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View Diary: U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote (NYT 9/4/1967) (274 comments)

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  •  charming when people lecture (none)
    others on history based on a few clicks of their web browser.

    If you had been reading about the situation for a bit longer, TustonDAZ, you wouldn't be so alarmed about the mistranslation that yielded "wiping out Arabization."  Yes, the Kurds are very committed to ending the policy of Arabization of Kirkuk, under which Kurds were forcibly removed.  Yes, this will certainly have impacts on the Arabs who moved in.

    However, the phrase 'wiping out Arabization' comes in a paragraph that is characterizing "reassurances" from "Iraqi officials" encouraging the Kurds to take part in the elections.  To turn this into the suggestion of a pogrom - to take the poorly worded "wiping out Arabization" and turn it into "wiping out Arabs", you have to believe that some high-ranking Shiite officials have given the go-ahead for this pogrom.

    So it seems much more likely that this paragraph refers to something more like an end to the official policy of forcibly removing Kurds from Kirkuk and subsidizing Arabs to go there, often by giving them the vacant homes of removed Kurds.  It even seems likely that it refers to some organized reversal of the policy, and I have no doubt that many Kurds are moving back to their homes.  But I simply don't believe you that the paper you're citing is referring to a high-level agreement between Arabs in the central government and the two Kurdish parties, that if they take part in the election, the central government will allow them to undertake a pogrom in Kirkuk.  I think your reading is ridiculous.

      •  Lois, (none)
        First of all, you're the one who gave me a patronizing little lecture about "if the other commenter would just read, there's such a host of information on the web that he's missing."  I know a lot about Kurds and Turks.  Apparently it's all new to you.  I was reading about the Ocalan crisis five years ago, before the people here boasting about what they've found on the internet could even locate Samarra on a map (the Ocalan crisis was between Italy and Turkey over a Kurdish leader, for those who are newcomers to Kurdish issues.)

        So yes, of course, if you read Turkish newspapers, you're going to find a tremendous amount of hand-wringing over the possibility of a strong autonomous Kurdish area in northern Iraq.

        But that's no reason to adopt the Turkish point of view.  The Turks have been hand-in-hand with the Iraqis (and the Iranians) in oppressing Kurds for decades.  You don't need to take everything you read in their papers as gospel.

        •  No offense (none)
          I didn't mean to be patronizing but I can see how my wording might sound like that.  So, I'm sorry.

          Here's my point about it all, in view of the triumphalist hoopla of the last few days that I've been enduring:

          These Middle Eastern places and their people are a VAST, complex area of information that people spend their whole lives studying.  Maybe it would be interesting to hear from those people who have done so much studying whether "It might just work!" (Our US invasion and nation-building enterprise)

          I suspect we wouldn't get a unanimous answer from the scholars but they weren't part of the decision and PR campaign to go to war, anyway.  That was the politicians and people like Tom Friedman of the Times whose rationale was "Its worth a try."  And since hardly any Americans felt they had much at stake, it seemed like plunking down $100 on a bet and maybe winning another $100.  IOW, not a big deal either way.

           There are 2 things that I, me, ordinary American, do know for a fact:

          1.  It would not be worth my daughter's life to help the Iraqis fulfill whatever their democratic aspirations are.

          2.  George Bush's daughters and John Edwards' daughter did not leave college and join up.  Etc. etc. for the other pols. Edwards was as pro-War as Bush; I remember reading his editorial.  But they sure don't try very hard to make the case to their own offspring, do they?  Or maybe their offspring are callous, selfish people?  Or their own offspring aren't buying it.  Because those are the only 3 explanations, IMO.

             Have you heard of any member of Congress's son being in the infantry or in harms' way at all?  Biden's son is a military lawyer.  

          When I read background on the people who are killed or wounded over there, it is so clear that there is an exploitation aspect.  These are for the most part young people who are economically or emotionally vulnerable to exploitation.    

          It is an artful theory that the US military oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" means conquering foreign lands in order to make them democracies because democracies would never attack the US.  

          •  I take to heart a lot of what you're saying here. (none)
            It doesn't contradict what you say if I point out that, oddly, members of the military, their families, and veterans do seem to support this war in greater numbers than the rest of us. I know that there are some who don't - Vietnam Vets against the war and even some Iraq vets whose organization I can't remember now.  But I notice a certain irony when I talk about ending the war to ensure the safety of troops who seem to feel some degree of support for the war themselves.  

            Would I 'send my daughter.'  I did not volunteer for the military myself.  I don't even know very many people who did.

            On the other hand, I seem to have a different feeling about this than most people on these boards.  To explain, I'll mention that I have an aunt who is a huge supporter of this war.  Her rationale, or at least part of it, is that she's happy we're fighting them over there, and not over here.

            Whereas, I feel enormously different.  When people were absolutely outraged that 3,000 people died in the WTC, I was angry, but I found it hard to summon more anger over that than over the 6,000 Bosnian men who rode Serb trains into the town of Brcko, and were executed, and put back on the cars, stacked like cordwood, to be buried in a mass grave.  

            So I'm more internationalist.  I think Iraqi democracy is as worth dying for as American democracy.  I think Iraqi security is worth dying for.  I think we're all on the same planet.

            I admit that there's a different standard for making the decision about another country -- since we don't understand Iraqi society well, it's tougher for us to be very certain that we can achieve the goal that people might die for. There is indeed an arrogance about starting such a war.  

            I mistrust the motives of almost everyone involved in our decision to go to war.  I'm skeptical that most of them rank democracy very high on their list of war goals (though I don't doubt that there are many who are sincere.)

            I don't buy that "you can't impose democracy by force."  There is little difference between the Iraqi history of democracy and that of Japan.  One had a short-lived parliament controlled by powerful warlords.  The other had a somewhat longer-lived parliament, not truly sovereign even when it sat, which was overthrown in a coup.  Iraqis are as capable of understanding democracy as the Japanese after World War II, or the Chinese who protested and died for it in Tiananmen.  

            One of the things about it is that democracy requires some group of people who depend on it for their future.  Alexander Hamilton created a bondholder class in the early US.  He was a frustrated monarchist, an elitist who certainly believed he was helping create an aristocracy, yet that class proved important to the stability of a democracy that did indeed grow toward respecting the rights of a broader and broader class of people through time.  Significantly, his bondholder class was never strong enough to feel they could do without democratic approval, so they were forced to submit to the vote.  

            I think that certain powerful Shia are beginning to feel that their future depends on a stable democracy in Iraq.  I don't really know that they will be able to defend that democracy by compromising with the other classes of their society.  But I get the feeling that Sistani and the two Kurdish leaders are for now on board with compromise.  With fighting for their own interests within the framework set up by the provisional government.  

            I am extremely surprised by this.  I think the administration has done everything they could to screw this up.  And they have enough corrupt, naive and arrogance to screw it up even today.

            But still, I pose a question, and I think it's key:

            As I read of the run-up to this election, as I saw the election workers shot in the streets in broad daylight, I thought to myself, dear god, how are they going to find anyone to even put the election?  And today, in the New York Times, I found an answer, from the UN Commissioner of Election Assistance.  She said that she knew a few days ago that the election would prove successful.  She was simply seeing too many people stepping up  into the roles of election worker -- too many to think they just needed a job.  She said it was their bravery that convinced her that this was going to work.  I have trouble arguing with that.  A guy posed a good question yesterday in this thread -- sure, the Iraqis who voted were brave, but they'll have to be brave enough to defend their democracy every day.  When I read the quote from the UN woman, I felt she was replying to him - the election workers were even braver.  Now that they've made their statement, others will step up.

            •  Well, (none)
              I don't really know what to make of the election.  After so many lies the past 2 years, lies that were facilitated by media hype, I don't know what I should make of the reports I saw about the election, what it meant on Sunday January 30, 2005 or what it will mean a year from now.  

              Personally, I don't think democracy is such a glorious concept.  I guess its like Winston Churchill said that "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried." Our own, THE model of democracy, has done a lot of terrible things.  We're still the only nation that ever dropped atomic bombs (and purely for revenge IMO) but most Americans think it was right.  Thats democracy.  

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