....LMB: "Happy Birthday, Optional War!"....

March 19, 2004

I'll just cut to the chase here.

I do not think that the war against Iraq was ever about finding weapons of mass destruction or liberating the Iraqi people. These were red herrings, and arguing about them is a waste of time.

It has long been my belief that the war on Iraq was an idealistic/cynical plan to install a US-friendly government into Iraq, and intimidate non-friendly Middle Eastern governments into cooperation. These would in turn maintain US access to the region's oil, and possibly halt any Middle East government from aiding terrorist organizations, if indeed they were doing that. If any peoples were liberated in the process, that was a fringe benefit (sort of. Free people have to be controlled too).

The only new evidence I've seen that made me re-think my theory was this interview with former Pentagon insider Karen Kwiatkowski. She argued that there were three main reasons for the war, all extremely self-serving: to position the US for post-war/post-sanctions business contracts in Iraq; to gain locations for alternate locations (i.e. outside Saudi Arabia) military bases in the Middle East; and to protect the value of the US dollar by keeping it as the currency of choice in the oil market. Those reasons do seem a bit odd and petty, but she is in a position to know much more than we do.

The folks at Iraq Body Count estimate that between 8000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the war and subsequent occuaption. The folks at Lunaville estimate that there have been 576 US soldiers killed and 2842 injured in the war and occupation (though I've seen other, much higher estimates of injured).

The war may cost the US $225 billion by the end of the year.

As for where things stand now, I'd say read this excellent article by scholar Juan Cole, Welcome to the Quagmire (sadly, it's on Salon.com, which means that if you want to read the whole thing, you have to subscribe, or watch a mini-ad). Things are extremely tense, with many angry ethnic and religious factions vying for power in the new government, and possibly willing to fight if they don't get what they want.

And keep in mind that the current, US-appointed government is working behind the scenes to establish rules and consolidate their own power. Maybe by the time someone gets democratically elected, all the important decisions will have been made and the new guy will have his hands tied.

I'm glad that Saddam Hussein is out of power and under arrest. But I do fear for the future; just because one bad guy is gone doesn't mean that a good guy will take his place. And if Iraq descends into civil war, what good is their previous "liberation"?

And what about new terrorism? Won't many in the Muslim and Arab world believe that this world proves exactly what militant fundamentalists have been saying about the US all along? Won't some of them want to join the cause just because of that? Won't some join the cause because US bombs killed their families?

It can be an uncomfortable question for us anti-war folks: can something good come out of something bad? In the end, could it be that a US-subservient Iraq is better than Saddam's Iraq, better enough that all the death and lies were worth it? And if so, would it have been okay to support such a cynical, self-serving action if you knew that in the end, that suffering people would be better off?

I don't want to say that things in Iraq are like Disneyland on Earth, but maybe bombs and kidnappings and occupation are better than an iron fist.

Give it a few years, then we can see the real consequences, and make judgements work a damn.

Posted by Jake at 04:13 PM | TrackBack (0)

Here's the thing. Say we pull out of Iraq and they have a civil war that installs a government much like Iran has. Then suppose said government supports terrorists, much like Iran has. OK, we got rid of Saddam, but who wins in this situation and who loses? I never liked Saddam. He had the same effect on me that all sociopathic egotistical megalomanics do. I just don't feel like the great good of getting rid of him has come to pass. When do we really get to declare victory with this escapade? Getting a new sociopathic egotistical megalomaniac in Saddam's place just doesn't feel like a win IMHO.

Posted by: ljm at March 20, 2004 11:46 AM

Jake, I have a coupla questions:


Whose iron fist? Sadaam's or the US's Operation Iron Fist?

In what way do bombs, kidnappings and occupation differ from an iron fist?

You were kidding, right?

Posted by: DC at March 21, 2004 10:33 AM

The above comment refers to your paragraph :

"I don't want to say that things in Iraq are like Disneyland on Earth, but maybe bombs and kidnappings and occupation are better than an iron fist."

Posted by: DC at March 21, 2004 10:51 AM


The "iron fist" referred to Saddam Hussein.

I guess I wasn't clear on the rest. The bombs I refer to are insurgent/terrorist bombings, the kidnappings are the now-frequent ransomings of Iraqi civilians by Iraqi thugs, and the occupation is American. Since "iron first" usually refers to a dictatorship, those first two don't really count (not being carried out by a government).

As for your implied claim that both are equally bad, you'd have to ask the Iraqi people. I've seen poll data (I don't know how reliable) in which 70% of Iraqis say that things are better now than they were under Saddam Hussein. Granted, the current situation not only removed Saddam but also the brutal US-led economic sanctions, so maybe that has something to do with it...

Posted by: Jake at March 21, 2004 11:08 AM

Thanks for clearing that up. I have to say that I wonder where that poll information came from (I also heard that same report). Close to 10,000 dead civilians in a year, and they think things are better?

I really question that poll data. Would Americans who feel that the current administration is an un-elected, global-expansionist regime think things were better if we got rid of it at the cost of only a 'few thousand' dead civilians? Would we be happy with that trade? - I just find it so unbelievable - it just defies logic to believe that poll.

Posted by: DC at March 22, 2004 02:15 PM

JAKE--STOP---what is the B.S. about Saddam?You have fallen into the media trap, Saddam was paid to be a monester and arm twisted by USA.Time had come for him to tell USA to F-off then -like Maffia --you don't cross the boss.So jake--we need Saddam back to clear up the mess in Iraq and lets ship Bush and company in shackles to Bagdad prison ,under the watchful eye of--Benny Ladenstein!---Oh-yes MURDOC the Jewish dink too!

Posted by: Israeoil at March 24, 2004 06:21 PM

JAKE--STOP---what is the B.S. about Saddam?You have fallen into the media trap, Saddam was paid to be a monester and arm twisted by USA.Time had come for him to tell USA to F-off then -like Maffia --you don't cross the boss.So jake--we need Saddam back to clear up the mess in Iraq and lets ship Bush and company in shackles to Bagdad prison ,under the watchful eye of--Benny Ladenstein!---Oh-yes MURDOC the Jewish dink too!

Posted by: Israeoil at March 24, 2004 06:21 PM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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