Democrats Should Get Serious About Iraq

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Adam's Apple, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Calling All Democrats
    By Thomas Ffriedman, The New York Times
    February 10, 2005

    In the past week I've received several e-mail notes from Democrats about the Iraq elections, or heard comments from various Democratic lawmakers - always along the following lines: "Remember, Vietnam also had an election, and you recall how that ended." Or, "O.K., the election was nice, but none of it was worth $100 billion or 10,000 killed and wounded." Or, "You know, we've actually created more terrorists in Iraq - election or not."

    I think there is much to criticize about how the war in Iraq has been conducted, and the outcome is still uncertain. But those who suggest that the Iraqi election is just beanbag, and that all we are doing is making the war on terrorism worse as a result of Iraq, are speaking nonsense.

    Here's the truth: There is no single action we could undertake anywhere in the world to reduce the threat of terrorism that would have a bigger impact today than a decent outcome in Iraq. It is that important. And precisely because it is so important, it should not be left to Donald Rumsfeld.

    Democrats need to start thinking seriously about Iraq - the way Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton have. If France - the mother of all blue states - can do it, so, too, can the Democrats. Otherwise, they will be absenting themselves from the most important foreign policy issue of our day.

    Here are four things Democrats should be excited about:

    What Iraq is now embarking on is the first attempt - ever - by the citizens of a multiethnic, multireligious Arab state to draw up their own social contract, their own constitution, for how they should share power and resources, protect minority rights and balance mosque and state. I have no idea whether they will succeed. Much will depend on whether the Shiites want to be a wise and inclusive majority and whether the Sunnis want to be a smart and collaborative minority.

    There will be a lot of trial and error in the months ahead. But this is a hugely important horizontal dialogue because if Iraqis can't forge a social contract, it would suggest that no other Arab country can - since virtually all of them are similar mixtures of tribes, ethnicities and religions. That would mean that they can be ruled only by iron-fisted kings or dictators, with all the negatives that flow from that.

    But - but - if Iraqis succeed in forging a social contract in the hardest place of all, it means that democracy is actually possible anywhere in the Arab world.

    Democrats do not favor using military force against Iran's nuclear program or to compel regime change there. That is probably wise. But they don't really have a diplomatic option. I've got one: Iraq. Iraq is our Iran policy.

    If we can help produce a representative government in Iraq - based on free and fair elections and with a Shiite leadership that accepts minority rights and limits on clerical involvement in politics - it will exert great pressure on the ayatollah-dictators running Iran. In Iran's sham "Islamic democracy," only the mullahs decide who can run. Over time, Iranian Shiites will demand to know why they can't have the same freedoms as their Iraqi cousins right next door. That will drive change in Iran. Just be patient.

    The war on terrorism is a war of ideas. The greatest restraint on human behavior is not a police officer or a fence - it's a community and a culture. Palestinian suicide bombing has stopped not because of the Israeli fence or because Palestinians are no longer "desperate." It has stopped because the Palestinians had an election, and a majority voted to get behind a diplomatic approach. They told the violent minority that suicide bombing - for now - is shameful.

    What Arabs and Muslims say about their terrorists is the only thing that will protect us in the long run. It takes a village, and the Iraqi election was the Iraqi village telling the violent minority that what it is doing is shameful. The fascist minority in Iraq is virulent, and some jihadists will stop at nothing. But the way you begin to drain the swamps of terrorism is when you create a democratic context for those with good ideas to denounce those with bad ones.

    Egypt and Syrian-occupied Lebanon both have elections this year. Watch how the progressives and those demanding representative government are empowered in their struggle against the one-man rulers in Egypt and Syria - if the Iraqi experiment succeeds.

    We have paid a huge price in Iraq. I want to get out as soon as we can. But trying to finish the job there, as long as we have real partners, is really important - and any party that says otherwise will become unimportant.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
     
  2. nakedemperor
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    nakedemperor Senior Member

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    I find it very, very hard to believe that the "terrorist hot bed" that was Iraq pre-9/11 was the "highest impact" target for invasion, regime change, and democratization in terms of reducing the threat of terrorism. Can we really swallow that mouthful considering 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia? Or that for years the terror state of North Korea has been an *actual* nuclear threat? And did he in fact forget about Afghanistan, and how a "decent outcome" there changed the government from the al Qaida supporting Taliban regime and halted their active financial, real estate, and logistical support to the worlds largest and most dangerous terror network?

    I mean, how many Iraq-supported terror operations have killed American citizens? Compare that number to Palestinian groups, Saudi groups, Afghani groups, Libyan groups, Yemenese groups, etc. The conclusion the author hurdles to over mountains of intelligence and hindsight is completely unbelievable, considering the postwar assessment of Iraq's weapons (of mass destruction) capabilities and the 9/11 commission's conclusions about Iraq's active (non)involvement in terror plots against the United States' citizens, most notably 9/11.

    These two sentences, while true, are not necessarily supportive of the statement made in the first excerpt I quoted. It is part of the mantra of conservative damage assesment. The reality is that our intelligence and our government failed us, utterly and miserably, in assesing Iraq's capability and desire to attack the United States. Because our government was so wrong re: weapons of mass destruction and al Qaida's relationship with Baghdad, and because we've lost 1,500 troops, spent 100s of billions of dollars, had 10,000+ casualties, I'd say the mission is, and has been a failure (speaking to the idea in the first quotation).

    However, like I've been saying for months, anyone who says that is flatly rebuffed by the notion of the second quotation; that is to say, even if we payed a dear price financially and in soldier and civilian blood, its "really important" to finish the job there. Ok, fine. That I can live with. But when people can't own up to the initial bungling of the war, and consider the entire operation a success by believing that our mission was the grant freedom to Iraqis, its a cop out and a miserable lack of accountability for the government and the key players who made the Iraq war happen. Instead, we *didn't* accept the resignation of Don Rumsfeld, we *promoted* the chief architect of ther raping and pillaging of the Geneva convention, and we *promoted* the chief architect of the case for war to one of the 3 most powerful positions of the government. Not to mention we re-elected the man who (admittedly) made us *marginally* safer, but spent 100s of billions, killed 1,500 Americans, wounded 10,000 more, in doing so.

    Original mission: failed and misguided. Re-asssesed mission (one that would not have justified war on its own): partially succesful, after paying a huge price, with a hopeful outlook for the future. Conclusions: incursion was a mistake.
     
  3. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    NE, we have heard these same arguments hundreds of times. Senator Kerry put forth similar arguments in the election campaign last year, and a majority of voters rejected them, so, please, can we put these time-worn arguments “to bed” and move on?

    Just from my own point of view, I will comment on some of your statements.

    1. 9/11 Hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. True, but it was a Middle Eastern terrorist network that planned and implemented the attack on America, not the country of Saudi Arabia. That’s like blaming America for the bombing of Oklahoma City because Tim McVeigh and some of his cohorts were Americans.

    2. North Korea as an actual nuclear threat. Whatever happened to that highly touted accord that Madeleine Allbright supposedly worked out with North Korea to prevent that from happening? I have not heard the MSM or the liberals viciously and incessantly denounce Secretary Allbright and/or the Clinton Administration for this significant failure in foreign policy. If you want to start the blame game, there is plenty of it to go around.

    3. Iraq-supported terror operations killing American citizens. Are you joshing with me? Wasn’t it recently reported that the majority of the insurgents fighting in Iraq are Baathists and not foreigners, as had been previously thought? Wasn't it Saddam and his Baathist Party who terrorized the lives of the Iraqis every single day?

    And while we are on the subject of killing American citizens, where was the outcry from liberals against the loss of American lives during Clinton’s Administration in the 1990’s (i.e., several Middle Eastern terror attacks; Waco, TX; Ruby Ridge; Oklahoma City, etc.) Do liberals consider American life more precious/valuable under President Bush than it was under President Clinton? Must be the reason they are willing to yell and scream about it now but not then.

    4. Iraq’s WMD and non-involvment in terrorist plots against U.S. citizens. This matter has been argued inside and out on this board and elsewhere, so there is little to be gained by going over the material again. I would say that, from my perspective, a country that plots to assassinate a former president of another country definitely shows hostile and aggressive intentions toward that country. I cannot believe libs write off this brazen act by Saddam as being of no major consequence. How can you possibly say that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was no threat to America?

    5. Failure of U.S. intelligence. Our intelligence sources were wrong about WMD, but then so were the intelligence sources of many other countries. In the aftermath of the war, it has come to light that Saddam was trying to rebuild his weapons capabilities prior to the war--despite the agreements he made at the end the '91 Gulf War-- and that the leadership of many of Europe’s elite were helping him because it benefited their countries economically.

    The sanctions had worked for a few years but were rapidly crumbling, and the U.S. would not have been able to keep them in force much longer. There were more reasons for pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq than just WMD, although that was the paramount concern. Saddam was defiant of the U.N., even going so far as to kick the inspectors out of Iraq. He was not agreeable to letting them back in, even when threatened with the specter of war. Every picture of Saddam showed him with a gun in his hand, cocked and ready to use, with a sword sheathed at this side. It was important to Saddam to give the world a picture of himself as a man to be reckoned with! His attitudes and stances clearly gave one the impression of a belligerent dictator in the mold of Stalin and Hitler, his role models.

    6. Failure of war in Iraq. As of 2/12/05, how can you state that the war in Iraq is a failure? Things are changing rapidly in Iraq, thanks to the deposing of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi people have testified to the world that they want to be free and they want to have a voice in their government. Millions of them risked their lives to go to the polls and vote. Once the Iraqis have tasted being free, there will be no turning back. Freedom has begun its journey in Iraq. Even Tom Friedman, one of your best liberal journalists, sees this as fact, and he is telling the rest of you to see it as fact as well. Read Friedman’s article again. He says the arguments against the war are nonsense in light of what is happening in Iraq today and in other Middle Eastern countries as well.

    Why can’t you be positive and hopeful that current events in Iraq will change the Middle East for the better, reducing the threat of terrorism worldwide and maybe putting the terrorists out of business for good? You should be proud that America has helped establish another foothold for freedom in the Middle East. For the world’s own future safety, the libs should quit hoping for America’s failure in Iraq and start rooting for the victory of freedom.
     
  4. nakedemperor
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    nakedemperor Senior Member

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    "I don’t think that rehashing potential mistakes that people might think have been made in the war on terrorism, specifically in Iraq, are something that should be brought up as a reason to vote against Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State." -Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R) on the senate floor.

    AMEN sister. I completely agree. People should NOT be held responsible for the things they've done ! Are you SERIOUS? THIS is the pervasive sentiment in the conservative community; that mistakes that were made, no matter how bad they were, are "in the past" and why can't we all just move on and its simply bitter and not productive to be accountable NOW when we weren't THEN.

    True, but it was a middle eastern terror network that planned and implemented the attack on America, not the country of Iraq. That's like responding to 9/11 by attack a country that had nothing to do with it.

    You're right, North Korea is all the previous administration's fault. That's a great rebuttal for why the current president hasn't done jack to protect us from the only known *evil*, terrorist harboring country that has nuclear capabilities. And yet Iraq was more important. In WHAT WORLD!?

    Well, let's see, these terror operations you're refering to happened *after* the invasion of Iraq, and are NOT valid in arguing that Iraq was a grave terrorist threat to the U.S. prior to invasion. "After we invaded them they started bombing us! See! We NEEDED to invade them!" Circular logic at its most befuddling.

    Are, are you serious? Did you have your head in the sand when people were expressing regret and concern about these attacks. And you can't very well compare American perception of terrorism prior to 9/11 to the current perception; obviously a lot of people were "woken up" to the threat (AND NOT JUST LIBERALS) who weren't that concerned about it before 9/11.

    So you're saying that every time a nation has the desire to kill our president, and fails, we should invade their country and occupy it for years at a cost of 100s of billions of dollars and 1000s of American lives? No. This war was about protecting the American people, and American people would be a lot lot safer if we'd invaded any number of different countries.

    This I disagree with; the administration was told there wasn't a case for war in Iraq but our intelligence agencies. Then we datamined the material and Rumsfeld created the Office for Special Operations to search through intelligence for a justification, rather than basing a justification on rationale provided by intelligence as it comes in. Remember when Dick Clarke said the president said "Iraq. Saddam. Find a connection." DAYS after 9/11. And people don't think they were looking for a way to invade Iraq. Please.

    Stalin and Hitler. His role models. Great. What about Kim Jong-Il. What about the mullahs. What about almost all of Africa ? The "terrible dictator" rationale is full of beans simply because there are any number of terrible dictators we could have chosen to displace. And THEY didn't have an WMDs either! And "come on! he had a sword! he was obviously gonna attack us!" doesn't constitute a rationale for invasion either. No matter how big the sword was.

    Have we failed in establishing a *budding* democracy in Iraq? Of course not. Did I say that? HECK NO. You're misconstruing my words based on God knows what. I said, plainly and clearly that we failed re: determining if Iraq was a threat, and failed to the tune of 100s of billions of dollars and 1000s of American lives and invaluable world support. Did we fail in our *re-justification*? Apparently not. But do you think its worth it to change all the regimes in the world JUST BECAUSE THE PEOPLE AREN'T FREE? No. Its American money, and they're American soldiers dying. And its NOT why went to Iraq. Hell, the mission is not accomplished just because there was an election. I sure as hell hope we succeed, but we're still going to spend 100s of billions more and probably lose at least another few hundred soldiers. When does it become not worth it? LONG AGO.

    Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. How dare you say that I'm hoping for our failure in establishing a Democracy. I'm rooting for it all-out. But that is NOT incompatible in saying that going in the first place was a mistake for which NO ONE was held accountable. Now that we're there, however, I sure as shit hope for the best for our soldiers and the Iraqi people.
     
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  5. manu1959
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    manu1959 Left Coast Isolationist

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    there was more than one reason that iraq was invaded

    state sponsor of terrorisim (hamas)
    genocide of its' own people (at least twice)
    tourture of its own people
    funding of momars nucular resarch in libia
    violation of treaty agreed to after gulf I
    plotting assasination of a US president
     
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  6. rtwngAvngr
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    The actual sentiment in the conservative community is that the attack was imminently justifiable on many fronts, for many reasons. When people tell you "mistakes were made and we must move forward" they're just trying to placate your misguided liberal rage by throwing you a bone, old dog.
    You're still hung up on the meaningless distinction of nation. The terror network is truly international.
    We had justifiable reasons for doing Iraq, namely the many violated u.n. resolutions, which were agreed to by cease fire agreement. Theoretically, violation of them SHOULD have resulted in the U.N. sanctioning war against Iraq, but they were getting paid off, like your dad.
    That's right, there were no terrorists in iraq before the invasion, unless you count saddam.
    You're misparaphrasing and looking dumb again.
    Liberals are wokened up to terrorism? They seem to care more about terrorist rights.
    Could you provide a link to this spurious fact.
    Saddam was a grave threat on many levels. Your propensity to defend him is both befuddling and disturbing.
    This peacenik irrationality you spout has no place in the post nuclear era.
    When did you put a price tag on morality and freedom? The cost of doing nothing is greater.
    Yeah. right. You want it to fail so bush looks bad, despite your lip service to the contrary.
     
  7. nakedemperor
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    nakedemperor Senior Member

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    You impication, that no mistakes were actually made, is ludicrous and I suggest you remove the political blinders. Mistakes were made. Grave ones. Mistakes that, had they not happened, would not have precipitated a costly, deadly war.

    Agreed. That's why blaming Saddam by association was so ludicrous. "You can't distinguish between Saddam and al Qaeda." Remember that load of crap?

    1. How many countries in this world are in violation of U.N. resolutions that aren't getting invaded by the U.S.? We need to examine why Iraq specifically drew the short straw among offending nations.

    2. Obviously you mentioned my Dad to get under my skin like the annoying, spineless, invective poster that you are. You wanna know why you have so few rep points relative to how many slanderous, baseless posts you have written? Because I'm not the only one who recognizes you for the immature troll that you are. Take a good long look in the mirror are examine how you deal with people.


    Again. Many countries, many dictators, many torture chambers, many starving, opressed peoples. Why Iraq?


    Unreal. I can't even respond to something so inane.

    Sure. Iraqi terror plots against mainland U.S. citizens: 0. Terror networks with working relationships with other countries' government that have attacked mainland U.S and U.S. military installations around the world: many more than Iraq (again, 0). Not to mention *evil* nations with nukes (how is this threat less grave than Iraq?): North Korea

    I'm not defending him. I'm pointing out how relative to many other nations, Saddam was not nearly as grave (WMDs? Al Qaeda working relationship? ZILCH).



    I can't tell you anything more than you're putting words in my mouth and being slanderous and prejudice towards the views of an individual, not someone whose mind YOU already made up for them.
     
  8. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    I suggest you realize that Saddam was a grave threat on many levels. Limiting the discussion to WMD evidence, the absence of which does NOT prove he didn't have them btw, is intellectually dishonest. It was always just a part of the reason. The right actions were taken.
    Saddam had links to many terrorist organizations. I'm tired of posting the proof over and over just so you can ignore it.
    First of all, why? Second of all, it's pretty obvious he was the most flagrant violator. Also, just because we don't go after EVERY violator, doesn't mean we shouldn't have taken out saddam. There simply is not logical connection. It's laying saying "unless cops cath all speeders, they shouldn't write any speeding tickets at all." how intellectually bankrupt of you.
    Yes. Jesus loves you too.
    Why not Iraq?
    You're only half right here. you can't respond, true. But the reason is because you're been utterly truthed out to the core.
    incoherent gibberish:priceless
    Whatever. Your party just has no plan. Anything bush did/does/will do/ will be wrong for you. your a partisan hack first, a freedom loving american second.
    You will believe.
     
  9. tim_duncan2000
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    tim_duncan2000 Active Member

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    So the US should invade Saudi Arabia then? What about North Korea? Would you support an invasion? If not, then what do you support?

    So no one in Iraq had a plot against mainland U.S. citizens? Did you ask all of them or are you psychic?

    There is plenty of evidence that there were terror networks with relationships with other governments that have attacked mainland U.S and U.S. military installations, but you just ignore it.
     
  10. nakedemperor
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    nakedemperor Senior Member

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    No! But you've proven my point, if your tone is in fact sarcastic and indignant; you wouldn't support an invasion of North Korea or Saudi Arabia, would you? That's probably because the propaganda machine hasn't gone to work against either of those places.


    Oh that's interesting. Well, I usually extrapolate "we shouldn't invade" when presented with "no evidence to support plots". As opposed to the implication of your rhetorical device, which is "how can we be sure? did you ask all of them". Shoot first ask questions later may have been appropriate in the Old West, but not in the Middle East.

    Uh? What? Ignore what? The fact that no terror networks that have attacked mainland U.S. and U.S. military installations have working relationships with Iraq, yet we invaded anyway? But OTHER governments have KNOWN relationships to terror networks that have done so? Makes you wonder if invading Iraq was a mistake. Weird.
     

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