Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Our Pontius Pilate Strategy in Iraq

I usually stick to the local stuff. It's where I feel most knowledgeable, although local pols will argue that point. It's my comfort zone. I also ramble into state and national issues from time to time. But I've intentionally hesitated writing about the "unmitigated disaster" in Iraq for some time. Obviously, Dems want us out of there. A surprising majority of Iowa Republicans wants us to leave, too. Former Bush political strategist Matt Dowd recently told NPR, "We should admit that it’s a mess there and we need to get our soldiers home, and the loss of blood is not going to accomplish anything."

Fountain Hill Dem wants to know whether I've jumped aboard this illusory peace train. "[H]ow about the recent vote that Dent cast against against the supplemental spending bill that requires troop withdrawal by 2008? You still have said nothing about that. I think it is a good plan. The majority of Congress thinks it is a good plan. What about you, Bernie, and what about your opinion of Dent's vote against it? Do you stand with Bush and Dent on this one?"

Here's what I think. About the only thing more stupid than the original decision to invade Iraq is leaving that country high and dry. We may have never belonged there, but the worst thing we could do now is leave.

Congress has adopted two recent resolutions demanding we do just that. The House says, "Exit, Stage Left," by September 2008. The Senate wants us out even sooner, next March. But let's be honest. We all know Bush will never allow this to stand. Congress knew this going in. If Congress were deciding this for real, their attitudes would be much different. Don't kid yourself.

We've lost nearly 3,300 Americans. At least eight times that number has been wounded. Who knows how many Iraqi civilians have died? Estimates range between 61,000 and 66,000. We are talking about real people in a war that should never have been started.

Democrats Adopt Foreign Policy of Pontius Pilate

The common thread in these congressional resolutions is that we can't help it if Iraq is unable to take care of itself after we invaded that country. It's time to wash our hands of that mess. They've had enough time to get it right and are just taking advantage of us. Huh? Here's what a timed withdrawal really guarantees.

1) We're telling the enemy exactly when we're planning to leave. Our own Congressman, Charlie Dent, told Speaker Pelosi it would make "our strategy in Iraq an open book to the enemy."

2) All previous deaths become meaningless. Michael Moore shrugs his shoulders and says, "If you invade and destroy a country, plunging it into a civil war, there isn’t much you can do ‘til the smoke settles and blood is mopped up." We must do better than that.

3) Genocide against Sunni Muslims is guaranteed, and will create even more instability;

4) Iran will complete what it has already started - a pro-Iranian theocracy in Iraq.

5) A nervous Turkey, fearful of its own Kurdish minority, will "crush" Iraqi Kurds.

6) Saudi Arabia and Syria will both rush in to protect Sunnis, resulting in regional conflict;

7) Israel, no stranger to preemptive strikes, will take advantage of the instability by attacking Iran.

Republicans Adopt Different Pontius Pilate Strategy

Republicans have their own Pontius Pilate strategy. Professor Noah Feldman suggests the Bush "surge" may be designed to create just enough stability so we can get the hell out of Dodge. Republicans can then claim, "We've won." Six months later, when the area explodes, we can blame Iraqis. "Erstwhile supporters of the war are already starting to justify this plan by hinting darkly that the Iraqis have to take responsibility for themselves — as if they could be expected to succeed in providing security and basic services when the world’s richest superpower has so abjectly failed."

Iraq has been politicized by both major parties. Their mutual Pontius Pilate approach is irresponsible. It's actually much worse than what we did to innocent civilians in Vietnam, which was strategically insignificant.

The Pottery Barn Rule

So what do we do? We're stuck. Secretary of State Colin Powell first warned President Bush in 2002 what would happen if we invaded Iraq. "You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You'll own it all." That's fine, but what do we do now? The troop surge is showing signs already that it is failing. But the senseless slaughter and regional stability cry for much more than abandoning a people we've already hurt. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG), widely ignored, is a start. Co-chair James Baker admits "no magic formula," and specifically avoids a formal timetable for withdrawal. So let's drop the politics and start working on the problem.

1) We talk to our enemies. That includes Syria and Iran. (ISG)

2) We seal the borders with whatever troops are necessary. (ISG).

3) We continue training Iraqi soldiers. (ISG, Bush and Dems).

4) We stop the nonsense of rotating senior military officers out of the region. This is war, and they stay until the job is done.

5) We don't allow troops to be rotated back into Iraq until they've had at least one year to retrain at home. (Dems)

6) We don't send troops to Iraq without the necessary equipment. (Dems)

7) We increase pay to soldiers and assure that proper benefits are paid to soldiers on disability. (Dems)

8) We react swiftly to all human rights abuses by American soldiers. (Dems)

9) We treat all detained foreigners in accordance with the Geneva conventions, and guarantee all of them a swift and impartial hearing. (Dems)

10) We launch a new round of Middle East diplomacy, trying yet again to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, which would go a long way towards stabilizing the region. (ISG)

11) We prepare to stay as long as it takes to make that area stable when we leave. (Bush)

12) No permanent military bases. (Dems)

13) We make a strong effort to put every Iraqi to work. (Bush)

I'm sure I've missed at least 100 other things we should be doing. Right now, neither major party has a grip on the truth. We have to start listening to each other. The ISG was a great step in the right direction, and both parties thumbed their noses at it.

It's time to listen to each other instead of posturing for the next election.
Blogger's Note: I've invited someone with a different view to prepare his own essay explaining why the Democratic plan, by itself, is a good one. I'll be happy to post it separately if I get it.


Greendogdem said...

How can it be any worse than what we are doing now. We probably could have had better results if we simply took the Trillion dollars we wasted in Iraq and bribed all the Iraqis. There is no way to win. We learned nothing for the British misadventures in iraq. Iraq has nothing to do with the war on "Terra". We are now recruiting convicted criminals, because no one in their right mind will now join the military. (I mean who in their right mind would sign up for a one way ticket for Iraq which is why recruiters are lying to people)

Anonymous said...


It could lead to genocide. We're agreed that's worse, right?

Greendogdem said...

it doesn't matter when we leave there will be genocide. 10 year 20 year it won't matter revenge has no time table no limits no expiration date. As soon as we leave even if we "stand up the Iraqi government" the Shites will start mass murdering the Sunnis and there is nothing we can do to stop it. You just don't seem to get it certain things in Islam can only be settled taking another life in return.

Greendogdem said...

well actually revenge killing is normal Jews went around the world hunting down and killing people for years after the holocaust.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Greendog, You act as though this is so inevitasble. It's inevitable if we leave before it is stable, but it weasn't happening before we toppled Saddam. We created the possibility and should not leasve until we set matters right. Over 50% of Iraq is under age 15. Do you feel comfortable with the blood of all those kids on your hands?

Anonymous said...

You mention that opening communications with Syria and Iran is part of the ISG. I'd like to point out that the speaker and a number of other elected officials (GOP and Dem) have gone to Syria to begin that process and have been ripped apart by commentators and the president for that activity.

I have a theory: both parties would be more inclinded to do the right thing if the media would stop covering the war as a conflict between parties, and more as a problem that needs resolution. The need to appear strong (not in a national security sense, but in the sense of having a silver bullet solution) in the eyes of media talking heads and reporters is what is driving this problem. Everything naturally reverts to talking points, the core of our media culture.

The real solutions, as you begin to point out, are nuanced and not easy to implement. But we allow the media to present it as just that. "The Democrats were elected 4 months ago and haven't done anything." "Bush is fighting the Democrats on these issues." "Bush won't wake up to reality." None of it is helpful and it's all fostered by national media that is more interested in getting the scoop or making somebody look bad.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, I never quite thought of it that way, but I think you're right. Our instant gratification society is increasingly devolving into an idiocracy of sound bites. But some things can't be explained that way.

Julian Stolz said...


We don't agree point for point but essentially you're right. We cannot leave now regardless of whether or not you originally supported the war. If your theory on the GOP strategy is correct there will be a mass revolt of the base.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Julian, Next year, as the next congressional and presidentials elections get underway, we'll see lots of 30 second solutions. I believe the "we've already won" soind bite will be one of them.

Eileen Parker said...


I saw your post on wounded soldiers and wondered if you had seen this Sunday's story in the Washington Post, A Shock Wave of Brain Injuries




Bernie O'Hare said...


Thanks for the link. If the allegations are true, then we have many more soldiers who have been wounded than those listed in official statistics.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I mean who in their right mind would sign up for a one way ticket for Iraq which is why recruiters are lying to people

GreenDog, My daughter will graduate soon from MC. Once she graduates, she's enlisting. She knows she may be sent to Iraq but still wants to join. I'm pretty sure she's in her right mind, although her mother feels differently and is very worried.

I'd be careful about throwing around statements like that. A lot of good people enlist for military service.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, die hard republican here.
I love the honesty of this post. It gives me hope that there can be a
reasonable discussion on the future of this country and the problems with the Iraq war. Best to your daughter.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Die hard R,

Thanks for your nice words to my daughter. I'm trying to figure out where I went wrong.

Anonymous said...

No problem using the excerpt from my previous post. It is not out of context, and furthermore, I am proud of this statement, and stand by it 100%.

I don't need or want a separate post. I think a phased withdrawal is a good idea. Our military involvement has made things steadily worse in Iraq, year by year. What shred of evidence do you have that suddenly, U.S. military power will suddenly be applied in a way that is beneficial to the Iraqis? Especially since there is abundant evidence that we are there because of the oil.

The phased withdrawal must involve negotiations with all of the regional powers, and must be carefully crafted to be in the interests of all of them. Juan Cole is extremely knowledgeable about the Middle East, and has an article in the Nation magazine.


For those unwilling to read the article, I quote the last line:
"A withdrawal is risky, but on the evidence so far, for the US military to remain in Iraq is a sure recipe for disaster."

Yes, as an American I am deeply saddened and embarrassed by the strife and bloodshed we have engendered there by our presence. Bush and his enablers have worked us into a situation where there are no good options. But if we stay, not only is Iraq going to get worse, but it is likely that we will become involved in even worse conflicts, such as one with Iran.

So I am proud that we have a Democratic Congress. I am proud of Congressmen like Jack Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, and Patrick Murphy. They have gone to extraordinary lengths to craft legislation which tries to reign in the damage caused by the Bush-Cheney-Dent regime. They have had to compromise, but that's politics. They refuse to roll over and play dead in the face of Presidential veto threats. I am proud of them and wish we had a local counterpart.

So, I am extremely heartened by developments in the nation as a whole. Here in the Valley its another story. As long as we stay in the grip of papers like the Morning Call, and are enthralled by the "World According to Bernie", its tough to be hopeful locally.


Anonymous said...

Bernie, you've come up with what's known in the blogosphere as a "magic pony plan."

It's not going to happen. If there is no deadlines, then we will be in Iraq for the next ten years. Why? Because there is no indication that the situation will get any better in the forseeable future. To put this rather dramatically: every moment we've occupied Iraq, it's gotten worse.
It's all gone downhill since the fall of Saddam.

And while we stay in Iraq, we further weaken our military, and cripple any response we might have to future threats.

Finally, you understate the estimates of the amount of Iraqi civilians slain. 66,000 is a lower estimate. The highest estimate would be the infamous Lancet study. It would be correct to say that estimates range from 60,000-600,000 and then, if you wish, add a caveat to the higher number. What is the point of this? Namely, if the true number of Iraqi dead is towards the higher end of what we've seen (say, 300,000), then we are coming perilously close to genocide, whether we continue in Iraq or not.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To Anon 2:38,

Thanks for your comments.

I've heard of these "magic pony" plans. They run the gamut, from carpetbombing everything to immediate withdrawal.

I believe these Pontius Pilate strategies are also magic pony plans. Both of them guarantee a genocide after we leave. I won't condone such a mass murder. That's why, as much as the Iraqis hate us, they don't want us to leave just yet.

Every moment we occupied Iraq, things have become worse. I agree. We never belonged there. When we did go in, we went without enough troops to assure security. And we've compounded that error with many others.

I fully understand that we may have to remain there for ten years or even more. It's a problem we caused and we have to fix it. We can't just walk away and eatch all the carnage. As a human being, I was mortified by what happened in Rwanda. I don't want something like that ever to be repeated. We've sown the seeds to make genocide possible, and I can't condone walking away and watch those weeds take root.

Unfortunately, we don't have an accurate civilian death count. I have a link to my source.

Bernie O'Hare said...


I am deeply saddened and embarrassed by the strife and bloodshed we have engendered there by our presence. And when we pull out and the blood really starts to flow, will you be saddened then, too? Or will you, as Michael Moore suggests, wait for the smoke to clear so we can mop up all that blood? We have an obligation to remain there. It is not an Democratic, Republican or even an American obligation. It is a human obligation. But you're sure everything is alright. In fact, you're so smugly sure that you're willing to bet other human lives on it. I'm not so confident as you. I have more respect for life.

As long as we stay in the grip of papers like the Morning Call, and are enthralled by the "World According to Bernie", its tough to be hopeful locally. Gee, FtHillDem, you really are something. You're the person who asked me to state how I felt about those congressional resolutions. In fact, you even complained about it. So I took the time yesterday to compose a fairly lengthy post outlining exactly how I feel. I offered you an opportunity to post your own opinion as a separate blog, and promised I would publish it with no editorial comments. So I do exactly as you ask and more. You respond by accusing both me and, strangely, the Morning Call of attempting to manipulate public opinion. If you want to know why people aren't hearing your message, you need to look in a mirror, bippy. They can't hear a message you refuse to give. I was more than fair with you. Fairness is something that always eludes you.

You post a link and then decide to quote a sentence from your link for those unwilling to read the article . What a snotty thing to say to people you don't even know.

Greendogdem said...

Yes I actually do believe that the blood shed is inevitable. The only thing that stopped it during Saddam is Saddam went on his own campaign of genocide against the other ethnic groups in the country every time they rose up against him or anytime they even gave the inclination of doing it. So more or less it isn't true that there wasn't massive genocide during saddam's rule. Genocide against unpopular groups in the middle east is common in the middle east in the Persian and non-arab middle east.

"stability" will not stop the genocide what will happen is government organized genocide campaigns against the Sunnis, or the government will simply turn it's back on what is happening feeling it's justified al malikei more or less has alluded to that. When ever we leave no matter how "stable " Iraq is with in a year there will be a mass killing of Sunnis by Shites. This year will not matter if it's next year or 2010 or 2020 or 2100 it will happen. It's not a matter of if it's a matter of when

Just because you can't culturally accept that this how Middle eastern culture is doesn't mean it's untrue. This is part of the reason the arab-israeli conflict has gone on for so long.

Bernie O'Hare said...

GreenDog, Your argument presupposes a culture of death in the Middle East in which little value is placed on human life. The same argument was made during the Vietnamese war as well. Next you'll be saying they don't feel pain the way we do, either. These are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. We must stand against genocide. We have to stay there as long as it takes to make that an unlikely possibility. We can do that much for these people. I, for one, won't stomach another Rwanda. If you really feel that genocide is in their nature, then I suggest you need to take a long and hard look at what dark demons are dancing in your head, not theirs. I'm sorry, buddy, but I don't think you're objective when it comes to Muslims. But probably more Americans agree with you than me.

LVDem said...

Here is my biggest concern in all of this (and Bernie, you know that I see this as a bigger problem than any political leader is willing to admit): staying is going to result in death. Leaving is going to result in death. And the people who made the horrible errors in this scenario refuse to accept responsibility. "But that was the past." I'm sorry. When somebody mucks things up at work to the point where the vitality of the organization is at stake, they get fired and replaced with somebody who recognizes that changes need to be made.

I'm not going to fool myself into thinking anybody has silver bullet. However, in the next election, if we elect somebody to the white house and Congress who happens to have defended the invasion, we are failing in our responsibilities to correct the problem. They will have demonstrated to me that they don't deserve the promotion.

I know it's political, but that's how elections are decided.

LVDem said...

Bernie, I will argue that many of the suggestions you put out are actually being advocated by Democrats (I put my points behind yours):
1) We talk to our enemies. That includes Syria and Iran. (ISG)(Pelosi went to Syria-as did republicans in congress-only to get blasted by the media for undermining the president)

2) We seal the borders with whatever troops are necessary. (ISG)(okay, here's my question... where do these troops come from? But Murtha has suggested doing just that with our troops through redeployment. Is it enough, probably not, but he's thinking about it)

3) We continue training Iraqi soldiers. (ISG, Bush and Dems)(fair enough).

4) We stop the nonsense of rotating senior military officers out of the region. This is war, and they stay until the job is done. (again, fair enough, but I'll point out that since Democrats don't control troops, there is nothing they can do except complain, and then they get blasted for complaining)

5) We don't allow troops to be rotated back into Iraq until they've had at least one year to retrain at home. (Dems)

6) We don't send troops to Iraq without the necessary equipment. (Dems)

7) We increase pay to soldiers and assure that proper benefits are paid to soldiers on disability. (Dems)

8) We react swiftly to all human rights abuses by American soldiers. (Dems)

9) We treat all detained foreigners in accordance with the Geneva conventions, and guarantee all of them a swift and impartial hearing. (Dems)

10) We launch a new round of Middle East diplomacy, trying yet again to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, which would go a long way towards stabilizing the region. (ISG)(Democrats led by Murtha have been advocating this for months... but with Bush in the White House nothing is going to happen on this front)

11) We prepare to stay as long as it takes to make that area stable when we leave. (Bush)(Democrats have been advocating the same, with the stipulation that we need to hold Iraqi leaders accountable in contributing to that stability)

12) No permanent military bases. (Dems)

13) We make a strong effort to put every Iraqi to work. (Bush)(I'd argue that Bush' reliance on American contractors contradicts your claims)

Bottom line, I don't think you are fair in your assertion that Democrats aren't following the suggestions of the ISG. First, they can't. Democrats can't do anything to influence foreign policy right now except to pull the purse strings. Second, my points demonstrate that Democrats are thinking about the ISG recommendations.

In the end, I think it's unfair to expect Democrats to do much of anything about this matter b/c they have one recourse: the power of the purse. It's the only way to get Bush' attention. Personally, I'm hoping that with Bush' attention, Democrats can use the power of the purse to get Bush to pay attention to the ISG and start implementing those findings.

Sadly, I don't think we are going to see progress in Iraq under this president (or anybody else who still thinks this is a good idea). Maybe in 2009 when we have a new president.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, You and I are pretty much on the same page on this one. If I were convinced that less people would die if we left, I'd go for that. But I'm not convinced. Certainly less Americans will die. But I think we have an obligation to remain until it can be demonstrated that leaving will not create a power vacuum in which a lot of people will die. Where we might disagree is regarding those who originally supported this invasion. If you did, you'd have to oppose people like Clinton and Edwards. Pelosi refused to endorse the original Iraq war resloution, and that is very much to her credit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, I think you need to rexamine the Imperial Presidency. The first and longest article in the US Constitution involves Congress. Clearly, the intent is that Congress should be the most powerful branch. It just hasn't worked out that way. For example, the reference to the Prez as Commander in Chief is misplaced. He's only the Commander in Chief of the Army & Navy. He's not my commander in chief.

There is little Congress can do other than control the purse? Pelosi has already disproved that by going to Syria. She doesn't just have a right, but has an obligation to do so. Yes, Dems have advocated talking to our enemies. I should have mentioned them there as well.

Your other points are valid, too. I was trying to point to the source of these ideas as best I could.

I also agree that there will be no good outcome in Iraq so long as Bush is president. He is unwilling to try different ideas.

My point is that both sides are tempted to wash our hands and walk away. We can't do that. And we have to start listening to each other.

Greendogdem said...

Bernie your simply showing your complete lack of understanding, of the situation. 1. it's about power
2. it's about honor
3. it's about revenge.

Your trying to assert your cultural values on everyone else. It's not a culture of death but of honor. Saddam and the sunnis killed all those Shites so x number of Sunnis are going to have to die to settle the issue.

I'm not saying they don't feel pain and it's not going to be horrible but it's just what going to have to happen to bring this to conclusion.

Honor and retribution have no time limit.

I know this is going to piss a ton of people off in here but the reason bin laden attacked the us was because in his mind we defiled holy ground. We were attacked on 9-11 because we put troops in Saudi Arabia it didn't matter to bin laden that we were invited. To him "infidels" were defiling holy ground with their presence.

I'm not saying he's was right for doing it or that we did anything wrong but in his mind that was the case. This is how thing are there is a code of cultural conduct. If you do x y happens.

We can not stay there forever and we are not going to stop genocide by stay there if it doesn't happen in this generation the next one will carry it out. They will stand there smile while we are there and as soon as we leave all hell will break loose. You don't get this because you don't want to accept this.

Your simply being an ugly american

Bernie O'Hare said...

Greendog, They could be saying the same things about us. 1. it's about power. 2. it's about honor.
3. it's about revenge.

I cannot accept your assessment. It requires me to dehumanize an entire ethnic group, and I won't do that.

And now matter how I felt or what I said, I'd still be an ugly American.

Anonymous said...

ah the imperial presidency... I'm familiar with it. But here in lies another problem. When Congress has failed to check the powers of the president on these matters, it sets up a show down at the corale when we have a Congress that is ready to check those powers. That show down can only happen if there is enough public will for it to happen. What issue has the public will to allow for a nasty confrontation that will allow Congress to reassert itself as an equal partner in government? I can only think of Iraq. And we have come full circle. Iraq is probably the only tool that can be used to establish the concept of balance of powers. Sadly, it has to be done politically. So, Iraq, in effect, becomes the only way to challenge the nature of the imperial presidency (at this point). Believe me, I don't like the logic on this either. Playing politics with life and death. Unattractive and low, absolutely, but if it puts our system of constitutional gov't back in check, it might be our only choice. In order to reassert Congress' powers, you have to play politics. And suddenly the games played lately aren't so misplaced if you think about it in that light.

Your point about Pelosi is dead right. But the moment she did she got blasted for it. Why? B/c there is an unquestioned belief that the president is the sole authority on matters of foreign policy.

For the record, I am not supporting Clinton or Edwards in the primary. And I have a strong feeling I won't have to do so in November of 2008. Still, Edwards' willingness to admit a mistake makes him better suited to handle the job than McCain and Guiliani who still aren't willing to admit that it was a mistake.

Anonymous said...

It's time for somebody who spent some time in beautiful Beirut more than 20 years ago to give you his assessment. Green Dog is absolutely right. These people are going to kill each other, they have been doing it for thousands of years, it's what they do, and it is the darkest side of humanity.
That's THEIR CULTURE. We aren't going to change thousands of years of culture in a few years. They see us as interfering in their culture, and attempting to force our culture and values on them.
WE are ignorant to believe our culture is morally superior. They look at us and our "decadence" and see themselves as morally superior to us? How many wrongs are we going to commit before we realize we can't make it right?
Nothing we do will repair the damage. Didn't we learn anything from Vietnam? Apparently not, then again, Bush never went there, and McCain is still fighting that war.
-Chris Casey

Bernie O'Hare said...


That's disgusting. It is exactly that type of thinking that justified the extermination of more than a few native American cultures. It's very dangerous and screwed up thinking by both you and Greendog.

Because you spent some time in Lebanon, that makes you an expert of Iraqi culture? Or Iran? Please. That's not even logical.

I'm emailing these remarks to a Muslim prof I know who used to teach at Moravain. He is active in the local Muslim community. He was antiwar and I'm not sure how he feels now. He may even agree with you about pulling out. But I'm sure he won't agree with this horrible reasoning and obvious misconception of the Muslim world. If you and Greendog, good guys both, can say things like this without even realizing how sick and twisted it is, then I think Muslims have a very big problem in this area, and Dr. B has some work to do.

What you both really are doing is trying to justify, in your own minds, the mass extermination that will follow when we suddenly pull out. Many good people will die. Many children will die. You both shrug you shoulders and say, "They're like that." I believe you are both sincere. I believe you are both good guys. But I also believe both of you are terribly confused about the Muslim culture and are saddling them with an irrational love of death.

Thanks to you both for your honesty. But rather than revealing a dark side or culture of death in Iraq, I think it reveals a dark side in us.

Greendogdem said...

No the Native American issue is something completely different. These are two religious sects that have hated each other from the day they came into existence. They aren't even
ethnic groups. Sunnis and Shites are two religious sects it would be as if
the followers of Saint Peter had Saint Mark Beheaded.

Bernie O'Hare said...

GreenDog, As an Irishman, I can assure you that genocide most certainly does occur between similar ethnic groups with differing religions, even if both groups practice supposedly Christian religions. It's still genocide.

What I'm talking about is our attitude making that genocide a reality. It can only happen if WE let it happen.

Anonymous said...


Correct me if I'm wrong, and if you can, but it's my understanding that before Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice invaded Iraq, that the various religious sects, including Christians, lived in relative peace.

I suppose the same could be said of Yogoslavia under Marshall Tito, and that the peace was maintained because of a repressive dictatorship.

But with Tito's death came that of countless thousands of others om the clash between Orthodox Catholics and perhaps other Christians and those of the Muslim faith.

So what is our country to do about the deposing, followed by the death, of Saddam Hussein - turn Irag into the Garrison State of Alexander Hamilton and Harold Lassmann (spelling ?)?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Billy, It's too bas this comment is buried as the 32d comment to this post. It's a very good one, and ends with a very good question. I would prefer to see Iraq turn into a US satellite than to see it ravaged by genocide. But it doesn't have to end that way.

Samantha Power, something of a genocide expert, has an idea.

First, although it has a familiar and thus unsatisfying ring to it, the most viable long-term route to preventing mass atrocities is to use remaining U.S. leverage to bring about a political compromise that makes Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds feel economically stable, physically secure and adequately represented in political structures. This is consistent with the position of leading U.S. generals and the members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, who have stressed that there is no military solution to Iraq's meltdown and urged the administration, the Iraqis and regional players to reopen broad-ranging political negotiations.

Instead of simply lining up behind Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government in the hopes that it will one day decide to stop ethnic cleansing, recent withdrawal proposals in Congress use the leverage of the proposed redeployment to press Iraqis to reach a political solution. A plan put forth by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has come under neoconservative fire for setting a target departure date, but it provides for flexibility to suspend the U.S. drawdown if Iraqis meet the key economic, political and security benchmarks they have committed to achieve this year. The plan would also retain some U.S. forces in Iraq and the region to help deter atrocities by sectarian militias and aggression from Iraq's neighbors.

However, if this political pressure fails and U.S. forces remain unable to stave off an ever-widening civil war, the U.S. should go further and announce its willingness to assist in the voluntary transport and relocation of Iraqi civilians in peril. If Iraqis tell us that they would feel safer in religiously homogenous neighborhoods, and we lack the means to protect them where they are, we should support and protect them in their voluntary, peaceful evacuation — a means, one might say, to preempt genocide in advance of our departure.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that because they are Iragis, because they are Muslim, because they aren't Americans, that once we leave Iraq (and hopefully the Middle East) that they will all kill each other off or attempt to? If so, you are saying then, they are less than human and cannot act humainly towards there fellow human beings?
Just wondering!...aimlessly most of the time...

Bernie O'Hare said...


Thanks for your comment. It's possible that I am the one who is smugly superior and condescending here. I see your point. And frankly, I hope you're right.

Of course, the Muslims are a loving people. So are people in Rwanda. Or Darfur. Or America. Genocide does happen. We should know better than most. We exterminated most of our native American population.

Let's look at the increasing civilian deaths and the ethnic cleansing being winked at by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government. I think it's logical to conclude our presence is the only thing stopping wholesale slaughter.

Democrats and Greens have given too little weight to the danger signs. Instead, we amazingly blame Iraqis for a mess that Americans caused.

Greendogdem said...

Yes Bernie you are being racist this is just another form of the "whiteman's Burden" ideology. The British said they could not leave india because the Indians and later Indians and Pakistanis couldn't handle their own issues Gandhi's response was in the end it will be our problem. What you are saying is failing to accept that in the end we to have leave there and in the end how they act is their affair. When there is enough of an out-cry they will stop but if we stay their we simple become part of it. We can not stay their forever or we will simply be the target. How many more americans are you willing to have killed in the next 50 years before you allow them to decide their own fate. The British learned they could not force their views on the world the hardway. I would have hoped we would have learned that but it's obvious that you have not and the religious zealots in this government haven't either.

Anonymous said...

Fuck 'em all!

Get our troops outta there, drop the big nuke, and let Allah sort 'em out...