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Posted by on Jul 12, 2007 in War | 55 comments

A Second Reality Check

Earlier today, I published a post called “Reality Check” here at TMV (and at my own blog). Several people already responded. I would like to point out two – especially two – comments which basically prove my point. The first is a comment left by JLedell (an American):

The world thinks America’s invasion of Iraq was a mistake. I think you and most Americans now agree with that assessment. Our diminished image in the world is a direct result of that MISTAKE.

Most Americans believe in American Exceptionalism and so does much of the rest of the world, even though they might not like it. However, even Exceptionalism has it’s limits. It simply may not be within our power to “fix” Iraq. The problem may be too big and too far gone for even the US with it’s vast resources to fix.

I will only quote this part because it is my intention to make you all think about arguments against withdrawal that are ignored (blowback etc.). Now, let me make one thing very clear: the rest of the world does not believe in American exceptionalism. If there is one thing most people in Europe and the Mideast think about America, it is that America has too much power, and that America is arrogant. “American exceptionalism” is something only Americans and perhaps some Eastern Europeans believe in, the rest of the world has to do its best not to laugh out loud when Americans say that their country is a beacon of hope, an example to the world. Yes, this sounds harsh, but if you want to understand the world, you have to understand this.

Let me therefore quote another European who goes by the commenter name of Lynx (she’s half-American, lives in Spain):

As a Spanish-American hybrid who thinks she knows the general feeling of Spaniards pretty well I must coincide completely with Michael. You can argue about whether it’s fair for the US to be blamed, you can argue whether avoiding such blame is A- possible and B- worth the sacrifice in lives/economy, but you can’t really argue that it won’t happen. It will, absolutely. You are ALREADY blamed for the mess in Iraq, OF COURSE you will be blamed if it gets worse once you leave.

American exceptionalism is at work here. Please remember that ONLY the US automatically thinks the US is the good guys. You start with that assumption, and your conclusions are influenced by it. The rest of the world (except, maybe, Israel) does not automatically start with the US being the good guys, and a good deal of it (most especially in the Middle East) begin thought with exactly the opposite assumption. Again, you can argue about whether this is fair, but not that it isn’t real.

Think of it this way. Another country, say Japan starts a war with North Korea. They said the threat of an attack was imminent and implied Kim had ties to the nerve-gas attacks on their subways. They totally ignore calls from the rest of the world (including the US) to wait, that the evidence is not that clear, and invade anyway. Fast forward 5 years and the whole thing is a mess. Chaos reigns in North Korea as Japanese troops and what is left of their allies (most of whom have already left) struggle to maintain even a modicum of order. The North Korean “government” is fairly useless, as the elimination of Kim Jong Il from power (and subsequent trial and embarrassing public execution) has created a succession war of power amongst strongmen of a country that has very little in the way of democratic process, and whose stability depended exclusively on the iron grip of it’s dictator. People are hungry and blame the Japanese troops for eliminating what little stability they had, and alternate fighting them with fighting other factions for control of terrain and precious food. Japan has sustained many victims, but still 100 times fewer than the North Koreans, and decides that they’ve had it, they’re leaving. Having lost their previous taste for war they leave, and what little order was left in North Korea disappears, together with the steady supply of food that was all keeping many displaced North Koreans alive. The country plunges into all out civil war and famine and the world (including the US) condemns Japan for skirting it’s responsibility to the North Koreans after destroying their country. Koreans, of course, will hate the Japanese for generations to come, and other Asian nations close to Korea take note of the situation as well.

Does it sound like a wild fantasy to you? Do you honestly think it would be wrong to condemn Japan in those circumstances? The US is given special consideration and understanding ONLY by the US. To the rest of the world you are not special, you are not the Boss, you are another country, albeit a very powerful one with a tendency to get in trouble.

Mind you, I don’t see any good way out of this situation. I don’t think staying is going to help much unless some radical genius change takes place. With the current strategy all you are doing is putting off the inevitable (more) massive bloodbath. I wish I knew a way to avoid it, but I really don’t. Whenever the US leaves, now or in 10 years, if there is massive loss of life, they will be blamed. They started the mess, it’s only natural that they get blamed for how it ends, even if there is no way they could have possibly avoided it once the invasion and chaos had set in. In that case the only option is to leave and suck it in, put diplomatic relations into overdrive and hope against hope that the blame blows over quickly. It might in the West, but I fear that the consequences of this in the Middle East will be felt for decades to come.

Now – as far as I know, we are the only two Europeans who commented, and both of us should be considered pro-US. We do not agree with the above, but we do know that this is how the far majority of Europeans and Arabs will respond.

Again: I am not offering a solution here – my goal is merely to make you all think of something, of a downside, that is being ignored in most American media.

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  • Withdraw. Tomorrow. All else is merely a variant on slow bleeding.

    If the Iraqis wann akill each other- so be it. We can stay in KUrdistan, and help people who have SHOWN they want democracy.

    Iraq was never a natural nation. Nothing in Africa, the MIdEast, nor in SE Asia is. These are the remnants of colonialism, and those people will have to define themselves. Our only task shd be to keep the really bad weapons away fro them.

    People say this is not Vietnam, but the parallels exist. Had Nixon exited in ’69, like he hinted at, 30k Americans would have not died, a million or more Vietnamese wd not have died, and that nation would pretty much be where it is today.

    Leaving now or next year will mean zero come 2020.

  • Withdraw. Tomorrow. All else is merely a variant on slow bleeding.

    If the Iraqis wann akill each other- so be it. We can stay in KUrdistan, and help people who have SHOWN they want democracy.

    I appreciate you taking taking into account what the world thinks.

    I’m starting to think this is a lost cause.

    Think outside of the box people.

  • The world wants us out. In fact, the world never wanted us IN.

    Let’s see, in US history, we have NEVER done the sane thing- admit when we cannot impose our will- Mexico, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and just say, lett’s not exacerbate.

    The phrase ‘think outside the box’ means to do things untried. That’s exactly what leaving, and not wasting more lives IS.

  • domajot

    MVDG saiid:
    “Again: I am not offering a solution here – my goal is merely to make you all think of something, of a downside”

    This claim comes after repeated posts of intense advodacy for a very precisely identidied decision
    regarding Iraq.

    WE KNOW WAHT THE DOWNSIDE IS, THANK YOU.

    Those of us who will have to live with the consequences of these crucial decisions need to weigh the downsides of any and all deciisions, not just one.

    World opininon is one argument that does not apply in the desicion making process.
    The world blamed us when iraq was invaded.
    The world is blaming us today for everything ME related.
    The world will blame us if we stay, and the world will blame us if we withdraw.

    This decision can not be based on the world’s opinion, and it is irresponsible to pretend otherwise..

    Since none of these please show a reasonable assessment or pros NAD cons of these vital decisions,

  • Entropy

    Withdraw. Tomorrow. All else is merely a variant on slow bleeding.

    Well, claiming that all-else is a variant on “slow bleeding” is nothing more than assertion, and ignores the possibility that the consequences of “slow bleeding” might be preferable to the consequences of abrupt withdrawal. And that’s why I argued in the other thread that our future actions must be based on identified interests and present a coherent plan the would preserve those interests, or at least mitigate damage to them as much as possible.

    So, maybe your assertion is true and that a US withdraw is best strategically – perhaps you can supply an argument to that effect?

  • Entropy

    For once I agree with Domajot.

  • I love Michael’s new stance on continuing the occupation and killing in Iraq: “Think of the Europeans!”

    Give me a break. You’re grasping at straws again without actually offering any solutions besides “staying the course.”

    Well guess what, our strategy (and all permutations there of) is not working. We are now reaching the staggering estimated figure of 1 million dead Iraqis as a result of the invasion and the hell we’ve unleashed.

    So what are the reasons for staying?

    1) Stave off genocide… ooops too late
    2) Don’t piss off Europe… ooops too late again
    3) Keep the terrorists at bay… ooops, the Iraq war has created more terrorists than ever before

    Beyond that Michael, you ignore one very important thing: We have no right to occupy and control Iraq, and we never did.

    Continuing to occupy a country that never threatened us is immoral and we compound that immorality every second we stay there.

  • ‘So, maybe your assertion is true and that a US withdraw is best strategically – perhaps you can supply an argument to that effect?’

    You are correct, in that I cannot posit what would happen if we withdraw immediately, save that it would likely be an exacerbation of what is now, only w/o US troops in the way.

    I do know what the slow bleed strategy has wrought in the past- Mexico, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq. That is not something I want my country to do again.

    We heard all about the bad things that would happen if we left Vietnam. Didn’t happen.

    But, even if the Sunnis and Shia descend into genocide, let it be THEIRS.

    We simply cannot throw our people in between two mad packs of wild dogs.

    So, I cannot prove that withdrawing from Iraq wd be wine and roses, just as I cannot prove a murder was deterred if it never occurs, but one can reasonably extrapolate on things, from the specific past- that Iraq wd be more of the same, save worse, and then taper off, as can only happen, as hatred and bodies are depleted.

    And we can extrapolate on numerous ex’s of our past, where the stay and bleed gambit failed.

    I agree with Michael- think outside the box. Leave!

  • Taking your concern as valid Michael, maybe the US should leave. Perhaps the resulting criticism around the world would finally beat US politicians (and popular opinion) back into place a bit, weakening the ideas of American Exceptionalism. It seems to me that a good way to fight an over developed ego is by having the voices of the world shout it down, right?

  • Definitely a lost cause, especially Domajot proves my point.

    Quite sad.

  • Entropy

    We heard all about the bad things that would happen if we left Vietnam. Didn’t happen.

    Oh, plenty of bad things happened as a result of Vietnam, but none were strategically important. Vietnam itself was not strategically important geographically, nor was it in a particularly important region. So the strategic effects of Vietnam did not hurt the US significantly but the spillover effects were terrible for the region.

    Iraq is different because the region in which it lies is among the most important strategically – and not just to the US, but also the rest of the industrialized and industrializing world. A plan to have the US simply leave and say, “oh well, sucks to be you” would to subject US and world interests to the vagaries of chaos. A plan for containment should be the minimum, in my view, as detailed here.

  • kimrit

    I’m sure we won’t end up leaving en masse, but it is important for our national interest to at least start withdrawing. Even Republicans are finally coming to the realization that the war is lost, and that the surge has no chance of success. We are losing 100 American soldiers a month and spending 12 billion a month on George Bush’s folly.

    I did not support the invasion, and didn’t vote for Bush either time. In Maryland our representatives voted against the invasion. But, we will all end up paying, nevertheless. Of course the Iraqis, who never asked us to get rid of Saddam, will pay the highest price of all.

    The US population will not support another Vietnam, but I do hope that our government decides on a policy that aids refugees and helps those Iraqis who heloed us to leave the country. We should try to offer as much humanitarian assistance as possible, but at the same time, should not be in the middle of this civil war. It has been said by many statemen past and present that this will be the worst foreign policy disaster in our history. I agree with them.

  • kimrit

    IMO, the big mistake in Vietnam was not that we left after 12 years, but that we went in in the first place with no clear idea of who we were fighting or how hard the enemy would fight to defeat us. Same here- the major mistakes were in the decision to go in and in the mismanagement of every major stage of the war-except possibly Petraeus’ role.

  • Lynx

    I love Michael’s new stance on continuing the occupation and killing in Iraq: “Think of the Europeans!”

    If you would be so kind, show me where Michael has advocated “staying the course”.

    Michael has tried twice, and I’ve tried once, so I’ll even it out by trying again. This is NOT about taking a poll of international opinion and letting that determine the course. This is likewise NOT advocating either a stay nor a go policy. It’s not even implying that blame can be entirely avoided. All this is doing is saying that the US is not alone in the universe, that Americans are often wrong about what the rest of the world is going to think (the assumption seems to vary between assuming that the rest of the world “knows” the USA is the good guys and “knowing” that the rest of the world will hate us no matter what we do), and that in fact what the rest of the world thinks matters, or should matter, to the US. Not to be nice, but because good diplomatic relations are GOOD for a country. The US can only go it alone for so long.

    It is something to be weighed during the decision making process and it is something that is almost always ignored entirely. Again, this is not about being nice or even pretending that you give a damn about your world reputation, it’s just sound strategic policy. Strong allies require you to be in good graces with the populations of those countries. Maybe it’s still in the US’s best interest to leave (or stay) despite the damage to reputation, but it at least needs to be considered as a piece of the puzzle, not simply a side-effect or an afterthought.

  • domajot

    MVDG said:
    “Definitely a lost cause, especially Domajot proves my point”

    If you base your cause on the false premise that world opinion points the way to the best decision, then I certainly hope the argument,is lost.

    Whether the cause is lost or not, remains to be seen, but it will need better arguments, that’s for sure.I

  • Entropy

    I’m sure we won’t end up leaving en masse, but it is important for our national interest to at least start withdrawing.

    Fine, what are our national interests and how does withdrawal serve them? What are the potential negative effects of withdrawal on those interests? How do we mitigate those negative effects?

    Again, I hear blanket statements from both sides of the political spectrum stating that one course of action serves US interests bests, but it is never backed up with any evidence or a cogent argument and it seems I am supposed to accept it as prima facia truth. Frankly, that lack of analysis is what got us into this mess in the first place.

  • Somebody

    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

    What will the world remember when we are gone?

    Success?
    or
    Failure?

    Its up to you to decide. All else is inconsequential.

  • Entropy- there was killing and reprisals after we ditched Vietnam, but no Dominoes fell. The Soviets imploded, the Vietnamese and even the Chinese have slowly embraced Capitalism. Ho-hum.

    As for Iraq’s strategic import: O-I-L. Period. Other than that, we have no commonalities. Thanks Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush, for not weaning us off oil in the 35 years since the Arab Oil Crisis.

    As for the concern over a country’s rep- overblown. The loss in Vietnam was gonna scar us for decades. Then Reagan came along, and gorged on Defense, and in the 80s we were gung-ho and Vietnam was forgotten.

    People have short memories, and as long as Israel exists, and the idiotic Muslim tensions, our folly in Iraq will become ancient history, in a few years.

  • If you would be so kind, show me where Michael has advocated “staying the course”.

    He clearly doesn’t want the U.S. to leave, but offers no alternative to our current strategy. Maintaining the status quo is not good enough. Do we want another million people to die in the next 4 years?

    How is that defensible?

  • Entropy:

    As stated, since we have never in our history been smart enough to up and leave there is nothing to base that policy on. The stay and bleed strategy has been a nightmare each time employed.

  • egrubs

    What will the world remember when we are gone?

    Unilateral, short-sighted and enthusiastic invasion of a soverign nation because it lacked the military strength either to defend itself or to inflict enough damage to render it safe despite the fact that said invasion was actually against our national interests.

    But, that’s not what we’re discussing here…

  • Michael has tried twice, and I’ve tried once, so I’ll even it out by trying again. This is NOT about taking a poll of international opinion and letting that determine the course. This is likewise NOT advocating either a stay nor a go policy. It’s not even implying that blame can be entirely avoided. All this is doing is saying that the US is not alone in the universe, that Americans are often wrong about what the rest of the world is going to think (the assumption seems to vary between assuming that the rest of the world “knows” the USA is the good guys and “knowing” that the rest of the world will hate us no matter what we do), and that in fact what the rest of the world thinks matters, or should matter, to the US. Not to be nice, but because good diplomatic relations are GOOD for a country. The US can only go it alone for so long.

    It is something to be weighed during the decision making process and it is something that is almost always ignored entirely. Again, this is not about being nice or even pretending that you give a damn about your world reputation, it’s just sound strategic policy. Strong allies require you to be in good graces with the populations of those countries. Maybe it’s still in the US’s best interest to leave (or stay) despite the damage to reputation, but it at least needs to be considered as a piece of the puzzle, not simply a side-effect or an afterthought.

    Lynx: exactly. It just won’t get through. For instance Domajot’s latest comment implying that i am saying that the us should do what the world wants her to do. I’m not advocating that at all. I’m also not trying to persuade anyone to agree with me on Iraq, I am merely trying to point out that something is ignored but that ‘something’ should be part of the debate / taken into account very seriously.

    That’s what we try to do – I do know that some pick it up, I’ve received quite some e-mails already about it. Perhaps its a lost cause in the comment sections but most certainly not in the larger debate. After these posts, Americans have e-maiiled me saying that it is indeed important to point it out. Pete Abel called it a “wake-up call.”

    Again – it’s not about agreeing with me, it’s about taking this into account. It’s being ignored, but it’s too important to be ignored.

  • Somebody

    Do we want another million people to die in the next 4 years?

    This is such hogwash. Its Americas fault that Sunnis are blowing up Shia and vice versa?

    When we leave they are all going to be good buddies and hang out at the Barby and slam down some cold ones and brag about how they truck bombed each other so badly that America was forced to flee?

    I love the antiwar’s thinking…….or perhaps lack thereof.

    I’m not opposed to anyone being antiwar if they would just put forth some legitimate reasons to flee. All I hear is antiwar talking points over and over and over again.

    Yet….YET on the other side all I hear is the PRO war talking points over and over and over again.

    This post is about thinking outside the box………..NOT REPEATING TALKING POINTS.

  • Michael, reading your posts, you seem to be talking around what everyone else is- whether they advocate withdrawal or stay and bleed.

    As for those who advocate the stay and bleed philosophy, I’m reminded of the end of Night Of The Living Dead, where the hick sheriff shouts, ‘Just toss’em onto the pile. They go up pretty easy.’

  • domajot

    Lynx said:
    “All this is doing is saying that the US is not alone in the universe, that Americans are often wrong about what the rest of the world is going to think ”

    Perhaps I missed this point, because I never realized that stating the abvious constitutes an actual point?

    On the other hand, it was impossible to miss the dire warnings if we make the mistake of withdrawing.

  • Somebody:

    If a zookeeper unlocks the cages for a tiger and a lion, and one of the cats kills the other, does not the lionkeeper bear SOME responsibility. Yes, humans are thinking creatures, but when the drug of religion is involved, they become little more than zombies.

    So, pit zombie A against zombie B, and when they eat each other up, at some point the keeper has to say. ‘Tweren’t such a good idea, Zeb!’

  • Doma:
    ‘it was impossible to miss the dire warnings if we make the mistake of withdrawing.’

    Translation: ‘Just toss’em onto the pile. They go up pretty easy.’

    Ugh!

  • This is such hogwash. Its Americas fault that Sunnis are blowing up Shia and vice versa?

    Yes it is. We created the conditions that made the current bloodshed possible. We destroyed the infrastructure, dismantled the government, told all of the soldiers in the army to go home (BIG MISTAKE).

    What do you expect to happen when a bunch of jobless guys with guns don’t have any food or civil services to rely on?

  • Davebo

    I appreciate you taking taking into account what the world thinks.

    It’s none of the world’s business.

    How about if YOU take into account what Iraqis (remember them?) think?

    a poll this spring of Iraqis — who know their country much better than we do — shows that only 21 percent think that the U.S. troop presence improves security in Iraq, while 69 percent think it is making security worse. . . .

    We simply can’t want to be in Iraq more than the Iraqis want us to be there. That poll of Iraqis, conducted by the BBC and other news organizations, found that only 22 percent of Iraqis support the presence of coalition troops in Iraq, down from 32 percent in 2005.

    THEY want us out

    Perhaps you don’t feel the Iraqis are mature enough to make that decision?

  • domajot

    MVDG said:,
    “I am merely trying to point out that something is ignored ”

    IGNORED? Is this a bad joke?

    This country has been through an emotional and intellectual wringer or poring over every aspect, every implication, every dire consequence of every speculation about the future and every angle of every possible decision.

    Anyone finding something that has been ignored has been ignoring what’s been going on.

    I can’t believe it.

  • Entropy

    Entropy- there was killing and reprisals after we ditched Vietnam, but no Dominoes fell. The Soviets imploded, the Vietnamese and even the Chinese have slowly embraced Capitalism. Ho-hum.

    Like I said, there were no strategic consequences for the US. But one, of many, consequences of the Vietnam war was the civil war in Cambodia and the general instability that still reverberates in the region today. Those consequences did not materially affect US interests because the region itself was of little importance – quite the opposite of the Persian Gulf region today.

    As for Iraq’s strategic import: O-I-L. Period. Other than that, we have no commonalities. Thanks Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush, for not weaning us off oil in the 35 years since the Arab Oil Crisis.

    It’s not just Iraq, it’s the region’s strategic importance. You blame the US for not “weening” us of oil, but apparently the rest of the world hasn’t been able to do it either and many of them are more dependent on ME oil than we are. Like it or not, oil is the most important strategic resource in the world today and it’s in the USA’s vital interest (to say nothing of other industrialized nations) to ensure there that enough is able to get to market. Iraq’s oil is not necessary, Saudi can make up the production, but what do you think will happen if Saudi, Syria, Kuwait and Iran are drawn into conflict in Iraq to fill the vacuum left by a US withdrawal? If we decide to leave, that eventuality must, at the very least, be mitigated to the fullest extend possible.

  • Somebody

    What do you expect to happen when a bunch of jobless guys with guns don’t have any food or civil services to rely on?

    I expect the people in Iraq to get pissed at the people doing this, hunt them down and kill them. I expect them to do exactly what they are doing right now.

    The USA is not killing MILLIONS. They are killing each other. The USA is building. The insurgents are blowing it up. The lack of service, jobs and the other things are not the responsibility of the USA.

    As you guys use to state you case….its the JOB OF THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT to provide these things.

    After all if they can tell us to leave then they should be able to fix their facilities right?

    Perhaps the mission should change to providing jobs, food, welfare, medical care and let the Iraqis go after the bad guys.

    Perhaps the Iraqi government should spend billions of oil money on a massive works project to put money in the hands of the people.

    Perhaps the government should pass out money like Hezzbollah does and did in S. Lebanon to earn the trust, friendship and respect of the people.

    There are lots of things that can be done or tried. Leaving would certainly accomplish none of that.

  • Davebo,
    Thanks for bringing that up again. It’s important.

    (CNN) — Seventy-one percent of Iraqis responding to a new survey favor a commitment by U.S.-led forces in Iraq to withdraw in a year.

    The majority of respondents to the University of Maryland poll said that “they would like the Iraqi government to ask for U.S.-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq within a year or less,” according to the survey’s summary.

    “Given four options, 37 percent take the position that they would like U.S.-led forces withdrawn ‘within six months,’ while another 34 percent opt for ‘gradually withdraw(ing) U.S.-led forces according to a one-year timeline.’ (Watch why one analyst says U.S. strategy is flawed — 1:45)

    “Twenty percent favor a two-year timeline and just 9 percent favor ‘only reduc(ing) U.S.-led forces as the security situation improves in Iraq.'”

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/09/27/iraq.poll/
    Sept. 2006

  • kimrit

    Excellent point, Chris. Like it or not, we do bear at least some of the responsibility, because Iraq would not be in the middle of a civil war, had we not made the rash and foolish decision to invade and take out their army, police and civil service. Bremer was an ideologue who wanted to show everyone in Baghdad he was George Bush’s man in the field, and he looks as though he never had a moment’s regret over any of those disasterous decisions.

    We could withdraw to the bases and to the Kurdish region to protect the part of the population that has never been mixed up in the civil war. We could continue to attack al queda strongholds in Iraq. We could aid refugee resettlement and continue to help with reconstruction- since no other countries are coming forward to join us.

    The world seems a lot more ready to blame America than to help us with this overwhelming problem. Just saying – you broke it you own it as Powell did and MvdG is saying here doesn’t really solve much either. We have come to Europe’s aid time and again- maybe its time for payback. The rest of the region has a lot to lose if there’s a regional war- I don’t believe for a minute that regional diplomacy has no chance.

  • GMH

    About the topic? Yes, withdraw. duh.

    But non Americans not believing in American Exceptionalism? Or some form of it? Well, maybe they don’t but they’re wrong.

    I’m Canadian. I wouldn’t change to being a US citizen for my life.

    BUT. What the US did for the world with it’s Declaration of Independance, the Constitution, the enshrinement of enlightenment values, the creation of durable (if crumbling – after 200+ years) checks and balances; and the attempt at least (possibly failed) to seperate church from state and to keep god and the divine right of tyrants off the table IS – or at least ought to be – a ‘shining beacon of hope’ and an enduring challenge to the world.

    The world needs it.

    Right now, of course nobody needs that guidance more than the Americans themselves… Breaks my heart a little

    Peace – GMH

  • Entropy: No doubt that there were consequences, but it’s revisionism to say Pol Pot was because we left Vietnam. We started interceding across the border when LBJ was Prez. I.e.- the KR wd likely have done what they did regardless. That does not excuse out own waste of five years and millions of lives.

    As for oil- we are still BY FAR the largest oil consumers around.

    Somebody: First you argue it’s the Iraqis probs to solve, then you argue that ‘There are lots of things that can be done or tried. Leaving would certainly accomplish none of that.’ Which is it?

    Kim: ‘We could withdraw to the bases and to the Kurdish region to protect the part of the population that has never been mixed up in the civil war.’

    Hmm….now who said that earlier in the thread?

  • Davebo

    Excellent point, Chris. Like it or not, we do bear at least some of the responsibility, because Iraq would not be in the middle of a civil war, had we not made the rash and foolish decision to invade and take out their army, police and civil service.

    A valid point. But lets return to the Pottery Barn rule (which by the way doesn’t exist).

    If you break a vase at the Pottery Barn, do they really expect you to sit down with glue and repair it?

    Of course not. And if you manage to break 3 more as your trying to repair the first, it’s a good bet they’ll ask you to leave.

    And if some nag next door starts saying how horrible it is that you left that broken vase, the manager of the Pottery Barn isn’t likely to care.

  • kimrit

    Cosmo- Didn’t mean to steal your thoughts, lol.

    However, I have no doubt that we will get out the same way we got in- America is the proverbial bull in the china shop, and we never just leave quietly with minimal damage done. Its not our style, unfortunately.

  • “It’s none of the world’s business.”

    From now on, I do not ever want to hear Aemrican liberals praise the UN, favor an international approach, etc. You’re a freaking superpower, when you invade a country, you mess with the entire world.

    These comment sections have left me frustrated and even angry. It’s unbelievable. europeans should read these comments…

    I’m happy that conservatives do seem to get it – although for now mostly in e-mails. Lynx, if you’re still reading this: frustrating isn’t it?

  • I DO support diplomatic engagements, but I do ask that foreign diplomats have more to say than just, “you Americans are screwed no matter what, ha ha ha.”

    If they do start contributing more than just automatic condemnations, then I for one would be more than happy to “weigh it”.

  • Michael,

    There is simply no way for us to account for world opinion on this issue when decisions are made. Why? It’s called Catch-22. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what we do because world opinion will be against us no matter what. As you said, fair or not that’s the way it is. That’s the way it’s going to be for the foreseeable future. There is not one thing the United States can do to avoid it. So why shouldn’t we shrug and move on?

  • Uh oh… it’s those d***ed libruls again!

    Michael, let’s put this another way. How should world opinion factor into our decision at this juncture?

    And here is another question for you: Would the opinion of the U.S. around the world fall more if we stayed and it continued to be a disaster, or if we left and it was a disaster?

  • Lynx

    Michael yes, it’s frustrating, but especially because the nature of your suggestion has been almost entirely ignored. The idea that the opinion of the rest of the world should be weighed in the decision making process has been rejected out of hand (we’re gonna be blamed no matter what, so why bother thinking about it) and the decision has gone back to the strategic/humanitarian debate about withdrawal/not withdrawal. No pondering how this will effect diplomatic relations, no attempt to consider how you could get other on board for a strategy.

    Precisely the point was that the world has not stopped watching and that what the US does and does not do MATTERS. One outcome is NOT the same as another, one strategy is NOT the same as another. If the UN is brought in and blue helmets, if the rest of the world had a stake and even felt that they had a say in what happened, then even if it all went to hell it would be the worlds failure, not just the US.

    It is a discussion that I think is worth having, in addition to others on pure military strategy, and it’s sad that there isn’t an interest in it.

  • MVDG, Lynx:

    How many other nations, who don’t have America’s economic heel to their throats, ever say, ‘Geez, I wonder what that dumb ass Bush thinks about what [insert other nation’s foreign policy or legislative body] does?

    That would be zero.

    Yes, I would love to be stuck on an Island with the Swedish Bikini Team, but what Lars Everysdottir thinks of what or country does ranks about 567th on the top 500 things I worry over.

  • domajot

    MVDG,

    Please distinguish between seeking dimplomatic relationships and international cooperation on the one hand, and kowtowing to world opinion on the other,

    The US never stops listening to the world’s many opinions, and it never should.

    However, the US alone bears the responsibility for the consequences of its decisions.
    The US alone has to sift through opinions to see which are useful and which not.

    Telling the US what to do (go left/right,) is not useful in tiself unless along with the opinion come offers of help or useful advice .

    One has to be able to deal with the complexcitiies of international relations. It isn’t as simple as you posit.

  • DLS

    what the US does and does not do MATTERS

    Only insofar as it serves to frame how those in the world’s peanut gallery will criticize the USA next. Currently there is criticism of any show of US force, anywhere, and pathological hatred of Bush (similar to what we see here in the States too often, including here on “TLV”), but even if we were doing totally humanitarian and social work associated with sanctions on a still-in-place Hussein regime, under President Carter’s second, late term, the Usual Suspects would be bashing us (including, regarding Husssein, that we were in bed with a dictator, etc.).

  • jdledell

    Lynx – If immediately after the invasion we had asked the UN and other countries to participate in a peace keeping and reconstruction effort MAYBE things would have turned out differently. It would have been smart if the US had done that but in our arrogance, we wanted to run the whole show.

    At this point when the situation is not only dire but quite possibly irretrievable, inviting the UN and other countries in would be nothing more than a US effort to share the blame for failure.

    I am willing to listen to world opinion. Please someone out in that big world come up with a solution to this Iraq mess. I read about 70 International papers daily and I have yet to see a solution by the pundit class overseas. Do you know of one I’ve missed? So far all I have seen is commentary about the US being hoisted on it’s own petard (deservedly). It is my contention that there is no solution to the Iraq mess and that all the US is doing is postponing the inevitable civil war so Iraq, like the US and other countries, can have the civil war necessary to find it’s natural equalibrium of power, distribution of resources and borders.

  • Please distinguish between seeking dimplomatic relationships and international cooperation on the one hand, and kowtowing to world opinion on the other,

    i never said you should do what europe says. i never, never said that. that’s not mine, nor lynx’s point. the point is only: you have to take it into account if you advocate withdrawal and this is what world opinion will be like.

    the response: we don’t care.

  • ‘you have to take it into account if you advocate withdrawal and this is what world opinion will be like.

    the response: we don’t care.’

    No. That’s what you heard. Any nation will put its own interests firsts. It’s the NIMBY phenomenon on a global scale.

    But, as others have pointed out, other nations will bitch one way or another.

    Account for that.

  • kritter

    DLS- Pathological hatred is hatred that has no logical reason for it but stems out of the individual’s damaged psyche. I don’t think the hatred of Bush is pathological- it has its roots in the destruction of our ideals, our military and our prosperity in 7 short years.

  • Pathology is doing the same things over and over w/o any recognition of the pattern nor the destructive behaviors.

  • domajot

    MVDG said:
    “the response: we don’t care.”

    NO. THE RESPONSE IS : WE KNOW!!! Now, please allow us to struggle with the horrendous decisions to be made.

    Frankly, it’s insulting to imply that the US needs to be instructed in what is obvious.

    How anyone could imagine that we need reminding about this set of dire consequences or the opposite set of dire ceircumstances is beyond my comprehension. Americans came down from the trees some time ago.

  • Rambie

    MvdG,

    From now on, I do not ever want to hear Aemrican liberals praise the UN, favor an international approach, etc. You’re a freaking superpower, when you invade a country, you mess with the entire world.

    Michael, it wasn’t the American Liberals who got us into Iraq. All well and good if the Conservatives are now on board, but it’s been a Conservative Administration & Congress that has mis-managed this war and thumbed it nose to the opinions of the wold that made you angry to start with.

    If you’d notice Michael, I didn’t dismiss what you said, but pointed out the Catch-22. We’ were blamed before we went into Iraq, we’re being blamed now, and we will be if/when we leave.

    I more of less agree with Jason, I’d be happy to hear some actual constructive plans on Iraq.

  • Lynx claims

    Precisely the point was that the world has not stopped watching and that what the US does and does not do MATTERS. One outcome is NOT the same as another, one strategy is NOT the same as another. If the UN is brought in and blue helmets, if the rest of the world had a stake and even felt that they had a say in what happened, then even if it all went to hell it would be the worlds failure, not just the US.

    What I am saying is that the only difference is what criticism of us will happen. There is no “bring in the UN strategy” because that ship has sailed. The U.N. isn’t coming in. Neither is NATO. Not this time. Bush screwed the pooch on that possibility years ago. No other country in the world wants a stake in this catastrophe and I’m not about to blame them. So whatever strategy is followed concerning the presence of the United States military in Iraq will belong to the United States alone because it has already become obvious that the Iraqi government is incapable of getting its act together in any reasonable time frame.

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