Iraqi Bloggers Blame Their Leaders

A survey of Iraqi bloggers reveals considerable frustration with their elected leaders.

Mohammed of Iraq the Model shares the thought-provoking dialogue he had with his father after a morning of intense mortar fire left its mark on a nearby house. Mohammed asks his dad whether the violence in Iraq will escalate. Dad responds, "Most likely yes, we are a state still run by sentiments rather than reason which means it's a brittle state and any sentimental overreaction can turn the tide in either direction."

Over at Hammorabi, the blame for this instability falls squarely on the shoulders of the politicians who support terrorism "directly or indirectly," by delaying the formation of a permanent government. Treasure of Baghdad states that those running Iraq today are the same bunch who led the uprising against the Baathists in 1991 -- an uprising that failed, he writes, because the "Badrists" started killing indiscriminately. The Interior Ministry, presumably, would be Exhibit A in the case against the guys currently in charge.

In a detailed analysis, the London-resident Iraqi who writes Asterism contends, "Now the main enemy for the Iraq people and the main danger for the region is the current government." Mohammed's dad (whom I'm already quite fond of, admittedly having never met the man) reflects on why the government isn't doing more to stop the fighting. People don't solve problems until they want to, he explains, and he doesn't believe the Iraqi politicians have the desire to solve the problems plaguing Iraq right now.

It's vaguely reminiscent of our own Congress: Compromise may be the most reasonable course of action -- and the one that would satisfy the most people -- but it doesn't serve the interests of our lawmakers. After all, it's much easier to raise money and rally support when the base feels like it's fighting a big battle. Happy compromises and middle-of-the-road solutions to vexing national crises (like Social Security and Medicare) don't make for very effective fundraising letters.

It seems that in both countries, politicians would rather play a lucrative winner-take-all game, risking everything, than be assured of losing out on just some of their priorities. There is, however, a dramatic difference in degree: in the United States, the game is played with big bucks and ethical chicanery; in Iraq, the game is played with mortar fire, kidnappings and assassinations, with the only sure outcome being trauma for those caught in the middle.

In the United States, greed tends to be the primary motivation for such selfish division; in Iraq, Mohammed's dad contends, immutable religious beliefs trump the more rational inclination toward compromise. But the 24 Steps to Liberty blog believes greed is indeed a big factor in the Iraqi politicians' unwillingness to come together -- even to do something as simple as agree on a date for the opening of parliament.

"Iraqis," according to 24 Steps, "are waiting for someone to come and ask 'how can I serve you?' and stop hearing the common question 'how can you benefit me?'"

Any thoughts on how to fix the political mess in Iraq? Are Iraqi politicians simply following the American example? Is opportunism inherent in any political system? Any thoughts on how to purge either government of politicians who act more often in self interest than in the interest of their constituents and their country? (If any Debater has a workable answer to that last question, I might just send you a present.)

By Emily Messner |  March 8, 2006; 6:16 AM ET  | Category:  Middle East
Previous: This Week's Debate: A Civil War in Iraq? | Next: The Costs of War

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Why let Iraq stay united? The cost, in all its forms, to Iraq and the United States shows no sign of letting up. Would the Sunni lands become a terrorist haven in next door to the Kuwaiti and Saudi oil fields? Would the Shiite lands become under direct control of Iran?

Let the status quo remain for the longgggggggggggggg warrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr? The long term economy can't cope with a long expensive war.

This war was to be win-win. It's now lose-lose and rapidly approaching lose ($)-lose (death)-lose (international respect)-lose (expanded terrorism).

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 09:37 AM

A pair of MIT political scientists had a piece in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor on ethnically integrating the Iraqi security forces and diffusing control of the Defense and Interior ministries between groups:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0307/p09s01-coop.html

Posted by: Dave | March 8, 2006 09:50 AM

A good indicator as to whether Iraq can function as an integrated society is to look at how the Iraqi military responded to the mosque attacks and subsequent violence. A sunni-kurd-shiite force (with the americans as backup) quelled the violence without a single civilian (as in soldiers shooting on rioters)casualty within about 10 days. The force did not splinter into ethnic factions.

This is a country that is coming out of 30 years of brutal and repressive dictatorship. Expecting it to turn into Copenhagen overnight is a bit silly.

Posted by: D. | March 8, 2006 10:29 AM

"Expecting it to turn into Copenhagen overnight is a bit silly. "

I seem to recall being told it was going to be a short walk in the park. Hit the Saddam loyalists with some shock and awe and the rest would greet us with flowers and poof, no more WMD's in the Middle East to trouble our weak American souls.

So which is it - if we should have known we would create a mess before we went in (and now we're only seeing what was expected), why were the American people told to expect a cake walk? How was that mess that wouldn't be cleaned up "overnight" going to make us more secure? Even golly gee whiz ol Donnie Rumsfeld admits mostly what we've done just made more terrorists. How exactly did that make us safer? Now, surprise surprise, we have a nuclear Iran, an added bonus.


Remember all those articles about how after watching the Sugar Bowl just before the Iraq invasion that a Muslim cleric realized Bush did not understand the difference between Shia and Sunni muslims and had to explain it to him? Its all beginning to make sense now, isn't it? Our fearless leader King George had no clue what his string pulling neocon puppeteers were unleashing.

Posted by: what is the meaning of democracy | March 8, 2006 10:41 AM

wait, wait, I thought it was about the oil? Halliburton!

Posted by: lol...you boob | March 8, 2006 10:54 AM

who's the boob?

Posted by: | March 8, 2006 11:01 AM

Emily:
"Is opportunism inherent in any political system? Any thoughts on how to purge either government of politicians who act more often in self interest than in the interest of their constituents and their country?"

Elected officials must petition their respective constituencies for pay raises, not vote for them amongst themselves. All pay raises will be subject to direct vote by those constituencies and then subsequent approval by the two houses of Congress and subject to a potential Presidential veto.

So, if the President wants to increase his/her salary on any given year they must make that case to the national constituency, Senators must make it to their state constituencies, Reps must make it to their districts, etc. They can do so during half a trillion dollar deficits, war, government corruption, etc. and let the voters decide just how much financial reward these politicians deserve. Add in a clause that makes it illegal for any elected official to increase their pay while the government spends at a deficit.

Posted by: Will | March 8, 2006 11:24 AM

Emily, someone wise said something like "the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves."

The answer to your last question is that those who are elected to political office are really more representative of us than we like to think.

Look. There would be no bridge to that silly little island of some 52 residents had not the people of Alaska elected and kept electing Bill Thomas. Would we be in so much national debt if not by the will and consent of the American people who continue to insist on low tax rates and even higher rates of government spending?

We haughtily condemn the coarsening of our culture, yet flock in droves to televison shows like Desperate Housewives. We moan over the rank and blistering divisions in our political system but by the millions prop up hateful, angry, and intolerant radio talk show hosts who sound more like they are in attendance at a Nazi Political rally rather than a reasoned political forum.

We lament the decline in our culture and arts, yet elevate to prominence the most violent and pedestrian entertainment spectacles like fight clubs and world wrestling federations. We compalin about the bad habits of our children but romaticize the immoral, illegal, and violentantics of sports heroes in all manner of sports.

Pick any major American institution--Sports, Entertainment, the Media, Religion, Politics and Government, Business and Finance, the Military--and rattle off the sad litany of scandals involving and malfeasance, and mismanagement, and lying and covering up, of greed and sloth, of theft and graft and corruption and immorality and baseness and even the molestation of our children and the selling of them into sexual slavery.

No. The fault Emily is not in our stars. It is in ourselves.

Posted by: Jaxas | March 8, 2006 11:32 AM

It isn't for us to formulate the solution because there is no way we can do so within their cultural context. This solution will have to come from Iraqi's. Their only chance for the United States to strategically redeploy, renounce any claim on permanent basis, and let these people breath without inciting violence by our sheer presence. Our presence gives the insurgents and excuse.

We need to redeploy and contain the toxins unleased by Saddam's downfall within Iraq, keep it from spreading. The rest is up to the people of Iraq.

http://www.intrepidliberaljournal.blogspot.com

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal | March 8, 2006 11:32 AM

Thanks Jaxas.

I think people have too much time on their hands. Anyone with more than an hour a day to watch TV could be reading to someone at a nursing home instead.

Do you think a renewed interest in science, math and technology in our schools (a la JFK and Sputnik) would help?

Posted by: | March 8, 2006 11:37 AM

I remember hearing once that you cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.

We've got another problem with Iran now, and Cheney is making is worse, as he almost seems to be gloating them on.

I honestly don't understand the logics of this current administration. It just goes from bad to worse continuously!

Posted by: js | March 8, 2006 01:00 PM

not only can we not afford to stay in Iraq, but our presence there is truly making things worse. It seems like this macho administration wants to keep Bush as an all-powerful 'war president' for his remaining term. Bonus: Georgy Boy gets to have special privileges that goes with being war presidents.

I sure wish they'd all grow up. Our country has been made more unsafe with these guys in charge.

Posted by: mark | March 8, 2006 01:03 PM

Posted by: mark

"not only can we not afford to stay in Iraq, but our presence there is truly making things worse. It seems like this macho administration wants to keep Bush as an all-powerful 'war president' for his remaining term. Bonus: Georgy Boy gets to have special privileges that goes with being war presidents.

I sure wish they'd all grow up. Our country has been made more unsafe with these guys in charge."

After his invasion of Afghanistan he shot up in the polls. Then he began to fall in the polls and he invaded Iraq and shot up in the polls. He has dropped in the polls, is Iran his next rise in the polls?

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 01:18 PM

Well, if the Iranians keep supplying munitions to the "insurgents" (as alleged by ABC News) to kill US troops, yep.

Posted by: D. | March 8, 2006 01:25 PM

"Elected officials must petition their respective constituencies for pay raise"..

This is 100% BS. All across this great nation elected representatives of the people vote THEMSELVES pay raises. Anyone in power these days (D or R) who asked me for a raise would get an earful - and NO RAISE!

We as a nation are indeed more safe than we were before 9.11. Proof? Well, we haven't been attacked since then, so it must be!

Only a weenie would be worried about losing a few 'civil liberties' instead of focusing on the LONG WAR (generational conflict - yumm!).

There is no way we can walk away from Iraq. Too much invested, and it's been sold as necessary. You don't just pull a plane ticket out of your.. ear.. and send the troops home unless there's something positive to wind things up on.

There's nothing to be gained (much) by staying, except to try and keep a lid on things. Think the dems can pull it together?? Think that will make any difference..?

Posted by: Gonzo | March 8, 2006 01:32 PM

It helps to actually read the posts instead of skimming I guess.

Accountability and voting people OUT of office when they do not fess up to their M-istakes. Too bad it's not a constitutional requirement to hold office.

Posted by: gonzo | March 8, 2006 01:35 PM

gonzo-

My fault, I had done a little editing magic in my original post. I suggested that Elected Officials *SHOULD* have to petition their respective constituencies for pay raises. To force them to do so would increase accountability since, as you said, it would be hard for a Senator/Rep/President to say "I deserve more money next year and, by the way, we have a 500 billion dollar deficit."

Posted by: Will | March 8, 2006 01:46 PM

The problem, endlessly it seems, has been created by a political system divided by religious extremism. A complete and utter inability to separate church and state is what allows this to continue. The issue with my comment above is: how can you tell if I'm talking about the U.S. or Iraq?

All the issues at hand have everything to do with division. Until all hands can work together, nothing will change. The GOP will not change anything because it worked. When you look at an administration that cares little for the people, that refuses to admit failure and try to correct it. That thrives on confrontation and fear to keep the supporters in line, is it any wonder that what we're doing in Iraq is just another version of that. How can we bring Sunni and Shiite together when Republicans and Democrats can't work together. When an attitude of 'if you don't support us, you are a traitor' is a rallying cry.

How do you get the 51% who supported Bush to change their vote when all they see is a gun-toting John Wayne?

Education. When children learn about the world, about how different cultures live and why, how different people worship and why, how different people live and why, then you can see things differently. I'm Canadian, proudly Canadian. All the discussions I've had over the years with Americans show they are taught little if anything about the world. Americans by and far are shocked that I can name most every state when they are pushed to name anything but one or two provinces.

In school I learned Canadian history. And American history. And European history and Middle Eastern history and Chinese history and Japanese history and Russian history and South American history and Australian history. My view of things is global because of that. Your view tends to always be internal. The U.S. focus tends towards Christianity. But do you learn about Judaism, Muslim, Hindu cultures? I did.

So when a 'liberating' army comes into a country with completely different viewpoints, which the bulk of the country, and especially the leadership, really can't understand, is it so surprising that it doesn't work. Same with ramming democracy down their throats. Democracy in Palestine has proven that what you want and what you get are miles apart.

Posted by: Larry | March 8, 2006 02:08 PM


Posted by: Gonzo

"We as a nation are indeed more safe than we were before 9.11. Proof? Well, we haven't been attacked since then, so it must be!"

Then with your reasoning we must have been even safer under Bill Clinton. On the other hand with nearly total 20,000 total American casualties in Iraq, are we safer after 911 or have our enmies got in a duck shoot?

"Only a weenie would be worried about losing a few 'civil liberties' instead of focusing on the LONG WAR (generational conflict - yumm!)."

Obviously you're in your comfortable home. Not doing any of the fighting, just another chickenhawk.

"There is no way we can walk away from Iraq. Too much invested, and it's been sold as necessary. You don't just pull a plane ticket out of your.. ear.. and send the troops home unless there's something positive to wind things up on."

The same argument was made for Vietnam, over 50,000 dead before enough people forced the government to reverse policy and pull out.

"There's nothing to be gained (much) by staying, except to try and keep a lid on things. Think the dems can pull it together?? Think that will make any difference..?"

Yes, I do, time far a change. Dems have plenty of idea's, just not one view as republicans do, one view that does not work. Gonzo, go back to Sesame Street.

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 02:40 PM

Posted by: Will
"My fault, I had done a little editing magic in my original post. I suggested that Elected Officials *SHOULD* have to petition their respective constituencies for pay raises. To force them to do so would increase accountability since, as you said, it would be hard for a Senator/Rep/President to say "I deserve more money next year and, by the way, we have a 500 billion dollar deficit."

How would this work on the wealthy Senators/Reps/Presidents?

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 02:42 PM

it's all about control, and defense contracting


if you're a defense contractor everything is about offense vs defense....


you've got an oil cabal and a defense cabal

the problem is multiple, but there's not a lot of extra money out there....

they just cut medical social security by $30 a month to low income people who have no other source of money...fixed income....

what are your leaders thinking?

do you think their families are suffering?

do you think they are getting rich off of this war?

do you think they are using insider information to make stock acquisitions through aunt sally?


the people leading the United States are clueless of the real lay of the land outside of their "closed communities" and the Washington DC area....hell I just worked there for 20 - years as a common tech worker...and I had no idea of the devestation...


factories closed, families marginalized, ...


they'll never know, if you let them keep driving...


they made the same decisions with the auto industry....


to let it die naturally, they never competed...

and they are not trying to make life for citizens a priority on their agenda either....you're a commodity called


labor


.

they can get it cheaper some place else.

Posted by: democracy, shemocracy... | March 8, 2006 02:42 PM

Posted by: Larry
"Education. When children learn about the world, about how different cultures live and why, how different people worship and why, how different people live and why, then you can see things differently. I'm Canadian, proudly Canadian. All the discussions I've had over the years with Americans show they are taught little if anything about the world. Americans by and far are shocked that I can name most every state when they are pushed to name anything but one or two provinces."

Good point and children are being taught more of a Christian view every year, even in public schools. We need to get religion out of our government.

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 02:44 PM

Emily - "Any thoughts on how to purge either government of politicians who act more often in self interest than in the interest of their constituents and their country? (If any Debater has a workable answer to that last question, I might just send you a present.)"

The difficulties of DC politics are mirrored on the more local level in cities and States. To understand the pathologies of DC, we have to see if and when cities and states have been cleaned up. The answer is yes, they have in reformist movements. Others remain squalid centers of corruption, nepotism, pandering to the stupid on both extreme wings of American politics, and lawyers crafting laws that legally enrich themselves via influence-peddling. It helps to have a passive, ill-educated, uninvolved population to keep voting the same ill-suited politicians back into business.

I think the place to start the cleanup of politicians that place self-interest or "Base" self-interest above the local people or the country is with corruption.

The overt criminals like Traficant and Cunningham must fall hard for the sake of democracy. The ones that stay "legal" thanks to lawyers dominating politics and making up politician's ethic laws and rules to CYA - should be hit hard by the voters. The Toricellis and K-Street Republicans. We have to do more to ID nepotic families robbing the public till or positioning family members to benefit from the clout of one family member in the "legal", but unethical quid pro quos.

That goes with Mrs. Daschle miraculously being found to be the best lobbyist nationwide for the transportation industry when Senator Tom was chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, or the notion that Hillary would serve as a natural "rainmaker" for powerful business interests in Arkansas to select Rose Law because....well.... ONLY her brilliance! Yeah, that's it! Bubba being Gov had nothing to do with it! Just ask the bankers, real estate barons, Tyson Foods, and WalMart!

On a local level, we find corruption is even harder to root out because of unions, patronage, smaller more easily concealable bribes, and state and local contracts lacking the layers of scrutiny Federal ones do. And family dynasties of inner-city politicians that seek to emulate Dailey's machine but look like Tweed's instead - only incompetent to boot - in places like New Orleans, Detroit, Newark, Atlanta..who are easily re-elected by ignorant masses. The state and local piles of corruption need to be rooted out by "clean" AG organizations or Feds when the AG is pat of the corruption.

The biggest cause remains the American voter, which accepts the corruption. That "Joe Public" voter has to insist on laws that close corruption loopholes, end toleration of nepotism, and end rules shielding "contributions" or "law firm rainmaking" from being considered corruption..

We have gone through other reformist eras.

Maybe we are on the verge of a 3rd, as we sicken more and more of the rampant abuse of power gained from the people's business being used for personal enrichment.

=============================

I wish to put out a premise.

Civil War is sometimes good. While being fought, more often than not exceptionally nasty, bloody, ugly business...but...

It settles things when politics and negotiations between factions fail, and sets up a period more often than not of lasting social peace and tranquility.

Not all civil war outcomes leave the ideal victor in place - witness the Red Terror Lenin and Trotsky stablished winning out over the "Whites" - but Civil Wars generally presage a period of peace and prosperity. A period still full of resentments and animosities, especially by the losers - but better than what existed before the war. Independence. Liberty,. Freedom. People taking power from a harmful elite..A minority of course have a far worse outcome - genocide, ethnic cleansing, nations splitting apart, the perpetuation of state tools of repression that arose in the Red Terror being examples.

You can call civil war by other names, too. "Revolution" being the commonest. "Strife" and "low intensity conflict" are also descriptors used.

The long list of Democracies in the world today shows a majority went through some form of civil war. Most consider their civil war, in hindsight, "regrettable, shame we couldn't work our differences out, but needed to achieve the progress that irreconcilable political differences blocked".

Iraq might be a case where a civil war just might be a long-term benefit. As long as extreme Sunni see Shia as heretics worthy of death or subjugation - why "get along" at that price? Why must the Kurds accept the Sunni as "full partners" entitled to a portion of Kurdish oil wealth and to keep seized Kurdish lands?

If the only way Iraq could be held together was by a ruthless Stalin-like figure, and "democracy" historically precipitates civil war if politics fail...then does civil war beat totalitarianism? IMO, it is a better alternative. Enormously ugly in the short-term, but resolving "irreconcilable differences" by bloodshed may beat having Uday and Qusay's grown-up grandchildren's boots on your necks.

It is for today's Iraqis to decide if the great short term harm of civil war best be avoided in political compromise - or decide the differences are too great to avoid a forceful resolution of matters that seeks a final end to the diffrences.

The US would be a loser if civil war breaks out. All the democracy, diversity, glories of multi-culti talk, noble purple-fingered Iraqis voting in love and harmony for a unified Iraq happytalk - revealed as bunk. The best we could do avoid sides - garrison and only engage combatants to prevent excessive massacres or block adjacent foreign nations from intervention on one side or another. If we have to withdraw, we can still say the toppling of Saddam was a good thing, but the Occupation with all its dead and maimed Americans and hundreds of billions spent was a total failure.

Likely civil war loser? The Sunnis. The main killers and maimers of our troops and the source of 95% of the terror inflicted on Iraqi and foreign civilians. They had a choice to work with us but got caught up in an insane futile fight against the Americans who could have likely worked out a deal for them to keep a good portion of Shia and Kurd oil revenue and a measure of local independence - if the Sunni had begun playing ball with us rather than start a nihilist, irrational terror campaign. If they suffer badly in civil war, by their post-war killings of Americans, terror campaign against those trying to rebuild Iraq, and massacres of
Shia by bombings - the Sunni brought their fate upon themselves.

My opinion of the prospect of the Sunnis being hammered by the enormously competent Peshmerga fighters and by well-armed Shia factions is like when I read as a kid that Iraq just invaded Iran and the two sides were killing each other right and left after the Hostage crisis.

That it couldn't happen to "two nicer countries".

Enjoy the fruits of your post-war insurgency and remorseless terrorism and butchery, and lesson in how embracing radical Sunni Islamism isn't such a great thing after all, Sunni Iraqis!

Posted by: Chris Ford | March 8, 2006 03:02 PM

Children are being taught more of a Christian view every year, in our public schools? Really?

I take it you don't have kids.

Posted by: | March 8, 2006 03:05 PM

Emily: "A survey of Iraqi bloggers reveals considerable frustration with their elected leaders."

Maybe the leaders aren't elected. No international monitors have been permitted to observe any of the elections or referenda in the 'democratic' Iraq.

Would we call another Mid-Eastern country democratic if it barred international election monitors, then announced election results two weeks after the polls closed?

Iran barred election monitors in its last election. Do you call Ahmadinejad an 'elected leader'?

As if Iraq's unverifiable election wasn't bad enough: There is still no government that has come out of it because the real decisions about cabinet posts are being made in horse-trading based largely on who has the biggest militia.

And on top of that, Khalilzad is sticking his nose into the process. How many other democracies have elections that can't produce a government until it satisfies a foreign ambassador?

Who is the least popular politician in Iraq? Chalabi.

Who is Iraq's new oil minister, despite bombing in the election? Chalabi.

Who DID actually vote for Chalabi? Bush, Rumsfeld and Khalilzhad.

What was Chalabi's first act on assuming office? Increasing pump prices EIGHTFOLD overnight.

I wonder why Iraqis are frustrated with their shiny new democracy...

Posted by: Carot | March 8, 2006 03:16 PM

Jamal...the education needs to be ABOUT religions/cultures/diversity/attitudes. Religion in government has little to do with Christianity taught in school. The problem lies in when policy is made based on religious belief. It lies in doing or saying things 'in the name of the Lord'. And ultimately it just lies. Because it isn't 'for the people by the people'.

Posted by: Larry | March 8, 2006 03:16 PM

Still at it, Chris Ford?

Why don't you just go murder a hobo or something, to satisfy your endless bloodlust?

You like the idea of an Iraqi civil war, you say you enjoyed the Iran-Iraq war.

Let's face it, you never saw a war you didn't like.

Posted by: Carot | March 8, 2006 03:33 PM

"This is a country that is coming out of 30 years of brutal and repressive dictatorship. Expecting it to turn into Copenhagen overnight is a bit silly."

Then Silly is how this war was sold.

Posted by: DC | March 8, 2006 04:14 PM

Bad President = Bad War

Bad Vice-President = New (bad) War with Iran

Posted by: mark | March 8, 2006 04:20 PM

cheney is definitely going to make things worse for us with his new threats to iran.

bush & cheney -- two peas in a pod

Posted by: | March 8, 2006 04:21 PM

Save yourself the grief and accept your Dhimmitude now. Welcome your new muslimn overlords!

Posted by: Nina Hartley | March 8, 2006 04:52 PM

Anon and mark

Maybe we can garner more than a few paltry thousand at the anti war rallies this time.

Posted by: patriot1957 | March 8, 2006 05:15 PM

"Still at it, Chris Ford?

Why don't you just go murder a hobo or something, to satisfy your endless bloodlust?

You like the idea of an Iraqi civil war, you say you enjoyed the Iran-Iraq war. Let's face it, you never saw a war you didn't like.

Posted by: Carot"

No Carot, I simply don't possess your blind, effete hysteria about the notion of "war".

Nor do I wish for a civil war in Iraq, because that would show the whole American Occupation and nation-building experiment was for naught.

But war is customarily the way irreconciliable differences get settled.

You can pretend that "nowadays" we have the "Absolute Moral Authority" of the UN or the "World Court" so war is no longer needed...but that isn't reality.

It's just a convenient device for status quo elites or nations to try and "lock in" whatever systems exist - not just in their country, but globally. Euroweenism. An excuse for paralytic inaction....

All while saying:

(1)"Kofi is handling it, his son Cujo just got a 6-year multimillion contract to study the situation and make recommendations to the responsible UN body".

(2) "Don't worry. The situation is in Court! A noted body of lawyers in robes from Sweden, Gaboon, Barbados, Cuba, Syria, and China will deliberate on the matter and the world will recognize their wisdom and authority to "end conflict" with the force of lawyerly logic..."

(3) "Peace is all that matters. Blessed peace....even under a tyrant's boot...because War Is Never The Answer!!"

Bunk.

War works when other avenues for justice and progress fail. Lawyers, priests, UN bureaucrats, and diplomats don't always carry the day. Not nearly.

We may not like it, but that's how human society works. And it's not a human nature that completely accomodates sappy kumbaya pacifist "we are all happy together" wishful thinking. Enemies exist. Enemies that sometimes are not satisfied no matter how much groveling and appeasement the sappy folks try. And luckily , ruthless bad guys are all too prone to killing one another preferentially - so "bad guy on bad guy" violence weakens both and saves "good guy" lives. Which is fortunate for the "good guys" - be it Iran vs. Iraq, or La Familia and the Crips doing society an eugenic favor by their mutual slaughtering in a gang war in LA.

And civil war/revolution/national liberation forges a new consensus unachievable by other tried methods mor often than not - and lays the stage for advancement at the cost of blood in the historical experience of most cultures and nations. Freedom isn't free.

Posted by: Chris Ford | March 8, 2006 05:18 PM

Posted by: dear Che...

"forget about Chris...


he's a shill.....he doesn't have views that he doesn't get paid for...


he's a plant, sometimes he's not even the same person...ask Emily."

Many of the Chris Ford Posts do seem to be written by different paople?

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 05:20 PM

Enemies exist? Tread that one carefully. I think we were attacked on 911 not because of hate towards americans, but because of hate towards America's LEADER.

Vote carefully next time everyone.

Posted by: mark | March 8, 2006 05:25 PM

Sectarian strife drives Iraqi families from homes

By Mussab Al-Khairalla
Wed Mar 8, 11:54 AM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060308/wl_nm/iraq_refugees_dc_1;_ylt=Aq5K2CgoQ89L9i9n.IpU1UlX6GMA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl
"The note said the blood in the jar belonged to the last Shi'ite they had killed and my blood would replace it if I stayed in Taji," said the distressed 37-year-old, referring to a stronghold of Sunni insurgents north of Baghdad."

Iraqs are separting themselves, whether we like it or not. I still think it's going to split into multiple countries. How can there be peace with with people so opposed to one another.

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 05:26 PM

No peace will ever come in Iraq because of this war. Look at us! We've been at it for a couple hundred years and we still don't get along here at home. We still have the 'moral majority' trying to cram religion into politics and legislate morality. We still have the republicans slamming the democrats.

Posted by: mark | March 8, 2006 05:30 PM

yes, we expect the groups in iraq to include each other in decision making.

Have you watched c-span lately?

Posted by: | March 8, 2006 05:32 PM

Mark,
I agree, the "cowboy act" might rally the conservative base, but it also rallies opposing forces we don't want rallied. I hope Dick Cheney reads this. Why can't Dick, head of the vice presidents office, give his threat to the Iranian Ambassador behind closed doors?

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 05:34 PM

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, let me respond. Look at the President's record when it comes to defending the sanctity of life.

---

Anyone else confused? I'm just sitting here scratching my head on this one.

Posted by: | March 8, 2006 05:38 PM

Jamal,
The Iranian Ambassador to whom, exactly?

Posted by: Will | March 8, 2006 05:47 PM

"Anyone else confused? I'm just sitting here scratching my head on this one."

Anon, thank you.

The BA has used the catch phrase "culture of life" to push its antiabortion position while simultaneously executing juveniles and the mentally retarded and telling us Iraqi life had less value than American life so we should deliberately move the center of the war on terror to Baghdad.

It always bugged me that people didn't see the pure unmitigated hypocrisy in that.

Posted by: patriot1957 | March 8, 2006 05:54 PM

I just heard condi rice speak on CNN. She said, "How our country treats its own people is a good indication of how it will treat other countries".

Another 'scratch your head' moment.

Posted by: | March 8, 2006 06:12 PM

I was just looking at the State Dept's new human rights report, the chapter on Cuba.

They keep complaining about a abuses in a place called Guantanamo provincial prison.

For a split-second I thought they were talking about themselves.

Silly me. There is no chapter on US human rights.

I expect what they say about Cuba is true. But hearing it from them is reminiscent of watching the Nazis dig up the mass grave at Katyn forest, as their officials expressed shock and horror at Stalin's brutal massacre of Polish officers.

Talk about zero credibility. I'm actually surprised they still have the nerve to produce a human rights report.

Posted by: OD | March 8, 2006 06:36 PM

The worst part of all of this is that elections are coming up this year. That means we won't get the total truth on anything! Everybody will 'spin' everything to make the administration look good!

Posted by: mark | March 8, 2006 06:40 PM

Hey Emily,

They let me out....See you still need to have a healthy one. Well I'm here to see you are fecal free by Friday.

Remember the DUCOLAX!!!!!!

Posted by: The Lonemule | March 8, 2006 07:57 PM

Emily,

Have you considered a bran supplement?

Posted by: The Lonemule | March 8, 2006 08:12 PM

Mark wrote: "I think we were attacked on 911 not because of hate towards americans, but because of hate towards America's LEADER."

Mark, that is a silly comment. The planning for 9/11 was well underway before Bush was elected--unless you mean that we were attacked because Clinton was our "LEADER." The radicals that attacked us did so because they detest our culture and way of life at the most fundamental levels. The best way to defeat them is, in the long term, through education--and in the short term through merciless eradication.

Posted by: KB | March 8, 2006 08:56 PM

Jamal, you seem awfully sure that the target of Cheney's comment sits in Teheran...might want to noodle on that a bit. And, maybe -- just maybe -- their "artful" responses aren't directed to us (well, maybe some of the useful idiots...hey mark, how are things?). Any thoughts? Love to hear them. Look, the mullahs aren't political jugheads...they sense our growing confusion, weakness and fragmentation...a few additional squeezes of the lemon before compromise may make some sense. The key is for them not to overplay their hand...not good for us, and certainly not good for them. Rest assured that, behind the facade, important messages are being delivered in plain English to audiences where it counts.

Posted by: The Other Will | March 8, 2006 09:47 PM

Posted by: patriot1957

"The BA has used the catch phrase "culture of life" to push its antiabortion position while simultaneously executing juveniles and the mentally retarded and telling us Iraqi life had less value than American life so we should deliberately move the center of the war on terror to Baghdad.

It always bugged me that people didn't see the pure unmitigated hypocrisy in that."

God point, first time I heard that.

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 11:09 PM

Posted by: D. "Well, if the Iranians keep supplying munitions to the "insurgents" (as alleged by ABC News) to kill US troops, yep."

Most of the killing of our troops has been by the Sunni. Iran is backing/suppying the Shiite. And if they are, most of what the Iran is supplying to Sunni is being used to slaughter Shiite. Many more civilians than American troops.

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 11:13 PM

"Most of the killing of our troops has been by the Sunni. Iran is backing/suppying the Shiite. And if they are, most of what the Iran is supplying to Sunni is being used to slaughter Shiite. Many more civilians than American troops."

Yea, the Iranians were so "noble" back in the late 70's with their protests over SAVAK. I wonder if they are exporting death squads now. Is everyone in the world so full of shit?

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | March 8, 2006 11:45 PM

Posted by: The Other Will

"Jamal, you seem awfully sure that the target of Cheney's comment sits in Teheran...might want to noodle on that a bit. And, maybe -- just maybe -- their "artful" responses aren't directed to us (well, maybe some of the useful idiots...hey mark, how are things?)."

Mark, pay no attention to "the other will", when ever a new person starts posting negative comments about bush, he attacks. Just stand your ground.

"Any thoughts? Love to hear them."
Here's a thought for you. Before we invaded Iraq it was run by a murderous Dictator. But he kept Iran in check and it didn't cost American dollars or American Blood. Now the balance of power is gone and we have to fill the bloody expensive void.

"Look, the mullahs aren't political jugheads...they sense our growing confusion, weakness and fragmentation...a few additional squeezes of the lemon before compromise may make some sense. The key is for them not to overplay their hand...not good for us, and certainly not good for them. Rest assured that, behind the facade, important messages are being delivered in plain English to audiences where it counts."

The biggest fear is not Iran; it's the Pakistani Government being toppled. The recent Bush trip has to India and Pakistan has not helped the situation, the India visit has not faired well with President Pervez Musharraf popularity. It's a bad idea to push for free elections in Pakistan, there is a very good chance a nuclear armed Islamic fundamentalist government will be elected. I think some advisors are letting the President and this country down. Condi, wake up! Your right, the Mullahs are not stupid, I'm sure someone in Iran even reads our comments and I would love to read in this BLOG comments from there.

Saber ratting has always helped
Republicans in the polls, strange it's the ones that never served that like to rattle the most, and I'm sure your correct that strong communication are going on "behind the façade". Cheney is just again taking advantage of the situation. Like the story of the "Boy who Cried Wolf", 911, WMDs,.......

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 11:52 PM

Posted by: scooter johnnyg in NE DC

"Is everyone in the world so full of shit?"

No, just you. Sunni insurgents are killing more Iraqi civilians the American troops.

Posted by: Jamal | March 8, 2006 11:58 PM

That wasn't directed at you Jamal.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | March 9, 2006 12:01 AM

It's not that I'm a bush-hater. I honestly don't see anything good that results from what he does. He tried to take away our social security. The thought of having my retirement tied up in shaky stocks is scarier than hell. He wants to make this an 'ownership' society, which sounds good in theory but translates into just having the gap between the haves and have-nots just getting wider.

Most of all, it seems like he's only interested in profits and big corporations. His latest stint to India will benefit a few corporations here in the U.S. with supplying India their nuclear stuff.

On the surface, he seems like a 'golly gee nice guy', but after a few years with the guy in office, he seems so hypocritical. I honestly don't think he has any empathy at all for the average citizen here. How could he? He's from a different world.

My son says, 'dad, my teacher says you've got to love the person but hate the behavior'. Well, I hate the behavior of this whole administration we have right now.

I also think a lot of our congressmen are bought and paid for by lobbyists.

A lot are really wimpy too, since they can so easily be 'arm-twisted' by Cheney and Bush. Who cares what the majority of americans think? If it doesn't suit they're special interests, they just won't do it. Look at the latest example with the ports deal. Bush has already made up his mind he'll veto.

And that one-line veto thing Bush is currently pushing for is really scarey. Look what he did with the torture bill. He added that he had a right to do what was necessary, thereby negating the whole thing.

They must think americans are really stupid!

Posted by: mark | March 9, 2006 12:19 AM

Emily wrote:

"Any thoughts on how to purge either government of politicians who act more often in self interest than in the interest of their constituents and their country?"

Politicians act more often in self interest because it benefits them to do that. Their actions keep them in power and they find ways to leverage their position to make and keep themselves rich. They also truely believe that their philosophy is best for the country. That's how politicians generally get started - with idealistic views associated with a political philosophy. Over time they justify the corruption, graft, or just plain intractability that seeps in by considering it "the way the game is played" and if your opponant is doing it, you'd better be doing it too. Otherwise your opponant's doctrine will win out. Its a lot like baseball players taking steroids because they think if they don't they will fall behind the curve. Its the old "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'" concept.

Our government was designed with human nature in mind. The concept of checks and balences embedded in our Constitution goes beyond our 3 branches of government. The ulimate check between political opponents is ambition.

James Madison wrote in "Federalist Number 51" "... Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."

Is it possible that our ambitious politicians over time have become so artful at blocking each other outside of the Constitutionally defined government framework (meaning the legislative process and committee work where compromises normally take place) that the resulting gridlock and lack of compromise has become an unintended consequence of our governmental approach?

Here is an analogy:

If someone owns land with some timber on it (a woodlot) and they want to cut the timber to make some money, there are several ways to go about it. There are methods to use that will improve the quality of the woodlot over time, but those methods often require spreading profits out over time because several high quality trees have to be kept throughout the woodlot to provide a high quality seed source for regenerating the woodlot over time. Eventually those high quality trees will be cut as well, but not until there is a new generation of high quality trees growing up beneath them to take their place. Another alternative is to immediately cut every high quality tree in the woodlot for maximum immediate profit. all that will be left then will be the poor quality, worthless trees. They would be the ones left to regenerate the woodlot. The woodlot would then be vastly reduced in value. After that you could complete the clearing of the land, subdivide and/or build on the land,then sell it for even more profit.

Now, what is the motivation for someone to gain a livelihood (or a supplement to a livelihood) by using the first method that does not provide the greatest immediate profit, but improves or maintains the quality of the woodlot over time? The answer is nothing other than a love for the woodlot or a desire to pass the woodlot on to family or friends. This also implies a love of the woodlot or the way of life that the woodlot provides.

If anyone is still reading this crazy post and is so inclined, please tell me what you think this analogy has to do with the way we manage ourselves and govern ourselves.

Posted by: DK | March 9, 2006 12:36 AM

Sorry Johnny

Mark,

Most politicians in, both parties, don't plan beyond the next election. Maybe that's the best formula to get re-elected? To make long term plans for the country means pissing people (and coporations) off, telling then what they don't want to hear. Carter tried long term planning on energy and what he did accomplish, most people didn't like, so it was trashed when he left office. If we had kept on track back then we would not be in the M.E. quagmire. Of course he was an engineer, not an actor, lawyer, or baseball PR man. The nine people that run China are all engineers. Guess what I am?

Posted by: Jamal | March 9, 2006 12:37 AM

DK,

I read your analogy. I think we just posted the same message with different words. Good analogy

Posted by: Jamal | March 9, 2006 12:44 AM

Jamal,

Yeah I think we're on to something. There needs to be a way to create incentive for people to govern for the long term. Also we need to reduce polarization. That might happen naturally over time, but it seems like we've been living with it for a while now.

Oh well, I'm going to sleep on it. Good night.

Posted by: DK | March 9, 2006 12:58 AM

Don't forget Boris Yeltsin. Engineer. Me too.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | March 9, 2006 12:59 AM

That was a good analogy. Profits over people, right?

I recall hearing about an engine that was made back in the 1940's that would give about 70 miles to the gallon with gas. Apparently the guy who invented it mysteriously disappeared.

I don't know if that story is true or not, but seeing how big money corporations operate, it wouldn't surprise me at all.

Ironic. Here we sit in the middle of shit wars that oil probably played a major role in.

Posted by: mark | March 9, 2006 01:00 AM

Chris wrote:
I wish to put out a premise.
Civil War is sometimes good. While being fought, more often than not exceptionally nasty, bloody, ugly business...but...
It settles things when politics and negotiations between factions fail, and sets up a period more often than not of lasting social peace and tranquility.

Alas, Chris, it's a premise I must dispute, to your surprise? :o)

We can agree that such wars are indeed most often "exceptionally nasty, bloody, ugly business", but not setting up a period of "lasting peace and tranquility".

Consider our own. Yes it preserved the Union, but the direct costs of the war, in dead and wounded, in wealth and production, in political and social relations was enormous. It was followed by the rather brutal "reconstruction" period, where the victor oppressed the vanquished mercilessly, thus institutionalizing the bitterness for generations to come and to some extent, institutionalizing racism in the population. The bitterness didn't really begin to fade until after WWII during the 50's and 60's when civil rights were finally fully recognized equally for all, and the South was finally forced to adjust that. All through the first half of the 20th Century and beyond we had the KKK with us, and lynching was common enough in too many states. So one could argue pretty persuasively that the "nasty, bloody, ugly business" did not end with the formal end of the war. Certainly there was a whole lot less blood shed, but it remained quite nasty and ugly for years to follow, and I think, for more years than it would have without the war. Brazil for example, was one of the last nations to abolish slavery, doing so without recourse to a civil war, yet racism has never been the problem there that it has been here.

Consider North and South Vietnam. Vietnam has been a nation for centuries. The French controlled it as a French Colony until the Japanese took over during WWII, spawning Vietnamese resistance. Postwar the French tried to reestablish their prewar Colonial Empire (to the chagrin of Ho Chi Minh who admired the American Revolution a great deal). Receiving no support for independence from us, he turned to insurrection in the northern part of the country, eventually defeating the French and forcing their departure from the North. There was an agreement that there would be a joint referendum in North and South over the future of the country. This didn't happen and a communist insurrection developed in the south against the French established government. We would not permit this election since we knew the Communist North would win. So we had a civil war in the South between those who did not want to reunify the whole country and those who did. The whole thing could have been avoided had we simply held the agreed to election and abided by the results ... kind of like the Palestinian affair with Hamas. Historically, the Vietnamese have always been distrustful of the Chinese who have coveted this rice basket. In our irrational ideological fear of communism we forced the Vietnamese into an unnatural alliance with China and Russia. This was neither a necessary thing nor a good thing, for us or for them.

How about the Chinese civil war? Well, Mao won it in fairly short order and that pretty much set the countries development back by 40 years or so. I don't know if the Generalissimo would have done much better given his implacable zest for corruption, but it likely would not have taken this path 40 years to fall by the wayside.

Then we have the case of Yugoslavia, or was/is this really a civil war? First we had the Croats and the Serbs go at it, then the Croats vs Muslims x Muslims vs Serbs x Croats vs Serbs in Bosnia and then finally Serbs vs Kosovo (more Muslims) and pending we have Servs vs Montenegrans. The Slovenes snuck out early in the game. Certainly it was thoroughly vicious, what with mass graves, torture, the whole nine yards. Nothing much has actually been settled; lots of refugees remain gone, NATO troops still there, three governments still exist in Bosnia, Kosovars and Serbs are hardly tranquil (still cutting each others throats once in a while). The Serbs are still nursing their ancient grudges and plotting their revenge of a Greater Serbia. How long has this been going on? Something over 16 years as I recall.

I suppose you could call India/Pakistan a civil war of sorts, going back to the exit of the British from the subcontinent. This one might even have qualified as a "good" one had it not been for the hopelessly tangled affair of Kashmir which has now been a flash point for over half a century and still going. The one good civil war I know of was Pakistan/Bangladesh and that is only because they were geographically distinct territories separated by India which made it quite impractical for them to actually fight each other. But that is one on your side.

What else so we have? There are several in Africa. Liberia, Angola, South Africa, Congo, Sudan, Rhodesia, and several others I can't remember off the top of my head. Apart from South Africa, most of these just seem to go on forever, rising and falling like the tide in intensity but never really coming to a conclusion.

It is, I think, reasonable to view the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a civil war, each of them seeking to cleanse the same land of the other, both having lived there for centuries in relative peace until the war started almost 60 years ago now. That one still isn't settled.

What examples might you list as "good civil wars" in the 20th century resulting in peace and tranquility?

Chris ... "The US would be a loser if civil war breaks out."
I'm pessimistic enough to think we will be a loser in either case. If it doesn't break out, it will remain on the brink of breaking out, and in many ways that is worse because the Occupation just goes on failing indefinitely.

Chris ... "Likely civil war loser? The Sunnis."
I can't quite agree with you. True they are only 20-25% of the population but that is all they have ever been and still they have managed quite well over many many years. We fought the Shia Mahdi militia down in Najaf. We fought the Sunnis in Falluja. We slaughtered the Shia militia with our run of the mill forces. The Sunnis gave the toughest forces we had, the Marines, all they wanted. When it comes to the fighting, the Sunni's will walk circles around the Shia. The other problem the Shia have is their own infighting. It divides the politicians and it divides the clergy.

I doubt that the Sunni will take on the Kurds because the Pesh Merga is a lot tougher bunch than the Shia militia, there is lots more oil to be had in the South than the North, and they wouldn't really want to deal with two fighting on two fronts at once. Finally, we will have to favor keeping Iran at bay at any cost, which means we will sacrifice the Shia before we let Iran come across to save them. It really stinks doesn't it?

Posted by: Cayambe | March 9, 2006 01:06 AM

Ah, the perks we get during an election year!

ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposes putting $10 million a year more into early childhood education. Money would come from federal welfare funds.

(I thought those 'federal welfare funds' were being cut in Bushes new budget plan.... oh well, sure makes Pawlenty look good in the meantime, doesn't it).

Posted by: | March 9, 2006 01:06 AM

I wonder if history would have turned out differently if women had been the rulers instead of men.

I realize most people abhor war, but women especially do, since they have young children to protect.

I disagree with a previous pollster that other countries hate us because of our lifestyle. I think they probably hate us because we stick our nose in their business all the time!

Posted by: | March 9, 2006 01:14 AM

I really appreciate that the Washington Post lets us give our views on here. It's one newspaper that I have a lot of respect for and really trust with getting some honesty in the news. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: mark | March 9, 2006 01:18 AM

Since before the Iraq conflict began, the best sources I've found for real news have been from the UK: the Guardian, the Scotsman, the Independent; here in the US, Knight Ridder has been exemplary; and among bloggers, Juan Cole is always terrific.

http://www.juancole.com/

As for The Washington Post and New York Times, they've been unreliable at best (especially in fingering the administration on its lies and misrepresentations); the Post's editorial page stands accused as a warmongerer; the Times has to answer for Judy Miller; and the networks are hopeless.

Posted by: | March 9, 2006 01:26 AM

It's an arrogant fantasy to think the US can "bring peace" to the Mideast. US reliance on foreign oil has embroiled it in crisis after crisis there. The people of the Middle East must set their own course.

The US campaign in Vietnam was a disaster. What threat did Vietnam pose to American security? More than 50,000 US troops died in support of a theory about "dominoes."

America's "normalization" of trade with China has allowed it to continue its human rights abuses, while costing countless American jobs. The US must not sacrifice its moral high ground at the altar of trade.

The war against Saddam Hussein's regime was a political and intelligence farce, a diplomatic disaster, a human tragedy, and now, a growing quagmire.

US power may be crucial to America's defense. But using power to "Americanize" the world, act as policeman in the far corners of the globe, or to leverage trade agreements is sheer imperialism.

To preserve this country's sacred sovereignty, Americans must heed President George Washington's warning against "entangling alliances." Washington knew then, and we must understand now, that ceding control to foreign nations, let alone a world bureaucracy like the UN, chips away at the essence of the American Republic.

American hypocrisy and hubris led to the Sept. 11 attacks. To answer the question "Why do they hate us?" Americans must question the "might makes right" approach of US foreign policy. To win the war against terrorism, US leaders must remove the conditions that breed anti-American hatred.

The US is spending billions per month to help Iraqis, but millions of US workers can't find jobs. Managing a global empire is unconscionably costly. The billions spent on homeland security and far-flung bombing campaigns haven't made the US any safer. With the money it wastes killing civilians abroad and chipping away at civil liberties at home, the US government could provide health insurance to all Americans.

Posted by: IMHO | March 9, 2006 03:42 AM

Posted by: Cayambe

"-The bitterness didn't really begin to fade until after WWII during the 50's and 60's when civil rights were finally fully recognized equally for all, and the South was finally forced to adjust that. All through the first half of the 20th Century and beyond we had the KKK with us, and lynching was common enough in too many states. So one could argue pretty persuasively that the "nasty, bloody, ugly business" did not end with the formal end of the war."

I wouldn't say that it completely ended in the South, the civil rights legislation is what caused many Dixiecrat's to feel betrayed by the Democratic party and join the republican party, and are where/are recruited by the republican party with race baiting even to this day. I totally disagree here! Ask any KKK; are you a republican or a democrat and I think you know the answer.

"In our irrational ideological fear of communism we forced the Vietnamese into an unnatural alliance with China and Russia. This was neither a necessary thing nor a good thing, for us or for them."

Is the United States presence in Iraq forcing the Iranians and Iraqi's into an unnatural alliance against the United States?

"Then we have the case of Yugoslavia, or was/is this really a civil war? First we had the Croats and the Serbs go at it, then the Croats vs Muslims x Muslims vs Serbs x Croats vs Serbs in Bosnia and then finally Serbs vs Kosovo (more Muslims) and pending we have Servs vs Montenegrans. The Slovenes snuck out early in the game. Certainly it was thoroughly vicious, what with mass graves, torture, the whole nine yards. Nothing much has actually been settled; lots of refugees remain gone, NATO troops still there, three governments still exist in Bosnia, Kosovars and Serbs are hardly tranquil (still cutting each others throats once in a while). The Serbs are still nursing their ancient grudges and plotting their revenge of a Greater Serbia. How long has this been going on? Something over 16 years as I recall."

Is their a lesion to be learned here for Iraq? It took Tito to hold Yugoslavia together and it took Sadam for Iraq? Are these ruthless dictators a product of their "forced together countries"? Kurds do want there own country or homeland. Might not be a bad idea, considering they are well established in Iran.

"Chris ... "Likely civil war loser? The Sunnis. I can't quite agree with you. True they are only 20-25% of the population but that is all they have ever been and still they have managed quite well over many many years. We fought the Shia Mahdi militia down in Najaf. We fought the Sunnis in Falluja. We slaughtered the Shia militia with our run of the mill forces. The Sunnis gave the toughest forces we had, the Marines, all they wanted. When it comes to the fighting, the Sunni's will walk circles around the Shia. The other problem the Shia have is their own infighting. It divides the politicians and it divides the clergy."

"I doubt that the Sunni will take on the Kurds because the Pesh Merga is a lot tougher bunch than the Shia militia, there is lots more oil to be had in the South than the North, and they wouldn't really want to deal with two fighting on two fronts at once. Finally, we will have to favor keeping Iran at bay at any cost, which means we will sacrifice the Shia before we let Iran come across to save them. It really stinks doesn't it?"

I have to eat crow and agree with Chris on this. The Sunni will lose, a few of several reasons:
1. The Iranians will supply financing and arms.
2. Kurds will never sit on the side lines and allow the Sunni to return to power. And would most likely broker a deal with the Shia for the return of their original homelands, including oil fields, something the United States will not allow, because of Turkish opposition. This would make a two front civil war for the Sunni and 20% vs. 80%.
3. Sunni no longer have an arms advantage.
4. Shia, despite what the United States says, control the police and military this time.
5. Shia now have an established intelligence network.

Posted by: Jamal | March 9, 2006 09:19 AM

IMHO - Well done.

"The US must not sacrifice its moral high ground at the altar of trade."

Too late.. much, much too late - we no longer have any moral high ground. It doesn't count if we say we have it - what does it say that we insist on a rule of law and break those laws (take your pick - Fisa, Torture, NNPT). And insisting democracy is all about elections, but whoops, hey there, Hamas is a terrorist organization so we can't support their elections (it was a Palestinian election, not a US one..).

Planning for the long term will not solve anything in the political mess. We have only two things that must go - greed and ignorance.

The fallout from the appointment and re-election of the BA will echo through the next several generations, unless we get elected officials who are willing to stand up, speak up, and stand in front of the juggernaut, as the examples from Tiannemen showed. Not too many of those types in office these days.

Certainly not the compassionate conservatives.

Whe should begin prosecuting officials who fail to tell the truth - and define spin not as free speech, but falsehood. There's already statutes on the books for this, time for enforcement.

Oh, and Jamal.. I was trying to be sarcastic. Thanks!

Posted by: gonzo | March 9, 2006 10:08 AM

Gonzo,

Sorry, second time I've had to oppologize this week.

Posted by: Jamal | March 9, 2006 10:43 AM

DK-

Absolutely excellent. Speaking to your analogy, I think that mentality is best viewed in this country's frequent mind boggling budget debates. On the one hand we have a political philosophy that is guaranteed to generate votes: tax cuts. In the short term tax cutting is too tempting politically, which is why both parties engaged in tax-cut posturing in the past two presidential elections.

Nevermind that tax-cuts demonstrably decrease government revenue, which may not even be a bad thing. That is, of course, unless you are running over 300 billion dollars in deficit on average over the past 4 years (and we have a healthy half a trillion projected deficit coming up).

On the other hand we have a massive expansion of government not seen since the New Deal just over the horizon with the aging baby boomers finally reaching their government subsidized age. And while it's already probably too late because we should have been making tough budgetary decisions in the last decade, we are incapable of doing so *today*. Politicians understand that cutting spending is as much a political liability as cutting taxes is a political cureall.

And so a group of individuals who "represent" our interests decimate the proverbial forest down to maximize their political profit. We are left with a national debate lacking in voices calling for budgetary responsibility because no one will stand up and make the tough decisions that Americans need to swallow. Instead of raising taxes (or at the least please get let those cuts expire!) and cutting spending, which is realistically the only option we have left, we are stuck in political limbo. This is a perfect example of The United States Of America suffering at the behest of the short term political benefits of individual elected representatives; and we are an all too participant in the vicious cycle because nobody hates bad news and tough decision as American Voters.

It's easy to ignore the deficit because we've grown so accustomed to watching it grow and grow and grow! What a shock it was, in the late 90's, that we had actually managed to balance the budget. So shocked, perhaps, that we didn't know how to manage this once every 40 years occurance and we overcompensated by returning to the spending pattern we've perfected: lower taxes and raise spending drastically.

It's also easy to ignore the deficit because we don't attach a human element on the suffering it imposes. The people who will suffer the deficit, so conventional wisdom says, are our children who will find *some* way to overcome it just as we did, right? More importantly the "debt" is just a silly word, as is the "deficit", yes?

Well, no. The fiscal irresponsibility of those that preceded us costs us an approaching 200 billion dollars a year. These vicious debates about the "costs" of the war in Iraq, or how Medicare is too expensive, or how we cannot afford Social Security in the long run, would all be muffled if the Government had an extra 180 billion to spend every year. We would have enough to fund other programs and then some.

The crisis is on the horizon. The debt is a beast that feeds itself. Until recently, say the past 4 years, it wasn't uncommon for the interest on the national debt to cost the government more than our total deficit. So, without that interest payment the government would actually have run a surplus in '95, '96 and '97 with a virtually balanced budget in '94.

Incidentally, the only reason we are dished out 180 billion last year in national debt interest, and not the 350+ billion of ACTUAL interest on the national debt is because the treasury (I believe) borrows money from the Social Security "trust fund".

Since this trust fund is likely to be wiped by the social security expansion brought on by the baby boomer generation, we are ever approaching a perfect storm of consequences for fiscal irresponsibility. An increasing annual debt payment coupled with a decreasing lack of funds to draw from could be devastating.

And when Americans finally wake up to the tragedy it won't be 200 billion a year in spending cuts we have to make but rather 500 billion, or 700 billion, and Americans finally will realize how much they need food stamps, Medicare/Medicaid subsidization, College tuition aid, and tax cuts, to name a few. Because they say you don't know how much you loved something until it's gone.

Rant rant rant. Sorry for the long post.

Posted by: Will | March 9, 2006 10:57 AM

Does it ever strike you as odd that after 2 elections and a constitutional referendum exactly the same Iraqi Governing Council appointees still run the show? Would it not be clear to the vast majority of Iraqis that their opinions still count for less than that of George Bush? Only with the US out will the true leaders emerge. Only with the US in will these clowns survive.

Posted by: Glen | March 9, 2006 11:23 AM

From the New York Times

Editorial
Facing Facts on Iran

Published: March 9, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/09/opinion/09thur2.html?th&emc=th

¶The Bush administration is undermining any international controls on nuclear proliferation with its attempt to reward India for ignoring the rules and acquiring its own weapons.

¶American policies in the Middle East have made Iran incalculably more powerful than it was before the invasion of Iraq, while virtually eliminating any room for maneuvering when it comes to deploying the U.S. military.

¶Until the United States makes a serious attempt to cut down on its domestic use of oil, there will be no way for it to lecture any of its allies for wanting to maintain good relations with an oil supplier like Iran.

Emily, is the next topic a nuclear Iran?

Posted by: Jamal | March 9, 2006 12:02 PM

Please explain how borrowing from the SS trust fund makes that PROGRAM a problem.. It is the immoral use of those funds (and overall gov't tax/fiscal policy) that has created the problem/crisis, not the fact that at some point in the past the US government decided it had a stake in supporting its citizens.
It's hypocritical to call the SS deficit a crisis or problem just because of its existence without accounting for the lack of.. well, accountability. Complete Bait-N-Switch tactic.

I heard some bozo on the radio yesterday talking about the US not saving because the gov't will take care of them with a big fat SS check. What BS - is there anyone who can live on 400.00 SS a month??

How much money are we talking wrt SS vs the incredible balloon in "defense"? It's like firing 3,000 auto workers (SS) while giving management (defense) bonuses.. no wait, that actually happened..

Posted by: gonzo | March 9, 2006 12:11 PM

Will wrote: It's also easy to ignore the deficit because we don't attach a human element on the suffering it imposes.

I agree. It's also easy to ignore the ugliness of the war in Iraq when we can all sit in the safety of our comfortable homes without the continual threat of being bombed or killed whenever we go outside.

The U.S. had a surplus when Clinton left office, and it wasn't that long ago. The Bush Administration will blame 911 and katrina for our huge deficit, but that's not the whole truth with our hugh debt right now. Where are the billions of dollars that they can't account for that went missing a couple years ago?

Posted by: Mark | March 9, 2006 12:18 PM

gonzo-

I assume you were talking to me.

"Please explain how borrowing from the SS trust fund makes that PROGRAM a problem.. It is the immoral use of those funds (and overall gov't tax/fiscal policy) that has created the problem/crisis, not the fact that at some point in the past the US government decided it had a stake in supporting its citizens."

Why should I explain something I never asserted? I don't have a problem with Social Security. I don't think Social Security is a problem program. In fact, in my post I claimed the Social Security Trust Fund as the only thing currently keeping the National Debt Interest at 200 billion a year vs. 350-400 billion a year.

My concern is that eventually Social Security payments are going to approach, meet, or exceed the revenues generated by Social Security taxes because eventually a large demographic mass of non-social security recipients will begin coming of age (the baby boomers).

In 2006, Social Security taxes generated 794 billion dollars in Government Revenue. Yet the government only paid out 518 billion in social security payments. I believe the 276 billion is reinvested and generates an income. Thus, Social Security generates funds from a "trust fund" of money the government borrows from the program.

Eventually the government will not be able to borrow from this program, because the baby boomers will shrink or eliminate the gap between revenues generated and payments made.

This is not a problem with social security, it's a problem with wasteful spending. We shouldn't *need* to borrow money from social security just to NOT balance the budget by half a trillion a year. If we are going to depend on overtaxing social security (and this is not an evaluative claim, that's just the truth. We tax more from social security than we pay out) then that's fine, but we better damn well balance the budget.

"It's hypocritical to call the SS deficit a crisis or problem just because of its existence without accounting for the lack of.. well, accountability. Complete Bait-N-Switch tactic."

Did i do that? I didn't say SS represented a deficit crisis, I said the exact opposite. One major factor of curbing our current enormous deficit is the SS surplus. The problem is not that SS will not forever generate a surplus, the problem is that our government is criminally incapable of managing their own books. Our Social Security "trust fund" is a great boost for our government right now. The reality is that we cannot rely on it forever. Eventually we must find ways to decrease the interest on the national debt by, you know, balancing the actual federal budget and using surpluses to pay back our national debt.

"How much money are we talking wrt SS vs the incredible balloon in "defense"? It's like firing 3,000 auto workers (SS) while giving management (defense) bonuses.. no wait, that actually happened.."

Well, both have balooned. Since 2001 defense spending has increased from 300 billion to 500 billion, which is unsurprisingly the largest increase in defense spending in history. In the same time period Social Security spending has increased by 80 billion.

On these two measures alone we can generate a deficit, because government revenues NOW vs. those in 2001 have only increased by a little over 150 billion dollars. That means, IRREGARDLESS of what other expenditures have balooned in that time period, we would have a net deficit 70 billion in those two programs alone.

Throw in that Bush has overseen the largest expansion in both Medicare (100 billion) and Medicaid (60 billion) in recorded history and you begin to notice a problem with the way our government finances itself.

This is not merely a problem of funding or spending it is a problem of both. We increase our spending consistently more than we increase our revenues on any given year. Until we realize that this isn't an EITHER we increase taxes OR we cut spending the better. We need to increase taxes and dramatically cut spending *today* to avoid a fiscal disaster in the future.

Posted by: Will | March 9, 2006 12:45 PM

Will,

Those numbers are sobering. I'm not real knowledgable about our finances, although I know enough to realize that our deficit spending has a very real consequence in terms of our yearly expenditures and what we can afford as a nation. So far we've been dealing with it by borrowing more each year. Paying off one credit card with another, so to speak.

Admittedly, I haven't checked your numbers, but assuming they are accurate, it sounds like we are coming close to the point where annual interest payments on our debt will exceed what we pay on any program including all entitlements and the defense budget. Am I getting this right? I've never really examined the specific numbers before.

Posted by: DK | March 9, 2006 01:02 PM

DK-

There's still a ways to go. As I said, 180 billion was spent last year funding the debt. This is less than in many of the years in the 90s. One of the reasons the budget was such a big issue in the '94 election was because those interest payments were quickly exceeding 200 billion in annual payments.

We managed to lower this in two ways: 1) We still get a huge return on our Social Security income. We tax so much more on Social Security than we spend, currently, that we can use this money to either invest and generate revenue or just spend directly in other government programs. 2) We generated a Surplus in the late 90s which meant we didn't have to borrow (and pay interest on) large sums of money.

The problem with 1) is that it won't last indefinitely. We cannot escape the growing demographic changes in the country. As the older live longer and the baby boomer generation comes of age, there won't be enough young workers paying social security taxes to fund them all. This means instead of, say, the National Defense borrowing from Social Security, Social Security will need to borrow money.

More than likely this borrowing will be more deficit spending, since there won't be a magical surplus government program to pick up the hundreds of billions worth of slack like there is now.

The problem with 2) is that we have had, historically, the least balanced budget in recent years. If you were to rank 2003, 2004, and 2005 in terms of historical deficits, they would rank 2nd, 1st, and 3rd respectively. And the President *plans* on spending nearly 500 billion next year, which is 80 billion more than it was in 2004 (the record for least responsible government spending ever).

Deficits build on themselves because as deficits increase (meaning we borrow money) so does the interest payments we make on that borrowed money. Since we have to pay this interest from our government revenues, this increases government spending which increases deficits which... increases national debt interest.

But there is hope. The solution also builds on itself. If we balance the budget interest payments go down which will free up more funds to service the debt. If we could take the interest on the national debt down from 350 billion to 250 billion, that would be 100 billion in additional spending we could allocate with no redistributive cost (since interest payments don't really count as a social or beneficial service).

It takes Congressional leaders too long to wake up to the problem of rising deficits and interest payments. When they do realize the pending disaster they compensate, but instead of prolonged Balanced Budgeting like we had at the end of the 90s, and because of a competetive 2000 Presidential Election, the immediate talk was about what the Government OWED the people, since we taxed more than we spent.

Nevermind that "the people" have been borrowing more money from the government than they have been investing in it. Until our national debt is paid off, any insistence by politicians that the government *owes* us something should be summarily rejected.

And yes, at 350 billion a year and rising, the interest on the national debt is quickly approaching the Social Security and Defense for the largest government expenditures.

And we are set for a big year:
http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/opd/opdint.htm

Only 5 months into the fiscal year we are over 170 billion dollars paid in interest on the national debt. We will definitely crush last year's 353 billion interest payment.

For the people who evaluate their quality of life based on the amount of government services rendered or taxes not-levied, I say: Prepare yourself for a soon to be dipping quality of life.

Posted by: Will | March 9, 2006 02:02 PM

Will,

The ??s were (generally) tossed out to see who/what would respond.. Not trying to rain on any particular parade here. Looking for a little light.. etc.

Posted by: gonzo | March 9, 2006 02:19 PM

The United States seems to have 2 fallacies with their foreign policy.

1) That it can act like a 'bull in a china shop' with it's penchant for threatening war if the other countries don't 'tow the line'.

2) It's international outsourcing and free trade policies.

Number 1 keeps them all hating us.

Number 2 keeps us in a state of perpetual 'blackmail' with them. For example, the latest ports deal.

Posted by: | March 9, 2006 02:37 PM

We have an administration that is absolutely wedded to corporate interests, both American and global. It honestly believes that "free trade" is more important than the environment and more important than the people.

It has repeatedly demonstrated it is willing to let both go in order to foster free trade. There is no "balance" in its consideration on these issues, and now it turns out not much in "balancing" national security, either.

Posted by: | March 9, 2006 02:50 PM

This administration has proven again and again they are perfectly willing to outsource American jobs, American wage standards, and American health and safety standards all for the sacred, holy grail of free trade.

Posted by: | March 9, 2006 02:52 PM

Do your homework. The administration has been negotiating a free trade deal with the United Arab Emirates at the same time the port deal was being negotiated. This whole thing is about free trade and the lock big corporations have on our government to further free trade.

You will see and hear almost no discussion of this fact in the corporate news media.

Posted by: mark | March 9, 2006 02:53 PM

This whole administration is corrupt and only cares about big money corporate lobbyists and special interest groups.

Here's an example of how it works: Just before Christmas last year, in a spectacular power play, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert pulled off a backroom legislative deal to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits. The language was slipped into a Defense Department appropriations bill at the last minute without the approval of members of the House-Senate conference committee meeting on the bill.

Frist has received over $270,000 in contributions from the drug industry and has long advocated liability protection for vaccine makers.

The safety of americans is slowly going away, folks!

Posted by: | March 9, 2006 03:01 PM

Will,
I must confess I have an excrutiatingly difficult time making sense of your and other's analysis of deficits, costs, budgets, debts, interest, revenue and expenditures. The problem is we use the same terms in different accounting schemes so I'm never really sure what we are really talking about.

Lets just take the National Debt. There are at least three components of it. The part which the government owes to itself (SS trust fund bonds for example), the debt held in US hands (domestic dept), and debt held in foreign hands (foreign hands). Alternatively you could define the latter as debt held in private hands and debt held in government or quasi-goverment hands (e.g. central bank reserves). There are 3 different interest obligations associated with the 3 different debts.

Now you might expect that the annual deficit as measured by total net revenues net of total net expenditures would equal the change in total net debt taken over the same period, but it doesn't. Why it doesn't is beyond my comprehension, but I've never been able to make that simple equation work using the governments published numbers.

What I do know is that the deficit as politicians speak of it is net of the excess inflow of funds from SS taxes net of SS expenditures. Our annual interest payment is spoken of in two ways depending on the picture the speaker wants to paint to the audience. One is interest on domestic plus foreign debt, which actually has to be funded with dollars. The other is interest on total debt some of which has to be funded with dollars and some (e.g. SS trust fund) which is actually funded with more bonds.

Unfortunately, the government is not bound to produce financial reports normal people can understand. This is one reason I voted for that nutcase Perot. If nothing else he would have made the numbers balance.

I do think it is a tragedy that the Democrats stuck their collective heads in the sand when Bush put SS reform on the table. If nothing else they could have gotten rid of that silly ceiling and soaked the richer folk for another 8% and companies for 8% in currently protected payroll income. Then we might have arbitrarily shifted 3% to private accounts up to say 35k in SS earnings to both increase the national savings rate where its needed most and build some wealth where it is needed most a la Moynihan who would surely smile in his grave. I could never get good enough data to calculate it but as best I could guess, it would have left SS benefits untouched and produced a small net increase in the net total SS Trust Fund inflows giving the poor their 3% accounts at no added cost to the public. Having done that you might then have a better shot at putting in a mechanism to slowly curb future benefits or slowly raise the retirement age as a function of longevity or both to keep SS out of long term bankruptcy.

Posted by: Cayambe | March 9, 2006 04:26 PM

Better start saving your dough unless you like the smell and taste of cat food. meow meow meow

I do not consider SS as livable income. It might buy some beer and medicine, but surely not pay the mortgage and property taxes. I will work till I drop, get too sick to work, or go senile and walk off a bridge. That is the new old way. Get used to it. Don't like it that much, but it is what it is. You must take care of yourself.

Posted by: | March 9, 2006 04:58 PM

Cayambe says:

"Now you might expect that the annual deficit as measured by total net revenues net of total net expenditures would equal the change in total net debt taken over the same period, but it doesn't. Why it doesn't is beyond my comprehension . . ."

__________

Have you considered expansion of M1 money supply as an added source of funding?

Posted by: On the plantation | March 9, 2006 05:21 PM

Cayambe-

I agree that the numbers are somewhat shady, and I am not an economist so I cannot simplify them.

The numbers that are important to me are the Net Interest we pay out in a given year in actual federal funds, which is approaching 200 billion a year, the actual debt (because the former number is a function if it) which was 350 billion last year, and the deficit which was 318 billion last year and will be 480 billion next year, because the previous two figures are intricatly linked to it as well.

So the deficit is important because it requires our Government to borrow money, which increases the national debt. We pay off part of this national debt annually in Net Interest. That is why balancing the budget is important, because if it had been balanced in the past our government would be 180 billion dollars richer today.

Does that make more sense?

Posted by: Will | March 9, 2006 06:08 PM

Posted by Anon Mar 9, 2006 4:58:15 PM
"I do not consider SS as livable income. It might buy some beer and medicine, but surely not pay the mortgage and property taxes."

Actually, it was never really intended to be a full pension, just a supplement. Problem is we can't seem to get people started on providing for themselves early enough so we are getting to what was not intended by default.

Posted by: Cayambe | March 9, 2006 08:14 PM

On the plantation,

Hmmmmmm... that is a novel thought that hadn't occurred to me. If true, all we have to do to get rid of debt is raise M1? Inflate ourselves out of the problem? That is certainly a scary thought, but we did get there eventually after LBJ started the ball rolling by adding the costs of Vietnam onto our generation (which is passing it along to the next). Came to a head under Carter.

Will,
"Does that make more sense?"

Not really. I think your method here excludes the net changes in total SS trust fund obligations. At some point in the not too distant future these will begin falling instead of rising, thus adding to the deficit as projected instead of subtracting from it. Thus I prefer to see the deficit in terms of the change in total indebtedness which is a much larger and scarier number than the scary one you are talking about.

Posted by: Cayambe | March 9, 2006 08:36 PM

Cayambe-

I don't recall excluding that. I am well aware of that factor and I have made a big humbug about it in other posts. Are we not on the same page?

We are both viciously against deficits, yes?

Posted by: Will | March 9, 2006 10:34 PM

Brazil is ahead of most of the world in future non-petroleum technology, maybe Bush should have invaded Brazil? Known world oil reserves are going to run out in 50 years, gone, no more.......... And as it starts to run out look for shortages, inflation, stagflation....... What about the global economy that's fueled by petroleum, will it expire in 50 years? As Middle Eastern Oil begins to decline, many of those countries are going to want nuclear technology; Iran is the first of many.

The following article on Oil reserves and Depletion of Oil reserves is ominous. I highly recommend it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves

"It has been estimated that there is a total of 2,390 billion barrels (380 km³) of crude oil on Earth, of which about 70% has been used so far. The World Energy Resources Program of the United States Geological Survey produces the official estimates of the world oil resources for the U.S. Federal Government. They estimate the remaining world oil reserves are about 1,000 billion barrels, and current estimates place the exhaustion of the remaining known reserves within the next 50 years. Other estimates of undiscovered reserves range widely from 275 to 1,469 billion barrels (44 to 234 km³). (It should be noted that one barrel equals 42 US gallons, or 158.97 litres.) The Middle East has about 50% of the known remaining world oil reserve. The USGS estimates the total reserves are about three times the known amount."

I'm not a world economist, but looking at the facts on energy derived from oil 50 to 100 years from now and with world population continuing to expand, I don't think globalization is going to be the future of the world if the present trends continue.

http://www.prb.org/Content/NavigationMenu/PRB/Educators/Human_Population/Population_Growth/Population_Growth.htm

Posted by: Jamal | March 9, 2006 11:55 PM

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