Iraqi War

Iraq War

General Sullivan writes: " I agree with Miles Seeley's statement that, "we should never start a war or enter a war unless our survival is threatened". Starting back in 1983 and continuing through 9/11 vividly demonstrated to me that we are in a war for our survival with the Islamic world, particularly, the Muslim fundamentalists. Miles obviously doesn't see the threat as I do; most of the disagreement is centered as to whether you support the war or are against it. Whether our attack on Iraq was pre-emptive or a continuation of the Gulf War 12 years earlier is immaterial as the threat was beginning to loom so large that letting it go unchecked was not an option according to most intel agencies/reports. I was privy to several briefings leading up to and during Iraqi Freedom by a major Marine command that had several thousands of it's Marines taking part in the war. The intel portions were professional, believeable, and were definitely items that the intel folks believed to be true. The sources from which the intel was derived gave it the highest credibility. Our troops wore MOPP gear (Chemical protective suits) all the way to Baghdad in 120+ degrees heat because of Iraq's credible chemical threat. Iraq trained terrorists and had a bio/chem capability with the potential to arm terrorists with these chemicals for use in the US. War could have been avoided; Saddam was given the option to leave Iraq with his family, but he chose not to accept the offer as he thought the US would never attack due to international pressure. Had he been more compliant with the inspections the war may have been avoided. He threatened, maligned and berated the US up till the attack. We had been bombing his missile and radar sites for nearly two years (Operation Southern and Northern Watch) with combat actions taking place almost daily. No ground troops were involved and it received little notice from our politicians though reported daily in the media. I support the Adminstation's position to attack Iraq and consider it a necessary phase in the US's global war on terrorism".

Phyllis Gardner writes:"I think that General Sullivan must now agree that the rationale for the war was fuzzy to use a kind term (at least to the 200 million plus citizens who are not privy to insider briefings), morphing frequently with the circumstances (from removing WMDs, to removal of an evil dictator, to catalyzing democracy in the MidEast). The events of the last week, not to mention the last several months, have been horrifying in the extreme, with no need to reiterate them - but the anguishing loss of soldiers, civilians, foreign contractors causes me to feel ill every day. The administration's failure to articulate a credible plan for transition of power is apparent to all. The loss of American stature in the world is being regularly quantified and broadcast. The federal deficits due to the cost of the war (around $500B, or $1.5B per day, according to NPR today) are ballooning. The military is over-stretched, not to mention the reserves - and military leaders, almost always without attribution for fear of consequences, are frequently quoted in reliable media as saying they are gravely under-staffed in Iraq. Terrorism is clearly on the rise, fueled by rampant and rising anti-American sentiment among many Muslim people infuriated by our actions in the MidEast (both Israel/Palestine and Iraq).

I have tried to keep quiet about this war in later months, to avoid any appearance of schadenfreude or "I told you so". But I cannot conceive how anyone can defend our decision to unilaterally and preemptively invade Iraq, particularly with the benefit of hindsight. The NPR discussion by Garrison today was on empires, including Toynbee's assessment of the fall of empires. Based on the common antecedent events in all fallen empires such as Rome (preeminence in power; followed by collusion between the government and the wealthy to shift the tax burden to the proletariat; followed by an ill-guided decision or unforeseen need for massive governmental spending such as an invasion or war, with an unfair burden on the less than wealthy - I think that is the sequence anyway, so historians please weigh in) - the opinion was expressed that we could be heading for the fall of our empire. Those of us who disagree vehemently with this administration's decisions fear this greatly. And as a mother of a 15 year old son, I also gravely fear a protracted, unnecessary war and a draft. I, for one, will do anything to prevent my son going to Iraq, even if they would let me substitute myself (would they take an old doctor in lieu of a young soldier?). For me, that is where the analogy to Viet Nam is starting to emerge".

Randy Black says: "Phyllis Gardners concerns were common in many previous wars. Not a criticism, just an observation of fact. Contrary to her assertion, there are not 200 million plus US citizens who agree with her position.
Certainly it is disturbing that our soldiers are dying with regularity. But after a year, 500 combat dead US soldiers out of 125, 000 is hardly grounds for panic. And yes, I did serve during the Viet Nam era, as a volunteer.

Foreign contractors are another matter. No one held a gun to any American, Russian, French, Spanish, Chinese, Australian, Somalia or other nationals' head to get them to go to Iraq as contractors. US troops are entirely volunteers. I think Phyllis Gardner gives too much credence to her perceived conclusion regarding the opinions of foreign citizens. My friends around the world are generally, but not totally, supportive of the USA. Many hate the fact that we took the lead, but many agree that if not the USA, then it will fall to them to stem the tide towards a global Islamic-ruled world. Make no mistake; the Islamic extremists goals are for such an outcome. Not even the French universally oppose the USA. The French, by the way, have their Navy in the Persian Gulf, contrary to media reports.

I am not sure where she gets her news, but the US governments plan for transition is and has been clear. Whether or not it will come to pass on the exact date is unclear, but for her to claim that there is no credible plan is not accurate. Her comments that the US actions in Iraq have increased and infuriated anti-American sentiment among Muslims clearly ignore the fact that our embassies (two) were bombed in the 90s, without any response by the US Administration, that a US navy ship was bombed in Yemen, without any response by the US Administration, that the Muslim extremists attempted to bomb LA International Airport, again in the late 1990s, without any response by the US Administration, that Islamic extremists attempted to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993, injuring more than 1,000, again without a response by the USA, and that there were other attacks on the USA over the past 15-20 years, without any credible response by the USA.

Just what attack by Muslims against the USA would warrant a response by the USA? In short, the Muslims were already mad at the USA, and had already murdered or injured thousands of US citizens and those of other nations, and yet, there had been only one, very lame response, a couple of Cruise missiles sent (too late) to a camp ground in Afghanistan. I ask again: What would it take for Phyllis Gardner to get mad at the enemy instead of at the US?"

RH:"No response by the US Administration"? The Iraq war is just that.

David Westbrook says: "Let me see if I can provide a bit of perspective, and hence comfort, for good WAISer Phyllis Gardner. First, regarding manners, she need not worry about Schadenfreude (joy in the misfortune of others). Phyllis seems motivated by more noble sentiments, most importantly anxiety over her son. My elder son is eight. I teach and write on the law of war, and I'm the son of a highly decorated Vietnam vet (3 silver stars, 1 bronze) who ended up resigning in protest, so I've thought about both wars more than a bit, and I think the situations are, well, different.

It is quite possible that we as a nation are committing a great evil, by which I mean an evil above and beyond those evils entailed in fighting any war. But, for all the bumbling and venality, I don't think so. Rephrased, I think we are at a fairly important juncture, and this administration has reshuffled the deck. Will it turn out well? It just might. It is worth noting that this war has been met with doomsayers throughout. First it was chemical weapons, then it was endless fighting "bogged down" in the desert, then it was Bagdad as Stalingrad, then it was can't capture Hussein, then it was endless rioting . . . most of these things have not come to pass. As of tonight, the U.S. has retaken Kut, al-Sadr seems to be coming around, the police (not the U.S.) are returning to Najaf. Casualties are orders of magnitude lower than in Vietnam. There are reasons to be hopeful. And, let me add, we have little choice. Water has passed under bridges.

I realize that lawyers are trained to argue both sides of a proposition, but the war in Iraq is not all that hard to justify if one is so inclined, and if one is willing to engage, even if only imaginatively, in Realpolitik. Phyllis says she can't imagine the possibility, but if she wants to make the arguments justifying the adventure, here are some places to start.

1) The orthodox international law argument made by the State Department was not bad, far better than the arguments we had for the legality of Kosovo, Panama, Desert Fox, the no-fly zones, the Libyan cruise missile attacks . . . I could go on. I would even argue that the legal justifications for Haiti, Liberia, Bosnia and even Afghanistan are somewhat flawed . . . . in short, Iraq is simply not the end of international law. As some of the foregoing conflicts strongly suggest, however, the law of war is in transition, but the key events here are Kosovo and Rwanda, not Iraq. But that is a long story, maybe for another day.

2) WMD. The failure to find Iraqi nuclear capability should not obscure the fact that Iraq simply was not in compliance with the cease fire agreement, and in particular, still has not proven what happened to banned weapons or weapons stocks that we (both Presidents and the UN) know they had. Turning to the risks associated with WMD, I think the risk remains. Particularly in light of recent revelations of proliferation from Pakistan, documented Iraqi efforts to build nuclear capability, and use of chemical weapons, the idea that Iraq would not use, or sell, such weapons because it was rationally deterrable (a la the USSR) seems implausible.

3) Cold war. Most of the American people paid relatively little attention to Iraq during the 90s, but we were waging a low level conflict there. We had established no-fly zones in the North and South. We bombed Baghdad. We imposed sanctions that were killing many people, difficult to quantify but still more than have been killed by the invasion. Iraq, in short, wasn't a sovereign state. Sanctions involve human misery, but tend to leave bad people in power. Pressed to justify the misery, especially the deaths of children -- which appeared ineffective, to boot -- caused by the UN sanctions on Iraq, Madeleine Albright famously said it was worth it, better than a war. Well, maybe. But it's a close call. There was no way that the U.S. was going to abandon the position altogether, and let Hussein declare victory (and retain his weapons). So, to put the matter in the starkest moral terms, the choice was not between war and peace, killing and not killing. Instead, the choice was how the killing would be conducted, and for how long, and with what other results.

4) Terrorism. There seems to be widespread schizophrenia on this point. Critics of the administration tend to argue that Iraq is different from al Qaeda, and even that the administration shifted attention from one to the other. Many such critics then go on to worry about increases in Islamist terrorism. I think the latter half of the argument makes more sense. Iraq is relevant to al Qaeda and September 11th, just as Somalia and Lebanon and Israel are -- all affect perceptions within the population of those who would be radicalized. At this point I have to differ with those WAISers who insist that terrorism is only a technique. Without going so far as Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" thesis, it does seem that there is such a thing as Islamic terrorism, that it is organized, albeit not on a national basis. "Terrorism" as used in this context denotes a form of politics, perhaps one of the most pure, if we follow Karl Schmitt and understand politics as the association worth violence. In this regard, you might want to read Jessica Stern's "The Protean Enemy" in Foreign Affairs.
Another great name here is the French scholar Roy Olivier, who locates terrorism, i.e., Islamist terrorism of the recently all too familiar variety, in a particular generation or two of alienated -- often physically so, through immigration -- young men, mostly Arabs, who view themselves as humiliated by contemporary history, in the person of Israel, the United States, secular states generally (Egypt), and even globalization/modernity. Thus "terrorism" constitutes not only a technique of violence and political persuasion, but also a type of political association, characterized by an Islamic discourse and indeed worldview/ideology, and indeed a group of individuals.

If this understanding of who the enemy is is roughly correct, then it is at least in principle possible to "fight terrorism," i.e., to fight the individuals who have joined that diffuse community. There are, of course, practical problems. Nonetheless, assuming that violence is a form of political discourse (with Clausewitz), then there is a community to whom violence is addressed. From this perspective, it seems that the U.S. responses to Somalia, the delayed response to the attack on the Cole (a warship!), and Beirut were terrible mistakes, because they sent the wrong message to the terrorist political community. Meanwhile, that political community was trying to declare war on the U.S. Bin Laden declared war on the U.S. repeatedly in the 1990s, and even attacked military targets and embassies. But as former FBI director Freeh is testifying to Congress tomorrow (and argued in the Wall Street Journal, 4/12/04), the U.S. simply did not go on a war footing until September 11th. Partially, I think, it was because the U.S. could not orient itself to "terrorism" as if it were a state because, obviously, it isn't a state. As much as I'd like to find a bureaucrat to blame for 9/11, I have to confess that thinking about terrorism as a political community, without falling into terrible intolerance, is very difficult. I'm still trying to think in these terms, and clearly many WAISers (who analogize the war on terrorism to that on poverty or drugs) simply do not.

To carry the analysis a step deeper, and borrowing from Stern, violence appears to be constitutive of the terrorist community (like language and religion, but not like land and tradition or economics). That is, there is a terrorist community, it exists as such, and it is formed in large part through violence directed against the usual suspects, especially the U.S., against whom it has declared war. In the light of that, the claim that the current action will result in more terrorism strikes me as implausible in theory, and thankfully unsupported by the facts, at least in the U.S. We already were in a war, albeit one with non-state actors.

The question remains, however, whether the war with "terrorism" -- necessarily vaguely understood -- should or could be linked with the war on Iraq. While not logical, I think the _political_ answer is yes, in just the same way that terrorism was linked with the Black Hawk Down incident in Mogadishu, which was, after all, occasioned by our efforts to protect the U.N. folks trying to get food to starving people. But the details are lost, even the terrible killing done by the U.S. forces was forgotten: the message seemed to be that Americans would not take casualties. Iraq may be a non-sequitur, like Mogadishu, but it proved that the U.S. was not a paper tiger.

So where does this wash out? Well, as with the French Revolution, it is too soon to tell. But I think the negotiating position of the U.S. has improved where it counts -- no leader questions the U.S. willingness and capability to use force, unilaterally if need be. Libya is of course exhibit A (incidentally, I predicted this after September 11th, that Quadaffi would use the occasion to mend fences with the U.S.). On the other hand, as Phyllis points out, there is a great deal of rage at the U.S., and that may well inspire further terrorist acts. But in a Machiavellian mood, one might say better rage tempered by fear than rage whetted by contempt.

5) Money. Considering how much money this country has spent on defense in the past, the raw size of the economy, this is just not a pressing question. Rephrased, the Cold War (including Vietnam, Korea, and lots of revolutionary technology) didn't come cheap, either. Gulf War I, now that was a bargain. Moreover, it is a little odd to hear good liberals turn their backs on such a classic Keynesian fiscal stimulus.

6) Empires. Even Lionel Jospin doesn't think the U.S. is an empire. But assuming we are an empire, it's worth pointing out that Rome had an incredible run before it fell. More deeply, Alexander never thought he would live forever -- that's not the point. That NPR and Phyllis worry about "afterward" is fine and dandy, but iy shows how far they -- and we -- are from understanding glory and hence empire.

Turning to the historical argument, does the U.S. have a problem with oligarchy? Well, yes, but what does that mean for stability? First, inequality in the U.S. is hardly new. Nor is it clear that oligarchy is not a fairly stable way to run politics, more stable than democracy for reasons WAISers constantly bemoans (the people are easily distracted). After all, Sparta won, though Thucydides would like to argue that was because Athens was weakened by its terrible defeats at the hands of equally democratic Sicilians.

7) Diplomacy. I think this is a problem. The administration has handled various European sensibilities quite badly. But it is easy to exaggerate the problem. Diplomacy will continue because -- to quote Albright again -- the U.S. is indispensable, which I believe she meant not in the sense of exceptional, but literally too big to be ignored.
The European numbers on growth, released this weak, for example, will ensure that the Europeans continue to work closely with the U.S. And we do change administrations, and so tone, fairly frequently. Those things said, the European (to the extent we can speak of a unified Europe) situation is in deep flux, and whither Europe (to say nothing of European security policy) is creating anxieties and tensions for which the U.S. government cannot be held responsible. Kagan has a good piece in the current Foreign Affairs, arguing that the U.S. and Europe need one another to provide liberal legitimacy to security politics. Probably right, if implicitly very righteous.

8) Outcome. As I wrote in an earlier post, it is imaginable that we convert a dictatorship into chaos. That would, incidentally, serve some of our purposes, and harm us in other ways. For the people of Iraq, even chaos might not be worse than Saddam's regime, which was constantly at war, and terrorized its own people, many of whom were starving. But it seems to me likely that far better things will happen. At the very least, we may hope for an authoritarian regime, perhaps like Iran. But what if a modestly modern state, like Egypt, emerges? Or Turkey? What if, as Thomas Friedman keeps hoping in the New York Times, this is a giant step towards the creation of modern states that do a reasonably good job of taking care of their people?

It is easy to laugh at some of the neo-cons' grander aspirations. Surely a people must themselves become modern; they cannot have "American style democracy" thrust upon them. And it is easy to despair at places that seem intractably stuck in chaos, like Afghanistan, much of Africa. And it is easy (my job) to be a critic of modernity itself, which promises so much but so often does not satisfy. But all those things said, nation building is all we have. It is just possible that a hundred billion dollars and a new government later, the Iraqi people will have a far better state, and a happier society, than they have ever had before. And that would be a huge accomplishment, not only for them, but for the entire region, because it would show that history, even joining modernity, can also be cause for hope.

Finally, St. Augustine once pointed out that all politics was a matter of disasters".

Miles Seeley does not agree with General Sullivan: "Yes, war is hell, as the saying goes. Innocents are killed, towns are flattened, societies are torn apart, and the families of all the dead mourn. That is why, in my humble opinion, we should never start a war or enter a war unless our survival is threatened. So by my standards, WW II was a necessity, Korea was questionable (and I served in that war), VietNam was not necessary, Gulf War I had some justification, and the invasion of Iraq had none. Invading a country because we disapprove of its government, insisting on imposing our form of government on everyone else, is not Realpolitik, it is arrogant and highly dangerous in both the short and long term. The above is my short version, but you get the idea. Too bad about the journalists, but I feel no more pained by their deaths than I do about the death of any single US

General Michael Sullivan writes: "I feel the heartache in Phyllis Gardner's posting and understand why she feels that way. Many Americans, more every day, feel so helpless in what has transpired lately with the lack of political progress, increased combat actions and American casualties both military and civilian. I supported the war for the reasons that I have posted many times but chiefly because I knew Iraq had a bio/chem capability, trained al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq and had the capability to transport those chemical weapons to the US via terrorist. After 9/11 they became a definite threat to the US. We then fought the "perfect war" if there is such a thing. Over in three weeks with little loss of life to either side, military or civilian, when compared to other armed conflicts. Then came the transition phase to establish a democratic form of government with a hand-off to the Iraqis in due time. Easier said than done, and obviously the plans they had were flawed, which turns out not to be a surprise for many reasons. The exiled Iraqis we installed to set up this new government were not well received from the beginning and turned out to be a hindrance rather than an aid. The billions of dollar flowing into Iraq were mismanaged, wasted on bribes or embezzled/over-charged by people in the complicated bureaucracy providing logistical support that had nobody in charge or accountable. Money was handed out by the millions getting little in return.

I'm appalled at the unrest and number of Iraqis and foreigners still willing to do battle with US and coalition forces. The news sources that many WAISers read or watch definitely have an agenda that is anti Bush, anti Iraqi war and anti American. The Europeans dislike us because we're on top and the Islamic world hates us for our support of Israel. This has been going on for a long time and I don't see any of those opinions changing after the 2004 election.

My news sources are mainly emails from the Marines doing the actual fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi, and they are painting an entirely different picture than the media on who is doing what to whom as far as the fighting goes. The terrible week that Phyllis is talking about was horrific for American casualties, mainly Marines, as we lost 46 American servicemen, including 6 eighteen year olds, at a cost of 550 to the insurgents. However, the newly arrived Marines have pursued the insurgents into their city strongholds, which hadn't been done in the past. The Marine email I received today said, "we are now inflicting large casualties on the enemy, the Iraqis have now realized there is a new sheriff in town, and they've been beginning to back off." They mentioned Iraqi PA systems initially begging the Marines to come in and fight as it's their day to die. They yelled "jihad, jihad, jihad". The Marines' interpreter answers back accepting the challenge. An hour later the enemy was destroyed.

It appears to me that we need more troopers on the ground providing security, but the DOD said it wasn't needed when the Marines went back into Iraq over the past couple of months. The Marines said they didn't need TACAIR and needed only attack helos, but they're willing to call for more airpower, if needed. They said, if it looked as if they needed more Marines on the ground providing security, they would ask for them. More and more Marines are departing daily from the East Coast's Second Marine Expeditionary Force, so I think there may be a move to beef up the security forces on the ground. I see where a Marine artillery batallion is embarking and not taking any "tubes", as they will act only as a security force, which reinforces the old adage that, "Every Marine is a rifleman". One of the problems is that the US military, active and Reserve, were cut by over a million troops in the '90s, so now the troops are called upon twice as much as in the past. Having two shooting wars are going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus all the other military commitments around the world, is a large drain on the military.

Setting up the new Iraqi government is an entirely different problem from fighting the insurgents and it turns out the US was unprepared for the task as it was so huge and little understood or appreciated. Some reports state they are making progress, but June 30 will soon be upon us, and I have not seen anything so far that looks as though the new government can govern the people of Iraq. I pray I'm wrong. If things continue to go badly in Iraq for the Administration, as they have for the past few weeks, I think Bush could decide not to run which many think would be a "slam dunk" for Kerry in November. But if Bush decided not to run on principle, I think his likely replacement would be John McCain, and that would really turn the political scene upside down.

I'll admit I feel the angst and despair over events of the past few weeks in Iraq and it's on my mind all the time".

RH: In brief, General Sullivan says the US military have done a fine job; the civilians are the problem. John McCain of course has a distinguished military record.

Iraq, the Von Schlieffen plan and Napoleon.

In her testimony before the commission investigating 9/11, Condoleezza Rice stressed that the Pentagon has plans, plans and plans, but presidential approval is needed to execute them. We should remember two things. The first is that the Pentagon has new weapons, and there are people eager to try them out. The second is that the Pentagon has plans which are not made public; to invade Cuba, Mexico, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. The authors of each plan are eager to try it out, but that demands presidential approval. That is what happened in the case of Iraq. The approval of President Bush was due to several factors, one being to show that he was a man of action, another to avenge the attempt on his father's life. The trouble is that these `ñans seldom work out as expected. The classic case was the Von Schlieffen Plan in World War I. The plan was to envelop Paris and gain a quick victory. Of course it did not work out, and Germany lost the war. We think also of Napoleon's invasion of Spain. He deposed the hopeless Charles IV and but his reformist brother Joseph on the throne. His reforms were of little avail. The Spaniards did not want a gabacho king. They revolted, as Goya so dramatically reported, and Napoleon lost the war. Moral: All these plans should be vetted by disinterested experts.

Jon Kofas writes: "Your observations regarding the Bush administration "plans", the wish on the part of many neo-conservatives in and outside of government for more invasions in Latin America and the Middle East, and the oblivious attitude that the lessons of history do not apply to the U.S. operating on the long-standing principle of "Exceptionalism." After all, our foreign policy operates under special providence, a divine mission to make the world after our own image at gunpoint and at a considerable cost to our own and the rest of the world's interests. What has been happening in Iraq is indeed tragic and even people who backed the war now find it difficult to justify it, and even more difficult to see what the cost-benefit ratio is for the U.S. in the short-term or the long-term. Lacking credibility with most of the world and a segment of the American people, this administration has undercut the strength of the U.S. at all levels. Not that Jingoism in the early 21st century is obsolete and cannot serve a purpose for the right occasion if one presents itself, but, at this juncture in the evolving multi-polar post-Cold War world order, it seems that targets are selected at random on the basis of Cold War assumptions, rather than the realities of today's world. Not only are the lessons of Count von Schlieffen and of Napoleon have been ignored, but those of our own history in Vietnam".

Bombing of a Mosque

Edgar Knowlton writes: "I have been shocked and depressed at the lack of sorrow on our country's part for the bombing of a mosque with deaths of some possibly innocent Iraqis.. Apparently if the mosque is used by hostile people, it no longer is a sanctuary. We might remember that Muslims were honor-bound to protect an enemy seeking refuge wtth them, which had its influence on pundonor.. Cf. Hernani and Silva.. I can understand the American frustration, but cannot believe such retaliation is Christian or even practical policy. Can this be how to lead Muslims to our brand of democracy? Frankly I feel saddened and unconvinced that we are the ones to lead Iraq to freedom. Am I crazy?" RH: Churches are likewise supposed to provide asylum, but in Pakistan Muslims did not hesitate to kill members of the congregation. US authorities claim the main building of the mosque was not hit. Moreover mosques have been used to plot murderous activities. I understand the dilemma, but, as Edgar says, the bombing was not persuasive.

IRAQ: Baghdad, Palestine Hotel

From France, Christopher Jones says: "John Wonder wrote"It does not seem to have crossed Christopher Jones' mind that correspondents are in war zones at their own risk. I see no reason anyone has to assume responsibility for their welfare. What makes them so special?" I am afraid that I did not write the letter. It is being circulated among the members of the National Union of Journalists, the largest trade union for journalists in the UK and maybe the largest in the world. Although all incidents of friendly fire should be investigated with a view to prevent the idiocy of it ever happening again (I hope we can agree that killing your own people is idiotic), the case of the Palestine Hotel goes way beyond that. It may be a case of murder. Why a US tank or whatever opened fire on a hotel that housed most foreign journalists in Baghdad should be explained -- particularly in the light of the fact that the US war on Iraq was waged without sanction from the Security Council. Or do some WAISers accept the murder of innocents as long as Americans or Israelis are doing the killing?"

Christopher Jones said; "I hope we can agree that killing your own people is idiotic; the case of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad goes way beyond that. It may be a case of murder. Why a US tank or whatever opened fire on a hotel that housed most foreign journalists in Baghdad should be explained ". - John Heelan comments: "I have some sympathy with the military on this one. The large lens of a shoulder-held broadcast quality video camera, viewed head on from a few hundred yards, can easily be mistaken for the nozzle of an anti-tank weapon. Nervous tank commanders seeing one pointed in their direction have an instant in which to make up their minds- are they in danger or not? It takes an exceedingly brave man to risk his tank and crew from a wrong decision and thus he will usually adopt a "safety-first" approach and eliminate the perceived risk (even though in the light of day it would not have seen to have been such a risk.)"

Christopher Jones condemned the US shelling of a Baghad hotel where journalists were housed. Randy Black disagrees: "I believe that the record shows that there in fact was an investigation. That the media did not accept the results is understandable, but it nevertheless did occur.

Tank crew cleared over attack on journalists' hotel ((8/14/03(
A US military investigation has concluded that the crew of a US tank acted in self-defence and in keeping with the rules of engagement when it fired on a Baghdad hotel filled with foreign journalists on April 8, killing two television cameramen. The investigation found that the tank fired at the Palestine Hotel because a spotter was reported to be co-ordinating Iraqi fire from it, a US official said. A Ukrainian cameraman for Reuters television, Taras Protsyuk, 35, and a Spaniard working for the Spanish television network Telecinco, Jose Couso, 37, were killed by the shell blast.
Three other Reuters television journalists were wounded in the incident, which came amid heavy fighting in downtown Baghdad. The US Central Command's report on its investigation was not made public immediately, but a summary of its findings was sent to the governments of Spain and Ukraine, said the official. "The report appears to confirm exactly what was initially reported in April," said the official. "The rules of engagement were not violated."
Images captured by the French television network France 3 showed the turret of an Abrams tank on the west side of the Tigris river turn toward the Palestine Hotel 300 metres away on the opposite bank, take careful aim and fire.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, US military officials said the tank was returning hostile fire from the hotel. But journalists at the hotel disputed that account. In Kiev, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said it had been informed of the investigation's findings. "According to the American side ... the shot was fired in self-defence and in complete conformity with the rules of combat," said ministry spokesman Markian Loubkivski. "The American tank acted in response to information concerning the presence at the hotel of a spotter who was co-ordinating the Iraqi fire," he added, citing the results of the investigation…..

RH: The report by the US military is of course ex parte.

Return of Saddam

Since WAIS is an uncensored international forum, I pose items with which I totally disagree, like this one from Christopher Jones, who has a vivid imagination: "Like a ghost rattling its chains and banging on doors in the night, the very mention of the word "Vietnam" was enough to send shivers into the members of the upper echelons of the Bush White House. Criticism mounted on the Bush neo-con government. Edward Kennedy, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, described Iraq as "George Bush's Vietnam". Republican senator John McCain said Mr Bush should avoid the mistakes of the Vietnam war: "We have to tell the American people that we are in this for the long haul. We cannot say, as we did in Vietnam, that the light is at the end of the tunnel."

In Baghdad, Paul Bremer, said over the phone: "No Mr President, there is nothing in common with Vietnam." Just then, the window was shattered as a brick was flung into the room. His last words to the president were, "I'll see if he'll agree to it, yes sir, I'll try to convince him." Through the window, Bremer could hear a far away but clear "F**k you Bush!!" Quietly, the American pro-consul realized that the situation was out of control. Leaving the office, he said to his military adjutant, "Take me to him!"

"Who sir?"

"You know, him!"

"We will need an interpreter. Find me one." And so Bremer descended into an ultra modern bunker filled with military gadgets from a George Pal movie and highly trained special forces people. Stopping finally in front a huge metal door, guarded by masked commandos, he asked, "What is he doing now?"

"He's working on his latest book, sir. I believe its a detective story." And accompanied by his interpreter, Bremer ordered the door unlocked and entered the brightly lit, spartan room. The man behind the typewriter hardly looked up.

"We're desperate," said Bremer. "You're the only one who can save us. I can offer you a comfortable exile, a villa, a gold pass to Disneyland, a private jet, and we will unfreeze your Swiss bank accounts. We'll put one of your doubles on trial so there's no problem there. Just help us control these crazy Iraqis." And Bremer pushed a contract in Arabic over to the man with glasses who started to read the contract over carefully. He looked at Bremer and rubbed his two fingers together and mumbled something that sounded like baksheesh. "More money? isn't that enough?" And the man turned back to his typewriter. "All right, all right." And so the deal was done. In a hopeless situation, the Americans had turned to the only man who could save Iraq from descending into civil war -- Saddam Hussein".

Arrogance and Rebellion

Christopher Jones writes: "As John Kerry denounced the "arrogance" of the Bush policies in Iraq, the US finds itself battling the "Mahdi" militia of Moqtada el Sadr as well as Sunni extremists. It seems that the US is using the same old brutal methods that Saddam used on the Shias after the firsat Gulf war. Against this backdrop, The Guardian published a comment by Seamus Milne about the current civil war in Iraq and the revolt against the Americans -- excerpts:

"President Bush's spokesman described Shia guerrillas as "thugs and terrorists", while his Iraqi proconsul Paul Bremer - head of a 130,000-strong occupation force which has already killed more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians - issued a priceless denunciation of groups who "think power in Iraq should come out of the barrel of a gun ... that is intolerable".

(UK) MP Ann Clwyd, who regularly visits Iraq as the prime minister's "human rights envoy", struggled to acknowledge in an interview on Monday that bombing raids by US F16s and Apache helicopter gunships on Iraqi cities risked causing civilian deaths, not merely injuries. The following day, 16 children were reportedly killed in Falluja when US warplanes rocketed their homes. And yesterday, in what may well be the most inflammatory act of slaughter yet, a US helicopter killed dozens of Iraqis in a missile assault on a Falluja mosque.

The attack on a mosque during afternoon prayers will, without doubt, swell the ranks of what has become a nationwide uprising against the US-led occupation. By launching a crackdown against the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr - and, in an eloquent display of what it means by freedom in occupied Iraq, closing his newspaper - the US has finally triggered the long-predicted revolt across the Shia south and ended the isolation of the resistance in the so-called Sunni triangle. Bush, Blair and Bremer have lit a fire in Iraq which may yet consume them all. The evidence of the past few days is that the uprising has spread far beyond the ranks of Sadr's militia. And far from unleashing the civil war US and British pundits and politicians have warned about, Sunni and Shia guerrillas have been fighting side by side in Baghdad against the occupation forces.

This revolt shows every sign of turning into Iraq's own intifada, and towns like Falluja and Ramadi - centres of resistance from the first days of occupation - are now getting the treatment Israel has meted out to Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus and Rafah over the past couple of years. As resistance groups have moved from simply attacking US and other occupation troops to attempts to hold territory, US efforts to destroy them - as an American general vowed to do yesterday - have become increasingly brutal. Across Iraq, US soldiers and their European allies are now killing Iraqis in their hundreds on the streets of their own cities in an explosive revival of the Middle East's imperial legacy.

The current uprising increasingly resembles the last great revolt against British rule in Iraq in 1920, which also cost more than 10,000 lives and helped bring forward the country's formal independence. But Britain maintained behind-the-scenes control, though military bases and ministerial "advisers", until the client monarchy was finally overthrown in 1958. If Iraq is now to regain its independence, the lessons of history are that the Iraqi resistance will have to sharply raise the costs of occupation, and that those in the occupying countries who grasp the dangers, unworkability and injustice of imperial rule must increase the political pressure for withdrawal.",3858,4897671-103550,00.html


David Crow says:Here's the link to an academic study "Misperceptions, the Media, and Iraq": Among the findings are that misinformed citizens were more likely to support the war and that Fox News viewers were more likely to be misinformed.

Marines in Fallujah

With the comment " Many WAISers are at the opposite end of the political spectrum from this author, but what he says in this article is what I believe", General Sullivan forwards this article by Oliver North (4/9/04).
Marines in Fallujah: This week in Iraq, U.S. Marines came under heavy fire in such cities as Fallujah and Ramadi. Amid gunfire and rocket propelled grenade attacks, their mission was to search for the terrorists who killed and desecrated the bodies of four American contractors killed last week and quell an uprising of radical Shiites, who are being lead by Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr, a fanatical cleric and a pawn of Hezbollah. At least 15 Marines were killed and 20 more were wounded in the battles.

And while some of the Marine Corps' finest were taking gunfire and dying, back at home, Sen. Teddy Kennedy wandered from his palatial Senate office on Capitol Hill to the plush and friendly surroundings of the Brookings Institute, a liberal Washington think tank, to unleash a verbal carpet bombing on the president of the United States. Kennedy, whose own honesty, integrity and judgment have been called into question on numerous occasions throughout his career, charged the Bush administration with "creat(ing) the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon." Kennedy accused the president of breaking "the basic bond of trust with the American people," and said that Iraq is "George Bush's Vietnam."

It's an effort on the part of John Kerry's hatchet man to exploit one of the more challenging weeks in Iraq since the end of major hostilities nearly a year ago. Though they find it hard to accept, Democrats like Teddy Kennedy know the president continues to enjoy the trust of the American people on matters of national security. Their terrorism czar turned Kerry flack, Richard Clarke, had his day in the Beltway sunshine, but they realize Clarke's testimony and book will barely warrant a footnote in its impact on the president. Based on last week's economic reports, the Democrats' not-so-secret desires for the economy to turn south so they might have an issue to exploit are now a pipe dream.

So they have turned up the rhetoric to try to equate Iraq with Vietnam. And the Senate's resident Klan Man, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, was happy and eager to participate: "Surely, I am not the only one who hears echoes of Vietnam in this development. Surely this administration recognizes that increasing the U.S. troop presence in Iraq will only suck us deeper, deeper into the maelstrom, into the quicksand of violence that has become the hallmark of that unfortunate, miserable country," said the Senate's oratorical Grand Wizard. What is truly unfortunate is that those who hear the "echoes" of such pessimistic Pooh Bahs are the terrorists who are emboldened by it. It is also heard by young Americans who toppled a brutal dictator and liberated the people in "that unfortunate, miserable country" from an evil regime. These young Americans who are away from their families during Easter deserve better from the so-called elder statesmen of the liberal establishment.

Before those Marines went into Ramadi and Fallujah, they spent months at Camp Pendleton in California. The operations they are conducting now -- working in and around civilian areas -- required far more intensive training than what they had when they first went in March 2003. Contrary to how the media make it out, this has not been an effort to take down a city of over 300,000 people -- the Marines are only firing when fired upon. They did not prep it with an artillery barrage beforehand. It is also important to note that this has not been just a U.S. Marine Corps operation, but a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation. The timing of it was such that they could collect adequate intelligence on the city and use the videotape that was shot by Arab journalists, which is now in the hands of Iraqi authorities, to capture and bring to justice those who perpetrated that terrible crime. And that heinous crime and the way it was captured on television was no accident.

The murder of those four defense contractors was planned and phoned in to the Arab media beforehand so that the pictures broadcast around the world might have the same effect that the train bombing in Madrid had on the Spanish elections -- to instill fear and generate calls for retreat. Thus terrorists in Iraq who use bullets and bombs have now added a public relations component as another asset in their quiver. And their latest offensive, which combined murder and its broadcast on television, has apparently worked on people like Ted Kennedy and Bob Byrd.
Those who continue to carp and complain about the war defend themselves by saying they have a First Amendment right to do so, but there is an inherent duty of responsibility in the exercise of free speech. Now that terrorists are mastering the manipulation of the media, war critics must consider the consequences that their criticisms may have on their countrymen who are fighting for freedom.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, host of the Fox News Channel's War Stories and founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance <>.

RH; While this assessment of the situation may be correct, I regret that it is couched in the nasty jargon which is typical of American politics: The misuse of the word liberal, calling Senator Byrd "a Klan Man", "Grand Wizard",
Pooh Bahs. Both sides debase their arguments in this way.

"Oliver North, who wrote about the Iraq war, is a nationally syndicated columnist, host of the Fox News Channel's "War Stories" and founder and honorary chairman of Freedom". From the UK, John Heelan asks: "Is that the same "Ollie North" the Establishment's true-blue Marine fall-guy for the Iran-Contra scandal? If so, perhaps one needs a modicum of salt to endure his statements and swallow his judgements". RH: The same. He has his admirers and detractors.

Ronald Hilton -