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December 15, 2008

Comments

thank you for this post, eric. My mind remains boggled that so many in this country still fail to grasp what this war has meant to ordinary Iraqis, and to our own soldiers too. Death, horrible, vicious, unrelenting, death rained down on a people who were literally minding their own business when they suddenly found themselves in the midst of bush's war against his own insignificance. People don't seem to be able to square the mild manner of bush, his personal cowardice and geniality with what he has actually done, in the way of mass murder. My personal touchstone is the picture, forever seared in my memory, of the little Iraqi girl, covered with her parents' blood, standing in a circle of light near the car we shot up at one of the early checkpoints. I saw that picture years ago and I felt responsible for not having stopped our war machine. How deep is the hole in Bush's soul that after literally thousands more deaths he doesn't feel responsible and "doesn't know why" that Iraqi journalist heaved that shoe. If Bush had gotten down on his knees and personally kissed the feet of every Iraqi in Baghdad he couldn't begin to atone for his sins. Let them all heave down shoes on his head and maybe he'll start to figure it out. Cold comfort for the dead and their families.

aimai

Already, there is a popular meme cropping up that al-Zaidi only enjoyed the freedom to hurl his shoe by virtue of America's invasion, and that under Saddam al-Zaidi would have been executed for this act.

the last i heard, al-Zaidi is in jail and is being "interrogated".

maybe celebration is premature.

which wouldn't be unusual, for the Clap Louder wing.

Yeah, now reports are coming in that he might have been tortured:

http://www.roadstoiraq.com/2008/12/16/urgent-just-reported-al-zaidi-in-us-run-camp-cropper-prison/

Yeah, but Eric, he threw a shoe. At Bush. God forbid anyone should waste sympathy on a heinous shoe-thrower.

As for the dead children... many people who will condemn a shoe thrower for this act of violence will also fail to believe that Americans kill people, including children, when they make war.

"Ah, but he wouldn't have been able to write about such callousness in Saddam's Iraq!"

The different levels of that sentence....brilliant writing eric.
Thanks for the good, good post.

maybe celebration is premature.

Yeah, here is another clip from the shoe throwing incident.

No kid gloves. Not surprising, and not just because it's Bush. But definitely no kid gloves.

Thanks -

Already, there is a popular meme cropping up that al-Zaidi only enjoyed the freedom to hurl his shoe by virtue of America's invasion, and that under Saddam al-Zaidi would have been executed for this act.

Reading stuff like this, I am reminded of the old MAD Magazine cartoon, satirizing the pompous self-congratulatory tone of official US-aid-program ads: "With U.S. assistance, now even the poorest children can read and write!": illustrated by a street urchin scrawling YANQUI GO HOME! on a wall.

Used to be funnier, though....

According to Mark Kleiman this really should be reported as "Saddam Hussein partisan attacks Bush" link

Are his sources wrong?

it sure is appropriate for everyone to point out that if you threw a shoe at Saddam you were tortured to death and not so with throwing a shoe at Bush because it really demonstrates what a benevolent ruler of Iraq Bush is.

Huh?

That was truly the shoe thrown around the world.

I would make a Richard Reid joke but then I'd be THREATENING THE PRESIDENT!!!

Kind of reminds me of Tony Blair's comments after the million-strong anti-war protests that took place in Feb 2003 - "You wouldn't be able to protest in Saddam Hussein's Iraq..... sooooo, that means I can ignore you and bomb some brown people"

Sebastian, what is your point?

Seriously, what difference does it make?

Great post as usual Eric, with all of the classic tongue in cheek, irony, and insight.............and there is much fun to be made about it.

So I'll buck the trend and make a serious observation; I am astounded that the shoe thrower lived more than a split second after he raised his arm and began to launch the first shoe. The security detail should have cut him down in a hail of lead regardless of whomever else got caught in the crossfire. That's the way it's supposed to work. Whoever was supposed to have Bush's arse sucks.

I hope Obama fires the team and gets a new more better security team when abroad because next time it might be a shoe bomb, grenade, god knows what sort of lethal concealed weapon. For real.

//killed on Monday in a horrific explosion downtown//

Most downtown explosions in Baghdad have been suicide bombings by arabs against arabs rather than bombings from american aircraft. An argument will be made that the suicide bombers are only responding to the US presence - they would not bomb if the US wasn't there. And the Mumbai terrorists wouldn't have killed hundreds of indian locals if it wasn't for the tens of anglos who were present. And the terrorists who bombed spain's railroads only did so because spain was in Iraq. And the 9/11 stuff only happened because the US is horrible and awful. And mexicans murder each other only because so many people in the USA take drugs. And the Somali pirates would be giving ships instead of taking them if the USA hadn't been trying to hand out UN food in Somalia 15 years ago. And africa would be all peace and joy now if Thomas Jefferson hadn't bought slaves. And...those %&*#ing americans...why don't they just die.

And...those %&*#ing americans...why don't they just die.

I love it when Americans manage to work it round that their aggressive attack on Iraq, killing over a million Iraqis, just somehow wasn't their fault and people are being so MEEEEEEEAN to say it was.

Seb:

Doubtful that the guy was a Saddam partisan and Sadrist. Sounds more like he opposed the invasion of Iraq, and went about linking up with groups that thought the same way.

Either way, many non-Saddam supporters celebrated Zaidi's actions. See, ie, the reaction in Najaf. No hotbed of Pro-Saddam fervor, Najaf. Quite the opposite. Outside of Kurdistan, you would be hard pressed to find a region more opposed to Saddam than Najaf.

An argument will be made that the suicide bombers are only responding to the US presence - they would not bomb if the US wasn't there.

An argument? An...argument?

Query dave: How many suicide bombings were there in Iraq before the US invaded?

An argument could be made that the disparity is pretty astounding, no?

I mean, come on.

In Saddam's Iraq, you couldn't protest because he was always right. In Bush's America, it didn't matter if you protested because he was always right.

"Posted by: d'd'd'dave | December 15, 2008 at 07:52 PM"

At this moment I'm uncertain if I can respond to [...]dave while staying within the posting rules; perhaps later.

"Most downtown explosions in Baghdad have been suicide bombings by arabs against arabs rather than bombings from american aircraft."

How do you know this?

And Eric: great post. Thanks.

"And africa would be all peace and joy now if Thomas Jefferson hadn't bought slaves."

Interesting mindset you got there. Not only do you not want to admit significant American responsibility for Iraqi suffering, the mere mention of it brings out a rant about how there would have been suffering in Africa even without American slavery.

And...those %&*#ing americans...why don't they just die.

In response to being attacked by Saudis who were trained by a Yemeni nutcase based in Afghanistan, we invaded Iraq.

Since, on the face of it, this makes no freaking sense whatsoever, we prefaced our invasion of Iraq with a blizzard of utter BS.

In the course of invading Iraq, we bungled more or less everything we did. Start with jumping the gun on the "shock and awe" deadline in order to blow Saddam up in the secret location where he, as it turns out, wasn't, and go on from there.

Guess what? A guy was pissed off about this. He was pissed off and he threw his shoes at Bush. No doubt there a couple of million Iraqis who'd be happy to do the same if they had the chance.

This should not surprise us.

Am I copping some kind of "blame America first" attitude? No, I am not. I'm making simple observations about plain and obvious facts.

Thanks -

And the Mumbai terrorists wouldn't have killed hundreds of indian locals if it wasn't for the tens of anglos who were present.

It's certainly true that India has never had any terrorism that didn't target "anglos."

And the terrorists who bombed spain's railroads only did so because spain was in Iraq.

I actually do believe an argument could be made to that effect. Unless I missed the wave of radical Islamic attacks on Spain pre-2003.

Eric, your first paragraph makes it sound as if Goldberg said something along the lines of "al-Zaidi is just an unsavory Muslim or Arab," (sort of an awkward racial insult). But it's easy to see that's not what he was saying. He was referring to criticizing unsavory Muslim or Arab leaders (of whom there are many). Goldberg is a blight on political debate, and it's not as if he's making a good point in the post, but you might as well quote him as accurately as possible.

Justin,

How was Goldberg not calling Zaidi an "unsavory Muslim"?

When conservatives hold up unsavory Muslims or Arabs as representative of the region's problems, we're told how simplistic and two-dimensional we're being. But when the same sort of unsavory doofus behaves in ways that confirm liberal biases and coform to liberal passions, then suddenly this doofus speaks for millions.

I don't get the distinction you're making from that text. He's complaining about a double standard whereby he and his ilk are criticized for holding up "unsavory Muslims or Arabs" as representative, but the "unsavory doofus" Muslim named Zaidi is supposedly representative (because he did something liberals supposedly liked).

dddave:

You should consider the difference between an explanation and a justification. The former has a value even when the latter is missing.

I am not personally in favor of having a standing army, navy and air force distributed around the whole world to enforce stability or whatever it is doing. I would prefer a defense only large enough to guard our own shores. But I can't have what I want.

Since I can't have what I want, I must come to an accommodation with what now exists - a globally involved USA. A USA that has been globally involved for at least 60 years - long before Bush 2. Spit on him if you want - I can't stop you. But the issues that came to a head during his regime were not started by him. Many of them have been simmering for a very long time. Was it wrong to invade Iraq? Sure. But, Palestine v Israel predates him. Iranian hostility and global terror involvement predates him. Al Qaeda pre-dates him. Iraqi belligerence predates him. Pakistani instability predates him. Nutty absolute dictators in Korea predate him. Greenhouse gasses predate him. The overwhelming majority of americans called for SOMETHING to be done after 9/11.

Piss all over him if you want. What do I care? What I know is this: it will be very convenient for you to blame all failures on him for the next 40 years. Five years from now it'll be "look what happened now...it's one more of Bush's dominos." You'll be like Mugabe blaming cholera in 2008 on the british colonialists.

I don't love Bush but I do see how we got to where we are - and it wasn't just him.

Dave:

Have I ever blamed Bush for all that you list?

Have I ever doubted that problems existed before Bush?

Who on this thread or website has?

That comment is just a big attack on a straw man. It doesn't come across as terribly insightful or cutting. Just a haymaker thrown at a pile of hay.

However, the invasion of Iraq did not exist before Bush invaded Iraq. Those problems he created on his own.

But, if you read what I actually write, I want a shift in US foreign policy.

I caution Obama against continuing a failed policy in Afghanistan. That is a choice for Obama, not Bush, and I am not interested in partisan exculpation.

I don't love Bush but I do see how we got to where we are - and it wasn't just him.

You don't love Bush? but you're sure not going to blame him for ignoring all warnings about 9/11 back in summer 2001 and going on vacation, nor for attacking Afghanistan, nor for invading Iraq. Why should Bush care if you "love" him, so long as you're slavishly willing to exculpate him of all blame?

re: downtown bombings being by arabs.
//How do you know this?//

You're right. I don't have first hand knowledge. I conclude based on news reports that downtown bombs are generally land based on aerial. Maybe Bush set them. Maybe american soldiers set them. Maybe CIA spies planted them. There have been many many reports about suicide bombers doing it. Are they arabs? Are they Kurds? Are they Pashtun? Elamites? Copts? Who knows? Is an Iraqi an arab? Is a syrian an arab? Technically, maybe not exactly. But the whole area was conquered and controlled by the arabs for a thousand years. There is substantial arab blood in the area - and certainly the arab language, religion and culture. So, yeah, i'm fairly confident that my statement, "Most downtown explosions in Baghdad have been suicide bombings by arabs against arabs rather than bombings from american aircraft", is true.

Most downtown explosions in Baghdad have been suicide bombings by arabs against arabs rather than bombings from american aircraft.

Let's suppose that's true. Consider the following chain of events: after coming to the conclusion that the US is a rogue state that starts unjustified wars and employs state-sanctioned torture, me and me mates decide to drop a few thousand bombs on Chicago and then occupy the Midwest. Years of violence follow, with the destabilisation resulting in sectarian conflicts pitting upstaters against downstaters in Illinois. International organisations estimate that the net result of my intervention is 100,000 or so violent deaths above pre-invasion levels. However, most of the violence is Americans killing other Americans. You don't suppose that I'd be in some sense morally culpable for this secondary wave of violence? Or would that be totally excusable because it wasn't really me doing it and anyway it was all justified because I had all these great reasons for wanting to bomb the Midwest in the first place?

And...those %&*#ing americans...why don't they just die.

Funny thing. If it actually *were* my country that the Americans had just recently bombed the hell out of, or *my* loved ones blown up in one of these attacks that seem to have mysteriously started cropping in Iraq over the last few years, I might have exactly that attitude. Some people hate us because of our freedoms: other people hate us because we indirectly killed their families. It does help to be able to differentiate between the two.

Do try to have a little bloody sympathy mate. It's the absolute least you can do.

//Interesting mindset you got there.// Thank you.

// Not only do you not want to admit significant American responsibility for Iraqi suffering// America is responsible for significant Iraqi suffering - probably not that particular bombing though.

//the mere mention of it brings out a rant// No actually, the rant has been triggered by more than just this.

//about how there would have been suffering in Africa even without American slavery.// Do you deny that suffering can occur without american involvement?

The "shiftiness" theme intrigues me.

I assume these people mean shiftiness in the eyes, sort of a yellow peril World War II deal starring Bogart or Alan Ladd with a shifty-eyed Nip gathering intelligence and maybe trying to look up Veronica Lake's skirt to sus the ultimate mysteries of destroyer counts in the South Pacific.

In other words, lack of eye contact means less than truthful.

I've lived abroad, and believe me Americans are not shifty-eyed. We walk right up to people and look them in the eye and bestow a firm handshake upon them and then we .... lie through our teeth ... or speak in mythical tongues about how things should go.

Then we get pissed off because folks did'nt buy a bunch of crap directly put and then go off and do their own thing.

Then the bombing starts.

Then the President looks the American people right in the eyes and they look back and we blame it on astigmatism and media bias.


//It's certainly true that India has never had any terrorism that didn't target "anglos."//

Except for incidents associated with Tamil separatism, and Sikhs, and hindu v muslim incidents, and ...

... it's always peace and light on the subcontinent except for those %^*#() anglo imperialists ... and the warring maherajahs before them ... and the invading mughuls before that ... and what the hell were the greeks doing all the way over there?

It's almost like bad things were happening in the world america under the republicans.

d'd'd'dave:
Do you deny that suffering can occur without american involvement?

I daresay you're the only one who's mentioned such a ridiculous idea. The very image of a strawman, that.

Five years from now it'll be "look what happened now...it's one more of Bush's dominos."

Never mind five years, five *months* from now it will be "How come Obama hasn't fixed everything yet?"

Comes with the job.

Five years from now Bush will be a visionary in the eyes of the same people who think the New Deal prolonged the Depression. Actually, scratch that -- for "five years from now", just read "now".

Thirty years from now people will be having exactly the same argument they are having right now, and have had for the last six years, about whether it was right to invade Iraq or not. And I do mean exactly. At this point, all of the facts that will ever by available are on the table. Nobody's mind is going to be changed.

Whatever.

It would be great in a weird way if we could simply write of all criticisms of Bush as partisan blame-mongering. Unfortunately, that's not the case. He's been the crappiest President of my entire lifetime. There isn't enough time in the day to fully enumerate the full range of his inadequacies and failures.

All Presidents inherit problems. Few are as consistent as Bush has been at making them an order of magnitude worse.

He's a likeable guy, in his own peculiar way. He combines hubris with an oddly self-effacing humor, keen natural shrewdness with profound ignorance, and admirable personal discipline with a remarkable lack of concern for the consequences of his actions. On paper, he's a very interesting cat.

What he is not and will never be is anything resembling a good or even adequate President of the United States.

People don't pick on him because he's a Republican. They pick on him because he really, really sucks at his job.

Thanks -

//You should consider the difference between an explanation and a justification. The former has a value even when the latter is missing.//

Yes. There is a difference. Have I said Bush is justified? Have I said the invasion of Iraq was justified?

I've read a number of posts and comments here in the last few days where people urinate on Bush. Those people allow for no ambiguity. I am providing counterpoint.

Dave, the fact that a situation existed before Bush doesn't excuse him for making the situation worse rather than better.

After the September 11 attacks, people all over the world, even in Tehran (in what you consider the land of demonic, irrationally insatiable America haters), supported the United States. If a similar attack happened today, those people who held candles then would be more likely to say it served us right. I'm well aware that not everyone loved us in the past, but Bush has raised the level of hatred considerably, and it's going to take a lot of work to undo that. And being hated is not in our national interest.

My point is that the way you quote Goldberg makes it sound as if he's using "Muslim or Arab" as an insulting reference to Al-Zaidi. He's not. He is calling him "unsavory."

It's analogous to the difference between a reference to "the unsavory Al Sharpton," and "the unsavory Black, Al Sharpton." One is kinda mean. The other is rather racist.

He's attempting to argue that liberals have a double standard where they treat Al-Zaidi as representative of Muslims or Arab opinion, but where Middle Eastern despots (for one example) are not. Hence the reference to "unsavory Muslims or Arabs."

Btw: if this didn't come across from the way I wrote the first post, but it's not as if this point is of terrible import.

//You don't love Bush? but you're sure not going to blame him for ignoring all warnings about 9/11 back in summer 2001//

Give me a break.

Tell me a this: what are you warning about now that will occur in the next three months?

Dave, I think you need to adjust your sarcasm detector, after your reply to the remark about the "anglos".

This is an awesome piece, thank you.

I think Justin has a point. In context Goldberg's "Muslims or Arabs" doesn't have the racist effect it does in your post, Eric.

I am providing counterpoint.

Noted.

In turn, I'll point out that it's quite possible to piss, as you would have it, on Bush for all of his failures -- the things that he, himself has done -- without ignoring the context in which he did them, and for which he, personally is not responsible.

If the point you're trying to make is that many folks have a strong animus toward Bush, to the point of unreason, I'd say you're right. I'd also say he brings it out in people. He's just that kind of guy.

Thanks -

d'd'd'dave:
Tell me a this: what are you warning about now that will occur in the next three months?

Tell me a this: which of your possible interlocutors is collating the intelligence collected by one of the largest, best-financed, and most technologically advanced intelligence networks in the world?

Give me a break.

//You don't suppose that I'd be in some sense morally culpable for this secondary wave of violence?//

Yes, in my mind you'd be morally culpable. But in your mind (based on your story) you would not feel morally culpable because you would only be carrying out justice - or triggering a spasm of justice.

Thank you, KCinDC. An argument could be made that no one has ever missed so completely a comment so blatantly mocking them, so we can at least give Dave credit for breaking new ground here.

I didn't take it as a major point Justin.

But I don't think I made it sound the way you claim in this post.

Actually, I thought I was being kind to Goldberg. The full quote is worse than my redacted version.

Consider Goldberg's point:

Goldberg is bristling because every time a conservative like Goldberg raises the actions of some unsavory Muslim as indicative of all Muslims, liberals complain that Goldberg et al are being "simplistic and two-dimensional."

Goldberg argues that liberals shouldn't complain about this type of heuristic and, in fact, in reality liberals think that unsavory Muslims are representative too. Even if sometimes liberals agree with the unsavory doofus in question.

That's pretty bad.

nombrilisme vide:
//Do you deny that suffering can occur without american involvement?

I daresay you're the only one who's mentioned such a ridiculous idea. The very image of a strawman, that.//

No actually it is a response to: Donald Johnson | December 15, 2008 at 08:27 PM

Tell me a this: what are you warning about now that will occur in the next three months?

Sorry dude but this does not fly. The dog does not hunt.

In the course of Bush's daily presidential intelligence briefing, he was told that Osama Bin Laden planned to attack the US.

His response was to tell the agent presenting the briefing great, he had covered his ass.

It ain't Jes' job to know, or warn anyone about, emerging threats to the US. It was the job of the intelligence community to do so, and they did so.

It was Bush's job to respond effectively, and he did f*ck all. And was a smart ass about it.

The man sucks as President. He did from day one, and he will until he leaves. He has, no doubt, his good points, but none of them are relevant to the office he holds.

Maybe you're getting something out of this, but I'm not sure what that might be.

Thanks -

triggering a spasm of justice

Hm. Can't say I've ever heard of any theory of moral behaviour that accommodates "spasms of justice", much less maps that phrase onto invasion-induced sectarian violence. Still, each to their own I suppose.

kcindc
//(in what you consider the land of demonic, irrationally insatiable America haters), //
I have not said this.

No actually it is a response to: Donald Johnson | December 15, 2008 at 08:27 PM

Go re-read it, dave. He's not saying Africa's woes can all be laid at American feet. It takes a pretty creative interpretation to come up with that. He's pointing out your insistence of bring up such an "assertion" is a fascinating and arguably telling non-sequitur, that you're going pretty far afield with your false equivalences.

russell

I think I agree with most of your comments here.

As for the animus toward Bush, it predated the iraq invasion. It dates to at least the election with Gore. It probably even predates that. Certain ones were prepared to hate whoever the republican candidate was in light of the Clinton impeachment.

Sure Bush has been awful. There is no doubt. But the same irrational voices went from declaring conspiracies at the election to conspiracies at 9/11 (see Jesurgislac | December 15, 2008 at 09:02 PM) to conspiracies leading up to iraq.

There's a point when it becomes difficult to separate the message from the messenger.

Excellent post, Eric and much needed.

You know I used to think Michael Totten would actually gain something from his time in Iraq, but his ongoing quest to be cast in the Ron Silver/Roger L. Simon mode is embarrassing.

Good overview and with details. Shame and a disgrace an American leader is attacked with a pair of shoes.
And how correctly right.

On blood for oil:

"Ted Koppel appealed to a brand of common sense that conflicts with romanticized notions of American excetionalism:

Keeping oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz has been bedrock American foreign policy for more than a half-century. [...]

If those considerations did not enter into the Bush administration's calculations when the president ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it would have been the first time in more than 50 years that the uninterrupted flow of Persian Gulf oil was not a central element of American foreign policy."

There's two varieties of blood for oil -

Gulf War I - Blood for oil without dishonor.

You go to war to restore the status quo and prevent somebody else from gaining more war by conquest.

There's an element of dishonor in being economically vulnerable to another power's conquest of oil, but fighting to reverse the conquest of a sovereign nation has often been judged OK under international law.

Kuwait had oil, yep. Kuwait was not a democracy, yep.

But the US and UK had fought several times in the past to reverse the conquests of non-democracies in the Republic of China, Poland (unsuccessfully), Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania, colonial dependencies, USSR and South Korea without it being considered sinister. It's not like the problems of being a non-democracy were going to be improved by being conquered by another non-democracy, which is the implication of the question, "Why are we fighting for them if they are not a democracy."

Gulf War II - (so some say)
The allegation in Gulf War II is that this was a move to change the oil status quo by opening up the industry to foreign investment, increasing foreign profit and improving foreign terms of trade. If that's a factor in the decision, that's pretty sick.

d'd'd'dave,

"As for the animus toward Bush, it predated the iraq invasion. It dates to at least the election with Gore. It probably even predates that. Certain ones were prepared to hate whoever the republican candidate was in light of the Clinton impeachment."

Actually, I decided when he let Cheney choose himself as his VP running mate that this was not a man I would trust with a major decision.

And I think events have largely proved me right.

to conspiracies at 9/11 (see Jesurgislac | December 15, 2008 at 09:02 PM)

I don't think it's fair to call something a conspiracy theory when it's known to be true. He got the memo. He stayed on vacation. According to Suskind's book, when a CIA briefer flew out to Crawford to warn him, he said, "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

Thanks for working in a Veronica Lake reference, Thullen.

P.S. I thought Ladd played mostly Cowboys.

spockamok,

IIRC, Iraq was being opened up to foreign (i.e., non-Iraqi) oil development pre-GWII; it just happened to be different oil companies than the ones that were likely to benefit from the invasion, some of whom were on Cheney's energy task force.

Ari Nieh

//He got the memo. He stayed on vacation.//

As if every member of the US's many layers of defense is sitting on their hands waiting for a specific direct order from the commander in chief. He must rush back from vacation 23 days before 'something' happens. Not knowing when, where, or if. And he's supposed to send out orders that say: "I know your standing orders are to do all that you can but I want you to double do everything you can now."

It is a conspiracy theory. It requires suspension of disbelief to think that Bush was negligent before 9/11.

The same people often argue that he was too gung-ho afterward.

"Be gung-ho when I want you to be (based on my hindsight) but don't be gung-ho when I don't want you to be (based on my hindsight).

// it just happened to be different oil companies than the ones that were likely to benefit from the invasion, some of whom were on Cheney's energy task force.//

another conspiracy theorist.

another conspiracy theorist.

Dave: Are you arguing with the facts or the implications?

d'd'd'dave,

To me, the quoted bit doesn't mean that Bush could have stopped 9/11, or that he encouraged it, but that he didn't really care.

Eric

I'm arguing with the implications. If Obama sits down with a few oil companies to discuss energy policy as it relates to oil companies and then Obama involves us in a war in Iran where there is oil. Does it imply that the first meeting hatched a conspiracy to enter the war? No, because Obama would only be prudently soliciting energy guidance from one group of experts. But if Cheney did it, it's a conspiracy because Cheney is a warmongering neocon.

It's by definitiion: Obama = good. Cheney = bad.

fraud guy

Bush didn't care before 9/11 but then he cared too much after?

I gotcha.

"Spit on [Bush] if you want"
No thanks. Waste of good spit. Amylase don't come cheap, you know . . .

"Piss all over him if you want"
See above. Worst comes to worst, one can, with pretty basic supplies, distill one's urine to get drinkable water (albeit with diminishing returns). It can also be used to bleach things, and (with care, and sparingly) as fertilizer. Why would I waste that on Bush? He's not worthy of being peed on.

"conspiracies at 9/11 (see Jesurgislac |"
No. Bush being an ignorant, shortsighted arrogant ass - and his administration-people being massively misprioritized - is unfortunate, but not a conspiracy. (I suspect that a fair number of 9/11 truthers ended up there because they just couldn't imagine that the administration really's been this incompetent (for some folks, it may even be a sort of comfort - better conspiracy than chaos . . .. )

On my last note, companies being considered under the new development agreement (IIRC, this collapsed, but here was a batting order):

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/03/06/business/fields.php>Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total.

But from pre-invasion times, according to the http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/nov/03/iraq.oil>Guardian:

As of last month, Iraq had reportedly signed several multi-billion-dollar deals with foreign oil companies, mainly from China, France and Russia.

Among these Russia, which is owed billions of dollars by Iraq for past arms deliveries, has the strongest interest in Iraqi oil development, including a $3.5 billion, 23-year deal to rehabilitate oilfields, particularly the 11-15 billion-barrel West Qurna field, located west of Basra near the Rumaila field.

Since the agreement was signed in March 1997, Russia's Lukoil has prepared a plan to install equipment with capacity to produce 100,000 barrels per day from West Qurna's Mishrif formation.

French interest is also intense. TotalFinaElf has been in negotiations with Iraq on development of the Nahr Umar field.

So from Russia and France as major oil players in Iraq, we now have California (Chevron), Texas (Exxon), France (Total, still), and Holland (Royal Dutch Shell, but which also has major offices in Houston and England). Whether or not there's a conspiracy, the victor has reallocated the spoils.

d'd'd'dave,

Well, he cared about Iraq, which is what he cared about before 9/11. Amazing how that trick works--heads we invade Iraq, tails we invade Iraq. It's almost like al'Qaeda's attack didn't matter for our foreign policy.

And as to Cheney sitting down with the oil companies--what did they talk about? Still not talking, even though whatever there was was likely rendered moot by the energy fluctuations in the past year. And, amazingly enough, some of the major players were: Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Conoco and BP (which also was fighting for the post invasion oil contracts, above). Correlation is not causation, but the coincidence meter is running high enough for further review--which may have to wait until the 4th branch is out of office.

I'm arguing with the implications.

Question: Do you really think that American business interests have never been an important factor in pursuing neo-imperial foreign policy objectives?

And if you acknowledge that such concerns have played a role in the past, why not now? At least, feasibly.

It's not purely a business concern either. Oil is viewed as strategically vital for military/economic well being. To deny that is to fail to grasp the major (though not sole) aim of our foreign policy in the region from Roosevelt on the deck with the Saudi King to the present day.

If Obama sits down with a few oil companies to discuss energy policy as it relates to oil companies and then Obama involves us in a war in Iran where there is oil. Does it imply that the first meeting hatched a conspiracy to enter the war? No, because Obama would only be prudently soliciting energy guidance from one group of experts. But if Cheney did it, it's a conspiracy because Cheney is a warmongering neocon.

It's by definitiion: Obama = good. Cheney = bad.

No. Obama is, unfortunately, quite capable - if not likely - to continue many of these foolish and/or greedy endeavors.

I tend toward the pessimism of Bacevich. I hope that I'm proven wrong. I leave open that possibility, but harbor no illusions.

d'd'd'dave,

I really wish you would argue with what I wrote, and not what you imagine I was thinking when I typed it. I did not write, "Bush was negligent before 9/11." I did not write, "Upon receiving the memo, he should have cut short his vacation and returned to Washington."

However, given his dismissive attitude towards the August 6 memo, I do not see why it requires suspension of disbelief to think that he failed to take the threat seriously enough.

Also, nobody (besides you) has said anything remotely resembling the statement, "Bush cared too much about national security after 9-11." More like, "Bush has carelessly endangered Americans by invading Iraq, causing hundreds of thousands of Arab deaths, and giving Al Qaeda the best recruitment propaganda they could possibly hope for."

I appreciate the fact that you're keeping us from becoming a left-wing echo chamber, but it also seems to me that you are consistently constructing straw man fallacies.

Yes, business interests have been involved in influencing foreign policy in the US and all nations since the beginning of time. In the US, it occured recently in an imperialist sense where we toppled leftist regimes or bolstered rightist dictators. And it occurs in a leftist sense when business or labor interests try to protect local businesses with tariffs, or price supports.. We see it in monetary policy.

And yes, now it is feasible. But the guys I accuse of conspiracy theories aren't talking as if it is feasible. They are talking as if it is a fact.

Folks...

DNFTT'T'T'T.

d'd'd'dave: As for the animus toward Bush, it predated the iraq invasion. It dates to at least the election with Gore.

Granted. The only problem is that the animus I remember was not strong enough to reflect what actually happened.

If you'd told me before the 2000 election that Bush would make Reagan look fiscally responsible I'd have raised an eyebrow. If you'd told me that his actions would get two thirds of a million more Iraquis killed (by the estimate of the Lancet) than leaving Saddam Hussein in power would have then I'd have been disbelieving. If you'd told me he would tell a civil servant that he'd covered his ass when the civil servant took risks to warn of what would prove to be the greatest terrorist attack on American soil I'd have wondered what you were on. And if you'd told me his was going to slip a gay male prostitute (google Jeff Gannon if you don't know who I'm talking about) into the Whitehouse Press Corps in order to ask softball questions, I'd assume you were round the twist screwy.

Yes, I disliked Bush even before he was elected. I thought he was an anti-intellectual idiot with a simplistic take on the world and a business record indicating he was not fit to run a newspaper stand. I thought that picking someone at random would lead to a better candidate than George W Bush. But I did not think that he would be quite so monumentally and spectacularly incompetent as he proved to be.

Normally I find those who attest that things will be terrible if something happens to be alarmists and with an unjustifiable animus (see the right pre-Clinton). But when the charges of those who opposed Bush early can turn out to be as spot on as The Onion's were, I start thinking that the reason they opposed him more than I did was that they had clearer sight than I did.

Which means that your argument that he was detested even before he was elected is equivalent to saying that he was seen through even before he was elected.

what Hob said

It is a conspiracy theory. It requires suspension of disbelief to think that Bush was [not] negligent before 9/11.

Fixed that for you.

("Suspension of disbelief" refers to "the willingness of a person to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction, even if they are fantastic or impossible." Bush went through his presidency requiring everyone else to accept his premises, even though they were fantastic or impossible...)

So I'll buck the trend and make a serious observation; I am astounded that the shoe thrower lived more than a split second after he raised his arm and began to launch the first shoe. The security detail should have cut him down in a hail of lead regardless of whomever else got caught in the crossfire. That's the way it's supposed to work.

You mean like what happened with John Hinckley, or Squeaky Fromme, or Sara Jane Moore?

Oh, wait, that's not what happened at all. Because that's not actually "the way it's supposed to work."

"Go re-read it, dave. He's not saying Africa's woes can all be laid at American feet. It takes a pretty creative interpretation to come up with that. He's pointing out your insistence of bring up such an "assertion" is a fascinating and arguably telling non-sequitur, that you're going pretty far afield with your false equivalences."

Yeah, exactly. It shows his mindset. Nobody says that responsibility for the Iraqi dead lies solely with the US, but Dave imagines that they do, and then for good measure he trots out the standard American rationalization for minimizing our crimes going back to the slave trade--i.e, not all the tragedies of the world can be blamed on America. But nobody here thinks that. For the record, I don't think Africa's woes can all be laid at American feet, but only someone with Dave's mindset would have imagined I did. That's my point--he constructs strawmen and then we're all supposed to jump through hoops to demonstrate that we're not the crazed lefties that exist in his head.

"he constructs strawmen and then we're all supposed to jump through hoops to demonstrate that we're not the crazed lefties that exist in his head."

I suppose that should be straw hoops.

I don't think ddddave is a troll, since he seems to believe the stuff he types. But partly because of people like me, he has taken over most of this thread.

bedtimeforbonzo:

We remember Ladd for "Shane", but actually that was a departure from his usual roles, which were hardboiled guys in hats in film noir fare.

I think he had to stand on a stool, however, to kiss Veronica Lake (and who wouldn't?), being all of 4' 7".

For shifty-eyed Middle Eastern types in films, we can go back to the vaguely Middle Eastern Walter Slezak in "Sinbad the Sailor", amd, of course the "Indiana Jones" series.

Later, of course, David Lean got rid of shifty-eyed altogther in "Lawrence of Arabia"
with Omar Sharif and Alec Guiness (especially the latter) gazing unblinkingly into Peter O'Toole's baby blues.

Ah, but Anthony Quinn was on hand to shift his eyes all over the place, I now remember, probably looking for someone to take the next hack from his scimitar.

More recent examples of shifty-eyed include White house press conferences and RNC operatives on Meet the Press this past fall.

It requires suspension of disbelief to think that Bush was negligent before 9/11.

No Dave, it seriously does not.

And generally what people take exception to in Bush's actions after 9/11 are the things he did, not the enthusiasm with which he did them.

Negligence was replaced with vigorous and forceful incompetence. He failed to resolve the problem we actually faced, and in the process of failing to do that created ten more.

And along the way he invented and put into practice a smorgasboard of new and improved versions of "it's not illegal when the President does it".

There are probably some folks who would have faulted Bush for taking vigorous action prior to 9/11 in response to the briefings he received. There are lots of folks who fault him for invading Afghanistan in pursuit of Bin Laden.

But by and large, people who find fault with Bush do so because of his phenomenal incompetence, his utter ignorance of and lack of respect for the constitutional limits on and responsibilities of his office, and most of all for the almost unimaginable clusterf**k that is our involvement in Iraq.

The Bush Presidency has been like some bleak, satiric comedy -- think Ubu Roi, or Dr. Strangelove -- only for real.

You don't need to indulge in conspiracy theories to see the malfeasance.

Thanks -

You don't need to indulge in conspiracy theories to see the malfeasance.

I can certainly agree with that. OTOH I can also agree with some of tripled-D Dave’s points. For the record I see no evidence that he is a troll, and I think that accusation tends to be flung around too easily here.

(OTTH, while I admire your stamina Dave – you’re tilting at windmills on this site.)

For the record I see no evidence that he is a troll, and I think that accusation tends to be flung around too easily here.

I don't think he's a troll either. But he has succeeded in derailing the thread by his fixed conviction that Bush can't be held to blame for anything that he did, said, or failed to do. The sort of person who, if Bush were to slaughter kittens and eat them, on live TV, would either blame the kittens, or blame the Democrats.

For the record I see no evidence that he is a troll

IMO Dave is clearly not a troll. I also agree that he has a point.

But it seriously DOES NOT require a tin foil hat mindset to see, not just incompetence (although plenty of that) but actual criminal malfeasance on the part of Bush and his administration.

So, you know, tilt away, but these are not good guys. The reasonable point you are trying to make is, I think, beggared by the sheer magnitude of the damage they've done.

Thanks -

Excellent post, Eric.

MSBNC:

The most likely charge against al-Zeidi would be one that allowed for up to two years in prison for anyone who publicly insults a foreign state, an international organization or a foreign country's head of state, said leading criminal lawyer Ali Ahmed Mansour.

"Based on my legal knowledge I am sure he will be charged with insulting a president of a foreign state," Mansour said on Tuesday. "He will be jailed for this action."

Al-Zeidi could also conceivably be charged under another clause in the 1969 Iraqi penal code that allows for seven years in prison for anyone who "insults the president or his representative", lawyers said.

--

he has a head injury and a broken arm, both of which occurred as people tackled him after he threw the shoes.

he's looking at up to two years in jail for an "insult". i guess that's better than immediate execution. (though i'm unaware of any evidence that immediate execution would have actually been the punishment under Saddam)

To follow up on OCSteve's point. Dave is not a troll, and he may be making some decent points, but the points he is making are irrelevamnt to the post.

Unless he is willing to come right out and state that the Iraqis should be grateful to the US, which I don't believe he has done. Dave, if I am wrong and you have, I apologize. But then you would need to point out why they should be grateful.

Also, are you (Dave) trying to say that invading a country for the sake of toppling a bad guy is appropriate, because Iraq was actually way down the list. And I am not justifying Saddam or saying he wasn't a bad guy, but there are some countries that are being subjugated by the leaders of those countries worse than Saddam was doing.

If you want to say invading Iraq was good for our security, you can make that argument, but again, that would be irrelevant to this thread.

The real questions here are 1) Should the Iraqis be grateful for our intervention and 2) Did al Zaidi represent the feelings of most Iraqis.

Regarding number 1) perhaps, if the invasion had been handled in the least bit competently, they wopuld have reasons to be grateful, but specially after the President has admitted that all of the violence caused by AQI was the result of our invasion, and admitted that those bad guys weren't there and came solely because we were there and admitted that it was better we brought them to Iraq where they could kill Iraqis rather than come to our shores, I can understand why they would not be very grateful.

Secondly, although many Iraqis, from the accounts I have read, disagree with the shoe throwing, the disagreemnet is for one of two reasons. The first is that it was not professional behavior for a journalist. The second is that it violates the basic Arab principles of hospitality, which are held to be important even to your enemies.

They are not disagreeing with the sentiments.

The whole argumnent towards humanitarian intervention in Iraq is belied by the way in which the intervention took place.

And yes, Bush was negligent after the warning. He did nothing, he did not give any directives to the intelligence agencies to work together (which despite some beliefs they could do) and particularly, did not tell the agencies to take seriously anything that came to there attention. He asked no questions which might have triggered activity, he did not exress any urgency. And it is well known that he wanted to invade Iraq prior to 9/11 and was looking for a reason to do so that he could sell the public.

Finally, there are many people who do hate Bush, and a few of them did do so from even before 2000. Most people don't hate Bush, however, even though they may hate his actions and policies. But you are already seeing Obama hatred that rises above anything shown toward Bush until probably after the 2004 elections.l

To follow up on OCSteve's point. Dave is not a troll, and he may be making some decent points, but the points he is making are irrelevamnt to the post.

Unless he is willing to come right out and state that the Iraqis should be grateful to the US, which I don't believe he has done. Dave, if I am wrong and you have, I apologize. But then you would need to point out why they should be grateful.

Also, are you (Dave) trying to say that invading a country for the sake of toppling a bad guy is appropriate, because Iraq was actually way down the list. And I am not justifying Saddam or saying he wasn't a bad guy, but there are some countries that are being subjugated by the leaders of those countries worse than Saddam was doing.

If you want to say invading Iraq was good for our security, you can make that argument, but again, that would be irrelevant to this thread.

The real questions here are 1) Should the Iraqis be grateful for our intervention and 2) Did al Zaidi represent the feelings of most Iraqis.

Regarding number 1) perhaps, if the invasion had been handled in the least bit competently, they wopuld have reasons to be grateful, but specially after the President has admitted that all of the violence caused by AQI was the result of our invasion, and admitted that those bad guys weren't there and came solely because we were there and admitted that it was better we brought them to Iraq where they could kill Iraqis rather than come to our shores, I can understand why they would not be very grateful.

Secondly, although many Iraqis, from the accounts I have read, disagree with the shoe throwing, the disagreemnet is for one of two reasons. The first is that it was not professional behavior for a journalist. The second is that it violates the basic Arab principles of hospitality, which are held to be important even to your enemies.

They are not disagreeing with the sentiments.

The whole argumnent towards humanitarian intervention in Iraq is belied by the way in which the intervention took place.

And yes, Bush was negligent after the warning. He did nothing, he did not give any directives to the intelligence agencies to work together (which despite some beliefs they could do) and particularly, did not tell the agencies to take seriously anything that came to there attention. He asked no questions which might have triggered activity, he did not exress any urgency. And it is well known that he wanted to invade Iraq prior to 9/11 and was looking for a reason to do so that he could sell the public.

Finally, there are many people who do hate Bush, and a few of them did do so from even before 2000. Most people don't hate Bush, however, even though they may hate his actions and policies. But you are already seeing Obama hatred that rises above anything shown toward Bush until probably after the 2004 elections.l

Really sorry about the double post.

For the record I see no evidence that he is a troll

Exhibit A: Most downtown explosions in Baghdad have been suicide bombings by arabs against arabs rather than bombings from american aircraft. An argument will be made that the suicide bombers are only responding to the US presence - they would not bomb if the US wasn't there. And the Mumbai terrorists wouldn't have killed hundreds of indian locals if it wasn't for the tens of anglos who were present. And the terrorists who bombed spain's railroads only did so because spain was in Iraq. And the 9/11 stuff only happened because the US is horrible and awful. And mexicans murder each other only because so many people in the USA take drugs. And the Somali pirates would be giving ships instead of taking them if the USA hadn't been trying to hand out UN food in Somalia 15 years ago. And africa would be all peace and joy now if Thomas Jefferson hadn't bought slaves. And...those %&*#ing americans...why don't they just die.

Posted by: d'd'd'dave | December 15, 2008 at 07:52 PM

A farrago of half-literate strawmen, ending with the insulting insinuation that critics of American foreign policy wish Americans dead. If anything, "troll" is a bit kind.

There's a forrest somewhere in these trees (d'd'd'daves trees).

1. Did the invasion of Iraq result in or have a significant role in the undue displacement, injury, death, and sufferring of many Iraqis?

2. If so, might one understand why many Iraqis would be angry or upset with the US or Bush administration about that?

3. If so, might that suggest something about the effectiveness, without even getting into the morality, just the realistic effectiveness of American foreign policy?

If you answer "yes" to these three questions, whining about how much some people dislike Bush for the wrong reasons is irrelevant. There are enough right reasons to dislike him regardless of the wrong reasons, and Eric is talking about the right reasons.

HSH,

Thank you for saying what I was trying to say so much more succinctly.

No prob, jm. Succinctness is a necessity for the lazy.

In d'd'd'dave's defense, there are enough far left (or right) conspiracy believers that they color our thinking. I have a real hard time not putting some of the "wacko" religious right ideas into the heads of rational right wing religious people.

Say someone makes a genuine and rational argument on an issue that is one of the "Religious Right's" issues, for example, abortion. Their argument supports the RR position. I, very naturally, tend to attribute such far out ideas as Creationism to that person. That is clearly wrong, but it's the way our brains keep track of everything. We categorize.

For another example, if President Bush were to sign an executive order which allowed the DEQ to avoid getting scientific advice on endangered species before granting environmental permits, I would assume d'd'd'dave would support the president in that action. I have no basis for that except that he has supported the president in other actions that I view as clearly wrong.

I might respond based upon these assumptions with "straw man" arguments thinking that dave really believes in not following good science or that the RR person would also cheer the relegation of science.

This does not make straw man arguments correct, but it illustrates that a lot of our discussion may be in better faith than we give credit for.

I haven't found anything else in dave's arguments that I agree with, but I do appreciate the opportunity to try to understand why someone, in good faith, can think the way he does. He shows a lot of courage facing this group.

Already, there is a popular meme cropping up that al-Zaidi only enjoyed the freedom to hurl his shoe by virtue of America's invasion, and that under Saddam al-Zaidi would have been executed for this act.

That's the basic fact an the sooner certain people accept that the better.

This post is just one big red herring, you think by invoking the hated names of McCarthy, Lopez and Goldberg you can negate the fact that Saddam would have had Zaidi taken out back and shot?

Personally I'm not angry at Zaidi who has a lot to be angry about, but waving the bloody dead Iraqi child is not the way to argue. What about the bloody dead Afghan child???

No blood for oil!
--------------
Iraq Signs Oil Deal With China Worth Up to $3 Billion

By ERICA GOODE and RIYADH MOHAMMED
Published: August 28, 2008
BAGHDAD — In the first major oil deal Iraq has made with a foreign country since 2003, the Iraqi government and the China National Petroleum Corporation have signed a contract in Beijing that could be worth up to $3 billion, Iraqi officials said Thursday.

Under the new contract, which must still be approved by Iraq’s cabinet, the Chinese company will provide technical advisers, oil workers and equipment to help develop the Ahdab oil field southeast of Baghdad, according to Assim Jihad, a spokesman for Iraq’s Oil Ministry. If the deal is approved, work could begin on the oil field within a few months, Mr. Jihad said.

He said that Iraq had agreed to provide security for Chinese workers and that the Chinese company would also bring its own security team.

The 22-year contract is a renegotiated version of a 1997 agreement between China and Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The original contract included production-sharing rights, but under the new contract China will be paid for its services but will not share in profits.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/29/world/middleeast/29iraq.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=China%20Iraq%20oil%20deal&st=cse

C'mon guys, admit it. This is another sign of the great strides of being made in Bush's Iraq. Remember back in 2003 when they tore Saddams statue down? They weren't throwing shoes at it, they were just hitting it with their shoes while keeping those shoes firmly in their grasp.

But now, shoes are so plentiful they can afford to throw not 1, but BOTH shoes at their benefactor.

I'm not trying to make the thread be all about Dave... but that's what's been happening, anyway. Sorry if I used that letter T too loosely, but I don't see how it matters so much whether someone believes the stuff he types, if his entry into conversations is so consistently irrelevant and inflammatory... and there's been no sign that engaging him for pages and pages and pages has any effect on his possibly sincere cartoonish beliefs. He's clearly playing "come see the liberals and poke them with a stick and watch them argue with me," and y'all are obliging.

This post is just one big red herring, you think by invoking the hated names of McCarthy, Lopez and Goldberg you can negate the fact that Saddam would have had Zaidi taken out back and shot?

Huh? When did I negate that?

What about the bloody dead Afghan child???

The grieving Afhgan family has every right to be outraged. I will not ask them to thank me for our invasion of Afghanistan, or call them ingrates for the lack of sufficient appreaciation.

Iraq Signs Oil Deal With China Worth Up to $3 Billion

Two thoughts Peter:

1. Just because the war was fought to control oil, doesn't mean we succeeded. Pointing to the frustration of plans does not negate the existence of said plans.

2. Just beacuse a deal was inked with China does not mean that US companies won't get in on the action. But, again, things have not gone according to plan.

See, for example, the lack of Iraqi cooperation on the "enduring" military bases. We pushed and pushed for them, but Iraq's government has said no. Thus far. And the Iraqi people are forcing them to say no, as are religious leaders such as Sistani.

But if we pull all troops out as per the SOFA, that doesn't mean that establishign a military beach head wasn't a purpose. It just means we didn't get what we were going for.

Happens all the time.

I mean, would you argue that France had no designs on staying in Algeria because they left?

Adding:

What about the bloody dead Afghan child???

It is absolutely essential that we appreciate the scope of the devastation to Afghanistan's citizens as well. I do not wish to shield us from that, or pretend that such devastation does not exist.

What's your point?

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