To all you Pro-Israeli supporters here

  • and can only learn by using force doesn’t work right?

    Force is what these people understand. That is the enviorment they live in. That is who they are. This really is quite laughable. How many Iraqis loved Saddam Hussien? Not too many. But he kept order through “winning thier minds” right? No, he kept it through FORCE! They had a lot of great reasons to hate the man, but they never rose up against him, because of force.

    What your type of thinking does not comprehend is that you can not introduce into an enviorment like the middle east higher forms of government (and yes, democracy to me is better than dictatorship) without comepletely destroying all remenants of the former regime. We would not have let the germans after world war 2 protest in a pro nazi rally. Mien kamph is still a banned book there 60 years later. But we allow speech that does not lead to stabilization in the middle east? Did you know every family in Iraq is allowed to own (only one) one AK47?

    I would rather be shortly brutal, and long term effective. Than long time passive, never being effective. This region of the world could turn into another vietnam if your type of thinking prevails. Don’t fight the war to win, fight the war to negotiate. Isreal should be left to do the same with the palastinians.

  • Zooey, the order you’re adovacting seems to be the “punish the majority for the actions of the minority” type. If we can’t identify insurgents (which is the main problem in Iraq), then you suggest we exact a heavy toll on the population until supporting the insurgency becomes so dangerous, it falls apart? Like Roman decimation or German liquidation?

    There are two reasons heavy-handed techniques would never work:

    1. The American people would never support indiscriminate killings. One of the reasons we invest so heavily in precision weapons is that despite our obsession with violence, Americans have a very low tolerance for having actual blood on the military’s hands. Summarily executing people, razing towns, rounding up young men of a certain ethnic make-up, etc. would absolutely tank public support for the war. Look at the outcry over Abu Gharib. Destroying a village in retaliation for anything the insurgents do would not go over well on the nightly news.

    2. The insurgency would increase. It wouldn’t matter how much we punish people we suspect of helping insurgents. It would be like Nazi Germany trying to stop Russian Partisans. We are so fanatically hated by a segment of the population, that retaliation would simply feed into their justification for hating us even more. And also garner them even more recruits.

  • You are right and wrong.

    You are right in that the general American population would not support the things you describe. You are wrong in thinking anything less than that will be effective. Mr. Bush either needs to do what has to be done (no matter how unclean it is) or get out. A protacted war over there the terrorist will win for the same reasons that they thought they would win. We will get sick of a mounting death toll. What I see happening is that as fast as possible (which has been as slow as possible so far - a huge discredit to the Bush administration) is that Iraq governs itself (and defends itself), and our troops go to heavily defended camps that are not easily attacked. American deaths go down, and the government in place does what is necesary (with our economic and miltary support as far as weapons are concerned).

    The terms “puppet government” and what not are going to fly around. But I for one think the Iraqi people in general would support this. Because they are solving thier own problem. I am not saying that they should take out whole communities and shoot them. I am saying they can take the kid gloves off a lot more than what we are able to do. As in it is not the right of every Iraqi household to have an AK47.

    Does this stampede all over thier civil rights, yes. But what alternative do you suggest? This kind of thing is not new to that part of the world. Eventualy, (after control is gained) the hard line “we must win this war at any cost” will die down because the insurgency will die down.

    You have to have stability before you can have democracy in this situation. That is just the way it is. Letting would be dictators run around preaching thier way of thinking does not work. We introduced democracy to a country that was not ready for it after world war 1, and we got Hitler. Wouldn’t it have been better if the German Republic stampeded all over the nazis “rights” and “took care of them” even if it meant some German civilians who were innocent got unjustly persecuted? (same can be said with the communist in Germany in the 20s).

    Many don’t like the methods I advocate, I don’t like them myself. But I am a realist, this is the only thing that will work. What won’t work is our current policy of “just getting by”.

    In reguards to Isreal, I have thought for the longest time there needs to be a “winner” in that war. Thier policy of an attack here, an offensive there… won’t work. Crush the Palastinians utterly, than pick up the pieces and make do with what you have.

    You are wrong in the assumption that it will just create more terrorist, in that even if it does you destroy them. You have to make it a “no win” situation for them, than you can start building again for something better. Stability is key, without it than all the democracy in the world won’t change a thing.

    Fight to win, or don’t fight at all. We lost Vietnam because we conducted it w/o that way of thinking. We are entangled in this mess now because of Bush. The left likes to think of him as some christian zealout that wants to stamp out Islam or something. I do not like his christian “ideals” because they do not pertain to the war he started. There is no “nice war”. There is war.

  • I wrote this last night, so it might be a little dated for the conversation. Will post more pertinently later.

    I’ll start with the concept of naiveté. Colloquially, it’s thought of an inability to accept the dark side of human nature, that only a stark, distrustful view of the world is reality. While I accept that people can be very bad to each other or themselves, true naiveté stems from the thought that one conception of the world can answer all the questions. International relations is extraordinarily complex, with lots of room for competing forces. Why a harsh view should trump all others is not clear, particularly when forces like economic liberalization and globalization have an impact much greater than any military force. Likewise, cultural and religious factors have an equally powerful influence that is not encompassed by standard military or political analysis. Would anyone now contend that the roles of non-state actors, development, and cultural exchange are any less important in winning the hearts and minds of hostile populations than military force? Would anyone also downplay the influence of exposure to Western norms, cultural, and products in evincing the disparity between democracy and the socialist governments of Eastern Europe? Granted, each of these factors waxes and wanes in influence depending on the situation. But it is hardly possible to say that the only interest that states pursue is naked self-aggrandizement at the expense of others.

    This can be justified along economic lines, for example. The modern neo-classical models of international economics are all predicated on Ricardian comparative advantage. All people/countries/societies gain through free trade and the cooperative legal, political, and social structures that that generates. Of course, this is not to say that contention is not also an inherent part of the international system. The burgeoning trade tensions between the US and China are a clear example of that. My point, however, is that both operate, and it takes a multivariate view of the world to obtain a clear picture of the forces at play. Now, I fully recognize that political and military factors can and often do override economic, cultural, social, etc. influences. But it is naïve and illogical to dismiss these other factors and think that the entire world, in all its complexity, can be boiled down to a single first principle.

    To come back full circle to the original point of this thread, once we begin to talk of institutions and treaties guiding policy decisions, we also allow for normative influences on the international system. Indeed, it can be readily argued that institutions are simply the formalization of norms. Look for example at the WTO, World Bank, NATO, IMF, UN, Warsaw Pact, ASEAN, OSCE, EU (especially), and the Shanghai Cooperative Group. Each of these is based on a particular ideological conception of how things should be run in the world or region. And in that regard, the concern that might, however conceived, automatically makes right is a fundamentally weak view because it cannot explain or encompass other variables. If that were so, then the tragedy of the Somalis, Tibetans, Uighurs, Rwandans, Kosovars, Cambodians and on and on wouldn’t even register in people’s moral conscience. What’s more, if it didn’t matter, no one would even have intervened or condemned. But that’s not the case, and that’s not what happened. Moral sentiment can sometimes direct policy, and at other times not so directly influence action. But it cannot be dismissed as if it were never there.

  • Well, first, I need to challenge your assumption that people in the Middle East only respect violence, either because of the environment they live in, cultural factors, etc. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s not logically correct, historically accurate, or thoughtfully fair to lump all Palestinians or Arabs into one innately hostile group. I can explain further how each of the radical groups are different from each other, how they’re much different from moderate groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, or how majorities in Arab countries disdain violence if you’d like. In any event, I think you need to read more on the subject, and I mean that as respectfully as possible. I have been studying and working on the region for years, and it is still fascinatingly complex. You’re using logical leaps between disparate examples to try to justify your positions, which is fine, except that for that to be credible, it must be backed with a stronger grasp of the situation.

    For example, yes, Saddam Hussein used force to maintain control. But, equally important he relied on clan and regional loyalties, as well as preserving the Sunni yeoman tradition instituted by the British (see Charles Tripp’s excellent history on Iraq for more). Force was undoubtedly a component, but how do you maintain loyalty in the military to a dictator? What incentives need to be given in a divide-and-rule society? These are more important questions, and examining them provides better insight on how Iraq under Saddam functioned rather than a simple “force ruled all” mentality.

    I can also tell you that you are absolutely wrong in your prescription that a transition to democracy must require the complete destruction of a former regime. Germany, Japan – post-WWII these countries still had a strong tradition of self-government and respect for the rule of law, however altered that may have been during the war. And those were essential building blocks for creating stable societies, along with a host of other factors. Nation-building in Bangladesh, say, notably did not involve the widespread destruction of government bureaucracies, nor was this true of Egypt, Taiwan, Russia, and most other countries. In fact, complete destruction of the regime is often counteractive to promoting democracy. What fills the void of old institutions while new ones are being built? What happens when you disband the army, and they go and become insurgents because you took away a huge source of livelihood? Of course, certain institutions must go to allow for democracy. Opening up the political process, liberalizing economics, etc. are needed. The critical question is which ones to dismantle, which ones to gradually transform, and which ones to preserve.

    Finally, you’re assuming that brutality equates to necessity (or success). This is not historically validated either. Brutality has never coincided with long-term aims towards democratization. Indeed, if a democratic country gives sanction to inhumane treatment, then in what way have the occupied’s lives been improved? What impetus do they have to push for democracy? Vietnam was not lost because the military didn’t have free rein. Vietnam was lost because the gradual brutality and indiscriminate attack of the French and then US military alienated the population, forcing them to choose between a foreign occupier who evidently didn’t care about protection of civilians (in certain cases) versus irregulars who advocated self-determination (albeit under communism). Not an easy choice, but one in which the US should have been able to win the hearts and minds, but failed.

    As applied to Iraq and Israel, you can see the degenerative spiral of occupation, and why nation-building is simply so damn hard. The occupant must maintain public support, it must be shown to be competent, and if the normative aim is democracy, then it must do so through democratic means. Otherwise, you could just as easily end up with an Iran (remember, the Shah wasn’t democratic, and the CIA toppled the leading indigenous nationalist figure in 1953) as you could with a Japan. And who wants that on their border or as a threat?

    Also, you use counterfactuals, which is a really iffy method. For example, when you talk about Germany suppressing Nazis prior to WWII, you assume that it could have been done, that if it had been done it would have avoided Nazi aggression, and that we are in a much worse state because it didn’t happen. All of this could be contended, and you couldn’t give any evidence to the contrary. Indeed, how could you? It’s all speculative.

    Ultimately, you’re not a realist. That’s just a mantle you adopt to buttress your idea that people are bad. A true realist sees all the factors and understands how they come together. It is complexity that defines reality, not brutality, and genuine realism must encompass that. The lesser side of human nature is a part of this, but so too is the better aspect. And the paucity of your view leads you to say, in the case of Iraq and Israel, just destroy the societies and governments, then pick up the pieces or let them rebuild. But you forget that the Israelis must then live with whatever result occurs, and there is all the more reason that that result will be inimical to Israel. In Iraq, you forget that the government does not have the capacity to support the country now, partly because the US destroyed some pretty key institutions, partly because the Bush administration did not plan for the post-war situation, and partly because the push for democracy has released underlying, antagonistic social tensions which make Iraq an extremely fragmented state. You could take the Edward Luttwak approach and suggest that a withdrawal will force the various factions into working with each other. But that’s a big gamble, and not one I’d like to take on a region where my country imports a major portion of their oil. It’s not going to be a puppet government (the political problems in Iraq already attest to that fact). It will be chaos, and it almost is chaos because of the overemphasis on purely instrumental, and not existentially focused, military force.

Log in to reply

Suggested Topics

I Will Never Grow Up Games
Axis & Allies Boardgaming Custom Painted Miniatures
Dean's Army Guys