that America is the only real country with guts and capability to resolve any crisis without outside help. Now, Bush is making that up as he overhauls the foreign policy onto the right track.

              Finally, in a fitting recognition, I do hereby realize that many countries can have a fine professional army that is dedicated and hardy, however, for many Americans like me in general, we feel that these countries' populations usually disdain any kind of force and tends to look down on their own armies like kind of filthy criminal clubs. You can argue all you want, but it's the perspective of an average American citizen, by average.

              I cannot allow America to vallicate back and forth on case-by-case basis, that's what Clinton tried to do, and obviously that failed. That led to bin Laden's attacks on WTCs and Saddam all too eager to build up a regional power capable of challenging another nation in Middle East.

              Thus, once again, America must carry the burden as long the world doesn't want it or would prefer to live in some distant fantasy realm.

              Dan
              Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

              "Aim small, miss small."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Cheetah772
                At least we elect so-called "friendly" dictators. About half of America elected for Bush and got him into the office regardless of what you claim about the Supreme Court's decision. The counts after the decision clearly showed Bush was still in lead regardless of what was said and done.
                What did I claim about the Supreme Court decision?

                Frankly, I don't care about the supreme court decision, but let me remind you that for democracy to work, there has to be transparency. Without transparency, you're just a pile of sugar coated dung. Still dung, but looks a little nicer.

                Nobody claimed Bush was an angel or a boy scout. There's consequences to be paid if somebody is lying, and certainly in my mind, Bush's paid for it by running into a lot of trouble in Iraq. That's what he got for so-called "lying" to the public.
                I'm sure the soldiers and civilians dying in Iraq right now are so happy that "Bush got what was coming to him".

                But in his words: "Bring 'em on!"

                I don't think WMD is a gaint sham. I believe it has some substance to a certain extent. In any case, I still believe that America's mission in Iraq is a noble cause, worth to be dying for, in that we did successfully eliminated one major Arab power from ever pursuing WMD programs. Now all that left is Iran, which is only one that can reasonably pursue such programs.
                Whether or not you believe there is an argument involving WMD to be made is not relevant to the Bushie WMD argument being a total sham. Let's not play the deflection game, we all know what Bush and his crew claimed were in Iraq and we can all see there's an extremely low probability that Kay is ever going to get the "smoking gun". That he has to champion finds like a vial Botulinium as a centerpiece of his latest report just shows you how lacking they are.

                And I hate to break it to you, but any democratic Iraq will see WMD as a possible course of action to protect the national interests of Iraqis. Israel's WMD stockpile and continued defiance of IAEA inspections is going to ensure that every country in the region has a thoroughly legitimate reason for wanting WMD. Whether they have more malicious intent as well is noted, but then Israel preparing to respond to a conventional assault with nuclear weapons doesn't qualify as deterrence from WMD either. Afterall, Israel's air strike on the Osirik nuclear complex shows that Israel will risk war to maintain her dominant Middle Eastern position. Any country attacked has little recourse with the US providing political protection to Israel, as well as arming Israel to the teeth.

                If you would apply your "national security" train of thought (you look at everything from the context of US and Israeli national security) to every nation in the region, you'd realize it's a recipe for disaster.

                You would not accept such practices domestically, in your own daily life so when I hear you speaking like one nations interests > all (as opposed to finding the right balance - just as we do with 'freedom') then I sometimes wish, if only for a moment, that the world worked exactly as you wished it would just so you could see the kind of problems it would cause.

                One troublesome spot is certainly better than say, oh two possible WMD-capable Arab countries (Iraq and Iran). You can argue all you want, but as an American citizen whose support of American Hegemony is strong, I do feel much safer now that Iraq is safely eliminated.
                How about 0 trouble some spots? Disarm Israel's WMD stockpile, guarantee them with the USA's thousands of warheads and then start preaching about non-proliferation in the Middle East. But demanding all the Arab states not proliferate WMDs is absolutely hypocritical when the only reason Israel has managed to evade punishment for its own proliferation activities has been the protection of the United Staes.

                As the victors and occupier of Iraq, I feel that USA has the right to have a say in how Iraq is formed by its own citizens lest we have to go back again to cless up their own mess.
                You've no innate right but you'll do it anyways. It's doomed to failure unless whatever the US dictates to Iraq happens to coincide with what Iraqis really want. I somehow doubt that, given the Shiite majority in the country. If the US really wants to rebuild Iraq for Iraqis and not for AMerican interests, then all of the irregularities that say otherwise need to end. If the US will not rebuild Iraq without putting the USAs interests first, you're going to be in Iraq for a long time.

                Whatever you say, it's in the best interests of world that we ensure there won't be a fundamentalist government in Iraq.
                Not if it means a war in Syria, North Korea and Iran. Drop the myopic viewpoint and think bigger.

                In simpler terms: Soviet Union dissapearing = good. Soviet Union dissapearing at the price of world-wide nuclear war = bad. So a statement that "whatever you say, it's in the best interests of the world that the Soviet Union dissapear" would be questionable to say the least.

                The fundamentalist government is the worst kind of system to be set up in Middle East, we needn't to remind ourselves of Iran and Afghanistan. The best we could hope is for a kind of Turkish system, while not democratic, it's certainly better than the other systems -- dictatorship and monarchy (Saundi Arabia).
                Just a point of curiousity - why do you say the Turkish system is not democratic (in the sense that we assume the west is democratic too)?

                At least America is in reality while the world is shutting itself off from the real problems that nobody has guts except America to face them.
                There are many ways to approach dictators... corporate welfare to the military industrial complex is just one of them. Of course, too often economic interests get in the way which prevents any meaningful action being taken. Of course, you could simply escalate the action, with war, but then you run the risk of escalating the response too.

                America made a lot of mistakes including supporting bin Laden during Soviet-Afghanistan War, Saddam during Iraq-Iran War, and some other crises. But we're making amends for these mistakes by getting rid of them and protecting our national interests. That's certainly better than what the world would have done.
                The western world, during the Cold War, more or less followed what the US did. Now that there's no longer the threat of 30,000 Soviet tanks rolling through Western Europe, the world is less inclined to put up with American egoism.

                I would like to remind you that for many Americans, we think the world has made a lot more mess than America had done, and we are left with pieces to clean up the world's mess.
                Great. So you know how annoying it is. Don't put us in the awkward position of picking up the pieces because winning the peace is too hard.

                Americans are getting tired of throwing money at everything in sight, having to sit through scores of UN committees with no solution in sight, of sending arms only to find they're being used by wrong parties, ineffective UN peacekeeping forces that are largely funded by USA, and so many other things that we Americans have go in and clean the world's mess all by ourselves WITH NO positive results.
                I love hearing right-wingers Americans complain about the UN.

                If you hate it so much, PULL OUT. But you won't, because if you actually knew anything about the history of the UN, you'd realize it's been a massive successs for the US to influence and otherwise legitimize it's policy to the rest of the world.

                (typical chest-thumping bravado snipped)
                Thus, once again, America must carry the burden as long the world doesn't want it or would prefer to live in some distant fantasy realm.
                You must carry the burden - at least you're right on that. But the reason you must clean up the mess is because you made it. You can only count on Japan being a giant American ATM machine for so long. And all the better. With the kind of no-restraint approach the far-right demands only by understanding the heavy cost they will have to pay will the electorate be able to moderate that kind of thinking.
                "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

                – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MikeJ
                  What did I claim about the Supreme Court decision?

                  Frankly, I don't care about the supreme court decision, but let me remind you that for democracy to work, there has to be transparency. Without transparency, you're just a pile of sugar coated dung. Still dung, but looks a little nicer.
                  Please tell that one to Clinton who did steal a lot of good ideas from Republicans. I'm sure Clinton will be thrived to hear that, MikeJ.

                  I'm sure the soldiers and civilians dying in Iraq right now are so happy that "Bush got what was coming to him".

                  But in his words: "Bring 'em on!"
                  Why not? A lot of soldiers, certainly not all, but many do support Bush's policy. These the same soldiers also see some kind of positive results being gleamed from occupying Iraq if only small and limited.

                  And thank you, yeah, bring 'em on!

                  Whether or not you believe there is an argument involving WMD to be made is not relevant to the Bushie WMD argument being a total sham. Let's not play the deflection game, we all know what Bush and his crew claimed were in Iraq and we can all see there's an extremely low probability that Kay is ever going to get the "smoking gun". That he has to champion finds like a vial Botulinium as a centerpiece of his latest report just shows you how lacking they are.
                  What deflection game? I don't get it, MikeJ.

                  I simply stated that I believed that there are some hidden WMDs somewhere in Iraq, and that Bush was genuine in getting rid of them, faulty information or not. I'm not deflecting anything, I believe that we did the right thing by going into Iraq for a lot of good reasons. I also believe that someday, we will at last find some hidden WMDs.

                  I never claimed that there was indeed a smoking gun in next week or a few months. I believe it takes patience to check Iraq more thoroughly than what under six months or so.

                  And I hate to break it to you, but any democratic Iraq will see WMD as a possible course of action to protect the national interests of Iraqis. Israel's WMD stockpile and continued defiance of IAEA inspections is going to ensure that every country in the region has a thoroughly legitimate reason for wanting WMD. Whether they have more malicious intent as well is noted, but then Israel preparing to respond to a conventional assault with nuclear weapons doesn't qualify as deterrence from WMD either. Afterall, Israel's air strike on the Osirik nuclear complex shows that Israel will risk war to maintain her dominant Middle Eastern position. Any country attacked has little recourse with the US providing political protection to Israel, as well as arming Israel to the teeth.
                  It always come back to Israel.

                  The USA is going to stay in Iraq for a bit longer, and somehow, I doubt a democratic Iraq will want to restart WMD programs not if it wants to offend USA. Interestingly enough, before Saddam took over, Iraq wasn't planning to build WMD programs, it was a democratic country if only on shaky ground, it did have a constitution and a parliament, if I remember correctly. Obviously, there was no reason for Iraq to feel threatened by Israel as long it didn't build WMDs.

                  Israel has WMDs because of survival reasons, while Arabs don't need survival reasons to build WMDs. Despite Israel's apparent military superiority, it could not conquer the whole Middle East region, and she is never going to do that in any case. It is the major difference between Israel and Arabs.

                  If you would apply your "national security" train of thought (you look at everything from the context of US and Israeli national security) to every nation in the region, you'd realize it's a recipe for disaster.
                  Am I supposed to think world first then America? Sorry, that's not how a nationalist work out that way. As I've said in countless posts, I'm a nationalistic American with a strong sense of need for American Hegemony. In some ways, this is supposed to offend the other nations, after all, I'm not blind to the prices being a nationalist could pay.

                  I never said that America would not suffer consequences by being a nationalistic country, nor I have any illusions that the world will necessarily hold and pat America's hands. I do realize that the world has its own conflicting interests with America, it's just that I believe America can get her views accepted by different means, either soft or hard way.

                  You would not accept such practices domestically, in your own daily life so when I hear you speaking like one nations interests > all (as opposed to finding the right balance - just as we do with 'freedom') then I sometimes wish, if only for a moment, that the world worked exactly as you wished it would just so you could see the kind of problems it would cause.
                  Please, we do practice that way in daily life.

                  I twist my younger brother in order to see my ways. My parents move out to somewhere else whether I like it or not. My coach didn't start me in baseball, because he wants team to win at all costs. The companies are always looking to exploit the weaknesses of the others to further their profits and interests. There are all sorts of examples that would clearly indicate that one tends to think of himself or herself before becoming concerned for the others. America is a capitalist country, which means an individual is expected to take advantage of his or her opportunities to climb up the social ladders. That philosophy also is adopted at the national level as well.

                  There are many other countries including America that are always looking out for their own interests. I've said so in countless posts. It's just that those come in conflict with America's, and for a while, I would like to see America to come out on top.

                  How about 0 trouble some spots? Disarm Israel's WMD stockpile, guarantee them with the USA's thousands of warheads and then start preaching about non-proliferation in the Middle East. But demanding all the Arab states not proliferate WMDs is absolutely hypocritical when the only reason Israel has managed to evade punishment for its own proliferation activities has been the protection of the United Staes.
                  Nah. It's all about American interests. I would rather to be a hypocrite than seeing Israel annihilated by Arab armies if Israel disarms her nuclear weapons. With destruction of Israel, there would be no democracy left in Middle East, and I doubt Turkey would be overly excited to be our next ally. Egypt isn't our ally despite getting a lot of US foreign aid in exchange for recognizing Israel's right to existence.

                  You've no innate right but you'll do it anyways. It's doomed to failure unless whatever the US dictates to Iraq happens to coincide with what Iraqis really want. I somehow doubt that, given the Shiite majority in the country. If the US really wants to rebuild Iraq for Iraqis and not for AMerican interests, then all of the irregularities that say otherwise need to end. If the US will not rebuild Iraq without putting the USAs interests first, you're going to be in Iraq for a long time.
                  Nobody denies that USA has some interests in rebuilding Iraq, and no matter how much wishful thinking on your part, Iraq knows that USA expects some certain favors from her if she wants to go on her merry way out. It's exactly what happened with the Western Europe after WWII. It was in fact USA who started supranationalism in Europe, as she wanted a stable Europe that could defend itself from Soviets. So, Europe owes some to USA for laying down the foundation that would eventually led to EU. SO, yes, it's definitely USA is watching out for her interests in Iraq.

                  Not if it means a war in Syria, North Korea and Iran. Drop the myopic viewpoint and think bigger.

                  ......

                  There are many ways to approach dictators... corporate welfare to the military industrial complex is just one of them. Of course, too often economic interests get in the way which prevents any meaningful action being taken. Of course, you could simply escalate the action, with war, but then you run the risk of escalating the response too.
                  I have no qualms if USA wants to start a war with any of these countries if USA thinks it's in her interests to do so. Fortunately, Bush isn't stupid as some of liberals claim he to be. Bush knows he can't fight all countries on multiple fronts. Bush is going to wait for the right time should the force be required.

                  We haven't exhausted all diplomatic options with all of these countries.

                  I do believe that these countries won't last much longer if they continue to persist in resisting USA's pressures in stopping whatever activities in conflict with USA's interests. I'm more than willing to use force if that means securing America's interests.

                  The western world, during the Cold War, more or less followed what the US did. Now that there's no longer the threat of 30,000 Soviet tanks rolling through Western Europe, the world is less inclined to put up with American egoism.
                  American egoism? Please. This isn't about stroking our ego, it's about pursuing and securing American interests.

                  Great. So you know how annoying it is. Don't put us in the awkward position of picking up the pieces because winning the peace is too hard.

                  I love hearing right-wingers Americans complain about the UN.

                  If you hate it so much, PULL OUT. But you won't, because if you actually knew anything about the history of the UN, you'd realize it's been a massive successs for the US to influence and otherwise legitimize it's policy to the rest of the world.
                  Great. I love hearing left-wingers whining about America's power then all of a sudden rush back to America for whatever help they need from her. At this point, I think they're more embarrassed than right-wingers.

                  I'm not stupid, despite my signature claiming UN to be an illegal world organization, America is stuck with UN considering how she was the founding member. If America pulls out, she will be isolated from the world diplomatically, militarily, and politically. As long she's on Security Council, America can influence the world better this way.

                  Give me more credit than that, I might be right-wing, but that doesn't mean I'm stupid. Nice try though.

                  You must carry the burden - at least you're right on that. But the reason you must clean up the mess is because you made it. You can only count on Japan being a giant American ATM machine for so long. And all the better. With the kind of no-restraint approach the far-right demands only by understanding the heavy cost they will have to pay will the electorate be able to moderate that kind of thinking.
                  Finally something we agree on. I never claimed America would be on a free ride when it faces the world. I would rather live with hefty prices if that means preserving national sovereignity. Is that hypocritical of me? Maybe so, but for me personally, I believe in my small and limited mind, America should come first.

                  Dan
                  Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                  "Aim small, miss small."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cheetah772
                    Please tell that one to Clinton who did steal a lot of good ideas from Republicans. I'm sure Clinton will be thrived to hear that, MikeJ.
                    You don't even understand what I'm saying. It's quite simple really:

                    Democracy doesn't work if the people are deceived. I'm not talking Republican, Democrat, conservative or liberal here. We have certain checks and blances, like a free press and so on, but these can fail as they obviously did in the lead up to the IRaq war. In some cases they were part of the problem (media).

                    Why not? A lot of soldiers, certainly not all, but many do support Bush's policy. These the same soldiers also see some kind of positive results being gleamed from occupying Iraq if only small and limited.
                    I see. So their deaths are Bush 'getting whats coming to him'?

                    What deflection game? I don't get it, MikeJ.
                    The administration stated clearly they knew where they were and knew for a fact that Saddam had them, which was their justification for going to war over this threat in such a hurry (and booting out the UN inspectors who were deemed useless because they couldn't find anything - surprisingly little crisitism of Kay and his team though). This has proven to be false by any reasonable standard.

                    The justification was a sham. "Noble deeds" and preventing Iraq from developing WMD in the future are not relevant to the central idea here, which is that transparency is required for democracy. When the administration told the AMerican people it knew Iraq had WMDs - they were obviously wrong. They left no room for doubt or speculation. And the American public, upon whose support the war rested, ate it up. Safeguards failed, more so now that the executive branch can just up and classify everything there is no recourse.

                    If it's any consolation, we have the same problem up in Canada right now but ours is a problem in that the opposition parties are heavily disorganized and have been for a decade. But this is all changing now , for the better, with the opposition parties finally getting their act together.

                    I believe it takes patience to check Iraq more thoroughly than what under six months or so.
                    I hope you said the same thing about the UN inspectors, but of course we know that's not what you said about them. I'd dig up posts but I think it's obvious enough. Even worse for you, the global community's pretense for UN inspections was on the basis of verifying disarmanent (which fundamentally is unverifiable). The US inspections are there on the basis of verifying armanent (which is verifiable). In one case, we are trying to prove a negative, in the other case we are trying to prove a positive.

                    Anyways, if Dumbsfeld knows where the Iraqi WMD are, I'm sure he can point them out to Kay's inspection teams. I mean, that was precisely what he claimed, in explicit terms that can't be taken out of context. "We know where they are."

                    The war was not justified on the basis of maybe. It was justified on the basis of firm, factual, 100% knowledge by the administration that it knew Iraq was armed with weapons of mass destruction. 100% false. THe administration did not know and that is obvious now.

                    It always come back to Israel.
                    Duh? It's the Middle East and Israel is the major player in the region and in fact central to the regions animosities and rivalries. But if you'd like to accuse me of anti-semitism, just come out and say it.

                    The USA is going to stay in Iraq for a bit longer, and somehow, I doubt a democratic Iraq will want to restart WMD programs not if it wants to offend USA.
                    I see, so not offending the USA is more important than Iraqi national security. Glad to have cleared that up. Someone forgot to tell the rest of the world though.

                    Interestingly enough, before Saddam took over, Iraq wasn't planning to build WMD programs, it was a democratic country if only on shaky ground,
                    Considering Saddam took power from a dictator (though by all standards a 'better' dictator) I'm not sure where you're getting your history from. Prior to that it was a monarchy (British puppet) and prior to that it was under British and Ottomon control and we can go back to the bronze ages if you'd like. But it has never been democratic in the context that we know democracy today.

                    Obviously, there was no reason for Iraq to feel threatened by Israel as long it didn't build WMDs.
                    Sorry, that's it. I think I'm going to stop here. I can only take arguing over primitives for so long. This is obviusly utterly pointless.

                    So you win. Ultra-conservativsm is the best. Bush is the greatest man ever. The USA should become a god-fearing, bible-thumping fundamentalist Christian state and should forcibly convert Canada, Mexico and the rest of the world while you're at it. The separation of church and state is in fact a sham. The education system should be mothballed, along with social security, the funding of highways and roads and other infrastructure. In addition we should start randomly nuking countries because they're all a potential threat to us in the future.

                    PS - Egosim was not being used in the context of conceit.
                    "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

                    – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MikeJ

                      Sorry, that's it. I think I'm going to stop here. I can only take arguing over primitives for so long. This is obviusly utterly pointless.

                      So you win. Ultra-conservativsm is the best. Bush is the greatest man ever. The USA should become a god-fearing, bible-thumping fundamentalist Christian state and should forcibly convert Canada, Mexico and the rest of the world while you're at it. The separation of church and state is in fact a sham. The education system should be mothballed, along with social security, the funding of highways and roads and other infrastructure. In addition we should start randomly nuking countries because they're all a potential threat to us in the future.

                      PS - Egosim was not being used in the context of conceit.
                      Who said I believe Bush is the greatest man on the earth? Please. I don't think he is the greatest man on the earth.

                      I never said the ultra-conservatism is the best, simply that I a proponent of it, nothing more or less than that. It's clear that you do believe the liberalism is clearly the preferred method (I don't know if you consider it the best one) of running a democracy.

                      Who said there are always honest men in any kind of governments? I would be foolish to believe that the honesty in the governments is the best policy. However, I feel Bush did genuinely believe his case was justified.

                      I don't feel I am being deceived by the Bush administration. I don't claim to know what's going on in Bush or Clinton or anybody's mind. The deception is always going to be a problem in a democratic society.

                      You know, I recently read a book on Peloponnesian War, where Athens had a direct democratic system. Every time a major decision is required to make, the people (the Athenian citizens) vote on such issues. Even ambassadors had to make their cases before the people of Athens, can you imagine that? Can you imagine Chirac or Saddam's ambassadors presenting their own cases before Americans? That's unheard of. But ambassadors routinely lied to the people despite what other evidene might claim otherwise.

                      Even 2,500 years ago, the deception was possible, and sadly enough, it will continue long after Bush or anybody left the office. But there is always a line drawn somewhere that nobody shouldn't across. Just look at EU and its commissioners, they routinely manuipilate their own people in order push through the legislative bills. The citizens in EU don't feel they're being deceived to.

                      Your concept of transparency isn't going to fly in face of the real world. Look, I am a Christian, but even I'm not stupid to blindly believe that the world can be changed that much as to allow honesty to win over.

                      Moreover, though I do believe in God, I have no desire to convert anybody forcibly to my brand of religion. Nor I have claimed I wanted to nuke countries with little or no explanation. I have no desire to go on a religious crusade, I have no need to do that. It's big difference between me and fundamentalists who want to do that sort of thing.

                      Is it wrong to support your own country first? Are you saying you're willing to give up the national sovereignity in the name of progress?

                      What is wrong with looking out for one's national interests?

                      For the record, I believe in supporting old-fashioned moral values on many domestic issues, however, when it comes down to the foreign policy, I don't support the concept of Wilsonian Diplomacy, I prefer a kind of pragmatic foreign policy. Though, occasionally, it can be good to have some moral values injected into foreign policy such as intervening in humanitarian crises, but that should not become habitual.

                      Why do you think I am a primitive? I don't think you're an idiot and I do have some respect for some of your arguments. I seriously think that was uncalled for.

                      Dan
                      Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                      "Aim small, miss small."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MikeJ
                        I know Deltahpooh read that last line and wants to respond by telling me that Iraq not falling into chaos is in everyone's interest and that's true, but as I've said in the past: if the US thinks it can go intervene around the world (and worse on bogus pretenses) and leave cleanup for the rest of the world to deal with, I think an Iraq in chaos would be relatively minor to the damage Bush and his hawkish advisors could do by invading and making a mess in Syria, Iran, North Korea, etc. Bush once praised the policy of opening up corrupt or otherwise closed regimes through economics (either imploding them, as looks to be the caes with North Korea or reforming them as with China, whose citizens enjoy increasingly large numbers of rights - they even indirectly vote for their leadership [still a flawed process in the democratic sense but its getting there]). It's too bad he 'forgot' all that when he got oil on the brain.
                        Bush is an idealist. You can't scare him. The only thing one can hope for is to see him voted out of office before he do serious damage. However, I seriously question whether or not the Democratic Party have the kind of canidate needed to overcome Bush, particularly if the economy improves.

                        Bush hasn't abandoned any of his ideals. Right now, he's in an election campaign. Everyone knew he had to go to war in early 2003, or not until very late 2005 at the earliest. So nothing is on the table right now. That doesn't mean the man has abandoned the ideals which were planted decades ago.
                        "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Deltapooh
                          Bush is an idealist. You can't scare him.
                          Perhaps not, but the electorate can vote him out, which is who is being targetted with this to moderate the more radical elements of his administration (if not he himself, though I still have no clue how much of this is actually Bush's policy and not his advisors' policy).

                          If there's one plus side to this whole Iraq situation its that Bush is unlikely to be able to trigger another war without solid, concrete proof. At least, not until after the election .
                          "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

                          – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Deltapooh
                            Bush is an idealist. You can't scare him. The only thing one can hope for is to see him voted out of office before he do serious damage. However, I seriously question whether or not the Democratic Party have the kind of canidate needed to overcome Bush, particularly if the economy improves.

                            Bush hasn't abandoned any of his ideals. Right now, he's in an election campaign. Everyone knew he had to go to war in early 2003, or not until very late 2005 at the earliest. So nothing is on the table right now. That doesn't mean the man has abandoned the ideals which were planted decades ago.
                            With all due respect, I don't think Bush is an idealist. He might have some ideals, however, for most part, I believe he is conducting a more realistic foreign policy than might be what expected of Wilson or Reagan. The problem is that Bush took out his frustration on the UN, I don't know whether this is a good thing or not, but everybody has forgotten that many other countries were already using the UN to their political advantages. It's just that America got into the game late.

                            Everybody seems to think Bush only carry religious baggage into the foreign policy. It's true that he has strong moral convictions, but I never once heard him openly preaching that Islam should be overthrown and force our God onto Arabs or anything like that. Thus, we can safely reason that Bush does know how to keep his religious views and strong moral convictions to himself while at the same conducting an effective foreign policy.

                            I'm not an idealist, it's just that I would prefer America to conduct her own foreign policy less in hand with the UN or going through international agreements. I think we should work on more a pragmatic foreign policy rather than internationalist or Wilsonian diplomacy. The world needs to understand that America simply can't go through something like 100 committees before all could agree on a solution. America's patience is thinning out.

                            Dan
                            Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                            "Aim small, miss small."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cheetah772
                              With all due respect, I don't think Bush is an idealist. He might have some ideals, however, for most part, I believe he is conducting a more realistic foreign policy than might be what expected of Wilson or Reagan.
                              I have to disagree. President Bush believes that the only way to deter Islamic terrorism, and establish long term peace in the Middle East is impose western ideals and culture on the people of that region. This is not to say he wants to do away with Islam, and establish a bunch of colonies. However, Bush feels that by exposing Arabs in the region to Levi jeans and MTV, they will realize America is not as evil as so many claim, and will turn to support us. In the process, we'll also make power alliances with governments in the Middle East, re-affirming our dominance well into the 21st Century.

                              There is some realism to this strategy. After WWII, the US combined its industrial might, with political and military powers to expand democracy in Europe. Since then, Europe has become a free, stable and productive society.

                              Of course America benefited from all this politically and economically. The Marshal Plan was very productive for American companies. As democracy was embraced, we obtained more allies, and security. People elsewhere saw non-Americans sipping Coke, listening to Elvis, and dressed like James Dean and thought "man I want to be like that." Thus we expanded.

                              Yet, these examples don't redefine the strategy as realistic. We're still basing our plan on the ideal that democracy is better than whatever political regime is in place, and people will sacrifice culture for "true freedom." It didn't work in Vietnam. Johnson believed that he could destroy the North, then come in with a revision of the Marshal Plan, and everyone would forgive America for killing their family and loved ones.

                              It's an even more unrealistic strategy for the Middle East. Bush assumes democracy will erase decades of hatred deeply rooted in a social and political culture. He believes Arabs will accept America, and our culture if we free them from the tyranny of political Islam.

                              There is no evidence that this will occur. In fact, most arrows point to failure. The Middle East is already in the midst of an identity crisis. Some want to expand their relationship with the West to promote economic expansion. Others fear such a move would erase their cultural identity. Even within moderates, there is debate as to how far they can go. Most Arabs would simply prefer a strict business relationship similar to that in stores. The business and customer interact within a well define, yet clearly seperated environment.

                              Americans today don't understand just how important culture is. One reason for that is because our own culture has never come under the kind of threat that might wipe it away. The closet we've come thus far is the British invasion in 1980's, and Europe's attempts to influence American foriegn policy. Americans ran the bands back to their homeland, and mentioning French fries in a McDonald's on Capitol Hill could get you 5 to 10 yrs in the slammer. (Just kidding.........I hope.)

                              I don't believe Bush is out get rich off Iraq. And I can't agree with those who feel the man is controlled by big business. Bush is not out to start colonize Iraq, or the Middle East. He believes America is freedom's only hope. In order for the US to ensure global security, not to mention our own, Bush feels America must maintain dominance in all our global powers. If he is able to succeed in the Middle East even marginally, chances are America's position will be stronger.

                              Unfortunately, the reality doesn't fit the image. I don't believe America's form of democracy will work. The Marshal plan promoted the democratic political ideal, but provided the kind of latitude needed to enable the local population to influence it. After WWII, many in Europe were not only broken in many ways. They had seen their own culture kill millions, and yearned for change. They "accepted" democracy, and to a lesser extent America.

                              We can't force the Iraqis or anyone else to accept America or democracy. Not everyone wants our form of political ideals merely because it is the best in our opinion. I believe the people of Iraq are grateful we got rid of Saddam. However, they don't feel freedom should cost them their cultural identity.

                              As I've stated in the past. I don't disagree with all of Bush's ideals. My concern rest solely with the strategy. I believe America could actually bring about favorable political conditions in the region by combining our military might, with a less intrusive political strategy. We can achieve dominance without Americanizing the region. Bush would be better off if he'd realize that.
                              "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

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