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February 02, 2005

Comments

This is a real question -- the answer may be right out there and I've just missed it. What is the 57% a percentage of? The population of Iraq that met age (or any other) requirements to be an eligible voter? The portion of that population that had registered to vote? If the latter, what portion of the population was registered?

If it's the first, you're right, it is a very high turnout number, and the best result that these elections could possibly have produced.

About 14 million Iraqis were entitled to vote on Sunday. Apparently 57% of those who were registered to vote, voted. But, AFAIK, no one has given us the key figure we need to make sense of that fact: how many of those who were entitled to vote had registered to vote? (Or have they? Cite?) Presumably, we'll find out how many votes were cast when the results are announced, which as I understand it, could be any time from today.

Apparently there are about 2 million Iraqis in exile who are entitled to vote, and of those, 280,000 registered to vote, and of those, 265,000 actually voted. (This high percentage is unsurprising: presumably you'd be unlikely to take the trouble to register to vote for the election unless you intended to do so.)

Bird: With success, we can proceed to the next step, a path toward a non-theocratic representative government that will uphold the rule of law.

You're presuming quite a lot, aren't you? For starters, "we"? AFAIK, you're not Iraqi: therefore, the next step is not one that includes you, or any American. Neither is the "path" one that you, or any American, get to determine. Nor do you, or any American, get to decide that the Iraqis shall or shall not decide to have a theocratic/non-theocratic government.

Unless, of course, you agree with me that Iraqi is currently and for the foreseeable future run by a military dictatorship, with Allawi as its puppet dictator, and it's not up to the Iraqis to get to decide what kind of government they have: it will be up to the US military dictatorship running their country. I think that's the practical politics of it, frankly - it doesn't matter what the Iraqis vote for, the Bush administration will not relinquish power over Iraq - but it surprises me to see you so casually taking the US military dictatorship for granted in a post that purports to celebrate Iraqi democracy.

Iraq, of course, [different x 12]

I trust you will now be as dismissive of comparisons to the reconstruction of Germany and Japan.

Interesting post, CB, and a useful caution as to what can happen when governments (propped up by the US or not) don't have the underlying loyalty of the people they govern. However, I wish you would clarify this point: you say:

"The "insurgents" would have won, and the Ted Kennedys and Harry Reids and John Kerrys would've been front and center calling for an exit strategy (oops, they already have been)"

Leaving the issue of "insurgents" aside, you seem to view the issue of determining an "exit strategy" re our involvement in Iraq as something of a Bad Thing (since you mention Ted Kennedy in that context). Why? Do you think that we need/should/have to maintain a military presence (even if not as an "occupation") in Iraq in perpetuity? And is this a Good Thing?

57% of registered voters. Unclear what proportion of the eligible population registered, according to the BBC.

I think CB is wrong. The turnout is irrelevant. If only 20% had voted, the Sunnis would have condemned the election as meaningless - as they did. The list system has the effect of underrepresenting areas of low turnout, which is a big mistake; a constituency system would have given Mosul and Sadr City the same number of MPs regardless of whether the security situation discouraged the population from voting.

As well as the low turnout, there is a possibility that the horse-trading could end up with the Sunnis excluded from the resulting coalition.
The objective here is not "have an election with a lot of people voting." The objective is "create a stable, liberal, and secure Iraq." And if the election just ends up irritating the Sunnis by making them feel excluded, it will encourage violence, and the election will thus have been a failure, inasmuch as it will have made eventual success less likely.

If the election failed, people would question the interim government's legitimacy? They already are. They would question the justification for US occupation? They already are. It is just too early to say whether the election will make things better or worse.

And, by the way, the senate should be calling for an exit strategy. Or are you saying that they should just be saying "yes, leave the troops in there as long as you want"? Let me remind you that we are at war, and not against Iraq. Three years ago a conspiracy of fanatics attempted to burn me to death with jet fuel. It succeeded in doing so to several thousand other people. This conspiracy is the enemy in this war, and it has not been defeated. As long as our troops remain in Iraq, they are not pursuing the real war. So the sooner they are pulled out and we stop spending time, attention, lives and money on this sideshow, and start spending them on defeating our real enemies, the better.

Yes, toppling Saddam was a nice thing to do. But it was irrelevant to the objective of the war. Even if Cletus, Tyrant of Madagascar, was an unarguably evil man who brutally oppressed the innocent Malagassies, I would not have supported an invasion of Madagascar in 1944 because, to be frank, we had more important things to do with our soldiers (invading France; toppling Hitler). Opportunity cost.

Well, I had been comforted somewhat that the differences far outweighed the similarities until you put it this way:

It remained [1] a bribe-ridden ineffectual regime until it collapsed in 1975. One of our major failures in Vietnam--and there were legion--was that we didn't give the people something to fight for. [2] The Vietnamese people were not given a higher cause, or an ideal for which to defend. [3]We focused most of our efforts on military matters and didn't pay enough attention to political reforms. [4]The result was that too many of the people did what was best for their families or communities, choosing to forsake their national leadership.

[1]"I am sorry to say that the corruption here is worse now than in the Saddam Hussein era," said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi national security adviser, who said he had not been informed of the details of the flight or the arms deal.

[2]The United States has essentially stopped trying to build a democratic order in Iraq, and is simply trying to gain stability and legitimacy.

[3]“If our guests [the Americans] want to build 14 permanent bases, we might as well make use of that,” says Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi national-security adviser whose proposal for pacifying the country by breaking it into a loose federation was the subject of last week’s column, “A Make or Break Plan for Iraq.” Michael Eisenstadt, from the influential Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argues in a recent study that Iraq should just forget about being able to defend itself against Iran. “For the foreseeable future, it will fall to the United States to counter Tehran’s capabilities,” he says.

[4]Of all the remarkable things that happened at the Iraqi polls on Sunday, perhaps the most striking was pulled off by the Kurdish independence movement. With almost no advance notice, hundreds of Kurds erected tents at official polling places in Iraq's Kurdish areas and asked those emerging from the ballot booths to take part in an informal referendum on whether Kurdistan should be independent or part of Iraq. From what I saw, almost everyone stopped to vote in the referendum, and the tally was running 11 to 1 in favor of independence..

and

[4]Iraq's leading Sunni Muslim clerics said Wednesday the country's landmark elections lacked legitimacy because large numbers of Sunnis did not participate in the balloting, which the clerics had asked them to boycott.

Now, I'm not so sure.

Here's an alternate explanation, based on a remark by someone on MacNiel/Lehrer yesterday that only the US and Iran wanted elections sooner rather than later.

The Iraqi election is not like the Vietnamese election. In South Vietnam, we wanted to prevent the control of the government by its communist neighbor, North Vietnam. In Iraq, we wanted to prevent (presumably) the control of the government by theocratic muslims who don't like us, probably best represented by fellow Axis-of-Evil member and neighbor Iran. (Let's shorten that: we don't want Iraqi government to be controlled by Iran). In Vietnam the winner of the election was pro-US, anti-North Vietnamese. In Iraq, the largest winner is likely to be from a slate put together by an ex-Iranian mullah who, at present, wants a secular state. For the Iraqi election to have been like the Vietnamese election, the Vietnamese would have had to elect a Vietminh slate.

I personally don't care. I wasn't sweating Iraq as a threat to US national security before the war, and I won't sweat an enlarged Iran if that comes to pass. It does, however, make me curious: whatever happenned with the allegations that Iran, through Chalabi, bogarted us into invading a threatening neighbor and removing its government?

"...and then Farber comes along and asks me, like, 50 questions (exaggeration alert). Rather than answer them point-by-point there, I thought it'd be better to expand my thoughts here. The reference to an election in 1967 Vietnam is interesting but not apt to 2005 Iraq. This strikes me more as a clever tack to by some on the left to talk down this major milestone."

I understand that this post, Charles, is intended to fulfill multiple goals, including answering my questions, expanding upon your thoughts on Vietnam, dealing with the "comparison" to Iraq, and this, that, and the other.

So I'm not particularly upset, but I do feel a need to note that in attempting to deal with this many goals, you've rather blurred together a few things. For one, I, at least, have no interest in "talk[ing] down this major milestone," haven't done so in the least, and thus must object to the rather careless implication in your post that I'm one of those people. There are no grounds for this, are there? I'd appreciate a clarification.

As regarding Iraq and the elections, I've said what I have to say for now, and having nothing new to say, I'll say no more until I do have something new to say.

On comparisons: "So is there a real comparison between September 1967 in Vietnam and January 2005 in Iraq? The short answer is no."

The short answer is that, of course, any two things can be compared, and the differences or similarities analyzed. As I've discussed, there are innumerable differences. Asserting, however, that there is absolutely nothing whatever to be learned from Vietnam would be foolish, would it not? You surely agree that we can learn from the differences? So, in fact, Vietnam and Iraq can be compared, and the short answer is "yes," even if one's conclusion is, as it should be, "let's look at all the differences between these two situations and learn from them, and if there are any similarities, let us learn from them," is it not? Or are you asserting that there is nothing whatever to be learned from history?

On Vietnam, alone, forgetting now about Iraq:
"One of our major failures in Vietnam--and there were legion--was that we didn't give the people something to fight for."

I agree. However, I deny it was for lack of trying. I ask again, what specifically could and should have been done, at exactly what times, to bring about a different result? Lewy's description that you cite, while, of course, not touching on a myriad of other crippling problems preventing us from winning, is fair. So what was the Magic Cure?

And, so I'm sure I/we clearly understand your position, do you, in fact, maintain that the war could have been won by us? If so, where, with what cause(s), and with whom precisely do you put the fault/blame?

Thanks. Oh, and small personal note: I mildly prefer if you use my whole name, rather than just "Farber," if you wouldn't mind. Thanks again.

"...it will be up to the US military dictatorship running their country."

I'm still having problems with this descriptive, Jes. Do you have definitive indicators that Negroponte, the State Department, and the President are unable to overrule the commanding general in Iraq or the Mideast? Or is it the Chair of the Joint Chiefs that holds them in thrall?

Who, precisely, is running the military dictatorship? I'm very interested to know. Thanks.

ajay says: "As well as the low turnout, there is a possibility that the horse-trading could end up with the Sunnis excluded from the resulting coalition."

It might be best to not go too far with "possibilities" until there are some signs of something actually happening. Myself, I think the chances that the governing coalition would be so stupid as to deliberately try to exclude Sunnis is very low, though we'll see. It's possible that aliens will land, and take over administration of Earth, but I'll wait for some signs of that before worrying overly.


"One of our major failures in Vietnam--and there were legion--was that we didn't give the people something to fight for."

I think that's a good metric. But here's a question for you - is the government they've elected something that *we* perceive as "worth fighting for," or is it something that *they* perceive as "worth fighting for?" Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to count - how many of them *are* fighting for it (as opposed to the number fighting against it).

I'm still having problems with this descriptive, Jes.

Why?

Who has the power in Iraq? The US occupation, yes? They are, still, the ultimate authority in Iraq - in terms of practical politics, if nothing else. (If, come the day Iraq has an elected government, they tell the US occupation to go, and the US occupation goes, I'll admit I was wrong.)

Are they a dictatorship? To the Iraqis they are.

Do you have definitive indicators that Negroponte, the State Department, and the President are unable to overrule the commanding general in Iraq or the Mideast?

Why would this make a difference? Do the Iraqis have the right to fire Negroponte from his position as Ambassafor? Did they have the right to vote in the US Presidential elections? Nope. I am not arguing that Bush is in the position of military dictator in the US: but he is in the position of military dictator in Iraq.

Who, precisely, is running the military dictatorship?

Ultimately, I presume, the C-i-C of the US military - President Bush. Are you arguing that he can't be a military dictator because he's a democratically-elected President? But he's not the democratically-elected President of Iraq.

This strikes me more as a clever tack to by some on the left to talk down this major milestone.

NO. Dems like the election, and are glad that it occurred and was not a clear failure. We are just tired of the flacks on the right propogandizing this event into something it is not. And also pretending that the election finally going forward somehow papers over the long record of incompetence in conducting this adventure. That is why the Viet Nam point is interesting -- I would agree that there is very little parallel except that in the past, another election was propogandized as getting us over the hump and legitimizing a failed state, when it was not.

"Who has the power in Iraq? The US occupation, yes?"

Yes, although neither you nor I are privy to what sort of pressures are in play among either Iraqi leaders or American leaders in Iraq. Pretending we know or have a clear idea of what the delimitations are and where they are would be a falsehood. Believing we know would be an error.

In any case, if you are maintaining that the U.S. military leadership in Iraq is in authority over the State Department, the Cia, the NSC, the SecState, the SecDef, and the President, it is incumbent upon you to offer some proof. Otherwise, unless you are suggesting that George W. Bush is the leader of the "military dictatorship," you are stating something that is false. Untrue. Not true. Am I being unclear?

"Are you arguing that he can't be a military dictator because he's a democratically-elected President?"

Yes.

"But he's not the democratically-elected President of Iraq."

Yes. If you want to argue that the Iraqi government is not sovereign, you're free to honestly do so. I certainly won't argue that it is, because I don't know that it is. I also won't argue that it isn't, because I don't know that, either. I can certainly argue that the appearance of either can, from this distance, be argued. I would, however, also argue that neither is demonstrably provable at this time, so far as I know. If you have proof either way, by all means, link to it. If you do not, it might be a more defensible case to argue that you have an opinion, not a fact, to argue that Iraq is not yet at all sovereign.

Meanwhile, "being dominated by a foreign power" is not the same as "a military dictatorship." It simply isn't. You're choosing an inaccurate, unnecessarily inflammatory, description, and it's an unnecessary distraction from a defensible critique of the situation.

The President of the United States, according to all historic usages of the term, is a civilian. He is the civilian Commander-in-Chief of the military. Not the military chief of the military (we actually don't have one in the chain of the command, you know?). The Secretary of Defense is second in the chain of command, and he is the civilian leader of the Armed Forces of the United States. This is written into law in the National Security Act of 1947; do you need a link?

Below the SecDef in the chain of command are the CinCs of the regional and other Commands (the Joint Chiefs, if you are not aware, are administrative positions; they are not in the chain-of-command between the SecDef and the CinCs of the Commands).

Do you deny any of this. Is the President, in fact, taking a salary as a sworn active member of the Armed Services? No. Is he a member of the Armed Forces, and not a civilian. No. By law, no. Saying otherwise is a falsehood. Calling him a "military dictator" has no basis in law, tradition, or usage. It is false.

dmbester: "Dems like the election, and are glad that it occurred and was not a clear failure. We are just tired of the flacks on the right propogandizing this event into something it is not."

Unless I've missed you being elected Chair of the DNC, might I ask you most kindly to please refrain from speaking for the "we" of the Democratic Party? Thanks.

Anyone have an opinion about reports the Congressional Republicans are going to show up at the SotU with purple fingers?

Anyone have an opinion about reports the Congressional Republicans are going to show up at the SotU with purple fingers?

Wouldn't be from stains left by those purple heart band-aids they passed out at the RNC convention would it?

A separate point.

In 2003, various blogs (Informed Comment was one) commented on the value of holding early elections, even if only municipal elections. I agree that the mere fact of holding elections is a highly energizing event toward winning the popoulce, which is why they should have been occurring in 2003 at the local level, at least.

The Right at that time fell behind the Bush line that postponed the first elections until 22 months after the invasion. Glad to see the Right has finally got on board regarding this key element in promoting democracy -- hopefully, not too late.

The Right at that time fell behind the Bush line that postponed the first elections until 22 months after the invasion.

Really? That's not on any of the VRWC meeting agendas I've seen.

Anyone have an opinion about reports the Congressional Republicans are going to show up at the SotU with purple fingers?

If true, I think it's an incredibly tacky gesture that fails to apprehend the most important thing about this past election: we [Americans] do not own their [Iraqi] courage. And it's exactly that kind of flagrant blurring of key distinctions that makes me convinced that our Iraqi adventure is doomed.

Gary,
Your full name has been added in both places on the front page. I didn't attribute to you the "talking down" references. I specifically linked the Guardian, NYT and Drum as representing "some on the left".

We may be bordering on semantics regarding the whole comparison thing. Sure, you can compare anything to anything. But is there a real comparison between Decision 1967 and Decision 2005? I say no.

So what was the Magic Cure?

That and the subsequent questions are worthy of a separate post. I'm sure there will be future opportunities for discussion, but right now the job that puts food on my family beckons.

I completely agree, Anarch, as long as we don't pretend that it wasn't a good thing. One can celebrate in spirit the accomplishments of others, can't one?

But it's not our fingers that were purple, so we ought to stay away from that sort of display.

The Right at that time fell behind the Bush line that postponed the first elections until 22 months after the invasion.
Really? That's not on any of the VRWC meeting agendas I've seen.
You were one of the people calling for advancing the election? I don't recall that. I do recall my asserting here, and on my blog, that they should be moved up, and erroneously predicting here and there that they would be moved up, as I noted in my post here the other day about my error. Do you recall this? I really don't recall any criticism from you regarding delaying the election; am I being forgetful?

I completely agree, Anarch, as long as we don't pretend that it wasn't a good thing. One can celebrate in spirit the accomplishments of others, can't one?

Absolutely; the point is that it wasn't our good thing just, at best, an opportunity we gave to them which they turned into a good thing. If Congressional Republicans wanted to show up dressed as everyday poll-workers or ballot-counters... that, now, that I'd respect. And giggle at.

Chas: but right now the job that puts food on my family beckons.

Bwah!

You were one of the people calling for advancing the election?

No, I wasn't. Must have been that other "The Right".

I do recall my asserting here, and on my blog, that they should be moved up, and erroneously predicting here and there that they would be moved up, as I noted in my post here the other day about my error.

I don't recall ever saying what I thought about what the timing of the election ought to have been, so for me to claim some thinking or other at this point would be a little silly. Not to mention, moot.

"That and the subsequent questions are worthy of a separate post. I'm sure there will be future opportunities for discussion, but right now the job that puts food on my family beckons."

Fair enough, of course. I do hope you do get to it; I'm sincerely interested in trying to understand what people think it is we should have done that we didn't, although I'm obviously dispossed to be more than a little skeptical that there is an answer that is realistic and would have made The Difference.

You do not own their courage. (Scroll or search down to find correspondent Charles Pierce.)

In any case, if you are maintaining that the U.S. military leadership in Iraq is in authority over the State Department, the Cia, the NSC, the SecState, the SecDef, and the President, it is incumbent upon you to offer some proof.

First you would have to show that I had asserted that: I rather strongly asserted just the opposite in the comment you are responding to, so I don't quite know why you're even raising the question.

Meanwhile, "being dominated by a foreign power" is not the same as "a military dictatorship." It simply isn't.

If you think that the military occupation of Iraq can be described as mildly as "being dominated by a foreign power", well, you're free to do so. In a sense it's true: the lesser is included in the greater.

"Are you arguing that he can't be a military dictator because he's a democratically-elected President?"

Yes.

As he is not the democratically-elected President of Iraq, that doesn't apply, though. Sorry. (You could equally argue that King Leopold of Belgium could not have been a genocidal dictator in the Congo, because he was the constitutional king of Belgium.)

Calling him a "military dictator" has no basis in law, tradition, or usage. It is false.

Tell that to the Iraqis. The Bush administration are, in fact, running their country by virtue of the power of the US military. They did not elect Bush: they cannot impeach him: they have no means of changing the Bush administration: they are, in fact, being ruled by a military dictatorship, fronted by the puppet Allawi.

I have not, in fact, called Bush the military dictator before this, because - I agree - it's not as simple as that. I have simply described the situation as it stands: the ultimate authority in Iraq is the US military occupation, and the ultimate authority over the US military occupation is President Bush. No Iraqi has the ability to change this - no Iraqi has the power to vote in US elections, nor access to any means that a US citizen might have to alter their government. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, Iraq is under a military dictatorship. That is not hyperbole: that is fact.

Well, Slart, if you didn't object to the President's policy of not holding elections before now -- and the majority of major Republicans did not object, why are you objecting to the loose characterization that "The Right at that time fell behind the Bush line that postponed the first elections until 22 months after the invasion," with "Really? That's not on any of the VRWC meeting agendas I've seen"?

Are saying that delaying elections until now, rather than the year ago Sistani and most Shiites and Kurds asked, even demanded, them, was not the position of the President, the majority of Republicans, and therefore what we loosely call "the Right"? I'm not following what you're saying.

"I don't recall ever saying what I thought about what the timing of the election ought to have been, so for me to claim some thinking or other at this point would be a little silly. Not to mention, moot."

You're saying that when we discussed it here last year you weren't thinking about it? And if it's moot, why are you asserting that it wasn't "the VRWC" policy, if you are? I'm very confused.

Dunno, Gary. Would you say that I belong to The Right, or no? If so, did we hold some sort of referendum, in which everyone (no matter how ill-informed) has equal say?

You're saying that when we discussed it here last year you weren't thinking about it?

Checking to say where I may have said something that could be interpreted that way...nope, can't see how you might have formed that conclusion.

We have to ask ourselves this:  What if the turnout were 27% instead of 57%?  The election would have been called a failure.

Called "a failure" by whom? Certainly not by the Bush administration in whose parallel universe things like failures and mistakes simply don't exist. This election was preordained to be called successful regardless the turnout or the body count.

"They did not elect Bush: they cannot impeach him: they have no means of changing the Bush administration...."

All true. It, however, does not logically follow that therefore: "...they are, in fact, being ruled by a military dictatorship, fronted by the puppet Allawi."

Argument by assertion fails. If you wish to argue that the government that has yet to even actually be formed will be a puppet government, you are free to do so, although you are also, just now, forced to claim knowledge of the future to support such an argument. But after the formation of the government, it's plausible that a fair argument is likely to be able to be made.

However, stipulating arguendo that it will be a puppet government, the whole "military dictatorship" thing still stubbornly refuses to logically follow as a necessity, or as a proof. Are you saying that such a thing as civilian viceroy has not existed throughout history, and cannot exist? Are you saying that because the Warsaw Pact countries were taking orders from Moscow that they were necessarily under military, rather than civilian, dictatorships? Are you saying that Roman provinces were universally ruled by military dictators, not civilian governors? Are you saying that Harry Truman was military dictator of Japan? Are you saying that Queen Victoria was military dictator of India? Are you saying that George W. Bush is military dictator of Puerto Rico?

Has it escaped your attention that there are other forms of rulership or dominance over a country than the sole provision of "military dictatorship"?

"I have simply described the situation as it stands: the ultimate authority in Iraq is the US military occupation, and the ultimate authority over the US military occupation is President Bush."

Who is a civilian. And thus cannot lawfully be described as a member of the military, and thus cannot be described by law or fair usage as in the military and thus cannot be military, and thus cannot be a "military dictator." He's not a member of the military. No matter how many times you assert it, it is not so. But, by all means, find a cite in either U.S. case law, or the Constitution, that states that the President is lawfully a member of the military, and I will withdraw my objection.

The President of the United States has always been in charge of the military, as a civilian; this does not make him the military dictator of the U.S. military, or anyone else. At most it makes him the civilian leader who is de facto final authority over another country. Just as Brezhnev had de facto authority over Hungary and Poland and Czechoslavakia, but was not "military dictator" over them.

Words have meaning. Legal meaning.

"Would you say that I belong to The Right, or no?"

I wouldn't say, as I don't feel qualified to say. What do you say?

All I know is that you asserted, as you have many times, humorously, that you should be getting the memos from the VRWC.

You're saying that when we discussed it here last year you weren't thinking about it?
Checking to say where I may have said something that could be interpreted that way...nope, can't see how you might have formed that conclusion.
What conclusion? You're responding to a question.

Are you saying that when we discussed the timing of the election last year, then, that you did think about it, but did object to the President's policy of delaying elections? I'm still completely confused by what your position is or isn't. The base question was, however, entirely simple: did you object to the President's policy of delaying the election, or support it? Since it's a simple matter, and one fairly defensible either way, I don't understand why you don't simply give a plain answer.

What conclusion?

That I both recalled our conversation, and wasn't thinking about it. But since it was a question, probably a more accurate, succinct answer would have been "no". So, in the name of accuracy and brevity:

did you object to the President's policy of delaying the election, or support it?

No.

Gary: And thus cannot lawfully be described as a member of the military, and thus cannot be described by law or fair usage as in the military and thus cannot be military, and thus cannot be a "military dictator."

Nevertheless, Bush is de facto the unelected head of a military dictatorship. Facts have power too. You're the one who keeps insisting I can't call him a military dictator: as a matter of fact, I haven't been, except in this thread in the course of conversation with you. But Iraq is under a military dictatorship: that's just the facts of the matter. To argue that Bush "isn't military" is beside the point: the only reason the US has any authority at all in Iraq is because the US military holds it.

Are you saying this because they haven't formally surrendered, Jesurgislac?

But Iraq is under a military dictatorship: that's just the facts of the matter.

To be a military dictatorship, Iraq has to be under the direct control of a military dictator; that's the definition of the term. Who, then, is the military dictator of Iraq?

the Ted Kennedys and Harry Reids and John Kerrys would've been front and center calling for an exit strategy (oops, they already have been)

And they are right to do so. The only way that any Iraqi government-forming process can be seen as legitimate and independent by the Iraqi people, and the rest of the world, is for the U.S. government to make clear that we will not have long-term military bases there.

Not that this is something I expect the Bush administration to do, since those bases were the most fundamental objective of the invasion.

A commitment to leave, completely, is the best way to honor the courage and determination of Iraqi voters. Without such a commitment, negotiations on a timetable are meaningless.

since those bases were the most fundamental objective of the invasion.

And here I thought it was the oil.

Nell, there are things one can say for sure about the Bush administration:

1. They lie about what their objectives are.
2. They lie about the facts if the facts don't fit what they want reality to be.
3. They have not managed to figure out that, just in case things don't go the way they planned, it's as well to have a Plan B, a Plan C, and a Plan D.
4. Especially if Plan A involves risking so many lives.

I don't know if the ultimate objective of the invasion was (a) the military bases (b) the oil (c) some other objective we don't know about yet. As we can't trust the Bush administration to tell us the truth, to react sensibly to real-world events, to make good plans, or to have regard for the value of human life, I'm not sure that anyone knows for sure what the ultimate objective of the invasion is... ;-)

We know it wasn't the WMD: we know Bush & Co knew there were no stockpiled WMD before the invasion took place.

We know it wasn't to bring democracy to Iraq at the point of a gun: Bush didn't want elections, only agreed to the belated election of Sunday because he was forced into it, and delayed the election months past the sensible time in order not to interfere with the US elections.

We know it wasn't for human rights or freedom or any of that stuff that Abu Ghraib scribbled across in human blood and excrement.

We don't actually know what the Bush administration plans to do with Iraq, and I hesitate to make predictions, because my predictions will be based on logic, reason, and facts: their decisions won't.

Jes,

"You're presuming quite a lot, aren't you? For starters, "we"? AFAIK, you're not Iraqi:"

Great point Jes, Thanks for the tip. I'm sure Americans will offer them no support whatsoever.

"Who has the power in Iraq?"

I thought it was the insurgency that had the power.

Nell,

"U.S. government to make clear that we will not have long-term military bases there"

I'm not sure how many times I have heard Bush say that he wants to setup a stable Iraqi gov't so that we can bring our troops home, but it has been many times.

I'd like to speak in Jes's (please excuse the shorthand) defense.

unlike, say, the British occupation of India or the American occupation of Japan, the legal status of American troops in Iraq is, to me, tremendously unclear.

Are we actively at war against a regime fighting a guerrilla campaign? Are we occupying forces following a successful invasion? Are we liberators, providing security at the request of the interim government?

Certainly the administration appears to shift ground on a regular basis among these alternatives, depending on the point it's trying to make. And the nature of our presence there to me has important implications for the accurate characterization of Iraqi governance.

Mr. Farber correctly states that the President is a civilian. I suspect that the distinction is lost on many Iraqis. How, for example, does Riverbend view the governance of her own country. She sees the Interim Government as a vichy govt, providing a mockery of civilian rule. She sees the only real political power in her country is the US military.

Riverbend would probably agree with Jesurgislac that the most accurate description of the actual exercise of political power in her country is "military dictatorship". One of the most important events in her recent history, as reflected in her blog, was the destruction of Falluja. The US military, over which she exercises no civilian oversight, was responsible for that operation.

The above being said, I'll also agree with Mr. Farber that the term "military dictatorship" is tremendously value-laden. As seen in this thread alone, using terms with strong and unpleasant connotations can derail threads into definitional disputes that are ultimately unsolvable.

cheers

Francis

Slart says:

...did you object to the President's policy of delaying the election, or support it?
No.
Thanks. So what was your point in saying the following?:
Really? That's not on any of the VRWC meeting agendas I've seen.
Were you disagreeing with the quote you were responding to, or not? And would it have been so hard to have clearly said so in the first place, and saved this interminable series of attempts to find out what you're trying to say?

I just read this whole thread. Ever watch a entertaining commercial and after it was over not know who the advertiser was? Let's see, it's definitely not as bad as Jesurgislac says it its. Gary Farber knows that, but can't convince her otherwise, no matter how tedius the argument. Slartibartfast seems to be playing the part of Rodeo Clown (serious role, really!)trying to draw the cowboys away from impending danger. Charles Bird suffers somewhat from the same disease that I do, the more you say the more you think of to say, and the point you were trying to make fades from sight. There are more characters in this play, but I find myself way over the line. I long since forgotten what this thread was about anyway. Pummel on!!

Well, Gary, the whole point of my first comment in this exchange was to (humorously) underscore how silly it is to say "The Right" did anything at all, which is pretty much the same as the thesis of this post. To claim that there was this monolithic support of any policy at all in Iraq is...well, it's an unevidenced generalization, for starters.

And would it have been so hard to have clearly said so in the first place, and saved this interminable series of attempts to find out what you're trying to say?

I can only say that it looked really, really obvious from this side of the screen, Gary.

Blogbuds, that's got to be your best post ever.

"You're the one who keeps insisting I can't call him a military dictator: as a matter of fact, I haven't been, except in this thread in the course of conversation with you."

Jes, "I didn't say it, except when I did, in many posts on this thread" isn't a terribly useful line of argument. Either you stand by it or you don't. Pick one. Otherwise, the above is a meaningless point.

"To argue that Bush 'isn't military' is beside the point...."

So you accept that Bush is not a member of the military? And you are asserting that he is therefore a non-military military dictator? Or you are continuing to assert that he is legally a member of the military? Could you pick one, please?

"...we know Bush & Co knew there were no stockpiled WMD before the invasion took place."

We do? I'm entirely prepared to accept that they had successfully deluded themselves into believing otherwise, and, in fairness, not without some cause, as well as much willing distortion. After all, President Clinton also believed it all that time, as did the foreign intelligence services of France, Germany, and every other country that weighed in, according to many reports. Can you offer some cites that proves that this is not true, or that President Clinton deliberately lied to support President Bush, or that the Bush Administration weren't simply wrong in their convictions?

You're really awfully quick to assert that people are liars or racists or dictators, Jes. It really hurts your arguments, consistently, when you frequently could win most of them by simply sticking to provable fact, and reining in your loose rhetoric, if I may be so bold as to make such a suggestion without giving offense. If, of course, since this is unasked-for advice, it offends you, I withdraw it with apologies.

Gary: We do? I'm entirely prepared to accept that they had successfully deluded themselves into believing otherwise, and, in fairness, not without some cause, as well as much willing distortion.

Either Bush & Co knew there were no stockpiled WMD, or they believed there were (indeed, if they believed they were, they believed finding/securing the stockpiles was the main objective of the invasion). Yet there were no resources assigned to securing any stockpiles. I can conclude that either Bush & Co are the McGonagalls of invasion warfare, or else they knew there were no stockpiled WMD to find, and it would be a waste of resources to have any military assigned to securing them once they were located.

Francis: The above being said, I'll also agree with Mr. Farber that the term "military dictatorship" is tremendously value-laden. As seen in this thread alone, using terms with strong and unpleasant connotations can derail threads into definitional disputes that are ultimately unsolvable.

That I'll agree with, and bow out of this conversation with Gary, interesting though it's been.

"...to (humorously) underscore how silly it is to say 'The Right' did anything at all, which is pretty much the same as the thesis of this post."

So you're saying that "the right" and "the left" (capped or not) are terms completely without meaning, and you are forswearing ever speaking of them again?

If not, could you delimit where you find such terms remaining useful?

And could you please clarify, if you would be so kind, regarding the following rephrasing: "The overwhelming majority of supporters of President Bush at that time fell behind the Bush line that postponed the first elections until 22 months after the invasion."

Is that essentially true or false? Thanks.

"Either Bush & Co knew there were no stockpiled WMD, or they believed there were...."

Yes, I believe that covers it. :-)

So you're saying that "the right" and "the left" (capped or not) are terms completely without meaning, and you are forswearing ever speaking of them again?

I've got no particular attachment to those descriptors, although The Left seems to.

8)

And could you please clarify, if you would be so kind, regarding the following rephrasing: "The overwhelming majority of supporters of President Bush at that time fell behind the Bush line that postponed the first elections until 22 months after the invasion."

I'd want to see the data, Gary. And, seeing as we're clarifying and all, please tell me what you mean by "fell behind".

Yes, I believe that covers it. :-)

Almost. It's not quite A or ~A.

"That I'll agree with, and bow out of this conversation with Gary, interesting though it's been."

That is, of course, your choice. Another choice would be to either continue to defend -- logically, convincingly, and provably -- your words, or to withdraw your words. Admitting error does not actually involve killing one's self in shame, or even ritual removing of a limb, or fingernail. "Although I maintain Bush is the ultimately in charge, I shouldn't have called him a 'military dictator,' since people have subsequently point out it was unnecessarily inflammatory and inaccurate." Not a big deal. Heaven forfend we should ever speak hastily and then change our words. But, up to you. (And some say "face" is not a common characteristic in Westerners; in the words of Nero Wolfe: pfui.)

"I've got no particular attachment to those descriptors, although The Left seems to."

The thing is, Slart, is that -- I say this with great respect, truly -- you have a tendency, in my view, to rhetorically try to make serious points with humor, but when you're called on the serious point, you try to escape with a variant of "just joking," and not addressing the serious point. This is a rather passive-aggressive style of arguing, and not a fair one. It's great to be funny, but not so great to pretend you aren't trying to make a real point.

In this case, either you seriously object to people using "the Left" and "the Right" under specific conditions, or you don't. In fairness, either you can say what you think is fair usage of the labels, or if you can't, you have no grounds to object to some one else doing so. You can't claim that they are useless terms save when you feel like using one of them yourself.

"And, seeing as we're clarifying and all, please tell me what you mean by 'fell behind.'"

Let's try this: "The overwhelming majority of supporters of President Bush since that time have supported or agreed with the Bush line that postponed the first elections until 22 months after the invasion."

Agree or disagree?

Gary: Another choice would be to either continue to defend -- logically, convincingly, and provably -- your words

Well, I have. Logically and provably. I am further convinced that I will not convince you, and Francis has helpfully pointed out that in discussing this, we have rather derailed the conversation. I see no reason to continue to restate the facts of the matter, since I won't convince you, you won't convince me, and I'm not sure that if we went on and on repeating this argument, we would continue to be as entertaining as I hope we've been to date.

So, I am content to leave you with your opinion that Bush can't be a military dictator, while continuing to hold to mine that yes, he is.

So, I am content to leave you with your opinion that Bush can't be a military dictator, while continuing to hold to mine that yes, he is.

My weakness for balanced sentences will be the death of me. I meant: "...while continuing to hold to mine that the current real government in Iraq is a military dictatorship - the US military occupation."

"So, I am content to leave you with your opinion that Bush can't be a military dictator, while continuing to hold to mine that yes, he is."

Just for the record, I certainly never said Bush "can't be a military dictator." As soon as he takes the office illegally in a military coup, I most surely would agree he is being a military dictator. I said he isn't, not that he can't be.

It would have been nice if you had answered my questions about who is and isn't, was and wasn't, a military dictator, though. It's not useful to blur the difference between Generalissimo Franco and Queen Victoria with fuzzy thinking and fuzzy language.

"Well, I have. Logically and provably."

One last note on this before I drop it. I'm curious: does anyone else believe Jes has proven that George W. Bush is "a military dictator"?

Just like Queen Victoria.... Okay, I've tried "strike" tags, and "s" tags, and neither produces a stikeover here; what does?

The thing is, Slart, is that -- I say this with great respect, truly -- you have a tendency, in my view, to rhetorically try to make serious points with humor, but when you're called on the serious point, you try to escape with a variant of "just joking," and not addressing the serious point.

I won't deny any of that, but in my view I've been clear: if "The Left" is meaningless as an abstraction, so is "The Right". In any case, to say something anything like "The Right" as a whole did X is difficult to support.

Agree or disagree?

Again, I haven't seen the data. It's ridiculous to even attempt a claim like this without something to support it. My agreement or disagreement wouldn't mean anything at all, either, absent data.

Interesting that you'd make these observations, Gary. This is irrelevant to the point, here, but I've recently discovered through those categorization tests that some of us have come to know and love, that I am, in conflict, almost completely in avoidance mode. So, not exactly passive-aggressive, but with the potential to be so.

One last note on this before I drop it. I'm curious: does anyone else believe Jes has proven that George W. Bush is "a military dictator"?

The thing is, you haven't given your definition of military dictator?
I think that Iraq is currently under military rule and control, and the person with ultimate control of that military is GW Bush, yes.

does anyone else believe Jes has proven that George W. Bush is "a military dictator"?

I don't. I think Jesurgislac's criteria of proof (on this and other issues) and mine are at a severe disconnect.

I have read every single post in this thread. I feel enormously proud of this.

Nevertheless, I have a question for Gary (apropos pretty much nothing).

I accept George W. Bush's status as a non-military, civilian citizen of the USA. Does that make him non-military in a global environment? Does Bush's position within the US constitution affect his position in Iraq as person commanding the most powerful army in Iraq that in all probability will not accept Certain Things?

And let me here state I don't think Iraq is being government by a military dictatorship or a puppet government. Obviously the US has set up said government, but the process has to start somewhere, and the US, most abhorrent and EEEEEEEVIL of countries though it inquestionably IS, may as well get said ball rolling.

P.S. Was against said war. Still am. Am in favour of democracy, and elections, and cheesecake, and people not dying, and smiles, rainbows, and non-withdrawal from Iraq until we have Got The Job (whether wrong or not) Done.

"if 'The Left' is meaningless as an abstraction, so is 'The Right'."

Here's a loose approximation of my position (I'll show you mine, since you're suggesting one, albeit with the weasel "if"): "the left" and "the right" are terms with distinctly limited usefulness if not very specifically delimited; they are not, however, without use entirely, and may appropriately be used when accurately addressing extremely broad distinctions; if not used in said careful manner, they can be seriously misleading and counter-productive.

So: I disagree they are "meaningless"; I agree that they are frequently, and possibly most often, used in a meaningless fashion. There's a crucial difference in that distinction.

"Again, I haven't seen the data. It's ridiculous to even attempt a claim like this without something to support it."

Meant in friendly fashion: oh, hogwash. If the majority of Republicans in Congress, or a plurality, had demanded we support Sistanti in his desire for earlier elections, it would be in the public record. This is just silly.

Votermom says: "I think that Iraq is currently under military rule and control, and the person with ultimate control of that military is GW Bush, yes."

So you would agree that Queen Victoria was military dictator of India? That Kofi Annan is military dictator of Bosnia? That President Clinton was military dictator of Kosovo? That Harry Truman was military dictator of South Korea? That FDR was military dictator of occupied France? That

"The thing is, you haven't given your definition of military dictator?"

Purely offhand and subject to possible future revision: "The head of a military junta who has dictorial powers, unrestrained by legality, over his or her own country."

Not "civilian head of an elected democratic government whose military forces has occupied a foreign country." (I'll set aside the debate as to whether this was, as claimed, done under legal provision of UN authority, or not, though I'm unaware of any resolution of the Security Council, or decision of the World Court, that established that said occupation is illegal, either.)

But let's not take my personal offering. Let's see what Wikipedia defines as "military dictatorship":

A military dictatorship is a form of government wherein the political power resides within the military; it is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military. Like all dictatorships, a military dictatorship may be official or unofficial, and as a result may not actually qualify as stratocratic (some military dictators, like Manuel Noriega, are nominally subordinate to the civil government). Mixed forms also exist, where the military exerts a very strong influence without being entirely dominant.

The typical military dictatorship in Latin America is ruled by a junta (derived from a Spanish word which can be translated as "conference" or "board"), or a committee composed of the military's most senior leadership. Other military dictatorships are entirely in the hands of a single officer, usually the senior army commander. In either case, the chairman of the junta or the single commander may often personally assume office as head of state.

There's more. Being the civilian head of a military does not make one a "military dictator." Y'know, it's not remotely necessary to claim that George W. Bush is a "military dictator" to accurately say anything bad one wants to say about the wisdom or lack thereof of the invasion and occupation. It's just not. He's also, so far as I know, not an eight-tentacled relation of Kodos or Kang, and yet we can still object to or question his policies without having to claim he is.

And we look a lot less silly if we don't make unsupportable claims.

Jes,

"Yet there were no resources assigned to securing any stockpiles."

This statement is a farce.

they are not, however, without use entirely, and may appropriately be used when accurately addressing extremely broad distinctions; if not used in said careful manner, they can be seriously misleading and counter-productive.

You make my point far more ably than I do, I admit.

If the majority of Republicans in Congress, or a plurality,

Oh, so you took "The Right" to mean Congressional Republicans? Well, that rules my objection right out, then.

"Does that make him non-military in a global environment?"

I'm not clear what that question means, or excludes.

"Does Bush's position within the US constitution affect his position in Iraq as person commanding the most powerful army in Iraq...?

Yes, under the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 1:

Clause 1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States....
U.S. military forces are, of course, the primary force in Iraq in a physical, defacto, sense.

"...that in all probability will not accept Certain Things?"

I'm not sure if this is modifying "Bush" or "army." I expect that the Army will do and does what Bush tells them to do or accept. As to what Certain Things Bush might or might not accept if the government in Iraq today objects, or the government-to-be-formed, after it is formed, objects, I'm not in any position to know. I'm quite doubtful anyone apt to comment on this blog is, unless, perhaps, Ambassador Negroponte, or Secretary Rice, or a similar personage, would care to post.

"Oh, so you took 'The Right' to mean Congressional Republicans? Well, that rules my objection right out, then."

I'm not fussy on this; if there was a popular upswell of grassroots Republicans, of Republican leaders of any sort, of self-identified right-wingers, of self-identified George Bush supporters of any sort, I missed all of that. Possibly you did, as well.

Let's turn it around. I offered, in my comment of 12:12 PM, the following: "The overwhelming majority of supporters of President Bush since that time have supported or agreed with the Bush line that postponed the first elections until 22 months after the invasion."

"Agree or disagree?"

Your response of 12:34 PM was "Again, I haven't seen the data. It's ridiculous to even attempt a claim like this without something to support it."

What definition do you offer in which you "disagree"? What objection were you or do you offer?

We're done here, Gary. Someone made a claim about "The Right" that I dispute from a grounds that this is an undefined group, and also from the grounds that no evidence is made available at all to support it. If I've been less than clear in my objections, my apologies, but it's not the case that I'm on the hook for anything at all, here.

Of course, you can always ask. But if you're asking me for data, I haven't got any. Then again, I'm not the one making the claim.

The head of a military junta who has dictorial powers, unrestrained by legality, over his or her own country.

Then by your definition a leader of one country can never be dictator, military or not, of another country, so I don't think there's any reason to argue.

GWB is, by virtue of military invasion and occupation, the real decider-of-what-will-be-done-and-when-and-how, in Iraq. There is no other body (single or collective) with the power to overrule GWB's decisions in Iraq. No process to question his decisions. At present. That's what I've been led to believe. I may be wrong.

But I agree, that doesn't make him a military dictator, okay?

Showing a real instinct for the capillaries, Mr. Farber?

Ms. Jesurgislac made a statement which used language with strong connotations. She said: "it's not up to the Iraqis to get to decide what kind of government they have: it will be up to the US military dictatorship running their country."

Now, Jes frequently takes some pretty extreme positions on this blog, as all of us frequent commenters know.

One possible line of discussion would have been to challenge the notion of lack of Iraqi choice. (My personal take is that this critical question remains unresolved.) Another would have been to challenge the idea that the US military is functioning as a dictatorship.

Oddly enough for a man of your erudition, you took neither path and embarked on a historical and legal review of the meaning of the term "military dictatorship". Since you apparently feel comfortable enough to suggest that Ms. J apologize, let me suggest the same to you, for threadjacking.

Has Ms. J "proved" that Iraq is being governed by a military dictatorship? Best i can tell, the statement is not subject to proof. She certainly argued, with passion and thoughtfulness, that the issues you raised about civilian oversight were irrelevant to how the Iraqis perceive the exercise of governance in their own country.

I note that you, Mr. Farber, feel it appropriate to lecture others on tone and manners while taking a remarkably rude tone of your own. You may want to consider your own advice: "It really hurts your arguments, consistently, when you frequently could win most of them by simply sticking to provable fact, and reining in your loose rhetoric."

You appear to believe that the U.S. Code provides the answer to the question regarding the US's ability to impose military dictorships. Ms. Jes. believes (as best i can tell) that the appropriate frame of reference is that of those who are occupied. Thus, the answer to your earlier questions about the governance of Roman provinces, Japan, India and Puerto Rico is that it depends on the nature of the occupation.

There was, I thought, little dispute that the only effective power in Iraq today is the US military, except in Kurdistan. The media generally reports that there are no effective police forces, local governments or independent judiciaries. There is, in essence, no effective civilian rule of law.

Thus, one could legitmately argue that the Iraqis perceive that their form of government is (a) a dictatorship, because they have no say in their government and (b) a military dictatorship, because order is kept by military forces, rather than civilian security services.

or, we could have a fight about the differences between how Britain ruled India and the US ruled Japan.

Francis

Gary: As soon as he takes the office illegally in a military coup, I most surely would agree he is being a military dictator.

Well, in Iraq, he has and he did.

"Ms. Jesurgislac made a statement which used language with strong connotations. She said: "it's not up to the Iraqis to get to decide what kind of government they have: it will be up to the US military dictatorship running their country."

I would like to note that the claim here is not that Bush is dictator of Iraq, the claim is that Bush is the dicatator of the United States and that as dictator of the United States he also controls Iraq. The validity of that claim seems rather suspect.

Jesurgislac makes the point that George W. Bush is the President of Iraq. Discuss.

re Jesurgislac at 2:13 on the ineffable mystery of the Bush administration's objectives and plans in Iraq...

Great rundown of the rationales we can rule out. I'm sticking with bases as the most likely of the ones we can't.

Slartibartfast: Of course the bases do have some relationship to oil. Sneering doesn't intimidate me off that idea; I'm not a "sensible liberal".

Sebastian: the claim is that Bush is the dicatator of the United States

Rubbish. I have never made that claim, and if you can point to a comment where you think I claimed that, go ahead: I'll refute your misinterpretation.

Slartibartfast and Sebastian distort language of another poster out of all proportion. Discuss.

Alternative discussion: Identify the correct denotation of the form of government which exists when the military of a civilian-led democratic government occupies a foreign country. Bonus points for coming up with a term which recognizes the degree to which the US military respects the existing civilian iraqi law and government and the degree to which iraqi government has achieved control over basic local government issues, like traffic control laws.

Nell:

Sneering doesn't intimidate me off that idea; I'm not a "sensible liberal".

I wasn't sneering. Chuckling a bit, sure; sneering I reserve for the little brown people I'm crushing with my jackboots.

Francis:

Slartibartfast and Sebastian distort language of another poster out of all proportion. Discuss.

Dictator or no? It really is that simple.

Is it possible (under the current configuration) for the leader of the US military to be a dictator? I assume "dictator" implies autocracy, and that therefore he could issue illegal orders that must be followed. And I also assume that illegal orders in the US military are NOT to be followed. We should not confuse "immensely powerful" with "dictator."

"Has Ms. J 'proved' that Iraq is being governed by a military dictatorship? Best i can tell, the statement is not subject to proof."

I was not the one who asserted that I had proven that George W. Bush is a military dictator.

But you, votermom, and Jes, and anyone else who wishes to argue the case are free to take it up with Wikipedia, and more traditional encyclopedias and dictionaries, or to make the case against Wikipedia and traditional usage here, as you wish.

If I've used my magic powers to "thread-jack," and hypnotically swayed others into making assertions I've questioned and disagreed with and then continued to use my powers to force them to reply, and then further used my mind control to make yet others continue to debate back and forth between themselves, I do await hearing from one of the blog-owners (the ones whom the template don't identify, or the ones it implicitly does) about it.

Jesurgislac, I quoted you and then took the most obvious interpretation of that quote. Did I misquote?

Jes responded:

As soon as he takes the office illegally in a military coup, I most surely would agree he is being a military dictator.

Well, in Iraq, he has and he did.

What office has George Bush taken illegally in Iraq?

Why is it that there is no mention in Wikipedia that a military dictator can be the democratically elected civilian of one country and the military dictator of another? Conspiracy? Thoughtless omission? Please do feel free to offer a reason. I've given you a cite; please explain why it is wrong.

what's a dictator? How 'bout "one who rules by dictate" i.e. by exercise of fiat power (no legislature, no judiciary) without consent of the governed.

It seems to me that an Iraqi could legitimately feel that he exchanged one dictatorship, based on tribal loyalties and the fear of the secret police, for another dictatorship, one based on open military power.

so the answer is yes, to an Iraqi Bush could be seen as a military dictator.

Bush's cutesy little flight suits makes Jes's argument that much stronger.

Francis

Ok, I think the m-d issue has been argued to death, can we go on to solving other pressing problems?

"...to an Iraqi Bush could be seen as a military dictator."

The thing is, a subjective impression does not a definition make. Nobody is challenging what Iraqis might or do "feel like" or what "could be seen as" from their point of view. The point is what matches the objective common definition of "military dictator" and "military dictatorship."

Gary: The point is what matches the objective common definition of "military dictator" and "military dictatorship."

Yes, I agree.

Rilkefan: Ok, I think the m-d issue has been argued to death, can we go on to solving other pressing problems?

Yes, let's.

More then anything I suspect that Iraqis voted overwhelmingly to get us out. And when Bush makes it clear that we're gonna stay...things are going to get much worse.

More then anything I suspect that Iraqis voted overwhelmingly to get us out. And when Bush makes it clear that we're gonna stay...things are going to get much worse.

What I wonder is how exactly Bush will keep the US there if elected Iraqi representatives make clear that they want the US out. Surely no one could contest at that point that Americans would be an illegal, occupying force. The question, I suppose, then becomes whether or not an illegal, occupying force imposing its will on a democratically-elected government through military means constitutes a... military dictatorship.

[runs away cackling in evil glee]

Why is it that there is no mention in Wikipedia that a military dictator can be the democratically elected civilian of one country and the military dictator of another? Conspiracy? Thoughtless omission? Please do feel free to offer a reason. I've given you a cite; please explain why it is wrong.

I don't want to invoke Godwins law, but the last time *my* country was invaded and occupied it was a democratically elected civilian who was in power in the aggresor-country. What *is* the correct term to refer to that person and to refer to the people he put in charge of our country?

He wasn't "a democratically elected civilian" when he invaded your country or any other. He had long ceased to be fairly describable that way.

In January of 1933, upon Hindenberg's appointment of him as Chancellor, he was still a civilian leader.

My own answer is that when Mr. H had the Enabling Act passed on 23 March 1933, he moved from being the lawful civilian chancellor to being military dictator of Germany. The Law against the Formation of Parties on 14 July 1933 only confirmed it. I suppose one could make a case for 19 August 1934 and his being named Leader of the military and Fuhrer of the entire Reich, and thereafter soldiers had to swear to die for Adolf Hitler personally, instead, though. There's no case to be made for Hitler's legal authority as Fuhrer being describable as "civilian" that I can see.

YMMV.

"In January of 1933, upon Hindenberg's appointment of him as Chancellor, he was still a civilian leader."

Let me re-emphasize, by the way, that he was not "democratically elected" to this position; it was an appointive position, made by the President, Hindenburg, the Head of State. It's fair to say that Hitler had significant, though not majority, popular support, of course, as demonstrated by the Nazis numbers in the Reichstag, which nonetheless fell from from 230 seats to only 196 in the November 1932 elections. And he undoubtedly gained majority popular support in subsequent years, although there were no fair elections to prove that. A popular dictator, however, is still not inherently a "democratically elected" one.

A popular dictator, however, is still not inherently a "democratically elected" one.

Wikipedia, which you appearantly bring in as trusted source for definitions, calls Hitler democratically elected ;-)
The point is rather moot in this discussion though, because no matter wether you want to argue that democracy in Germany ended in 1930, july 1933 or somewhere in between we both agree that by the time he started invasions he was a dictator.

Let's try a different approach than. I have looked through the wikipedia you linked to, trying to find a better descriptive term. Trouble is, that there is non fitting for this exact situation. People than tend to go for the term that will convey the right meaning to the listeners, even if it involves a little "poetic liberty" (does that term exist in English too?).

For instance: I use paperclips as hangers for my christmasballs, since I find they work much better than the "official" christmasball hooks. The proper description would be 'the paperclips I use as christmas balls hooks', or just paperclips, but I refer to them as 'christmas balls hooks' for clarities sake.

Jesurgislac used a term to convey a meaning, not to win a court case. But maybe you know a better description?

We can all agree that Bush invaded Iraq and took absolute power over the country. I assume we all agree that he is not elected by the Iraqi's. We can also agree that that situation only could come to existence because of the military and only can exist NOW because of the military.

Bush first wanted a military occupation of a few years, actively stopped council elections in Iraq and had his envoys appoint people to positions of power.The Iraqi's did (and do, for the time being) not have power. So what would be the appropriate term to describe Bush's position in Iraq, as head of the militairy occupation there? Despotism? A modern variaty of benevolent despotism? Though the latter might have negative connotations with 'benevolent assimilation' (I cannot read that term without adding 'resistance is futile' in my head ;-) ).

A modern variaty of benevolent despotism? Though the latter might have negative connotations with 'benevolent assimilation' (I cannot read that term without adding 'resistance is futile' in my head ;-) ).

*raises eyebrow* The US as the Borg? I resolved not to mix into this discussion any more, since Gary was driving me nuts, but, oh, my... ;-)

Jesurgislac used a term to convey a meaning, not to win a court case. But maybe you know a better description?

At the risk of a Karnak, I would venture that Jes was indulging in more than just a value-neutral appropriation of a best-fit term to convey a concept for which there exists no better word--she was "framing the issue".

It is a frame with which I largely agree, aside from my objections on the grounds of linguistic precision--but it is still a frame.

dutchmarbel said: "...we both agree that by the time he started invasions he was a dictator."

Absolutely. Though not by virtue of his invasions.

"...even if it involves a little "poetic liberty" (does that term exist in English too?)."

"Poetic license" is the colloquial phrase, though I understand your variant.

"Jesurgislac used a term to convey a meaning, not to win a court case."

The problem is that it's sufficiently flammatory and inaccurate so as to be, well, problematic.

"But maybe you know a better description?"

Not in one or two or three words; sometimes we need more to be accurate in picking the mot juste.

"...actively stopped council elections in Iraq...."

I'm not clear what you're referring to; certainly there have been plenty of elections in Iraq in the past year for town councils and such.

"The Iraqi's did (and do, for the time being) not have power."

That's pretty unclear, depending upon definitions, and on close knowledge that I, for one, do not possess. Allawi and co. seem to have had some level of power since the formal transfer of sovereignty; what the borders and limits are, I certainly can't say, and I'm not confident that anyone posting here can.

"So what would be the appropriate term to describe Bush's position in Iraq, as head of the militairy occupation there?"

Head of the temporarily dominant foreign power? I'm not trying to minimize the situation, honestly; I have no reason to; I'm simply trying to be as reasonably accurate as possible.

Jes said: "...since Gary was driving me nuts...."

I live to serve.


Jes: So now you know what really was under Bush's jacket ;-) ;-).
It is probabely due to the fact that I learned the word 'assimilation' via ST - it will always have that connection.

Catsy: You are right, my bad. I used a Dutchism¹: the Dutch word for opinion is 'mening'. I intended to say that she tried to convey an *opinion* which of course is not value-free.

Gary Farber:Head of the temporarily dominant foreign power? I'm not trying to minimize the situation, honestly; I have no reason to; I'm simply trying to be as reasonably accurate as possible.

They can call him 'president of the United States' which would be as accurate and as lacking in ascribing the role he fulfills.

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¹ My worst misusage was probably when I had an US productmanager over who had never been to Europe. I took him to dinner, chatted politely, discussed differences in dressingcodes between our countries and also mentioned that I was surprised to see that so many women in the US wear pantyhoses, even in summer. The Dutch women hardly ever were them in summer. Except that I consistently used the English sounding Dutch word for pantyhose; panty. No wonder he looked more and more embarrassed ;-)

This is for you, Slartibartfast, who had a "chuckle" at my saying that the invasion's objective was U.S. bases, and for Charles Bird, who mocks Kennedy and others calling for an exit strategy.

From January to April 2004 Larry Diamond served as Senior Advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He recently gave a talk at UCLA. I rarely agree with anyone from the Hoover Institution about anything, but apparently Mr. Diamond and I are on the same page:

One of the things that is necessary to wind down the insurgency and create a much more hopeful,
enabling environment for the development of democracy and even political stability in Iraq is for Iraqis, and particularly those Iraqis who are involved with or sympathizing with the insurgency, to become convinced that we really are going to leave. That the American military occupation of Iraq is going to end and that they are going to get their country back.

. . . Number one, we could declare, and I urged the administration to declare when I left Iraq in April
of 2004, that we have no permanent military designs on Iraq and we will not seek permanent military bases in Iraq. This one statement would do an enormous amount to undermine the suspicion that we have permanent imperial intentions in Iraq. We aren't going to do that. And the reason we're not going to do that is because we are building permanent military bases in Iraq.


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