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Can the US win the Iraq war?

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devils advocate

Postby Turendil » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:39 am

Listen. Wars are not just or unjust. Wars are not kind good or decent. Wars are about national interest and success. The only problem with the invasion of iraq was that it was planned wrong. Had the war been thought out past the "let's go to bagdhad phase in a hillbilly convoy" phase, the nessecary troops provided for containment, and the money given for reconstruction and an Iraqi army trained from the beging the international community would have rallied behind america or at least swallowec our use of force without so much shouting.

A few people on this forum could stand to read their Thuccidides again on why nation's go to war.
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Postby Goals » Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:12 am

(nevermind)
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Postby ethopoeia » Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:02 am

Turendil, your reference to Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War is simply brilliant. I've taken the trouble to find the exact excerpt where the causes for war are explained. Please note that, in Book I, Thucydides clearly introduces them with these words (Jowett, 1881: 23):

"The real though unavowed cause I believe to have been the growth of the Athenian power (...) but the reasons publicly alleged on either side were as follows:"

Thus, and according to Thucydides, there would be "the real though unavowed cause" for the war as opposed to "the reasons publicly alleged".

Quite illustrative don't you think
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More on Thucydides

Postby Turendil » Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:45 am

What I meant by the reference to thucydides was not a specific quote. According to the principles, I have derived from reading him, (as well as donald kagan's two books On the Origins of War and The Peloponesian War the last a one volumne history of the conlict) is that nations go to war for three reasons, For ecconomic gain, Honor, and to Protect their power (national interest doen't always have to be ecconomic).
In a nutshell (and take it from me I was there from the beginning) Iraq was a war involving the honor of America. Forget about WMD and "Spreading democracy in the middle east" in a nutshell after 9/11 we felt vulnerable. Any response that dealt with Osama bin Laden and failed to deal with saddam would have left the American people feeling vulnerable. Keep in mind that the French, the Russians, the Germans, and the British ALL possessed intelligence leading them to suspect that Saddam possessed WMD. (I know I saw the reports) It wasn't until AFTER we invaded that we found he had stripped down his program (syria's involvement right after the invasion has yet to be disclosed I have my own theories but they are just that).
So I have a question for all of the "why the hell are we in Iraq people"
A brutal dictator is believed to be in possession of WMD
3,000 americans have just died in the worst event since pearl harbor
The nation is insecure about it's place in the world and is crying out for action against threats to it's security.
What do YOU do?
Do you
a.) leave the threat in place knowing how such an action will be seen?
b.) deal with the threat unilaterally to reassure your people that you are the keeper of the national honor?


To continue the war in Iraq was waged because Goerge W. sought to restore a national sense of honor to people who had just had their security blanket rudely torn off. The problem with going to war over national honor is that if the situation is handled badly it weakens the prestige of the nation that goes to war in the first place. Wars over honor are tricky things and in order to be carried out must be sucessfull on every front and this is a tricky subject.

Don't be too quick to judge the decision to go to war. Since this is a forum about greek and Latin let me provide two examples Athenian democracy provided a model for the rest of the world and this is mirrored in Pericle's Funeral Oration and in several other writings. I suggest chiefly the Old Oligarch and Aristotle's Politics. Now these selfsame athenians that modelled democracy for the rest of the ancient world also voted for the complete destruction of every man woman and child on Miletus because the Mytelines had challenged their national honor. In another era Ceaser went to war in Transalpine gaul because the barbarians MIGHT have crossed the alps into Cisaline Gaul and Italia as Hanniball had done a century and a half before. The Grachii brothers were the grandsons of Scipio Africanus, and therefore in Ceasar's day the memory of Hannibal was as fresh as memories of the Fort Robinson Breakout on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation (still very much a part of the culture). In the long run Nations are not judged on the morality of their actions unless those actions are horrendously destructive. Nations are judged on whether their aims are sucessfull. The Soviet gulag, the Auto da fe's of the spanish inquisition, the Expulsion of the hugonauts from france, were not judged to be evil because they were wrong they were judged to be wrong because they were evily destructive on a nation's infastructure (morally, pshychologically, ecconomically, personally, these actions destroyed the basic bonds under which people come together to form a nation and were therefore judged to be evil and destructive).

So let me ask again the serries of questions I should have asked in the last post.
Had the U.S. invasion led to a higher standard of living for the Iraqi people would you have supported it regardless of the WMD issue.

Had WMDs been found but the Iraqi's left in their current state of civil war would you support the war?

Lastly are you against the DECISION to go to war?

or are you merely against the EFFECTS which the CONDUCT of the was has produced?

if the answer to the first question is yes then ask yourself about the national honor question posed earlier.

If the answer to the second question is yes ask yourself how the conduct of the war could have been improved upon.

Just because actions based upon a decision are poorly planned does not mean the decision itself is wrong.
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Re: More on Thucydides

Postby Goals » Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:16 am

After 9/11 the US tried to restore national honor with light shows called "Operation Enduring Freedom" and "Shock and Awe". These demonstrations along with the brilliant "Axis of Evil" oration were of great entertainment to North Korea, Iran, Syrian, Libya, and Cuba. Afghanistan and Iraq got front row accomodations.
Last edited by Goals on Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ethopoeia » Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:24 pm

I congratulate you for your erudite post, Turendil, it really impressed me. Regarding the questions you bring in, I agree with you in the honour dimension of the current war(s). This is particularly true since, without the attacks on NYC and Washington on September 11th 2001 we would not be talking of war right now.

Unfortunately, honour is a meagre business and oil a very profitable one, so I'm more inclined, as most Europeans are, to think of an oil connection to the war.

In my opinion, the key to understand the 9/11 attacks is the Patriot Act entered into force on October 26th 2001. The fact that it was made and passed in a record time after the worst attacks on American soil is suspicious enough, as it is that without them it would have never summoned enough support from both the Senate and the House. In a historic parallelism, the German Sondergesetz ("Law of Exception") which abolished the Weimar Constitution and granted full powers to Hitler to declare war would have never been possible without the state of alarm created by the Reichstagsbrand ("Reichstag Fire"). Thus, the Reichstag fire must necessarily be seen as an a posteriori , or accessory, fact in relation with the German Sondergesetz which constituted the real goal pursued by the Government.

I recommend you Giorgio Agamben's "State of Exception", a brilliant account on how warmongers have managed to pass dictatorial laws on grounds of "National Security" from ancient Rome, France and Germany to the modern United States, and the wherewithal they deployed. An excellent book to understand the current situation of all the West in general and of America in particular.
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more ruminations

Postby Turendil » Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:46 pm

The patriot act does not resemble the legislation passed after the reichstaag fire. The state department puts out a terrorist watch list. Information gathered about individuals with possible links to terrorism is freed under the patriot act to be used in all sorts of investigations. The patriot act by it's nature seeks to break down the buerecratic barriers that led to 9/11. In a pre 9/11 world the FBI did not talk to the Treasury department and niether organization shared any information with either the NSA or the DIA or any of the other myriad intelligence agencies. The patriot act acts as a first step toward erroding turf battles over information nothing more.

The treatment of individuals at gitmo is a seperate issue often confused with the patriot act. The designation of enemy combatant is seen as the best way to deal with individuals who have no standing under the geneva convention. The geneva convention deals with soldiers in foreign armies. Enemy combatants although they have taken up arms against US forces are not members of a millitary organization and therefore the rules of the geneva convention do not apply. Neither are they U.S. citizens so their rights as far as American Jurisprudence are questionable. Unlike the IRA operating in nothern Ireland no citizen has had his rights permanently denied. (there has been much hand wringing over the granting of those right however basic ideas like haebus corpus and the right to guarunteed consel have eventually been given to US citizens held at gitmo.) Currently no international law that I am aware of governs members of international organizations dedicated to terrorism. With citizens of foreign states the usuall practice is to extradite them and have them be tried by their govenments. The question that arises when dealing with terrorism is is this possible. Terrosists come from failed states with no history of precedent that makes up juresprudence in western countries. To release them would be tatamount to allowing them to continue their operations. However something must be done to combat terrorism and hence the US congress passed the Patriot act.

To address the larger question the patriot act does not resemble the Legislation ending the weimar republic or even the soviet criminal code for the following reasons. First It fits firmly in the tradition of american jurisprudence. Secondly it does not overthrow the existing order. Political parties are not outlawed, and their members are not sent to jail just because they are members. It isn't a crime to possess a copy of the patriot act as it was a crime to posess the soviet criminal code. Third the no citizen of this country has had his right violated or been subject to arbitrary arrest in the middle of the night simply because of his political membership. The rights of citizens in this country are still maintained.

Contrast this with the massive arrests of the menshiviks, social democrats, and railway workers in the soviet union. against whom no chargest were ever brought, and no standard of evidence was ever met. Contrast it again with the treatment of rights in Nazi germany where other political parties were outlawed and after the purge or Rhur (hitler's friend don't know if I spelled it right) large numbers of the S.A. were sent to prison as were many catholics, communists, and (not to mention the jews). The fundamental difference between America's violation of civil liberties is that although they are curtailed they remain very much intact. The intelligence community (of which I was a member for four and a half years courtesy of the U.S. Army) is still prohibited from arbitrarly collecting information on U.S. citizens even when those citizens are overseas. The patriot act did not establish an NKVD or a Gestapo like secret police. The reforms remain rooted in our system of precedent and jurisprudence and the question is why?

Unlike Nazi germany, the Soviet union, or even South Africa, none of the reforms passed under the bush administration are targeted towards the preservation of one political party. Therein lies the difference. The reichstaag fire let us remember was ordered by hitler and the reforms introduced were targeted to keep him in power. Likewise after the revolution of 1917 the subesequent legislation in russia was designed to allow the communists to maintain complete comtrol. This is an important difference in perception. Anyone wishing more information on the difference between the patriot act and these other two reigmes would do well to read the following books.

William L. Shrier The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Alexander Solzenietzen The Gulag Archipeligo
Robert Conquest the Great Terror
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Postby ethopoeia » Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:31 pm

Last edited by ethopoeia on Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Goals » Sat Feb 03, 2007 3:44 pm

I think your getting the Patriot Act mixed up with the more recent Military Commisions Act.

As unfortunate as both of them are, I think it's important not to exaggerate. Compared to other instances (Alien and Sedition Acts, The Red Scare, and the Japanese interment camps) what is going on here is very minor.

It's very different from what went on after the Reichstag was burned down in Germany. There newspapers were being shut down daily, political dissidents were killed or jailed, and there were no need for search warrants. Although you can point out similarities in the legislation and the situation from which it was passed, it's important to consider how widely they were applied and to what degree rights were violated.

As an American who does not like Bush at all (except on immigraton issues he's pretty good), I have only very small problems with the Patriot Act, but I do have large concerns over the Military Commisions Act.
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Postby Paul » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:55 pm

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Iustitium

Postby ethopoeia » Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:32 pm

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Re: Iustitium

Postby Goals » Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:05 am

ethopoeia wrote:The interesting thing about the comparison is that the Patriot Act or the Military Commissions Act in post 9/11 America are exactly that, a iustitium or Justice / Law standstill: the Constitutional warranties are still in force, but they don’t apply anymore as long as the military laws of exception are in force.


The Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act are very different.

The first allows police to conduct searches without informing those being searched (although they do have to get a warrant from a special federal court) among other things, most of which are not controversial. The language is a little broad, but so far I am not familiar with any instance where it has been applied in an inapropriate way.

The Court has ruled on many occasions that constitutional rights can be suspended in instances of invasion or rebellion. If you are a US cititizen and are caught planning a terrorist attack or giving aid to terrorists, you are participating in rebellion and are not guarenteed haebus corpus. The problem is that "terrorism" is defined too broadly.

After 9/11 there were about 300 male Muslims (many legal residents, a few of them citizens) who were detained without trial and subject to interrogation. All of these men have been released and many have been payed compensation. Although this is deplorable, I think it is important not to exagerate.

Paul wrote: I suspect that you are of the camp whose members cry out, "Don't bother me with the facts; my mind is made up." You mean like the Washington Junta and its foolish determination to invade Iraq despite total lack of evidence of WMD in the country? No, thank God!


I was very much against the invasion of Iraq. It was clear the Bush was making many misleading and inaccurate statements. I was also against the invasion of Afghanistan.
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Re: Iustitium

Postby Bert » Sun Feb 04, 2007 2:30 am

ethopoeia wrote:..... and its foolish determination to invade Iraq despite total lack of evidence of WMD in the country? No, thank God!

I am by no means knowledgeable in politics and foreign afairs so maybe my comment is of little value.
If a criminal, having been confronted by the police, refuses to say if he complied with the order to unarm himself or not, he will be regarded as armed (even if it turned out that he did in fact throw down his weapon.)
Is there not a parallel with this example and Sadam's refusal to allow inspectors to search Iraq?
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Postby Goals » Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:05 am

There is a certain amnesia about these types of things. The events were widely reported in the international, and to some degree in the domestric press. I was able to find these articles quickly online, and found them agreeable with my memories.

Saddam allowed UN weapons inspectors into the country:

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meas ... index.html (September 17, 2002)

The weapons inspectors were able to find nothing, they call US tips on Saddam's WMD program "garbage":

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/ ... 7096.shtml (Februrary 20, 2003)

There are definately more articles (from a variety of reputable organizations) available on this matter.

The Iraq war started on March 20, 2003. I think by then UN weapons inspectors had left the country, stating they could find no evidence of WMDs and that Saddam had allowed them to move freely. As far as they were concerned there were no WMDs. This was reported in the domestric press, but not as extensively as it should have been.

I believe earlier Saddam had handed documents over directly to the US that were requested.

Look into Hans Blix (head of the UN weapons inspectors) and Mohamed ElBaradei (head of IAEA), they made, and the reports they released before the invasion.
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Postby Bert » Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:49 pm

Yes, we all know that later he allowed inspectors to do their work but certainly not at the beginning. If my memory serves me right it was about a two year struggle to get that far. By that time the trust that he was speaking the truth was wore quite thin.
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Postby Goals » Sun Feb 04, 2007 5:08 pm

Bert wrote:Yes, we all know that later he allowed inspectors to do their work but certainly not at the beginning. If my memory serves me right it was about a two year struggle to get that far. By that time the trust that he was speaking the truth was wore quite thin.


I think it was more like six months, maybe less. Weapons inspectors were given permission in September 2002. I can't remember when the Bush administration started focusing on Iraq, but it wasn't before 9/11, and it was few months after the war with Afghanistan started.

And what "trust" are you talking about? The weapons inspectors get their information by inspecting, not by asking Saddam questions. Once weapons inspectors decided there were no WMDs, how is the honesty of Saddam relavent?
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Postby Bert » Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:02 am

They were not US inspectors but UN inspectors and they were involved well before 9/11
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hello again

Postby Turendil » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:08 am

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Postby PeterD » Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:34 am

Paul wrote:Tell that to the many thousands who last week rallied and marched in Washington, D.C., under the aegis of "United For Peace & Justice." In no uncertain terms they voiced their frustration and anger with the Bush administration.

Ain't that the truth!

I must say, Paul, that I was quite surprised Vice President---five draft deferments!!!---Cheney didn't show up to shoot some of the marchers in the face. :o

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Postby EgoIoYoEu » Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:27 pm

Hmm...lots of intelligent conversation. Losing that quintessential simplicity, I see. So, let's bring it back home. How about the following:


Point: Unless you're a Martian, shut up. Wait...that's not it...

Point 1.2: Unless you're fighting a war or have fought, don't talk about fighting a war. You have no idea. And a book can't teach you war anymore than it can teach you how to survive on Mars, and not get eaten by Martians. Action vs. Reading. Bottom line...there are some things you can't learn from a book, much as I love them.


Possible Solution:
Bomb the HELL out of EVERYONE who was EVER suspected of terrorism. Stir. Bring to a boil. Let simmer.

Possible Reaction: They bomb the HELL out of US. (By us I mean "my fellow Americans"). And invoke the Martian spirits in ritual human sacrifice.

Next Reaction:
More bombs...followed by a frollicking dance through the charred, desolate and utterly lifeless wilderness in honor of Mars.

Then: Large, scorched holes...human torches running aflame down the highways, their last searing thought is regret that they never read that damn book by Thucydides on war, cause if they did, they would be saved now. That or they're thinking about Martians.

Finally: Total apocalypse and Judgement Day occur simultaneously. The dead rise, and start terrorizing any surviving livestock. Then a talking pig reads Sun Tzu and starts a revolution on some farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, and the world is saved....followed by more bombs in which said pig is turned into ham hock. And Martians. Oh yes....lots of those durned Martians.


"A soft answer turneth away wrath. Once wrath is looking the other direction, shoot it in the head."


"There is no overkill. There is only "Open fire!" and "I need to reload!".


"If you're leaving scorch marks, you need a bigger gun."


"That which does not kill you has made a serious tactical error."


All from the lovely Habits of Effective Pirates



Do you see where I'm going with this decidedly UNerudite post?

I know, I'm ridiculous. Feel free to flame to your little hearts' content.
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Another quote

Postby Turendil » Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:06 am

"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil. For I am the baddest motherfucker in the whole damn valley"

Food for thought.

On a different note perhaps we should ask ourselves what the origins of civil society are.

Fighting terrorism requires replacing ideology with civl society. Perhaps this is why the bush administration is lacking. Current Neoconservatives/liberals are all ideologues with a limited sense of what consitutes a civil society.
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