Be Careful When You Choose Your Password

I have no comment on this extremely preoccupying situation except to advise that you choose your passwords very carefully indeed:

CBS reported on Thursday that Berg was questioned by FBI agents who discovered he had been interviewed before because a computer password he used in college had turned up in the possession of accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zaccarias Moussaoui.”

Equally preoccupying is the question I feel now compelled to ask myself: have these people gone completely mad?

“NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) – U.S. forces intensified their war against Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday, for the first time sending tanks into Najaf’s vast cemetery to blast guerrilla positions among its tombs.”

If you want to know why I see it like this, Juan Cole – who knows a hell of a lot more than I do about Islamic customs – also puts it a hell of a lot better than I could: here, here, here.

My own view is that Muqtada has now won politically and morally. He keeps throwing Abu Ghuraib in the faces of the Americans. He had his men take refuge in Najaf and Karbala because he knew only two outcomes were possible. Either the Americans would back off and cease trying to destroy him, out of fear of fighting in the holy cities and alienating the Shiites. Or they would come in after Muqtada and his militia, in which case the Americans would probably turn the Shiites in general against themselves. The latter is now happening.”

I don’t care what Sufouk told them the Americans are most unwise to engage in major combat in Karbala so close to Husain’s tomb. They make themselves look like Yazid. If they, or whoever is reading this, don’t know who Yazid is, then they have no business being in Iraq, much less in Karbala.”

Also see this Washington Post article.

The people authorising all this would seem to have no values which they hold sacred, the astonishing thing is that they imagine others don’t either, and that them remaining in this ignorance will have no significant military and political consequences. Fear and respect are not the same thing at all. A war like the one we are supposed to be waging on terrorism will not be won through fear, only by our winning respect. At the moment all we are doing is putting up ‘own goals’ on the scoreboard.

I don’t know which makes me feel more afraid: seeing all this chaos unfolding before my eyes, or the thought that US electors might vote in November that this is a ‘just fine’ way of doing things.

Postcript: People often make the inevitable comparisons between what is happening now and the war in Vietnam. I may be corrected, but I never recall having the sense of ‘ethical anarchy’ during that war that I have now. Brutal and atrocious things may have happened then, but the sense of ‘out of controlness’ seems much greater now. Equally it seems to me to be one thing to appear to show contempt for the political ideology of another people and quite another to appear to reveal the same contempt for their most sacred religious beliefs.

Postscript 2: people may be right to say that this war was not about petroleum. But it is right there in the middle. And we have a global economy which is hanging precariously on a very thin thread which depends on every metre of advance – or retreat – made by those tanks.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Not Europe by Edward Hugh. Bookmark the permalink.

About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

72 thoughts on “Be Careful When You Choose Your Password

  1. Recent news from the Financial Times posted on Friday:

    “Crispin Blunt, a British opposition MP who has just returned from Iraq, however, described the preparations for the handover on July 1 as a ‘complete shambles’.

    “The former soldier and Conservative MP described the US approach to occupation as little more than ‘a campaign to intimidate the Iraqi people’.

    “He said that UK troops in Iraq did not yet know what their status would be once the new interim government took over on July 1.

    “‘We are seeing the collapse of American policy,’ he told BBC radio’s Today programme.”

  2. “‘We are seeing the collapse of American policy,’

    Bob, enemy of Americans, can barely hide his glee.

  3. RSN – Back to “label and smear”?

    I recognise, even if you can’t or won’t, that America is a liberal democracy, constitutionally committed to political pluralism, as well as the implications of that. Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, didn’t support the Iraq war from the start and nor did the libertarian CATO Institute. Nor did countless millions of other Americans. In the 2000 US Presidential, more Americans voted for the other guy. As some of us vividly recall, it all came down to hanging chads in Florida and a Supreme Court decision, not exactly the regular stuff of a well-functioning, popular democracy.

    Americans who incline to make judgemental comments about “Europeans”, as though we all constitute a uniform species with stereotypical views, hardly have just cause for complaint if some Europeans comment on the evident policy failings of the current political administration in America, especially when we gather news and critical commentary from mainstream American media. Vive pluralism and vive the web. Some of us are disinclined to presume Neoconservatism has yet gained the status of a prevailing totalitarian ideology in America.

    A UK poll in April by a leading polling organisations here yielded a fascinating insight: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2004/04/20/OmGuardian-1.pdf

    As the polling was done 16-18 April, it was before news emerged in American media of extensive prisoner abuse in Iraq by the military forces of the Coalition of the Willing.

    Responses to Qu.3 in the poll: “How much confidence do you have in the American’s handling of the situation in Iraq?” showed consistent and fairly steep gradients by region and by social class. The most sceptical of American handling were the AB social classes in the south of England while DE social classes in the north were the most confident.

    In other contexts, we could expect the AB social classes in southern England to more closely identify with stereotypical views of American values, as well as being better educated and informed on average. Indeed, that has tended to be a fairly standard and frequent complaint in Britain about ABs living in the south of England as George Orwell noted in his book: The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) about poverty in the north of England during the depression years: http://www.george-orwell.org/North_And_South/0.html

    I am especially reminded of the passage: “There is no doubt about the Englishman?s inbred conviction that those who live to the south of him are his inferiors; even our foreign policy is governed by it to some extent. I think, therefore, that it is worth pointing out when and why it came into being. When nationalism first became a religion, the English looked at the map, and, noticing that their island lay very high in the Northern Hemisphere, evolved the pleasing theory that the further north you live the more virtuous you become.”

    Just for the record, Dougla Hurd, who was Britain’s foreign secretary at the time of Gulf I, and Malcolm Rifkind, his successor through to Tony Blair’s ascendancy in 1997, both opposed the Iraq war. It seems Blair signed us up to supporting the Iraq war shortly after 9-11: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1185438,00.html

  4. Considering that the UN has presided over more massacres of more people than any other organization in history (well, perhaps the Catholic Church), I wouldn’t trust them to do anything right. One of the main reasons is that even more so than a government (such as the US or UK), the UN is accountable to no one, especially if they fail or act corruptly.

    Considering the paperwork for the bribes that was found (including the bribing of that Scottich MP), and considering the recent confessions of bribery of UN officials and heads of state by Saddam (over 300 names), I believe that the UN officials were taking bribes on a massive scale from the oil for food program. The mere fact that Kofi Annan (the man who knowingly permitted the slaughter of millions of Rwandans) has refused to let anyone see any records, or allow any UN officials to talk to anyone, is proof enough for me.

    As for “moral degeneracy”, how does Kofi Annan rate to you? Dallaire asked Kofi Annan several times for permission to stop the upcoming Rwandan genocide – up to four weeks prior to the debacle – and Kofi explicitly allowed the massacres to take place. He didn’t even warn anyone. It’s a far more degenerate act than eating candy, or even torturing prisoners. Killing people by the millions – allowing it, knowing about it, and doing nothing to stop it when you have the means to stop it – that’s prima facie evidence of moral degeneracy to me. I would rank Kofi Annan as a moral degenerate somewhere between Chamberlain and Hitler.

    As far as I’m concerned, the UN is a collection of the world’s moral degenerates, and is a cesspool of moral degeneracy. The idea that anyone would trust them to do anything right is appalling.

  5. John,

    The UN is only able to deploy such military resources as are made available by its member states’ governments. In the UN Security Council session on Iraq during February 2003, the permanent members, apart from America and Britain, were taking the line that the UN weapons inspectors should be given more time to complete their task of searching for WMD in Iraq before sanctioning war – and as Tony Blair famously said in a keynote speech to the Chicago Economic Club in April 1999: “If we want a world ruled by law and by international co-operation then we have to support the UN as its central pillar.” – from: http://www.ndol.org/ndol_ci.cfm?cp=4&kaid=128&subid=187&contentid=829

    As we now know, no WMD have been found in Iraq and that after Blair had claimed – four times in a dossier presented to a special session of Britain’s Parliament on 24 September 2002 – that Iraq’s military was able to use WMD within “45 minutes” of a command being given: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2002/09/24/dossier.pdf

    We were taken to war on a false prospectus. Blair had no approval from Britain’s Parliament until the debate on 18 March 2003 when British troops were already stationed on Iraq’s borders, poised for invasion before the heat of the Iraq summer began. Blair was relying on ancient powers of the Royal prerogatives to authorise preparations for the war, not approval by Britain’s elected legislature.

    We did not learn until late last summer from the Hutton inquiry that the supposed intelligence on Iraq’s WMD related only to small calibre, “battlefield” weapons, which did not constitute any security threat to Britain or to Britain’s base in Cyprus.

    From the Iraq Body Count we have the appalling estimate that some 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed as the result of the war. We now know of the extensive use of torture on Iraqi prisoners, as well as homicides, and that after the Red Cross reported troops as saying 70 per cent or more of those detained had been picked up by chance.

    The latest revelations about Chalabi have just added a dimension of pure farce to the Pentagon’s planning and conduct of the war: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5019721/

    Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, his deputy, have become a global laughing stock.

  6. John Kwon,
    I don’t know where you are getting your information from…but I have issues with it.

    you said:
    Considering the paperwork for the bribes that was found (including the bribing of that Scottich MP), and considering the recent confessions of bribery of UN officials and heads of state by Saddam (over 300 names)

    Funny because this AP story from thursday says something rather different:

    Allegations of corruption in the program surfaced in January in the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada, which published a list of about 270 former government officials, activists, journalists and U.N. officials from more than 46 countries suspected of profiting from Iraqi oil sales that were part of the U.N. program.

    continuing, you said:
    The mere fact that Kofi Annan (the man who knowingly permitted the slaughter of millions of Rwandans) has refused to let anyone see any records, or allow any UN officials to talk to anyone, is proof enough for me.

    A powerful set of charges, but uhm, that AP story I just cited ended with this:
    Annan launched an internal inquiry in February but canceled it in March to allow a broader, independent examination as allegations of massive corruption in the U.N. program grew, calling the world body’s credibility into question.
    Annan has said any U.N. staff members failing to cooperate with the inquiry will be fired.

    Oh, and about Rwanda ?
    The consensus number seems to be roughly 800,000 rwandans killed.
    A big number to be sure, but there is a difference between ‘almost a million’ and ‘millions’. It’s the sort of lack of attention to factual details that undermines the credibility of your accusations.

    You said:
    Dallaire asked Kofi Annan several times for permission to stop the upcoming Rwandan genocide – up to four weeks prior to the debacle – and Kofi explicitly allowed the massacres to take place. He didn’t even warn anyone.

    Let’s examine this critical account of events:
    Dufka cited the January 11, 1994, cable from Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, Force Commander for UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda), who told the head of peace keeping operations for the UN, now Secretary General, Kofi Annan, that he was going to do searches and take possession of arms caches that had been identified to him by his senior informant. The response Dallaire received was “no go.” What the UN urged him to do, Dufka said, was to work through the National Police to urge President Habyarimana to control his domestic militias. “Not a very helpful suggestion seeing as he was the one perpetrating this.”
    […]
    “As the arms distribution continued and the domestic tensions rose within Rwanda, General Dallaire repeatedly asked for a broader interpretation of his mandate. After his January 11 telegram, Dallaire sent five more messages specifying the need for action.
    […]
    Corinne Dufka said that the United Nations Security Council was getting mixed information about the situation in Rwanda. While General Dallaire was sending cables about the coming extermination of the Tutsi, the UN Secretary General’s representative in Rwanda, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, sent upbeat cables about the situation.

    I don’t see any evidence in this article, which is very harsh with the U.N. and the international community, of Kofi Annan or anyone in the U.N. ‘explicitly’ allowing the massacre to take place. Kofi Annan was Dallaire’s boss, but did he have the authority to expand Allaire’s mandate to do what was needed to stop the massacre? was that authority even the U.N. Secretary General’s ? or was that authority strictly the Security Council’s ? Nor does there seem to be any evidence that Kofi Annan kept warnings of the coming genocide to himself.

    Now, Kofi Annan might still possibly be as morally degenerate as you claim, but the bogus ‘facts’ you marshall to make that claim make you look like the moral degenerate rather than Kofi Annan.

  7. Patrick-

    I missed my computer all weekend. This thread is becoming quite active.

    You seem to be impyling that the presence of the US adds nothing to stability in Iraq. I would point out that Iraq was quite stable, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship. Yet no Iraqi seems to be in a hurry to return Hussein, or any other totalitarian (ie Theocratic) group, to power. If things were worse before regime change, than it follows they must be better now.

    As to the UN, I feel that there is a great deal of benefit there, through UNICEF, the WHO, and other NGOs. The problem with the Security Council and General Assembly is two-fold: corruption, and lack of ability. I fear that the UN is finally being exposed for what it too frequently is: an organization of thieves appointed by despots, interested only in perpetuating the staus quo, and making as much money as possible. I don’t think that everyone who works there is like this, but certainly enough to cause the harm. The second problem is the UN’s lack of ability to enforce it’s resolutions. The US abandoned the UN in the course of the run up to the Iraqi war only after it became clear that UN members were reneging on promises, and actively working against the US and any promise of a free Iraq. While the uncovery of the bribes in the oil-for food scandal make this more understandable, it is no less odious.

    If you truly believe that the sudden removal of the CPA forces from Iraq will have any good outcome, I am surprised. And very disappointed

  8. Simon,
    If you truly believe that the sudden removal of the CPA forces from Iraq will have any good outcome, I am surprised. And very disappointed

    Per the WaPo, the CPA had a good percentage of its staff chosen not because of competencies or skills, but because they had sent their resumes to the (conservative) Heritage Foundation.

    If the best we have to offer Iraq is a reconstruction effort done by inexperienced incompetents. Then yes, I do think that Iraq would be better off without us.

    Back to the U.N.:
    The US abandoned the UN in the course of the run up to the Iraqi war only after it became clear that UN members were reneging on promises, and actively working against the US and any promise of a free Iraq.

    This is a tired lie. It’s the Bush administration that reneged on its promise to come back to the Security Council for a second resolution prior to attacking Iraq.

    Why? because the U.S. didn’t have the votes to win a resolution authorizing war against Iraq.

    Why ? Because the U.N. inspectors that went to Iraq could substantiate the accusations the U.S. was making about supposed Iraq’s WMD programs.

    Why ? Because Iraq truly didn’t have any anymore.

    The U.N. Security council would have been fully justified in turning down the Bush administration request for approval to wage war against Iraq, if it had been called to do so, which it wasn’t.

  9. Thought I would do a check on the latest poll in America – and it doesn’t look to good for the administration:

    “The war in Iraq continues to tarnish the approval ratings of President Bush. Evaluations of the way Mr. Bush is handling the war in Iraq, how he is handling foreign policy, and how he is handling his job overall are now at their lowest levels ever in his presidency.

    “Mr. Bush’s overall job approval rating has continued to decline. Forty-one percent approve of the job he is doing as president, while 52 percent disapprove – the lowest overall job rating of his presidency. Two weeks ago, 44 percent approved. A year ago, two-thirds did.

    “Sixty-one percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Mr. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while just 34 percent approve.” – from: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/05/24/opinion/polls/main619122.shtml

  10. Patrick-

    You win. You have worn me down. If the Washington Post believes that the CPA personnel in Iraq are universally harmful, well they have no axe to grind. So the Heritage Foundation (for which I detect some contempt from you) has recruited conservatives to go to Iraq. Well, at least you can’t use the sending our poor to die in Iraq canard. The reopening of schools, the immunzation programs, the re-flooding of the marshlands, these are all either lies or are not really good things. You win. Your blind obstinance to any events that do not fit with your manufactured view of the world has raised you to victory. Now for extra credit, please explain how Hussein was not in violation of the 14 UN resolutions (yes 14!) demanding he renounce, surrender, and document that surrender of his bio, chemo, nuclear, and long distance rocketry programs. Extra credit for blaming Hussein’s actions on the US (it may be difficult, but try hard).

    It comes down to this, Patrick. I believe in individual freedom. I believe that citizens of free democratic countries have a responsibility to others, to help them have the same freedoms we prize so much. I believe that people have a right to decide how they live, and they deserve that right. I believe that the United States is a force for good in the world. I further believe that the actions in Iraq are a happy confluence of US interest (stabilization of the Middle East) with a truly humanitarian goal (the overthrow of an unstable, brutal, and exceptionally oppressive dictator and his fascist government). I deeply believe that the only possible path to world peace is through more democracies, and fewer dictators. If you don’t believe in these things, than we are so far apart that further discourse is futile. If you do believe in these things, than look at events to see if these things are happening. I don’t care if you are a Liberal or Conservative, Socialist or Fascist. I don’t care if you love George Bush, or hate him. I really, really don’t care. Juan Cole seems to be completely wrong in his predictions of how Karbala and al-Sadr will play out, the Iraqis seem to be working these things out.

    So stop complaining about what and who you hate, and start telling what and who you love, and what actions will benefit the greates number and why.

  11. Simon,
    If the Washington Post believes that the CPA personnel in Iraq are universally harmful, well they have no axe to grind.

    You obviously didn’t read the article.

    So the Heritage Foundation (for which I detect some contempt from you) has recruited conservatives to go to Iraq.

    My contempt is reserved for the civilian leadership of the Pentagon whose CPA staff selection process seems to have been ideological purity over competence or required skills.

    I further believe that the actions in Iraq are a happy confluence of US interest (stabilization of the Middle East) with a truly humanitarian goal (the overthrow of an unstable, brutal, and exceptionally oppressive dictator and his fascist government).

    Please notice that the Middle East is notably less stable and less friendly to U.S. interests than it was prior to this war.

    Also notice that you are contradicting yourself:
    I would point out that Iraq was quite stable, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship.

    Juan Cole seems to be completely wrong in his predictions of how Karbala and al-Sadr will play out, the Iraqis seem to be working these things out.

    This is illogical; How can he be completely wrong about events that have yet to occur ?

    So stop complaining about what and who you hate, and start telling what and who you love, and what actions will benefit the greates number and why.

    I personally prefer rational discussion to emotional discussion, if you don’t mind. This isn’t about love/hate for me.

  12. Simon, don’t forget that this site is a hate site, filled with anti-Americans, domestic and foreign.

    I don’t blame you for being frustrated. The bigotry is overwhelming.

  13. Well then, if we’re thinking that US intervention is always evil, then we must say that the Third Reich was a Germany quite stable under Hitler. Perhaps the US should never have entered the war, and most importantly, should never have invaded Europe. Additionally, the United Kingdom, at the time, should have immediately surrendered to Hitler to avoid all civilian and military casualties (on both sides, of course). Think of the misery in World War II that could have been avoided, including the use of the atom bomb by the US, if the US had never entered the war – if it had capitulated to Japan after Pearl Harbor.

    Perhaps we would all be speaking German now, and holding our right hands in the air, and wearing black uniforms, in a world more Right Wing than anyone can possibly imagine. But at least there would be peace (well, it would be rather hard on socialists, homosexuals, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Slavs, and anyone else Hitler didn’t like).

    And as for the Dallaire/Annan memos that went back and forth for four weeks prior to the massacres – those were facts. To this day you can read them down at the UN in New York. Even if Annan did not have the “authority” to authorize something, at least he could have said something – warned somebody – raised the issue.

    Also, I suppose that to someone on the Left, it doesn’t matter if people are massacred – 800,000 is a paltry sum, and as long as no one can say “millions” it’s not an issue.

    Having seen massacred Kurdish women and children up close and rotting, courtesy of the late great Saddam (who according to the Left was a great leader who never did anything significantly wrong in his entire life), I feel that knowing a massacre is about to occur requires action of some sort – even if it is unauthorized.

    But, I suppose that if I hear two men talking outside of a house that they are going to go in and kill my Left neighbor, and loot his house, I’ll go back to reading my books, confident in the knowledge that by my neighbor’s standards, I have no right, and no authority, and no moral obligation to warn him. Even more, I have no grounds to come to his aid or defense, or even summon the police, and I can only wait until the screams of his wife and children subside and after a few days (upon smelling the rotting stench), I may, with some trepidation, call the police (or perhaps a coroner would be more appropriate). Better yet, the neighbors in the surrounding area might take a vote, and decide if the police would be notified at all. After all, I wouldn’t want to summon the police and risk offending my surviving neighbors by doing so.

    And if the murderers were also neighbors, it wouldn’t be politically correct, moral, or otherwise good to point them out to the police. After all, if I can’t point to the news link showing that they’re guilty, then I have no business accusing them of murder.

    Rational thought and direct observation evidently have no currency among the Left.

  14. John Kwon,
    Nobody except you is generalizing that all American military interventions are evil. conversely, this does not imply that all American military interventions are holy and pure.

    Even if Annan did not have the “authority” to authorize something, at least he could have said something – warned somebody – raised the issue.

    Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. you haven’t presented any evidence either way. The article I linked to faults the U.N. and the international players (The U.S., France, Belgium) for having major hints of what was coming, and not doing enough to stop it. This is, unfortunately, a more plausible scenario than your Koffi-Annan-kept-the-lid-on-coming-massacre scenario.

    Also, I suppose that to someone on the Left, it doesn’t matter if people are massacred – 800,000 is a paltry sum, and as long as no one can say “millions” it’s not an issue.

    The issue is that you’re using bogus ‘facts’ to make your point. I can’t imagine why you’d feel a need to exagerate this particular point, but you did.

    The fact that you seem to be unwilling to admit error when caught making this exageration makes you an untrustworthy source of information. What other exagerations and lies are you trying to feed us ?

    […]the late great Saddam (who according to the Left was a great leader who never did anything significantly wrong in his entire life)

    According to you, that is. But then, I’ve already established that you lie and exagerate to make rhetorical points.

  15. Simon,
    If the Washington Post believes that the CPA personnel in Iraq are universally harmful, well they have no axe to grind.

    You obviously didn’t read the article.
    Yes, I did. Your point is..?

    So the Heritage Foundation (for which I detect some contempt from you) has recruited conservatives to go to Iraq.

    My contempt is reserved for the civilian leadership of the Pentagon whose CPA staff selection process seems to have been ideological purity over competence or required skills.
    You are assuming that many qualified young liberals were turned away so that the scions of the wealthy class could go to Iraq? Any proof?

    I further believe that the actions in Iraq are a happy confluence of US interest (stabilization of the Middle East) with a truly humanitarian goal (the overthrow of an unstable, brutal, and exceptionally oppressive dictator and his fascist government).

    Please notice that the Middle East is notably less stable and less friendly to U.S. interests than it was prior to this war.
    And Europe was much less stable during WWII than before and the US was less stable during the Revolutionary war, etc etc. As to friendly to US interests, I would welcome evidence of such friendship: Saudi Arabia: sending murderous militants. Palestine: Cheering the deaths of Americans on Sept 11. Iran: ? Do I need to go any further?

    Also notice that you are contradicting yourself:
    I would point out that Iraq was quite stable, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship.

    Juan Cole seems to be completely wrong in his predictions of how Karbala and al-Sadr will play out, the Iraqis seem to be working these things out.

    This is illogical; How can he be completely wrong about events that have yet to occur ?
    Inasmuch as he has made predictions as to these events and their current status, those predictions are demonstrably wrong.

    So stop complaining about what and who you hate, and start telling what and who you love, and what actions will benefit the greates number and why.

    I personally prefer rational discussion to emotional discussion, if you don’t mind. This isn’t about love/hate for me.
    What a delicatley snide comment! Ah yes, ad hominem, the last refuge of the incoherant. Don’t try to duck the point. What do you stand for, and how do you propose to get there. If you have no greater context, then every action you evaluate must stand alone. Yes, wasr is bad. Bad things happen. But they do so for a better reason. I have explained my better reasons. What are yours?

  16. Simon,
    >>>If the Washington Post believes that the CPA personnel in Iraq are universally harmful, well they have no axe to grind.

    >>You obviously didn’t read the article.
    >Yes, I did. Your point is..?

    That the article said no such thing. That the CPA staffers themselves ackowledged that they were in over their heads.

    >You are assuming that many qualified young liberals were turned away so that the scions of the wealthy class could go to Iraq? Any proof?

    What I am assuming is that anyone submitting their resumes to a conservative institution like the Heritage Foundation would themselves be conservatives. Conservative and qualified would be fine, but there doesn’t seem to have been any filter for qualifications, and the results are obvious.

    Moving on: You haven’t resolved the logical conflict between calling Iraq a stable totalitarian state under an unstable dictator.

    I think that the opposite is probably closer to the truth, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Otherwise besides Israel, The U.S.’s major allies in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. Saudi Arabia is currently trying to reduce oil prices for us both by boosting their oil production and trying to get the rest of OPEC to boost theirs, just like Saudi Prince Bandar promised Bush.

    Inasmuch as he [Juan Cole] has made predictions as to these events and their current status, those predictions are demonstrably wrong.

    Quite an all-encompassing statement.
    Cite specifics.

    As to what I stand for:
    I believed prior to the war, and still do,
    (1) That the premises used to launch this war were bogus.
    (2) that launching a pre-emptive war is contrary to american principles of justice.
    (3) That the U.S. did not have resources to effectively take over Iraq (e.g. total troops, and Arabic speakers).
    (4) That failure would be worse than doing nothing.

    I now also believe
    (5) our opportunity to establish democracy in Iraq is now completely squandered.

  17. Patrick (although I think we may be the only 2 left on this thread)

    I wish I could get italics to work. It makes your posts much easier to read.

    Young people working in Iraq:

    Unless you can show that qualified liberal applicants for these jobs were turned away, I am left with the conclusion that young conservatives were the only ones applying for these jobs. Since they are universally pretty bad jobs, in bad conditions, I really think we should all be thanking these people, not condemning them.

    Stability of Iraq:

    OK, you’ve lost me here. My argument is that change is by definition destabilizing. Absence of change is the definition of stability. There is no way that Iraq was going to change without some period of instability.

    But lets get to your list (I have a fondness for lists).

    1. I believe that the real reason for this war was to place a stable democracy in the Middle East “pour encourage les autre”, to encourage other countries to move away from corrupt, socially stagnant breeding grounds for disillusion and terrorism, usually condoned by the kleptocratic government as a means to distract the populace from the systemic theft and abuses of that government. I think that Bush et.al. jumped on whatever reason they thought would carry the day. But, let’s remember, Saddam Hussein was in violation of the many UN resolutions, as well as in violation of the terms of his cease fire after the First Gulf War (btw, that war was never actually ended, just a cease fire). Since my support was not predicated on whether Hussein had WMDs, I don’t really worry much about that issue. And it does seem that he had at least one sarin shell, so who knows?

    2. If by pre-emptive you mean anything other than a response to a direct attack, well what are your views on Haiti 2, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti 1, Panama, Vietnam( I’m trying to be complete), Korea, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Morocco…you get my drift? Bush was quite clear when he said that we would no longer wait for an imminent threat, but would act earlier. This is a direct result of September 11. I am not maintaining that there was a direct link between Hussein and al’Quaeda, but I really don’t care. Hussein was a miserable SOB, he was killing thousands, he was defying (and bribing) the UN, and much more importantly, he was violating his cease fire with the US. He was actively supporting terrorism (payments to families of Palestinian terrorist bombers). So we got a chance to help ourselves, and at the same time remove a murderous enemy. I do not understand how this was a bad thing. No international law was broken, treaties were upheld, agreements were honored. The US has always tried to be a country that kept its word. Here we got a chance to warn, warn again, threaten, and finally, carry out our stated threat. You talk about credibility, well, hopefully next time we have to threaten, we will be believed, and will not have to use force.

    3. Resources. Well, we did in fact take over Iraq. Rather quickly. Would we have liked more Arabic speakers? Sure. But we weren’t going to wait long enough to train them, and so we did without. We could engage in endless games of “what if” but the fact is that Iraq is stabilising, Falluja has quieted down, the Shi’ite mullahs (al-Sistani and the rest) have come out strongly against al-Sadr, whose militia is being worn down without replenishment. Of the three cities that he had some control over, he has been reduced to occupation of holy sites in Karbala. And that does not make the Shi’ites happy, either. There is no civil war brewing. Is there still violence? Yes, but the US and Iraqis are reducing it.

    4. Failure worse than nothing. Hmm, well, I’ll start by saying that we are not going to fail. But I’m sure you want more. We have had great successes with the underlying reason for this war. Would you like to give Qaddafi back his nukes? (BTW, weapons inspectors do that: Inspect a country’s disarmament. They aren’t detectives, looking across a whole country without the co-operation of the government). Even the Arab League is making noises about liberalization, rights of women, and reining in the extremists. These are good events that are a direct result of the war in Iraq. You think we are losing. I disagree, but more importantly I say we will not lose. (btw, last year saw very little terrorist activity, especially in the US. Do you truly think that terrorists no longer want to act within the US? Kill Americans? Westerners? They are only killing other Muslims.)

    5. Establishing democracy in Iraq. I’m not one to use web links, but I’m getting tired of typing. I’ll try for a source that is not in any way pre-Bush or pro-US:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1185792,00.html

    So it seems that democracy is taking hold. I have no desire that Iraq turn into a US puppet. I just care that they are not used by some dictator to cause trouble for us in the future. Hell, they can keep all their oil if they want. /joke/ If we really need to steal some, well there are closer countries /joke/.

    This is a war. Not every day is a good day. But the result has to be. Years from now, I truly believe that we will look back upon this time and say that when this insane form of fundamentalist, fascist, anti-Humanity terrorism started to take firm hold on the Arab world, we acted to stop it. Hitler was a threat we removed, as was Milosovic. We stood against the Soviet state, who also did a much better job of killing its own citizens then we could ever dream. You ask why I support this war? Its because I am a Liberal. I believe in freedom, I believe in basic human rights, I believe that representative governments are much less likely to enslave their neighbors. I believe that people who want to get married should be praised and supported. I believe in a free press. I also believe that there are people who wish to destroy these instituions and kill every American.
    And I believe that it is the job of the President to stop those people. And I really think that is what we are doing.

  18. Ok, I’ll play. This one is from the Independent (UK). It’s a classic example of a UN “peacekeeping” operation – note that “peacekeeping” does not mean exactly what you think it should mean.

    Teenage rape victims fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being sexually exploited by the United Nations peace-keeping troops sent to the stop their suffering.

    The Independent has found that mothers as young as 13 – the victims of multiple rape by militiamen – can only secure enough food to survive in the sprawling refugee camp by routinely sleeping with UN peace-keepers.

    Testimony from girls and aid workers in the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Bunia, in the north-east corner of Congo, claims that every night teenage girls crawl through a wire fence to an adjoining UN compound to sell their bodies to Moroccan and Uruguayan soldiers.

  19. John Kwon,
    that article snippet (Link ? Date published?) is only tangentially related at best to your charge against Kofi Annan being morally degenerate.

  20. Simon,

    Re: Young people working in Iraq:
    I think you’re being obtuse on this issue.

    1.Ledeen’s journey to Baghdad began two weeks earlier when she received an e-mail out of the blue from the Pentagon’s White House liaison office. The Sept. 16 message informed her that the occupation government in Iraq needed employees
    2. For months they wondered what they had in common, how their names had come to the attention of the Pentagon, until one day they figured it out: They had all posted their resumes at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank.
    3. They were supposed to be experts, but many of the younger hires who filled the CPA’s hallways were longer on enthusiasm than on expertise.

    If you read his archives, Col Lounsbury has some choice words for these supposed-to-be-experts.

    Re: Stability in Iraq prior to invasion.
    You’ve said Iraq was stable under Hussein, and that Hussein himself was an unstable dictator. Which does not logically follow.
    I think it’s fairer to say that Hussein was balancing a large number of forces that would have otherwise torn the country apart.

    As to your attempted rebuttals of my points.
    1. I think that Bush et.al. jumped on whatever reason they thought would carry the day
    By which you confirm that you are in agreement with my point that the reasons given for this war were bogus.

    2. Bush was quite clear when he said that we would no longer wait for an imminent threat, but would act earlier. There was no threat to the U.S., imminent or otherwise. Invading another country without the Security Council’s approval is a violation of the U.N. Charter, of which we are a signatory. This was indeed a violation of American principles.

    3. Well, we did in fact take over Iraq. Rather quickly. We toppled Saddam’s regime rather quickly, However we demonstrated that we did not have control of Iraq as early as April 2003, when we failed to stop the looting. We still don’t have control of Iraq. Sadr’s base isn’t in the South, it’s in the Bagdhad slum now known as Sadr City. Which, I seem to recall, we don’t dare patrol anymore.

    4. Failure worse than nothing. Hmm, well, I’ll start by saying that we are not going to fail. That’s a declaration of faith on your part. It’s deluded thinking, from my perspective. Strategic planning would require examining all of the worst case scenarios and ensuring that we do the utmost to avoid falling into those traps. Unfortunately, our Commander in Chief is not a strategic thinker.

    5. One local election does not make a democratic state. I see no evidence of democracy taking hold at the national level.

  21. Patrick,

    How do you get the italics? I’m just going to use the numbered points, without cut and paste.

    As to the young workers: What was the alternative? Where were all the qualified, liberal candidates? You make a point that these people are incompetant, yet what was the alternative?

    1. No, the reasons given were not “bogus”. Three reasons were given: WMD as a threat to the US and world, Liberation of the Iraqi people, and long term stabilization of the ME by the introduction of a democratic Iraq. Every country in the world believed in the existence of the WMD, and the recent sarin shell has to give you pause. Because, in fact, it is a chemical weapon found in Iraq. QED. Liberation of the Iraqi people has occured. If you want to argue that, leave me out. Ask the Iraqis. Long term stabilization of the ME, which I believe was and is the most important reason, well we have seen some results (Libya) but we will know in the long term.

    2. We did not violate the UN charter for 2 very clear legal reasons: First, this was a continuation of the actions taken in the First Gulf War. Saddam Hussein was in violation of the terms of cease fire, thereby terminating the cease fire. Secondly, Hussein was in violation of 14 seperate UN resolutions relating to disarmament. Now these two items are not matters of opinion, but matters of fact. The US invasion of Iraq was not illegal but sanctioned by the UN in 1991. There is no room for discussion here.

    3. What looting? Saddam’s palaces? Hell, I would have let the Iraqis carry off everything. They paid for it. We control the vast majority of Iraq. al-Sadr may be from Sadr city in Baghdah, but he is currently (and has been) holed up in a Shi’ite mosque in Najaf. There is violence in Sadr City, a slum area, but, to quote today’s New York Times:

    In the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad, rebels using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fought with American troops, and an American military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said “a very large number” of rebels were killed in both places.

    BTW, no CPA casualties. Thats not just patrolling, but very effective patrolling.

    Let’s see..
    4. “Strategic planning would require examining all of the worst case scenarios and ensuring that we do the utmost to avoid falling into those traps.”

    Interesting. That is what is referred to as “planning for defeat” or “planning for inaction”. A good strategic plan is not one that minimizes damage, but one that achieves the goals in the best way. Planning is never a case of avoiding trouble, but of meeting it on advantageous terms.
    Start with the assumption that we will win, and design your plan to that. No one ever starts a plan with things that cannot be done. I’m sure you don’t believe me, so just ask any military officers you may know. Its pretty basic stuff for them.

    5. We have not had national elections, so obviously democracy has not taken hold at a national level. Where elections have been held, the results have been effective, peaceful, and representative of the electorate. What experiance we have with democracy in Iraq has been overwhelmingly positive. From where do you draw your conclusions otherwise?

    To sum up, Patrick, if you are looking for bad news, there is plenty out there. Its a war, and war is ugly. I am not going to convince you otherwise, and frankly, I don’t really care. These exchanges have served a purpose for me, namely, helping to clarify my feelings on these issues. You may remain on the sidelines, criticizing, sniping, bemoaning the current state of affairs. I don’t care. I, and people who agree with me, will continue to support these actions that are bringing, and will continue to bring, freedom and life to so many people. I am sure there will be many opportunities along the way for you to express your schadenfreude.

  22. Simon,
    You are a font of disinformation. But one comment stands out for me:

    What looting?

    The Burning of the Iraqi National archives, for one, which contained priceless, irreplaceable historical documents.
    Even Hospitals were looted.
    And all Iraqi ministries, save the Oil Ministry. which was the only one protected by American forces.

    This was front page news in the U.S.

    And you ask: What looting ?

    Do you truly wish to paint yourself the equivalent of a Holocaust-denier ?

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