Friday, October 13, 2006

A Few Unserious Remarks About This Deeply Unserious War

My Wicked-Unserious Reasons for Supporting the War in Iraq in the First Place:

I never did buy the WMD argument, and I'm not even sure how the idea that Saddam Hussein had some direct connection to September 11 got out there, but that wasn't it either. No, mostly I had it figured this way: We're a country hooked on oil. For years, decades, we'd been trying to placate the Middle East out of fear of losing that oil. Of course, we'd also done a few really fucked-up things to it in the course of trying to hang onto that oil, but, well, we're America! We've only been at this country business for 230 years! We make mistakes sometimes! We're still learning! Think of us as the bumbling fuckups toddlers of the world and chuckle at our playful antics.

And meanwhile you had this region of the world where we were hated and part of that hatred, I believed (and still believe, to some extent) came from scapegoating by some of the leaders in that region. I knew that Wahabbism grew unchecked in Saudi Arabia because it kept young people--young men, I should say--from turning against their own kleptocracy. Can't topple the House of Saud when you're busy plotting the fall of Western civilization. (I also knew, but ignored, that the U.S. had traditionally turned a blind eye towards this because the Saudis are our friends, meaning, they have oil.) I knew that rank anti-Semitism, blaming the Jews for everything, was another way people in power in the Middle East held onto that power.

And I thought, what would tamp down this America-hating furor in the Middle East would be if things were better for the people who live there. People don't talk murder when they're comfortable. They don't plot suicide missions when they're enjoying their lives.

And I thought, well, isn't it convenient, then, that we've got this sanctions-defying despot in Iraq just sitting there, all but begging us to overthrow him, and wouldn't it be a Grand Experiment in Democracy if we gave Iraq a little makeover? Besides, that one son of his is really an asshole to women.

In other words, most of the neocon arguments made at the time, I agreed with. Because I was a total fucking idiot, and also an optimist. Little kids are often optimists, too--always looking forward to things--holidays and weekends and trips to the park and candy.

What I Think Now:

I think Donald Rumsfeld's an ill-tempered, overbearing, incompetent ass who shouldn't be allowed to plan invasions of Barbie's Dream House with units of Transformers. When you can't take criticism, any criticism, of your efforts, you can't fix problems resulting from your efforts. You're too busy pretending those problems don't exist.

I think the only way you can pretend Iraq is "working" or that violence is occurring in "minor" incidences or that any of this was a "good idea," for the U.S. or for Iraq, is if you ignore the people paying the price for this project. You have to ignore how many of them there have been and you have to ignore the decline in the quality of life and you have to ignore (and I think this administration finds it awfully easy to ignore) the violence and brutality against Iraq's women:

'Of course rape is going on,' says Aida Ussayaran, former deputy Human Rights Minister and now one of the women on the Council of Representatives. 'We blame the militias. But when we talk about the militias, many are members of the police. Any family now that has a good-looking young woman in it does not want to send her out to school or university, and does not send her out without a veil. This is the worst time ever in Iraqi women's lives. In the name of religion and sectarian conflict they are being kidnapped and killed and raped. And no one is mentioning it.'

No, why would they? Women aren't people.

Women activists are convinced there is substantial under-reporting of crimes against women in some areas, particularly involving 'honour killing' - there is a massive increase against a background of pervasive violence - and that families often seek death certificates that will hide the cause. In regions such as the violent Anbar province, the country's largest, which borders Jordan and Syria, there is little reporting of the causes of any death. And activists complain, in any case, that they have been blocked from examining bodies at the Medical Forensic Institute in Baghdad, or collecting their own figures to build up an accurate picture of what is happening to women.

Remember how enraged everyone on the right was about honor killings? And how feminists don't talk about them enough? Those were the days, huh?

While attacks on women have long been the dirty secret of Iraq's war, the sheer levels of the violence is now pushing it into the open. Last week in Samawah, 246 kilometres (153 miles) south of Baghdad, three women and a toddler were killed when gunmen stormed their home in an unexplained mass murder. Like Dr al-Tallal in Najaf, they were Shia Muslims in a Shia city. The three women were shot. The 18-month-old baby had her throat slit.

Those of you who care more about Teh Babeez than you do about women? THERE'S YOUR BEAUTIFUL MARTYRED ANGEL BABY.

I want to go back to something: This--

We blame the militias. But when we talk about the militias, many are members of the police.

And who trained the police? Who had to do a quick-and-dirty job of it because there wasn't enough time and weren't enough troops to do it properly? Who architected this lean-n-mean invasion that was bound not to leave enough time or enough warm bodies? Furthermore, which country's men still have such downright shitty attitudes about women, attitudes encouraged and nurtured everywhere, from church to media, from government to pop culture, that it is highly unlikely that even if there had been hundreds of thousands more warm bodies to train the Iraqi police with, things would have worked out any differently?

Right, that'd be my country.

Meanwhile, the internet's self-appointed Keepers of the Seriously Fucking Serious are seriously brainstorming about how to fix this fucking mess, right? Right?

Glenn Reynolds: "Border security doubleplus ungood . . . Bob Ney took money . . . Harry Reid takes money too . . . please, quit silencing Peggy Noonan . . . Air America bankrupt . . . uh, podcast . . . Sandy Berger . . . got a book about other wars I didn't serve in, either, here . . . ."

Pajamas Media: "There's that podcast again . . . vote on what label to use for the useful idiots who, despite their professed hatred of both major political parties, are nonetheless duped into voting for one or the other of them again and again and again . . . major hot stories: the November election, Foley, North Korean crisis, 'the Mideast.'" In fairness, "the Mideast" does contain a couple of links to stories about a BRITISH commander calling for the withdrawal of troops. I am sure this is a very silly and utterly unserious commander, because how else could this be possible? You simply have to love the British sense of humor, haven't you?

"The Mideast" is also your go-to source for an interview with Lynndie Englund titled, I'm so not fucking kidding about this, "A Soldier's Tale." It's like a great big "fuck you" to non-prisoner-abusing soldiers everywhere!

Hot Air: "Here's today's Vent, featuring Hot Air Gals Mary Katherine Ham, LaShawn Barber, Michelle Malkin, and Kirsten Powers, just like The View, but with more crazy . . . North Korea . . . Air America . . . tax-and-spend liberals--no, really, LIBERALS . . . ooh, I just hate Keith Olbermann . . . WAIT! What's this?

Both option papers would compel America to open dialogue with Syria and Iran, two rogue states that Iraqi leaders and American military commanders say are providing arms and funds to Iraq’s insurgents.

Bush isn’t going to do any of this, of course. Middle East democracy is the core of his foreign policy; it’d be like FDR repudiating the New Deal on the advice of a panel of economists.

So, what now?


The Corner: "Air America . . . Air America . . . send money to Aleuts . . . press passivity . . . press passivity . . . AIR AMERICA!"

Darleen Click: "Supreme Court buttons question . . . TREASON . . . video of the podcast referenced above and EVERWHAR . . . children need unstructured play time (note: I agree)."

So see, here's the deal: Of course a discussion on the pros and cons of feminine drag and its place, if any, in feminism, must seem "unserious" to people who are better at advocating fuckups than fixing them. Of course! I do indeed get that lip gloss is unserious. Do you get that pretending our fuckup in Iraq is going to do anything but haunt and threaten this country, our country, for years if we're lucky, decades if we aren't, is also rather unserious? Do you get that, in hindsight, maybe focusing on who's bashing the Bush Administration instead of focusing on who's driving around Iraq in Opels, shooting women and slitting children's throats, was perhaps unserious? Do you get that you are never to step to me with this "unserious" shit again? Of course I focus on the unserious; to do otherwise would require I face up to the fact that I helped create the intensely serious mess we are in today. I am unserious, but I do not pretend to be otherwise. It is the seriously unserious, the professionally unserious, the punditaciously unserious (AIR AMERICA!) with whom you should have perhaps one or two words.

Do you get that I am oh-so-fucking serious about this? Because I am, deeply.

UPDATE: The Committee for the Furtherance of Serious and Civil Discourse regrets the necessity of linking Mr. Clarke twice in one week, as it is a most unseemly and unserious act of the sort likely to inspire all manner of wild rumor-mongering upon the internets; nevertheless, this Committee is, by its mission, compelled to request that Mr. Clarke quit goofing around already and get serious.

Oh, wait.

UPDATE 10/20/2006: I can't shut up.


Darleen said...

I'm not an "all Iraq all the time" blog, never have been.

And no matter how its going (and bad stuff in two provinces out of 18? is like...oh saying So Cal is "lost" because of gangbanging in South Central or San Berdo), I consider any discussion of cut-n-run as unserious and unrealistic.

So I do what most bloggers with the things that interest me. Parenting, SCOTUS cases (since we just had a jury nullification in my courthouse that has let two gangbangers back on the street after they murdered a person), some politics, BSG and other stuff.

I have as hard a time listening to "feminists" trying to figure out how wearing lipgloss or shaving legs is surrender to The Patriarchy(tm) as I did to the kerfuffle over season 3's premiere of BSG as Cylons=America Humans=Iraqi 'insurgents'.

The information on the Iraq war is out there, everyday, especially from milbloggers who have direct and non-MSMtainted info.

I'm writing a new vulva diary on this "more American feminist than thou" stuff ... I'm thinking I'll include stuff from Islamist regimes about women risking their health to wear nail polish. Cause, you know, they must be appealing to The Patriarchy(tm) by doing it.

There's no "dirty secrets" in Iraq that haven't been "dirty secrets" in any war. Period. Whether people actually want to pay attention to it or talk about Katie Couric's falling ratings comes down to personal choice.

Bad Stuff happens. It is actually more the norm that Bad Stuff happens then Good Stuff. I truly think that most people under 40 or 35 in America (and many parts of Europe) have no clue to what several thousand years preceeding their appearance on the earth held for average peoples. Certainly, no American under 35 has ever experienced anything (in the macro) but a robust American economy, safety, peace. Bad Stuff kinda happened "over there" and anything nasty in the ME was probably (to listen to the Left) of those Israeli/Nazi/Jooooos who stole from poor oppressed Palestinians.

Iraq is a fuckup? What war hasn't been? Where do you think the terms "FUBAR" and "SNAFU" came from? I don't fucking care. Saddam was a threat and 1998 signed into LAW that he had to be removed was the right course in 1998 and including to pulling him from the spiderhole.

Rape in Iraq is America's fault because there's no "gender parity" in CEO's? Ilyka, you're not making that comparison are you? Really?

Mark S. said...

And no matter how its going (and bad stuff in two provinces out of 18? is like...oh saying So Cal is "lost" because of gangbanging in South Central or San Berdo)I consider any discussion of cut-n-run as unserious and unrealistic.

No kidding. Speaking of which, what's all the fuss about 9/11? It happened in only two states out of fifty. Any talk of the War on Terror and the curbing of our civil liberties is deeply unserious.

Darleen said...

9/11 was an act of a war declared on the US many years which we refused to recognize until 9/11.

Notice how France is de facto surrendering territory to Islamists to see how utterly successful appeasement is.

Ah, the taste of Vichy... under the garlic, tastes just like chicken.

Darleen said...

just read the 600,000 post...

"excessive deaths" that is America's fault

America is guilty of everything everywhere at all times.

My, what a serious discussion.

Chris Clarke said...

Darleen Click, apologist for mass murder.

JackGoff said...

9/11 was an act of a war declared on the US many years ago

Ah yes, the mouse that roared argument. Mark uses your logic against you and you say "Well, they did declare war on us!"

Bomb the fuck out them, then, right? Strip away habeas corpus, then, eh? Kill as many people as possible to show them who's boss. They might get the Q-Bomb, who knows?!

the taste of Vichy

Funny you should mention that, as many people in the Middle East feel that this is exactly what Iraq is like under US occupation.

JackGoff said...

My, what a serious discussion.

Oh, can it, Darleen. Your president has said time and time again that criticism is "unacceptable". Uh, yeah, that's inviting serious discussion. Saying disagreement is "unacceptable". Please.

Darleen said...

chris clarke

The Lancet study counts 547 actual deaths.

That's it. 547. that 600 thousand figure has no supporting evidence it is extrapolation based on interviews.

Heck, interview families on how many angels dance on a head of a pin and extrapolate that.

But yeah, bring back Saddam. That's the ticket. Saddam actual murdering of Iraqi's and actual mass graves with actual bodies is doesn't count 'cuz it takes away from Blame America For Everything(tm). Jaysus, and if you can't blame America you might have to go to the fallback position of Blame Israel.


Source it, eh?

JackGoff said...

It is unacceptable to think that there’s any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.

Quit being disingenuous, darleen. This took me like five seconds to find on Google. If you are uninterested in the machinations of this here republic, don't opine on it.

JackGoff said...

Blame Israel

When in doubt, Darleen attempts to call people anti-semites. Good thing the Jewish people != the secular state of Israel. Orwell couldn't have dreamed of the lengths to which the right will go to silence dissent.

Bronson said...

Ilyka Damen: A heroine for the pseudointellectual morons of the world.

JackGoff said...

bronson: A hero for the driveby fuckstains making nonsensical criticisms

"Oh Reginaaald! I DISAGREE!"

Chris Clarke said...

The Lancet study counts 547 actual deaths.

That's it. 547. that 600 thousand figure has no supporting evidence it is extrapolation based on interviews.

Bonehead mosquito-swat-rebuttable wingnut denial line number one!

You say "extrapolation based on interviews" as if that means something negative. A little hint, Darleen: you do not know a damn thing that is not based on extrapolation, from how much you'll have to pay to fill your gas tank tomorrow to whether it will hurt if you fall on your face.

The margin of error of this study says that the extra deaths by violence number AT LEAST 426,369. Yes, that's less than 600,000. I guess that proves your point, right? Only 426,000 unnecessary deaths caused by people like you supporting Bush and Rumsfeld as they were exposed in lie after lie after lie. Yeah, that makes you a better person than someone who says the deaths might tend toward the center of the Lancet's estimate.

It's a peculiar delusion of people like you, Darleen, that empirical study can be waved away because you find it politically inconvenient. Criticise the liberals over Darfur based on estimates of deaths that were arrived at by exactly the same methodology as the estimates of Iraqi deaths published in the Lancet study.

You find me a reputable person who criticizes the methodology of this study and says why, and backs it up with something more than "because I say so," then we'll talk. In the meantime, I hope you will forgive me if I count the opinions of Johns Hopkins, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Lancet as significantly more credible than the content-free denials of a logically and ethically challenged person who still thinks being opposed to the war means reinstalling Saddam — when I was opposed to Saddam back when Rumsfeld was shaking his fucking hand.

It was the people whose political asses you're kissing, Darleen, who fucking put Saddam there in the first place. They put Saddam there: they created the situation. The bungled the attempt to remove him: they worsened the situation. And you support them.

The different between you and a Holocaust denier is pretty much one of scale. You deny about a tenth the number of deaths Robert Faurisson does. Yeah, that makes you a good person compared to him.

From the Washington Post:

While acknowledging that the estimate is large, the researchers believe it is sound for numerous reasons. The recent survey got the same estimate for immediate post-invasion deaths as the early survey, which gives the researchers confidence in the methods. The great majority of deaths were also substantiated by death certificates.

"We're very confident with the results," said Gilbert Burnham, a Johns Hopkins physician and epidemiologist.


Ronald Waldman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University who worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for many years, called the survey method "tried and true," and added that "this is the best estimate of mortality we have."

This viewed was echoed by Sarah Leah Whitson, an official of Human Rights Watch in New York, who said, "We have no reason to question the findings or the accuracy" of the survey.

But yeah, wave your hands and dismiss this. It just shows the world what kind of person you are. Deny lie after lie even as they're proven to be lies beyond the skepticism of any reasonable person, because to admit the truth would be to admit that you were wrong, that you bought the lies. Because that's all it would take, you know? Admitting gullibility, which is hardly a sin. But no, you can't do that: given chance after chance, revelation after revelation, you continue to side with the butchers. At least we know what kind of person you are.

Chris Clarke said...

And incidentally, Darleen, about that sidelong insinuation of anti-Semitism: you do know that's a loser's gambit, right? Because I've neither said nor written word one against Israel, other than to point out that human beings die on both side of the conflict.

You might want to follow the link there, read the second paragraph at least — this link might help you with that — note the sentence that reads:

I have seen the old ugly accusations of anti-Semitism dusted off and hurled at anyone who opposes bombing without regard to the symbols painted on the sides of the bombs — the accusers themselves often the sort who would have jeered as the cattle cars passed on their way to Bergen-Belsen.

...and feel free to take that personally.

Mark S. said...

The Lancet study counts 547 actual deaths.

Holy shit! We're getting killed! We have 2,760 and they have a mere 547? Man, Darleen, thank you for bringing this to my attention, because now I realize this war was a mistake. Those crafty Iraqis, somehow they have a 4 to 1 casualty advantage over us. We better get out before they bring it over here.

Mark S. said...

All right, I've been pretty sarcastic in this thread. So let's turn off the sarcasm for a sec.

I think of myself as pretty well read in foreign policy type stuff. I have some ideas how to deal with Iran and North Korea (actually, the real worry is Pakistan: if Musharraf gets overthrown, God help us). However, I have no idea how the hell to get out of Iraq. Yes, we could just leave, but despite how much I hate Bush (it can't be quantified), leaving Iraq as it is right now would destroy what little credibilty the U.S. still possesses.

What I want is the idiocy of the neo-cons destroyed forever, so that this heresy can never arise again. I would probably still be a Republican if this idiotic foreign policy had not fancied the retard from Texas.

Foreign policy demands realism (sorry Darleen). It also demands a bit of idealism (as in, let's not throw the Geneva Conventions out the window). It's a delicate game, full of nuance, and one that Bush is entirely unsuited for.

Betty Cracker said...

Nice smack-down Chris Clarke, Mark S and Jack Goff.

Oh, and Darleen, please do include "stuff from Islamist regimes about women risking their health to wear nail polish. Cause, you know, they must be appealing to The Patriarchy(tm) by doing it" in your "vulva diary."

That'll show those nasty radical feminists what for...after all, an oppressed class never tried to co-opt the tools of the oppressor to assert their personhood ( marriage... cough...Uncle Tom... cough...Sadie Hawkins dances... cough...separate but equal...coughcoughcough).

Auguste said...

There's no "dirty secrets" in Iraq that haven't been "dirty secrets" in any war.

Darleen, you've been pretty thoroughly debunked in this thread already, but I just wanted to point out the shocking shallowness of this statement.

It's not that it's untrue. It's that it's the first war in which the government goes so far in not investigating said dirty secrets that complicity begins to look like the only option.

We shouldn't have gone to war in the first place. But we definitely shouldn't have gone to war with an administration in place which is so incompetent (not to say corrupt) at it.

Laura said...

Hi Ilyka,

I had pretty much the same reasons for supporting the Iraq war, and I also regret that support now. I don't think that necessarily means we were idiots, but optimists, definitely yes.

Even before the war, I didn't really trust Bush to do it without screwing things up spectacularly, but I still couldn't bring myself to oppose it. I'm glad to know that there were other people who supported the war for the same reasons I did--not because they actually bought into the WMD bullshit or the implied connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. I guess people like us just should have been a little more cynical...

Kenneth Walsh said...

How could anyone have ever supported A WAR that was motivated by a desire to "experiment"?

Your post is well-written and well-thought-out, but I still don't get it.

belledame222 said...

>The Lancet study counts 547 actual deaths.

Wait. WHAT?

jesus christ, i...gobsmacked.

more AMERICANS than that have died, ffs.

just o never even mind. that level of denial, i just can't even...

(wanders away clutching forehead)

belledame222 said...

and of COURSE trotting out the damn "anti-Semitism" again. sweet holy ghost on a cream cracker, i just don't even know.

"blah blah blah GINGER blah blah blah..."