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« Tony Blair labels Koran ‘progressive,’ ‘a reforming book,’ ‘far ahead of its time’ | Main | ‘The White Man’s Burden’: The Philippines was the early Iraq »

December 28, 2006



-- Gerald Ford: Don’t free people if liberation doesn’t serve U.S. interests

Saddam was “an intelligence asset” of the CIA He got played like a patsy just like Noreiga.

“The fall of the dictatorship has meant an end to the torture and execution of political prisoners, replaced by more spasmodic beatings and killings of innocents by coalition soldiers”
Seumas Milne Thursday June 19, 2003 The Guardian, UK

With a little research we find that the CIA has been sponsoring the likes of Saddam Hussein since 1959. When the US Administration supports dictators_about_the_globe such as this, and then slaughters hundreds of thousands of citizens to “take out” the very scoundrel they helped get in, what does it say about that Administration?

Forty years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency, under President John F. Kennedy, conducted its own regime change in Baghdad, carried out in collaboration with Saddam Hussein.
New evidence just published reveals that the agency not only engineered the putsch but also supplied the list of people to be eliminated once power was secured – a monstrous stratagem that led to the decimation of Iraq’s professional class. The United States also sent arms to the new regime, weapons later used against the same Kurdish insurgents the United States had backed against Kassem and then abandoned. Soon, Western corporations like Mobil, Bechtel and British Petroleum were doing business with Baghdad for American firms, their first major involvement in Iraq.

Frank Warner

The period you describe was the Cold War, in which the biggest, deadliest and most threatening enemy was the Soviet Union.

The Soviets gave Saddam most of his weapons. They also gave Saddam the model for his totalitarian police state.

From 1945 to 1991, the United States had to focus first on opposing the Soviet Union. It was Soviet repression that gave its victims not one breath of freedom, and sometimes not one breath of air.

In general, those nations on the U.S. side of the Cold War enjoyed some freedoms, or at least the hope of freedom. On the other side, the Soviet side, there was only totalitarian cruelty.

In some nations, weak dictatorships were temporarily necessary to counter the permanent repression the Soviets were trying to spread around the globe. But once the Soviet Union disappeared, those U.S.-allied autocracies no longer had the Communist threat to excuse restrictions on freedom, and most of those governments reformed.

As a result, every nation in the Western Hemisphere, except Cuba, has had at least one free election since 1990. (Borat, if the United States loves dictatorships so much, how did all the democracies blossom right under the nose of the world's only superpower?)

It also is time now for all nations in the Muslim Middle East to hold free elections and allow the people all their human rights.

Iraq is first.

Christopher Taylor

Here's the thing, I agree with the basic principle that we are under no compulsion to spend our money and blood to free every single nation that is not free. We have to have a greater compulsion than "gosh, wouldn't it be nice if they weren't suffering" because we don't have money, time, political will, or resources to free the entire world all at once.

Take the Sudan, for example. Terrible situation, awful events. But is it worth our young men's lives and billions of dollars to invade and wipe the slate clean, rebuild and start a new Sudan? Because that's what it would take, nothing less would really fix the problem.

jj mollo

You are right, I suppose, Christopher. But there are things we could do. We could arm these people. We could make the area impassible for horses. We could blow up a few aspirin factories if necessary. Who knows what else we could do if we put our minds to it. We can take some sort of action, and I believe we should. Today we are just a paper tiger.

I just think about Rwanda, where all we really had to do was bomb a few radio stations to make a big difference. Hindsight, I suppose, but we are watching the whole thing happen again in slow motion.

Frank Warner

You can't free the whole world at once. But the free have an obligation to do all they can, short of suicide, to liberate the unfree. That might be one or two or three nations at a time.

Eventually, we'll get there, unless the forces of repression obtain the technology to destroy all of us first. The race is on.

jj mollo

"Eventually" will not do for Darfur.

jj mollo

But then, over the last three or four years, many Americans have had wildly mixed feelings about liberating Iraq. That’s the luxury granted those without responsibility.

Frank, I think this is a profound conclusion. This period in History should be called the Era of the Second-Guesser and the Monday Morning Quarterback.

Frank Warner

That's true about Darfur, JJ. And considering how busy the U.S. is, Europe or Russia or China or Africa itself should take care of it. But we should do what we can, too.

The added problem for us in Darfur is that some Muslims have spun the crisis to argue the U.S. wants to get involved only because we like abusing Muslims. It's not true, but that's the story.

jj mollo

Touché. But I think that is actually the reason that nothing gets done. The coach who goes for it on 4th and short is much more likely to get hung when he fails than he is to be praised when he succeeds. Extreme reluctance to take the necessary measures is a result of this corrosive atmosphere of ubiquitous blame and irrational degrees of mistrust. Ironically, it is the same people who bury the President in negativity who are most likely to support action in Darfur.

Frank Warner

They support action in Darfur until there is action in Darfur. Then their support is sealed away in Bob Woodward's vault.

jj mollo

Yes. They all shout go for it, go for it! But when Coach does go for it, they all say that he was stupid to do so. Coach knows this, so he always sends in the punter.

Lord of Destruction

Over 500,000 children died as a result of the criminal economic sanctions, and the latest findings by the medical journal, Lancet reveals that over 650,000 Iraqis have died since the Iraq invasion of 2003.

jj mollo

I really get tired of reading such nonsense, Mr. Putin. If half a million children died during the sanctions, the person with the moral onus has just been executed. The US would have done what it could to help those children, as we have proved many times, most notably after the recent catastrophic tsunami in Indonesia and the earthquake in Pakistan. Saddam siphoned off the funds and we should have removed him from office decades ago.

Iraqi war casualties are indeed tragic, but mostly self-inflicted. The statistical estimates of Iraqi deaths have been grossly exaggerated for political reasons. The statistical basis of the estimates hides behind thin academic trappings that do not bear close inspection. It has been refuted repeatedly to no avail, most throroughly by myself. If you can understand English, please feel free to clear your meme-clutter by reading my extensive analysis.

Christopher Taylor

What is interesting to me is that in the Sudan the number of dead eclipses Iraq by a full magnitude or more, yet Iraq is still considered a war (its not) and Sudan is not.

The Sudan situation is awful but what's the pull for the US to be involved? The idea of "wouldn't it be great if everyone was free" is not sufficient cause to get involved in every single conflict or situation where things go terribly. When you have limited resources and time, and when you are spending the blood and bodies of our youth, the cause has to be a bit higher, the goals a bit more complex. And as crass as it sounds "how does this benefit America" is a good cutoff point to help make that decision.

This isn't cold self benefit or callous disregard, it's a metric that lets us choose where and how we'll spend our limited time, resources and blood most wisely.

Idealism is wonderful... but only when tempered with wisdom.

Frank Warner

Lord, as many as 1 million Iraqis died of sickness and malnutrition thanks to the sanctions Saddam brought on his nation, and thanks to his siphoning of billions of dollars from the Oil-for-Food program.

The liberation of Iraq stopped those 5,000 to 10,000 deaths a month.

That Lancet number on civilian deaths during the current battle is plain wrong. The true number probably is less than 100,000. Just check with the anti-liberation Iraq Body Count. And by the way, ask who is doing this killing.

Once the war is over, if Iraq is a democracy, Iraq will have its best chance ever for a lasting peace. (If Iran also turns democratic, that whole Middle East would be solidly transformed. But that's going to take some time. And then the focus would be on Saudi Arabia.)

Saddam equalled repression and millions dead. Democracy will bring freedom and peace.

jj mollo

I can't accept that it is wisdom to let ethnic liquidation proceed anywhere, anytime, without making our best effort to interfere.

Christopher Taylor

What you're thinking of is just and ethical, not wise as such. Wisdom is how you approach problems, not why. Can we stop the violence outside of waiting for it to stop? I do not believe so without a full scale invasion and rebulding the country ala Iraq. Is that a wise and reasonable use of our limited resources, time, and blood?

I do not believe so. Evil things happen worldwide every single day. We have a duty and responsibility to stop them as we are able and as we can with what we have available to us. We have no duty nor responsibility to stop every single act of evil because we cannot and it would be foolish to even try.

jj mollo

But this isn't an act of evil. It is hundreds of thousands of such acts, and the slaughter promises to continue unchecked. These vile acts are affronts to justice, completely flouting the moral authority of the civilized world. We are not talking about any kind of balanced ethnic struggle here. It is the coldblooded policy of a secure government. This is worse than Rwanda, which God knows, weighs heavily on our conscience.

The reason that policemen do not kill petty criminals in the street is that there will be negative consequences. The reason mayors do not condone such practices is that there will be negative consequences. The reason that countries do not attack their neighbors is that there will be negative consequences. There is a system throughout civilized society of implied force that reduces the temptation toward violence.

The US is very sensitive to this system and is wisely careful of its actions, weighing its commitments with delicacy. The overwhelming majority of countries respond to this system for external issues, taking very few chances in their dealings with other nations. Internally, however, there is a two-tiered system. Countries of the West are held to a very high standard regarding the treatment of their own citizens. We are castigated if we make the slightest error in our treatment of our most destructive citizens. Even Russia has limitations on the ways that it can enforce the will of central authority. The rest of the world, though, is off the hook. Saddam could torture and kill his people en masse and in detail without the slightest whisper from CNN. The PRC can work its political prisoners to death in labor camps without fear of an unkind word -- as long as they're not infringing on a trademark, anyway.

At some point, I think it is more dangerous to condone such blatant violation of civilized norms. It only encourages others to join in. Think about it. Sudan is not China. What can they do to us? We are cringing before the possibility that we will be condemned for bombing babies in the third world, and we probably will be, but think how many babies we absolutely know are going to be killed or displaced to a starving station.

I see very little potential harm involved in making the enemies of humanity fear our anger. We are allowed to go crazy occasionally and overturn the tables of the moneychangers. We are right to doubt our perceptions, to have qualms about jurisdiction and standing, and to question our own motives, but seriously! We have tried to get others to act. There's no question of the fairness or the justice. We need to wreak vengence for the unspeakable deeds of these evil butchers. And we need at least to try to slow down the killing.

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