Mosul is falling to Iraqi insurgents


#1

...who are linked to Al Qaeda. In pursuit of neocon imperial dreams and Bush's personal vendetta, we have ruined Iraq. I don't know if it will ever recover, and it may permanently splinter along sectarian and ethnic lines.


#2

When was Iraq not ruined? Under Saddam? Splintering along ethnic and sectarian lines is the best thing that could possibly happen to Iraq. Its borders make no sense, and there is little prospect for peace without one side dominant and the others subjugated.


#3

Aren't you a hyper libertarian? Shouldn't you be miffed that the government spent hundreds of billions of your dollars just to speed along the inevitable?


#4

The mortality rate for Iraqi's of all stripes, civilian and military alike, went way up during our invasion and subsequent occupation. Saddam was bad, but the hundreds of thousands who died after his fall were worse than his defanged rule after GWI. The no-fly zone and other restrictions were working. To the average Iraqi, those look like the good old days now.


#5

Or, you know, regional autonomy. Not the central-based government which you tried to set up. The peace was mucked up, big time.

Of course, that's not the same thing as making excuses for Saddam or condemning the war.


#6

The Hashemites promulgated the idea of a unified non-sectarian Iraq. And it worked. If you speak with older Iraqis they will tell you that religious identities mattered little. Tribal? Yes. Religious? Not so much. The Ba'ath inherited that tradition and they did their best to maintain it.

It was the invasion that destroyed that consensus and gave the religious parties an opening. Iraq died, then and there.

When was Iraq not ruined? Under Saddam?

Yes. Despite all his mistakes and all of his excesses, life was qualitatively better under Saddam. His evil was very much the lesser evil.


#7

Saddam was an SOB. But under Saddam, the concept of being an Iraqi made sense. After Saddam, it didn't have any weight. Iraq was artificial to begin with, but an autocratic regime (monarchical or Baathist) imposed a sort of nationalism that found some degree of resonance at least.

One could argue that it wasn't the overthrow of Saddam that killed Iraq, but the destruction of the regime and its infrastructure, like the Army. Had we simply contented ourselves with decapitating Baghdad and replacing the (demonstrably nasty) leadership with somewhat less bloodstained but still more or less legitimate Iraqis, it might have worked. Of course, it is very hard to justify a war based on "we're swapping out some of the dudes at the top but keeping the same basic system," even if that would have been the best realpolitik solution.

As it stands, Iraq is fucked.


#8

Unless you were one of the million people he killed. Then it kind of sucked.
That's the thing folks seem to forget. Hussein led to more direct deaths than folks who have died in the latest war. He caused more deaths than any other single person in the middle east, ever.

If you were a baathist, then sure, things were great... But that was not the life that everyone in Iraq lived.

You can condemn the Iraqi invasion all you want, but you're being a revisionist if you're going to try and pretend that life was good for most Iraqis prior to the invasion. It most certainly was not.


#9

And you're also guilty of revisionism if you think that Iraq after the first Gulf War was worse than Iraq after the second. It most certainly was not. We pulled Saddam's fangs in GW I and the Iraqi people were better off after it than they were before or since. GW II sent those improvements right down the toilet.


#10

I agree with both posts. I think the average quality of life before our invasion in Iraq was clearly superior, not to mention all the people we killed or indirectly contributed to the deaths of up to the present day who would still be alive, not to mention the lasting destruction to the economy and to the fabric of society that looks like it might take generations to resolve.

But on the other hand, yeah, that Iran-Iraq war was about as horrible as it gets.

No one says that the Saddam's regime was good, and he himself was a monster; but the horrible thing about our invasion is it made things worse, even for many Shiites. I suppose the Kurds are still doing all right, but who knows how long that will last.


#11

I think we can all agree that the 500,00+ Iraqis who are no longer here would have preferred Iraq to come apart at the seams in some future, undetermined time.


#12

Saddam was an evil fuck, but he imposed order. Still, lots of people died between him, Iran/Iraq, and a decade of crippling sanctions that basically hurt everyone not in Saddam's inner circle or the Baathist party.

We unleashed pure chaos with our willful ignorance on post-war planning and half-assed attempts to mollify what basically became (and still is) a sectarian conflict.

Basically, the innocents of Iraq have been fucked over by just about everyone.


#13

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED


#14

Er... no.

Tamerlane killed upwards of 17 million. The Mongol invasion was little kinder. Saddam will always be a minor figure in the history of the Middle East. He was a nasty fellow, but he was no Hitler. That bit was always bad propaganda.

If you were a baathist, then sure, things were great... But that was not the life that everyone in Iraq lived.

The Ba'ath government denied citizens political freedom, but it offered physical security and a moderate level of economic surety. Women could walk the street alone at night. Individuals could drink, dress as they saw fit, indulge in western media. They could worship without fear. They could marry as they prefered. There were some very real upsides. It was certainly superior to the awful savagery of the civil war.

And the dead? Those who died in Sadaams wars? They were dead. Unless you can raise the dead, then what's the point? There's a perverse logic there, we came in memory of the dead to kill more Iraqis. We came to shatter more families, to create more orphans, more widows. To tear Iraq apart, one more time. I see little point in that. I saw little point in destroying Iraq to save Iraq.

I still don't.

-

What galls me the most about the invasion is our inability to recognize our responsibility, to recognize what we unleashed. This is our doing. This is what happens when you destroy a state. This is what happens when you destroy the very idea of a nation state. We unleashed chaos, chaos and violence that filtered through the region - killing where it went.

It will resolve eventually, violence has a way of sorting things out. The idea of Iraq is dead though. The only forces with any power are sectarian and exclusive in nature. There will be bloody conflict, there will be partition, and mass migration. Iraq was an idea - and you can kill ideas.


#15

The Kurds should be okay. They have defensible terrain, have spent the past decade basically building their own army, and have every reason to defend their turf to the death. There is nowhere to fall back to for them; Turkey and Iran hate them.

The real problem is basically the rest of Iraq. The government and the army are both weak. Meanwhile, the group seizing control is so hard core than even Al Queda disowned them.


#16

The Shiites have no intention of sharing power with the Sunnis. That is the problem, and it is why the radicals have been able to step back in - even with all they did during the insurgency. Strengthening the army would do little to change that, indeed it would simply worsen the conflict.


#17

To get the oil. And for Bush to redeem the war failures of his father, like Mussolini absolutely had to get Ethiopia because the national shame of 1895 was too much to bear. Bellicose empires behave like that, you know.

What galls me the most about the invasion is our inability to recognize our responsibility, to recognize what we unleashed. This is our doing. This is what happens when you destroy a state. This is what happens when you destroy the very idea of a nation state. We unleashed chaos, chaos and violence that filtered through the region - killing where it went.

[I]"To me, I confess, there has seemed and there still seems a much more significant question to be resolved than whether America will enter the war. It is whether America will enter the world. Since she chased the Barbary pirates off the sea the United States has been virtually a recluse among the nations. She has signed Hague Conventions, but with the distinct and public proviso that their enforcement is no concern of hers. She has attended European Conferences, as at Algeciras, but only on the understanding that they commit her to nothing. She has written in the past fifteen years in numerable despatches on the developments in the Far East, but she has never once seriously contemplated backing up words by action. Outside the radius of the Monroe Doctrine the Americans neither have nor wish to have any foreign policy whatever. Some thought they had developed one when they bounded out of their long innocuous isolation, felled at a stroke an essential member of the European family, freed Cuba, occupied Porto Rico, and strewed the Pacific with stepping stones from Hawaii to Manila. But they were mistaken. The past decade and a half have completely disenchanted Americans with the fruits of Imperialism. Question the average citizen of the United States today, and you will find him either a monument of indifference or an encyclopedia of cloudy misinformation as to all that is happening in America's insular possessions, and as to the international and strategic problems that their retention propounds. The white man's burden, so far as Americans are concerned, has become the white man's boredom; and as the Senate has recently shown, if there were any way of disposing of the Philippines without seeming to lose face too abjectly, both Congress and the majority of the American people would welcome it and follow it with something like enthusiasm. They have failed even to achieve that vague pride of ownership and responsibility which among the masses of the British people does duty for Imperialism; and the glamor of being an Asiatic Power and of ruling over tropical dependencies has utterly faded.

The truth is, I believe, that what dominates the thought and sentiment and policy of the American people is still that quiet home-keeping instinct of theirs. The questions that really affect them are still American questions. For all practical purposes the national self-engrossment is hardly less complete today than it has been any time during the last hundred years. The operative opinion of the Commonwealth still desires to have as few dealings as possible with foreign Powers, still quotes and abides by Washington's warning against permanent and entangling alliances (whilst altogether ignoring his emphatic advocacy of " temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies "), still shrinks from any course that threatens "complications," still clings to the policy of isolation as the one that most adequately squares with the needs of American conditions. That this attitude must in the long run prove untenable; that the United States cannot indefinitely preserve the immunity from the conflicts and problems of Europe and the Far East which has served her well during the century and a quarter of her material upbuilding ; that she is destined to be drawn with a constantly increasing celerity into those clashes of policy and ambition that formerly she could afford to look upon with an almost complete detachment all this, which seems axiomatic to a dispassionate onlooker, is still not only disputed but denied by the great majority of the American people. They hold, I should judge, that America's true destiny and most useful task is to develop on the American continent a distinctive and ideal type of civilization, to eschew war, militarism, and all the burdens and the deceptive glories of the older world, and to inspire mankind by the spectacle of a nation given up solely to the pursuit of liberty and justice and the arts of peace and equal rights for all. That is unquestionably a fine ideal. But it is an ideal that in its implications of aloofness and self-sufficiency is incompatible with the ambition, which none the less Americans avowedly cherish, to play a commanding part in the future ordering of the world ; to end not only this war but all wars, and to start civilization on a new and saner path. What, however, Americans do not yet seem to realize is the conditions on which alone this honorable ambition of theirs can be fulfilled. It cannot be fulfilled unless they for their part get rid of certain inveterate prepossessions, readjust their political focus, and accept responsibilities they have hitherto and deliberately declined to assume. It is difficult, for instance, to conceive any League of Peace, any possible reconstitution of the world on an international basis, from which the necessity of enforcing decisions from time to time by common action shall be excluded; and if the new dispensation is to comprise the United States it can only be on condition that Americans are prepared to co-operate on equal terms with the citizens and Governments of other countries, to shoulder their part of the common liabilities, and to contribute their proportion of naval and military power to the general stock. However slight or however onerous the task of maintaining a lasting peace may afterwards prove, Americans can take no effective hand in it so long as they confine themselves to expressions of good will and pacific protestations and, for the rest, wash their hands of Europe."[/I]

-Sydney Brooks, The North American Review, 1916.

Congratulations America, you've become everything you hated.


#18

Yes, the peace was screwed up. Still doesn't mean the war was wrong.

And do you know what your language reminds of me? What was said about the Irish by imperialist Englishmen. "offered physical security"...as if they needed a dictator, etc.
The Ba'ath government was, of course, only a factor in the first place because of the West...


#19

They sort of go together.


#20

It goes "together" back to Saddam was 22 and trying to assassinate the then-leader of Iraq thanks to the CIA.