Sunday, June 24, 2007

More on the Middle East

This discussion has given me motivation to learn more about the issues. I hope it continues. If you are getting bored with it, I may have to find some die-hard Sean Hannity fan. Ha! You know there is nothing like a dialog to stimulate thinking. Books on foreign policy will put you to sleep, but I find a discussion like this stimulating. I see now why St. Thomas More and Plato liked dialogs. What’s scarry is that, if you watch the Republican debates, the candidates seem to know less about this stuff than we do. And they want to run the country? That’s real scary. Well, back to the discussion:
I recently made an interesting discovery. If you recall, I was talking about how getting ourselves engaged in a war in Iraq weakened us militarily. Here is an example from recent history of what I am talking about. As it turns out, we have done (and are continuing to do and our leaders want to do more) voluntarily to ourselves what the CIA apparently lured The Soviets into doing in the late 70’s.
Former CIA director Robert Gates in a 1996 interview admitted that America began aiding the mujahideen guerillas in Afganistan six months before the Soviet invasion knowing that the American involvement would provoke the Soviets to invade. When asked in 1998 if he regretted doing this, Carter’s former National Security Adviser said “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afgan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving the USSR its Vietnam War.”
We suckered them into a middle east quagmire to speed their demise. The Soviets could beat the mujahedeen on the battle field, but the mujahdeen we trained (and the tactics are now being used on us—talk about blowback, it’s like teaching somebody how to fight and then they kick your butt) fought more like William Wallace (The “highland way” of hit and run) than William of Normandy. Now we are doing the same thing and speeding our demise. Who suckered us?
After the Soviets withdrew and bombed them into the stone age, Osama Bin Ladin didn’t want to be our friend anymore. I guess nobody likes to be a pawn. By the way, in this whole “war on terror” they can’t even find this one guy who is six feet tall and sticks out like a sore thumb. What does that tell you? Either this is a hopeless cause (I mean if they can’t track this guy whose face is known and is easy to spot, how are they going to find people who are terrorists but look like gas station attendants or tourists or exchange students) or they don’t want to catch him because they want to keep up this phony war on terror. “War is peace.”
I have a bit of a problem with the whole “War on Terror”. First of all, the government declares a lot of “wars”. There is the war on terror, on poverty, on drugs (even a “Drug Czar”). It’s ridiculous. Then in actual fact congress refused to declare war on Iraq—so much for the Constitution, and oh by the way, the president takes an oath to defend the Constitution. And speaking of the Constitution, this “War on Terror” is used as an excuse to trample all over the bill of rights. Tell me if either of these trigger any memories of recent events:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury.”
Further, the Botox candidate finds these ideas funny.
Watch this video and tell me honestly the American People are not being manipulated:
Second, and you are not going to like this, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. How do we define a terrorist? Someone who attacks innocent civilians in order to instill fear and get the civilians to conform to their will out of fear? Please recall that we fire bombed the city of Dresden in Germany during World War II. Dresden was filled with hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the cruelty of our allies, the Soviets. Dresden had not one single anti-aircraft gun, and was undefended. Fire bombing is a type of attack where you start a chain reaction, and turn a city into a huge torch. I’m not entirely sure how it works, but it creates temperatures over 1,000 degrees which sucks air through the city (actually picking up crowds of people and hurling them through the streets) and makes it one big inferno. Dresden had no military significance whatsoever. 135,000 people were killed. We did the same thing to Tokyo. We also dropped nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—also non strategic targets. In fact I think it was Nagasaki—but maybe it was Hiroshima—actually had the highest concentration of Christians in Japan and the greatest center of resistance to the Emperor. I need to verify this, but I am told that since the classified documents have been released, we now know that the Emperor of Japan actually surrendered before we dropped the Bombs.
We made numerous other attacks on civilian populations in Japan and Europe. Why did we do this? According to the official Air Force history, “ produce a stupefying effect on morale.” Robert H. McNamara, in a recent interview/documentary that you can rent from the movie store entitled FOG OF WAR: 10 LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF ROBERT H. McNAMARA, describes his memories as an officer in the pacific theatre. At one point his next in command turned to him and said “I sure hope we win this war because if we don’t we are going to tried for war crimes.” McNamara reflected in the interview, “And he was right. We would have been.”
We don’t call these men terrorists do we? We call them “The Greatest Generation” we call them heroes. I’m not trying to cast aspersions on WWII veterans. Many of them were heroes, but we did some bad things.
Third, we need to consider why these people hate us. You have to know your enemy. Before General Patton met the forces of Rommel in the deserts of North Africa, he read Rommel’s memoir from World War I, INFANTRY ATTACKS. Before Clarence Darrow defended Thomas Scopes, he studied William Jennings Bryant, learned his weaknesses, but also learned how he thought. Before any game, Bear Bryant would study the other coach and watch footage of his team in action (Sorry, shameless attempt to win brownie points with my father-in-law). The point is, you have to get inside the “enemy’s” head.
Bill Maher had a good point. He said after 911 we asked, “Why do they hate us? What did we do?” but after about three days we said “Oh, they’re just evil.” They are not evil any more than we were “evil” for bombing civilian targets in WWII. We took a utilitarian view: the end justifies the means. We were not right. It was not right to do what we did, but we did what we thought would bring about the result we wanted. The “terrorists” are doing the same thing. They are wrong to use the tactics they use, but that is what they have, “the weapon of the weak,” terror. “Before you take the speck out of your brother’s eye, take the log out of your own eye so you can see better.”
There is nothing I would like more than to stop them from committing these acts. My point is that bombing countries into the stone age, sanctions, invasions and all of that is not going to stop terrorists: It makes them multiply. Further, there is no way, regardless of how diligent and brave we are, that we can track these people down who are scattered throughout the world.
Further, this “we all need to be united against the terrorist” thing will not work if the plan we are all behind is making things worse. We have to have some self-criticism. This is what I mean by the Bush administration sounding like 1984. “Ignorance is strength” is the Bush Administration’s message. I say we need to learn about these issues. As the saying goes, “look before you leap.”
You asked for support of the facts I listed. There is a lot of support for these facts. Here is a start:
1. BACKGROUND: Michael Ledeen, a former onetime consultant and special adviser for the U.S. State Department and the National Security Council and former adviser to Karl Rove wrote in THE WAR AGAINST THE TERROR MASTERS: “Stability is an unworthy American mission, and a misleading concept to boot. We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we wants things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize [governments in the middle east]” Maybe this explains why we disbanded the Iraqi army and destroyed all infrastructure. Jonah Goldberg adds “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business.”
2. ADGENDA: In ALL ENEMIES: INSIDE AMERICA’S WAR ON TERROR, Richard Clarke, former member of the Senior Executive Service and advisor to Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush Jr. describes a meeting in the White House on September 12th: “I expected to go back to another round of meetings examining what the next attacks could be …Instead I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq [Clarke had told Wolfowitz in April that it was clear that Al Queda was not backed by Iraq: “We’ve investigated that five ways from Friday and nobody believes that (Iraq was backing Al Queda).”]. I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting Al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq.
3. REAL REASON: Colin Powell, also said it was a mistake to be talking about Iraq rather than Al Qaeda. To which, “Rumsfeld complained that there were no decent targets in Afghanistan and that we should consider bombing Iraq, which at first I thought he was joking. But he was serious and the President did not reject out of hand the idea of attacking Iraq.” [Again, this is Richard Clarke].
4. REAL REASON: “Paul Wolfowitz put forth military arguments to justify an attack on Iraq rather than Afghanistan….attacking Afghanistan would be uncertain…[but] Iraq was a brittle oppressive regime that might break easily. It was doable.” Bob Woodward, BUSH AT WAR
5. “THE INTELLECTUALS”: General Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOM commander said “The more I saw the more I thought this [war] was the product of the neocons who didn’t understand the region and were going to create havoc there. These were dilettantes from Washington think tanks who never had an idea that worked on the ground.”
6. “THE INTELLECTUALS”: Chalmers Johnson, President of the Japan Policy Research Institute, refers to the neo conservatives as the “chicken hawk’ war lovers (that is the soi-disant [self-styled] military strategists with no experience of either the armed forces or war) who seized on the national sense of bewilderment after 911 to push the Bush Administration into conflicts that were neither relevant to nor successful in destroying al-Queda.”
To be continued…..
I would like to know how much [of Muslim’s increasingly siding with radical Islam] is due to us confronting problems with their culture. For example, when the U.S. govt tried to address problems with Social Security and Immigration everyone was highly upset. Could this be the same as what is going on over there? I'm not sure but it is something to think about. Change angers many people.
Well, like I said, these people are not ready for democracy. You can’t impose a form of government on people. That’s what the French did under Napoleon et al. and it didn’t work. That’s what the Soviets did, and it didn’t work. Our crusade to spread democracy will end up just like all the other movements to spread a form of government, we and our ideas will be on the ash heap of history. Personally, I like the American way, but to continue it requires that we mind our own business and not try to force the American way on everybody else. When Reagan used Jonathan Winthrop’s “City on a Hill” reference to America, he was talking about attracting people to the American way, not impose it on them at the point of a Howitzer. I forget which American President it was that took a Soviet Premier on a tour of our weapons systems. He was unimpressed and said “We have these.” Reagan, took Gorbachev to a shopping mall. Gorbachev said “I want this for my people.”
But the bottom line is not whether we have the best plan for these people or if somebody needs to write a different plan. The bottom line is that we are over there and we are not welcome. Put yourself in their position, imagine China or Russia comes over and invades us and topples our government, or not even us, maybe Canada or a South American country. We would be angry, and not because they didn’t use supply side economics. We’d be mad because they are on our turf.
In actual fact, withdrawing from Iraq might (if it is not already too late) help the war on terror in yet another sense (besides getting out of these people’s country). Other countries were behind our “war on terror” until be invaded Iraq. They helped us in our invasion of Afghanistan, and from what I understand no one but the Taliban had a problem with that invasion. But when we went into Iraq, everybody turned on us. Afghanistan had something to do with 911. Iraq did not. The world saw we were up to something else.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Ayatollah and "nice guys" - reminds me of a quip I once heard that has saved me once or twice, to wit: "Just because two dogs are fighting, that doesn't make one dog the good dog and the other the bad dog."

The question Ron Paul asks is "Is the dogfight a threat to the US." If not, stay out or risk getting bit in the hiney. More than once.

Regarding the US' readiness for freedom - I'd argue that we were no more ready for it than the Iraqis but we have chosen a slower means of self-destruction. And I think, also, that we're using "freedom" equivocally; arguably, we have less freedom under our present highly developed bureaucracy than many enjoy and have historically enjoyed under despots with less bureacracy. But I suppose these are off topic comments so ....
"Israel gets away with murder (literally) with impunity because Israel is our ally."

And Israel is our ally largely because of Protestant eschatology; the so-called Christian right lobbies on behalf of Israel with more ferver than the Zionists themselves.

Be that as it may, Paul contends - and I don't know if he's right or wrong, obviousl - that Israel is more than capable of defending herself.

"What is his suggestion for obtaining natural resources for energy?"

Nuclear energy is one, yes. He's even won over some self-styled "anti nuke tree hugging hippies" on nuclear energy. He's also in favor of organic fuel sources as long as they don't require government subsidies to prop them up; for instance, he's against fuel made from corn because it requires more energy to produce the fuel than we get out of the fuel once produced (at least under the current technology) and only government subsidies are propping up this particular alternative.

On the other hand, fuel made from sugar is economical - he's in favor of that. Which should be of great interest to us here in Louisiana; the whole nation would be better off consuming less Louisiana sugar in our diets and more in our gas tanks. And, as you know, Louisiana is already beginning to use sugar to generate electricity. For once, we're ahead of the pack, Dahlin'.
> will leave China as the only world power. Anybody who gets irritated when they see Spanish
> written
> on their cereal box needs to brace himself for a person speaking Chineses who drowns your second
> born child in the nearest ditch while you watch.

Until Ron Paul had the guts to say it publicly, I had NO idea that CHINA is the nation from whom we are borrowing the multiple trillions of dollars that it takes to finance the Iraq "war" (if I can dignify it with the term). THAT should chill every last one of us; the issue of whether or not we SHOULD be the world's policeman is moot; we can't AFFORD to be the world's policeman without selling our children (the ones the Chinese don't drown" into slavery. If I were out to destroy America, I couldn't come up with a better plan to do it.

It won't come down to America and China being the major world powers; China is going to win unless we wise up *yesterday.* Do you think they'll lend us money to fight a defensive war against *them*?

I have not been on the mailing list for a while so this link may have been passed around already; the former head analyst at the CIA’s bin Laden unit -- who, by the way, is very pro-life despite being a Clinton appointee -- backs Paul's foreign policy stance. Listen to the MP3 at former head analyst at



Anonymous said...

The truncated URL in the above post will show up in its entirety if you highlight it. Dang these little comment boxes .

Civis said...

Thanks for weighing in, Linda. I'm not sure if Ron Paul is right about being able to defend itself. Isreal has one of the best armies in the world as far as training and such--aside: in war games where retired American Generals and Admirals played the role and used the tactics of "nd unidentified middle eastern country" that turned out to be Isreal, the Amercians took a spanking; the consensus afterwards was that Isreal would probably kick our butt in an initial battle, but would obviously lose a war aginst us--but Isreal does not have the population and sizable army it would take to defend itself agains everybody they have hacked off--well, then again they might just nuke everybody.

Anyway, your comment, and Ron Paul's remined me of another support for my point that middle eastern countries hate us because Isreal is free to play Rambo knowing that thier body guard is right behind them.

In 1981 Isreal bombed Iraq on the pretext that Saddam was about to have nuclear weapons. Reagan was hacked off and felt that even if Isreal was right, the U.S. and the French could have prevented this THROUGH PEACEFUL NEGOTIATIONS. Reagan wrote in his diary (I'm quoting to the best of my memory), "...but we won't turn on Isreal; that would be an invitation for every other country in the middle east to attack."

confero said...

Ok...Let's say for the sake of argument that President Bush was wrong in invading Iraq. Two questions remain:

ONE- Are we morally obligated to help the Iraqis establish a govenment since WE removed Saddem Hussein?

TWO- If it is morally permissable to leave, how do we do this without:
A) Letting Iran set up a puppet
government, such as Lebannon?
B) Guarantee that other Middle
East countries will not be
destabilized, since Al-Queda
will view this as a victory?
C) How do you contain the Al-
Queda threat, since they are
growing in numbers?

It is my belief that these are the vital questions, which should steer our forgein policy.

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Anonymous said...

To Confero -

Gee, I'd better get a Latin name if I'm going to keep posting here.

I think it's fair to say we have already helped Iraq establish a government to replace Saddam. As Paul says, we are now using our military troops to do policemen's jobs.

To your point A: I dunno - is it that important to the US? Not trying to be cute; I just really don't know - ready to be enlightened, though.

To your point B: If we kowtow to Bin Laden's propaganda, we'll never do anything in our own interest. He probably would claim our withdrawal as a victory but he's also claimed that to be glad we're there because it's easier for him to kill Americans on his turf than over here on our own. So - which statement do we believe? And why should we care what he says? All we have to do is act in our own best interest.

Again, is destablizing other Middle Eastern countries is our problem? If you listen to the antiwar radio interview that I posted above, you'll hear some pretty earthy philosophy on the matter.

To your point C: Containing them is impossible. As someone said earlier, you may meet one at the corner convenience store any day of the week.

I've been spending some time reading Muslim blogs and forums lately (in English, OK, sorry I don't do Arabic). Surprise! the Muslims are not devoid of basic human concerns; they do not get their jollies watching their children join Al Queda. Take away their reason for following Bin Laden and his recruiting officers won't be able to meet their quotas. We are feeding the growth of Al Queda by being in Iraq (and trying to be everywhere else).

This is the whole point of the "History Lesson video" - Reagan got our hostages back almost instantly by the "MYOB" principle.

confero said...


We would love for you to get a Latin Name!!!

Regarding your last post, I would have enjoyed your view points on whether or not it is morally permissable for us to leave.

You posed a question as to why should we care if Iran sets up a puppet government after we leave. My response is that Iran supplies Hezbollah and Fatah, both of which are terrorist organizations. Again, Iran funds and supports terrorism!!!!!

If they put into place their own government in Iraq, they will have even more money to fund terrorist and spread militant Islam into other countries in the middle East.

Why should we care about other countries? 1) Because millions of people will be subjected to Irans radical form of Islam. 2) Because they do not allow for religious freedom. 3) because we have economic investments in the Middle East 4) Because we cannot afford to do what Chamberlain did with Hitler in the 1930s.

Anonymous said...

OK, here's my Latin name: Cerebella. Like it?

Honestly, I can't answer whether it's morally permissible for us to leave but I'll wager a guess that doing so would be addressed by the principle of double effect.

I didn't intentionally ignore that question, by the way - I don't think straight when confined to these dashed comment boxes.

Anyhow, my answer to your objection regarding Iran and support of terrorist organizations is the same response I gave regarding Al Queda - any terrorist organization is going to be able to muster support to attack us if we're over there messing things up; remove us from the scene and mothers and fathers of young Islamic men won't be in the least bit interested in having their kids used for suicide mission.

I agree with you that we should *care* about the fate of peoples who do not have religious freedom but I don't agree that we can secure that religious freedom for them by means of unjust war. Who is now exiting Iraq because of religious persecution? Christians - Christians who were allowed to live there and were protected by the secular regime *we* replaced. Our political structure here in the US is rapidly choking religious freedom *here* in open defiance of the Constitution and everything we hold dear in our American traditions so how is it that we can pretend to protect religious freedom or any other human right abroad?

Yes, we should *care* about these issues and pray for intelligent ways to bring about effective missionary activity to Islamic countries. I happen to believe that the way to do that is through Our Lady of Fatima, not military action. Have you ever read Sheen's "The World's First Love? Do know why that insigifican little town in Portugal was named "Fatima" in the first place?

Check this out from Catholics in the Military, please, please, please.

Other than oil, what vital economic interests do we have in the Middle East? Not that oil isn't important - as Ann Coulter said, oil is what fuels tthe leftist film stars' private jets - but this gets back to our domestic resources that are being untapped due to political pressure from various quarters.

Regarding Hitler and Chamberlain - I don't know that Chamberlain handing Czechoslovakia (if this is what you're referring to) to Hitler is a parallel situation; it may be - I just don't know. But I do know that We Are Making Progress in Iraq because President Bush says we are, never mind the facts.

Seriously, even if all motives in this dogfight were pure and noble, can we afford to continue? We seem to think we are omnipotent but we are not. We can't even secure our own borders so how is it that we think we can secure Iraq halfway round the world?