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May 23, 2006

Comments

I thought the whole Iraq debacle was a result of American nationalist’s humiliation on 9-11.

(Bush’s expression, during My Pet Goat, was pretty humiliating)

You guys should have mourned; you would not have made so many humiliating mistakes.

"I don't believe it's a sound idea to craft policy based on another group's emotional state."

Not by itself. But it is be a sound idea to craft policy around a group's emotional state if it affects their behavior, and that's the situation we're facing here. Cultural humiliation, far from being a new invention, has been one of the great motivating forces in history, and you ignore it to your peril. It's part of what propelled Hitler to power. In the era of the Roman Republic, it drove Rome's military machine onto conquest after conquest in reaction to just about any percieved slight.

Charles, I suspect you and I are on the same side when it comes to the validity of a lot of the "emotional humiliation" of terrorists - I think there's a little justification, but not much, certainly not for killing indiscriminately - but what you and I think of it doesn't really matter. Acknowledging that it exists and crafting policies around it isn't a "touchy-feely liberal" thing. It's a reasoned reaction to a very real world, very tangible phenomenon.

I don't believe it's a sound idea to craft policy based on another group's emotional state.

... said Neville Chamberlain.

Well, no, not really. But the emotional state of the post-Great War German population certainly went a long way toward Germany looking around for a don't-take-no-guff-from-no-one kind of leader, wouldn't you say?

Charles, it is a pleasure to agree with you about our inability to control the emotions of others. Indeed, it is a challenge to control my own emotions.

I have to disagree, though, about the status of the government in Iraq. You write,

... now that Iraq has an elected and functioning government, ...

The most basic function of a government is to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of foce. The new Iraqi government has so far failed even to appoint ministers in charge of the use of force (interior, defense, national security). When they do, the real power in Iraq will still be the U.S. forces. This is likely to continue for some time.

Rather than casting blame on backward leaders who repress their countrymen, how much more convenient to blame Western Civilization and Jews as the culprits.....

...who fund or arm or fund and arm our backward repressive leaders!

And then lecture them from afar about how we need to stop whining and suck it up.

Fittingly, the very next blog piece I read after this one was from Amanda at Pandagon, on a very fascist-looking thing called "Battlecry Philadelphia":

The truth is that it doesn’t take as much for people to slide towards fascism as we’d like to think. The ingredients are a population that feels disempowered, a leadership willing to provide them scapegoats in order to consolidate power and a some rhetoric about how they are the true stewards of history. The major thing that’s salvaging our country from a takeover by the mindset we’re seeing here is that most Americans don’t actually feel as emasculated and out of power as the handful agitating for a more fascist America seem to feel.

Aaaarrgh! "force," not "foce."

Further on in CB's cite of Jessica Stern:

It is not just who they are (those who see themselves humiliated by globalization and the “new world order”), and not just who we are (an enviable hegemon) but also, in part, what we do. We station troops in restive regions, engendering popular resentment. We demand that other countries adhere to international law, but willfully weaken instruments we perceive as not advancing our needs. Despite our belated recognition that weak states may threaten us more than strong ones, we allow failed states to fester. There is, for example, a danger that we may have today created the preconditions for a failed state in Iraq.

The US needs to take into account the inevitable trade-offs in policymaking between domestic policy objectives, such as the desire for cheap oil, and long-term counterterrorism goals. In short, it needs to take into account how its policies play into the hands of its terrorist enemies, assisting them with mobilization.

Instead of group hugs and pep talks, I've always thought that the best way to raise one's sense of self-worth is to get out and actually accomplish something.

One analysis of the rise in militant Islamism in the last twenty years that I read a while back covered this angle tsomewhat, in that many Muslim cultures went through the experience of a time under colonial rule, then under various dictators at the service of one superpower or another. As people everywhere tend to have a bit of pride in their culture, religion, ethnic character, or what have you, this necessitates a question - if we're so great, why are these other guys running our lives? (Being Scottish, I have some experience with this, but not as much as my celtic brethren and sistren in Ireland).

The answer supplied by some, and listened to by others, is that they have strayed from Allah, and that a return to the basics will surely result in a return to greatness. This, by the way, is also a central message and defining characteristic of fascism.

Now, does recognizing this mean that we're engaging in "group hugs and pep talks"? Or is it, y'know, actually trying to recognize and deal with the core problem? As simply killing these guys seems to create more and more of them, so that approach isn't working.

I've noted that a certain proportion of the hawkish right take any attempt to seriously analyze the mindset of these fundamentalist as a treacherous attempt to humanize the enemy. Would the "group hugs and pep talks" comment be a symptom of that, Charles?

When I think about cultural humiliation driving the state of affairs of the world, I think about my homeland, the American South, and how its still-bitter "emotional midgets", as Charles puts it, have quite a lot of say in who leads the free world. Like DPU, I don't think "hurt feelings" should be dismissed quite so lightly.

Iraq could very well be the next nation that gets a shot in the arm since it is on a similar track toward freedom and economic well-being.

I stopped reading here. Will not read anything else by Charles from here on out.

Break out the tiny violins.

Thread Available.

The paramilitary groups who are attacking civilians and police/military authorities should now be identified as terrorists and criminals, just as Omar would describe them.

If only Charles had been blogging when the Contras were active.

I wouldn't say the terrorists accomplished nothing.

In one fell swoop, they convinced America to turn itself into a paranoid authoritarian culture.

In one fell swoop, they convinced Americans that our most cherished ideals weren't worth the parchment they were written on.

In one fell swoop, they enabled a corrupt, lawless regime to grab enough power that it can violate the Constitution on a whim, defy court decrees, and operate in secrecy, immune to oversight.

I'd say that's quite a set of accomplishments. The radical, America-hating terrorists succeeded in doing what the Axis Powers and the Soviet Union couldn't do.

So, up until this magical transformative moment last Friday, every war supporter acknowledged that we were occupiers? Is that right?

Know how not to cure cultural humiliation? Inflict further humiliation.

Does cultural humiliation exist? Only a fool would deny it. Is it a significant factor in the thinking of people not already committed to jihad as to whether or not they should fight the West? Heavens to Betsy, yes it is. Imo, and seemingly that of everyone paying attention. They don't hate us for our freedom, but for our conduct -- or the effect our conduct has on their society.

Listen to the people complaining about illegal immigration. A great many of them are actually talking about a humiliation: we're going to lose out in some grand cultural struggle if we don't stem the tide. Now CB, I know you're not on this bandwagon, but you've surely seen it drive by. This is real and -- here, I get to say the Marxists got human nature pretty badly wrong -- is a much more important factor in people's lives than mere economics.

Once again, though, you've really missed the boat on why 'liberals' are interested in the extent to which terrorists are motivated by humiliation. It's not to feel sorry for them. Or exculpate them. The idea is to figure out why the other guy is doing what he's doing, and then use that knowledge to (a) get him to stop if possible or (b) get other people not to join up. To tailor our responses so that, to the extent possible, we're not creating new enemies faster than we can kill the ones we've already got.

In general, ime, 'liberals' do not oppose the most aggressive policies because (i) they feel sorry for the poor terrorists with their hurt feelings or (ii) because they don't understand what awful things the terorists do. It's a question of whether what Clemons called 'f*ck-yeah-ism' is going to work. If you want to win hearts and minds in Missouri, the answer is yes. If you're trying to win a complicated struggle in the Middle East, a more nuanced effort is required.

Switching gears, our post-war troop deployments in Germany, Japan, and South Korea did not involve armed internecine conflict among residents of those countries, and had, as their primary mission, the protection of all three -- and by extension us -- from Soviet expansion. We're still a long way from this in Iraq.

I haven't looked at the thread on purpose.

Charles, I believe that the feeling of helplessness is very real in many semi-quasi-democraticized former colonies. In the thread to your last post, Anarch hoped that Islam had not yet become the religion of the dispossessed, as Communism once was; I fear it already has become so.

I believe--or suspect, since I've been relatively privileged all my life--that humiliation is one of the strongest motivating factors for violent action. Feeling helpless in the face of the destruction of one's values sucks, absolutely. Even K-Lo's vapid invocations of 1950s patriarchy somehow trigger my nostaglia-ganglion.

Mercifully, I don't know what it feels like for my country to be invaded or occupied by an incontestably superior force. No matter how much I try to follow news from Iraq, I can't really imagine what the daily uncertainty about who will survive, who to trust feels like. I can't say Saddam Hussein's horrific regime was any better, but there is part of me that despite any evidence suspects it was somewhat more predictable, at least for the average Ali.

When people feel helpless, in the face of economic, environmental, military, or political situations, they start to behave in erratic ways. They have much less to lose.

Humiliation is a very important motivating factor in global terrorism, and I'm glad you've opened a thread on the idea, however skeptical you may be.

It's also worth noting that our post-war occupations in the '40s and '50s involved a pretty just set of policies, applied with general openness, and with a serious commitment to developing and protecting the economic and social institutions required for a liberal society. American forces busted their butts to earn credibility. Whatever one may think of the status of Iraqi civil institutions, the openness isn't there, and it's not there as a matter of policy. The Bush administration demands and gets secrecy like none of its predecessors. So there is, surprise, no reason for anyone else to trust it.

Obviously CharleyCarp knows all this much, much better than I do.

I'm experiencing well-deserved cultural humiliation for supporting Bush in 2004.

That's kind of the point, Sebastian.

Throwing a couple of other things out there.

After losing in Vietnam, the United States suffered its own version of cultural humiliation and it rankles to this day. Every one of our military actions since the mid-1970s has been colored by events in Vietnam.

Failed States are certainly a factor, just glancing at the Index, and one prime example way back when was post-WWI Germany. Japan, OTOH, doesn't much apply. I note that Afghanistan and Iraq are in the top 20 of failed states, but they are two main fronts in the War Against Militant Islamism, and I expect things'll stay shaky there until enough terrorists and criminals get killed, give up or run oft.

But I don't think failed states are a driving factor. Zimbabwe, Haiti and several other African nations are not known for terrorist or suicide-bomb attacks, so it seems that ideology would be higher on the list.

In my post, I laid blame at the feet of the leaders of repressed countries, but in my previous post, Bernard Lewis had some interesting arguments. One, with modernization and technology, leaders of Middle Eastern countries moved away from more participatory rule and were able to consolidate power and rule more by dictat. Two, ideologies such as Nazism, followed by communism, were influential (or at least more influential than I thought). You could probably throw a little colonialism into the mix, too.

Last thought. I'm not dismissing the existence or relevance of "cultural humiliation", just that I think it's easy to overemphasize it.

I stopped reading here. Will not read anything else by Charles from here on out.

Huh. That's all it took, Nell?

In one fell swoop, they convinced America to turn itself into a paranoid authoritarian culture.

I find that view itself paranoid, Casey.

I think that Al Qaeda'a attack on the US resulted from too much self-esteem. OBL pointed to the Russian experience in Afghanistan and our retreat from Somalia as reasons that AQ could topple the US and liberal democracies in general.

False dichotomise much, Charles?

Definitions of insurrection and insurgent.

hmmm.

CB, could you post a link to the Status of Forces Agreement between the sovereign nation of Iraq and the USA?

until such time as the govt of Iraq CONSENTS to our presence there through a SOFA, we are occupiers and those who attack US forces can legitimately be seen as resistance forces. (Allons enfants de la patrie! La jour de gloire est arrivee!)

now, i'd rather that the attacks stop and the troops come home, but it seems to me that you're a little quick on the draw to declare anti-occupation forces to be "terrorists". Given this comment and others, i think you're doing your utmost to delegitimize anti-american sentiment. you may have persuaded yourself, but you've got a long way to go (about the length of a divan, to be precise) to persuade me that attacks on americans in iraq are the acts of so-called terrorists.

but you've got a long way to go (about the length of a divan, to be precise) to persuade me that attacks on americans in iraq are the acts of so-called terrorists.

If they strike American civilians, yes, they're terorists. If they strike military targets, they'd be criminals. There is also a sizable criminal contingent involved in kidnappings and so forth.

If they strike military targets, they'd be criminals.

That seems false on its face, or at least massively unsupported.

"Germany and Japan seem to have recovered quite well from their humiliating WWII experiences."

Germany, yes. The way Japan has handled it seems to be denial. But both have had significant economic progress, probably supported by the fact that they were forbidden from keeping an expensive army.

Charles: I wouldn't puree those kittens if I were you, it looks as if your mascot has you in its sights.

Seriously, these accusations of group hugs and touchy-feeliness is a straw man if there ever was one. The point of recognising cultural humiliation is primarily to not provoke it if it can be helped.

DonBoy, you quoted: "The major thing that’s salvaging our country from a takeover by the mindset we’re seeing here is that most Americans don’t actually feel as emasculated and out of power as the handful agitating for a more fascist America seem to feel."

I don't know. It seems to me there is a lot of cultural humiliation on the right in the US (and in my country, too).

Charles,

Did you actually read your link about the “feelings-based community” to see what it might be about? I took a look. Here’s a sample:

Humiliation, which results in interference with goal-oriented behaviour or threat to life, material wellbeing or self-concept, is the key feature of violent conflicts in Africa today. The Great Lakes Region of Africa has been experiencing, for almost five decades, a continuous influx and efflux of refugees, stateless persons, and the internal displacement of the masses. The repeated displacement and disruption of livelihood has made displaced persons in Rwanda and Uganda dependent on handouts in addition to the loss of motivation for advancement, old self-reliance, progress or betterment.

In the light of that, let’s look at your prescription:

Instead of group hugs and pep talks, I've always thought that the best way to raise one's sense of self-worth is to get out and actually accomplish something.

Now, what would a Hutu refugee in a camp in DR Congo make of this advice? If the refugee were a young male, my guess is that he would interpret it as a call to go and kill some Tutsis. Of course that isn’t what you mean by accomplishing something. You mean, go and get yourself a modern, democratic, capitalist society; start a business; create prosperity. Indeed these are good things to do. But you see, an angry young Hutu who has spent most of his life living a hand-to-mouth existence since his parents fled from Rwanda really doesn’t have the resources to accomplish such things. He does, however, have the tools and know-how to take revenge on those whom he blames for his humiliating circumstances.

That’s the problem. If you want to think seriously about the solution, you may find that members of the “feelings-based community” have published the sort of analysis you will need to get you started.

Charles writes: "As of last Friday or so, our forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the legitimate and internationally-recognized Iraqi government"

I believe the 'legitimacy' of Iraq falls under the 'group hugs and pep talks' side of things: there might have been a process that was intended to create a legitimate government, and international (or American) institutions may have approved of that process, but that doesn't meen the Iraqi populace has approved of it. Real, functional legitimacy depends on the acceptance of the vast majority of the citizenry; the new government in Iraq doesn't seem to have it.

And just to join in the general pile-on, another thing:

CB: maybe the constant references to post-WWII Germany and Japan ought to get modified or qualified a bit; as their relevance to both the situation wrt Iraq, and the greater "War on Militant Islamism" ("WOMI"?) seems to be getting further and further afield with each post you make.
Relating to the conditions of an occupation/reconstruction: there may be a few parallels (d*mn few, imo, but there you are). But in connection with the issue of radical-Islamist activism/violence/terrorism/warfare, I think the analogies break down. The one thing that the WWII-era Axis Powers had in common, (aside from expansionist fascistic ideologies) was they they were nation-states: and ethnically homogenous nation-states at that; bent on campaigns of conquest on behalf of their particular nations, and waging warfare against other states - and when defeated, were able to be "reorganized" along more-or-less national lines: but still maintaining an existence as autonomous "countries" (two -artificially - in the case of Germany).
Islam, however, is not a discrete political entitity, but a specifically transnational religion; and its violent-extreme fringe ("Islamism", if you will) is a diffuse, decentralized, and decidedly transnational movement - and combatting its threat is, despite your seeming disdain for psychological nuances, going to be a problem which cannot be dealt with simplistic comaparisons to the "conventional" warfare of the past.
Besides, there MUST be some middle-ground policy to explore in how to confront MI between "group hugs and pep talks" (and exactly who, Charles, is it who has advocated this approach?) and merely bombing the sh*t out of the nearest Muslim country for effect's sake - even if the concept seems to escape your analysis.

"Even if the humiliation is genuine, the remedies for dealing with it can be 180 degrees wrong, as can be the reasons for these emotions in the first place.  Rather than casting blame on backward leaders who repress their countrymen, how much more convenient to blame Western Civilization and Jews as the culprits.  The real solution isn't to declare jihad and behead the nearest Westerner in the vicinity, but to change their society from within."

They do cast blame on backward leaders who repress their countrymen. Have you paid any attention to Islamist rhetoric and actions in the last 50 years or so? Zawahiri himself was arrested by the Egyptian government after the assassination of Sadat, although they couldn't prove the case. This idea that the West is the focus of most Islamist terrorism is demonstrably false with even the most cursory glance at the evidence. The overwhelming majority of terrorism is directed toward local or occupying regimes with the precise intent of fomenting the revolution you suggest might be the "real answer". That doesn't make terrorism justified.

Last thought. I'm not dismissing the existence or relevance of "cultural humiliation", just that I think it's easy to overemphasize it.
When compared to "Ignoring it and calling the culture a bunch of whiners," almost anything looks like overemphasis.

This idea that the West is the focus of most Islamist terrorism is demonstrably false with even the most cursory glance at the evidence.

I've noticed quite a lot of people recently who wear an injured expression and protest that, quite unfairly, everyone hates Americans. This is magnified to the point where it resembles a persecution complex, and even things that aren't slights at Americans become points of outrage. For example, just after the Asian tsunami a UN official's comment that western nations were somewhat stingy was quickly (and almost eagerly, IMO) transformed in many minds to "America is stingy." I believe that Glenn Reynolds still runs the occasional post with the ironic comment "More American stinginess."

Another possible form of cultural humilation?

Cultural humiliation and cultural defensiveness are two different things, methinks. The Vietnam War strikes me as the only real instance of 'cultural humiliation' that can be cited. We've always been used to being a country of winners, and even calling that war a 'Technical draw' rankles many people.

As (I think) the person who introduced the phrase 'cultural humiliation', I'd like to clarify a few points.

First, I do not, and have never, excused the actions of terrorists on this basis. I do try to understand what makes them tick, for (what strikes me as) the perfectly good reason of wanting our policies to address, or at least not exacerbate, the underlying causes of terrorism. But that's completely different. (It's like wanting to know what causes a disease in order to cure it, or at least not make it worse.)

This is, for me, all about achieving concrete results. One's take on the emotions of other people affects the policies one adopts to achieve a given end. Thus, Rumsfeld seems to have believed that the Iraqis would respond to our invasion with gratitude, and (in part) because of this belief about their emotions, he did not prepare for an insurgency. And this mistake has led to very bad "concrete results".

Second, I do not blame anyone for this cultural humiliation, in general. Blame depends on the specific case. If you look at the comment in which I brought this up, I used the example of the influence of teaching kids to read on Sinai bedouin society. I do not in any way fault the Israelis for having built schools for the Bedouin; I think they were right to do so. I also think that one of its side effects was this completely disorienting ability of children to see that their elders were wrong about religion. But I do not think that the Israelis should have protected the Bedouin from this by keeping their children illiterate.

Likewise, another source of cultural humiliation was the enormous technological superiority of the West. I think I said somewhere that when our technology first appeared, it was so far ahead of what could be produced in the Muslim Middle East that it might as well have been made by fairies. -- Within living memory, what was produced in the Muslim Middle East was: what could be made or grown in villages without electricity, or by skilled craftsmen working by hand. Not cell phones or vacuum cleaners or TVs or refrigerators.

I can't make a refrigerator, but this is not a source of cultural humiliation for me, since people more or less like me can and do. There's no temptation for me to think that my culture is in some way at fault; it's obviously just my lack of training and/or mechanical aptitude. But if no one at all like me could make a refrigerator, and refrigerators were made only by people from distant places that I did not understand, I might be tempted to feel differently.

But obviously I do not think any of the following: that we should not have invented the refrigerator; that we should not have exported them to the Muslim countries of the Middle East; that we should have prevented people from those countries from traveling here and finding out about refrigerators; etc. That would be insane.

Again: for me, this is not about blame. It's about understanding.

Third, it's also not about tiny violins. The point, again, is not whether or not anyone should feel sorry for anyone else; it's just about what we should do as a result.

Speaking for myself: I think that it's easy to underestimate the effects of having your entire cultural world-view come apart. This isn't just a "perceived slight"; it's a calamity that makes it hard for people to respond well, since our responses are often structured by the very world-view that has just come apart. I think that the best thing to do is simply: to have the self-confidence to affirm what is good about your own culture and the new and threatening one, and to make your own synthesis, one that works for you.

I also think that this self-confidence is a lot to expect of people, especially when they think their culture is under attack. Much more common reactions include both tossing one's culture aside much too quickly, and dismissing the new and threatening culture much too quickly while retreating into (what is generally) a parody of one's own. (A parody because in normal circumstances, cultures absorb and deal with new things; they don't have to be clung to like life preservers.)

I do not blame people for being in this predicament. And I think it behooves us to understand it. I do blame people for some responses to it, e.g. joining al Qaeda.

But in general, I think that my emotional response to this, with or without tiny violins, should not be the main point. The main point, again, is trying to figure out how we should respond to terrorism, which (I think) involves trying to figure out what drives it.

Lastly: I do not think that anything I said is in conflict with the idea that Muslim countries in the Middle East (I'm sticking to them because I know them) need democracy. Of course they do. Nor is it in any conflict with the idea that people who have experienced cultural humiliation would be well advised to do something they can be proud of. I think that's true, though I also think that (as someone said upthread) it's sometimes hard to see what one can do. If, for instance, you were an unemployed Egyptian 22 year old, living in a corrupt country in which literally everything was rigged against you (which, for a person without the right connections or enough money to bribe people, it often is), it might be hard to see what exactly one should do.

But since I am me, I am more interested in the question what I should do than in giving advice to other people whose situation I'm not at all sure I understand, and whom I'm not in contact with. And, being me, I think: I need to understand this. I need to advocate for policies that will not needlessly make it worse. I need to try to figure out what the long-run solutions to this are, and what I can do to make them happen. That's my responsibility.

I'm amazed that nobody's mentioned General Dyer's crawling order after the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre in 1919, which was decisive for Indian nationalism.

On April 19th, Dyer promulgated the so-called 'crawling order', which remained in effect until its revocation a week later. A flogging booth was placed in the middle of the lane where Miss Sherwood fell, and both ends of the street -- some 200 yards long -- were manned by soldiers, who were entrusted with the task of enforcing the order that any Indian, the streets' residents not excepted, who traversed it did so, to use the language employed by Dyer, 'on all fours'. Any infraction of the order was punished immediately with a number of lashes administered at the flogging post. Fifty people were compelled to undergo the indignity of crawling on their bellies.

Gandhi is supposed to have thought that the racial humiliation was almost as bad as the preceding massacre.

emmanuel g: after I wrote my comment, I thought that in addition to examples in which I would not blame the agents of humiliation (e.g., the builders of schools and inventors of refrigerators), I should have made it clearer that there are lots of other cases in which I do. Luckily, you have just provided the perfect example.

Here's a 1981 take on cultural humiliation from Gil Scott-Heron:

What has happened is that in the last 20 years, America has changed from a producer to a consumer. And all consumers know that when the producer names the tune…the consumer has got to dance. That’s the way it is. We used to be a producer – very inflexible at that, and now we are consumers and, finding it difficult to understand. Natural resources and minerals will change your world. The Arabs used to be in the 3rd World. They have bought the 2nd World and put a firm down payment on the 1st one. Controlling your resources will control your world. This country has been surprised by the way the world looks now. They don’t know if they want to be Matt Dillon or Bob Dylan. They don’t know if they want to be diplomats or continue the same policy - of nuclear nightmare diplomacy. John Foster Dulles ain’t nothing but the name of an airport now.

The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can – even if it’s only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards. And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse - or the man who always came to save America at the last moment – someone always came to save America at the last moment – especially in “B” movies. And when America found itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan – and it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at – like a “B” movie.

Come with us back to those inglorious days when heroes weren’t zeros. Before fair was square. When the cavalry came straight away and all-American men were like Hemingway to the days of the wondrous “B” movie. The producer underwritten by all the millionaires necessary will be Casper “The Defensive” Weinberger – no more animated choice is available. The director will be Attila the Haig, running around frantically declaring himself in control and in charge. The ultimate realization of the inmates taking over at the asylum. The screenplay will be adapted from the book called “Voodoo Economics” by George “Papa Doc” Bush. Music by the “Village People” the very military "Macho Man." . . .

A theme song for saber-rallying and selling wars door-to-door. Remember, we’re looking for the closest thing we can find to John Wayne. Clichés abound like kangaroos – courtesy of some spaced out Marlin Perkins, a Reagan contemporary. Clichés like, “itchy trigger finger” and “tall in the saddle” and “riding off or on into the sunset.” Clichés like, “Get off of my planet by sundown!” More so than clichés like, “he died with his boots on.” Marine tough the man is. Bogart tough the man is. Cagney tough the man is. Hollywood tough the man is. Cheap steak tough. And Bonzo’s substantial. The ultimate in synthetic selling: A Madison Avenue masterpiece – a miracle – a cotton-candy politician…Presto! Macho!

Put your orders in America. And quick as Kodak your leaders duplicate with the accent being on the dupe - cause all of a sudden we have fallen prey to selective amnesia - remembering what we want to remember and forgetting what we choose to forget. All of a sudden, the man who called for a blood bath on our college campuses is supposed to be Dudley “God-damn” Do-Right?

“You go give them liberals hell Ronnie.” That was the mandate. To the new “Captain Bly” on the new ship of fools. It was doubtlessly based on his chameleon performance of the past - as a liberal democrat – as the head of the Studio Actor’s Guild. When other celluloid saviors were cringing in terror from McCarthy – Ron stood tall. It goes all the way back from Hollywood to hillbilly. From liberal to libelous, from “Bonzo” to Birch idol…born again. Civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights…it’s all wrong. Call in the cavalry to disrupt this perception of freedom gone wild. God damn it…first one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom.

Nostalgia, that’s what we want…the good ol’ days…when we gave’em hell. When the buck stopped somewhere and you could still buy something with it. To a time when movies were in black and white – and so was everything else.


so, CB, it appears from your followup comment there is no SOFA and the legal relationship between Iraq and the US hasn't changed one iota.

you, the President and Don Rumsfeld can all close your eyes, clap your hands and wish really hard that the rest of the world will perceive those who attack americans in Iraq as terrorists.

but i suspect that, despite the formation of a new iraqi govt, big chunks of the rest of the planet's population will continue to see attacks on americans as the acts of a legitimate insurgency.

hil: " I do try to understand what makes them (terrorists) tick,"

That bomb they're wearing, perhaps?
(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Hil: I literally do not understand why people with no apparent cognitive defects always seem to respond to "so why are they doing this?" with "OH, so it's our fault, now." Empathy/understanding and sympathy are not the same thing.

CharleyCarp,

Dude that's B-Movie....that is soooo cool.

Pooh: I think that a lot of conservatives believe that liberals are consumed by guilt and a desire not to do anything ever that would make those poor unfortunate terrorists a teensy bit unhappy; and so when anyone says anything that might possibly be construed that way, that's how they construe it. This is one of Limbaugh's main lines of "argument", for instance. I'm sure liberals leap to similar conclusions on different issues.

But this one bears no relation to reality, and moreover it has the bizarre effect of making people think (a) that doing anything nice, ever, is motivated by wimpy guilt, and (b) that it is "realistic" to discount entirely the effects of one's actions on other people's emotions.

Sounds like today’s right-winger is a Nietzschian.

Let’s not forget what usually happens when right-wing nihilists become so politically powerful.

"I think that a lot of conservatives believe that liberals are consumed by guilt and a desire not to do anything ever that would make those poor unfortunate terrorists a teensy bit unhappy; and so when anyone says anything that might possibly be construed that way, that's how they construe it."

From an explanation not excuse point of view I suspect this is an overreaction to the ineffective liberal policing/punishment systems of the 1960s and 1970s (with a little trickle into the early 1980s).

As an example of the similar conclusions on different issues I suspect that whenever conservatives talk about putting incentives to work (or other incentives to decrease long term dependency on 'safety net' programs) into welfare programs, this gets translated into conservative "meanness".

I am however skeptical that the cultural humiliation argument has much explanatory utility so far as technological prowess goes. There have been many cultures exposed to extreme difference in technological prowess in the past 200 years. Middle Eastern Islamic cultures have reacted somewhat differently than those. (Speculatively it might be that the boost of economic power from oil has let just enough people in the Middle East gain the fruits of technology without the culture going through many of the steps necessary to learn to make it which has caused a unique problem.) But Vietnam for instance went through many of the same technological disparity issues and a huge war besides but I would be unshocked to find that 20 years from now it is doing much better than say Saudi Arabia or Syria in terms of overall technological know-how.

SomeOtherDude, please read the posting rules. You are very close to getting banned.

You are very close to getting banned.

For over-generalizing? Sheesh.

Is cultural humiliation listed in the posting rules, now? Why, if I could have a dollar every time I've heard liberal secularists referred to as Nietzsche-reading nihilists, by William Bennett alone..... never mind.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. ;)

Perhaps there's some truth to it, but I can't help but interpret "cultural humiliation" to mean "we lost and our feelings are hurt!"

If this is your take on this, then you need to broaden your point of view. The term "cultural humiliation" refers to the dislocation and rootlessness when one culture sweeps away the underpinnings of another, and the attendant problems that follow. It applies in many situations -- for example, it could also be used to suggest a cause for the high rate of alcoholism amongst American native peoples. To simplify it to "my feelings are hurt because I lost" is childish -- trivializing.

Remember first that the point of Hilzoy's remark (why not just identify her in your post -- weird) was to counter your suggestion that Islam is inherently violent. The point was to identify one of many better candidate for identifying causes of the hostility and violence that grips the Middle East.

You seem to be in denial about the role that the West has played in provoking so much anger and hostility -- and to some extent, that has simply been the result of a more powerful culture overwhelming another, whether or not accompanied by other bad behaviors. And being aware of this as a cause does not require a knee-jerk puppy-loving response. It just represents a reality-based view of how things really are instead of a fantasy world in which you remain mystified as to why there is such hostility when we are allegedly so pure -- a fantasy world which results in the bigoted belief that Islam is inherently violent because other much more likely and reasonable causes somehow are off your radar.
______

In that vein, the term "insurgent" should also be inoperative. The paramilitary groups who are attacking civilians and police/military authorities should now be identified as terrorists and criminals

The British thought so, too, despite 1776 and the Continental Congress.

Why this fetish about labels -- insurgent vs. terrorist? Most of these people are insurgents against the current Iraqi government and always have been. The status of the occupation has no relevance to describing what is going on. They are using terror tactics as have insurgents from time immemorial. Its odious, but certainly not an Al Queda type phenomena. Most of the violence is being directed against other Iraqis as part of the insurrection/civil war.
______

As of last Friday or so, our forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the legitimate and internationally-recognized Iraqi government, no different from our troop deployments in Germany, Japan and South Korea.

This is just nonsensical (and bad history about the post-WWII occupations; also, what is the relevance of South Korea here?). A key to such a situation is the extent to which the host country has control over the deployment, use, and actions of the visiting troops. When the host country has no such power, then its still an occupation; albeit, one that may be transitioning away from occupation.

One example -- do we obey Iraqi demands concerning persons detained by US forces? I think not.

I probably should give up writing comments or just stick to quoting Monty Python etc.

The combination of hilzoy and dmbeaster have said everything I can think of and more. Not only that, John Thullen is funnier than I am.

Sebastian: "I am however skeptical that the cultural humiliation argument has much explanatory utility so far as technological prowess goes."

I didn't mean to suggest that any time one culture meets another one that's technologically more advanced, this happens. That's plainly not true, any more than it's true that any time someone meets another person who does something better than s/he does, s/he resents that other person. But it sometimes happens, and when it does, it's useful to recognize it.

I mean: I say this based on having lived in the region and seen this at work. The Arabs I knew generally loved their culture and their villages; and in a lot of ways they were right to do so, I thought. But they had somehow to deal with the fact that they had been militarily defeated, technologically completely outclassed, their elites spectacularly failed them, etc., etc. A lot of them didn't know (so to speak) who they were supposed to be, or what to do with all this.

Some just tossed their culture aside far too quickly, and tried to be "modern". Some did the opposite. Both responses, I thought, were much too quick, and threw aside things of real value.

But the alternative -- having the self-assurance to pick your way through this minefield, take what's of value to you, and leave the rest -- is very, very difficult. I should say that I only knew one person who really did this (my ex, the novelist), and he was not thanked for his efforts, by any of the million and one "sides". He now lives in the US, things having gotten intolerable over there.

I should also say (in response to Charles) that I do not think Vietnam is a case of 'cultural humiliation'. Nothing about the war in Vietnam suggested that our culture was somehow inadequate, or that we had to (for instance) try to become more like the Vietnamese, our own culture having failed us.

Hil

should also say (in response to Charles) that I do not think Vietnam is a case of 'cultural humiliation'. Nothing about the war in Vietnam suggested that our culture was somehow inadequate, or that we had to (for instance) try to become more like the Vietnamese, our own culture having failed us.

Though I tend to agree with you, I'm guessing that many on the right would say that the war in Vietnam did suggest ways in which our culture was/is inadequate. I certainly think that's where a lot of the invective to "clap harder" comes from - the perception that we didn't do so in Vietnam, but if we do it now, things will be different. That was certainly an underpinning of Steele's...article a few weeks back, no?

I certainly think that's where a lot of the invective to "clap harder" comes from - the perception that we didn't do so in Vietnam, but if we do it now, things will be different. That was certainly an underpinning of Steele's...article a few weeks back, no?

I thought the underpinning of Steele's article was that our cultural humiliatino prevented us from bombing harder.

I thought the underpinning of Steele's article was that our cultural humiliatino prevented us from bombing harder.

Yeah, we needed to get tough, get together, show our resolve and kill some people.

Yeah, we needed to get tough, get together, show our resolve and kill some people.

Its a variant of: The floggings will continue until morale improves.

I suspect that this marks a liberal-conservative divide where, in my opinion, too much emphasis is placed on emotional well-being and not enough on achieving concrete results.

I just re-read the original post again, and I'm struck by the fact that this is one of the most obviously wrong-headed presuppositions I've read in, well, at least a few days.

The goal is not 'emotional well being.' The goal is 'concrete results,' and understanding the motivations of our enemies -- and the motivations of those who are 'in the middle' -- is a part of that. It's just as easy to say that 'conservatives place too much emphasis on looking tough and not enough on achieving concrete results -- as long as they can play cowboy, the outcome doesn't matter.'

In some cases, obviously, there are liberals who care more about warm fuzzies than survival and conservatives that care more about demonstrating their stunning machismo than saving actual lives. Framing the issue as you do, though, Charles, presupposes that the only weakness could motivate a search for insight and understanding. That strikes me as shockingly backwards.

We bombed a people for no other reason, but spite.

Our leaders were incapable of protecting us and getting the original perpetrators who did us harm.

So we went after people who were incapable of protecting themselves.

Now that is humiliating.

We bombed a people for no other reason, but spite.

Say what? I think the Iraq venture as a whole was poorly conceived and the reconstruction poorly executed, but I don't see how it can reasonably be considered a war of aggression against the Iraqi people.

Aha, an opportunity.

Its a variant of: The floggings will continue until morale improves.

Happy Valley

Storyteller:... And all the happy folk of Happy Valley sang and danced all day long, and anyone who was for any reason miserable or unhappy or who had any difficult personal problem was prosecuted under the Happiness Act.


Prosecution: Caspar Schlitz, I put it to you that you were, on February 5th this year, very depressed with malice aforethought, and did moan quietly, contrary to the Cheerful Noises Act.

Schlitz: I did.


Defence: May I just explain, m'lud, that the reason for my client's behaviour was that his wife had just died that morning.

All except the accused laugh uproariously.


Judge: Members of the jury, have you reached your verdict?


Foreman: Guilty. [All laugh again.]


Judge: [donning red nose] I hereby sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you cheer up. [All laugh.]


it appears from your followup comment there is no SOFA and the legal relationship between Iraq and the US hasn't changed one iota.

I'm not aware if the SOFA has changed, francis, but the more important point is that the Iraqi government has. BTW, by what reason can anyone now view the "insurgency" as legitimate?

by what reason can anyone now view the "insurgency" as legitimate

The government is not legitimate, ergo, the insurgency is.

BTW, by what reason can anyone now view the "insurgency" as legitimate?
There are groups in Iraq that appear to be targeting the US military and not civilians. Those groups, while certainly our enemies, are 'legitimate' in the sense that they are insurgents fighting what they see as an invading military power, rather than terrorists striking out at other civilians for political ends.

The distinction is not meant to dillute the fact that they are attacking our servicement. Rather, it's meant to point out the fact that All Bad Things Are Not Terrorism.

kenB,

It certainly became a toilet where every sick policy maker aligned with the Bush Whitehouse, was allowed to defecate, vomit, and spew their noxious agenda.

An actual war in Afghanistan would have made no one any money or fit into the latest coolest right-wing theories concerning American hegemony, however in Iraq policy makers (Energy, Weapons Developers, Mercenaries, and the Neocons who love them) aligned with the Bush Whitehouse will make out like bandits.

When the dust settles, Bin Laden would have gotten away with mass murder and Bush’s allies would have made some major cash.

9-11 made sure everything stayed the same. Wealthy right-wing elites taking advantage of their power, no matter what country they were from.

In spite of 9-11...nothing changed.

If they strike American civilians, yes, they're terorists.

They are freedom fighters resisting the occupation.

If they strike military targets, they'd be criminals.

They are freedom fighters resisting the occupation, soon to be heroes of the Islamic Republic of Iraq, to be granted the highest honors possible and positions of leadership.

i honestly can't tell -- is Sancho's comment snark or straight?

Such is the world Francis...sometimes I feel like I wouldn't be surprised if that when the lights were turned on, half the people would be revealed as lefties spoofing righties or vice versa

Or maybe even lefties spoofing righties spoofing lefties, a la Victor/Victoria.

OwMyHead

The government is not legitimate, ergo, the insurgency is.

Then every single government in the Middle East (except perhaps Israel) is less legitimate than the one in Iraq, Ugh, therefore every violent "insurgent" group in those countries has even more legitimacy than the terrorists and criminals in Iraq. The same applies to most of the governments in Africa and Asia. You're not making sense.

Hi Chuck!

Thanks for providing me with my Daily Dose of Stoopid!

It's an open secret that you are one of Blogistan's more reliable procurers of this tempting drug; It's a closed secret why Hilzoy consents to hang out with you.

Pleasantries aside, you might be wise to look more carefully into the politics of humiliated populations. After the policies you advocate have reduced my beloved America to a stinking third world hellhole, you may find appeals to the humiliated masses of North America to be your ultimate calling.

Whether, Sancho is being ironic, sarcastic or snarky, his comments seem to be a sharp indicator of who will be leading the future Islamic theocracy.

Warriors who defy occupations are admired....look at the Early American revolutionaries who battled the Crown...or ask Southerners who admire their forefathers for defying Northern occupation.

When did the Iraq Civil War end, and why didn't anybody tell me?

As I have said in reference to, umm, other circumstances, legitimacy is not gained at the ballot box. 51% of the vote doesn't matter if the losers are shooting at you. Of course a disaffected 1% doesn't make a gov't illegitimate but in such cases the minority has so little support it is rarely dangerous.

Freedom is not "majority rule" but "consent of the governed." I would not expect Bush to ever understand this, Freedom is really hard, and I don't think he would approve.

They are insurgents, who sometimes use terroristic tactics.

CB you do understand, right, that 'legitimacy' is completely a human construct? And that it's based on a pre-existing values set?

If you're saying 'no one who shares my terms of reference could find the insurgencies legitimate' then you may as well be saying 'no one who shares my taste in ice cream can prefer vanilla to chocolate.'

On the other hand, if you are saying that there are no imaginable terms of reference under which one or more of the insurgencies can be considered legitimate, then I think you've got a failure of imagination.

It is a great hoot to imagine you visiting Basra, say, and telling ordinary folk that their government is almost as legitimate as that of Israel. Or maybe you could try it in Ramadi. I bet you'd find some folks who have different terms of reference . . .

Don't get me wrong, my terms of reference largely overlap with yours. I think that the Israeli government is perfectly legitimate as to areas within its 1967 borders. I'm not sure you and I have the same views of the legitimacy of Israeli governance of over areas, or of the legitimacy of Venezuelan governance anywhere. But we probably agree more than disagree. As to the Iraqi insurgencies, I'm not sure I'm ready to say that all resistance to goons from the Ministry of Interior is 'illegitimate' even under my terms of reference.

Robert, that's a pretty ban-worthy comment (in my unofficial opinion). You could probably take that thought over to ihatecharlesbird.blogspot.com, though I think it's having something of an identity crisis at the moment.

Robert L. Bell's comment certainly looks like a violation of the posting rules.

Robert L. Bell: please consult the posting rules. They require civility. Do it again and I'll ban you, unless someone else gets there first.

hilzoy, cultural humiliation is just the wrong term.
more properly say, disrespect.
there are millions of moderate muslims. but they are not reformist muslims.
so it does no good to chide them and berate them about not excommunicating the fundamentalists, or for not nailing ultimatums to the mosque doors.
they would just like a modicum of respect for their religion and their way of life.
the same as xians, buddhists, confucians, shamanists, pagans, and the rest of the supernaturalists out there.

treason never prospers, for if it prospers none dare call it treason.

which particular forces in Iraq are righteous and which are treasonous remains, shall we say, ...... undecided.

it's a little early, cb, for you to be applying victor's justice. no one has won yet.

Then every single government in the Middle East (except perhaps Israel) is less legitimate than the one in Iraq, Ugh, therefore every violent "insurgent" group in those countries has even more legitimacy than the terrorists and criminals in Iraq. The same applies to most of the governments in Africa and Asia. You're not making sense. [Emphasis added.]

No offense, Charles, but you should definitely look in the mirror on that one. Or at the very least, you should be damn clear about what you mean by "legitimacy" before making this claim -- and be prepared to back it up against criticisms of, say, the fiction versus the reality of democracy.

For, to be really blunt about it: legitimacy is not conferred by American imprimatur, whether or not there's a figleaf of factuality to support it; and "legitimacy", in and of itself, is a completely worthless concept when talking about these matters anyway. [Just ask Alexander Kerensky.] It's a diplomatic fiction that, in this case, seems to be put forth to make us feel better about ourselves. [Just ask Hamid Karzai.] So while I'm not completely immune to the charms of "legitimacy", I think we'd be better served by talking about the realities of the situation instead of our optimistic propaganda.

FWIW, the armed conflict between Americans and Filipinos between 1899 and 1901 (or 1902 or 1903 or whatever) was officially referred to by us as the "Philippine Insurrection" (or "Insurgency") from that era until roughly the 1970s, when enough historians had said "WTF?" about this nomenclature to cause the Library of Congress, inter alia, to alter the term.

("Insurrection" still crops up now and then, mostly - my extremely random sampling suggests - from those who get their information primarily from US military studies and archives.)

It is now generally referred to as the "Philippine-American War" (or sometimes "Filipino-American War") on the quite reasonable grounds that Filipinos were fighting Americans, and as historians or observers we were in no position to prejudge the legitimacy of the regime holding power in Manila (i.e., us), just because the US government had declared that the islands were part of our sovereign territory.

It only took us about 70 years to figure this out. So may we expect the descendants of CB (or the grand old man himself, should he survive with his wits intact) to come around in about 2073? Or should we adapt now and beat the rush?

Dr Ngo: It only took us about 70 years to figure this out. So may we expect the descendants of CB (or the grand old man himself, should he survive with his wits intact) to come around in about 2073?

FWIW, the war between the Chinese Boxers and the 8-nation alliance is still referred to as "the Boxer Rebellion" or "the Boxer Uprising", even though almost from the beginning, right to the end, the Boxers had the support of the Imperial Government.

kenB: but I don't see how it can reasonably be considered a war of aggression against the Iraqi people.

The US air force carried out aerial bombardments of civilian areas in Iraq from day 1 to the present day. We know that at least 100 000 Iraqis have been killed, the majority of them by the US military dropping bombs on them* - and we know that most of the individuals reported killed by coalition forces were women and children. It is wholly unreasonable to look the other way and pretend that this is not a war of aggression against the Iraqi people.

*And since the results of that survey were published in October 2004, and the Bush administration was hardly encouraging of any other study, we have no idea what the proportion of civilians killed by the US military has been in the total casualties in the last 18 months: all we know is that US bombing raids on Iraqi cities have increased since 2004, and according to the Lancet report, aerial bombing was responsible for the majority of civilian deaths.

Ah, the Lancet. Something I can contribute to, having participated in every obsessive discussion on it that I've seen online.

Though I suspect the Lancet paper is relatively close to the truth, when you read the thing in detail it doesn't actually say that 100,000 people had been killed by wartime violence by Sept 2004. It says that the excess mortality was (taking the midrange estimate) 100,000, excluding Anbar province. The neighborhood they surveyed in Fallujah had such a high death rate they couldn't get any sensible number for Anbar, so it was left out. Anyway, of the 100,000 deaths, about 60,000 were from violence and roughly half of those were inflicted by the Americans. (39,000 deaths from either the Americans or the insurgents and almost all were from the Americans.) The error bars on all this are massive, because we're actually just talking about 21 violent deaths recorded in the survey.

The Fallujah neighborhood which they couldn't use in their analysis had suffered 52 deaths (out of 250 or so people) from American military action, 25 or so in August 2004 alone, when we were bombing in preparation for the second assault in November. A great many homes were deserted and the neighbors said that these deserted homes had suffered numerous deaths as well. It's the Fallujah numbers that led the Lancet authors to conclude that air strikes were the prevailing cause of deaths--they suspected that if you randomly surveyed 33 Iraqi neighborhoods you'd probably find one or two that were hit as hard as Fallujah, but they couldn't include it in their quantitative analysis because it increased the already large confidence interval too much. But they went ahead and made the claim about air strikes being the leading cause of death--it would have been better to say that there's a strong possibility of that from their data.

There's been a nasty debate about the Iraq Body Count vs. the Lancet numbers and IBC responded on their website to their critics by circling the wagons and trying to discredit all the critics. But if you read their response (on their website), they tacitly acknowledge that the Lancet midrange estimate is probably only a little too high,not that they put it in those words. They compare it to a UN survey conducted for the first year of the war which showed 24,000 war-related violent deaths (excluding criminal murders) and say that the correct extrapolation to Sept 2004 would be 28,000, not the 39,000 in the Lancet. So if the same correction applied to all the Lancet deaths, by Sept 2004 there were about 70,000 excess deaths. Iraq Body Count also admitted that their own violent death count for civilians might be low by a factor of two. They strongly disagree that the unreported deaths are disproportionately American-inflicted. I think this goes against common sense--of course the US will try to cover up the number of civilians it kills. My impression is that we only know about the results of American actions from what the US military tells us, and I've read of cases when reporters are able to investigate that the civilians on the scene give a dramatically different account from what the US claims. Someone should be doing an "insurgent body count" and keeping track of the source of the numbers--I bet a lot of "insurgent" dead are actually civilians.

One other point. To me the most interesting thing about the Lancet paper isn't the 100,000 dead figure--it's the reporting of what their survey team saw in Fallujah. When they started doing their survey in the neighborhood they picked, they found 23 out of 52 houses deserted, with neighbors describing widespread death has having occurred in the deserted houses before the families left. And the impression of the survey team was that vast areas of Fallujah had been hit just as hard or harder than this neighborhood.

And that was in Sept. 2004. I had no sense that Fallujah had been hit anywhere near this hard from reading the NYT, though there were stories that indicated we were bombing.

Thanks for the clarifying comments, Donald.

My key point still stands, though: the US military has been launching attacks against Iraqi civilians since the beginning of the war on/in Iraq. What person of sense would argue that this is not a war of aggression against the Iraqi people?

the US military has been launching attacks against Iraqi civilians since the beginning of the war on/in Iraq.

according to Jessie Macbeth.

Anyone following the story of Iraqi mortality should take a look at the UNICEF report on food insecurity in Iraq. I noticed it on Tim Lambert’s blog – which is also the one-stop shop for discussion of the Lancet report.

What person of sense would argue that this is not a war of aggression against the Iraqi people?

I for one wouldn’t put it like that and I’m no Bush apologist. It started as an attack on a regime which was justifiably perceived to be weak, unpredictable and hostile to US interests. These are all characteristics which get small powers into trouble when they step on the toes of great powers, never mind superpowers. The invasion certainly flouted the precepts of international law and just war theory as I understand them. Frankly I could live with that; the world is a rough place. What pisses me off, more than I can express, is the fact that the US has made a pig’s ear of the job in every phase from the pre-war diplomacy to the present, harming the interests of America, Iraq and the world at large. If it had been done right then the vast majority of the Iraqi people would have reason to be grateful.

And we would all be one pony to the good.

Argument about the war can be a cold thing when we start making sematical arguments about agressive war against a people. Of course the military wasn't attacking people. It was attacking government, military, and industrial targets. The people in, near and around these targets are just collateral damage. Of course we only attack the Republican guard, who just happen to be hiding themselves and their equipment in, near and around civilian neighborhoods. Of course we just attack the insurgents - whose family, friends and neighbors are civilians and become collateral damage. Saying we don't target civilians and that we do target civilians is saying the same thing.

This is why we shouldn't wage these stupid, pointless, unnecessary, stupid wars. War is monsterous and it turns our fighting men and women into monsters. Throw people into extreme situations and they begin to act a bit extreme - as in Abu Whatever and in the recent "cold-blooded murders" Murtha was talking about. We don't need that.

DaveC:

I read with relief today that Jesse Macbeth* is a hoax. Turns out no civilians have been killed in Iraq. There was a guy in Fallujah who stuck a fork into his toaster and died of cardiac arrest. A woman outside Baghdad
expired from shock after finding out the red stuff on her kids was ketchup, the scamps. And, some shower-room towel-slapping got of hand at Abu Ghraib, resulting in a degree of flaying not seen since the final take of the flaying scene in "The Passion of Christ", but it takes a masochist to enable a sadist. Plus Nelson Rockefeller's heart gave out while attempting a little love with a younger woman not his wife. His wife's name was Happy and who would have the heart to face that?

All of the bombs missed and yet Rumsfeld still has a job.

The upside is that all of those stateside who speak of unavoidable collateral damage as a necessary part of war haven't got a leg to stand on, there being no collateral damage. Unlike Iraqi civilians, who all, to a man, have two legs. I can't speak for the women.

*It's like getting to the end of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" and finding out the witches hadn't a clue and what had really happened was that Macduff had devised the game of golf and the oddly shifting Birnam Wood was just a ruse to take a mulligan. I know the feeling.

DaveC: according to Jessie Macbeth.

Actually, I read about Shock and Awe on CNN first. (Never heard of "Jessie Macbeth" until you mentioned him, to tell the truth.)

The Jesse MacBeth thing is a hoax promoted by Michelle Malkin.
She really is a contemptible human being.

(39,000 deaths from either the Americans or the insurgents and almost all were from the Americans.)

A lot of anti-war folks want to believe that the US military is indiscriminately killing civilians, and engage in wishful thinking. Hence all the talk about Americans bombing innocent civilians, and little blame given to the various bombers of the Red Cross headquarters, the golden mosque, the murderers of Iraqi politicians and their relatives.

The fact of the matter is that US aerial bombardment of Iraq had pretty much ended by July 2003, and the casualty count by none other than Marla Zuniga and Raed Jarrar was 2000 dead, 4000 injured

If you really believe that all we know is that US bombing raids on Iraqi cities have increased since 2004, and according to the Lancet report, aerial bombing was responsible for the majority of civilian deaths., show me some real report, not some of your latest propoganda

Geez, I had no idea what DaveC was talking about until I googled it. Amazingly, it looks like the first 3 pages of links are to pretty hard right sites. None of the usual suspects on the left have Jessie MacBeth link in the Google top pages. Is this one of those American flags that is actually a blanket story, DaveC?

Cue throngs of cheering right-wing bloggers carrying Jessie Macbeth on their shoulders.

Cut away to Ward Churchill, last year's model of the living strawman, wiping away a tear.

DaveC, do a Google on Jesse MacBeth and you will find him all over rightwing blogs. You will find him only on one small left blog and that blog's commenters recognized that he was a hoax. So please stop promoting him as a leftist piece of propaganda. The Jesse MacBeth phenomena is just another example of rightwing faux outrage over a phenomena of their own creation, like O'Reilly's War on Christmas.
It really detracts from the discussion to bring up mythologoical stuff.
I don't know how many civilians have died from our invasion of Iraq. I just got done rading The Assassin's Gate, and the impression I got was that American troops on the ground were very conscious of the necessity of winnng a hearts and minds war but that they were consistantly and persistantly undercut by directives from Washingotn Dc. According to Murtha, who is sympathetic to soldiers, the incident of civilians murdered in a unnecessary raid was the direct result ot the decision to fight without adequate numbers of troops and to keep the troops in, tour after tour, far too long. I suspect that the pattern of incompetent leadership from Bush is holding and that the current policy of moving troops to bases, shifting to some airstrikes, and declaring victory regardless of the facts on the ground, will result in more civilians being killed but they will be killed mostly by other Iraqis. Not that that makes it OK. The point is the bad policies are coming from Washington, not from the Americans in Iraq.

CB: Then every single government in the Middle East (except perhaps Israel) is less legitimate than the one in Iraq, Ugh, therefore every violent "insurgent" group in those countries has even more legitimacy than the terrorists and criminals in Iraq. The same applies to most of the governments in Africa and Asia. You're not making sense.

Legitimacy is in the eye of the beholder. What if the Government of India violently invaded the U.S., overthrew the U.S. government, and then held elections to elect the "new" government of the United States? How would you feel about the legitimacy of the resulting regime? How would you feel about the people who participated in the process? How would you feel if Prime Minister of India subsequently indicated, with two million Indian troops still in the country, that he was "unhappy" with the person selected to lead that "new" government, resulting in his resignation and replacement with someone more pleasing to the Prime Minister?

What if the Government of India violently invaded the U.S., overthrew the U.S. government, and then held elections to elect the "new" government of the United States?

Not really a fair comparison, since Saddam was an unelected tyrant, whereas Bush... well... OK, but still not quite a fair comparison.

None of the usual suspects on the left have Jessie MacBeth link in the Google top pages.

Natch. His video has probably been taken down from anti-war sites, after it was proven that he was bogus.

But what about the assertion that Iraqi civilian casualties almost all were from the Americans? That's bogus, too. But
the assertions like we start making sematical arguments about agressive war against a people, is in fact a semantic argument, that most of the commenters let pass. I'd say that "against a people" is very misleading. The US is being blamed for the deeds of the militias, Al Qaeda in Iraq, etc.

http://neurotic-iraqi-wife.blogspot.com/

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