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Wednesday, October 08, 2003
I wanted to share an e-mail debate that my brother Todd and I are having. It reminds me that we need to get a strong liberal voice on this site. Our usual foil, Tim, has gone AWOL. (Perhaps he was in Iraq as a civilian shield?) It is much more fun.
Comparison of WW2 and Iraq
MACK: As for WW2, I think you should be a little more careful to reject the comparison. The exact same thing you are saying about the arabs was said about the Japanese. The first suicide bombers were kamakazi kemosabe. Did we solve that problem through "education"? No, we solved it through total victory.
We can't grow democracy? Again... see Germany and Japan. Last time I checked, they elect their leaders now, in regular elections and everything. The reason it is warm and fuzzy is because that sort of commitment makes you feel good about America. Why is that necessarily a bad thing and a false patriotism? Why over-estimate what international organizations can do and underestimate what America can do? Check the record - - America's record is far better than theirs.
TODD: The quote below is a small sample of what WW2 was like: "During WW2 19,500 Russian soldiers died for every day of the war between Russia and Germany. On the first day of the battle of the Somme the British had casualties of some 57,000 - killed and wounded. What about the firestorms at Hamburg and Dresden in WW2 - one night events where tens of thousands were killed.
What about Falaise, Normandy, 1944 where German forces were almost trapped in a 'pocket' and where after the 'battle' you could not walk on the roads for bodies, i.e. you had to walk on bodies because there were so many along the roads.
What about almost any day in WW2? This conflict has involved small ground forces and the numbers involved in the fighting are less that those involved in some NATO exercises in Europe. "
I am sorry but you cannot compare Iraq to WW2. Our soldiers used tanks to crush guys in pick up trucks. I've heard some refer to the Iraq war to the dallas cowboys vs a high school football team. (no disrespect to our armed forces-see one of my favorite websites-www.hackworth.com.) Last time i checked the history books or played the game axis vs allies, WW2 was fought between the axis and allies. No those are not the names of two countries but groups of countries. It was a global war(hence the name) that ended in part because of nuclear arms. As far as i can tell the Iraq war is fairly concentrated. Oh I don't know maybe concentrated to, lets say "Iraq". Big difference. Never mind the biggest contractor in Iraq just happens to be the same company the vice-president used to run. Just coincidence. We will get to the kamikaze vs arabs portion later as that is covered under extremism. It's proper category.
In terms of rebuilding i'll take a quote from a us government website. "The United States offered up to $20 billion for relief, but only if the European nations could get together and draw up a rational plan on how they would use the aid. For the first time, they would have to act as a single economic unit;" The marshall plan was successful due in part to nations working together. One of the many reasons that Iraq is slow going is we had no rational plan to rebuild. How could we, we don't live there. What we need is peacekeepers who speak arabic not american corporations rebuilding another country. Wouldn't it be easier to rebuild a nation with native speakers. I do believe europe was rebuilt by europeans not by Ford or GE. There is no doubt the U.S can rebuild Iraq. But why should the hard earned tax dollars of ordinary americans rebuild Iraq? Aren't they sitting on the second biggest oil reserves in the world. If you think we should foot the bill instead of the global community. YOUR SMOKING CRACK. oh wait this administration is into that.
MACK: It is late, and I am responding to these in reverse order, so I will keep it brief. I didn't say that this war was EXACTLY like World War 2. Nothing is, except for World War 2. The point is that you can't say: "We can't be the jolly green giant and grow democracy" when we very clearly have a record of doing just that in Germany, Japan and Italy. You can't say on the one hand that we need to work and sacrifice our self interest toward the common good (see below in your discussion on the UN) but that we can't spend $20 billion to help Iraq build an infrastructure so that democracy has a chance. For the record, I think helping Iraq build a democracy is the right thing to do, because it provides a counter example to the feckless dictatorships that the rest of the Arab world lives under.
You can't have it both ways. The left said: you are trying to steal Iraq's oil! If we said that we are going to take the oil reserves to pay for this, it would only prove you guys right. The fact that our actions don't fit in with the conspiracy theories put forward prior to the war might make it difficult for you guys to process all this.
MACK: Anti-American sentiment does appear high - - in places like Germany and France. Why? Germany and France were the biggest appeasers of the Hussein regime. They lapped the oil profits like thirsty dogs and they didn't care that it came at the cost of real human suffering. I wear their bad feelings toward us as a badge of honor. As for anti-American sentiment in Iraq and Afghanistan - - Zogby polls show that we are doing pretty darn good and that THEY WANT US TO STAY. Especially so, I think, given that we would have received a 100% disapproval rating in Iraq before the war! I bet your not to happy you brought up Zogby. I actually went to their site.
TODD: Your man bush isn't looking so good. Since i don't trust polls and think standard deviation is mathematical voodoo, what i want to know is this. After 9-11 there were signs saying "we are all americans"and flags waved. Now we see effigies of bush being burned. Hmmmm. Your right it must be millions of people all over the world lost there minds crazy for the oil they got from Iraq. Isn't France's main energy source nuclear? Don't europeans tax gas a ridiculous amount that drives opec crazy. I can't believe you brought up oil. I saw Peter Jennings talking with Pervez Musharraf(president of pakistan) and he said that the arab sentiment is worse since the attack of Iraq. Even though he is scum he is probably right.
MACK: I'm not sure you read the same poll of Iraqis that I did. You may not get the full version from the Zogby page, but it has been widely reported. As I remember it, two thirds of Iraqis wanted us to stay at least a year. About the same amount The preferred model of democracy for Iraqis - - the good old US of A with 37% of the vote, a clear plurality. Given the steady stream of anti-American propaganda (what, were they reading the NY Times?) that is a shocking number. As for creating terrorists, 57% of Iraqis said they had a negative view of Bin Laden. This may be slightly higher a percentage than American leftists (Ok, that's a joke, relax).
A Gallup poll had other good news: 67% of Baghdad residents say they will be better off five years from now than before the liberation; 62% say ousting Saadam was worth the hardships they endured. There are, admittedly, mixed messages in the poll -- but it was taken of a people we recently conquered. Every day, we are the ones who are working to put things in order there. The dead enders are the ones working to make life worse. That will only help the long term prospects for sympathy and friendship.
On global opinion in general, I think you are dead wrong about the anecdotal evidence you provide. The same people who were burning Bush in effigy because of Iraq were burning him in effigy BEFORE September 11th at WTO conferences. September 11th wasn't a giant publicity boon for the United States, it was a deadly attack on our shores and should have been a wake up call. We can choose to see it for what it was and do what is necessary or focus our efforts on keeping our favorability up in Brussels and Paris. The goal of our foreign policy isn't to win some worldwide popularity conference.
What, the Pakistanis are critical of our foreign policy? Better call the state department and stop the war on terror! If Castro opposes it too, we will really know that we are on the wrong side.
Terrorism in general
MACK: The idea that we have always been at war with terrorism is ludicrous. We had a phoney-baloney drug war type war with terrorism up through September 11th. How else to explain our decision to not kill Bin Laden 3 different times before 9/11? That's why we had to leave it up to Bruce Willis to solve the terrorism problem.
"There are more of them than us" is the language of surrender. It is an admission (wrong in my view) that we can't defeat the Arabs because there are an endless stream of them. Again, this goes to the idea that we don't have the stomach for conflict and therefore, the "backward" arabs will continue to throw their lives away to attack us while we sit home watching survivor. We only lack the will if we lack the will. It is a self-fulfilling prophesy.
How are we less safe than September 10? Do you think that had we done nothing in Iraq the terrorists would have given up their Jihad and opened up an Applebies?
TODD: You probably want to change your position after reading these non-partisan links:
Hey good thing we got Bin Laden now huh. It's not like he puts out videos every couple months. Terrorism will always be a problem and we must eradicate it wherever it lives. Through a multi-layered approach. Just like airport baggage screening sidepoint-The History of God is an extraordinary good read.
MACK: Interesting sites, but they don't really address the main reality: it was not a group of 19 extremist quakers who (a) flew planes into the world trade center, a PA field and the Pentagon, killing more than 3,000 people (b) bombed the WTC in 1993 (c) attacked the USS Cole killing US naval officers, (d) bombed the khobar towers or (e) shot and killed random citizens in a three week killing spree in the Washington, DC area. This is only their recent hits, a more complete list of islamic terror would include dozens of plane bombings and hijackings, the killing of Leon Klinghoffer (a disabled American who was shot and rolled wheelchair and all off the Achille Lorro cruise ship back in the 1980s), the bombing of the marine base in Lebanon, the hostage-taking at the American embassy in Tehran, and on and on and on.
This also doesn't count the hundreds of terror attacks on our allies, the Israelis, who's main sin is being Jewish. I won't go through these terror attacks one by one, but you can start at the killing of the Olympic team members in 1972 all the way through the bombing that killed a few dozen just the other day. One common thread connects these attacks. You can choose to ignore it, as we did up until September 11th. But you ignore it at your (and our) peril.
Whether or not terrorism existed historically is not at issue. I don't doubt it. Our challenge is to respond to it. You don't say much about this... the idea that terrorism has existed in the past and that other religions other than Islam have extremists too isn't an answer to the problem we are facing HERE and NOW. Simply saying, we must eradicate it isn't an answer either. Your solutions: more education and international cooperation from the UN have been demonstrated failures (the big F came on September 11). Bush has a new approach - - take on the terrorists where they live. Starting in Afghanistan, moving on to the next biggest threat, Iraq, and if necessary we will take it to the Syrians and Iranians as well. We are raising the cost of doing business with terrorists - - rather than rewarding it. Sounds like a good strategy to me. As opposed to... well, I don't know exactly what the strategy on the left actually is, other than opposing Bush.
Consider, for instance, the Democratic response to Afghanistan: "Bush didn't provide enough money to make sure that the Country was rebuilt! We can't leave a vacuum for the warlords to return!" Contrast that with: "We can't spend this money in Iraq! It's too much! It should go to Americans, not Iraqis." Contrast that with: "We are spending this money in Iraq all wrong... it should go to the Iraqis!" Follow that? We should make an investment to rebuild a country to prevent terrorism, except when we shouldn't, except when it should go to Americans, except when it should go to Iraqis. There is only one consistency there: partisanship. You guys just have to face up to it.
MACK: The idea that we should depend on the UN is ludicrous. You need to take your head out of the We are the World clouds and take a look at the membership of the UN. The majority of its members are dictators and 3rd world kleptocrats. Why would we turn over our effort in a world war against the 3rd world to an unelected body of dictators whose main purpose on earth is to shake down the west for more money? If you trust Kofi Annan more with your security than George Bush than that is a huge part of the problem. That isn't to question your patriotism, just your judgment as to where America's interests are best served.
The UN humiliated itself by its failure to ever take action. How many years did they do nothing after they were kicked out of Iraq? They are inept and feeble and have no moral authority.
TODD: The UN is one of the most important political ideas of the 2O century. How you trust bush and cheney is beyond me. I'll take Kofi any day. Now I'm going to bring up WW2 and you can get your head out of the We (as in the U.S.) are the World clouds. "The name "United Nations", coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the "Declaration by United Nations" of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers." Funny how you can bring up WW2 for different things huh?
The UN was founded for the very same reason you falsely parallel the Iraq war with WW2 - - the Common good. Everybody looking out for everybody. Not just your own countries oil companies. Your right though, I remember when the U.N. humiliated itself by taking action in Kosovo and the US with its allies run by Supreme Nato Allied commander Wesley Clark defended muslims and not a single american serviceman killed. No moral authority there. The global community is the future. If your not with us your against us.
MACK: You need to check your facts on Kosovo. Although the US didn't lose a single serviceman, the UN troops on the ground did NOTHING to prevent serbians from murdering thousands of innocent civilians in their efforts toward ethnic cleansing. If this is your example of moral authority, you are in deep trouble. You might have an argument that they work hard to get poor people food, but even that were the case, that is no reason to give the UN control over our national security any more than it is a reason to give Save the Children control over our national security. You think they have moral authority, check out their commission on human rights, which is currently chaired by the Syrians (or maybe the Lybians - - same difference).
You also have to wonder what moral authority the UN has trying to protect the Hussein dictatorship. You can ask the people who were tortured - - you can’t ask the ones who were thrown into meat grinders feet first, unfortunately. But I think I can tell you what they think of the UN’s moral authority.
The main deficiency in your argument is that you are not talking about the question before us. The question is: will the UN protect us better than we can protect ourselves. The answer is a resounding no. We have been over why that is the case - - the UN is controlled by dictatorships, has a long record of anti-semitism, and is inept when it comes to actually doing something about real problems. The main purpose of this organization is to shake down western nations for money, which they use to line their pockets at the expense of the third world nations they are supposed to help.
By the way, we had a lot of allies in the war on Iraq. They may not be the ones you respect (apparently, Germany and France, Red China and the chocolate making countries). At the end of the day, the “Coalition of the Willing” was larger than the coalition built to defeat Saadam in the first Gulf War. The Coalition included: Afghanistan (a new ally!); Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ethiopia, Greece, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Phillipenes, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey (after a delay) the Ukraine, United Arab Emerites and the United Kingdom. Not all sent troops - - although Britain and Poland did. But as you point out, this wasn’t the same as WW2. We didn’t need - - nor want - - troops from all these countries because it would have increased the problems of coordination. All supported the effort in various ways.
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