Saturday, October 15, 2005

The test of wills.

I just heard some ex-military analyst on T.V. say something that to me makes alot of sense. He was drawing the comparison between Vietnam and Iraq and saying that in both cases it was a test of wills between the antagonists. Seems like a bit of a no brainer right? Let us consider what it means if Iraq is a test of wills in the war on terror.

It means that this administration chose to engage in a test of wills with our enemies in such a way as to nearly guarantee a defeat for America. It seems to me that you should engage in the test of wills with your mortal enemy in such a way as the entire nation agrees that is where and how the test should occur. Thus the true test of wills in the war on terror prior to the invasion of Iraq was occuring in Afghanistan. And it should still be. To shift the test of wills in a way that is certain to generate controversy on the homefront, and do so in a theater that had nothing to do with our enemies in the 1st place, is just asinine. Furthermore to lie yourself into this predictament, and then completely botch the aftermath of your immediate military victory while carrying on a test of wills with your mortal enemy strengthens your enemy. The more you look at this situation, the clearer it becomes that this administration truly might as well be the Washington D.C. branch of Al Queda. They have managed to turn the aftermath of 9/11, a sacred day in world history and a clarion call to the world to stand against Islamo extremism, into the side of Freedom and progress fighting a needless war based on lies and losing nearly unanimous international support in the process. Nicely done George. Osama must be proud.

I think you're a bit off. The purpose of the "war on terror" is as the name indicates: a war against terrorism. That does not mean terrorist organizations located in Afghanistan, but all terrorist organizations. Perhaps you are not aware of Iraq's involvement in past terrorist conspiracies. Do you recall the 1993 World Trade center bombing? Had that been successful, 10,000 Americans would have died. The war is NOT based on lies.

The population of the Middle East is held under a captive restraint that is reflective of an 8th century militarism. Ask yourself. Why is China doing so much better than the middle east? Why is India doing so much better than the Middle East? Why is Africa making so much progress in comparison to the Middle East? Why is Europe doing so much better than the Middle East? Democracy does not exist in the Middle East. Instead, it is restrained in a world of warlords and arms dealers, similar to the sultans of the Ottoman empire of the ancient world.

Iraq shows potential for democracy.

It is a matter of domestic security. In recent years we have witnessed innumerable nuclear programs develop worldwide (clandestine and otherwise). Since the formation of Israel after WWII, it has been subject to heavy attacks from PanArabic sentiments. Israel is a symbol of the West, established on Western ideals of democracy. Democracy encourages individual freedom, as opposed to fascism in the Middle East which is based entirely on coercion and totalitarian authority. Thus, democracy is incompatible with the functions of terrorism. If autocratic nations such as Iraq and Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, Israel would be in an extreme peril. Soon after, the United States would be in peril as well. The institutions of the West have created an atmosphere (one in which more than one political syndicate exists, i.e. liberal vs. conservative) in which using nuclear weapons is extremely difficult without heavy criticism. Thus it's almost impossible for the United States to use nuclear weapons without almost total support from the American people and incredible discretion. The dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was undertaken in a scenario in which the people of the United States had little knowledge of the potential of nuclear warheads. Today is different. Most people know what nuclear weapons are.

This is not so with autocratic powers in the Middle East. Iraq was a dictatorship, and it would have been at his own discretion to use nukes when he pleased. What proof is there that he indeed was pursuing a nuclear program? Iraq had purchased 1000s of pounds of enriched uranium which were unaccounted for in its report to UN officials. There has to be a wave of democracy in the Middle East before more lives are lost. We need to save the people of the Middle East. Don't get me wrong I'm not against Islam. Islam is indeed a peaceful religion. It's fascism that I'm against. I'm for freedom.

It was just yesterday that Iraq engaged in a national people's vote for a new constitution. About 10 million (2/3rds of the eligible) showed up to vote. Now tell me that the war is based on lies.
1stly, let me thank you Planetdom for a cogent and non vindictive reply. My (hopefully) cogent and non vindictive reply to your reply is as follows.

If you have proof that Iraq was involved with the 93 wtc bombing, I'd be more than interested to see that. As I recall that was plotted by an Egyptian cleric with ties to Al Queda. When you say the war on terror is not just based on those groups in Afghanistan, how does that fit with what Iraq was up to prior to our invasion? I haven't seen us gearing up for an invasion of Colombia to fight the FARC and assorted drug lords as part of the global war on terror. The most damning fact having to do with Hussiens pre-invasion terrorist ties was his financial support of the families of suicide bombers against Israel. Yet this was not the rationale used in the leadup to the invasion. And the notion that we would shift our goals from dealing with Al Queda in Afghanistan to the invasion of Iraq is counterintuitive to waging a war on terror. Should we not punish those actually responsible for 9/11. Should we not secure the country from which they launched that attack? And should we not gear our activities to actually help us in the war on terror rather than providing strength and training to the enemy?

I wholeheartedly support sane and thoughtful measures to bring democracy to the middle east. Our Iraqi blunder however was and is not the way to approach this. To enforce democracy at the point of a gun is to reinforce the very notions held by the extremists and to strengthen their cause. It is the very autocratic governments that you rail against that are supported by America. You didn't see us marching into Kuwait to give the vote to those citizens right? Or Saudi Arabia or Jordan for that matter. So it seems that only the autocrats who don't kow tow before us (Syria, Libya, Iran, et al) are the targets of this democratic flowering movement. To force our will on the citizenry with military means is to invite a quagmire and eventual defeat when the home population loses the will to continue to run the affairs of those distant lands via military means. Forcing a "wave of democratization around the middle east before more lives are lost" has and will only lead to a continuation of lives being lost until we realize we can't reach that goal with military might causing more death and destruction.

Of course the Iraq invasion was based on lies. The case layed before the U.N. by Collin Powell is replete with out right falsehoods and manufactured evidence. It is to this day a presentation that he, being principled, regrets. Google "Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence" and read the Washington post 08/10/03 article about the falsehoods promulgated by this administration in the leadup to the war. Your protestations regarding nuclear proliferation have clearly been refuted by the evidence gathered after the invasion. It seems we focused on the non-existant threat posed by Iraq while allowing N. Korea and Iran to go about their nuclear ambitions while we ignored them. Furthermore, autocratic leaders dont have the ability to use nukes willy nilly if they gain them. They would be and are fully aware that to use them against our interests would certainly result in their own destruction. Of course this is no reason to just allow nukes to proliferate around the globe. But if anything focusing on Iraq as a target regarding nuclear proliferation was to make the same mistake made in focusing on Iraq in the war on terror. It took our eye off the ball from the true threat with both nuclear proliferation and international terrorism, and now we are suffering the consequences in both arenas.

I'm sure there is more I could reply to but this response is already long and overwrought so I'll leave it at that for now. I do honestly appreciate your reply and look forward to a continuation of the debate.
I took your challenge and read the article "Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence. I think the best quote in it is "This is a case where different people had honorable and different interpretations of intentions."

You use the term "lie" very loosely. Mostly, the Bush administration was just not taking any chances. Even if only a minority of experts believed that Iraq was working on WMDs, Bush emphasized that possibility. Announcing the ominous intelligence he believed and not publicizing the opposing viewpoints is not lying. And even though we can see in hindsight that WMDs weren't there, would you have taken that chance if you had conflicting intelligence?

But Planetrandom's post was mostly about spreading democracy. That is a good thing. It worked in Germany, Italy and Japan after they invaded their neighbors and we sent troops "to enforce democracy at the point of a gun". Now Iraq invaded Kuwait, signaling the same type of facist thinking, and we moved in. Our criteria is not "autocrats who don't kow tow before us", it is facists who invade countries who are our friends. How could you miss that?

I know, you think that Kuwait is ancient history. But our troops have been in Iraq ever since enforcing the "no-fly zone" and there has been constant conflict over Iraq violating the treaty that ended hostilities. When the U.N. approved using measures to enforce compliance, it was based on the treaty. We wouldn't be in Iraq if they hadn't invaded Kuwait. You always seem to ignore that fact.

So, history shows that democracy can be planted by militarily overthrowing a dictator. And in this case, it looks like it might work. Planetrandom is right, you're a bit off.
Hmmm... So the war was just based on "conflicting intelligence" and not lies? In the Wash. Post story I quote: Joe (CIA analysist) said the specialized aluminum in the tubes was "overspecified," "inappropriate" and "excessively strong." No one, he told the inspectors, would waste the costly alloy on a rocket.
In fact, there was just such a rocket. According to knowledgeable U.S. and overseas sources, experts from U.S. national laboratories reported in December to the Energy Department and U.S. intelligence analysts that Iraq was manufacturing copies of the Italian-made Medusa 81.

In other words, when Joe says no one would use the alloy in question for a rocket, he lied! There was currently a rocket in production that used that alloy. To then base a contention that this alloy in Iraqi hands represents them forwarding a centrifuge for purposes of a nuclear program (The U.S. government said those tubes were for centrifuges to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb) that is forwarding a lie.

Also to quote: "The new information indicates a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates -- in public and behind the scenes -- made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support. On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied:"

To say that the danger is greater than your intelligence is telling you is to ... LIE!

As to the point of enforcing democracy at the point of a gun. Using your example you may also argue that it is possible to enforce Communism at the point of a gun: re Eastern Europe. So evidently any militrarily superior nation can enforce whatever form of government they wish at the point of a gun. Heck... the bible is replete with examples of Israel imposing theocracy at the point of the sword. The gun however in your example of WWII was used to overthrow the established military power at which point the citizenry complied with the various governments installed. If the citizenry does not comply thats where the rub comes in. Homegrown insurgencies are notoriously difficult to overcome, and normally only fail when the locals either stop supporting the insurgents, or the military starts pulling out fingernails and brutally represses the insurgency. The latter option hardly fits a democratic formula. And the locals in this case pretty clearly do not wish for us to remain in occupation.

As to the invasion of Iraq is a continuation of Gulf 1, I would ask why this wasn't the rationale given for the 2nd invasion if this were true. The fact is, in the context of the war on terror, an effort the truly got off the ground after 9/11, this Iraqi invasion has been a devastating blow to our cause. It seems we could have continued the policy of containment and suppression that had so effectively curtailed Hussien between Bush 1 & Bush 2. There is a reason we didn't march to Baghdad with Bush 1. Maybe you should check it out. The voices of that time were remarkably prescient.

I am an absolute believer that the West MUST win the war on terror. It is this fervent belief that leads me to these conclusions. Cheerleading at this juncture won't take back the mistakes that have been made and only encourage those who have brought us to this sorry pass that they were right all along.
man that last post was a butchery of wording. I'm at lunch and trying to stuff this all into an hour of frantic typing... :P The overall points are understandable even though the wording is confused I trust. Not that I think these points will bring you to an epiphany mind you... Simply hoping the wording doesn't step on the message.
You make a very strange argument that seems to support my case, yet you apparently don't realize it.

First you say Joe lied about rocket science. But Joe wasn't a rocket scientist so he must have gotten his info from someone else. Does that make him a liar if he is wrong?

Second, if Bush relied upon Joe's advice his statements regarding WMD's were supported by his intelligence, since Joe works for the CIA (the "I" stands for intelligence.) So the danger was not greater than intelligence indicated and Bush was not lying. Just because other intelligence analysts at some point disagreed does not make Bush a liar.

As far as the locals wanting us there, the vast majority do. The interim government wants us there a bit longer. Most Iraqis don't support the insurgents and just want to get back to normal. It might take a generation for democracy to be truly effective, but we can hope. That would be a major blow to terrorism.

And we still have soldiers in Afganistan. We haven't given up on Osama.
Erm... to further promulgate Joes conclusion that the alloy in question would not be used for a rocket, when in fact it was being used for just that purpose and that fact was known at the time, is once again... to lie. If you know the conclusion is wrong but you knowingly base your reasoning on that wrong conclusion you are... lying.

How can the 2nd quote in my response be taken to mean that the administration was somehow correclty using intelligence to promote their case? They were intentionally MISUING and mistating the intelligence. Which is to say they were lying. It seems clear from that quote they were lying about the evidence.

I propose we suspend the whole lying/not lying debate until the Fitzgerald indictments are handed down. I think we may be enlightened a great deal beyond what is currently understood in this regard. So in that spirit, you may have the last word on this issue until the indictments are given in the Plame case.

I honestly have NO clue where you might get the notion that the vast majority of Iraqi's wish for our military to continue the occupation. Heres a link to a Zogby article on the issue. It's clear that we are not welcome there.
Your statements are full of ambiguities, but I'll try to summarize them. You are saying that Joe knew that he was given false information but passed it along anyway. And since he works for the CIA, he is part of the Bush administration, therefore the Bush administration was lying.

You are still ignoring my point that Joe is not a rocket scientist, therefore possibly didn't know the truth, but relied on others.

I read the Zogby article you referenced and found it rather vague on the timetable for withdrawal. So I did a search for the poll and my first hit was:
In that poll Iraqis said that, they mostly want us to leave, but not right away. Only 15% wanted us to leave immediately.

Then I found the poll you referenced and it said 15.1% said coalition forces should leave now.

So the reason that you have "NO clue", as you put it, is because you didn't research the subject. You've been basing your opinions on leftist spinners.
Jeff... I just can't believe you take those #'s as proof that Iraqi's want us there. It is clear they don't. You're pointing to #'s that indicate they don't wish us to withdraw immediately, but it is clear they don't wish us there A: in the 1st place, and B: in the long run. Now that we are there the issue you bring up seems to be them not wishing us to pull out immediately but to leave Iraq with stability. Even I'm not for an immediate 100% withdrawal of American troops. I tend to think the plan put forward by Professor Juan Cole would be the best course of action right now. To leave a couple of air bases in Iraq to stop a full fledged civil war with air power and to pull the rest of our forces out. Regardless... the original point of this was to say that an insurgency is very difficult to defeat if there is significant support for the insurgents in the local populace, and this quite clearly is a problem no matter how you gussie up your polling data. According to the Zogby article I referenced, with polling data that shows 71% of Iraqi's in urban areas “oppose the presence of Coalition Forces in Iraq”, it is quite clear that the insurgency has the support of enough of the locals to continue for the forseeable future. Heres a link to Professor Coles site: That post has the results of another Zogby poll, this one from January: Sunni Arabs who want the US out of Iraq now or very soon: 82%
Shiites who want the US out of Iraq now or very soon: 69%
Very soon Jeff? This was back in January mind you. That poll is here: One other fact this poll demonstrates to point out that the insurgency has enough local support to make stamping it out nearly impossible. “What’s truly alarming isn’t the number of Sunni Arabs who want to delay Sunday’s vote,” Zogby said. “What’s alarming is that more than half—53% in this survey—believe that ongoing attacks in Iraq are a legitimate form of resistance.

So I suppose you can continue to drink the koolaid, and I'm sure the polls 2 years from now of Iraqi's will also show they dont wish us to leave the day after the poll is released with Iraq in turmoil, yet it is clear we are not welcome there.
So we agree that we shouldn't withdraw all of our troops immediately. We also agree that we shouldn't be in Iraq forever. We probably disagree on the timetable for withdrawal.

What astounds me is that after I accuse you of "basing your opinions on leftist spinners" that you reply by referring to an article by a leftist spinner and calling it a "poll". I challenge you to find the real poll data, not just the couple of negatives that the leftists can find in it.

I gave you the reference to a more complete set of poll data. If you read all of the poll data you will notice that Iraqis are generally happy with the way things are going and optimistic. 39% said the US invasion was wrong, and 48% said it was right. Most think they are better off than before the war. There is far more good news in the poll than bad. Look for yourself.

And you call ME a koolaid drinker???
Here's a report with lots of polling data over a long time period:

The poll data starts on page 30, but the other stuff in interesting, too. No spinning, just data.
Gah! My browser keeps freezing when I try to copy and paste from the Brookings site... Regardless! How you can take those #'s which show exactly the polls I'm referencing, (widespread support for withdrawal immediately or very soon, Sunni/82%, Shiite/69%) not to mention gems like the blame for the current situation in Iraq being given equally to international terrorists @32.1% as to multinational forces 33.4%. 67% strongly or somewhat oppose the presence of coalition forces. 46% believe coalition forces have done more harm than good opposed to 33% more good than harm. Coalition forces seen as occupiers by 71% with 19% as liberators... Yeah... very good data to back up your 'the vast majority want us there' laugher/koolaid Jeff... I indeed would invite those interested in the Iraqi mindset to visit that page. It is apparent that we cant stamp out the insurgency with those #'s.
All right! You are finally looking at unbiased data! Now we can discuss the data objectively.

Let's start with your first numbers: 82% and 69%. The actual question was "Do you favor U.S. forces withdrawing either immediately or after an elected government is in place?" You misquoted it as "immediately or very soon" as did your socialist commentator in the Zogby article. (Or would you call it lying about the question?) Of course, any right-thinking person wants the coalition forces to yield to an elected government, so the numbers there do not support your position.

There is enough data in that report for anyone to find support for his position on Iraq, if he pulls out specific, vaguely-worded questions. What does "blame for the current situation" mean? Different things to different people (which is apparent from the way the actual question is worded.) Occupiers vs liberators is a "false dilemma." First we were liberators, now we are occupiers, (as is obvious by the next question in the poll). The two are not mutually exclusive and to imply that one must choose between them is a logical fallacy. The question is flawed and it has fooled you into thinking the people see us in a negative light.

I could go on, but my point is that if you look for the negative, you will find it. If you look for the positive, there is plenty of data to support that as well. For example: "Are the current difficulties a price worth paying for toppling Saddam? Yes 54% No 37%". "Was ousting Saddam worth the hardships endured since the invasion? Yes:62%. 67% think Iraq is moving in the right direction and 82% think life will be better a year from now. Telephone service has quadrupled since before the war and internet users are up by a factor of 30.

Most Iraqis are glad we came and toppled Saddam. And, as I pointed out before, the people don't want us to leave immediately. They want us to stay until the country is a bit more stable. They hope that happens within the next few months. So do I and so do you.
Heres another report on a "left wing" (British Ministry of Defense) poll that shows "vast support" by Iraqi citizens for Coalition forces...

Somebody over the sea is not drinking the Koolaid...
There you go again. If you can't argue the facts, you argue somebody's report on the facts. This Sean Rayment sounds like a left winger, pulling numbers out of a "secret poll" and giving his own interpretation, without stating the actual questions. But you take it as if it were the actual poll.
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