Home > World Events > Conned!

Conned!

June 14th, 2005

As I’ve said before, I hate being conned. Looking back over my archives in the period leading up to the Iraq war, I realise that I consistently underestimated the likelihood of war, and that the main reason for this was that I thought Blair was fundamentally honest about what he was doing. Of course, there was the dodgy dossier and the 45 minutes claim to show that the spin doctors were hard at work, but I nevertheless accepted that Blair had made an independent decision to support action against Saddam, based largely on his record of crimes against humanity, and that he took the UN process seriously.

It’s been obvious for some time that this wasn’t true, but for some reason the latest revelations from a leaked Cabinet Office briefing dating back to July 2002, along with the Downing Street memo have really hit home. They make it clear that Britain’s policy was entirely determined by the fact that the Americans were going ahead regardless, and that US reliance on British bases meant there was no option of abstention[1]. Everything done thereafter was designed to find a pretext for an action the British government knew to be illegal. The appeal to the UN was a cynical ploy – there was never any chance that war would be avoided.

What’s also clear is that Blair knew there were no proper plans for the postwar period, making the chaos that actually ensued entirely predictable. This fact completely undermines his stated humanitarian concerns, but it makes sense given that the central object of US policy was to pursue a vendetta against Saddam, and that the British government had decided it had no choice but to go along.

fn1. It’s not clear that this was correct. The Iraq war relied heavily on bases in Germany, but that didn’t stop the German government opposing the war. Still, in this context, it’s what the British believed that matters.

Categories: World Events Tags:
  1. Paul Norton
    June 14th, 2005 at 09:39 | #1

    “. . .Blair knew there were no proper plans for the postwar period, making the chaos that actually ensued entirely predictable. This fact completely undermines his stated humanitarian concerns. . .”

    Indeed. It blows away any attempt to characterise the war as “the liberation of Iraq”, except insofar as some tolerable regime eventually evolves as the unplanned (and thus, for all intents and purposes, unintended) consequence of the invasion and the removal of the Ba’ath regime.

  2. Dave Ricardo
    June 14th, 2005 at 11:00 | #2

    Closer to home, I wonder if little Johnny Howard was also advised that the Bush had decided to to wage war against Saddam from Day 1, that 9/11 provided the convenient pretext that Bush had been looking for and that the case against Saddam was a crock from start to finish.

    Anyway, the Americans have created a rod for their own back. They’ll be in Iraq for years and years, and will cost them trillions. And for what? So Bush junior could finish the business his father left unfinished.

    If the Iraqis get out of it better than they would have been under Saddam, they will be very lucky.

  3. AlanDownunder
    June 14th, 2005 at 11:11 | #3

    There’s a bunch more Downing Street memos from March 2002 here

  4. June 14th, 2005 at 11:34 | #4

    The UK’s support of the US admins military adventurism in Mesopotamia was always about consolidating “the Special Relationship” which, by a profound irony of history, has probably been fatally wounded by the fallout from Iraq.

  5. Dominic
    June 14th, 2005 at 11:36 | #5

    If you look back at the news coverage before september 11 it should be clear that Bush was on a path to war as his main foreign policy ever since he got into office. It would have been against China if not for S11 providing a much more attractive target.

    S11 provided the perfect oposition for a combatative foreign policy – terrorists. Not only does everyone agree that fighting them is legitimate (obviously people disagree to the extreme on methods and how to identify terrorists) but even better, they are easily maleable: Bush can say “Afghanistan is Terrorists” or “Iraq is Terrorists” and pursue his battles there in a tangible fashion. The costs are low and the rewards are high. (as opposed to the costs and rewards of a war with China would have been).

    There was never any question that Bush would go to war – he needed to keep the ball rolling on from Afghanistan. “Terrorists were everywhere”, he was harldy going to let such a good opportunity drop. Once he’d identified the next tangible target there was never any question that he wouldn’t bring on the fight. The delay was an attempt to minimise the cost, both political and financial. Building foreign support would legitimise the war (reduce political cost) and share the expenditure (reduce financial cost). When it was judged that further delays weren’t going to reduce costs, they went with what they had.

    As for Tony Blair, I still think he recognised that the costs of not contributing outweighed the costs of contributing (mostly personal political costs) and he thought he might be able to bend the US effort at least a little in line with his values. The extent of the delay before the invasion can probably be attributed in large measure to him.

    Overall, the second most suprising thing is that anyone was suprised by the whole affair. The first most suprising thing is that even in the aftermath, people are again suprised that the pretext turned out to be false.

  6. Elizabeth
    June 14th, 2005 at 11:38 | #6

    I have a comment.

    Saddam is what 68 to 70 years of age. The guy was not going to live forever. He had set in place succession plans so his 2nd eldest son would take over. Apparently even to Saddam, the eldest boy was a bit ‘too nuts’.

    In the event that Saddam died of natural causes, the succession plan would have been frought with difficulties owing to the tension between the chosen and the by-passed sons. In addition, there was every chance that the opportunitists in the regime would have seen it as their chance to make a play for power. Then there were the regional players such as Iran, the Saudis, Syria who would have meddled. Then of course Bin Laden and his ban of merry nuts!

    In the end, it would have been a free for all. And America, Britain etc would have been forced by overwhleming international opinion to become involved.

    Devil and the deep blue sea?

  7. gordon
    June 14th, 2005 at 12:01 | #7

    “Vendetta against Saddam”, “Terrorists”, Hooey. It was and is oil. How often do I have to say it?

  8. michael.burgess
    June 14th, 2005 at 12:52 | #8

    Well actually it was Blair who kept pushing the Americans to intervene more in Kosovo. He has also intervened in a number of other places to positive effect. On Iraq, the latest opinion polls from Middle East clearly indicate that the liberation of this country is changing opinions significantly. Instead of blaming the US, Israel or the west for their problems the majority of Muslims in this region now blame there own governments and are increasing demands for greater democracy. Reports over the weekend indicate that in some places in Iran celebrations following the country’s qualification for the world cup soccer finals (not at Australia’s expense this time), lead to clashes with hardliners and protests against the regime.

    On the problems currently be experienced in Iraq, while the US deserves criticism for bad planning things would have been better if the likes of the French and Germans had not behaved so appalling and had been willing to play a constructive in liberating the country and in post-war management. On WMDs, it is clear that it is opponents of the war who are the ones primarily engaging in Spin. SH had WMDs before the war, had used them against the Kurds, claimed he still had them, and had every intention of building up his capacity once the opportunity presented itself.

    Opponents of the war should also read some of the reports from those who survived Saddam’s torture chambers then they might not be so quick to condemn Blair. Oh and condemning insurgents occasionally for their constant acts of brutality might be helpful.

  9. June 14th, 2005 at 12:55 | #9

    Interesting, though, that the briefing document is not about oil. Unless I misunderstand, this is the closet documentary primary source we will get to find the reasons for the invasion. Now we have to wait for the memoirs.

  10. Mark White
    June 14th, 2005 at 13:01 | #10

    The latest public comments by US Brass in Iraq over the weekend are postively Frogalicious, even evoking the old “doughboy” imagery of WW1 to outline the military hopelessness of the Bush-Blair-Howard Iraq situation. Democracy doesn’t come from the butt of a gun, nor from government handouts to Halliburton.

    Have the US military become a bunch of soft-on-terror cheese eating surrender monkies? With 60 pc of Americans wanting a pullout, could we be at the tipping point of US military as well as public opinion against the war?

    Alex Downer should sort out all this giving into overseas tyrannies nonsense quicksmart.

    http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/krwashbureau/20050612/ts_krwashbureau/_bc_usiraq_military_wa

    “I think the more accurate way to approach this right now is to concede that … this insurgency is not going to be settled, the terrorists and the terrorism in Iraq is not going to be settled, through military options or military operations,” Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said last week, in a comment that echoes what other senior officers say. “It’s going to be settled in the political process.”

    Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, expressed similar sentiments, calling the military’s efforts “the Pillsbury Doughboy idea” – pressing the insurgency in one area only causes it to rise elsewhere.

    “Like in Baghdad,” Casey said during an interview with two newspaper reporters, including one from Knight Ridder, last week. “We push in Baghdad – they’re down to about less than a car bomb a day in Baghdad over the last week – but in north-center (Iraq) … they’ve gone up,” he said. “The political process will be the decisive element.”

  11. Nobby
    June 14th, 2005 at 13:09 | #11

    May be we should have asked the Israelis to get rid of Saddam.After all they have the technology to eliminate Palestinians entering their car.
    It is a pity that the US have no such technology.
    The real face of the Bush administration is exposed when one hears its opposition to stem cell research and the great values they put on human life.
    It is obvious that the administration attaches more values to an embryo liely to be flusshed down a drain than the lives of their young citizen sent to die or kill.

  12. Dave Ricardo
    June 14th, 2005 at 13:22 | #12

    Michael, amid you mish mash of bad spelling and grammar, you make a sort-of half valid point. Blair was strong on Kosovo, which was a war waged purely on humanitarian grounds. Milosevic is in the dock for his crimes and Serbia is well on the way to being a normal country.

    If the case for the Iraq war had been made on humanitarian grounds before the event, instead of being used as an after-the-fact retrofit, then it would have got widespread support and Blair would not have suffered from these revelations which have already terminated his reputation and which will soon prematurely terminate his career.

  13. Jude
    June 14th, 2005 at 13:44 | #13

    I think of it differently. I think Blair is intelligent, educated, knowledgeable, worldwise and can handle detail and complexity. Bush is simple, undereducated, doesn’t understand the world outside US borders, is driven by a neoconservativism that he doesn’t quite comprehend, and a religious fundamentalism that is at odds with his own constitution.

    Put these two men together. I think when Blair met Bush for the first time he was shocked at Bush’s simplistic understanding of the issues and his cowboy mentality. He heard Bush’s long standing takeover plans of Iraq (and beyond) and understood the ramifications of the those plans very clearly – in a way that even the US itself didn’t. Blair then determined that if he let the cowboy go without any support, that the world order would be fundamentally and irretrievably degraded and damaged. Blair felt his only course was to offer support and a potential path to allies through the UN – knowing that Bush would continue regardless.

    I think Blair was between the proverbial rock and hard place and took the path where he would have more ability to sway the outcome.

  14. observa
    June 14th, 2005 at 14:04 | #14

    “If the case for the Iraq war had been made on humanitarian grounds before the event, instead of being used as an after-the-fact retrofit, then it would have got widespread support…”

    I doubt it Dave. In the final analysis it’s leadership that counts and Blair was always a Beacon-of Light man, first in Kosovo and later Iraq. He and Bush were always on the same wavelength here, although Blair had to be seen as exhausting all reasonable diplomatic efforts, given his domestic constituency and Bush obliged him the niceties and formalities of the UN.

    After the fall of the Berlin Wall they both saw the ME as the greatest threat to world peace since fascism and communism. They do have the fundies pinned down in Afghanistan and Iraq, fighting troops rather office workers and holiday revellers and that’s probably some comfort to other ME regimes, if not Iraqis. It was always the BoL theory. The rest was all froth and bubble, although they did believe in the WMD threat from Saddam. It was logical to oversell that to get reluctant democracies off their butts. Won’t be quite so logical in future though. It’s all up to moderate Islam now and what unfolds in Iran is probably the key to that.

  15. Paul Norton
    June 14th, 2005 at 14:05 | #15

    “If the case for the Iraq war had been made on humanitarian grounds before the event, instead of being used as an after-the-fact retrofit, then it would have got widespread support and Blair would not have suffered from these revelations which have already terminated his reputation and which will soon prematurely terminate his career.”

    But to return to the point which was made at the start of this thread, if there were no plans, before the event, for management of the aftermath of regime change, establishment of a reasonably democratic process for creation of democratic Iraqi institutions, election of a new leadership, resolution of prima facie desirable but practically problematic claims such as those of the Kurds, etc., then a case could not have been made on humanitarian grounds before the event, as nobody could have had any confidence that the war, which could always have been expected to have a human cost, would enable an improvement in human and democratic terms which would be sufficient to justify that cost.

    This would have left humanitarian (including left-wing) defenders of the war to fall back on the assertion that Saddam’s regime was so bad that anything which replaced it had to be an improvement sufficient to justify the war. There are enough cases in history of bad regimes being replaced by equally bad or worse successors to vitiate this justification for the war.

  16. michael.burgess
    June 14th, 2005 at 14:15 | #16

    Dave, apart from some surprising concessions and offensive remarks (not everyone has such a cushy jobs they always have time to always check their grammar), you ignore the reality of practical politics. If Blair had presented a more complex argument to the British public, which clearly identified all the reasons for going into Iraq, he would have gone way beyond the limited attention span or concerns of the reality TV generation. If he had emphasised the humanitarian aspects he would have lost the support of much of the right as well as that of a large percentage of the population who don’t give a flying f..k about anyone apart from themselves or their families.

    Many on the left would have also more easily exploited certain perceived inconsistencies – Why intervene in Iraq and not North Korea or Saudi Arabia or other regimes etc etc which have oppressive governments. As Anthony Albanese’s and other left politicians and academics current opposition to even a debate on nuclear power illustrates, many on the left have essentially a tick a box approach to what it means to be left wing or socially progressive. Nuclear power bad, Israel bad, America bad, minorities always good and put upon etc etc. As the likes of Claire Short and Glenda Jackson in the UK have illustrated, they are far too many people shamelessly willing to exploit every opportunity to get in the way of good policy when it does not fit in with their rigid ideological world view. They are also willing to deny Saddam’s torture victims, or relatives of victims, a well earned platform to express their views. In fact, this has been one of the more sickening and unacknowledged aspects of the whole Iraq debate.

  17. Dave Ricardo
    June 14th, 2005 at 14:23 | #17

    Jude: I doubt even Cherie gives Tony that much benefit of the doubt

    Observa: I don’t get your point. You say Bush and Blair were always motivated by non-humanitarian concerns. You’re probably right. But that conradict my point that if the case had been made on humanitarian grounds in the first place, which were entirely defensible, unlike the WMD fantasy, Blair would have emerged much the better.

    Paul: the test case is Serbia. Nobody gave a lot of thought to the post Milsevic future at the time, or even if it would end his regime, yet the war/bombing got widespread support, except from the far left and the far right, who were always going to oppose Clinton and Blair acting together.

    Another test case is Afghanistan: liberation of Afghanistan got fairly widespread (though not universal) support from the Left on the grounds than anything would be better than the Taliban.

    And besides, if so much effort hadn’t gone into concocting and defending cock-and-bull stories about WMD, more thought might have gone into Iraq’s post Baathist future.

  18. Dave Ricardo
    June 14th, 2005 at 14:37 | #18

    Michael, you’re kidding, right?

    Blair ignores the Left whenever it suits him, which is almost always. Your argument that they British Left would have successfully stopped a humanitarian-motivated war, which could be supported by facts, when they couldn’t stop a WMD-motivated war, which was never supportable by facts, is ridiculous.

    You reckon Blair did the right thing because he took the path that would have encountered the least public resistance. That’s unproveable at best. What he has done for sure though is destroy the credibility of any future claim for war when there really are grounds for it, short of actual invasion of the Briitish Isles. Any time in the next 20 years a Prime Minister says he must take Britain to war for whatever reason, especially one based on “intelligence”, he will get a horse laugh response, even if the reason is entirely justifiable.

  19. drscroogemcduck
    June 14th, 2005 at 14:54 | #19

    I don’t understand this no plan theory. Surely, the US had a plan for Iraq after they had taken control to some extent. They seem to plan contingencies for the most unlikely events. I don’t see why they wouldn’t have a contingency for when they are successful.

  20. observa
    June 14th, 2005 at 15:13 | #20

    “Observa: I don’t get your point. You say Bush and Blair were always motivated by non-humanitarian concerns.”
    Belief in BoL for a perceived greatest threat to world peace is motivated by humanitarian concerns. It’s just that it needs a larger and longer term perspective. As conservatives, my guess is they’d be the first to admit they can’t afford to wear their hearts on their sleeves.

    John Ray from Dissecting Leftism points to a very good reason why Bush and Blair would justify intervention in Iraq and why their humanitarian work is taking so long for those who are somewhat impatient-

    “According to the SITE Institute, a respected counter-terrorism organization, only 9 percent of suicide bombings sponsored in Iraq by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are conducted by native Iraqis. Analyzing data from a “martyrs” list posted on a Zarqawi Web site, SITE found that 42 percent of the killers hailed from Saudi Arabia, 12 percent from Syria, 11 percent from Kuwait, with the rest from an assortment of Asian and European nations. Why does it matter? Because it gives lie to the suggestion, often heard on the left, that the struggle in Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror. The antiwar crowd insists that American soldiers are now engaged in a guerilla war with militant Iraqis – Michael Moore has compared them to the Minutemen of our own Revolutionary War. Except now it turns out that fully 91 percent of suicide bombers are foreigners crossing into Iraq with the purpose of killing civilians. In short, terrorists. American soldiers are not fighting an Iraqi insurgency. They’re fighting a terrorist insurgency. If not for jihadi nutcases pouring across its borders, Iraq would be well on its way to a stable and peaceful democracy”.

    Now you’d expect a certain number of Saddam’s cronies to be pissed off at losing their perks, but the proportion (9%) of the fundamentally aggrieved, seems remarkably low.

  21. michael.burgess
    June 14th, 2005 at 15:33 | #21

    Dave, you suggest that Blair has undermined Britain’s capacity to undertake a just war because of his sexing up of the “intelligence�. As with many policy initiatives, Blair certainly did put as positive a spin on it as he could. However, the main culprits when it comes to spin are many opponents of the war who seem to think, among other things, that the fact that WMDs were not found means that SH was not a threat. This is clearly not the case as he had WMDs before the war and had every intention of building up his capability in the future. Consequently, they are the ones who are the most to blame when it comes to encouraging cynicism among the generally public.

    Opponents of the war also generally ignore or play down the sins of the insurgents or, in the case of John Pilger, actually imply that certain acts (the decapitation murder of aid worker Margaret Hassan) were done by the Americans or their Iraqi allies for propaganda purposes. Moreover, while I am willing to concede that well-intentioned, intelligent people can reach differing conclusions on the wisdom of going to war in Iraq, much of the criticism is clearly motivated by mindless anti-Americanism (or mindless pacifism) and an astonishingly naïve underestimation of the dangers posed by Islamic extremism.

  22. Dave Ricardo
    June 14th, 2005 at 15:33 | #22

    In other words, Observa, the upshot (so far) of the war is that Iraqi civilians are being murdered in large numbers, by fundamentalist terrorists from other countries.

    This was not a problem the Iraqi people had to deal with before the war.

    The suicide bombers – Saudis, Syrians etc – were probably not terrorists before the war. They might have been latent terrorists, in that they had been brainwashed with Islamist ideology, but they probably weren’t active. Some were, of course, but not most. What the war has done is stir them up and brought Islamist terrorism to a country that used to be free of it.

    The unpalatable fact is that probably millions of people in the world have had their heads filled with Islamism. Mostly, they are like asbestos – potentially deadly if stirred up carelessly, and relatively harmless if managed carefully.

  23. Dave Ricardo
    June 14th, 2005 at 15:41 | #23

    The difference is, Michael, when a Prime Minister starts doing Goebbels impersonations by spinning justification for a war it has much worse consequences than when a minor politician or journalist spins for the other side of the argument.

    As for Saddam’s intentions, assuming you are right, so what? Intentions are one thing, capabilities something else. North Korea has had intentions for the past 50 years to retake the south. They haven’t even tried, let alone succeeded.

  24. Katz
    June 14th, 2005 at 16:30 | #24

    The morality of Blair’s pandering to the ignorant bellicosity of the Bush clique is one issue worth at least one evening’s discussion in a cosy armchair.

    The following report about the looming need for a draft in the US to sustain the above-mentioned military self-gratification on the part of the Chimp is another matter:

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/Iraq/US-contemplates-mlitary-draft/2005/06/13/1118514951988.html

    Clearly the British understood the difficulties involved in making good on the fruits of the so-called “revolution in military affairs” that was supposed to excite awe-struck compliance, quickly followed by deleriious cheering by the bulk of the infinitely grateful Iraqi population.

    Yet the British Government evidently decided not to tell the Americans of these reservations. Lap-doggery or realpolitik or some other motive?

    I’m inclined to plump for realpolitik. Now Blair has some leverage to get Africa-saving and Kyoto-friendly concessions from the Chimp.

    In the meantime, the Chimp’s war machine is all broked and now he needs a new one. Boo hoo!

    The bush clique has played its joker. It’s turned out to be a deuce. and now the world is laughing.

  25. michael.burgess
    June 14th, 2005 at 16:37 | #25

    Dave, you firstly state that ‘The unpalatable fact is that probably millions of people in the world have had their heads filled with Islamism. Mostly, they are like asbestos – potentially deadly if stirred up carelessly, and relatively harmless if managed carefully.’ Apart from anything else, this is a very western centric statement. Islamists have been torturing, murdering and raping their fellow Muslims and others in large numbers now for a long time. They are far from being relatively harmless.

    As for North Korea. Well it might not have succeeded in retaking the South. However, it has succeeded in developing a political system which is so murderous and oppressive that I suspect we will all be condemned by future generations for not doing more to liberate its long suffering people. A good start might be for Amnesty International and other human rights groups to spend more time criticising it than the US or Israel.

  26. observa
    June 14th, 2005 at 17:06 | #26

    “The unpalatable fact is that probably millions of people in the world have had their heads filled with Islamism. Mostly, they are like asbestos – potentially deadly if stirred up carelessly, and relatively harmless if managed carefully. ”

    Well Dave, it would seem Bush, Blair, Howard and Co are not alone with their problems of getting the trains to run on time(or perhaps the odd skyscraper to stand up) here http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=52687
    How would you suggest these disparate chaps all manage their asbestos problems more carefully?

  27. Ian Gould
    June 14th, 2005 at 17:33 | #27

    >

    It’s fairly common in dysfunctional organisations for senior management to demand actions be taken that people lower down in the organisation know simply won’t work.

    I think the senior members of the Bush administration were determined to invade Iraq and weren’t prepared to liaten to any negative news about the costs involved in doing so.

    A detailed plan for administering and reconstructing Iraq would have exposed the folly of the exercise with the resources at hand, while I’m sure that was apparent to junior and middle-ranking administration members it seems no-one was prepared to risk their jobs by tellign the top echelon.

  28. S Brid
    June 14th, 2005 at 18:18 | #28

    In case the left hasn’t noticed, most of the Muslim (read Arab men, mainly between the age of 15 to 45 are at war with the West- not just America per se. They really don’t give a shit if you a lefty (and whatever that is supposed to conjure up in terms of “tolerance of other religions and cultures). A noticeable chunk (10%) of males in this age group want nothing better than to see Westerners and Jews dead. Every so often of the last 1200 years this religion rises up and sends out men to make Jihad against the non-Muslim world because the “prophet’s book tells them to do so. They have always had gripes against the West: right now their gripe is that the west is polluting their world with “ungodlyâ€? ways which is the signal to go out and kill as many westerners as they can- Jews included of course.

    A few years ago 98 Australians were burned to death in a bar in Bali while many more were seriously injured – Australia’s 911 or close to it. Bashir got 2 ½ jail for this. When is the left going to wake up and smell the coffee about the Muslim brotherhood. Are you all sleeping at the wheel, or is the hatred of the US so deep it clouds all judgement. We would love to see the left participate, after all, most of the values the west is protecting are your values as well.

    Meanwhile the leftwing press is upset about the way we are treating these monsters in Gitmo and not a peep when a porno movie is made of some poor schlap getting his throat cut and head cut off for the Muslim audience. We are at war for our very existence meanwhile 25% of the west’s population have decided to sit this one out and/ or criticise our own side.

    Iraq is a very simple problem to solve. When it all comes down to it might makes right in the world and if this wasn’t so we would all be speaking German or Russian by now. Just like the left was wrong about not taking the Soviets on, it is also wrong now with these Muslim monsters who want us all dead. If Iraq was supposed to be anything at all, it was supposed to resemble a punitive expedition of old. I simply don’t understand where the idea of turning that place into a Jeffersonian paradise came from?

    Katz that is what I am against! Placing young American/ Austrlalian kids in harms way because of a half-baked idea that we will be able to turn that hell-hole into New England when we should have done was send the place back into the stone age. If anyone thinks that is just horrible in “these enlightened times� they may want to see read a little recent history about the attitudes permeating in Australian and American society after 2000 people were killed by the Japanese surprise attack. It is really not that much different to mine.

    Oh and Mr. Katz, if you are a true Libertarian following closely the teachings of Ann Rand, I would suggest you read up on what the Rand Institute was saying Americans ought to have done after 911 as it might surprise you. It was suggesting we take ought Mecca, Iraq/Iran with Nukes.

    I am offended by some of Bushes actions in the way his Administration has conducted the war, but only from a perspective that he allows young American kids to become target practice for (one- stop shopping- kill an American go to paradise and pick up 72 underage virgins along the way) suicide attacks on the highways. This is what disgusts me. Iraqis don’t feel defeated like the Germans did. They don’t feel there is no hope until they surrender. The US has not closed the borders and threatened Iran and Syria with massive air strikes that would destroy their entire infrastructure if they didn’t curb their covert tactics. I blame the Western left for this and I will blame them even more if we lose this war. Rather than attacking Bush for the “nancy�way he has conducted this war the left is going to sit it out. Good one. Thanks a mill guys.

  29. Dave Ricardo
    June 14th, 2005 at 18:30 | #29

    “I simply don’t understand where the idea of turning that place into a Jeffersonian paradise came from?”

    From Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and the other neo cons who sold it to George W. Bush.

    S, where you have been for the past four years? Mars?

    If you’ve got a problem with the idea and the policy which is meant to implement the idea, complain to them about it.

  30. Dave Ricardo
    June 14th, 2005 at 18:37 | #30

    By the way, S, who are you trying to kid that the RAND Institution (Research ANd Development Institution) has got anything to do with Ann (sic) Rand?

    Go back to your spreadsheets, hayseed, and leave this discussion to the grown ups.

  31. Mork
    June 14th, 2005 at 18:40 | #31

    If Blair had presented a more complex argument to the British public, which clearly identified all the reasons for going into Iraq, he would have gone way beyond the limited attention span or concerns of the reality TV generation. If he had emphasised the humanitarian aspects he would have lost the support of much of the right as well as that of a large percentage of the population who don’t give a flying f..k about anyone apart from themselves or their families.

    In other words, if Blair had told the truth, the public would have been against going to war.

    Perhaps we need to start building democracy a little closer to home.

  32. abb1
    June 14th, 2005 at 18:59 | #32

    Moreover, while I am willing to concede that well-intentioned, intelligent people can reach differing conclusions on the wisdom of going to war in Iraq, much of the criticism is clearly motivated by mindless anti-Americanism (or mindless pacifism) and an astonishingly naïve underestimation of the dangers posed by Islamic extremism.

    Nice rhetoric but why are the anti-Americanism and pacifism ‘mindless’ while ‘underestimation of the dangers posed by Islamic extremism’ ‘astonishingly naïve’?

    What about mindless Islamophobia combined with astonishingly naïve underestimation of the dangers posed by American militaristic imperialism?

  33. S Brid
    June 14th, 2005 at 19:06 | #33

    Dave:
    Your first post seems a good counter. It shows how even conservatives like Cheney get waylaid.

    You second post is an obvious fall back to your usual position. My suggestion is go back to the analyst and argue strongly that 1/2 a Zoloft a day is not enough and that you need to move to fill dosage. I once used to get heated up about your comments, until it became clear that people like you, who suffer from Terrets Syndrome, are really not at fault. So I am sorry if I was ever showed anger towards you. I sincerely hope you will get better soon.

    Sorry about the Rand Institute or whatever I said. I thought the Ann Rand Institute or whatever it wa called carried that name.

  34. Katz
    June 14th, 2005 at 19:06 | #34

    1. Good God, me a disciple of Ayn Rand (Note the spelling S Brid). Perish the thought!

    2. “Katz that is what I am against! Placing young American/ Austrlalian kids in harms way because of a half-baked idea that we will be able to turn that hell-hole into New England when we should have done was send the place back into the stone age. ”

    No place like home, eh, S Brid.

    You quaint old paleo-conservatives need to get over this nostalgia thing for the megalithic. Ever considered the neolithic?

    3. “The US has not closed the borders and threatened Iran and Syria with massive air strikes that would destroy their entire infrastructure if they didn’t curb their covert tactics. I blame the Western left for this and I will blame them even more if we lose this war. Rather than attacking Bush for the “nancyâ€?way he has conducted this war the left is going to sit it out. Good one. Thanks a mill guys.”

    Pleasure’s all mine S Brid. Didn’t know we Bambie-esque Lefties could heft more weight in the Oval Office than Rummy, Scary Dick and all those scaly raptors of the Right. Gosh, think of that. You’ve made my day.

  35. observa
    June 14th, 2005 at 19:15 | #35

    S Brid,
    Well that certainly is Plan C. Plan B is of course to get a serious quantity of the best bunker busting bombs into the hands of the Israeli air-force as secondary insurance. Plan A, the BOL/Marshall Plan in Iraq is certainly worth persevering with. Iraq was carefully chosen as a litmus test for the forging of decent civil society in the ME. It remains to be seen if that plan was hopelessly optimistic, or a long term stroke of genius. The post-war handover was always going to be the most delicate phase of the whole operation- staying just long enough to kick-start indigenous security, but not too long to wear out the broader welcome. If the Iranian leadership collapses similar to the Eastern Bloc, the sacrifices of the relatively softly, softly approach will have been well worth it. However, if the COW voluntarily withdraws or is forced to withdraw without a civil Iraq longer term, then we’ll rapidly progress to Plan C. The fundies will no doubt quickly make even their most ardent Western apologists see the sense in that. It’s just a case of whether Islam wants to go the hard way like fascism, or the easier way like communism.

  36. Dave Ricardo
    June 14th, 2005 at 19:37 | #36

    “people like you, who suffer from Terrets Syndrome”

    Yawn.

    By the way, it’s Tourette’s Syndrome.

    John, I no longer find S Brid amusing. It’s time to take out the garbage.

  37. S Brid
    June 14th, 2005 at 20:08 | #37

    Katz:
    I never referred to your comments as Bambie-like as I don’t really think you are a lefty as in the “I hate America” kind. I think your views however come from the Libertarian side, which in essence theorizes that if we don’t have a government no one would get mad at us as the nation state would not exist. Well I used to eat some of that until 911 and it turned into shit. I also once believed in the bambie- like feel good in open borders until I saw the US (and almost Australia until Howard stopped it dead) overrun with illegal immigrant: 11 million and counting. However that is beside the point.
    The point is that there enough head cases in the Muslim world that think sending Westerners and Jews to early grave is a good thing. In fact the more killed the merrier and the more likely the local iman tells them they are doing good service in the name of the prophet. Can any of you guys name any senior Islamic cleric that you can point to as a moderate in that “religion�?……… Why all the silence guys? You know why, because there is no such thing as a pious, moderate Muslim from the perspective of the West. They hate everything about us and want us dead, preferably at their hands. They hate us even more because the west is ahead of them in every important attribute and have been since that “religion� or cult got off the ground.
    I read some of your comments and it saddens me, because it seems there are lots of people enjoying all the fruits of Western Culture who don’t appreciate it enough to want to protect it.

    You seem more worried about some stupid memo and its contents believing, or more likely, hoping it showed Bush and Blair lied about the war. As though that is more important than 100 million nut jobs that want you dead.

    You debate whether there are 100,000 civilian deaths or 10, 000 as though in war that ought be our chief concern. It’s funny how World War 11 falls into sunset because not so long ago our side’s concern was to win the war at all costs and civilian deaths not our problem as much it was theirs for causing the war in the first place. Quite honestly, I would not risk the life of a single US/ Australian soldier if it meant razing a part of Bagdad got the Bad guys. That is not how Bush is conducting the war and until he does, more American kids are going to die needlessly.

    When is the left going to realize these nut jobs want you dead just as much as the want to see me dead because we are not pious Muslims.

    Observa:

    I take your points and they are well thought out, but plan A is dead. I think we need to go to Plan C.

  38. S Brid
    June 14th, 2005 at 20:21 | #38

    david:
    Put points forward without attacking the person. As much as I dislike what others say, I do my best to keep the personal side out of things. What points do you codsider so invaid, so wrong that I ought to be turned off the screen. Would you have also gone against Churchill in the 30′s when he was telling the world to be wary of Hitler? You prefer a nuked up Iran than support the US?

  39. abb1
    June 14th, 2005 at 20:28 | #39

    Can any of you guys name any senior Islamic cleric that you can point to as a moderate in that “religion�?……… Why all the silence guys? You know why, because there is no such thing as a pious, moderate Muslim from the perspective of the West. They hate everything about us and want us dead, preferably at their hands.

    Isn’t it pretty much the same stuff German Nazis used to say about the Jews?

  40. June 14th, 2005 at 20:41 | #40

    More later, but for now, consider this: no senior muslim cleric will ever say anything, for the simple reason that Islam has no such thing as a clergy. Whet there are, are persons learned in the law, as it were – but they have no official standing, and to the extent that anyone could ever procure a view of this sort from them, they would be that much less authoritative in Islam.

    “Muslim clergy” are like intelligentsia – no more than soi pensant.

  41. S Brid
    June 14th, 2005 at 20:42 | #41

    abb1
    Suggest you go to Saudi, take a bible with you and start preaching its contents. Even if you don’t believe in religion try it as an experiment in tolerance. Naaaa in fact don’t do it. I wouldn’t wish beheading on my worst enemy.

    dave you up to it?

  42. S Brid
    June 14th, 2005 at 20:57 | #42

    PM Lawrence:

    Whet there are, are persons learned in the law, as it were

    As in Shar’ía law, is that right? The law which says rape victims need three/ four/ witnesses. The law which says, anyone found leaving or criticsing Islam has to be killed and it is the duty of a Muslim to kill the person committing such a vile act? The law which tells non-Mulsims living in a Muslim land they must pay a tax? The law which says a man can divorce his wife and leave her destitute? The law that allows honor killings?
    You are in a sense correct about Islam not having the equivalent of a priest. Islam have prayer directors who seem very vocal in telling their flock to go out and do jihad.

  43. June 14th, 2005 at 21:14 | #43

    No, “learned in the law” is a phrase in the English language. It doesn’t put those people in charge, or give them any power to exercise. It’s just that they can give better estimates.

    If these people plug into Sharia, don’t get the idea that they are making the law or enforcing it or telling anyone what to do, any more than a doctor is “passing a sentence of death” when he tells a patient a poor prognosis.

    Your comments about Sharia law would be sound criticisms of Islam, only you are trying to criticise muslims. There is nobody of even moral authority telling muslims to go out and do Jihad; what is going on is people reminding muslims of the implications of Islam. It’s very like what protestantism looked like to catholics, with everyone his own interpreter of the faith and no intermediary priesthood telling anyone what to do.

    Everything in Islam is decentralised with emergent behaviour. Anyone trying to treat it as anything more solid is kidding himself – as is anyone telling himself that if there is no explicit formal structure there can be neither form nor substance. The disillusioned may fall into the opposite error, but I doubt if you are at risk of abandoning your present misunderstanding. You appear more concerned with indignation than with knowing your enemy, let alone making peace of any other kind than a desert (“solitudinem faciunt…”).

  44. S Brid
    June 14th, 2005 at 21:26 | #44

    PM
    To all pious Muslims, the Koran is the last, perfect, word of god. Everything written in the Koran, including god allowing the prophet to marry a 9 year girl is in that “perfect book. To be a poius Muslim means you have to accept the reading of the book in its literal sense. That’s why young kids are taught to read it and memorize it word for word. Memorization deos not allow for interpretation. This is not a misunderstanding, in fact it is the opposite, an understanding of what a religion that allows the stoning of women to mean. We Ignore this at our peril.

  45. Ian Gould
    June 14th, 2005 at 21:34 | #45

    S. – go google the words “Ijtihad”, “Alevi” and “adat”.

  46. Ian Gould
    June 14th, 2005 at 21:38 | #46

    >

    Abdurrahman Wahid, but as the former democratically elected President of the world’s most populous muslim country he is obviously a marginal figure of no real import.

    Tell me – how many muslim clerics of any sort can you name?

  47. June 14th, 2005 at 21:42 | #47

    Challenged to find a moderate Islamic Imam, I am forced to admit defeat. Challenged to find a moderate Republican or Conservative, I admit defeat there as well.

    The post-post 9-11 world that we’re about to enter is probably going to be the most dangerous period of history that has ever been experienced by the human race. Polarisation of opinions and ways of thinking has led to the closure of minds and arming of nations. Words of hate spout from most world leaders, and possibly the only forum which could do anything to ease tensions, the UN, has been spat upon by both sides.

    The big problem seems to be that we’re stuck in a rut. Since the end of the cold war, the emphasis on improving society as a whole seems to have given way to ‘everyone for themselves’. Democracy is now to be forced down nations’ throats, and either ‘you’re with us or against us’. That doesn’t sound like the world I want to live in. I think a lot of the loony lefties and the ridiculous righties might agree with me there.

    So, I give all of you a challenge: be a moderate for a day tomorrow. Exist in the spirit of compromise. Understand different points of view. Pretend no one is absolutely right or absolutely wrong.

    Who knows… maybe you might come up with an idea that just might solve all these problems.

  48. S Brid
    June 14th, 2005 at 21:51 | #48

    Alpaca:
    Yea dude. Peace bro. Pass the joint man.

  49. abb1
    June 14th, 2005 at 21:52 | #49

    Well, S Brid, with all due respect: you’re taking your shtick a bit too far. I don’t really care if you (or anyone else) hate Muslims or Jews or Christians – a lot of people do, but your dehumanizing is really unseemly.

  50. jquiggin
    June 14th, 2005 at 22:01 | #50

    i’m going to close this thread here. I’ll remind everyone of the general maxim “Don’t feed the trolls, it only encourages them”.

Comments are closed.