Civil War in Iraq?

The dilemma is that US ultimately will not be able to serve both communities. It cannot make everybody happy. And it’s going to lose one of them along the way in order to satisfy the demands of the other party.

Vali Nasr on Open Source

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Today’s Washington Post reports that the sectarian conflagration in Iraq following last week’s golden dome bombing has killed over 1,300 souls. New bombings today keep the country wavering on the edge of civil war.

The Askariya shrine in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, was one of the most important Shiite religious sites in Iraq, and whoever orchestrated the bombing must have wanted to incite Sunni/Shiite violence. But will it prove to be a kind of tipping point? John Burns warned us about a possible Iraqi civil war on our show in early September last year, so the question now is: what’s different, if anything, about the current situation?

So far, the U.S. military has largely stayed out of the fray, and it seems clear that Iraqi security forces aren’t up to the task of restoring order. A temporary daytime curfew in and around Baghdad also failed to stem the violence. Shiite clerics have been calling for militias to protect holy sites, and Sunnis temporarily pulled out of negotiations to form a new Iraqi government. Politicial and religious leaders from both sides have also spoken out against America’s involvement in Iraq. But despite the bloodshed and fractured leadership, one Iraqi blogger writes:

It does not feel like civil war because Sunnis and Shia have been showing solidarity these last few days in a big way. I don’t mean the clerics or the religious zealots or the politicians- but the average person. Our neighborhood is mixed and Sunnis and Shia alike have been outraged with the attacks on mosques and shrines.

Riverbend, Baghdad Burning, Volatile Days…

Who might have set off the Samarra bombs? Iraqi Sunnis? If so, were they acting alone or with foreign support? If not, who did it and why? To what extent are rifts within Islam (as opposed to, say, American involvement or tribal conflicts) responsible for the violence in Iraq? If civil war really does start in Iraq, what does this do to Shiite/Sunni tensions across the entire Middle East?

As always, weigh in with comments and questions of your own.

Vali Nasr

Professor, National Security Affairs, Naval Postgraduate School

Author, forthcoming The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future

Vahal Abdulrahman

Senior researcher, The Iraq Memory Foundation

Blogger, The Iraqi Vote and Dear Baghdad

Robert Worth

Reporter, The New York Times, in Baghdad

Jane Arraf

Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

On leave from CNN’s Baghdad bureau

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  • this stuff is complicated, and i don’t know much about it, but, i do know this

    1) be cautious about conjecturing the immiscibility of shia and sunni identities. iraq’s shia arab majority is an product of the 19th century. sunni arabs began to settle around canals developed by new technologies, and shia missionaries took advantage of their relocation near their holy cities (which long had large shia populations from pilgrims who never left) to convert these new farmers. this is one reason that tribes can span sects.

    2) the iraqi army was predominantly shia during the iran-iraq war, and stayed loyal to the sunni dominated regime.

    3) the religious identities of various groups in the middle east can be confusing, so positing ‘shia-sunni’ fractures analogous from nation to nation can be misleading. the alawites of syria who dominate the baathist regime there are technically twelver shias like the shia of lebanon, iraq and iran, but their beliefs are really strange, and there is some suggestion that alawites did not even define themselves as muslim in the early 20th century (their twelver shia status was given to them as late as the early 1970s by a lebanese cleric). in yemen the shia minority and sunni majority worship in the same mosques.

    4) let’s be cautious about ignoring the textured reality of any individual’s identity. as an american one might have an affiliation as an irish american, a new yorker, a roman catholic, a republican and an american. the weight given to these parameters varies from person to person of course. no doubt it is the same for iraqis. iraqi kurds, nominally sunni, have no problem playing the game of realpolitik and allying against sunni arabs with the shia. the turkoman of northern iraq might ally with the sunni arabs against the kurds. and so on. there are layers underneath the ones we observe.

  • cheesechowmain

    Why has the counter insurgency missed these soft target security risks? To what degree was serious consideration applied to securing these potential targets? I have my own speculations, but, I’d like to hear some answers.

    Back here in the U.S., conversatives are flipping the defeat-bit. That would suggest that sustained support has eroded or is in the process of eroding. Morale is an important component of a counter insurgency. Add in a sectarian angle, and it might start looking insurmountable from executive branch’s point-of-view. If this conflict has been, now is, will be, a civil war, can the U.S. redeploy within the foreseeable future? Strictly my opinion about this matter, but it seems to me the U.S. policies imply we must absorb some degree of responsibility. How does that square with the longer range strategic goals of this conflict? How does it square with a growing concern and desire to redeploy?

  • The press today are anouncing that Muqtada al-Sadr may be the one who has brought some calm to Iraq. What will the Bush administration do now? Will they bring him into the process so they can low-tail it out of Iraq in time to win the next congressional elections? But since the cleric has demanded that the US occupying force leave, can the Bush team spin this into a victory, especially if an Islamic form of government and rule brings order at the cost of more democratic institutions? Will the moderate forces in Iraq accept this? Will Kurds and Sunnis negotiate with Muqtada al-Sadr or are they already?

  • this new york times magazine piece on jordanian insurgents might shed some light on what’s going on. as “rational actors” it seems counterproductive for iraq sunnis to antagonize the shia majority, but jordanian sunnis are not primarily concerned with the welfare of iraq sunnis, but rather a pan-arab salafist vision. a civil war based on religious identity is what they want.

  • cheesechowmain

    To dovetail off of sidewalkers post, there’s a potentially interesting dynamic playing out between al-Sadr and Grand Ayatollah Sistani. If my reading of the situation is approximately in the ballpark, al-Sadr and Sistani seem to be moving somewhat towards each other tactically.

    In the aftermath of the bombing of the Askariya shrine Sistani called for demonstrations, apparently for the first time during the conflict. I believe he has now crossed/crossing a point-of-no-return by calling upon tribal levies to protect shrines; a militia by any other name.

    As sidewalker pointed out, it’s been reported that al-Sadr initially called for calm. However, this is hard to square with the reports of violence at the hands of the Mahdi army. The WaPo article is inconclusive on this point. Perhaps al-Sadr can’t completely corral the overflowing anger? What would seem plausible, is that al-Sadr has wriggle room because of his explicit rhetoric and tactics against the occupation; though from a Islamic-centric point-of-view. Grand Ayatollah Sistani has not had this level of intensity or hardline position, but in the wake of such violence and destruction, may be experiencing pressure to move towards harder line tactics. Just an observation.

  • Hi guys,

    I want to alert you to Larry Diamond, a Hoover fellow who was recruited to help the CPA in Iraq and has been extremely critical of how the US is doing there. He wrote Squandered Victory about our failure, and he spoke at Brown this fall, saying he thinks the chances of a civil war are extremely high.

    Good luck

  • Do we want to hear from Juan Cole on this?

  • tbrucia

    I find myself asking questions… Would Iran feel safer with a Shiite Arab regime acting as a buffer state between it and Sunni Muslims? (I don’t know.) Do the salafist fundmentalists see part of their struggle for a new Caliphate as consisting of either walling off or destroying ‘heretic’ Shiites? (I don’t know.) Do most Iraqi Muslims have sufficient knowledge of their religion to make their theological differences important? (I don’t know.) Is secularism dead or simply dormant in Iraq? (I don’t know.) Would the Sunnis prefer becoming part of another nation before submitting to Shiism — e.g. Syria or Jordan? (I don’t know.) Would a civil war involve massive movements of refugees? If so, to where? (I don’t know.) There are many, many more questions than (intelligent and informed) answers.

  • Do the salafist fundmentalists see part of their struggle for a new Caliphate as consisting of either walling off or destroying ‘heretic’ Shiites?

    here is no quotes in the ‘heretic’ for the salafis, shia are heretics to them. other sunnis barely pass muster as well.

    Would the Sunnis prefer becoming part of another nation before submitting to Shiism — e.g. Syria or Jordan?

    syria is operationally ruled by a heretical sect (the alawites) that are often defined as shia. it has its own sunni insurrection (majority) which has been bloodily suppressed in the past. so i doubt it.

  • Cheesechowmein mention of the call to protect Sunni shrines and the possible alignment of al-Sadr and Sistani points to a potential alliance, even if only temporary, to oust the occupiers. We may be seeing a sort of replication of what happened in India where various groups united to win independence from Britain and then turned on each other (not all groups, of course). While this is a different time and place, there are some parallels. For the sake of the Iraqi people, who have suffered enought, I just hope calmer heads prevail.

    Bush has called for unity and not chaos and the one thing that unites Iraqis more than anything else is pictures and videos of torture and excess. It looks like he and Blair may find out that You don’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

  • Potter

    It may be better ( more peaceful) to allow the country to actually break apart or formally break it apart, then begin to form a confederacy or a federation or alliance. I like Juan Cole’s idea of the UN taking over and the US leaving ASAP. He gives a list of reasons why this would be beneficial to the situation.

    This would leave the US under the Bush Administration to threaten or get us into trouble elsewhere, not that we should stay in Iraq for this reason.

    The comments section on Cole’s entry has some good reasons why a UN takeover of the situation would not work the strongest point imho being UN weakness. To that I add the difficulty of this administration to eat some humble pie though I think they are going to have to eat more of it the longer we stay. It would save some face.

    Another good suggestion is to get forces out of Iraq and let them resolve things themselves. it’s going to be bloody any way, maybe this way it’s less blood when they realize it’s up to them and there is no occupation to fight.

    It’s a gamble because if things deteriorate and Salafist extremists gain control a multilateral force, or the US alone again, will have to go in for the same more legitimate reasons we went into Afghanistan.

    What a mess.

  • You should talk to John Robb. I mentioned something about him in the Suggest A Show for February, but you could pull him in just for his views on the Iraq insurgency and it’s effect on the state of gloabl security.

    For background, I would also recommend checking out Frontline’s documentary on “The Insurgency”, particularly their interview with Michael Ware.

    This gives some good insight on who these people are and what they really want (hint: they’re not just doing it because they “hate freedom”).

  • Potter

    Michael Ware is very good. What a job he’s doing!

  • Nikos

    Can we have a few minutes with John Burns again this time?

  • nother

    In our civil war in America, we were fighting about what it means to be American. We were fighting for our identity. Are these people fighting for what it means to be an Iraqi? Is there a possibility that these people will ever identify themselves as Iraqis?

    “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present.

    The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.

    We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

    Abraham Lincoln

    What is the country they want to save. Do they even have the urge to disenthrall themselves?

    What of this “constitution� that was drafted, I have heard little about it. Are there any beautiful words for these people to rally behind? Is there any inspiring “Iraqi� rhetoric?

    What brought us together and unites us today are the words in our constitution and Declaration of Independence.

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    I’m not sure you could characterize the words in their constitution as inspiring.

    Alas, they have written their constitution and they must live with it. We must now leave and let them. We couldn’t secure that country when we had full control after the invasion, how are we going to secure it now that we don’t have control?

    “When you have got an elephant by the hind leg, and he is trying to away, it’s best to let him run.”

    Abraham Lincoln

  • Nikos

    I can’t help but recall a hilarious but sadly prescient description of ‘warring police tribes’ from one of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ‘trilogy’-in-five-volumes.

    It strikes me as prescient because it seems that a mini civil war has broken out between the armed militias putatively embedded within the Iraqi constabulary, but probably in truth more beholden to various clerical proto-warlords.

    If this impression is even partially valid, then the vast majority of Iraqis will have to endure in their neighborhoods the escalation of this war of ‘police tribes’ no matter how much they pray for peace and for a restoration of the type of civil government that preceded the Baathist dictatorship.

    (If anyone can figure out a way to reduce and pose this post into an economically word-pared question, this over-caffienated windbag will dearly appreciate it.)

  • Nikos, how about:

    When the other militia comes calling, who are you going to turn to, wishful thinking or the local strong-man?

    I think those Iraqis that want the US military to stay a while longer seek to avoid the kind of police tribe wars you speak of.

  • nother, that was an excellent point. Does this mean the words of the Koran have a greater pull on Iraqi emotions? If so, the issue is whose interpretation will prevail?

  • What role should the local militias really be playing? Are they actually making things worse for the legitimacy of the Iraqi National Army? Or is the Iraqi Army even a viable solution?

  • WSD – Josh Marshall and Mickey Kaus are both Center-Left bloggers who think that a civil war will only kill off those who were missed in the “real one”

    JAMES JOYNER thinks there may be an upside to Iraqi civil war. Hmm. Mickey Kaus said the same thing a while back, but as I’ve noted here before, I think it’s better off avoided. This kind of thinking reminds me of Josh Marshall’s worries in 2003 that we didn’t kill enough Iraqis to ensure stable government postwar. Of course, some people today might say he was right about that, though I haven’t noticed any I-told-you-sos on this account from Josh.

  • Diplomacy Helped To Calm the Chaos

    U.S.-Kurdish Campaign Sought to Steer Sunnis, Shiites From Brink of Civil War

    WSD – If I am not mistaken, the Kurdish section of Iraq, the Northern most part that borders Turkey, was protected under the No-Fly Zone enforced by the US and Great Britain for more that 10 years after the war- the Un never offically sanctioned the no fly zones and it was “unilatterly” declared by US and GB. During this time, the society and economy flourished.

  • Nikos

    Sidewalker wrote: “When the other militia comes calling, who are you going to turn to, wishful thinking or the local strong-man?�

    This is exactly why the proto-warlords are ordering the ‘hits’ – they know that after the violence has slain enough innocents, the unhappy bystanders will feel forced into taking sides. (Which, I intuit, was your point!)

    And then this again from sidewalker, which I quote in response to Winston’s latest offering (whose links I visited without much edification, I’m afraid to say): “I think those Iraqis that want the US military to stay a while longer seek to avoid the kind of police tribe wars you speak of.�

    It’s pretty obvious to those of us Bush-skeptics that the Iraqi civil unrest isn’t wholly unwelcome around the administration. They know an excuse to extend US troop deployments when they see one.

    What’s more ‘suitable’ than a civil war?

    Many of us still reckon the administration’s prime motivation for intervention not the ‘suffering of the populace’, but the oil under their feet. And until the political situation is resolved, the oil can’t flow. The Bushies don’t honestly want to cede Iraq to Iran. Yet without a ‘cleansing’ civil war – and US assistance in curbing it – Iran will dominate Iraq – and control the flow of its oil. Now, as the situation deteriorates, Bush begins talking up the value of ethanol.



    Winston (oh, & nice to see you again!), I suspect that you’re willing to grant the benefit of the doubt to the administration’s claimed desire to restore order in Iraq and then to leave them alone – but, to paraphrase someone else (Peggy Sue?): I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday.

    These clowns in Bush-World haven’t been straight with anybody (aside from their corporate funders) from the beginning. Why should I, or any other of the many skeptics who post here, decide to believe otherwise now?

    Wednesday’s show was ample evidence for me that this Bush-led leopard – no, make that leper – can’t change its spots or blemishes-of-integrity.

    So: En garde! I expect at least something of a reply from you (and will treat it with respect – my recent experiences in other threads that-shall-remain-nameless have enhanced my desire to operate with interpersonal decency).

    Let’s make this thread worth checking, shall we? 🙂

  • Nikos

    Here’s a review that promises at least an interesting take, that came via Henry’s link to Larry Diamond’s Squandered Victory:

    From the: FOREWORD

    “David C. Hendrickson and Robert W. Tucker examine the contentious debate over the Iraq war and occupation, focusing on the critique that the Bush administration squandered an historic opportunity to reconstruct the Iraqi state because of various critical blunders in planning. Though they conclude that critics have made a number of telling points against the Bush administration’s conduct of the Iraq war, they argue that the most serious problems facing Iraq and its American occupiers—criminal anarchy and lawlessness, a raging insurgency, and a society divided into rival and antagonistic groups—were virtually inevitable consequences that flowed from the act of war itself. Military and civilian planners were culpable in failing to plan for certain tasks, but the most serious problems had no good solution.�

    Already, in the foreward, these two military analysts point the finger of culpability squarely at the war-planners.


    The Republican administration wasn’t…oh. what’s the word…’competent’…yeah, that’s it!


    And why?

    Perhaps because their ideology is founded on fantasy?


  • Nikos

    Now Winston, I want to impress upon you that many if not all of us in the pre-war anti-war movement felt that our pacifism was the purest form of ‘supporting the troops’.

    And as evidence of our dismay over the waste of life (not merely American but Iraqi too – especially the tens of thousands of lives of Iraq’s fate-misplaced innocents), here’s an excerpt from Phebe Marr’s review of Squandered Victory @

    ‘…according to Diamond, the CPA was mismanaging the militias in the south. Its lack of control became very clear in April 2004, after the outbreak of twin insurgencies, one led by ex-Baathists, the other by Muqtada al-Sadr. By then, the militias had multiplied: Sadr’s Mahdi Army, the Badr Brigade of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and the Kurdish Pesh Merga, to mention a few. The plan was to disband these groups or incorporate them into the newly emerging national army, but in some cases they were merely donning a new uniform. “We are taking Pesh units and slapping an ICDC [Iraqi Civil Defense Corps] label on them,â€? one U.S. Army officer told Diamond. The main challenge came from Sadr. Lacking sufficient military forces, Washington refused to confront him in time to avoid a conflict. Diamond left Iraq just as the country was turning particularly violent.

    Diamond is also unsparing in his criticism of Washington’s broader Iraq policy. “Mistakes were made at virtually every turn,” he charges, ensuring that “a decisive and potentially historic military victory” became a failure. The Iraq project has become “one of the greatest overseas blunders in [U.S.] history.” Although the mistakes Diamond points out are familiar by now, they are noteworthy. They include purging the Baath Party, disbanding the army, invading Iraq with too few forces to maintain security, letting the Pentagon set the strategy for postwar Iraq, and failing to plan effectively for peace. Diamond excoriates civilian Pentagon leaders for not listening to outside advice, especially the State Department’s “Future of Iraq” project (a main subject of Phillips’ book). Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld frowned on nation building, and the White House was eager to downplay the sacrifices it might require of the American public. The Bush administration wanted to believe that the insurgency in Iraq would be limited and that Washington could rapidly turn over the country’s management to pro-U.S. Iraqi exiles.

    Occupation did bring some benefits – new political parties, a stronger civil society, and a less dogmatic educational system – but these benefits did not, in Diamond’s view, outweigh the negatives. The collapse of public order in the immediate aftermath of the war devastated Iraq’s infrastructure and opened the door to terrorists, feeding the insurgency and the chronic disorder that have stunted progress. The U.S. forces were always short of troops; the civilian team was underresourced, with too few people who knew the local language and culture. The Bush administration displayed too much hubris and engaged in too much wishful thinking. For Diamond, the administration’s worst sin was not going to war, but going so unprepared.’

    End quote.

    We didn’t want our children and brethren to die or lose limbs for this junk.

    And only the most vindictively insensate of the pre-war ‘peaceniks’ would ever welcome Tehran’s creeping totalitarian hegemony over Iraq – a hegemony that only a ‘cleansing’ civil bloodbath can avert through ongoing and intensive American meddling.

    Are you really/i pondering voting for the ideological idiots of the GOP this fall?


    I don’t believe it. You’re too much of a budding humanist for that.

  • March 1, 2006: In the last week, Iraqi police have stepped up their raids, and have killed 35 terrorists and arrested 487 suspects. The U.S. forces have established an up-to-date database of Iraqi’s most wanted terrorists and criminals, and the Iraqi police have limited access to this in order to process those they arrest. Some Iraqi police units are also equipped with the same tools American troops use, like the instant test for explosives residue (this identifies anyone who has recently fired a weapon or handled explosives.) Among those arrested by Iraqi police in the last week is al Qaeda leader Abou al Farouq, who was in charge of organizing terror attacks throughout most of Baghdad. Al Farouq is a Syrian, and the money man who decided which smaller groups got paid what to carry out the many tasks required to build, place and detonate roadside bombs. Many of the raids in the last week also uncovered bomb workshops and stockpiles of bomb making materials, as well as weapons, documents, communications gear and computers. The last item is particularly valuable, as American troops now have very capable computer forensics capability, and are able to extract useful information from encrypted, erased or damaged hard drives.

    Iraqis were irked to see the foreign news stories of how Iraq was “on the brink of civil war.” The Sunni Arabs are in no shape to put up a credible resistance in any kind of civil war. The government has more problems with Kurdish and Shia Arab public opinion, which is more inclined to treat the Sunni Arab population a lot more violently than is currently the case. This makes it difficult to rein in the death squads, particularly the ones in the police force, who go out and just kill actual, or suspected, Sunni Arab killers. When it is mentioned that the deceased was formerly a member of one of Saddam’s many police and intelligence outfits, there is no hope of any follow-up investigation. It’s going to take a generation for this hatred, of Saddam’s many victims, and their families, towards the Sunni Arabs who did the dirty work for so long.

  • Plus–New York Times in ruins!

    By Mickey Kaus

    Updated Thursday, March 2, 2006, at 5:14 AM ET

    Excitable Times in Ruins! Did the New York Times really run a story last week headlined:

    More Clashes Shake Iraq; Political Talks Are in Ruins

    “Ruins”? Wow. That is embarrassing. … The hed was repeated in the story’s lede, which said that “political negotiations over a new government” were “in ruins.” Funny thing, though–in today’s NYT, negotiations seem to be going on again. Those Iraqi “ruins” get picked up pretty quickly. … P.S.: I’m not saying Bill Keller’s** headline and lede writers were amping up the Iraq hysteria in order to manufacture another Tet. Maybe they just have no judgment or perspective. It’s bleeding obvious that when a Sunni delegation announces it is “suspending talks” in reaction to some awful sectarian attacks, that doesn’t mean talks won’t be un-suspended after a decent interval. … In this case it took 48 hours. … [Thanks to Mudville Gazette for pointing out the NYT howler.]

    **–Keller’s been in the editor’s job long enough to be held responsible for the continuation of this chronic NYT story-tweaking problem. … 1:27 A.M.

    WSD – I don’t know which is having more trouble, the MSM media or the newly forming Iraq Govt! When is someone going to put the current leadership of the NYT out of thier misery?

  • Nokos – the problem with many “analysises” anywhere, is that they are not truely that, analysises.

    If you go to the Dr and prescribes major surgery the analysis NEVER is “great, NP, let’s put you under and go cutting!” There are alway costs / risks and tradeoffs in any realsitic analysis.

    That is what is exhibited in the many of the links that you provided above. Without action there would have been no “victory” to squander.

    So, I will not vote for “Republicans” I will vote for the party who will take AGGRESSIVE actions to pursue US interests that will also promote Free Market Democracy. And I am SURE that will not be a Democrat.

    I had to “hold my nose” and vote for GWB the first time because of his (then) isolationsist tendencies in stark contrast to the completely discreditied policies of UN led appeasement that would ahve been carried foreward by Gore. But 9/11 changed Bush’s foreign / security philosophies so that in 2004 I could balance my disregard for his solcialy conservative tendencies to be able to whole heartedly vote for him and his “Neo-Con” cabal.

    You see, having seen many part of the world that we are talking about, first hand through the eyes of a US military that is at the “point of the spear” of change I was “a Neo-Con before Neo-Con was cool” to steel a line from a cheezy country western song.

    I don’t think that there is much justification for the US military unless it is “on the March”.


    The rising star of Moqtada al-Sadr has been the subject of much recent speculation: how his bloc became the biggest in the Shia UIA alliance, how he controls one of the most extremist militias in the country, and how he has become one of the most important politicians in Iraq’s development toward democracy. And also one of its biggest threats. Avowedly ready to stage an uprising should Iran give the order, some military commanders must be wondering why the hell they didn’t get rid of him a long time ago when they had the chance. Now his prominence is being compared to the rise of Hitler.

    Whatever happens, the Shia have once again been put on the spot. They may have been repressed, tortured, and killed under Saddam, but it does not mean that they have the inherent right to power now as many of the leadership believe. How that Shia leadership deals with its declining power, and maybe even the outright loss of it, will determine if a new dictatorship will emerge or if democracy can really work in Iraq.

  • The Key Strategic Question

    Is Islam compatible with a free society?

    This is the key strategic question of our day.

    And I think that, in its present form and the way that is held amoung the current population of Muslims around the world the anser is no – that is not to say that there can’t be some forms of “free-er” societies and the there can be a spectrum around the world but claiming that Islam as it is beleived and practiced today by a mojority of Muslims can support a “free” society is not a credible arguement.

    It would be like argueing 15th century Europeans Christianity could support “free societies” when, at the time, salvery was rife, women didn’t vote and this was all supported by then, current Christianity. But that wasn’t to say that at the time, like there are Muslims now, who had a more liberal philosohpy that could support a free society, its jsut that they were in the minority – like in today’s Islam.

    One should also look to the 2 back-to-back studies by Islamic scholars of the state of Islamic societies all over the world. Huge % of illetracy, practically no translation of books of other languages into Arabic etc – the current state of Islam is not the one of Moorish Spain where its intellectual heritage was the spark of the Western Reianasance. Current Islam was filtered through the 1000 year reign of the Ottoman Empire whose last 200 years was anything but “enlightend”.

    This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t strive to give Muslims the benefits of “free-er” soities but we msut remember that they must be given the chance to progress thier ideas, as we did, with time and judge thier reletive progress accordingly.

    Islam is coming out of a dark age, just like Russia the East is currently, but Islam was in that age for much longer so has more catching up to do.

  • Winston: I don’t think that there is much justification for the US military unless it is “on the Marchâ€?.

    Well, exactly. You’ve just made the pacifist’s point.

    So, in your vision of the world, we would always be engaged in military action?

  • As we all ponder the possibility of civil war in Iraq, I find myself asking questions like:

    Do we have the right to determine how all other governments should be run?

    For me the question of whether Islam is compatible with what we call a free society, is moot. If we believe in representative democracy (which is highly questionable) then we must allow the people of a country to be who they are and determine what kind of governance they will have.

    That said, I fear for women and children and slaves in many places around the world. But does that mean I think we have the right to go in militarily, kill many thousands of them in the name of freeing them and then force our definition of civil society on them? No. I believe there are other ways to exert power. Of course, we have to be willing to let go of the idea of making money off of everybody on the planet.

    If the rest of the world is concerned about humanitarian treatment in one country, they can isolate that country. They can exert pressures in a lot of ways. But if you see the country as the controller of a natural resource, or a market for your products, or a testing ground for your development, then you have let go of the humanitarian cause. You have tainted whatever you try to do and the outcome is not likely to be good.

    nother, I think your line of questioning about what gives a populace a cohesive identity is spot on. In the entrie Arabian peninsula, we have arrogantly tried to impose the concept of a single identity since the 1800s. Beyond seeing us as the Other, what binds them. And do we want to build a nation whose primary bond is to see us as the enemy? When will we let our imposed vision of state lines in the desert go? Why do the countries have to exist in the forms we have determined? If we want to hold onto any claim of being civil, humanitarian, we need to start treating people as full-fledged human beings and give them self-determination. They are not our children who need us to guide them. Goodness gracious, their cultures have been around far longer than ours. We’re like teenagers who think anyone over 25 is old and stupid.

    Perhaps rather than using our force to continue to impose the vision of the Western World, we should use what influence we have left to help them return to the pre-Eurpoean invasion of their lands. Or as much as they’d like. Naive as I may sound, perhaps the best thing we could do for the entire planet is to gather UN energies to undo what we have all done to these people in the past 150 years or so.

    Whether the differing groups in Iraq have the resources for an all out civil war or not, is not the point. Understanding why they lash out at each other and how their ancient cultures used to keep relatively more peace and allowing them to find their way back to themselves may be more helpful than sorting of if they can pull off civil war.

  • Nikos

    Winston wrote: ‘I don’t think that there is much justification for the US military unless it is “on the March�.’

    This strikes me as very “1930’s� – and not 1930’s America, but 1930’s Italy.

    It’s also decidedly counter to the founders’ 18th Century vision for the American military. They believed it properly a defensive force, not ‘the point of a marching spear’.

    They weren’t real big on imperialism, having just escaped it.

    They weren’t perfect, but at least they loathed hypocrisy.

    As for Winston’s MSM bashing:

    This is an outgrowth of the ‘benitos’ who populate (and pollute) the think tanks and television cameras of the Republican media. (‘Benitos’ because Hannity, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and the rest of their ranting ilk remind me of Mussolini instead of decent, civil, and civically minded Americans.)

    See David Brock’s The Republican Noise Machine for 391 pages of exhaustively sourced details:

    The Times and the rest of the ‘mainstream’ media who strive (and yet yes, occasionally fail) to maintain journalistic integrity are to the shouting ideologue-demagogic benitos what an old, gray woman is to inquisitors: an obvious witch – just look at her!

    Here’s one small example of the benitos’ hypocritical use of their favorite whipping boy.

    Brock writes on page 132:

    “The New York Times editorial page is consistently liberal on the issues; but it is not especially partisan or even political (it regularly endorses Republicans, such as Governor George Pataki); and is rarely, if ever, intemperate (my emphasis). It treats its opponents with respect and usually steers clear of attacks on the character, motives, and morality of Republicans. While liberals and liberalism are shredded every day in the (Wall Street) Journal, conservatives and conservatism not only are spared this treatment in the Times, but also are regularly given the benefit of the doubt. For instance, during the 2002 contretemps over the pro-segregationist comments of former Senate majority leader Trent Lott, the Times wrote that ‘no one could question President Bush’s commitment to racial healing’, overlooking the race-baiting campaign Bush ran in the 2000 presidential primary against GOP Senator John McCain and his nomination of anti-civil rights judges to the judiciary. By the same token, while the Journal always acts politically, deflecting charges leveled against conservatives, the Times has been known to publish sternly critical editorials on what it considers to be the ethical shortcomings of leading Democrats.�

    (Sources via endnotes omitted for brevity; if you want to see the sources, read the book.)

    I present this less to defend the Times (which frankly isn’t as progressive as I’d like), but to offer the beginnings of an argument against the decades-long effort by the Right to discredit the ‘mainstream media’s’ journalistic objectivity. This effort has succeeded remarkably: manipulating the country’s political dialogue toward the right while ‘legitimating’ the right-wing use of smear, misinformation, and outright falsehood in its own parochial media organs. (Which is the point of Brock’s excellent book, btw.)

    I recommend the book to all – but especially to my progressive kin. It explains dispassionately but in depth – using published sources instead of spinning conspiracy theories – how the Right has hijacked the country’s political dialogue.

    At the very least, you’ll know, with detailed conviction, that the sources informing Winston’s opinions aren’t worth the journalistic credibility they claim, let alone the paper they’re printed on.

    (Sorry Winston, but this isn’t personal: we’re searching for truth here, not spin.)

  • cheesechowmain

    WD, not trying to pile here at all, but the following “I don’t think that there is much justification for the US military unless it is “on the Marchâ€?.” is pretty provocative and leads to many serious questions, questions for which you are not responsible for answering if this is in fact the situation. But just as a point of clarification, were you being serious or being ironic? I currently have eight questions and mounting, but I think I’ll just hang out and ponder upon this for a while. Best to you WD and your willingness and courage to speak openly is not something to discourage.

  • cheesechowmain

    Pardon my usual bad grammar. I write like a slow learner in a third rate public school. On another thread, I noticed that sidewalker apologized for some minor grammatical error. I had to chuckle, if only I could write so poorly! Well, every village needs someone to set the low water mark and that is a role I can embrace. Anyway, the opening sentence should be “WD, not trying to pile *on* here at all” and the last sentence should be “Best to you WD and your willingness and courage to speak openly; it is not something to discourage.”

  • Nikos

    CCM: please check the Camille Paglia thread for a case where ‘piling on’ might just be a good thing. A damn good thing.

  • Mr. Dodson wrote, “I don’t think that there is much justification for the US military unless it is “on the Marchâ€?

    Your point made me think of the Japanese “Self Defence Force”, (also hiding somewhere in Iraq) which people there think of as completely inept and which the the hawks would like to be able to send into battle, not least of all, to get hardened combat experience.

    This must also be a key reasons for sparking conflicts and constantly sending the US troops to battle. Each generation of warriors must be prepared for the time when they actually may need to defend the nation rather than just defend the over-reaching, unrestricted market interests of the state.

    The irony now is that the defenders of the nation are so elsewhere engaged that security at home has been handed over to a spy agency and when a natural disaster occurs there is nobody to ensure the safety of the public.

  • Nikos

    OH! CCM: it occurred to me while busy elsewhere that my 4:19PM post might be misconstrued as a ‘caution’ against ‘piling on’ Winston’s posts.

    It wasn’t – it was entirely concerned with some insufferable arrogance in a couple of posts on the Paglia thread. (Winston might want to pile on there, too. He’s occasionally like me when it comes to typos and hasty edits.)

    Sorry for any possible confusion.

    I’m quite sure Winston anticipated fully the feedback he’d get long before he clicked the ‘Submit’ button. (You’re a brave man, Winston Dodson! Heroic, even!)

    See you all later.

  • cheesechowmain

    Thanks Nikos. I believe I understood and it motivated me to look at the Paglia thread and listen to an enjoyable interview. You handled that situation over on that thread with your usual deftness.

    If Winston’s assertion is correct, and I’m still considering its probability, then this has much wider implications than our current deployment of military force capabilities in Iraq or the other numerous active military operations not finding their way onto the MSM. The image that came to mind is the metaphor of a shark that cannot stop swimming. Of course, those sleeping sharks of Isla Mujeres sort of blew up that old idea. But, I still like this metaphor in spite of its inconsistency. I do try to avoid those hobgoblins whenever possible. BTW, I really think sharks are amazing animals.

  • Once again, with the existence of all the Nations in Western Europe, Japan, S Korea and now Afghistan and Iraq, I don’t have to defend the notion that the “US military on the march” is a good thing.

    As I write this, we are talking to two people who we would not be, if it were not for the fact the the US military “marched there”.

    Then, the US’s security has “been in the hands of a spy agency”, CIA, since the end of WWII. It hasn’t changed and we are as free now, as we before and the world is very much mroe free – the number of countries and people who live in free societies have increased greatly.

    One of the topics of this show is exploring that question – can a newly freed society stay that way without a civil war.

    Yes, Nikos and I don’t need any defense unless it is againt something rude and unproductive but I sometimes might go there so I need guidance as well.

    But I think that the proposition that the MSM’s business model is failing is not even debatable. The only questions are how much, now fast, how far and what the results will be.

    Listen to this show, it seems that all guests tonight are both more “Pro-Iraq War” than most any 2 pundits on any more MSM source that ROS!

  • Potter

    Guest Vali Nasr is excellent. Incredibly articulate explanations.

  • Dr. Vali R. Nasr




    National Security Affairs


    Research Interests

    Politics of South Asia and the Middle East; Political Islam; Comparative Politics theory

    WSD- That’s the “Naval Post Grduate School” there goes the US Military on the march again”!

  • “Do we have the right to determine how all other governments should be run?

    For me the question of whether Islam is compatible with what we call a free society, is moot. If we believe in representative democracy (which is highly questionable) then we must allow the people of a country to be who they are and determine what kind of governance they will have.

    That said, I fear for women and children and slaves in many places around the world. But does that mean I think we have the right to go in militarily, kill many thousands of them in the name of freeing them and then force our definition of civil society on them? No. I believe there are other ways to exert power. Of course, we have to be willing”

    WSD – If you can name another instance where this has happended I think that many will be interested.

    Also, I think that many who support US intervention are very senstive to imposing Western Values on societies where we intervene. Look at Japan and S. Korea – both are very successful Asian (non-Western) societies / coutnries where we once did, the same thing that we are doing now in Iraq.

  • Potter

    The Iraqi people are amazing when you consider what they have been through, I am optimisitic for them as well.

  • And the conspiracy sounding thoery that the US has to wars in order to train would be true if the US didn’t train so much when there is no war.

    The reason the the US is so good at war is that we continuously train for it when we are not fighting it.

  • cheesechowmain

    “Once again, with the existence of all the Nations in Western Europe, Japan, S Korea and now Afghistan and Iraq, I don’t have to defend the notion that the “US military on the marchâ€? is a good thing.”

    The results of our military activities are a mixed bag. In sporting terms, they’re not all W’s and they’ve not always lead to freedom; I will do the obstinate thing and stipulate covert operations into the equation since they’re part of the military aparatus. Moreover, I can imagine Great Britian, or other colonial powers, making similiar arguments up through the 18th, 19th, 20th centuries to justify their behavior. Now, we are inheritors of some of this sizeable baggage.

    The idea of military as the sole harbinger of freedom, or the necessary tool for clearing a path to freedom and liberty, is a lack of vision. Moreover, from a non-psychic point-of-view, a potentially economically infeasible one. And, I recognize it is considered fringe and a non-starter among the worldy wisdom-class. A cursory inspection of our military budget in relation to the rest of the world would give one a plausible feeling of militarism as a core value here in the states. I’m aware of it’s overall draw on U.S. GDP. Please, no pie-charts. Nothin’ shows the love like where one put’s their discretionary spending. Which means we’re conflicted in the things we love, but we do love our military.

    Strictly my opinion of course, and as ridiculous as it as, i’ll keep on keepin’ on with it. Thus WD, we’ll have to agree to disagree. Or not. Whatever works for amiability. We don’t actually have to agree on anything. Which would run the risk of violating the law of excluded middle. :^)

    BTW, I really want to echo Potter’s post. The resiliency of spirit of these folks in Iraq is teaching me a very deep lesson. I’m glad I’m not too jaded nor old to learn something before checking off the mortal coil. Fantastic, but at a very high cost, one which I’m not bearing much or any brunt. Feels like survivor’s guilt for me.

  • Cheesechowmain – I would never argue against argueing and disagreeing since it is obvious that competition is a tool that I think makes everything it touches better so please let agree to disagree.

    And since I am a “a-emotional”, non-loving type I hate to introduce logic into an arguement on such terms as it is like “binging and gun to a knife fight” but I will.

    There is a set of terms used in making logical arguements called ” Necessary Conditions and Sufficient Conditions “.

    I have NEVER argued that is SUUFFICIENT to have a military in order to have freedom just as it isn’t sufficient to have Drs in order to have health but it is NESSESARY to have both in order to have, freedom and health respectively.

    What is my proof? All of reality and existence and just like medicine, military activites are a mixed bag.

    Its just as redicululous to argue that a military intervention is USEFULL in resolving say, the dispute with Canada over the importation of softwood, as it is in denying the fact that anything other than force ever ends bad govts / societies like NAZI Germany, Imperial Japan, or Bathist Iraq.

    Your views and arguements are optimistic and hopeful but it reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite praqamatists philosophers, Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richar’s Almanc, “He who lives on hope, . . . . dies farting”.

  • cheesechowmain

    WD – Well, if you’re going to play dirty and use Ben Franklin, what can I say? I know when I’m whupped! Incidently, I appreciate the first order logic lesson, but it’s not necessary. I’ve spun too many cycles there already. Appreciate it though.

    How about, he who dies farting, doesn’t die shooting? Unless, you can fart and shoot simultaneously…I can see I may drag this thread through the mud so to speak…

  • Nikos

    Re: Winston’s Slate-linked references to Mickey Kaus.

    I just now stumbled across this quote of Kaus’s: “I like attacking Democrats more than I like attacking Republicans.�

    (from Brock, pg.144)

    Hmmm…sounds to me as though he’s working up a resume for a lucrative pundit’s contract at, oh, say, Fox News…?

  • Kaus has said that he has never voted for a Republican in his life. You can look up his resume but I beleive that he made his journalistic name at that bastion of Right Wing Philosophy, the New Republic. TNR is decribed by most as “Center Left” pub. I think that they were considered one the “thought leader” sources for the New Democrat movement that elected Clinton.

    One of Mikey Kaus’s books

    The gap between rich and poor keeps growing. Now comes a bold new strategy for liberals and the Democratic Party–published just as election-year interest peaks. Kaus’s articles on this subject in The New Republic have aroused a storm of media controversy and have been cited in The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time.

  • Nikos – I just noticed that the quote above re: Kaus that you used was from David Brock. Does anyone actually quote him anymore? I thought that his credibility was right up there with Baghdad Bob who was saying, as the US tanks were rolling down the streets of Baghdad behind him “We will be swimming in the American soilders blood”, “We will be reading by the light of the fires of thier burning bodies”.

    I think Bob is now selling pirated / copied versions of DVDs on a street corner in Iraq

  • I think that in an earlier post in contributed an article that questioned whether Islamic culture could support free societies and noted that I think that their are many Muslims who might want to change it so that it can more easily do so.

    I think that this is an amazing example and probably also an example of why it is widely accepted view that if Bush were to run in a truely open / fair election held in Iran he could win.

  • Iraqi Parties Ask Shiites to Drop Jaafari as Prime Minister

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 2 —Leaders of Iraq’s Kurdish, secular and Sunni Arab parties asked the main Shiite alliance today to withdraw its support for Ibrahim al-Jaafari to remain as prime minister in the next government, saying Mr. Jaafari failed to control the sectarian violence that swept the country over the past week.

    The leaders said that if Mr. Jaafari continued to be prime minister, they might try to force his removal by forming a united opposition group larger than the Shiites, in a move that could upend the political process and prolong efforts to form a government.

    From Winston – So let me get this straight. The Bush administration has been critcized for not having a plan in Iraq but it has always said that it has 3 goals that it is working on simultaneuosly:

    1) Defeat militarily any one who uses violence to seek polircal ends in Iraq

    2) Build an Iraqi military / police force that can take over

    3) establish a working political system

    From the artile above it looks to my like a miracle is happening. The Kurds are aligning with Sunnis to block a Shia PM from be re-elected.

    That wold be the equivalent of the surviving Jews in Post WWII Germany joining with former Nazi to keep communists from gaining control of post war govt.

    If this happens, and Jafari is displaced, the govt formed then I think that Bush should get a Nobel Peace Prize!

  • Nikos

    Okay Winston. Brock is discredited.

    Like General Shinsheki.

    Like Joseph Wilson.

    Like Paul O’Neil.

    And like good ol’ Republican Kevin Phillips – who seems to find the neocons detestable ideologues that have pirated ‘his’ Republican party.

    Truth-tellers, all.

    David Brock gave up a lucrative, subsidized role as a Right-wing propagandist after his conscience got the better of him.

    Which what? Discredits him?

    I don’t think so.

    His conversion by conscience validates him, no matter how horrified his former cohorts are that one of them has escaped the pound with all the dog trainer’s secrets of technique and discipline.

  • nother

    Winston Dodson, tell me, didn’t we (America) also “use violence to seek political ends in Iraq?”

    Is our violence less violent than their violence?

  • Nikos

    nother: our violence has ‘god’ on its side.

    Now, which morally retarded American general was it who said, early on in the ‘war on terror’, that ‘our god is bigger than their god’?

    Is this not reminiscent of, say, truculent schoolboys on the playground?

    And does it perhaps begin to explain the unwillingness of any generals after Shinseki to ask for more troops – which the Iraq occupation, in obvious hindsight, needed vastly more of than the original invasion did?

    Winston, you’re an admirably loyal fellow, but your loyalty strikes me as misplaced as those poor Italians in the 30’s, whose acquiescence to their dictatorial idiot led to the savaging and shaming of their country.

    Sometimes patriotism calls not for the citizenry’s support of their government, but for their dissent.

    Which anti-American lowlife said this? –

    “I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.�

    Also noteworthy at the same wikiquote site is this gem, which perhaps should have been heeded before the invasion of Iraq:

    “Delay is preferable to error.�

    And this: “There is no act, however virtuous, for which ingenuity may not find some bad motive.�

    That last one says it all, now don’t it?

  • WSD – If you can name another instance where this has happended I think that many will be interested.

    Did you already forget about Vietnam? Except the US bailed out there before they could impose the US way of life and yet Vietnam still moved towards more of capitalist economy and may well have without US intervention.

    And there is also the Philippines.

    “Our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of 10 up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog,” writes a reporter from the Philadelphia Ledger in 1901.

    On the march, indeed.

    WSD, you also trumpet the US military victory in Japan and partial measure in Korea as if the people there embraced the US military as liberators. Of course it is much more compex and depends on who you talk to. Furthermore, if the US were truely liberators, why do they still have bases in those countries and why do unequal treaties still exist?

    Do you mean by literator, they could take freely take women by force? Japanese historian Takemae Eiji documented that 1,336 rapes were committed by US troops in the first 10 weeks after occupation. They also freely took over the only buildings in razed urban areas when destitute Japanese civilians had no housing. As Takemae writes, “U.S. troops initially comported themselves like conquerors, especially in the early weeks and months of the occupation. Misbehavior ranged from black marketeering, petty theft, reckless driving and disorderly conduct to vandalism, assault, arson, murder and rape.” Actually, much of this still happens in Okinawa, which is why many Japanese people want the liberators to leave.

    And let’s not forget that liberating act of purging the trade unions in 1950.

    Don’t get me wrong WSD, this is not to suggest that some people were not grateful for the occupation. Nor is it to suggest that given the choice people will prefer an oppressive regime over one that actually guarantees their democratic freedoms. It is rather to point out that your sweeping version of history that would have us believe that the US military is on some moral mission to liberate the peoples of the world for both their and US betterment cannot wipe away all the blood and dirt of this quest for dominace.

  • Nikos – The Bipartisan 9/11 Commission said Wilosn wsa a lier and Brock himself admits that he lied amny times.

    I am not “loyal” to the US I am intellectually faithfull to an idealogy that works.

    And your quotes are all great but to what do they reply? Rebel against what? Delay is better than what error? And what bad motive? I see no facts to inform me on any of this.

    Sidewalkfer – yes, Vietnam has progressed towards a capitalsit economy over the last ~ 40 years and has spent those years and the world’s 3rd POOREST COUNTRY. So 2 generations starved and died because they “won the war”. The Korean war was fought to a draw thus there was a N and S Korea. North Korea went on to be the world’s 7th richest country. That’s an EXACT comparison.

    Why do we still have bases in S Korea and Japan? Why in Germany because the Govts there want them! They all know that it is in there own self interest to have them.

    The last S Korean Pres, like Schroeder in Germany who was just thrown out by the way, ran his election on Anti-Ameircanism. After he was elected and has access to Top Secret materials they march him into a room and tell / show him what would happen to S Korea without US military presence and what happens? He bigins to fight to keep US troops. Guess who was the biggest opponent of Rumy’s plan to move ALL US troops that WERE next to DMZ South away from it. You guessed it, the S Korean Pres. Funny how a litttle dose or realtiy turns once proud / opininated “Natioanlists” into syhcnopathic wimps hugh?

    After the Anglophile nations (GB, AUS, etc) Japan has an umblemished record as the a US ally.

  • Nikos

    Winston: I’d appreciate a link to this:

    “…Bipartisan 9/11 Commission said Wilson was a liar…�

    And this, my friend, is just silly:

    “…and Brock himself admits that he lied many times.�

    He admitted it in his confession to his role as right-wing propagandist – and it’s why he quit!

    Discredit for confessional truth telling is absurd.

    What’s remarkable about his book is that it so effortlessly shows – with sources, not conspiracy theories (which he avoids since they’re unverifiable and therefore open to counterattack) – is the pervasiveness of lie in the right-wing media product.

    Right-wing propaganda is founded on falsehood.

    That’s why, contrary to your firm belief, its ideology doesn’t work real well in the world beyond our misinformed national perspective.

    Your ‘ideology that works’ is patently ill-founded.

    It made the post invasion occupation into the disaster detailed last night on ROS.

    It lost the friendship of the many peoples our government still touts as ‘allies’.

    It’s breeding fresh waves of hateful and resentful anti-American sentiment all around the world.

    This will almost surely lead to new generations of people willing to die should their deaths buy the deaths of Americans.

    It works?



    I could go on and on, but I reckon this is enough to support the queasy feelings of my dissenting kin who read your posts and mutter in dismay: ‘This man’s opinions are representative of 21st century America’?

    Thomas Jefferson, I suspect, would have not a few excoriating things to say about that: “…he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.�

    He’d not, I wager, approve a government supported by smear, distortion, and lie born from a privately founded yet publicly subsidized network of propagandists.

    “Our citizens may be deceived for a while & have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light…�

    He’d not, I wager, approve of an army ever ‘on the march’ in search of fights designed to impose a barely disguised economic empire on foreigners – he’d surely have likened this to the Carthaginian model destroyed by Rome’s Scipio Africanus. (Guys like Jefferson knew their ancient history. Unlike Bush, who probably thinks Carthage is a curiously named town in Texas’s Panola County. Must mean sumpin bout cars, right?)

    Finally, he’d not, I wager, approve the bankrolling of a record national debt by an anti-democratic government ruling a giant economic competitor-nation: “I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.�

    And he’d likely fail to comprehend why this debt has accrued in service of a foreign military adventure that the country’s elites approved and promoted but didn’t deign to finance. (Bush’s tax cuts, obviously.)

    Oh, I can’t simply resist this little beauty as a cautionary postscript:

    History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

    That’s as prescient for Iraq as it is for a country whose secular ‘king’ believes that ‘God’ is working through him and his flunkies.

    Some ideology, huh?

  • Nikos

    Winston wrote: “And your quotes are all great but to what do they reply? Rebel against what?�

    Nikos’s reply: Rebel against a government like this one from a quote attributed to James Madison:

    “There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.�

    Patriot Act, anyone?

    Winston: “Delay is better than what error?�

    N: I know we Americans have notoriously short memories, but does the name ‘Hans Blix’ ring any bells?

    Or ‘weapons inspections’?

    Oh, wait, it wasn’t about WMD! How stupid I am! It was about those poor Iraqis we abandoned after the first Gulf War!

    Not about ‘mushroom clouds’.


    Winston: “And what bad motive? I see no facts to inform me on any of this.�

    N: Motive?

    Remember how Iraq’s oil was certain to pay for the war, obviating any sacrifice from the American taxpayers? (Remember how this argument helped to stifle public uneasiness?)

    Remember the immediacy of those M1A1’s and Bradleys ringing the Baghdad Oil Ministry?

    Come on, Winston, you can do better than that, can’t you?

    Or does the bankruptcy of your idolized ideology leave you nothing but ever more baseless propaganda to parrot?

    Start thinking for yourself, my man, like Jefferson intended us to do.

    It’s hard at first, I know, but it’s immensely gratifying, especially the more you leave behind the ready-to-eat-and-regurgitate fast-food opinions of the lying Right.

    It’s conscience-cleansing. Just ask David Brock.

  • cheesechowmain

    “Start thinking for yourself, my man, like Jefferson intended us to do.”

    Since we’re engaged in a quoting bake-off, I’ll add:

    “Never have so many understood so little about so much.”

    — James Burke

  • Nikos

    Boy, ain’t that the sordid truth, CCM!


    BTW, does this thread need an explanation of ideology’s inherent stunting of independent thought? (I’ve got one in rough draft, but instead of polishing it into a post that will pass the inspection of the Paglia-clan, would rather get out and enjoy this nice Northwestern afternoon!)

    Or is the premise obvious enough already?

  • cheesechowmain

    Nikos, “As your attorney I advise you to…” get out and enjoy this glorious day. However, please post the explanation, if you’re still so inclined, after returning.

    BTW, that quote is from Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”

  • Nikos

    Winston, I owe you an apology for the chiding I slung your way in my 3:31pm post.

    You can’t tell I wrote it while wearing a smile, and it took the calming effect of my typical 4-5 mile afternoon run to realize I’d subliminally mimicked a mild version of the right wing-style character smears I’m reading about in Brock.

    Smears that are magnifying my long simmering outrage toward a full boil fury.

    But I shouldn’t have directed the fury at you, despite sensing since your first appearance here in ROS that the content and links of your posts echo rather clearly the misinformation and distortions of the right wing propaganda network.

    To prove the sincerity of my apology, here’s quick revision of that post’s conclusion:

    Remember the immediacy of those M1A1’s and Bradleys ringing the Baghdad Oil Ministry?

    Winston, it seems to me and to many other freethinking Americans that your idolized ideology is propped by baseless propaganda.

    Jefferson hoped that this country’s citizens would think for themselves instead of leaving the job to ideologues. (Ideologues want us to parrot them, not to thoughtfully analyze their product.)

    It’s immensely gratifying, however, to take that civic responsibility on oneself rather than feasting on the ready-to-eat-and-regurgitate fast-food opinions of the lying Right.

    It’s conscience-cleansing. Just ask David Brock.

    Hope that’s a bit more palatable; but if you’ve already drafted a retaliatory word-nuke, I’ll accept it without complaint.

    See ya.

  • Nikos

    btw Winston, I’m not implying that you’re a propagandist; it’s just that what passes these days for ‘objective news’ is undeniably tainted by rightwing propaganda, and so much so that those, perhaps including you, uncritically disposed towards that tilt and spin think it’s objective instead of subjective.

    Meanwhile, those of us standing well away from the Right’s merry-go-round of circular logic see the subjectivity with horrified clarity.

    So, no offense intended.

    Dismay, yes, but not offense!

  • Nikos

    make that: “…uncritically predisposed toward that tilt and spin…”

  • WSD, so you are trying to tell me that after the US firebombed major Japanese cities into submission and pounded down two A-bombs, the Japanese saw in the red clouds of radiation and the burning fires the bright light of US justice and liberation? Sounds like a Disney script. What the quickly resurrected leaders there quickly realized was that the US was on the way to creating a stronger empire and if they wanted to rebuild their nation it would be better to be “with them” than “against them”.

    The interesting thing in Japan was that there were administrators in the occupation force with very democratic ideals that wanted to create much stronger democratic institutions in Japan than existed at home. These were not military advisors or leaders. But we all know how security concerns and military/buisiness interests won out over democratic reforms and as the US miliary, on their endless march, turned their attention to Korea, they quickly reversed course and handed power back to the elite, who have stiffled greater civic participation ever since.

  • Sidewalker – The Japanese Constitution came directly from the typewriter of Douglas McArthur. He wrote it himself and gave it to the first Japanese adminstrator, who he himself picked, while giving him a ride in the back seat of this limo.

    And it is now one of the freeast and most successful democracies in the world – I think that more people vote there, when they have elections, than we do here.

  • Nikos – You’d better develop a taste for “right wing propoganda” because it seems that you will have more less of the “left wing moonbat drivel” in the days to come. Hey, doesn’t Air America regualry use material from Brock et al in their broadcasts?

    Well, I guess the incipient failure of Air America only proves your point that most people want, and will watch, right wing propoganda.

    I am really going to have to read the DailyKos in the few days after the failure so I can cherish the comments.


    Air America Appears To Lose Flagship Station

    While Air America Radio’s loss of two affiliates in Phoenix and Missoula, Montana is generating news this week, the company itself probably hasn’t been able to give either city a second thought.

    Why? In a development sure to rip the heart right out of the liberal radio network’s already ailing body, it appears extremely likely their leased New York City flagship station WLIB-AM will soon abandon Air America programming.

    Even worse, litigation looks probable over the station’s lease.

    While the network’s last day on WLIB isn’t known for certain, an internal source providing backing documentation points to the end of March. At this time, Air America parent Piquant LLC has no firm back-up plan for where in the nation’s largest radio market its programming will now air.

    Some inside the firm are already referring to WLIB in the past tense.

    Without WLIB, Air America faces an immediate, crushing blow. Worth perhaps 100 small markets combined, an on-air presence in New York City is absolutely vital to the company’s survival. If an immediate and suitable replacement isn’t found, the consequences would be dire.

    What percentage of Air America’s audience would disappear overnight, the Radio Equalizer can’t say for sure. Could it be 40%? Fifty percent?

  • I think S Korea is the world’s 7th largest economy (all of this acheived after the end of the hostilties and with more than 30k US troops based there since) with a GDP / Head as good / or better than most Eastern European Countries. My wife is Polish and I think that Poland’s GDP / head standard of living is ~ = SK. In 1955, SK was where Vietnam is today and earlier, we had an thread going where someoen claimed that Vietnam “won” that war. I think that if you ask the Vietnamese, who mostly live in squalor, they might disagree.

    Here is a county breifing for NK. By the way, I think that ROK has (or had) troops in Iraq.


    Jan 19th 2006

    From the Economist Intelligence Unit

    Source: Country ViewsWire

    Annual data 2005(a) Historical averages (%) 2001-05(a)

    Population (m) 48.5 Population growth 0.6

    GDP (US$ bn; market exchange rate) 798.7 Real GDP growth 4.5

    GDP (US$ bn; purchasing power parity) 1,074 Real domestic demand growth 3.0

    GDP per head (US$; market exchange rate) 16,474 Inflation 3.3

    GDP per head (US$; purchasing power parity) 22,144 Current-account balance (% of GDP) 2.2

    Exchange rate (av) W:US$ 1,024(b) FDI inflows(% of GDP) 0.9

    (a) Economist Intelligence Unit estimates. (b) Actual.

    More economic data

    Background: Korea was subjected in the 20th century to colonial rule by Japan from 1910 to 1945, and then to partition by the US and the Soviet Union in 1945. The subsequent war between the two Koreas in 1950-53 cost 4m lives, but neither side won. From then on the Republic of Korea (South) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North) were enemies until the first ever inter-Korean summit meeting in June 2000, since when regular contacts have led to a cautious thaw (despite the North’s nuclear defiance). South Korea joined the OECD in 1996.

    Political structure: After two military coups and several decades of authoritarian rule, South Korea is now a democracy. The constitution of the Sixth Republic, promulgated in 1987, provides for a directly elected president, who serves for a single five-year term and appoints the prime minister and cabinet. There is also a unicameral National Assembly (parliament), elected at four-year intervals. In March 2004 parliament voted to impeach the president, Roh Moo-hyun, who took office in February 2003, but this was overturned by the constitutional court in May.

    Policy issues: The 1997-98 financial crisis forced an overdue restructuring and opening of the economy, which facilitated a swift recovery. Kim Dae-jung’s administration had particular success in reforming the banking sector, but this momentum slowed in the final years of his presidency. His successor, Roh Moo-hyun, despite a pro-reform image and platform, has proved erratic. As growth has faltered, the chaebol (conglomerates) have used their clout as exporters and investors to resist further reform. Major foreign acquisitions in the financial sector are stoking a backlash against further market opening—although this remains desirable, especially in service sectors.

    Taxation: Corporate income tax rates range from 13% to 25%. Companies are also subject to a residence surtax applied at a rate of 10% of corporate tax liability. Personal income tax rates range from 8% to 35%. A residence surcharge of 10% of income-tax liability is also applied. The value-added tax (VAT) rate is 10%.

    Foreign trade: Merchandise export revenue in 2004 (fob-fob, payments basis) rose by 30.6% year on year to US$257.8bn, and the value of merchandise imports increased by 25.2%, to US$219.6bn. This gave a merchandise trade surplus for the year of US$38.2bn, an increase of US$16.2bn compared with 2003.

    Main exports 2004 % of total Main imports 2004 % of total

    Electric&electronic products 34.6 Electric&electronic machinery 22.3

    Passenger cars 9.7 Crude petroleum 13.3

    Machinery&equipment 8.9 Machinery&equipment 12.6

    Chemicals 8.1 Semiconductors 10.5

    Leading markets 2004 % of total Leading suppliers 2004 % of total

    China 19.6 Japan 20.6

    US 16.9 China 13.2

    Japan 8.5 US 12.8

    Hong Kong 7.1 Saudi Arabia 5.3

  • Nikos

    Sidewalker: you’re our resident East Asia expert.

    Tell us, please, if South Korea owes its prosperity to:

    1. Winston’s American armed forces?


    2. its people?


    3. a combination, of which the Americans are but a foreign contributor rather than the cogwheel?


  • Winston, I’ve lived in Japan now for over 15 years. I am not saying that this makes me an expert in anything but where to find good Soba and Sushi restaurants. But it does help clear up some basic misunderstanding one might have picked up from always listening to US souces. Try looking at the following links please on who actually wrote the constitution.

    I think that more people vote there, when they have elections, than we do here.

    Voter rate here is under 60 percent now and is mainly propped up by those over 60 (now a large portion of the population). For those in their 20s, it is under 40%. The same part has been in power here now almost continously for about 40 years. Many feel their vote is irrelevant and that they have no voice in politics. Unelected beauraucrats basically run the government and draft legislation. The politicians are not lawmakers. I could go on. Is this what you mean by one of the greatest democracies?

  • BTW, voter rates in the stronger, more socialist democracies of northern Europe actually have some of the highest voter participation rates.

    Here is an interesting analysis that links social programs, public support for elections and participation rates

  • Nikos

    Winston: nice to see you back in action after what I hope was as satisfying a Friday night as mine.

    Now then, I can’t help but notice your gambit, which I’ll call: ‘counterattack by switching topic’, instead of addressing the points my posts attempted to score.

    (I just now made up the exact wording I put into in quotes, but it’s an obvious and time-honored Righty connivance – and my reading of Brock’s exposé simply assisted my coining of the phrase instead of providing the precise sequence of words – which might only mean that I’m an easily distracted reader!)

    (btw, ROS-nation: if we were to double our roles so that we not only contribute to the discourse but act as ‘judges’ scoring the ‘political boxing’ between we and our beloved WSD, please let me know how you see the ‘fight’. I’m eager to wade in to either absorb more punishment or to land a few more right-crosses [premeditated choice of words] but I don’t want to leave on the canvas a bloody mess – just like the typical liberal humanist I am! [I respect Winston too much to want to pummel him.] Yet if I need to ratchet up my effort, I’d appreciate the coaching.)

    Winston: I don’t listen to Air America.

    Well, okay, I’ll admit to about five hours of it over the past three years (although mostly because I loathe commercials), and most of that came in 2004, after the stolen presidential election. But that’s it.


    My point is that by simply thinking for myself – even while listening to NPR with its preponderance of rightwing commentators (like Joe Loconte,, and thinly disguised right-leaning reporters (like Mara Liason [yeah, my progressive kindred: she’s an avowed Republican – see the Brock book I’m reading]) – I’m able to detect the vitriol from the Right without outside assistance.

    Rightwing vitriol leaves an unmistakable stench in every place one takes the time to stop and sniff the political airs.

    So please drop the Air America diversion junk, Winston, and consider the advantages of freethinking.

    I didn’t spend all that time today reading Thomas Jefferson just to have you do a ‘Limbaugh’ on me!


    I wish nothing but venom on the likes of Limbaugh an Hannity – but only because they’re willfully assisting the termite-ification of our once humanistic country.

    How can you, a veteran, support that crap?

    If I seem vague (and inebriated), look tomorrow for an in depth explainer.

    (Or Sunday.)

  • Nikos, can I get back to you on that question. It requires a more thoughtful answer than I can give you at this time.

  • Nikos

    Sidewalker: your 3:51am post is incidental but perfect support for my contention that this smugly disinterested republic of ours ought to seriously and painstakingly consider whether its 18th century constitution delivers a real or ‘ersatz’ 21st century democracy.


    Thomas Jefferson would be beaming with pride for you!

    “I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.�

    Right on, T.J.!

  • Nikos, just asked my Korean friend and I was told, one big reason was the money that flowed in from the Vietnam war. This is similar to the money that flowed into Japan from the Korean war.

    Maybe Winston is right after all. Does this mean that after Iraq, if the US attacks Iran then Iraqs economy will grow?

  • Nikos

    I guess, on reflection, that my coy idea for ‘scoring’ the ‘political boxing’ is doomed to futility because those who engage in ideologically-grounded thinking and those engaged in the harder yet far more rewarding work of freethinking are essentially speaking different languages.

    Which begs the question: ‘Which seems superior – Neanderthal proto-language with its physiological vowel and consonant limitations, or any tongue of the 21st century world?’

    (Anthropologists tend to believe that Neanderthals weren’t less intelligent than modern humans, but inherently linguistically limited…which seems to me like a damn good metaphorical comparison between ideologues and freethinkers!)

    So, redact my ‘boxing-scoring’ idea, please.

  • Nikos

    Sidewalker: influx of money is good and necessary, but I’m willing to wager that all that dough wouldn’t have meant much without a diligent and educated populace.

    Especially educated.

    Which ain’t gonna happen in an ‘Intelligent Design’ country!

    So, to reprise my question from an earlier post in this thread concerning the Republican misgovernment of this TV-hypnotized nation: some ideology, huh?

  • Nikos

    If there’s one thing I admire and aspire to, it’s independent thinking. The ability to articulately question seemingly ‘settled’ assumptions is what drives human progress – and it’s what I strive for, however imperfectly.

    It liberates the minds of those persuaded, and, eventually, after reaching and affecting a socially viable ‘critical mass’, it can liberate entire societies and/or subcultures within societies. It can bring down governments and alter forever long-enduring but imperfect cultures.

    Now, before any further moralizing, let’s get down and dirty – let’s get definitional:

    1. “freethinker (plural freethinkers) A person who has formed their opinions using reason and rational enquiry; somebody who has rejected dogma, especially (but not exclusively) with regard to religion.� (Wikitionary)

    1a: “dogma (plural: dogmas or dogmata)

    A doctrine or a set of doctrines relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by a church.

    An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true.� (Wikitionary) (Wikipedia has an article on: Dogma)

    2. “Ideology: The study of the…doctrine, philosophy, body of beliefs or principles belonging to an individual or group.� (Wikitionary)

    Which means that to understand ideology, we need to understand the meaning of ‘doctrine’:

    2a: “doctrine (plural doctrines)

    A belief, especially about philosophical or theological matters.

    The teachings of a religion, or a religious leader, organization, group or text: e.g., ‘The incarnation is a basic doctrine of classical Christianity,’ ‘The four noble truths summarise the main doctrines of Buddhism’.� (Wikitionary)

    ‘Belief’ therefore not only underpins ‘doctrine’, but ‘ideology’ too (and ‘freethinking’ too, by its omission from the concept!).

    So what happens when an ideology’s foundational belief is as baseless as the old Christian conceit that the sun circled the earth?

    Hey, it worked just fine until Galileo, right?


    But it was wrong.

    And its overthrow led to not only the full flowering of the Renaissance but to the Renaissance’s sweeter and much more beautiful daughter, the Enlightenment – which was the mother of the USA. Not merely ‘philosophically’, but directly.


    (Which, for any thoughtful patriot, ought to offer a pretty darn big endorsement for freethinking.)

    So, when an ideology’s foundational beliefs are in fact ‘unfounded’, or to put it more contemporarily, ‘not fact-based’, the ideology will succumb to the first major ‘factual earthquake’.

    Here are a few recent examples:

    Nazism’s racist ideology worked spectacularly well until October, 1941, when the ‘Aryan genius’ Hitler couldn’t perceive the sense of taking Moscow – and thereby effectively ‘braining’ the USSR – and instead sent his panzers south to cut off and capture nearly a million Soviet soldiers in and near the much less vital Kiev.

    It seemed at the time another ‘stroke of Hitlerian genius’… until November, when the onset of winter nearly replicated the disaster suffered by Bonaparte’s invading Grand Armee in 1811-2.

    Nazism’s self-evident 1933 ‘truths’ proved by 1945 to be utter bunk.

    Moreover, Nazism’s racist ideology has since been debunked of any vestigial shreds of credibility by empirical scientific studies of humans.

    Racism, in short, is groundless.

    An ideology with no fact based foundations.

    Mussolini’s original fascist ideology worked well enough to bully Italy’s trains into timely service, but otherwise tepidly—until his gun-, artillery-, and airplane-armed forces had to struggle like hell to take Ethiopia from spear- and bow-armed warriors—and then failed utterly against the undermanned but naively feisty Greeks. (Hitler, in the Spring of ’41, had to bail out the Italians mired in the Greek mountains, essentially dooming the German invasion of Russia to the winter campaign it was ill-equipped to wage and doomed to lose.)

    Soviet ideology foundered on the legacy of Tsarist Russia’s pervasive corruption and the Russian ‘proletariat’s’ sullen resistance to bullying – as evidenced by the Soviet failure to develop the consumer economy Marx fully expected had the revolution begun in Western Europe instead of in feudal Russia. (At least!)

    Islamist sexist ideology, which claims that women are ‘half as rational as men’, has already been debunked by science in the non-Muslim world – and many liberal Arabs and Muslims know this – but Islamist ideologues have easy access to the ears of the ignorant.

    Which means that the brilliance of women like the Saudi, Wajiha Al-Huweidar, will remain occluded for another generation at least. (Especially because American ideologues, who have the leverage, have no real interest in promoting women’s rights in Saudi Arabia! What self-serving hypocrites!)


    Bush’s ideology is founded on Reagan’s idea (mentioned last week by Chris no less!) that the North American continent was set aside by ‘God’ to produce a revolutionary republic with some—but not wholesale!—democratic features. (My fact/muckraking visit this evening to the Project for the New American Century didn’t unearth the ‘God-given’ stuff I recall from a similar visit four years back – which is perhaps an understandable edit considering the reality of world events since 2003-4 undermining that sort of conceit! However, if anyone can find the links to it, I’d love to read that rancid nonsense again. Anyway…)

    This quasi-democratic North American republic would then perfect and export its republican essence and its free-market form of (parasitic) capitalism to the rest of the world.

    (‘Set aside’, huh? Guess those ‘barbaric redskins’ didn’t count as humans, huh?)


    …what if ‘God’ isn’t real but a metaphoric archetypal construct, as some progressive Christian clerics and theologians are willing to admit?

    How then does this neocon ideology justify itself?

    With the exception of Marxist-based Soviet Leninism and Stalinism, all these ideologies are grounded ultimately in the supernatural. Even Hitler’s intellectually bankrupt ‘Aryan’ racism resorted to absurd belief in the sanction of ancient yet long ignored and nearly forgotten Teutonic gods (see Cuthbert Carson Mann’s Hitler’s Three Struggles: The Neo-Pagan Revenge for a provocative if idiosyncratic take on this).

    Marxism, many have argued with mixed results, offered a secular-religion (this is something of an oxymoron, of course).

    Now, by my reckoning, the question we perhaps ought to ponder as the national elections this November draw nearer is whether the neocons’ governing ideology has proven its intellectual bankruptcy just as has every other supernaturally based ideology.

    For me, any governing ideology founded on blind belief in supernatural favoritism is as valid as governing by tarot cards. Now look: I like tarot cards, but I sure wouldn’t base my government on their putative messages!

    Finally, I reckon it abjectly useless to debate those whose opinions are informed by ideology rather than by independent thinking.

    Ideologies provide ‘unquestionable’ premises prior to debate.

    Arguing with ideologues means arguing against ‘a priori’ assumptions – which, however worthy, is a long, exhausting, and metaphorically bloody business.

    The two sides talk past one another instead to each other, because neither can accept the foundational premises of the other.

    And ideologues are much easier to detect than they seem to think – well, to the non-ideologue, that is. The ‘a priori’ assumptions underlying the ideologue’s arguments reveal themselves immediately.

    To those of us looking on from beyond, such assumptions form a merry-go-round of circular logic – and though it’s obvious that the riders are having a politically-satisfying and mutually-reassuring blast, they can’t dare to leave the merry-go-round – lest their euphoria dissipate in the harsher, fact-based world beyond the echo chamber of their cherished beliefs. (‘Echo’, as in all those merry-go-round riders screaming their unified joy at the fun of their exclusive ‘rights’ to the amusement park!)

    So, Winston: when I sense that your ‘facts’ haven’t likely originated from ideologues somewhere within the neo-con think-tank industry, or from the Fictional News Network, perhaps we can stop this blow-for-blow sparring and talk real policy. It would be much more constructive, and…I look forward to it. A lot. See ya.

  • Nikos – In regards to the “crediblity” issues regarding Brock, and Wilson, I didn’t switch issues. The fact that Air America relies on sources liek this for their existenxe is, I think, why they are going down the tubes.

    And I do, at times, listen as I would like a reliable source of alternative ideas but alas, it ain’t to be.

    And, as far as the debate goes as the to Causes in progress / prosperity I beleive in another post in an exchange with “cheesechowomen” I intrduced the the philosophical requrements of “nessessary and sufficient”.

    I have NEVER have and NEVER WILL argue that US Military influence is SUFFICIENT for progress, properity and the developement of Free Market Democracies but I will argue, becuase ALL EVENTS IN MODERN HISTORY prove that.

    The analogy between modern medicine is appropriate. It is NESSESARY to have modern Western Medicine in order to acheive the levels of health that we desire but it isn’t SUFFICIENT because we also have to have other aspects of our lives.

    It is NESSESARY to have the US military to explain, not just the EXSTENCE of the modern world, but even the all successes. But it is not SUFFICIENT as, yes, every has to have lives – work, believe / worship, study etc.

    In fact, there are NUMEROUS studies in international relations and dynamics that show that there are DIRECT positive correlations between the presence of US Military / US influence and prosperity and development.

    Do the exeriment your self. Make a matrix consisting of a column, sorted in decending order of presence of number of US troops (even if you classify them as “occupying” it makes no difference) or money spent for US military there for every year since 1945. Then intersperced with that column and next to the country where the number of US troops / money was spent, place ANY indicator of what we consider a successfull Free Market Economy – GDP, lifespan, health care, education, voting anthing and you will get positive correlation. You can even repeat the experiment using the proximity of a country to another country that has US troops and get a postive correlation.

    And, being a statistician myself, I know the rule that “Correlation doesn’t prove causation” but you can do any other “Design of Experiment” (DOE) as I described above and you will not be able to repeat the correlation that I described above using any other independent varialbe other than US military troop presence / US inlfuence.

    Are there excpetions, yes – that implies that there are points below the positive trend line or not on line at all, but the fact that there will be line at all PROVES the point that:

    It is a NESSESARY but NOT SUFFICIENT condition, to HAVE (notice I do not claim a future positive correlation – projection or exterpolation) the presence of US troops / US infleunce in order to have the same progress in developing Free Market democracies.

    If you do not want to do the investigation yourself I will gladly look up and forward you the NUMEROUS PhD thesis and other large internatioanl studies. In fact, there is one continueing by the UN (the study that showed that uter lack of any of the benefits of modern Western societies in Islamic societies in general) is but one exemple. Of course, being run by 3rd world parasites living in NYC they don’t explicitly say that in the studies but the data is there.

    And, to both Nikos and Sidewalker, this may not be a surprise but I am not a fan of the thechnical use of the term democracy – mob rule. For another thread, but democracy = “Mob Rule” is not desirable nor was it what the US was modeled on.

    For example – if you place a society / coutnry on a spectrum from pure 100% democracy through reprentative democracy to Constitutional Monarchy to totalitarianism, I think that moving all the way to the pure / 100 % democracy (using populist) ideas, is not as successful and something like a Reprentative Democracy like we have. Look at the EU – I argue that there is too much democracy there and becuase of that people there think that they can “vote” themsleves things without having to work for them themsleves. And when I argue this many people claim that I am an elitist. If that counter – arguement is the only one anyone can come up with so be it.

    I also find it a bit amusing that many who use the crutch of “free / independent” thinking are really argueing for sloppy / void of real facts let me say what I want to because it is what I beleive thinking.

    All useful ideas contain the contriants of reality, anything else is a religion.

  • In the post above where I said “I have NEVER have and NEVER WILL argue that US Military influence is SUFFICIENT for progress, properity and the developement of Free Market Democracies but I will argue, becuase ALL EVENTS IN MODERN HISTORY prove that.”


    ” the US military presence is NESSESARY for that”.

  • tbrucia

    IMHO, a lot of problems would be solved if more people (a) admitted ‘I don’t know’, (b) said ‘I’ve got a lot to learn’, (c) went off to do research, and (d) invented their own explanations, rather than simply ‘borrowing someone else’s clothes’. Ideologies are pre-cut ideas for people who resist admitting they simply are ignorant (a condition we all share). Mental laziness consists in refusing the daunting task of researching the facts, to include discriminating between fictions and the truth. The problem with ‘borrowed ideas’ is that — even when honestly proposed — they can easily go bad once they exceed their shelf life. Constant correction is the price to be paid for following the facts whereever they lead. — I seemed, back in the runup to the Iraqi invasion, to notice that most statements were prefaced by the words, ‘We are convinced…’, ‘We have no doubt that… ‘, ‘It is obvious that…’. I referred to these comments as Foreign Policy by Faith Alone, and usually got blank stares. Unfortunately, my life experience indicates that many (most!) people are gullible, and do NOT have a ‘BS meter’. P.S. My favorite Greek mythological character is Cassandra. Make of that what you may.

  • Nikos

    tbrucia: thanks for the thoughts – you score some sobering points there, I think – and this, mind you is coming from a self-admitted ignoramus who finds this website a gateway to enlightening links embedded within a goldmine of individually creative analysis from the many contributors.

    I used to think it a problem that ‘my side’ of the political spectrum didn’t have its own, credible ideology.

    Not any more.

    I’m grateful to have no circular logics to rest easy on like a comfy pillow.

    I’d rather pick and choose – and, better yet: to try to create innovative analyses instead of buying the prefab junk-food-for-thought out there. It’s true that many innovations don’t endure as well as some ideologies do, but, eventually, every ideology, not matter how venerated, faces it moment of heliocentric truth. (Like this country’s governing ideology does now, not only in Iraq but all around an increasingly resentful globe.)

    Winston, I’ve got a reply to you in the works, but it needs a bit more caffeine.

    See you all later.

  • Nikos

    Please attribute the need for this correction to a slight Saturday hangover and an incomplete dose of caffeine:

    “It’s true that many innovations don’t endure as well as some ideologies do, but, eventually, every ideology, no matter how venerated, faces its moment of heliocentric truth.�

  • Nikos

    I’m suddenly out of time to finish my reply to Winston.

    So any and all so inclined are invited to take up the counterpoints included below – not on my behalf, but on behalf of our collective defense of humanism against the encroachment of the Social Darwinist Right – which Winston seems intent on representing here.

    Winston, I think your twinned reply this morning pretty much validates my ‘circular logic’ premise, and here’s only a few places where:

    You rely on increasingly discredited science for justification of the social necessity of hierarchy (like the republican fear of democracy).

    Democracy works just fine in an educated and civically-engaged populace, like those of northern Europe.

    Such a populace of freethinkers will invariably innovate many more and better solutions than any ideology can.

    Lastly, other parts of the world have moved toward democracy and market economies without the presence of US troops – while the presence of US troops and spies has stymied, corrupted, and overthrown many indigenous popular democratic movements.

    Here’s one small example I’ve only time to cut and paste from the Cold War thread instead of properly adapt to this one:

    Gorbachev, not Reagan and his bloated military, ended the Cold War and initiated the growth of markets in the USSR.

    Crediting Reagan for peace is pretty much akin to crediting the USA for defeating Nazi Germany.

    We didn’t do it.

    The USSR did it, and would have prevailed in the end even if that end came in ’47 or ’48.

    Invading Nazi-held France in ’44 only shortened the war. It didn’t win it.

    Gorbachev ended the Cold War and initiated perestroika.

    Reagan fueled the Cold Way with what we Ronnie-dissenters rightly termed a massive tax dollar giveaway to the defense industry. Maybe this hastened Gorbachev’s decisions, but that’s an untestable presumption.

    And it’s arrogantly presumptuous to boot!

    Later all.

  • Nikos – Gorby said in his first book after the fall of the USSR and his subsequent REMOVAL as dictator that it was the US’s Cold War strategy that forced the USSR to spend itseld into oblivion. I can find the book and the exact quote if you want. He has also been intervied nunerous times and confirmned that.

    Saying the USSR would simply do what it did without being forced to is silly. It also leaves out overt and covert actitivies by the US like the war in Afhganistan where the US sponsored the insrugency and the Soviets lost > 40k dead (another reason why it is so amazing the we later took it in 6 weeks with less than 3,000 soldiers. Another would be the US sponsorship of Pope John Paul and Solidarity in Poland.

    And your analogy with WII is silly. We killed over 2 million German soldiers while the Soviets killed 8 and so anyone who knows anything credits the US with defeating the Nazis while at the same time saying the the USSR did most of the killing and dieing.

    And the rest of your arguements are just tired old tripe mostly based on strawman counter-historical arguements.

    And your claim that the my ideas are untestalbe is simply uniformed – there are entire intellectual industries built on testing them and those ideas and industries contine becuase they work.

    And I have to laugh at your picking “those of Northern Europe” where Democracy is working. Would that be Holland where Islamic terrorists assinate flimakers in the street and where there is a now net exodus of the “indeginous ihaditants” or maybe Norway where the only reason people can live like they do is because per capita, they get more oil revenues than people in Suadi Arabia?

  • Nikos – Re: Joe Wilson and 911 Commission

    1) Joe Wilson said his wife had nothing to do with him being chosen to go – the 911 commission said she suppested his name to the CIA and was present at meetings when they decided to send him

    2) He said that he was sent at the personal request of Cheney- the 911 Commission said the CIA said there was no such request

    3) Jo Wilson said he made a written report to the CIA saying the he found no evidence for the attempt by Iraq to buy uranium – the 911 Commission said that there was no written reports and that those who attended the oral debreifing given by Wilson up his return said the he supported the idea that the Iraqis had attempted to buy iranium.

    I have a copy of the report on my desk and it is open I type in those findings. There are nine in total that show that he is a liar.

    And once again regarding Brock who is almost not worth the trouble of writting about but, he admits being paid liar then has an awakening changes sides then falls off the face of the Earth. The only places that yoiu hear of him are, as I mentioned, Air America (dead) and Democracynow (not effective enough in even mentioning) so yes. He’s great. If all people who felt / beleived like had to do was worry about being opposed by people like Brock then it would be very easier to argue and have our views prevail.

    Then Democracy – I do fear it but only in the sense that, like I said, it fails in its purest form. So, I don’t have to worry about its practice in general because any organization / society who attempts to practice a pure form of it fails, so you don’t have to worry about competing with it.

    It’s all about competition and pure Democracy loses but a representaive where ideas and people have to compete in order to have infleunce sheilds the society’s / orgs from the delitrious afffects of indiviiduals trying to vote themsleves something that they do not deserve – I can only give you all of the failing societies of Western Europe as an example. Too much democracy.

  • WD, you say you are a man of facts and evidence and yet when I show you that one of the “facts” you tossed out was incorrect, you did not bow and admit your error. If it is a difference of opinion, that is quite OK. Stick to your guns, bombs and nuclear weapons. But at least acknowledge when you don’t get it right.

    As for democracy, I can’t say I am not torn sometimes by the feeling that many people given the right to participate are not up to it and are so lacking the kind of independent thought that Nikos has written about above that perhaps a republic might be better. But then I look at the many cases where elected representatives are bought off by special interests and I think, we actually have a republican form of governance. The only difference is that people are made to think they have chosen, just like they are made to think that because they can pick their favorite brand of cereal they are free.

    In the case of Japan, yes NIkos, it was a highly educated and literate public (this had nothing to do with the US) that allowed them to rebuild their shattered nation. But it was also this education system that first endoctrinated them with the kind of Emperor worship and blind nationalism that saw them colonize and occupy much of Asia and then bash head with the US. Maybe we should say the people were trained but not educated to be self learners. In a sense, the same thing has happened post WWII. They were trained to be loyal corporate soldiers and told that if they obeyed and acquiesced the government and the company would take care of them. In terms of the economy and social security it worked until the bubble bust in the early 90s and the country woke up to the reality of global competition. Suddenly the promise of lifetime employment was impossible to keep. Factories were moved to China and thousands of layed off workers committed suicide rather than face the shame. Now is the time of the next retraining, to gain the practical skills for a US style entreprenurial economy in need of, on the one hand, a highly paid and creative professional service class and, on the other hand, a low-paid, flexible, contracted minimum wage service class. But training is not the same as raising independent and critical thinkers that can challenge a government that would mimic the empty words of GW Bush about WMD and terrorism and send its military to Iraq.

  • Raymond

    Once again, I am not sure that I should be wading in to this discussion, especially since I have not followed it in depth.

    So, Nikos, I hope you will not object if I suggest that you take Winston up on his challenge to “Do the experiment yourself.”

    The experiment involves using a measure of US military presence (number of troops or money spent) as an explanatory variable for measures of a successful economy (GDP, lifespan, health care, education, or voting). Winston makes two claims: positive correlation will exist between the measure of US military presence and the measure of a successful economy and that no other explanatory variable can be found that can produce the same level of positive correlation.

    Winston, I should tell you that I find these claims highly suspect, particularly your second claim.

    So I am suggesting that we (Winston, Nikos and myself) look at the numbers and do the analysis.

    Now Nikos, if I understand correctly from previous posts, you are a writer, and so you may not be in a position to do the computations required. But I am, since I do this sort of analysis for a living.

    So here is how we would do this:

    — Nikos, suggest some alternative explanatory variables for a successful economy, or, if you prefer, for standard of living.

    — Winston, provide links to data, and the data itself, that you cite.

    — Then, I will collect the numbers, do the analysis, and let you know what I find out.

    So, gentlemen, let me know if you want to give this a try.

  • Nikos

    Hey Raymond, welcome the ROS version of ‘Around the Horn’. (So that’s where my late-night drunken and juvenile ‘points-scoring’ silliness came from: subliminally from ESPN! Which offers an opportunity for a brief digression: how many people remember the 70’s – when kids like me could be all four of the following at once: blue-collar, athletic, sports-playing and sports-fans, and leftists? Times sure have changed, thanks in part to the insensate cultural adoration of machismo, and to the ‘bullying’ model of that rightwing propaganda machine I so despise.)

    Anyway, too much real life has intruded into my hobby of blogging, bringing to a standstill two of my replies to Winston. So, my participation will be decidedly limited for the next couple of days, and maybe more.

    However, I find Raymond’s idea intriguing, but have no idea – and no time to think it out – how to pose or frame the questions Raymond’s offer assigns to me. Therefore, anyone else willing to play that part is welcome to take it up. Thanks in advance.

    In the meantime, perhaps Winston, Raymond, and any other bloggers filling in (Sidewalker? CCM? Potter? Peggy Sue?) can collaborate to answer this:

    How does the presence (or absence) of the American military explain the prosperity of the following:




    (Do we want Denmark in this?)




    New Zealand

    Antarctica (Think: all those fat and happy penguins)


    Lastly: Winston, I see that the 9/11 Commision’s Final Report is available as a pdf download. To save me time (especially considering the unlooked-for complications suddenly dominating my life), can you please inform me which section or sections say that Joe Wilson is ‘a liar’? Here’s the link displaying the segmented Report:


  • Nikos

    This weekend’s ‘On The Media’ kicked off with a very relevant segment on Iraq – ‘civil war’ or simple ‘insurgency’?

  • There is already a good index of human development that could be used. How to factor in the US military presence is the difficult part. Winston, Raymond is there is a ranking of how much the US spends directly and indirectly on each nation in terms of bases, grants, military aid, etc.? If so, it would be easy just to compare the two lists. Here is the ranking for the UN Human Development Index, which has a special focus on well-being and child welfare. This makes sense since a nation that takes care of its most susceptible and their future has to be seen as most developed, one would think.

    “Most Livable� Countries, 2005

    1. Norway 11. Japan

    2. Iceland 12. Netherlands

    3. Australia 13. Finland

    4. Luxembourg 14. Denmark

    5. Canada 15. United Kingdom

    6. Sweden 16. France

    7. Switzerland 17. Austria

    8. Ireland 18. Italy

    9. Belgium 19. New Zealand

    10. United States 20. Germany

  • Raymond

    Sidewalker, this is a good start.

    The UN Human Development Index can serve as the observed variable that we seek to explain be either a measure of US military presence, or some other explanatory variable. So the question remains, what is that other explanatory variable?

    And although we could simply compare the two lists, the idea is to actually do the analysis and compute the significance of the relationship. This will be especially helpful when we have more than one proposed explanatory variable.

    In order to do this computation, though, we need numbers. Sidewalker, can you provide the value of the UN Human Development Index for these countries? And Winston, what numbers do you have regarding US military presence or spending in these countries?

  • Nikos

    Thinking out loud while waiting for Winston’s Joe Wilson reference (nudge, nudge, poke, prod ;-)):

    Raymond and sidewalker: can you compare to the US troop presence something like a national economy’s ratio of GNP or GDP to

    1. educational spending

    2. child and day-care spending

    3. single-payer (tax-based) healthcare spending

    4. social ‘safety net’ spending?

    Again, I haven’t thought this out – this sort of thing is only one of my many areas of ignorance – so I don’t know whether this is worthwhile or silly. This list I offer above might be incomplete and/or simply the wrong stuff to look at.

    Gotta run to take care of today’s version of crisis…

    Ignorantly but interestedly yours – n

  • Raymond

    Nikos, that’s what I was looking for: spending on education, say, as opposed to spending on American military presence as an explanatory variable for standard of living.

    Now, all we need is the data …

  • Nikos

    well, i’ll look if someone is patient enuf to tell me where — and then to wait until i can find the time!

  • This list proves my point.

    1. Norway – Living off of Western Europe’s successes and could not have existed through Cold War excpet for US “Nuclear Umbrella”, welfare state whose economy is a result of the fact that it is per capita a larger exporter of oil than Suadia Arabia. Take out the income from oil and they would have 1/2 the standard of living that they do now.

    2. Iceland – Small, insignifacant point on analysis

    3. Australia – One of US strategic allies since WWII, buys US weapons, and depending upon political changes, comes and goes between states of complete alignment with US to grudging acceptance. Part of the Angloshere, PM Howard a staunch supporter of Bush / US just reelected to 10th year

    4. Luxembourg – part of Western Europe, the only difference bwtween it and Northern Baltic states was that it didn’t spend 50 years behind Iron Curtain.

    5. Canada – Before NAFTA, which allows it a parasitic economic realationship with US, was a backwater. A famous and widley studied “brain drain” from Canada to US makes me ask why it is 5 when the smartest people there leave to go to US?

    6. Sweden – See history of Finland, Sweden would have been periodically dominated by USSR after war excpet for US Nuke Umbrella

    7. Switzerland – Same as Western Europe

    8. Ireland – Same as UK

    9. Belgium – Same as WE

    10. United States

    11. Japan – US’s # 1 stategic ally behind UK. US wrote thier constitution during occupation after war, and with US support and protection, has grown to world’s 2nd largest economy. Has 2nd or 3rd largest US troops presnet and pays for all the expense of basing them their to include the only place in the world where a US Navy Carrier battle group is home ported outside of US, also has 3 US Airforce Expiditonary Air Wings and a Marine Division and Air Wing. US is gradually facilitating the politics of Japan to amend constitution to allow an active military vice a “self defense force” – Japan’s deployment of troops to Iraq was the first off of Japanese soil since WWII. Japan is actively participating in Strategic Missle Defense

    12. Netherlands – See WE

    13. Finland – Because of thier status as Ally to Nazi Germany in WWII, US / WE let it fall periodically into and out of, domination of USSR.

    14. Denmark – See WE

    15. United Kingdom – US’s # 1 strategic ally, see definitions / discussions of Angloshere. There is really only one system of successful Western Economics in the world and that is the “Anglo-American” form of Capitalism. The only other form that could be said to offer any competition is the “Continental System” that is failing, or where it isn’t is moving towards the Anglo-American system

    16. France – see WE, even though under the “Gaulist” political philosophy would have been another East Germany if not for NATO / US. Was the single largest beneficiary of Marshal plan money.

    17. Austria – See WE

    18. Italy – see WE

    19. New Zealand – Angloshere

    20. Germany – For all intents and purposes, was “occupied” by US until argueably now. Unlike Iraq, didn’t have first democratic elections after war for 5 years and US / Allies hand picked all candidates. The constitution was forced to be written so as to maximize consensus and thus minimize centeral authority. If it weren’t for the need to have a unified West Germany as a buffer against Soviet controlled East Germany during the Cold War, don’t think that US / Allies would have allowed a unified German state to develop after what happened in 2 wars – if not, we would be talking about the smaller countries like Luxemborg along the “minor German states of “Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bayern*, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen*, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thueringen”. Has 3 Airforce Squadrons permanently stationed in US, the only nation in hte world that we allow to do that. And despite the recent 6 year period where German politics flirted with Ant-Americanism, has been > 50 years of an almost “client state” of US. Example – notice how German govt quickly shut up after the discolsure of secret US CIA prisons on Europe and Rice threaten to out their active involvement? German population may squeal but govt knows what keeps them afloat.

    As said in an earlier post, this thread is a bit worn since all of this is studied modeled and used in international negotiations. There are great research articles about how all of this is modeled by think tanks like the Rand Corporation (since the 50’s) using advanced methods like game theory. In fact, if you study the history of game theory it was its use at Rand that brought it to the attention of the world scientific community.

    The us govt used / uses it and other methods to get what we want.

  • Reading the links below I think that it may be debatable as to the infuence of the US in the 20th Century but that is only credible if one argues about the extent, not that is was the major infleunce. And, along with that, the US military especially in post WII but as you can see, many think that is began with the Spanish Amrican War.

    “The 20th century has sometimes been called, both within and outside the United States, the American Century, though this is a controversial term.”

    “The term was coined by Time publisher Henry Luce in a 1941 editorial. The editorial called upon the United States to enter World War II to defend democratic values. Luce, the son of a missionary, urged the United States to forsake isolationism for a missionary’s role, acting as the world’s Good Samaritan and spreading democracy.

    Today, it usually represents United States dominance of much of the 20th century, beginning with the Spanish-American War and the important role played by the United States in World War II, continuing on through the Cold War status of the United States as one of the world’s two superpowers, and ending with the role of the United States as sole superpower in the 1990s. It refers not only to the political influence of the United States, but also its economic influence, as many states around the world would, over the course of the 20th century, adopt the economic policies of the Washington Consensus.

    Critics of the term regard it as overemphasizing the role played by the United States on the world stage.”

  • Nikos

    Winston, I’m gonna chase you around from thread to thread until you fess up and tell me which section or sections of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report contains the incriminating stuff on Joe Wilson.

    It’s available to the public (like me!) as a pdf download here:

    To save me time (especially considering the unlooked-for complications suddenly dominating my life), can you please glance at this site, and then inform me which section or sections are pertinent?


  • Nikos

    Okay, Winston. I’m weary from too much stress in my life lately – but I’m just as weary of waiting for your citation of the evidence against Wilson. So…

    Joe Wilson:

    Winston, I frankly don’t trust your interpretation of the material you won’t cite for me.

    And even if you’re dead right, how do we know if the 9/11 commission’s interviewees weren’t covering up on behalf of the administration?

    Are you sure they’re credible?

    Cross you heart and hope to die?

    I distinctly recall hearing discussion on NPR weeks before the invasion of Iraq of the ‘Yellowcake Forgery’ matter ( I was sunning myself on my front porch during an unusual (and exquisite) midwinter warm spell. So, nothing Wilson has alleged came as any surprise to me – although the media sure seemed to have forgotten all about it before Wilson’s editorial whistle-blowing. (Which is frankly inexcusable for the ‘free press’ to which the founders assigned the role of ‘government watchdog’ – but that’s a tangent not worth pursuing here.)

    Likewise, the Downing Street Memo ( was no surprise to me either.

    The weight of all this lends massive credibility to Wilson, no matter how it drives sleazy cranks like Robert Novak nutty with distraction. Novak can kiss Wilson’s ass, as far as I’m concerned. (And take his rightful place before the eventual revolutionary firing squad too, ftm!)

    Wilson’s side of the story strikes me as much more credible ( – especially since the matter is under a criminal investigation by a special prosecutor requested by the CIA:

    “26 September 2003: At CIA Director George J. Tenet’s request, the Justice Department begins looking into an allegation that administration officials leaked the identity of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist, an aggravated felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.�

    Note in particular the paragraph of Afternoon or evening of 11 July 2003 – especially its concluding sentence.

    I think I’ll wait to see where Patrick Fitzgerald leads us before surrendering my credulity to the accusations of the rightwing smear machine. (I sense however that your mind is already made up, and that’s fine: believe whatever you like. Just don’t scream bloody murder to me if Wilson’s account holds up in court.)

    Additionally, the Wikipedia article ( on Wilson appears to cast doubt on your contention that Wilson is ‘a liar’.

    The issues in dispute seem to revolve around questions of confidentiality: i.e., Wilson can’t claim to have ‘seen CIA reports’ if he was putatively ‘just a diplomat’.

    I think we all know that US ‘diplomats’ are just as likely to be intelligence operatives. Operatives who can’t divulge their link to the intelligence-community without damaging US national security.

    Wilson strikes me as a patriot: he’d surely rather accept a temporary public opprobrium than admit to deeper intelligence ties than we know about already. Especially if he knows that the special prosecutor’s long, quiet work will eventually exonerate him.

    Moreover, and frankly, I don’t trust the Republican led Senate Intelligence Committee’s report any farther than I can throw Joe Biden. (I may lift weights, but I ain’t no Hercules.) If we know one thing about the GOP hierarchy in Washington, it’s that they’ve remarkable discipline and virtually no conscience (although the House Republicans are admittedly worse than the GOP Senators).

    I know it’s easy to forget – although I never will – that the advent of Porter Goss as intelligence czar led directly to many seasoned CIA professionals retiring in the face of what they considered a political coup in their ultra-secret and previously non-partisan intelligence community.

    Sounds to me more like a cover-up effort by the Bushies than any acceptable ‘national security’ concerns. Porter Goss strikes me as more of a Baathist-type dictator’s-tool than as a legitimate American patriot.

    As for the rest of ‘em: I don’t trust Cheney any farther than I can throw him either. Or Bush. Or even the smaller Condi. They’re all as likely traitors to the country as patriots.

    Their true loyalty seems to me to lie with their billionaire backers, not with the country they’re so blithely selling to China.

    One last thing, that’s widely understood in the UK and in Europe – although not in our wisdom-challenged ‘great democracy’: Iraq did not have the industrial capacity to refine yellowcake into nuclear fuel or bomb-grade fissile material.

    And this was known long before the infamous ‘16 words’ in the State of the Union speech.

    Hell, I knew it while sitting on my porch that same warm winter afternoon. (Only a country as deprived of authentic, verifiable information as this one would put up with the lies of the Republicans currently ruining the country. What’s worse is that the very same information is known all around the rest of the world.)

    Ponder that, please, before fashioning your inevitable response.

    Besides, if Wilson lied, why is Libby under indictment while Wilson isn’t???

    David Brock:

    Again, to discredit him for an attack of conscience that led to his conversion from rightwing smear artist to left-of-center whistleblower is silly. Now, I’ll grant you this: should he recant his conversion or any of the results of his painstaking research into the rightwing media machine, then I’ll agree with you that he’s not credible.

    But not before that.

    Your mistrust of him is akin to the mafia’s fury to their traitors: they kill folks for that sort of thing, just as the right-wingers are trying to murder-by-bludgeoning Brock’s credibility – an effort at character-assassination which you’ve obviously swallowed, hook, line and sinker.

    And that’s fine: you’re entitled.

    But I won’t have my opinion here on ROS buried by your bluster – just like the rightwing smear artists on cable news do to their liberal-dissenter stalking-horses. I suspect that most bloggers here would simply quit this site than have to submit to that sort of typical bullying and intimidation crap.


    I’m willing to award you a qualified ‘touché’ for your counter to my assertion – but only a qualified one, and here’s why: if Gorby agrees that Reagan’s tax giveaway to the military-industrial complex (Eisenhower’s term, remember) speeded the implosion of the USSR, then so be it. Touché to you.

    Yet this implies that the implosion would have happened eventually anyway – because the Soviet command-economy was an ideological failure – just like Hitler’s racism and warmongering was.

    Now, let’ play, just for fun, the game called ‘Right Wing Smear’:


    Gorby? You can’t trust anything Gorby says!

    He converted from a Communist to a Socialist reformer and, according to his own countrymen, is a traitor!

    Remember that coup attempt in ’91?

    Those plotters didn’t think that Reagan had forced Gorby’s hand – they think Gorby did it all by himself, subverting the Socialist Revolution!

    Besides, Gorby has made hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars since his fall from power from speaking fees. He’s made all this money spewing a carefully tailored message to European audiences – telling them whatever interpretation of the fall of the USSR he thinks they want to hear.

    He’s a liar.

    And obviously so.

    Just like David Brock.

    And just like Joe Wilson.

    There, wasn’t that fun?

    You can smear anybody if you’re willing to mix truth with falsehood, speculation, and a bit of rhetorical trickery.

    Let’s try it next on this guy:

    A wimp who said that instead of ever seeking vengeance we should ‘turn the other cheek’.

    A coward who tried to validate gutless pacifism with the idiotic suggestion that you ‘love your enemies’.

    This clown said that you should bless those that curse you. That you should pray for those that spite you.

    Please. What a moron.

    How ya supposed to take that kinda crap seriously? Rush don’t. (God bless ‘im.)

    This same dope said to forgive both debts and debtors.

    Sounds to me like a stinkin’ liberal Democrat with no idea how real-world economies work. (Bush won’t put up with that kinda pinko crap. God talks to Bush in the Oval Office, don’cha know – and He don’t tell our President to tolerate defaulters. That’s for sure – if you don’t believe me, just ask those smart and compassionate lobbyists who drafted the new bankruptcy law.)

    This guy went around preaching that poor people would inherent the world – probably after his communist buddies had slaughtered all the hard working rich folks. Class warfare, Hannity calls it.

    He was a demagogue who the authorities arrested and executed before his seditious little ‘democratic revolution’ could stir the filthy masses up from their fields and hovels.

    This guy never married or had kids or even a girlfriend, but hung around with twelve guys – Brokeback Mountain types, sure as sin.

    This same gay flower-lover and crackpot tree-hugger dared to compare humans to birds – claiming that God feeds birds despite the fact that they don’t work or farm for their food – what laziness! – and despite our self-evident knowledge that we’re a divinely favored and superior kind of being.

    What a loon, huh? If we had to obey that kinda bull, we’d have to give up our naval and air force gunnery ranges like Vieques. Just cuz some damned birds used to migrate and nest there before we started our bombing and shelling practice.

    This very same bozo castigated those who judge others.

    An obvious panty-waist.

    If you can’t shame them publicly, how ya supposed to get those indolent and stupid poor people to work for the wages we so generously offer? You’ll never build a decent economy and help the rich get what their entrepreneurial initiative deserves when that sort of liberal tolerance is trying to overturn our godly Puritanism.

    And talk about a deceitful little commie: “go, sell what you have, and give to the poor.�



    This spoiled, only-child brat, who disrespected his own dad by claiming his mother had been parthogenetically impregnated by a god (are you kidding me?), didn’t respect the rights of society’s best people to hold onto their fairly earned riches. Let alone for these same entrepreneurial geniuses to pray for God’s favor unless they ‘gave it all away.’


    God helps those that help themselves. It says so in the Bible, don’t it?

    Don’t it?



    So what if Franklin said it instead of God?

    What are you, some elitist know-it-all professor or somethin’? Bill O’Reilly would have a thing or two to say to you:

    Shut up.

    Shut up!

    Shut up and listen to me:

    This pretentiously named ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ was nuthin’ but a smarmy little commie faggot.

    And if O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and Hannity repeat it often enough and as loudly as they usually do, everyone will not merely believe it, but know that it’s the truth.

    Cuz that’s how the rightwing echo chamber works.

    Recalling please that I’m not any sort of deist but a secularist who prefers no religion, the brief article at this site is worthy of a read:

    More coming soon, reacting to the patently condescending notion of ‘too much democracy’.

  • Nikos

    Too Much Democracy

    This one just kinda tastes foul, doesn’t it?

    It’s as old a ruling-class conceit as the country, though, and it’s used all around the world by repressive regimes drawn from the governing elites as the primary excuse for their ignoring of the people’s will. Luckily, it is very easy to parse, and to afterwards debunk.

    Starting with a definition of the fearful concept’s underlying bias:


    1. Unwarranted bias, favoritism, or devotion to a particular group, cause, or idea.

    2. A bias in favour of the familiar. (My emphasis.)

    History: Chauvinism originally referred only to an excessive nationalism or patriotism, but its use has broadened.

    Its use has broadened indeed. Nationalism and sexism are both chauvinism, but so are racism, speciesism, resourceism, and classism, to name but four.

    Racism underpinned slavery, and, as a credible ideology, has been scientifically debunked. Thus African-Americans are accorded full personhood, and not the 3/5’s written into our 18th century constitution. The enfranchisement of African Americans significantly expanded democracy in the USA. This expansion has enriched the nation by adding many brilliant minds to the national dialogue – not to mention much of the world’s greatest arts and music.

    Sexism: it was long believed that woman’s capacity for rational thought was biologically impaired by emotiveness. This has been scientifically debunked. Yet even before science debunked the sexist doctrine, women in this country earned the vote, more than doubling democracy in the USA.

    The addition of women’s voices to the national dialogue is every bit as significant as the addition of African-American voices. This is in no small part because many more women seem to have greater capacity for empathy than many or most men do, although this argument might be difficult to test empirically. Nevertheless, dozens of patient and sympathetic contributions from bloggers like our very own Allison, Peggy Sue, and Potter suggest at least a tad of evidence for such an argument. And frankly, empathy is a virtue, not a flaw of any kind, at least not by any acceptable measure. (Indeed, the GOP leadership would benefit immeasurably from a much bigger dose of it, imho.)

    So what about classism?

    How can we allow California-style ballot-measure democracy when the comparatively undereducated middle and lower classes can hardly be trusted to understand complex issues enough to vote sagaciously? Isn’t this a recipe for the catastrophic mobocracy the founders fretted over in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere?

    Perhaps, but only in a undereducated populace – and even then one must ask the moral question: shouldn’t any government founded on the democratic impulse allow for the possibility of a population’s self-destructive foolishness (ala ancient Athens)?

    What’s the point of preaching the virtues of popular self-determination if a populace’s elites are allowed to hold up their collective hands and say: “No, no, children, you can’t redistribute the political or economic power against your oligarchs’ will�?

    And as far as education goes, Swedes graduate from high school fluent in three languages – Swedish, English, and an elective. This opens the entire world to Swedes: they are one of the least ignorant populaces of the world because in a single year they can read vastly more viewpoints in more languages than most Americans ever will in a lifetime.

    In other words, the only enduring foundation for this country’s entrenched classist resistance to greater democracy is our inadequate popular education – which is obviously a product of governmental disinterest.

    The simplest way to defeat this glaring conceit is to ponder the following: A liberally educated populace is eminently qualified to determine its national policies and priorities with only minimal framing from political professionals.

    Finally, for an American to cast aspersions on the democracies of other countries is not only ignorant but simply arrogant. Swedes are vastly better able to gauge whether or not their parliamentary system is appropriate for their popular self-determination than any American republican.

    They are, after all, liberally educated. They trust one another – and that’s what counts most.

    In sum, the expansion of democracy is preferable because the more educated and curious minds a nation produces, the more innovative solutions that country will inevitably generate.

    Democracy – founded on liberal education – not the trickery of self-justifying republican ideology, is the key to the furtherance of human progress and humanism.

    Too much democracy?

    No, not nearly enough of it.

  • Nikos

    Btw, Winston, don’t think we didn’t notice the typical rightwing trick called ‘if your argument is losing, redefine the debate’.

    Your premise that countries hosting US forces are wealthier became ‘any land mass within range of US ICBMs’ – which include my penguin pals down in Antarctica!

    Please understand that those of us standing well away from the rightwing circle of logic can easily see through its tricks – even if the merry-go-round’s riders can’t.

  • Nikos

    Oh, Winston: despite my shortage of time these days, I’d still like to read the part or parts of the 9/11 report relevant to Joe Wilson. I’m not so fixed in my opinions that I can’t admit that I’m wrong.

    I’d rather my intellectual independence sometimes lead me astray into mistakenness than to relax and be an incurious dupe of the rightwing propaganda factory.

    So, please let me know which part(s) deals with Wilson — and thanks again.

    See ya.

  • Nikos

    ‘Weekday’, KUOW’s (Seattle NPR) best local show, devoted an hour this morning to the Iraq constitutional mess and the (mutter, mumble, whisper) civil war.

    ‘Weekday’ is usually excellent and its topics are often worthy of a national audience instead of just its Puget Sound regional listeners.

    After today, the ‘Civil War In Iraq?’ Weekday show will go into the show archives to the right on the page (called ‘select a date’); the date was March 9th, and it was the show’s second hour.

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  • Sorry for not remarking for while, been busy like all you but will read and tyr and uphold my end or threads soon.

  • Nikos

    Two relevant left-coast radio programs from this morning (3/17/06) that others in the country might wish to give a listen:

    To The Point “Iraq Insurgency Still Strong Three Years after US Invasion� @

    and KUOW’s Weekday “Eman Ahmad Khammas – What is it live in Iraq right now? Eman Ahmad Khammas knows. She is an Iraqi journalist and women’s advocate visiting Seattle to share her first hand experience. What is her vision for the future of her country? What is it like to be a Iraqi citizen in the midst of war? Do Iraqi women have a different experience than the men? Is there way for peace to come to the region?â€?


    (After today, look for the ‘Recent Shows’ ‘Choose a date’ drop-down box option)

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