March 3, 2006

At the genocide museum in Suleimaniya, Kurdistan.

Michael Totten reports:
When you enter the museum you will walk through a long and winding hallway. The walls are covered with mirror shards. Each represents one of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds murdered in the genocidal Anfal campaign. A river of twinkling lights lines the ceiling. Each represents one of the five thousand villages destroyed by Saddam Hussein....

The hardest thing to see was the cell used to hold children before they were murdered. My translator Alan read some of the messages carved into the wall.

“I was ten years old. But they changed my age to 18 for execution.”

“Dear Mom and Dad. I am going to be executed by the Baath. I will not see you again.”

67 comments:

Jacques Cuze said...

More information may be found at Human Rights Watch: Reports on Iraq: The Anfal Campaign

hoosthere said...

It is so depressing to me that it requires a man like Totten to tell these stories, because (forgive what has become frustratingly cliche) the main press has not.

I am in shock.

I have never known all of this information, and I consider myself to be pretty aware of the fact that Saddam was a madman instead of the "frustrating yet tolerable" picture of his regime osmos-ed to us by CBS, Michael Moore, et al.

That this genocide has not received any attention, and that the Kurds and the IRANIAN people seem to harbor affection for America is just so apropos of our current media climate. Thank God for the internets!

hoosthere said...

Wow quxxo, you posted before me, and you are certainly playing against type. Short post AND no snark. In all sincerity, it is appreciated.

Jacques Cuze said...

Everyone agrees that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and a monster.

And everyone is now glad to see him gone. Some people felt that when he was our tyrant and our monster, not so much.

What has turned into tragedy for our nation is when we have cynically kept dictators in power, repressed revolutions of those dictators, and overthrown legitimately elected leaders in the name of power, oil, money, anti-communism, or just plain cronyism.

As a nation we do best abroad when our foreign policy conforms to our nations highest moral ideals. And we reap that foreign policy as returns on our investment at home in terms of trade and goodwill.

hoosthere, remember as a kid how the United States wore the white hat? I'd like to see that back, and I would like to encourage all constitutional law professor bloggers to join me in that.

I think it would make for a better future for my kids. I am greedy that way.

hoosthere said...

I completely agree with you, but my contention is that we still wear that white hat (as a nation...of course there are bad apples so don't whip out Abu Ghraib), which is evidenced by our overthrow of such a murderous despot in Hussein.

The problem resides in the fact that due to the (biasedly unintentional) suppression of the sort of information which Totten here presents, most of our nation now believes that we have exchanged our white hat for a black one. That is what is so sad to me.

For immediately pertinent examples see the ranting from that teacher yesterday. Let's not get sidetracked on the merits of what he said, because just the fact that he believes we are the greatest threat to world peace (while in fact we are the world's greatest arbiter of a just peace, and there is a difference) and those brainwashed kids seemed to agree is case in point. They are growing up with their own country as bad guy, and that is just so horribly corrosive to our culture.

And, while good-hearted people do remain in these institutions, for this I do blame the media and the rabid left. I believe this is why people are so tired of sermonizing from people whose point seems to be: "Hey, maybe WE'RE the bad guys!" Seriously, how daring of them. And how destructive.

Read Krauthammer in The WaPo today for another perfectly pertinent point about our popular culture in this way.

I really would prefer to not sidetrack this whole comment thread away from the brutal realities of what Totten descibed, however. That needs to be broadcast and "remembered".

Goesh said...

We can get some of the monsters part of the time but not all the monsters all of the time. I still am angry over the US not inserting a battalion or two of Marines into Rwanda to stop the butchery back then. Had our lads been on hand to shoot a few of those thugs using machetes to chop people up with, many thousands of lives could have been saved.

PatCA said...

If you want to see a Kurdish film about the massacres, rent Turtles Can Fly. Warning: it's rough. Jiyan is a bit lighter and about the rebuilding.

jeff said...

hoosthere: Why do you think it's unintentional?

hoosthere said...

Why do you think it's unintentional?

Because if it were actually intentional it would mean there are a lot of very eeeevil people out there. I am friends with people who think like this, of course, and they, like the media, are quite sincere. And sincerely deluded, to a culturally devastating effect.

Even though I get so frustrated by the left, I would be making the same mistake for which they deludedly accuse us, if I believed that they were somehow nefarious at heart. I just hate the brinksmanship that has resulted when we on the right do that to the people on the left.

I'm not saying: "can't we all just get along???", but rather, "let's be smart...we don't get anywhere by branding each other as evil." A better way is to convince with truth.

me said...

"I completely agree with you, but my contention is that we still wear that white hat (as a nation...of course there are bad apples so don't whip out Abu Ghraib), which is evidenced by our overthrow of such a murderous despot in Hussein. "

Hoosthere -- are you contending that we would have invaded (or did invade) Iraq for the sole purpose of overthrowing Saddam and freeing the people of Iraq? Or that we should invade other countries solely to get rid of their tyrants? Getting rid of Saddam was good; but I don't think we can claim to wear a "white hat" for our reasons for getting rid of him, nor do I think we will be invading countries in the future for the purposes of getting rid of genocidal dictators. We invaded Iraq to protect our national security, and if we invade Iran or Syria or North Korea it will be to protect our national security. Our reasons are not to be the white knight rescuing the downtrodden. We supported dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, El Salvador b/c they helped our national security, and we did not interfere in Rwanda b/c the situation there did not threaten our national security. I think we should commit troops in these situations, as the UN has proved itself irrelevant or actually harmful, but I don't think many President's or Congress's would agree. Does the average voter think saving people from genocide is worth American lives? If the answer is yes, then we will intervene. If it is no, we won't.
By publicizing horrific genocides, I hope the average voter will say yes and we will be wearing the "white hat."

Richard Dolan said...

This is a story that awaits its Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, Imre Kertesz, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Sadder even than the horror described by Totten would be now to let it all fade away if no Kurdish writer can find the words to speak unforgettably to future generations for the countless dead.

hoosthere said...

good point, "me".

You could, however, continue the logic that anything that would further our national interest is not necessarily "not wearing the white hat" for two reasons: 1) Protecting our own citizens from possible nuclear or chemical immolation is certainly a just end, and 2) further securing our national interests can be seen to protect our ability to further intervene for justice around the globe(perhaps more of a stretch if you don't believe the assumption inherent here...that the US is good, which is what we're discussing).

But back to Kurdistan, genocide, etc. I agree about Rwanda, and I also agree that we need another Wiesel.

Aspasia M. said...

Where were all these Americans when Saddam gassed the Kurds?

I don't remember anyone talking about it except fellow lefties.

And that picture of Rumsfield shaking Saddam's hand is worth a thousand words.

It's just so ironic that the left has been advocating the democratication of the middle east for years against the realists who advocated the support of friendly autocratic regimes.

Noumenon said...

I am woefully ignorant about the evil things Saddam used to do. And his trial isn't helping!

hoosthere said...

Geoduck,

Goesh made a good point earlier, that hindsight is better than 20/20. Are you saying that Rumsfeld would have shaken his hand still had he known what the man would become? Because unless that's what you're saying (which is a terrible charge and demonstrably untrue), your point is irrelevant and useless, except to demonstrate the lack of clairovoyance of our foreign policy.

About this canard that we just keep on propping up dictators to serve our own ends, I find that topic is just so tired. I mean, if we were to ever do that, there is always a "rock/hard place" nature to that decision which just gets conveniently skipped over for the sake of tired rhetorical barbs.

The point here is that Saddam killed a hell of a lot more people and was much worse of a leader than what we normally hear about. And this reality gets glazed over in the sturm und drang of today's media and political climate. There is far more indignation over the rise of the McSmirkingChimpHitlerBush now than there ever was over TRUE brutality around the world.

And your point only further highlights the hypocrisy on the left...if what you say is true, than why is there so much blind opposition to the project in Iraq from the left now, when we are finally pursuing goals that they would agree with?

When Reagan and Bush I did not hold certain dictators accountable (some of which I am furstrated by), it was difficult to see it as anything other than a rock/hardplace decision.

Now, while the left currently agitates so forcefully against our project in Iraq (while previously, supposedly advocating for it), it is hard to see it as anything but partisan advantage/hatred.

I hate that.

Evan said...

These museums are some of the best tools for memory. Totten's account reminds me of Terror Haza in Budapest.

Aspasia M. said...

Are you saying that Rumsfeld would have shaken his hand still had he known what the man would become?

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

I think that as long as Saddam was providing a strategic need in the Middle East to counter Iran that the realists didn't much care if the autocrats tortured Kurds or repressed democratic institutions.

And I think that the realists knew the role played by extreme Islam in the Middle East. I just think they didn't recognize either the autocratic, anti-democratic regimes or the extreme Islamists as a security threat.

For example, the US gives Egypt a lot of aid. We could pressure Egypt to be more democratic and guarantee liberties that we take for granted in the first amendment. But the US government is not doing this.

Or we could pressure the UAE to become democratic; but we don't.

Jonathan said...

Yes, the photo of Rumsfeld with Saddam Hussein. That's one photo from a brief period when the USA tried to manage a lesser-of-two-evils policy WRT Iran and Iraq. Meanwhile there are many photos like this one.

The difference is that the United States -- unlike France, the USSR/Russia and other countries -- decided that its policy was wrong and changed it. You would think that would make us worthy of praise rather than yesbuts from cynics.

I agree with Quxxo that the USA has often allied with the wrong people, but I ask: Did we not do so with good intentions and limited information? and: How many countries have leaders who admit past mistakes and try to rectify them? It's a short list.

Jacques Cuze said...

There is far more indignation over the rise of the McSmirkingChimpHitlerBush now than there ever was over TRUE brutality around the world.

No, that is demonstrably not true. You are mistaking what you perceive as a local loudness for a measurement of overall volume.

Think globally, act locally. We can be more effective with ChimpyMcBushitler than we can with Kim Jong-Il. By speaking truth to power, by raising consciousness (not an easy task), we can do something about the Chimpster and thereby do something about Osama Bin Laden and Darfur (intriguing the concern in this thread about Rwanda, but not about Darfur).

why is there so much blind opposition to the project in Iraq from the left now, when we are finally pursuing goals that they would agree with?

A) It's a smear to call it blind opposition. That smear comes from your own democrat hater syndrome (DHS). (Why do you hate 50% of your country?)

B) The ends do not justify the means

C) There is more than one way to skin a cat.

hoosthere said...

Wow, Geoduck. That's quite a charge to make. I hope you would be certain of something like that. But you can't be, of course. And

And this whole line of thinking blithely eludes the point that these sort of engagements are more complicated than is normally discussed.

Which further illustrates the remarkable boldness of GW Bush's move to invade Iraq.

And now I'm reading what Jonathan wrote. What he said.

hoosthere said...

Quxxo,

You say,

A) It's a smear to call it blind opposition. That smear comes from your own democrat hater syndrome (DHS). (Why do you hate 50% of your country?)

Please. Stop projecting.

In an earlier comment, you will see that I wrote:

Even though I get so frustrated by the left, I would be making the same mistake for which they deludedly accuse us, if I believed that they were somehow nefarious at heart. I just hate the brinksmanship that has resulted when we on the right do that to the people on the left.

And

And, while good-hearted people do remain in these institutions,

"DHS" or whatever you want to call it plays no part in what this is about. I am frustrated by the tone of the media and the left, which has justified any means of rhetorical attack on Bush because, well, "HE LIED!!!" and now, your tone, as well.

Your own comment to me, here, displays the very kind of blind opposition I spoke of. Res ipsa loquitor.

me said...

hoosthere:

I think history shows we support whatever regime supports our interests, Saudi Arabia being a good current example. And are you arguing that its ok that we support Saudi Arabia because them letting have access to oil gives us the power to spread democracy elsewhere around the world?
I agree the left has been somewhat hypocritical by relentlessly criticizing our democracy program in Iraq, but there are two reasons for it:

1) much of the left is very anti-war and pacifistic, believing war is always or almost always the wrong solution (not many advocated a military overthrow of Saddam because of this)
2) the Bush administration showed the worst about itself during the occupation by
a) giving KBR, Halliburton no bid contracts in which the companies were promtply accused of corruption by even the Pentagon, and
b) allowing and even advocating torture of prisoners
c) failing to prepare to "win the peace" and build infrastructure -- access to electricity, clean water, etc. is worse now than under Saddam.

I do think the US is a good influence -- our troop's basic goodness and decency (exclusing torturers) probably has been a good ambassador. But, I dont' think you can blame the Democracts for criticizing the incompetance of how Bush has handled Iraq. Perhaps the war to build a stable democracy in Iraq was impossible to begin with -- and Bush I had a point. I don't believe we can export our western values to people who don't want them -- when the people of Iraq and the Middle want peace, democracy, free speech, and a free society, then they will fight for it. Us trying to fight for it FOR them and MAKE them have a free society probably won't work.

Aspasia M. said...

And your point only further highlights the hypocrisy on the left...if what you say is true, than why is there so much blind opposition to the project in Iraq from the left now, when we are finally pursuing goals that they would agree with?

I can only speak for myself; but for what ever it's worth:

1) The no fly zone contained Saddam and protected the Kurds. Saddam was contained.

2) Bush hasn't done a great job at selling his policies to the public as a whole.

3) He could have brought a lot of reluctant people on board after the invasion. The incompetence of the last 3 years has not helped.

4) I personally worried that it could de-stabalize the Middle East and cause a civil war in Iraq. Civil wars tend to be quite costly in terms of casualties.

I didn't think Bush was good enough or smart enough to do it right.

When Reagan and Bush I did not hold certain dictators accountable (some of which I am furstrated by), it was difficult to see it as anything other than a rock/hardplace decision.

Yes, I can agree with you in places here. I appreciate that you care about the people Saddam murdered and oppressed.

But why don't we pressure states like Egypt to become more democratic? The autocratic aspects of Egypt and the lack of democratic institutions strengthen groups in Egypt like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Now, while the left currently agitates so forcefully against our project in Iraq (while previously, supposedly advocating for it), it is hard to see it as anything but partisan advantage/hatred.

Well, you have right to your opinion.

For my part, once we went in to Iraq I wanted it to be a success. The mistakes made by the civilian leadership have been horrible to watch.

Buckley, Sullivan and even Derbyshire have criticisms that I agree with. I only bring them up to remind us that many people, across definitions of political parties, have a few issues with the Iraq war.

Jacques Cuze said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jacques Cuze said...

Res ipsa loquitur

Yes, I agree with you about your comments here. Res ipsa loquitur.

hoosthere said...

"Me",

Another good point, and I do appreciate your tone.

Frankly, I'm not sure about the Saudi Arabia question. I am not so happy about our relationship with that country. But, until we are able to exist less dependent on oil, it is another rock/hard place decision. I wouldn't quite go so far to say that the only reason we are in relationship with them is to spread democracy via use of their oil. Clearly, we just need their oil right now. And then we also do try to spread democracy and protect free peoples with it. But, clearly few of us are privvy to enough information to know all of the diplomatic dynamics at play to be able to say that we're not doing the best we can to pressure them towards greater freedom.

Your points about the pacifist left are well-taken, and I am sympathetic. Nobody likes war. But pacifism sure doesn't do a great job of promoting justice. On that I am conflicted.

As to the points you raise about Bush's handling of the occupation, I agree with your general point (it could definitely go better...I think GWB would agree with that too), but your points are arguable:

a) Halliburton et al...fine, but you point out that the DoD is holding that accountable

b) torture...a highly arguable point in terms of the level of allowing and advocacy...why is it that we prosecute torturers?

c) this is a myth...infrastructure is much better now than it was. More technology, cell-phones (tenfold more), and schools. Oh yeah, and girls get to go to school too.


But the larger point is still that Saddam was a bad, bad man. And we don't really get that picture anymore.

knoxgirl said...

"It's just so ironic that the left has been advocating the democratication of the middle east for years"

Yes, the left really has "advocated" for oppressed peoples everywhere. Course, when it comes to actually doing anything, they wait for the approval they know will never come from Kofi and the rest of the corrupt UN... but in the meantime, boy, do they advocate.

I think Bush Sr. was horrifically wrong for selling out the Kurds, and the US should hang its head for it. But to suggest that leftists have done jack for the oppressed in the Middle East? Whatever.

hoosthere said...

Geoduck,

Well said, and I agee with most of what you wrote.

I lament how poorly the administration has communicated to the American people and to the world about this project. This continues to be a major hindrance.

I guess I tend to think, though, that Rome wasn't built in a day, and it will be interesting to see where things are in 5 years. Remember, they said Germany and Japan would never be civilized.

Quxxo,

Not sure what you are saying, but if it is what I think it is: apology accepted.


Anyway, people...Saddam was a bad, bad man.

Goatwhacker said...

(Quoting me, not me, the other me)
Hoosthere -- are you contending that we would have invaded (or did invade) Iraq for the sole purpose of overthrowing Saddam and freeing the people of Iraq? Or that we should invade other countries solely to get rid of their tyrants?


This was the justification with Milosevic I believe, a war in which the great majority of liberals did not express any reservations. The contrast between Iraq and the way the Kosovo conflict was regarded is one reason I think much of the anti-Iraq sentiment from the left is partisan, and does not reflect an underlying anti-war, pacifist ideology.

In fairness, I should point out many conservatives have been just as inconsistent, with many of those demanding exit strategies in the 90's perfectly OK with not having one this decade. With both parties it comes down to whose guy is running the show.

me said...

hoosthere:

"a) Halliburton et al...fine, but you point out that the DoD is holding that accountable"

I'd hardly call giving all but 4% of of the money they claim for protecting and rebuilding the oil infrastructive, which hasn't been rebuilt, holding them accountable.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-02-27-halliburton-iraq_x.htm

"b) torture...a highly arguable point in terms of the level of allowing and advocacy...why is it that we prosecute torturers?"

Well, my point there was more toward the torture memos that have come out, but those relate more to Gitmo, I think. I'm not up on the torture situation in Iraq -- we did prosecute those who were photographed toturing people.

c) this is a myth...infrastructure is much better now than it was. More technology, cell-phones (tenfold more), and schools. Oh yeah, and girls get to go to school too.

I think girls got to go to school in Iraq before (not like Afghanistan). There is definitely more freedom and technology supporting freedom, like the internet, phones, etc. However, (and I could be wrong) it seems that oil production has gone down significantly, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/KAR139722.htm, which is a big deal b/c oil revenue is needed for Iraq to get back on its feet, and it was supposed to help pay for all this instead of the American taxpayer, and basic services, like water and electricity, are worse than before in some areas and better in others.

http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/feb06/2831

Anyway, I want us to succeed in Iraw -- it might be too late, we might already be succeeding, depends on who you listen to. But, I think criticism is important and I don't think our mistakes should be swept under the rug.


Goatwhacker: Very good point, I agree completely that opposition to military intervention tracks closely to party lines, However, I think it could be argued that the situation in the Balkans did threaten our security -- the conflict could have spread throughout Eastern Europe, disrupting the area where we have many allies; it is where WWI started, after all. And, having Milsovic in power, allied to to the increasingly Fascistic Russia who might want to expand again, probably would have been bad news. And, having ongoing civil war (because the Muslims would have continued to fight back and kept getting various villages exterminated a la Chechnya), just isn't what we want to have in Europe's back yard. So, more of a national security justification for intervention there than say, Rwanda.

hoosthere said...

"Me"

I don't know enough about oil infrastructure...the continued terrorism certainly mitigates against that. But I believe in general, overall infrastructure is better, though I don't have time to source you (as you so courteously did me)...it's just what I've heard.

Can't argue with anything else you say.


Oh, and I find myself saying that to myelf all the time!

It's just wierd to respond to..."me". Wait, I'm confused.

Dang.

Jacques Cuze said...

blind opposition!

We're not blind, you're blind.

Proof, proof that you are blind!!!! Res ipsa loquitor!!!

Res ipsa loquitur.

Apology accepted.

Res ipsa loquitur.

P. Froward said...

quxxo - Good one about the "white hat" thing. I laughed out loud.

Let's not forget that it was the left who wanted us to be in bed with Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. They always want us to team up with the guys who kill millions, but we generally seem to team up instead with the guys who only kill thousands. Funny you should mention the former regime in Iraq; I guess it was us who gave them all those AK-47s, T-72, Scuds, MIG-21s, etc., etc., etc.... Yep, must've been us.

But it really doesn't matter at all. If we refuse to deal with Cuba, we're responsible for everything that goes wrong there, because we should've helped. Right? But before Castro took over, we were at fault for everything Batista did, because we did deal with them. Back when Egypt was a Soviet client, we were responsible for their problems because we gave them no aid. Now, of course, we're responsible for their problems because we do give them aid. It simply doesn't matter what we do; whatever the facts are, the left has one stock narrative or another that blames everything on us.

Tell me, quxxo, who was responsible for all the evil in the world before 7/4/1776? Does your teleology permit that question, quxxo?

Jacques Cuze said...

Tell me, quxxo, who was responsible for all the evil in the world before 7/4/1776?

Uh, Bill Clinton?

me said...

"Oh, and I find myself saying that to myelf all the time!

It's just wierd to respond to..."me". Wait, I'm confused.

Dang."

I chose "me" out of an abundance of caution (so no one can find out how much time I spend on blogs at work) and laziness (not having the energy to be creative when setting up my bloger account). Maybe I should change it to eliminate all this confusion. :)

Though quxxo doesn't normally contribute much, he was right to mention Darfur -- we are talking about past genocides when there's one going on right now in the Sudan. And it is spreading to neighboring countries. But, again, it is no ones national interest to interfere, Sudan being one of the most godforsaken places on earth (or so it seems from the news reports). Depressing.

On a better note this has been a very good discussion and I have enjoyed it very much! Thank you hoosthere for lifting the tone of this already very civilized blog comments section.

hoosthere said...

Oh, quxxo, and I had such hope that our conversation would not devolve into what it has become.

For what it's worth I apologize for misspelling the Latin phrase. Shoulda googled it.

But, my dear, you are ranting, and you accused me of "hatred" for 50% of the country. I provided clear, textual evidence that this is not the case, but yet you persist. Then you fixate on my Latin mispelling. In my defense I'm not alone . But you're right. I spelled it wrong. Guilty.

I am so hopeful that people on the left would take things up on the merits, rather than fling rhetoric around. Please stop, quxxo. Be more Geoduck-like, or "me"-like, please.

And, "me", thanks, and good points as usual.

Uncle Buck said...

I've been reading Totten for quite some time and find his point of view (sort of a liberal hawk) refreshing. His independent reporting is a great example of how the internet is changing the media landscape for the better.

As for left-bashing, the vast majority of the left are NOT the caricature we're made out to be. The stereotype of widespread left "support" for terrorists such as the Taliban, Baathists, and Palestinian suicide bombers, is bullshit.

The left has long supported MORE freedom for people, not less.

A case can be made for military intervention in any number of countries on purely humanitarian grounds, and many on both the left and right would suport it. (Check out Freedom House at www.freedomhouse.org for a complete list of disfunctional countries to choose from!)

This could have even happened with Iraq, if the Bush administration had chosen to be honest in its approach rather than deceitful.

The reason that the left seems unsupportive of the Iraq endeavor is that, it's hard to criticize the inept performance of the Bush administration without sounding like you oppose the idea of democracy there.

OF COURSE removing Saddam and encouraging democracy in Iraq is a great goal - - but if you are going to actually try to accomplish this goal, you should do it in a moderately competent way and display some basic leadership skills like honesty, integrity, ability to admit mistakes, clear objectives, ability consider opposing points of view, etc.

Aspasia M. said...

Oh yeah, and girls get to go to school too.

You're thinking of Afghanistan here.

I do think we should be aware that if Iraq legalizes sharia law secular and moderate Iraqi women may not appreciate this.

The situation in Iraq has strengthened the power of the clerics for both the Sunni and the Shiites. This has implications for women's rights and the future political and social status of women in Iraq.


And it's a very good thing that this museum has opened. Hopefully it can record the voices and testimony of witnesses for the rest of the world.

Aspasia M. said...

As for left-bashing, the vast majority of the left are NOT the caricature we're made out to be. The stereotype of widespread left "support" for terrorists such as the Taliban, Baathists, and Palestinian suicide bombers, is bullshit.

But I thought we were objectively pro-terrorist? :)

Sorry, that's not productive. But I love the over-use of the word "ojectively" in blog-land.

I, for one, am objectively pro-kitten.

vbspurs said...

We supported dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, El Salvador b/c they helped our national security, and we did not interfere in Rwanda b/c the situation there did not threaten our national security.

You know, this line of argument much used by certain sectors, has always struck me as dumb.

This is like me saying that FDR was the first US president to recognise and do business with the Soviet Union, as well as being supportive of Hitler, when others were in stark opposition just before WWII.

He did, but then he changed course entirely, and revamped his foreign policy (to put it midldly), didn't he?

It's like the debate is constantly stuck on the previous circumstances, without acknowledging that administrations, indeed, a whole country can change its roadmap of dealings with peoples, and states.

Furthermore, my example of FDR is a bit personalised, since many of the people who point to abuses, particularly regards to dictators, are committing the illogical mistake of lumping AMERICA in with specific actions of past presidencies and administrations.

The whole point, and this point I cannot stress enough, is that foreign policy thrusts vary from each president to each president.

What Kennedy authorised, is not what Nixon wanted to pursue, is not what Carter did, is not what Reagan followed, etc. etc.

And it is precisely this sea-change in attitude by Bush 43, that is causing the most hand-wringing by people who normally would applaud (however belated it is), an awakening that finally, things changed with Iraq.

No more tolerance of Saddam. Full stop.

Maybe those people don't think the US wears the good cowboy's white hat, but I wonder what colour of hat do people wear, who would have seen Saddam still in power today?

Cheers,
Victoria

Aspasia M. said...

Let's not forget that it was the left who wanted us to be in bed with Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

I totally missed that memo. And I thought that the twentieth century New Left was active in fighting against fascism.

Are neo-Nazi's on the left too? Maybe Hitler is part of the left? What about Saddam - is he left or right?

Hah! the new meme - Saddam is a liberal who has been informed by the Left!


Back when Egypt was a Soviet client, we were responsible for their problems because we gave them no aid. Now, of course, we're responsible for their problems because we do give them aid.

I don't want tons of stuff. I just wish we'd object when journalists are imprisoned and shit like that.

I also wish we wouldn't use extraordinary rendition to allow other countries to torture people.

vbspurs said...

I'm glad to see Michael Totten is still alive (no pun of his name intended).

I unfortunately, stopped reading him around August or so, because his manner became even more "neutral" and Donklephantish, which makes for a wishy-washy blog.

(And I'm well-aware he may be reading this. Sorry Michael. You're still a nice bloke, though)

But that he wrote about this genocide museum, which I was not aware of, is fantastic.

Kudos!

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Hah! the new meme - Saddam is a liberal who has been informed by the Left!

Wait, are you saying you didn't know that the Ba'ath Party was directly modeled on the Stalinist version of the Communist Party?

Or didn't people know that during Ba'ath Party meetings, the participants had to intone in unison:

"UNITY! FREEDOM! and SOCIALISM!"

In the rush to call things "Fascist", which is short-hand for some for the extreme Right, people often forget that Fascism draws on Social statism entirely -- or else they'd yell, Unity! Freedom! and Capitalism!.

Cheers,
Victoria

hoosthere said...

Geoduck,

I'm sorry...I take deep issue with your objectively pro-kitten stand. Those animals are not nice. :)

Uncle Buck,

You make good points in general, but please spare the "deceit" i.e. "Bush Lied!" meme. This has been thoroughly debunked and should not be supported by healthy-thinking individuals, as you seem to be.

And I would say that it is easy for all of us to tar the current administration with "incompetence" because things are still a bit messy. Again, hindsight is so easy, but in the long-term, i.e. the big picture, it seems that you do agree that what we have accomplished so far was worth doing.

Things are changing on the ground. See this for an interesting "on the ground" response to the current conflagaration. Certainly things could be better, but I believe that we are heading in the right direction, and for this, Bush deserves credit for potentially re-shaping the Middle East.

Anyway, I like how we can discuss things on this blog. I wish it were as easy to do it in person with some of my lefty friends. I don't believe all lefties are pro-terrorist (as is here clear), but it would be great if the leadership would be aware that our rhetoric no longer stops at the water's edge.

Jacques Cuze said...

Jebus, your bring latin into this, and then you blame me for using it.

Latin, shmatin, what do I know from latin?

Res Ipsa Loquitur: The thing speaks for itself

Res Ipsa Loquitor: the name of Angie Pepper's 2003 Aussie Rock album.

But for the painfully slow, it apparently means "the thing speaks for itself"

hoosier, when wrote "you're blind, you're all blind," I wrote back a response that "A) It's a smear to call it blind opposition. "

It is a smear to call it blind opposition. If not your smackdown by me, than has not your conversation with geoduck2, the other me, and other folks here showed you that the opposition is informed and not blind?

So again, for the painfully slow when I wrote "That smear comes from your own democrat hater syndrome (DHS). (Why do you hate 50% of your country?)" that is what is known as sarcasm. It is an inversion of the normal, stupid response, "ooh, you guys are just predictable boring b000sh haters."

Then you wrote that I am projecting when I call it blind opposition, never showing that you have the self-awareness that my dog has when he licks himself. So hoosier, when I say that "you just hate dems" I am projecting, but when you say that "us libs must blindly hate b00sh," you are correct. And you stand on that?

Topping off your demonstration of your inability to read or understand or self-reflect, you then say, "res ipsa loquitOr". Hey a legal beagle! so I google it up, and it turns out it means "The thing speaks for itself."

Well holy legal/english/latin unintentional pun!

You're right! Your series of silly statements about others do in fact speak for themself! And there is no better summary of your incoherence than your mispelling of "Res Ipsa Loquitur". But even that mispelling becomes ironic.

I point out the humorous mispelling and note how punny and apt it is, and you mistake that for an apology.

Oh gee, can we ever end this nightmare of comedy?

So I correct you, pointing out once more the error, and pointing out once more how punny your error is but how even your mistaken belief there is an apology speaks to your inability to read, and now you tell me I am not criticizing you on the merits.

No hoosier, when you first wrote and then demanded that it is us libs that suffer from blind opposition, you were the one dismissing the merits. And you're apparently too dumb to recognize your own blindness.

Truly hoosier, you are a fine catch, and an equal to Sloanbot in your analytical skills.

Is anyone else besides me worried about the Sloanbot? I fear he has rusted once more in the field. SlipperyCheese would you check in on him please?

hoosthere said...

Q, once more into the fray, but this is making me weary.

the reason I asked you to be more like geoduck or "me" is that they have engaged in an actual discussion, with give AND take. Rather than feeling slammed down by their points (some of which were good), I believe that we have both conceded certain points from one another, which is the hallmark of healthy dialogue. I was hoping for more of that (you started with it), but now you've just descended to name-calling.

Look, when I said there was "so much blind opposition", geoduck and others correctly read that I meant it as a statement of quantity, not as a broad smear (which is how you incorrectly read it). What I will say is that your opposition seems to be blind, but theirs does not.

Some are a credit to their political persuasion, and others are not. (Note to quxxo: this is not a broad statement, which is why I said the word "some").

Aspasia M. said...

Hah! the new meme - Saddam is a liberal who has been informed by the Left!

Wait, are you saying you didn't know that the Ba'ath Party was directly modeled on the Stalinist version of the Communist Party?


No, but I think this understanding in the context of Western Liberalism and liberal political philosophy is so confused as to be meaningless. It ignores the human rights and civil rights work that have been at the core of it since the late 18th century.

(See Emerson, T. Jefferson, Theodore Parker, E. Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Joseph Priestly and many others who make up the American liberal tradition, for example.)

I think I would like to know in advance if the "Left" is going to be blamed for Saddam's rise to power. I'll need to prepare myelf for that one.

If I understand people correctly, because I am part of "the left" commenters have charged that my political philosophy supports Pol Pot, Stalin, Saddam and Hiter.


Hmmm. Is the ACLU part of "the Left?" What about Amnesty International? Aren't their human rights aims rather contrary to the goals of "the Left?"

Or has the ACLU and Amnesty now become part of the "right."

I find this point of view a bit incoherent.

PatCA said...

"I think history shows we support whatever regime supports our interests, Saudi Arabia being a good current example." As do all nations, tribes, families, people.

"And are you arguing that its ok that we support Saudi Arabia because them letting have access to oil gives us the power to spread democracy elsewhere around the world."

Partly, yes, because usually democracies do not kill us.

Oil is not wine: it's essential to modern life. Let's assume we do the moral, pure thing and forsake Saudi oil. We all walk to work and to the market, quxxo in the lead, and heat our homes by rubbing sticks together. Our economy would shatter, as would the Saudi's, resulting in chaos and bloodshed and probably an Iranian and nuclear theocracy there and god knows what here. Our slim margin of influence would be spent. If we bombed the oil fields to kingdom come, each and every nation in the world would not have "access to oil": worldwide depression, if not already immersed in same caused by our depression, more chaos, bloodshed, etc.

Hindsight is 20/20. Every government stumbles through the great questions of the day. Let's file away Rummy's Handshake of Death and worry about the Iraqis alive today.

me said...

Hey guys. Its FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!:) I think we can all agree we are glad to live in America where we can get home from work, then go out to a bar, have a drink, watch some live music, then go home, hopefully get laid, watch (insert favorite news channel), get up at a very late hour on Saturday, and watch college BBall, b/c its March, babbyy!!


(except quxxo)

Jacques Cuze said...

Wow quxxo, you posted before me, and you are certainly playing against type. Short post AND no snark. In all sincerity, it is appreciated.

And how do you start off our conversation hoosier? With a backhanded complimented, a slam.

Like so many on your side of the aisle you dish it out and then get all offended when it is handed back to you.

vbspurs said...

I find this point of view a bit incoherent.

I'm not surprised.

We humans have a way of muddling up concepts, to fit present-day circumstances and mores.

Communism and Fascism, for example, both shared a hatred of bohemianism -- and imprisoned and censured any expression of homosexuality, prostitution, and subversive artistry.

Such attitudes many people would consider "conservative", don't you think?

And yet Fascism was seen as Rightist, whereas Communism is seen as the ultimate expression of Leftism.

But I doubt Metternich and Hitler would have had ANYTHING in common, despite being thought of historically, as belonging to the same "side".

The difference is in the ethos of how much control there should be, and how much of a challenge private entities should have towards the State, and the role of free-market capitalism, that defines both sides today.

Some ideologies clearly follow a more Statist path, which is different from protectionism, however.

The answer lies in the extreme totalitarian nature of any side.

And whether of the Right or Left, it's understood in the West -- political extremes and democracy are not compatible.

I'll leave the ACLU and Amnesty International responses to someone else.

I will just say that when I find their organisational ethos to better reflect one side, which I do not belong to, rather than the other -- that's when I personally come to a conclusion of their political allegiances.

I'm sure many people do too.

Cheers,
Victoria

Jacques Cuze said...

And finally hoosier, as we come to expect from lightweights such as yourself, you chose yourself to ignore all of arguments:

Think globally, act locally. We can be more effective with ChimpyMcBushitler than we can with Kim Jong-Il. By speaking truth to power, by raising consciousness (not an easy task), we can do something about the Chimpster and thereby do something about Osama Bin Laden and Darfur (intriguing the concern in this thread about Rwanda, but not about Darfur).

why is there so much blind opposition to the project in Iraq from the left now, when we are finally pursuing goals that they would agree with?

A) It's a smear to call it blind opposition.

B) The ends do not justify the means

C) There is more than one way to skin a cat.


And instead you distract everyone with your complaint that quxxo was being mean to you.

And then having allowed yourself to ignore the merits of any of my arguments, having made the smear that the opposition is blind, having failed to apologize for that smear, you go one step further and again insist that my opposition is blind.

Res Ipsa Loquitur.

Jacques Cuze said...

I will just say that when I find their organisational ethos to better reflect one side, which I do not belong to, rather than the other -- that's when I personally come to a conclusion of their political allegiances.

I'm sure many people do too.

Cheers,
Victoria


Once again, VB, I agree 100% with you. This is exactly what I have told Ann, and Michael Totten, and Roger El Simon when they tell us all about how they are the actual moderates and liberals, and wonder why they can only get the righties to agree with them.

Truly said...

quxxo, I agree completely with your observation about the importance of this museum. I volunteer at the Holocaust museum and am constantly surprised at the number of people who come in and have no clue about what the Holocaust was. It's baffling--but I'm glad they came.

The upkeep of a museum is pretty expensive. Pity they don't have a PayPal account so we could send them some cash.

Aspasia M. said...

We humans have a way of muddling up concepts, to fit present-day circumstances and mores.

It's a annoyance of mine that some people understand political leanings on a simple right-left scale.

The political compass test, which is still a bit simplistic, does a better job of articulating the range of political philosphies. This view has a libertarian/authoritarian axis and a left/right axis.

The graph is as follows:

Top right=Authoritarian Right
Botton right=Libertarian Right
Top Left= Authoritarian Left
Bottom Left=Libertarian Left.

Not surprisingly, I always fall in the libertarian left corner of the graph.

(I'm making a generalization here - but many lefties on the blogosphere could be classified as libertarian leftists. That's why the authoritarian leftist charges are greeted with amazement and incomprehension. It's like telling a bunch of anarchists that they love the state, or claiming that luddites love technology and machines.)

Consequently, my degree of libertarian sentiment makes me more sympathetic to the libertarian right then to the other two quadrants.

Both the authoritarian left and the authoritarian right repel me.

Or another graph charts statists vs. libertarians and
liberal vs. conservative
with the centrists in the middle.

For visual conceptions of the multiple ways political philosphies can be conceptualized see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_spectrum

Hey guys. Its FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!:) I think we can all agree we are glad to live in America where we can get home from work, then go out to a bar, have a drink, watch some live music, then go home, hopefully get laid, watch (insert favorite news channel), get up at a very late hour on Saturday, and watch college BBall, b/c its March, babbyy!!

Heh. Yes, have a good weekend everyone.

And I am still objectively pro-kitten. My cat is demanding his treats, which of course, he will get, because I am wrapped around his little paw.

Goatwhacker said...

Hey guys. Its FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!:) I think we can all agree we are glad to live in America where we can get home from work, then go out to a bar, have a drink, watch some live music, then go home, hopefully get laid, watch (insert favorite news channel), get up at a very late hour on Saturday, and watch college BBall, b/c its March, babbyy!!

Of those, I will get to home from work. The rest of it :-(

Jennifer said...

The picture of the little boy and the "Where is my sister?" sign is making me cry. I cannot even fathom the sorrow these people have lived their whole lives with.

vbspurs said...

It's a annoyance of mine that some people understand political leanings on a simple right-left scale.

Agreed.

But in informal conversations such as what we all of us are having, especially to do with a topic raised by you regarding the political views we have of certain entities, it is difficult not to fall under the same easy-definition traps, don't you think?

The political compass test, which is still a bit simplistic, does a better job of articulating the range of political philosphies.

This view has a libertarian/authoritarian axis and a left/right axis.

The graph is as follows:

Top right=Authoritarian Right
Botton right=Libertarian Right
Top Left= Authoritarian Left
Bottom Left=Libertarian Left.


Yes, geoduck, I'm aware of that left/right axis, if you will.

I may be a future M.D. but my degree is in History, and I have concentrated on the political history of Europe in the late 19th-and-20th centuries.

Not surprisingly, I always fall in the libertarian left corner of the graph.

I am not a stick-in-the-mud about these tests, and gladly take them when someone points me to them.

I don't think there was anyone on these blogs in 2004, who didn't get pointed to a "Where do you fall?" quizzes.

I remember remarking on one political quiz, that the results were amazingly skewed towards the Left.

Almost everyone of Libertarian ethos who took it fell closer to Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, or Gandhi, whereas those of us in the Right had such luminaries as George W. Bush, Hitler and bizarrely, Paul Martin of Canada to align ourselves to.

I mentioned how, if the quiz makers had been truly unbiased, they easily could have provided many more Leftist examples, as I certainly can think of anyone from:

Zapatero of Spain
Lula of Brazil
Chavez of Venezuela
Castro of Cuba

To give detailed variations of "Leftitude" (coinage, thy name is woman!).

(I'm making a generalization here - but many lefties on the blogosphere could be classified as libertarian leftists.

I think most people like to think of themselves as Libertarians, but when it comes right down to it, we most of us believe that there is a time and place for government intervention in private lives.

That's why the authoritarian leftist charges are greeted with amazement and incomprehension.

Oh yes?

Tell me, Geoduck -- when was the last time you picketed outside the Cuban Trade Interest in Washington DC?

Well, let's not make this personal.

Instead of "you", let's just say, "when did other Leftists picket...", etc.

The answer is rarely, if never.

When you don't speak out with the same intensity or frequency as you do against other political factions, one unfortunate side-effect of that, is that people could think you are closer to them, than to other sides.

Me, I don't want to be corralled with the Francos of this world, just because I lean Rightwards.

And I make a point of saying so publicly whenever possible, since constitutionally and personality-wise, I'm not into picketting.

Or another graph charts statists vs. libertarians and
liberal vs. conservative
with the centrists in the middle.


I've said it a few times on Althouse, but the way I describe myself is:

An anti-Statist, free market traditionalist.

It's a simplification of a very complex issue, but one which perhaps is necessary online.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Once again, VB, I agree 100% with you.

Pretend I'm dead. Don't refer to me again.

Aspasia M. said...

vbspurs,

I thought we were pretty much agreeing on problematics of a simple linear understanding of political philosphies, but ok.

The wikipedia site has visual representations. Maybe it has a link to one of the surveys, but I didn't see one.

A previous commenter grouped the American left in with Pol Pot, Stalin and some other monster I can't even remember. There was no comment about "fringe" or anything - just the general Left American tradition.

To me this denotes a lack of understanding about the range of political philosphies.

Wikipedia has a couple different visual representations to look at.

What about Cuba? No I have not attended a demonstration against Castro. I live in the Midwest, and haven't seen any demonstrations against Castro, lately either.

Besides, I don't like demonstrations about anything. I don't like the emotion and the crowd mentalite.

Cuba really hasn't been in the news lately. Human rights people have been concentrating on Darfur which seems to be in more of a crisis situation.

My general policy on Cuba or any other nation as a Libertarian Left type person:

Any law or statist policy that restricts political, social and civil liberties is bad. Torture is bad; Imprisonment without Habeus Corpus is bad.

Hmmm. I can't imagine the mainstream American left advocating an authoritarian state. States like the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, and New Zealand are much more likely to be held up as examples of good state policy.

But if you want to believe that the American left supports Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Italian fascist browshirts, and any other horrible regime that's your buisness.

I'm still objectively pro-kitten, despite all reports to the contrary.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Geoduck2 said: "I think I would like to know in advance if the "Left" is going to be blamed for Saddam's rise to power. I'll need to prepare myelf for that one."

Not the Left exactly, but Classical Liberalism certainly. I think most people in the West, myself included, are classically liberal, but if we are to be honest we must recognize that Liberalism has caused some serious blowback in human history.

Post-colonial self-determination and the cold war lead to the rise of Saddam, jihadism, and countless tin-pot dictators ruling over hellish places.

Geopolitics is not easy. It's like poker with explosions.

Aspasia M. said...

I've always thought of classic liberalism as, you know, Adam Smith, invisible hand and such, and specific to the 18th century theoretical concepts about economics.

But it sounds like I'd likely agree with your general point.

Getting sleepy, good night.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Geoduck2 said: "I've always thought of classic liberalism as, you know, Adam Smith, invisible hand and such, and specific to the 18th century theoretical concepts about economics."

You're right. I was using the term in an idiosyncratic way. I was trying to be as broad as possible, trying to cover what I believe is the general political disposition of "the average citizen of the West," which if not technically "classically liberal" is, in my understanding of the concept, "Liberal." By adding the "classical" I was trying to include conservatives.

Good night.

LoafingOaf said...

And that picture of Rumsfield shaking Saddam's hand is worth a thousand words.

A picture of an envoy of the US government shaking the hands of a dictator doesn't mean anything until you know the context. Obviously envoys of governments have to shake hands of people all the time as part of the job.

My understanding is that Rumsfeld was sent as a special enjoy by Reagan because 200 U.S. marines had just been blown up in Beruit and Reagan was worried that Iraq would make mischief in Lebanon.

So..it didn't mean Rumsfeld put on his knee pads to do a Lewsinky on Saddam, it didn't mean they were busom buddies, it just meant he was doing a job.

vbspurs said...

I thought we were pretty much agreeing on problematics of a simple linear understanding of political philosphies, but ok.

Oh we were. No worries.

What about Cuba? No I have not attended a demonstration against Castro. I live in the Midwest, and haven't seen any demonstrations against Castro, lately either.

Besides, I don't like demonstrations about anything. I don't like the emotion and the crowd mentalite.


I was at pains to change "you" to "those who think like you" in politically left terms.

And to be sure, like me, you don't like demonstrations or protest marches.

But they do. Oh boy, how they do.

And they don't protest outside the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, D.C.

It just doesn't happen.

Your other mention about Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. was a bit disingenuous.

(Although nice touch to muddy the waters by including brownshirts in that particular political soup)

If you think the American Left were outraged at the goings-on of Stalin, Pol Pot, and many others of their ilk -- but furthermore, actively protested the abuses whilst they were going on, I don't know what to say.

I think you'll find that the vitriol they had towards democracies like the US' policy in Vietnam, was enormous compared to the non-radar blip of anger against the Killing Fields or even the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

We're not talking about extremists in the left-sphere.

We're talking about the rank-and-file.

Cheers,
Victoria

Aspasia M. said...

And to be sure, like me, you don't like demonstrations or protest marches.

But they do. Oh boy, how they do.


But I am them- meaning the mainstream left. My parents both identified as liberal democrats, my husband is a liberal democrat, my sister is a liberal democrat, my friends are liberal democrats, and until I was 14 I grew up in a town over 50% Jewish. Lots of liberal democrats. And then I moved to Seattle!


And they don't protest outside the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, D.C.

It just doesn't happen.


Ok. I still don't like going to demostrations. If you don't go, why do I have to go?

To tell you the truth, if I get the money to go to WA D.C., I'm going to be in the archives researching.

Your other mention about Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. was a bit disingenuous.

(Although nice touch to muddy the waters by including brownshirts in that particular political soup)


I mentioned Stalin and Pol Pot because another poster brought them up. In fact, that was the point of my entire post.

I thought that poster was having a difficult time differentiating between people with authoritarian leanings and people with libertarian leanings.

Well, I mentioned the brownshirts because my Italian grandfather escaped them, so they were in my mind.

If you think the American Left were outraged at the goings-on of Stalin, Pol Pot, and many others of their ilk -- but furthermore, actively protested the abuses whilst they were going on, I don't know what to say.

My Italian grandfather didn't like the brownshirts.

My goodness, who have you met in your life! Scary people!

I think you'll find that the vitriol they had towards democracies like the US' policy in Vietnam, was enormous compared to the non-radar blip of anger against the Killing Fields or even the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Don't you think the anger over Vietman was more about the draft?

Anyways, my father enlisted in the '60s. (child of the anti-fascist grandfather who fled Italy)

We're talking about the rank-and-file.

We must agree to disagree here.

But it makes me very curious who you've met. Only a very scary person would support Stalin and Pol Pot.

Aspasia M. said...

Random thoughts on the History of the American Left:

Well, I kind of doubt anyone is still reading this thread. But, in case I'm wrong, I thought I'd highlight some distinctive trends in the history of the American left that might be helpful to the discussion.

There's a history in this country of immigrants fleeing fascist situations and the joining the American left. This history has given the American left a sensibility that promotes civil rights and also repelled by authoritarian regimes.

For example, the 1848ers came over from "Germany" to America. They brought their radical impulses with them, and were among the most loyal to the Union. They fought bravely in the Civil War and advocated not only the abolition of slaves, but also voting rights for women.

The Spanish Civil War, and the rise of fascism in Europe also brought over a large group of immigrants who would never forget the dangers of authoritarian regimes. These immigrants disproportionally advocated for civil rights for African Americans and women. Like the 1848ers, also they understood the value of liberty and equality and the danger of fascism.

I think this history is cruicial to understanding the American Left.