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View Diary: Swan on Violence and Rebuilding in Iraq (10 comments)

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  •  This is the type of stuff (0+ / 0-)

    that gets us into territory where people can really argue with us-- with your kind of conclusions, liberals are out on a limb, and looking weak.

    It's a lot better to stick to what we know: (1) the war was run badly (2) Iraq is a mess (3) Bush and the Republicans are only playing at giving a damn, both about the Iraqis and our troops, but they only really care about themselves.

    This is stuff we can talk about, back up well, and win the argument based on.

    Iraq was certainly a country that was in need of improvement. There is no way to know whether over-throwing Saddam and a foreign occupation could have accomplished that. But what we got was a failed attempt and it was by no means a good-faith, competently-executed, well-meant effort. Only individual bit-players and subordinate commanders can lay claim to that kind of description in our Iraq war and occupation. The over-all character of the thing is a total sham, a rip-off and an insult both to our own country and Iraq.  

    •  I think that is profoundly wrong (0+ / 0-)

      if we continue to argue about the way these kinds of wars of aggression are run, it plays into the hands of people who want the next one.

      If we argue that these wars are fundamentally a crime, and that the perps would be in jail if there was international justice, we might someday stop them.

      It's like arguing that the Death Penalty is bad because the electric chair sets people's hair on fire. All that does is make them come up with the needle. And when the needle is painful they come up with something else.

      These issues must be attacked on moral grounds first and foremost. Not on competence and management skills.

      •  You're leading us down the most-wrong track (0+ / 0-)

        Big political victories are won in a piece-meal fashion. The feminist struggle and civil rights movement of the 20th century, for example, each won a single concession at a time-- spread out over a century (voting, equal pay for equal work, more equal treatment in the military, public civil rights, workplace benefits, etc). It gave time for people to be convinced and to see that feminism/integration wouldn't destroy their lives, like the media-controlling demagogues said it would. By contrast, quick, angry change like the Chinese Revolution or the Cuban Revolution ends up leading to too much change, to poor leaders being put in power, and so on. All the gains of the feminists movement and the civil rights movement of the 20th century would have been shocking for people to experience at the beginning of the 20th century, and probably would have experience a lot of (even violent) resistance, because they would have been dropped right into the middle of society that still had plenty of support for not allowing those gains at all.

        The argument you want to make and the goal you want to claim, while prehaps correct, simply do not have enough support and not are easy for the average person to understand and to support like the ones I suggest are. Frankly you sound like an insincere person pretending to be liberal. Everyone can back the rightness that Saddam should not have been in power. The legality of actually taking him out of power is a legal, technical distintinction most people aren't educated enough about to have anything like a good opinion on. It is also a burgeoning area of law in which there is actually much room for disagreement. International law (especially in this area) is simply not so cut and dry as the internal law of a nation.

        You really sound like you are trying to prompt us to make stereotypical liberal arguments that are liberals' weakest arguments, and to try to win on them right before an election, when what we really need is to get people on board with our platform quick, not gamble that we won't leave them puzzled and doubt-filled over some point we tried to make.

      •  I think it's perfectly ok (0+ / 0-)

        to say and argue the kinds of things you wrote and argued, but I think the focus should always be on things that are more like the things I wrote about.

        That a lot of people are still dying in Iraq, that reconstruction goals haven't been met, that the standard of living in Iraq is probably tied for the worst of any nation in the world, that U.S. soldiers are experiencing a lot of problems and are being dealt a lot of raw deals, and that the Republican civilians in the government and running the contracting companies that have worked on occupying and rebuilding Iraq ran a befuddled, incompetent, less-than-genuine effort, are all things that are quantifiable or at least can be shown with a lot of direct evidence. Those are the kinds of arguments that are best to show to people. An argument about just whether in the abstract it was legal to invade Iraq counts for a lot less in people's minds, and it's less persuasive because it's more like a matter of opinion.

        The reason I don't like what you wrote so much is because of the emphasis and insistence you put on it, which seems to be where your comment may become inappropriate and dishonest (or at the least, mis-guided). While I think real liberals make comments like yours, I think it's far more typical for liberals to realize the salience of comments like I was making (when they're not being mis-guided or given nothing but poor examples), and to latch onto the need to continue going in that kind of direction. We need to keep heading in fruitful directions, and not marry ourselves to the platitudinous and unnecessary. Improvement is not only something we need, it's a continual process, and if we don't keep sniffing out and heading in the proper direction, we will be overtaken by our adversary, eventually.

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