Balkinization  

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Musings

Sandy Levinson

There are so many potential topics to write about on this Memorial Day. One of them is the subject of an excellent piece in Monday’s New York Times, by David Carr on the decreasing news coverage of the War (because of expense and danger), coupled with ever more authoritarian rules adopted by the military—one suspects at the behest of the civilian leadership in the Pentagon—with regard to pictures of the war that might, were they published in daily newspapers and shown on television, bring home the costs of this war to the people we profess to care about, both American and Iraqi. And even as George W. Bush pays yet another ostentatious visit to Arlington National Cemetery, he has obdurately refused to attend the funeral of a single fallen soldier over the past four years of his war (and, of course, the military continues to prohibit any photography of flag-draped coffins arriving in Dover, Delaware).

Everyone should also read Andrew Bacevich’s stunning piece in yesterday’s Washington Post, on the death of his son in a war that Prof. Bacevich’s has eloquently and courageously opposed from the beginning. Consider especially the following:

. . . . But I did nurse the hope that my voice might combine with those of others -- teachers, writers, activists and ordinary folks -- to educate the public about the folly of the course on which the nation has embarked. I hoped that those efforts might produce a political climate conducive to change. I genuinely believed that if the people spoke, our leaders in Washington would listen and respond.

This, I can now see, was an illusion.

The people have spoken, and nothing of substance has changed. The November 2006 midterm elections signified an unambiguous repudiation of the policies that landed us in our present predicament. But half a year later, the war continues, with no end in sight. Indeed, by sending more troops to Iraq (and by extending the tours of those, like my son, who were already there), Bush has signaled his complete disregard for what was once quaintly referred to as "the will of the people."

To be fair, responsibility for the war's continuation now rests no less with the Democrats who control Congress than with the president and his party. After my son's death, my state's senators, Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, telephoned to express their condolences. Stephen F. Lynch, our congressman, attended my son's wake. Kerry was present for the funeral Mass. My family and I greatly appreciated such gestures. But when I suggested to each of them the necessity of ending the war, I got the brushoff. More accurately, after ever so briefly pretending to listen, each treated me to a convoluted explanation that said in essence: Don't blame me.

To whom do Kennedy, Kerry and Lynch listen? We know the answer: to the same people who have the ear of George W. Bush and Karl Rove -- namely, wealthy individuals and institutions. [One is also well advised to read a story in Monday’s Times, aptly titled “Wealthy Enclave Offers Windfall for Candidates,” about the number of candidates, both Democratic and Republican, who have recently visited Greenwich, Connecticut in their quest for donations. As Alison Leigh Cowan writes, “With the mansions along its winding back roads now awash in hedge fund money, Greenwich has joined New York, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley as must stops on the presidential fund-raising tour.” One doubts that many of the attendees at such gatherings have sons or daughters in Iraq or Afghanistan.]

Money buys access and influence. Money greases the process that will yield us a new president in 2008. When it comes to Iraq, money ensures that the concerns of big business, big oil, bellicose evangelicals and Middle East allies gain a hearing. By comparison, the lives of U.S. soldiers figure as an afterthought….

Money maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels. It preserves intact the cliches of 1933-45 about isolationism, appeasement and the nation's call to "global leadership." It inhibits any serious accounting of exactly how much our misadventure in Iraq is costing. It ignores completely the question of who actually pays. It negates democracy, rendering free speech little more than a means of recording dissent.

This is not some great conspiracy. It's the way our system works.


These words, it should be emphasized, are written by a conservative former officer in the U.S. armed forces who served with distinction in Vietnam. One wonders how much they capture the perceptions of increasing numbers of Americans on both the “right” and “left,” assuming these terms are genuinely useful at the present moment. After all, it is the ostensibly “conservative” President who has flogging for all its worth the “world safe for democracy” rhetoric identified with Wilson, not to mention his equal willingness to use “human rights” arguments also more traditionally found on the left than on the right. It is the left these days that is more inclined to evoke “realist” arguments.

I respectfully disagree with Prof. Bacevich on only one point. Though I believe that Democrats do indeed bear some responsibility for the continuation of the war—and Tom Daschle, then the Senate Majority leader, especially should feel remorse every day of his life for his opportunistic decision in 2002 to grant Bush a blank check in Iraq in order to make domestic policy the primary issue in the elections of that year, a disastrous decision in every conceivable way—it is a mistake to say that “responsibility for the war's continuation now rests no less with the Democrats who control Congress than with the president and his party” (my emphasis). The reason is simple: The Constitution, wisely or not (readers of Balkinization know which is my own answer to the question), gives the President the power to veto any legislation that would in fact bring the war to some kind of conclusion, as has been amply demonstrated. It is true, of course, that there are enough Democrats, were they completely united, to refuse to pass any military funding bill at all, but, aside from crass political considerations that make this unwise, that is morally untenable insofar as it would indeed leave Americans stuck in Iraq without essential logistical support. Even Abraham Lincoln, who (correctly) opposed the Mexican-American War, voted for funds to “support the troops” because they, after all, were not at fault for the imperialist aggression of President James K. Polk.

“Our system,” to which Prof. Bacevich refers, creates something painfully close to an elective dictatorship in the realm of foreign and military policy. That Bush is a particularly awful exemplification of this fact should not blind us to the reality that it has been a feature of “our system” for many, many decades and through the administrations of many presidents, some of them deemed “great,” some of them not. It’s simply something we prefer not to speak of, lest we have to think about the actual operation (and adequacy) of our constitutional system. 604 days remain in the terms of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and, practically speaking, there is nothing that “We the People” can do about that. Indeed, one must hope that Bush remains in good health inasmuch as the almost unthinkable alternative would be the Vice President, also free of any real accountability to the American public. This is the reality of life in the “world’s greatest democracy” on Memorial Day 2007.

Comments:

Thank you for acknowledging {rof. Basevich's loss, and the link to his article.

The media have touted the outcome regarding the latest appropriations bill as a "victory" for Bushit. And the "left" have pilloried the Democrats for having "caved". Nothing is said about the fuller bill, which included -- and Bushit signed it -- among other things an increase in the minimum wage.

Which included, in sum, a forcing of Bushit to compromise -- a first, and no small accomplishment.

So the bashing of Democrats continues (hopefully less so, as I challenge, and others begin to challenge, the disingenuous grounds for doing so) even in the most ludicrous of terms. The Democrats haven't sufficient votes to, as example, to get the question of impeachment to the floor of the House, let alone get a vote on the issue itself. That is the reality because Republicans are insufficiently disenchanted with Bushit, and not yet close enough to the 2008 elections to be sufficiently worried about their own individual skins.

So who gets bashed by the "left" for the Republican recalcitrance? The Democrats. Perhaps the worst were (and still) the demand that Pelosi be also impeached for taking impeachment "off the table". So bereft of facts even the "left": Third in line for the presidency is the Speaker of the House. The Speaker of the House is Pelosi. Thus the last to be calling for impeachment is Pelsoi.

Nor does her taking the issue "off the table" make the law; she is not a dictator; other Democrats in the House, including Murtha, have said it is on the table.

There seems to be a general malaise, a general sense of helplessness, and apparently a rhetorically violent effort to overcome that by the "left": explain the above and the current political realities, and the "response" is yet again demand for impeachment (the present reality that there aren't enough votes to do it ignored).

Are we stuck with the status quo? Only if we believe so. Only if we believe so. I recall reading the first report, in June, 1972, of the Watergate break-in. At the time I was a regualr at a particularr bar, in which I was for impeachment (had been since 1968), and all others were staunchly pro-Nixon. A solid year later, everyone in the bar was solidly for impeachment. Time, patience, persuasion. That was in spite of the "mainstream"/"official" media.

The media today isn't actually much different than it was then; neither is the population -- largely feeling helpless because lacking "instruction" in how such as impeachment is done, and how to have an impact. Different is that the crimes of Bushit, et al., though actually the last chapter of Watergate, are lightyears beyond Nixon in magnitude and severity. Not different as concerns the media -- but not so much as concerns "We the people" -- is the denial, "It can't happen here." Then, the media, and most of "We the people," were believed, "It can't happen here" while it was in fact happening. Today that view is largely limited to the media, and hard core Bushit supporters.

Then there's the paradox: "We the people" have greater access, and greater opportunity to be heard, because of the Internet. But, alas, there is no one place around which to coalese; the impact is dispersed and diluted.

It is happening here. But we are not stuck with the status quo, unless we adopt and or reinforce a sense of helplessness. The task is to determine what to do, and how to get that done.
 

A few more musings are in order...

From the so called "excellent piece" from the NYT:

Many of the journalists who are in Iraq have been backed into fortified corners, rarely venturing out to see what soldiers confront. And the remaining journalists who are embedded with the troops in Iraq — the number dropped to 92 in May from 126 in April — are risking more and more for less and less.

Since last year, the military’s embedding rules require that journalists obtain a signed consent from a wounded soldier before the image can be published. Images that put a face on the dead, that make them identifiable, are simply prohibited...

“They are basically asking me to stand in front of a unit before I go out with them and say that in the event that they are wounded, I would like their consent,” he said. “We are already viewed by some as bloodsucking vultures, and making that kind of announcement would make you an immediate bad luck charm.”


Amazing.

The NYT is actually whining that it is not worthwhile for reporters to actually do their jobs by getting out of their hotels, embed with the troops and report on what the troops are doing in the field. Rather, these "heroes" (sic) inadvertently disclosed their only interest in reporting from Iraq - show as much US (not enemy) blood as possible.

And this amazing piece of work calling himself a reporter actually wonders why the troops think he is a "bloodsucking vulture" when the only thing in which he is interested is publishing photos of them as they are bleeding.

Then the NYT has the unmitigated gall to run this blood thirsty whine on the day set aside to honor the fallen for their achievements, not merely because he or she died.

“They are not letting us cover the reality of war,” he added.

BS.

The only thing preventing you from leaving your hotel room, embedding with the troops and actually reporting on what the troops are doing and the massive losses they are inflicting on the enemy is your partisan self censorship.

This old grunt has a few choice words for the NYT and their fellow "bloodsucking vultures," but I will restrain myself given this venue.

At least Professor Bacevich did not denigrate his son's service and reduce his sacrifice to a prop for his anti war crusade ala Cindy Sheehan. However, Bacevich is lying to himself if he thinks that his public and very vocal opposition to his son's mission did not provide aid and comfort to the enemy which his son fought.

Imagine, if you will, the effect on al Qaeda terrorists and our troops if bin Laden followed Professor Bacevich's lead.

While the First Amendment may protect Bacevich's speech seeking to undermine popular and government support for his son's mission, such protection does not make his actions right nevertheless promote those actions to a "duty."

Let us pause for a moment and honor the troops who liberated Iraq and Afghanistan and are engaging and defeating this nation's enemies in what is in reality the central front of the enemy's war on the United States.
 

"The November 2006 midterm elections signified an unambiguous repudiation of the policies that landed us in our present predicament."

It did? Darn, I missed the line on the ballot which asked me about the war; I thought I was voting about political corruption and porkbarreling. And let me tell you, I'm not the slightest bit impressed by how quickly Democrats have been caving on the pork front.

I can understand the temptation to pretend that a complex election was just about the issue you happen to care most about, but it's rarely the case, and wasn't last fall.
 

It did? Darn, I missed the line on the ballot which asked me about the war; I thought I was voting about political corruption and porkbarreling. And let me tell you, I'm not the slightest bit impressed by how quickly Democrats have been caving on the pork front.

I can understand the temptation to pretend that a complex election was just about the issue you happen to care most about, but it's rarely the case, and wasn't last fall.


I rarely cite Wikipedia, but in this case it's quick and the conclusion is both obvious and documented:

"It is generally agreed that the single most important issue during the 2006 election was the war in Iraq, and more specifically President Bush's handling of it.

Indeed, public opinion polling conducted during the days just before the election and the weeks just after it showed that the war in Iraq was considered the most important election issue by the largest segment of the public.[23] Exit polling showed that relatively large majorities of voters both fell into the category of disapproving of the war or expressing the desire to withdraw troops in some type of capacity. Both brackets broke extremely heavily for Democrats.[24] The issue of the war seemed to play a large part in the nationalization of the election, a departure from previous midterm elections, which tended to be about local, district-centric issues.[25] The effect of this was a general nationwide advantage for Democrats, who were not seen as being as tied to the war as Republicans, led by George Bush, were." Link. Footnotes are hyperlinked in the original.
 

I respect his courage and honest beliefs, but this equalization of everyone is dubious.

Are we to say those who voted against the 10/03 resolution and funding (both times, a majority of the House D. delegation, and some key names overall) are equal to Bush and other true believers? I don't think so.

This doesn't mean blame can go all around. It just is not equal blame. Anyway, the "dictatorship" is self-induced. I'm unsure if in other "dictatorships" the legislative branch has real power to restrict funding and so forth.

I continue to think that this ironically partially gives Republicans a sort of pass, the "system" being the problem, not the choice of a third or so of the Republican caucus (esp. in the Senate) to fail true conservative traditions honored by the tragic figure honored here.

BTW, "unambigously" might be much, but the war was a key issue. Not the only ... incompetence, corruption, and the need of some check on the executive did factor in as well. Thus, the war is not the only thing on the people's minds, factoring in decisions.
 

"I respect his courage and honest beliefs, but this equalization of everyone is dubious.

"Are we to say those who voted against the 10/03 resolution and funding (both times, a majority of the House D. delegation, and some key names overall) are equal to Bush and other true believers? I don't think so.

"This doesn't mean blame can go all around. . . . .

"I continue to think that this ironically partially gives Republicans a sort of pass, the "system" being the problem, not the choice of a third or so of the Republican caucus (esp. in the Senate) to fail true conservative traditions honored by the tragic figure honored here.

"# posted by Joe : 10:30 PM"

Bacevich is a former Lieutenant or Lieutenant Colonel, and Viet Nam veteran, so it is respectworthy in itself that he is intellectually honest (unlike so many of his military colleagues). I do agree that blaming the system seems to miss the point: it's the malefactors who are responsible.

And one can't blame the Democrats equally, at least in the current Congress, as many weren't there, and they haven't yet the votes they need to accomplish the goals demanded of themselves. Though bashing the Democrats is the "thing" at present, the foot-draggers are the Republicans.

And: Bacevich was and is right about the Iraq "war". And is a grieving, despairing father: the idea that he failed his son. He obviously didn't, of course; but respect the feelings of a parent who lost a child.

And read a few pages of the comments on the article for others' views, a few of which by Bush supporters are outright hateful and disgusting.
 

"While the First Amendment may protect Bacevich's speech seeking to undermine popular and government support for his son's mission, such protection does not make his actions right nevertheless promote those actions to a "duty.""

I believe it was Brandeis who said: "Democracy is responsibility." Yes: In a democracy, every right implies a duty. One of those duties is to criticize one's gov't when it is wrong. You defile that reality by putting loyalty to party and faction before Constitution and country.

That "popular support" you mention amounts to 28 per cent. In hopes you get the picture, I'll point out to you that 28 per cent is the minority view.

"Let us pause for a moment and honor the troops who liberated Iraq and Afghanistan and are engaging and defeating this nation's enemies in what is in reality the central front of the enemy's war on the United States."

Let us pause for at least a moment and actually think, and acknowledge the reality: Saddam Hussein was one of the foremost exterminators of "terrorists" in the Middle East -- a job he performed, in part, for the West, by mutual agreement. That's why there were no terrorists in Iraq until after he was overthrown, except for two -- Chalabi and Zarqawi -- who, with the assist of the CIA, were trying to overthrow him. As well, Hussein was essentially an atheist, which was why religioextremist Osama bin Ladin was loudly and repeatedly on the record as wanting Hussein overthrown, and his gov't replaced with one along the lines of the Iranian theocracy. In short: the only link between Hussein and bin Ladin was that they were mutual enemies.

What has Bushit accomplished by overthrowing Hussein -- aside from fulfilling bin Ladin's intent? He has established "sharia" law with its constituton, and empowered the Shi'a -- which Shi'a have since signed a mutual defense treaty with the theological gov't in Iran.

It's Bushit who is the "appeaser," not those you and he smear.

I'd also point out in detail how torture is a war crime, regardless what called, but that would doubtless be over your head, as it concerns the rule of law over the rule of lie.

"# posted by Bart DePalma : 8:06 PM"

Like you, Prof. Bacevich is a conservative (though his is actually genuine). Unlike you (and Bushit's gang), he is a veteran (Viet Nam) -- a retired Lt. Col -- who actually has put his courage where his mouth is.

And unlike you, and Bushit, he doesn't exploit the troops as political prop for political and ideological gain. You, like Bushit, sully their sacrifice by mewling about that in effort to justify your crackpot depictions of the Middle East and the "enemy". The vast majority of "insurgents" in Iraq are Iraqi citizens who will not tolerate foreign occupation. The vast majority of Americans oppose the continuing, illegal occupation of Iraq; and no amount of smears and name-callings by the pusilanimous 28 per cent of ferile chickenhawks who support the Bushit criminal enterprise will vindicate your sleazy efforts to prove your patriotism by putting party before country, wrapping yourself in the flag, and insulting that majority and their exercise of the First Amendment right simply because the dishonest, such as you, disapprove of the content of their speech.

I've been dealing with your sort of gung-ho-with-others'-lives armchair general since at latest 1968; the defining characterological stripe is always the same: hypocrisy painted yellow.

Your sympathy for a father who is grieving the loss of a son is non-existent. That is as unsurprising as your smearing him, and your contrary "tribute" to those who have died for the country, too often for false reasons defended by your "America can do no wrong" ilk.
 

JNagarya said...

"While the First Amendment may protect Bacevich's speech seeking to undermine popular and government support for his son's mission, such protection does not make his actions right nevertheless promote those actions to a "duty.""

I believe it was Brandeis who said: "Democracy is responsibility." Yes: In a democracy, every right implies a duty. One of those duties is to criticize one's gov't when it is wrong. You defile that reality by putting loyalty to party and faction before Constitution and country.


You have a duty in a democracy to constructively criticize the government's performance of its duties. However, Professor Bacevich was not suggesting how the government can better win the war in which his son fought, but rather was calling for the government to intentionally lose that war and make his son's sacrifice in vain.

Freedoms like the freedom of speech come with moral, if not legal, responsibilities.
 

"It is true, of course, that there are enough Democrats, were they completely united, to refuse to pass any military funding bill at all, but...that is morally untenable insofar as it would indeed leave Americans stuck in Iraq without essential logistical support.

Hang on. Why do you think that?

There is a strategy that has been much discussed on the blogs, originated as far as I know by Armando at Talkleft that goes like this:

1) The Dems in Congress announce right now that they are cutting off funds at some future date, say March 2008.

2) They pound home this fact constantly between now and March 2008.

3) In the meantime they fund short term measures.

4) Then in March 2008, they simply don't pass any more funding, as announced long in advance. They can send bills to Bush that fund redeployment and if he chooses not pass any of them or if he doesn't find some other way to keep the troops supplied, then clearly it is George Bush who is leaving the troops unsupplied.
 

The idea that refusing to fund the war beyond a certain date several months in the future exposes our troops to the risk of being stuck in Iraq without logistical support is only plausible if you assume the president is a sociopath.

In other words, it's fairly plausible.
 

Bart DePalma said:

Professor Bacevich was not suggesting how the government can better win the war in which his son fought, but rather was calling for the government to intentionally lose that war and make his son's sacrifice in vain.

What Bart seems to be missing is that the son's death is already in vain, and that Professor Bacevich is asking that no further lives be sacrificed to that vanity of the President and our political leaders. Assuming that others who wish to withdraw from the slaughter that our invasion and occupation of Iraq wish "America" to lose, and that our soldiers are sacrificing themselves for a just and noble cause, is his bugbear, not that of the vast majority of Americans.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

BDP:However, Professor Bacevich was not suggesting how the government can better win the war in which his son fought, but rather was calling for the government to intentionally lose that war and make his son's sacrifice in vain.

You miss the point completely, Bart. Clearly, even if Professor Bacevich did suggest how the government could win the war, that suggestion would impose upon the President's plenary powers under Article II of the Constitution.

Last time I checked, Bacevich is not the Commander-in-Chief, so any suggestion he makes is entirely irrelevant. Why should anyone care what a professor thinks about the war if he has no authority to put his plans into action? He's not even a principal Officer of an executive Department, so why do you think he should offer up any opinion at all?

President Bush said, "I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me."

He also said that "we must fight the terrorists where they live so that we don't have to fight them where we live."

Any plan proposed by a non-President that goes against this fundamental strategy is just so much hot air.
 

I'd like to hear from the side of the discussion that thinks the war isn't in vain as to why Iraq is exempt from the 1 to 40 ratio found in the past needed when occupying a country to establish enough order for a stable government to take hold and last.

That ratio works out to about 650,000 troops in Iraq. How is Iraq so different, that it should take so tiny and anemic an occupation force to establish stability?
 

Bart seems to have forgotten Mark Twain's sage advice;

"Loyalty to your country always.

Loyalty to your government when it deserves it."

Excluding those with an authority fetish, Bush has lost this loyalty.
 

"Freedoms like the freedom of speech come with moral, if not legal, responsibilities." - Bart

A moral responsibility to insist that your represantative government represent your wishes.

DISSENT IS NOT UN-AMERICAN.
 

It is true, of course, that there are enough Democrats, were they completely united, to refuse to pass any military funding bill at all, but...that is morally untenable insofar as it would indeed leave Americans stuck in Iraq without essential logistical support.

All the Dems have to do is pass a 6 month funding bill with sufficient money to withdraw from Iraq and announce that the money is being allocated for withdrawal there will be no more funding after the 6 months is up. Under such a bill, the President is the one who will bear the onus of stranding the troops.

The Dems did not collapse because it is impossible to draft a withdrawal bill. Rather, they are afraid that they will be correctly blamed for surrendering in Iraq and losing the war.
 

Garth said...

Bart seems to have forgotten Mark Twain's sage advice: "Loyalty to your country always. Loyalty to your government when it deserves it." Excluding those with an authority fetish, Bush has lost this loyalty.

This has nothing to do with loyalty to any particular elected government and everything about loyalty to the troops which we sent into battle.

If you think the government was mistaken when the President and Congress overwhelmingly decided to send the troops into combat or that the government screwed up the prosecution of the war, that is what elections are meant to remedy. It is not unpatriotic to throw the government out if you do not agree with their decisions.

However, after we have made the decision to go to war, sent troops in harm's way and those troops start paying the cost in blood, we owe the troops our unqualified support. Once the die is cast and the blood price paid, the ONLY moral outcome is to do everything in our power to win the war.
 

Bart DePalma:

Once the die is cast and the blood price paid, the ONLY moral outcome is to do everything in our power to win the war.

Actually, no. If the war is immoral in its aims and its outcome, the ONLY moral action is to stop the war and withdraw. Continuing in an immoral action because of a loss of life on the side of the actor is no defense.
 

I owe it to the troops to exercise my first amendment right against this illegal war of agression.

This is not about allegiance to the troops Herr DePalma.

Nor am I under any compulsion to respect my leaders or their leaders on their behalf.

Even they must continue to earn MY respect.
 

Fraud Guy said...

Bart DePalma: Once the die is cast and the blood price paid, the ONLY moral outcome is to do everything in our power to win the war.

Actually, no. If the war is immoral in its aims and its outcome, the ONLY moral action is to stop the war and withdraw.


A war which liberates 50 million people from murderous police states, brings the mass murderers to justice, and engages and decimates terrorist networks who have killed thousands of Americans is about as moral as a war can get.

Do you care to make a case otherwise and argue on behalf of the mass murderers, returning their people to their police states and the al Qeada they were supporting?
 

Gee, Bart, since you asked so nicely:

Iraq--

The initial claims that were proposed for the invasion of have been shown to be false--
1. Saddam was behind or in collusion with the planners of 9/11.
2. That Saddam had or was producing WMD (other than the ones we gave him, that is).
It is highly likely that the planners of the war knew these items to be false, and continued in their efforts anyway. This is immorality in provoking a war. (the takedown of the brutal dictator was an afterthought only dragged up reluctantly to a primary purpose up after the first two reasons were convincingly shown to be false after the invasion).

Once the invasion was launched, the invading forces failed to take actions to not only secure valuable national and cultural resources, but also, because of deliberately inadequate planning (insufficient forces to secure the population and borders, refusing to use resources dedicated to country rebuilding from the State Department to implement a rational rebuilding plan) caused unneccessary harm to civilians in the country. This is a moral failure in protecting the civilians that we were liberating from a brutal dictator.

The occupiers have continually failed to secure standards of living that the civilian population enjoyed prior to the invasion, including utilities, health care, and safe and secure living, and has allowed various international human rights abuses (notably Abu Grahib). Whether you care to accept it or not, the Lancet study has conclusively shown that there has been a significant rise in civilian mortality in Iraq since the invasion. There have additionally been a significant numbers of displaced Iraqis, both within the country as well as those pushed outside of its borders. This is also a moral failure in securing the lives and living conditions of the conquered--sorry, liberated--population.

The occupying state has focused on building permanent military bases, securing long term oil contracts for favored companies (plans of which were apparently drawn up pre-invasion). There is significant indication that the occupation has been managed to financially benefit the occupiers and those who have been contracted to provide repairs and services that have failed to significantly materialize. This may be more of an ethical than moral failure, but it is not a positive result of the invasion and occupation.

Regarding engaging and decimating terrorist networks--are you serious? Since 2003, statements from the Adminstration, including the President, have repeatedly said that finding Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind 9/11 (the most serious blot on the Bush Presidency) is not important. He is likely hiding in Pakistan, our putative ally, which has since cut a deal to allow the tribal leaders who have control of the area where OBL is hiding to be semi-autonomous. Since the focus moved from fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda into the unneccessary war in Iraq, the Taliban has been able to reestablish itself in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda has also been able to move into Iraq, where it never had been present under Saddam. The idea that we are fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here didn't even come from the Administration, but from Bill Maher, who wants his idea back. We are also giving the terrorists a hands on, urban training environment that allows them to practice methods that they can use against the world.

The Iraqi democracy is doing so well, it may collapse back into a police state; at one point, it appeared that we were going to bring our favorite Iraqi exiles into power before that group was trounced when we started fooling around with the bringing democracy idea.

I agree, Saddam was a muderous thug, as were his sons, and they had brutally repressed their nation's citizens (at one point, with the help of members of the Bush administration during previous tours in our Federal government). If we went in to Iraq and Afghanistan with the intents that you state (which IIRC we never stated until after we had secured those countries), then we had every MORAL obligation to make sure that we did so in a manner to not increase the suffering of the populations of those countries. We in fact took steps which effectively guaranteed that civilians would suffer more under our occupation than under the previous regimes. (For example, choosing unexperienced administrators for the coalition government based on partisan loyalty while forgoing advice from experienced foreign policy experts from the State Department).

Historically, the onus of protecting civilians in occupied countries has fallen on invading powers. Our country, for the basest of reasons, has failed in its moral, ethical, and legal responsibilities. If we had not invaded, it is very likely that the populations of these countries would be better off than they currently are. Bart, you can try to claim otherwise, but would have to search high and low for any proof that would carry any weight.
 

"Brad" mewls --

"You have a duty in a democracy to constructively criticize the government's performance of its duties."

False -- but consistent with your anti-Americanism. Neither you nor the _elective, representative_ gov't has the authority to define "constructive" for everyone else and "We the people"; the general limits of that which is contrustive are instead adumbrated in law.

"A system of laws, and not of men" -- John Adams. I've discovered, in dusty colonial law under its Puritan religiotyranny, why Massachusetts is accused by the "might makes right" crowd of being "Liberal": that gov't authorized torture, yes -- but only _AFTER_ the person to be tortured was found guilty on sufficient evidence.

Your sociopathic hero Bushit has made that process more efficient by translating it into your and his false definition of "conservative [compassion]": he imposes the torture in order to "develop" the evidence, then uses that evidence to find the defendant guilty. And that is not only exactly opposite democratic due process; it is also destructive of both rule of and respect for law. We torture "them"; we give "them" excuse to torture us.

"However, Professor Bacevich was not suggesting how the government can better win the war in which his son fought, but rather was calling for the government to intentionally lose that war and make his son's sacrifice in vain."

I'd suggest you pull your head out of your arse, but I think it's abundantly clear you wouldn't begin to know how to do that.

No effort to successfully occupy and "stabilize" "Iraq" has ever succeeded, because the "Iraqis" have the exact same "tenor" as any other sovereign people on the planet, including the Vietnamese, and the US: they will not cease their violent resistance to the occupiers until the occupation ends. One cannot win a war against a people within that people's own sovereign country. Those who knew the history of Iraq before Bushit even began his lie-based rush to war knew that especially about Iraq.

That means, child, Bushit's illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq was doomed before it began. Was lost before the invasion. One cannot win against a sovereign people that simply refuses to be occupied by foreign powers.

Again: unlike you, Prof. Bacevich has worn a uniform, and has seen war. He, unlike you, was career military -- Lt. Col. He, unlike you, knows the meaning of love of country -- and, obviously, when it is misplaced; or when it is anti-Americanism masquerading as love of country.

"Freedoms like the freedom of speech come with moral, if not legal, responsibilities."

You'll have to back up the claim that there is subjective moral responsibility which attaches to freedom of speech which can be defined in the law, contrary to the fact that the US is home to various systems and claims to "morality". Otherwise, were you in fact a lawyer, as you claim, you'd well know that there are legal responsibilities which attach to freedom of speech; defamation is one example. But criticism of the gov't is not one of them; it is a duty. And anti-American pro-thuggery chickenhawks such as you are not one to be defining "constructive" anything for anyone, in view at very least of your defense of the destructive act of torture. In fact, while Bushit was accusing Saddam Hussein of being a torturer, and for that reason needed to be overthrown, Bushit himself was having torture imposed on human beings who hadn't been adjudicated anything -- let alone guilty. And, the torture conducted under new management by the US under Bushit at Abu Ghraib -- it was well known locally before we heard about it; and it was inevitable that we would -- voluntarily handed Osama bin Ladin a moral victory by validating his allegations against the US. That, too, further undermined US national security by creating even more enemies of the US -- directly contrary to the foremost responsibility of the president: protecting national security.

"# posted by Bart DePalma : 9:49 AM"

J. Nagarya
 

"I owe it to the troops to exercise my first amendment right against this illegal war of agression.

"This is not about allegiance to the troops Herr DePalma.

"Nor am I under any compulsion to respect my leaders or their leaders on their behalf.

"Even they must continue to earn MY respect.

"# posted by Garth : 7:50 PM"

Nor can any law require "supporting the troops". I hold to the duty to not follow illegal orders. (Is there a price for that? Yes. But isn't the military the place of all places to show one's courage?) I do not support a military which is to _serve_ the country, under oath to support and defend the Constitutiona and alws -- not this or that public official -- that advances an illegal invasion and occupation.

It's long past time we stopped being selective about which parts of an illegality we support.
 

"Historically, the onus of protecting civilians in occupied countries has fallen on invading powers. Our country, for the basest of reasons, has failed in its moral, ethical, and legal responsibilities. If we had not invaded, it is very likely that the populations of these countries would be better off than they currently are. Bart, you can try to claim otherwise, but would have to search high and low for any proof that would carry any weight.

"# posted by Fraud Guy : 1:24 AM"

It is also a requirement under international law that the occupying power must protect such as cultural artifacts -- not only the Oil Ministry. And such as the people in the occupied country. The only question at this point is whether the Bushit criminal enterprise blew it in Iraq as result of incompetence, or succeeded in Iraq by doing exactly what they wanted: permanent chaos.
 

Bart writes:
Rather, they are afraid that they will be correctly blamed for surrendering in Iraq and losing the war.

One can hardly take such a presumptuously politicized observation seriously. Please explain how sending in a small fraction of the troops needed to actually have a chance of success and then hamstringing them at every turn including when they return from duty bears no responsibility whatsoever for failure. Are you so cowardly as to try to insulate the president, his administration and the republicans from all responsibility?

You do realize that valid observations you point out are completely smeared by such insecure politicking.
 

Bitswapper,

Don't expect Bart to comment again, he's off defending torture on later posts.
 

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