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Open thread on Iraq

December 15th, 2011

Everything that can be said about this tragedy has been said, many times over. Nevertheless, it seems appropriate to note the offically announced end of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, and to invite reflections on it.

Posted via email from John’s posterous

Categories: Economics - General Tags:
  1. Freelander
    December 15th, 2011 at 23:39 | #1

    The only thing missing was Obama on an aircraft carrier in flyer’s jacket with a banner in the background “Admission Accomplished”.

  2. Chris Warren
    December 16th, 2011 at 07:03 | #2

    Or how about a jet flying overhead, sky-writing the word “Sorry”?

  3. hc
    December 16th, 2011 at 07:36 | #3

    A reasonable democracy has replaced a totalitarian aggressive regime. This is part of a pattern of democratic reforms that have occurred across the Middle East and which may have been driven by events in Iraq. The key questions are the sustainability of these changes and the related issue of whether the US troops are leaving too early. This is a different question than the case for the initial US engagement.

    Was it worth it overall given a blood-and-guts vs. regime change cost-benefit analysis? Probably not if history could be re-run but of course it cannot.

  4. rog
  5. Adam (ak)
    December 16th, 2011 at 08:08 | #5

    Which country will be “liberated” next?

  6. Troy Prideaux
    December 16th, 2011 at 08:28 | #6

    A lot of nasty stuff (genocide) happened from that regime in the 80s and in 2003 I was all for the war. I still remember arguing the case for the war in a campfire discussion back in mid 03. I was young enough to be naive enough about the nasty realities of war, I appreciated the anticipated death toll, but not the mass trauma, mass casualties and mass sickness that stems from it. I had no understanding of the deep racial tensions within the middle east and the inherent difficulty in governing there. I expected, like many others, that the entire populace to feel joyful and liberated at the removal of the regime.
    My eyes are well and truly open now, at least I feel that way. Hopefully history will say that lots of good has come from it, but it’s been at an awful cost.

  7. Dan
    December 16th, 2011 at 08:33 | #7

    @rog

    Yuck. Jingoistic and misinformed.

    For the record I and many other lefties opposed the ‘good’ war in Afghanistan as well.

  8. Tom
    December 16th, 2011 at 08:54 | #8

    @Dan

    It shows how immoral the Murdoch media is to endorse such a tragic war that cost so much lifes and covering up the main reason of the war which is nothing more than invasion. The sad thing is so many of the Australian population is brainwashed to think that the war in middle east is actually good.

    I too opposed the ‘good’ war in Afghanistan as well; and for the record America never did any ‘good’ war.

  9. John Quiggin
    December 16th, 2011 at 09:37 | #9

    hc :
    Was it worth it overall given a blood-and-guts vs. regime change cost-benefit analysis? Probably not if history could be re-run but of course it cannot.

    But we can learn from history, and the lesson that such a war was almost certain to end in disaster was already clear. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

  10. Troy Prideaux
    December 16th, 2011 at 10:02 | #10

    @John Quiggin
    The problem is, is that your avg Y gen joe probably has much more satisfying activities to participate in with their spare time than to study such historical events and especially the consequences of such? The traditional media still has a significant influence on popular opinion, education, culture, ideology and sentiment and decisions to go to war often do have a significant political influence.

  11. Mel
    December 16th, 2011 at 10:27 | #11

    Like Troy, I enthusiastically supported the war when it started and I thought it would be over quickly with minimal casualties and Iraqis would very soon be better off. Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way. Nonetheless most of the violence subsequent to the CoW invasion were the result of communal tensions that *predated* the invasion and that would arguably have been unleashed in any case upon the fall of Saddam’s regime (dictatorships nearly always fall eventually). Another factor that must be borne in mind when doing a cost-benefit analysis is that Saddam appeared intent on annihilating the 15%-20% of the Iraqi population that is Kurdish.

    I’m not as pessimistic about the benefits of war as PrQ. IMO World War Two, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and Gulf War One are three examples of the justified and successful use of military force. History therefore does not give us a blanket rule.

    It is also important to look at how many people have died because of a *failure to wage war*. North Korea has lost something in the vicinity of two million people through starvation alone since the 1990s in recurring famines. A new famine is about to add to that toll. These deaths are directly attributable to the bad governance of the extraordinarily vile North Korean dictatorship. If I understand him correctly, PrQ would argue that China should not use force to bring down the North Korean regime. I think such a course of action would be entirely justified and that America and the major European democracies should be encouraging, and if necessary offering significant carrots, to encourage China to use force.

  12. gerard
    December 16th, 2011 at 10:37 | #12

    I remember being appalled in 2003 by the number of supposedly intelligent people who actually believed in the official case for war (which nobody ever talks about anymore). How stupid can people get?

    In 2003, Iraq was subject to the robust weapons inspections regime led by Hans Blix. On the other hand, in 2002 North Korea expelled weapons inspectors and resumed its nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile Pakistan was at the center of the world’s largest nuclear proliferation network run by A.Q. Khan.

    And yet it was Iraq that was supposed to represent an imminent threat from a WMD program which they were so cleverly able to keep secret from the weapons inspectors. But of course even if they did, hypothetically, have such a super-secret, undetectable program, any attempt by Iraq to use such WMD would result in “national obliteration” – meaning that their only use to the regime was as a deterrent, making an invasion of their country the one action most likely to result in their use. Duh!

    But the argument was that deterrence wouldn’t work here, since Saddam would supply these weapons to Islamist terrorists in a way that could not be traced… despite the fact that Saddam and the Islamists loathed each other (whereas nuclear Pakistan had its intelligence services crawling with Al Qaeda sympathizers).

    So an invasion of Iraq was planned despite the fact that

    1) it would cost trillions of dollars and kill thousands of innocent people
    2) it would be counter-productive to the efforts against Al Qaeda by removing resources from Afghanistan, motivating international sentiment against the US, removing the anti-Islamist government of Saddam and opening Iraq up as a major Jihadi theatre
    3) there was no exit strategy and no plan at all to deal with sectarian differences between Sunni, Shia and Kurds – which quite predictably resulted in years of carnage
    4) in the hypothetical event that stockpiles of WMD did exist, attacking the regime would be the one thing most likely to motivate the regime to use them… and even if they didn’t use them, the removal of the regime would leave these stockpiles unsecured making it more likely, not less likely that they would be acquired by terrorists

    These were all totally OBVIOUS to anybody who thought about the stuff for more than a couple of seconds. and this is even before taking into account how pathetic and ridiculous was the “evidence” given at Colin Powell’s UN presentation and the fact that the administration was quite obviously cooking up fake intelligence (they were well aware that WMD program had been almost completely dismantled during the 90s).

    To this day I cannot believe that anybody could have been idiotic and gullible enough to actually fall for such garbage. I cannot believe that any supporters of this war were able to continue in public life instead of crawling under a rock and dying of shame and embarrassment.

  13. rog
    December 16th, 2011 at 10:41 | #13

    WW2 was never really finished, unilateral decisions made at the Potsdam conference by the “allies” spawned a whole new rash of conflicts, like Korea and Vietnam.

    As a general principle countries should just butt out of other countries affairs.

  14. gerard
    December 16th, 2011 at 11:00 | #14

    Another factor that must be borne in mind when doing a cost-benefit analysis is that Saddam appeared intent on annihilating the 15%-20% of the Iraqi population that is Kurdish.

    In 2003 Saddam’s regime had no control over Iraqi Kurdistan, and was not planning to “annihilate” the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds living outside of Kurdistan. So this part of the cost-benefit analysis is wrong.

    It is also important to look at how many people have died because of a *failure to wage war*. North Korea has lost something in the vicinity of two million people through starvation alone since the 1990s in recurring famines. A new famine is about to add to that toll. These deaths are directly attributable to the bad governance of the extraordinarily vile North Korean dictatorship. If I understand him correctly, PrQ would argue that China should not use force to bring down the North Korean regime. I think such a course of action would be entirely justified and that America and the major European democracies should be encouraging, and if necessary offering significant carrots, to encourage China to use force.

    Chinese leaders aren’t stupid neocons, and they don’t buy into “humanitarian intervention”. has it not occurred to you that perhaps China does not want to expend large amounts of money and the lives of its soldiers removing its own vassal state – a state which is capable of nuclear retaliation – while having to deal with millions of North Korean refugees flooding its border regions and being responsible for whatever chaos came after the regime’s collapse? And how nice to suggest that Europe and America offer China some “carrots” when both are, unlike China, practically bankrupt. millions of people are starving all over the world, not just in North Korea.

  15. rog
    December 16th, 2011 at 11:09 | #15

    It seems odd that politicians can both enthusiastically embrace war yet decry infrastructure spending, such as the NBN, because it fails to meet a commercially acceptable return on investment.

    Frederick Soddy was appalled at how resources could be martialled for war but not for peace.

  16. Sam
    December 16th, 2011 at 11:10 | #16

    I opposed the war at the time. I wonder if there was possibly any better way of spending $3 trillion dollars?

  17. Freelander
    December 16th, 2011 at 11:44 | #17

    Spend $3 Trillion dollars? Climate Change? But that wouldn’t have poured money into Haliburton, hence was out of the question.

  18. Mel
    December 16th, 2011 at 12:17 | #18

    Gerard- it would be tedious to list all your failures of reason, logic and fact but I will say that your appeasing line “millions of people are starving all over the world, not just in North Korea” could be used to justify pretty well anything. Such cold indifference sounds like something I’d expect from the Catallaxian libertarian crew.

  19. Sam
    December 16th, 2011 at 12:20 | #19

    @Freelander
    That amount could fix both climate change and global poverty, with enough change left over to put a human on mars.

  20. may
    December 16th, 2011 at 12:31 | #20

    any one counted the all up monetary cost of the invasion broken down country by country?

    the loss of income to local Iraqis?
    (this is a tiny speck in the big picture but before the “coalition” “mission”,i could buy really good Iraqi dates.piddling i know,but the big picture is a composite of little ones.and i still can’t buy Iraqi dates.)

  21. Tom
    December 16th, 2011 at 12:56 | #21

    @Mel

    Your logic seems more of a failure to me, to think that Chinese should act like Americans that claims to be liberals but loves to invade other country when no other country sees the need to do so. The so called “humanitarian intervention” is a nice way of saying war is good, to me I agree with what rog said “As a general principle countries should just butt out of other countries affairs”. I know a lot of Chinese old moral values has lost through “westernisation” and a lot of them are no better than wall street banksters; but I know nearly all Chinese believes in “What’s your business is not my business”. I believe quite a lot of the people in this blog don’t support any war whether if it’s so called “humanitarian intervention” or invasion not just “Catallaxian libertarian crews”.

  22. NickR
    December 16th, 2011 at 13:10 | #22

    @Sam
    Sam where did you get your NPV for costs for permanently combating climate change? Somewhere I read estimates ranging from 4-8 trillion. Obviously a better use of funds than the war though.

  23. paul of albury
    December 16th, 2011 at 13:20 | #23

    maybe the 4-8 trillion estimate was using defence contractors ;)

  24. Dan
    December 16th, 2011 at 13:23 | #24

    Can’t believe that people like Mel and Troy were in favour (although props for having the courage to admit it). Hardly anyone I knew was in favour – from my family, my uni friends, even a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal-voting work colleague.

    Even the most cursory inspection of the work of people with directly relevant expertise such as Scott Ritter (who led the UN weapons inspection program – and a Republican), Andrew Wilkie, and Noam Chomsky led one to broadly obvious and in retrospect correct conclusions.

    Who the heck were you guys listening to?

  25. Dan
    December 16th, 2011 at 13:25 | #25

    @Tom

    Meanwhile the Mrdoch press grimly tries to rewrite history. The US has lost so much power and influence over the last ten years, and those wilfully blind hacks are still eating sh*t sandwiches and saying yum.

  26. gerard
    December 16th, 2011 at 13:43 | #26

    Mel, I’m just saying that there are millions of people that could be saved from starvation without starting any wars, if the rich countries really wanted to.

    If alleviating hunger is the real concern then how do you expect rich countries to throw money to get China (with its own excellent human rights record) to start a “humanitarian war” – against a country with nuclear weapons – when they can’t even commit the relatively modest resources necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, let alone do anything to stop the climate change that is likely to make large parts of the Third World uninhabitable.

    Interesting how some people only care about Third World suffering when they want to make an argument for war. Well think how many lives could have been saved across the developing world if that three trillion dollars spent on the Iraq War had been put to genuine humanitarian use. The Millennium Development Goals would have been met many times over.

    There were plenty of idiots at Catallaxy who, like you, supported the invasion of Iraq, which has resulted in anything up to a million excess deaths in that country and is probably the worst crime of the twenty-first century so far. If you were one of the people oblivious enough to support the Iraq War then you probably wouldn’t even know the meaning of “reason, logic and fact”.

  27. Dan
    December 16th, 2011 at 13:52 | #27

    I thought there was a strong libertarian/conservative case for not getting involved in Iraq – see Ron Paul, Andrew Bacevich, Scott Ritter again, my Liberal-voting work colleague, my current libertarian argument-buddies, etc. Y’know – right-wingers with two neurons to rub together.

    Disappointed but not surprised that a bunch of two-bit clowns (what proportion? any notables?) at Australia’s most hopeless and consistently wrongheaded political blog drank the Kool-Aid.

  28. Sam
    December 16th, 2011 at 14:37 | #28

    @NickR
    Hi Nick,

    Sorry, I should have been more clear. I wasn’t thinking about the NPV cost of fixing climate change forever. This is for two reasons.

    a) I wouldn’t know what social discount rate to use
    b) I don’t want to speculate about the cost of future technologies.

    I was just thinking about the cost of “doing our bit” over the past decade. In other words, how much money would we have to spend such that if future world citizens were equally responsible, climate change would be solved. I understood that figure to be about $1.5 trillion.

  29. Mel
    December 16th, 2011 at 15:32 | #29

    Gerard:

    “Mel, I’m just saying that there are millions of people that could be saved from starvation without starting any wars, if the rich countries really wanted to.”

    Given that the principal cause of the starvation is bad governance I disagree.

    “Well think how many lives could have been saved across the developing world if that three trillion dollars spent on the Iraq War had been put to genuine humanitarian use.”

    Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been pissed up against the wall in failed foreign aid programs. As an example, Australia has poured several billion dollars worth of aid into PNG yet it remains a bright, shining turd. As numerous third world economists now argue, foreign aid’s major achievement is the buttressing of corrupt and incompetent governments.

    The poor countries that made it out of poverty in the last half of the previous century, for example South Korea, succeeded primarily because of good governance. According to your anti-war rhetoric, the West should have allowed badly governed North Korea to occupy South Korea, thus ensuring another lazy one or two million deaths through starvation during each decadel famine.

    Dan:

    “Can’t believe that people like Mel and Troy were in favour (although props for having the courage to admit it).”

    How many lefties are willing to admit they were wrong about the first Gulf War?

  30. Freelander
    December 16th, 2011 at 16:02 | #30

    Wrong about the first Gulf War. Not a leftie myself, but the first Gulf War was hardly a success. First, attacking Saddam after the US had given him the green light to invade Kuwait, and the War simply a result of the Iron Lady (who always like a ‘good’ war) telling GHW that he was a wimp if he didn’t (as he intended to do nothing). The US encouraging the marsh arabs and others to revolt and then left them to be massacred. The unnecessary offense the US then gave to Osama bin Laden (that creation of the CIA) by setting up permanent bases in Saudi Arabia, and laughing at his threat that if they didn’t remove them he would declare war on them. Well. Maybe the jury ought to be at least still out on the first gulf war. But for the second, surely they don’t need to go to the jury room.

  31. gerard
    December 16th, 2011 at 16:52 | #31

    So you disagree that millions of people can be saved from starvation without starting wars, and you think that 3 Trillion dollars would make no difference in alleviating hunger and improving health, education and infrastructure in the Third World. Presumably you think that all foreign aid should be cancelled, with the entire developing world invaded and occupied instead. Maybe China can do it for us. With this sort of ignorance it is no surprise you were fooled into supporting the Iraq War.

  32. luke
    December 16th, 2011 at 17:13 | #32

    I think the lesson is that it will take much more drastic action to prevent war in future.

    A made general strike and disruption of bussiness is what it will take to prevent war in future.

    They way the republican candidates were talking about Iran today it might happen rather soon.

  33. rog
    December 16th, 2011 at 18:19 | #33

    Things are never so simple – it was the Falklands War that busted the Generals hold over Argentina and it was Thatcher that stood up to the Generals. Thatcher destroyed the myth of the military being the Sovereign.

  34. Freelander
    December 16th, 2011 at 19:37 | #34

    @rog

    You know that for a fact? Or is that simply an opinion? I thought the Generals invaded the Falklands precisely because their hold was shaky, and that it was a last ditch effort to stay in power. Who knows what would have happened to their reign without the Falklands War? What is knowable is the incredible cost of the UK continuing dreams of empire. The UK and the other former ‘powers’ should simply give these far flung pieces of rock and sources of continuing conflict back.

    What is notable is that the US didn’t support the adventure which could have been characterized legitimately as an attack on Britain and an automatic trigger for the NATO Treaty. Of course, NATO didn’t get involved and it would have been ridiculous if it had. Likewise, NATO countries and others ought to have left the US on its own when it when on its unjustified attack on Afghanistan. Afghanistan never attacked the US. Allegedly, al Qaeda did. There was a lot more that ought to have happened before that adventure started.

  35. December 16th, 2011 at 21:30 | #35

    The supporters of Iraq-attack believed, correctly, that democracy was the wave of the future in the Middle East and that democracy would be the best counter-force to fundamentalist theocracy. So they got the ideological end right.

    Unfortunately the top-down militarist means chosen to promote the democratic end wound up doing more harm than good, hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered and trillions of dollars wasted.

    Now the Middle Easterners are promoting democracy themselves, from the bottom-up. Which, when you think about it, is appropriate given the democratic end. Whats more they are doing it with a minimum of violence and for free.

    To top it all off, on the day that the US occupation of Iraq ends its most prominent supporter, Christopher Hitchens, died.

    History, one ironic tragedy after another.

  36. rog
    December 16th, 2011 at 22:03 | #36

    @Freelander Opinion only, there existed widespread disquiet and the Falklands War accelerated the demise of the Argentinian military. In the case of Argentina it could be argued that war marked the end of the military.

  37. Dan
    December 16th, 2011 at 22:42 | #37

    @Mel

    Mel: I was six at that time, but (in the scheme of things) not long after, became well aware we’d been sold a pup.

  38. Dan
    December 16th, 2011 at 22:47 | #38

    @Jack Strocchi

    Imposing democracy from above: ‘You’ll have a popular vote whether you like it or not!’

  39. David C
    December 16th, 2011 at 23:23 | #39

    @Jack Strocchi
    The only problem is that this was not the original justification for the war, and I doubt that if it had been the war would never have got the political support that it did. Remember Saddam and his WMDs were an imminent danger and he had to be removed from power immediately.

    I might have a suspicious mind (it comes from years of observing the behaviour of conservatives) but in hindsight it appears to me that both justifications were trumped-up.

    Having been against the war from the start, I must admit that Christopher Hitchens did give some rather compelling reasons as to why Saddam was a particularly despicable tyrant. What seems more ironic to me is that Hitchens (the arch atheist) sided with one of the most religious US presidents in recent history in his support for the war.

  40. Michael
    December 16th, 2011 at 23:26 | #40

    For anyone even vaguely curious to find out there was plenty of credible evidence that Iraq did not have any WMD’s, there was also plenty of knowledge in the pentagon about what kind of unrest would follow an invasion. Then there was the breath-taking incompetence on the part of the US following the invasion where they needless destroyed a functioning economy for purely ideological reasons wasting billions. The US mismanaged their only opportunity to make some good out of the invasion. What an unmitigated disaster, but it was also a disaster that had the careless consent of the populations of Australia, the UK and US.

  41. Freelander
    December 17th, 2011 at 04:19 | #41

    The most obvious and conclusive evidence that Iraq did not have WMDs and that the US and UK knew it before the invasion was that they invaded. If Iraq had WMDs they would never have risked it. A good example of that is North Korea. GW was talking threats in relation to them but as soon as they exploded a bomb his North Korea talk dried up. In relation to Iran, as soon as they have a bomb the US will cease plans to attack. Whether Iran having a bomb would make Israel more careful, difficult to say.

  42. Charles
    December 17th, 2011 at 07:14 | #42

    I supported Vietnam and came to realise how wrong I was, I suspected Iraq would be this generations Vietnam, the young were about to learn a painful lesson. War costs money, lives and severely damages the societies involved. The only thing missing was the Helicopters flying from the US embassy as the US executed the final retreat.

  43. Dan
    December 17th, 2011 at 07:40 | #43

    @Michael

    It did not have the consent of the Australian people. Remember the protests. Remember the poll, early on, that said 85% of people, including 70% of Liberal voters, opposed Australia’s involvement in the war.

    Never forget that John W. Howard took Australia into an American misadventure against the will of the electorate.

    (And am I remembering correctly when I say the other major party was broadly supportive?)

  44. Dan
    December 17th, 2011 at 07:44 | #44

    @Freelander

    Where’s the ‘Like’ button?

    That’s Andrew Bacevich’s analysis on Iran too. They want the bomb because it will make them a regional superpower to be feared and respected. In short, to much consternation in the West, the Iranians are acting in their own interests.

  45. Freelander
    December 17th, 2011 at 08:08 | #45

    Vietnam only succeeded in creating a highly destabilized indochina which provided some success to communists in Cambodia and Laos. It created falling dominoes all on its own. Not exactly mission accomplished. Left to their own devices, like the Chinese and the Soviets, the Vietnamese have abandoned communism. As Robert McNamara admitted years later, much to his credit, they got it completely wrong. The American policy of ‘spreading democracy’ by installing despotic but American friendly dictators has not been an unambiguous success. It would be interesting to know how much trauma and damage returning veterans have brought back with them from all these adventures. Damaged humans returning from war must inevitably damage the societies they return to.

  46. Freelander
    December 17th, 2011 at 08:15 | #46

    Interestingly under Clinton, North Korea made some moves to dismantle its bomb building program. What GW achieved was to scare the North Koreans enough so they quickly put it back together again and exploded a bomb, simply so they could feel safe. Probably much the same with Iran. Iranians would know that as long as they don’t have the bomb what happened over the border is simply one tropo American president away from happening to them.

  47. Charles
    December 17th, 2011 at 08:40 | #47

    Freelander a well written summary. Why does the lesson have to be learnt by each generation?

  48. Dan
    December 17th, 2011 at 09:34 | #48

    @Charles

    It really doesn’t. Don’t forget that Bush I dodged the Vietnam draft.

  49. Dan
    December 17th, 2011 at 09:45 | #49

    Bush II, rather

  50. Tom
    December 17th, 2011 at 10:18 | #50

    @Charles

    I agree with Dan, all it takes is for the general media to be fair and responsible. It’s no wonder why some people feels like this when the Murdoch media which accounts for the majority of the media broadcast and newspapers of Australia spreads lie and supports of the war.

  51. paul of albury
    December 17th, 2011 at 11:07 | #51

    @Dan
    Crean tried to take the nuanced approach of supporting the troops but not the war. This was not really sustainable once the war started, it’s easy enough to attack nuance in dumbed down debate anyway. So the ‘broadly supportive’ is not so much in this case – I think in this case Labor did what it could. No doubt it helped that the population were overwhelmingly against the war.

  52. Fran Barlow
    December 17th, 2011 at 12:09 | #52

    Interesting that this topic starts on the stroke of the death of Christopher Hitchens — surely a member in good standing of the political maverick community, who scandalised pretty much everyone on the left by proclaiming his support for GWB on the basis of this single issue.

    The irony in this is that this policy, more than any single other IMO, diminished the US domestically and internationally during the first decade of the 21st century. An enemy of the US could not have hoped realistically for a more disastrous decision that that taken in late 2002 to escalate hostilities against Iraq.

    The Iranians surely would have been tickled pink as the fall of the Ba’athist regime meant that the US had taken out enemies on two frontiers. It also meant that the Shia community, already beholden to Iran after the 1991 debacle, were a vehicle for Iranian influence in Iraqi politics. That Iraq was politically a basketcase made this influence even more salient.

    At its height, the US alone was spending about $10USbn per month in the occupation (as opposed to about $1bn per annum between 1991-2003 in the no-fly zone period). It’s interesting to imagine how much sub-prime real property the US could have acquired for sums like that and then rented to people on low incomes at peppercorn rents and still been ahead on the deal. Would there have even been a “sub-prime” crisis in such circumstances? Probably not. $US600bn is a pretty similar sum to the money they paid out under TARP. On the downside, a lot of poor people would have had rooves over their heads and that would have upset the right, who like their poor to be suffering for their failure to be rich and their failure to embrace the American dream. There’d have been fewer dead heroes to beat their breasts over and Abu Ghraib may never have happened. Sad, obviously. Equally, there might have been between 600,000 and 1 million fewer dead Iraqis but again, even some rightwingers might have lived with this.

    I think Stiglitz figured that this war would eventually cost the US about $US3 trillion. I don’t know if this will prove so, but if it is, it has certainly been a monument to the reckless and misanthropic stupidity implicit in systems based on the protection at all costs of the privileges of the capitalist class. Between this and the GFC, we have a comprehensive picture of what happens when politics on a world scale amounts to nothing more than horsetrading between people with more dollars than sense, leave aside interest in human wellbeing.

  53. Freelander
    December 17th, 2011 at 12:41 | #53

    What is sad is that there are probably people who would like to have a career in the defence forces if they were only used for defending Australia. They are denied the opportunity because they know that instead of being used for their purported purpose, defence forces are used for every politician’s whim and photo opportunity. What a tragic waste of life simply to pander to politicians’ egos. Gallipoli was nothing but an exercise in carnage to pander to Churchill’s fantasy that he had the same sort of military vision possessed by his famous ancestor. Instead he simply displayed the sort of military prowess those born to rule have usually displayed.

  54. Mel
    December 17th, 2011 at 14:04 | #54

    Freelander @46:

    “What GW achieved was to scare the North Koreans enough so they quickly put it back together again and exploded a bomb, simply so they could feel safe. ”

    Absurd and completely wrong.

    The North Koreans suddenly found themselves playing a much stronger hand because America was caught up in two very costly and not very successful wars. Bush II had no appetite for getting into another military conflict, he consequently shifted tactics and the North Koreans have taken advantage, even bombing a South Korean ship, port etc as well as proceeding with its nuclear program.

  55. pablo
    December 17th, 2011 at 15:04 | #55

    The ‘arab spring’ might have liberated Iraq without outside intervention. Like Cairo it could have all happened in some downtown Baghdad square, hopefully with minimal loss of (Iraqi) life and possibly as a consequence of events over it’s border with Syria. Instead Iraqi’s are left with the ‘green zone’ or whatever the locals now call this remnant of US ‘shock and awe’.

  56. Freelander
    December 17th, 2011 at 15:28 | #56

    @Mel

    Yes. That is one opinion. And you know all this how? Ouija board? But what explains that GW first and Obama second didn’t shut up and stop sabre rattling about Iran but did largely shut up about North Korea. Maybe the wise move in reassembling the reactor making some more plutonium and exploding a bomb? Nuclear deterrent; works like a charm. Nuclear bombs. Don’t leave home without one. Its the little things in life that are priceless.

  57. Freelander
    December 17th, 2011 at 15:31 | #57

    When North Korea exploded the bomb they became the spare wheel on the axis of evil.

  58. may
    December 17th, 2011 at 15:53 | #58

    the special position of the information industry glares out from this situation.

    incomplete information and ruinous will-to-power tactics resulted in all out misinformation.

    the information industry has a lot to answer for ,claiming above-the-fray status and abusing that status.

    what is happening now in the “Middle East can be seen on line.
    in the national and state news? what news? (oh a little bit here and a little bit there)

    the current insane loathing(i’d like to put it in a milder form but can’t)the information industry has for the federal government, and as an unelected political pressure group pretending to reason and balance,pushing the idea the government is incompetent .
    as well as wishing,hoping and visualising a destabilised government and leaning on anything that gets in the way of increasing it’s own power and profits.

    and for crying out loud,an entertainer has dire health problems and it’s front page?
    trained health personnel staffing ratios under threat in Victoria? oh that’s just wildcat union thugs.

    mad dog management?nevvah.

    an inquiry into the role played by the information industry as a lead up to the horrifying fiasco visited apon the Iraqi people?

    i won’t hold my breath.

    but
    the claim of holier-than-thou gatekeepers of the write of free speech was shown in all its grime when bolt shot his bolt though.

    oh well.

  59. Rachel Shapiro
    December 17th, 2011 at 16:00 | #59

    While at the level of abstract principle I would gladly sign onto an anti-dictatorship agenda consequences to matter especially when egregious, and here the ongoing Egyptian parliamentary elections give me pause. The Salafists are a nasty lot, and the Muslim Brotherhood seems pretty objectionable as well. So, if the US just stood by and let the Shia overthrow the Bahrain monarchy, what would the likely consequences be (and how pro-democratic is it, really, to allow one sectarian group to prevail over another just because they have more people—that’s a pretty thin and unappealing conception of democracy unless coupled with liberal values that don’t appear to be in place, especially given the Shia ties to Iran)? Wouldn’t this freak out the Saudis, who are already upset about the US not intervening to support Mubarak? Mightn’t they then ally with, say, China? How exactly would that make the world a better place? So—I would want to hear more about likely consequences before I join up with the anti-dictatorship brigade. . . .Just as I think pretty much all of us here agree that the invasion of Iraq caused a lot of harms and didn’t accomplish much I don’t understand (though I’m open to argument) why a Shia coup in Bahrain would be a good thing.
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  60. Mel
    December 17th, 2011 at 17:18 | #60

    @Freelander

    “Yes. That is one opinion. And you know all this how? Ouija board?”

    I didn’t need an Ouija board. It was widely reported by foreign policy analysts at the time that the Bush Presidency contained two distinct schools of thought in relation to how to deal with perceived rogue regimes. Put simply, the Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle group favoured unilateral action and force whilst the Powell-Rice group favoured diplomacy and multilateral action. The former group got their way on Iraq but the latter group gained the ascendency after the Iraq war went pear-shaped. People movements with the Bush Presidency reflected the shift in power (eg the Rumsfeld resignation).

    The centrist Brookings Insitution contemporaneously summed up the situation here.

  61. Sam
    December 17th, 2011 at 17:42 | #61

    I must admit Hitchens made me reconsider the case for war. I didn’t change my mind, but I did decide against certain antiwar arguments. In particular, I no longer respect the kind of Leftist isolationism typified by Gore Vidal. I think he added something to the debate.

  62. Mel
    December 17th, 2011 at 19:13 | #62

    PrQ, previous comment at 17:18 stuck in mod. Could it be released please.

  63. Donald Oats
    December 17th, 2011 at 21:30 | #63

    The whole weapons of mass destruction claim, while at least technically possible, was a limp reason to go fight in Iraq when the original post-9/11 objective was to smoke out and git the murdering bastards who made 9/11 a reality. Somehow, the act of questioning just why a desire to find the perpetrators of 9/11, who were hardly unknown to the USA (the TV-watching world, in fact), could morph into a fight in Iraq, was either seriously attacked as un-patriotic to ask, or simply ignored by the large media players. I never got that.

    Saddam Hussein was a murderous thug, of that there is little question. A torturing murderous thug. Al Qaeda was the organisation directly responsible for 9/11; their boss Obama bin Laden was living in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan, for much of the previous decade—ie, his home address was known not to be Iraq; it was never Iraq during that period. A small force was deployed to Afghanistan, presumably on the off-chance that it would be enough to ensnare him. Meanwhile, a mighty force was being readied for Iraq, one that dwarfed the Afghanistan deployment. In fact, it probably cannibalised the Afghanistan deployment. I’ve wondered a few times about how it might have gone differently, if the US had rapidly positioned a much bigger force concentrated on finding bin Laden. They had the numbers nearby, but for some reaon Iraq seemed more interesting as a target.

    Iraq was not involved in the 9/11 attacks on the USA, and yet it got the lion’s share of military deployment, not to mention that it also had the sheet bombed out of it’s infrastructure, and who knows how many hundred thousand killed Iraqis. What devastation.

    With respect to Christopher Hitchens, I perfectly understand his feelings concerning the enormity of the tragedy and what it meant in terms of defining a new dimension of enemy. I even understand the great desire to see the perpetrators held to account as an enemy military force, something which would very likely see them dead on the battlefield, rather than arrested and processed by trial. I could even bring myself to support a sudden and major deployment to Afghanistan’s mountain regions, if the mission was restricted to finding and killing/capturing bin Laden and his cronies. Where Hitchens and I part company, however, is with the mounting of a major military campaign in Iraq, under the guise of it being part of the war on terror. To me, that just seemed capricious, mealy-mouthed BS for convincing the masses to go to war in the wrong damned country! Didn’t understand it then, don’t understand it now.

    It took a decade to finally get bin Laden—in Pakistan!. Meanwhile, that force deployed to Afghanistan suffered a variety of mission creep, and never did find bin Laden.

  64. Donald Oats
    December 17th, 2011 at 21:33 | #64

    Damn. “…their boss Osama bin Laden…”
    Slip of the keyboard :-D

  65. Freelander
    December 17th, 2011 at 22:08 | #65

    @Rachel Shapiro

    Yes. Democracy, far too good for them. Give them half a chance and they’ll vote for something we don’t want them to have, or make alliances and choices we don’t want them to make. Maybe they’ll be ready for democracy in a couple more centuries…

  66. Freelander
    December 17th, 2011 at 22:21 | #66

    Saddam Hussein was a murderous thug, but he was the American’s murderous thug, just like Noriega was their murderous thug. The American’s will really have to do something about their murderous thug retirement benefits or it will start to impact on murderous thug recruitment.

    “I suppose installing a ‘democracy’ is an option, but look at that guy we chose for Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. He could take orders back when he was working directly for the CIA in the ’80s and ’90s, but since we installed him he really thinks he is in charge! Oh well. Can’t win ‘em all. Or very many at all. We’ll leave the allies to sort it out.”

  67. rog
    December 18th, 2011 at 06:39 | #67

    The Iraq war represented the triumph of unreason over reason.

    Here is the supposedly great and most certainly late Hitchens on the war “Wolfowitz has the rats on the run and this will all be over soon.” (Slate)

  68. Mel
    December 18th, 2011 at 12:46 | #68

    Freelander: “Yes. That is one opinion. And you know all this how? Ouija board?”

    I didn’t need an Ouija board. It was widely reported by foreign policy analysts at the time that the Bush Presidency contained two distinct schools of thought in relation to how to deal with perceived rogue regimes. Put simply, the Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle group favoured unilateral action and force whilst the Powell-Rice group favoured diplomacy and multilateral action. The former group got their way on Iraq but the latter group gained the ascendency after the Iraq war went pear-shaped. People movements with the Bush Presidency reflected the shift in power (eg the Rumsfeld resignation).

  69. Mel
    December 18th, 2011 at 12:49 | #69

    Also for FReelander- The centrist Brookings Insitution contemporaneously summed up the situation here http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2006/0717diplomacy_gordon.aspx.

    Note how you also missed the nuance on Iran, as per the above link.

  70. paul walter
    December 18th, 2011 at 17:28 | #70

    All the comments here seem to have something to offer, Fran’s, #2, stands out again, for a relevant summary.
    Floating about the wires is speculation on another asylum boat down, a couple of hundred more people may be delayed victims of the hysterical zeitgeist the masses were infected with by the outrageous and intemperate neo con delusionists and opportunist sociopaths.

  71. Freelander
    December 18th, 2011 at 22:35 | #71

    @Mel

    Oh. So it was chatter amongst the very clever people who dreamed up the idea of invading Iraq (Operation Freedom). Wouldn’t a Ouija board be better? Would you expect them to give the reason that I did? No. Never. Instead they would have some self serving twaddle.

  72. Freelander
    December 18th, 2011 at 22:37 | #72

    Hitchens wasn’t always right but he was a great writer and a sad loss.

  73. Freelander
    December 18th, 2011 at 23:11 | #73

    @paul walter Yes. Good comment by Fran. Re: another lost asylum boat and a couple of hundred lives, no one blames those who insist on making sure that only disposal boats are used for transport. The asylum seekers have the right to claim asylum on reaching Australia’s boarders. The government chooses to criminalise those who provide them transport and to confiscate their boats. Obviously, in those circumstances, the boats and people used to do the transporting are disposable and the loss of life inevitable. Who really ought to be blamed? The ‘people smugglers’ and their ‘business model’ or those who ensure that that model is used. Give that there is no attempt at smuggling, the purpose is to provide transport to seek to claim asylum, why call them people smugglers. I suppose it is to suggest that they are doing something wrong. As some asylum seekers come in by plane, how about confiscating a few 747s?

  74. rog
    December 19th, 2011 at 12:12 | #74

    @Fran Barlow Try $US4/6 trillion

    Altogether, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost the U.S. between $4 trillion and $6 trillion, more than half of which would be due to the fighting in Iraq, said Neta Crawford, a political science professor at Brown University.

    Her numbers, which are backed by similar studies at Columbia and Harvard universities, estimate the U.S. has already spent $2 trillion on the wars after including debt interest and the higher cost of veterans’ disabilities.

    The problem with quoting Hitchens is that for a large part of his career he was three sheets to the wind.

  75. Alan
    December 19th, 2011 at 13:36 | #75

    “I think Stiglitz figured that this war would eventually cost the US about $US3 trillion.”

    What is the value of the oil in the oilfields now controlled by European and American companies?

  76. gerard
    December 19th, 2011 at 17:02 | #76

    It looked obvious to me that in suddenly becoming a RWDB, Hitchens was simply making a savvy career move. If he had stayed an anti-imperialist then far fewer people would have ever heard of him. He would have been offered far fewer column inches, far smaller speaking fees and book advances, and received far fewer invites to Washington cocktail-parties.

    His arguments were far too ludicrous to be sincere, especially when contrasted with his ardent opposition to the first Gulf War. As Tariq Ali says, Hitchens actually died in 2001, one of the victims of 9/11, replaced by a vile imposter.

  77. Savvas Tzionis
    December 20th, 2011 at 08:10 | #77

    Did that mob at Catallaxy support the war? I never see a word about it on their blog.

    Yet they seem to have become the go to blog by the Right wing media for comments on fixing the current economic woes which resulted primarily from the economic policies of their side of politics!

  78. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 09:21 | #78

    @Alan

    It’s a really good question and I too would love to learn the answer, but I have a strong suspicion that even on those psychopathically realpolitik criteria for US/British mission objectives the invasion was a failure.

  79. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 09:23 | #79

    Anyway, here’s the sort of reflective yet still-smoulderingly-angry reportage commentary we need:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/18/us-blind-price-paid-iraqis

    Props to Gary Younge.

  80. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 09:54 | #80

    @Alan

    So I did a bit of back of the envelope:

    Iraq’s proven resources are estimated at 110bn barrels (although there are estimates of unproven reserves that far exceed this).

    Multiply this by, say, $100 per barrel. (Pick a different figure if you like.)

    Assuming you use my numbers, the total value is $11 trillion.

    I have no idea what the cost of producing a barrel is, but I understand Iraqi oil reserves are particularly inexpensive to exploit.

    I also have no idea what proportion of the reserves are now controlled by the West that weren’t before.

    My guesstimate is that the war’s profitability is a near thing on the hard numbers, but given the risks and costs associated with leaving Western energy reserves less certain, and the possibility of vast untapped resources in Iraq, the war probably made – and makes – good business sense.

    I have made huge assumptions here, feel free to critique, or better yet, correct them.

  81. Mel
    December 20th, 2011 at 12:19 | #81

    @Dan

    Wow, Dan, I’ve respected all your comments to date but that last one is just Crude Marxism. America certainly hasn’t profited from the war in Iraq. It would have served the interests of American capital far better to simply toady up to Saddam’s regime just like it does with Saudi Arabia and to reap the gains through trade.

    Let me give you a brief history lesson. After WWII the European colonial powers departed their former colonies and entered into trade relations. It became apparent very quickly that relinquishing control and entering into trade with the former colonies was far more profitable than trying to run an empire. The neocons in the Bush administration, however much we may not like them, clearly and repeatedly outlined the ideological underpinnings of the war and this didn’t include giving a few American companies the chance to make big bucks at the expense of the rest of the economy. There is no convincing argument for such a silly conspiracy theory.

    I consider myself left of centre but I feel like running a mile to the right when I here this type of bollocks.

  82. gerard
    December 20th, 2011 at 13:00 | #82

    Anyone who supported the Iraq War is already miles to the right of sanity anyway.

    Actually, outsourcing and privatization of military operations was central to neoconservative ideology from the beginning of the Bush administration. The Iraq War has been a bottomless pit of Corporate Welfare, monopoly cost-plus contracts to politically-connected contractors, with rampant waste and fraud everywhere you look.

    But of course you would only believe that this was intentional if the neocons had came out and “clearly and repeatedly outlined” that they planned to “give a few American companies the chance to make big bucks at the expense of the rest of the economy”.

    On the other hand, they “clearly and repeatedly outlined” that America was threatened by Iraqi WMD. Apparently some people were naive enough to believe that.

    Who needs a silly Conspiracy Theory when you have an even sillier Coincidence Theory.

  83. Freelander
    December 20th, 2011 at 13:25 | #83

    @Mel

    America hasn’t profited, but certain Americans have done extraordinarily well, thank you very much. Cheney, for one, made a fortune out of the invasion of Iraq.

  84. Freelander
    December 20th, 2011 at 13:33 | #84

    The US also thought it would get a lot more out of the Iraq adventure than they did. For example, they thought they would have eternal bases in Iraq and would be able to be first in line for very favourable oil contracts. Not everything worked out as planned. But as far as giving companies like Haliburton a chance to further rape the American taxpayer that part of the plan worked like a charm. Their man in Afghanistan isn’t working out to be their man either, in fact, since the installed him he has now become somewhat surly. The wars haven’t worked out well. Never mind. The American taxpayer will pay for them even if those who planned to benefit didn’t get everything they planned it won’t cost them a bean.

  85. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 13:42 | #85

    @Mel

    Mel – you’re taking a swipe at #30?

    Surely controlling a resource is almost always more profitable than negotiating access to one. The notion that the US had little or no interest in controlling Iraq’s oil utterly defies logic, common sense, or (again) realpolitik. No conspiracy needed: the US leadership would have been literally crazy (not just crazy-evil) for this not to enter the equation.

    I think the pattern is, as usual, privatised gains, socialised losses (with the American taxpayer and the Iraqi people footing the bill in dollars and blood respectively).

    NB: the bit of the history lesson that you missed was that Iraq was a bunch of lines arbitrarily drawn around a bunch of people who hated each other. The country was always going to descend into chaos or by forcibly rallied around a despot. Now it’s done both.

  86. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 13:44 | #86

    I’ll quickly add: I don’t think the US thought things would be anywhere near this difficult; it certainly wasn’t the Bush administration’s intent to expend anywhere near the resources that they have.

  87. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 13:48 | #87

    Mel :
    @Dan
    The neocons in the Bush administration, however much we may not like them, clearly and repeatedly outlined the ideological underpinnings of the war

    If you believe that wars like Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam have ideological underpinnings, no wonder you got taken in like a dupe. Ideology in this context is just PR. Three things matter in resource conflicts: national interests, national interests, and national interests.

  88. Freelander
    December 20th, 2011 at 13:51 | #88

    @Dan

    Yes, Dan. Toppling a regime and installing a US friendly democratic dictator had never been so difficult. Amusingly, I don’t remember Mubarak being decried as a dictator or Egypt being criticized as a dictatorship by the Americans when he was doing their bidding and did not look close to being toppled. The US only joined the bandwagon on Egypt very late in the piece.

  89. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 13:58 | #89

    I have a comment in moderation, the thrust of which is: Mel, forget the ideology bs, because it’s lies. Instead, work out who the intended beneficiaries are. This will give you a much stronger underpinning for your analysis. It’s not conspiracy theory; it’s following the money, and it almost always comes up with the right result. This is why I called Iraq correctly to begin with.

  90. Freelander
    December 20th, 2011 at 14:03 | #90

    Couldn’t understand how anything you said, Dan, had anything to do with ‘marxism’, crude or otherwise.

  91. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 14:14 | #91

    Nor I.

  92. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 19:23 | #92

    @Freelander

    You’re right. The US is perfectly willing to support and defend human rights abusers and despots of all stripes, when doing so accords with US interests.

    Let me be clear here – as historical hegemons go, the US is probably not a particularly egregious example. But: they are a hegemon, and in the geopolitical game they are looking out for Number One. Vietnam was about spheres of influence, Afghanistan and Iraq are about energy security. A little bit of clear-eyed analysis and these are not surprises.

  93. Freelander
    December 20th, 2011 at 21:11 | #93

    Yes. I agree. The Soviets were not our friends; neither were the Chinese when they were communist, and I doubt they are our friends now. But the country that is the greatest threat to us, and which is not our friend, or even the friend of its own average citizen is the US of A. Not because they are necessarily fired by a worse motivation than others, but simply because they are the hegemon power that by far has the greatest power and influence over us in the West. Too many of our politicians are simply sellouts to the US, betraying our interests in favour of US interests to attempt to advance their careers.

  94. Mel
    December 20th, 2011 at 21:19 | #94

    Umm, that’s really dumb stuff, Dan. Reality is vastly more complicated than your silly conspiracy theories would suggest. While a few American companies might make a quid out of the Iraq fiasco, America generally and American capital in particular have suffered enormously. You might also like to explain how it is that American companies now “control” Iraqi oil given that the Iraqi Government may kick them out at any moment- and will quite possibly do so not long after the CoW departs Iraq.

    (As an aside, the keyboard warriors on the Right also like to “follow the money” (oil company funding for anti-AGW campaigns is less than 5% of government, university and NGO funding for AGW research and activism according to the figures I’ve seen) and “forget the ideology”, and this is how they have arrived at the conclusion that AGW is a hoax).

    Anyway, Dan, you may right and as such I strongly advise you to keep an eye out for black helicopters. I mean, “money power” will never allow a genius and genuine people’s poet such as yourself to keep tellin’ it like it is ;)

  95. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 21:34 | #95

    Mel: I’ve been clear that Iraq represents a strategic failure on its own terms (though I did try to do some sums around the edges that do convey a more nuanced story, and I think I’ve been open about the bits I’m not sure about). Some questions for you:

    1. Why do you think the US got involved in Iraq? Bear in mind that the regime change thing is obviously bunk (remember how the US had his back in the 80s, and think about all the other awful regimes they’ve installed or propped up), and the WMD thing was obviously a lie from day dot to anyone who gave the evidence even a cursory examination.

    2. Given that you now think you were wrong to support the invasion, what changed?

    3. Will you support the next US (mis)adventure?

    4. What do you think broadly motivates US (or any country’s) foreign policy?

    As for conspiracy – I haven’t suggested anything conspiratorial whatsoever. I have proposed that countries attempt to act in their own interest, regardless of what sort of half-baked sanctimoniousness might come from their mouthpieces.

  96. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 21:41 | #96

    Mel :
    Reality is vastly more complicated than your silly conspiracy theories would suggest.

    First: strange to be getting lectured on how reality is constituted from someone who swallowed the official line in 2003. Why do you think you have a better grasp on things now than you did then?

    Second: I really don’t think I’ve come across anyone else – let alone someone who describes themselves as opposing the invasion (just in the nick of time, eh?) who takes serious issue with the idea that energy security was a major factor. Heck, I’ve discussed the matter with a staff sergeant serving in Iraq until just recently (ain’t the internet wonderful), a Republican, who had no serious quibbles with what I was saying, and described the official line for the war as (I quote) ‘pretty thin’.

  97. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 21:46 | #97

    fyi I don’t think I’m in any danger of being shut up by the authorities (who, after all, we elect) – what I am saying is probably a fairly standard view in my office (which runs the gamut politically), in my family (ditto), and among my friends (largely Greens voters and pretty much arch-rationalistic in orientation). And I also note Noam is still out there setting the record straight, not in the brig at Quantico.

  98. Dan
    December 20th, 2011 at 22:12 | #98

    Here’s that well-known conspiracy theorist (oh yeah, and Defence Minister) Brendan Nelson saying energy security was a factor. Four years ago.

    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/07/04/1183351291906.html

  99. Freelander
    December 21st, 2011 at 16:59 | #99

    Given the increasingly enlightened comments, I’ve worked out who this “Mel” is.

    Last name Gibson – aka Terror of the Highway Patrol – one time movie star, director, producer.

  100. Mel
    December 22nd, 2011 at 12:13 | #100

    Dan, you put forward a particular theory at #30 that purports to explain the “real motive” for the war in Iraq. You said that the ideological justifications given for the wear and written about in neocon literature were “bs” as the real motive was “control” of oil. I very correctly pointed out to you that your theory is bunk. I never said that oil is not a factor in play- obviously it is, but “control of oil”- your theory- is not the proximate cause of the war. Such a claim is very crude schoolboy theorising.

    Dan #45 ” As for conspiracy – I haven’t suggested anything conspiratorial whatsoever.”

    I’m sorry but the obvious implication of your claim that the Bush Administration’s publicly announced justifications for the war were a screen to hide the real motivation (in your words “lies”), that being the opportunity for a select few American companies to “control” and make a profit from Iraqi oil, is that a conspiracy took place.

    Black helicopters, Dan. Beware.

    Dan #45

    “Given that you now think you were wrong to support the invasion, what changed?”

    The invasion made sense in principle but it was poorly executed with too many casualities. It is that simple.

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