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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Heaven help us all

Pdx reporter has a link to the full beheading video up. I confess, I watched it. It was very, very disturbing, even with the sound off. I want to say, "Don't watch it," but unless you have thought really long and hard about the war lately, then maybe you should.

I agree with pdx reporter that realistically, the U.S. has only two choices: withdrawal or use of weapons of mass destruction. Fighting in the streets with these people is getting us nowhere.

How would the WMD option play out? I remember the old '60s nuke novel Fail Safe. We'd announce that a city held by the enemy -- say, Fallujah -- was going to be destroyed in, say, a week. We would tell everyone to leave. On the appointed date, we would literally level it. This would continue, a city at a time, until the Muslim extremists gave up.

No doubt the enemy would use lots of innocent people as shields. Our bombs would kill many of them.

Is that what we want to do?

If not, we'll never win this war. Eventually, we will have to declare another hollow "mission accomplished" and come home.

And if that's the case, why not do it now?

Comments (22)

What do you think the goal of the war is?

As far as I can tell, we've already accomplished our goals: remove Saddam, verify there are no WMDs (or eliminate them if found), reduce terrorist funding and training in Iraq, destabilize the region, concentrate terrorist activity in Iraq (which withdraws it from most of the rest of the world).

Why would we use WMDs? On whom? And where? Besides, "fighting in the streets" (if you call containing and picking off the moonbats in Fallujah "street fighting") seems to be working pretty well. I remember hearing calls for (and fears that) we'd have to either level Fallujah with citybusters or give up. Instead, the news reports 19, 20, sometimes 40 of these guys killed every day/night, and they're losing support. Seems like the military is damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they take the time and care to kill their opponents with minimal collateral damage to the environment and minimal casualties, which takes time, the media screams that it's a quagmire and that we're losing; if they went in like Rambo, blasting down buildings and leveling the city, would the media be any happier? I think we all know the answer.

If there's a bottomless pool of terrorists, well, better to have them fighting and dying other -there- than here. If there isn't, eventually we'll see the number of moonbats willing/able to take up arms dropping.

We went to war to find WMDs and now, since we haven't, someone suggests we should use them? That is beyond insane.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting a different result, then that really is .... somewhere beyond insanity.

Even David Brooks, one of the spokesman for the war, had a better option than that in this week's NYT. He suggested letting the Iraqis win by holding early elections and voting the US out. These and/or other ideas deserve the hardest, most immediate scrutiny.

There probably are even a few people within the Bush Administration capable of it. Pride and the desire for revenge understandably spurred by the hideous beheading (whose video I wouldn't be capable of watching) will help only to bury us further.

Almost everything about this spectacularly badly strategized and planned-for war worsens at every step. It is meeting my idea of the insanity test. I really don't want to take that to the 10th exponent.

Whoa, Sally, I think your post button is stuck.
And Mark, I have never understood this "better to fight them there than here" rationalization for the Iraq invasion. Better that their innocent men, women and children die as collateral damage than ours? Do you understand how that attitude among Americans fuels the rest of the world's hatred for the U.S.? Once we start a war, we don't get to pick where it happens. Don't doubt for a second that they're going to bring the wars we start over "there" back here. They brought Gulf War I back to us on 9/11. Do you understand that they are going to bring Gulf War II back to us a thousand-fold, and make 9/11 look like a tickle? How can you doubt that?

The post button was stuck. G%&*&#@. And I haven't even been able to post to beg Mr. Bogdanski for his forgivenss & his delete button.


No worries, Sally. I'll delete the duplicates.

I'm not saying I'm in the WMD camp or the withdrawal camp.

But I'm not in the Bush camp, which seems to be saying, "Let's go at this for six or eight more years and see what happens."

"Once we start a war, we don't get to pick where it happens."

We didn't start this war. The terrorists did. (And even if you want to blame 9/11 on Gulf War I, we didn't start that one either--Hussein did, by invading Kuwait.)

If we're going to be at war with the barking moonbats of radical Islam, then yes--better to have the war happen there, in their backyards, than in ours. I'd rather no innocents got killed, but since that choice isn't mine, I'd much prefer that it happen elsewhere.

How can I doubt that the streets of America will run red with blood? Well, first--if they _could_ have done anything like that since 9/11, do YOU doubt that they WOULD have? And if you fear that they'll try, that's even more reason to keep them busy over there rather than backing off and giving them the chance to regroup (and prove, again, that we'll cut and run when the going gets tough).

"Do you understand how that attitude among Americans fuels the rest of the world's hatred for the U.S.?"

Do you understand that "the world" doesn't hate us? That the people who hate us are the tyrants and terrorists (and perhaps some of the europeans who were in bed with Saddam to the tune of billions in the oil-for-kickbacks program) who already have their hatred for the USA turned up to 11? They hated us before 9/11, they hate us now, and they'll hate us in the future. Which makes placating them a very, very low priority for me.

I am surprised to hear some of you say that this is a war that stemmed from Sept. 11 against Al Qaeda. In light of the reams of information that has come out, both from former officials of the Bush Administration, observers, and the facts of the war on the ground, it has seemed overwhelmingly clear to me that it was neither. Thus, the Bush Administration shifted the war rationale to "democracy" for Iraqis, to which end unleashing WMDs upon them would clearly be as I said -- insane.

However, if we do not agree on these basic facts and premises, then we will not agree on the aim or the strategy for any next step.

I would have, and did, fully support a war against Al Qaeda after Sept. 11. The war in Afghanistan (a country also left still undermanned and in a mess) was short-shrifted to move to the pre-existing agenda (even before Sept. 11, as hardly contestable) in Iraq.

Last point: an awful lot of very serious people contend the numbers of terrorists and supporters has risen considerably, not abated, via this war. I also could care less about "appeasing terrorists." But recklessly creating more .... mercy.

I would suggest reading the conservatives and neo-conservatives who have backtracked their own positions in the light of dawn.

ps ... thank you, Mr. Bogdanski, per above.

Okay, I'm not going to watch the video now because I'm heading to bed. But I will watch it in the morning when I don't have to sleep on it. I have been looking all over for a complete video of it. I don't know what that says about me. It kinds worries me that I want to see it. The entire time I've been looking for it I've never been sure if I would really watch it. Now that it's found, however, I think I may just watch it.

This is all so disturbing. I'm so glad my son isn't old enough to be over there fighting and yet on the other hand, I'm so proud of the boys that are there. War is such an awful, awful thing. I just wish it would quit!

Just a note on the term "Muslim extremist;" I think that quite a bit of the resistance that the US is facing is not from some fringe element, but rather resistance from average Iraqi citizens who are fed up with the whole mess.

Picking up a gun and joining a militia at least means a regular meal once in a while, and affords an opportunity to strike back at the very forces that are engaging in some rather unsavory snatch-and-grab tactics.

Allocate some of the billions we are paying out to contractors to pay Iraqi's to do their own rebuilding, and directly involve them in the flow of funds earmarked for the country, and we'd have a lot fewer militia members facing US forces.

Not that I am excusing the sociopaths that beheaded Berg, but I am curious as to the "rest of the story." The FBI apparently interviewed him while he was held by Iraqui police? Yet Rummy and friends deny that the US had any part in his detainment? And is there any validity to the claim that the people that killed Berg had attempted to trade him for Iraqi prisoners?

Lot of questions, and not many answers, but labeling any specific group "extremists" without providing context does a disservice to the argument.


(Who's been reading a lot of Juan Cole's work lately...

We did start this war on March 20, 2003. There was no war in Iraq until we started bombing and stormtrooping. We bombed the hell out of Baghdad, a big city we knew was full of innocent people, as part of the "shock and awe" strategy to scare Arabs. How is that different from Al Qaeda knowingly killing innocents on 9/11 as part of their strategy to scare Americans and provoke us into their jihad? How is "shock and awe" different from "terrorize"?

Saddam had been our buddy all throughout the Reagan administration; when he was gassing his own people and so forth he had our full support. We supplied him with WMD's to fight Iran. Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1991 with our express permission. We told him "we don't take positions on Arab-Arab conflicts." Then Bush I stabbed him in the back and responded to the Kuwait invasion with military force, for the purpose of putting an American military presence in that crucial, oil-rich part of the world. This made the Muslim extremists mad. U.S. military bases in the Muslim holy land of Saudi Arabia is what motivated Al Qaeda to attack on 9/11. 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis; the rest were Egyptians; none were Iraqis. So how is keeping the Iraqis busy by storming their homes and torturing them going to keep the Saudis in Al Qaeda from regrouping and attacking us again? Seems more likely to just inspire Iraqis to join Al Qaeda. The 9/11 attackers are in Afghanistan, not Iraq, but we have 136,000 troops in Iraq and only 20,000 in Afghanistan. We haven't caught Osama and Al Qaeda is regrouping right now because of this insane detour and drain on our resources that is the Iraq war. If we had concentrated on Al Qaeda, it would be finished off, we would have caught Osama by now and moderate Muslims would love us. But since we bombed the hell out of and invaded an unarmed country that just coincidentally happens to have the second-largest oil reserves in the world, moderate Muslims are starting to think that maybe Osama is right about the "great Satan."

"if they _could_ have done anything like that since 9/11, do YOU doubt that they WOULD have?"

Well, yeah, I guess you're right, if Al Qaeda hasn't attacked again by now, that means they're never going to. We don't have anything to worry about. Do you know anything about Al Qaeda? Did you know that they were planning 9/11 for years prior? That's how they operate; they're very careful and meticulous. Don't doubt that they're planning something right now. Also, don't doubt that they've got a lot of new recruits to their cause, thanks to our invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the funny pictures of naked men on leashes and with underwear on their heads. I'm sure moderate Muslims are just laughing that off, and we're winning their hearts and minds with our funny college-fraternity antics.

The world does hate us, thanks to Bush. The world overwhelmingly opposed the Iraq invasion. The world is sickened and disgusted by our brutality, arrogance and hypocrisy. Heaven help us all.

Verde has a really good point. That was the way Sri Lanka got to the point they're at now with the Tamil Tigers. If people have running water, food, electricity, a job, and are pretty sure they're not going to get murdered sitting in their home they tend not to join militias and provoke fights with the Marines.

First, I would like to add that I watched the video. It made me sick. Immediately after watching the video I wished I had not watched it. It shook me to the core to watch such an act. The people who beheaded this man and filmed it and then distributed it are horrible and should be held accountable.

Several people on this comment board seem to think terrorism is a zero sum game. Terrorist can fight on many fronts simultaneously. The flypaper theory is just rationalization after the other reasons for going in to Iraq were revealed to be BS. What so many people (including much of the US government) fail to understand is that conventional military forces are not going to stop terrorism. Terrorists are patient, well funded, and the number of resources required to pull off an attack are small, relative to a conventional military force. It makes sense to break up the strongholds such as Afghanistan, but they will just scatter and return later, in some new as of yet unknown form. Conventional military is necessary, but America should be devoting at least 50% of the ~$500 billion a year (add 25% courtesy of Bush) we spend on conventional military towards fighting terrorism.

The war in Iraq contributes nothing towards fighting terrorism. If anything it hurts the fight against terrorism in two ways. One it distracts resources and attention away from the real fight against terrorism. Two, Muslims who doubted the claims of radical terrorists that the US was out to destroy the Muslim world now have ample, recent, evidence to support that theory. This increases the number of recruits willing to fight with the terrorists. The neocons have played right into the terrorist’s hands.

As for the picking off of guerilla fighter in Iraq, it seems many people in this country either do not remember or are ignorant to the lesson of Vietnam. You can have the most sophisticated, well-funded conventional military in the world and still lose a guerilla war. We have to have the people on our side to win a guerilla war. This is not the case in Iraq. We have squandered the support of the majority of Iraqis, mostly though poorly conceived and implemented strategy.

If we wantonly kill innocent civilians, then we become no better that the men on that tape who brutally murdered a man. The innocent civilians of Iraq and the rest of the Muslim world do not deserve to be killed for the actions of some terrorists, who are a small fraction of all Muslims. We cannot hold all Muslims accountable for the actions of the few, or we become no better than the terrorists, for that is exactly what the terrorist are doing. Terrorist inflict death on the whole western world because for the actions of a small number of western “leaders.” America must maintain the moral high ground if we are to ever have any hope of limiting or ending 9/11 style terrorism. Using WMDs will get us nowhere in the long run.

Many Iraqis will not give up no matter how much force we use, unless you are advocating genocide of the entire Muslim world, but I do not think (or hope rather) anyone here is advocating that. If someone were to use a WMD on an American city, would we surrender? Personally I would fight someone invading my country, and vast destruction on the WMD scale would just harden my resolve. If we were to use WMDs in Iraq, then we would be making the terrorist’s case for them.

It is the neocon thinking that has gotten us into this mess in the first place. The neocons have been given a chance to implement their ideas, and at every level they have failed miserably. The only logically conclusion that can be reached is that either neocon philosophies do not work, or the current administration’s particular group of neocons are incompetent. The only logical course of action is to hold the current administration responsible for their actions, and the massive set back they have provided to America.

Unfortunately I fear that America is not capable politically of holding the neocons responsible for their massive, undeniable failures.

The thing I find most puzzling Jack is how acts of vandalism on a Starbucks get righteous indignation, but using WMDs is not resoundingly denounced for the immoral, heinous and self-defeating act that it would be. Have you seen pictures of Hiroshima?

Just watched the Berg video. After convincing myself that I should never witness it, curiosity got the better of me.

It was horrifying. I can only say that the gore in this video renewed 9/11 rage in me that had fallen mostly dormant over the last year or so.

Although, I didn't have strong convictions in opposition to going into Irag, I was skeptical of GWB's professed motives from the beginning.

I don't know that the picture is much clearer now than it was then, but I am once again certain of one thing: there are some truly horrible people in this world who are motivated by a religion that tolerates this sort of evil.

Perhaps by taking war to their religious homeland, we minimize the chance that they will hit us again on our homeland.

This rationale is infused with more ethical dilemmas than I care to ponder right now, but at the end of the day this course may be the lesser of the evils presented.

So as painful as this war is, I'm not ready to boil our options down to "retreat or nuke 'em". However, Jack's post got me thinking about this a little, so I googled "nuke mecca" and found 615 hits. Amid many jingoistic revenge oriented posts, this was one of the more thoughtful ones:

It lead me to another blog considering the possibility of an Al-Quaida nuclear detonation in the US and our probably reaction.

I'm still not sure who will get my vote for President, I just know that at this point I could give a rat's ass about comparative tax policies, job creation strategies, and gag orders to family planning clinics. The only issue front and center for me is how we will address the threat of terrorism.

I'm keeping an ear to -- and recommending --, a libertarian site,, an historian site, and, an Al Qaeda expert site.

> They brought Gulf War I back to us on 9/11.

Wow, now that is a new low for the "root causes" crowd. So we should have let Hussein have Kuwait?

The war in Iraq and the war on terrorism are inextricably linked - they are one and the same. Currently, most populations in the Middle East are oppressed, poor, pissed off, and unable to do much about it. They are without the most fundamental of human rights - self-determination. Our operations in Iraq will end with that people's self-determination; they will choose their government. If they want to hate us, fine, but hating us and killing us are two different things. If we can go into the heart of the Middle East and create a stable, free, democratic, capitalist society, we will erase the root causes of terrorism in that society. And it will spread. Do you think your average Saudi or Iranian citizen is going to be satisfied with the yoke of a dictatorial government when there is freedom next door? No way.

If we can go into the heart of the Middle East and create a stable, free, democratic, capitalist society, we will erase the root causes of terrorism in that society.

It doesn't look as though we are going to be able to do that without many, many years of occupation, and levels of expenses in blood and money that America's not ready for.

And levels of troops (and equipment and support functions) that America is really not ready for -- right now.

That said, I decidedly do not sign onto the theory that all Arabs are of the same political piece. And secular Iraq had been largely free of radical Islamism a la bin Laden (an enemy of Saddam Hussein).

What to do now is a whole 'nother question, though, as the disaster left in any wake could very likely be worse even than the one the US has created.

Yes, we should have kept our word and let Saddam have Kuwait like we told him he could. He told us he was going to invade Kuwait and we said, "that's fine, we don't take sides on Arab-Arab conflicts." We lied, and invaded, so that Halliburton, the Carlyle Group, and all these other war profiteers whose members have also been members of both Bush administrations could get rich at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer. Boy, are you a sucker to believe this "we can create a democracy" in the Middle East propoganda. The U.S. is without the "most fundamental of human rights - self-determination" also. We didn't freely choose our current government. Our current president got 500,000 fewer votes than his opponent; what the hell do we know about democracy? We sure know war and oil, though. We cannot afford the Iraq war; not only does it distract from the real war, which is against Al Qaeda, but it's not in our budget. Bush II is running this country into the ground, just like he ran every company he tried to run into the ground. He's grossly incompetent and corrupt. What we should do in Iraq now is LEAVE, like over 80% of Iraqis want us to. Saddam is gone, the "WMD threat" is gone. We are wearing out our welcome there in a way that's fundamemtally unhelpful.

Please replace "sucker" with "naive" in my last post. Sorry, "sucker" is rather impolite.

A friend of mine once suggested that instead of WMD we dump Pig poop over the countryside. This would really anger "them" and fertilize the soil so they'd actually be able to use it for something in the future. ;-)


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J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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