Your War on Terror Thought for the Day

by Kieran Healy on July 24, 2005

Something to meditate on, from the pen of Jim Henley:

If they really do “hate us because we’re free,” the Bush Administration’s approach to civil liberties constitutes “appeasement” of the first water.

{ 51 comments }

1

bi 07.24.05 at 4:27 am

You don’t understand. Freedom is a very profound concept. Freedom isn’t just about all those nice things in the Constitution. True freedom also includes the freedom to bend the Constitution for the sake of preserving more important freedoms such as the freedom to live. To paraphrase Krauthammer: freedom is not a suicide pact.

The only way to truly grok freedom is to read all the novels by Ayn Rand, and truly understand, integrate, and internalize them. Pay close attention especially to the parts in each novel where a female character takes off all her clothes.

2

RedWolf 07.24.05 at 5:24 am

Why are we still reacting to a man who cannot talk or walk? Why are we still listening to a regime that is as close to the Soviet Union style regime as a democracy can get?

And by the way, “they” don’t hate “us.” Most of “they” loved and respected Clinton (more than “us” did); how much love can you have for this ruling oligarchy?

3

Brendan 07.24.05 at 6:20 am

Does anyone think it’s funny that if you put ‘Egypt’ into Google and do a quick five or six page search in the ‘news’ section, not one newspaper seems to have begun to speculate about why the terrorists might have no love for the brutal Western backed regime of Mubarek? Could it also be that this is related to difficulties in squaring this knowledge with the ‘they hate us for our freedoms’ meme?

The Western media seems to find it particularly difficult to join the dots at times. But only highly specific times. Odd.

4

soru 07.24.05 at 7:12 am

It’s kind of more complicated than a cheap soundbite.

Look at this recent poll of UK Muslims:
http://pollingreport.co.uk/blog/index.php

31% however said that Muslims should seek to bring the decadence and immorality of the West to an end but only by non-violent means. The most extreme option offered to respondents, that Muslims should use violence to bring down the West, was chosen by 1% of respondents.

However, overall there was 2% that supported the bombings. Take that literally, and there would seem to be two groups, of more or less equal size, one of which wants to ‘destroy the west’ and one that wants something else, presumably a change in foreign policy.

Be amusing to see Bush stand up and say ‘they hate us for our decadence and immorality’.

soru

5

Slocum 07.24.05 at 8:26 am

How ridiculous. It’s not prohibitions against ‘roving wiretaps’ that the islamists despise. They despise our tolerance of gays, for example, and of uncovered, unescorted women. Our ‘licentious’ movies and music. Our tolerance of even speech that blasphemes Islam. Even our democratic form of government (the only legitimate laws are those handed down from God, not those made by men).

And by the way, “they” don’t hate “us.” Most of “they” loved and respected Clinton (more than “us” did); how much love can you have for this ruling oligarchy?

Well, the islamists certainly had an odd way of showing their esteem for Clinton–given that the first WTC bombing, the African embassy bombings, the Cole attack, and the preparations for 9/11 all occurred during Clinton’s presidency. Not to mention the rise of the Taliban and its alliance with and support for Al Queda.

I’m not implying that Clinton is to blame for these events but rather the idea that the islamists did not hate the West with a passion (and the ‘great satan’ in particular) before Bush is nonsense.

6

bi 07.24.05 at 8:55 am

Slocum: where can I find a statement made by any of The™ Islamists™ that says “we” should be bombed because “we” tolerate gays?

7

Gavin Cameron 07.24.05 at 9:10 am

bi, if you type ‘qadrawi+gays’ into google you’ll find many hits that show that the charming al-qadrawi (seen by Ken Livingstone as a moderate I understand) is vehemently anti gay:
http://www.gayegypt.com/july2004.html

He’s in good company of course, Mr Mugabe believes that Britain is run by a gay mafia.

If you’d like to know more, why not read Peter Tatchell’s website:
http://www.petertatchell.net/

8

bi 07.24.05 at 9:42 am

Cameron: ooh, interesting. Wait, Dubya and company are also bent on curtailing gay rights. By right-wing logic, Dubya, Mugabe, and al-Qaradawi must be collaborating in a vast conspiracy!

Oh yes, for the benefit of des von bladet: Belgium.

9

Slocum 07.24.05 at 10:06 am

Dubya and company are also bent on curtailing gay rights. By right-wing logic, Dubya, Mugabe, and al-Qaradawi must be collaborating in a vast conspiracy!

Bush has come out against gay marriage (but not necessarily against civil unions). And Clinton signed the ‘Defense Of Marriage Act’ and implemented the ‘don’t ask / don’t tell’ policy. Nor John Kerry support gay marriage. Unfortunate, yes, but if you can’t (or won’t) disguish all that from this:

http://www.outrage.org.uk/pressrelease.asp?ID=302

or this:

http://www.365gay.com/newscon05/07/071805london.htm

I’m not sure what to tell you.

10

H. E. Baber 07.24.05 at 10:29 am

It’s all about sex and blood–Islam, American imperialism and support for Israel, and the re-establishment of the Caliphate are epiphenomenal. The only non-negotiable commitments of Islamicists are to “family values,” sex roles supported by a puritanical code of conduct, and to tribalism, which Westernization threatens to undermine.

Suppose your fundamental values are honor and loyalty. Your super-tribe, the Muslims, have been dishonored on the world stage, reduced to third world status by the Crusaders of Christendom who further threaten your honor by undermining your authority over your womenfolk and turning them loose to further dishonor you by crimes against chastity. Their bs about “democracy” and “freedom” means dismantling the structure of family, clan and tribe on which your security, well-being and honor depends–it’s just a matter of their tribe beating up on your tribe, because that’s what all conflict is really about.

Don’t believe it? Read the Illiad for a stirring account of honor and vengeance in tribal warfare over a woman.

11

josh 07.24.05 at 10:33 am

First of all, the Henley quote is brilliant.
Unfortunately, some of those who support it are less so.
As far as the whole ‘they hate us’ business, it’s certainly true that anti-Americanism has increased under Bush. But that tends to be secular, generally left-wing, anti-Americanism (which was, anyway, still fairly strong even when Clinton was presindent — something we often forget — even if it has become more widespread and virulent since). To equate religious fundamentalist anti-Americanism (or, rather, anti-Westernism — another important distinction; it would seem that Islamicist terrorists hate more than the US. At least, living in Britain at the moment, it seems that way) with secular leftist anti-Americanism is incorrect — it’s also the mirror-image of the fallacy into which right-wingers fall when they accuse left-wing opponents of their policies of being on the side of the terrorists.
The whole issue of homosexuality has I think been dealt with. But what about this?:
‘Why are we still reacting to a man who cannot talk or walk? Why are we still listening to a regime that is as close to the Soviet Union style regime as a democracy can get?’
Um, so we should just dismiss the handicapped? Or dismiss Krauthammer because he’s handicapped? I’m not sure whether I think the ad hominem attack on someone for being handicapped, or the larger contempt for the handicapped indicated, by this is worse; they’re both intolerable, though. Also, I’m not really getting the Soviet analogy. For one thing, my understanding has always been that government management/control of the economy was always a big part of the Soviet regime. This seems a far cry from the Bush administration’s rolling-back of government regulations on business. It’s fine and right to identify the Bush administration’s authoritarian tendencies; but even if one does choose to exaggerate them somewhat hysterically, isn’t it a bit odd to liken one of the most pro-business administrations in history to a socialist regime?

12

Patrick Nielsen Hayden 07.24.05 at 11:17 am

Jim Henley blogs with a pen? Seems like a lot of work.

13

Brendan 07.24.05 at 1:34 pm

Christ! How can people be so ignorant?

The reason that ‘they’ hate us, as Robert Fisk pithily puts it (and remember, Fisk has actually met and interviewed Bin Laden) is:

‘Bin Laden and his cohorts accuse US-backed Mideast rulers of being corrupt, godless, western stooges who stole their nation’s oil wealth, and gave it away to the west in exchange for protection from their own people. America, they claimed, had replaced Great Britain as the Mideast’s colonial ruler.’

This meddling goes way back to the Crusades, but other historical signposts that should be of interest to anyone who wants to look at the real root causes of terrorism (as opposed to those who prefer to grandstand and produce vapid self-righteous rhetoric) are Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, British relations with the Ottoman Empire, the ‘Great Game’ in Afghanistan, and then (and most specifically), British (and Western generally) behaviour in the Middle East after World War 1. This included, amongst other things, the carve up of the Ottoman Empire and the Balfour declaration.

Other features that are of relevance here is the ‘British Vietnam’ in Oman, British (and then American) behaviour vis a vis Saudi Arabia, the coup in Iran in ’53, British behaviour vis a vis Nasser (‘the new Hitler’), French behaviour in Algeria, and the general long standing British/American lack of desire to have any form of democracy introduced to the region (as this might mean that ‘extremists’ (i.e. governments hostile to us)) might get power.

More recently there has been the backing of Saddam Hussein, the bankrolling of the vicious Musharraf and Mubarak regimes, continued support for the Saudi junta (especially by the Bush government), and so on and so on and so on.

As is well known in the Middle East (but is completely unknown in the West due to our ‘free press’) almost every government in the region is a vicious dictatorship backed by the West in some way or other.

Needless to say, almost every event listed above (and frankly i could have filled page after page after page with the never less than disgusting history of Western meddling in the Middle East) predated ’93, when ‘modern’ Islamic terrorism began.

It is absolutely true that Osama Bin Laden’s solution to these problems would probably make them worse. But in the 50s 60s and 60s people were well able to see that the situation in South America was apalling and that the US was backing countless fascist regimes, whilst at the same time managing to get their heads round the idea that Communist one party state was no solution.

In the same way: Osama Bin Laden etc. are enemies of democracy, but we shouldn’t delude ourselves that this means his accusations are groundless. In the middle east we too are enemies of democracy.

14

Slocum 07.24.05 at 2:41 pm

…lack of desire to have any form of democracy introduced to the region (as this might mean that ‘extremists’ (i.e. governments hostile to us)) might get power.

Democracy–that’s clearly Bin Laden’s aim. You can easily see that in the fine democratic institutions that were set up when Bin Laden et al were working together with the Taliban to rule Afghanistan. More recently, Zarqawi has been clear about Al Queda’s committment to democracy:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/01/23/iraq.main/

Christ! How can people be so ignorant?

You know–that’s exactly what I found myself asking as I read your comment. I think it must be intentional–it couldn’t be by chance.

It is absolutely true that Osama Bin Laden’s solution to these problems would probably make them worse.

Probably? You think so? You’re really going out on a limb there…

15

P O'Neill 07.24.05 at 2:46 pm

Am I missing something something in the apparent order/water mixup in the quote?

16

Brendan 07.24.05 at 3:14 pm

Well Slocum, Osama Bin Laden would actually have the vicious dictatorships in Saudi, Egypt and Pakistan overthrown, so that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Point to me, just please, the bit where i said that Osama Bin Laden wanted democracy.

Is there really some brain disease that I don’t know about whereby if you support the war in Iraq, it means you lose the power of thought, and the ability to read? The disease which renders the pro-invasioners incapable of joining the army has been much remarked upon: is this another symptom?

Incidentally, you didn’t answer my point: the question is not Osama Bin Laden’s commitment to democracy (non-existent, as we both know) but George Bush’s.

To quote Larry Diamond:

‘How can the administration parade the Jan. 30 election results as a great American triumph for democracy in Iraq when—as Seymour Hersh reports in this week’s New Yorker—it tried to secretly funnel large amounts of campaign cash to the flailing electoral campaign of the interim prime minister we chose, Iyad Allawi? Hersh’s account raises disturbing questions that must be answered: Did the administration (or some rogue piece of it) proceed covertly to pour money and technical help into Allawi’s campaign, despite our professions of faith in Iraq’s democratic process and congressional objections to our interfering in this way? What was the scope of electoral fraud, and what, if any, involvement did covert American operatives have in it? We need an independent congressional investigation to determine these answers. And we need the Congress and the American media to exercise more vigorous oversight if the quality of our own democracy is not to become a casualty of our effort to “build democracy in Iraq.”‘.

Do you support such a Congressional investigation? And if it were found that attempts to influence (via illegal methods) the elections of another country had been made by the US you do accept that those responsible should resign? And that if Bush was one of these people then he should (and must resign)?

Incidentally if it turns out that Allawi was in the pay of a foreign power, than that makes him a traitor, yes?

17

Andrew Boucher 07.24.05 at 3:30 pm

Does the US have a policy of shoot to kill based on mere suspicion?

18

The Inner Peace Guy 07.24.05 at 3:34 pm

Oh, who cares what the terrorists want. They are soldiers. Soldiers fight wars, they don’t own the peace, or at least never for long. Peace belongs to the meek, the vast majority of people that aren’t sufficiently young, male and intellectual to find meaning in politics. Gentlemen, it’s not the end of the world. It might be the end of “our” world, but it’s not as if we were going to live forever or deserved to anyway. You can trust me, comrades, people exactly like us — two arms, legs, one head etc — will take our place to conduct the business of life as usual: fucking and fighting, a little music and poetry in between; and I, for one, have every confidence our Muslim conqueror friends will in the balance of time prove exactly as good and as bad for the species as the peoples before them, and after them too.

19

Slocum 07.24.05 at 4:25 pm

Well Slocum, Osama Bin Laden would actually have the vicious dictatorships in Saudi, Egypt and Pakistan overthrown, so that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Not such a bad thing?!? Do you think Mubarak’s government in Egypt is now, currently, somewhat worse than the Taliban was in Afghanistan so that replacing Mabarak with an Egyptian Mullah Omar wouldn’t be ‘such a bad thing’?

Point to me, just please, the bit where i said that Osama Bin Laden wanted democracy.

You cited “the general long standing British/American lack of desire to have any form of democracy introduced to the region” as an item in your list of Bin Laden’s legitimate grievances. Or was that just your grievance and not Bin Laden’s (it’s not clear where his thinking leaves off and yours begins, I’m afraid).

Hersh’s account raises disturbing questions

The first of which is — is Hersh’s account based in fact? Beyond that, it is clear that the U.S. has tried to assist the secular political forces in Iraq and, for example, during the time of the CPA insisted on womens’ representation in parliament and rejected Islam as THE source of law. Do you think it was wrong in doing so? Beyond that, did the U.S. consider offering money or expertise to Allawi’s party? I don’t know. Would that have been a good idea? I’d say no, but not because this would have been ‘electoral fraud’ (it clearly wouldn’t) but because it was unlikely to work and would likely result in a backlash (although I don’t think any Iraqi voters will be surprised to learn that the Bush admin favored Allawi-that was quite clear. They nonethess made another selection, and the ballots were properly counted, and Allawi lost by a large margin and turned over power peacefully–a rare an Arab country).

Incidentally if it turns out that Allawi was in the pay of a foreign power, than that makes him a traitor, yes?

A large percentage of Iraqis are currently in the pay of a foreign power, either directly (employed directly by coalition forces) or indirectly (Iraqi government finances are heavily dependent on US aid). Do you consider them all traitors? (Why do I suspect the answer is yes?)

20

Kevin Donoghue 07.24.05 at 4:26 pm

From Answers.com for P. O’Neill: “Of the finest quality, as in That was a play of the first water. This idiom refers to a grading system for diamonds for their color or luster (compared to the shininess of water).”

21

Kevin Donoghue 07.24.05 at 4:33 pm

Does the US have a policy of shoot to kill based on mere suspicion?

Shoot? Hell, no. Invade, overthrow, then figure out what to do next.

22

Brendan 07.24.05 at 5:33 pm

‘Bin Laden and his cohorts accuse US-backed Mideast rulers of being corrupt, godless, western stooges who stole their nation’s oil wealth, and gave it away to the west in exchange for protection from their own people’

To quote Robert Fisk. Not much about democracy there, and the bit where i implicitly or explicitly said Osama Bin Laden wanted democracy was a bit of a lie wasn’t it?

You are aware that people can just scroll up and see that what you are saying isn’t true? I mean you have grasped that, yeah?

You avoid my point, incidentally. My point, as was perfectly clear, was that these are very serious accusations and that, assuming they seem to have a reasonable degree of validity then there should be a congressional enquiry, to see whether they are true, yes?

‘A large percentage of Iraqis are currently in the pay of a foreign power, either directly (employed directly by coalition forces) or indirectly (Iraqi government finances are heavily dependent on US aid). Do you consider them all traitors? (Why do I suspect the answer is yes?)’

This is by far the most vapid thing I have ever heard in my entire life. The point is not who pays the bills for street cleaners. The point is that the the prime minister may (or may not) have been taking what can only be described as bribes from another sovereign power. You also act as if this is nothing to be ashamed of: in which case (assuming there was a crime to begin with) why the cover up? (You also point out that if the Americans tried this it blew up in their faces (like the country) but this merely shows that they are as incompetent as they are hostile to democracy. But we knew that anwyay).

An interesting counter example is that of ‘Moscow Gold’ and the British Communist party. The discovery that the British Communist party was (partly) funded by Moscow was so shattering to the party because we in Britain think (and quite rightly so) that in a working democracy you cannot have foreign powers illicitly funding political parties. The Communist party disintegrated shortly afterwards because people felt quite rightly that this revelation meant they could never be trusted. I suppose, if you want to be accurate, this meant that Communist Party of Great Britain were traitors, in the strictest sense of the word: putting the needs and wants of another government over your own being the essence of being a ‘traitor’.

Like you, i thoroughly approved of the elections that were forced upon the Americans by Sistani bringing the people out on the streets and threatening mass civil insurrection if they were not held. I also greatly approved of the fact that the American candidate was humiliatingly defeated: a sign of the political maturity of the Iraqi people. As I say, the question of whether Allawi was a traitor is a question for the Iraqi people to decide, as I hope you agree. The penalty for being a traitor is death, is it not?

Nevertheless, to return to my original point: if Bush genuinely tried to undermine the Iraqi elections (elections to repeat that he was forced to hold) then this should be grounds for his resignation, yes?

23

Slocum 07.24.05 at 6:22 pm

You are aware that people can just scroll up and see that what you are saying isn’t true? I mean you have grasped that, yeah?

And you listed the lack of support for democracy as ‘another feature of relevance’ (which people can check by scrolling). So is it relevant or is it not relevant?

And while you’re at it–care to back up the claim that Al Queda deposing the Egyptian government ‘wouldn’t be such a bad thing’? You seem to have forgotten that point.

The point is not who pays the bills for street cleaners. The point is that the the prime minister may (or may not) have been taking what can only be described as bribes from another sovereign power.

Look, Allawi clearly had the advantage of incumbancy and the advantage of controlling goverment purse strings handed to him as a part of his appointment. Not only that, his speech before Congress clearly marked him as a U.S. ally (AND gave him a prominent world stage not available to his electoral rivals):

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/09/23/allawi.transcript/

It was no kind of secret that Allawi had the support of the Bush admin. Accepting cash from the U.S. government to stuff in a Swiss account would, of course, constitute corruption, but that’s not what the claim is. Accepting foreign money to help finance political advertising is not treason in itself. Actively trying to subvert one’s own government IS treason, and it is treason whether or not the resources for such activities are foreign or domestic. The U.S. prohibits foreign campaign contributions in U.S. elections, that is true, but that is not the law everywhere–I do not know if it was illegal in Iraq or not–do you? And the U.S. government further has policy of supporting democracy advocates–do you think that is treason?

If Allawi broke Iraqi campaign finance laws, I suppose the Iraqis should investigate when they get to the point of having no more pressing concerns.

In a way, however, the clear defeat of an obviously U.S.-preferred candidate had the effect of making it clear to Iraqis that the election was not fixed, that the ballot boxes were not being stuffed.

Nevertheless, to return to my original point: if Bush genuinely tried to undermine the Iraqi elections (elections to repeat that he was forced to hold) then this should be grounds for his resignation, yes?

If it turned out that the Bush administration tried to fix the Iraqi elections by tampering with ballots or the counting of votes, that would be serious indeed. But there is no doubt that Allawi derived all kinds of financial and political advantages from his appointed role in the interim government–it doesn’t take a congressional investigation to figure that out.

Like you, i thoroughly approved of the elections that were forced upon the Americans by Sistani bringing the people out on the streets and threatening mass civil insurrection if they were not held.

Oh, brother. People in the Bush admin was calling for democratizing Iraq as a way of reforming the Middle East before 9/11 — even before there was a Bush administration. It is true that the administration and Allawi disagreed on timing and tactics of an election. It is also true that many on the left strongly criticized Bush’s determination to proceed with the January elections and his refusal to consider delays on the grounds security was not yet good enough. The idea that the Bush admin didn’t want Iraqi democracy but was forced into it is an absurd left-wing canard.

Here’s the basic problem–your Bush fixation and totally f**ked up priorities. You breezily allow that Bin Laden’s solutions would ‘probably be worse’ but qualify that by saying that Al Queda deposing the Egyptian government ‘wouldn’t be such a bad thing’. But the possibility that the Bush administration supported Allawi–oh, my GOD, that’s the worst thing I ever heard–treason!! He’s GOT to resign now!!!

But, I suppose, what can one expect from somebody who takes Robert Fisk seriously? And we’ve wandered very far from the topic of whether or not roving wiretaps constitute ‘appeasment’, so I think it’s probably time to call it a day.

24

jane adams 07.24.05 at 10:07 pm

Returning to the original comment, I do think if we become like them we lose.

I do not believe that current Bush administration proposals are as severe as those under Lincoln, Wilson or FDR or even what was traditionally accepted before the reforms of the sixties and seventies.

I do believe that a number are questionable, that they have the capacity to be abused and spiral out of control. I do know many on the right have a very poor grasp of our principles and fail to understand that citiques of our softeness and tolerance have been an article of faith among all those totaltarian regimes we outlasted.

I also think many on the left have no appreciation for these principles.

And some who do understand them don’t regard them as a priority. Sadly there is this drive to imitate the right’s attitude towards Clinton in the nineties, an obsession to focus on “character” and slather. I think George Bush will have a failed presidency, I don’t particularly like him, but every president is flawed. And with the last president an obsessive desire to focus on him rather than specifics of government, Clinton wound up like the roadrunner or Bugs Bunny, a character who was the target of this mad pursuit which always failed and the viewer enjoyed it. So why repeat the mistake?

George Bush is right in some things. The Taliban wis evil, Bin Laden is evil, Saddam is evil, North Korea is evil. A thoughtful approach would frame who we are more realistically, a lsser evil with a historically proven ability to evolve towards a greater good. A little humility and reason in approach rather than hubris can be argued, but we can still get mistty eyed at the flag and believe we represent despite our faults something better.

Bush is also right. They do hate us for who we are and to some extent these things are virtues. Our greater feminist freedom and individual freedom, our wealth (these are societies which contrary to world trends are declining in advanced degrees and scientific books published,) it should be noted that these include things that much of the “moral” right also despises. They also hate us for our interests, some of which are questionable or wrong at least in the way we express them, some necessary for survival, some right. They hate us for lots of reasons and the specific hate of a specific “they” does vary not just between “theys,” but sometimes within the same “they” depending on time of week. And yes “they” do have a number of legitimate concerns and complaints which our president and especially his followers ignore. So indeed it is rather complex.

But this complexity is not expressed by simply battling the president’s points, but by refining them and deepenig them and expressing the often contradictory realities.

It is the capacity of our societies to integrate and express complexity, to balance multiple forces and all the rest that helps make us superior. And yes we are superior, from a moral grounds my position as a woman says it right out, from an economic and long term survival grounds the fact that the entire Arab region has a non oil economy smaller than Irelands and that it’s declining. And quite bluntly if these jihadists succeed in dominating their societies and continuing their imperialist dream they will at some point bump up against Russia, India, China and Europe as well as us, they will be smashed. They might succeed in crippling much of what we call civilization both economically and in ways of doing things, but the path people like Osama chose is if continued, death for Islamic peoples.

25

tvd 07.24.05 at 10:33 pm

Oh, my.

NEW YORK (AP) – Pressure is building for greater use of video cameras to keep watch over the nation’s cities – particularly in transportation systems and other spots vulnerable to terrorism – after the bombings in London…

“I do not think that cameras are the big mortal threat to civil liberties that people are painting them to be,” Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony A. Williams said Friday.

He’s not alone. While privacy advocates question their effectiveness, Sen. Hillary Clinton called for New York City subway officials to install more cameras, even though officials said some 5,000 cameras are already in use across all modes of city travel.

26

fifi 07.24.05 at 11:26 pm

I think at going rate, an act of terrorism perpetrated in a major metropolitan center every few years, the terrorists will win the “war” in approximately never. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t lose all by ourselves.

27

fifi 07.25.05 at 12:30 am

I can’t remember his name but I saw interviewed on CBC’s The Hour (news for hipsters) the author an academic study that found the world is a peaceful place, relatively speaking. He acknowledged the war narrative that gives public speakers something to talk about and their traumatized audience meaning, but claimed naked the facts and figures say fewer people have died in fewer conflicts/terrorist acts in the period since 9/11 than previously in our modern history.

FWIW.

28

fifi 07.25.05 at 12:38 am

P.S. From Harper’s Index July/2005.

Percentage of the 651 fatal or wounding terrorist attacks worldwide last year that took place in Iraq: 32

Percentage that took place in India: 44

29

ogmb 07.25.05 at 12:39 am

fifi, I don’t think the “going rate” will hold up for very long. The London bombing seem to indicate that al Qaeda is outsourcing the attacks and retaining only the key “trademarks”: multiple simultaneous bombing attacks on public buildings or transport. Expect the “quality” of the attacks to go down and the frequency to go up. This is what it looks like when terrorism metastasizes.

30

ogmb 07.25.05 at 12:47 am

Iraq population: 0.026 billion
India population: 1 billion

You could at least try.

31

fifi 07.25.05 at 1:28 am

“fifi, I don’t think the “going rate” will hold up for very long.”

Yes, well, reaction = escalation. The depressing thing is the WoT has given us a purpose and meaning we didn’t have in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s when terrorists were more industrious (and whiter) and terrorism a law enforcement issue. We should be careful what we wish for. We might get it.

32

fifi 07.25.05 at 1:41 am

If we invade India to make the world safe from Hindufascists, its population will adjust accordingly.

33

ogmb 07.25.05 at 1:44 am

Who is “us”?

34

fifi 07.25.05 at 1:47 am

Whitey.

35

Brendan 07.25.05 at 4:47 am

‘I think it’s probably time to call it a day.’

I couldn’t agree more, but as a matter of interest, is anybody aware of any countries in which foreign powers making campaign contributions to local elections is NOT illegal?

Incidentally, I also think, in ‘debating’ with the pro-invasion-as-long-as-someone-else-does-the-actual-fighting types, that the word ‘democracy’ is in need of some elucidation. Letting the pro-invasion grouping get a ‘hold’ of that word has been a disaster in terms of the rhetoric of the debate. Everyone knows (and by everyone i mean everyone who lives in the places where the majority of the world’s population live: South America, Africa, the Middle East) that democracy means, purely and simply (when used by the Bush administration) a regime that is friendly to the US (and everyone does know it, incidentally). Anti-war sniping over the election was a propaganda disaster, allowing the pro-invasion side to grab hold of and use the word ‘democracy’ as though it belonged to them. In fact of course, the elections were a triumphant sucess, and a triumph of Iraqi people over American attempts to stop them (note: the constitutional elections. It is true that elections were to be permitted but the framework for government was to have been decided upon by Allawi and his American friends).

This is why the two sides argue past each other. The pro-invasion side can’t understand why anyone in their right mind would fail to support the invasion: if it brings ‘democracy’, failing to understand that the invasion was predicated on the idea that the American backed candidate would win the constitutional elections, and thereby help to create the framework within which any future Iraqi government would have to function. The disgusting hostility of almost all current members of the Bush administration to democracy is well known: cf Wolfowitz in Indonesia, Negroponte in El Salvador, and so forth.

Hence the reason of the floundering about in American foreign policy vis a vis Iraq ever since: it seems never to have occured to them that the American candidate would lose. Clearly the Americans have no intention of leaving Iraq, and now that Allawi is out of the way they can’t (paradoxically, an Allawi victory might actually have led to an American withdrawal, something that is inconceivable now). But the precise mechanisms by which they propose to control the new government are not clear, least of all, i would imagine, to the Americans themselves.

In any case, the debate over foreign contributions to Iraq is interesting, as the question is, do I think that the Allawi government (those who, let’s not forget, are accused of taking foreign bribes) would make it illegal to do so? Well, i think not. Will any future government? I don’t doubt they will try: whether they will be allowed to is another question.

In any point, it is futile debating the issue with those who simply presuppose that the United States is genuinely and wholly committed to democratic change, and that when they say ‘democracy’ they mean it (in the same way as the old Soviet Union, I suppose, when they said the word ‘peace’ meant that. We must always remember that countries such as Pinochet’s Chile and apartheid South Africa used to be part of the ‘free world’). If current US behaviour in Venezuela and Haiti (or for that matter the United States) haven’t changed their minds, nothing will.

It is also worthwhile noting that many Iraqis (specifically in Fallujah) have by any definition less freedom than they did under Saddam, and even in the absolute basic sense of the word ‘democracy’, in large sections of the country there is less freedom than there was before.

36

soru 07.25.05 at 6:21 am


failing to understand that the invasion was predicated on the idea that the American backed candidate would win the constitutional elections

On the contrary, leftist support for the invasion was predicated on the idea that whatever vaguely nefarious plans the Cheney/Rumsfeld wing of the administration had could be defeated by political action by Iraqis.

Saddam, and his descendants, could occupy Iraq forever. Bush, maximum another 4 years, which is a blink of history’s eye.

soru

37

Jack 07.25.05 at 6:42 am

Slocum, do you think the deposition of Saddam is in itself a good thing? If so then surely you admit Brendan’s point about the fate of Saudi Arabia and Egypt even if OBL himself would make things much worse.

Or do things have to actually get better to be good? In which case do you think the deposition of Saddam was a good thing?

38

Brendan 07.25.05 at 7:09 am

‘Bush, maximum another 4 years, which is a blink of history’s eye’.

At last! A testable prediction from the pro-invasion side!

It will be interesting (assuming that Crooked Timber is still running then) to come back to this statement in 4 years time and see how it holds up.

Remember: ‘maximum’ 4 years. So the prediction is that the Americans will be in Iraq for no more than 4 years, and probably less . Presumably a corollary of this will be that the ‘insurgency’ will be defeated by this time, Iraq will have a constitution (and for that matter will still exist as a sovereign state) and will be regularly holding free and fair democratic elections, there will be a free press, independent judiciary, and so forth.

Well! I’ve set my calendar. Watch this space.

39

Brian 07.25.05 at 8:06 am

There may be something in what Bush is saying.

Here’s a little known clause in an Irish Republican Army manifesto – ca 1978.

“We declare our hatred of the vile British, primarily for their bad teeth and their fish and chips.”

40

james 07.25.05 at 10:41 am

Brendan –
The prediction is that Bush will no longer be President of the United States in 4 years time. It is interresting how you read into that prediction what you wanted to read.

41

fifi 07.25.05 at 11:47 am

“Saddam, and his descendants, could occupy Iraq forever.”

I don’t think he was that popular.

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Brendan 07.25.05 at 12:42 pm

‘The prediction is that Bush will no longer be President of the United States in 4 years time. It is interresting how you read into that prediction what you wanted to read’

Fair point. I suppose if you just predict what is inevitable, and weight the scales by predicting the rule of Saddam and his descendants ‘forever’ then you can never be proved wrong.

43

jane adams 07.25.05 at 1:21 pm

———————————————
the word ‘democracy’ is in need of some elucidation. Letting the pro-invasion grouping get a ‘hold’ of that word has been a disaster in terms of the rhetoric of the debate. Everyone knows (and by everyone i mean everyone who lives in the places where the majority of the world’s population live: South America, Africa, the Middle East) that democracy means, purely and simply (when used by the Bush administration) a regime that is friendly to the US

————————————————–

Actually I don’t know it. It seems to me that the Iraqi government is shaping up into something rather Shiite fundamentalists in the pricess of building closer ties to Iran (which has stood by these people) than to us.

Democracy is a wild card. The Bush administration did believe that since they had the truth and the correct approach the Iraqi people would follow it. Thus a dearth of planning for after the invsion, the willingness to hand much of the admistration of the new nation to twenty somethings who put in resumes at the Heritage foundation and thus had politically correct attitudes… the ignoring of previous military plans and all other plans etc.

Now there is an actual vote. It strengthens the hand of fundamentalist Shiites who use it to help set up theocracies all over southern Iraq, who make deals with a charter member of the “axis of evil.”

This is not new. It is expected. Decades ago someone asked the N. Vietanmese how they could call the RVN government puppets when they seemed to do everything opposite to what the US wanted, the reply being that they were poorly made puppets.

The assumption that the US can pull the strings and get the dance it wants is quite untrue. Even our good friends the Kurds are blowing up things in Turkey. And Chalabi! let’s not talk about Chalaibi. Even good old Allawi said a few weeks ago that the place was in civil war or getting there fast and it was due to the incompetence of us! Can you imagine?!

If the people in the middle east are given the vote they will probably not elect the people we want. Not everyone knew that. Certainly George Bush didn’t know that. But he has to call it democracy and praise it to the stars. And in return they no longer publicly anounce their Iranian/Iraqi military cooperation, they keep it private.

The simple fact of the matter is that we are never that much in control of things, never have been, though we have considerable influence and power. Another simple fact of the matter is that while our influence can be used in bad ways, compare n. Korea with S Korea, China with Formosa, Vietnam with Thailand and the perfectly correct claim that: “The United States has frequently supported regimes which are corrupt and dictatorial” is also (at least sometimes) paired with “against regimes which are more corrupt and dictatorial and which have a much smaller chance of evolving into something better.”

The problem of course is that the Bush administration never looked at the actual history or all the qualifications and he and his followers successfuly shifted the debate to “us good, them bad” and then with a lot of help managed to convince many that the opposing view was “them good, us bad.”

The right is successful because they manage to this over and over. They equate social security investment in stocks with private accounts, they equate simplified taxes with flat taxes, they equate reform of infuriating or failed bureaucracies to themselves while Democrats are portrayed as defending them and enough of the opposition position themselves in the context the Republicans define.

44

rollo 07.25.05 at 2:08 pm

Utah Jazz
Carolina Panthers
Los Angeles Lakers
Boston Bruins
Cleveland Indians
American Democracy

45

fifi 07.25.05 at 2:25 pm

“Slocum, do you think the deposition of Saddam is in itself a good thing?”

What situation in the real world does that refer to, “the deposition of Saddam?” What, did we ask him to leave and he did? Because if that were the case the discussion would be different than what it actually is. Let’s keep things real: we invaded a country we didn’t understand, letting loose a war we can’t control. That’s what “the deposition of Saddam” refers to.

Iraq under Saddam was at least a civil society. Pro-invasion democracy nutters might not understand why that were but they should at least now have the self-respect and wisdom to acknowledge social forces more complex than Evil Man in History were and remain at work, because something has turned their cartoon narrative to shit and it can’t be Saddam he’s is in jail.

46

Brendan 07.25.05 at 3:33 pm

Jane
I agree with every word of your post and didn’t want to anywhere imply that George Bush et al were ‘puppet masters’ pulling strings behind almost every major event in the world. It would be better in some ways if they were. Instead, as Iraq demonstrates, their incompetence is matched only by their arrogance, and wilful ignorance.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

47

soru 07.25.05 at 5:13 pm

_The prediction is that Bush will no longer be President of the United States in 4 years time_

And also that, if it’s still a situation best described as military occupation by then, the next president will be elected on a withdrawl ticket.

Permanent occupation is simply not a politically possible option, you’d have to be talking about a military coup or something to make it plausible.

That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a few thousand troops stuck on a base somewhere, or a lot of security advisors, that various wingnuts will describe as an occupation and noone but the Chomskyite fringe will care about.

soru

48

Brendan 07.25.05 at 6:51 pm

‘And also that, if it’s still a situation best described as military occupation by then, the next president will be elected on a withdrawl ticket.

Permanent occupation is simply not a politically possible option, you’d have to be talking about a military coup or something to make it plausible.

OK now we are talking. This at least is something I can get my head around. So (and just to GUARANTEE that I am not misinterpreting you here, because goodness as we have discovered, seemingly transparent statements seem to have become mysteriously opague at times in this site), you are stating:

If the US are still in Iraq in some numbers in four years time then the next president will withdraw. In other words, the Americans will be out in 8-10 years, 12 maximum, yes?

Just to make clear;

‘Permanent occupation is simply not a politically possible option’.

I completely agree with this statement. Presumably even in Northern Ireland eventually the British will leave (though it may take another hundred years or so). However, my point remains. I think this situation might last a LOT longer than either pro or anti war are currently thinking. To repeat the point in the last post: i don’t think an American presence (and like Soru, i mean serious presence, with guns, shooting at people) in 2038 is at all unlikely.

And here’s why.

However, at least one of pro-war side has had the balls to come up with an actual prediction…..we can but wait………

49

Brendan 07.25.05 at 6:55 pm

sorry one thing i should have added. When talking about a long term American presence in Iraq, I should really be talking about ‘Iraq’, as it is highly unlikely, if civil war breaks out, that Iraq will continue to exist in its present form. Whether Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or, for that matter, Israel, will also continue to exist if and when the conflict escalates is a moot point.

50

soru 07.26.05 at 3:19 am

Presumably even in Northern Ireland eventually the British will leave

If >50% of Iraqis suddenly start self-identifying as american, organising big parades with cheerleaders, marching bands and the Stars and Stripes, and a very clever propaganda campaign convinces everyone that Iraq has been part of the US for the last 400 years, then Northern Ireland might be a fair reference point.

If Iraq was moved to the Mexican/US border, then Palestine would be. Neither of these is particularly likely.

soru

51

Brendan 07.26.05 at 5:47 am

Soru

I know and you know that the situation is far worse in Iraq than it ever was in Northern Ireland, and, for that matter, has the potential to be even worse than the current Israeli-Palestine situation, but I don’t see why you keep on drawing our attention to the fact.

If the pro-war side had any concern for the welfare of the people of Iraq, their key concern now would not be about what George Galloway did or didn’t say at some obscure meeting somewhere, but about the fact that Iraq faces civil war, and that if it ‘blows up’ it is likely to collapse outwards rather than inwards. Moreover, they would be interested in coming up with serious plans to stop this happening. Instead, however, they are much happier patting themselves on the back, calling each other the ‘best and brightest’ (in the world? In the cosmos?), and denouncing anyone who refuses to live in their fantasy world as being part of the ‘reality based community’: reality apparently also having been overthrown by the US when they invaded Iraq.

Not that it really matters. If (and when) Baghdad is wiped off the face of the map (perhaps by a nuclear strike, who knows?), safe to say the pro-invasion tribe will still be sitting around, telling each other how brilliant and moral they are, still ignoring reality, and still without one single coherent idea as to how Iraq is to pull itself out of the nightmare we have plunged it into.

And if you do have such an idea, please don’t waste your time telling me about it. Join the armed forces, go to Iraq, do it for yourself. As one of the best and brightest it really is the least you can do.

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