Nir Rosen on Iraq

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clerics again

Posters, and supporters, of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. [Nir Rosen]

Nir Rosen stays out of the Green Zone. Instead, he lives and reports from what he calls the “Red Zone,” i.e., the rest of the country.

In the three years he’s spent there since the start of the war, he has been much closer to the heart of the conflict than just about any other foreign reporter. He looks Middle Eastern and speaks Iraqi Arabic, so he can pass for a native. He has a network of close friends in Baghdad’s most dangerous neighborhoods, so he can go places that aren’t safe for westerners (but really aren’t safe for anyone else, either).

He’s just returned to the states from another six week stint in the Red Zone, and paints a disturbing picture of sectarian strife, fear, and paranoia.

You have militias operating openly on all sides. Iraq used to be about the insurgency, but the insurgency is now just the Suni militias. They think the Americans are leaving, so now the real fight is against the Shias. And the Shias are fighting back.

Nir Rosen, in a conversation with Open Source, 5/4/06

Nir Rosen wants to talk about the Iraqi civil war – how intense it is, and how much worse he thinks it’s going to get. He wants to talk about targeted ethnic killings by Sunis against Shias and Shias against Sunis. And he wants to tell us about seeing Muqtada al-Sadr speak before an audience of ten thousand screaming fans (“It was like a Michael Jackson concert”).

After the bombing of the golden-domed Samarra shrine back in February, we did a show about the broad historic roots of sectarian violence in Iraq. Now we’re hoping Nir Rosen can elaborate on that picture in present form, and give us his detailed view from the thick of things.

Nir Rosen

Fellow, The New America Foundation

Author, In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq

Open Source guest, Juan Cole: Iraq in 2006

Patrick Cockburn

Baghdad correspondent, The Independent and The London Review of Books

Author of the forthcoming book, The Occupation: War, Resistance and Daily Life in Iraq

Raed Jarrar

Blogger, Raed in the Middle and A Family in Baghdad

Architect and political canvasser based in San Francisco

Extra Credit Reading

Nir Rosen, On the Ground in Iraq: The roots of sectarian violence, The Boston Review, March/April 2006

Nir Rosen, If America Left Iraq, The Atlantic Monthly, December 2005

Patrick Cockburn, Diary, London Review of Books, April 7, 2006

Related Content

  • Potter

    I’ll take the honor of being the first post on this show thread to thank you ROS for having Nir Rosen and to thank Nir Rosen for his work. I look forward to the show.

  • 3-D Neil

    I get the impression just from reading the summary that an immediate pullout of our troops would not be wise? But the cost is great – it looks like a damned if do or don’t… Meanwhile Afghanistan is getting worse. We should have finished up there, better at least, first. What a shame.

  • How can this be happening? We get rosy updates from the “Decider” and his “repeaters”. We don’t see pictures of all the violence on the nightly news. And our local Rushball, Winston Dodson, keeps assuring us that the troops are happy to reenlist and just love the experience of spreading goodwill and democracy. Isn’t everything going according to plan? Talk about shock and awe.

  • I am glad that you mention myname Mr sidetalker. The only problem that it isn’t my opinion about the war but objective facts. I have cited before the facts that the troops serving in Iraq are re-enlisting in record numbers, that the Army and Marine Corps are exceeding thier recruiting goals despite the increase of thier forces sizes but I thought that it would be instructive here to present the opinion here of a general who opposed the war, thought that things were going badly and now has changed his opinion. Unlike many on these pages I will provide the links to the materials so, if you want to learn something, you can.

    McCaffrey’s BF as a critic

    “MSNBC described McCaffrey as skeptic on the war as early as 2003. The New Republic called General McCaffrey Secretary Rumsfeld’s “most outspoken critic” in 2004.”

    McCaffrey on US military in Iraq in 2006

    “The morale, fighting effectiveness, and confidence of U.S. combat forces continue to be simply awe-inspiring. In every sensing session and interaction – I probed for weakness and found courage, belief in the mission, enormous confidence in their sergeants and company grade officers, an understanding of the larger mission, a commitment to creating an effective Iraqi Army and Police, unabashed patriotism, and a sense of humor. All of these soldiers, NCOs and young officers were volunteers for combat. Many were on their second combat tour – several were on the third or fourth combat tour. Many had re-enlisted to stay with their unit on its return to a second Iraq deployment. Many planned to re-enlist regardless of how long the war went on.”

    McCaffrey on Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2006

    “The foreign jihadist fighters have been defeated as a strategic and operational threat to the creation of an Iraqi government. Aggressive small unit combat action by Coalition Forces combined with good intelligence – backed up by new Iraqi Security Forces is making an impact. The foreign fighters remain a serious tactical menace. However, they are a minor threat to the heavily armed and wary U.S. forces. They cannot successfully stop the Iraqi police and army recruitment.”

    “In closing, McCaffrey said:

    The Iraqi political system is fragile but beginning to play a serious role in the debate over the big challenges facing the Iraqi state – oil, religion, territory, power, separatism, and revenge. The neighboring states have refrained from tipping Iraq into open civil war. The UN is cautiously thinking about re-entry and doing their job of helping consolidate peace. The Iraqis are going to hold Saddam and his senior leadership accountable for their murderous behavior over 35 years. The brave Brits continue to support us both politically and militarily. NATO is a possible modest support to our efforts.

    There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq. Our aim must be to create a viable federal state under the rule of law which does not: enslave its own people, threaten its neighbors, or produce weapons of mass destruction. This is a ten year task. We should be able to draw down most of our combat forces in 3-5 years. We have few alternatives to the current US strategy which is painfully but gradually succeeding. This is now a race against time. Do we have the political will, do we have the military power, will we spend the resources required to achieve our aims?

    It was very encouraging for me to see the progress achieved in the past year. Thanks to the leadership and personal sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of men and women of the CENTCOM team and the CIA – the American people are far safer today than we were in the 18 months following the initial intervention.”

  • sidetalker – Is McCaffrey and “repeater”?

  • I have just skimmed all the links above to Mer Rosen’s work and actaully find them positve and optimistic about the war. He talks about the elections, the first polular govt in the history of Iraq and the defeat of the foreign elements and insurgents.

    Now, disregarding ll of this successful trajectory of the war and moving on the discuss the current problems of LIMITED sectarian violence and malitias is just an exampe of “moving the goal posts”.

    Many want to hold Pres Bush et al accoutnable for ALL prewar predictions while failing to do so for thier own. Well, all of the challenges / difficulties that have arisen so far have been handily disposed of and these wil be as well.

    As I have said before, what I find interesting is the obvious bias shown by the subject matter and materials used for this show. For example the thesis of this show could just as easily have been “Let’s talk with Mr Rosen about how he has personaly witnesses the successes of the elections, the forming of the first popular govt in the history of Iraq, of the first mixed Sunni, Shia govt in the entire history of Islam, of the almost complete defeat and discrediting of Al Qaeda and the insurgency and how these same successes can be used to defeat the threat of Civil War’. And all of this could be justified in the materials Mr Rosen’s work yet ROS is choosing the over all of this asked him to concentrate on the POSSIBLE Civil war.

    But you have to remember Chris CW on the subect – “This has all been a disaster so I am sure that the producers who work on the shows beleive the same thing so why should we exect anything different?

    And Mr sidetalker, I am not a fan of Rush and I don’t “bottom feed” at the right -wing troughs like many poeple who post on this show do when they “dwell” on the Daily Kos etc. Most all that I provide is THE SOURCE materials, un adulterated by comment.

  • Mr. Dodson (did I spell that correctly?), one thing I have to give you credit for is that you didn’t call anyone a moonbat in this thread, yet. Mooncat got your tongue?

    That aside, why don’t you have a listen to the May 3rd, To The Point ( The guests all have a very different take on your war. They have other objective facts. But I guess they are all bleeding-heart liberals, as you and your Rushbullites would say, so their information does not count. It is biased, but yours is not since you are just republishing (repeating) the words of a US general, who has no agenda at all. Didn’t you tell us you are well educated?


    SCOTT JOHNSON: Baghdad Bureau Chief for Newsweek magazine

    PETER GALBRAITH: Senior Diplomatic Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation and author of the forthcoming book, The End of Iraq, about how the United States unintentionally broke up Iraq and transformed the Middle East; former Ambassador to Croatia

    LAITH KUBBA:Iraqi analyst with the National Endowment for Democracy, a Washington, DC-based think-tank; former spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al- Jaafari

    KAMIL MAHDI: Professor of Middle-East Economics and Politics at the University of Exeter in England

    PATRICK COCKBURN: Baghdad reporter for London’s Independent for the last three years and author of the forthcoming The Occupation: War, Resistance and Everyday Life

  • sidewalker – What is interesting is what you ignore. The general quoted above, did have an agenda and it changed. What is interesting is the as long as it fits with the agenda like ROS and the Point, he is obejective facts are used used but as soon as it is different then it is ignored. And to address you point above about repeating information I can only say that it shows your complete disregard for facts – the links that I supplied above have the complete details of the generals reports from 2003 until now. It is you, and the producers of shows like this who “repeat” the CW that that wish to perpetuate, by simply ignoring facts like the ones presented here from the general.

    The CW / myth of problems with troops in the US military in Iraq is one. As with all “product cycles” it is widely known that military recruiting success follows seasonal peaks and troughs. So it is easy to produce reporting that seems to shows a problem with recruiting due to Iraq by simply showing the seasonal problems with not making recruiting goals but ignoring the FACT that they have been exceeded on a yearly basis every year of the war. Your comments above show the dishonesty in both the MSM and your opinions re: this subject. Remember Chris says “This is a disaster” so recruiting must reflect that right? Well, this show does a great job selectively picking and choseing facts and shows to perpetuate that opinion.

    I did listen to portions of the Point program that you are talking about and it follows the same pattern as the premise that seems to be outlined in this ROS show. All of the objective facts that I listed above and that the new view point that the general stated above are true and all of the long list of shows that ROS et al has had are false – every “battle” in the War that the US began has been won and the next one, the “battle” to complete the formation of a secular, unified, democratic govt based on instituions and the rule of law is now being fought. ROS et al were wrong – the US military was not “broken” by the war, the foriegn terrorists and local insurgents have been beaten and did stop democratic elections and a govt of national unity has been formed and was wrong and Bush / Rummy et al were right And, I will say again, just like in S Korea, this battle will may take 50 years but the difference is that it took something like 30 years for S Korea to have a democratically elected govt but Iraq did it in 3. But I will make you a bet, shows discussing that parallel wiill not make it onto the list of ROS subjects.

    So, your example of the The Point is a great example of the biases shown by this and most shows on the subject – just blow past all the recent history that show that they were wrong and focus on the next challenge where they might be right. Anything can fail going forward but when don’t hold yourself accoutnable for being wrong in the past – its easy to be a journalist.

    I am very comfortable that events have proved that my facts have been proved out and that my education has served me well but I wonder how people like Chris feel if they really had to live in a world where they are not enclosed within a world protected by the selected facts produced by thier friends at the New Yorker Mag etc and only held accountable by viewers like you how are willing to allow them to pick and chose reality that they are held accountable to?

  • Robin

    Hey sidewalker – watch it with the personal attacks, please. That’s a no go. And Winston et all, please don’t post the text of full articles into the thread (it makes them hard to read). A single link with a pull quote should suffice. Thank you.

  • Robin

    Oh also, 3-D Neil, you might want to take a look at Rosen’s article from Atlantic Monthly (linked above), where he argues for immediate pullout of US troops.

  • Then Mr. Dodson, there are all these “biased” descriptions from Iraqi people writing about their daily lives. They all sound so happy and free.

    But the US military knows best about how good it is getting in Iraq and the people there, who hear shots every day and worry about going outside and about the safety of their familiy, should just be much more positive. They should wake up every day and say, I can hardly wait for a little electricity or a job to come my way. Maybe they just need more happy meals. And we should all get that silly, giggly Bushy grin on our faces and be so glad that Iraqi lives have improved so much and all the tax dollars have be spent on such a good cause. Come on, ROS, Mr. Dodson says we should get with the party and celebrate the great liberation. Let’s send more troops so more of the military can feel the worthiness of their great sacrifice for the poor suffering people of Iraq. Yes! Bang those pots, ring those bells, rejoice.

  • Oh, and I forgot about my relfexive defense of Rush. I will find the link and supply it here with the comparison of Sy Hirsh’s predictions about the war and Rush’s. Remember all of Hirsh’s predictions that never came true? – Arab street in flames, Shia – Sunni wars all accross Islam? But on ROS shows Hirsch is quoted as if he was a phychic becuase he is in the New Yorker Pulitzer clich. If you just take his articles for the past 4 years and list all that he predicted and then look at what came to be – eye opening.

    Another bet on my part, there will never be a show on ROS re: how much more right Rumy (and yes, gasp Rush) et al were right compared to Hirsch et al.

    Won’t happen for 2 reasons. 1) It would challenge all of Chris’ CW 2) The audience of this show wouldn’t like it.

    Remember the study of media where you could boil down the conclusion that the MSM was “too biased maintain its audience yet had to remain unbiased enough to maintain its credibility?”. ROS has just about reached equilibrium with that equation with it’s current audience.

  • More of those objective facts. But it is all worth it. If you live that long…

    28 Dead, over 50 Wounded in Bombings, Assassinations

    Shiites Keep Interior?

  • And still more objective facts.

  • Robin, where was the personal attack?

  • Robin – I guess that you are correct that contributing only the links should be enough since many will not read them anyway – see sidewalker.

    Then, with the links to Juan Cole and to casualties what difference does that make? Where are the links to the prewar atrocities? Maybe its becuase it doesn’t fit with your reality?

    Sidewalker – why don’t you submit artilces that actually argue your point? You start with how I say the US military is fine, implying that it isn’t. I submit data that shows that it is yet you change the subject.

    I submit data that we’ve acheived almost every goal – you change the subject.

    I give an example of a source that you would have once used to back you case – you change the subject.

    Continually siting the casualty numbers is like always talking about people who are dying from Chemo therapy and critisizing the methods while ignoring the poeple who survived. Before the war, Saddam had death camps and put his opponents in wood chippers for fun. After the war, some Shia’s are torturing some Sunni’s to death. It was as much or more screwed up before the war as after yet after there is a chance and we can at least influence the situtation. Iam sure that you are aware of the numerous times US troops have discovered “jails” where prisoners were being tortured. I’ve got a hint for you – that wasn’t happening 3 years ago. CNN was there knew about things like this and didn’t say anthing because “they wanted to maintain there access”. See Eason Jordon.

    Then I love the citing of Dr Cole. After his latest attempt at covering up his obvious attempt at misinterpreting the speach from the Iranian Pres, his subsequent defense that a drunk stole his email then nailed him with it, and the trying to back track and say that he didn’t say what he said – what crediblity does he have left. Oh, I forgot, like Sy Hirsch, you only have to be right about a few things in order to be annointed by the left.

    But to your point in the artilce by Dr Cole – the reason why we can talk about who will run the Interior ministery is becuase WE ARE THERE and SADDAM is not. It isn’t a false dichotomy – there is no arguement otherwise. We are now the biggest infleunce in Iraq for a reason – it’s called war. And yes, we should think about using war to influence other areas just like we have here and we are.

    That is why ideas / beleifs like Dr Coles never prevail becuase they don’t produce any results – they are excuses to feel that things are wrong and do nothing to chnage things.

    So Sidewalker – if you read McCafrey’s artilce and follow all his reports you will find that he tlaked about the problems and that as these were all over come, he had to change his beleifs. Read his article – in 2004 he says the Iraqi military is a problem – mostly solved now. 2005 politics was a problem – moslty solved now. 2006 Iraqi police and malitias – problem and resources and efforts are being poured into it.

    But that will not be discussed on this show. Once again, let’s just move on from that past reality that doesn’t match up with what we want to beleive and talk about presnet problems that could be future problems if not addressed – makes the audience of this show much more comforatble.

  • Potter

    Robin- It seems to me that Winston Dodson was the one who began the personal attack with “Sidetalker” for Sidewalker.

    That aside, Winston you say you “skimmed” the articles by Nir Rosen. One of them is unskimmable in my opinion. The other makes an excellent and compelling case about why we whoudl leave ASAP. This has NOTHING whatsoever to do with getting rid of Saddam. We got rid of him. What are we accomplishing other that that?

    I suggest you read Rosen who for my money carries a lot more weight than Barry McCaffrey. Rosen is in the thick of it. McCaffrey is cheerleading.

    Many first hand sources have been calling ithe situation a civil war for quite awhile. We can play with the definition of civil war perhaps a bit longer but it does not seem like things are turning around. In 10 years? I doubt the American public will stand for this for that long, or beyond the next presidential election.

    The same questions remain from months and years ago. Are we more secure because of this war or less? What would happen if we left now? ( Read Rosen/Atlantic Monthly) If not, when can we leave? What are our soldiers dying for?

    What keeps alot of Iraqi’s fighting is the idea that they have to get rid of us. Then they can have it out with each other. Or not.

  • Robin

    I was specifically referring to (for starters) sidewalker calling Winston “our local Rushball,” which I found innappropriate. But Winston calling sidewalker “sidetalker” is not ok either.

  • Potter

    I just checked that out- sorry Robin- They both indulged.

  • junec

    Robin, Thank you for maintaining civility.

  • Potter

    Yesterday Terri Gross for her program “Fresh Air” interviewed:

    National Guard Lt. Paul Rieckhoff He is the founder and executive director of the organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (formerly Operation Truth). One of the group’s aims is to see that troops in active duty and veterans are properly provided for.”

    He has written a memoir about his tour in Iraq shortly after the occupation: Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier’s Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington.

    A terrific interview. Here you have a guy who quit a good job on Wall Street after 9/11 to fight for his country. HIs motives were sterling…..

    Iraq Veteran Writes About ‘A Soldier’s Fight’

    How about this story linked on the same page. National Guard Struggles to Recruit

    The Army National Guard in New Hampshire and 21 other states is offering a $2,000 bonus to Guard members who get a buddy to sign up. It’s the latest sign that dangerous wartime deployments make this a challenging time for military recruiters. But some veterans’ groups fear the monetary incentive will be a disincentive to tell your buddy the truth about risks.

    Listen to the opposing views of two soldiers on pulling out of Iraq. Reickhoff vs Frank Adams here:

    So, fearful of the inevitable failure of the original mission ( maybe Helen Thomas will tell us what that was) and now undermining our soldiers’ dedication to duty, there is a misguided notion that they and the rest of us cannot be told the truth or even talk about getting out. And so you get the generals, these “Baghdad Bobs” (and on up from there to the President) cheerleading to counteract the discouraging news and criticism seeping out from brave reporters on the ground like Nir Rosen, Michael Ware, John Burns and others.

    Rush Limbaugh is a cheerleader- on board , almost a member of, the administration, the propaganda arm of it. Cheney goes on his program to deliver the word/the talking points/ the wishful thinking.


  • Potter
  • Nikos

    Dissent over the war is right and proper (sorry Winston – it is).

    However, consider this:

    Remember those hundreds of thousands of Americans (and millions in Europe and elsewhere) who protested before the invasion? (Of us here in ROS, Allison and nother were part of it, if memory serves.)

    That prewar dissent and outrage was right and proper, but as useful as hoping that a box of Kleenex will cure your bird flu.


    Those protests were attempts to treat the symptoms, not the pathogen.

    Our ancient Constitution, that spawns a government largely unaccountable to the People, is the pathogen.

    Not the war. The war and the military-industrial complex are symptoms.

    If you want to preclude any future chance of similar imperialist misadventures, amend your government-as-constituted out of its deceitful, anti-democratic existence.

    Summon again all that massive prewar outrage and focus it on the pathogen.

    PS: thanks Potter, for your sterling & .

  • My use of sidetalker vs sidewalker was inadvertant but I am not bothered by the his use of any phrase so we can call it even. And thanks Potter, I am sure glad he didn’t get real personal and call me a “poo poo head”.

    And, is’t it funny how NPR can spin success into a negative?

    “We’re seeing quantum leaps,” said Lt. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard. “We should probably be America’s recruiter for the Army.”

    “A driving force in this year’s early success, Guard leaders say, is that thousands of Guard members have now returned from Iraq and are reaching out to friends, old classmates and co-workers — widening the face-to-face contacts that officials say are critical to recruiting. Guard members “are staying with us and want to fill up units with their neighbors and friends,” Blum said in an interview. “Now that they’re back — watch out.”

    Winston – So, all of those evil greedy soldiers are returning and then covering up the fact that they hated it thier jsut to get thier “friends and neighbors” into the evil military. There is one problem with that theory – the people that are doing the recruiting, are also choosing to stay in Army / Marines in record numbers and re-enlist to go back.

    And, of course you can find a significant number of people who disagree, the only problem with the theory that it is a “disaster” is that the vast majority of soldiers who serve there don’t think so. I wouls suggest that you read the general remarks, the data and then decide. But many won’t becuase they chose to beleive what is comfortable for them to – remember Chris CW “This is a disaster”.

    And the contention above that what the Pres says or the generals say can effect how someone who lives, works and risks their lives in Iraq feels about the war is simply absurd on its face. They know the truth becasue the see it everyday and you can’t spin that. And, once again, all you have to do is read McCafrey’s reports above. He was a big critic of hte war and now admits that he was wrong and the challenges are being met and goals accomplised and the men and women on the ground see that and CHOOSE to stay, in record numbers.

    And you can call Rush a cheerleader all you want but I will say it again line up all the ROS shows about this war, and what the themes were for those shows, and the moajority of comments and they will not be as accurate as Rush’s comments.

    I think that this is more of a comment on this show that Rush because I think that he is much more of a popularizer of news than an analyst but isn’t that a savere comment on this show?

  • So let’s try and experiment.

    I’ll talk with 100 people whose relatives didn’t survive Chemo therapy, write up all the suffering in explicit detail and take photos of the suffering people. Then do countless shows with those interviews and see how the publics support for cancer research holds up.

    But I am sure that this show with Mr Rosen will not be like that. I mean, after all, he isn’t against the cancer research, ugh I mean the war, he just wants to communicate to all of us how it is.

  • Nikos
  • Nikos – opinions are like as_holes, everyone has them and they all stink but yours. As always youre big on talk and short on facts but I am sure that you and a few of other guttersnipes will get together, snicker and laugh and tell each other how clever you are.

    Enjoy yourselves.

  • Potter

    Winston Dodson:

    the US military was not “broken� by the war, the foriegn terrorists and local insurgents have been beaten

    I do not think this is contested. The insurgents have not been beaten, I believe it is agreed that they are not so important ( though still a tactical problem) to this war. In fact they are working against themselves by targeting innocent Iraqi’s. ( Read Rosen on this. )

    Here is McCaffrey ’06 ( as quoted by Dodson’s Belmont Club link above)

    If we do not see the successful development of a pluralistic administration in the first 120 days of the emerging Jawad al-Maliki leadership – there will be significant chance of the country breaking apart in warring factions among the Sunnis and Shia – with a separatist Kurdish north embroiled in their own potential struggle with the Turks. … There is total lack of trust among the families, the tribes, and the sectarian factions created by the 35 years of despotism and isolation of the criminal Saddam regime. This is a traumatized society with a malignant political culture. …

    This corroborates what Rosen is reporting from the field.

    ( fast forward McCaffrey) There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq. Our aim must be to create a viable federal state under the rule of law which does not: enslave its own people, threaten its neighbors, or produce weapons of mass destruction. This is a ten year task. We should be able to draw down most of our combat forces in 3-5 years. We have few alternatives to the current US strategy which is painfully but gradually succeeding. This is now a race against time. Do we have the political will, do we have the military power, will we spend the resources required to achieve our aims?

    Notice the nouns and pronouns in the first sentence: “There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives” What and whose? We are not all on board as a united country for this 10 year or more dubious project in Iraq.

    McCaffrey’s last question says it all.

    From the Belmont Club commentary on McCafffrey:

    Whatever one thinks of McCaffrey’s 2005 and 2006 Iraqi memos, the observation that “armies do not fight wars – countries fight wars” should be non-controversial. One of the themes of the 2005 memorandum, re-emphasized in 2006, was that while military systems have adapted, two key political systems — the political and economic reconstruction mechanism; and public diplomacy, including the press — have not. The first failure is manifested by the inability of civilian agencies to deploy personnel able to “live and work with their Iraqi counterparts” in the manner of the military or to adapt to the challenges of providing economic development assistance in a terrorist-threatened environment. The institutional failure of the Press is no less signal. Unable to cover Iraq in the normal way; unwilling to assign its stars for long periods of embedding with the US military, it has been “degraded to reporting based on secondary sources, press briefings which they do not believe, and alarmist video of the aftermath of suicide bombings obtained from Iraqi employees of unknown reliability”. And if it is true that countries, not armies fight wars, then it is a depressing commentary that only one of three legs has adapted to the exigencies of combat. “The bottom line is that only the CIA and the U.S. Armed Forces are at war. This situation cries out for remedy.”

    ( I have bolded where the Belmont Club italicized)

    Re: the first sentence: “armies do not fight wars – countries fight wars”. We as a country are not and have not all been on board about this war especially because of how we were misled into it and since we did not go as a last resort. So the truth is in the last two sentences: . “The bottom line is that only the CIA and the U.S. Armed Forces are at war. This situation cries out for remedy.”

    Is the solution to embed the press with the US military? To “dis� or negatively criticize those of the press who are not embedded (Nir Rosen) who out there at great risk to themselves to give us a picture of the other side?

    Do you skim because you do not want to know? Is the remedy to call those who see the glass emptying unpatriotic?

  • Nikos

    Wanskin – oops! However did I make such a typo! 😉

    Please forgive my wildly careless fingers!

    Of course I meant Winston: whatever did I do to deserve such an attack?

    For that matter, some of us might wonder why this went unmoderated:

    —which added nothing but insult to the conversation.

    Now, I am what many might grumblingly agree to be your only friend in this site…well, maybe not…but I have in recent weeks publicly missed your many long absences.

    However, because this isn’t the Alley—the proper venue for personal exchanges (and vitriol)—allow me please to ask the readership this series of questions relevant to the thread topic:

    Did I say anything about Winston to justify his thin-skinned outburst at 4:55 PM?

    I never typed anyone’s name, or referred to any specific post.

    I said: “some posts in this thread remind me (of) jingoism.�

    That’s ‘truthfulness’.

    Now then, because our nation’s youth have such luminaries as the current President and his Stable of Righteous Chargers, such as Reigning, Neighing, and Prancing Stud at DOD to emulate as a role model, let’s look at this:

    ‘Appearing on ABC on March 30, 2003, Rumsfeld said about WMD: “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat�.’

    And then this:

    ‘(Former CIA analyst Ray) McGovern pressed about pre-war statements regarding weapons of mass destruction. Rumsfeld denied lying, saying that the intelligence analysts “gave the world their honest opinion.�

    McGovern: “You said you knew where they were.�

    Rumsfeld: “I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were.�

    McGovern: “You said you knew where they were, near Tikrit, near Baghdad and north, east, south and west of there. Those are your words.�’

    And lastly, to be fair to the aging Stud: ‘(speaking about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction) “There’s another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist.â€?’

    Our Reiging and Neighing Stud of DOD is engaging, I do believe, in ‘truthiness’ (at best).

    But why stop there?

    Let’s look at the proud Stud’s Uber-Stallion:

    ‘Since President Bush seems to see his mission in Iraq as part of God’s plan, he must have assumed that getting Scooter Libby to leak parts of a classified document on Iraq to rebut Joe Wilson’s charge about a juiced-up casus belli was part of God’s plan.

    ‘When other officials leak top-secret stuff – even in cases where the whistle-blowers feel they are illuminating unlawful acts – they are portrayed by the White House as traitors who should be investigated and fired.

    ‘After The Times broke the story about the president allowing unauthorized snooping in America, W. was outraged. The F.B.I. and Justice Department were sicced on the leakers. “Revealing classified information,� W. huffed, “is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country.�

    ‘Really, W. should fire himself. He swore to look high and low for the scurrilous leaker and, lo and behold, he has himself in custody. Since the Bush administration is basically a monarchy, he should pass the crown to Jenna. She couldn’t do worse than this bunch of airheads and bullies.’

    Now then, taking into account such examples set by our luminary national leaders, have any of my comments truthfully (or truthily) deserved scatological counterattack?

  • Let’s do another experiment. The US military uses horrible weapons against another people as it moves in and occupies their country for no good reason, which kills many and causes long-term health problems for many others. Now let’s talk to all the relatives of people who didn’t survive or who are suffereing injuries and let’s survey the people of this country. What do you think the people there might say?

    In a Guardian report, October 24, 2005, a poll commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence was reported. It showed “82% of Iraqis were “strongly opposed” to the presence of foreign troops and less than 1% believed the troops were responsible for improvement in security.”

  • Isn’t it so indicative of the political bent of types like Winston Dodson to take one right-wing nut and bolt general’s words as the truth. This guy is famous for all his lies. Yes, let’s listen to General McCaffrey. Remember, he is the guy who did so much to help fill the prisons.

  • junec

    I just heard on All Thing Considered that the army is 7,000 recruits short in spite of their hard sell and infiltration of high schools.

  • Nikos

    PS: I’m not outraged or even angry, btw, by , but, well, sadly amused by the Right’s habit of attacking the voices who notice and call attention to the truths that belie the Right’s steaming heaps of barnyard wastes.

    I mean, if you think about it, it’s kind of a compliment to smeared, in service of the truth, by the likes of them…

  • Sidewalker – yes let’s do your experiment, Here is a BC Poll on how those people feel about the US. No opinions here just facts and analysis from BBC and other MSM orgs.

    “The poll by Oxford Research International was commissioned by the BBC, ABC News and other international media organisations, and released ahead of this week’s parliamentary elections in Iraq. [….] In all, 1,711 Iraqis were interviewed throughout the country in October and November 2005.”

    “An opinion poll suggests Iraqis are generally optimistic about their lives, in spite of the violence that has plagued Iraq since the US-led invasion.”

    ” The BBC News website’s World Affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds, says the survey shows a degree of optimism at variance with the usual depiction of the country as one in total chaos.

    The BBC report even goes so far as to flirt with the unthinkable:

    The findings are more in line with the kind of arguments currently being deployed by US President George W Bush, he says.”

    Sidewalker – doesn’t it make you feel like a fool when those poor oppressed people who you try to argue for seem to think your ideas are a bit nutty. I wonder what the Arabic word is for “moonbat”. Maybe you could Mr Rosen when he is on?

    Now Nikos – in your post you gave links to those comments re: the subject of constitutions, you seemed very proud that all 11 or so guttersnipes probably read them and agreed with you. A big impact with lots of people. But poor ol’ dumb monkey man GWB seem to have a little bit bigger impact and have more support.

    Constitution of Iraq

    The current constitution of Iraq was approved by an October 15, 2005 ratification vote.

    Electoral Commission officials told a news conference 78 percent of voters backed the charter and 21 percent opposed it.

    The text of the proposed constitution was read to the National Assembly on Sunday, 28 August 2005. It describes the state as a “democratic, federal, representative republic”

    So Nikos, maybe you could scurry off to Iraq and find 11 or so Iraqi guttersnipes who might want to be illuminated with your wisdom on this subject.

  • I along with thousands, if not tens of thousands of people in US who have friends or relatives in the military have photos of members of the US military standing next to some of those proud 71% of the Iraqis, holding up thier purple fingers, who voted for the constitution made possible by GWB and those ppor uneducated military people who are so deluded by the propoganda they actaully beleive that they are making a difference.

    I can’t post the photos but I am sure the Mr Rosen has had many of them in his articles.

    Maybe you have photos of you, holding up those fingers after you typed those brillant essays on your views of the constitution?

  • A question for Nir Rosen:

    To what extent is the US arming of Shi’ites and Kurds as a security force to fight Sunnis actually helping to bring about a sectarian and ethnic civil war?

  • Potter – very good reading of the general’s reports but I don’t understand how you are confused?

    You are playing rope-a-dope when you try to claim WE don’t know what the objectives are. All you have to do is read Bush remarks when he addressed the UN BEFORE we invaded. He said one was to establish a democratic govt in Iraq. We just accomplised that. Will it “stick” who knows but at least I gave an honest question where yours was not. The only reason why you feign to have a question as to the goa;s because you do not want to admit that any goals have been acheived. McCafrey started out like you and then changed his mind. Somehow, he knew what OUR goals were yet you do not. Honest? I’ll let you answer that.

    Nest, you point out that McCafrey’s report echos Rosen’s. I think that I pointed that out in an earlier post and that is the point. In his 2003, McCafrey ahd many criticizens and each time he has returned he points out that many have been solved then points out more. Then returns again and those are solved. That’s my point EXACTLY. Rosen and many media types, including ROS, have shows discusing the current problems, how bad they are then move on. Never to come back to discuss how bad thier dire predictions were and how much success there was in over coming those challenges. Well, the series of reports by McCafrey shows how a time series of reports from a former skeptic can been seen to show the success and illustrate how irresponsible reporting can fail to follow the trajectory of those successes. Does McCafrey bring up problems in his 2006 report/ YESSSSS! Just as he did in all previous reports. Does his reports also show how, after his earlier reports raised challenges and those were solved? YESSSS! So, what makes you think that the problems raised in his 2006 reports won’t be just a successfully resloved? Where is the ROS show on that? I won’t hold my breath, remember Chris’ CW ‘This is a disaster”.

    A great illustration is you admission that the insurgency problem is now just a “tactical” one. In 2005 it was strategic – generals worried about it then. Now Capts , Lts. Sgts and Corparals worry about it. For all intents its affects are over – except for as you mentioned, its affects on the opinion of peope like you who will not honestly question what is going on there. As you said – there is NO WAY the insurgency can have any real affect on any major events in Iraq. the only way that it can have any affect is for dishonest reporting and people who just want to oppose the war, use it as an excuse.

    And then, I find your reflexive desire to morph my arguement into saying that you, or people who are against the war, are “unpatriotic” is a defense mechanism and a sign of your insecurity on your part. There are some demagoges who flirt with claiming that and other idiots who will out-and out say it but I think that it shouldn’t be raised. For one thing, I beleive that the whole idea of patriotism is dangerous. But that is a subject for a different discussion. I just think that you are wrong on many subjects. The US military is not falling apart. Depsite Mr Sidewalkers claims above, McCafrey has said that he voted for Clinton, he was an early and vocal opponent of the war and was contiually saying the the US military could not sustain itself in the long run in Iraq and would ahve to withdraw by late 06. He ain’t singing that tune after his last visit. The other point mentioned above was the book by the NY Gaurdsman. If you will read the book it is about events in 2004. If your read McCafrey’s reports from that time he agreed with the Lts book. He doesn’t now.

    Then you asked the real salient question – why is the country not supporting the war? Let me begin by saying that all military people thought, going into the war, that the US people’s span of concentration would be 3-4 years. If you look at history that is the case. In 1945, in a war where there was also almost universal support at the start, the American people were losing patience. There was even talk of losing the ability to keep control of large parts of the Army in Europe. Well, in general, its reached that point now. But, that is why all people are breathing easier now it has reached this point.

    But I will also say that other reasons are embodied by Rosen and Chris. Rosen isn’t doing a bad job its just incomplete. And I think that it is obvious. He covers, to great hazard, the particulars of SOME of the everyday life of Iraqis but I say some because it is FACTUALLY true that it cannot be the majority situations that he choses to cover and report on becuase of the poll and facts that I posted above. Iraqi polls, US military’s feelings, the voting etc. His reporting is jsut like the thought experimnet that I made above re: Chemo therapy. If you only report on the negative affects you are, by definition, in oppistion to what you are reporting on.

    Then Chris is another case. It is obvious that he is simply against the war. There are no facts, no arguement that could make him change his mind. It like a religous beleif with him. This is a disaster. It like Tom Cruise’s opposition to phyciatric drugs. He’ll do as professional job as is possible in covering the subject but it is obvious that he has to try hard to do so.

    Now Mr Potter, I ahve a question for you. Irregardless of how you feel about the war, does the change of heart of Gen McCafrey not make your question your feelings that the “glass is half empty”?

  • I see Winston Dodson you sidestepped the fact I laid down in front of your eyes. Plain and simple, 82% of the Iraqi people don’t want you and your type there and they don’t think it is helping their security.

    What they have achieved (and I have never argued that Iraqi people are not better off without Saddam) has been in spite of the US military, not because of it.

    Your basic argument is that any ends justify the means. What you fail to answer are the process questions. Why did (do) US administrations prop up Saddam and so many like him around the world if it is in the interest of America and then claim to uphold the virtues of freedom and democray? Why is an illegal invasion OK? Why is torture OK? Why do you bend over for a leader that lies to his own people about why he is willing to sacrifice his own military and billions of dollars that could be put to better use? Why would you support the occupation of Iraq when clearly the Afghanistan project was not complete and the number one terrorist was not caught? Why do you actually treat democracy like a sham and all those who speak out like traitors to your empire of the mind?

    Congratualtions on the Moonbat comment. As a repeater, you get to have your one adjective. Doesn’t Rush also repeat himself a lot, like some faulty record?

  • And Nikos, I too must appologize for my “rambucous” remarks so I do. And in reading your post above regarding Rummy my comments are simply this. At the time ALMOST EVERYONE thought that they knew where the WMDs were. It is an established FACT that almost all of Saddam’s generals thought that they had WMDs. They just thought that the others had it. All 14 members signed an UN resolution saying that they thought he had WMDs. Note, I admit that it didn’t someone could go to war with him because of it but it said (paraphrasing) “either PROVE that you don’t have them or we will beleive that you do”. And, of course you can argue about if we let the inspections go on then they would have proved etc but the point is that all 14 countries thought that he did so why would Rumy doubt it? Tenent said “it is a slam dunk” etc. You can say that they cherry picked but even if they did, they convinced themselves and almsot everyelse that he did.

    So, for that portion of your remarks I say – almost everyone thought that they were some where so if he thought he knew where they were in the first few months after the invasion, I am not surprised. All 150,000 Us troops also thought that they knew where they were.

    I think that there is absolutely no evidence for lying. Incompetence obviously yes. Even Bush abmits that. Cherry picking probably some instances yes, mostly no. Germany thought that he had them and we didn’t pick thier intel. But it really like a malpractice suit in medicine. I am sure that if a Dr operates for, what he beleives is a brain tumor, he isn’t doing that because he wants to run up a big bill. There are easier and less risky ways to do that. So, the Dr has to beleive that there is a tumor in order to take the risk to open your skull but, if he operates and there is no tumor, then there is an arguement for malpractice and you can say that the Dr may have cherry picked the tests to find evidence for a tumor but to say that a Dr would make up a reason to do brain surgery knowing that it wasn’t true is just not rational.

    I can see how the lied meme can be used for polical purpses and I am sure that Repubs use the same against Dems (I know that Dean’s charge re: “Gods, Guns and Gays” is true) but don’t get to involved and “drink the koolaid” or you’ll start beleiving you own propganda.

  • Nikos

    “Incompetence obviously yes.�


    I can die happy now!

    Thanks Winston. That’s a courageous admission.

    Now then, can you perhaps also understand – if not agree with, which I know you can’t – that my desire for a constitutional amendment making the House into a parliament wherein incompetence can bring down a government prior to the regularly scheduled elections isn’t some kind of foolishness, but a reasonable desire to modernize our archaic system, by making it directly accountable to the People who are supposedly the only true sovereigns?

    You can continue to insult me as a ‘moonbat’, but this idea will eventually catch fire. It has to, lest the aging Republic degenerate into a dictatorship or an undereducated and decadent confederation of corporate fiefdoms.

    And I can’t quite believe that even you would welcome that.

  • Nikos – your facts regarding the 82% are simply wrong. In that same poll about the same % said that the US should leave . . . . later. Becuase they know that they cannot achieve what they have got without the US presence. Both your selective use of facts and bizare logic is why the term moonbat was coined.

    100% of peope do not want to go to the dentist but everyone wants healthy teeth. But you can’t, in general, have healthy teeth without going to the dentist.

    And there is simply no credible arguement that any of this would have happened wothout some intervention. You may go off and argue with some kind of sciene fiction / counter factual historcal arguement that it would have but only the a few of the guttersnipes would buy it.

    And the rest of your tired list of arguements regarding illegal wars etc play better on the “bottom feeding” sites like Kos where fact don’t matter. Example – illegal war. This war was no more illegal than Clinton’s bombing of the Balkans. Both actions were SANCTIONED by the UN after the war was over. Your contiunal misuse of facts in this regard just make your arguements look silly.

    So if someone wants to earn thier “moonbat wings” I guess all I can say is “let’em soar”

    P.S. I’ve got a good moonbat detectotion criteria for you. If your claims have never made any more of a serious discussion that Demoncracynow – your real hot.

  • Sidewalker – you may have an arguement there re: the responsiveness of a parlimentary system but just becuase it needs to happen doesn’t mean that it will.

    The reality of even a “small” change like a Constituional Amendment is bleak. And the institutional and historical inertia is too strong. Whether you like it or not the current system in US is just too successful.

    But this is an arguement for another thread and even though I am a certified jerk I will stop here.

  • Nikos

    btw, Winston, I’m glad for this too: “And Nikos, I too must appologize for my “rambucousâ€? remarks so I do” — but not because of anything like a grudge or hurt feelings, or joy at your discomfiture. (And I really wasn’t irate.)

    No, it’s because now you can join me for a beer or two in the ROS Mea Culpa Clubhouse! 🙂

    (I was gettin’ lonely in there…) 😉

    (We might have to agree to confine our conversation to sports though…Oh, and I like the Club’s wheat ale: Bell’s Oberon! Well, I wish.)

  • Nikos

    Winston: the 82% wasn’t me.

    We’re not all the same just because we’re Elephant-despisin’ guttersnipes, you know!

  • Winston Dodson, again I see you avoided addressing my questions about democratic process by just labeling them in the lame way you address everything you don’t want to hear and that might challenge your world-view (silly, bottom-feeder, moonbat, science fiction, guttersnipe, tired). You sound more like Rush every day.

    Still, deep down (let me deconstruct you now since you enjoy such an activity: And then, I find your reflexive desire to morph my arguement into saying that you, or people who are against the war, are “unpatriotic� is a defense mechanism and a sign of your insecurity on your part.) I think that the reason you keep coming back to ROS and engaging us guttersnipes is that you really do want to see the goodness in the world and overcome that pre-historic urge to kill, destory and conquer that boils in your blood. Just give it time.

    “On September 16, 2004 Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, speaking on the invasion, said, “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.”

    By the way, the war is not yet over.

  • Nikos

    Ah, I see, you got me mixed up with my pal sidewalker. No matter:

    WSD: ‘you may have an arguement there re: the responsiveness of a parlimentary system but just becuase it needs to happen doesn’t mean that it will.’

    That’s unacceptable – if you’re anything like a true patriot, anyway.

    I’m quite sure that many American Tories in the early 1770’s said the same conservative, and (intended) demoralizing junk to the Rebels.

    WSD: ‘The reality of even a “small� change like a Constituional Amendment is bleak. And the institutional and historical inertia is too strong.’

    This must change. It might not overnight, but it must, and within a decade, or two at most.

    Why not start now?

    WSD: ‘Whether you like it or not the current system in US is just too successful.’

    That depends on how you define ‘success’.

    I don’t call this failing Republic anything but a ‘brewing calamity.’

    WSD: “But this is an arguement for another thread”

    This is a mandatory discussion anywhere and everywhere — for true patriots, anyway.

    And I define ‘patriotism’ not as loyalty to the Constitution but to the People.

    You know, the folks that the Constitution is supposed to serve.

    Yeah, those people.


    All of us, not just the economically-privileged.

  • You seem to have everything twisted around Winston. I’m the 82% man and Nikos is Mr. parlimentary.

  • Potter

    Potter – very good reading of the general’s reports but I don’t understand how you are confused?

    Winston– I believe you are confused about my alleged confusion. Asking questions is not confusion or dishonesty especially when the answers cited ( as to why GWB took us to war) have been dishonest.

    If, as you say, “mission accomplished�, “goals have been achieved� why are we there now? What further are we, accomplishing? Please do not misread these questions as confusion.

    Winston in true Rumsfeld style asks and answers his own questions: Does McCafrey bring up problems in his 2006 report/ YESSSSS! Just as he did in all previous reports. Does his reports also show how, after his earlier reports raised challenges and those were solved? YESSSS! So, what makes you think that the problems raised in his 2006 reports won’t be just a successfully resloved? Where is the ROS show on that? I won’t hold my breath, remember Chris’ CW ‘This is a disaster�.

    I guess we are looking farther down the road than you are Winston. There are endless problems which will be ever evolving reasons we cannot leave. Does the American public want this? Increasingly no! (How about those polls?)

    Winston A great illustration is you admission that the insurgency problem is now just a “tacticalâ€? one. In 2005 it was strategic – For all intents its affects are over…

    Would you like to tell that to all of those who are and are about to get killed or maimed ( U.S AND Iraqi)? Because we have labeled it tactical does not mean no problem, no harm. By the way- where will Al Qaeda in Iraq, freshly trained by us and still motivated, now go?

    Winston again: except for as you mentioned, its affects on the opinion of peope like you who will not honestly question what is going on there.

    I don’t skim Nir Rosen. I read and listen to Michael Ware and John Burns and cohorts as well. I know propaganda and cheerleading. How can you speak of honesty about wanting to know about what is going on there, Winston, while you are trashing this ROS program even before it is aired?

    Winston: ( regarding McCaffrey) He ain’t singing that tune after his last visit.

    You are leaning rather heavily on McCaffrey. I would like to know how deeply he delved into the situation or were some meetings with soldiers and leaders cherry-picked for him? You see Winston, I don’t trust. Did he get out there where Nir Rosen went in disguise and at great risk? Did he talk to a cross section of the Iraqi people?

    I bet not. The Belmont Club excerpts of his report struck me as cheerleading, back patting kind of stuff you would expect from a general. But he is honest at the end. That saves him.

    By the way- that poll of Iraqi’s was taken before the elections, last Fall ‘05, when hopes were high for the future. Previously polls in Iraq were quite negative about us being there as occupiers. I assume that issue is still the same. I see no recent polling. There is just so much legs the story about purple fingers can have.

    Where are we in this muddle? What further achievements will tell us we can go home? How long will that take. Will we use the insurgents as an excuse to stay when they too are using us as an excuse to remain outlaws? Are we building big bases to remain there?

    I pin my hopes on the 2006 and 2008 elections.

    Winston: The other point mentioned above was the book by the NY Gaurdsman. If you will read the book it is about events in 2004.

    His group, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, linked here below, is dealing with current issues.

    Click on ( left column) “Issues Facing our Troops� to get more information and further links regarding troop shortages.

    The web site also tells a soldier how to get reimbursed for buying their own body armor. This is new since Oct. 05. (after McCaffrey’s meeting with the happy soldiers).

    Winston: In 1945, in a war where there was also almost universal support at the start, the American people were losing patience. There was even talk of losing the ability to keep control of large parts of the Army in Europe. Well, in general, its reached that point now. But, that is why all people are breathing easier now it has reached this point.

    Why are “all people breathing easier�? Because there is less and less support here at home? (makes no sense).

    Winston: Rosen isn’t doing a bad job its just incomplete. And I think that it is obvious. He covers, to great hazard, the particulars of SOME of the everyday life of Iraqis

    Where else are you getting this kind of information? No one is claiming that this is the whole picture but it is a picture from inside the insurgency. Don’t you, as a former military person, think that is invaluable (as Chris and ROS and many of us listeners do) ?

    Winston, you say this is because Chris is obviously against the war ( as many of us are, increasingly, and also still angry about they way we went into it). Is your advocacy also not similarly a “religious belief�?

    Lastly from Mr. Dodson: Now Mr Potter, I ahve a question for you. Irregardless of how you feel about the war, does the change of heart of Gen McCafrey not make your question your feelings that the “glass is half empty�?

    Are we only supposed to focus on the ¼ of the glass that is filled, the reasons why things have not moved faster? Do we not question our leader’s wisdom and motives? Do we shell out for this without real questioning? I read McCaffrey as being very positive about the recent improvements but over the long run very skeptical/ worried. As I pointed out the American people are less and less convinced that we should be there. I have issues about how we were misled into this and the wisdom of it. I think there are ample grounds for impeachment of this president. He misused the faith and trust of his office and took us to a war on what appears to be cherry-picked intelligence and when it was not evident that it was necessary. I can’t imagine anything worse that a leader could do.

    As a result of this action I see more terrorism and it has evolved, but is now unconsolidated ( harder to get). I see a lot of innocent deaths in Iraq. I see nuclear proliferation. I see that the US has lost respect multilaterally from this action. It is draining our treasury. Think of all the things we could have done at home and abroad with the billions, no trillions that we will spend on this. Think of all the good. This Iraq adventure has been and will continue to be very costly.

    It’s time to say ‘Mission Accomplished� and bring the troops home.

    The glass will never be full, we did enough, let’s leave it at that.

  • Potter

    Winston: Did you go to this link and read it on McCaffrey’s report from the Belmont Club?

    McCaffrey offers Tough Frank Iraq Review

    Please note Winston, that the full report has not been posted on the web and what we are reading are clips that are chosen with a certain bias. This report above is more frank.

  • Potter

    Sorry- the McCaffrey paper from this April has just been publilshed here. Fred Kaplan of Slate links it in his commentary piece:

    Fred Kaplan:

    The significance of this memo is that it reveals—from an optimistic but realistic insider’s perspective—the magnitude of the price, and it’s probably way higher than what the vast majority of Americans are willing to pay.

    McCaffrey begins his memo with praise for how much progress has been made: “The morale, fighting effectiveness, and confidence of U.S. combat forces continue to be simply awe-inspiring. … They are the toughest soldiers we have ever fielded. … The Iraqi Army is real, growing, and willing to fight. … The Iraqi police are beginning to show marked improvement in capability.” A few “are on a par with the best U.S. SWAT units.”

    Then comes the far more extensive downside.

    Read the rest.

    By the way, perhaps everyone should read McCaffrey, who Kaplan calls an optimist, not the cherry-picked good news.

    Thanks Winston.

  • Thanks Potter for pointing out those links. McCaffrey’s complete report is a good read. I especially like the ending of the story.

    These are my favorite lines:

    U.S. public opinion may become increasingly alienated by Iraqi ingratitude for

    our sacrifice on their behalf (huge percentages of both the Shia and Sunni populations believe that the MNF Coalition forces are the single greatest threat to safety and security in Iraq today)

    How dare them. Now why aren’t they kissing the boots of their occupiers? This point also takes us back to that old 82% and the question of why America doesn’t leave. Then we find the “official” reasons re-stated:

    There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq. Our aim must be to create a viable federal state under the rule of law which does not: enslave its own people, threaten its neighbors, or produce weapons of mass destruction.

    Here we have it. OUR OBJECTIVES I thought this was for the Iraqi people? Then we might want to ask them what THEIR OBJECTIVES are.

    An after-thought is that the present US administration should set the same objectives for its own nation. Then we would be getting somewhere.

    The crux of the war hangs on our ability to create urban and rural local police with the ability to survive on the streets of this incredibly dangerous and lethal environment.




    the American people are far safer today than we were in the 18 months following the initial intervention.

    And there we have it. Americans are safer, but Iraqis continue to live in an “incredibly dangerous and lethal environment,” where even the government official can’t leave the green zone to find out what is happening in their ministries.

    I sure hope people like Winston Dodson can sleep well at night knowing Iraqis continue to live in fear.

    Simon and Garfunkel’s tune creeps into my mind as I finish reading the report.

    A winter’s day

    In a deep and dark december;

    I am alone,

    Gazing from my window to the streets below

    On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.

    I am a rock,

    I am an island.

    I’ve built walls,

    A fortress deep and mighty,

    That none may penetrate.

    I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.

    It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.

    I am a rock,

    I am an island.

    Don’t talk of love,

    But I’ve heard the words before;

    It’s sleeping in my memory.

    I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.

    If I never loved I never would have cried.

    I am a rock,

    I am an island.

    I have my books

    And my poetry to protect me;

    I am shielded in my armor,

    Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.

    I touch no one and no one touches me.

    I am a rock,

    I am an island.

    And a rock feels no pain;

    And an island never cries.

  • Nikos

    I can’t resist. I’ve just finished reading the link provided us by Potter, and don’t want any of us ROS readers to miss the concise points it makes:

    ‘Then comes the far more extensive downside.

    ‘The Iraqi army battalions, (McCaffrey) writes, “are very badly equipped with only a few light vehicles [and] small arms. …They have almost no mortars, heavy machine guns, decent communications equipment, artillery, armor, or… air transport, helicopter, and strike support.�

    ‘The bottom line: “We need at least two-to-five more years of U.S. partnership and combat backup to get the Iraqi Army ready to stand on its own.� (Emphasis added.)

    ‘The political-administrative apparatus is in worse shape still: The “corruption and lack of capability of the ministries [of defense and interior] will requireseveral years of patient coaching and officer education in values as well as the required competence.â€? (Emphasis added.)

    ‘And this is nothing compared with problems in the police force. “The crux of the war hangs on the ability to create urban and rural local police with the ability to survive on the streets of this increasingly dangerous and lethal environment,� McCaffrey writes. It is “a prerequisite to the Iraqis winning the counter-insurgency struggle they will face in the coming decade.� And yet:

    ‘The police are heavily infiltrated by both [foreign jihadists] and Shia militias. They are incapable of confronting local armed groups. They inherited a culture of inaction, passivity, human rights abuses, and deep corruption. This will be a 10-year project requiring patience, significant resources, and an international public face. (Emphasis added.)

    ‘We also, he says, need to pour in a lot more money. The Iraqi army is underfunded by “an order of magnitude or more.� As for civil reconstruction, “we will fail to achieve our politico-military objectives in the coming 24 months if we do not continue economic support on the order of $5-10 billion a year.� (Meanwhile, only $1.6 billion remains in the pipeline from the $18 billion allocated three years ago, and White House officials have said that no more will be sent until Iraq is physically secure.)

    ‘Finally, there are the broader political worries. The “incompetence and corruption� of the various interim Iraqi governments resulted in a “total lack of trust among the families, the tribes, and the sectarian factions.� The violence and chaos also produced a “brain drain� and, with it, “a loss of the potential leadership to solve the mess that is Iraq today.� If the new prime minister, Jawad al-Maliki, doesn’t form an inclusive government in his first 120 days in power, McCaffrey notes, “there will be a significant chance of the country breaking apart in warring factions,� regardless of our efforts.

    ‘He concludes his memo by urging perseverance but conceding some doubt. He asks, “Do we have the political will, do we have the military power, will we spend the resources required to achieve our aims?�

    ‘Whether or not McCaffrey meant to imply as much, the answer to all three questions is probably “No.� By his own formulation, after all, mustering the will, power, and resources will require 10 more years of occupation, $50 billion to $100 billion in economic aid alone, who knows how many more hundreds of billions of dollars in military spending, who knows how many more thousands of casualties—and even then great uncertainty would remain about the Iraqis’ ability to hold their nation together.

    ‘The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be a very dim bulb. Blithe talk of “staying the course� is beside the point. Here is the real choice that Gen. McCaffrey’s memo thrusts before President Bush and his top aides: If the goals are worth the costs, then state them clearly; if the goals can’t be met by the effort they’re willing to put out, then scale back and cut losses. Anything in between is not merely a fantasy but a horrible waste.’

    I respect Gen. McCaffrey and always have.

    However, on reading his repeated anxieties over corruption and loyalty:

    ‘The “corruption and lack of capability of the ministries [of defense and interior]’,

    ‘The police are heavily infiltrated by both [foreign jihadists] and Shia militias’,

    ‘They inherited a culture of inaction, passivity, human rights abuses, and deep corruption’,

    AND: ‘The “incompetence and corruption� of the various interim Iraqi governments resulted in a “total lack of trust among the families, the tribes, and the sectarian factions’

    —suggests that the Iraqis—notably the officialdom we have stood up—are wagering on both outcomes: they’re stealing our national treasury for personal gain while investing no real personal care on whether our earnest foreign ‘make-over’ of their country succeeds or fails.

    Even McCaffrey is wearing rose-colored glasses.

    The Iraqis aren’t as committed to the project as we are.

    That’s how Saigon fell, if memory serves.

    I wonder, Winston: to whom do you feel the deepest loyalty? To the administration whose ideological blinders led us into a desert Viet Nam instead of into a May 1945 Germany? Or to the men and women of your military who, if they aren’t actively risking their lives on this venture, have at the very least set aside their personal lives, dedicating themselves for years to the administration’s patently obvious fool’s gold?

    It seems to me that this: “National Guard Lt. Paul Rieckhoff…the founder and executive director of the organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (formerly Operation Truth)…� — represents someone who isn’t a traitor but a loyalist to his military kin.

    Why should any more American youth set aside their lives for the biggest misadventure foisted by the worst incompetents in the nation’s history?

    And why should any of us care to fund it any longer?

    The Iraqis care less than we do.

    Pretending otherwise is worse than unimaginative. It’s: ‘(b)lithe talk of “staying the course�.’

    It’s propaganda, whose only beneficiaries are the parasites called Halliburton and their ilk.

    It’s jingo.

    And it’s giving us not just a national headache, but a terminal case of brain cancer.

    ( & )

  • Potter

    Sidewalker thank you for the Simon and Garfunkel lyric/poetry,

    Nikos and Sidewalker for your elaborations on the the optimistic McCaffrey report, the major part of which is indeed worrisome but you would not know that if you read only certain media or web site or if you skim.

  • Potter

    This piece by Nir Rosen originally from Salon Feb 06 is very worthwhile reading for a better understanding of the situation. Aptly titled:

    America’s Unlikely Savior

  • Since McCaffrey highlights the importance of the police in occupied Iraq and since many are inclined to liken (often incorrectly) this occupation with the Japanese occupation, it is interesting to review what is written about the difficulties then. What comes out is the much greater magnitude of the problem in Iraq today since the police force is far less equipt, trained and unified. Then it was more an issue of first how to decentralize and then how to nationalize when the US switched course on democratic reforms. Resistance to change was great as police officials tried to retain their status and range of influence and economic dislocation became an issue. One similarity, I would think, is the factional struggles within the US authority (GHQ, then) and the occupied nation. In the case of Japan, the book notes that the structure of GHQ “served to complicate the process of policy formation (and implementation)…”

    The link here provides the first 20 pages of the book. It is a hard read on the eyes, but worth a look.

    Police In Occupation Japan: Control, Corruption and Resistance to Reform

    By: Aldous, Christopher

    Published By: RoutledgeCurzon

    Edition: 1

  • Let’s take McCaffrey’s report seriously, as Mr. Dodson urges, though there are good reasons to remain skeptical, as Potter has pointed out, and the fact his list of sources did not include any Iraqi names.

    I especially would like to consider the point about re-enlistment rates. How should we interpret this? The one fry short of a happy meal view would suggest, as Mr. Dodson has time and again, that the soldiers are committed to the mission, they believe they are doing good, they believe in America. McCaffrey says so much in his report.

    I probed for weakness and found courage, belief in the mission, enormous

    confidence in their sergeants and company grade officers, an understanding of the larger mission, a commitment to creating an effective Iraqi Army and Police, unabashed patriotism, and a sense of humor. All of these soldiers, NCOs and young officers were volunteers for combat. Many were on their second combat tour – several were on the third or fourth combat tour. Many had re-enlisted to stay with their unit on its return to a second Iraq deployment. Many planned to re-enlist regardless of how long the war went on.

    Now we could just say they have been duped by years of propaganda. It is not hard to believe. A majority of Americans were easily seduced by the words of their leaders at one time and only now feel betrayed. Maybe soldiers are harder to turn because of their training. They learn to go against their religious values and can become killers after all.

    But let’s not go this route. Winston Dodson would tell us (correct me if I am wrong) that the soldiers are there and know much more than the American public and the media, which does not have much access, Mr. Rosen and reporters in Kurdistan aside. They say things are improving. In the short-run so far, they may be, and let’s hope they do so the occupiers can leave even sooner and take their permanent bases with them. But is this why soldiers actually re-enlist, that they feel they are helping to bring democracy and Wal-mart to Iraq?

    I do actually believe some believe this, but I think there is much more to the re-enlistment question than the repeaters would like us to believe. First back to McCaffrey for a more important reason:

    Their comments to me were guileless, positive, and candidly expressed love for their fellow soldiers.

    Here are some more reasons I could dig up.

    “Age 55 Guard retirement.”

    “It’s who I am; it’s what I do.”


    “Duty, honor, country.”

    “Fight the war.”

    “Full-time job.”

    “I’m an American and we are at war.”

    “I actually like my job.”

    “If not me, who will do it?”

    “I love it!”

    “It’s the right thing to do.”


    “Love for my country.”

    “Loyalty to country and retirement.”

    “Patriotism and paycheck.”

    “Protection of U.S. way of life.”

    “The country needs us.”

    “USA, brother!”

    Yet, like Waits, he reenlisted for another six years before he left the Middle East. For both, there is the understanding that six more years in the National Guard will move them closer to a military pension and a more secure retirement. There is also the $15,000 tax-free bonus that each will receive for reenlisting. But there is also something beyond a new truck or a refurbished kitchen – there is a sense of duty, a feeling of belonging, and a deep love of the job

    I reenlisted not only for the retirement,” says Sergeant Sarla, who spent eight years in the active Army before leaving in 1983 to raise three children, “but it is a way of life I like … the discipline, the camaraderie.”

    “There is a satisfaction in putting on the uniform,” adds Waits.

    “Seeing little kids and old guys salute as we came back made me feel so good,” he says. “It made me feel that I was doing something that was important and good for the world.”

    What we find in all this, not surprisingly, is the majority of reasons given in this admittedly small sample are very self-centred or ethnocentric: money, retirement security, love, community, mates, patriotism, self-esteem, way of life, etc.

    Where is there mention about helping the Iraqi people? What about the cause of democracy and freedom? Mr. Dodson, where are those true humanists you talk about?

  • Potter

    More talk about getting out – George Packer’s short piece “Not Wise” for the New Yorker this week:

  • Potter

    Sidewalker: It’s very interesting to me why people enlist. Like a religion, or in place of it, it gives people meaning. They buy into the recruiter’s spiel about the need. The feeling of belonging, fighting for your comrades, is very powerful. I bet we could take all of those mudville quotes and divide them into two categories and the second one is the weaker imo: 1) it gives my life meaning ( I will defend my beliefs, my group, tribe, nation is part of that.) 2) It will help me survive financially, give me a leg up. Pure altruism, I think, is rare.

  • According to this report from the BBC, Basara is now much more dangerous than it was in 2004. I wonder if Mr. Rosen concurs. If so, what has changed?

    Basra is a ‘safe zone’ no more

  • Potter

    American Debacle by Zbigniew Brzezinski

    Another call to get out.

  • h wally

    What percentage of Iraqis asked us to come rescue them in the first place. Iraq is in the process of returning to the state it was in many decades ago before it was organized into a nation state. It’s interesting to read many of the previous posts. It reminds me of so many of the “debates” I’ve seen between dems and reps. Both sides spout a river of statistics and quotes that seem to back their point of view 100 per cent. Sometimes it’s difficult to decide where the truth lies. I’d like to plop a big fat buddah down in the middle of such goings on and watch him smile. I have my own beliefs that were partially formed in my heart. That process is based on experience, study and intuition. I’ve recently recovered from something that took me to the edge but I returned with a peaceful heart. It’s nice to see things are still very energetic. peace

  • Potter

    Hello hWally– Glad to hear you are well again.

    You ask an interesting question which I have wrestled with myself. To tell you the truth I felt strongly that Iraqi’s, particularly Kurds and Shiites, needed rescuing from Saddam. Saddams’ grip on the country and the reign of terror of the Baathists had gotten to a point where there was doubt that there could ever be a successful coup.

    Right now when you look at the Iraqi people you have to think of how they have been traumatized. I doubted that the horror that so many endured for so long under Saddam and the Baathists would end without some sort of violence. So I thought and think still that they needed help. What they did not need was what we brought. Saddam was removed in the most crude way possible. This topic has been much discussed prior to and since we invaded and I am not going into it here.

    I think Winston Dodson’s fallacious argument rests on the notion that those of us ( worldwide) that are against this war were against doing anything about Saddam or the suffering in Iraq. I would even go further and say that it was good the GWBush brought the subject up again for whatever reasons.

    As to what percentage of Iraqis asked us to come and rescue them, we would never have been able to know. Close to 100% of Iraqis reelected Saddam. After all they were terrorized.

    I wish I could believe that our motives were truly altruistic. They were not. Nor were the American people sold on this as such. Not were they sold on this war, this larger project. Many here trusted what the President was saying after 9/11 unaware of his cynical use of that horrific day. Though this war has the benefits of a “rescue operation” “weapons of mass destruction’ , particularly nuclear ones that could be passed off to Al Qaeda, were the reason we went to war ostensibly. Rescuing the people was the fallback reason, a talking point, a way to sell the larger project of democratizing the Middle East, and our hegemonic ulterior motives.

    From this side of the argument t’s not hard to be energetic about what has happened to this country since this administration took power.

    Regarding this war and it’s connection to our dependence on oil- DailyKos yesterday had a terrific piece plus graph by Darksyde: who says:

    We use fossil fuels because, for now, they’re the most economical and practical form of stored energy available for our needs. Having said that had we put the one-trillion taxpayer dollars the Iraq war is estimated to end up costing in to alternative energy technology instead, we would have already made a huge dent in all those problems [problems we have reagding alternative energy sources} and more, and we would have had enough left over to provide every homeowner and home-builder a significant tax rebate for installing alternative power devices. That reduction in oil use, combined with higher CAFE standards and FLEX and hybrid cars, would be significant. As a side benefit, it would also allow us to deprive some rather unsavory governments and their terrorist beneficiaries of our hard-earned petro-dollars. Not to mention produce new technologies and lots of new jobs.

  • I keep hearing about re-enlistment rates being up, but nobody seems to source this claim. My appologies in advance if it was above and I was not able to parse it.

    Here’s a different point of view:

    (source:,_2001_attacks and )

    I call it the “Voluntary Sacrifice Ratio” that compares the total number of multinational civilians killed on Spetember 11th to the total number of Coalition Casualities as a result of the Afghanistan and Iraq operations.

    Currently this ration is 2640/2986 = 0.884

    If current trends continue, this number should approach unity right about the November time period, just in time for elections.

    This ratio is very crass, however not as crass as the shameful behavior of our “Five-deferment-chicken-hawks”.

  • babu

    The column space above devoted to one-to-one attacks and insults not related to the subject are anathema and disservice to the entire ROS mission.

  • Potter

    Babu would you elaborate on that?

  • Well, he’s merely expressing something that Allison & I have talked about here on the boards, over email, and finally, in person when I stopped by her Knitting Circles Salon in Jamaica Plain yesterday.

    A key mission of the comment thread seems to me to be able to nurture questions or comments to pass to the guests; a secondary mission is to provide additional reading material of interest to the topic. But others have no patience for that, either because of the small percentage of questions that get on-air, or because it’s just easier to personally attack someone else (the third post of the thread). And the more of that, the primary missions seem to get crowded out.

    So we’re caught between. Online discussion forums have benefitted by strong technology or by strong norms (enforced by recognized leaders), and this is suffering without either. That’s all. I still hold out some hope as a member of WGBH and longtime listener/poster.

  • kel

    When the British quit south asia after the last world war they left two ethnically and religiously seperate countries: India and Pakistan. In Iraq I am hearing of a de-facto separation as more and more Sunni and Shia survivors of the war leave their homes for their respective areas. Joe Biden has called for the splitting of Iraq into three areas (thus undoing Winston Churchill’s fiction). When will this solution gain traction.

  • Potter

    Does Nir Rosen think that what is going on now was inevitable regardless of how Saddam was removed?

  • Potter

    Nir Rosen seems to be saying that we facilitated this civil war after dividing people along sectarian lines even inadvertantly. This meshes with what others have said. I still wonder if this civil war was going to happen no matter what due to all the pent up emotions and the years of trauma. It seems too much to ask that this civil war not happen.

  • h wally

    Potter, Thanks. I’m terrible at remembering names etc. I heard an interview with a writer (he’ll be on The Bob Edwards Show tomorrow) he went through all of our interventions through out the years and his conclusion was that we repeatedly make the same mistakes. It ends up with us being hated because we don’t understand the people we are invading nor do we know what they want. I think the disconnect between what Winston writes and what was said tonight was covered well by Nir Rosen. He stated that he rarely saw american soldiers in the streets. I think the language barrier and their lack of understanding of who the Iraquis are keep them in the dark. If you look at Bosnia and other such examples you’ll get a good idea of what lie ahead. I’m sorry.

  • h wally

    The writer I spoke of is Stephen Kinzer “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.” He really clears things up and gives you an historical perspective of the patterns of our blunders.

  • Nikos

    In my predictable humble opinion, the naïveté h wally describes in is the flip side of the coin that says, “We Americans are the envy of the world because we have the best government. Everyone would choose to be like us if they could only shed their selfish dictators (or their silly, overly generous social democracies).�

    It just ain’t so. If governments are the vehicles that enable a country’s progress, we’ve got a mule for a government while the most of rest of the world’s putative democracies are driving cars (although the British is more like a rust-bucket 1927 Austin 7 Box Salon , and the French a clackety-rickety 1958 Peugeot).

    We think our mule is the best, even though it barely consents to creep along, never even breaking into a trot. It’s willful, ornery, and prone to biting.

    Notice we couldn’t sell its features to the Iraqis – even though we had them, literally, at gunpoint.

    Now, is it perhaps time for America to invest in a 2007 state-of-the-art hybrid SUV of Constitution?


    The mule would never allow it, right?

    And in America, the dumb mule rules, not the people trying to ride it.

    (Welcome back, h wally!)

    Jon G: Brendan, on announcing new shows, commonly invites us not only to ask questions but to discuss the topic. He seems happy to host a diverse conversation, not a narrow one. All he asks is that we keep it friendly.

    If he ever decides he’d prefer the narrow range of listener input you’d prefer, I feel confident he’ll let us know.

    And none of us appreciate the mud-slinging. But it’s not nearly as prominent a feature as it was only a couple of months ago.

    And that’s why we have the ROS Mea Culpa Club, after all.

  • Raymond

    Jon Garfunkel, although I have not been posting much, I have still been watching the site, with some of the same hope you seem to hold. And I noticed the posts you made on some of the other threads along these same lines and wanted to pass along an observation.

    In a NY Times article of about a year ago, Joshua Freedman reported on a small study that used imaging technology to study the bain activity of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Freedman reported:

    While viewing their own candidate, both Democrats and Republicans showed activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, an area associated with strong instinctive feelings of emotional connection. Viewing the opposing candidate, however, activated the anterior cingulate cortex, which indicates cognitive and emotional conflict. It also lighted up the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area that acts to suppress or shape emotional reactions.

    Note that this is largely an emotional response: one of feeling, not thinking.

    Freedman continues by explaining that these results are consistent with the premise that Bush and Kerry appealed to both Democrats and Republicans at some level, but the resulting dissonance was countered by recalling negative imagery of the opposing candidate. Freedman concludes that

    This suggests that the passions swirling through elections are not driven by a deep commitment to issues. We are not fighting over the future of the country; we are fighting for our team, like Red Sox and Yankee fans arguing over which club has the better catcher. Both in an election and in baseball, all that really matters is who wears the team uniform.

    So here is my observation: perhaps the behavior you see in this thread is not created by the media of the fourm. Instead, the media of the forum simply allows expression for what matters (particularly regarding politics) to people: feelings. And perhaps it is hard to turn feelings into radio.

  • h wally

    Nikos, I agree with what you said except for the comparison of our government with a mule. We’re a 2007 Hummer in four-wheel drive with the gas pedal stuck to the floor and the steering wheel locked over to one side. It’s a costly ride and it’s getting us nowhere. Glad to be back.

  • Raymond– interesting point. Yes, there is a lot of emotion present here. Not that it doesn’t make good radio; Brendan read a piece during the Signing Statements show that was quite from the heart. But emotional voices tend to repeat their points more than rational ones.

    And Nikos, I am not trying to stifle any voices. When asked to come up with suggestions about how to improve the format, I sketched out a suggestion wherein each show could feature multiple channels. Think of it like expanding a garden: you can allow more discussions to grow.

    I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible here. If the format works for you, great; but it may not work for others. And that’s how multiple channels would best serve us.

    Anyways, I heard a good 20 minutes of the show this evening on the way to, well, the Home Depot nursery. Very good. Nir’s talk was very rational, yet still very heartfelt.

    Though I should note that there’s still a lot of misunderstanding about the nature of who’s doing the reporting in Iraq. There’s a lot of talk about “Green Zone” reporting, which the conservative media-haters have reduced to “hotel balcony” reporting (without being able to name any reporter doing so). And I know that magazine reporters like Nir Rosen are on the ground, and bravely so.

    Perhaps someone can produce a map/timeline of this? Part of the disconnect between we people and the media is that we really don’t have a picture who at all has reported from Iraq at what times. I suppose this will be the next mashup between GoogleMaps & GoogleNews.

  • Jon Garfunkel took umbrage to my (the third post) and I will admit that I was baiting WD and those on the far right a bit to provoke a back and forth on the topic, which anyone could just skip if they wanted to. During this exchange, that others jumped in on, questions were raised, points argued, links recommended and a little bit of friendly mud slung. Maybe Jon thinks this less valuable banter should be confined to the weed patch in his garden, but that does not sound too democratic or open to me.

    Raymond, you are pointing out that the brain scientists are now discovering what political campaigners have known for a long time. Of course, politics is about strong feelings and belief, and image and symbolism often trumps policy. We can talk about percentages, but I think much reasoning is rooted in emotion or inclination anyway. But you are wrong about associating the behaviour in this thread with cheering for a team. You may personally see the world as a two team league where the Red Sox and Yankees perpetually do battle, but I think there are many more teams and I know I don’t like either the Republicans or the Democrats all that much or the two party system, and I think that Nikos and Potter would agree (correct me if I am wrong). I usually root for the underdog (in this case the Iraqi’s losing lives because of US aggression), and I don’t care what uniform s(he) wears.

  • I love Chris’ citation of a “cagey cold warrior”. We would have lost the cold war if we would have listened to Chris.

  • sidewalker – you are really going out on the limb there rooting for that underdog. What your “moral” barometer fails to take into account is that many more Iraqis were losing their lives because the lack of US aggression before the war.

    But what other kind of reaoning would you expect from a group who can’t figure out how / where enlistement rates come from or that propganda onlyh works on individuals who can’t see what is really happening. Then, I love the attempt a rationalizing how individuals would volunteer to return to Iraq 2 and 3 times for money when they could get out and make more money and not risk their lives.

    The real ignorance is the analysis above about getting a retirement – only about 60% of the US service members serving in Iraq will stay in military long enough to get reitirement beucase of the pyramid structure. There is not enough positions for everyone at lower ranks to be promoted, it’s up or out – you can’t stay at one rank and stay in, and many will make the choice to get out because there are so many opportunities in the civilian world for people with military expereince. Also, the Guard and Reserve don’t get to retirement benefits at 20 years. When you retire from therre you get it at 65.

    It just isn’t as fun to argue against something when facts are avilable is it? But, I won’t burden Mr Garfunkel with facts as he was the one, I beleive, who was very pleased with him self on another thread where produced “facts” about what Bush said about the Constitution. I followed the threads and all I heard was hearsay evidence from a blogger who promsed that he has sources to back it up but could divulge them. Hey, I’ve got 5 statements from people on a blog that will swear Nancy Pelosi really is a Repub mole.

    P.S. you can interpolate the re-enlistment rate yourself but the reason why you know that retention and recruitement are at least ok, is that in 2 months there will be no more Guard and Reserve in Iraq when there was, at one time, ~ 40%. That means that the Army and Marines could keep the numbers that without those performances.

  • Sidewalker, perhaps you experience this as “friendly mud”, but I find it hard to read the thread. The topic at the top is of interest to me. But I don’t see how any real exploration comes from “baiting” and “mud slinging”. I gave up because I don’t want to spend my time this way. So, I did skip. And my voice was not included in the dialogue. I will continue to stay out of threads that approach a dialogue through characterizations, generalizations and snipes.

    While I agree that emotions play a big part of the way we all see things, I also believe that we can express those emotions without attacking others and using humor with a victim as some sort of wit. Humor with a victim – sarcasm, baiting, etc. – usually has a target that either gets wounded or defends itself, simply continuing the cycle of aggression. If we’re all so concerned about US aggression against others, we might start by not being aggressive with one another. If we don’t think we can have a civil conversation with someone, we can simply choose not to converse.

    By the way, the fact that you think some good things came out of provocation ( a us against them terminology), doesn’t mean that the provocation was wise. Iraq had an election, but they way they got there isn’t what I’d recommend. We can’t use the argument that means justify the ends if we want to maintain our integrity regarding our criticisms of others.


  • Here is a link to a photo of a SINGLE Marine on a patrol with an Iraq Army unit. Notice the Iraq children playing soccer in a field off to the right. This is a GySgt so he has made it a career so we don’t have to wrooy about him but the younger Marines see this everyday. That is what McCafrey saw when he went this year and made his last report and that is what the young Marines who are choosing to reenlist are seeing and why they do so in order to stay one more tour just to continue in the work then get out and have a happy civilian life.

    There are now thousands of US military who are living and working with Iraqis that they will stay in touch with just like the UAEers, Japanese, Koreans that I have for the last 15 years.

    When I was in Seol S Korea in 1994 I spent an entire evening talking with a S Korean and his brother. He was a business man and his brother was a ROK Marine and we spent all night tlaking and drinking. At the end, the ROK Marine a I traded our covers and all the patches and badges that we were wearing and promsied to keep in touch.

    Ken, the former ROK Marine, came to Califirnia in 1998 as medical student and will be returning soon to S Korea after his specialist’s internship is over. I still get Christmas cards from him with photos of his wife and kids.

    As I said in an earlier ROS show on the war, and to which Chris was rather surprised at the answer to the question when they asked the guest if the US military would still be in Iraq in 20 years and the answer was yes, my son (or daughter) will be sitting in a bar in Baghdad in 20 years talking with and Iraqi soldier about the same things.

  • Nikos

    Winston: “What your “moralâ€? barometer fails to take into account is that many more Iraqis were losing their lives because the lack of US aggression before the war.”

    If you’re gonna feed us this sort of fertilizer, back it up with sources, please.

  • Allison, I think that was more than 2 cents, and I appreciate your comment. At the same time, I think everyone is blowing this out of proportion. The bait and mud use were of the most edible type of material. Robin branded our exchange with the “attack” word and now everyone keeps repeating that. Also my comparison of WD to Rush obviously ruffled a few chips, but that may say more about others’ strong feelings towards that commentator. I can well imagine many who would be proud to be so compared. The point of my comparison was that WD, like Rush, tends to take the words of Mr. Bush at face value. WD corrected me and said he’s not a member of the Rush farm team. Fair enough.

    We never agreed on how to interpret it, but Potter, Nikos, WD and I all took a good and specific look at the McCaffrey report. I don’t see how this is not pertinent to the discussion.

    As for Sarcasm, I agree that it is a defensive mode and not an elegant means of communication. But as Dostoevsky said, it’s “the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.” Yes, I sometimes let the pessimism of these times get me down. But let’s be clear about who holds sway. The slings of sarcasm against the armed and funded men of war: not a fair battle this.

  • Nikos

    May I suggest taking this burgeoning and interesting – but somewhat misplaced – ‘propriety’ conversation to the Alley?

    You will find there a trio of posts that this thread stimulated awaiting you:


  • babu

    ‘You must first be the change you wish to see in the world.’


  • Nikos

    Hmmm… I seem to have finally figured out how to voice my unhappiness and dissent over this ‘evil sidewalker’ versus ‘poor winston’ controversy:

  • Potter

    I wonder if the Raed linked above is the same blogger from the beginning of the Iraq war “Where is Raed”? Salam Pax, he was an architecture student.

    This was a terrific show, one to just listen to. I already love Nir Rosen for his incredible work ( apologies to his family) but add to that my admiration as well for Patrick Cockburn.

    I would like to recommend in addition to my link above to American Debacle by Zbegniew Brzezinski, Madeleine Albright’s excellent recent speech at Princeton

    scroll down for the webcast here:

    where they also have the transcript:

    Promoting Democracy:14 points for the 21st Century

    How wise these people seem from this vantage point whereas we found fault with them in the past.

  • Potter

    I think we must be approaching the number of soldiers dying in Iraq equalling the number of people that died on 9/11.

    This from before the war:

    In September, former U.N. coordinator Denis Halliday observed that “4,000 to 5,000 children dying unnecessarily every month due to the impact of sanctions because of the breakdown of water and sanitation, inadequate diet and the bad internal health situation.�

    How about this from about a year ago? Iraq War is Blamed for Starvation

    Have things improved since this report from ’04? Did McCaffrey go to a hospital? Dying of Neglect

    Interesting entry from Juan Cole- you have to read the whole thing here though:

    In other words, Bayan Jabr’s figures suggest that in US-dominated Iraq, people are dying so far at about the same rate as they did under Baath rule. (If he is underestimating the civilian casualties, then it is possible that many more are dying per year than under Saddam!) In any case, Saddam’s killing sprees were largely over with by the late 1990s, so the rate of death in Iraq now is enormously greater than it was in, say, 2001.

  • Potter

    Sorry, the link to Dying of Neglect: The State of Iraq’s Children’s Hospitals

    by Justin Huggler from the British paper “The Independent”:

  • Nikos – I know that actually understanding what is going there is a challenge for many but it really very easy. And before you and the guttersnipes attribute this to “just more propagandsa” read you can do a searhc and see that the orgs listed below all agree.

    Since the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown in May, 270 mass graves have been reported. By mid-January, 2004, the number of confirmed sites climbed to fifty-three. Some graves hold a few dozen bodies—their arms lashed together and the bullet holes in the backs of skulls testimony to their execution. Other graves go on for hundreds of meters, densely packed with thousands of bodies.

    “We’ve already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair on November 20 in London. The United Nations, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) all estimate that Saddam Hussein’s regime murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people. “Human Rights Watch estimates that as many as 290,000 Iraqis have been ‘disappeared’ by the Iraqi government over the past two decades,” said the group in a statement in May. “Many of these ‘disappeared’ are those whose remains are now being unearthed in mass graves all over Iraq.”

    If these numbers prove accurate, they represent a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot’s Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.

  • If you take into account that over 500,000 Iraqis and Iranians died in the war that he started with Iran the accepted number if Muslims who died as a result of Saddam is ~ 1 million.

    This is a accepted fact.

    A Lifesaving War

    The death toll in Iraq would have been vastly higher over the last year if Saddam had remained in power.

    So, by a conservative estimate, the regime was killing civilians at an average rate of at least 16,000 a year between 1979 and March 2003.

    John Burns, who covered the war for the New York Times, guessed that in the first six weeks of war fewer Iraqis had died than would have “if Saddam Hussein’s killing machine had gone about its daily business.”

    Human Rights Watch estimated that Anfal killed “more than 100,000” Kurds, and that Kurdish victims of the regime’s campaigns between 1983 and 1993 reached “well into six figures.”

    The collapse of most of Saddam’s army in the first Gulf War inspired an uprising or intifada within the military and among the Kurds and Shia. The regime responded with the largest killing spree in its history.

    Unfortunately, little information is available about the violence directed against Shias, who are believed to have suffered the worst of this backlash. Initial reports conservatively estimated at least 50,000 Shia victims. More horrifying–but believable–reports have come from Iraqi state security officials who fled Saddam’s fickle wrath after 1991. One defecting officer reported that he supervised the killing and burial of approximately 4,000 Shias at one site in one morning alone–this, in an operation that lasted weeks. The U.S. report “Life Under Saddam Hussein” states that “Iraqi officials themselves have privately acknowledged that the regime slaughtered as many as 200,000 Shia” or even more in 1991.

    The number of Kurds who died in 1991–killed by Saddam’s forces or fleeing them–is estimated at 50,000 to 80,000. This range would have been much higher, except that the Gulf War Allies intervened in Iraq’s north in response to the massive flow of desperate Kurdish refugees escaping the regime’s onslaught. While it was allowed to proceed, the regime killed Kurds at a rate of tens of thousands a month. The regime also killed an unknown number of people living in Iraq’s southern marshes in military campaigns stretching into 1992.

    This means that for a time in the early spring of 1991, Saddam’s regime was killing Shias and Kurds combined at a rate of tens of thousands per week, and would have gone on doing so in the north for much longer had the Americans, British, and French not created a “safe haven” for Kurds inside northern Iraq, which Saddam’s forces were basically barred from entering.

    People genuinely motivated by a concern for Iraqi civilians have much to be grateful for. Terrorist bombings inside Iraq since liberation show just how little Baathists value Iraqi civilian lives, and just how ready they would be to resume mass murder if the world let them.

    Gerard Alexander is an associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia, where he teaches a course on the politics of the Holocaust.

  • Nikos – If you require more “graphic” evidence here you have it.

  • In case you only want to believe sources like Human Rights Watch.

  • I think that the by “moral compass” and the assiciated calcualtion is working rather well. Could these facts be one of the reasons why people are reenlisting in record numbers?

  • Winston Dodson, no one doubts that the Saddam regime was murderous, and we are now finding out to what extent. So the question is, why did several US Administations help keep him in power? Were they willing to look the other way as long as he did the bidding of the US? If he had not invaded Kuwait, would other administations have also turned a blind eye? What is your take on this?

  • Nikos

    Thanks Winston. Now, can you please separate the estimated deaths-by-Saddam into pre-1991 and post-1991? After all, he was something of an ally before angering dear Mrs. Thatcher by sending his bungling T-72 motorcade into the poor lil’ emirate of Kuwait.

    Then, in all decency, we should deduct Iraqi deaths due to the revolt Dubya’s daddy incited via radio and television speeches – you know, that messy little post-Desert Storm affair that we asked for but then failed to support?

    Exactly whose hands is that blood on?

    I’d venture to guess that George the First’s irresponsible rhetoric inspired the vast majority of the post-1991 portion of the 400,000 deaths you cite.

    Next, we ought in fairness deduct deaths due to the strangulating UN sanctions between 1991 and 2003. Not that Saddam isn’t culpable, mind you, but the international community is culpable too. Inescapably so.

    Finally, let’s compare whatever fraction of that 400,000 is leftover to this:

    “The United Nations estimate of civilian casualties of the war in Iraq was 100,000 as of March 30, 2005. [23]�


    “One study done by public health experts from the Lancet medical journal published on 29 October 2004, found that an estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died since the US invasion began. A survey was taken from nearly 1000 Iraqi households in which the residents were asked how many people lived there and how many births and deaths there had been since the war began. They then compared the death rate with the average from the 15 months before the war. Experts from both the US and Iraq found that Iraqi civilians were 2.5 times more likely to die after the invasion. They also found that most of the violent deaths were due to air-strikes by coalition forces. Falluja residents accounted for 2/3rds of violent deaths. Excluding Falluja the death rate was lowered to 1.5. At that rate, the study found the number of deaths would be at 98,000. Since the war began, civilian violent deaths were found to be 58 times more likely than in the 15 months preceding the war. [22]�

    And for more, here’s:

    Maybe I’m too ‘challenged’ (your word-choice) to be trusted to draw a logical conclusion, but I’m pretty darn sure that Operation Iraqi Freedom is soon destined to be responsible for more Iraqi deaths than post-1991 Saddam – if it isn’t already.

    Thanks again.

  • Nikos – The Lancet study is not taken seriously by ANYONE but moonbats. In fact, it was so flawed that after it was wildely discussed at first it is almost universally ignored since. Why? This article is the best debunking of it but there are many more. And remember, Kaplan is no fan of Bush or the war in Iraq

    100,000 Dead—or 8,000?

    By Fred Kaplan

    reveals that this number is so loose as to be meaningless.

    Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I’ll spell it out in plain English—which, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (The number cited in plain language—98,000—is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)

    This isn’t an estimate. It’s a dart board.

    Imagine reading a poll reporting that George W. Bush will win somewhere between 4 percent and 96 percent of the votes in this Tuesday’s election. You would say that this is a useless poll and that something must have gone terribly wrong with the sampling. The same is true of the Lancet article: It’s a useless study; something went terribly wrong with the sampling.

    The problem is, ultimately, not with the scholars who conducted the study; they did the best they could under the circumstances. The problem is the circumstances. It’s hard to conduct reliable, random surveys—and to extrapolate meaningful data from the results of those surveys—in the chaotic, restrictive environment of war.

    However, these scholars are responsible for the hype surrounding the study. Gilbert Burnham, one of the co-authors, told the International Herald Tribune (for a story reprinted in today’s New York Times), “We’re quite sure that the estimate of 100,000 is a conservative estimate.” Yet the text of the study reveals this is simply untrue. Burnham should have said, “We’re not quite sure what our estimate means. Assuming our model is accurate, the actual death toll might be 100,000, or it might be somewhere between 92,000 lower and 94,000 higher than that number.”

    Beth Osborne Daponte, senior research scholar at Yale University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies, put the point diplomatically after reading the Lancet article this morning and discussing it with me in a phone conversation: “It attests to the difficulty of doing this sort of survey work during a war. … No one can come up with any credible estimates yet, at least not through the sorts of methods used here.”

    There is one group out there counting civilian casualties in a way that’s tangible, specific, and very useful—a team of mainly British researchers, led by Hamit Dardagan and John Sloboda, called Iraq Body Count.

    So, let’s call it 15,000 or—allowing for deaths that the press didn’t report—20,000 or 25,000, maybe 30,000 Iraqi civilians killed in a pre-emptive war waged (according to the latest rationale) on their behalf. That’s a number more solidly rooted in reality than the Hopkins figure—and, given that fact, no less shocking.

  • sidetalker – I take your arguement re: whether we would have ever even heard of Saddam if he hadn’t invaded Kuwait and I think that you are right, we probably wouldn’t have. But this is then getting back into the loop of why we invaded and why he / Iraq mattered enough to do so and then people who beleive as you do, that we were wrong to, get stuck in a silly set of arguements because you try and show the foolishness of arguements by poeple like me by dissecting them into one dimensional arguements instead of leaving them whole.

    But first, before giving my descrption of that analysis I have to address what you beging to imply when you say that “several US administrations kept him in power”. For one thing the US, out of all of the govts in the world that were responsible for “keeping him in power” was the least culpable. I don’t know if you remember but the Isrealis bombed an Iraqi nuclear power plant out of existence. That plant was being built by the French, not the US. The list goes on and on but in every case the US had the least to do with “keeping him in power”. But, just like the arguement today you could ask the inverse and say “why didn’t we activley work to remove him?”. But that sort of makes your current beleif, that almost any use of US military force is indefensable, a bit uncomfortable to sustain. But just as in most cases the answer as to why almost the entire Western world not only failed to actively work for his ouster but actually tolerated him was because, at the time, his existence in power was in our best interest. That is termed “Realism” of “Balance of power international poiltics” and one of it’s principles is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

    In a perfect world there is no need for such cynical politics but at that time, with the USSR that was the way the game was played. Remember that during the same period we were both supporting the Mujahideen in Afgahnistan against the USSR and sending money and supplies in the cargo compartment of Pope John Paul’s II plane everytime he flew to Poland in support of the Polish Solidarity movement against the Soviets.

    So, every advantage every leverage point was used in that war and with the, at the time mostly secular Iraq in the middle between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia (after the Shaw) Iran, the balance looked good. All of us in the first Gulf War knew that was why we had to back off and allow Saddam to survive and be allowed to sign an armistace. At the time, jsut after the end of the Cold War when the need for stability was at a premium, the status quo was good enough.

    Then to the arguement when to do what to whom and how. As I said above you can always go off on a tangent and argue one aspect like “The US only goes to war / works for its own self interst so . . . . “. That is almost always true and goes without saying – why would you ahve it any other way. But that isn’t the end of the analysis but only one dimension. You have to add other dimensions like “On a contiuous scale how hard would it be to intervene?”, “How likely is it to come out positively?”, “Will it have postive affect oh human rights” etc.

    Just look at 2 current / recent examples.

    Liberia – the US (and yes GWB) lead the efforts to “invade” and drive out Charles Taylor and then leave a UN Peace Keeping Force in place to stablize the country until the most recent electtions were held. The dimensions above were simple to use to make the analysis. Intervention was cheap and easy, couldn;t do anythng but imporve human rights, with the UN standing by to provide peacekeepers on a mission that was so simple even they cound’t screw it up (no pun intended in regards to the numerous extortion – sex scnadels with US Peacekeepers) etc.

    Then there is N Korea. Top of the list where making a change would be at the top of the list of US interests. Cost of intervention high, likleyhood of initial success (knocking off leadership and destroying N Korea military / govt ) high, but likelyhood of success after the war ZERO when even compared to Iraq. So, no real intentions to intervene but with VERY ACTIVE efforts at regime change.

    The arguement to try and say “but look over there, they are jsut as bad or worse so why don;t we worry about them” is simply a misdirection. And then, trying to argue that the past is like now or in the futuredoesn’t work becuase the conditions are not hte same.

    If you look at Iraq and the Middle East as part of the trajectory from WW I until now, there is an (almost) straight line forward thru the Middle East to Central Asia and Africa

    For a primer I suggest you read the book “The Pentagon’s New Map” by Barnett. You may not agree with his goals, his reasoning or his conclusions but I think that his ideas are fundementally more imprtant to the understanding of the thinking of the so cal;ed Neo-Cons than any other book.

    “Since the end of the cold war, the United States has been trying to come up with an operating theory of the world�and a military strategy to accompany it. Now there�s a leading contender. It involves identifying the problem parts of the world and aggressively shrinking them. Since September 11, 2001, the author, a professor of warfare analysis, has been advising the Office of the Secretary of Defense and giving this briefing continually at the Pentagon and in the intelligence community. Now he gives it to you.

    LET ME TELL YOU why military engagement with Saddam Hussein�s regime in Baghdad is not only necessary and inevitable, but good.

    When the United States finally goes to war again in the Persian Gulf, it will not constitute a settling of old scores, or just an enforced disarmament of illegal weapons, or a distraction in the war on terror. Our next war in the Gulf will mark a historical tipping point�the moment when Washington takes real ownership of strategic security in the age of globalization.

    That is why the public debate about this war has been so important: It forces Americans to come to terms with I believe is the new security paradigm that shapes this age, namely, Disconnectedness defines danger. Saddam Hussein�s outlaw regime is dangerously disconnected from the globalizing world, from its rule sets, its norms, and all the ties that bind countries together in mutually assured dependence.”

  • Nikos – I just reread my post from above and I meant to put the term moonbat in “quotes” and try and make some semi-clever remark in a effort to make fun of myh using hte term and forgot. It must be late.

  • Potter

    Winston, I think there are many who would say with credibility that Saddam’s regime posed no real threat to us and it is we who are “dangerously disconnected”, uncooperative, breaking or rejecting international law and in many cases working against “mutually assurred dependence” by which I take you to mean cooperation internationally to solve global problems.

  • WD, thanks for the answer. As you might have expected, I don’t agree with everything you’ve said, though you do make a strong argument. I realize that the US was not the only state that propped up Saddam, but I think it is going too far to say the US was the “least culpable”.

    Also, I think there is much more to the story of why Sr. Bush did not take out Saddam than you suggest. Here is what George Bush Sr. and Brent Scowcroft said in 1998.

    While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in “mission creep,” and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.’s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different–and perhaps barren–outcome.

    WinstonAs I said above you can always go off on a tangent and argue one aspect like “The US only goes to war / works for its own self interst so . . . . “. That is almost always true and goes without saying – why would you ahve it any other way. But that isn’t the end of the analysis but only one dimension. You have to add other dimensions like “On a contiuous scale how hard would it be to intervene?â€?, “How likely is it to come out positively?â€?, “Will it have postive affect oh human rightsâ€? etc.

    Your comment above and several other ones show where our thinking diverges in three important regards. First, you obviously feel that the human rights dimension has much more salience than I. I see all the talk of rights, freedoms and democracy just as propaganda to sell to the American people who are taught to believe in the ideals of their nation and expect their leaders to uphold them to some extent. Why is this ruse necessary? Because many of the military aggressions are not for the benefit of the whole nation but just some special interest groups. This is our second divergence. The third is that you feel the US must take these bold steps to secure the homeland and the world, but I think the global assimilation approach makes the world a more dangerous place and provokes attacks like 9/11.

    Still, thanks for the exchange.

  • Raymond

    Sidwalker wrote:

    But you are wrong about associating the behaviour in this thread with cheering for a team.

    Umm, I don’t think that I am wrong here … but if I am, please do not miss my main point.

    The conversation of politics is all about emotion. And while campaigners may have known this all along, it is wonderful to see the science. My main point, however, was not about the discusson in this one thread, but in the discussions in general on ROS. I have been wondering if the medium itself was the cuase of the behavior under discussion. And this research brought to light that the behavoir may be all too human, and the medium may simply provide the mode of expression. This conclusion is somewhat discouraging to some of us who see the conversation here at ROS not living up to its potential.

    You may personally see the world as a two team league where the Red Sox and Yankees perpetually do battle, but I think there are many more teams and I know I don’t like either the Republicans or the Democrats all that much or the two party system …

    Here we are in agreement … I have posted before that the candidates brought forth by both the Republicans and Democrats are not compelling. And I admit to being confused about the “two-party” system. I have even thought that it would be good to do a little research here to understand the historical background.

    Perhaps others, or ROS, could fill in here.

  • Potter

    BTW Raymond’s ( hello Raymond) quote above is from this of Sidewalker:

    We have 4 criticizers of the mode of discussion interwoven with the substance of discussion itself.

    It seems that we have folks who are okay with the way ROS discussion is going by and large, and those who are disappointed. Those who are disappointed do not take part as much. They do show up to complain or have discussion about the discussion as here. Are you all attracted by the heat produced here?

    Raymond I agree that the medium enables the behavior which is all too human. That we are all too human is something we cannot avoid bringing here for some more perfect version of discussion.

    To have a mode of expression of your deepest feelings and to have audience ( even of one) and reaction is a privilege.

    Other complainers have also said that ROS is not “living up to it’s potential”. Why not participate and make it happen? Why not explain what your idea of that potential is? Why not add your unique voice, your deepest feelings to the substance of this discussion for instance?

    If a topic stirs some to form a discussion group or even twosome in a certain vein, nothing prevents anyone from chiming in to make a point or overlay that with another discussion/points. We both address and ignore each other variously. What’s the problem? What am I not getting about this disappointment that is being registered? This is all so existential folks.

  • Raymond

    Are you all attracted by the heat produced here?

    No, Potter. I am interested in the medium and the process and Jon Garfunkel has posted ideas along those lines on a number of occasions that interest me. And I would hardly describe his or my posting as “complaining,” or either of us as “complainers.” Perhaps we are offering “criticism,” but then only with the hope of being constructive.

    I notice, Potter, that you use the expression “deepest feelings” twice. I personally am more interested in my, and your, “clearest thinking.” This is just a personal preference, just as legitimate, in my opinion, as yours. And so since we are in such a deeply felt, and not clearly thought, thread, I leave the room. Instead, I focus my attention on the threads from which I am still learning something, especially the race and class threads.

    In some sense, this is no problem at all. The ROS forum participants are free to self-select at will. But to those of us who hoped for a more intellectually engaging discussion, well, we’re disappointed.

  • Potter

    Raymond: I have responded to you in Guttersnipe Alley. I don’t think this discussion belongs here.

  • Nikos

    Back on topic:

    KUOW did yeoman’s work this morning:

    Thursday on Weekday

    05/11/2006 9:00 am

    Mark Danner on Iraq

    Why did we invade Iraq? Journalist and Berkley Professor Mark Danner has a new book out on what he calls, The Secret Way to War. Danner poured over documents including the infamous “Downing Street Memoâ€? of July 2002 that indicates the intelligence and facts were ‘fixed’ around the war policy. But regardless of how we got there, what should the U.S. do next? We’ll talk to Danner about the run-up to war and the latest news on U.S. intelligence and Iraq.

    Guests:Mark Danner professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley and a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. He’s the author of Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror and The Secret Way to War: The Downing Street Memo and The Iraq War’s Buried History.

    Related Links: KUOW does not endorse nor control the content viewed on these links as they appear now or in the future.

    · ‘Rumsfeld Denies Making Claims Iraq had WMDs,’ The Seattle PI

    · ‘The Secret Way to War’, The New York Review of Books

    · ‘The Great Debate,’

    · ‘The Struggles of Democracy and Empire,’ The New York Times

    · ‘Mark Danner Waves the Smoking Gun,’

    After today you’ll be able to find it in the ‘Recent Shows’ archive toward the web page’s lower right-hand corner.

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