Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Flashback 5/7/03: Post-Saddam Analysis

Here is another old blog entry that I truly believe could have been written yesterday. The neat thing about rereading these is being reminded of acts of governmental skullduggery and stories that I had long forgotten.

I spoke of being worried about my "radical" positions at the time. Today, it is common sense. Interesting that a week after my original posting of this, I reported a Reuters story as, "Reuters reported today that Oregon Republican Senator John Minnis wants to declare anti-war protesters as terrorists and send them to jail for 25 years to life for performing acts of civil disobedience. The conservative radio host Lars Larson agrees. According to the article, legislators give the bill little chance of passing."

While glad I had the "stones" at the time to keep going for a while, it is good to live in a time with a bit less hysteria. Now, we need to figure out how to deal with Frick (W) and Frack (Cheney) running our listing ship for the next couple of years. I wish us luck.

Update: As I re-re-re-read the article, it could be interpreted that my harsh words for conservative policymakers and pundits at the time is how I still think of them (and/or you if you consider yourself conservative). Thankfully, reality has begun to dawn upon everyone except a few to varying degrees, so I am happy to relinquish that tone today for a request that conservatives continue to trend to their fiscally responsible and republican (as in preserving the Republic) traditional roles and away from corporate cronyism and foreign policy adventurism.


May 7, 2003

Post-Saddam Analysis

Saddam is out of power. That is a good thing. The question for the folks in Iraq and the world is, "Is that a better thing?" The jury is out on that, but I'm not so sure it is. If I were a Christian in Iraq, I would be worried about the gathering of Shi'ites calling for an Islamic government. Shia Muslims comprise 60% of Iraq. In a democracy, they rule. The unanswered question is, "How many of them benefit from the secular society and would vote for it?" (That is assuming the Bush administration is telling the truth about letting the Iraqis forming their own government.)

According to one estimate I saw, 75% of Iraqis worked for the government. Guess how many have no source of income now? Iraqbodycount.net has recorded 2000+ civilian deaths and that doesn't include single-source news stories or all of the shallow graves dug throughout the country since this conflict began. If you ask the families of the dead what they think about regime change, you'll get a different response. Imagine your home town rocked by deafening explosions night after night. Imagine losing your phone, your water, and your food supply. Imagine your wife and your children huddling in the crawlspace of your home. Imagine one of them dying. Imagine losing your limbs. Can you conceive of the full implications of that? Well, Iraqis aren't imagining it, they are living it. We did it to them. I won't celebrate that.

Now that the primary bombing is done (secondary bombing through detonations of cluster bomblets and other munitions will add to the deaths above), what exactly is going on? It looks to me that we've taken a country at the developmental level of perhaps Brazil and turned it into Afghanistan. All public infrastructure is gone except for power and some water. The looting is still going on. When we made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, we took on the responsibility to secure the region. Instead, it appears that a Stalin or Mao-style income redistribution took place...with a twist. In this case, the poor and middle-class become poorer, the evil and corrupt become the middle and upper-middle class, and the foreign rich become the richer beneficiaries of both other groups. It is apparent that whatever the plan was in Iraq, the result has destroyed the infrastructure we bragged about protecting and left a humanitarian disaster for the United Nations, Oxfam, and the rest of the (liberal) prime movers of aid.

They say oil is flowing. So what? They announce it without telling us whether it is going to port, being refined, who is involved, where the money is, or any other details. However, we are supposed to take it on faith that this is a good thing. Well, so what? Iraq's oil was nationalized under Saddam Hussein. So is the US government producing and taking the oil now? Or is it an American company taking the oil? The key word here is "take." The evidence is that oil is the spoil in this conflict. We need it and they've got it.

For those that point to the humanitarian effort, consider the following: Congo has suffered 3.3 million combat and starvation deaths since 1998. Do you want a perspective on that? That is a 9/11 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for five years. That is 30 Iraq body counts (2003) or more. We sit on our butts and watch it happen. We do nothing. No conservative Christians on the 700 Club talking about intervening and no liberals marching up Main Street protesting our lack of involvement there. In fact, liberals didn't bring it up until it could be used a club to beat back the "We won! We won!" mentality of pro-war people. In fact, this is one sphere where the pure pacifists have it right. Those of us who produce weaponry are boosting the body counts in the Congo.

So anyone who talks about saving the Iraqi people can stuff it.

Ah, the weapons of mass destruction. I warned before that destabilizing a country might well cut loose the materials for destructive use in the United States. Well, I hope I am wrong, but there is at least one nuclear site in Iraq we didn't bother to secure before it was looted and now radioactive materials are missing. I hope the CIA or Special Forces whisked it up, but I fear it may have ended up in someone else's hands. Folks in Israel might be breathing a sigh of relief about Scuds, only to find a dirty bomb going off in Haifa...or maybe it will be London...or New York. In Bush's State of the Union, he listed huge quantities of weaponry that would be impossible to hide this long if they actually existed. We are talking about dozens of trailer loads of material being watched by satellites that can read news headlines on the Earth. If it weren't a lie, we would have at least some of it in hand by now. Speaking of superior tracking, Colin Powell's Powerpoint slides have been of no use. While we were worrying about whether we would lose 20,000 troops to nerve gas, the folks in DC knew there was little or no chance of it.

The message this sends to hostile developing nations is to keep their weapons programs unannounced and secret and that they'd better have some WMD if they are going to tangle with the United States. So now every powerless country will double and triple their efforts and their secrecy to come up with a cheaper way to keep the US at bay should the need arise. Nobody is going to be stupid enough to tell the UN about it. Items like Sarin and botulism weaponry are relatively cheap and easy to produce.

Most importantly, why did we deceive the United Nations and our own people about the nature and extent of Hussein's remaining weapons programs? After 2 personal "decapitation" attacks and the quick dissolution of the Republican Guard, you can't tell me we didn't have intelligence saturation in that country. The administration had a good idea of what was there and chose to deceive America and the UN. The real question is whether it will have any consequences. Do the ends justify the means? Considering our role in creating Osama to fight the Soviets and creating Saddam to fight Iran, the answer should at long last be an unequivocal NO. However, our recent capitulation to a declared terrorist group (with American blood on their hands) because they are currently harassing Iran instead of us shows that the real motives of our government are not determined by past experience, reality, or moral character.

And what of this childish mocking and chiding of our allies? We talk about "Old Europe" and about punishing France when the big players in al-Qaeda are detained by French and German agents, not Americans. Punishing France means punishing an ally. I think these temper tantrums when people won't conform are both childish and reminiscent of our enemies of older times. Most of the world gave us their hearts, their assistance, and their resources after 9/11 in an outpouring not likely to be repeated. When they asked us to focus on al-Qaeda instead of Saddam, we freaked out.

However, it wasn't everyone that freaked out. It was a particular group in Washington banging the pots, namely the neoconservatives. In concert, lowest common denominators of the media joined in: Fox, Rush Limbaugh, and Clear Channel. This is how we treat the people who devoted massive resources to keep more terrorists from crossing the Atlantic to kill Americans. We should be (and I am) ashamed of ourselves. To their credit, our allies are taking a philosophical view of Iraq instead of talking about the damage we did to the international community. Most countries have people on the ground doing relief work through NGOs, including France. This relief work will enhance the safety of our forces serving in Iraq. Thank you people of Europe. We owe you a debt of gratitude for your forbearance. I am also glad to have Canada and Mexico as neighbors. Gracias, eh?

I think the biggest thing I learned from all of this is that the moralizing done by government, whether big or small or our side or theirs, is for effect. In order to truly understand why decisions are made, the selfish explanation for the parties involved is the one that fits best, although the answer is not always simple. Iraq has oil. France, Germany, and Russia had oil contracts based on lifting of the sanctions. The United States did not. The United States pushed for war and the other three resisted. This is not rocket science. In fact, this is what historians will be talking about in 50 years; it won't be the Dixie Chicks or Rush Limbaugh they speak of.

What does Bush get out of this? How about Rumsfeld, Perle, and Wolfowitz? What financial impact will this have on their family and friends? How will the power flow? In fact, these are questions that the folks in charge already considered and they've carefully planned their way to this point with great focus. It is too bad that their vision is based on so much suffering abroad and removing civil liberties in this country. It is too bad that we are going to pay for the cost of it for decades or perhaps centuries. As always, the majority of people will discover what is happening only after the damage is done. This is the price of our culture of leisure.

Where does all of this leave the anti-war people like me? Well, I don't mind telling you that I wonder about that myself. I am glad I attended the anti-war demonstrations. There is an interesting mix of people there. Many people hijack the event for their own causes. Although anti-war and civil liberty causes are no more related to socialism than they are to republicanism, socialists always crop up at these events and try to make it look like the whole concept of peace was their idea. By the way, I also acknowledge that some of the hardest working people in the peace movement are socialists: that isn't the point. The point is that their noise far exceeds their numbers. I like Code Pink and Raging Grannies because their focus is on the topic at hand.

Peace is never high on the agenda of any government. A demonstration or protest may be the only decent way of letting the government know that people are watching them and that voting time is always just around the corner. Does that mean performing acts of vandalism and blocking highways is okay? Not in my opinion. Then people who are already looking for an excuse focus on the crime and not the cause. That's not rocket science either. There is a place for civil disobedience, but the people disrupted should be the people involved, not everyday folks.

The pro-war demonstrations were interesting in that they appeared to be driven by an anger of the opposition rather than love of the troops. In fact, "anti-peace protest protester" is a more accurate term for them. It was also like a coach calling Timeout in a basketball game to celebrate the fact that his team is ahead. I hope people enjoyed themselves there and that Clear Channel got their money's worth. To be honest, I would rather hang out with the peaceniks. I don't think the pro-war people I know (with a couple exceptions) would go in for an angry rally like that either.

Some of those hateful people have ventured onto my site and vented their spleen at me as well. I guess that's okay. At the time it worried me, because people in the media were talking about jailing dissenters and a couple of freaky legislators were proposing things to punish protesters and other hogwash. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the hoopla. In retrospect, I see it as a successful attempt to put a lid on the actual points of debate. Let's just say I won't feel sorry for them when their fingerprints, semen, PAP smears, bloodtypes, retinal patterns, and masturbation habits are recorded in the national registry and used against them when they try to get a job. I tried to stop it and they didn't.

Liberals, Democrats, and Greens are all doing some soul searching as to how to regain power. I hope they are successful in ousting Bush in 2004. If they succeed, it will be because they mobilized the people who didn't vote in the last 2 elections. They should also be able to capitalize on the bigmouth conservatives who can't keep their racism and homophobia to themselves. I hope they don't get too powerful (that applies to both major parties). I would like to see the executive branch cut down to size, but I don't trust that the current Democrats are going to do it either. I would also like that any new gun laws deal with proper firearm training, storage, and anger management rather than trying to disarm people who clearly do not wish to be disarmed. The Democrats need to adapt to the world.

Iraq had nothing anything to do with 9/11 or al-Qaeda; that is why I didn't cover national security in this analysis.

To summarize:

* Iraq: nearly destroyed
* Al-Qaeda supported by Hussein: What? I never said that.
* WMD: Let's hope not, cuz we ain't findin' nuthin'
* liberals: ineffective
* conservatives: assholes
* Machiavelli: correct
* Freedom: MIA
* Troops: good jorb (mostly)
* War Planners: smart, low casualties, play to win
* Post-War Planners: dumb or evil, can't tell which
* Truth: KIA
* Old Europe: pals
* Safety and Security: dependent on government whimsy
* Hate mail: DELETED!!!

Thanks for reading.

6 comments:

Dean Wormer said...

Don,

Great analysis. You could add all the munitions which also went up missing because we didn't see guarding them as high value targets.

Pa've said...

It is plain from a historical perspective that if you teach a man to fish he will feed him self for life, but if you teach an Iraqi to fish, he'll shoot his neighbor because that is what arabs do.

There can be no peace in Iraq, because the arab population is historically bent on killing for no good reason, IE Saddam wasn't the problem because he was a leader of a terrorist state, he was a problem because he was arab.

I blame radical islam for all this. Propoganda by the Imams stirs up hatred, and so they kill.

If Saddam was in fact the problem, his death would have ended the conflict.

Don Snabulus said...

Now, now. If I used that logic with you, I'd say that you were bound to blow up an abortion clinic or a federal building or an Olympic park, because that is what white Christians do.

And then we'd all have a good laugh because the very thought is ridiculous.

A great many Jews in Israel are genetically identical to so-called Arabs and they haven't blown up any Americans for years (since they sunk one of our Navy boats).

I blame radical Islam AND radical Judaism for all of this, but I DO NOT blame the other 95% of Islam or Judaism for the problems in the Middle East.

We have general agreement that the news media tells us what will sell viewers or papers and that we do not get the story if it falls outside their framework. Who cares if 50 imams in Lebanon condemn acts of violence in Iraq? Who cares if imams in Pakistan issue a fatwa saying the al-Qaeda is unIslamic? Our news media don't because, as Vulgarius might say, it doesn't bleed enough. Yet, if you follow Middle East news aggregators or let Professor Juan Cole do that work for you as I do, these very things are happening without the knowledge of most of the nation.

So while your post has shock value, Pa've, the scope of people causing the problem is much narrower than you are indicating.

(Don't forget that darned oil and our darned addiction to it, the absence of which would make us not care what the heck the Muslims are doing, just like we don't care what the Hindus or Buddhists are doing now.)

ladybug said...

After all the hysteria directed at folks who questioned going to Iraq in the first place, it's funny how the not-so-great reality is now "dawning" on everybody else.

Once again, the fulcrum of killed/damaged soldiers has been reached, and war seems like a bad idea.

I think a much better use of the billions we spent in Iraq, and now send to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia et. al would be to take care of our own. -

That is, give better health care coverage to children and the elderly. Put REAL dollars into the classrooms, instead of pennies on the dollar, INCLUDING HIGHER EDUCATION (since when should "education" have to stop at high school?). Invest in renewable energy technologies & industry-we won't be dependant on oil, folks can have great jobs = win-win.

Why is investing in AMERICA and AMERICANS not important to congress? Oops, I forgot, Wackenhut & Hallliburton make jails and wars, thus money can be made only when people die or are in jail.

Pa've said...

Q. If we stopped buying Arab oil, would that cause the conflict in the Middle East to stop?

A. I don't think so. If they didn't have oil money, they would resort to good old fashion swords and rock throwing. Just as many would die, but probably not as efficeintly!

The arabs have been fighting for over thousands of years. Sure, we learned our lesson today, US democratic ideas are not enough to stop a jihad.

I predict that the US will leave Iraq in 2008, because congress will cut off funding, and it will be a disaster, just like VietNam. By now, we should understand that killing is just their way of living. But unlike Viet Nam, our losses are indeed about one tenth of that war. 3000 versus 50,000, big difference. And losses are dropping becuase of the surge, but I venture it will not make a difference in the end.

Anyone who blows up a clinic or federal building is not a Christian, not in their heart, in any way.

Dean Wormer said...

I predict that the US will leave Iraq in 2008, because congress will cut off funding, and it will be a disaster, just like VietNam.

It IS a disaster like Vietnam. Any military action we take without a clear strategy, goal and exit plan would wind up such a disaster. Conservatives continue to fail to grasp that simple lesson of history and continue to make the same stupid mistake over and over.

Lady-

After all the hysteria directed at folks who questioned going to Iraq in the first place, it's funny how the not-so-great reality is now "dawning" on everybody else.

Exactly right. And those that were right continue to be shunned while those that've been wrong have continued to recieve a voice in the national media even though it's clear to all they couldn't tell their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to foreign policy.