Wednesday, September 29, 2004
GOING UPRIVER: The Long War of John Kerry
Something to go and see before the election--especially if you're one of those people who feels like you don't know anything about Kerry or who he is.
Monday, September 27, 2004
"The President of Good and Evil" by philosopher Peter Singer (excerpt: chapter 8: Iraq)
Excerpt: Chapter 8: War: Iraq
His book "The President Of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush"is highly recommended.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Reiteration of comments (debate with Joe Mammy concerning "The Enemy" [i.e., Iraqi citizens] . . .)
So, firstly, the initial entry:
Insurgents = "Terrorists" ; Iraqis now = "The Enemy" . . .
It has come to pass, naturally. Those of us skeptical of the "War on Terror" from the start asked before the Iraq invasion: "If they don't want us there, and fight back to defend their country, as any citizens of any country would do, will you then call them 'terrorists'??" The question was rhetorical, for of course we knew the answer. "Yes sirree." (And, p.s., "Bring Em On.")
Well, surprise, surprise. There are no flowers, candies, and cheers greeting the U.S. military in Iraq. On the contrary.
We all saw it coming. But right now (although "much progress is being made," of course, of course), the worst-case scenario has come to pass. Divergent (and formerly opposing) factions--Sunnis, Shias, foreign Islamists, former Baath Party members, and other Iraqi citizens--have united in the name of Iraqi/Arab nationalism to oppose a common enemy: US.
Everyone here seems more concerned with the 500 or so U.S. troops that have died in this war than with the 10,000 or so Iraqis that have died (ignoring the wounded, for the moment). I suppose this is understandable, on a certain level; but it also makes me ashamed to be a human being. We hear reports of 100 or so Iraqis being killed in an unprovoked military takeover of, say, Fallujah, and we maybe sigh a bit ("Sure is a lot of fighting still going on"); but we hear about 1 or 2 American soldiers being killed, and we're in tears, dreading what may come of this war . . .
It seems as though no one in Iraq is considered a "civilian" anymore, unless they fully support the U.S. occupation and even fully cooperate with the U.S. in fighting "the enemy" (i.e., other Iraqis defending their own country). So if you're a traitor, you're on the Good side; but if you're a "Patriot," then you're "Evil" and "The Enemy" and a "Terrorist."
The logic seems to be that once you pick up a gun, you're a "combatant." Fine. But if we accept this, then we need to stop mourning the deaths of our soldiers; and we also need to stop referring to the "private security" paramilitary/mercenary forces the U.S. government has hired to supplement the military troops as "civilians." And we need to stop referring to their deaths as "murders." It's all fine and good to decry the way those "civilians" (that is, mercenaries and former Special Forces operatives now acting beyond the control of any authority including the U.S. military) were killed and then burned and then dragged around and hung from a bridge. An atrocity, I agree. But where are the pictures of the children burned alive by napalm? Where are the pictures of the children literally torn to shreds by cluster bombs? And where is the outrage at those "atrocities"? (Never mind the fact that the number of Iraqis killed in this way is perhaps hundreds of times the number of U.S. soldiers killed. And never mind the fact that, in their eyes, such killings are simple justice--revenge for the savage, deadly, and unprovoked destruction of their country--no different from our response to 9-11 in bombing Afghanistan.)
I was astonished and appalled recently when I heard people (senators and military leaders) talking about how disappointed they were in the Iraqi police/security forces that the U.S. military has trained. Because these Iraqis refuse to participate in attacks on their own people, or--worse yet--defect to the "other side" (that is, their side), they are seen as "incompetent" and "a great disappointment."
Well, who's the "incompetent" and "disappointing" party here? I submit that it's the U.S. And the only thing surprising about this situation is that they were able to recruit Iraqis to kill other Iraqis in the first place. I suppose when you've been on the brink of starvation for 15 years of the most brutal sanctions in history, you'll do almost anything for some money. But if the roles were reversed (that is, Iraq had invaded the U.S. and then U.S. citizens were expected to shoot other U.S. citizens in the name of "security"), surely these defectors would be hailed as "true patriots" and those cooperating with the invading Iraqis condemned as "traitors."
And now, the comments:
Whee! Let the sparring begin theme to Rocky begins blaring Now, as you know, we have extensively different views on this whole Iraq thing, but I'll point out a couple things that I find troubling about this particular entry:
1) Because there's resistance to our current presence should we somehow abscond? What exactly is accomplished by allowing the extremist nationalistic factions have their say exclusively at the expense of the rest of the population? Perhaps the Cold War approach of willful ignorance of atrocities being carried out by foreign powers is easier to digest than the active route we've taken in Iraq, but can someone look me in the eye and tell me that leaving someone in power who has modelled their regime after Stalin (100million dead—still the record) is some how more humane than forcing a regime change? Like it or not a strong presence of order is necessary to get all the parties to the table and get them interacting like a semi-normal government. Power vacuums don't help the process.
2) "an unprovoked military takeover of, say, Fallujah" Unprovoked? How exactly is that possible? Were the populace happily tending their gardens and kicking back talking about the game the previous evening when we started bombing them? I doubt it. Enclaves of partisans are probably the single greatest threat to stablization of an Iraqi government, so are we supposed to take the route presented in the point above and just hope everyone will play nice? Perhaps a more fitting analogy is to point to history and remind everyone that there were TWO Russian Revolutions. The first was a coalition government which represented the Russian people in a broad way. The second was Lenin's little spoiler party when he managed to divide and conquer the other parties and start the bloodiest and most destructive government in human history. So should we just get a government in place and then let them kill each other at random? If so, then I don't want to hear any griping about the inherent injustice of embargos and the like because it negatively affects the people we apparently no longer need to give a crap about.
3) A number concerns about the "combatant" status paragraph: if you pick up a weapon to oppose an army, I think that's a pretty standard definition of a "combatant"—it's like sports—if you don't want to play, stay off the field. As for not referring to the police forces murders as murders, as someone involved in law enforcement (peripherally as it may be) I find it unsettling that if, for example, a policeman is killed in the line of duty it's only murder if the attacker recognizes the authority of the government the individual represents. As for the cluster bomb comment, I haven't seen anything that any munitions of this nature were ever intentionally used on a non-military target. Accidents happen. They're unfortunate, horrible even, but "atrocity" implies a degree of premeditation and sadism that I'm afraid can't be proven—especially with what's provided here.
Lastly, this sentence: "And never mind the fact that, in their eyes, such killings are simple justice…" strikes me as, well, unfortunate. You can complain about the American "cowboy" attitude, but if it's all "simple justice" for "unprovoked destruction" then why was Saddam Hussein in power? Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed under his regime and huge amounts of money for improvements, food, health care, etc, were diverted by him to fund his own private palaces, recreation for him and his family and Lord knows what else. It doesn't follow that suddenly the Iraqi people are filled with moral outrage by our presence but had nothing but joy and contentment for their murderous dictator. Perhaps we don't just kill everyone who opposes us, their families, their neighbors and anyone we consider to be marginally involved. I guess that makes us bad people.
4) About the Iraqi police: Well, I guess I agree that they're incompentent and disappointing for fleeing from their duty. Funny thing about being a policeman—you have to enforce law and order, even if it's not very popular. If you've got a violent mob, even if you really don't feel like it, you've got to disperse it to protect the community at large—the people who can't protect themselves against an angry bunch of rioters. You think the US Military can't protect themselves against a mob? Rest assured if we were into the mass-murder thing, it wouldn't be that hard. But again, as much as some are loathe to admit it, we don't start shooting into crowds for the hell of it. So, if the Iraqi police are supposed to be taken as legitimate sources of order and protection, turning and running really doesn't do anyone any favors, does it? Who did they think they'd be policing, the US Army? They don't have to like the US military presence, but if they're serious about their jobs, they'll care enough about their fellow countrymen to protect and serve whether it's hard or easy instead of heading for the hills the first time they're confronted with an individual or group who doesn't seem to like them very much.
Anyway, this was fun, hope to keep the debate going. And hopefully your comments thing works so I didn't just spend an hour of my life in vain.
First note, "Joe" (if indeed that is your real name . . .) :)
It was obvious which post you were replying to; however, I think you clicked on the "Comment" link above, rather than below, that entry; so your comments actually appear beneath some banal remarks of mine about CGI scripts.
Second note, I'm very pleased that you did respond. This is exactly why this blog exists, in my mind. And I hope this continues.
Moving on . . .
The first couple paragraphs of your comments made little sense to me. First of all, Saddam is gone. He no longer has much to do with anything. Now, regardless of what you might think of the justification for the war, the fact that the Shiias (perhaps the most persecuted people in Iraq, next to the Kurds—thus, Bush's/Rumsfeld's/Cheney's false belief that they would immediately welcome us with flowers and cheers, join our side and rise up in revolt to overthrow the government) equate Bush with Saddam ought to give us great pause.
Though it wasn't reported much, Ali Sistani—before the invasion—called on all Muslims to stand up and defend Iraq against the Infidel invaders. So it was known well in advance (or should have been) that they would most certainly not welcome us with open arms. After Saddam was [for all intents and purposes] overthrown, the chant in the streets was "No no Saddam, No no America."
So the entire "liberation" bit—even if we accept it at face value as the true motive for the invasion, which is nearly impossible to believe if you [as I know you do] have any knowledge of history—amounted to "liberating" people against their will.
I think the current state of affairs shows quite clearly that the war was a dire mistake. This talk of "civil war" and "should we just get a government in place and then let them kill each other at random" ignores the most important fact of the situation: which is that, right or wrong, they see us as the enemy, and all these groups, despite all their many differences, are willing to band together in unity against a common enemy (us). The most disturbing irony of the whole situation is that, while Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were bitter enemies before the war, right now it is entirely likely that any and all Arabs will put aside their differences and unite together. So, in essence, while there was no link between Bin Laden and Iraq before, the invasion of Iraq may well have created one—indeed, created all sorts of links, and opened up "recruiting offices" for Al Qaeda throughout the region.
Now. The distinction between "casualty" or "colateral damage"—or even just "killing"—and "murder" . . .
My point was simply that just because those people happened to have been "private security forces" rather than "active military forces" does not make them "civilians" nor does it make them "innocent" (necessary corollary to considering their deaths "murders"). These private "contractors"—whether you want to call them "paramilitary," "mercenaries," "private security forces," or whatever—were hired by the Pentagon essentially to replace soldiers. Most of them are former military/CIA/intelligence/Special Forces members, with military training, now acting beyond the bounds of even military command or any other authority. My point was simply that if these deaths are to be considered "murders," then surely the deaths of every single Iraqi killed in this war must also be considered "murders" at the hands of the U.S./U.K. forces. Also, most of these "insurgents" (I'm guessing here, mostly, but use common logic) were not "terrorists" before the invasion; they were ordinary citizens—most of them bitterly opposed to the rule of Saddam. The fact that they are now taking up arms to oppose the invasion/occupation of a foriegn power who they perceive to be belligerent, self-serving, colonial, imperial, etc. . . . does not make them "terrorists" or even necessarily "militants." As I said, they are simply doing what any citizens of ANY country would do under similar circumstances.
There is a very simple (though seldom applied) way to test this theory: turn the tables. Reverse the roles. Try to look at things from their point of view. Imagine that Iraq had invaded America. On very shaky pretenses (which turned out to be completely false). It started with the bombing of New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Miami, etc. etc. etc. Most Americans are now without adequate food and water—never mind electricity. FOX News has been bombed—many of their top journalists killed. All TV and radio news has been replaced by Iraqi broadcasts in crude English accents, telling you to submit, give up, turn yourself over, defect, you have no hope of winning . . . Churches have been destroyed, so many Americans hide in those remaining churches in hopes that they might be the least likely targets of future bombing raids. For the past month, you have been unsure whether or not you or your family will live through the night. None of this has anything to do with you—you didn't even vote for the person ruling your country; in fact, you despise him. Why is this happening? What can we do? . . . . .
This is where the media comes in. I think it's clear that our incredible disillusionment now with the war is largely due to extremely poor reporting—before, during, and after the invasion. We were sheltered and insulated from the realities of the war; we did not see the 10,000 Iraqi casualties—unless we happened to log on to the Internet and turn to Al Jazeera, before it was bombed. We did not see the 100 wounded an hour being hauled into ill-equipped hospitals—many missing limbs and bleeding to death. We did not see those burned alive with napalm. And so now we are surprised that they don't see us as "liberators." "We're just trying to help them, why can't they see that?" we decry.
Let's look back at 9-11. Factor in the quantity of bombs, the duration, the number of people killed, the obvious DETERMINATION to invade Iraq REGARDLESS of whether or not "WMD'S" were found and REGARDLESS of whether or not Saddam remained in power and the absolute contempt for any sort of diplomatic or peaceful solution . . .
Iraq suffered 100 9-11's.
Now, how did WE respond to ONE such attack?
The Iraqi people—even thought they might despise President Bush—woops, I mean Hussein—are responding in EXACTLY the same way that WE did after September 11th, 2001.
Final paragraph (#4): again, keeping with the analogy (Iraq having invaded the United States on false pretenses—or even on LEGITIMATE pretenses, for, after all, we do indeed have more Weapons Of Mass Destruction than any country in the history of the World)—would American citizens be seen as "incompetent" and "a disappointment" for not turning on their own fellow-citizens and shooting them dead in order to "preserve security" after a foreign power—who understands very little about our culture, our history, our language, our ideals—had invaded us with a massive bombing campaign—destroying most of our crucial infrastructure without repairing it for more than a year while carrying out intrusive invasions of our homes, assuming we were guilty until proven innocent, searching our persons for weapons, arresting thousands of us as "POW's" or "Enemy Combatants," placing hoods over our heads and carrying us off to a military prison camp where we may never again see a lawyer, let alone our friends and family, and may be held indefinitely without charges and without legal recourse . . . All because A FOREIGN COUNTRY INVADED OURS??? FOR REASONS THAT SEEM, PRIMA FACIE, TO BE SELF-SERVING AND IMPERIALISTIC?????
I submit that those American citizens who DID NOT take up arms agains the foreign invading power would be condemned by most as TRAITORS and HUNG FOR TREASON. Americans cooperating with the Iraqis in order to "maintain security" (in a region, incidentally, where everything was perfectly secure [e.g. Fallujah]) and shooting other Americans would be considered "collaborators" with the "foreign enemy" and would be hung if caught. They would be considered legitimate targets by those "patriots" who stood fast against the foreign invader and fought to the death for their country. And these "patriots" would consider it dignified to die fighting to protect America from a takeover by a foreign imperialistic power. . . . .
Am I wrong? Am I missing something here?
I mean, "Protect and Serve" WHOM?????
First off, there should be a spacer thingie cuz the "Comments" is closest to the wrong entry. Or maybe I'm just trying not to look dumb, whichever. Just a minor design suggestion.
And maybe Joe isn't my real name. I know my rights, I don't have to tell you anything. Commie. :)
There are a couple issues that are being addressed (differently by us both) that need to be commented on directly. And, in my eternally good-natured sort of way (for I am eternally good-natured, oh yes…) I'll offer a tidbit about why the war wasn't a good idea.
Now, as far as Saddam now being irrellevant—that's bunk. That's the equivalent of, for instance, saying Bill Clinton was irrellevant (I'm not checking my spelling anymore, so, um, deal…) to 9/11. It may work in a very immediate kind of way, but any kind of serious investigation will reveal that just because someone isn't behind the big desk anymore doesn't mean their influence is gone. More to the point, Hussein isn't the sole antagonist in this situation—rather it's a long-standing cultural tendency towards despotic and violent society that Iraq has (I don't know how many times tonight I've typed "Iraw" but I digress…) The US has been fortunate regarding the transition of power throughout our history and I think it's taken for granted by parties on both ends of the political spectrum that it's a natural way for a government to carry on. So, to say that the way Hussein ruled/killed his people doesn't matter because he's not around anymore is counter-intuitive—especially in a power vacuum with no clearly established leadership. The US Military does not qualify as established leadership for a number of reasons many of which center around the fact that I don't think we're really trying to portray our presence as anything other than temporary (which is probably more windowdressing for the American public than any particular military strategy.) And moreover, we're not exactly locals. I don't think anyone expected that we'd be accepted as legimate rulers of the country on our own merits, hence the immediate talk of provisional Iraqi-led governments and sovereignty dates.
Now, as for liberating a people against their will, I both agree and disagree. I agree in so much that the disparate parties and groups now saw their opportunity to become top dog, start death squads of their very own and gas minorities they didn't like, or some lesser variants on a similar idea. Essentially this is my objection to Marxism and Culturally blind Democracy—human nature (yes, your favorite subject, I know) in these cases does not necessarily gravitate towards to good of the many and the protection of the few. I think for a good portion of the population it means that you've got the big guys foot of your neck so you're free to put yours on someone else's. Strength is established through brutality not negotiation and influence. This of course is a grand over-simplification and offensive if taken as a complete political philosophy, however this element is clearly in play and is weilding its ugly head in various ways through the region.
George Will had a good essay in Newsweek a week or two ago about the parallels between interim Russian government in 1917 and the Iraqi attempt at democracy. Will points out, via anecdotes of an old poli-sci prof that, in fact, to assume Democracy is a natural state is careless and short-sighted. The basic drive was that, in fact, for some cultures Democracy is simply the chaos that allows the bigger atrocity in the end. While far from authoritative, this worldview is one that the US should at least start considering more significantly—especially in a post-Cold War world.
Now that I've deflated my own case a bit, I'll build it some more. Are we the "common enemy" in reality or perception? Part of your case hinges on the fact both reality and perception are the same, or at least are rooted in the same ideals, which I would say is not the case. Hussein is gone—that theoretically hundreds of thousands more Iraqis will actually be alive in 5 years than would have if we hadn't intervened. The country's infrastructure was on the verge of collapse, but thanks to the war is now being rebuilt and modernized (if terrorists can stop blowing it up long enough to actually let their own people enjoy it) They are getting a shot with self rule (what they do with it, well, that remains to be seen) and now, thanks to a sanction-less setup they have bigger international markets available to them then they did before the war. So, basically economically, socially and individually the Iraqis are better off than they were 24 months ago. That's the reality of the situation. The perception is of the western infidel etc etc. Like I said before, if we really wanted to run the country, mass murder, assasinations, death squads, etc are technologically well within our capabilities—but in spite of being sniped at by terrorists and bombed by "freedom fighers" we still don't go around killing anyone who gets in our way. Again, the reality is different than the perception and you must differentiate between the two.
This also touches on your "turn the tables" argument. It's valid if, by turning the tables I also become, well, dumb. If my family was being executed for whispering the ol George W wasn't a very nice guy and I was imprisoned and tortured because my great-aunt's third cousin's niece's boyfriend was an anti-W militant and my neighborhood was gassed because they were all of Irish descent and I was freed from all that by a foreign government coming in and I decided to shoot at the opposing soldiers because, in the process, they managed to destroy the cable company so I couldn't watch reruns of "Hill Street Blues" anymore, than, like it or not, I'm an idiot and don't deserve to have my view considered very long by any kind of sane individual.
Moreover, if, when given the opportunity to try to settle things down in that situation I ran across, let's say, a group of looters, but refused to stop them because they were "my people" then I blamed the military force for the looting even though it was my duty to prevent it, it just makes me a hypocrite, doesn't it? It's not about agreeing with the US military, it's about maintaining order for the benefit of your own people. In other words, if you really cared, you'd keep them from stealing from and killing each other, wouldn't you?
Now, to jump back a bit, as for Americans hiding out in churches or, I assume mosques, the problem hasn't been us stampeding through cultural areas. If anything we've been a little too culturally sensitive. Am I the only one who remembers 6-8months ago when terrorist cells and extremist groups were operating out of mosques for the sole reason that the Americans weren't going in there for fear offending the locals? Do we understand all the intricacies of Iraqi culture? Heck no. But our "sensitivity" is often turned into a liability by these individuals and groups willing to exploit their own beliefs (or more to the point, desecrate the beliefs of those around them in the name of their own ideology) because the US Military is playing nice?
Now, I have another problem with a lot of your reports. Napalm was used (what you think of it being used of course is a topic for another time) on military targets. If the Iraqis were unable to care for their own military casualties it's unfortunate, but seeing as it was a war, it hardly seems appropriate to be bandying it about as if we were dropping it on daycares or nursing homes. And to say we didn't care about WMD's or whether Hussein was in power is completely false. Am I the only one who remembers the final US offer to halt an invasion—that Hussein go into exile? If he's gone, there's no war. As for WMD's, regardless of whether they were there or not it's become increasingly obvious over the course of the last year that there were reliable intelligence reports from a variety of sources and governments that said they were there. So, worst case scenario, we take a Mulligan, oh well. I guess I'm not all that worked up about it either way.
As for Fallujah, I'd hardly have called it (ever) "perfectly secure" but the fact a cease-fire—however tenuous—had been established actually lends more creedance to the fact that things are getting better. If your assumptions are correct there wouldn't be a ceasefire but a "to the death" attitude that superceeded the expectation of victory.
Here's an interesting article from CNN—hardly a bastion of "conservative" idealouges- http://www.cnn.co…
Basically the Iraqis thought things were worse after the Americans arrived but a significant majority stated that getting rid of Hussein was woth any interim hardships they had to bear. Not exactly greeting us with flowers, but also indicative that, in fact, there is no decisive sentiment of the Iraqis themselves that we are "the enemy." So, as we were forced to examine after 9/11, I suspect we're again responding to a rather significant minority that is being characterized as a majority. So the question again becomes "what exactly is the truth, and who's going to tell it?"
I'd give only one bit of advice in answering the question—whoever claims to know it, doesn't; whoever says they can find it out, can't; and whoever states that they know what is best for everyone in the situation, is lying. Trust no politician, trust no pundit and God knows, don't trust any social activists. It's like asking a car salesman if you should buy a new car…
Working backwards a bit . . . I admit that poll was surprising. We are indeed in a huge "Catch-22" situation now; most people want us to leave, but they also recognize that if we just pull out now there will likely be just as much (if not more) chaos.
Your comments regarding Napalm and cluster bombs and "military targets" display either ignorance, dishonesy, or at best a striking hypocrisy/double-standard. First of all, many innocent civilians were indeed killed (whether intentionally or not) by Napalm and cluster bombs, not to mention the standard "smart" bombs. (To quote Howard Zinn: "Smart bombs are dropped by dumb people.") But even if all casualties had been "combatants" or members of the Iraqi military, this would not justify the use of such weapons—which by their nature inflict torture indiscriminantly, and which are illegal—just as illegal as the "WMD's" that Saddam allegedly possessed. Furthermore (back to my point regarding "civilians" vs. "soldiers"), WE'RE THE INVADERS here. Somehow I don't think you'd feel the same way if Iraqi planes were dropping Napalm and cluster bombs on the U.S. Army and Marines in New York City—or, hell, even in Iraq—whether or not they are "civilians." And while we're both in agreement (I presume) that the number of Iraqis killed by other Iraqis in this war is horrendous, it doesn't follow that Iraqis just like to kill one another. (You've accused Michael Moore, and implicitly me as well, of being "racist" in this context; hmmm . . .; to quote you, "Pot. This is kettle. You're black." . . . "More to the point, Hussein isn't the sole antagonist in this situation—rather it's a long-standing cultural tendency towards despotic and violent society that Iraq has" . . .) I don't know the exact intent of each road-side bomb or RPG attack; perhaps in some cases they did indeed intend to kill some of their own people, who they considered "collaborators." But more importantly, these attacks simple illustrate the horrific nature of war, and the inevitability of innocent deaths. When you drop a bomb, I don't really give a fuck who you intend to kill with that bomb if in the process you know in advance that many other innocent people will also be killed—assuming, of lcourse, that you hit your target in the first place. Furthermore, this comes back to the hypocrisy we always show with regard to weapons and "collateral damage"; if the Iraqis actually had sophisticated satellite-guided missiles, I'm sure they would use them rather than planting a home-made bomb in an old Toyota, and there would probably then be far fewer Iraqis killed by other Iraqis, but A LOT more American soldiers killed. It's quite similar to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: we're horrified (rightly) when Hamas militants carry out suicide attacks, yet when Israel commits "targeted assasinations" using [U.S.-supplied] helicopter gunships, we seem to think it's O.K. somehow. Why? Because they have sophisticated military technology? If the Palestinians had jet bombers and helicopter gunships, would their actions then be acceptable to us?
Again (I know I've said this a lot, but . . .), even if Saddam had possessed the WMDs, the whole justification for the war was still farcical—especially coming from the one country in the world ever to have used nuclear weapons, and on civilian populations, no less. The country with more nukes than any country in the history of the world felt threatened by Iraq? Give me a break. So, we use weapons of mass desctruction to destroy a country because we believe they might possess (or desire) weapons of mass destruction. Hmmm. That never struck you as just the slightest bit absurd? Hypocritical? Stupid?
As far as Saddam being "irrelevant," my point was mainly just that it's time we stopped blaming everything on Saddam. He's in custody, and I doubt he's giving orders to anyone. Besides which, most of those opposing the U.S. occupation despised Saddam even more than we did (e.g., the Shiites), so the Bush administration, et. al., claiming that the insurgents were simply "Saddam loyalists" and "ex-Baath Party members" is patently ludicrous (and, I might add, a lie, unless they're all just ignorant—which is not the case because, as I said before, they knew full well how fervently the Shias despised Saddam, which is why they expected them to join forces with us).
Ah . . . "Human Nature." Yes. I don't even know where to begin . . . I'm not going to go off on a long tirade on this topic. (At least not at the moment.) So I will simply ask: if Human Nature is evil and selfish etc., and people generally don't mind killing one another if it benefits them, (stop me if this is not your view—from what you've said, this seems to me to be your outlook), then why on earth is it so hard for you to believe that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et. al., are human beings? Evil human beings willing to kill other people for profit? And, again, if "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," then what might this suggest about the leaders of the most powerful country on earth? Why would our soldiers (most of them, I believe, "Human Beings") be acting in a moral and beneficent fashion? Why would the president be honest about anything, if he's both "Evil" and extremely powerful? And, lastly, do you consider yourself, and me, and your mother, and Mother Teresa, and president Bush, etc., to be morally equal to Saddam and to Bin Laden and to the 9-11 hijackers and to Adolf Hitler and to the Pope and to Kim Jong Il etc. etc. etc. etc.?? Because—I believe—they are [were] all Human Beings. So where exactly does the "Human Nature" argument get us?