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Atrios says it all.
If there were few less liberal hawks running around imagining they were "more serious" than the anti-war folks, providing the mushy middle with reason to jump on the war train, it just might have been.  The fact that a lot of center-left types, or what qualifies as center-left in our media anyway, took the pro-war position provided the pro-war media an easy excuse to completely marginalize all anti-war opinion.

Even now many of these same people still cling to the conceit that because they were previously for the war they now have a greater degree of credibility on this issue. Well, sorry, you were wrong. There were people who were right. Let them talk for a change.

Nothing currently happening in Iraq is a surprise. It was all very obvious. It might not have been inevitable, but it was likely. Shit, all it took was a cursory glance at the history of Iraq and a dash of good ol' fashioned (and apparently out of fashion) common sense to see the various ways things could go wrong.

And as we have subsequently found out, this administration lied to get us in, and then had no plan for any eventuality beyond protecting our troops from the torrent of flower petals that would be showered on their heads.

But the real idiocy isn't with the administration. They knew what they were doing, and used whatever tools they had at their disposal to get Bush's war on. They were a lot of things, but stupid wasn't one of them. The real idiots were the media and pundits (including those in the blogosphere) who helped enable Bush's charade.

Even at the height of war fever, Bush's lies were being exposed almost immediately after uttered (nothing that has subsequently "emerged" should be a surprise to anyone paying attention). But there was ONE particular fact that fully exposed Bush's lies for what they were -- not a single Iraq neighbor signed up for the fight. Not a single Iraq neighbor considered Saddam a threat. That should've told us everything we needed to know.

But to the pro-war side, the lust for battle was too hard to resist. Especially as they witnessed it, PlayStation-style, in front of a television. Explosions are cool.

So long as we don't have to see body bags or dead civilians. That would force us to be outraged, and that's not pleasant.

Unlike most people around these parts, I actually support a military draft (with the option of alternate service for conscientious objectors). I think the burdens of our Democracy should be shared by all. And as a side benefit, the more people serve, the more stake everyone will have in potential military conflicts. It's a lot easier to advocate for war if you don't know anyone who might suffer consequences. It's a lot harder to remain aloof if war may impact your friends, children, or grandchildren.

Instead, we have a professional army isolated, culturally and literally, from the vast majority of the American public. We have war supporters who argue that 100 dead this month is no big deal because more people died during WWII. They callously claim that 700 US dead for this war is a "small price", as though each life wasn't precious. They argue that we can't give Iraqis their country back because (and where have we heard this before?) that would invalidate the sacrifice of the hundreds who have already perished.

As though adding hundreds or thousands of names to that KIA list will somehow justify the assholes that dragged us into this godforsaken war or facilitated those efforts.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:04 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  image vs. reality (4.00)
    Even now many of these same people still cling to the conceit that because they were previously for the war they now have a greater degree of credibility on this issue. Well, sorry, you were wrong.

    This needs to be hammered.

    I interviewed a DLC guy after it was apparent Bush fudged on the WMD and he still maintained Dean's opposition to the war made him too radical to be the nominee.

    Apparently there's some Beltway CW reality where image is more important than what's happening in the real world.

    •  Right on (4.00)
      The book to read is "Our culture of Pandering", by former Senator Paul Simon.  Main thesis: Politicians no longer act like leaders; they just have their fingers in the air looking for the popular thing to do.
      •  RW Wind Machine (none)
        And when at least some of the politicians are running the wind machine full bore, and the media are currying favor and pushing the message, no wonder the rest won't stand against the wind.  Kos and Atrios are dead right here.  It is time to give more of a platform to those knowledgeable voices who understood the consequences of the war and cut loose Friedman and all the rest.  They didn;t know then, so why should we believe they know anything now?  Juan Cole should be in the WaPo and NYT every day.  

        Whatever you can do or dream, begin it, for boldness has power, and genius, and magic in it. -Goethe

        by Mimikatz on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:17:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not that there's anything wrong with that (none)
        President Who-Cares-What-You-Think has been governing in a somewhat different direction. So we see the dangers of governing in whatever fashion benefits you and your most important backers, while spreading just enough rhetoric to cover your tracks.

        Fact is, leadership is a two-way street. A good leader must listen to constituents and take their interests into account, while making the case for their viewpoint as best they can.

    •  Congressional Enablers (4.00)
      For our Congress to have pretended not to understand the reality is entirely disingenuous, they have been cowards all along.  Waiting to be forced into action, feigning they are doing all within their power - while their helpless idiot act just supports this march of folly.  

      They fear being leaders, even when the consequences are overwhelmingly tragic.  Even now they are afraid to pull their heads out of the sand.

      They have sacrificed their integrity for the ride of the complacent on the wave of political expediency.  Such complacency may be acceptable during battles over budget minutiae, but not during the buildup to a disastrous war.

      Of course some of them are just criminally incompetent.  The responsibility for all of them lies with the American electorate.

      "Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." - Thomas Jefferson

      by Wally on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:03:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Carl (3.60)
      I think you've located the locus for this little malady in the wrong place: its not simply an inside the beltway mentality - the reaction against Dean's anti-Bush invasion of Iraq stance (please don't call it an anti-war stance)is a product of the entire demonization of any peace position what so ever.  Its simply not possible to be a dove and be taken seriously.  Look how often people begin their comments speaking out against the war with statements like "I'm no pacifist, but..." The fact that people feel a need for that caveat says it all (no one in this country is prepared to even accept pacifism as a reasonable position to be part of the debate, forget seeing it as a direction for policy.)

      This is far older than the DLC, dates back to at least media coverage of the peace movement in the 60's.

      "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

      by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:21:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The tendency to favor war (3.50)
        You are correct that there is a tendency toward military solutions to political problems, and a tendency toward war generally.  But I think you are wrong to place it inside the Beltway, or to attribute it to this country and this time.  I'm sure you read history and I'm sure you can find parallel events throughout recorded history.

        Two quotes, both of which I originally read in the first source, have been ringing in my head ever since the summer of 2002 when Cheney announced that Iraq was Enemy No. 1.

        Wars are all alike in beginning complacently.  The reason is psychological and compensatory:  no one wants to foresee or contemplate the horror, the inevitable ruin of civilized usages, which war will entail.  Hence the defensive exercise of the optimistic imagination.

        Paul Fussell, Wartime

        A singular fact about modern war is that it takes charge.  Once begun it has to be carried to its conclusion, and carrying it there sets in motion events that may be beyond men's control.  Doing what has to be done to win, men perform acts that alter the very soil in which society's roots are nourished.

        Bruce Catton, The Civil War

        The pro-war liberals exercised their optimistic imaginations, coupled with a complete disregard of that which is evident from history.  Now that its clear that this war, like all wars, has taken on a life of its own, the pro-war liberals are engaged in more optimistic imagining:  that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea and it was only BushCo's incompetence that ruined an otherwise worthwhile enterprise.

        The little malady is that humans persist in the belief that killing other humans will solve their political problems.  This only works if all of the "enemy" can be killed and history re-written to cover up or justify their deaths (Cf. The European conquest of North America.)  If this cannot be accomplished, the war-making effort fails.  The lesson of WWII was not that the politcal policies of the US and its allies were right, it was that Germany and Japan, who both initiated war for political ends, were wrong.  They failed, just as every war of conquest in the 20th century failed, just as this war will fail.

        The failure of military domination to produce peaceful, stable societies is evident, if killing people solved political problems, Palestine would be a peaceful place and close to the number one tourist destination.  However, the fact that war doesn't work is routinely ignored.  

        The root of this little malady is that militarism and war hold an unjustified and unjustifiable grip on human imaginations.  War and the warrior are equated with strength and any other person or proposed solution is regarded as weak.  No political leader, democratic or dictatorial, will ever take a position that is equated with weakness in the popular imagination.

        By noon on September 11, it was clear in my mind that the US would kill people in retaliation for the terrorist attacks.  It was also clear that the people killed would be Arab.  While optimistic imaginations might believe that President Gore would have done differently, the difference would have been in the choice of targets and methods.  Had he not responded with brutal, military force against some Arab population, he would have been forced from office in a matter of months.

        The tendency to favor war is as much at work in democracies as it is in authoritarian states, but in democratic states the tendency must lead to policy or there is a change in political power.

        This is why BushCo went to war, and why Gephardt encouraged it, and why Kerry went along with it, and why pro-war liberal bloggers embraced it.

    •  I was against the war, but now I am for it (none)
      Can I have some credibility if I opposed the war to begin with, but now support staying there?  I absolutely agree that it was obvious BushCo was full of shit and lots of things could and would go wrong with the occupation.  We would have been much better off continuing containment or at least waiting for the UN to come around and jump on board.

      But I think Kerry's current position on the war is absolutely right.  A failed state in Iraq is totally unacceptable.  We are going to have to stay there in the long-term and clean up our mess.  We can bring in NATO and the UN by giving them authority over reconstruction, and that will help financially and militarily, but we're still going to end up bearing most of both burdens.

      By far the most important issue in politics is campaign finance reform.

      by jbrians on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:59:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was against the war and still am (none)
        You are assuming what needs to be proven, that US presense on the ground in a net positive.  And that a unitary Iraq is better than a tripartite Iraq.  Who says and why should we believe them?  Bush senior stayed out of Yugoslavia because he believed a fractioning of that state would be a bad thing.  Tell that to the Slovenians.  From the CIA (hey I'm just the messenger)

        " Dissatisfied with the exercise of power of the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 after a short 10-day war. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy have assisted in Slovenia's transformation to a modern state. In December 2002, Slovenia received an invitation to join NATO, and it is scheduled to accede to the EU along with nine other states on 1 May 2004."

        Sound a lot like Kurdistan to me.

        •  assumptions (none)
          My essential assumption is that, if we leave, the country will descent in to a civil war (long or short, I don't know), and the non-Kurd parts of the country will become new Afghanistans.  Iraq wasn't a terrorist haven before, but it sure as hell is now, and we're going to need to have a sympathetic government in place so they can't just set up shop there.

          By far the most important issue in politics is campaign finance reform.

          by jbrians on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:32:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lots of people shared (none)
              the civil war assumption.  But what evidence do we have that it was ever true that Sunni and Shia would go to war?  And events on the ground in Fallujah make that less likely than ever.  Arab-Kurd war, yes.  The forced depossessions and Arabization of large parts of Kurdistan, and the rapid roll back of that in recent months by the Kurds make that a flashpoint.  But that is something we can prevent by stationing US troops there on an invitation basis by the Kurds.
  •  Brilliant (4.00)
    This really is an important point. What is happening in Iraq right now should surprise nobody. Heck, the Bush I administration knew that Iraq was nearly impossible to govern and held back from Baghdad in '91.

    As to your comments about a draft, I do understand the pitfalls of having a professional army that is isolated from the public - your arguments are republican (note the small r) in a Jeffersonian vein. If there were ironclad guarantees about public service as an alternate obligation for CO draftees then I might be inclined to agree. But the history of drafts in the US makes clear that the working-classes are always the ones on the front lines, and their experiences are always divorced from that of the rest of America. A draft would certainly make discussion over wars more than an academic exercise for armchair bloggers, but it comes with very real pitfalls.

    they got the guns but we got the numbers
    gonna win yeah we're takin over
    come on!
    -the doors

    by eugene on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:11:52 PM PDT

    •  I'll work hard against any draft (4.00)
      because this Iraq debacle has proven to me that Americans will elect and support total morons who decide to wage war. I thought America had learned something from Vietnam, but clearly the lessons never stick. Who knows when someone else like Bush will buy and smarm his way into office and misuse a drafted army in the same way he abused the trust of his volunteer forces? At least this way some can choose to distance themselves from the military altogether, and incidentally raise the cost of waging war by forcing the government to compete with other employers for the young people of this nation.

      Here's the latest administration shill trying to shift the blame for the failure of the Iraq adventure to the media. Who held their noses and tongues, until the mess stank so badly nobody could ignore it.  Sadly, it's Tommy Franks, another guy who deserves our respect for his military accomplishments, but has offered himself to Bushco as a tissue to be used to wipe their mess. They're going to need a lot of tissue. I suppose they'll also try to finger the Democratic candidates for bringing up the subject of Iraq in other than reverent tones.

        Gen. Franks Attacks Press

    •  How things change . . . (none)
      In the late 60's, the huge issue that gave the anti-war movement much of its energy was opposition to the draft.  Many of the protesters were marching becuase the draft threatened to send them to Viet Nam.  Their response:  "Hell No!  We won't go!"  

      Now Kos, one of today's bearers of the anti-war mantle, advocates a the very policy his predecessors got arrested fighting to change.  (Working from genreal knowledge -- if someone knows better my apologies in advance).

      This contrast, of course, says nothing about the validity of Kos' suggestion.  Maybe a universal draft would be a good thing.  But perhaps this illustrates that one generation's "truth" may be quite debatable by the next.  A reminder to temper our dogmatism (my own included).  

      •  Something about the more they stay the same. (none)
        Things do change, don't they?

        While it's generally fair to say that the anti-war movement of yesteryear took precisely the opposite position, I think it'd also be fair to say that today's anti-war movement itself occupies opposite ground.

        In the Viet Nam era, the draft was opposed as the most immediate enabler of what was viewed as an unjust war.

        Today, we find that opposition to and the lack of a draft does nothing in terms of disabling our capacity for waging similarly unjust wars.

        That being the case, I'm not entirely sure it does any good to debate the issue of the draft in its Viet Nam era context -- that is, in terms of its ability to disable our war fighting capability. It's clear that's not dependent on the draft, especially considering the fact that we can now "contract" directly for men (and women) under arms if the price is right, probably on Monster.com. Not to mention the fact that I'd bet a considerable sum that Kos and others would only support a Service System considerably less Selective than the one we had last go-round.

        This time, the debate would be about the draft's ability to fairly distribute the burden of war fighting, as opposed to its ability to enable it at all.

        On the other hand, that's sort of what the modern reliance on the Reserves and the National Guard was supposed to be about -- making war fighting ability dependent on the willingness of working families to give up their wage earners. And that didn't seem to work out all that well this time, either. Although I think most of us here would agree that while this plan was something of an improvement over the Viet Nam era draft, it still didn't reach high enough up the ladder to hit where it counts.

        So yeah, I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

        •  The problem is... (none)
          ...a draft system would still function in the context of a society that still assigns privileges based on wealth and race (and to a lesser extent, gender). I don't think you can ever find fairness in the military - and one might argue you'd be more inclined to find it with the AVF, as you have to continually recruit soldiers and try to keep the ones you have.

          they got the guns but we got the numbers
          gonna win yeah we're takin over
          come on!
          -the doors

          by eugene on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:18:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The draft is a good thing, done right (none)
          As someone who was in Vietnam, and a part of the anti-war/anti-draft movement, I see absolutely no intellectual discrepancy between the position of the two movements, then and now.

          There wouldn't have been an antiwar movement during the Vietnam war without a draft.  Trust me, people my age in college only started to "see the light" as the draft numbers went up.  Having a draft, even one that was as unfair as that one, gave people a connection to what was being done in their name - and a consequent involvement in determining the political course of that war - because there was a chance it would be their asses on the line.

          I would be very much in favor of a draft with no deferments other than conscientious objector status, like existed in World War II.  If a country and its values are worthwhile and worthy of defense, then they are worthy of defense by those who are granted privilege by those values to an even greater degree than any other members of society.  As long as the army is poor southern whites, poor urban blacks and latinos, and green-card immigrants, Mr. and Mrs. Middle-Class America need only worry about whether they can afford to fill the tank on their ugly-ass SUV at $3 per gallon, without considering the real price of that gallon of gas.

          Unfortunately, the great mass of people are frequently indistinguishable from mules:  you have to smack them over the head with a baseball bat so they open their eyes and see what's going on around them.  The draft would do that.

          Not to mention it would lower the influence of the far right inside the military. A democratic (small "d") republican (small "r") army requires that.  When Rome had that with their legions, they were a Republic.  When they professionalized the legions, they became an Empire because the citizens were removed from having to pay attention to what the rulers did in their name.

          William Goldman was right when he said the three rules of Hollywierd are "1) Nobody, 2) knows, 3) anything." Works in the real world, too.

          by HollywierdLiberal on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:44:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Australia vs New Zealand (none)
            There wouldn't have been an antiwar movement during the Vietnam war without a draft.

            This is true, Australia and New Zealand offer a good comparison. The Vietnam war was not as fractious in New Zealand as it was in Australia or the US as New Zealand only sent regular military over. Australia enacted Conscription (draft) based on birthdates.

            In typical Australian Imperial Force fashion, they didnt discriminate with citizenship, if you were a subject of the Queen of England and in Australia with a birth date on the picked date, into the Army you went. Britain was not involved in Vietnam, yet many Brits living in Australia got conscripted into National Service.

            Because Australia conscripted like the US, the Australian experience of Vietnam was very similar to the US experience. Because New Zealand only used regulars, their experience wasnt as nation spliiting. Interestingly Australia only used regulars in Korea and that police action largely flew under the radar.

            cam

      •  The draft and the 60's (none)
        Not everyone who opposed the war was for getting rid of the draft.  Many of us knew that it would much more difficult to get oppositon to a war with an all volunteer military.  In fact, the deferments that the upper and middle classes had available was often seen as allowing the politically connected to agree to the war without really thinking about it becaus they were not feeding their sons to the meat grinder.

        Jim Gundlach
        RA18621874

        eschew obfuscation

        by jimG on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:03:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The college kids. . . . (none)
      I'm in no postion even to guess about whether a universal draft would make the public more wary about going to war.  Cowalker, your point about "universal" drafts still hitting the working classes the hardest is well taken.

      But for what it's worth, my sense is that a universal draft would make at least group more anti-war: students.  

      In the run up to war at the beginning of last year, students--or at least the ones on my campus--weren't particularly hawkish and they weren't particularly dovish.  They were just massively self-absorbed.  If they had thought for one second that the war might mean more for them than a change in their after-school TV, they would have been marching along with the rest of us on the "loony left".

    •  It Doesn't Matter.... (none)
      "We'll all be dead...."

      George W. Bush 12/11/2003

    •  ..One thing this debacle will do... (none)
      ...is force at least some sort of serious discussion about the reality of our national decision making.  Why?  Because this is just starting to be the mess that its going to be and it will take years and years of time, money and lives to get some sort of meaningful peace in the area.

      My immediate question is how do we practically deal with what is happening in Iraq now given that we have no more troops and the ones there now are exhausted and crazed.  I think that Kerry's plan sounds good on paper, but realistically, I dont think that any country is going to send their troops into a massacre to help the US. So what does that mean for the US? When is what is happening over there really going to come out for full discussion? In my opinion and from what I have read, we are in position to have a four square humiliation - destabilizing the region, assuring radical islamic government in Iraq and lack of trust in anything that the US wants to do for the foreseeable future.  Also, what will this do to our military?  What lessons are they learning from this?

      I predict that as this summer unfolds its bloody promise, that the military leadership is going to give Pres a real surprise...this stuff is going to come out in spades about what is happening and this will assure his being voted out of office this fall.

  •  Wrong war for the wrong purpose (3.75)
    It is becoming obvious that Bush's war is what the Arabs always perceived it to be: a crusade against Islam, pure and simple.

    In ten years, Vietnam will look like a cakewalk compared to the general conflagration that will envelop us in the mideast. And whatever memorial get's built will honor far more dead soldiers than the Vietnam memorial.

    To those who supported a crusade against Islam and then say Bush Botched it, I say that there was no way to launch a crusade against Islam successfully. The whole enterprise runs against history and there is no point in killing and killing and killing again to protect the last Western colony in the middle east.

    •  Hold on. (none)
      To those who supported a crusade against Islam and then say Bush Botched it, I say that there was no way to launch a crusade against Islam successfully.

      I was never a war supporter, and I've never been terribly sympathetic to anyone who was, but I will say this: I think there's plenty of daylight between those who supported the war as part of a greater, semi-secret (at the time) crusade against Islam, and those who for whatever reason chose to pubicly accept the premise of the "threat" of WMD as justification for the war.

      Both were wrong, but I'm still far more comfortable in a room with the people who took a position that was wrong but at least within sight of reason. Crusaders I have nothing in common with.

      I don't know that Atrios is saying anything more than that, either. I have to at least nod in agreement with the folks who believe center-left war supporters aren't listening to them, and it's hard to even hold out hope that they ever will. But crusaders aren't even willing to be seen with them. I'll take the discussion with those who are willing to engage in debate any time. And you know where to find those people on your ballot.

  •  Our party helped (4.00)
    Kos, you're forgetting how much our party, the Democrats, helped enable this invasion. With few  exceptions (Kennedy, Byrd, and Barney Frank come to mind) they had no more courage or insight than the press.
  •  and this... (3.71)
    in a nutshell, is the problem i and many others have with Kerry. He should have known. He DID know.

    Unfortunately, now isn't the time to go shooting our allies, when we need them to fight this thrice-damned enemy. So i will vote for Kerry without a second's hesitation, but damned if i won't be holding my nose when i do it.

    Actually, this whole situation kinda sums up my feelings about Kerry. Honestly, i trust him to get us out of this mess as quickly and gracefully as he can manage, with at least one eye on the long-term consequences. That's the Vietnam veteran in him. I think he's a good guy for the current situation on the ground.

    On the other hand, he wasn't good enough to say "no" two years ago, when the drums of war were beating. That's the problem with Kerry... inside him there's a hero, but only when the bullets are flying past his ears. So he's a good man to have around in a crisis. But please, Goddess, don't give us more crisis!

    Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

    by Radical Middle on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:15:28 PM PDT

    •  "Thrice Damned Enemy"? (none)
      Damned by who?

      While I agree with all else you say, this was outrageous.

      So again, damned by who? Bush?  Falwell? You?

      I am tempted to ask if you are hearing voices.

      You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

      by mattman on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:49:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thrice Damned Enemy is Bushco, I think. (none)
        Reading Radical Middle in context, I understood him to be talking about Kerry as a political ally in the struggle to get his country back from the radical right.

        Er, we'd really like you guys to go back to being a GOOD influence on us.

        by Canadian Reader on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:07:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting how we agree . . . (none)
      I'm a right-leaner who voted for Bush last time (sorry!) -- and I'll bet Radical Middle and I don't agree on much.

      But we do agree that, once in the Oval Office, Kerry will work to extricate us as quickly as possible, but with an eye on the long term consequences.  The reason for my confidence:  he's a politician, and will be fending off criticims from left and right and motivated to keep the voters from viewing him as a screw up when 2008 rolls around.  

      •  Why? (none)
        This is not to be meant as an insult, but why did you vote for Bush? I am intrigued.
        •  My personal choice . . . (4.00)
          Like most people I voted to some extent on issues but looked heavily to the question "who do I think I can better trust to try to do the right things?"  

          On the issues, I lean R.  Still, I could be sold on a DNC Democrat; but Gore turned me off as a person.  I got the sense that he would say or do whatever best served his goal of getting elected.  I know it's petty, but the sighing off-camera thing during the debate turned me off.  Has this guy no sense of dignity?  Finally, I thought Clinton was all in all not very effective in one of his primary roles -- chief foriegn affairs and national security executive.  I figured Gore would hire most of the same folks, and continue similar policies.  

          Bush on the other hand struck me as a guy who, on big issues, would try to figure out the right thing to do and push for it even if the polls showed iffy public support.  I figured Bush was a guy who would stick to his guns, and not be blown all over the map by shifts in the polls.  And I think I have gotten roughly what I bargained for there.

          I had real questions about whether Bush's lack of experience would cause him to flap and drift around.  To me, he has done better on this score than I feared.  To the extent Bush has screwed up, I do not think inexperience has been the reason.

          Note -- I have shared this reply as a good faith answer to Genf's qestion.  The rest of you-all:  please resist the urge to give me a piece of your mind, no matter how much you think I need and deserve it!  

          •  Thank you...one more question. (none)
            Sorry, but you answered so nicely.

            I know you don't speak for all Republicans, but what do you think about this strategy of Dems "shifting" to the right to attract Repub. voters? Gore shifted to the right, why didn't this shift interest you?

            Okay that was more than one question. Answer, as you want.

            •  It 'did' interest me (none)
              Fairly or not, in the 80's, I viewed the Dems as hopeless doves, fiscally irresponsible, and constitutionally unable to tackle welfare reform.  Clinton, and Gore to an extent, went a long way to overcome these negatives.  

              The 'dove' thing hsa remained an issue for me.  Whatever one thinks of the current Iraq adventure, perhaps we can all agree that this is a dangerous world, and that even diplomatic solutions depend on us having the percieved will to use military force if necessary to protect our vital interests.  I have remained concerned that many of the D's have been tempted to cut military funding to increase domestic funding; and that many D's view the military with suspicion (a strange attitude to maintain when one is in charge of the military.  Congress can always keep the President from screwing up taxing/spending decisions too completely.  But the President has huge control over foriegen policy and national security.

              •  Scoop Jackson and Sam Nunn (none)
                Mark, you just needed to sign up with the right Democrats.  A little jaunt through history with either of the above named gents would have shown you that combining progressive ideas at home with a big stick (when justified) abroad were down the middle ideas with the Democratic Party.  I live in Henry Jackson's home town (Everett WA) and I have a hard time thinking he would ever have signed off on this one.
                •  Maybe we talked our selves into war (none)
                  For 8 years, Clinton made warlike noises about Saddam, and the UN joined the chorus.  And of course, a large congressional majority voted for the war.  It is quite debatable whether invading Iraq is a good idea, but the invasion was not a huge departure from the attitudes and policies the political class allowed themselves to voice (with whatever intentions) over the last decade.  To an extent, another illustration of the power of demogogey.
                  •  Maybe you talked your way (none)
                    Clinton's warlike noise equalled possibly dropping a cruise missile or two on a Saddam palace, not a ground invasion.

                    And a large congressional majority did NOT vote for the war.  They voted to let the President use his best judgement, and presumed better access to intelligence, to decide, after all diplomatic measures were exhausted, to go to war - not at all the same thing.  At the time it seemed that only credible threats of force would get UN Inspectors in with unfettered rights of entry everywhere.  And that seems to have been correct - UN Inspectors were allowed in, and in retrospect were doing a fine job.

                    Kerry's vote forced Saddam to allow Inspectors in.  And in a couple of months they would have demonstrated what we all now know to be true - Saddam has no deployable WMD.

                    Contrary to murmerings we hear from the Right, Saddam did not kick the Inspectors out, he did not even try hard to obstruct their work.  Bush yanked them out because he needed to get his war on before the Dog Days of June and July made the dash to Baghdad difficult or impossible.  The plan was to have this all over by Fall.  And it seems that the follupup was to be a ramp up for a 2004 jaunt into Syria.

                    Kerry did not vote to go to war.  And Bush made it clear that it was his war and his war only "I get to make the decision".

                    Sorry, there is no collective responsibility here.  Bush lied, GI's died

          •  Decisions, decisions... (none)
            Mark G, it's interesting that you evaluated the candidates on those criteria. It shows how thoroughly the Bush-Rove line penetrated your thinking at the time. You were impressed by those character traits that the Bush campaign played as strengths: resoluteness, sees the right thing and does it, sees the big picture. And you bought into the picture of Gore that the Rethugs pushed: no central core, defaults to the expedient position, and the biggest Rethug canard--weak on foreign policy.

            Of course, the same Bush character traits you bought could be described as stubborness, obtuseness, unresponsiveness, not being open to contrary viewpoints, aloofness and a lack of curiosity amounting to being almost brain-dead. Add in a streak of cruelty (remember Karla Fay Tucker?), avoidance of responsibility (Natl Guard non-service, business bailouts) and a juvenile tendency to demean others (stupid nicknames), and we've got the man sitting in the Oval Office today.

            •  Sounds to me as if Rove got to both of us! (none)
              I call it 'resoluteness', you call it "stubborness, obtuseness, unresponsiveness . . ."  -- but we are both seeing the same trait, just in a positive vs. negative light.
              •  Never! (none)
                Mark, I'm one of those people who couldn't pull the Republican lever if it killed me. During the 2000 campaign, I knew I didn't like Bush, although I wasn't thrilled with Gore's campaign. I thought Gore made too many mistakes due to an innate sense of caution. But my opinions on the issues could never embrace the Republicans' stance.
          •  Thanks to all (none)
            Replying to my own post just to say thanks to all the folks who, though no doubt disagreeing with me, were very kind -- and even gave me 4's.  

            I am a little ashamed of my 'don't flame me' tag.  I won't do that again.

            •  appreciate your sincerity (none)
              No need to apologize for the "don't flame me" comment.  People have been flamed here at dKos for "unpopular" sentiments honestly expressed.  I'm really glad people treated you respectfully in this thread.

              If, after dropping the "no-flames" request you are ever flamed in the future after yourself being thoughtful, sincere, but "dissentful" -- please don't leave dKos immediately in disgust.  Just try adding the same "don't flame me" wording you used here.  I very much welcome your voice, even if we may disagree on some important issues.  You are a great contributer.

              Hear it? The Oracle cries the demise of He-Who-Lies. And the rise... of civil America.

              by Civil Sibyl on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 01:48:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Genuine conversation :-) (4.00)
          I'm glad Genf asked and I'm especially glad that MarkG was comfortable enough and courageous enough to share his response.  Obviously many will disagree with his thinking - but he offers us a great gift - THIS is exactly the people that we need to reach and convince to vote Dem.

          the concerns and impressions are real.  
          The GOP has been very very adept at speaking to these voters - the Dems must be now.

          We need folks like this to form the sort of majorities it take - not just to get elected - but to implement policy changes.  

          It's also important, in my mind, not to have lockstep ideological purity - that is dangerous - regardless of who's ideology it is.  Only an environment where questions are not only permitted, but encouraged.  

          As I've often said - If I were in charge - things would be screwed up differently.   No one of us has all the right answers - and cults of personality lead to excess.

          I increasingly feel that Kerry is the right man at the right time for this country - maybe, just maybe - we can get beyond the hero worship and one liners and ingnite a new era of genuine political debate.

          the only thing that trickles down in a trickle down economy... is the bill.

          by its simple IF you ignore the complexity on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:24:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Pulling together a majority (none)
            I know that most folks here have a hard time seeing Bush as anything but an extreme; but his strategy, like Clinton's, Gore's, and now Kerry's, is to win the middle.  Bush's steps to sound centrist is to avoid past R's bitching about the NEA, don't bash the unions, don't bitch too loud when the Supreme Court says you can't arrest gays, keep generally quiet about abortion, push an a perscription drug benefit as far as you can without R congressmen revolting, etc.  Does Bush deserve a medal for any of this?  No -- he is just trying to stay in the middle.

            Kerry does not have to agree with Bush on everything; but if he disagres with Bush about most things, he has either moved off the middle -- or he has calculated better than Bush where the middle really is.

            Apart from issue politics:  isn't personality decisive 3 out of 4 times?  Folks talk about Bush "defining" Dukakis as a liberal, but in my book Dukakis' bigger problem is that he came across as a grumpy, superior, tight-a**.  Who wants to vote for a guy like that?  Same problem Dole had.  And a better personality would have put Gore in the White House today.

            •  I agree... (none)
              It is the old adage which came first the chicken or the egg?

               or:

              Was Clinton popular because of his centrist leaning or because he was damn charming?

              I'd have to vote for damn charming.

              •  Both (none)
                Don't most of us fist rule out candidates on the 'other side' of our litmus test issues, then vote based on personality -- whether the candidate seems trustworthy, conpetent, and well-intentioned?  To get elected, candidates have to minimize the number of voters who fule them out based on some litmus test.  Thus, for example, R candidates shut op about pressing an anti-aborton constitutional amendment or drastically curtailing affirmative action, and D's soften their stance on gun control and supporting gay marriage.
                •  So that leads to more questions... (none)
                  1. Kerry is shifting right on foreign policy i.e. Iraq and Isreal?
                  As a "republican" would this attract you to vote for him?

                  2. He is also shifting right on the economy more tax cuts.
                  Declaring that he is "not a redistribution Democrat," Senator John Kerry told a group of wealthy and well-connected supporters on Thursday that he would soon start an aggressive campaign to define himself as a centrist, in hopes of peeling moderate Republicans from President Bush.

                  As a "republican" would this attract you to vote for him?

                  3. Kerry has already softened his stance on gun-control and gay marriage, the only thing he has not back down on is abortion.
                  As a "republican" would this attract you to vote for him?

                  Sorry to use you as a guinea pig, but I am just not convinced that these shifts to the right actually do anything but piss off the base. I do not see Bush shifting to the left. In fact he is going further to the right.

                  So the REAL question is wouldn't be more effective to be a "centrist" within the Democratic Party than a centrist between the Republican and Democratic parties??

                  •  Guinea Pig (none)
                    Several reactions -- A candidate gets credit only for positions people believe he/she is really committed to.   I take Kerry's campaign positions with a grain of salt, to the extent I doubt (1) the sincerity of his commitment or (2) his ability to deliver any results.  As an illustration, folks took Bush's AIDS initiatives with a grain of salt, doubting his sincerity; and should question both candidates' (not feasible) promises to launch big new spending initiatives while simultaneously balancing the budget.

                    That said, many of the positions you list would, in theory, make Kerry more attractive to me than otherwise.  Exceptions:  I am not an NRA type and have no issue with gun control beyond by lawyerly concern that we may not be execricing a proper level of respect for the text and history of the Second Amendment (I don't know enough about that to be dogmatic; y'all take your disagreements to Gene Volokh).  Also, I have no conceptual problem with taxing the 'rich.'  Unless there is some economic benefit I do not appreciate, I think the President's inclme tax cut should have left the top bracket alone, or at least created a new "really rich" bracket, at the top rate established under Clinton. (Inheritance tax is too big for this reply)

                    Finally, I think Kerry's focus on 'outsourcing' -- unless he really favors economic isolationism -- is mostly grandstanding, and that his corporate tax proposals aimed at 'Benedict Arnold' corporatons will on balance hurt American job seekers more than it helps them.

                    I am puzzled by Kerry's effort to tell a rich audience that he is not a 'redistribution Democrat.'  Obviously no president of either party (distinct from Ralph Nader) is going to adopt an agressive policy of soaking the rich:  the measures under serious debate will impact the rich only moderately.  And on those measures -- the top income tax bracket, capital gains, and inheritance tax -- Kerry not only sides against the 'rich,' but bashes Bush for pandering to them.  Probably a necessary theme for Kerry to win; but it makes his 'not a redistributionist' remarks seem a bit hollow.  

                    Finally, with some trepidation, I will touch on gay marriage.  I have seroius reservations about court decisions striking down state laws as unconstitional, finding that long standing majoriarian ideas of decency do not provide even a "rational basis" for state legislation.  Taken to its logical conclusion, this view would leave states no power to regulate any behavior not proved to be harmful to others.  And if this view is not to be taken to its logical conclusion, the courts, in my view, are simply making political (=legislative) decisions, and using constitutional analysis as a pretext.  A small illustration -- in ruling that the Massachusetts constitution requires that gay couples be free to marry, the court made a point of saying it was not overturning other limitations on marriage, such as the rule against allowing first cousins to marry.  What is the 'rational basis' for that?  If two gay guys want to get married, but happen to be first cousins, what basis does the Court have for standing in their way -- apart from the historical majoritarian sense that it is not 'decent' for cousins to marry.  A good libertarian would say that the Courts should/ throw out all laws not designed to stop people from hurting their neighbors; but I am not a libertarian.  (Not a Nazi either).

                    I am absolutely not trying to pick a fight with anyone on this issue.  And I do believe in 'privacy rights' of a constitutional magnitude, which may be burdened only to vindicate a 'compelling state interest.'  But that is not the analysis being applied by the latest decisions.

                    Bottom line:  the positions voiced by Kerry would enable me to vote for him in theory:  but Bush is staking out many of the same positions more credibly.  And again, I do not think Kerry is a very appealing human being.  My assessment is that neither clintin nor Bush would never have said of his Secret Service agent "that son of a bitch knowcked me over."  No posturing, really -- that remark made me think Kerry is a nasty, petty guy.

                    •  THANK YOU!!!!!! (none)
                      Whew!!!!

                      I really really appreciate your remarks.

                      As a lifetime Democrat looking in the face of another Bush term, I am having a hell of a time coming to grips with Kerry. Because, I just don't like the guy. You are right he is nasty and petty. Clinton could get away with taking candy from a baby and everyone would cheer.

                      Although, it seems slight the cursing of the SS guy but it was very telling. Also, the moment Kerry  knew he had the nomination sewn up he went on a rampage trying to purge anyone who worked with Dean from the Democratic Party. That is in it's self showed he was a weak petty man.

                      I could go on and on about what he did during the primaries, but as many people have noted the only way they can sell Kerry is to say that he is not Bush.

                      •  You are too kind (none)
                         . . but you are welcome.

                        I think one problem is that we the people have let presidential politics turn into such a snake pit that smart, capable decent people hesitate to run -- leaving us to choose among 'professional politicians, who too often are not the best our country has to offer.

  •  Stop, you're falling into a trap. (4.00)
    "all it took was a cursory glance at the history of Iraq and a dash of good ol' fashioned (and apparently out of fashion) common sense to see the various ways things could go wrong."

    You're playing right into the neo-con game, pondering, speculating, weighing the evidence about which country we should or shouldn't invade.

    Invading another country for no better reason than intellectual speculation is insane.  I don't need to know any of the particulars to know that.  

    •  Reason is not a sign of madness (none)
      And reason would have lead us to see the salient points of interest.
    •  woah there (none)
      In case Sterling's point wasn't clear, there was no indication at all that kos was contemplating invading another country for "no better reason than intellectual speculation."

      Instead, the suggestion was that despite the official reasons given for invasion (protection from WMDs, etc.) and despite other reasons that one might have considered (stop human rights abuses, etc.) it should have been clear to anyone who studied Iraq that this is a fragile nation that does not hang together easily. That means it was never plausible that we could just remove Saddam and leave a stable nation. There were further problems with rosy scenarios about leaving behind a democracy, about not appearing as a conquering invader, about having sufficient numbers of troops to keep the peace, and so on.

      •  Other issue (4.00)
        it should have been clear to anyone studying Iraq that the two reasons we are granting people it was "understandable" to harbor were also false:

         - there was ample evidence that no WMDs existed, and there was an entire global movement that had been arguing such since about 1996-97.   By 1998 this was absolutely true, so true that even Scott Ritter (no peacenik, he)was turned around.

         - there was also ample material that no on-going hr crisis existed and people who understand the struggle for humanitarian rights know first and foremost that you don't improve human rights by going to war.  

        These are both comfortable screen people have chosen to hide their ignorance behind.  They look good on the outside and provide acceptable cover for the lack of thinking/understanding that rests at the bottom of their piles of rationalizations.

        Each of those rationales grows from a huge pot of US hubris and arrogance.

        "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

        by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:43:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  certainly (none)
          the reasons for war themselves were suspect and fell apart under scrutiny. I was just keeping my focus on the statement by Kos that Mr. Sugar decided to rip into.

          I don't know that I'd say there was no "on-going" human rights crisis, though. There were hr serious abuses every day by the Baath leadership. Yes, there's hypocracy in regarding this as a crisis but not similar situations in other nations, but that's another matter.

      •  I didn't think it would be feasible either; but (none)
        I dislike talking about the feasibility of an policy that's crazy for reasons much larger than feasibility.  The policy of 'preventive' war is insane even if the war in question really is  going to be easy.  To my ears, talking about feasibility gives the impression of legitimizing the idea of preventive war.
    •  agreed (none)

      Besides, Saddam could have been lobbing nerve gas over the border in all directions ... and still, the countries of the middle east would have sooner had steel spikes driven through all their major orifices before inviting the US to send troops in.  They don't like us, and I imagine that they are reasonably confidant they can handle their own problems.

      Look at it this way.  Korea was a debacle for the US side of the cold war.  Vietnam was similarly pear shaped.  The third border where the USSR was trying to spread their brand of authortarianism through armed invasion was Afganistan.  Afganistan won.  They lost no territory and made few, if any, concessions, to the USSR.  Soak that one in.  They're one of the few (only?) minor power to thwart the invasion attempts of a superpower.  Korea went communist.  Vietnam went communist.  Afganistan sent the communists running for it.

      Be it good, be it bad, there are groups in the middle east that definately have the Will to Power and the will to fight.  After dealing with the likes of the USSR, Iraq would be a cakewalk.

  •  Military pay (3.66)
    Instead, we have a professional army isolated, culturally and literally, from the vast majority of the American public.

    And being paid so little that their familes are getting help from food banks...

    read story from last Friday's NOW

    Our side must continue to expose that GWB is not on the side of military families. The administration clearly does not value their service very much, or the wounded would not initially have been treated like rats in a warehouse.

    •  Republican philosophy. (none)
      We pay our "contractors" quite handsomely.

      As you well know, Republican doctrine tells us that such "contractors" are obviously harder working and more productive than our soldiers, and frankly it's time for them to get off the public dole and apply themselves in the private sector. Paying these people with public funds and passing out free government cheese is only creating a culture of dependency.

      •  Flame on (none)
          the four Fallujah mercs show that the private sector can turn a dicey situation into hell on earth.  Even if they were delivering free government cheese to a nonexistent hotel. (Yeah this is satire, and what the hell were they doing?)
    •  That's just twisting the knife, really (none)
      I'm already completely beside myself over these young people dying for an ignoble bunch of assholes and their greed, and then to learn of military families getting food from a food bank, well that's just too fucking much.
      •  Yeah, it's pretty cold (none)
        Hang tough. I've been pretty freaked out too lately and it's a common condition. The good news is (I hope) that lots of people who don't blog are seriously concerned as well.

        A lot of my friends (mostly Democrats) are coming to a lot of the same conclusions that people here are...as for Republicans, well, God bless them.

  •  How could it have happened? (4.00)
    I am trying to figure out how this could have happened.  As you say, Kos, this was so utterly predictable.  And even if it wasn't absolutely certain, it was certainly far more likely than the rosy predictions of the administration.

    Who is responsible for making Iraq into a disaster area and perhaps the world's worst terrorism incubator?  Certainly everyone in the Bush administration.  But I charge Colin Powell most of all.  He knew better and he went along.  A timely resignation and opposition would have been true to his principles, have saved the lives of hundreds of soldiers, saved the army he had worked for and maybe even saved his reputation.  But he clearly lied and knew he was doing it.  For shame!

    The press was complicit in exactly the same kind of way.  Unwilling to face down the administration, concerned above all with their careers, reporters just went along.  Someone recently said that the more difficult time the press was giving Bush now was a result of its own "self-loathing" for its complicity.  I hope so, for loathing is certainly deserved.

    Let us just hope that somebody has learned a lesson and that Bush's days as president are numbered.

    •  Powell principles? (4.00)
      Why do you assume Powell has principles? Because he has politics closer to your own? Isn't it possible for someone to share your personal politics and still be a lying opportunist?
      •  Yes, but... (none)
        ...IMO we should give respected leaders the benefit of the doubt until proof is offered otherwise. Though I must admit, his speech before the UN prior to the war was a downright disgraceful performance. --M

        "If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head."  -- Winston Churchill

        by maynard on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:29:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Carl, What I meant .... (4.00)
        was that he had principles, at least once upon a time.  Those principles involved a perception of the limited capacities of military force and the limited circumstances in which it should be applied (not present here).  According to Woodward (I believe), Powell made the risks of invading Iraq clear to Bush, but was ignored.  It is Powell's knowing abandonment of his own views, in the sole interest, as near as I can tell, of his career, that I hold against him.  I mean, I think I was pretty extreme saying he was worse than Rumsfeld, Perle, and Wolfowitz.  But I make him worse because they had no principles and/or were simply deluded.  But he knew it was wrong and went along.

        I think you and I may actually agree.

        •  Powell's culpability is especially horrible. (none)
          I, too, place a special blame on Colin Powell for abandoning everything he had built his career upon. Had he resigned and spoken out prior to the war resolution vote, when it was already apparent within the administration that the neocons had Bush in their palms and we would go to war, that vote might not have passed. We would not be in Iraq now and we would not be on the brink of a generation of conflict and increasing terrorism.

          Powell mistook loyalty to his oath to defend the nation and its constitution for loyalty to the person of the president. When the time came for the most courageous, but logical, decision of his career, he choked.

        •  Google 'Powell Doctrine' (none)
          Or click on this Powell Doctrine .  Note the emphasis on 'exit strategy'.  I have David's back on this one - Powell knew.  Not 9/11 but the dangers of throwing US troops into a no-win operation.
      •  I had respect for Powell (none)
        up until the UN presentation, when he presented a load of horseshit. Everybody knew it, except possibly the Friedman-ites, and maybe they did too.
        •  Yes, (none)
          That performance was entirely shameful.
        •  Powell Can Go Right To Hell! (3.80)
          He lied when his country needed him MOST to tell the truth.

          Had he refused to lie, perhaps this horror might not have happened. But we'll never know, now will we?

          A lot of people believed him and now a lot of people are DEAD because of him.

          So, hang this around his neck until HE dies.

          You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

          by mattman on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:56:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And Carl, (none)
        I think my impulse to hold Powell most accountable is not so different than your view that many Democrats cannot be let off the hook.  There is something more blameworthy in the complicity of those who know better, or who should know better, and whose objections might have had some force.
    •  Giving Powell a break = racism (none)
      I don't mean to pick on you, because a lot of us somehow thought Powell was miraculously going to do the right thing.  But there's really no tangible evidence of his being a decent person.  The only reason I can think that we cut him slack is that he's Black, so somehow we think he's automatically going to be morally superior.  That's my theory, anyway.  

      Incidentally, it was his speech to the U.N. security council that convinced me this administration was completely and irredeemably corrupt, like a festering sore.  It was just so full of crap.

       

      •  Powell (none)
        I think the reason he gets so mch slack is that he was totally viewed as a moderate before 2000. Everybody on both sides held him in high regard.

        At this point, he looks like very moderate in comparison to the rest of the loony bin Administration. (I still wonder if he actually has had any moderating influence on our foreign policy; world leaders seem to respect him more than the others.)

        •  In what way does Powell seem moderate? (none)
          I'm not trying to be argumentative; I just don't see it.  I mean, sure, Powell doesn't smirk or say things like "bring it on," but he's done as much damage as any of them.  And look at the son he raised!  
          •  Perception vs. Reality (none)
            I don't really see it either, that's just the perception. I think he's more of an enabler than an initiator, but it's hard to tell. Maybe he likes playing good cop. (And good point about his son, I'd forgotten about that.)

            But he does seem to have some sort of....I don't know, gravitas maybe, that the rest don't have. (As you say, the no-"bring it on"/trash talk manner he has is refreshing when compared to Rumsfeld.) I think that's why he was the one who went to the UN. Maybe it just means he's a better bullshitter, who knows. Maybe it's the veteran thing (although I understand he was involved in My Lai somehow or another).

      •  Is that me (none)
        you're not picking on, Tomato O.?  I'm not sure whether I thought Powell was a "decent person" or not.  But I did think he had developed an actual principled view about when and how wars should be fought, the area in which he is an expert (if he is expert in any).  Had nothing to do with race; I would have thought the same of Schwarzkopf.  And I doubt that I agree much politically with either.

        But given what I think was true, that Powell actually had a viewpoint that what the administration was planning was wrong, I really hold it against him that he did not do something.  In my view it makes him more, not less, culpable than the others, because he sold out for nothing at all.  In short, I thought he was the professional among a bunch of amateurs; and he didn't act it.

         

        •  He's guilty! (none)
          Yep, I agree, and I'm having a very difficult time with those who went along to get along.  I've been writing various elected officials and columnists for months and months, telling them that they need to come clean, and after they are finished feeling suicidal over what they've done, they need to work every minute of their lives to make this right.
  •  Let's avoid internecine war (4.00)
    I agreed with you, Kos, on the war, but I think it is counterproductive and probably not accurate to lump in center-left types who supported the war (or withdrew their support when it was too late).  Although I disagreed with them and agree that you just don't go around casually invading other countries because you think you might be able to do some good, I thought there were two liberal principles they could point to:
    1.  Ending the sanctions regime, and
    2.  WMD Nonproliferation.
    We now know that the thought that number 2 was a goal of the war was a fraud.  People like me suspected it all along, but I have a hard time criticizing other people for having believed it at the time.

    So I don't think it is fair, accurate or productive to lump in leftist war supporters as part of the "Explosions are cool!" crowd.  We need solidarity and I would be happy with just an acknowledgment from the leftist pro-war types that the anti-war crowd was right, and let's move on to a discussion of how the hell to get out of this mess.

    •  I don't think (4.00)
      Kos was trying to link people like Josh Marshall or Matt Yglesias with the "war porn" crowd. Yglesias at least admitted he was wrong, but he's still trying to claim that the anti-war voices were wrong too, which is irritating. Not every single anti-war prediction has come true, but a whole bunch of them have (including most of the main points) and I suspect that some of them may yet prove true, now with the Sharon plan being endorsed by Bush.

      So when does WWIII start? On one side we have America and Israel, and on the other we have the Islamic world. I think Europe is on our side, although we don't act like it. How about Russia? China? Seriously, I feel like it's about 1912 right now.

      I'm not necessarily an isolationist, but sometimes I think the only way to deal with anything that's going on right now is to just withdraw everything from the Middle East altogether, focus on alternative energy sources, and quit fucking with the rest of the world.

      •  Don't hold your hopes (3.00)
        Too high.
        If the Islamic world makes open moves at World war against "the West", targetting Europe as well as Israel and the US, the Europeans will do what the Americans did in Decembre 1941. If the Likud or Bush decides to blow stuff up everywhere in the Middle East and goes to total war against Islam, most of Europe will sit on its hands looking at these fools killing each other, since frankly, a world where both Islam and US will be weakened can only benefit the EU.
        The US helped European countries in WW I and II because they were victims of aggression. Europe would help the US when they are victims of aggression (which explains the huge support after 9/11 and the wide coalition against Afghanistan); going after Iraq was none of this, and going after Syria or Iran isn't an answer to these countries attacking the US.
        There will be a few countries that will follow the US whatever they do, but anyone can see that this group is quickly decreasing.

        Note that in case of massive regional war in Middle East, the US will be forced to develop alternative energy sources because the main source of oil will be cut.

      •  There's not way to read (none)
        Kos' post and not think that he was lumping everyone in with the "explosions are cool" idea. It was sad to see Atrios a sore winner, turning rhetorical fire on people who generally agree with him, and it's even sadder to see Kos do the same.

        It's also see Kos pretend that the policy of leaving Saddam alone had no costs or consequences and to see him act as if sanctions could have gone on forever. Or maybe he was in favor of lifting sanctions, acting as if Iraq were just another state in the global system, and watching it become an inheritable dictatorship.

        With this childish "nyah-nyah we were right" post Kos ignores all the reasons Iraq was a real and difficult problem in foreign policy. I'm disappointed; I'd expected more from him.

    •  Please (4.00)
      Look, that's all well and good, but it's bullshit. It wasn't some random reason I opposed the war, I actually read some Iraqi history and a history of the Iraqi Army. Once I did that, this all had a sad, familiar ring to it

      The pro-war people WERE wrong. I don't really give a shit about their politics. They endorsed a war which has killed 699 Americans to no effect. The CPA is getting mortared every day. Our supply lines are cut.

      It's all good and well to do mea culpas, but the evidence that this would happen was around in December 2002. Ken Pollack's book was a joke and filled with crap you could refute on Google. Yet, Josh Marshall and the rest embraced it. Even though he was humiliated on Oprah by Jessica Matthews. As was Tom Friedman.

      It's a little late now to ask for a do-over. They chose their side and now they have to live with it.

      •  Yglesias (none)
        I did think it was proper of Yglesias to frankly admit that he was wrong (I don't think Josh Marshall has, has he?), but as with Steve, the post grated a bit. He explained his error as do to vanity, wanting to have a more sophisticated position than the silly in the streets anti-war crowd. It's easier for an intellectual like Yglesias to admit to a personal failing like vanity that to a purely intellectual failing. But Steve is right: they did not think it through, did not read enough, did not do the intellectual work. So for me while I did appreciate the apology, it didn't quite ring true.
      •  On Oprah? (none)
        Really?  On Oprah?  I must have missed that one.
      •  I sat on the fence for a long time... (none)
        I was undecided for months during the run-up to the war. I didn't have to know a lot about Iraq's history to know that invasion would be a horrible undertaking fraught with peril and geopolitical downsides.

        BUT...I also worried about the WMD situation. So I waited to hear the evidence. Surely, I said, if what the administration is charging is true, they will provide some incontrovertable evidence. And I waited and waited. And I realized that all I was hearing, even in Powell's U.N. speech, were allegations, not proof. All through that fall and winter the allegations got louder and louder, but there was no real proof.

        That's when I knew it was bogus, but by then troops were being transported and it was evident that nothing would dissuade Bush from the war he wanted.

        •  WMD? Was ALWAYS A Buncha Crap (none)
          I knew from the get go that the WMD was a load of horseshit.

          But for anyone who did believe that there was a damned simple cure for that.

          Put a PERMANENT inspection team over there in Iraq.

          Find em? THEN unholster your gun if Saddam did not destroy them inmmediately.  Been a whole lot cheaper and smarter.

          I KNEW it from the begginning and how the Bushie's "fooled" so called intellectuals is beyond me.

          Many good antiwar folk were shouting this from the rooftops - and if you didn't see the truth of that, then YOU sure as hell didn't fool me.

          The prowar folks didn't WANT to see that when a blind man could have.  So, they wanted to be fooled.

          Old Indian saying "You cannot wake someone who is pretending to be asleep."

          You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

          by mattman on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 07:53:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  what's wrong (3.50)
        that I see is that even those here for eg who as a huge majority opposed the war on Iraq, the language used still clearly promotes American interests over Iraqi lives.

        For eg, Kos and others talking about the (military, political) history of Iraq as points for and against invading, reinforces that the invasion and destruction of Iraq by overwhelming military force is some distant and event that Americans (and western allies) feel no real connection to. Have no real understanding of the consequences that the Iraqis are paying.

        This is then further compounded by the constant emphasis on the loss of American life, the military wounded and the insufficient support for their families.

        There are at least 20,000 dead Iraqis to 700 dead Americans. That's more than 28 dead civilians for every American soldier. No-one even knows the figures for Iraqi wounded. Whole Iraqi villages, towns, cities have been substantially destroyed. There sure as f*k isn't any nice food bank for a lot of Iraqi families.

        The whole country is now riddled with depleted uranium, leaving a horrifying legacy for years to come, as we saw from the first gulf war -  a war and subsequent sanctions that much of IRaq had yet to recover from.

        The argument against this war should come from the position of the *primary victims, and that is the Iraqi people. Not the American military, who ultimately caused the deaths of the Iraqi civilians.  

        The world thankfully is not black and white, and there is room to mourn for the American dead as well as the Iraqi dead; but it smacks continually of a pervasive and dreadful racism? bigotry?  - they are not really the words I want, but I can't think of better - when the consequences of this shocking war are talked of here only in terms of what it has cost Americans.

        America wasn't invaded, riddled with DU, had thousands of civilians killed, and its assets sold off to the highest fat-cat-corporation bidder.

        Fianlly it smacks of people still trying to prove to some insidious pro-war "them" out there that they can talk the hard stuff, can talk 'realpolitick' when all that is mentioned is the American dead and war deficit. Stop pandering.

    •  Straw man (none)
      Defending the principle of going to war to rid Saddam of his WMD is a straw man argument, as I suggest at bopnews. It's obvious now, as it was before the war, that there are better things to do with our resources if we cared about proliferation. Like focus on Pakistan, and finishing the Afghan war.

      We'd be a lot better off trying to figure out the real reasons BushCo went to war, assessing those reasons on the merits (some of them do have merit, even if they could be accomplished by more effective means), and finding a solution that can address those real reasons rather than trying to continue to defend the WMD excuse.

      •  From a fellow bopster (4.00)
        The key point in Marcy's piece is that there were real reasons the neo-cons wanted to go into Iraq. These reasons were, in fact, stated - but in places that only right wingers were going to read. And no one believed that policy would go from right wing think tank to implementation, by passing the entire mechanism of conversation. Or at least, no one with enough credibility to stop it.

        And this is what is important: the right wing has been destroying the conversation, destroying discourse, with a relentless attack on universities and the press - to make it conform to their idea of what universities and the press should be for: to teach the dogma promulgated by a few "elite" thinkers. This is, of course, traceable as an idea to Leo Strauss - the real founder of the neocon philosophy, such as it is.

        This process - of unvetted, and untested, policy being imposed isn't new. It is how we got "supply side economics" - which was cobbled together by a bunch of jorunalists out of some work done by Mundell - and sold for completely different reasons.

        Politics as product doesn't work, and Iraq is the culminating example that it is time for this particular order to come to an end. It's had almost 25 years, and all it has managed to do is borrow its way to the point where it needs to go questing for wars to keep itself going.

        •  Let's not leave out 9/11 (4.00)
          Perhaps I am being naive, but I don't think this administration could have pushed this war through without 9/11. They wanted to do it before 9/11, but it was the nationalist response to 9/11 and its intimidating effect on the moderate liberal to moderate conservative center and indeed the whole SCLM that made this possible. I remember when Katha Pollitt wrote that Nation column objecting to her daughter flying the American flag and saying it was the flag of war and imperialism (I'm quoting from memory here but something like that), I thought she'd gone overboard. I thought the flying of flags in my neighborhood was a healthy patriotic response. Now I'm inclined to think she was right and I was wrong, adn that there was a line connecting the flying of those flags and the invasion of Iraq. What do people think?
          •  9-11 (none)
            I think you're absolutely right.
          •  I struggled with that (none)
            on the one hand - if "we" don't fly the flag - we cede a powerful symbol to the far right - I don't want to do that - damnit it's my flag too - and should be a symbol of all that's right with this nation - one I love enough to stand up for...

            in 10/03 or so Doonsebury had a great cartoon where the liberal radio host is happy that the flag was once again a symbol for all americans, not just republicans - the conservative in the strip was taken aback and said something like "yeah, yeah, it's great - but, um - we may want it back..."

            Symbols are tricky things - and if, upon looking down my block - my flag is seen as an endorsement of their policy - then, well, yeeeargh.  I have the same problem with my faith - symbols of Christianity have been co-opted by the far right.  I don't want to give them up - but I also don't want to be percieved as endorsing them.  Something I struggle with.

            On the flag  - I settled on flying the 13 star circle flag, along side either a Don't tread on me or a POW/MIA flag.  I find this deepens the symbolism.  This IS the greatest nation on eath - flaws and all - but the ideals and values that make the US so great are sadly the very things the Bush administration is currently trampling.

            Time to take our country - and it's symbols - back.

            the only thing that trickles down in a trickle down economy... is the bill.

            by its simple IF you ignore the complexity on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:23:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not the flag per se (none)
              I wasn't so much interested in the flying of the flag itself, but what sentiment it was conveying. My sense at the time was that it was conveying a sense of civic solidarity at a moment of tragedy, uncertainty and challenge. What I came to feel is that sentiment was there but mixed with a rather chauvinistic nationalism embodied in the sentiment "This IS the greatest nation on earth", a statement that if taken to its logical conclusions implies the Bush foreign policy of granting priority to the policies of the greatest nation on earth. The US is one good nation among many and should behave as such.
          •  Keep the flag, dump the President (none)

            In a just world, the American flag, under which British imperialism was repelled twice, slaves were freed, Europe liberated and Germany and Japan redeemed, would not be property of the Right.  Crimes were committed as well, but that goes for every flag on the face of the earth.  If life were fair, Bush's flag would be the axe and fasces, not the Stars and Stripes.

            It's bad enough that the right wing has the White House, the Congress, most of the States and is one Justice from getting the Supreme Court.  Must we also surrender our flag to them?

    •  Excellent (4.00)
      This "I told you so" exercise that kos and atrios are engaging in is simply not productive nor, if I may say, very cool.

      Yes we were right.  Now Yglesias acknowledges that and he gets -- brickbats back?

      Why not say I glad you realize that now instead of saying you should have known then.

      I mean, from kos especially, who supported Edwards after Dean dropped, there is something of a disconnect here.

      •  It depends on the weather, I think. (none)
        Or maybe something else. Hey, I'm still puzzled by the warm embraces for Arianna Huffington. And yet, I see your point and probably would have blurted out the same thing if I was on the spot.

        So I guess that means that worrying too much about whether or not this is very cool isn't all that cool, either. Depending, of course.

        •  Cool? (none)
          No, but I think timely in that we are trying to build coalitions, on Markos is the best at that, the best - he bridges many points of view here, despite the nonsense you hear from Wingnuts, and brings us to common cause - electing Dems.

          This seems out of character.

          •  This is the same debate we always have here. (none)
            Well, before I go on, I'll just say that I'm not entirely ready to come to rest on one side or another of this question myself.

            But that said, Kos does a lot of things here. Building bridges is one of the better things, I'll agree. But bridges aren't worth much if you don't cross them once complete. There are two competing theories of how to exploit this kind of reversal, which I blathered about in some other poor soul's diary just a moment ago. You can take a conciliatory and welcoming stance in the hopes of building mutual trust and strengthening bonds for the future, in the hopes that next time they'll turn to you for your input. Or you can throw your full weight against the door the moment they crack it, taking history as your guide in guessing that they're never going to show you anything more than that crack.

            Personally, I would have to admit being partial to the bridge building theory, although we all know that there are plenty among the dKos constituency willing to raise hell in condemning it. And of course, Kos has to maintain his bridges to that part of his constituency, too.

            So in many ways it's the same game all over again. Last time it erupted over fundraising for the DNC, and Kos went with the bridge builders. So now, the door crashers are due for one.

            •  Ok (none)
              Markos doing some bridge building.  I like that.
            •  I'm not that calculating (none)
              War is a seperate issue for me than pure electoral politics. Politics is about building coalitions, yes. But war ...

              Donating money to the DNC is one thing. Advocating policies that will send people to their deaths is another. Not that non-Veterans can't argue for war. But to do so without real evidence, and so, well, flippantly, is infuriating to me.

              So I'm not interested in building bridges on this issue. I'm interested on impressing on people the need to tread carefully when war is at stake.

              •  He's unconsious! He's in the zone! (none)
                If every bridge built by politicians was built consciously and calculated in advance, we'd never have done something as stupid as jump into this war with both feet.

                If I had to guess, I'd say probably less than half of political plays later adjudged to be "brilliant," or even just well thought out, were really planned the way they came out.

                I think it's also true that political analysis and punditry, like literary and artistic criticism, is all about assigning motives after the fact -- backfilling explanations that fit events that have already unfolded, often for completely different reasons.

                You probably think you didn't calculate this, but my spin works so much better for political junkies, who see calculation in everything, that by next week what I've said will be true and you'll be getting questions on Air America asking how you're able to walk such a fine line and keep each of your disparate constituencies so thoroughly charmed.

      •  Warning: venting (4.00)
        This "I told you so" exercise that kos and atrios are engaging in is simply not productive nor, if I may say, very cool.

        Yes, there is some I told you so-ism going on over here, but you know what? Fuck it. We were right. I am glad that Marshall and Yglesias and Drum reversed themselves eventually, but c'mon, they weren't just wrong, they got duped.

        They endorsed a war. The arguments presented for the war were not built on solid ground. The facts were broadly known at the time. Collectively, we (the anti-war left) pointed this out, and got ridiculed, admonished, warned, accused, browbeaten, ostracized, and worst of all ignored. I got called a Saddam-lover many times over the last two years, and frankly I resented it at the time and I still resent it. Now that we've made a complete mess of Iraq, it's my problem too, even though I wanted nothing to do with it. That makes me angry, and I'm not inclined to just dismiss the fact that some people should have known better. If they're on my side now, good for them, we'll need all the help we can get for sure, and I don't want to alienate them.

        On the other hand, I think Kos and Atrios and other anti-war voices should have the opportunity to remind people of this. Imagine: if every neocon circlejerk fantasy had come true, we on this side would have our good names impugned for years and years. Cowards, traitors, seditious, you name it. But since we were right and not the hawks, we're supposed to be magnaminous about it.

        Right.

        Anyway, not yelling at you, Armando, and I'm not angry with people like Yglesias anymore. But I'm not going to let people just ignore everything that's happened over the last couple years.

        (P.S. I'm a pacifist. I take all manner of shit about this constantly--not here, but in the real world. Suddenly, there's an incredible amount of cognitive dissonance going around as it dawns on everyone that the doves/hippies/pacifists/whatever actually might know what they're talking about occasionally. It flies in the face of CW for the last, what, 40 years?)

        •  Were you against Afghaninstan? Were you (4.00)
          one of the people protesting Clinton going after Osama?

          The people supporting Iraq were wrong, but to some extent, people like Matt Y jumped with them, because the anti-war left has been against everything all the time.

          Signal to noise ratio is important.

          •  Good point (none)
            and one which I suppose I should address.

            I was very very angry after 9/11, and for about a month, yeah, I thought let's bomb those fuckers. I'm still ambivalent about Afghanistan. I think overall, net good could have been (but has not been) acheived in Afghanistan. Whether invading actually could have helped, well, who knows.

            Clinton shooting cruise missiles during the impeachment crisis, no, I can't say I was happy about that. How many missiles was that? 4 or 5? That doesn't constitute the sort of undertaking Iraq was, or even Kosovo (which I'm also ambivalent about).

            But in general, yes, I'm a pacifist. No matter how tedious or ridiculous diplomacy gets, it's still better than bullets and bombs. There's an African proverb--"when the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers."

          •  Afghan War, You Ask? (none)
            You bet I was against the Afghan war.

            If you need to ask why, take a good, hard HONEST look at Afghanistan today and tell me how well things turned out!

            Did we stop Al Queda and get Osama and put a lid on terrorism?  Is Afghanistan a funtional democracy?

            Someday, you are just gonna have to learn that bombing is not the answer.

            The ONLY reason we are not in deeper shit there than we are is that the Russians did the heavy lifting before we went in.

            And now I just can't see how we are not closer to Armgeddon then before.

            You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

            by mattman on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 08:17:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm a pacifist... (4.00)
            ...I was against the invasion of Afghanistan, and I did not support Clinton's attacks on a pharmaceutical factory, or whatever that turned out to be.

            I'm against war.  It's not the way civilized people should resolve their difference.  It means killing a fucking lot of innocent people and I never like that.

            Yeah, I guess this is why people think I have no credibility:  Because I am willing to realize what war is.  It's killing.

            --Kynn

            •  Thank goodness (none)
              I'm against war.  It's not the way civilized people should resolve their difference.  It means killing a fucking lot of innocent people and I never like that.

              Bingo!

              I'm a pacifist and I'm really tired of being acccused of all sorts of things because of that stance, especially because nobody takes a pacifist stance because it's cool or something. A gun does one thing: kill. That's the only thing it's good for. Same with a military: it kills. That's what it's there for. We're approaching the half-trillion dollar mark in spending per annum on "defense." (What the hell are we defending?)

              Someone else noted there's a lot of "I'm a pacifist, but....." on this thread. It's okay, folks....I believe that if homo sapiens could get past slavery, we can get past war.

        •  Want to be clear (none)
          I was anti-Iraq War from the moment it was first mooted.

          For all the reasons mentioned, but most particularly for the realpolitik reasons that it was a disastrous strategic mistake.

          Look, if this is gone in  a day or two, fine.  Let's hope that is so.

        •  They didn't just "get duped" however (4.00)
          They were taken in by their own arrogance and need to "appear knowledgable" and "on the inside".  Look at what they say: anti-war protesters are "kooky" and don't know anything.  "Tell people to get off the street and engage in something pragmatic and practical".  

          That's not just being duped, its a willingness to accept from the beginning certain premises upon which their own careers and stars are balanced while dismissing very valid and in many many cases very knowledgable constiutencies.  

          The culture of expertise which simply dismisses protest (a vital form of democracy if now overused by an unimaginative left) -- these protests were markedly different in tone, size, and make-up yet all the "experts" dismissed them. Many of the groups active in the protests were groups who had been active in US-Iraq policy for a long time: the first Gulf War gave rise to a movement that worked tirelessly and without any kind of recognition or respec, to try and adjust for the gross inequities of the post Gulf War policies.  These people certainly knew more about what was going on "on the ground" in Iraq than our own intelligence agencies did. And instead of recognizing this, the label "Saddam lover" got thrown on anyone and everyone who disagreed with US policy throughout the 90's (as mentioned above).  That's not just a case of willingly being "duped" by a duplicitous WH/Administration, that's also a case of demonizing others in order to puff up your own credentials as one of the "reasonable, professional types".  

          JMM and MY and even folks like KD with their tut-tutting and their strategically placed disdain for the left as "never serious" or "impossible to fathom" helped create the situation that duped 'em. So I don't have any sympathy there.

          "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

          by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:59:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wow (none)
            In one sentence you pointed out a whole raft of problems that no one even notices, it seems like:

            The culture of expertise which simply dismisses protest (a vital form of democracy if now overused by an unimaginative left) -- these protests were markedly different in tone, size, and make-up yet all the "experts" dismissed them.

            1. The "culture of expertise" (great phrase, can I steal it?) does indeed think that protest is passe. I also tire very quickly of battling the tie-dye hippie anti-war protester stereotype. Not everyone who opposes the Great Republican War Machine is Timothy Leary.
            2. Protest has become overused. Mass rallies need to be saved for major things like anti-war protests. Staging demonstrations against like Starbucks is dumb. I also really hate it when I say "no blood for oil" signs, because it's just reducing a huge amount of philosophy to a bumper sticker (an inane one at that). The Iraq thing is about way more than oil.
            3. Anyway, your main point--that some on the left piled on the anti-war left in order to appear more centrist--is dead-on. I'm not going to hold that against them....but I want the punditry's loathing of protest to GO AWAY NOW because, well....we were right and they were wrong.
          •  Class (none)
            It's probably useful to think of this in terms of class struggle.  Many in the working class opposed this war, and they used the tactics of the working class to fight it.  Many in the "intellectual" class used the tactics of the intellectual class to promote the war.  And they looked down on the working class, take-it-to-the-streets tactics.

            --Kynn

      •  Actually, it's very important (none)

        There's a reason that it's important to have this conversation now.  Even today, the liberal hawks, while making some repenting noises, are continuing to assert that those who opposed the war all along are too radical, too "out of the mainstream", to have any credibility.  This is not a good sign assuming, as I do, that we will succeed in driving Bush from office.  The shape of the Kerry administration is at stake.

        Even when the "liberal hawks" apologize, too many of them claim that there were no responsible anti-war voices.  They pretend that the war opponents were all ANSWER members with no analysis any deeper than "no blood for oil".  These claims have an effect; they will help determine who gets hired to set policy in the Kerry administration.
         

      •  Yes, but... (none)
        He throws in the snipe at the anti-war crowd.  That's irritating.
    •  hmmm. No, here is where I part company (4.00)
      and frankly forever til they re educate themselves (or stop breathing the gaseous fumes of the beltway, or buying the themes of the Ken POllacks of this world):  
      The center-left, center leftish (or whatever they are) Trusted Bush.  Full Stop.
      And they thrilled to empire, under the dirty topping of do goodness.  Do gooderness.

      Get a clue and get it fast.  Those last summer who said, "Oh no we must stay, we broke it we fix it" and in fact waged rhetorical war agaisnt some of us... to the point I stopped posting for several months about withdrawal (which is not cut and run but real quick, but graduated, withdrawal) must also get a clue.  We made it worse.  It was Bush you say.  Sure it was.  Who else.  
      But the trick is don't trust him and his to do other thn what that sort does.  His sort plays on that response.

      Since last summer what did we do in theatre?  And remember, tho there are those here who are ginger about believing the Fallujah reports from aid workers, NGOs, hosptial staff (the hospitals we did not bomb in Falluajah, that is...) also get a clue:  
      Other countries are debriefing their aid workers, NGOs and others.
      They are building portfolios on what our mil did in theatre.  Clue.

      So, we stayed, to please Bush, to wage war, to steal to empire.  We did no fixing we went on breaking, we are breaking it now.
      And where are we now? But damn we stayed.

      No be wise, be smart, know with whom one is dealing:  BUSH.

      I'll pass on another little thought y'all might chew on.  Sure the world wants to see regime change here in America.  
      But they are not stupid, not one little bit about how our government works.
      We will be held apart, as tho we smell a bit.  I think the odor is other peoples' blood. And rather too strong a wiff of the right wing being the center in this country.
      Further, regime change to someone who threw in with Bush, trusted Bush to threaten war... geesh...Mr Kerry will be splaining to the foreign corps, to the leaders of many nations. Fine, he needs some re-education himself in my view. If smart he will get it.

      The EU will be looking long and hard at the countries who threw in with Bush, you think they won't be a bit chary til we appear to be serious.
      We arrive back on the world scene nearly with no bona fides.

      •  Part company (none)
        I take this to mean find suspect their arguments - that's fair and right.  I think that process occured for all of us when they supported the run up for war and the war itself.

        If you mean a sort of excommunication from Center and left thought, that I don't agree with.

        •  Circular Firing Squad ... (4.00)
          Is what I find worrisome about this whole thread.

          I opposed this anything but Excellent Adventure from the get-go, and yeah, it was all too predictable that it would come down the way it has. (The one thing that surprised me was that I thought there would be a honeymoon period before things went sour - never happened; it started going sour from day one.)

          So in that regard, yeah, I could say that people like Josh Marshall screwed up, and so did Kerry in a more consequential way. And I could feel righteous as all hell about saying it. But here we are, or there we are, in one big jam, and the four saddest words in the English language are "I told you so."

          We need a coalition of the wised-up as well as the wise, and this is the last of times to go around imposing retrospective purity tests.

          -- Rick Robinson

          John Kerry - Elitist New England Liberal Mekong Delta River Rat

          by al Fubar on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:27:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't want (4.00)
            a purity test, but I don't people who were wrong telling me not to be right.

            I hate the CFS too, and I am totally convinced that the left will maintain unity (!) til at least November. Marshall, Yglesias, and Drum are all people whose opinion I value. At the same time I'm not going to sit here and pretend like they didn't make a mistake.

            The moral of the story is:

            Never trust anyone who says a war will be easy.

        •  Of course it is (4.00)
          Hold Suspect.  Why not.  It is but a week ago that Yglesias was taking the Liberals to Task over Lack of Reaction to Negroponte.
          In a word, no, sit back for a bit and do not point fingers.

          And the reality is we are still in danger.  It is like the Democrats learn to take back national security cred now, right now, or surrender it (again) for ever.

          Good lOrd, one day of discussion under a thread devoted to it, and people are nervous we are discussing being right.  This is a ntion flabby in the brain.  Really.  Lack of rigorous national debate. Before, during and after too?  
          God help us. This will never be resolved as Vietnam was never resolved.

          Look: they enabled war based on the assumption,  baseless even as unfolding, and proved to be baseless, that they were right.

          End of argument.

          •  Discussing being right (none)
            I think we discuss that every day.

            I worry about the J'Accuse nature of this discussion.  More so than kos, atrios sets some  responsibility on our centrist friends for the war.  That strikes me as unfair and inaccurate, not to mention not helpful.

            What I think is fair is to take a jaundiced eye on their comments, I  know I do.

            Why?  Well they got this one, the Big One, spectacularly wrong with little to exscuse them frankly.

            Was it flabby thinking on their part?  Worse really, but I can't imagine that we can feel worse about it than they do - due to vanity if nothing else.

            One objection I due have and one kos makes is their mantra that welll I supported the war so my view has credibility - that's just stupid.

            •  2 reasons (4.00)
              why the thinking of our so-called "centrist friends" as you've identified them is flabby and worthy of some contempt:
              1. it enables moves to the right, but once that move occurs they immediately set themselves apart from the right - i.e. it is an attempt on their part to avoid responsibility by locating it elsewhere and continues the same fallacious thinking that has gotten this country into trouble since the mid 1980's.
              2. it directly and repeatedly "blames" the left, i.e. the people who were not only right, but the people that our "centrist friends" consistently seek out for blame in order to bolster their own positions.  This is the biggest problem I have with Kevin Drum, but the others are equally guilty of this slimy move toward self-aggrandizement.  The "center" constantly wants to tout its superiority to "either extreme" but in actual practice is far too ready to sell off its left flank in an attempt to elevate its own so-called "cred".  This is both dishonorable (given the fact that of the two the left is far weaker) and stupid (given the fact that the more the center helps to bury the left the more it signals its own demise).
              Same old, same old, but these handful of bloggers are folks who engage in this process not simply for ideological purposes, but for personal advancement of some sort or another. You want to tell me why someone like Kevin Drum now has a nice little gig at WM while someone like Rahul Mahajan doesn't? Tell me who knows what he's talking about and how doesn't...Tell me who's willing to put himself and what he knows on the line and who isn't.  

              "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

              by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:15:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's a serious charge (none)
                and ceretainly backed up with some evidence.

                I hope you're wrong, but I can not say with any confidence you're wrong.

                I think your points are valid but am not sure how this exercise carried out in this way, helps us here.

                I think that holding them accountable is a less confrontational way would work better.

                OT- did you just here Woodward?  The Saudis promised to lower oil prices to hel Bush win?  WTF?  And what , pray tell, do the Saudis get in return? Unbelievable

                •  Funny (none)
                  I thought what I was engaging in was "holding them accountable".  Pointing out not only their mistakes, but the mistakes of logic that underlies those mistakes is one way to hold them accountable not only to the past errors, but to prevent future ones to be made.

                  or?

                  "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

                  by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:31:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Less confrontational (none)
                    manner.  That's my point, if I have a point.

                    And I think I do.

                    •  Well (none)
                      to be fair to me this is the first time I have ever expressed my long-time disdain for KD; I really loathe the stuff the guy puts out and have for a long time, but kept still because so many others around here seem to grant him respect and good intentions.  No need to constantly rock the boat.  This then seemed like the appropriate time to speak up.

                      "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

                      by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:46:45 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  You're right (none)
                      Of course, you're absolutely correct. You do indeed catch more flies with honey than vinegar....but sometimes the flies earn the vinegar. My feeling is vinegar for a day or three and then I'll go back to taking a deep breath and grit my teeth and go back to dishing out as much honey as I can stand.
            •  Reaching a national (none)
              consensus of what went wrong, who led "the people" astray and who followed and why is how nations keep safe.
              France (merely as example since it is topical) did it over Algeria and Vietnam.  Of course they also fully understand that a comfortable (relatively, certainly for the ordinary person in many ways compared to the US) stable life is the trade off.  They also have:
              No fundie religions to screw everything from the schools to medical science.
              No Rupert Murchoch and lost media rigor and vigor.
              And the hard right skew is the minority and viewed with suspicion.
              Life is not perfect but continental Europe avoided some enormous hurdles that will bedevil us forever, in my view.
              So I don't hold much hope.

              We need to get it.  Or count, starting now, to the next Big War.
              I personally am very much hoping I don't live to see it.  
              No way on earth this nation could endure the self examination of the South African Truth and Resolution Commission.  Literally going thru that means a nation has some intention, however troubled, of going forward together.  Or they make a vital decision that survival counts.

              No real consensus on Vietnam, I suspect there will be none on this utter horror.  References to Tonkin vote, well even Dianne referred to it in the run up.  Then damn she voted for IWR.  She gave lip service.  Well, references to Iraq War Resolution will join it.

              Let's mush forward very quickly.  Lest we really think.  As a nation.

              •  American Exceptionalism (none)
                an expression now much derided (I believe it in a certain way, but that's another issue) does create a great barrier to self examination.

                And I guess I'm calling for "settling" here for something much less than that.

                Your question is, I think, if not now, when?  I don't have a ready answer for that.

  •  What facts were published before the war? (none)
    Even at the height of war fever, Bush's lies were being exposed almost immediately after uttered (nothing that has subsequently "emerged" should be a surprise to anyone paying attention).

    Seymour Hersh wrote about the falsified Niger documents in the New Yorker on March 24th, 2003: WHO LIED TO WHOM? Why did the Administration endorse a forgery about Iraq's nuclear program?

    What other news stories are in the public record before onset of the war? This goes straight to the heart of what Bush must have -- or should have -- known prior to onset of the war. --M

    "If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head."  -- Winston Churchill

    by maynard on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:23:12 PM PDT

    •  The claim that Iraq provided the anthrax (none)
      was debunked.

      As were the claims of a 911 connection through Prague.

      •  Context and re: Atta (none)
        Thanks Sterling,

        Iraqi Anthrax involvement:

        Here's a CNN article from October 15, 2001 on the subject: Ex-U.N. weapons inspector: Possible Iraq-anthrax link, which consists entirely of speculation that Iraq had a link to the Anthrax attacks due to the claim that they had the capability to create the bio-weapon. A quick google search didn't find any specific claims that Iraq did provide anthrax for the attack (though I don't have access to lexus/nexus to really check up on that). NewScientist reported in May 2, 2002, that Anthrax attack bug "identical" to army strain. I've seen little on the story since that date; it appears to have died down the American short-term memory hole.

        Mohamed Atta meets Iraqi intelligence officers in Prague:

        Slate nearly debunked this as early as Sept 3 2002, in: Did Mohamed Atta Meet an Iraqi Spy in Prague? which consists of a quick historical take on the claims and counterclaims over this issue since its inception. However, as late as Nov 19th 2003, Slate was still asserting "some evidence" for an Iraqi / al Queda connection through the Atta / Prague connection: Prague Revisited: The evidence of an Iraq/al-Qaida connection hasn't gone away. I've read differing stories on this. I remember a 60 Minutes report which debunked it, but I've also read reports which imply it's still being considered real. I don't think this was thoroughly debunked before the onset of war.

        Cheers,
        --Maynard

        "If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head."  -- Winston Churchill

        by maynard on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:22:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tenet's 2002 testimony (none)
          said that there was no confirmation on the Prague meeting.
          •  Sterling, this is not fair... (none)
            ...You're posting one-liner claims without offering citations. The first link a quick google search offers up for Tenet's unclassified testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 18th, 2002 reads:

            • "Atta (#1) traveled by bus to Prague, entering the city on 2 June 2000, and flew to Newark the next day."

            • "As you may have read in the press, Atta (#1) allegedly traveled outside the US in early April 2001 to meet with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague, we are still working to confirm or deny this allegation."
            In the "Conclusions" section he doesn't even address Iraq, nor does he make any specific claims for or against an Atta/al Queda --> Iraq connection. He simply says 'we don't know' prior to that. Are we speaking about the same committe hearing?

            Truthout claims the issue has been thoroughly debunked, though does note that Cheney continues assert a connection. At this point I would say - beats me! I dunno what to think. Given this administration's willingness to misrepresent, I'll give the benefit of the doubt to Truthout. But I've yet to see anything which shows the debunking having happened before onset of the war with Iraq.

            Cheers,
            --Maynard

            "If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head."  -- Winston Churchill

            by maynard on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:04:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  And the constant claims that (none)
        Saddam had refused the UN inspectors access. As well as the claim (refuted since 1998, but continually reasserted) that Saddam had kicked the inspectors out of Iraq.

        "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

        by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:20:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Those claims... (none)
          'a gilas girl' wrote:
          Saddam had refused the UN inspectors access.

          I don't know that they've ever made this claim. I think Bush had a gaffe where he mistakenly stated that Iraq hadn't allowed UN inspectors in, but White House staff later corrected him. Or are you talking about the lack of "unfettered access" claim?

          'a gilas girl' wrote:
          As well as the claim (refuted since 1998, but continually reasserted) that Saddam had kicked the inspectors out of Iraq.

          That is eggregious. As this December 16, 1998, report on Operation Desert Fox shows, UNSCOM staff were withdrawn by the order of Richard Butler, head weapons inspector at the time.

          Butler late Tuesday ordered UNSCOM staff out of Baghdad.  The entire staff was evacuated before dawn on Wednesday.

          "I regret that I had to report the facts yesterday, which is that (unfettered access) had not been given, and we can't adequately do our jobs under these circumstances," Butler told reporters at the United Nations on Wednesday.

          "It made logical sense therefore to pull our people out, and we'll see where this goes in the future," he added.

          Other reports have shown that the UN removed inspectors at the request of the Clinton administration for the inspectors' safety. However, it's true that Saddam refused to allow inspectors to return afterward. So, in that sense one can say that he 'kicked them out', though the logic is pretty disingenuous. --M

          "If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head."  -- Winston Churchill

          by maynard on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 05:45:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gaffe? Nope -- either lie or delusion (none)
            'a gilas girl' wrote: Saddam had refused the UN inspectors access.

            I don't know that they've ever made this claim. I think Bush had a gaffe where he mistakenly stated that Iraq hadn't allowed UN inspectors in, but White House staff later corrected him. Or are you talking about the lack of "unfettered access" claim?

            Bush made the claim that "Saddam wouldn't let the inspectors in, so we had to go to war" at least twice. After being flabbergasted at the first time he made this bald-faced lie, I heard him issue it yet again a couple months later. He may actually believe it as the truth conflicts with his rationale for war.

            As the saying goes: "The truth is not in him."

            "Those who betray the trust...are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - George HW Bush

            by DavidW in SF on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 06:47:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fair point (none)
              Slate's Timothy Noah Seems to agree. Well, at least for one of those two statements Bush appears to have uttered. I've seen a reference to Bush's stating that a second time but I can't find a link right now. As to whether he's crazy, stupid, or a fox playing us all like a violin - who knows? But if he is a fox, well that stradivarius is gonna get clawed to shit.... --M

              "If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head."  -- Winston Churchill

              by maynard on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 07:28:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Fait Accompli (3.69)
    With all due respect Atrios there was no way this war was to be avoided.  The moment Bush was selected by SCOTUS as the head of the coup the invasion and occupation of Iraq was fait accompli.

    The reality is, and here I put on my worn out hat of prognostication, that the moment Bush pulled the trigger, so to speak, on invading Iraq was the moment that the United States was defeated by the Iraqis.  Matt Yglesias and David Brooks may feel the need to back down from their previously lofty perches but all of this has been obvious from day one.  

    Rumsfeld is a complete moron. You simply do not invade a country with precious little logistical support.  His decision to ignore the advice of working professionals would have gotten him fired in any properly governed organization.   Whatever Dick Cheney has been doing he has certainly not been doing the job of Vice President these past 3+ years.  His inability to do his job, his entirely off putting & inept attempts at doing the jobs of others, and his completely bewildering attitude issues would have gotten him fired immediately from any properly governed organization. And whatever personal & voluminous personal issues George Bush clearly has with his father, his penis, and the good book quite clearly make him out to be a twit who couldn't govern his way out of a paper bag much less govern a super power during a war.   Any competent Board would have had his ass out the door with a golden parachute as soon as he opened his small and sniggering mouth in front of the shareholders.  

    This is all going to get much much worse.  Those such as Matt Yglesias, who should have known better than to get in bed with a morally insubstantial born again Christian like George Bush, will have to pay the price for all of this with their conscious while those in field pay for it with their lives.  But Atrios don't get too full of yourself.  As soon as SCOTUS broke the Constitution all of this could have been predicted by a glass eyed hobo watching Mel Gibson auto-fellate himself on the wide screen at the foot of Golgotha while Judge Moore whispers sweet hobo nothings into his ear.

    •  there are ways..... (none)
      there was no way this war was to be avoided.

      i must respectfully disagree.   here's an example... if we had enough people willing to act (say at least 25% of the workforce) along with enough people in agreement, we could have prevented the war with a nation-wide strike.

      of course, we couldn't have convinced bush to change his mind.  the trick is to convince the people that can influence bush - the buisness leaders.

      there are many, many other ways to nonviolently influence governments - even dictatorships.  please read gene sharp's "the politics of nonviolent action" for the theory and practice of nonviolent action.  who knows, the knowledge may come in handy.

      •  I've read it (none)
        However I think the possibility that the American people would have stood up against this thing in the numbers and in the instutions which count the most to stop this action was negligible.  
        •  we've done it before.... (none)
          the vietnam war
          the civil rights movement
          and many more...

          indeed it this the ONLY way major social change has occured in this country.

          people stand up when they are convinced to reconsider their position... more voices in the so-called "moderate center" would have helped.

          and we're going to need those voices now, to force the pull out from iraq.

          •  I agree (none)
            Concerning the futre I agree with you.  However I was very specifically referring to the situation before the invasion of Iraq.  People do not make such protests unless they feel personally involved and/or personally at stake.  That simply wasn't the case before the invasion.

            The examples you give do not speak in any way towards the situation I am referring to.

    •  Not Alone (4.00)
      He couldn't have done it alone.  Not without help from Democrats in Congress.  Not with a solid wall of public opinion against him.

      Bush was able to drag the American army into his private war because a significant part of America let him.

      This is NOT America's war.  It belongs to Bush and the DeLay wing of the Republican party.  But America is getting all the blame.  Because we didn't solidly oppose Bush.  Let's not make that mistake again.

      Defend America against its enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC.  Bush is the single greatest threat to America that we have now.

      •  It wasn't America's war (none)
        but it is now. The guy that walks into DC with a suitcase nuke isn't going to care that there was an anti-war element in America.

        Other than that I agree entirely with your post.

        •  You're right about that... (none)
          From WaPo:

          "When the fighting is over in Fallujah, I will sell everything I have, even my home," said a resistance fighter who gave his name as Abu Taif Mashhadani. He wept as he recalled his 8-year-old daughter, who he said was killed by a U.S. sniper in Fallujah a week ago. "I will send my brothers north to kill the Kurds, and I will go to America and target the civilians. Only the civilians. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. And the one who started it will be the one to be blamed."
    •  Heh there (4.00)
      Great blog you run.

      There was a time when this war cold be avoided, and that time was in 2001. It was in 2001 that the Democrats made the decision to "let Bush have his way", and then when things went wrong, reclaim power.

      It was a fatal miscalculation.

    •  "Victory has a thousand fathers... (4.00)
      ... but defeat is an orphan." JFK

      Saying "Nothing could be done" is rolling over and declaring defeat. What happened was that nobody did what needed to be done, and that what was done wasn't enough.

      Pretending the war couldn't be stopped because one very stupid man wanted it to happen just absolves all the other idiots and cowards of blame.

      I have evidently Energised the Discourse and Made Politics Real Again. -Spider Jerusalem

      by agrajag on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:26:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not at all (none)
        I am not at all rolling over and declaring defeat.  In fact just the opposite.  I would posit that there is no way in hell George Bush can, in a fair election, win in November.  In fact I would posit that he will lose by a landslide and it will be a direct result of his decision to invade Iraq.

        My point is that when the coup occured it set in motion a series of events which were unavoidable.  One of those events was the invasion of Iraq.  Your points depend in no small part on there being the rule of law.  We simply do not have the rule of law since the coup took place.  Until we get a legitimate goverment in place we will not have the rule of law.  

        I would posit that those who accept the coup are the ones who are defeatist.  Everything works in cycles.  We have yet to get to the point in this cycle where the events of the 2000 election begin to be questioned.  Watch for that.  When it begins you will find that everything you think you know is not true.  

  •  No Preference (4.00)
    Invading another country for no better reason than intellectual speculation is insane.  I don't need to know any of the particulars to know that.  

    Well said. I'd like to hear a Democrat say that as well.

  •  Unpopular Stance (3.83)
    The real idiots were the media and pundits (including those in the blogosphere) who helped enable Bush's charade.

    The REAL idiots are the American People. Plain and simple.

    We went along with this war because we're just plain stupid.

    There. I said it. Most Americans are ignorant of world affairs to the point where they might just admit they are fools.

    We have no one to blame but ourselves.

    •  It's true (none)
      that we're stupid fools.  But it's also true that Bush treats us as a focus group whenever we disagree with him (and as a mandate when we do, natch).  So how exactly could we have prevented this war, no matter how informed we were?

      I marched, wrote, vigilled, cajoled like the rest of y'all.  Even if our numbers were quadrupled, would it have made a difference?  Look at the polls in Spain, Italy.  Many more of their citizens proportionally said "No" and look where it got them.

    •  I don't think we are stupid (none)
      I think we are arrogant and a nation of short-cutters.

      "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

      by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:27:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So.... (none)
    what's Vancouver like this time of year?
  •  The "moderates" (none)
    The history of "moderate" windbags  "responsibly" facilitating evil is as long as human history. What's most pathetic about our moderates, is that they smugly continue to "responsibly" accept the basic premises of the people who keep running them over.
    •  Moderates (none)
      The history of "moderate" windbags  "responsibly" facilitating evil is as long as human history. What's most pathetic about our moderates, is that they smugly continue to "responsibly" accept the basic premises of the people who keep running them over.

      Absolutely right.

      A lot of people on the right and in the pro-war center talked about those who opposed the war as being "appeasers."

      Seems to me it was the Friedmanites who were the true appeasers, the true Chamberlains, of this war.  Their appeasement of Bush was the true crime.

  •  What scares (4.00)
    the crap out of me is that they are incompetent in fighting the the REAL war on terrah.  Condi predicting attacks before the election?   I don't want to hear that from her.
  •  Rummy (4.00)
    All the more reason why my jaw dropped when I saw Rumsfeld, in a widely reported supposed moment of candor, say that a year ago he couldn't have foreseen how Iraq has turned out!

    Well, all he had to do was get on the internet, read a paper or take a look at the war protests to have been "informed" about the likely consequence.

    And why wasn't the popular/mainstream media following Rums newsbyte with some statments from a year ago by those arguing that the war was a mistake????

  •  The Flowerbed of Democracy has only Buds (4.00)
    Imagine you want control of a region and its resources.

    You have the army that can do it, you have the Treasury to pay for it, but public/Congress/World opinion will not support you just invading/occupying a region just to control the resources, and the country would be hard to manage post-invasion.

    How to get over that hurdle of not being supported?  You fabricate, lie, obfuscate, mislead, etc.  We know, we watched it happen.

    So you get your "little war", you now control the area.  But then the people of that country get restless and start causing trouble when you won't leave.  Should you leave?

    Use the following mantras to justify staying there -
    Gotta support the troops.
    We will be there as long as necessary not one day longer.
    We broke it, gotta fix it.
    We can't just cut and run.
    Important job, war on terra, keeping America safe and free.
    The Iraqi people need us, we have a responsibility to them.
    The flowerbed of Democracy has only buds so far, will bloom soon.
    Etc.

    As to the losses and suffering; our nations leaders believe in what they are doing, that they are noble warriors, the Pattons and Shermans of their era, "they" will take the losses, and they will maintain control.  If some general hesitates, they will find another Kimmitt or Senor to replace them.  
    Meanwhile, your main objective (permanent control of the region) proceeds apace.  

    Getting there was the key, we will handle problems that arise as they come along.  

    Most Americans will not even admit we are an empire - we have the greatest empire in the history of the world!  We have to start using the word Imperialism, you can't address a problem if you can't say its name.

    We need to measure progress in the control we relinquish to other responsible parties, not in the control we gain by escalation of this war.

    "Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." - Thomas Jefferson

    by Wally on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:37:10 PM PDT

  •  "the importance of getting Iraq right" (3.66)
    Seems to be the reason politicians are giving
    to remain in Iraq. What's right about occupying
    a foreign country, spending billions, building
    military bases, putting soldiers in police roles,
    and exploiting their resources? The State Dept.
    and NGO's may have more altruistic goals in rebuilding a country in their image but the real goals of the NeoBushes are hardly spoken about.

    There's nothing right about continuing a wrong.

  •  Supporting the draft is self-defeating (3.00)
    Really now, even if have a draft or compulsory service do you think for one minute that anyone in Bush's administrations gallery of Chickenhawks would ever serve?

    The draft would mean me and you, but not the rich connected kids (who will probably become senators) eating shrapnel for Bush.

    The system is still horribly corrupt and easy to bypass. Also, CO is no solution to people who don't want to fight a war they think is immoral.  A CO must prove he or she is a pacifist, that means no fighting ever.  Few people will pass that test.

    Again, this is a ridiculous over-the-top suggestion that just enables the war machine here in the US.  Instead of cutting back on bases and pork-barrel projects like missile defense and global war we should shrink our military precense overseas, pocket the money, and put to towards education and healthcare.  Ironically, many of those dead in Iraq joined for the great student benefits.

    Joining the military, or being forced  to join is not some fix-all solution and contrary to what you suggest, kos it will not make us view war differently.  How long did the Vietnam's draft go on before we pulled out? A decade? That's not results.

    If anything we need to teach civics, real American history, clean out washington, reform the election process, and fix the media.  Joining the military will solve nothing, but give the chickenhawks more warm bodies to put in deserts for Haliburton, PNAC, Neocons, etc.

    •  Universal service could be different (4.00)
      Universal serrvice for two years post high school need not just mean military service or CO. It could include peace corps or USA corps or community work as alternates with military service being only a small portion, one chosen by individuals.

      I agree that it would be necessary to write the legislation so as to exclude exemptions except in extreme cases. All citizens have rights and should also have duties. I've been working with college studens for many years and think that most would profit from a stint of universal service before going on to college.  This would be a time of learning about other people and gaining a more mature sense of self.

      •  Universal service? Whose paying the bills? (none)
        Man, when I was in school I was working my ass off helping the family business and my friends were doing similiar things trying just to PAY FOR EDUCATION.  Taking two years out of lives means two years of labor lost.  Expect many people to come home from AmeriCorps Overseas too poor to pay for school, that is if they come home at all.  I wonder how quickly washington will the Universal Service (whatever that means) and turn it into non-combat military positions for "experience."

        European countries can get away with compulsory service because they provide FREE HIGHER EDUCATION.

        Sorry, but the US and Europe are two very, very different places.  You can't have compulsory service without socializing education and perhaps even healthcare.

    •  Real American History ... (none)
      <bold> If anything we need to teach civics, real American history, clean out washington, reform the election process, and fix the media.  Joining the military will solve nothing, but give the chickenhawks more warm bodies to put in deserts for Haliburton, PNAC, Neocons, etc.<bold>

      Real American History: http://www2.truman.edu/~marc/resources/interventions.html

      Clean out Washington: Complete government restructuration away from the two party system. Must correct the weaknesses that allowed for checks and balances to dissipate.

      Reform election process: Nasty job indeed. I can understand why there is so little turnout of voters - too many elections. Fix that.

      Fix the media: Only by regulation and nationalisation ... like CBC and BBC. US Media is currently owned and operated by a few multi-national corporations that influence government.

      Pull out of the WTO - ok ok that's wishful thinking :).  

      Good post.

      Learning is not compulsory ... neither is survival. (W. Edwards Deming)

      by banjon on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:38:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  x (4.00)
      I agree that the draft (or any kind of universal service) would likely just create a different set of problems, though I frequently wish that I could personally force young people to travel (there's this whole big world out there), as I find that seeing parts of the world different from the one you know best leads both to a larger sense of community responsibility and to less depression and angst in those 18 year olds who see their lives as one long progression of wal-mart jobs and crappy apartment complexes.

      I also think that, in education, it's about more than civics class. Our educational system has almost turned into vocational training, even at the college level, and many "educated" folks don't even know the meaning of "critical thinking".

      Just my couple of copper-coated coins.

  •  Several Points (none)
    I have consistently thought that the folks who opposed invading Iraq were more intellectually respectable than those who claimed to favor war in principle, but criticized every particular it's execution -- offering either no coherent alternative plan (after all, they were for the war, too) or offering alternatives that often were either: (a) little different from the Administration's approach or (b) not feasible.    

    The problem IMO is the most Americans still feel some future military action may be needed to keep us safe and (fairly or not) question whether politicians who opposed the war are 'doves' who would shy away even from justified military action.

    Second, different point.  Kos shares:

    But there was ONE particular fact that fully exposed Bush's lies for what they were -- not a single Iraq neighbor signed up for the fight. Not a single Iraq neighbor considered Saddam a threat. That should've told us everything we needed to know.

    Now, many of Kos' points have bite.  But let me get this straight -- Bush should have gotten Iranian and Syrian troops involved in Iraq?  That would have gone over well with Iraqis!  And I cannot imagine Iran and Kuwait not viewing Saddam as a threat, given that he attacked those countries.  

    My (not scholarly) theory -- the authoritarian leaders of Muslim countries in the reigon keep the masses under control in part by fostering a focus on the US as the Great Satan, responsible for their troubles.  Nothing like a foriegn enemy to distract the masses from their own government's abuses.  

    •  Imagine Again (none)
      I seriously doubt that either Iran or Kuwait had any real fear of invasion in 2003.  Or 2002.  We all need to stop de-contextualizing history.  Sure Saddam gassed Iraqi Kurds.  At a time when both he and Osama were allies of the US.

      The wheel turns, and the alliances of the past are no longer relevant in thinking about the future.

      BTW, I think the war was absolutely avoidable -- up until 9/11/01.  At that point all the political cover ever needed was supplied.  Sure they had to lie to make it work, but there was never any doubt that they could get support to go in.

      And they gambled that success would erase all doubts, kind of like Chalabi says now.  Bad bet . . .

      •  I'll buy that (none)
        War probably was inevitable after 9-11; and I am sure that BushCo hoped that success would erase all doubts.

        As to Iran and Kuwait -- If the military advisers in those countries had been asked if Iraq was an immediate military threat in 2002, I agree the answer would probably have been 'no.'  If they had been asked whether, given the opportunity, Saddam was a serious threat to attack in the future I think the answer would have been "that is something to worry about."  Of course, I was not there and have no good data.  Is there some solid information to rebut my theory?  (Of course, it is not your job to educate me; but I am happy to learn better).

    •  Don't forget the ''lots of cheap hash' theory (none)
      My (not scholarly) theory -- the authoritarian leaders of Muslim countries in the reigon keep the masses under control in part by fostering a focus on the US as the Great Satan, responsible for their troubles.  Nothing like a foriegn enemy to distract the masses from their own government's abuses.

      Don't forget the 'lots of cheap hash' and plenty of Turkish coffee theory for keeping ME rabble dissent down. Hey, worked for the CIA back when they were "Freeing" Afghanistan from Soviet occupation. Plus it got everyone rich. Who could ask for more?  --M

      "If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head."  -- Winston Churchill

      by maynard on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:26:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can't imagine? (none)
      And I cannot imagine Iran and Kuwait not viewing Saddam as a threat, given that he attacked those countries.

      He attacked those countries over 12/20 years before and before a devasting series of sanctions were placed on his nation making any kind of "invasion" impossible.  History as in the movement of time and circumstance should be included in the analysis.  He had once attacked those countries, but even they knew he was no threat.  Kuwait may have disingenuously played that one for all its worth; given Kuwait's history of sucking everything it can out of Iraq in terms of reparations, etc., but the folks in Iran knew better.  Even Israel (which is the only "threatened neighbor" that the US really had in mind) knew that Saddam was no immediate threat, they were simply worried about the possibility of a replenished Saddam emerging once the sanctions were lifted.  

      "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

      by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:42:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Emmanuel Goldstein again (none)
      That fucker....

      (I don't think Kos meant to imply we needed Iranian/Syrian troops....His point, as I read it, is that none of Iraq's neighbors considered him a threat, so how could he be a threat to the US?)

  •  No, the Adminstration was very stupid. (none)
    I think with respect to the WMD case, the Administration was intentionally lying.  They were not stupid enough to believe they actually had evidence of WMD.

    But with respect to the difficulty and cost of the invasion, they stupidly believed their own lies.  They really though they would be greeted as liberators and that the occupation would pay for itself.  We know that because that's how they planned.  They had no plan whatsoever for the post-war period because they thought they didn't need one.

    In fact, I don't think they would have attempted the invasion if they thought there was any substantial chance it would result in the current predicament.  These are not brave people, they're like burglars who case a neighborhood looking for an easy house to crack.  They really thought Iraq would be easy.

    --- Bush is losing.

    by grytpype on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:46:07 PM PDT

  •  New name for the new Warmongers (none)
    They are a combinition from diferent groups -
    • The Clueless (Dubya, Condi, etc)
    • The Imperialists (Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc)
    • The Neocons - subset of Imperialists, includes Likudniks - (Perle, Wolfowitz, Freith, etc)
    Since neocon is an abbreviation for neo (new) and conservative, we can group these warmongers into -
    Neo-Imperialists - Neoimp for an abbreviation

    It works in so many ways.

    "Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." - Thomas Jefferson

    by Wally on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:46:59 PM PDT

    •  Neopimps (none)
      More zing perhaps? :-)
    •  Fun but not productive (4.00)
      I was at university in London last year and was anti-war. I went to several anti-war protest marches. In the UK, some of those involved in Coalition to Stop the War were as self-righteous and unwilling to engage in a serious debate as Bush and co. Obviously, there were alot of serious opponents and it probably wouldn't have made any difference. Still, comments like "neoimp" are fun, but they don't help. With all due respect to Atrios,I am glad some people have come around even if it is too late and under the circumstances, I am not going to celebrate bc I was right. I am not going to stop anyone from talking bc at least there is finally a discussion in the US...
      •  How would you suggest we get ... (none)
        The concept of Imperialism more into mainstream dialogue?

        Every criticism thrown at the administration is knocked down or deflected because we are tacitly giving their overall framework validity.

        If we don't engage more Americans in discussion of why this war is illegitimate meaning our actions are invalid then we will remain in the spin world Rove has created for us.

        All the while their agenda will proceed apace.

        "Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." - Thomas Jefferson

        by Wally on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:25:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  slowly (none)
          I have no plan to get Americans to realize this war is imperialistic. I am pragmatic and I am not sure thats possible in the short-term. If Americans realize it was a mistake and it was Bush's fault, then I think thats a victory. I think its possible to convince the public of this fact without engaging in debates about imperialism or international law.In time, I think people will realize this was an imperialistic adventure, but only after the fact and after several baby steps in the right direction.
          •  Are you depending on the election? (none)
            I hope that works too, but I don't feel we should be dependent on it, it may not work.

            Even if Kerry is to win, he could use the help of valid criticism of the war, criticism that would be hard for them to refute.

            I am not saying go shout it at the next NRA rally, but starting with those who know it but aren't saying it (many in this blog for example) is a beginning, gets it more into the mainstream dialogue.  It gains momentum, which builds from there.  

            If we depend of the tipping point of deaths and treasure, I remind you of Tet -

            Occurs 1968, we leave 1973?  After how many more deaths?  After how much more outrage?  After accomplishing what?
            Is our tipping point sooner now? 5,800 - 1/10th?  3 years instead of 8 or so?

            And Vietnam isn't sitting on the world's second largest oil reserves.

            This is the same country and personally I believe the leaders of the 60's were nice guys compared to this adminstration.

            "Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." - Thomas Jefferson

            by Wally on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:57:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, Kerry is a full-fledged enabler (4.00)
    I am not at all ambivalent about supporting Kerry.  We desperately need to get rid of this bunch, and I'll take a sane and measured imperialist any day over the neocon crowd, which always knows it is right and is utterly incapable of learning from history, experience, or anyone who disagrees.

    Nonetheless, if we win this election, the chickens will still come home to roost, and it is unlikely that any good options will remain in Iraq.  As one Iraqi was heard to say recently, Brahimi's proposals were last month's solution.  We can hope that it will be possible to implement them and that they will work, but there is a good chance that events will bury them.

    Americans have a very difficult time accepting the idea that when you make a really bad decision with consequences, you don't get to go back to choose among the options you had before.  Bad choices usually result in much worse options, and the longer you wallow in denial, the worse the options get.

    As a recovering alcoholic, Bush ought to know that denial is not just a river in Egypt.  He seems to have missed that part of the program.  Let's hope Kerry knows it even without having gone through alcoholism!

    What this means is that in addition to working our tails off for Kerry, we need to start thinking about building a movement to push for the right choices after the election.  It won't be pretty.  At this point, it would be politically impossible for Kerry to speak the truth about the Iraq situation, even if he were inclined to do so.  There is a very strong possibility that it is too late for the U.N. to have much success in Iraq, even if we turned responsibility over tomorrow, and of course Bush will not turn over serious and useful responsibility until Iraq goes up in flames.

    What is the best approach now?  We need to start that discussion, and we need to discuss it in a more nuanced way than "cut-and-run" vs. "stay-the-course."  Neither one is viable in my opinion.

    We can hope that Kerry is at least thinking about these issues, but getting the discussion going in blogs, journals, and anywhere else we can is the only way to make it likely that Kerry and his advisors will be aware.  There is no way Kerry can raise the subject during the campaign, which means he will be stuck with even more baggage in January -- baggage that will make intelligent policymaking very difficult.  In a karmic sense, this is eminently fair.  He was wrong on Iraq, and, if elected, he will have to deal with some of the consequences.  Claiming that he voted for the war to give the president leverage just doesn't cut it.  It just means that he is covering his butt or that he was a complete moron.  We aren't talking about an abstract president here -- we are talking about George W. Bush.  Bush had decided to go to war long before the Senate vote, and every political observer who was awake in class knew that.  

    So, it's time to start the new debate and discussion, because if we win our current battle, we will have to immediately start the next one.  How can we work for the best possible remaining outcome for the Iraqis?  We already owe them a lot, and if we manage to toss the Boy Emperor, we will owe them a lot more.

    •  This is key (4.00)
      That vast, squishy middle of Americans is really tired of debating whether or not we should have gone into Iraq... because the fact is that we're there now whether we like it or not. Now, I realize that it feels good on some level to be right after having been marginalized so badly since this whole mess got rolling, but we need to start focusing our attention and our solid brainpower on just where we go from here. Nobody who was wrong for honest reasons (and I think there are plenty of those) really wants to hear the big "We told you so" unless we have some better ideas for what to do now.

      And that's the rub. Because, frankly, nobody really knows what the hell to do now. I personally feel that those calling for immediate withdrawal are being unrealistic; the UN is probably not going to just march right in and clean up our mess. Iraq may not have been a threat to us before, but now it almost certainly is. The consequences to us for pulling out of Iraq are a lot higher than I think they were in Vietnam, and I think we on the left tend to be a little dishonest with ourselves about how things went for many of the Vietnamese when we pulled out of there, too. Which is not to say we should've stayed, certainly, but I think we need to understand the prices that were payed for going in the way we did and also for leaving the way we did.

      That being said, I don't know what I think we should do, either. But we've got to start focusing on that, for two reasons... one, stated above, that people out in "the middle" are tired of arguing about stuff nobody can change, and the other being that, if Kerry wins in November, political reality says that this is going to be our mess, too, whether we like it or not, and whether we were "anti-war" or not. We'd better start working on our answers.

      •  We'd better start working on our answers. (4.00)
        Well written indeed. IMHO the best "first" move after the election would be to mend our differences with the Internation community. We need to accept that we will not pay for this invasion using Iraqui resources nor will we have a role in rebuilding Iraq other than monetary. The invasion was unilateral and so will be the debt. Expect taxes to go through the flippin roof.

        We must hand over ALL power to the UN who must negotiate with all factions in Iraq towards installing an international "PEACEKEEPING" force in Iraq. It won't be easy because the people of Iraq are hostile to any international presence in Iraq thanks to us.

        The Iraquis have already shown remarkable restraint by treating some of their captives with respect and dignity and releasing many. They know who their enemies are.

        Learning is not compulsory ... neither is survival. (W. Edwards Deming)

        by banjon on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:20:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  One correction (4.00)
      Bush is not a "recovering alcoholic."  He's never gone through any kind of recovery program that focuses on seeing drinking as but a symptom of deeper underlying emotional and spiritual disorders.  In AA terms, Bush would appear to be the classic "dry drunk," still behaving alcoholically, but no longer medicating his rage, resentment and paranoia with alcohol.

      Kerriatric Tammany Democrat and proud of it!

      by John R on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:52:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Preach!!! (none)
    Kos got his religion back!!!
  •  Agree, but (4.00)
    Kos,

    I agree with just about everything you say, except this:

    Instead, we have a professional army isolated, culturally and literally, from the vast majority of the American public.

    As a veteran, you would know better than I. But I don't think the army is so isolated from the American public. If anyone is isolated, it is lefty bloggers. It seems that most members of the military are pretty close, economically, culturally, and politically to the American public.

    And I also think the military leadership deserves credit for trying to avoid this war--or at least fight it using winning principals. Some of them got canned over their intransigence. Real experts like Zinni and Shinseki were mocked and silenced.

    It is the Defense Department, not the career military, who got us into this mess. And I'd hate to cast blame on the good men and women who tried to keep us out of it.

    •  Military is isolated (4.00)
      From the opinion makers and political leaders (though not so much from some congresspeople from small town and rural areas.  Military is probably closer to the ordinary people, but they aren;t the ones running the country.  I think Kos' real popint was that the military is isolated from opinionmakers and political leaders who lead us to war.  If their and their friends' children were going too, it might be different. (Just like we used to say Vietnam wouldn;t have happened if LBJ and Nixon hadn't both had 2 daughters and no sons.  Look at GW Bush.  Maybe we were right.)

      Whatever you can do or dream, begin it, for boldness has power, and genius, and magic in it. -Goethe

      by Mimikatz on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:44:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What's most damning (4.00)
    is not as Kos says:
    Nothing currently happening in Iraq is a surprise. It was all very obvious. It might not have been inevitable, but it was likely.

    I won't go so far as to say what we're seeing was likely, in terms of absolute fact. There is no doubt however, that what we're seeing was a very plausible outcome. There is also no doubt that many said as much until they were blue in the face.

    This mess is a result of a blind adherence to ideology, without the slightest regard for contrary views. If they had at least listened to us, there would be contingency plans. Where are they? Instead, we're over there, stretched to the max, drawing up plans in the sand.

    This mess didn't arise because we were right and they were wrong. It's because we were right and they were deaf.

    •  Obvious? (4.00)
      The cliche is tired but true -- hindsight is 20/20.

      Before the war, it was 'obvious' to many that US troops would suffer horrendous casualties in defeating Saddam and his armies.  Many thought the troops would be attacked with chemical weapons.

      It was 'obvious' that the Arab street would promptly rise up, and that the US would as a result suffer a welter of new terorist attacks.  

      It was 'obvious' that the US populace, confronted with casualties, would soundly reject Buch as President.

      These predictions have turned out right in small degrees, but mostly wrong.  

      My point -- folks made dozens of predictions before the war, all over the map.  It was inevitable that at least some of them would be right.  No awards for prophecy are due to anyone, in my book.

      •  Some predictions (none)
        just always made more sense than others.  Our army could beat their army.  There would be no authority with legitimacy to take over the country, and our army would not be very good at an occupation without some internal ally to take over.  The Shiite, Sunni, Kurd divisions would cause problems.  The result would provide fertile ground for anti-American Muslim fundamentalists of some stripe, perhaps terrorist allied.  Etc.

        I believe that these were all perfectly predictable.  You're right that the exact outcome could not be predicted (how soon, if at all, civil war might break out, for example), but it was so obvious there would be no cakewalk and that the power vacuum we would create would suck in all sorts who would wish us and our army ill.

        The specifics were not predictable; but I predicted all of the above, and many others better equipped than I to do so were hornswoggled by the administration.  I blame them, all of them.

        •  Sure bet (none)
          It was certainly a safe bet that melding the Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds into a funtioning constitutional republic would be much more difficult than toppling Saddam.  

          My sense from reading Juan Coles and others in the know is that none of these groups really wants to impose a new nation wide dictatorship, subjugating the others.  Rather, it sounds as if most Iraqis dream of a comparatively free multi cultural society -- but do not trust the others to leave them in peace.  The Shia have legitimate greivances against the Sunni, who they fear will ressurect Saddam-ism.  The Sunni fear that the Shia will, based on their greater numbers, take over and subjugate the Sunnis.  And no one really trusts the Kurds.  Even now, it is not clear to me that civil war is the only possible result of all this mistrust.  Certainly, the Shia leaders (apart from the outlaw al Sadr) seem to be taking a wait and see approach.  And what Iraqi can reasonably calculte that his interests would be better served by an all-or-nothing war for control of Iraq than by the kind of republic contemplated by the intreim constitution.  

          I know, it's Pollyanna-ish.  

          •  Didn't mean to say ... (none)
            civil war was inevitable, just that it was (and remains) possible.  But that there would be a power vacuum filled by guys with guns who were not our friends always seemed incredibly likely.

            I said on one of these blogs (NoWarBlog?) in 3/2003 that those wishing for immediate democracy in Iraq were overlooking the fact that if Osama bin Laden could safely have run for the post of President of Iraq, he would win in a landslide.  Whatever made people think we could manipulate the imposition of a friendly government on a post-Saddam Iraq, I never will understand.  

            •  Osama President of Iraq (none)
              if Osama bin Laden could safely have run for the post of President of Iraq, he would win in a landslide.

              I see. This statement is based upon what?

              •  Oh, You Wonder What Osama (none)
                would win in a landslide prediction might be based on, do you?

                I strongly suggest that you go look at the MOST graphic pictures of the fate of the mercenaries
                that got toasted in Falluja.

                That's a damned good start. And a damned good hint.

                Those folks were not merely mildly irritated, ya think?

                They hate us right down to their ovaries and DNA now.

                You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

                by mattman on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 09:03:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Why? (none)
                  They hate us right down to their ovaries and DNA now.

                  Yes, some if not most Fallujans hated the security men who were killed and despicably mutilated. The question is "why"? The fact that days before the Marines had launched a probe into Fallujah that killed several civilians appears to have had something to do with it.

                  There is zero evidence that Fallujans hate all Americans, including you and me.

            •  But... (none)
              But that there would be a power vacuum filled by guys with guns who were not our friends always seemed incredibly likely.

              This is in no way equivalent to a "civil war".  All the people predicting an immediate descent into civil unrest (which is what I assume they mean) seem to be doing so from a position that "we" (i.e. the US) are a legitimate part of that "civil", when all we actually have any evidence of is that there are large parts of the Iraqi populace that is willing to take up arms against a US occupation - that's nothing close to a "civil war".  

              The assumption that our presence is necessary to keep Iraqis from killing each other, when our presence is actually what is getting Iraqis killed and what is drawing them out on to the streets is one of the more accute examples of sideways rationalizing that we've actually been engaged in as a nation for quite some time.

              "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

              by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:57:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Belated reply (none)
              I did not read yours carefully enough.  Yes -- the safest bet was not civil war, but a near anarchy, as the central government fails to command the respect -- and the trained homegrown security forces -- needed to control tribal militias and simple gangsterism.  Best case, it will take years to overcome such anarchy.  It will be crucial for Iraq to hold successful elections, without substantial armed disruptions.  If that can happen, and if the Iraqi's can muster the optimism to risk their lives to overcome thugerry, there may be hope.  
    •  Ted Rall had it right from the beginning. (none)
  •  The problem with the anti-war monement. (none)
      IIRC there was a middle of the road resolution in front of the Senate that Joe Biden, and some moderate Republicans had agreed upon, but the ideologues on both sides were not looking to comprimise, and we got what we got. Sometimes you have to give to get, and if the peaceniks had budged a bit then we could have gotten extended inspections, and more time to point out the holes in the intelligence, and the state dept could have made a stronger push for their post war plans.  What we didn't need was both sides yelling and screaming at each other while the Bush admin was putting their war plan in action.  

      That evening, Biden met with half a dozen leading Democrats who were opposed to any war resolution at all. "They said, 'It's not right, you're not principled, asking us to do this,'" Biden recalled. "I said, 'Wait, wait, wait. Please spare me the lecture. I thought our job was to do as much as we could to prevent this President from going off to war half-cocked. Does anybody in here believe that we're going to get any resolution remotely approaching the constraints this resolution has?'" Biden warned his colleagues, "Guess what? Your principle is going to kill a lot of Americans." But the antiwar Democrats were intractable. At the end of the meeting, Senator Paul Wellstone, of Minnesota, and Senator Barbara Boxer, of California, left the room arm in arm, chuckling.

    Take it however you'd like, but if we had chided our liberal Senators into backing Biden's comprimise we'd not be in this mess.  We weren't going to be able to change the rigt wingers, but we could have had some sway with our liberal senators.  

    Whatever exists will, sooner or later, be turned inside out.

    by jbou on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:18:46 PM PDT

    •  Sounds a lot (4.00)
      like typical self serving Joe Biden crap.
    •  Hmmm... (none)
      You forgot to include the paragraphs leading up to the one you quoted:

      Together with Senator Richard Lugar, of Indiana, the committee?s ranking Republican, Biden drafted an alternative to the Administration?s Iraq resolution that would have placed various restraints on the President, making it harder for him to wage war unilaterally and forcing him to bolster his case that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. Lugar had assembled a surprisingly large number of Republicans?twenty-five or so out of the forty-nine?who were uneasy with the Administration?s bellicose stance. In order to deliver their votes, Lugar needed Biden to line up at least forty Democrats; and Biden was sure of only thirty-eight.

      As Biden recalled, on September 30th Lugar, who was in touch with the White House, called him. ?Joe, I fear in the next twenty-four, forty-eight hours, the President?s going to cut a deal with Gephardt,? he said.

      Biden was stunned. ?Gephardt? Gephardt?s not going to do this.?

      ?Joe, I?m telling you. They?re working two sides here. They?re working us, keeping us occupied, but they?re working just as hard meeting with him. Whoever they reach an agreement with first, they?re going to go with.?

      If Richard Gephardt, the House Democratic minority leader, came out for the Administration?s resolution, it would be politically almost impossible for any Republican to support the Biden-Lugar alternative. Biden had to gather the Democratic holdouts immediately and persuade them to stand behind his resolution so that he and Lugar could move it onto the Senate floor the next day.

      Those darn peaceniks screwing up all possibility of a compromise...

  •  No blood and guts (3.80)
    on television.  The western media was biased, big time, in favor of the war.  No people were being killed, only tanks, buildings, anti-aircraft guns, etc.  You get the picture.

    Even today when a SMALL bit of re-thinking this thing is beginning to creep into the media, you still hear stories about how the "other side" is picturing the war, and our western journalists are still implying that the Arab media are "slanting" their stories.

    Unlike, of course, themselves.

    In real wars, many people die, many people are maimed.  Where in our western media world did stories showing dead and maimed Iraqi children-- and there were many thousands-- get anywhere near the airplay that stories on the "effectiveness" of our military did?  Where were the pictures of kids with their limbs blown off and siblings holding dead siblings in their arms, crying?  Where were the photographs of parents holding their dying kids, or kids staying near the bodies of their parents because they had no place left to go after their world had been perverted?

    Where in our brain-dead culture were the REAL pictures of war?  Where are they NOW?

    Why?

  •  Democrats are culpable, too (4.00)
    The real idiots were the media and pundits (including those in the blogosphere) who helped enable Bush's charade.

    But those folks didn't have to make the decisions, to vote on whether to give the neocons the Okey-dokey to go to war. Our 'shoulda been the opposition' but instead stood with Shrub and the rest of the weeds in the Rose Garden, literally or figuratively.  

    These are the real idiots:

    Gephardt
    Dashele
    Kerry
    Edwards
    Hillary
    Schumer
    Liebermann
    and too many others

    They can claim to have been duped, but if me and 3/4 of a million others who marched in NYC last Feb could figure it out, why couldn't they?

    Derelection of duty, pure and simple.  At least we live in a Democracy so we can vote 'em all out, and start all over.

  •  Of Course!!! (none)
    Having a pro-war mentality ALWAYS is wrong even in the most extreme cases.
    That attitude leads to a less conciliatory position when dealing with other nations or adversaries, which promotes a more hostile environment between the parties, which naturally drives the process towards a state of war or conflict.
    The parties stake out their immovable positions, and the result is a stalemate in negotiations that allows the talks to go in only one direction, conflict, which some in the process wanted from the beginning.
    Let the leaders and negotiators fight this conflict they have allowed to happen, and you can be sure their mindset will change right from the beginning. Conflict will then not seem so preordained or attractive to these brave individuals, their common sense will return when they are the ones that would have to sacrifice in such a conflict.
    You the leaders, if you can't negotiatate a peaceful solution, you should pay the price not the innocents you send to fight for your incompetence or worse yet, your deceptions.
    ABB&B!!!
     
  •  I remember... (4.00)
    an e-mail exchange I had with Josh Marshall in the lead up to the war.  He was hawking Pollack's bullshit and the message we were getting from Josh was something like "Gee, on the one hand, going to war is dangerous and will have unintended consequences.  On the other hand, it is clear that Saddam is a real danger...."

    I tried to point out that I felt that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq for a lot of good reasons.  But, even if you suspected that there were these weapons it should still be a simple choice.  When faced with an ambiguous choice.  Something that you are basically ambivalant about, why don't you chose the option that doesn't involve fucking KILLING people.

    I will never understand why that wasn't a convincing argument.

    •  It isn't convincing to those whose ass isn't (3.50)
      on the line. Josh and Matt Y sit comfortably behind their computers pontificating.  Just because they can string coherent sentences together doesn't make their opinions worthwhile.  The way I see it, the leftish war-hawks lacked the ability to critically evaluate evidence.  Thus they were swayed by hawkish rhetoric without the ability to evaluate the argument.  The fallacies of the arguments were plain for all to see.

      I'd say to them, welcome, but seriously, maybe they should go back to school for a rigorous critical thinking class, to complement all that public self-evaluation and introspection.

      •  I absolutely agree. (none)
        What I ask is that that ... group... I don't know what to call them, sit back, figure out their own house.  Really, really think. Follow their own process of thinking and where it led them astray.  Because they put faith in people and propaganda that we rejected. As you say, think critically, if need be take a course.  A real one, grounded in reality, in ethics and critical thinking. Maybe learn to demand more of authority.

        Anything.  

  •  Historical parallels to the Iraq mess (none)
    There is a fascinating op-ed piece in today's NYTimes about the historical parallels between the US in Iraq today & British colonialism at end of WW1 when the British drove the Ottoman Turks from Iraq and declared themselves Iraqi's liberators.
    For full piece go here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/18/opinion/18FERG.html
  •  sorry, don't think this was a great post (none)
    "Shit, all it took was a cursory glance at the history of Iraq and a dash of good ol' fashioned (and apparently out of fashion) common sense to see the various ways things could go wrong."

    First of all, using 'shit' in a front page posting is bad writing.  I can understand a kind of informal style, but since this is a serious topic, I would have prefered a more well reasoned argument.

    Second, for me it was not at all common sense that things would have turned out like they did.  It was not obvious, or likely to me that we should have ended up in the condition we are in.  Of course, with war, anything is possible, and that was my reason that we should not have invaded without better proof.  This argument comes off as a little to cheeky for me, it is a little to easy to look back and say, "of course!!! I told you so!", but really, how many liberals were arguing that we should go in because we might lose? very very few.

    To me it is the kind of argument that makes the left look unserious, and this turns off many.  It is more reasonable, I think, to say that we have a problem now, those who decieved us are primarily responsible and should be removed from power (Bush), but that we still have to find solutions to the mess in the interest of world peace.

    •  I think you are wrong... (4.00)
      it was obvious what would happen if you bothered to actually find out the truth.  Perhaps some of our well meaning fellow citizens who were content to get their news from the networks or the cable outfits could have missed it. But if you were serious about it and looked at it objectively it  was clear that the majority of the people in Iraq did not want us to invade.  That was really all that was necessary to know.  Because it was always clear that if they didn't want us to be there, we couldn't.  It was also abundantly clear that this administration had ulterior motives, reasons that they weren't being honest about, as to why they felt compelled to do this.  I think it was clear unless you were either being fooled or actively fooling yourself.
      •  then show some references to back up your argument (none)
        I'll ask again (do you have links?) how many liberals were arguing that we would lose the war, or suffer severe casualties as we are now? the arguments I heard, were that many Iraqis would die, and some Americans, but this is different.
        •  Well that is precisely the argument.. (none)
          My argument was based on the fact that I actually know people who are from and have families in Iraq.  And it was clear from them as well as a common sense reading of recent history that the people of Iraq would not look upon us as liberators.

          And that was all you needed to know about our chances of prevailing.  Without the overwhelming support of the indiginous population there was never any chance that we could prevail.  The arguement I made at the time was that the insurgency would always be able to force you to chose between defeat and genocide.  This is really the lesson that we should have learned in Vietnam.  That when our forces have no way telling friend from foe, we cannot win unless we are willing to kill them all.

          This in essense was the arguement that those of us who were using the Vietnam analogy were making.  But of course we were shouted down.  Iraq is not Vietnam... As if the geography of the situation was in doubt.  No.  Rather we were making the point that the reason we lost in Vietnam was because we found ourselves on the wrong side of a nationalist struggle.  We predicted that we would find ourselves in the same position in Iraq and this is exactly what is happening.

        •  Wrong question, perhpas. (none)
          I'll ask again (do you have links?) how many liberals were arguing that we would lose the war, or suffer severe casualties as we are now?

          I don't think it'd be worth your time to ask how many liberals were arguing that we would lose outright. I think you'd be better served asking how many liberals were arguing that the war was unwinnable, which is a very different thing.

          I think you'll find a few, although I have to admit that as far as documentation goes, I'm starting from scratch. Let's look.

        •  I'm sure that Steve (none)
          Gilliard has his stuff archived is you feel the need.
    •  Disagree (none)
      I disagree.  As one of those who believed the invasion of Iraq was wrong and that it would bring nothing but trouble, I'd ask those who didn't anticipate this mess to try to imagine what it's been like for the rest of us to watch what has been called a disaster happen before our very eyes (and to be called "chicken littles"!).  

      Also -- there may have been almost as many conservatives as liberals who watched in agony from early 2002 on as a poor case was made for and invasion. I know quite a few.  So please don't respond as though we're just a bunch of caricature liberals who relish saying, "Neener neener!  We were right all along!"  If you know what it's like to watch a disaster happen in slow motion, you'll know that triumphalism isn't a common response.

      •  I am utterly (none)
        disinterested in triumphalism, but I want "traitor" remembered.  For one it is still in use.  Still in teh back pocket ready to be whipped out.

        Terrorist too btw.  Don't forget Perle calling Hersh "nearly a terrorist" and Ron Paige over the NEA.
        No the right has big problems.  And the confused left allowed that group to carry the day with their arguments.  A big problem.
        Right along with the 20 year nervousness in the Democratic party over "liberal".  I thought we made a bit of headway on that one, but no.

    •  Fuck (none)
      If words like "shit" bother you, I submit you head elsewhere. I will use profanity when I feel warranted. Believe it or not, I use such words in my daily discourse, and won't shy away from using them here.
  •  just wanted to say (none)
    that was an excellent post.

    I believe the elderly are our future.

    by madetoorder on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:53:45 PM PDT

  •  military draft (none)
    I agree with Kos's post on everything except the part about the draft.

    Unlike most people around these parts, I actually support a military draft (with the option of alternate service for conscientious objectors). I think the burdens of our Democracy should be shared by all. And as a side benefit, the more people serve, the more stake everyone will have in potential military conflicts. It's a lot easier to advocate for war if you don't know anyone who might suffer consequences. It's a lot harder to remain aloof if war may impact your friends, children, or grandchildren.

    So we should make war even worse than it already is by sending in non-voluntary troops in order to make people less likely to want to go to war? Sorry Kos, I don't want to be killed in a war that I didn't support, and was started by someone I didn't vote for.

    And as far as "sharing the burden of democracy," I think madatory voting (with a no preference option) would go a long way. I get annoyed when people say that the "burden of democracy" is only in the military. We all have a responsibility to democracy, civilians and soldiers alike.

    "The goals for this country are peace in the world. And the goals for this country are a compassionate American for every single citizen." -G.W. Bush

    by Bundy on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:57:01 PM PDT

    •  Mandatory voting (none)
      Problem with mandatory voting is that the moment it is mandatory it ceases to be democratic.

      "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

      by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 05:09:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  First Time I Don't Agree (none)
        with you, gilas girl.

        Paying taxes is mandatory, right?
        Serving on juries is mandatory, right?

        Mandatory voting is perfectly democractic - as long as you can leave the ballot blank.

        You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

        by mattman on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 09:27:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think so actually (none)
          taxes and juries aren't an indexical matter of democracy the way elections are.  I think forcing people to vote erases the meaning of free will (even if you box around with the choices to pretend to give "full expression of all choices") because not voting is often (or can be) an expression of democratic will, as well.

          I think its counter to the principles.  If we want a higher voting rate, forcing it is the wrong way to go.

          "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

          by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 09:47:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  coming from a country with mandatory voting (none)
            I too disagree with you gg for the first time.

            There is nothing undemocratic about mandatory voting. For one here  (Aus) the fine is trivial ($50), for two you can always vote informally (walk into the voting station, tick your name off the electoral list and then bin your ballot), and for three it's very easy to get and stay off the electoral roll if you really don't want to be forced to vote.

            I see voting as both a right and a responsibility; I think it is infinitely more democratic to have governments with a majority mandate from the entire voting public, than a government with a "majority" from the less than 50% who bothered to get off their asses and vote.

            Plus, and I think the USA makes a great study of this, political powers can actively cultivate voter apathy as a way to reduce the 'thinking person's' vote - promoting policies and attitudes that encourage people not to vote is clearly an active political strategy in American politics.

            You can't change the stupidity of the majority, and there is nothing really democratic about 49% unhappy population and 51% happy, but I'd still rather everyone had that responsibility and right, not the choice to abdicate any personal responsibility for the governance of their country.

            Eg  - the really interesting case study done of anti-war demonstrations against the Iraq war, which found through interviews etc. that a huge majority of protesters more than anything wanted to get a message out there that they weren't personally responsible (don't blame me I didn't vote for xxx) - the more of the population that can say it didn't vote at all, the worse that sort of abdication of responsibility gets.

            •  I just think as a general principle its (none)
              counter to the spirit of democracy.  I know its done in places, but I think it kinds of defeats the purpose.

              Its not something I'm overly passionate about, its just one of those contradictions in terms kind of dealies to my mind.

              "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

              by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 10:54:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'd be more inclined to agree with you (none)
                If your average joe was actually likely to get off his/her ass and vote.

                western cultures in particular are so aligned towards consumerism, not responsibility, that I'll take a little 'undemocratic' arm-twisting.

                One of the few good things I got out of my education was how it was my responsibility to take part in voting in a government to represent 'the people'.

                I'll take that over being taught to swear allegiance to a flag. ;-)

                •  I agree that voter apathy is a problem (none)
                  but I think in a democracy its one of the price of admission so to speak.  It goes with the territory.  I have a similiar line of reaction to things like "unity" and even consensus.  I prefer my democracies to be messy and unkempt rather than neat and pristine.

                  Its true that in lining them up and placing value upon them, mandatory voting probably falls below pledges of allegiance (which sound incredibly fascist to me and always have).  I've always hated it and refused even as a child to participate, do the same thing with the pledge that I do with instances of public prayer: stand still and silent.  The pledge is an equally anti-democratic practice to me, so I'd place them in the same loose category.

                  In so many ways we here in the US are a not-very-democratic democracy, but don't tell anybody, that's a big secret.  

                  "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

                  by a gilas girl on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 12:47:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Australia doesn't have first-past-the-post either. (none)
              Meaning you actually vote for someone instead of against someone.
  •  Agreed but... (none)
    But the real idiocy isn't with the administration. They knew what they were doing, and used whatever tools they had at their disposal to get Bush's war on. They were a lot of things, but stupid wasn't one of them.

    ...what are they doing now?  Their recent actions make no sense if they actually want to "exit" June 30 in order to campaign on having a plan and sticking to it.

    Doesn't it seem they are actively trying to gin up a new crisis so they can expand the conflict?  Is Bush now addicted to war?  Are they trying to replay the 2002 campaign but aren't quite sure what pretext they could use to expand the war and trying to provoke some reaction from OBL or Iran or whoever?  Are they hoping for Musharraf to be assassinated?

  •  Smugness does not become you (none)
    OK, I guess I am one of those people who dabbled near the 'liberal hawk' sandbox before the war, although I broke with the Doves at least six months before the invasion.  

    My basic problem with the Anti War people back in 2002 was that they seemed completely OK with a Fascist dictator ruling Iraq with an iron fist.  While the WMD claimes were obviously (to anyone paying attention) being exagerated, I think that most reasonable people thought he had enough poison gas to kill hundreds or even thousands of people.  

    Most importantly, I like the idea of there being some sort of a point where the world community comes together and says "Fuck you, you can't run your country that way anymore.  People are entitled to a level of freedom and dignity and if you can't provide it for your citizens you can't rule anymore."  If such a point exists, Saddam had passed it a long time ago.

    Again, it became clear that this war was a bad idea before it started, but I think that these posts by Atrios and Kos seem a little smug and counter productive.  The liberal in me hates people like Saddam Hussein.  Leaving him in power and punnishing the Iraqi people with sanctions forever might have been the best of a lot of bad options but it WAS a bad option.  

    Bushes "solution" made the Iraq problem worse, but don't pretend like there was not a problem there all along or that what to do should have been obvious.

    •  no way! (none)
      they seemed completely OK with a Fascist dictator ruling Iraq with an iron fist.

      no way, no way.  this is NOT what the anti-war folks were saying.  what we were saying is that there are other ways to get rid of a fascist dictator.  you don't have to bomb the country and kill tens of thousands of people after making sure there is NO WAY for the iraqi people to themselves overthrow the dictator.  there are other options... just study the overthrow of dictators in the twentieth century.  people power can work!

      •  I said the SEEMED ok (none)
        That is obviously a generalization but I stand by it.  In 2002, the anti war people seemed to hate Bush more than Hussein.  The 'other ways' you talk about were not really talked up much, and were only brought up at all because war was looking likely.  

        We had had 10 years of letting Hussein abuse his people while punishing the Iraqis with sanctions.  We did not even have inspectors in there after 1998, and most of the world was willing to let the Iraqi's rot.

        Yes there were other things that we could have done to topple Hussein, but they all involved some measure of Force or at least its threat.

        Look, I am not at all trying to defend Bushes lies, his ineptitude, or his war.  I am just saying that this was only an easy call for pacifists, a group I admire but don't count myself among.

        •  i'm not a pacifist either... (4.00)
          The 'other ways' you talk about were not really talked up much

          well, i'm here to tell you that this is WRONG.

          i respectfully suggest that your opinion was formed in ignorance of the actual work going on.  indeed, i don't blame you if this is true.  the mainstream media NEVER accurately covered the anti-war efforts... and i don't think they ever provided ANY coverage of the work of groups like voices in the wilderness or afsc working to end sanctions and support the people of iraq against saddam hussein.

          i spent HUNDREDS of hours in meetings, in teach-ins, planning protests, and in the protests themselves.  i worked with many different anti-war groups... mostly local, some national.  and what you are saying is WRONG... the "other ways" were talked about, discussed, debated and people were trained in those "other ways".

          •  You are right about the ignorance (none)
            The protesters I saw in Portland expressed nothing but an unwashed hatred of George W Bush.  If they were planning other ways of deposing Saddam Hussein without violence I remain ignorant of them.  Twice you have mentioned a plan that you had for doing this wiht people power, but you have not even hinted what it is so I do remain ignorant.  

            The options that seemed on the table were:

            1. War
            2. Continue to contain Hussein, with bombing runs in no fly zones, punishing sanctions, and tens of millions of oppressed people.
            3. lift the sanctions and let Hussein rebuild his ambitions to invade the oil fields and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, becomeing a massive regional power.
            All were bad options.  An ineptly conducted war by a polarizing frat boy president is an especially bad interpretation of option 1.  Now perhaps a little more media savy and you could have convinced me and other centrists that there was a fourth option, using people power.  But I still don't know what you mean so its a little late to sign up for it.
            •  options on the table. (none)
              Your three options are incorrect. The real options were:
              1. Support Bush on what was obviously a war justified by fraud, planned by fools, and aimed at imperial delusions.
              2. Oppose that war.
              3. Pretend that there was another option.
              (3) - the option picked by pro-war hawks was foolish and irresponsible.
              •  Huh? (none)
                Opposed to the war, fine, good, we all oppose the war.  No war.  Give peace a chance.  War. huh! what is it good for, blah blah blah.  

                Whatever.

                The question is what would you propose to do about tin pot dictators like Saddam Hussein?  Now, just for a second, put aside the fact that what Bush did was stupid and wrong and made things worse.  We all agree about that.  I am just interested in what those people on this thread who never even considered the idea that forcefully removing Saddam Hussein from power could be our best option, would have done instead.  Maintain sactions and no fly zones for the rest of time?  Dose Hussein with e's in hopes he stops being so darn evil?  Forget about Iraq and hope he does not invade Kuawait agin?  Let him invade Kuwait again?  

                Really, its easy to be against something, but our leaders have to also be for something else.

                •  options 2 (none)
                  Sadly enough, I have very little control over what goes on. The choices presented to us were simple. What pisses me off about the pro-war-liberals was that they did not, and apparently still do not want to face reality. You have a moral choice: either drive the car forward over some kids or try to stop it. And you say, drive it forward, because it's irresponsible to just sit here.
                  •  You have as much control as those pro war liberals (none)
                    We have to face the consequences of our actions.  I don't really think I fit into the 'pro war liberal' camp as the war was too obviously a clusterfuck waiting to happen for me to support, but I guess I am more generally a 'pro use of American force to confront despotism under some circumstances' liberal, so I will play the role.

                    The point is that the car was not parked. Things were not 'OK' before the war.  We had been bombing and boycotting Iraq since 1998, stopping would have probably resulted in Hussein murdering thousands of defiant Kurds.  Continuing would have resulted in more starvation and suffering through the sanctions.  To claim that pro war liberals are to blame for the fucked up war is fair, but the whole point of This thread is that we are supposed to listen to people like you now, so I ask again.  What would your policy towards Iraq have been?

                    •  consequences (none)
                      You know, some military sanctions, actual support for democracy, money for humanitarian missions in the large parts of Iraq where SH was unable to rule effectively, a real peace process in Israel, cutting US oil use by a bunch, a bunch of money and troops for Afghanistan so it could turn into a real country, and a reward for sending SH to the war crimes tribunal in the Hague.  I dunno, nothing dramatic, you know steps towards democracy and prosperity.

                      But none of that matters. Once the junta seized power here, all of that was pipedream. Our choice was to cooperate with Imperialism-for-Dummies or oppose it. Those who supported it, because they didn't want to be seen as on the side of foolish anti-war hippies or because they wanted to pretend to be sophisticated or because they felt all manly and tough at the thought of Operation Mutilate Thousands of Children, have blood on their hands.

                •  Baloney (none)
                  I don't hear a peep out of you about bastards like Mugabe.

                  So your rationalization fails.

                  You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

                  by mattman on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 09:35:17 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I am not trying to rationalize the war (none)
                    If we were talking about Mugabe, there would be more peeps.  Look, if you are a pacifist, or an true blue isolationist, great I am glad this was so easy for you to figure out.  The rest of us took some time to reflect.  In general, I still think that using force to deal with tyrants can be justified.  There are sever things that have to be weighed, such as whether we have an end strategy that will actually be preferable to the despotism, which is where Bush lost me.

                    Most of us concluded at some point that war was a bad udea, but why are you so bothered by our thinking it through instead of jumping to an anti-Bush position right off the cuff.

            •  If those are the only options... (none)
              ...how, exactly, do you explain Libya?

              Clearly, Moammar Ghadaffi wasn't subject to any of those three options.  And yes, he's an evil evil man who was at one time the Next Hitler, and we had sanctions against him for his support of terrorism, and he was working on weapons of mass destruction.

              ...and now the Bush and Blair administrations are welcoming him back into the international community.  He's still in power, though.  He still runs his country.  Is he less of a bad guy somehow?

              And don't spin me the notion that Libya only shaped up because of the invasion of Iraq.  If anything, the Iraq war weakened our ongoing-for-several-years talks with Libya, because they knew that there was no way the U.S. could occupy and contain a THIRD country.  We're not strong enough now to take Libya.

              But they gave in away, thanks to hard work of diplomacy.  So why isn't this an option?

              --Kynn

              •  Right, libya was contained. (none)
                I don't mean to be rude, but what are you talking about?  How was Libya not being contained with sanctions? Containment was one of our three basic options for dealing with Hussein--the one I and most other Democrats wanted to try with Iraq.

                My point wasn't that this fucked up war was a better option than containment, its that containment was causing widespread suffering in Iraq that might have gone on for decades, the way it did with Libya.  The ramifications were actually worse because containing Iraq actually meant monthly bombing runs in the no fly zone, and the lack of oversite over the oil for food program was causing massive starvation.  Accepting decades of bombings and starvation should not have been an easy choice.  Thats all I am saying.

                Look, letting the Iraqi people rot under the thumb of Hussein might have been our best option given the ramifications of 'regime change', but I think it was a bad enough option to hear out the Tony Blairs and Tom Friedmans of the world.  And the lefts 'told you so' rhetoric, especially aimed at people who have already come to an anti war position, is really unattractive.   Its not going to push me into the Bush camp, but I have to admit feeling a great deal of relief that Dean is out of the running.

                •  Balance (none)
                  Well, I guess it comes down to one of those horrible moral calculations: is there going to be a highr quantity of suffering by invading or sustaining the status quo? It is indeed a very, very difficult question, one even this pacifist has to really ponder. At this point obviously, we'll never know.
            •  End of your credibility on this issue in my eyes (none)
              The protesters I saw in Portland expressed nothing but an unwashed hatred of George W Bush

              I don't care how "reasoned" the rest of your posts sound.  In my mind "George Bush hatred" is as revealing and coded a statement as referring to the "Democrat Party".  I know I'm giving away the secret handshake and the keys to the clubhouse by saying that but I also know that in the end, one's true perspective always shows through.  The more folks talk, they more they reveal themselves.

              The chips are down. Find your outrage.

              by sj on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 03:30:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly (none)
            same for me: I spent hours listening to really knowledgable people, read more than probably the average American, met constantly with people, even tried my hand at some Congressional lobbying (much to my own personal distaste)and continually educated myself from all the various groups who were involved at different levels with a movement to stop the Bush juggernaut.

            "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

            by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 05:18:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Saddam (none)
          It's not the job of the US to go around the world deposing dictators.

          Is it good that Saddam is gone? Yes. Did that good balance out the damage done by the example of the world's most powerful country declaring that the rules don't apply to it? I don't think so.  

          The principle of state sovereignty in international law says that nations shall be left alone unless they attack others. If this principle needs to be adjusted, then just about everybody in the world outside the US would say that action against dictators should be taken multilaterally through the UN, not by a single nation deciding which dictators should stay (Uzbekistan, anyone?) and which should go.

          There is also the fact that the US had motives for invading Iraq, such as oil, that were other than the ones advertised. Iraqis and everyone else are quite aware of this.

        •  But don not forget (none)
          how comfy the right was with Saddam.  The utter meddling in the ME for nearly a century.  Who looked the other way in 88 when Hallabja occured.  Who promoted Saddam to pummel Iran, all too reminsicent of Afhanistan and Osama.

          It is deeply complex.  And by the examination of many rights orgainisations his killing was largely over.  An ageing despot.  And don't forget the UN inspectors were in, and getting no worthwhile intell from the US.  War was engineered.

          I jsut heard this week McCain (yes that endless VP candidate) TWICE prattle the "children's prison" line.  Something that was completely debunked in the flutter of too timely stories from our invasion of Baghdad.  We had "liberated" an orphanage, that was the reality...  But there it was again, as the right panicks.

        •  Yes but that "seemed" (none)
          is precisely part of the problem:

          anyone who was "anti-war" was by definition to the rest of you, suspect.  Rather than listening the pro-war circles readily accepted the smear tactics of the right and the trivialization of the media.  The fact that it "seemed" that way to you is partly your own fault for failing to accept that people on the left or people who were anti-war were every bit as serious-minded, every bit the patriot and every bit as knowledgable as you, but they came to different conclusions.

          Things rarely if ever "seem" all on their own, "seeming" is a product of a context.

          "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

          by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 05:15:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wow, did you even read my post? (none)
            Like many people I opposed this war after carefully studying the issue from a variety of points of view.

            The reason why the anti war people seemed suspect was not because they were 'anti war', but because they seemed to be in favor of not only not invading, but also of ending the sanctions and no fly zones which would have allowed Hussein to finish the Kurdish genocide he started years ago.

            The mess we are in was predictable and reason to oppose the war but I still ask you: What would you have done with Saddam Hussein?  Maintain the no fly zones and sanctions?  Maintain the threat of force that kept him accepting of inspections?  For how long?  

            The position I finally took was a depressing bit of realpolitic that supported maintaining the sanctions and no fly zones indefinately, but I refuse to pretend like that was great solution.  I also refuse to marginalize people who came to a different conclusion (which is all Atrios was saying with his smug post).

            •  Actually (none)
              not everyone who was anti-war was anti-sanctions.

              As someone who has been anti-sanctions since 1997, however, even your classification here of what "lifting the sanctions" would have meant falls into the same category, so yes, I did read your post.  I read it twice, in fact, and still found that your characterization of the anti-war "movement" was exactly as I posted.  

              "By focusing fear and hatred on the Tutsi, the organizers hoped to forge solidarity among Hutu." -- Human Rights Watch

              by a gilas girl on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 09:36:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Point taken (none)
                I felt lifting the sanctions would have given Hussein the potential to grow into the sort of threat he was in the 80's, when he killed millions of people.  I still feel that way.  Containment, with coercive inpections, not just in looking for weapons but by human right watchdogs inpecting prisons, etc, combined with third party oversite of the oil for food program would have probably been the way 'deal' with Hussein.

                I think your position was wrong, but I do feel like I understand it a little better now.

        •  No no no no no no no no no no no no (none)
          In 2002, the anti war people seemed to hate Bush more than Hussein.

          This is absolutely offensive to me. Excuse me, but it is impossible for me to interpret this in any other way than a direct insult. Even if it did "seem" that way to you, I assure you it was not.

          This is simply right-wing propaganda repeated (they call it "talking points" now).

          I am a pacifist and I don't feel the need to apologize for it. Yes, opposing a WAR OF AGGRESSION meant that Hussein would have remained in power.

          1. The USA installed and armed Hussein, and was in fact allied with him for the better part of the 80s. Just because I'm an American and I love my country doesn't make this not true.
          2. Instigating a war (which is, point of fact, what we did) does not mean that life will be better off under the glorious righteous free Provisional Authority. Frankly, we have made life worse. Was it possible to acheive the things Bush claimed we could? I doubt it. "Iraq does not need democracy brought on the wings of Tomahawks."--Igor Ivanov, Russian Foreign Minister, 3/03
          3. We have now destabilized the entire region. Even moderate Muslims around the world are going to be very very very concerned as we start raiding mosques. This is called asymmetrical warfare, and it's exactly what the anti-war left--generally pacifist or otherwise--predicted. This type of conflict is NOT WINNABLE except through extreme force, which is politically incompatible with the idea of throwing off the shackles of the evil Hussein.
          4. I've been making this point a lot lately, but reread 1984, paying especial attention to the figure of Emmanuel Goldstein. We've been getting a new target for the Two Minutes' Hate every month or so under Bush.
          5. I hate Bush. I hate Saddam. End of story. I don't want to hear any more pscyhobabble about who I hated more or less or for whatever made up bullshit reason.
          6. If there are people you saw at protests that offended you, I don't care. People at protests have a tendency to be overly didactic. It's part of the whole idea of protesting. Protests are not where you go to find the intellectual heavyweights (although they may in fact be there, you're more likely to run into some yahoo).
          This is what I recommended prior to 2003: End the no-fly zones and sanctions. Continue the inspections regime, in perpetuity if need be. (Small price to pay.) Engage Iraq's neighbors in some sort of alliance with each other  (not with the US, which would be difficult for those countries to sign), a sort of regional NATO-type organization designed to a) punish Sadddam for aggression by isolating him diplomatically and b) reward him economically with American investment in infrastructure (NOT OIL) for behaving. Eventually, given enough good behavior, he could join this umbrella organization.

          We did not invade because of his human rights record (China, anyone?!?). That was never the case. Wars are not fought out of the concern for the other nation's citizenry, and never have been to the best of my knowledge. Continuing to embrace this line of thinking is indefensible. Sorry for the long angry post but here I was upthread thinking that I didn't have to listen to that kind of talk anymore.

          (P.S. Yes we did have inspectors there after 1998. No, they were not kicked out by Hussein.)

          •  that kind of talk (none)
            I was not expecting position papers from protesters, but ending the no fly zones like you suggest would have resulted in Hussein murdering thousands of Kurds.  

            Are you OK with that?

            •  Look (none)
              Enough with the loaded questions and straw men. Of course I'm not okay with Saddam murdering Kurds.

              If political leadership in a country decides to start murdering parts of their populace, what does the world typically  do? 1) Ignore it. 2) Start some sort of diplomacy. 3) Resort to military solutions.

              The no-fly zones were frankly military. They have no basis or precedent under international law, as far as I know (sound familiar?). Saddam didn't have much of an air force anyway. What we did with the no-fly zones was bomb stuff. If it got civilians, well, I remember some sort of saying about destroying a village to save it.

              It also gave us a potential pretext, which we never actually used--Iraq shoots down pilots, captures/tortures pilots, boom, we invade. Didn't work. They tried it with somebody, I can't remember the pilot's name, but nobody bought it. (That brings to mind the pretext Hitler used to invade Poland.)

              I believe (although I am not a politician or diplomat or expert or anything) that there had to have been some sort of political solution. (No, I don't know in detail what that would be, but I'm not running for office either.) By the way, our allies in Turkey have been itching to murder some Kurds for a while now. If there is a civil war in Iraq, I imagine both Turkey and Iran will make some sort of land grab. Turkey will kill a whole bunch of Kurds.

              Getting a whole bunch of people to not kill each other is not aided by killing a bunch of people.

              As you mentioned above, I have indeed thought about whether or not removing SH by force was our best option. I have said since 2002 that that was our worst option. The reasons why are well-known; they have been the headlines for a month or so now. Again, I refuse to apologize for my positions any more and feel very strange that I am still defending them, even after events have more or less proven me correct.

              •  Its not a straw man (none)
                Our 'bombing stuff' via the no fly zones was what allowed the northern Kurdish portion of the country to avoid Hussein and start up 'Iraqi Kurdistan' in direct defience of Hussein.  Based on his past experiences witht he Kurds and the Shia, he would have punished there insubordination with death the second we gave him access to that part of the country.  You are correct that if there is a civil war, which is looking depressingly likely, even more Kurds and others will die.

                Look, I don't know what the point of all this really is.  We both agree that the war was the wrong thing to do.  I found this a tough call to make becuase the situation in Iraq before the war was so horrible.  You think that this was an easy call to make because you find the application of violence to be fundamentally wrong.  We can argue about this again when some tribe of people starts a program of Ethnic cleansing in some other hell hole and we have to decide whether or not to invade and stop it.  In the mean time, lets just hope that we can get a half competant leader to clean up the mess in Iraq.

                •  Sorry (none)
                  I have to go, otherwise I'd continue this....Sorry if I jumped down your throat, I've been tense the last two weeks over the headlines. I think I'm getting your point a little better now. Absent the genocide vs. the Kurds, we wouldn't have anything to disagree on. The no-fly zones helped form "Iraqi Kurdistan," you're right. I think there may have been better ways to bring this about; however, I might be wrong about that. We'll never know now.

                  No, I didn't think it was an easy call, even given my pacifist stance. There is the notion of the "just war," with WWII being the most obvious example. Was this a just war? I doubt it. Could it have been? Maybe. But it would have begun with UN approval, which is the only body in human history that even approaches having the authority to give suchh an imprimatur.

                  Stopping ethnic cleansing, I believe, does not constitute "invasion," and we would also be assisted (instead of resisted) by the locals. I also think it would not have required extended occupation. (Rwanda possibly being an example--if I'm not mistaken, Rwanda would have been quickly pacified had 30,000 US Marines + additional international blue helmets entered the country.)

                  I agree whole-heartedly with your final sentiment.

      •  "People power can work!" (none)
        "People power" put half a million Kurds and Marsh Arabs into unmarked graves.  Iraq is not the Philippines, Selise:  For as long as Saddam Hussein had unchallenged control of the Iraqi military, and for as long as he was willing to commit genocide to protect his regime, a popular uprising had no chance of success.  (And our efforts to challenge Saddam's control of the Iraqi military were an unbroken string of failures.)  The Iraqi people were profoundly cynical about their ability to overthrow Saddam, and with good reason.
    •  "Fascist" ... (none)
      I'm going to take you to task for this, because it's the same careless thinking you're criticizing Atrios and Kos for. Saddam was a despot and tyrant, of a sort you could find in that part of the world going back to the days of war chariots. Before war chariots, in fact. (Nothing unique to that part of the world, either - Iraq just happens to have 5000 years of recorded history, beating out Egypt by several hundred years, so they've not only seen it all but written it all down.)

      Calling Saddam a fascist - a word with a fairly specific meaning - is invective posing as analysis. Why does it matter? Because farther down that same road you get David Brooks comparing al-Sadr to Hitler. (I guess comparing him to Khomeini wouldn't get people het up enough.)

      Putting things in proportion is a good first step toward dealing with them, two years ago or now.

      -- Rick Robinson

      John Kerry - Elitist New England Liberal Mekong Delta River Rat

      by al Fubar on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:48:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Simplistic, but not that far off (none)
        The definition of fascism is not the same as Nazism.  According to Webster's it is "An ideology that advocates extreme nationalism, with a heightened sense of national belonging or ethnic identity".  Saddam actually modeled his governing technique after Stalin, but he certainly advocated extreme nationalism, murdered entire villages based on their ethnic makeup, and earned the title 'Fascist'.  Hitler was not the first or last one and it is not necessary to invade poland to 'earn' the title.
        •  Fascism? (none)
          According to Webster's it is "An ideology that advocates extreme nationalism, with a heightened sense of national belonging or ethnic identity".

          Oh, so you mean like [REDACTED BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION].

    •  Even idealists have to work within the possible. (none)
      OK, there we were, in the 2002-03 winter, with al-Qaeda still active and bin Laden at large, North Korea saber-rattling (or nuke-rattling, perhaps), Iran maybe a year away from being able to make nuclear weapons, an unstable regime in Pakistan that already had nukes (and I'm assuming in retrospect that the CIA at least supposed by then that Pakistan was helping out Iran and NK in the nuke department), and of course a rebuilding job in Afghanistan that wasn't very far along, and could still fail.

      IOW, lots of threats in the world besides Iraq.

      Meanwhile, Iraq wasn't really a threat.  We had it contained, and sanctions had been working.

      On that basis alone, invading and occupying Iraq seemed like a dumb idea, even with the assumption (which I shared, after Afghanistan) that the invasion part would be quick and comparatively painless.

      And then there were the risks involved in invading Iraq.  Radicals could get their hands on the WMDs in the proverbial fog of war.  (We still don't know they didn't; we can only hope to God there really were no WMDs.)  But most of all, there was a middlin' chance that we'd leave the people of Iraq in worse shape than they were under Saddam, in the midst of a civil war, or a failed state exploited by outlaws, warlords, and whoever else had enough guns.

      Here we are, less than a year after Shrub did his victory dance on the aircraft carrier, and these possibilities are still very much live ones.  And Western-style democracy really isn't.

      Yes, there's very definitely a liberal argument for taking out thugs like Saddam.  But as long as we're in the real world, we've got to look at the whole picture:

      Could we depose Saddam?  Absolutely.
      Would we have to sacrifice other, more important objectives to make it happen?  Definitely.
      Would we make ourselves safer by attacking Iraq?  No.  
      And would we improve the lot of the Iraqi people?  Maybe.

      That was the pre-war scorecard.  On that basis, I don't see what ideology would justify this adventure.  And I don't see that the line items of this scorecard were particularly in doubt before the war.

      And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased, And the epitaph drear: "A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East." --K

      by RT on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:25:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True true (none)
        My point is not that the pro war liberals were right.  OBVIOUSLY they were not, and the truth is they should not have even needed hindsight to see it.  My point was just that Atrios and Kos are taking a very cold 'realpolitic' (if correct) position and totally slamming what feels like the more idealisticly liberal (if incorrect) position.

        Using the threat of force to get inspectors back in was a great start and one of Bushes very few fine moments.  Then we should have kept the threat of force up to get human rights watchdog groups into Iraq.  What they reported would have shamed other countries, including regional ones into helping supply the force needed to keep Hussein in line, which would have eventually undermined his regime, possibly even resulting in his getting tried in the Hague.  But all of it starts with the credible threat of force which the 'anti war' people were not really providing.  

  •  Was the Iraq war inevitable? (none)
    Yes, it was, as soon as Bush got selected.

    Clarke says in his book that he heard from Pentagon types that it was going to happen in 2002.  We now know that Bush asked for a plan from Rumsfeld in 2001.  Well, they were going to implement it in 2002, unilaterally if need be, without Congress if need be.

    The truth is that 9-11 delayed the Iraq war, because it forced Bush to go to Afghanistan first.  9-11 made it just a little harder to sell Iraq as the right target, with Al-Qaeda forcing itself to the forefront.  They had to connect Iraq to Al-Queda to get their war on.

    Pretty insane shit, no?

  •  NO DRAFT! (4.00)
      The draft enabled Vietnam. That should be enough to say about it but, of course it isn't.

      We will never curb this insatiable military adventurism with a draft. We have impoverished our society building this grossly over-sized war machine, and now I should donate my grandkids to the cause of protecting corporate greed? No f**king way.
       Our military exceeded any reasonable concept of "defense" a long, long time ago.
      The only way to rein in the machine is to starve it of bodies since we don't seem to be able to control the spending.
       I thought liberals opposed using force on peaceful citizens. Why then are you so ready to FORCE other people to do anything, let alone to be sent to a kill-or-be-killed situation.
       In addition, the draft sends the wrong message. Citizens don't belong to the government. The government is supposed to belong to the people. Maybe someday it will again. But since it doesn't now, how can you even consider sending your kids or my kids to the tender mercies of a Rumsfeld, or a Cheney, or a Kerry for that matter.
      NO DRAFT!
     

  •  One of Your Best Comments Yet (none)
    Kos, I agree with everything you say--vehemently--including the reinstitution of the draft.  People aren't as quickly to offer up everyone else's kids to war when they have to look their own in the eye across the kitchen table.

    Bravo!!

    Your total ignorance of that which you profess to teach merits the death penalty. ~~I.J. Reilly

    by lightiris on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:38:09 PM PDT

  •  Yes, But What Kind Of Idiots? (none)
    Yes, the media were idiots. Yes, the political establishment in this country - the think tanks, etc - were idiots.

    But what kind? That is, why the $&@#@$ did they go along with Bush? How did Bush get away with it? What were the non-Bush pro-war idiots thinking when anyone with half a brain knew this idea was the dumbest thing since the invention of the square wheel?

    * (I won't argue with you but yes, the Bushites were idiots, too, to think up the whole idea.)

  •  Stop the 2005 draft (4.00)
    No matter who wins the election, the draft will be proposed in 2005.  

    Bush is desperately short of bodies (I use the term advisedly).  Extending reservists and regular army people beyond promised 12-month combat tours was done only as a short-term expedient to get past November.  It's not sustainable. If Bush wins, he will push for a draft.  

    And Kerry, who thinks that we need more troops in Iraq, will push for a draft, too.

    The draft is the great enabler of wars.  No major war was fought without it.  The Iraq war can't be continued without it.  

    It's a complete misreading of history and of contemporary politics to imagine that a draft would work against war.  Yes, it would energize some of the opposition; but that is more than counterbalanced by the fact that the draft feeds the beast.  They can't fight a war without soldiers.  They can't keep up a bloodly misguided and discredited war with volunteers.  

    It's cynical to propose a draft to curb adventurism and imperialism.  That's offering the blood of draftees to do the political work that we should do instead by organizing political opposition on the merits.

    National service is a nice goal if the nation is wisely and competently guided.  National service is a disastrous idea if the country is led by demagogues and fools.  

  •  bad premise, bad rhetoric, bad politics (4.00)
    Kos, I might agree with your sentiments, but....

    your post and Atrios' comments are an attack on anyone who wasn't against the war from the very beginning....with the main weapon being the most dreaded implication in liberal/left politics...that folks were "wrong" about the war, in effect, collaborating with the Bush war machine.  

    (God forbid anyone in Democratic politics take a "wrong" position like this because it will NEVER be forgotten in the long memory of critics in Berkeley or on the Upper West Side.  You see, the greatest enemy of the "true, clear thinking" Left, is the near Left.)

    In my view, accusing folks of being "wrong" is a bad premise...and it's counter productive.    Atrios even seems to imply that had only a few  Center-Lefties stood up to the media and, as you call it, "war fever" and the "lust for battle" we might not be in this situation right now.

    I don't agree.  This is Bush's war.  He was going to have it come Hell or high water...and he got it exactly that way.

    We were on the same page as a nation until the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Afghanistan....and the creation of the utterly despicable phrase: "the Axis of Evil."  But Iraq, WMD, "pre-emptive" war against a "gathering storm" and Neo-Con insistence on establishing a Big Corporation Funded Democracy in Iraq is ALL BUSH.  100%, totally pure....BUSH.

    My point is that now is not the time to focus in on why some liberal commentators were wrong.  Or why John Kerry was wrong.  Or Dick Gephardt was wrong.

    Kos, the premise or your approach is very Howard Dean: all it takes to convince the nation to do the right thing is to yell the truth loud enough. To put it bluntly, that is naive.

    I would put it this way.  We on the Left all knew that Bush was selling us a load of horse shit regarding WMD and the rationale for invasion.   We all knew that they were HELL bent on invading Iraq...and about the only surprise was exactly how badly they f**d the whole thing up.  

    But the point is....Bush did it because he COULD.    He could because a majority of Americans, ambivalent about things as they were, thought and still think that invading Iraq was a good thing to do after 9/11.  There was nothing you or I could have done to stop this.

    The most salient reality right now is not that center lefties were wrong....big whup...it's that Bush's majority may be weakening. During this election cycle it may come to be that Americans will reject Bush's premise, his rationale, and Bush's war lock stock and barrell.  

    On it's face those Americans who change sides will be folks who weren't against the war from the very beginning...so excoriating that view here is really, at the end of the day, pretty stupid and barking up the wrong tree.

    Our job is to convince folks that we are the party to hand over the failed policy in Iraq...

    my question is what are we doing about that?

    2004's the election, 2005's the prize...let'sTCB!

    by kid oakland on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:02:25 PM PDT

    •  Odd thing (none)
      Here's the odd thing:  When Dean went south, the consensus around here (at least, by Tom Schaller, if not by Kos) was that Kerry was more in tune with the American people's "journey toward realization" or whatever.  And that was more than okay; it was somehow "smart" and really good politically.

      100,000 suspects in Rwanda's genocide are still awaiting trial. | 100 Days of Rwanda

      by NYCO on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:26:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well... (4.00)
      I think that those of us who were against the war from the begining are compromising by supporting Kerry.  And I think both Atrios and Kos are pointing out that the least the pro-war crowd can do is admit that they were wrong about this issue. Many of them made their arguments in a way that disrespected the view of and attempted to marginalize those who were opposed.  It would have been one thing to lose a genuine debate and see your country embark on a disasterous course.  It was another thing entirely to really be denied a serious debate.  So I think the bitterness in view of the resultant loss of life, is understandable.
  •  Deceived and ambivalent (none)
    Leading up to the war, I knew we weren't told the real reason. I was so perplexed I looked into the petro dollars theory, the Saudi's are collapsing theory, the Leo Strauss PNAC Wolfowitz theory, the projection of power theory, and of course WMD's. At the time, I knew Bush was hopelessly incompetent and corrupt on domestic issues but I thought his foreign policy people were capable and not corrupted. Bill Clinton, James Woolsley, Kenneth Pollack, and Tony Blair said there were WMD's. I also believed Saddam would use WMD's if invaded as the CIA predicted. After 9/11 no one was willing to say Saddam wouldn't use WMD's. No one was saying planning for Afghanistan was aborted for Iraq. No one said there was no plan for post war Iraq. No one said the Iraq "intelligence" all came from Chalibi. Arabs have been infamous for ambushes, asassinations, and kidnappings for centuries it was a predictable outcome but based on what I could find out not the certain outcome.

    So I gave Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iraq and I was wrong. I think millions of Americans are slowly following suit.

  •  Devil's Advocate (none)
    No pun intended...

    A couple of things struck me as I read this:

    A lot of us suspected that the WMD claims were being dramatically overstated but very, very few people believed Hussein had nothing up his sleeve at all. This is why a bipartisan Congress gave its overwhelming support to the authorization Bush used to launch the invasion. They should not have given Bush a carte blanche resolution based on rather flimsy speculation - but they did - and there's nothing we can do about it now. Bush and his administration should never have abused congressional and public respect for their executive offices - but they did - and there's nothing we do about it now. And, bottom line, the truth is that neither war supporters nor those who weren't could have ever have been certain about what Hussein had or didn't have if America hadn't displaced his control over the country. It would be nice to see a show of hands of all the people who felt zero need to hold their breath and pray that our invading troops invaded wouldn't get gassed with some horrible poison...

    Frankly, I'm having a hard time being pissed that we blew it on the WMDs. I hold this administration responsible for making a concerted effort to confuse the public about Iraq's role in 9/11 and certainly for asserting that Iraq could be a threat to the continental US with any goddamned missile in his arsenal. But I'm not sorry that so many intelligence agencies the globe over, including ours, were wrong about Hussein possessing those weapons. If he had, we might have lost tens of thousands of American troops in a single assault.

    Then there's this bit of reality to chew on; this war was always going to be America's to fight - always. We gave Saddam Hussein legitimacy. When he stood by as he amassed a dictatorial regime and started brutalizing his own people. When international disgust and pressure became a pain the ass, we hit the country with sanctions that disproportionately harmed Iraq's aggrieved and powerless citizens. At some point, we were going to have to correct the error of our ways in Iraq. This is probably another reason that Congress approved such a broad measure for Bush. A quick scan of the political calculus indicates that Congress probably thought it was easier to get this past the public on the heels of 9/11 that it would be in a few years or decades. And the threat, knowing that they believed one probably existed, certainly wasn't going to diminish in that time.

    But here's the real test of all the incensed conviction I see here that this invasion was based on demonstrably false pretenses, it was a foreseeable failure and an utterly pointless venture that should by all rights be punished by a misrepresented American public:

    Are you prepared to refuse the re-election or promotion bids of every Democrat who voted for the resolution and lose those Democratic seats in the House or Senate or the Executive Branch on principle? If you're not, then your outrage and political integrity amount to nothing.

    It's easy enough to browbeat Republicans to reject the people that forced America's hand on this war. But none of this shit counts if you're not as willing to discipline your own party and representatives as you are to shit on fellow citizens who dared to have some faith in our leadership.

    That's the only test that counts now, as far as I can tell. Come November, I guess we'll all find out just how much this really means to those of you who want to toe this hard line today.

  •  Steve Gilliard also has a few things to say (none)
  •  Iowa Democrats (none)
    I'll just say this...

    If Kerry cannot capitalize on Bush's Iraq blunder and win in November, then Iowa needs to be removed from its privileged "first in the nation" position in the primaries.

    They foisted that jerk on us when there were clearly better candidates.

  •  The best anti-war argument... (none)
    But there was ONE particular fact that fully exposed Bush's lies for what they were -- not a single Iraq neighbor signed up for the fight. Not a single Iraq neighbor considered Saddam a threat. That should've told us everything we needed to know.

    This was my favorite (and I think the strongest) argument against the US invasion.  If Saddam was such a threat why didn't Turkey fear him?  Saudi Arabia?  Kuwait?  Syria?  None of them signed up to kick him out.  If they didn't fear threatened why was Saddam an imminent threat to the USA?

  •  why not jiujitsu? (none)
    So, another modest proposal.... we state that we are willing to spend $100 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq... using American and Iraqi contractors to rebuild... but the first killing of a contractor in a given city eliminates their chances of being reconstructed for some period of time. Make the period of time exponentially worse for each infraction. Withdraw ALL our armed forces to Kuwait or wherever. Turn the people against the militants...

    What do you all think?

  •  Never could figure out why... (none)
    The traditional Rep. (or Dem for that matter)realists on foreign policy backed Bush on Iraq.

    Sure the neocons had their idealistic dream (spreading democracy) and their belief that American power could do this.  Iraq was made for and by them.

    But the Kissinger types...never could figure out why.

    Frankly, I'm a realist on foreign policy (with enough ethics to not carry to the extreme of war crimes).  I measure things in potential costs and benefits.  I'm not a pacifist.  I find the idea of civilian casaulties in war to be disturbing but necessary.

    I don't worship at the altar of the UN.  I do however pay heed to idealistic notions of multilateralism becuase afterall I realize that realistically there are idealists in the world.  Therefore, if possible working with the UN is a good idea not because it is an "right" but because it helpful in that the civilian population will have more deference and respect for you.  Furthermore, humanitarian missions are acceptable if they do not divert substantial military resources and help us build our prestige and political capital (ex: Bosnia and Kosovo).  it also helps if the humanitarian mission helps promote regional stability.

    I never understood how many supposedly "realists" like Rumsfeld and Cheney (who are not historically Neocons, remember PNAC was an effort to unite realists and neocon Republicans) favored this war.  From a realist perspective Iraq was containable (military was weak), resources were needed elsewhere (war on terror), and a secular tyrannical state where terrorists were not welcome.

    My best guess is that they supported Iraq for a combination of two factors:

    1. They miscalculated the costs and benefits. T hought the economic benefit from oil and the political benefits of pulling troops out of Saudi Arabia would outweigh the costs.  Bad miscalculation.
    2. They're realist instincts were overruled by their association with the neocons.

    From Baltimore County? Volunteer for the local party!

    by Lavoisier1794 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 05:07:51 PM PDT

  •  Responsibility lies with the media (none)
    Previously the role of the 4th Estate was to keep the executive in check -- after the so-called moderate Bush (remember the compassion) filled his government with lunatics & criminals from the PNAC & Iran Contra, alot of us knew we were in for a bumpy ride.  And when they started with the bogus trashing of the White House myth, we knew that to much promoted "honor & dignity" would be a rather short supply for this crew.

    Instead of acting as a check on the government's excesses, the media ided & abetted.  When it was clear a huge reason for the war was domestic politics (the lost Rove PowerPoint presentation, Card's "you don't roll out a new product in August), the media (who while not nearly skeptical enough are cynical) never really levelled on this aspect of it with the people; instead they did their damndest to promote the war fever, in ways both subtle & blatant.  FAIR, I think, has done a study of the pre-war shows, which showed that a tiny percentage of talking heads were anti-war -- I only watch the Newshour, but that supposedly balanced show had almost no one who opposed the war.  Those seats were filled, instead, by "liberals" like the ubiquitous Ken Pollack, Michael O'Hanlon & Tom Friedman who, gosh darnit, were a little conflicted but saw this as the right thing to do.

    And the killer is, they're STILL ON THE F*CKING SHOWS AS SUPPOSED EXPERTS!

    Don't kid yourselves, the media is still at it:  watch how they conflate Iraq with the War on Terror.  Also, it's now a given, touted by the media, that we're in Iraq to bring democracy....Again, the Bush crew has won the war of language.  You see the anguished families talking about how it was a noble sacrifice to bring freedom to this country.

    ABC tonight started out with "President Bush told America in his press conference that the war was going to be tough...and it is" as they went into the latest.   Later, of course,there was the obligatory "bringing democracy" line.

    I remember in the run-up to war remarking to a friend I now understood Nazi Germany alot better, as the fever pitch in this country generated by the media was awesome (in the classic sense) to behold.  There were NO voices, no papers, no television stations making arguments against this war that was clearly wrong on so many levels.  None.  And yet, a fact often forgotten was that polls just before the invasion showed around 1/3 in favor of invading, 1/3 opposed & 1/3 in favor ONLY IF the UN approved.

    As for myself, I have no time for the mea culpas of MY or JMM or the rest -- I did graduate work in Middle Eastern studies, spent alot of time there, read history.  As it turns out (no surprise to me), even a country like the Dutch could have conquered Iraq given the state of  it's military.  The problem, and the reason why imperialism is a dead 19th century concept is the necessary occupation.  Clearly the Bushies thought this was Grenada or Panama, where they could install a pliant regime & declare victory.

    Instead this gang has shown the US to be a paper tiger, at the cost of who knows what future disasters.  And it's the media that let that scenario play out.

  •  Circular firing squad (none)
    Let me say, first and foremost, that turning our guns on the center-left and blasting away at the liberal hawks is a mistake.  Our first objective is to pull together a coalition that defeats George W. Bush in November; if that means you have to bite your tongue to keep from lashing out at pro-war Democrats, then by all means bite your tongue.  The coalition that captures the White House this year will contain many Americans who support or supported the war; if you only want war opponents in your tent, or if pro-war voices must abase themselves before reapplying to your faith, then your coalition is not going to have the numbers.  It would be better to join hands with all those who oppose the Bush administration, regardless of their reasons, and worry about doctrinal schisms after we've recaptured the pulpit.

    Secondly, I was one of the "liberal hawks" who supported military action to remove Saddam Hussein.  I did this solely on the basis of Saddam's record as a genocidal tyrant:  I did not support, and in fact vehemently opposed, the smokescreen of phony WMDs and al Qaeda links that Bush used to scare up a majority in support of "his" war.  For me, it was enough that Saddam had been dropping nerve gas and creating environmental disasters to exterminate his enemies.

    Where I differ with Matthew Yglesias (and other post-war critics of the pre-war hawks) is that I trace Bush's bungling of Iraq to a single, catastrophically bad decision -- one that was so colossally inept as to be unforeseeable.  I'll even make the bold claim that, if he had not made this incredible mistake, Bush would have muddled through:  Absent this one unimaginably bad decision, the mainstream would today view our mission in Iraq as a qualified success, and Bush would be coasting to re-election with polling numbers in the 55% range.

    He disbanded the Iraqi army.

    Our ability to establish the rule of law in Iraq died the day we gave 300,000 armed men their walking papers.  If the IGC were currently backed by even a hundred thousand armed Iraqis, then our problems would still be along the lines of stemming corruption and deBaathification of a powerful central authority structure; we wouldn't be facing private militias numbering in the tens of thousands, recruited from a candidate pool of a quarter million unemployed ex-soldiers -- and we wouldn't have an Iraqi "government" forced to rely on American troops to maintain order, while having no control or authority over those same troops.

    All of Bush's other Iraq mistakes were ones that he and Iraq could recover from.  The IGC was clumsy and stupid, but free elections would eventually have fixed it.  The violence in Fajullah would have stayed under control with 100,000 Iraqi troops on hand; the majority of Iraqis, who want democracy and not civil war, would have had the means to enforce their will.  If Bush and his neocon cabal had not made this one, single, inconceivably bad decision, then the post-war would have been a mixed success:  Team Dubya would still have made plenty of mistakes, but on the whole Iraq would have more things going right than wrong.

    It's easy to say now that we all should have known -- that Bush would screw up so badly that he'd wipe out the gains from deposing Saddam -- but frankly the odds that Bush would screw up this badly were not in the anti-war left's favor.  All Bush needed to do was avoid the one insanely stupid decision, and today's Iraq would look more like Egypt than Lebanon:  Still not the oasis of democracy that the neocons promised, but good enough to validate a decision to use force.

  •  Your reasoning doesn't hold up (none)
    I did this solely on the basis of Saddam's record as a genocidal tyrant

    His two frenzies of "genocide" were his assault on the Kurds in the 80s when he was our boy & we were supplying him; and 2) the massacres he engaged in after Bush I encouraged the Shiites to rise up after Gulf War I, then left them to their fate.

    By the time of the invasion he was just an old, fading dictator, sure doing lots of nasty stuff, but hardly different from alot of other countries -- Burma, our (now) good pal in Libya, our great pals in Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan, etc.  

    If we believe in law, and I do, we had, as the UN clearly pointed out, NO legitimate basis to go into Iraq.  If you don't think it was because of oil, Israel, domestic political power & empire, well, I would suggest you look at the context.

    Why Iraq and not North Korea?  Why Iraq and not China, after all look at their policies in the outer reaches of empire.  Why Iraq and not Congo or Equatorial Guinea?

    Unfortunately, for me your reasoning doesn't hold up.

  •  Pro-war left still wrong? (none)
    The center-left hawks were wrong then, and for the most part they continue to be wrong now. The establishment position always favors the muscular response to the passive. To favor the latter over the former is to align yourself with marginal elements like hippies and Quakers, denuding your credibility as a "serious" sage in the closed environment of Washington D.C.. The default position before the war favored intervention, and many leftish hawks embraced that position with enthusiasm, now they've moved off their pro-war stances because the folly of it all has come to pass, spectacularly, but they've only exchanged one disasterous viewpoint for another. The leftish hawks almost to a man embrace the new establishment position of "staying the course", shorthand for Iraq-nam.

    Withdrawl is the new mantra of the hippie and Quaker, it signifies weakness, just like opposing the war signified weakness, so we must stay, fight, prevent Iraq from failing. Robert McNamara expressed many regrets about Vietnam, I only wish McNamara had no regrets to give, because Vietnam had never happened. An old aphorism goes, a fool learns from his own mistakes, a wise man learns from someone else's. Did any of these leftish commentators learn anything from the vast ouevre of history easily accessible to them? Did any of our elected officials? They ignored all the evidence disputing Bush's claims about Iraq, then blamed Bush for lying to them. Does stupidity, or naivete have any culpability? It can only be hoped that these same intelligent commentators who now regret pimping for war, won't express their regrets for staying the course in Iraq-nam fives years and 30,000 dead G.I.s later.

  •  Pugh Kos your post stinks! (none)
    And the point of your post? "Nananana- I was right, you were wrong" ? Come on, we gotta come bigger and better than that Kos. I, like many other people, supported the war initially and now I don't.  But I don't feel that I was foolish now knowing the results, of course people knew the dangers of action but weighing the imminence of WMDs the danger of inaction loomed larger. To thumb your nose at people who made such honest calculations is immature and counter-productive. We are all in the same boat now.

    A proud John Edwards Democrat. Support, Contribute to, and Vote For John Kerry.

    by realAmerican on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 07:36:12 AM PDT

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