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March 08, 2010


The Iraq war was a complete and utter effing disaster on every level. Every. Single. One.

I think the Nobel for Obama was largely a result of a feeling that the US had just turned aside from a course of aggressive warfare after taking one or two dangerous steps on that path.

With all the agitation around Iran, I'm not sure yet we really did turn aside as thoroughly as hoped for, but I'm not really clear what's going to happen there.

But yeah Iraq was a disaster on all levels. If it turns into a relatively stable state, that's great, but the problem even with asking the inhabitants of that future stable state whether it was worth it is that all the dead people don't get to vote, and are unlikely to count their own demise as having been "worth it" - especially since the people who survive & benefit often include the ones who killed them. "Well, I'm dead along with all my descendants, but the descendants of my bitter enemies who killed me and all my children got to vote yesterday ... yay?"

of a feeling that the US had just turned aside from a course of aggressive warfare after taking one or two dangerous steps on that path.

No, aggressive war is permanently "on the table" and will be actively implemented under President Liz Cheney, if not President Obama. Aggressive bombing via pilotless drones is active, indeed substantially elevated, policy under the Obama administration.

Yeah, don't get me wrong, I wasn't saying that their feelings were entirely accurate or proven. I just think that rush to hand him an award was a good indicator of the amount of fear outside of America about the course the US was on. For the US's military supremacy to be basically non-threatening, it has to stay home and act nice. There's a big difference between your neighbor who owns a lot of guns but who's always polite and deferential, never goes looking for trouble, and is always ready to lend a hand when you really need it, and your gun-nut neighbor who picks fights in bars and drunkenly shoots people in the street wearing nothing but his underwear.

I meant to mention before, Larison's point about the militarization of Iraqi society ought to be noted. The place is a national security state, as you might expect of somewhere that 100 bombs get set off on election day. Day-to-day life under Saddam presumably sucked in many & various ways, but it doesn't seem to have involved much threat of being blown up or shot at random, and even though it had a gigantic military, most of them weren't actually involved in combat.

The important distinction in previous cases where the US has intervened militarily and wound up producing pluralistic, democratic governments out of dictatorships is that no matter how nice of an idea that is, nobody has the moral right to make over another country in that way by engaging in an unprovoked invasion and occupation. Germany and Japan declared war on the US. Kind of an important difference there.

Nicely put. Good article.

C'mon, Billy Kristol and Danny Pipes among others have declared it an unqualified success and a blueprint for Iran. That brainpower alone is justification for expanding our military adventurism, denying this is a demonstrable lack of patriotism and should earn imprisonment for treason.

Some real journalists report* from Iraq that there is a growing Saddam nostalgia and not just among the usual suspects (aka diehards).
There is even pessimism that this was the last election that could be called at least partially democratic and next time will be a farce like under Saddam. Even this one showed (not coincidentally probably) similarities to those in Iran with 'The Egg Thief'** removing candidates at will from the ballot.

*iirc there was something about that on either Countdown or Maddow on Friday

Why does Larison hate our brave troops? /foxnews

pointless paranoia tending towards violence is a fine description of what "conservatism" has meant in the US for as long as i've been alive.

sadly, there will come a day when a "conservative" is once again in the White House. and when that happens, all that paranoid rage will get turned against the rest of the world once again.

Jacob Davis: Day-to-day life under Saddam presumably sucked in many & various ways, but it doesn't seem to have involved much threat of being blown up or shot at random, and even though it had a gigantic military, most of them weren't actually involved in combat.

Yeah . . . unless you were in the Kurdish northern part of the country. Or the southern Shia part of the country.

Maybe things were a little better in the Sunni areas. But for most of the country, it is not obvious that public safety was all that impressive.

wj: that's actually not quite right. There were periods of intense conflict in the south when the south raised up in revolution, and in the north at various points, but outside of those conflicts, day-to-day life was more secure. And the "Sunni areas" presumably include Baghdad, were millions of Shiites reside(d).

Saddam's rule was stable and therefore to a degree predictable and thus (within limits) safe. Like the Soviet Union post-Stalin. If you learned and obeyed by the rules, you were usually not in (direct) danger. Post-Saddam and to a degree still today there were/are mutually exclusive sets of rules imposed by different groups the violation of any could/can lead to your violent death.

Call me a fatalist, but I ujst think a decisive swath Americans aren't inclined to deliver a verdict of failure to a major national endeavor involving the sainted ranks of "the troops" unless they are absolutely forced to by unavoidable facts -- and these days many more facts are avoidable than earlier. I'm not talking about a reasonable reading of the available evidence, I'm talking about sustained reporting of incontrovertible defeat. How long did it take our grandparents and many of our parents to accept we were defeated in Vietnam? I'm not saying Iraq wasn't a disaster over the short term, long and middle. I'm just saying that it's not anywhere near so bad that those who don't look at it that way already are realistically going to be persuaded of it. The only chance they will is under a circumstance we have to regard as a nightmare -- a collapse so bad we are forced to reengage and are then driven from the country. Short of that, I think it is basically inevitable that an ill-informed majority of Americans will come to see what we did there as on balance an improvement (propagandized as they utterly were about Saddam pre-invasion.).

I realize Daniel Larison worries that such an outcome would mean we failed to be sufficiently drained of our appetite for battle to keep us out of further wars, as we were after WWI. Now, it strikes me that that historical analogy breaks down at some point, I'm sure it'll come to me just where, but beyond that, does anyone really think.

The long-term Iraq debate was lost after violence subsided in the wake of the surge (whatever the reason). The debate in any case going forward ought to be about the initial invasion, during which conversation it is easier to open up a challenge to what will become the dominant narrative about the efficacy of the invasion. People still do feel duped about how we got in; they'll be more receptive to the idea that we haven't done as much good as we think when first reminded of that than by being openly confronted with the assertion that we've done nothing but destroy a country with all our lost sons.

sorry -- does anyone really think we were all that close to having the bellicosity whipped out of us for any considerable length of time in 2006? I don't.

Tragically, I think Mike is 100% correct. War is simply too beneficial to too many interests in this country for it to be otherwise.

Not to forget that the Right from the start prepared a Stab-in-thge-back legend to stick to the 'liberals' in case anything went wrong.
Some talking points sound like literally translated from German post-WW1 and many RW editorial cartoons looked like directly inspired by German ones from the same period. Some even saw a chance to warm up Vietnam again for the same purpose ("Like in Vietnam the Left makes us lose an already won war").

i like this part of the post:"espite the violence that claimed the lives of 38 Iraqis on election day (the result of multiple attacks carried out amidst a comprehensive security clampdown), Sunday was accurately described as "relatively calm" - despite, further," is very good

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