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Lazarus and the Gimp
17-02-2007, 12:55:53
I'm currently reading this book-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Whats-Left-Liberals-Lost-Their/dp/0007229690/sr=1-1/qid=1171716677/ref=sr_1_1/026-0281137-5937220?ie=UTF8&s=books

-and getting a "Hallelujah!" moment. It's a left-wing author asking all the awkward questions about Iraq that I've been banging on about for years.

When I was a teenager, it was simple. Saddam was a genocidal tyrant. I did all the good, left-wing stuff of calling for his removal, and the left was pretty much agreed on that point (the left that I knew at least).

Then he invaded Kuwait and the US got interested. Suddenly you've got this new sound from the left, and the chant is "No war!". OK- it left me wondering just how clear-cut we were on the issue.

By the time of the US occupation of Iraq, you get this tremendous volte-face, and left-wing commentators suggesting "Well, Uncle Saddam wasn't that bad really, and Iraq would be better off with him still in charge".

HELLO? WHAT? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! WHERE WERE YOU WHEN ANFAL WAS KICKING OFF?!

Lazarus and the Gimp
17-02-2007, 12:59:25
It's all those awkward questions that need to be asked-

Should Saddam have been toppled?

Would it have been OK if the people of Iraq toppled him?

Would it have been OK if it was border-straddling Kurds, Turks and Shiites toppling him?

Would it have been OK if it was Iraq's neighbours who toppled him?

Would it have been OK if the UN toppled him?

Would it have been OK if the US toppled him?

Where do the grey areas end, and at what point do you find yourself hopping to the other side of the fence?

Colon
17-02-2007, 13:39:50
Unfassbar.

Oerdin
17-02-2007, 18:15:38
A better course of action would have been to continue the air war against Saddam in 1991 and let the Iraqis topple the regime. Then it wouldn't be our problem to occupy the place.

There still would have been civil war and likely partisian but atleast it would have been less our fault.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
17-02-2007, 20:12:10
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Should Saddam have been toppled?


Yes - unless what comes next is even worse.

And that's exactly what we've got.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
17-02-2007, 20:13:05
As for the left, they are just confused retards who need some rabid ideology to get some order into the mindnumbing complexity of life. Just like the right.

SuperCitizen
17-02-2007, 22:52:45
It's one of them difficult scenarios to play out in head. Saddam was Iraq's problem, that's the first thing, post-Kuwait that is.

Now I think we have all gotten past the point where Iraq had much to do with the war on terrorism, it didn't.

But, Saddam is still SOB, so no worry if he needs to go. You can always say, sure, but let's assassinate the bastard. OK, but then his sons will take over. And they seemed to be more crazy anyway. So what you'd be doing is risking an assassination (bad PR, blowbacks), plus putting the regime into the hands of even more insane killers. Nothing changes, weigh in the pros and cons, it's difficult.

So the next best thing would be for the local people to overtake him. So, that means supporting local dissidents and possible militant groups. However, again, you're funding lots of variables we will never be able to predict accurately.

So, there's only one scenario where that works out, and many others where it doesn't. Supporting a group that say, succesfully takes over the power. Then, what can be expected is payback time. So you'll get another bloody leadership, just the tables have been turned .

Or, you get terrorist orgs joining in for the revolution, because they figure if they help, they'll be able to topple the other groups and get the power behind the curtains or something, so it's worth a try.

Or you'll get a scenario where the then new leadership is still not pro-West. If they are pro-West, they'll be getting a lot of heat from the region, plus the whole 'puppet leadership' thing going on around the world.

So, another option is just to let Saddam ride it out, see what happens. Isolate the danger there, keep an eye on it, and not let it escalate outside her borders. Keep the status quo. So the political opponents etc are oppressed. Whoopidodii, welcome to the real world.

All in all, it was all about sucking the cock.

Caligastia
18-02-2007, 20:34:14
There's no doubt that Saddam richly deserved what he got, but with so many deserving dictators - how do you choose?

Oerdin
18-02-2007, 20:42:50
The one with the most oil?

Dyl Ulenspiegel
18-02-2007, 21:30:46
The softest target with the most oil.

Lazarus and the Gimp
18-02-2007, 21:31:19
Originally posted by Caligastia
There's no doubt that Saddam richly deserved what he got, but with so many deserving dictators - how do you choose?


Start at the top. Take out a few of the biggest monsters. Once the message gets across that the world is deeply fucking pissed off and not prepared to tolerate any more genocides, watch the others make some hurried changes of policy.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
18-02-2007, 22:04:40
I assume you wrongly exclude Bush from the biggest monsters.

As for the message sent, that is quite simple: GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS NOW.

SuperCitizen
18-02-2007, 22:27:29
Unfortunately it is common knowledge that the axis of evil included three countries, none of which were Saudi Arabia. So we all know it's bullshit rhetorics anyway, from the beginning... more like an opportunity to implement stuff that was difficult to justify earlier, and that's the sad part of it all, since there was a real attack before. Those guys are still waving dicks at the world. no one seems to be interested in them anymore.

Chris
19-02-2007, 03:34:16
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Start at the top. Take out a few of the biggest monsters. Once the message gets across that the world is deeply fucking pissed off and not prepared to tolerate any more genocides, watch the others make some hurried changes of policy.

I assume you wrongly exclude Bush from the biggest monsters.Asked and answered about how the left has lost its compass.

To Dyl and many like him, its Bush, who has no mass murders, no secret police, put nobody in stone grinders, ordered nobody raped, ect who is a 'monster' and people like Saddam should have been left alone as its all about 'oil' which of course is nonsense, if it was oil Saddam was happy to sell as much as you wanted to buy and quite cheaply.

I have given up trying for rational discussion with the left because the left doesn't support its own principles, instead it magnifies and condemns ANYTHING done by the USA and justifies all esle as 'retaliaton.'

What is the point?

Chris
19-02-2007, 03:53:08
The guardian had excerpts from 'what's left.'

I found it with a little hunting, you guys should read it.


In the early Seventies, my mother searched the supermarkets for politically reputable citrus fruit. She couldn't buy Seville oranges without indirectly subsidising General Francisco Franco, Spain's fascist dictator. Algarve oranges were no good either, because the slightly less gruesome but equally right-wing dictatorship of Antonio Salazar ruled Portugal. She boycotted the piles of Outspan from South Africa as a protest against apartheid, and although neither America nor Israel was a dictatorship, she wouldn't have Florida or Jaffa oranges in the house because she had no time for then President Richard Nixon or the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

My sisters and I did not know it, but when Franco fell ill in 1975, we were in a race to the death. Either he died of Parkinson's disease or we died of scurvy. Luckily for us and the peoples of Spain, the dictator went first, although he took an unconscionably long time about it.
Thirty years later, I picked up my mother from my sister Natalie's house. Her children were watching a Disney film; The Jungle Book, I think.

'It's funny, Mum,' I said as we drove home, 'but I don't remember seeing any Disney when I was their age.'

'You've only just noticed? We didn't let you watch rubbish from Hollywood corporations.'

'Ah.'

'We didn't buy you the Beano either.'

'For God's sake, Mum, what on earth was wrong with the Beano?'

'It was printed by DC Thomson, a non-union firm.'

'Right,' I said.

I was about to mock her but remembered that I had not allowed my son to watch television, even though he was nearly three at the time. I will let him read Beano when he is older - I spoil him, I know - but if its cartoonists were to down their crayons and demand fraternal support, I would probably make him join the picket line.

I come from a land where you can sell out by buying a comic. I come from the left.

I'm not complaining, I had a very happy childhood. Conservatives would call my parents 'politically correct', but there was nothing sour or pinched about our home, and there is a lot to be said for growing up in a household in which everyday decisions about what to buy and what to reject have a moral quality.

At the time, I thought it was normal and assumed that all civilised people lived the same way. I still remember the sense of dislocation I felt at 13 when my English teacher told me he voted Conservative. As his announcement coincided with the shock of puberty, I was unlikely to forget it. I must have understood at some level that real Conservatives lived in Britain - there was a Conservative government at the time, so logic dictated that there had to be Conservative voters. But it was incredible to learn that my teacher was one of them, when he gave every appearance of being a thoughtful and kind man. To be good you had to be on the left.

Looking back, I can see that I got that comforting belief from my parents, but it was reinforced by the experience of living through the Thatcher administration, which appeared to reaffirm the left's monopoly of goodness. The embrace first of monetarism and then of the European exchange-rate mechanism produced two recessions, which Conservatives viewed with apparent composure because the lives wrecked by mass unemployment and business failure had the beneficial side-effect of destroying trade-union power. Even when the left of the Eighties was clearly in the wrong - as it was over unilateral nuclear disarmament - it was still good. It may have been dunderheaded to believe that dictators would abandon their weapons systems if Britain abandoned hers, but it wasn't wicked.

Yet for all the loathing of Conservatives I felt, I didn't have to look at modern history to know that it was a fallacy to believe in the superior virtue of the left: my family told me that. My parents joined the Communist Party, but left it in their twenties. My father encouraged me to read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's exposés of the Soviet Union and argue about them at the dinner table. He knew how bad the left could get, but this knowledge did not stop him from remaining very left-wing. He would never have entertained the notion that communism was as bad as fascism. In this, he was typical. Anti-communism was never accepted as the moral equivalent of anti-fascism, not only by my parents but also by the overwhelming majority of liberal-minded people. The left was still morally superior. Even when millions were murdered and tens of millions were enslaved and humiliated, the 'root cause' of crimes beyond the human imagination was the perversion of noble socialist ideals.

Every now and again, someone asks why the double standard persists to this day. The philosophical answer is that communism did not feel as bad as fascism because in theory, if not in practice, communism was an ideology that offered universal emancipation, while only a German could benefit from Hitler's Nazism and only an Italian could prosper under Mussolini's fascism. I'm more impressed by the matter-of-fact consideration that fascist forces took over or menaced Western countries in the Thirties and Forties, and although there was a communist menace in the Cold War, the Cold War never turned hot and Western Europe and North America never experienced the totalitarianism of the left.

There were many moments in the Thirties when fascists and communists co-operated - the German communists concentrated on attacking the Weimar Republic's democrats and gave Hitler a free run, and Stalin's Soviet Union astonished the world by signing a pact with Nazi Germany in 1939. But after Hitler broke the terms of the alliance in the most spectacular fashion by invading the Soviet Union in 1941, you could rely on nearly all of the left - from nice liberals through to the most compromised Marxists - to oppose the tyrannies of the far right. Consistent anti-fascism added enormously to the left's prestige in the second half of the 20th century. A halo of moral superiority hovered over it because if there was a campaign against racism, religious fanaticism or neo-Nazism, the odds were that its leaders would be men and women of the left. For all the atrocities and follies committed in its name, the left possessed this virtue: it would stand firm against fascism. After the Iraq war, I don't believe that a fair-minded outsider could say it does that any more.

The long road to Baghdad

Iraqis have popped up throughout my life - indeed, they were popping up before I was born. My parents had Iraqi communist friends when they were students who came along to their wedding in the late Fifties. God knows where they are now. My mother certainly doesn't. Saddam's Baath party slaughtered the Iraqi left; and in all likelihood the Baathists murdered her friends years ago and dumped their bodies in unmarked graves.

I grew up in the peace and quiet of suburban Manchester, started out in newspapers in Birmingham and left for Fleet Street in 1987 to try my luck as a freelance. I wangled myself a desk next to a quiet and handsome young Iranian called Farzad Bazoft in the old Observer newsroom, round the corner from St Paul's Cathedral. In 1989, he went to Iraq, where extraordinary reports were coming out about Saddam Hussein imitating Adolf Hitler by exterminating tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds with poison gas. Farzad was a freelance like me, and perhaps he was looking for a scoop to make his name and land himself a staff job. More probably, he was just behaving like a proper reporter. He had heard about a sensational story of gigantic explosions at secret rocket bases and wanted to nail it down, regardless of the risk or reward. The secret police caught him, and after taking him to a torture chamber, they murdered him, as they had murdered so many before.

It is hard to believe now, but Conservative MPs and the Foreign Office apologised for Saddam in those days. Tories excused Farzad's execution with the straight lie that he was an Iranian spy - and one reptilian Thatcherite declared that he 'deserved to be hanged'.

Chris
19-02-2007, 03:53:37
By contrast, Saddam Hussein appalled the liberal left. At leftish meetings in the late Eighties, I heard that Iraq encapsulated all the loathsome hypocrisy of the supposedly 'democratic' West. Here was a blighted land ruled by a terrible regime that followed the example of the European dictatorships of the Thirties. And what did the supposed champions of democracy and human rights in Western governments do? Supported Saddam, that's what they did; sold him arms and covered up his crimes. Fiery socialist MPs denounced Baathism, while playwrights and poets stained the pages of the liberal press with their tears for his victims. Many quoted the words of a brave Iraqi exile called Kanan Makiya. He became a hero of the left because he broke through the previously impenetrable secrecy that covered totalitarian Iraq and described in awful detail how an entire population was compelled to inform on their family and friends or face the consequences. All decent people who wanted to convict the West of subscribing to murderous double standards could justifi ably use his work as evidence for the prosecution.

The apparently sincere commitment to help Iraqis vanished the moment Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and became America's enemy. At the time, I didn't think about where the left was going. I could denounce the hypocrisy of a West which made excuses for Saddam one minute and called him a 'new Hitler' the next, but I didn't dwell on the equal and opposite hypocrisy of a left which called Saddam a 'new Hitler' one minute and excused him the next. All liberals and leftists remained good people in my mind. Asking hard questions about any of them risked giving aid and comfort to the Conservative enemy and disturbing my own certainties. I would have gone on anti-war demonstrations when the fighting began in 1991, but the sight of Arabs walking around London with badges saying 'Free Kuwait' stopped me. When they asked why it was right to allow Saddam to keep Kuwaitis as his subjects, a part of me conceded that they had a point.

I didn't do much with that thought, but carried on through the Nineties holding the standard left-wing beliefs of the day. By the time New Labour was preparing for power, I was a columnist on The Observer, and my writing was driven by disgust at the near-uniform good press Tony Blair got in his early years. I felt the adulation was unmerited and faintly sinister, and became one of the few journalists to bang on about the dark side of the shiny, happy people who had moved into Downing Street. My pet topic was the treatment of asylum seekers. I was infuriated by the sight of New Labour pretending Britain welcomed the victims of persecution, while all the time quietly rigging the system to stop genuine refugees reaching Britain. Once again, I ran into Saddam Hussein. I had to. It was inevitable, because among the asylum seekers fleeing genuine persecution were countless Iraqis whom the Baathists had driven to pack their bags and run for their lives.

I got to know members of the Iraqi opposition in London, particularly Iraqi Kurds, whose compatriots were the targets of one of the last genocides of the 20th century. They were democratic socialists whose liberal mindedness extended to opposing the death penalty, even for Saddam Hussein. Obviously, they didn't represent the majority of Iraqi opinion. Equally obviously, they shared the same beliefs as the overwhelming majority of the rich world's liberals and leftists, and deserved our support as they struggled against fascism. Not the authoritarianism of a tinpot dictator, but real fascism: a messianic one-party state; a Great Leader, whose statue was in every town centre and picture on every news bulletin; armies that swept out in unprovoked wars of foreign aggrandisement; and secret policemen who organised the gassing of 'impure' races. The Iraqi leftists were our 'comrades', to use a word that was by then so out of fashion it was archaic.

When the second war against Saddam Hussein came in 2003, they told me there was no other way to remove him. Kanan Makiya was on their side. He was saying the same things about the crimes against humanity of the Baath party he had said 20 years before, but although his arguments had barely changed, the political world around him was unrecognisable. American neoconservatives were his champions now, while the left that had once cheered him denounced him as a traitor.

Everyone I respected in public life was wildly anti-war, and I was struck by how their concern about Iraq didn't extend to the common courtesy of talking to Iraqis. They seemed to have airbrushed from their memories all they had once known about Iraq and every principle of mutual respect they had once upheld.

I supposed their furious indifference was reasonable. They had many good arguments that I would have agreed with in other circumstances. I assumed that once the war was over they would back Iraqis trying to build a democracy, while continuing to pursue Bush and Blair to their graves for what they had done. I waited for a majority of the liberal left to off er qualified support for a new Iraq, and I kept on waiting, because it never happened - not just in Britain, but also in the United States, in Europe, in India, in South America, in South Africa ... in every part of the world where there was a recognisable liberal left. They didn't think again when thousands of Iraqis were slaughtered by 'insurgents' from the Baath party, which wanted to re-establish the dictatorship, and from al-Qaeda, which wanted a godly global empire to repress the rights of democrats, the independent-minded, women and homosexuals. They didn't think again when Iraqis defi ed the death threats and went to vote on new constitutions and governments. Eventually, I grew tired of waiting for a change that was never going to come and resolved to find out what had happened to a left whose benevolence I had taken for granted.

All right, you might say, but the reaction to the second Iraq war is not a good enough reason to write a book. The US and British governments sold the invasion to their publics with a false bill of goods and its aftermath was a bloody catastrophe. It was utopian to hope that leftists and liberals could oppose George W Bush while his troops poured into Iraq - and killed their fair share of civilians - while at the same time standing up for the freedoms of others. There was too much emotional energy invested in opposing the war, too much justifiable horror at the chaos and too much justifiable anger that the talk of weapons of mass destruction turned out to be nonsense. The politically committed are like football fans. They support their side come what may and refuse to see any good in the opposing team. The liberal left bitterly opposed war, and their indifference afterwards was a natural consequence of the fury directed at Bush.

It is a fair argument, which I've heard many times, although I wince at the implied passivity. People don't just react to a crisis: they choose how they react. If a man walks down the street trying to pick a fight, you can judge those he confronts by how they respond. Do they hit back, run away or try to calm him down? The confrontation is not of their making, but they still have a choice, and what choice they make reveals their character and beliefs. If you insist on treating the reaction to the second Iraq war as a one-off that doesn't reveal a deeper sickness, I'll change the subject.

Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam which stands for everything the liberal left is against come from the liberal left? Why will students hear a leftish postmodern theorist defend the exploitation of women in traditional cultures but not a crusty conservative don? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? As important, why did a European Union that daily announces its commitment to the liberal principles of human rights and international law do nothing as crimes against humanity took place just over its borders? Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal left, but not China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo or North Korea? Why, even in the case of Palestine, can't those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a superior literary journal as in a neo-Nazi hate sheet? And why after the 7/7 attacks on London did leftish rather than right-wing newspapers run pieces excusing suicide bombers who were inspired by a psychopathic theology from the ultra-right?

In short, why is the world upside down? In the past conservatives made excuses for fascism because they mistakenly saw it as a continuation of their democratic rightwing ideas. Now, overwhelmingly and every where, liberals and leftists are far more likely than conservatives to excuse fascistic governments and movements, with the exception of their native far-right parties. As long as local racists are white, they have no difficulty in opposing them in a manner that would have been recognisable to the traditional left. But give them a foreign far-right movement that is anti-Western and they treat it as at best a distraction and at worst an ally.

Chris
19-02-2007, 03:54:03
A part of the answer is that it isn't at all clear what it means to be on the left at the moment. I doubt if anyone can tell you what a society significantly more left wing than ours would look like and how its economy and government would work (let alone whether a majority of their fellow citizens would want to live there). Socialism, which provided the definition of what it meant to be on the left from the 1880s to the 1980s, is gone. Disgraced by the communists' atrocities and floored by the success of market-based economies, it no longer exists as a coherent programme for government. Even the modest and humane social democratic systems of Europe are under strain and look dreadfully vulnerable.

It is not novel to say that socialism is dead. My argument is that its failure has brought a dark liberation to people who consider themselves to be on the liberal left. It has freed them to go along with any movement however far to the right it may be, as long as it is against the status quo in general and, specifically, America. I hate to repeat the overused quote that 'when a man stops believing in God he doesn't then believe in nothing, he believes anything', but there is no escaping it. Because it is very hard to imagine a radical leftwing alternative, or even mildly radical alternative, intellectuals in particular are ready to excuse the movements of the far right as long as they are anti-Western.

I'll look for part two now.

Chris
19-02-2007, 03:54:56
The disgrace of the anti-war movement
On 15 February 2003 , about a million liberal-minded people marched through London to oppose the overthrow of a fascist regime. It was the biggest protest in British history, but it was dwarfed by the march to oppose the overthrow of a fascist regime in Mussolini's old capital of Rome, where about three million Italians joined what the Guinness Book of Records said was the largest anti-war rally ever. In Madrid, about 650,000 marched to oppose the overthrow of a fascist regime in the biggest demonstration in Spain since the death of General Franco in 1975. In Berlin, the call to oppose the overthrow of a fascist regime brought demonstrators from 300 German towns and cities, some of them old enough to remember when Adolf Hitler ruled from the Reich Chancellery. In Greece, where the previous generation had overthrown a military junta, the police had to fire tear gas at leftists who were so angry at the prospect of a fascist regime being overthrown that they armed themselves with petrol bombs.

The French protests against the overthrow of a fascist regime went off without trouble. Between 100,000 and 200,000 French demonstrators stayed peaceful as they rallied in the Place de la Bastille, where in 1789 Parisian revolutionaries had stormed the dungeons of Louis XVI in the name of the universal rights of man.
In Ireland, Sinn Fein was in charge of the protests and produced the most remarkable spectacle of a remarkable day: a peace movement led by the IRA. Only in the newly liberated countries of the Soviet bloc were the demonstrations small and anti-war sentiment muted.

The protests against the overthrow of a fascist regime weren't just a European phenomenon. From Calgary to Buenos Aires, the left of the Americas marched. In Cape Town and Durban, politicians from the African National Congress, who had once appealed for international solidarity against South Africa's apartheid regime, led the opposition to the overthrow of a fascist regime. On a memorable day, American scientists at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica produced another entry for the record books. Historians will tell how the continent's first political demonstration was a protest against the overthrow of a fascist regime.

Saddam Hussein was delighted, and ordered Iraqi television to show the global day of action to its captive audience. The slogan the British marchers carried, 'No war - Freedom for Palestine', might have been written by his foreign ministry. He instructed the citizens of hdad to march and demand that he remain in power. Several thousand went through the streets carrying Kalashnikovs and posters of the Great Leader.

Chris
19-02-2007, 03:55:47
No one knows how many people demonstrated. The BBC estimated between six and 10 million, and anti-war activists tripled that, but no one doubted that these were history's largest co-ordinated demonstrations and that millions, maybe tens of millions, had marched to keep a fascist regime in power.

Afterwards, nothing drove the protesters wilder than sceptics telling them that if they had got what they wanted, they would, in fact, have kept a fascist regime in power. They were good people on the whole, who hadn't thought about the Baath Party. Euan Ferguson, of The Observer, watched the London demonstrators and saw a side of Britain march by that wasn't all bad:

'There were, of course, the usual suspects - the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Socialist Workers' Party, the anarchists. But even they looked shocked at the number of their fellow marchers: it is safe to say they had never experienced such a mass of humanity. There were nuns, toddlers, barristers, the Eton George Orwell Society. Archaeologists Against War. Walthamstow Catholic Church, the Swaffham Women's Choir and "Notts County Supporters Say Make Love Not War (And a Home Win against Bristol would be Nice)". One group of SWP stalwarts were joined, for the first march in any of their histories, by their mothers. There were country folk and lecturers, dentists and poulterers, a hairdresser from Cardiff and a poet from Cheltenham. I called a friend at two o'clock, who was still making her ponderous way along the Embankment - "It's not a march yet, more of a record shuffle" - and she expressed delight at her first protest. "You wouldn't believe it; there are girls here with good nails and really nice bags."'

Alongside the girls with good nails were thoughtful marchers who had supported the interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan but were aghast at the recklessness of the Iraq adventure. A few recognised that they were making a hideous choice. The South American playwright Ariel Dorfman, who had experienced state terror in General Pinochet's Chile, published a letter to an 'unknown Iraqi' and asked, 'What right does anyone have to deny you and your fellow Iraqis that liberation from tyranny? What right do we have to oppose the war the United States is preparing to wage on your country, if it could indeed result in the ousting of Saddam Hussein?'

His reply summed up the fears of tens of millions of people. War would destabilise the Middle East and recruit more fanatics to terrorist groups. It would lead to more despots 'pre-emptively arming themselves with all manner of apocalyptic weapons and, perhaps, to Armageddon'. Dorfman also worried about the casualties - which, I guess, were far higher than he imagined - and convinced himself that the right course was to demand that Bush and Blair pull back. Nevertheless, he retained the breadth of mind and generosity of spirit to sign off with 'heaven help me, I am saying that I care more about the future of this sad world than about the future of your unprotected children'.

I don't think any open-minded observer who wasn't caught up in the anger could say that Dorfman was typical. Jose Ramos-Horta, the leader of the struggle for the freedom of East Timor, noticed that at none of the demonstrations in hundreds of cities did you see banners or hear speeches denouncing Saddam Hussein. If this was 'the left' on the march, it was the new left of the 21st century, which had abandoned old notions of camaraderie and internationalism in favour of opposition to the capricious American hegemony. They didn't support fascism, but they didn't oppose it either, and their silence boded ill for the future.

In Saturday, his novel set on the day of the march, Ian McEwan caught the almost frivolous mood: 'All this happiness on display is suspect. Everyone is thrilled to be together out on the streets - people are hugging themselves, it seems, as well as each other. If they think - and they could be right - that continued torture and summary executions, ethnic cleansing and occasional genocide are preferable to an invasion, they should be sombre in their view.'

Most people, myself included, are not like Ariel Dorfman. In moments of political passion, we are single-mindedly and simple-mindedly sure of our righteousness. From the day of the marches on, liberal leftish politicians and intellectuals kept up a vehement and slightly panicky insistence that they were right and their goodness was beyond question.

In fairness to all of those who didn't want to think about the 'occasional genocide' or ask heaven's forgiveness for recommending that the Baath party be left in power, they were right in several respects. The protesters were right to feel that Bush and Blair were manipulating them into war. They weren't necessarily lying, in the lawyerly sense that they were deliberately making up the case for war - nothing that came out in the years afterwards showed that they knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction and thought, 'What the hell, we'll pretend he does.'

But they were manipulating the evidence. The post-mortem inquiries in America convicted the US administration of 'collective group think': a self-reinforcing delusion in the White House that shut out contrary information and awkward voices. Lord Butler 's inquiry in Britain showed the Prime Minister turned statements that the Joint Intelligence Committee had hedged with caveats into defi nite warnings of an imminent threat. Before the then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook resigned in protest against the war, he pointed out to Blair that several details in his case that Saddam had chemical weapons couldn't possibly be true. Cook told his special adviser David Mathieson after the meeting that Blair did not know about the detail and didn't seem to want to know either.

'A half truth is a whole lie,' runs the Yiddish proverb, and if democratic leaders are going to take their countries to war, they must be able to level with themselves as well as their electorates. If Blair had levelled with the British people, he would have said that he couldn't be sure if Saddam was armed, and even if he was there was no imminent danger; but here was a chance to remove a disgusting regime and combat the growth in terror by building democracy, and he was going to take it. Instead, he spun and talked about chemical weapons ready to be fired in 45 minutes. If the Labour party had forced Blair to resign, there would have been a rough justice in his political execution.

The war was over soon enough, but the aftermath was a disaster. Generals, diplomats and politicians covered their own backs and stabbed the backs of their colleagues as they piled blame on each other, but for the rest of the world pictures released in 2004 of American guards with pornographic smirks on their faces standing beside the tortured and sexually abused bodies of Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison encapsulated their disgust. To those who knew that the Baathists had tens of thousands of people tortured and murdered at Abu Ghraib, the pictures were evidence of sacrilege. It was as if American guards had decided to gas a prisoner in Auschwitz, while their superiors turned a blind eye.

Chris
19-02-2007, 03:56:16
Just as dozens of generals, politicians and diplomats shifted the blame, so journalists and academics produced dozens of books on the troubles of the occupation of Iraq. One point demanded far more attention than it got. Hard-headed and principled Iraqis, who knew all about the ghastly history of their country, failed to understand the appeal of fascism. The y worried about coping with the consequences of totalitarianism when the Baath party was overthrown. They talked about how many people you could reasonably put on trial in a country where the regime had made hundreds of thousands complicit in its crimes against humanity, and wondered about truth and reconciliation commissions and amnesties. They expected the invaders to be met with 'sweets and flowers' and assumed Baathism was dead as a dynamic force. They didn't count on its continuing appeal to the Sunni minority, all too aware that democracy would strip them of their status as Iraq's 'whites'. They didn't wonder what else the servants of the Baath could do if they didn't take up arms: wait around for war crimes trials or revenge from the kin of their victims? Nor did they expect to see Islamist suicide bombers pour into Iraq. Despite vocal assurances from virtually every expert who went on the BBC that such a pact was impossible, Baathists and Islamists formed an alliance against the common enemy of democracy.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, wasn't against elections because he was worried they would be rigged or because he couldn't tolerate American involvement in the political process; he was against democracy in all circumstances. It was 'an evil principle', he said, as he declared a 'fierce war' against all those 'apostates' and 'infidels' who wanted to vote in free elections and the 'demi-idols' who wanted to be elected. Democracy was a 'heresy itself', because it allowed men and women to challenge the laws of God with laws made by parliaments. It was based on 'freedom of religion and belief' and 'freedom of speech' and on 'separation of religion and politics'.

He did not mean it as a compliment. His strategy was to terrorise Iraq's Shia majority. To Sunni Islamists they were heretics, or as Zarqawi put it in his charac teristic language, 'the insurmountable obstacle, the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom'. Suicide bombers were to murder them until they turned on the Sunni minority. He explained: 'I mean that targeting and hitting them in [their] religious, political, and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies and bare the teeth of the hidden rancour working in their breasts. If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis as they feel imminent danger and annihilating death.'

Journalists wondered whether the Americans were puffi ng up Zarqawi's role in the violence - as a foreigner he was a convenient enemy - but they couldn't deny the ferocity of the terror. Like Stalin, Pol Pot and Slobodan Milosevic, they went for the professors and technicians who could make a democratic Iraq work. They murdered Sergio Vieira de Mello, one of the United Nations's bravest officials, and his colleagues; Red Cross workers, politicians, journalists and thousands upon thousands of Iraqis who happened to be in the wrong church or Shia mosque.

How hard was it for opponents of the war to be against that? Unbelievably hard, it turned out. The anti-war movement disgraced itself not because it was against the war in Iraq, but because it could not oppose the counter-revolution once the war was over. A principled left that still had life in it and a liberalism that meant what it said might have remained ferociously critical of the American and British governments while offering support to Iraqis who wanted the freedoms they enjoyed.

It is a generalisation to say that everyone refused to commit themselves. The best of the old left in the trade unions and parliamentary Labour party supported an anti-fascist struggle, regardless of whether they were for or against the war, and American Democrats went to fi ght in Iraq and returned to fi ght the Republicans. But again, no one who looked at the liberal left from the outside could pretend that such principled stands were commonplace. The British Liberal Democrats, the continental social democratic parties, the African National Congress and virtually every leftish newspaper and journal on the planet were unable to accept that the struggle of Arabs and Kurds had anything to do with them. Mainstream Muslim organisations were as indifferent to the murder of Muslims by other Muslims in Iraq as in Darfur. For the majority of world opinion, Blair's hopes of 'giving people oppressed, almost enslaved, the prospect of democracy and liberty' counted for nothing.

How the left went beserk

When a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein came, the liberals had two choices. The first was to oppose the war, remain hypercritical of aspects of the Bush administration's policy, but support Iraqis as they struggled to establish a democracy.

The policy of not leaving Iraqis stranded was so clearly the only moral option, it never occurred to me that there could be another choice. I did have an eminent liberal specialist on foreign policy tell me that 'we're just going to have to forget about Saddam's victims', but I thought he was shooting his mouth off in the heat of the moment. From the point of view of the liberals, the only grounds they would have had to concede if they had stuck by their principles in Iraq would have been an acknowledgement that the war had a degree of legitimacy. They would still have been able to say it was catastrophically mismanaged, a provocation to al-Qaeda and all the rest of it. They would still have been able to condemn atrocities by American troops, Guantanamo Bay, and Bush's pushing of the boundaries on torture. They might usefully have linked up with like-minded Iraqis, who wanted international support to fight against the American insistence on privatisation of industries, for instance. All they would have had to accept was that the attempt to build a better Iraq was worthwhile and one to which they could and should make a positive commitment.

A small price to pay; a price all their liberal principles insisted they had a duty to pay. Or so it seemed.

The second choice for the liberals was to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. To look at the Iraqi civilians and the British and American troops who were dying in a war whose central premise had proved to be false, and to go berserk; to allow justifi able anger to propel them into 'binges of posturing and ultra-radicalism' as the Sixties liberals had done when they went off the rails. As one critic characterised the position, they would have to pretend that 'the United States was the problem and Iraq was its problem'. They would have to maintain that the war was not an attempt to break the power of tyranny in a benighted region, but the bloody result of a 'financially driven mania to control Middle Eastern oil, and the faith-driven crusade to batter the crescent with the cross'.

They chose to go berserk.

Mr. Bas
19-02-2007, 08:48:11
Summary?

maroule
19-02-2007, 09:01:08
The main problem with Bush is that you know he didn't want to top Saddam because he was a big naughty boy

So I think it's more than fair to question his motives, and certainly the execution. The results, the FACTS in internet lingua, are that the US is hated worldwide and divided at home, the idea of "benevolent" foreign intervention is discredited for a long time, and of course the terrorists have a wonderful training camp and rallying beacon. And of course, as Dyl says, getting the bomb as never been so valuable to any rogue country.

However distateful the anti-war left wingers are (especially their association with Islamist organisations), that won't change.

Colon
19-02-2007, 09:28:21
Unsaddambar.

mr_G
19-02-2007, 10:03:25
and we found ourself a new DORKSTAR!!!!!

Colon
19-02-2007, 10:05:51
Undorkbar.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
19-02-2007, 13:09:52
Why did Chuck Norris spam this thread?

Colon
19-02-2007, 13:26:54
Unchuckbar.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
19-02-2007, 13:33:33
Chuck, just unkaputtbar.

JM^3
19-02-2007, 13:34:30
undarkstarbar

JM

Oerdin
19-02-2007, 18:17:48
Chris = Darkstar.

Oerdin
19-02-2007, 18:21:00
Originally posted by maroule
The main problem with Bush is that you know he didn't want to top Saddam because he was a big naughty boy

So I think it's more than fair to question his motives, and certainly the execution. The results, the FACTS in internet lingua, are that the US is hated worldwide and divided at home, the idea of "benevolent" foreign intervention is discredited for a long time, and of course the terrorists have a wonderful training camp and rallying beacon. And of course, as Dyl says, getting the bomb as never been so valuable to any rogue country.

However distateful the anti-war left wingers are (especially their association with Islamist organisations), that won't change.

Correct and said in a nutshell.

Colon
19-02-2007, 18:21:02
Unclonebar.

Caligastia
19-02-2007, 18:39:13
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Start at the top. Take out a few of the biggest monsters. Once the message gets across that the world is deeply fucking pissed off and not prepared to tolerate any more genocides, watch the others make some hurried changes of policy.

I'd go with that, and rank them according to bodycount. Pity Iraq has turned into such a cock-up though. On the plus side, Saddam wasn't being executed in the U.S., and therefore didn't have appeal after appeal available to him. Hopefully his relatively speedy death will be an example to the other monsters out there.

Lazarus and the Gimp
19-02-2007, 18:59:05
Originally posted by maroule
The main problem with Bush is that you know he didn't want to top Saddam because he was a big naughty boy

So I think it's more than fair to question his motives, and certainly the execution. The results, the FACTS in internet lingua, are that the US is hated worldwide and divided at home, the idea of "benevolent" foreign intervention is discredited for a long time, and of course the terrorists have a wonderful training camp and rallying beacon. And of course, as Dyl says, getting the bomb as never been so valuable to any rogue country.

However distateful the anti-war left wingers are (especially their association with Islamist organisations), that won't change.


I'm no Bush fan (as a left-winger, how could I be?). It's worth noting that pre-9/11 he showed little interest in the "Liberal Wars" of the Clinton era.

Still, I'm convinced that only an invasion could have avoided another generation of rule by the Husseins, so I'm not about to let my feelings about Bush warp my opinions on how the Baathists should have been handled.

I keep wondering what George Orwell would have done had he been alive today, and I'm convinced he would have come down in favour of invading Iraq (albeit with contempt expressed for Bush's motives) and become a pariah of the left in the process.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
19-02-2007, 19:34:16
Laz, do you prefer the current situation that will likely end in a hot civil war over "another generation of rule by the Husseins"?

Btw, there is no 3rd option, and there has never been one in the real world.

Scabrous Birdseed
19-02-2007, 21:10:02
Okay, bearing in mind that I didn't read the excerpt, here's my take:

My left-wing sentiments are deeply grounded in the classical concept of civic republicanism, founded on the principle of self-determination and representation and power for underprivilidged groups. In modern terms this makes me a multi-way feminist, but it really doesn't matter what you call it.

Now, going back to the Cold War, both superpowers tried vehemently to fight self-determination, supporting nasty dictators and colonial puppets and brutally toppling democratic regimes and crushing freedom movements. Saddam himself was, of course, supported wholesale by the west (as an opponent of Iran) up until the attack on (important oild-providing ally) Kuwait, including when he gassed Kurdish villages.

Forgive me for not believing this has changed very much - they used to be pretty good at spinning it back then, too. The Hawks in Washington follow the same conservative realist ideology on international relations as they've always done. They removed a strategically inconvenient enemy and gained control over valuable regional assets. (I'm not gonna say the overused o word, because that's not the whole picture, but It's one of many factors.)

The fact that they claim that they were doing it for democracy only matters if you choose to take it at face value. They used to claim the same thing about the contras... My international relations textbook (admittedly written by a dirty realist) questioned the possibility of humanitarian intervention at all, but I think we all (on the left) can agree that at least this warn't it.

The question that remains is whether the interests of the opressed Iraqi people were parallel to those of the united states and whether they ultimately benefitted from the military intervention.

Democracy is always best built from below, it's founding stone being a strong civic commitment by the people. People who want to be free need to adopt the democratic republic out of an understanding that this, indeed, is the best form to guarantee the long-term freedom. They need to free themselves, because they will spend their years as a democracy continually freeing themselves and protecting their freedom through vigilence and participation.

Now, this self-determination runs anathema to the hegemony-creating interests of the superpower, who instead want obedience to their power position. The US abandoned the iraqi freedom movement during the first gulf war, and of course have fought down anyone who wants to free themselves from their undemocratic puppet government since. The US has always been an opponent and manipulator of democracy rather than a supporter and stabiliser.

Let's skip to a war most lefties agree the US was on the fucking wrong side of, Vietnam. Why did the soviet-supported, fairly brutal Vietcong have the support of the vietnamese people? American, French and South Vietnamese atrocities are part of the answer, of course, but mainly it involved carefully working within the community to create understanding for their actions. They were humble, after a fashion, and made sure everyone knew what they were doing and why, and involved them in their actions.

That's what the US should have done, instead of arrogantly barging in and indiscriminately killing civilians. Work together with the opressed communities to topple Saddam. But of course, as outlined above, it's not in their nature or motivation to do so, so they wouldn't have.

Okay, that really was a darkstaresque post, but I think that covers most of how I feel on the issue.

Lazarus and the Gimp
19-02-2007, 21:58:24
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel
Laz, do you prefer the current situation that will likely end in a hot civil war over "another generation of rule by the Husseins"?



Yes.

I'm convinced that civil war has been inevitable in Iraq since about 1978. The Husseins might have delayed it up to 50 years, with assorted genocides en route, but they couldn't have stopped it.

Lazarus and the Gimp
19-02-2007, 22:03:23
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed

That's what the US should have done, instead of arrogantly barging in and indiscriminately killing civilians. Work together with the opressed communities to topple Saddam.


Cohen covers this argument extensively in the book. The drawback with this plan is that it's incredibly hard to destabilise an entrenched totalitarian regime that reigns by terror with a huge secret police network. The revolutionary cells get snuffed out before they can do anything.

Oerdin
19-02-2007, 23:35:50
I would also take point against anyone who claims the US has a policy of indiscriminately killing civilians. A person who says such a thing has absolutely no clue.

MOBIUS
20-02-2007, 00:28:22
Who said that?

Oerdin
20-02-2007, 00:38:13
Scabrous Birdseed

MOBIUS
20-02-2007, 00:43:37
Really? Where?

Oerdin
20-02-2007, 01:51:32
Look 4 posts above your last post to see it quoted.

Colon
20-02-2007, 03:36:45
Unquotebar.

Scabrous Birdseed
20-02-2007, 07:37:20
I'm not sure I claimed they had a policy to do so. Although mass bombing is in effect such a policy, I suppose.

Laz, this is the US we're talking about here. They've managed to destabilise governments a hell of a lot more entrenched and certainly a hell of a lot more popular than Saddam's, by terrorism, training up guerillas (suggestedly in the hills of Kurdistan), disinformation, assassinations, personel assistence etc.

Heck they could even bring in the army in a limited role. To answer the questions in your second post, yes as fuck to number one, partially to number two, and only if it was done together, properly together, with the people for the other three.

Nevertheless, like I said, it's not in the nature of US foreign policy to do so. They don't want democracy as much as US-allied, CIA-manipulated "democracy" just as the soviet union didn't want socialism.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
20-02-2007, 08:18:46
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Yes.

I'm convinced that civil war has been inevitable in Iraq since about 1978. The Husseins might have delayed it up to 50 years, with assorted genocides en route, but they couldn't have stopped it.

Well in that case, you shouldn't support occupation but US withdrawal a few days after having taken Baghdad.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
20-02-2007, 08:19:57
Originally posted by Oerdin
I would also take point against anyone who claims the US has a policy of indiscriminately killing civilians. A person who says such a thing has absolutely no clue.

Not indiscriminately, but in the decisions iraqi civilians rank way below US soldiers, who again rank way below oil wells.

Scabrous Birdseed
20-02-2007, 08:41:34
The key would have been to direct the civil war against Saddam (which would have brought the ethnic groups closer together) instead of fractioning like the US appears to be doing.

Colon
20-02-2007, 08:42:24
Uncivilbar.

maroule
20-02-2007, 08:50:42
it would have still meant civil war, once Saddam was toppled, for mecanic reasons; the sunni don't live where oil is, and the issue of sharing that would have been unlikely to be settled democratically: even revolutionaries fighting together for a long time have a tendency to turn against each other real quick when the uniting factor is disposed of. I'm thinking Ethiopia-Erythrea, and Zenawi and Afwerki fighting to death for a few tens of kilometers of sand (with no oil on it, and no dividing religion betwenn the two)

MOBIUS
20-02-2007, 09:15:48
Originally posted by Oerdin
Look 4 posts above your last post to see it quoted.

No. He says they barge in killing people indiscriminately.

He never said anything about there actually being a policy of doing it, as if that was their specific intention.

The actual point is that they don't appear to have an obvious policy of actually avoiding killing people indiscriminately, apart from not actually specifically targeting civilians on purpose (but that's only because they're not military targets).

The US military is like the Israeli military, they obviously do actually try and kill the 'bad guys' but if a bunch of civvies gets shredded in the crossfire they shrug and call it something sterile like 'collateral damage', and it was probably their fault for being in a warzone etc...:rolleyes:

Funko
20-02-2007, 09:27:30
Originally posted by MOBIUS

The actual point is that they don't appear to have an obvious policy of actually avoiding killing people indiscriminately, apart from not actually specifically targeting civilians on purpose (but that's only because they're not military targets).

So you are basically saying that other than the policy of trying to avoid killing civilians, they don't have a policy on it?

I think the US government and army do have a very clear policy to try and avoid killing civilians. The problem is not that the best way to avoid 'collatoral damage' seems to be the much, much more dangerous approach of getting troops really up close with the enemy rather than the hands off, high tech war from a distance approach that the US military is geared up for. I'm not sure US public opinion could handle the increased losses either.

Nills Lagerbaak
20-02-2007, 09:42:46
The trouble is they have two conflicting policies then. Trying not to kill civilians, but try to win wars by dropping bombs. The two are not compatible.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
20-02-2007, 09:46:20
Originally posted by Funko
I'm not sure US public opinion could handle the increased losses either.

Another reason why they shouldn't go on colonial adventures.

Colon
20-02-2007, 09:59:46
Uncolonialbar.

Funko
20-02-2007, 11:02:39
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6376639.stm

WWIII FTW.

maroule
20-02-2007, 11:24:34
too publicised to be anything else but bluff

Dyl Ulenspiegel
20-02-2007, 11:31:18
Careful. I gave the Bushists way too much credit in 2002/03 considering the possibility that it might be all just a bluff.

The Mad Monk
20-02-2007, 19:24:21
Of course the Pentagon has plans drawn up, its their job.

I'm sure they have plans for attacking Austria, too.

Scabrous Birdseed
20-02-2007, 19:38:43
First you take out the Mozartkugeln factory.

Lazarus and the Gimp
20-02-2007, 20:14:41
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed

Laz, this is the US we're talking about here. They've managed to destabilise governments a hell of a lot more entrenched and certainly a hell of a lot more popular than Saddam's



Not totalitarian regimes with huge secret police networks, unless you have an example in mind that I've never heard of.



Nevertheless, like I said, it's not in the nature of US foreign policy to do so. They don't want democracy as much as US-allied, CIA-manipulated "democracy" just as the soviet union didn't want socialism. [/B]


I'd still take that as an improvement on the genocidal Husseins. Who in their right mind wouldn't?

Lazarus and the Gimp
20-02-2007, 20:18:50
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel
Well in that case, you shouldn't support occupation but US withdrawal a few days after having taken Baghdad.


That would have left Saddam still at large. No deal.

Having invaded the nation, I think it would be more than churlish to damn the invaders for attempts to ward off the civil war. To be honest, I don't think their continued presence will achieve much, but that doesn't make it some sort of evil doing.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
20-02-2007, 21:25:18
If you assume the invasion was legitimate. Well, you could talk about the looting of Iraq and the american taxpayer for the cronies of the Bush regime...

If you assume the invasion was illigitimate (as I do), then their presence and every death under their presence is their crime.

Lazarus and the Gimp
20-02-2007, 23:01:04
Like I said, I'm not here to defend Bush. I'd have taken a UN invasion in preference- but do you think they would ever have done so?

Someone had to do it. It took a Tanzanian invasion to topple Amin. It took a Vietnamese invasion to topple Pol Pot. Who damns them, Dyl? Had it been any nation other than the US (or possibly Britain) invading Iraq, would the left have damned it?

I really don't think so.

Scabrous Birdseed
21-02-2007, 07:42:33
Wait - let me just get one thing straight before we continue: Is your belief that the US invaded Iraq with the chief aim of freeing its people from the tyrannical reign of Saddam Hussein? Or do you believe that the invasion was coincidentally a good thing for the people, despite the totally selfish, non-humanitarian motives of the US?

'Cause if it's the last one I can at least buy the viewpoint, but if it's the first one I'm afraid you're going with Chris into the "do not engage in debate" file.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
21-02-2007, 08:40:54
Laz: Tanzania and Vietnam have been neighbouring countries under a threat from the rogue regime. It corresponds to Iraq 1990/91, not 2002/2003.

I assume you do not believe that humanitarian intervention as such happens. As at best a side product of an intervention for other reasons, you have to weigh it against the negative effects.

So viewing Cambodia and Uganda from that angle, I can accept the intervention. As for Iraq, I am absolutely convinced that the result of the US invasion is and will be much worse than the continuation of the Saddam regime.

Colon
21-02-2007, 08:45:03
Unthebar uncruelbar unsaddambar unregimebar unwasbar unrightfullybar undestroyedbar unaccordingbar untobar unthebar unbushbar unadministrationbar.

C.G.B. Spender
21-02-2007, 08:46:32
Saddam was declared as the main target once the weapons of mass destructions disappered. I can remember that pretty well. I also remember the show with the pictures of trains and trucks containing super labs etc.
In my opinion you can'z justify actions based on a lie, no matter what you do afterwards. Well, I cheated you, but look: Things got, um, different!

C.G.B. Spender
21-02-2007, 08:48:59
Ceterum censeo Coloninem esse delendam

MOBIUS
21-02-2007, 09:11:25
Oh, the invasion was for humanitarian reasons...?

See I thought it was about WMD's and links with Al-Qaeda, so you can see how I got confused...:rolleyes:

So why aren't we in Darfur (Sudan has oil too you know!), why did Bush resist helping in Liberia, why is the Bush Admin allied to a number of pretty brutal dictatorships instead of invading them...?

Just wondering...:cute:

Drekkus
21-02-2007, 09:44:47
Originally posted by C.G.B. Spender
Ceterum censeo Coloninem esse delendam :rolleyes: It's Senseo, not censeo
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senseo

Lazarus and the Gimp
21-02-2007, 09:47:50
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed
Wait - let me just get one thing straight before we continue: Is your belief that the US invaded Iraq with the chief aim of freeing its people from the tyrannical reign of Saddam Hussein?


Chief aim? Probably not- the desire to improve Western interests in the middle east was probably the deciding factor. Like I said- I'd have taken a UN invasion in preference.

However I'll not let my thinking on the subject get clouded by knee-jerk anti-American stances.

Lazarus and the Gimp
21-02-2007, 09:53:54
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel

I assume you do not believe that humanitarian intervention as such happens. As at best a side product of an intervention for other reasons, you have to weigh it against the negative effects.

So viewing Cambodia and Uganda from that angle, I can accept the intervention. As for Iraq, I am absolutely convinced that the result of the US invasion is and will be much worse than the continuation of the Saddam regime.


I'm not convinced, particularly when considering the global impact.

There needs to come a point where dictators understand that they can't get away with genocides simply because they don't cross those invisible lines on the ground. I'm an old-fashioned kind of lefty, and I've got that old-fashioned globalist attitude about fighting for your people, whichever side of the frontier they happen to be.

Lazarus and the Gimp
21-02-2007, 09:56:52
Originally posted by C.G.B. Spender
Saddam was declared as the main target once the weapons of mass destructions disappered. I can remember that pretty well. I also remember the show with the pictures of trains and trucks containing super labs etc.
In my opinion you can'z justify actions based on a lie, no matter what you do afterwards. Well, I cheated you, but look: Things got, um, different!

I understand your point of view. Similarly, that's why I have such a massive problem with people who claim to be left-wingers apologising for the Baathists. I damned them in the 80's, and I can't see why the world turned upside-down since then.

Lazarus and the Gimp
21-02-2007, 09:57:56
Originally posted by MOBIUS
Oh, the invasion was for humanitarian reasons...?



Read the thread, Mobius. You aren't on Poly now.

maroule
21-02-2007, 10:15:36
but there is a problem of consistency: the US (like every other nation) is about defending its national interest, not "freeing people". That's why the US and other democracies have supported and keep supporting undemocratic regional bullies with brutally repressive regimes (you know the list). That's also why the US had a hand into overthrowing genuine democratic attempts (Chile and Iran) and you get the feeling the could do it again anytime it conflicts with their national interest (at least that was the point of the movie "Syriana").

So you're holding on to the idea of "beneficial consequences of morally and politically flawed decisions". That would lead you to defend the actions of Stalin, for example. Do you think that the USSR invasion and occupation of east germany was a good thing? after all, it did free them from a worst regime, and was extremely effective in bringing back peace and stability. I think we can safely say the east germans were in a better position, very early on, that the Iraqi are in today.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
21-02-2007, 10:18:40
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
I'm not convinced, particularly when considering the global impact.


Considering the global impact, the disaster is even worse. Somehow this reminds me of the fruit of the poisoned tree doctrine.

"There needs to come a point where dictators understand that they can't get away with genocides simply because they don't cross those invisible lines on the ground. "

Well, what have the Iraq war, the dealing with Saddam before 1990, and the subsequent deal with North Korea made dictators understand?

You get away with genocides and all other kind of shit if
a) you serve the interests of the groups that keep the Washingtonian regime in power, or
b) you have nuclear weapons.

Great lesson.

MOBIUS
21-02-2007, 11:07:55
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Read the thread, Mobius. You aren't on Poly now.

Answer the rest of my post properly without neatly sidestepping the issue, we aren't on Poly you know...;)


So why aren't we in Darfur (Sudan has oil too you know!), why did Bush resist helping in Liberia, why is the Bush Admin allied to a number of pretty brutal dictatorships instead of invading them...?

My main point is why are we conveniently ignoring all the other, often easier to fix, humanitarian tragedies out there...?

There were other far more pressing cases to sort out before going after a relatively stable Iraq: Darfur was already a bloodbath before Bush even gave the go ahead for invading Iraq...

I applaud what we did in Sierra Leone for example and we should right the world's ills by force if necessary. But I don't hear you advocating deposing Mugabe by force for example, Laz...

Funko
21-02-2007, 13:12:21
He did answer. Laz said - he's not specifically defending Bush, he'd have prefered a UN led force and he'd ideally like the UN to go into those places too. I think he's been quite consistent, even where I don't agree.

Scabrous Birdseed
21-02-2007, 13:18:59
I'm not so sure. I think a lot of what he said only applies if the motivation was actually humanitarian intervention. The deterrence thing, for instance - why would other dictators be scared if they realise the US doesn't really care about human rights?

Scabrous Birdseed
21-02-2007, 13:39:39
I mean, who on this list of dictators, except Khamenei, has reason to feel threatened by the US at the present moment?

http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/2007/edition_02-11-2007/Dictators

Funko
21-02-2007, 13:50:07
I am not saying I agree with Laz I just think that Laz has been consistent in his view and he's already answered what MOBIUS was asking him.

Scabrous Birdseed
21-02-2007, 14:01:43
What's interesting, reading through that list, is how much worse things were thirty years ago. There's only a handful of dictators today that can compete with Bokassa, Baby Doc, Pinochet, Ceaucescu, Pol Pot, Mengistu etc., plus there were so many of them back then.

Now the question is, what is the reason for the drop?

(a) The US stepped up on human rights and started actively working for democracy, taking on a more active role

or

(b) The US took on a more passive world role which, together with the demise of the USSR, meant fewer foreign-supported dictators?

If Laz is consistent he should pick option (a). Bits of my textbook used to suggest that was the case.

Funko
21-02-2007, 14:03:34
Why does the reason for the drop have to be related to the US?

maroule
21-02-2007, 14:06:33
it's not
it was related with the cold war, and the strategic rivalry being played by local dictators. Hence the famous quote "he's a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch".

Scabrous Birdseed
21-02-2007, 14:06:54
Because it coincides neatly with the end of the cold war.

Funko
21-02-2007, 14:07:46
I think both those statements are true. Your declaration of one as "active" and one as "passive" are wrong. You can both actively campaign for human rights at the same time as becoming more passive in some areas by ceasing your direct support of dictators. They aren't mutually exclusive.

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 09:56:05
Originally posted by MOBIUS

My main point is why are we conveniently ignoring all the other, often easier to fix, humanitarian tragedies out there...?



As I've repeatedly pointed out, I am not here to apologise the Western world's craven and corrupt tolerance of genocides that stay tidly outside of our commercial interests. I'm here to damn it.

We shouldn't be ignoring them. We should be in there. Are we agreed on that point, and are we agreed that Iraq was one of those points we should be fixing?


There were other far more pressing cases to sort out before going after a relatively stable Iraq: Darfur was already a bloodbath before Bush even gave the go ahead for invading Iraq...


Yep. We should be in there too.


I applaud what we did in Sierra Leone for example and we should right the world's ills by force if necessary. But I don't hear you advocating deposing Mugabe by force for example, Laz...

Well you're hearing now. And you can add Burma, Irian Jaya and Uzbekistan to the list too.

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 09:57:25
DP

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 10:05:19
Originally posted by maroule

So you're holding on to the idea of "beneficial consequences of morally and politically flawed decisions". That would lead you to defend the actions of Stalin, for example. Do you think that the USSR invasion and occupation of east germany was a good thing?


Regrettably, yes. The world's never going to be perfect, and sometimes good things are the result of bad thinking. At that point you end up making a judgement call between idealism and pragmatism, and in my case pragmatism tends to win in this instance.

I sympathise with those holding those crystal-clear ideological principles that demand purity of thought and action- and I'm not being sarcastic in any way. There is a lot to admire there. But I'm not an idealist to that extent.

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 10:09:37
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed
I mean, who on this list of dictators, except Khamenei, has reason to feel threatened by the US at the present moment?

http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/2007/edition_02-11-2007/Dictators

Fuck the US at the present moment. From a point of principle (leaving practical cocerns aside for the moment) what's wrong with doing the right thing, regardless of how it corresponds with US policy at any given time?

Again, I am not here to defend US policy. I am suggesting that the left has allowed knee-jerk anti-Americanism to become its defining value, and in doing so it has become blinkered and lost its moral core.

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 10:12:37
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed
What's interesting, reading through that list, is how much worse things were thirty years ago.


Where do the estimated 2 million dead in Congo feature in that equation?

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 10:20:58
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel

Well, what have the Iraq war, the dealing with Saddam before 1990, and the subsequent deal with North Korea made dictators understand?

You get away with genocides and all other kind of shit if
a) you serve the interests of the groups that keep the Washingtonian regime in power, or
b) you have nuclear weapons.

Great lesson.

Can we add the Balkan conflict to the list?

It was Western torpor in the early years that allowed genocides to blossom. The real turning point came when Clinton was faced with the rising prominence of war-hero politicians (McCain, Dole) baying for action, and decided that maybe we needed to up the ante. And I'm convinced that was the right thing to do.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
22-02-2007, 10:47:01
Balkan falls under a). Let's not forget that at the beginning, the UK, France and the US were very sympathetic to keeping Yugoslavia as one. Only as the serbs got out of control and closer to Russia the US and Co really seems to have a problem.

Was the Balkan intervention "the right thing to do"? Well, probably yes judging from the results. How you can take this to justify the monumental fuck-up that is Iraq, I cannot follow.

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 11:49:47
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel

Was the Balkan intervention "the right thing to do"? Well, probably yes judging from the results.


Leave the 20/20 hindsight alone for a moment, and then answer the question again.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
22-02-2007, 12:35:25
Well, probably yes judging from the expected results.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
22-02-2007, 12:36:15
I still don't get your Iraq take. Essentially, you say Yes to it because you saw a possibility for something good coming out of it?

maroule
22-02-2007, 12:59:06
everybody but the most delutional neo-con knew it would end in failure... even most of us, here, the lowest form of twats, knew it would happen this way...

I remember Chirac saying a few days after the liberation of Bagdad, in a famous "off" comment (not official) "the iraqi will wait for 6 months, and then all hell will break loose"

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 13:18:14
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel
I still don't get your Iraq take. Essentially, you say Yes to it because you saw a possibility for something good coming out of it?

Yes.

To qualify that statement, I don't think Iraq has any future as a single state. I think that a break-up along ethnic divisions is inevitable. However I think that, in the long run, it'll be for the best for Iraq. That's probably not saying a great deal, but it's better than Saddam's genocides.

maroule
22-02-2007, 13:36:39
"I think that a break-up along ethnic divisions is inevitable"

If that's the case, then it is a recipe for years of regional wars between the newly formed independant states; the Sunni will want two things the Shia have, oil and access to water. Both will be supported by their backers and be the battle zone of the shia-sunni confrontation.

The Kurds, on their side, will draw the hopes of the oppressed kurdish minorities around... and force the US to choose between them and Turkey when it moves towards open conflict...

So basically we'll have civil war, ethnic cleansing (to create homogeneous new states), then a haigh probability of regional wars. IMO the price in human lives will be higher than Saddam's dictatorship. If you're as pragmatic as you say, then the result is negative.

On that side, and purely arithmatically, I wonder what's the total number of death under Saddam (I'd exclude the Iran war, because it wasn't his war alone, but a proxy conflict, but include the Koweit one), and how that compares with where we are now

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 13:48:57
Originally posted by maroule
"
So basically we'll have civil war, ethnic cleansing (to create homogeneous new states), then a haigh probability of regional wars. IMO the price in human lives will be higher than Saddam's dictatorship. If you're as pragmatic as you say, then the result is negative.


Not really. If you look back up this thread you'll see that I think it's been inevitable in Iraq since about 1978/79. The Hussein regime could only forestall it.


On that side, and purely arithmatically, I wonder what's the total number of death under Saddam (I'd exclude the Iran war, because it wasn't his war alone, but a proxy conflict, but include the Koweit one), and how that compares with where we are now [/B]


According to this site-

http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat3.htm

-you're looking at 350,000 due to shortages between 1990 and 2001. That's a conservative estimate- you'll see that they mention higher estimates from other sources.

General Iraq casualties under Saddam are given as 300,000. Of that, Anfal is generally attributed with 150,000 to 200,000 Kurdish dead. Again, I think that's conservative.

For the Iran/Iraq war, estimates range from 600,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqi dead, plus at least a million Iranian dead.

This, of course, tended to happen away from mdia eyes, which is why I think people don't appreciate just how appalling the Baathist regime was.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
22-02-2007, 14:01:24
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Yes.

To qualify that statement, I don't think Iraq has any future as a single state. I think that a break-up along ethnic divisions is inevitable. However I think that, in the long run, it'll be for the best for Iraq. That's probably not saying a great deal, but it's better than Saddam's genocides.

What odds would it take for you to find an intervention you do not love?

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 14:08:23
I'm not a bookmaker. When it comes to acts of prophecy I'm honest enough to admit that I use a healthy dose of gut instinct. If there's some sort of equation that determines the odds accurately then I probably need to know about it.

maroule
22-02-2007, 14:44:12
"Not really. If you look back up this thread you'll see that I think it's been inevitable in Iraq since about 1978/79. The Hussein regime could only forestall it."

I'm not sure I follow your logic. You say the dictatorship was bad while acknowledging it delayed the inevitable killing we're going to see now. It still doesn't justify the US intervention, as it obviously didn't prevent the civil war but accelerated it

Even if you think the iraki gained from it (which a lot would dispute, a lot of irakis included, and certainly 100% of sunnis), you still have the global picture to consider:
- democratic reforms in all arab countries will be harder, not easier, because associated with the US. As a results, all democratic attemps right now are boosting opposition parties that are islamists and undemocratic (and with which the US doesn't want to discuss, ironically)
- the world is a much more dangerous place, because of terrorists increased capacities to harm, and dictators not being detered in the slightest by this cock up
- the US lost a shitload of everything, and certainly capacity to intervene rightfully elsewhere. Internally, a fringe of the US public became totally hysterical and fanatic about it (we've seen some examples of that). This people and their extremists views will carry on polluting the US debate
- Even in Europe, extreme left and islamists are revived (not exactly a great thing either), and nobody can say anything positive about the US without being branded a US poodle (not exactly a great thing either)

and you say it was all worth it because it was a fair shot at saving a few thousands of people (the difference between what saddam would have killed had he stayed in power, and how many died since the US intervention)...

obviously arabs are worth a lot more than africans

fp
22-02-2007, 15:03:05
Originally posted by maroule


and you say it was all worth it because it was a fair shot at saving a few thousands of people (the difference between what saddam would have killed had he stayed in power, and how many died since the US intervention)...


I find your obsession with using body counts as a means of assessing morality a little disturbing. If it would have taken Saddam's regime only one year to kill as many Iraqis as the US/UK armies then the war would have been justified? If it would have taken him 20 or 30 then it was unjustified? That's some fucked up thinking.

I'd also like to see your source for the number of Iraqis Saddam would have murdered if he'd stayed in power. Surely you didn't just make them up, did you?

Dyl Ulenspiegel
22-02-2007, 15:36:19
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
I'm not a bookmaker.

But you seem to like risky bets.

I think we have a similar reasoning, just differ on its application in the Iraq case.

For me Iraq was an almost certain disaster on every level, from civil war in Iraq, destabilizing effects on the middle east and a very bad precedent globally. I just wonder, assume you share that view, would you still favour the adventure?

maroule
22-02-2007, 15:48:00
I didn't start using the body count argument before that conversation, so it's hardly an obsession

It's been used here because the pro-war are using the argument "Irakis are better off now", and the rest of the world doubts it... feel free to give your own criterium to measure that, but I feel body count is as good as any. IMO it's even the acid test. If the cure is worst than the disease, then surely it's a bad cure. The US administration is using one argument, "they had free elections" which is shite IMO because you can't have free elections in a context of civil war. What do you reckon then?

I don't have a source for the number of irakis Saddam would have killed, and I don't even have a number, but I can't imagine him killing more than an order of magnitude that I qualify as "tens of thousands more" than died since the intervention.

Did we save at least one iraki life by getting in Irak? Even if you believe we did, that leaves out the negatives I listed.

Caligastia
22-02-2007, 16:02:04
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Yes.

To qualify that statement, I don't think Iraq has any future as a single state. I think that a break-up along ethnic divisions is inevitable. However I think that, in the long run, it'll be for the best for Iraq. That's probably not saying a great deal, but it's better than Saddam's genocides.

Can't we just teach them the joys of diversity?

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 17:09:43
Originally posted by maroule


I'm not sure I follow your logic. You say the dictatorship was bad while acknowledging it delayed the inevitable killing we're going to see now.


There is no contradiction there. Yes, it was monstrous. Yes, it delayed a war I feel was inevitable. In doing so it did not redeem itself



Even if you think the iraki gained from it (which a lot would dispute, a lot of irakis included, and certainly 100% of sunnis), you still have the global picture to consider:
- democratic reforms in all arab countries will be harder, not easier, because associated with the US. As a results, all democratic attemps right now are boosting opposition parties that are islamists and undemocratic (and with which the US doesn't want to discuss, ironically)


The rise of theocratic government was already taking place prior to 2003, of course. See Iran and Algeria for examples.

In any event, given the choice between an unknown factor of pro-Islamic rule, and Saddam's regime, I'd take the Islamic option. It's not much of a choice, but Iran's human rights record was better than Iraq's.


- the world is a much more dangerous place, because of terrorists increased capacities to harm, and dictators not being detered in the slightest by this cock up


I'm not convinced about that.


- the US lost a shitload of everything, and certainly capacity to intervene rightfully elsewhere. Internally, a fringe of the US public became totally hysterical and fanatic about it (we've seen some examples of that). This people and their extremists views will carry on polluting the US debate
- Even in Europe, extreme left and islamists are revived (not exactly a great thing either), and nobody can say anything positive about the US without being branded a US poodle (not exactly a great thing either)



We can agree on that.



and you say it was all worth it because it was a fair shot at saving a few thousands of people (the difference between what saddam would have killed had he stayed in power, and how many died since the US intervention)...



Given my stance on what I perceive to be the moral core of the issue, I can't dismiss those "few thousand" people.


obviously arabs are worth a lot more than africans


I don't know where that came from. It's certainly not a sentiment I'd leave unchallenged.

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 17:11:15
Originally posted by Caligastia
Can't we just teach them the joys of diversity?

One day I hope we can, and I hope you'll be joining in.

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 17:15:08
The Guardian today covers the British position in Southern Iraq, and gives a figure of approximately 3,000 civilians killed there since the start of the war (and that's from the Guardian, remember).

Considering that's about a quarter of Iraq, that's not as damning as it might seem. Saddam killed 60,000 there in a couple of months in 1991.

Outside of the Sunni Triangle, a large swathe of Iraq looks like it's in an improved position.

MoSe
22-02-2007, 17:30:37
Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worries on the doorstep
Life can be so sweet
On the Sunni side of the street

Caligastia
22-02-2007, 19:00:42
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
One day I hope we can, and I hope you'll be joining in.

Hey, as long as nobody is being forced, I'm all for teaching different groups about the benefits of cooperation. You can't just lump people together and tell them to 'get along' though, and I think your statement about ethnic seperation in Iraq agrees with that sentiment. Agree or disagree?

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-02-2007, 19:14:47
That's for another thread.

C.G.B. Spender
22-02-2007, 22:09:21
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
The Guardian today covers the British position in Southern Iraq, and gives a figure of approximately 3,000 civilians killed there since the start of the war (and that's from the Guardian, remember).

Considering that's about a quarter of Iraq, that's not as damning as it might seem. Saddam killed 60,000 there in a couple of months in 1991.

Outside of the Sunni Triangle, a large swathe of Iraq looks like it's in an improved position.

In 1940 less Frenchmen were killed by prussians in Belgium than 1815! Um ...

Lazarus and the Gimp
23-02-2007, 08:52:37
That's very true, but then again the regime in 1815 was not still in place in 1939/1940.

Funko
23-02-2007, 09:19:26
They hadn't learnt about surrendering in 1815.

maroule
28-02-2007, 09:52:42
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
I'm not convinced about that.


I don't know how you build your conviction or lack of but

this is pretty compelling (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2311307.ece)

Lazarus and the Gimp
01-03-2007, 19:15:45
Nope. Still not convinced. I grew up in the Cold War, maroule. And I was close enough to the Baltic Exchange to have it hurt my ears when the IRA blew it up.

The Congo conflict (the greatest killer since WW2) was already underway by 2003. Rwanda had already happened. Cambodia, Anfal, Amin's regime, Obote's regime- they'd all happened. The atrocities in Burma, Darfur and Indonesia were already happening or done. As were the Balkans and Chechnya.

So I can only really understand the claim that the world's suddenly dropped into some relative chasm of extreme peril if it's made by someone whose interest in world news rarely strays beyond the Middle East. If the list of things I've quoted above isn't enough, I can quote loads more.

maroule
02-03-2007, 08:51:05
I grew up in the cold war too, and I lived through a few bombing campains as well (when the US didn't even know what terrorism at home was) but unlike you I can tell the difference between a regional conflit, a proxy war, and how the emergence of a new parameter of global instability (the rise of violent sunni islamism) can alter the balance.

During the cold war, you had no independent global terrorist organisation able to sponsor terrorosit acts from Djakarta to NY. Terrorism was a state tool, with a few hidden sponsors (Lybia, Iran, Syria) and thus easier to control/coerce. No state can control/channel the AQ network. The vast majority of the muslim population worldwide now absolutely loathe the US and western powers. This was not the case before, and there will be more consequences. It's now very very easy for any extremist rabble rouser to get the muslim ark hysterical about any perceived insult (Danish cartoons). They now have more ressources than can use, a training camp the size of two countries, and enough injustices to bang the PR drum for 20 years.

During the cold war, we left regional dictators slaughter their people because of zone of influences. Now they'll do it because we either don't care, or can't intervene. But on top of that, and unlike the cold war, we now live in a world of nuclear proliferation. So we have it all, the bombs, the perceived injustices to use the bombs, and the people to blow themselves up.

I'd like you to point at one single independent source or analyst who believes that the world a safer place since Irak (outside of people responsible for this fuck up of course, since they believe they're winning the war after all).

Funko
02-03-2007, 08:53:28
"the number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to 5,420"

Worldwide? That's fairly insignificant, especially as almost all of them are in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
02-03-2007, 09:04:31
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Nope. Still not convinced. I grew up in the Cold War, maroule. And I was close enough to the Baltic Exchange to have it hurt my ears when the IRA blew it up.

The Congo conflict (the greatest killer since WW2) was already underway by 2003. Rwanda had already happened. Cambodia, Anfal, Amin's regime, Obote's regime- they'd all happened. The atrocities in Burma, Darfur and Indonesia were already happening or done. As were the Balkans and Chechnya.

So I can only really understand the claim that the world's suddenly dropped into some relative chasm of extreme peril if it's made by someone whose interest in world news rarely strays beyond the Middle East. If the list of things I've quoted above isn't enough, I can quote loads more.

And all this has now changed for the better because of Iraq, or what?

maroule
02-03-2007, 09:34:28
Originally posted by Funko
"the number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to 5,420"

Worldwide? That's fairly insignificant, especially as almost all of them are in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Originally posted by fp
I find your obsession with using body counts as a means of assessing morality a little disturbing.

Funko
02-03-2007, 09:39:34
I don't even understand what point you are trying to make there. I don't think the Iraq invasion has made the world safer, but I don't think your "compelling" figures were very compelling either.

maroule
02-03-2007, 10:02:06
because of lack of deaths on a global scale... yeah, great point

the point is that a policy aimed at curbing terrorism made "the number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to 5,420". Considering actual deaths are only the tip of the iceberg (other factors may include that born and bred muslim english citizen are now ready to blow themselves up in the London tube, just on the faith of what they see on TV), I'd say that's compelling enough for me.

Funko
02-03-2007, 10:14:01
As I said:

Originally posted by Funko
I don't think the Iraq invasion has made the world safer

In fact I would say overall it's less safe.

So, speaking as someone who agrees with you, I don't think simply quoting figures a few thousand deaths, the vast majority of which are in war torn regions that previously had other severe problems anyway, supports your case as well as you suggest.

maroule
02-03-2007, 10:25:36
because you (and the article) stops at actual death. That' why I speak of the tip of the iceberg. To get young people, previously thought of as well integrated, blowing themselves up in our capital cities to protest a war (they don't suffer from) or for perceived injustices (while in objective terms you will always be more free as an arab in London or Paris than in Cairo or Ryad) is an indication that this problem goes well beyond the ME

Provost Harrison
02-03-2007, 10:54:27
My objection with the Iraq War was that it would degenerate into a fuck-up of this magnitude - I'm not being wise in hindsight - if someone fancies digging, they can quote me on this, I was not as rabidly anti-war as many would have pegged me for. I always thought Hussein was a horrible piece of work.

But let's be honest, this war was never part of the 'war on terror' - there was no link with Al Qaeda there...unlike nowadays, right under the noses of the allies. The invasion has led to vast oil reserves starting to be exploited but utter social dereliction for the population of Iraq for the excuse that was an occupation/reconstruction effort.

Lazarus and the Gimp
02-03-2007, 17:21:56
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel
And all this has now changed for the better because of Iraq, or what?

This is going to be another of those threads where I'm going to have to keep patiently repeating myself.

No. The point I made is that I'm not convinced that the world has suddenly become a much more dangerous place since the invasion of Iraq. And, as you'll see above, I can quote loads of reasons why I feel that way.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
02-03-2007, 17:32:03
And the point I made is that the world has become a much more dangerous place BECAUSE OF the invasion of Iraq, even if other developments may have brought about a change for the better. Just because this may net out does not mean that the invasion has not had a tremendous negative effect.

Lazarus and the Gimp
02-03-2007, 17:33:31
Originally posted by maroule
During the cold war, you had no independent global terrorist organisation able to sponsor terrorosit acts from Djakarta to NY. Terrorism was a state tool, with a few hidden sponsors (Lybia, Iran, Syria) and thus easier to control/coerce. No state can control/channel the AQ network.



Here's where I stop you. AQ were already very much alive and active prior to the Iraq invasion, of course.



The vast majority of the muslim population worldwide now absolutely loathe the US and western powers. This was not the case before,


I'm going to dispute that, because I think the removal of the Baathists (who, lest we forget, weren't appreciated by fundamentalist Islamic factions of any denomination) wasn't a particularly big deal. In fact, I think that from the point of view of seeing how much it inflamed the fundies, it lags behind the invasion of Afghanistan and waaaaaaaaay behind the US support for Israel and the House of Saud. All of which were, of course, already in place before 2003.



During the cold war, we left regional dictators slaughter their people because of zone of influences. Now they'll do it because we either don't care, or can't intervene. But on top of that, and unlike the cold war, we now live in a world of nuclear proliferation.



Hyberbole. Nuclear arms are not proliferating faster now than they were earlier within our lifetime. You remember the Arms Race, SDI etc.



I'd like you to point at one single independent source or analyst who believes that the world a safer place since Irak


I'm an independent source. Why not address my challenges?

Lazarus and the Gimp
02-03-2007, 17:39:29
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel
And the point I made is that the world has become a much more dangerous place BECAUSE OF the invasion of Iraq, even if other developments may have brought about a change for the better. Just because this may net out does not mean that the invasion has not had a tremendous negative effect.


What new threats emerged from the 2003 invasion of Iraq that weren't already in place following decades of support for Israel, decades of support for the House of Saud, decades of destabilising Iran, over a decade of targetting the Islamic militias in Somalia, over a decade of ignoring atrocities against Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya, years of fighting the Taliban and much, much more?

What new threats from fundamentalist Islam emerged from toppling a regime that fundamentalist Islam absolutely loathed?

Dyl Ulenspiegel
03-03-2007, 10:19:48
What are you trying to establish? First you complain about other's narrow focus on the ME, now you concentrate the world's troubles on the islamic world.

As for the Q: Strange case of binary thinking. No new threats means nothing got worse?

"What new threats emerged from the 2003 invasion of Iraq"

A lot of old threats got worse. For example, nuclear proliferation, from terrorism (islamic as well as US state sponsored), or the threat of fundamentalist regimes taking over more of the ME.

"What new threats from fundamentalist Islam emerged from toppling a regime that fundamentalist Islam absolutely loathed?"

See above - the shiites will have most of Iraq, and sunni fanatics have a much bigger chance to take over from the old regimes like Saud, Mubarak etc.

Lazarus and the Gimp
03-03-2007, 12:10:12
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel
What are you trying to establish? First you complain about other's narrow focus on the ME, now you concentrate the world's troubles on the islamic world.


This is where I patiently repeat myself again. I am being repeatedly challenged as to why I feel the world hasn't suddenly become a more dangerous place since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These examples are my responses.

I am not concentrating the world's trouble on the Islamic world, because that would be really silly. However I certainly pointing out that the world's dangers extend far beyond the Middle East.



As for the Q: Strange case of binary thinking. No new threats means nothing got worse?



Well, the floor's yours. Can you quantify how the world got worse?



"What new threats emerged from the 2003 invasion of Iraq"

A lot of old threats got worse. For example, nuclear proliferation, from terrorism (islamic as well as US state sponsored), or the threat of fundamentalist regimes taking over more of the ME.



What makes you think that wasn't already inevitable by 2003?



"What new threats from fundamentalist Islam emerged from toppling a regime that fundamentalist Islam absolutely loathed?"

See above - the shiites will have most of Iraq, and sunni fanatics have a much bigger chance to take over from the old regimes like Saud, Mubarak etc. [/B]


Like I've repeatedly pointed out in this thread, I think civil war in Iraq has been inevitable for years, and the Baathists could only have delayed it. As for the rise of fundamentalist Islamic factions using force, I put the tipping point at 1993/1994, when Algeria proved that democracy meant nothing to them.

And as for terrorist atrocities, well 9/11 preceded 2003, of course.

Lazarus and the Gimp
03-03-2007, 12:21:31
The progression of this thread pretty much highlights the concerns expressed earlier in it. The agenda of the left has become so fixated on Iraq (and specifically the US action in it) that the events preceding it are getting overlooked. I think it's only a matter of time before impressionable people start thinking that if the US hadn't invaded Iraq, 9/11 would never have happened.

That's why I can't buy the idea that Iraq's tipped us over the edge of some relative precipice of mortal danger. If such an event happened, we went over the edge a decade earlier. But nobody talks about Algeria any more. Nobody talks about the destabilisation of Iran, or the invasion of Afghanistan either. It's like they're disappearing from our collective memories due to this tunnel-vision-fixation on US presence in Iraq.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
03-03-2007, 19:05:35
Laz, I have no clue what you are trying to argue.

"Can you quantify how the world got worse?"

By a factor of 2.327. What's the point? First, only new threats count. Now, only quantifiable increases in old threats count. Are you trying to make the world fit to your wishes?

Now, the problem may be "The agenda of the left". I am not a leftist, quite the contrary. Maybe what you say makes only sense in addressing leftists.

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-03-2007, 16:05:44
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel
Laz, I have no clue what you are trying to argue.

"Can you quantify how the world got worse?"

By a factor of 2.327. What's the point? First, only new threats count. Now, only quantifiable increases in old threats count. Are you trying to make the world fit to your wishes?



Tricky, isn't it? I'd struggle to quantify how the world's suddenly got worse since the 2003 invasion too. That doesn't stop people earnestly informing me that it's an unassailable fact, however- as demonstrated above. They too tend to struggle when challenged on that point.



Now, the problem may be "The agenda of the left". I am not a leftist, quite the contrary. Maybe what you say makes only sense in addressing leftists.


I am a left-winger, but I'm still perfectly happy to explain any points that are posing a problem. What's the confusing point?

Dyl Ulenspiegel
04-03-2007, 16:20:44
You're just playing the if-you-can't-quantify-the-unquantifiable-it's-not true-trick.

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-03-2007, 18:40:36
No I'm not. I'm playing the "Look how many examples to suggest otherwise I can produce on demand. Now where's yours?" trick. That's rather different.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
04-03-2007, 19:16:30
"Look how many examples to suggest otherwise I can produce on demand."

The examples you produce would only make sense if someone had claimed that the Iraq war precludes any positive development anywhere. I can't see the claim, and your examples don't suggest anything regarding the consequences of the Iraq war.

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-03-2007, 19:56:44
Dyl, there are limits to the number of times I'm willing to patiently repeat myself. Pay attention-

1- Maroule claimed "the world is a much more dangerous place, because of terrorists increased capacities to harm, and dictators not being detered in the slightest by this cock up"

2- I disputed that. I did so by pointing out just what a bad situation already existed in the world. I quoted examples and asked for those thinking otherwise to supply examples to back up their own case.

And within the context of such a discussion, comments like-


The examples you produce would only make sense if someone had claimed that the Iraq war precludes any positive development anywhere.


- aren't true.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
04-03-2007, 20:55:35
Only if you construe Maroule's words as if he "had claimed that the Iraq war precludes any positive development anywhere."

And apart from that, I have already stated that such a position is in any case not mine:

"And the point I made is that the world has become a much more dangerous place BECAUSE OF the invasion of Iraq, even if other developments may have brought about a change for the better. Just because this may net out does not mean that the invasion has not had a tremendous negative effect."

So as had to be feared, this has turned into a poly discussion where I have to restate a point a million times as you insist on argueing something else.

maroule
05-03-2007, 08:54:08
Laz, whether you like it or not, Iraq has become the polarizing lens that defines our decade. Everything will be judged around that, until something bigger happens (China invading Taiwan, India-Pak war, whatever). Actually it's not just the left fixating on it: it started with the neo-con right spinning this issue and banging the drums of war (and banging opponents into submission with it), then the left finding a wonderful subject to beat them back.

Now, your point is to say it's not the whole picture. I agree. But you are badly downplaying the importance of Iraq in the global picture, on a single argument (more or less, regional conflicts like Congo are worse in terms of fatality and the situation is or could still get better, regardless of the ME)

I challenge that for the following reasons:
- Regional conflicts like Congo do not threaten to escalate globally. Never did, never will. The world can live with instability in the dark underbelly of Africa, and always did, with no global impact whatsoever. The ME impacts the rest of the globe, for a question of resources, and ideology/religion.
- The major ark of instability, as defined in all geostrategy analysis for the last 10 years, is the islam ark, from maghreb (starting morocco, to ME, up to Chechnya and Caucasus, then Pakistan/afgh/kasmir/tadjikistan). The “volatility mix” there was made A LOT worse by the Iraq war, for the reasons I exposed at least 3 times in this thread, and that you don't seem to deny (for those who got lost, Laz objects to the importance of the negative impact of Iraq/ME on the global situation, not on the Iraqi intervention being negative for the region)

If your point is to say that to a Congolese farmer, the world's security is not looking worse since Iraq, we agree. But it doesn't work like that. The "world" is defined by what happens to its core, not to its periphery. It's an axiomatic truth, like "history is written by the winners". And is that world, Iraq made the situation worse, however sophistic you make your arguments to be.

Lazarus and the Gimp
05-03-2007, 20:49:04
Originally posted by maroule
Laz, whether you like it or not, Iraq has become the polarizing lens that defines our decade. Everything will be judged around that, until something bigger happens (China invading Taiwan, India-Pak war, whatever).


Congo dead, 2 million and counting. Darfur dead, heading for half a million, with 2.5 million displaced.


- Regional conflicts like Congo do not threaten to escalate globally. Never did, never will.


6 African nations (Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe) are actively at war in Congo. Chad is also sending troops (with French support). The conflict has also enveloped Burundi. It stretches over half a continent, and is the biggest land war since WW2.

Regional?


The world can live with instability in the dark underbelly of Africa, and always did, with no global impact whatsoever. The ME impacts the rest of the globe, for a question of resources, and ideology/religion.


I'll steer clear of saying something inflammatory at this point, and point out that Congo's natural resources are far greater than Iraq's. In any event, I can't discard a continent so blithely.



- The major ark of instability, as defined in all geostrategy analysis for the last 10 years,


So preceding 2003, of course.


is the islam ark, from maghreb (starting morocco, to ME, up to Chechnya and Caucasus, then Pakistan/afgh/kasmir/tadjikistan). The “volatility mix” there was made A LOT worse by the Iraq war, for the reasons I exposed at least 3 times in this thread, and that you don't seem to deny (for those who got lost, Laz objects to the importance of the negative impact of Iraq/ME on the global situation, not on the Iraqi intervention being negative for the region)


I'm really not convinced that the Iraq invasion made the Middle East position significantly worse than was already the case following the first Gulf War, Algeria, the Intifada, the destabilisation of Iran, and the invasion of Afghanistan. So I do deny it.


If your point is to say that to a Congolese farmer, the world's security is not looking worse since Iraq, we agree. But it doesn't work like that. The "world" is defined by what happens to its core, not to its periphery. It's an axiomatic truth, like "history is written by the winners". And is that world, Iraq made the situation worse, however sophistic you make your arguments to be.

Nope. Still don't agree. Like I said, if you think civil war in Iraq has been inevitable for nearly 30 years, and considering AQ was already well on its murderous path, and taking into account Algeria, Chechnya, Iran and Afghanistan, I still don't think the Iraq invasion made things "a lot worse".

Lazarus and the Gimp
05-03-2007, 20:51:24
Dyl- don't take this the wrong way, but I'm not going to respond to your post. This tangent was started between maroule and myself, and we appear to be understanding each other.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
05-03-2007, 21:52:15
I don't mind. From my pov you don't make any sense anyway.

MOBIUS
06-03-2007, 01:05:17
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
6 African nations (Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe) are actively at war in Congo. Chad is also sending troops (with French support). The conflict has also enveloped Burundi. It stretches over half a continent, and is the biggest land war since WW2.

Funny, I thought this was essentially over in 2003? Obviously there is the potential for renewed fighting etc...

But this can go into the ''fixed' by the UN' pile, instead of the 'fucked by the US' pile...;)

Greg W
06-03-2007, 02:10:39
Hmm. Maybe we should all just agree to disagree? I don't see anybody here even beginning to change their opinion from that stated at the beginning of the thread...

Maybe you should all just learn to co-exist peacefully? :cute:

maroule
06-03-2007, 09:26:47
I'll say this for you Laz, you score points for originality: I have never seen, anywhere else, your pov expressed (that Congo is a more defining, more important conflict than Iraq for the world). There is a reason why nobody gives a fuck. You'd be right about it against the whole world, which, no offence, I find a bit of a stretch. Even if you’re bombarding yourself an “independent source”.

The Congo war is regional, whatever causalities there have been (if that was the measure of "danger for the world" then Rwanda would have been defcon 4, and yes, nobody gave much of a fuck), because there is no risk of it spreading to any major or secondary power. France, who you say is supporting Chad, does so by having a few troops shoot at Sudanese rebels whenever cross the border. Hardly as dangerous as the US engineering an 'incident' with Iran don’t you think?

What I really don't get is why you're denying that while the elements of instability in the ME have been present for a long time, the Iraq war is simply making them a lot worse. Even the most rabid pro-war neocon don’t dare deny it.

Lazarus and the Gimp
07-03-2007, 22:07:29
I've heard this "Africa doesn't matter" stance, and to be quite honest I think it sucks Satan's leprous cock. That's my big personal failing. I can't sit back and watch genocides happen.



Originally posted by maroule

What I really don't get is why you're denying that while the elements of instability in the ME have been present for a long time, the Iraq war is simply making them a lot worse. Even the most rabid pro-war neocon don’t dare deny it.


The most rabid pro-war neocon has radically different agendas to me. Incidentally, in case anyone's forgotten the opening post let me raise the subject of Cohen's book again to point that (hey!) I'm not alone in thinking this way.

And the reason why I'm denying your claim is, of course, because I'm firmly convinced that I'm right and (as you've seen) I have no problem with presenting copious examples to back this theory up.

maroule
08-03-2007, 08:35:51
you don't have a single argument to deny the main claim: the war has antagonized absolutely everybody in the muslim world (including staunch US allies), the US (and the western world by association) has never been so widely hated, and everywhere the "arab street" is asked to vote, it votes for extremist islamist factions. There are enough datas/surveys on that to prove the connections unambiguously. Other factors (taht it made recruiting easier for terrorists , etc.) are fairly intuitive. Your examples simply say it was all present before, and you think it's enough to deny it exacerbated the problem. As long as you can't explain why/how the Irak war did NOT exacerbate the problem (you'd have to point out that the arab street was bound to hate the US whatever policy it chose), then you position is sophistic.

Lazarus and the Gimp
08-03-2007, 22:42:23
Originally posted by maroule
you don't have a single argument to deny the main claim: the war has antagonized absolutely everybody in the muslim world



Actually I do. Did you know that the pre-Baathist Iraq had a large and organised trade union network, and that the ones Saddam didn't murder backed the invasion?

They, and a lot of others are covered in Cohen's book. I can get some names if you like.



Your examples simply say it was all present before, and you think it's enough to deny it exacerbated the problem. As long as you can't explain why/how the Irak war did NOT exacerbate the problem


Is genocidal repression of Kurds and Shiites part of the problem?If it isn't, it really should be. That seems to have got better

There we go. There's some of mine. Now where's yours?

Oerdin
08-03-2007, 22:47:58
Saddam did away with virtually all of the unions during his time because the communist party (which was really not that communist and really was just socialist) was the largest organized political party in Iraq. Saddam feared they might organize against him so he offed or jailed most of the leadership then declared the only legal union to be one he organized. Of course in the one legal state controlled union the entire leadership was directly appointed by Saddam.

maroule
09-03-2007, 09:40:24
"Actually I do. Did you know that the pre-Baathist Iraq had a large and organised trade union network, and that the ones Saddam didn't murder backed the invasion?

They, and a lot of others are covered in Cohen's book. I can get some names if you like."



I'm starting to wonder if you're stretching your arguments absurdly just for the pleasure to have me run in circles...



So you're basically saying : the "anti Saddam arabs supporting the invasion in 2003 (I'm surprised you didn't talk about Chalabi! hey, he was a good darkie and he supported the invasion!)" is as important an argument as "99.99% of of the muslim world is pissed off against the US today". Again, you're failing to see the difference between the original idea (which quite a few non bushies supported) and the reality of the fuck up and its consequences today.

Instead of pointing at people in Cohen's book, please point one (just one) important voice representative of the "world of Islam" which has anything good to say about the Irak war. Please even feel free to look at clients of the US, and regimes surviving only through US aid.


quote:
" Is genocidal repression of Kurds and Shiites part of the problem?If it isn't, it really should be. That seems to have got better"

* for the kurds, certainly (you could probably find the only voice of support for the invasion there, in the former kurd marxist guerilla) and let's hope it stays that way: in a few years, any powerful iraki central government will go back in Kurdistan and wipe out any idea of autonomy. It's a scenario of civil war you seem to agree with if you think it was inevitable to start with. In other words Kurdistan will remain free and independent just only as long as the central Iraki gvt remains unable to coerce them. Can Irak become a peaceful federal government? With all the very bad blood accumulating now, I think the chance has passed.

* The Shia are better off in terms of access to power (they had none, they have most of it), but in terms of casualties, it ain't better.

So in the end the arbitrage, so far, was good only if you believe replacing Kurd/Shia casualties with Sunni/Shia ones was worth it.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
09-03-2007, 11:08:07
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Dyl- don't take this the wrong way, but I'm not going to respond to your post. This tangent was started between maroule and myself, and we appear to be understanding each other.

It gives me a little comfort that it seems Maroule too has no idea what you are trying to argue. :D

Lazarus and the Gimp
09-03-2007, 17:26:49
I don't know where you get that impression, Dyl. Maroule's perfectly capable of asking for clarification if he needs it, and he hasn't.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
09-03-2007, 18:53:04
I get that impression from things like "I'm starting to wonder if you're stretching your arguments absurdly just for the pleasure to have me run in circles..."

Going back to your initial post - and I'm genuinely interested in your view as you are about as history crazy as me - it was how the left suddenly got fond of Saddam after he went from US sob to US enemy. And this is somehow an argument... for the completely fucked up US colonization attempt in Iraq?

Lazarus and the Gimp
09-03-2007, 19:33:08
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel

Going back to your initial post - and I'm genuinely interested in your view as you are about as history crazy as me - it was how the left suddenly got fond of Saddam after he went from US sob to US enemy. And this is somehow an argument... for the completely fucked up US colonization attempt in Iraq?


It's an argument for reminding the left that principles are not founded on knee-jerk opposition to US foreign policy.

From there, it's an invitation to the left to consider its commitment to human rights, and to consider whether they are either universal, or nothing.

It's a challenge to all the liberally-minded people who appeared to end up apologists for genocidal totalitarian dictatorship.

Whether that ends up in grudging acknowledgement that more should have been done to oust Saddam is strictly up to the individual concerned. As I've repeatedly pointed out (and once more I'll patiently do so again) I'd have preferred a UN action. However, in the face of UN inactivity, I'll take the US action.

Lazarus and the Gimp
09-03-2007, 19:41:55
Originally posted by maroule

I'm starting to wonder if you're stretching your arguments absurdly just for the pleasure to have me run in circles...


Not at all. I couldn't remember the names and didn't have the book handy. I'm happy to get them if you think they don't exist, but if you'll just dismiss them as "Good darkies" there's not a great deal of point.



So you're basically saying : the "anti Saddam arabs supporting the invasion in 2003 (I'm surprised you didn't talk about Chalabi! hey, he was a good darkie and he supported the invasion!)" is as important an argument as "99.99% of of the muslim world is pissed off against the US today". Again, you're failing to see the difference between the original idea (which quite a few non bushies supported) and the reality of the fuck up and its consequences today.



Chalabi put his nuts on the line when fighting for the Kurds. He deserves better than being described as a "good darkie". What made you feel you could call him that?


Instead of pointing at people in Cohen's book, please point one (just one) important voice representative of the "world of Islam" which has anything good to say about the Irak war. Please even feel free to look at clients of the US, and regimes surviving only through US aid.



Is this aimed at the early actions against Iraq, the invasion, the occupation or all?




* The Shia are better off in terms of access to power (they had none, they have most of it), but in terms of casualties, it ain't better.


Based on what? You'll be aware of the wide-scale repression in Southern Iraq under Saddam, of course.


So in the end the arbitrage, so far, was good only if you believe replacing Kurd/Shia casualties with Sunni/Shia ones was worth it.


Which, incidentally, I do.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
09-03-2007, 19:44:18
"However, in the face of UN inactivity, I'll take the US action."

Because... in your view it wasn't sooooo bad, looking at the consequences, or what?

Lazarus and the Gimp
09-03-2007, 22:36:53
My answer was "yes" the last time I was asked that question in this thread, and I haven't changed my mind. The genocides are still a big stumbling block.

devilmunchkin
09-03-2007, 23:48:37
my best friend is in the air force. He said that the media doesn't quite show the whole picture. He says we don't see all of the good that is going on over there.. the food relief, the rebuilding... we only see things that go wrong.

Now, I do question the US' reason for going in there in the first place, that point is moot now unless we truly want some US politician to be lynched for it. Whatever helps us sleep better at night.

I don't think the war right now is black or white. I think it's a bit more complicated than stay in or get out.


I think perhaps people are just voicing their negative opinion of the US more since we have a dumb fuck for a president. I think the resentment has been growing and growing since the Crusades. There is no denying now though, the US looks really bad right now.

and yes: africa does matter.

Oerdin
10-03-2007, 05:34:55
Having been there I can say we have seen the good and the bad side of things. The wingnuts are just mad that the baf things greatly out number the good things.

devilmunchkin
10-03-2007, 05:51:58
baf? does this involve rubber duckies?

Lazarus and the Gimp
10-03-2007, 09:03:32
They're the Bafists.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
10-03-2007, 10:28:12
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
My answer was "yes" the last time I was asked that question in this thread, and I haven't changed my mind. The genocides are still a big stumbling block.

So if there were no genocides in the world, you'd rethink your Iraq position? That link is odd. I thought that you saw Iraq as a net positive for some reason - which imo is total fantasy.

Lazarus and the Gimp
10-03-2007, 10:47:03
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel
So if there were no genocides in the world, you'd rethink your Iraq position?


You can be a lot more precise than that. If there had been no genocides in Iraq I'd probably reconsider my Iraq position, let alone the rest of the world. However it would then hinge on the extent of the other atrocities the totalitarian dictatorship was committing.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
10-03-2007, 11:02:21
"If there had been no genocides in Iraq"

What genocide has been happening in Iraq past 1991? And how does it compare to 100000-500000 killed by the US invasion and occupation, or by the coming cilvil war - oops, that was inevitable anyway...

Lazarus and the Gimp
10-03-2007, 11:10:51
The "no-fly" zones just slowed down the killing. When you're facing another generation of avowedly genocidal rule in Iraq, for which sanctions have notably failed, what choices are you left with?
That's why I stated "it would then hinge on the extent of the other atrocities the totalitarian dictatorship was committing", which you've not addressed.

It's an interesting theory, though. "He's not being as genocidal as he used to be because of intense military pressure, so we must let him get away with it". However it's a tricky one to market.

Your figures are an interesting spread, covering a pretty wide rangee.

Lazarus and the Gimp
10-03-2007, 11:19:37
Time for some quotes-


"Good Social Democrats should be making the moral argument that the war of liberation in Iraq came too late for so many innocent victims of Saddam's fascist tyranny. And the lesson for the international community is that it must be prepared to act in time and pe-empt terrible tragedies to happen again anywhere else in the world."

Barham Salih- Iraqi leader of the Kurdish left

Lazarus and the Gimp
10-03-2007, 11:28:34
"Yes, there have been difficulties, yes there have been mistakes, perhaps many mistakes. No, you didn't find weapons of mass destruction. But for the great majority of Iraqis, WMD were never an issue. We never understood the argument about them. All we wanted was to be free. Please do not desert us in our hour of need."

Shanaz Rashid (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) speaking at the 2004 Labour Party Conference

Lazarus and the Gimp
10-03-2007, 11:38:21
"I will kill them all with chemical weapons. Who is going to say anything? The international community. Fuck them."

Ali-Hassan al-Majid on appointment to the Northern Bureau

JM^3
10-03-2007, 11:53:42
These sort of things were the reason why I was OK with it initially. I think it has gotten all fucked up since, and that continued presence of the sort we have been doing isn't doing much/any good.

JM

Dyl Ulenspiegel
10-03-2007, 13:40:53
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
It's an interesting theory, though. "He's not being as genocidal as he used to be because of intense military pressure, so we must let him get away with it". However it's a tricky one to market.


It's perfectly reasonable if the cure is worse than the disease.

Lazarus and the Gimp
10-03-2007, 14:25:45
See discussion on relative bodycounts earlier in the thread.

JM^3
10-03-2007, 14:52:51
the issue is the screwup after we went in, not the intial entrance... imnsho

JM

Dyl Ulenspiegel
10-03-2007, 16:56:29
Laz: body counts are a bit unreliable. Here we have to pit the US invasion body count (100k-500k just up to now - that's the range of estimates I know) against a hypothetical bodycount of Saddam's continued regime. More importantly, it's not just about body counts. But that goes full circle, so I'll leave it there.

JM: The two cannot be seperated. The bushist fantasy was to do a cakewalk into Iraq and grab the goddies, with no evil wide and far to be seen. That made the disaster virtually inevitable. With an intelligent and less corrupt approach, there would have been at least a slim chance of a positive outcome.

Lazarus and the Gimp
11-03-2007, 08:02:44
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel
Laz: body counts are a bit unreliable. Here we have to pit the US invasion body count (100k-500k just up to now - that's the range of estimates I know) against a hypothetical bodycount of Saddam's continued regime.


It's not quite as simple as that. Among the more destructive and ruthless elements in the ongoing strife are the remnants of Saddam's Baathist regime, yet you appear to be ascribing their results to the Coalition occupation.

In the immediate aftermath of WW2, had pockets of Nazi resistance fought on for years, would you blame the US and USSR for it and chalk up the bodycount against them?

Lazarus and the Gimp
11-03-2007, 08:04:59
Originally posted by Dyl Ulenspiegel

JM: The two cannot be seperated. The bushist fantasy was to do a cakewalk into Iraq and grab the goddies, with no evil wide and far to be seen. That made the disaster virtually inevitable. With an intelligent and less corrupt approach, there would have been at least a slim chance of a positive outcome.


So would you have grudgingly approved of a UN invasion of Iraq that was not unintelligent and corrupt, as you define it?

Dyl Ulenspiegel
11-03-2007, 11:04:31
"yet you appear to be ascribing their results to the Coalition occupation."

There can be more than one person guilty in a murder. It is the duty of the occupant under international law to guarantee security. And for a party who became occupant through an illegal war of aggression, that responsibility for the following violence should be obvious. For every dead Iraqi post-Invasion, we have the immediate killers and the occupiers to blame.

"In the immediate aftermath of WW2"

Well, Germany had attacked/declared war upon the occupying parties or their allies, and the occupying forces maintained order. The british and US forces had detailed plans for military administration and a gradual reestablishment of german civil administration from the local level upwards. So that situation was completely different.

"So would you have grudgingly approved of a UN invasion of Iraq that was not unintelligent and corrupt, as you define it?"

Sure, even non-grudgingly, though it is hard to imagine what the follow-up after the occupation would look like. 3-way partition? Development dicatatorship? Protectorate a la Bosnia?

maroule
12-03-2007, 13:22:38
Laz, you can't consider the kurds when you speak for the arabs (I'm talking about your two quotes)... as I said, they are the only ethnic group to have won from the situation... and I also said why that situation was not necessary stable...

If you justify an intervention on the ground of tipping the scales in favour of one ethnic group over the other, you deprieve yourself from the corpus of thoughts on "rightful uintervention and universal human rights".

Lazarus and the Gimp
12-03-2007, 17:31:42
Originally posted by maroule
Laz, you can't consider the kurds when you speak for the arabs (I'm talking about your two quotes)...


I love how you keep narrowing the scope every time I pull out an example that you request. OK- so now they've got to be Muslims and "significant" and Arabs have they?

Would you like to save any more time by putting more of your conditions up front? Like "got to be Sunnis" and "must live in a bombed region of "Baghdad" and "under no circumstances have any cousins called Barry"?



as I said, they are the only ethnic group to have won from the situation..


Marsh Arabs. Do I win now? What's my prize?


If you justify an intervention on the ground of tipping the scales in favour of one ethnic group over the other,


Which I don't, as a bare consideration. However if it is an indirect result of a wider enfranchisement of the majority population, then then things can change.
Take apartheid-era South Africa. I backed the sanctions in the hope of toppling P W Botha.


you deprieve yourself from the corpus of thoughts on "rightful uintervention and universal human rights".


Bullshit. So every leftie who boycotted Cape bananas in the 80's is an enemy of human rights?

maroule
13-03-2007, 10:06:12
discussions with you are certainly time consuming...

the kurds are supporting the invasion on purely real politik grounds (that I already exposed), aka on the very ideas you are rejecting (at least if you know about the two conflicting theories of international relations, one of which you seem to be a strong supporter of). you're basically saying everything and its contrary, according to which direction the argument is going.

The marsh arabs? indeed, it's now a peace heaven, where the US and english troops are greeted with flowers... and they are actively campaigning for these troops to stay... obviously you have important figures of this community stating that publicly... but quotes from any arab will do, really, they don't need to be related to the X00k estimated casualties so far if you don't want to include them (which I understand).

"Take apartheid-era South Africa. I backed the sanctions in the hope of toppling P W Botha. "
For the analogy to work, the kurds whould have to be the over-riding majority, not a minority, and would have to be deprieved of all public rights... and again this (creation of independent kurdistan) was never justification for intervention... or it measn you're also advocating an intervention against Turkey, Syria, Iran, for the same discriminations against the kurds... are you?


"Bullshit. So every leftie who boycotted Cape bananas in the 80's is an enemy of human rights?" we didn't boycott the cape bananas to have a theocracy of blacks over whites, or a nasty civil war, did we? I wonder how the peaceful transition in SA would have looked if we had bombed Botha into submission.... or where you also advocating armed intervention there?

MOBIUS
13-03-2007, 13:41:46
Hey Laz, what are we doing about the real genocide while we fuck over a country which committed most of its atrocities as our ally!!?

UN condemns 'pathetic' global response to Darfur (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/article2352830.ece)

UN condemns 'pathetic' global response to Darfur
By Steve Bloomfield, Africa Correspondent
Published: 13 March 2007

Sudan's government has "orchestrated and participated in" war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, according to a report by UN investigators.

The report to the UN Human Rights Council said the situation in Darfur is "characterised by gross and systematic violations of human rights and grave breaches of international law". It called for the UN Security Council to take "urgent" action to protect Darfur's civilians, including the deployment of a joint UN/African Union force and the freezing of funds and assets owned by officials complicit in the attacks.

An estimated three million people have been displaced and more than 200,000 have been killed since 2003. A peace deal was signed last May by the government but only one of the main rebel groups. The rest refused and the violence has only increased.

The head of the UN investigating team, the Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams, described the international response to the crisis as "pathetic".

The United States, Britain and the European Union have repeatedly condemned the atrocities but have failed to carry out any of their numerous threats. The US referred to the killings as GENOCIDE in 2004, while last year, Tony Blair said the situation was "completely unacceptable" and called for "urgent action". None of the resolutions passed by the Security Council regarding Darfur has been implemented.

Attempts to negotiate ceasefires and peace deals have been sporadic and piecemeal. A US Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson met President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum in January. He left trumpeting a 60-day ceasefire he had persuaded Mr Bashir to agree to. Within the week Sudanese planes were again dropping bombs in Darfur. Some 7,000 African Union troops are operating in Darfur but their limited resources and mandate has made it all but impossible for them to protect civilians. The force's 150 translators are on strike because they have not been paid since November.

A deal appeared to have been struck last November that would have allowed the AU mission to be strengthened into a 22,000-strong combined UN/AU force. However, President Bashir appears to have reneged on the agreement.

Jan Pronk, who was the head of the UN mission in Sudan until he was unceremoniously kicked out of the country by the Khartoum government, said Sudan had realised it can "get away with anything".

In a recent posting on his weblog, Mr Pronk wrote that the Sudanese authorities have continued to "disregard Security Council resolutions, to break international agreements, to violate human rights and to feed and allow attacks on their own citizens. They could do all this without having to fear consequences. On the contrary, the Council and its members and the rest of the international community have been taken for a ride."

The Human Rights Council team faced similar problems. President Bashir promised UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, that Sudan would co-operate fully with the inquiry, including granting access to Darfur. But despite more than a dozen attempts by the UN team to apply for visas, Khartoum refused to allow them into the country. Instead they travelled to eastern Chad where more than 230,000 Darfuri refugees have fled. The conflict has followed the refugees over the border, with Chadian Arabs - backed by Sudanese Janjaweed militia - attacking black tribes inside Chad.

We lost our moral capital prosecuting an illegal war in Iraq - if we break the rules, why expect anyone else to kowtow to them!!? We're just encouraging all these other nations around the world to do their worst, be they gaining weapons to defend themselves like Iran and NK or letting them fuck their own countries up worse by the day, like Sudan and Zimbabwe...

Shit, we care so little about what is happening in Sudan that we are even allowing translators on the AU to strike for lack of a few dollars pay a day - compared to the hundreds of billions we have haemhorraged in Iraq!

Lazarus and the Gimp
13-03-2007, 19:27:52
Pay attention Moby. I'd be all in favour of hitting Sudan. Now are you with me on that point, or was that just rhetorical dry-wank posturing?

Lazarus and the Gimp
13-03-2007, 19:43:27
Originally posted by maroule
[B]the kurds are supporting the invasion on purely real politik grounds (that I already exposed), aka on the very ideas you are rejecting



Are you seriously suggesting that not wanting to get killed doesn't play a hefty part in their reasoning?


The marsh arabs? indeed, it's now a peace heaven, where the US and english troops are greeted with flowers...


Everything is relative, and that area is a darned sight safer than the Sunni triangle. That's one of the reasons so few British troops are getting killed there.



For the analogy to work, the kurds whould have to be the over-riding majority, not a minority,


Like the Shiites? The majority Shiites? The majority "repressed by the Sunni Baathists" Shiites? That sort of majority?


and would have to be deprieved of all public rights


Are you trying to tell me that the Kurds/Shiites were better off under Saddam than the Blacks were in apartheid-era South Africa? Remind me when those South African genocides were. I must have missed them.


... and again this (creation of independent kurdistan) was never justification for intervention


It was for me. As I believe I've already made very clear.


... or it measn you're also advocating an intervention against Turkey, Syria, Iran, for the same discriminations against the kurds... are you?


If it gets as bad there as it did under Saddam, you bet your arse I am.


we didn't boycott the cape bananas to have a theocracy of blacks over whites, or a nasty civil war, did we?


In fairness, we didn't intend that in Iraq either. Still, I still think it's better than the genocides.


I wonder how the peaceful transition in SA would have looked if we had bombed Botha into submission.... or where you also advocating armed intervention there?

If it had been genocidal, yes.

Caligastia
13-03-2007, 20:51:42
I watched a rather graphic documentary on Saddam Hussein last night which left me extremely disgusted and enraged. The guy was an absolute monster - on the same level as Hitler/Stalin in all but bodycount, but I have no doubt that he would have proven himself in that respect as well if he had had half the chance. Laz is right - the lot of the Iraqi people is most definitely better than it was under Saddam.

Seeing the faces of dead Kurdish children brings a terrible clarity to this discussion.

devilmunchkin
14-03-2007, 06:34:32
so then the question is: how to you get all three nations to come together and run the country without it resulting in civil war? The only thing I can think of is to divide the country into thirds.

maroule
14-03-2007, 08:56:23
It takes a full time job to participate in this thread...

to sum up, Laz you're saying that the unintended consequence of the invasion is positive, because it protects the Iraqis from further genocides in the future. You're aware that the justification for intervention was the West security from WMD, but say it doesn't matter, as long as it saves lives. Correct?

I say it didn't and will not. It didn't because there was no genocide going on at the time of the invasion (other than the death from our embargo). The "genocides" we're talking about were monstruous/brutal etc military operations against civilians of a community that was challenging Saddam's power. As you know your history, you'll know Saddam didn't want to get rid of the kurds for ideological or racial purposes (which is why comparisons with Hitler miss the point entirely) but retain his power, aka leave it in the hands of his small sunni sect. Like all dictators have done, everywhere, everytime, including the one we supported, when a challenge comes he ruled by brutal repression and fear (i.e. killing innocent civilians to hammer his point). That's what happened against the mash arabs, when aided by the CIA they rose against him, and when the kurds did the same. So the equation goes like that : no rebellion = no repression, and no iraki death... cynical, unfair, etc. but a stable situation. As a side note, our allies did the same, without much objections (black september in Jordan for example). Hell that's what colonial powers like France and the UK did just a few years ago everytime their colonies rebelled.... that's no justification of course, just a useful reminder that we are weak on the moral stance


I say it will not protect them. I've talked about that at lenght, but to sum up, we have 3 communities competing for the same space and ressources. They are alienated by religious and racial divisions. There is a lot of blood between them. I let you figure out the rest, but the flow of dead kids will keep coming thick and strong.

So we achieved nothing but invade on the wrong justification, mess it up, not save a single life, get hated, give fuel to our enemies, and (that is disputable but likely) make sure Iraq will not know genuine peace and stability for years to come. Likewise, the idea you're promoting, i.e. armed intervention to prevent genocide, is now widely discredited, and it will take a while and an amazing coordination of stars before an operation like that gets mounted.

So I say the balance is pretty negative.

As a post mortem, on the idea of intervention and on documents like the one Caligastia saw yesterday: this is just a proof that absolute powers yieleded by vicious dictators kill people. Big fucking discovery. What do we do about it? For the situation to change, in a democracy, there is only one way: elect a party that run on a plateform clearly adressing the problem ("I will not let vicious dictators kill their citizens, and I am ready to use force, ie. lives of our soldiers and ressources from our taxes, to prevent it"). There is a big democratic crisis here, as neither the US nor the UK voted on the war... parliements voted, on fake evidences, and now the lies are clear, they're paying the price for it...

We understand you'd vote for such a platform, Laz (and so would I, probably), but I doubt we would be a majority... at any rate, we need to be asked, don't we?

maroule
14-03-2007, 11:02:19
hey! I found an arab who said he welcomed the invasion!
http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/theprisoneror/trailer/

MOBIUS
14-03-2007, 12:00:08
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Pay attention Moby. I'd be all in favour of hitting Sudan. Now are you with me on that point, or was that just rhetorical dry-wank posturing?

But we can't because all your forces are tied up in Iraq and getting sucked into Afghanistan due to business being left unfinished because of the Iraq invasion!

I am saying that BECAUSE of the Iraq invasion, we A) cannot/don't want to sort things out ourselves in Sudan; B) can't even afford to help the AU force with funding; C) have made matters as the Sudanese govt are 1) encouraged by our forces being tied up in Iraq; 2) encouraged to kill people randomly and fuck up Darfur, generally acting illegally in the eyes of the World because - hey we are only following the lead of the US and the UK...

Also, that might mean avoiding 'hitting' Sudan, but preventing them from thinking that they can literally get away with murder...

Seems to me YOU'RE the one not paying attention... I don't care about the minutiae and semantics of your argument that allow you to somehow think that the invasion of Iraq was someone a good idea. The fact of the matter is that invading Iraq has had a direct detrimental effect on the situation in Darfur!

Not to mention Afghanistan, which is turning into a fuckup snatched from the jaws of victory AND the fact that the whole Iraq invasion has been turned into one gigantic clusterfuck in which Saddam would have been hard pressed to fuck the country up as much as it has been in his wildest dreams! Iraq is a disaster!

I totally agree with your initial two points insofar as Saddam should have been toppled, HOWEVER the issue is getting to the point where you CAN topple him without losing your capability to sort out other hotspots like Sudan, or even Zimbabwe for example...

Iraq has used up most of our capabilities, with Afghanistan sucking up the rest! Surely the smart thing to do would have been to tie up the loose ends in Afghanistan and laid massive military pressure on Sudan. Maybe Afghanistan would be truly on the road to redevelopment with Al-qaeda and the Taliban seriously degraded? Maybe Darfur would be resolved now, or at least the killing stopped instead of spreading into Chad as it is beginning to do now? Maybe Mugabe would have been encouraged to realise that his time is up now?

In the interim we could have continued laying on the pressure on Saddam, but then chances are he would have become another 'Gaddafi' once he realised the game was up. But at least we may have come up with a proper plan for after the invasion, instead of the bare-faced resource grab and fat contracts for the boys.

What do you think of Gaddafi BTW, should we be invading his country some time soon even though he's 'become our friend' - because you have to remember most of the killing Saddam did was when he was our friend...

Anyway, all that is the reason why invading Iraq is WRONG. I'm not against getting rid of the scum in the world, far from it - however you start off with fairly soft targets like Mugabe or actual humanitarian missions like Darfur...

I thought we did a brilliant thing in Sierra Leone, and broadly support what happened in Afghanistan - even if I would have gone about it differently and actually followed it through properly!

MOBIUS
14-03-2007, 12:01:40
Originally posted by Caligastia
I watched a rather graphic documentary on Saddam Hussein last night which left me extremely disgusted and enraged. The guy was an absolute monster - on the same level as Hitler/Stalin in all but bodycount, but I have no doubt that he would have proven himself in that respect as well if he had had half the chance. Laz is right - the lot of the Iraqi people is most definitely better than it was under Saddam.

Seeing the faces of dead Kurdish children brings a terrible clarity to this discussion.

No. Because at the time he was our friend, so we basically said nothing...:rolleyes:

Fistandantilus
14-03-2007, 12:40:51
Originally posted by maroule
It takes a full time job to participate in this thread...

And a well paid one I must say :p

Caligastia
14-03-2007, 14:12:07
Should H.W. Bush have got rid of him at the end of the Gulf War? What do you guys think?

MOBIUS
14-03-2007, 15:07:10
Personally that would have been the time to do it, especially after inciting the Marsh Arabs to revolt and then standing by to watch them get massacred by Saddam. I would have done it, and was amazed that it wasn't done!

maroule
14-03-2007, 15:22:39
Originally posted by Caligastia
Should H.W. Bush have got rid of him at the end of the Gulf War? What do you guys think?

They didn't because they didn't have a mandate to, and saw they would open a can of worms and recognised they had no plan to make the situation better (and their direct intervention would antagonize about everybody)... so they were right to stay clear...

actually I think a civil war started by Iraqis on their own, without direct US military presence, would have been a lot easier to handle. As such, the west is now tainted and everything we do will be viewed, rightlly, with massive suspicion.

King_Ghidra
14-03-2007, 15:33:14
For what it's worth this has been a very interesting thread to lurk in and i'm glad people have taken large portions of their life to post in it :D

Fistandantilus
14-03-2007, 15:37:29
:lol: ditto

MOBIUS
14-03-2007, 15:45:39
Originally posted by maroule
actually I think a civil war started by Iraqis on their own, without direct US military presence, would have been a lot easier to handle. As such, the west is now tainted and everything we do will be viewed, rightlly, with massive suspicion.

I.e. rushing to the 'help' of the Marsh Arabs, however they're Shi'ites...

You're right of course, it would have been a mess - however that mess was unavoidable and would have been more easily handled back then...

MOBIUS
14-03-2007, 15:48:28
Originally posted by King_Ghidra
For what it's worth this has been a very interesting thread to lurk in and i'm glad people have taken large portions of their life to post in it :D

Sadly the truth is that much time is used in these ultimately fruitless arguments...:clueless:

However, these days I use these arguments to actually decide my own thoughts on the subject, so in that case it has been helpful.:)

Lazarus and the Gimp
14-03-2007, 22:19:11
I'm ready to wrap up my contribution to this thread. It's been a useful exercise in pitching and receiving those tough moral and practical questions in both directions.

maroule
15-03-2007, 14:41:16
It's not a 100% related to what we talked about, but I found that pretty interesting (Jon Edwards with Brzezinski)


http://www.ifilm.com/video/2832681/show/17676

maroule
15-03-2007, 14:42:59
Originally posted by MOBIUS
Sadly the truth is that much time is used in these ultimately fruitless arguments...:clueless:

However, these days I use these arguments to actually decide my own thoughts on the subject, so in that case it has been helpful.:)

I use these arguments (and this forum) to keep writing in english on a daily basis