Hearts and Minds

Imagine it is 6 o’clock in the morning. You just woke up, brewed yourself a cup of coffee, and are sitting on the porch having a smoke, enjoying the morning air, thinking about what you have to accomplish today. Maybe your dog is with you, maybe you are chatting with your next door neighbor, who is also going through his morning ritual. You don’t live in the best neighborhood, in fact, there are some downright awful people living around you. But this is your house, you have mouths to feed and this is where you grew up, this is where your friends and family and job are, and this is what you call home. Sure, you’d like to move to some beautiful suburb where everyone is an upstanding citizen, but this is what you have, and you are making the best of it. And so you sit there, thinking about the day ahead of you, sipping your coffee, scratching the parts that always need the most attention in the morning after a good sleep, and…

WHAMMO. Out of nowhere, a crushing explosion vaporizes the house next to you, your house, and all the houses around you. The explosion throws you to the ground and pins you there, and the compression knocks the wind out of you and bursts your eardrums. All you hear is a loud buzzing. Debris is falling all over you, and you feel pain in multiple places on your body, but you can’t see through the dust and smoke to know if you are seriously injured. You smell smoke, burning flesh, and a mixture of toxic burning fumes from the smoldering wreckage of your former neighborhood. You hear your neighbor scream in pain. You gag on the cordite, and as you slowly start to regain your senses, a chill goes down your spine- “MY WIFE AND KIDS ARE IN THE HOUSE.”

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But this is the face of American policy in the Middle East. I know, I know, I’m an asshole and I hate Obama for pointing this out. This “hypothetical” and stories like it are happening every single day all over the Middle East in our forever war on terror. Maybe it wasn’t some poor sap on his porch having coffee. Maybe it was a wedding party. Maybe it was people on a convoy to a city. Maybe it was just some poor bastard “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” That statement always pisses me off- if someone drops a fucking bomb on me while I am in my house, how dare you tell me I am in the “wrong place?” Fuck you.

Maybe it was a 500lb bomb that went off the mark. Maybe it was a “precision” weapon that was a couple hundred yards off. Maybe the clowns at the CIA translated the address wrong or didn’t understand subtle nuances in the language (and we are short on translators because we hate gays as much as terrorists) and this was supposed to hit another side of town. Maybe someone was fed bad intel from a “trusted” source. Or maybe someone did something to the US somewhere and we just had to tell people to “SUCK ON THIS.”

And instead of being outraged by this, instead of being infuriated that the military was caught once again lying to us, we continue on. I’m sure very serious commenters will explain to me the necessity of our actions, and how there are bad people out there, and we do the best we can because WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS and PEOPLE HATE US FOR OUR FREEDOM and because HITLER/SADDAM/GADDAFI IS EVIL. We have to win the War on Terror!

This insanity has to stop.






186 replies
  1. 1
    Brian R. says:

    Why do you hate America?™

  2. 2
    TuiMel says:

    There you go again, speaking of those who live in the Middle East as human beings, with aspirations that – at root – are not so unlike our own. Cue the American Exceptionalism Cops.

  3. 3
    Laura says:

    Amen. (To stopping the madness, I mean.)

  4. 4
    erlking says:

    At the risk of sounding like a dittohead–This. A thousand times this.

    If the sky is raining munitions on you and yours, you don’t give a fuck about the intentions of those guiding them. I’d be out for blood.

    Thanks for saying it. Again.

  5. 5
    cathyx says:

    It’s just collateral damage. Now go back to sleep.

  6. 6
    Jay B. says:

    It’s totally different when a Democrat does it, so what’s the big deal?

  7. 7
    MizB says:

    AFuckingMEN to that!

  8. 8
    cathyx says:

    But the defense contractors are making billions, and they contribute to Obama’s presidential campaign, so it’s ok.

  9. 9
    cleek says:

    @cathyx:
    they contribute to everybody’s campaign.

    the problem is far larger than Obama. and no liberal saint is going to get elected and turn the US into a peaceful, merciful, benevolent Utopia. get that idea out of your head.

    what Washington wanted us to avoid, what Eisenhower wanted us to avoid, we’re deep deep deep into it. to deep to extract ourselves, probably.

  10. 10
    erlking says:

    Also, too–as your title reminds us, this shit has a track record of not fucking working.

  11. 11
    PeakVT says:

    This insanity has to stop.

    Yes. But how do you cure a country of insanity when it is the most powerful military force on the planet, and when the cultural norms that allowed its overly complicated government to function have broken down?

  12. 12
    Calouste says:

    But this is the face of American policy in the Middle East in Third World countries since the start of the Monroe doctrine.

    Although often the USA just used to send the check to the local goons who then used the cash to buy helicopters from which to dump people in the ocean and such things.

    But now that the US has a massive standing army with nothing in particular to do, they’re doing it themselves.

  13. 13
    cleek says:

    This insanity has to stop.

    no, it doesn’t. and it won’t.

    as unpopular it was to say at the time, i was using the exact same scenario you just laid-out, in 2002, when we were just beginning this bout of insanity. that’s right: i oppose(d) the Afghanistan war because i thought it would generate more enemies than it will ever kill.

    but i’m dirty fucking hippie, so nobody listened to me.

  14. 14
    cathyx says:

    @cleek: That is true but the president has a lot of sway and that doesn’t get him off the hook.

  15. 15
    Dave in ME says:

    +1 erlking.

    The War on Terror should be renamed the Campaign to replace all terrorist we have killed, IN PERPETUITY.

    This madness will never end while we are subject to the whims of a military industrial complex that needs people dying constantly to stay profitable.

  16. 16
    virag says:

    this also isn’t new to the middle east in the 21st century. freedom bombing or its all-fun-all-day cousins have been our primary foreign policy policy since what, the philippines? for sure it’s easier now cause we got smart bombs–we can aim right into someone’s kitchen–in the hands of dumb people and don’t need as many soldiers. how’s the weather in yemen these days? cia with a 90% chance of drones and missiles.

  17. 17
    khead says:

    After reading the first two paragraphs, I thought John had moved “up a holler” with a strip mine on the mountaintop.

  18. 18
    Ruckus says:

    What JC said.
    We are the ugly americans. Pompous and arrogant. We are right and if you disagree with us, FUCK YOU. We obviously don’t value life very highly other than a fairly narrow selection of homo sapiens. We don’t value property at all unless we own it. Or can take it. We talk about rights of citizens, then ignore all of them, except the right to fuck over anyone. We worship the dollar and the material things it buys, it is our mantra, our life’s blood. Being good is never an issue, being bigger, richer is the end game. We are no longer the world’s policemen, we are it’s bully.

  19. 19
    srv says:

    It always amazes me how complete assholes think every brown person is their neighbors, nations, sect, religions and OBL’s keeper but god forbid you apply the same standard to them.

    There will be no peace in the world until those jackasses have to deal with cluster munitions in their neighborhoods.

  20. 20
    Calouste says:

    @cleek:

    You’d think that the US would eventually run out of money, Soviet Union style, due to its military adventure.

    But some future GOP President is probably just going to default on the debt to China and tell them to “come and get it”, and then use any pretext to invade.

  21. 21
    Paula says:

    @cleek:

    Well, I opposed even going into Afghanistan directly after 9/11. When do I get a prize, dammit?

  22. 22
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    You’re an American, John. If anyone drops a bomb on your neighbour’s house, it’s terrorrorrism and a justification for war.

    This is because your country has collectively decided that the 300 million living in your borders are more human than the 6,500 million of us living outside. We’re not human. We’re some form of amusing chimp, existing for your amusement.

    But we think we’re human. And when you hurt us, we plot revenge.

    And until your country (not you, since you get it, but your country) actually have your noses rubbed in that hard smelly fact, the insanity will continue.

  23. 23
    Paul W. says:

    I must be naive, but I think Biden and the killing of OBL could actually help make the decision to get out easier. A faster withdrawal is more conceivable now than it was a year ago when the surge in Afghanistan began.

  24. 24
    stuckinred says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: “And when you hurt us, we plot revenge.”

    same old shit over and over

  25. 25
    Calouste says:

    @virag:

    Shooting and bombing non-white people has been America’s foreign policy since about 1609.

  26. 26
    Max Power says:

    This insanity has to stop.

    Preach it, brother.

    If some Obama-is-a-Kenyan republicans got the idea that this “war-is-peace” BS about the non-hostilities in Libya constituted “high crimes and misdemeanors”, I’d have a hard time disagreeing with them.

  27. 27
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @cleek:
    I listened. Maybe because I’m a combat veteran of another war where we tried to blast them into loving us. That Petraeus, our latest version of Of Dugout Douglas MacArthur, suffered no harm for bullshitting us is a telling indicator of just how strong the MIC is and just how weak is Obama.

  28. 28
    taylormattd says:

    It’s really not possible to disagree with this John.

  29. 29
    El Cid says:

    @cleek: Fuck, there was enraged hostility to the mere notion that you would want there to be a coherent argument for not just ‘a’ war in Afghanistan, but what would be argued to be and not be effective, and what options there were, and so forth, because well there’s not time and we got hit and that’s where they were. And if you even seemed like you wanted such an informed and skeptical debate, it probably meant you loved the terrorists and wanted to send them roses and such.

  30. 30
    Martin says:

    Well, the regular routine of a lot of people there isn’t quite like your regular routine.

    It’s not a particularly courageous stand to suggest that their lives are like someone living in a seedy part of Newark and then decry these actions. Their lives aren’t like that and you can’t draw an analogy to anyone living in the west, not even the folks living among the drug lord wars in Mexico.

    Ultimately the argument comes down to “Do we sit back and accept 1,000 deaths, and an unknown amount of other acts – rapes, torture, imprisonment, whatever each year under the rule of a despot, or do accept 1,000 collateral deaths in exchange for a future without that?” Both answers suck. Which one do you pick?

    There seems to be this pervasive expectation that there’s a good option to every decision point. There isn’t. Sometimes all of the options suck, but those with courage will stand up and pick one and defend it. I don’t see that. I see criticism of a decision (possibly a bad decision) without a defense of the other options. So lets have it. Who is going to make the strong case that we should have let comparably as many innocent people die by a different hand for the indefinite future? Or present a different and realistic decision option and defend that.

  31. 31
    El Cid says:

    @Paul W.: I think it’s a situation in which there won’t really be a great definition of “get out” and the large number of variables which will be wrapped into that.

  32. 32
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Calouste:

    But now that the US has a massive standing army with nothing in particular to do, they’re doing it themselves.

    Well, there’s the semi-paranoid theory that dumping several hundred thousand young angry men with few non-military skills into a job market with a real unemployment rate approaching 20% wouldn’t be very healthy for the American social community, either. I’ve seen it argued that it’s better to have “them” over there shooting at crazy foreigners rather than here shooting at… each other, if “we’re” lucky. Or raiding the gated suburban communities, in Glenn Beck’s nightmares.

  33. 33
    stuckinred says:

    @Martin: Please stop trying to stem the self-righteous fervor. Everyone knows we can just un-ass the motherfucker at the drop of a hat.

  34. 34
    Riggsveda says:

    John, you should read Paul William Roberts 2005 book “A War Against Truth”. He was in Iraq when we invaded, and his description of what it felt like when the bombs came down is searing. And still, unfortunately, all too relevant.

  35. 35
    OzarkHillbilly (used to be tom p) says:

    John, what you said.

  36. 36
    MikeBoyScout says:

    John,

    This is the best piece of writing you have ever done.

    Our VSP + MSM world needs this type of writing with dramatic personalization. Your piece yesterday, Why Do Republicans Hate Clean Water?, had the same approach (which is great!), but you knock it out of the park here.

    This is Chicken on the Hill with Will! EXCELLENT!

  37. 37
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    This is why I don’t drink coffee.

  38. 38
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    John, you unserious commie libtard, doncha know our freedom bombs have “Have a Nice Day” printed on the warhead?

  39. 39
    Delia says:

    90% of Petraeus’s Captured ‘Taliban’ Were Civilians

    (from the linky)

    You know, young fella, I remember back when the folks killed or captured in the war were all Viet Cong. It’ll probably change again if we wait around long enough.

  40. 40
    Throwin Stones says:

    Hearts and Minds indeed.

    Rock On, John Cole!

  41. 41
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @stuckinred:

    same old shit over and over

    Yup. It doesn’t stop, since everyone sees themselves as the aggrieved innocent ruthlessly attacked by the wicked aggressor.

  42. 42
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Martin, you willing to sacrifice yer boy for permawar?

  43. 43
    chunksmediocrites says:

    No, no. I KNOW from watching the news that people in the Middle East only spend their time burning American flags, stoning women, rioting, shouting “Death to America”, and standing around. I mean they are so backwards, those nearly-but-not-quite-people over there. And they don’t share my values, or have families, or grocery bills, or pets, or worry about their kid’s futures, or make dinner. They just JIHAD and stuff. Oh and they hate our freedoms. Including apparently our freedom to use our sky robots to explode things like houses and cars full of people and their families, and rain down death and dismemberment.

    Oh, and I also know from watching TV that we just need to be patient and know that WE are winning, and totally NOT creating the next generations of peoples who hate the US for turning their family, neighborhood, and country into a bombing range full of death.

  44. 44
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    Ultimately the argument comes down to “Do we sit back and accept 1,000 deaths, and an unknown amount of other acts – rapes, torture, imprisonment, whatever each year under the rule of a despot, or do accept 1,000 collateral deaths in exchange for a future without that?” Both answers suck. Which one do you pick?

    Nearly 45,000 Americans die unnecessarily each year due to your health insurance system.

    How many Americans is it acceptable for Al Qaeda to blow up as “collateral damage” if they start citing a goal of changing this as their excuse?

  45. 45
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    Anyone who runs is a Taliban guerrilla.

    Anyone who stands still is a well-disciplined Taliban guerrilla.

  46. 46
    RandyH says:

    This post reminds me of a video in 2006 that MTV would not show in either the US or even in the UK, where the band was very popular. Maybe because it was just a little too real a depiction of what we were doing in Iraq. Whether you particularly like the music or not, the lyrics combined with the imagery from the video are just so powerful that you can relate, like John’s post forced us to do.

  47. 47

    I do love you, Mr Cole.

  48. 48
    patrick II says:

    @Calouste:

    Kidding aside, China gains in their competition with us by lending money for us to use in non-productive ways.

  49. 49
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Paul W.:

    I must be naive, but I think Biden and the killing of OBL could actually help make the decision to get out easier. A faster withdrawal is more conceivable now than it was a year ago when the surge in Afghanistan began.

    What does OBL have to do with our war in Afghanistan? You realize he was in Pakistan, right? And we’ve been looking for him there for a long time?

  50. 50
    Martin says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: You know, my problem here is tossing all of these actions under the same blanket, as though Iraq and Libya are equally amoral. I agree that the US has overly strong tendencies to employ military actions, and that those tendencies are far from limited to Republicans. But rather than condemn everything, something which is quite simply lazy, why don’t we actually look at the opportunity costs of each of these things?

    And I have three great uncles that helped liberate France and my grandfather and another great uncle hopped across the Pacific. I mean, once we knocked down the uboat threat in the Atlantic, why the fuck did we stay involved raining freedom bombs on the French and Belgians?

    I see a lot of assertions that the US discounts the lives of brown people, yet our long glorious history also suggests that brown people aren’t deserving of our intervention, or did we all spontaneously push that whole ‘Why Libya and not Sudan/Darfur?’ argument out of our heads because a lot of the names listed above were wondering not so long ago why Sudan wasn’t deserving of our freedom bombs. Who wants to defend those 400,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced as the best moral decision?

  51. 51

    @cleek:

    “but i’m dirty fucking hippie, so nobody listened to me.”

    No, you weren’t. You expressed an opinion that had merit (I was for going into Afghanistan solely for getting Bin Laden, but I was worried about what the Dim Son was going to do.

    But remember what had happened in the months before. People were angry, saddened at what happened in NYC.

    But you were right to express a different opinion.

    Iraq–there was no need for that–unless we can just admit here and now that the Dim Son just wanted to whip it out an show it to world. Libya…well, please remember that Obama held off on utilizing any action until the Arab League and the UN wanted us to step in. And at the risk of sounding out of sync with everyone here, screw Khadaffi. He’s going around killing his own people.

    (Yeah, I know Assad is doing the same thing.)

    Still…folks, there will always be war. As a fave director of mine once remarked: “As long as there are humans, there will always be war. There are those who call war inhumane. It isn’t. It’s a very human thing.”

    Note–this guy is as anti-war as they come. Unfortunately, he’s right.

  52. 52
    cleek says:

    on second thought, maybe Lulz can do it

  53. 53
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    So is that a yes or a no?

  54. 54
    cleek says:

    @Martin:

    or did we all spontaneously push that whole ‘Why Libya and not Sudan/Darfur?’ argument out of our heads because a lot of the names listed above were wondering not so long ago why Sudan wasn’t deserving of our freedom bombs. Who wants to defend those 400,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced as the best moral decision?

    can’t defend the morality (and don’t need to, since it wasn’t my decision). but, the reason why Libya and not Sudan is a complicated one but a lot of it depends on the people in charge at the time and the situation they were able to act in. in other words: politics. and politics is only moral when it has to be.

    @Marc McKenzie:

    Note—this guy is as anti-war as they come. Unfortunately, he’s right.

    agree with him, 10200.994%

  55. 55
    eemom says:

    @Martin:

    will you hush up with that shades of gray talk. Cole and his bots are trying to have a Righteous circle-jerk here.

  56. 56
    Guster says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: That’s a bizarre argument. I don’t wanna send my son to work as a cop, but I still want cops around. I don’t wanna send my son to work as a novelist, but I still want novels.

    Either we should get out and suffer those consequences, or we should keep blowing the fuck outta innocent people and suffer those. People have the right to either opinion without needing to pass some thought experiment test. Would you want your daughter to work in a shack for fifteen cents a day assembling keyboards? Huh? Huh? Then what are typing on, smart guy?

  57. 57
    stuckinred says:

    @eemom: Durant Station on the edge of Hatteras Village.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    cleek says:

    @eemom:

    Cole and his bots

    Q: if you don’t like the people here, why do you hang around?

  60. 60
    Guster says:

    @stuckinred: Oh, one of those vintage Blood Olivettis, made from the bones of Ceylonese children.

  61. 61
    stuckinred says:

    @Guster: With USB!

  62. 62
    Guster says:

    @stuckinred: My laugh just startled the dog.

  63. 63
    David in NY says:

    My kids were the only people I know who fully opposed the invasion of Afghanistan originally. My elder had watched the attack on the World Trade Center from close range (4-5 blocks), said he knew what it felt like, and he didn’t want to do that to anybody else.

  64. 64
    stuckinred says:

    @Guster: My Lil Bit is having nightmares right next to me.

  65. 65
    eemom says:

    @cleek:

    excuse me?

  66. 66
    cleek says:

    @eemom:
    serious Q.

    if we’re all “bots”, why waste your time ?

  67. 67
    FlipYrWhig says:

    As I recall, in Libya, dissidents were getting massacred, and they said, “Where are the Americans, and why don’t they stop this?” So, yeah, like Martin said. Being an innocent person caught in the middle of mechanized violence and overwhelming force would, in fact, suck. We shouldn’t do it! Problem solved, simple! The thing is… what do you do to _stop_ that when someone else is doing it? There isn’t a good answer to that. There are only bad answers.

    For that matter, the scenario isn’t loaded enough. I mean, what if your partner is a totally innocent person on a plane, totally uninvolved with anything, and terrorists hijack it and intend to crash it into a nuclear power plant, which will kill millions of people, and the President orders the plane to be shot down in order to spare them? How would you feel about that? I don’t think I’d get over it, personally. I’d be shattered. But I’d bet that the vast majority of people would say that it was the “right” thing to do. That’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with: innocent, decent, uninvolved people stand to get killed in _all_ the options.

    Yeah, it’s awful. We shouldn’t do it, or, at a minimum, there should be a very high bar. But no matter where you set that bar, innocent people still die.

  68. 68
    eemom says:

    @cleek:

    oh, gfy. As should be obvious to you, I was responding to a specific attitude on this thread, not the blog in general.

    I thought better of you. My mistake.

  69. 69
    Ruckus says:

    @Martin:
    You are correct that everything is a shade of gray. But what makes it a particular shade? In this context we as americans have been coloring a lot of it over the decades. Not that we have been always wrong but the last 40 yrs has not all that wonderful unless you work for or own stock in the MIC.

  70. 70
    stuckinred says:

    @eemom: @eemom: Careful you’ll get the pie filter treatment!

  71. 71
    cleek says:

    @eemom:

    I was responding to a specific attitude on this thread, not the blog in general.

    a thread that’s full of regulars, as most threads are.

    cool with insulting the regulars, not cool being called on it. noted.

    I thought better of you. My mistake.

    odd that thinking “better” of me didn’t cause you to exclude me from the ranks of the “bots”. oh wells.

    also odd that a serious question deserves a “gfy”.

    so much odd about this whole thing.

  72. 72
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    Guns don’t kill… it’s those darn bullets.

  73. 73
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @cleek:

    so much odd about this whole thing.

    Maybe you could just throw her in the pie filter by default and save everyone else the trouble of trying to decode her special brand of wacky.

  74. 74
    slag says:

    Wait. There are upstanding citizens in suburbia? What is this? Science fiction?

    Truth be told, I agree with you, John Cole. And I agree with Martin. Normally, when faced with competing needs and priorities, I’d try to innovate out of the situation. In this case, I got nuthin. I wish somebody whose actual job it is to resolve these problems would have something. Apparently not. And so, the freedom bombs fall.

  75. 75
    eemom says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    wait…..do my eyes deceive me? Is fuckie actually suggesting that someone — even me — be de facto banned??

    Dayum. And here I thought fuckie was all about freedom and live & let live and shit, and cackling out his asshole at “hall monitors.”

  76. 76
    eemom says:

    @cleek:

    and the use of the single word “bots” in a single comment on a single thread is enough to prompt you to insult a fellow “regular” with the question why do I hang out here…..but not cool being called on that.

    Noted.

  77. 77
    cleek says:

    @eemom:

    and the use of the single word “bots” in a single comment on a single thread is enough to prompt you to insult a fellow “regular” with the question why do I hang out here…..but not cool being called on that.

    i’m fine being “called on” why i wrote what i wrote. it’s easy to tell, because i repeated the question without telling you to go fuck yourself in response.

    you, apparently, on the other hand, don’t like being questioned. not one bit. noted.

    anyway. whatever. ok. carry on. have a night. peasant dreams. sheep/fences/etc. i got shit to do.

  78. 78
    Sad Iron says:

    This is Glenn Greenwald for the last year or so. I agree with him and I agree with you. Look, a nuclear device is going to go off in a US city some day. Here’s the news report that follows: “The mastermind of the plot is the child of parents who, along with his brothers and sisters, were accidentally killed by a predator drone in [insert Middle Eastern Country Here].”

  79. 79
    El Cid says:

    @Martin: We just don’t have the sorts of national discussions which lay out the context of what’s happening, what could happen, what the variety of options are — even ones we may not like — and what the variety of likely consequences would be, or at least would include, for any of these decisions.

    Why would anyone suggest someone have an opinion on whether to act in a certain way or not when it basically is presented as either we ‘act’ or certain (often very likely) terrible things will happen?

    I mean, I know what the real world is. I know how the public discussion rolls up whenever an administration moves to military action, and debate in the press thins to an expected range of support or maybe technical criticism. The entire discussion of “no-fly-zone” was an obvious fraud, dodge, trope, whatever, from the very beginning. But I for one do not see this (yet) as primarily a US-promoted intervention.

    [NOTE: POST-ANALYSIS SUGGESTS THE FORMATION OF THE IMMINENT ARRIVAL OF A RAMBLING PACK OF PARAGRAPHS. ALL NEARBY COUNTIES URGED TO TAKE SHELTER.]

    No serious arguments suggested that Qaddafi’s forces threatened major battle power from Libya’s relative joke of an air force. And even Robert Gates hammered that clearly from the start: such an approach was meaningless from the start, and would do nothing to halt the use of helicopters anyway.

    But without claiming to have done much of my own analysis, it seems to be considered uncontroversial to say that air power failed to halt the Serbian advance into Kosovo or slowed the ethnic cleansing by flight, or even to destroy much ground weaponry like tanks, and in fact didn’t even much slow Milosevic’ actions. But it and the abandonment by allies and the population’s continued non-support of his war and lots of other factors including a good NATO offer which kept the territory intact ended up with his loss.

    The AU keeps saying that they’re making progress on negotiations for something or other with Qaddafi, but no one yet sees anything, any time the AU says something Qaddafi sails out to say something contradictory, threatening, and of course batshit crazy. Plus there’s debate on whether or not the fact that so many of those leading AU nations got tons of Libyan money makes them more puppets or more effective and trusted.

    The AU has played an extremely helpful role in a number of African crises — for a long time they were the only forces in Southern Sudan / Darfur, and without their role in mediation the currently, though weakly, holding peace accords wouldn’t be there. But in the Libyan case they didn’t say very much about whether or not there was something the AU could do if it was their joint opinion that an imminent mass slaughter of civilians was looming in Libya.

    Still, such nations are never not going to be leery about the sudden escalation of resolutions promised not to be about regime change now obviously and openly being about regime change. It’s easy to say ‘well if you’re not Laurent Gbagbo don’t worry,’ but they all have concerns (in the ordinary and the financial sense) which they think will be vulnerable to any initiative at the UN or among varying powers labeled humanitarian or pro-democracy.

    Hugo Chavez isn’t an insensitive, callous ass to Middle Easterners putting their lives on the line against tyrannical regimes just because he’s got a lot of trade & purchase commitments from Qaddafi, but because he sees it as part of the continuity with the US’ hiring of whatever forces it can to get rid of governments it doesn’t like, for reasons always of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, typically including massive NED funding for our chosen political parties, because, hey, we can do that. A lot of governments around the world look at it that way.

    I just mean if we ask people to try and understand what’s going on, why don’t we endeavor to ask them to understand more than what’s necessary to ‘support’ or ‘oppose’ a policy or to rally to a certain position?

    There weren’t too many people familiar with the country and the military situation (maybe none, I don’t know) arguing that an air to air-and-ground campaign would quickly overturn Qaddafi. Would it be like the Serbia / Kosovo operation? It certainly wouldn’t be, to think the situations as even vaguely parallel would be crazy; but would the basic logic hold, that if you fuck up enough shit and hit enough infrastructure and wear down the regime support (or at least weary it) and show no sign of stopping, Qaddafi would back down like Milosevic?

    I’m sure that a lot of those making decisions would just rather him quit & leave; I still hope that can happen somehow. Or have a heart attack, and take Robert Mugabe with him, who will apparently continue his mad rule until he’s 126 years old.

    This isn’t that abstract — it’s not even rare. Governments don’t do it, but you see fervid debates throughout the prelude to, initiation of, and continuation of military actions from Great Wars to smaller ones, among people and organizations (labor unions, ‘model’ foreign policy groups, discussion halls) and publications and such.

    This doesn’t even mean that I oppose that some type of military intervention might have been a nearly impossible decision to avoid. Nor that I expected too much from its use.

    John’s point is not irrelevant here — we might prefer to see the cases in which US/UN etc bombardment hits carefully selected Qaddafi military targets; but they see civilians blown up by bombs (missiles) from American planes and those they see as just American dupes.

    Sure, lots of times I hoped that by some miracle Qaddafi’s most loyal backing in his manipulated pseudo-state might somehow dump him, but I don’t think I remember feeling like that might happen for very long.

    But these interventions have more effects on the population than saving some lives, which very likely at a number of points it did. Unless a continual civil war rages on, where similar numbers die as might have been massacred initially, just more slowly. And it is a civil war, with two sides of combatants.

    It’s not like this is some soi-distant affection by cold-hearted Americans: listen to interviews with a variety of Libyans past the point where they express support for US-UN intervention — they begin discussing these sorts of questions. What effect will it have long term to be seen as having depended so much on Western military support? Can those in the east run their own country if Qaddafi remains out there and fighting? What happened to Libya being among the most, if not the most, developed large nation in Africa? Just like Saddam’s Iraq was throughout the Arab Middle East — all of which is gone now, for freedom.

    Other people in the region have such questions — it’d be insane to pretend that discussions of Libya and military intervention were a closed system of dialogue between the US-UN forces and the Libyan rebels.

    Tunisians aren’t looking forward to what’s beginning to happen on their borders.

    At first when things were happening so quickly at the beginning of the uprisings, many argued that what the various opposition forces needed was a recognition as the internationally legitimate government. But it wasn’t going to happen, I don’t think, if you wanted a UN SC res through, too. Maybe Germany’s move will help.

    The opposition forces’ greatest weapon has been, and continues to be, Qaddafi himself. So batshit crazy, such an ass, so obviously leading to no path of any way out other than his total defeat of the opposition, he’s even gotten Russians meeting in Benghazi and not just calling on Qaddafi to leave, and thinking that the Qaddafi side of the toast no longer has much fresh butter left.

    I’m leery of the treatment of the rebels themselves as the pro-democracy movement itself. If successful, de facto rule might be coming, but there’s some not-too-positive leadership there, either. But the world is never perfect, and they’re the ones there. For me, though, it’s important to keep the distinction between the opposition armed leadership and what was and if things go their way would be a broader anti-Qaddafi popular movement.

    And the whole situation is on the verge of another whole level of humanitarian catastrophe in food and supplies vanishing on both sides.

    I think you have to hope for Qaddafi to lose power, and he doesn’t exactly have a strong power structure to leave behind, if I understand his personalized super-cultish rule. I don’t listen too much to this or that claim of achievement and victory, because we all know far too well how ill-sourced these quick-flying claims are and get cranked out for consumption purposes.

    Maybe one day the reports of the rebels closing on Tripoli will mean that something stable gets achieved and that somehow there’s no repercussions for a Tripoli population with very confused ‘loyalties’ which aren’t.

  80. 80

    Haven’t read the thread yet, but i hope someone suggested this would make a fine movie/tv miniseries. Of course with our luck, they’d turn it into another red dawn.

  81. 81
    El Cid says:

    Sorry about that up there.

    Also, I’m surprised that anyone outside our billion dollar media and our political establishment and the punditariat would ever have believed these numbers about how many “Taliban” or “terrorists” were captured from US military leaders and spokespersons.

    If memory is short enough, you can go back to the same being done under Bush Jr. If memory is longer, you can go back as far as you want.

    On the other hand, no one should ever question General David Gaius Flavius Julius Caesar Antonio Banderas Petraeus, who led the SURGE which totally in no way coincided with the successful conclusion of ethnic cleansing in Baghdad and which totally fixed Iraq.

  82. 82
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    @Sad Iron: This comment buys into anti-arab bigotry.

    Why would [insert Middle Eastern Country Here] be any different than any of the other countries the US has bombed? the sons and daughters of Japan, a country the US nuked, never engaged in nuclear revenge. Nor have any of the other countries firebombed by the US, including Vietnam and North Korea.

    Why do you think arabs would be different – because they’re brown? Way to go liberals, way to buy into the arab hate peddled by the wingers.

  83. 83
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    Well….do you want to know WHY our Traditional Stupid American Tricks don’t work in the ME?
    Its mad simple. When muslims are DEMOCRATICALLY empowered to vote, they vote for islamic democracy with shariah law. They CAN’T vote for missionary democracy with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Shariah law forbids proselytization of the poor and ignorant. This is in the Generous Quran.
    Freedom of speech LEGALIZES proselytization of the poor and ignorant.
    So freedom of speech and the faith of Islam ARE INCOMPATIBLE.
    So the Bush Doctrine and COIN Could. Never. Ever. Work in muslim nations.
    Because the BD and COIN (the BD cut down to village size) are about Spreading Missionary Democracy with Freedom of Speech.
    Islam is an uninvable strategy, in EGT terminimology, it is IMMUNE to penetration by outgroup memes.

    Now it seems like that fucking WEC retard Bush could have had an advisor look that up in the Quran. But Bush was sure he was empowered by White Plastic Jeebus.
    Unfortunately Islam is immune to jeebus.

  84. 84
    Svensker says:

    @Delia:

    90% of Petraeus’s Captured ‘Taliban’ Were Civilians

    Did the article mention how many of the 2000 “taliban” killed weren’t?

  85. 85
    Sad Iron says:

    @Mike Kay (True Grit): No, that’s not what I meant. I agree with you and I’m not implying anything that has to do with race or ethnicity. All the other countries you mention, at the time of conflict, had standing armies that fought for the people as a whole. What if you’re someone in Afghanistan with your whole family dead, or Iraq (1 million civilians)–who exacts you revenge? Are you saying Osama Bin Laden attacked the US for things we didn’t do in our foreign policy? At any rate, I think you’re misreading–I have no anti-arab bigotry. I want us out of their affairs because we’re the problem, not them.

  86. 86
    El Cid says:

    Hey, John, this should calm you down.

    CIA air base in works for Persian Gulf
    __
    Preparing for a worst-case scenario in Yemen, the United States is building a secret CIA air base in the Persian Gulf region to target al-Qaida terrorists there.
    __
    The Associated Press has withheld the exact location of the base at the request of U.S. officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because portions of the military and CIA missions in Yemen are classified…
    __
    …The new base suggests a long-term U.S. commitment to fighting Al-Qaeda in the region, along the lines of the model used in Pakistan, where CIA drones hunt militants with tacit, though not public, Pakistani government approval. Drones like Reapers and Predators are unmanned aircraft that can be flown from remote locations and hover over a target before firing a missile…
    __
    …With Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula essentially in control of large swathes of Yemeni territory, the Yemeni government now hopes U.S. targeting will remove some of the enemies threatening the Saleh regime. That new target-at-will attitude was reinforced after the attempt on Saleh’s life, both U.S. and Yemeni officials say.
    __
    The U.S. forces are also taking advantage of the fact that more Al-Qaeda operatives are exposing themselves as they move from their hideouts across the country to command troops challenging the government.

    Also interesting (apart from apparently 3 failed attempts to drone-bomb Al-Awlaki):

    Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had long urged Al-Qaeda not to directly challenge [Yemeni tyrant] Saleh but to keep Yemen as a haven from which to launch attacks against the United States, while AQAP leaders argued that they should overthrow the Yemeni government. A record of that debate between bin Laden and the Yemeni Al-Qaeda leadership was found among the records at the compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces May 2.
    __
    Bin Laden warned the Yemeni offshoot that its leaders would be targeted more aggressively and easily if they tried to take power, just as they are now, the officials said.

    The kids always suffer when they don’t listen to papa.

  87. 87
    eemom says:

    @cleek:

    I like it just fine being questioned on substance.

    The question “why do you hang out here if you don’t like the people here,” addressed to someone who you know doesn’t have a blanket dislike of “the people here,” is not a sincere question, and it’s disingenuous to pretend that it is.

  88. 88
    mclaren says:

    And instead of being outraged by this, instead of being infuriated that the military was caught once again lying to us, we continue on.

    No, we don’t just “continue on,” we extend and make more extreme this kind of insanity by bringing it home here to America.

    What the U.S. Army does to dirt-poor peasants in the middle today is what your local police will do to you tomorrow.

    Dan Carlin does a pretty good job discussing this.

  89. 89
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    because HITLER/SADDAM/GADDAFI IS EVIL

    You stupid fucking assclown Cole. LIBYA IS DIFFERENT!
    We are on the same side as the Islamists for once you retard.

  90. 90
    RSA says:

    @Martin:

    Who is going to make the strong case that we should have let comparably as many innocent people die by a different hand for the indefinite future?

    Are you asking someone to resolve the dirty hands problem in a blog comment? That’s kinda unrealistic.

  91. 91
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Sad Iron: Whose media would report those details? Not ours. It would be some dang Muslim who hated America for our freedom bombed our city and now we need to DO SOMETHING!

  92. 92
    Comrade Dread says:

    A-fracking-men, John Cole. A-fracking-men.

  93. 93
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    @Sad Iron: you said an arab will nuke a US city. That’s bullshit smear. That’s straight out of the wingnut demonize-the-arabs playbook. It’s one thing when it comes from racists like glenn beck and peter king, but when it comes from a supposed liberals… shameful. Sadly, the quality of liberal thought has really collapses.

  94. 94
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    My wife’s brother is married to a malcontent who has scowled for so many years, her face is now stuck in a permanent scowl. When she’s not sulking balefully around everyone in silent disapproval of their lifestyle choices separate and apart from our yearly get-togethers, she’s glaring in open hostility at a poor soul who has deigned to try to include her in the festivities.

    Imagine my surprise to find her happy, smiling and talkative at a recent funeral where everyone was simply beside themselves with grief. It suddenly occurred to me that she isn’t happy unless everyone else is miserable.

    This is very much the same vibe I get off of eemom.

  95. 95

    Just to put a bit of context on this, during WWII a whole lot of French were really pissed that we shelled the hell out of towns instead of kicking in doors. Mostly they were pissed about the French living there getting blown up with a few Nazis – not so much the property damage.

    Warfare is an exercise in breaking and killing, that is what it is and when you advocate warfare a lot of breaking and killing is going to happen and it will include unintended* targets.

    * I dislike the term “innocents” since that makes the assumption of guilt by uniform or…

  96. 96
    gerry says:

    Thanks for not being a partisan, John. The enemy of my friend is not necessarily my enemy. Measuring things as pro or anti Obama is not useful.

  97. 97
    parsimon says:

    John Cole:

    Coming in late, but I’m not completely following: while I agree with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya seems to be a different story.

    I certainly don’t say the US’s motives are pure in Libya, but are we seeing a great deal of ‘collateral damage’ there; are efforts there utterly craven and destructive? No armed conflict is without harm, but is it clear that we’re plainly doing more harm than good? These aren’t rhetorical questions. If we are, I wouldn’t scream and fight to deny it, but I just haven’t realized it.

  98. 98
    OzoneR says:

    Imagine it is 6 o’clock in the morning. You just woke up, brewed yourself a cup of coffee, and are sitting on the porch having a smoke, enjoying the morning air, thinking about what you have to accomplish today. Maybe your dog is with you, maybe you are chatting with your next door neighbor, who is also going through his morning ritual. You don’t live in the best neighborhood, in fact, there are some downright awful people living around you. But this is your house, you have mouths to feed and this is where you grew up, this is where your friends and family and job are, and this is what you call home. Sure, you’d like to move to some beautiful suburb where everyone is an upstanding citizen, but this is what you have, and you are making the best of it. And so you sit there, thinking about the day ahead of you, sipping your coffee, scratching the parts that always need the most attention in the morning after a good sleep, and… WHAMMO. Out of nowhere, a crushing explosion vaporizes the house next to you, your house, and all the houses around you.

    Because this is how the people of Tripoli have been living?

    Where you agree with our involvement in Libya or not, you cannot honestly say we just willy nilly went into a country where everyone was living in peace and turned it upside down.

  99. 99
    OzoneR says:

    @Sad Iron:

    This is Glenn Greenwald for the last year or so. I agree with him and I agree with you. Look, a nuclear device is going to go off in a US city some day. Here’s the news report that follows: “The mastermind of the plot is the child of parents who, along with his brothers and sisters, were accidentally killed by a predator drone in [insert Middle Eastern Country Here].”

    you mean just like how the news reported 9/11 was because of our support for Israel?

    C’mon now.

  100. 100
    eemom says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    let’s seeeee — what do your scowly, sulky SIL and I have in common?

    Oh yeah. You.

  101. 101
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @eemom:

    let’s seeeee—what do your scowly, sulky SIL and I have in common?

    It’s my wife’s sister-in-law, and she’s been afflicting my wife’s family for many many years before I came along, in much the same way as you here, before I called you on it.

  102. 102
    parsimon says:

    @parsimon: I see I should have reviewed the thread more closely before commenting. Of course.

  103. 103
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Mike Kay (True Grit): Actually it might happen. Islamic terrorism is a response to western interventionism.
    What to neuter al-Q?
    GTFO Big White Christian Bwana.
    OIF created 4.5 million Iraqi orphans. Nearly all of them will grow up hating America and Americans.
    yeah, yeah, its horrible that girls cant go school and Rick Warren can’t build a megachurch in Mecca, but there is NOTHING Americans can do about it. All you asshats can do is scold.
    Islam is immune to missionary democracy.
    8 years ago, Iraq was 97% muslim, and 10 years ago A-stan was 99% muslim. Today Iraq is 97% muslim and A-stan is 99% muslim.
    No change.

  104. 104
    OzoneR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    Islam is immune to missionary democracy.

    Turkey

  105. 105
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @OzoneR: I have no clue why Cole insists on homogenizing Libya with Iraq and AfPak.
    Its different.
    For one thing, we were INVITED…by the Arab League. For another, we are on the same side as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and the students.
    Unlike Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, and KSA, we are on the side of the small brown people.
    Why doesnt Cole get that?
    My only answer is he must be trolling.

  106. 106
    Cain says:

    man.. there sure is a lot of angst in the BJ world today. John Cole hasn’t attacked me once today, so it’s still a good day.

  107. 107
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @OzoneR:

    Turkey

    Kemel Ataturk was a missionary? Silly me – I thought he was a indigenous Turk and revolutionary hero who had enough mana to drag the country into a Republic.

    So if he wasn’t a Turk, what was he, Ozone?

  108. 108
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Cain:

    man.. there sure is a lot of angst in the BJ world today.

    Yeah, I just saw the biweekly meltdown on the other thread. So far, no bannings so we can be thankful for that.

    It’s a full moon, right?

  109. 109
    eemom says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    no, no fuckie — you’re getting your concepts of time, and cause and effect, mixed up again.

    First off, everyone knows that nothing ever happened on this blog before you came along, cuz you’ve been here since like the beginning of time.

    Secondly, your statement implies that your “calling me” on shit represents some sort of terminus to whatever it is that I’m doing. To the contrary, your disapproval inspires and nourishes my comments, causing them to become fruitful and multiply ……much like fertilizer made of shit causes a luscious flowering plant to grow and thrive…….

  110. 110
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @eemom:

    Secondly, your statement implies that your “calling me” on shit represents some sort of terminus to whatever it is that I’m doing. To the contrary, your disapproval inspires and nourishes my comments, causing them to become fruitful and multiply ……much like fertilizer made of shit causes a luscious flowering plant to grow and thrive…….

    No, you kept shitting on folks so I finally said something. In much the same way as you handled Cleek here, you made it clear you’re just a bully that can dish it out but can’t take it.

    About once a week, someone else realizes what an absolutely hideous creature you are and we’re off to the races again. I do accept credit for realizing it earlier than most others, but I’ve always been precocious like that.

  111. 111
    Sad Iron says:

    @Mike Kay (True Grit):
    Show me once where I use the word “Arab.” Not once. I said Middle Eastern. To clarify, so you can get it through your thick head–I’m not saying a muslim or citizen in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq would attack us because they are muslim. I’m saying it would likely happen because we slaughtered someone’s innocent family with impunity. If there’s racism in there, I’m lost. Again, not once do I use the word Arab–find it and I’ll send you cash.

  112. 112
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @OzoneR: lolool
    Turkey is evolving from a Kemalist dictatorship/military junta to an islamic republic.
    Dont you read?

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a comfortable majority in Turkey’s parliamentary election on 12 June – not enough to change the national constitution without the agreement of a parliamentary coalition, but a solid 325 or so out of 550 seats, and a higher margin of victory than AKP achieved in 2007.

    Eventually AKP will get enough of a majority to change the constitution.
    Do you know what they will change it to?
    Shariah.
    AKP tries every year.
    From the CIA factbook.

    Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)

    Not many conversions for 90 years of occidentalism.
    hahahaha!

  113. 113
    Unsympathetic says:

    This thread has lost its bloody mind.

    OBL wanted Dim Son to invade, because he knew he’d cause more damage to America by inciting them to invade his country and never leave.

    http://findarticles.com/p/arti.....n11489017/

    “Osama Bin Laden knew very well he couldn’t defeat the United States militarily. What he did know was that he could get us stuck in the Middle East, throwing money away fighting endless insurgencies. 9-11 was just a pretext to get us bogged down in an endless war (or two). He bled us.”

    War: what is it good for? Helping terrorists win.

  114. 114
    Sad Iron says:

    @OzoneR: I’m not sure I follow you. And, for what it’s worth, I’m not on board with any argument saying merely supporting Israel caused 9/11. I’m trying to make clear the same thing I’m trying to explain to another commenter–like Greenwald says, the more we slaughter people over there, the more some folks (maybe even a whole 10 people) will want to do the same to us.

  115. 115
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: Ataturk was not a missionary….Ataturk was a dictator that imposed occidentalism on the turkish people.

    90 years ago, Turkey was 99.8 % muslim.
    Today Turkey is 99.8 muslim.
    I sure don’t see many conversions, do you?
    Islam is an uninvadable strategy, because it is immune to proselytization.

  116. 116
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Unsympathetic: actually no. OBL landed a lucky junk punch in America’s economic junk.
    He brought the house of cards down around our ears.
    His goal was always to transform the war on terror into a war on Islam, which he knew America would lose.
    And to show America was vulnerable.
    And we have lost. Iraq is planting a boot in America’s big white judeoxian ass in December, and the Taliban are going to swamp Karzai’s government as soon as we leave. We spent a trillion dollars and 7k soljah lives for nothing.
    We are leaving with our tail tucked between our legs.
    OBL won.
    That is all he ever wanted.
    ;)

  117. 117
    OzoneR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    I have no clue why Cole insists on homogenizing Libya with Iraq and AfPak.

    because he doesn’t support Libya and sees it that way, fair enough.

    But this is why when these “Save Darfur” hippies used to chase me around my college campus, I’d throw their little clipboards back in their face.

    Because the left doesn’t have the stomach to do what it takes to stop things like Darfur from happening. It was just a convenient reason to fling shit.

  118. 118
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    Righteous post, Cole.

  119. 119
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Sad Iron: Then again, if the Libyan dissidents got massacred after asking for US assistance and not getting it, their survivors might be a smidge upset about _that_, too. Help, and innocent people get killed, and resentment builds. Don’t help, and innocent people get killed, and resentment builds. Of course “slaughtering people over there” is bad. Now let’s say that people are _already_ being slaughtered. Is the obvious right thing to do to say, “I’m sorry, we believe that aiding your cause would result in slaughtering people, so you’ll just have to fend for yourselves”? It might be the “right” course of action, but it’s not like it won’t come at a cost, or perhaps even result in blowback in its own right. Act in the manner Greenwald wants, and _people still die_, and _people still blame the US_ for it. So, given that, it’s really not obvious what the best course of action would be. Either way, to coin a phrase, there will be blood.

  120. 120
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Think of Afghanistan. We all know that little is being accomplished there, and the whole thing should just be ended, the sooner the better. When that happens, most likely, the country will completely melt down all over again. Then what? What’s the obvious thing to do at that point? Let it burn, not our problem? If you say, “yes,” which is obviously tempting, don’t you end up with thousands of pleasant people — just like the one in John’s hypothetical — getting annihilated? You have to be ready to say, “Yes, I know that people will be slaughtered, and the US will be blamed to some degree for that, and whoever the president is will be blamed to some degree for that, and it’s going to be a bad scene, and _still_ I think that’s what we should do.” And mean it.

  121. 121
    El Cid says:

    @OzoneR: Thank god, because military intervention according to the people working decades on the ground there would have taken an absolutely horrible situation and blown it up to even worse.

    It would be like some absolute shit-brains suggesting that we could improve life in Zimbabwe by military action against Mugabe and crossing your fingers that it would get better instead of the state collapse into a chaos of war so bad people would be nostalgic for the simple killings of a Mugabe.

    Or some vague idiots who thought that ‘we’ needed to somehow do some or other military action in Burma, exactly what no one knew, except sternly worded emptiness, and, once again, with zero knowledge and only the arrogance of being sure of one’s rightness, being more than willing to risk pushing a horrible situation into a worse one.

    So cut this idiot shit out about ‘the left’ not being strong enough to have made Southern Sudan and Sudan an even more hellish situation; your ass wasn’t fucking working there, and most of them were pleading Western powers not to go on some mad bombing under the notion of helping.

    It’s certainly “not perfect” (an extreme understatement), but it was those pussy hippie aid workers, peace negotiators, AU and UN peacekeepers and international contacts which has so far brought the north’s war against the South to a formal halt, and the independence of Southern Sudan. For a while at least.

    Not a bunch of loudmouth jackasses imagining themselves in bomber jackets and looking at themselves in the mirror for how tough they can pose while showing a strong look of disgust at those ‘leftists’ (i.e., anyone not having a policy of bombing something or other in Sudan to make things better) just ain’t got the stomach for what needs ta be done.

  122. 122
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Then again, if the Libyan dissidents got massacred after asking for US assistance and not getting it, their survivors might be a smidge upset about that, too. Help, and innocent people get killed, and resentment builds. Don’t help, and innocent people get killed, and resentment builds. Of course “slaughtering people over there” is bad. Now let’s say that people are already being slaughtered. Is the obvious right thing to do to say, “I’m sorry, we believe that aiding your cause would result in slaughtering people, so you’ll just have to fend for yourselves”? It might be the “right” course of action, but it’s not like it won’t come at a cost, or perhaps even result in blowback in its own right. Act in the manner Greenwald wants, and people still die, and people still blame the US for it. So, given that, it’s really not obvious what the best course of action would be. Either way, to coin a phrase, there will be blood.

    Only one of those scenarios has us definitively doing the killing and paying for it.

    The second scenario was never anything more than fearmongering for the desired outcome, scenario #1. There were uprisings, armed and otherwise, and there were attendant reprisals. There was also a lot of bellicose talk on both sides, as will often happen in a civil skirmish. There was never any popular support for an overthrow of Gaddafi and at any time the uprisers got tired of being reprised, they were free to stand down.

    I don’t know why you guys insist on pushing the massacre of innocents bullshit. If you wanted Gaddafi overthrown, as John said, cut the bullshit and just say so. Then merely point back to the times in the 70s and 80s he actually massacred innocents, back when we didn’t care, and say that’s why he has to go now, 20 years later and 5 years after we made friends with him again.

    If, OTOH, you’re motivated by a desire to rationalize every stupid thing Obama does while McCain applauds, continue on with the bullshit.

  123. 123
    eemom says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    No, you kept shitting on folks so I finally said something. In much the same way as you handled Cleek here, you made it clear you’re just a bully that can dish it out but can’t take it.

    Good gracious.

    Projection much, fuckie?

  124. 124
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @eemom: If you like, I can spend a few weeks doing your schtick so you can see what assholery looks like.

  125. 125
    eemom says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    If, OTOH, you’re motivated by a desire to rationalize every stupid thing Obama does, continue on with the bullshit.

    oooh, look — fuckie’s getting all hot and bothered; fired up with the Obama hate.

  126. 126
    eemom says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    whatevs, dude. God knows you’ve got nothing better to do.

  127. 127
    OzoneR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    Turkey is evolving from a Kemalist dictatorship/military junta to an islamic republic.

    Turkey is a dictatorship/military junta that also has democratic elections.

    Magic!

  128. 128
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @eemom:

    God knows you’ve got nothing better to do.

    Why that would even concern you is beyond my ken.

  129. 129
    OzoneR says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Act in the manner Greenwald wants, and people still die, and people still blame the US for it.

    and then we’d be hearing from bleeding heart liberals about how we turned our backs on the good people of Benghazi just like we did in Rwanda and Darfur.

  130. 130
    eemom says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    why you’ve made it your life’s work to be an asshole to me and a few other people on this blog is beyond mine.

    Life is full of mysteries, fuckie.

    I’m gonna go walk the dogs. Nighty-night.

  131. 131
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    Dude, you’re getting confused.

    You stated Islam was immune to missionary democracy.
    Ozone pointed at Turkey as a counter.
    I’m pointing out that that wasn’t missionary democracy; that was the result of an indigenous secular movement.

  132. 132
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @OzoneR: yeah, Iran has ‘democratic’ elections too. That is what the Green Wave was all about.
    jiggering the constitutional elections.
    I dont get your point.
    Ataturk forcibly IMPOSED a western style constitution that allowed representation but no freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Was that democratic?
    It was not consent of the governed now was it?

    Now Bush might have been more ‘successful’ if he had IMPOSED a western style constitution on Iraq. But that would have made us not just occupiers, but dictators.
    You might be hella sad about shariah, but you can’t do anything about it.
    we tried for a decade and got nuthin’.

  133. 133
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @eemom:

    why you’ve made it your life’s work to be an asshole to me and a few other people on this blog is beyond mine.

    How would you have me treat assholes? Consider, for example, your opening comment on this thread. How should I have responded to your assholery?

    This could be an instructive experiment for both of us.

  134. 134
    pattonbt says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: This is said at the outset of every military action.

    Country X is totally different!!! Trust us!!

    Yet the results, invariably, are almost always the same.

  135. 135
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: no, it was the result of a dictator imposing a western style constitution.
    the indigenous MUSLIMS have been trying to change it since they got the vote.
    there was not an “indigenous” secular movement. there was an imposed secular constitution.
    There was no proselytization involved. Only force. And the military junta took over applying the force where Dictator Ataturk left off.

    What is your stakehold in this anyways? Shouldn’t turks have the government they want, even if they make it an islamic democracy?

  136. 136
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .

    This insanity has to stop.

    Fortunately, President Obama is going to kick the Commander in Chief’s ass for these outrageously depraved and needlessly violent acts that he has perpetrated against innocent women, children and men in at least five other countries. Not to mention the ongoing torture at secret CIA black sites. That’s why we require civilian control of the military.
    .
    .

  137. 137
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @pattonbt: in this case it is true. the US and NATO are on the same side with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Libyan Islamic Fighter Group. The side of islamists.
    We were invited by the Arab League.
    Those two things make a big difference.
    Why is Cole blind to that?

  138. 138
    Mike M says:

    I lived in Egypt for a brief time and still have quite a few friends there. At least among my group of friends, both middle-class professionals and some shopkeepers, they are very supportive of NATO’s action in Libya. They see it quite differently than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I certainly can’t claim that they represent all Egyptians, but I can say that they don’t share Cole’s view, right or wrong.

    Egyptians also appear to believe quite strongly that Qadaffi’s forces are causing some extreme suffering throughout the country, but especially in rebel held cities such as Misrata. They see horrifying images daily on both Egyptian TV and multiple Arab-language stations. They certainly wouldn’t agree with “Just Some Fuckhead”‘s view that there never would be a slaughter if NATO hadn’t intervened. The firm belief is that people are being slaughtered daily and they wish that the US and NATO would do more.

    I can understand and respect opposition to our actions in Libya, but I think that it is offensive to trivialize it as another action of white people against brown people. It may not result in a free and democratic Libya, but the action is being taken, in part, because the people in the region asked for our help. That’s something that never happened in Iraq or Afghanistan.

  139. 139
    pattonbt says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Again, everyone says this for wars they support. “It’s, like, totally different and stuff” or “history isn’t applicable here”.

    History repeats, humans suck, wars are nasty and have unintended consequences on and on. War overrides religion.

    And wasn’t this war supposed to be over in a couple of weeks? I remember many, many pre-congratulatory smackdowns puffing that line. Seems like it’s stalemate central as many cautionary people predicted with no break in sight (minus escalation from outside forces).

  140. 140
    Sloegin says:

    This country has gotten so completely desensitized to bombing, we practically view it as foreign policy kumbyah. Bombs for good! Bombs for prosperity! Bombs for democracy! Bombs to make today’s bad guy go away, no pain involved.

    Someone bombs us, we lose our collective shit for decades or longer. We bomb someone else, it’s for the greater good, an act of fucking charity.

    Bomb our enemies, bomb our allies, bomb otherwise neutral countries and keep it a secret, bomb to help out some Libyans who until recently were the biggest foreign fighter contingent facing US troops in Iraq. All because those tribal bastards are fighting some other tribal bastard for power. Bomb because the UN said so. Never mind our manipulating the UN to say so.

    No need to think too hard when you can blow stuff up good. I’m waiting for the day when we’re suddenly shocked, SHOCKED, that an entire country declares war against us, just because we bombed them.

    (/rant +6)

  141. 141
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Mike M:

    That’s something that never happened in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    That’s simply not true. Many influential and connected Iraqis were lobbying for the overthrow of Saddam for many many years. Iraqi Kurds were begging us to decapitate Saddam’s regime. External help is invariably requested by one side or another in a civil skirmish.

  142. 142
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Mike M:

    They certainly wouldn’t agree with “Just Some Fuckhead”’s view that there never would be a slaughter if NATO hadn’t intervened.

    Yes, but I’d like to think we can make sane policy choices on something more than the worst thing we can imagine.

  143. 143
    El Cid says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I’ll trace down the academic I was listening to, but he was pointing out that Qaddafi had been actually quite weak in domestic rule in the early 1980s.

    This professor claimed that the 1986 bombing strengthened Qaddafi’s hand with new anti-imperialist fear mongering. It might have been Vijay Prashad.

    Others have long claimed that Qaddafi was hurt by this very deeply among his population and dissent grew. (It apparently didn’t reduce his role in aiding terrorist & insurgent groups, he just routed it all differently.)

    Supposedly he would have been dead, if he hadn’t — reportedly — gotten a phone call from the Italian Prime Minister and escaped within moments. (Oil and such, you know. I don’t know if such notice would have to go up to the level of the PM anyway — are there no underlings to task? Or is that riskier?)

  144. 144
    El Cid says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Well, in the 1970s and 1980s there was the USSR, so there occasionally were a few limits on US power projection. Particularly given the really close links between Qaddafi and the Soviets.

    I’m pretty sure the US would have been happy to have seen Qaddafi removed, whether for human rights abuses / massacres or any other reason.

  145. 145
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @pattonbt:

    And wasn’t this war supposed to be over in a couple of weeks? I remember many, many pre-congratulatory smackdowns puffing that line.

    It’s been going on so long now, M_C’s forgotten twice now which side she’s for.

  146. 146
    El Cid says:

    Juan Cole, Public Enemy?

    Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.
    __
    In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed.
    __
    Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.

    There might ought to be a grand jury called up to see what charges should be filed against this Mr. Carle guy for being an unpatriot.

  147. 147
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @El Cid:

    I’m pretty sure the US would have been happy to have seen Qaddafi removed, whether for human rights abuses / massacres or any other reason.

    You mean like in 2007 when we removed Libya from the bad country list and subsequently put them on the UN Security Council? Or 2008 when Gaddafi and Berlusconi signed a historic treaty? Or..

  148. 148
    daveNYC says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    Ataturk forcibly IMPOSED a western style constitution that allowed representation but no freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Was that democratic?

    Since the last time you were in a thread spouting this bullshit you have obviously failed to Google both the contents of the Turkish constitution and the definition of the word ‘democratic’ (or democracy, for that matter).

    One of these days I’ll install the pie filter.

  149. 149
    roshan says:

    GFY, eemom, and DIAF.

  150. 150

    It doesn’t matter if your war is right, wrong, or inbetween people are going to get killed and maimed and things are going to get broken. No matter what, a whole bunch of people are not going to be happy and it will be expensive. That is simply the reality of it and that is what you have to get along with if you decide to go there.

    I think we had to do Afghanistan but the way it was done leaves me now wondering if there is any point. Iraq was plain stupidity, especially with Afghanistan going on. If you’re going to do Afghanistan you’re stuck with Pakistan, sadly.

    I don’t understand Libya in relation to say Syria or Yemen other than after Egypt it was like the straw that broke the back. I do think Yemen promises to be a problem, that place is seriously broken and there are some bad people with bad intentions. Really, it looks as though our further meddling is going to cost us and avoiding meddling has costs as well.

    Our history in the ME stinks and will haunt us, no matter. It sure takes some careful measuring to put killing and maiming up against not doing it in any place and especially there. I am knee jerk no to war. Realities can intrude.

  151. 151
    Martin says:

    @RSA: Sorry about having to dive out of this conversation, it’s an important one.

    I wasn’t expecting anyone to solve the dirty hands problem, rather I just want to see people acknowledge the dirty hands problem. Cole’s quite understandable rant (I’ve felt the same way at times) simply doesn’t reflect the responsibility that we’ve put in the hands of those in power, and I think I speak for everyone that we do want those in power to exercise their full responsibility.

  152. 152

    united states book of military strategy: apply overwhelming force.

    sadly this has become the grand strategy and the tactics as well, then it bled over into u.s. theoretically civilian led diplomatic efforts as well. we don’t see the big picture, or the small picture, we are middle managing western civilization.

  153. 153
    NR says:

    @El Cid:

    There might ought to be a grand jury called up to see what charges should be filed against this Mr. Carle guy for being an unpatriot.

    Obama decided way back at the beginning of his term that he wasn’t going to prosecute any Bush administration officials for breaking the law. Why would he change his mind now?

  154. 154
    Martin says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    I don’t understand Libya in relation to say Syria or Yemen other than after Egypt it was like the straw that broke the back.

    Like all things, you have to balance means against wishes. I think if world leaders would be asked what nation they would most wish to see fixed, 100% would say North Korea, but it’s realistically beyond fixing externally. At best it can be nudged slightly. We simply lack the means to do it without making the problem vastly worse for DPRKs neighbors.

    The difference with Syria is twofold:

    1) It’s a large, dense population nation with a decent amount of urban sprawl. It’s difficult to establish and maintain control there as a result, and easy for the government to dig in. Libya is much lower population, much less dense, much more open, and much easier to compartmentalize. It’s actually possible to use air power to achieve large goals in Libya, harder in Syria, impossible somewhere like Vietnam.
    2) Syria has neighbors that both limit the ability of a popular movement to form (Israel), and allow the government to get resupplied (Iraq). Syria is difficult to siege as a result. Libya, because of what happened in Tunisia and Egypt made it much easier for a popular movement to form and made it much easier to siege. This allowed an uprising to start, which forced the government to react, which increased the justification for intervention. To a degree, the outcome was self-fulfilling.

    Libya became urgent earlier than Syria did, but even so, I think our preference would have been to intervene in Syria over Libya, but the conditions were harder. There were fewer allies supporting such a move and knowing that there’d be collateral damage proportionate to the difficulty of the effort, you need a greater prospect of need in Syria over Libya, and that simply didn’t present itself. So basically, conditions favored intervening in Libya that still don’t present themselves in Syria. Has nothing to do with what we would prefer, or what is the greater crisis and everything to do with what’s possible relative to the crisis at hand.

    I think the US only led that charge because we happened to have carriers on site. Basically, we were in a position to act – and that counts for a surprising amount when events happen. If you’re on scene you are forced into a choice, part of that choice being to do nothing. When you aren’t, you don’t have a choice. So when Gaddafi rolled tanks toward Benghazi we could stop it or not stop it. I think we made both the moral and practical choice, and we did stop it.

    I agree our history stinks, particularly our history during the cold war when we supported propping all of these dictators up as part of a strategy to keep the Soviets from dominating the region. And I think Iraq II stinks because it was bullshit from the get-go. Iraq I, however, was a proper act, and much of what else has happened in the region since hasn’t been bad (but far from good enough to make up for prior bad acts). I think our policies toward Israel stink as well, not because I don’t want to see Israel succeed, but our lack of impartiality in the matter has given everyone good reason to question our motives, and I don’t think Israels current power set gives a shit whether we come off as the loser in the whole situation. But in spite of all that, I don’t think we have to conclude that everything we do in the region is wrong and destructive.

  155. 155
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    Look up the meaning of the word “indigenous”, will you? Was Ataturk a Russian? Did he come from Botswana?

  156. 156
    DPirate says:

    @Martin: No, that is not the choice. For one thing, your numbers are off, and for another the outcome of action is not certain and by all appearances will produce no beneficial change to anyone, ourselves included, overall.

    More correct I think would be to ask: Do we accept an attack or do we petulantly fuck up the world of 10,000,000 times the number of victims of that attack and cut off our nose to spite our face.

    So, you are picking the status quo, and defending it by saying that it demonstrates courage? I call bullshit. I see no defense from you of your choice while you demand one of anyone with any criticism of it.

    Nevertheless, I choose inaction and I defend it by saying that de-escalation, in nearly every forum, is a more beneficial policy than escalation.

    Also, you are wrong in thinking there is not always a good decision to make. There is, and they are defined by morality.

    @stuckinred:So, what then? Nothing can be done, therefore the beatings will continue until morale improves?

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: American tobacco exports kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. (Statistic made up on the spot, but that never stopped US!)

    @Martin: I do. None of that would have happened had the US and NATO not decided to get involved. Qaddafi would have put down this little rising and life, as opposed to death, would have continued. All we have done is prolong and increase the pain and suffering.

    @Ghanima Atreides: Well, that’s nonsense. The Bible is also incompatible with freedoms guaranteed by the US constitution and which people enjoy without moral or legal problems. Islam has it’s sects just as christianity and judaism and buddhism and every other major religion, and they are all both pliable and permissive in different ways.

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I agree.

    @Chuck Butcher: Yemen is a problem only in the way that Saudi Arabia is a problem – a breeding ground for anti-American radicals. The majority of the world trade center terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, right? Most of the population of Yemen is more interested in chewing kat than doing much of anything, I think.

    @Martin: Well, now that is true. Their first responsibility, as they see it, is to ensure that we continue to control the world’s oil supply, since that allows and provides all the other good stuff that makes life in the west so much better than that elsewhere. When you view our military interventions through that lens, things make much more sense. (Another useful lens is illicit drugs, and ensuring the flow of them into the country.) Keeping the bread and circus show going…

    Eventually, if we continue in this endeavour, we will need to intervene militarily against Chinese interests, and that is what will break us. That is my prediction.

  157. 157
    Jim Pharo says:

    Thank you, John. I think you’ve woken a few more people up…

  158. 158
    Cromagnon says:

    Obama is just as bad or worse than Bush. When Sarah Palin is president everything will be much better

  159. 159
    Cromagnon says:

    As far as the WOT, we should do nothing. Let the terrorist do whatever they want, whenever they want. Let all the despots murder their citizens at will… That way nobody gets hurt

  160. 160
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @DPirate: no. freedom of speech and freedom of religion are LAW in america. Shariah, or islamic jurisprudence, is LAW in majority muslim nations. There is no separation of church and state. The lawyers are the clergy and the clergy are the lawyers. That is why muslims can build a mosque anywhere in the US, and why Rick Warren cannot build a megachurch in Mecca or Karbala.

    Islam has it’s sects

    ALL islamic sects follow the word of the Generous Quran. The Quran explicitly states that proselytizing the poor and ignorant is forbidden. It is a part of shariah that is incomprehensible to the judeoxian west, because proselytization is xianity’s killer-app for making reps. Freedom of speech LEGALIZES the proselytization of the poor and ignorant.
    So freedom of speech is INCOMPATIBLE with Islam.

    Want more proof? Have there been ANY churches of synagogues built in the last decade or so of American occupation of Iraq and A-stan?
    NO.
    Have there been any converts?
    NO. Iraq is still 97% muslim, A-stan is still 99% muslim.
    Have there been any muslim warbrides or half american babies like in our occupations of Germany and Japan?
    NO.
    Islam has no prostitute class. Now you might think that is a good thing or a bad thing, but the truth is WE CANNOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.
    We just spent nearly a decade and a trillion dollars trying.

  161. 161
    TK-421 says:

    First, thanks to John for reminding us all of the absurdity and horror of a drone war.

    Second, I wish this was more hypothetical to Americans than it actually is. To organized groups like drug cartels or paramilitary orgs or terrorist groups, aerial drones are not that expensive or difficult to use. True, the US and her allies are (AFAIK) the only ones who have mastered arming and shooting their drones, but A) it isn’t rocket science, others will figure this out too, and B) if an unarmed recon drone appeared above El Paso or San Diego, do you think people would be cool with that because it doesn’t have missiles?

    I am still a huuuuuuge fan of drones (and arming them), but only as a strategic weapon. Since these things were invented, people have been cautioning that using robot “things” to do the dirty work of war (and thus lower the human cost of war) will only serve to increase the frequency and brutality of war. Better to treat them like a SpecOps force, or even a nuke- very effective, but only when used rarely in special situations.

    Now that the US is at war in 5 countries (at least), I think we can see the downside to using drones too much. US policymakers and planners are foolishly using drones like candy. Some of these people suffering from “collateral damage” from these drone attacks will (understandably) swear vengeance on America, and in X years one or more of them will manage to fly/drive/whatever a large load of explosives into a gov’t building/shopping mall/whatever. This isn’t going to work.

  162. 162
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @DPirate:

    Have there been any muslim warbrides or half american babies like in our occupations of Germany and Japan?

    Or Vietnam?

  163. 163
    sashlal says:

    Best post ever in the history of anti unnecessary war blogosphere

  164. 164
    Sad Iron says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Thanks for the response–the first civiized and thoughtful one I received.

  165. 165
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @TK-421: Drones do not work in AfPak because of social network theory.
    The COINdinstas made a big headfake about the Anbar “Awakening” and exploiting trusted networks to form the Sons of Iraq, but that was all bulshytt. We were just paying them.
    The reason droning doesn’t work in AfPak is because every hostile kill creates AT LEAST two more hostiles at a minimum, because of negative influence propagating along both consanguineous and social network connections. The Taliban are part of the indigenous population.

    Now Libya is DIFFERENT (Cole’s whining aside), and the drones are not attacking embedded insurgents that are part of the rebel social networks, but Chad mercenaries and tribesmen from Qaddafis networks in Western Libya.
    Droning might work better there.

    In AfPak the droning is destabilizing Zardari’s government and the Paks have already closed one of their airbases to drones. The Paks are buying Chinese jets. Imran Khan is suing America in international court for civilian drone deaths. Pak citizens are burning American flags in the street.

    Has there been much droning lately? Nope. Pancetta promised to cut back when Pasha gave him OBL’s coords. But now Pancetta is getting desperate. He is trying to whack as mnay taliban as he can to force a power sharing agreement with the Karzai government.

  166. 166
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Martin: Everything we have done in the region in the past has been wrong and destructive. Even in Syria we had a shaitan bargain with Assad that we would not seek to destabilize him as long as he kept the border with Israel quiet. That is the same reason we propped Mubarak for 29 years.
    Libya is the first place we CAN intervene on the side of democracy. In Libya, we can be on the side of the small brown people.
    It is just opportunistic.

  167. 167
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: He was an unelected DICTATOR.

  168. 168
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Chuck Butcher: Our history in Iraq and A-stan has destroyed us.
    America is now in decline.

  169. 169
    JMS says:

    If you decide to use your military at all (or have one) you have to face some decisions. If you’re going to use military force in any situation, you could very well kill innocent people, period. If you don’t want their “blood on your hands”, you wouldn’t take those actions at all.

    If you are of a certain mindset (the camp I fall in), if you have a military and you’re willing to use it, you use it in situations where the bloodshed and misery would be worse if you did nothing than if you intervened. Maybe someone is invading your land. Maybe genocide is going on. You can then go up the spectrum to people who invade others just for the heck of it.

    But unless you are an utter pacifist, you will always have to make a decision about whether the cost is justified or the cost is too high. Since we’re not bombing Sweden or New Zealand, in many cases we are talking about situations where the locals were already committing a lot of violence on each other, so it’s not as if innocent people weren’t already in harm’s way. At that point, you can ask whether it’s better to let them kill each other, if more people will be killed if the US gets involved than if they don’t, if different types of people will be killed, and even if the country involved resents deaths committed by the U.S. military more than it does deaths committed by its own people. But those are not easy decisions if you are concerned about innocent people being killed, if only in the sense that when you choose not to intervene in some situations, innocent people will still be killed.

  170. 170
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Cole

    But this is the face of American policy in the Middle East.

    No, this is the face of the American policy in AfPak.
    In Libya America’s face is quite different.
    Why do you insist on homogenizing two radically different situations?
    Are you stupid or just too stubborn to revise your original position?

  171. 171
    Mandramas says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Well, I guess that the situations are different, but in fact, the results are the same, the tools are the same. Cole is just ignoring the pro arab-anti arab league dichotomy. It is a war, and wars never change. From Islam standpoint, it is different, of course. For an american, it is just another war.

  172. 172
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Mandramas: But it is not just another war from Obama’s standpoint.
    The drawdown in A-stan HAS ALREADY STARTED.
    Since the Kill Squad hit the news every single soldier returning from A-stan gets PSTD counselling. Obama knows our troops are crumbling after a decade of being thrown into an unwinnable unjustifiable and POINTLESS meatgrinder.
    We are getting kicked out of Iraq in December and that means the Iraqis get the airbases we built.
    We bankrupted ourselves for NOTHING.
    Obama is trying to recover some goodwill towards the US in dar ul Islam.
    In Libya WE ARE ON THE SIDE OF THE ISLAMISTS.
    That is what is different.
    Obama is trying to recover something from the horrorshow of American policy in the ME.

  173. 173
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @JMS: but going to war should be an easy decision on goals right?
    It is impossible to spread missionary democracy in majority muslim cultures.
    It cannot be done.

  174. 174
    Corner Stone says:

    just saw the biweekly meltdown on the other thread. So far, no bannings so we can be thankful for that.

    The one with the dozen or so “I quit” or “I’m done” ?
    There are two things I really enjoy about those threads.
    1. The Righteous Posse(tm) gets to stretch their legs a bit and harangue anyone who even slightly, and to any minute degree, does not agree.
    2. The Moral Scolds(tm) get another chance to tell everyone how their privilege is showing(tm) and “it’s just sickening”, and how the truthteller should keep telling the truth(tm) because obviously the pain of seeing the truth(tm) is the sole cause of 300+ comment thread meltdowns.

  175. 175
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Mandramas:

    Cole is just ignoring the pro arab-anti arab league dichotomy.

    Among other things.
    Part of Libya is to forge an alliance with Egypt. Egyptians are not exactly fans of America after 30 years of Mubarak.
    The MB are major players in the new democratic Egypt, and they hate Qaddafi. al-Qaradawi put out a death fatwah on him.

  176. 176
    TK-421 says:

    @JMS:

    My point is that ALL military actions should serve a greater, civilian-created goal (or set of goals). Tactics should not be confused with strategy, and this whole “drones are good in AfPak but bad in other places because…” misses that distinction.

    Our goals in the Middle East are muddled, to say the least, and that’s why the tactics at times look equally muddled and/or absurd. My own opinion is that our goal in the Middle East should be to reduce the threat of terrorism so the risk of attack is manageable.

    So, with that in mind…do unilateral drone missile attacks that create “collateral damage” and provoke a number of foreign citizens support that goal? I don’t think so, and often these drone attacks will hinder that goal. That’s why I say “this isn’t going to work.” It’s not that a given drone attack is “good” or “bad,” it’s the excessively frequent use of drone attacks that harms our overall goal in the Middle East.

    It seems some people think the goal is “to reduce atrocities in the Middle East,” which is how the actions in Libya get justified (but not, AFAIK, in Yemen or Pakistan or Afghanistan). Admirable though that may be, it’s unfortunately a very muddled strategy. Why are atrocities in the Middle East worth preventing, while other atrocities are not? Why is it the sole responsibility of the US to reduce atrocities? And is it really a plausible or practical goal to reduce atrocities, especially when you consider our default response is aggressive military action? These are strategic questions that will inevitably dictate the tactics used, and I don’t think these questions are being asked by the people in charge.

    Too many people inside the Pentagon and inside the White House have a tendency to take a tactic and elevate it to strategy. That never works.

  177. 177
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @TK-421:

    It’s not that a given drone attack is “good” or “bad,”

    Drone attacks are BAD because they create more hostiles than they eliminate.
    We are running backwards.
    Right now Pancetta is trying to use the droning to force the Taliban into a power-sharing government with Karzai. But the droning is destabilizing Zardari’s government and the ISI is part of that government.
    That is why the Pak’s just bought jets from China, and not the US.
    They bought the jets with american taxpayer money lol.
    If the Arab Spring comes to Pakistan and Zardaris government falls, either there will be an ISI/military coup, or the islamists in parliament will get control of the Pak nukes.
    Meanwhile congress is getting pissy about picking up the military/ISI’s tab.
    Pancetta is between a rock and hard place.

  178. 178
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @TK-421: wow….you are a retard.
    Has it somehow escaped your attention that America is currently THE BIGGEST PERPETRATOR OF ATROCITIES IN THE ME?

  179. 179
    chopper says:

    @TK-421:

    i wonder how much collateral damage have our drone attacks caused in libya so far. clearly libya aint afghanistan and the missions are quite different, but in both cases civilian populations are at risk in bombing campaigns.

    i do know our drone attacks in libya have been pretty limited. i’d just like to find out how much collateral damage they’ve caused.

  180. 180

    […] fully endorse this post from John Cole. This insanity has to stop, but it won’t. Not any time soon at least. E.D. […]

  181. 181
    chopper says:

    i’d just like to add, any thread that gets JSF to accuse someone else of being a trollish asshole is pure win.

  182. 182
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    i’d just like to find out how much collateral damage they’ve caused.

    little, since the drones in Libya are able to target mecha with specular metal edges instead of carbon based wedding parties and kids gathering firewood.

  183. 183
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    hahaha! Fucking LIBERTARIAN asshat EDK links Cole.
    If that isnt proof what it?
    C’mon, Cole…..you are a closet freemarket fan, arent you?

  184. 184
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    LOL
    pitycharityliberalism revisted.

    Bend over America, Here the Libertarians Come Again.

    Don’t you feel even a smidge of guilt Cole? You gave the dishonest little fucker his start.

  185. 185
    Cerberus says:

    Just wanted to add my agreement on the initial post.

    And it is so draining as a liberal that there seems to be so many problems that one feels powerless again. Stopping forever wars, fixing a broken media system, a broken political system, and so on.

    I think we need to start looking at how the Progressives of the 1920s stopped these problems.

    I mean, they had robber barons in charge of their government and their media, a media thirsty for the ratings gold of war at any cost, and industries dominating every walk of life in exploitation for the common man and woman.

    And somehow the original Progressives won major fights. Maybe we can too.

  186. 186
    sparky says:

    thanks, John

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