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Bloody Iraq: Syrian Spillover, Regional Fear

Iraq in trouble again. Al Qaeda spillover from Syria, now in Fallujah, Ramadi, Anbar Province. We’ll look at Iraq’s return to turmoil and rising region-wide upheaval.

An empty street shows burned vehicles as buildings including a provincial government building, center in the background, are seen damaged in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Provincial spokesman Dhari al-Rishawi said Iraqi security forces and allied tribesmen are pressing their campaign to rout al-Qaida from Fallujah and Ramadi, two main cities in the western Anbar province. (AP)

An empty street shows burned vehicles as buildings including a provincial government building, center in the background, are seen damaged in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Provincial spokesman Dhari al-Rishawi said Iraqi security forces and allied tribesmen are pressing their campaign to rout al-Qaida from Fallujah and Ramadi, two main cities in the western Anbar province. (AP)

The simplest telling of the news out of Iraq this week sounds bad enough.  Fallujah and parts of Ramadi – Iraqi cities that American soldiers fought and died to free – are back in the hands of al Qaeda.  The bigger picture:  that means Iraq itself is in trouble, just two years after US troops pulled out.  The still bigger picture:  the violence is in part spilling across the border from Syria’s civil war gone international.  And the biggest frame:  it’s all another uptick in an unfolding, region-wide and frightening Sunni-Shia face-off – Saudi Arabia versus Iran. This hour On Point:  Back to Fallujah.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Suadad Al-Salhy, Baghdad correspondent for Reuters. (@suadadalsalhy)

Ned Parker, independent foreign affairs reporter. Former Baghdad bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times. (@nedmparker1)

Roger Cohen, op-ed columnist for The New York Times. (@NYTimesCohen)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Scores Dead in Iraqi Battle With Al Qaeda-Linked Fighters – “The three days of fighting have left at least 21 people dead in Fallujah, including women and children, and an additional 11 dead in Ramadi, according to the Anbar Health Directorate. Many more have been injured. The assault on Fallujah, using helicopters, tanks and mortars, marks the government’s fourth attempt to retake the city since Thursday evening, when fighters loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, seized most of the town, according to the security official.”

New York Times: Power Vacuum in Middle East Lifts Militants — “The bloodshed that has engulfed Iraq, Lebanon and Syria in the past two weeks exposes something new and destabilizing: the emergence of a post-American Middle East in which no broker has the power, or the will, to contain the region’s sectarian hatreds. Amid this vacuum, fanatical Islamists have flourished in both Iraq and Syria under the banner of Al Qaeda, as the two countries’ conflicts amplify each other and foster ever-deeper radicalism. Behind much of it is the bitter rivalry of two great oil powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose rulers — claiming to represent Shiite and Sunni Islam, respectively — cynically deploy a sectarian agenda that makes almost any sort of accommodation a heresy.”

Foreign Affairs: The Iraq We Left Behind — “Both Maliki and his rivals are responsible for the slow slide toward chaos, prisoners of their own history under Saddam. Iraq today is divided between once-persecuted Shiite religious parties, such as Maliki’s Dawa Party, still hungry for revenge, and secular and Sunni parties that long for a less bloody version of Saddam’s Baath Party, with its nationalist ideology and intolerance of religious and ethnic politics. Meanwhile, the Kurds maneuver gingerly around the divisions in Baghdad. Their priority is to preserve their near autonomy in northern Iraq and ward off the resurrection of a powerful central government that could one day besiege their cities and bombard their villages, as Baghdad did throughout the twentieth century.”

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  • Fiscally_Responsible

    As the Bible prophesied in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 16:12) about 4000 years ago concerning Ishmael, father of the Arab nations, “he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him;”. Not that citizens of Middle Eastern countries/etc. shouldn’t try to institute democracy and democratic institutions, but the Middle East has proven itself through the centuries and even the Arab Spring that it is largely ungovernable. Country after country exhibits tribal or religious factionalism, which participants on each side try to settle through violence and terrorism rather than peaceful dialog. Again, everyone should make their best effort to try and resolve these disputes peacefully. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • brettearle

      Why don’t you count how many times the United States has been at war–since 1776?

      Maybe that’ll give you bit of a strengthened perspective, when reviewing the relative wildness of an ethnic group, from a foreign land.

      What’s more, in the history of civilization, there have been numerous groups and numerous nations that do not need to answer to the observations, from the Bible–especially if they are interpreted literally by those who may have a subjective agenda.

      I certainly don’t think you’re a terrorist.

      But who says you’re not using the Bible the same way that Islamic Fundamentalism might use certain interpretations, from the Koran, to advance their own extreme conviction?

      To draw conclusions from Scripture, and to use it to judge, adversely, large groups of people, reflects how and why Man is in conflict with itself:

      We allow ourselves to be enabled by religious texts, so as to encourage that all-too-familiar impulse, in the dark side of Human Nature:

      Those who are different from us, we see as The Other.

      Good luck remaining Afraid..

      • John Cedar

        You have it backwards. It is clear FR judged the culture and then looked to the scripture.

        The darkest of human nature is the inclination to liberalism, where all ideas are created equal and all religions are too.

        • brettearle

          You have it twisted.

          In a very dark way.

          If the only way to judge someone else’s nature is through your own subjective prism, then it doesn’t matter whether you judge the Culture first and then look in Scripture to confirm your own very biased beliefs.

          Or whether you go to Scripture first and draw your conclusions from there.

          There is NO WAY to judge ideas, that influence the faith of others, as being INFERIOR–unless you feel SUPERIOR to begin with.

          You have EXPOSED your own FALSE SENSE of SUPERIORITY, based on what you have said above.

          Good luck with your own twisted values and Conscience.

          Many others, very unfortunately, feel the same way.

          You are judging God’s path through one religion and one religion only–when billions and billions of people have been born and have died without having any exposure to Christianity.

          This does not make them inferior nor more wild, my friend.

          The Crusades and this country’s extinction of the American Indian also show just how wild Christians can be.

          • John Cedar

            i have good news for you, it turns out the American Indian is not extinct.

            I wear my false sense of superiority on my sleeve, so I have exposed nothing that was not already exposed.

            But my judgment is from the prism of a third person POV, as I am a member of no religion.

            It is of the utmost importance that backing up judgment with scripture comes after the fact. That renders the judgment highly influenced by the human condition.

            And so my human condition tells me that women ought to be treated well. My observation from my sanctimonious prism tells me that christian and Jewish women are treated better than Muslim women in their respective religious cultures. The same hold true for homosexuals. The same holds true for the treatment of the convicted criminal.

            As far as the crusades or killing Indians, I agree with Bill Maher… he calls it “liberal bulls#$t”:
            http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/04/20/maher_to_defender_of_islam_equating_christianity_and_islam_liberal_bullshit.html

    • Ray in VT

      “Middle East has proven itself through the centuries and even the Arab Spring that it is largely ungovernable.” While that last statement has some merit in parts of the modern era, to generalize that to “through the centuries” doesn’t have much standing if one looks at the history of the Middle East through much of the period of Islamic rule.

      • TELew

        Ray,

        You just can’t make that kind of argument.

        It requires READING, and an actual effort at LEARNING!

        • Ray in VT

          I assume you mean the argument that I am criticizing and not the position that I am advancing, correct?

          • TELew

            Actually, I am saying that your discussion of actual history is too hard for people uninterested in real history to understand.

            You are delving into the realm of knowledge, versus the realm of bullet points. Heaven forbid people actually know something when they write!

          • Ray in VT

            Thanks. Just checking, and agreed.

    • Don_B1

      In support of the posts by brettearle and Ray in VT above, I would ask you to consider Europe in the Middle Ages before and after the Enlightenment when European fiefdoms fought each other regularly, many times over financial and religious (often the excuse for the former) oppression and other differences. That history is what led the Founding Fathers of the Constitution to institute what Jefferson and Madison considered the “separation of church and state.”

      The difference is in the increased lethality of the modern weapons that are in use, not the need for Islam to sort out its relationship to longtime Arab culture and its internecine hatreds and power plays, as Christianity did over centuries following the Enlightenment and then the Reformation. Much of the venality seen today has been enabled by the wealth of fossil fuels found in the region.

      • Ray in VT

        There was a work that I read on the Crusades that included a fairly sizable piece regarding Muslim perspectives/accounts, and one thing that the author concluded was that while there is quite a sizable body of work from that era, few Muslim sources address the incursions of the “Franks” in any great detail, perhaps because those attacks from the barbarians from the economic and scientific backwater that was Western Europe wasn’t seen as that big of a deal or that much of a threat. Cities like London were trivial in size to the large cities of the Islamic world, such as Baghdad.

    • TELew

      Well that explains it all.

      I have no further questions about the Middle East.

      Thanks, FR.

  • nkandersen

    Hey Adriann!

    Thanks for your note. First off, take a look at our blog post explaining the problem with podcasts: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/01/06/our-long-holiday-podcast-nightmare-is-over

    Second: Any future concerns you may have, feel free to email us at onpointnpr@gmail.com.

    Sorry to have the podcast screw-up. We’re working on fixing it as soon as possible.

    nick andersen
    web producer | on point radio

  • Ray in VT

    For some time various tribal elements in Anbar pushed back against the Al Qaeda linked militants during the Awakening movement. Where are the tribes and the sheikhs standing now?

    • Don_B1

      Exactly! That willingness to suppress violence has been eroded by the Maliki government which has been oppressing the Sunni elements in Iraq and destroying the semblance of comity that had been the major reason for the decline in violence following the “surge” of American forces (which helped but were not the major reason for its decline).

      • Ray in VT

        I have heard some stories regarding Sunni discontent regarding al-Malaki’s government and/or its policies. The existing and long standing tensions in that country certainly do not appear to be being handled very deftly by the Shia-led government.

    • TELew

      I guess this is the effect of the U.S. no longer paying them money as it did when there were American troops there.

      • Ray in VT

        I think that that is likely a contributing factor.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    Speaking of man made climate change and fiscal integrity, the Obamas must not be too concerned with either issue despite the constant campaign rhetoric that we hear ad nauseum coming from this administration. Michelle is extending her vacation in Hawaii for a couple of days, creating a situation where an extra plane and associated fuel (generating massive amounts of CO2 and extra cost to the taxpayer of hundreds of thousands of dollars, even if it isn’t Air Force One) are required to get her back to D.C. What hypocrisy! Of course, the liberals in today’s audience will give them a pass. It is easy to understand why so many people question the hypothesis that man is creating climate change and that government is an efficiently run entity when the most vocal proponents demonstrate hypocrisy with such flagrancy. They probably subscribe to the Leona Helmsley philosophy that “only the little guy should reduce his carbon footprint.”

    • John Cedar

      Don’t be silly. She merely subscribes to the prime directive of librulism…
      hypocrisy!
      The new queen of mean isn’t very green.

    • nkandersen

      Not sure what climate change has to do with the topic at hand (Iraq), but we invite you to join our week in the news show for these kinds of thoughts.

      Thanks!

      nick andersen
      web producer | on point radio

      • Ray in VT

        Dear Mr. Anderson,
        There have been questions or concerns for some time regarding what words may get a comment quarantined or moderated. Is it possible for On Point to publish some sort of rules of the road on this issue? I think that such guidelines, although they may not be agreed with by posters, would at least be welcomed as something that one could look to when attempting to discover why one’s comment may be getting held up. Thank you.

        • hennorama

          Ray in VT — well put, sir.

          (From someone with a fair amount of experience with “moderation”)

          • nkandersen

            Ray et al.

            We don’t have any specific rules on comments — we post ALMOST every comment that appears on our site, with very few exceptions (obvious spam / ads).

            If a comment gets moderated, it isn’t flagged by us on purpose — it gets caught up for certain words or phrases that our filter detects and puts in purgatory. If it’s held there for a while, it’s probably because other things are happening here and I haven’t had time to approve it.

            Our main rule is that we want all communication to come through here — we never aim to stifle the active community on our pages.

            I’ll work on a ‘rules’ sheet and post it soon. Thanks for your thoughts!

            nick andersen
            web producer | on point radio

          • hennorama

            nkandersen — thank you for your explanatory response. I very much look forward to the “rules sheet.”

          • Ray in VT

            Hello,

            Thank you for your response. Even a list of stop or trigger words would be useful. A few have been worked out, such as a former Vice President’s first name or one of the words in the name of a certain Russian punk band. Sometimes people feel that it’s a bit random, but perhaps it is just the system that delays the comment but not due to the content.

        • hennorama

          Ray in VT — Mr. Andersen replied to me (addressing “Ray et al”) below.

          Very well done, sir.

        • hennorama

          Ray in VT — did you notice the new [community rules] link above the Comments?

          Well done, sir.

          • Ray in VT

            Nope. I didn’t see that. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks, hennorama. You’re still my favorite school marm ’round these here parts.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — my word, you sure know how to flatter a li’l ol’ school marm. I do decleah … I’m all aflutter now.

          • Ray in VT

            Now don’t let the vapors get you all discumbobulated.

          • hennorama

            Not to worry. The fainting couch is nearby.

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        I try not to go off topic. I thought that the hypocrisy being exhibited by the Obamas was so egregious, especially since so few members of the On Point audience (generally liberal in their viewpoint) would hold the Obamas’ feet to the fire on such blatant hypocrisy, that going off topic was warranted in this case.

        • TFRX

          Dude, there’s plenty of pixels left for you elsewhere to complain off topic about the lefties here.

          Nick, is the existence of a moderator a new thing for 2014?

          • Don_B1

            Not to mention making gratuitous digs at the President.

          • nkandersen

            Not necessarily a new thing — we’ve always been here, but now we’re starting to take part in the conversation. I’m new here starting in October, however.

            nick andersen
            web producer | on point radio

          • HonestDebate1

            Don’t be a stranger, we could use some moderation… in moderation.

  • http://muslimmediareview.blogspot.com AymanFadel

    This panel consists of 2 journalists and a columnist, Roger Cohen. Mr. Cohen has a low opinion of Arab peoples http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/opinion/21iht-edcohen21.html?_r=0. He was a supporter of the US invasion of Iraq, and took a long time before admitting his error. He made plenty of excuses along the way. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/oct/04/liberalsandneocons My personal opinion is that everybody who ever supported the Iraq war, which IMO was about the craziest, most racist imperialist venture imaginable, should receive a lifetime ban from political office and punditry. Now, that might be extreme, but does On Point have to bring in this guy to talk about Iraq, the country he helped destroy? Finally, if OnPoint is going to include columnists, why not include a columnist with a non-militaristic perspective, such as David Swanson http://davidswanson.org/ or a representative from FCNL http://fcnl.org or, God forbid, Cindy Sheehan? What about this crazy idea: Iraqis talking about their own country? Try Adil Shamoo http://medschool.umaryland.edu/facultyresearchprofile/viewprofile.aspx?id=3462, author of Equal Worth: When Humanity Will Have Peace http://muslimmediareview.blogspot.com/2012/07/adil-e.html.

    • HonestDebate1

      Racist? Imperialist? We didn’t conquer Iraq. Are you thinking of Hussein and Kuwait? What about these people?

      http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=purple+fingers+iraq&btnG=

    • AC

      i’ve had issues with the way the panel is set up over several topics as well. but i think it must be harder than you or i think it is to set up good panels for these things…
      sometimes a good conversation is still possible.

    • Don_B1

      I think you mischaracterize at least the Cohen column that you linked to. It seems to be more pointing out how the citizens of a country, when denied adequate living conditions and access to real knowledge of what is going on and thus feel powerless, tend to believe in conspiracy theories and adopt other methods of cognitively denying the real reasons for their conditions.

      Many can see exactly similar things going on in the U.S. in the willingness of many to blame other sufferers for their condition, in the willingness to accept claims such as “[this group] is demanding special rights,” a long-recognized “divide-and-conquer” approach of one class (usually the wealthy) to win at the polls when a more clear-headed analysis would show that a different action would yield a better result across all citizens rather than a small group.

      One guest for this subject, and it is hard to evaluate any subject’s availability, would be Stephen Kinzer:

      http://stephenkinzer.com/

  • HonestDebate1

    The tremendous gains we made are being squandered. The Arab Spring is now the Arab’s fall. Some will no doubt claim it was futile from day one; that everything would have been peachy if we had just stayed home. That’s absurd, we are seeing the results of the isolationist’s (Libertarian) view. Others will mockingly accuse any sober assessment as a call for war, which is equally absurd. If it comes to war, and it may, it will be a result of inaction not action. It sounds good to say we can’t be the world’s police but that’s just a talking point. There has never been a nation in the history of the universe that has amassed so much power and used it for good than America. Until now. Civilization as we know it is doomed if the forces of good lay down while evil thrives. Oceans no longer protect us and what is happening in the Middle East will make America less safe. It didn’t have to be like this.

    At least we can all agree on one thing, Al Qaeda is NOT decimated as President Obama keeps insisting.

    • William

      In a way, we have been involved with a war (big and small) since December 7, 1941. So if it takes being called a isolationist country to bring the troops home from overseas and rebuilding our nation I’m all for that idea!

      • HonestDebate1

        Isolationism makes things worse not better. Inaction is action. What would the world look like today if we had laid down after Pearl Harbor? My guess is I’d be making this comment in Japanese or German … if I were permitted to comment at all.

        • William

          Pearl Harbor did not give us much of a choice. Pit that against our failed Vietnam War effort which was a war of choice. Toss in numerous other mini-wars ending with Iraq and Afghanistan. Then we almost stepped into the mess in Syria even after our failed involvement in Libya. Are we an Empire that just can’t put down the sword?

          • HonestDebate1

            We are not an empire. I don’t think we have a choice now, things are spinning out of control without our leadership.

          • Don_B1

            Nothing weakened our leadership more than the Bush administration’s bull-in-a-china-shop approach to bullying countries into supporting the invasion of Iraq.

            One of the things about leadership is that it is hard to lead people where they don’t want to go. To lead in those cases takes a less arrogant approach where those to be lead are first shown why the proposed direction is the better one, which may take those who are to be helped must learn from their own failures before they will accept new approaches.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            “One of the things about leadership is that it is hard to lead people where they don’t want to go.”

            Of course with Obamacare that was ok. Whether you agree with it or not, misleading to get it passed, knowing it would otherwise not get enough support, is the same as the WMD nonsense.

            Goose, Gander. That’s the dangerous problem with all this BS, and playing political games for “our guy”. The next guy might do something really ugly with the precedents we set.

          • HonestDebate1

            Bingo.

          • Don_B1

            Actually, as has been pointed out on the blog posts to previous programs, the American people do understand that the healthcare available in the U.S. prior to 2009 was really deficient and wanted change. But people are always timorous about change and the Republicans have been all too effective in mischaracterizing the PPACA so that those that do not have the time to check out all the false claims that you and others make will respond on a poll that they are against it.

            But even this has not convinced more than half the Americans to support the repeal of the PPACA: more than half either approve it or want it improved!

            But no one should expect the trolls on this site to stop their campaign of falsehoods soon.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            Thanks for the response, but what false claims have I made regarding ACA? The misleading about the keeping plans stuff is very real, and very material to how people thought about their support for the idea and the candidates they voted for.

            To argue otherwise is very partisan, and intellectually insincere.

          • William

            We have gone down the same path for too long of a period of time.

          • HonestDebate1

            Bullying? That is mighty disrespectful of their service. Do you prefer Obama’s unilateral approach?

          • William

            There are always choices and we should become more like Japan, German or the Swiss.

          • HonestDebate1

            Fair enough but in my view those countries could not prosper in relative safety without America and that is on many levels. We have 50,000 troops in Japan and 42K in Germany.

        • J__o__h__n

          Who suggested not responding to Pearl Harbor? Invading Iraq after 9/11 would be like invading China after Pearl Harbor.

          • HonestDebate1

            It was a hypothetical response to Williams point.

          • J__o__h__n

            It wasn’t hypothetical as the premise was false.

          • HonestDebate1

            It was a hypothetical question, how can the premise be false? I guess it’s beside the point. I am trying to point out that every situation’s dynamics are different. I do not think it is credible to assume military action is alway the worst alternative. It’s an awful alternative but it may be the best one especially if avoiding a small war means a bigger one down the road.

        • jefe68

          If I’m correct in reading what you are really saying here, that fighting extremist Islamic groups, such as al Qaeda, is akin to fighting fascism in Europe and Imperial Japan in WW2?

          One should note that the Imperial Japanese Army had been waging war in China since 1931, it became a full scale invasion in 1939.

          The US was very much an isolationist nation in the 30′s and 40′s. Interesting to note, it was mostly Republicans who were isolationist in this period.

          • HonestDebate1

            No, I’m saying war is hell but at times can be the best choice for saving lives.

            Maybe if we weren’t as isolationist in the 30′s and 40′s WWII could have been less devastating. It only works for so long. The security is an illusion.

          • jefe68

            That depends. In Europe fascism was already a major political force by the mid 30′s. Italy was a fascist state by 1922.

            In Asia there were different forces at play than in Europe. Hitler cold have been stopped in his tracks in 1938. Most people don’t know that there was serious opposition to him in his own party and the German military. There were plots to assassinate him as early as 39.

            Your neocon leanings are dully noted.

          • HonestDebate1

            “That depends. ”

            Bingo. Iraq isn’t Syria which isn’t Iran which isn’t Libya which isn’t Afghanistan which isn’t N. Korea which isn’t Egypt which isn’t Viet Nam which isn’t WWI or WWII.

          • jefe68

            I think you really need to get some reading done on the Middle East.
            A little history might help.
            You are aware that formation of Iraq is a direct result of WW1. Have you heard of the Balfour Declaration?

            On the one had you’re advocating for the US to become totally engaged in the Middle East way beyond the level we are now. At the same time you seem unable to understand the geopolitics that the US has engaged in since the late 80′s when the USSR fell apart.

            In short, you’re all over the geopolitical map.

          • HonestDebate1

            And that has what to do with your point that I agreed with?

    • J__o__h__n

      It was futile from day one. As I predicted when it first started, the Arab Spring has resulted in Islamic governments or military rule.

      • TFRX

        Yep. Good ideas seldom have to be lied about.

        Now excuse me while I shake this vial of Crystal LIght at the UN and see who gets suckered in.

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          Weapons of Mass Destruction, If you like your plan you can keep your plan…..

          Lies for power agenda always the same.

          If we take the Obamacare I guess we have to take the Iraq.

          Gets tough trying to choose between the good lies and the bad lies.

          Thats the problem with the Ends justifying the Means. Insulting to a Democratic Republic of supposedly self-governing people voting for representatives with transparent information.

          But we can’t handle the truth! Leave that to the Committee/Elite whatever you want to call them.

      • Ray in VT

        I think that the attempt to reshape Iraq in the manner that we did was indeed futile, although I think that you may be a bit too pessimistic about the Arab Spring. True, the dictatorships that many sought to replace were cleaner and tidier, and some of them were more secularly inclined than at least some portion of the population may want, but there are sizable groups in some of those countries that want either some sort of secularish government or one that is perhaps only somewhat Islamist in its orientation. It depends a lot upon what factors and forces exist on the ground as to what the outcomes will be.

        • Don_B1

          Many times (and some might say most times) the first attempts as replacing an oppressive government will be unsuccessful.

          But if those attempting them take the correct analysis of why they failed, they may be more successful in later attempts. The big question is what doe it take for the lessons of failure to become dominant?

          • Ray in VT

            Definitely. These things aren’t built in a day. It took us a long time to get to where we are, and I think that it is totally unrealistic to think that we can plop something down, by force, that works for us and expect it to work somewhere else. There needs to be something homegrown and organic for it work work, I think, and it needs time, persistence and probably a bit of luck. History is full of bucks and false starts. Unfortunately it often seems that we look back at it and see a straight line.

          • HonestDebate1

            But we did replace the oppressive government, did we not?

          • TELew

            I don’t think “replace” is the right word for the outcome in Iraq.

          • HonestDebate1

            We replaced a sworn enemy with an ally in the heart of the Middle East. That was a big deal.

          • TELew

            Just who was this “ally”–the guy we brought over who was overwhelmingly rejected by Iraqis who actually lived in Iraq?

            What we replaced Sadam Hussein with was a fractured state with a pro-Iranian government which would inevitably return to bloodshed when our forces left.

          • HonestDebate1

            The ally is/was Iraq. I was a big fan of Allawi. All of his successors were allies as well, albeit to varying degrees. None were sworn enemies as was Hussein. The squandering of it all is on Obama.

          • TELew

            No.

            We replaced Saddam Hussein with an unstable, fractured state. The guy we tried to put in power was utterly rejected by the people who actually lived in Iraq. And since democracy ruled, the majority Shia population elected a Shia government allied with Iran.

            Just who is this “ally” you are talking about?

      • HonestDebate1

        But you forget we succeeded in awakening the masses in Anbar. We failed to maintain it.

        I don’t disagree about the Arab Spring’s result. That ship has sailed now but it didn’t have to.

  • HonestDebate1

    I went back for some perspective and as usual Dr. Krauthammer was right.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/12/AR2007071201619.html

  • Ed75

    What a disaster. The Christians have been driven from the area. This is what hell looks like.

    • Ray in VT

      As bad as things are, I think that it falls far short of even the worst seen here on Earth, let alone anything that might exist in any hereafter.

      • Ed75

        Well, it’s bad enough for me. There’s a book out there called ’23 minutes in Hell’ which describes a Protestant pastor’s out of body experience in Hell, not a place one ever wants to be for any reason. I also had some stuff to send about the Fatima prophecies, another time.

        • Ray in VT

          I don’t lend much credence to prophesies or to claims of religious experiences, as you well know. However, what easily comes to mind is the Holocaust and the depths or depravity and the heights of cruelty and suffering that were reached during those horrible years.

          • John Cedar

            You are obviously one of the Zionists, who alsordi and I are trying to enlighten. The “Holocaust’, (if it happened), was no more horrific than any number of other genocides and wartime atrocities throughout history. (Or peacetime atrocities for that matter).

            Why is the Holocaust constantly held up as the epitome of mans inhumanity to man? Is it to promote the idea that Jews are the biggest victims of all time and Israel should be expanded as reparation, and to ensure the petro dollar is the worlds reserve currency?

          • Ray in VT

            Wow. Just wow. “The “Holocaust’, (if it happened)”. For decency’s sake I hope that you’ve just being a miserable jerk and that you’re not some sort of Holocaust denier.

          • jefe68

            I was going to respond, but it’s not worth it. This poor excuse for a human is not worth the effort.

            I would however love to see him say this to my 83 year old mother, who lost 80% of her family in the Holocaust. She would slap him into next week.

          • Ray in VT

            Again, I hope that he’s just being a jerk to get a rise out of people. The real Holocaust deniers are, to me, just about the lowest of the low in modern discourse.

          • brettearle

            Ray, I’m on this….

            I’ve been working behind the scenes on this matter, in the past, through official channels.

            With success.

            I can’t explain further–because this is a Public forum

          • jefe68

            Interesting. The plot thickens…

          • Ray in VT

            “An interesting, if cryptic response.”

          • brettearle

            I don’t want to show my hand.

            Let’s just say I have a successful track record.

          • hennorama

            brettearle, the rebel treat. ;-)

          • brettearle

            I have a good sense of Yuma

          • hennorama

            brettearle — some easy fun, that sense of Yuma.

          • brettearle

            Report pending (you know which one)….

            But it could take a few, or several, days.

          • hennorama

            Okle McDokles.

          • jefe68

            Is there a difference using language as this rube has and being a real Holocaust denier?

          • Ray in VT

            It is possible to be merely a provocateur and not a believer.

          • jefe68

            That’s true, but this guy has a history of this.

          • brettearle

            Jefe–

            Trust me.

            In the eyes of the officials, he’s lost the war.

            Even if he erases it, it doesn’t matter. I copied his comments.

            If he erases it, the coverup’s worse than his actions.

          • brettearle

            In a way, it’s worse.

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t know. I think that I would judge a true believer to be worse, but that is my personal stance, and each must make his own judgement on some things.

          • Ray in VT

            In reply to your moderated post:

            I get what you’re saying. I don’t know the Catch-22 scene, though.

          • J__o__h__n

            At least on that one topic, NPR doesn’t feel compelled to represent both sides.

          • Ray in VT

            On some issues there really, truly are not two sides.

          • hennorama

            jefe68 — this is yet another example of why I’m thankful that there’s a very handy [Collapse (thread)] feature in this forum.

          • John Cedar

            Nothing more than a sarcastic attempt at mocking others who tread close to the line I apparently crossed in your mind.

            Does Poe’s law have a footnote caveat? Something to the effect that an online persona’s comment history, may need to be willfully ignored, to accommodate the selective outrage of the haughty?

          • Ray in VT

            Just checking. I thought it somewhat unlikely, but that is why I asked.

            As to your questions, I think that given the size, scope, organization and such that went into the systematic extermination of some 12 million people by the Third Reich, I think that it is entirely justified to hold that nightmare up ” as the epitome of mans inhumanity to man”.

          • jefe68

            Sarcastic attempt you say?
            What a load of BS.

    • J__o__h__n

      Maybe God shouldn’t have told George W Bush to invade.

      • Ed75

        Well, to be honest, Pope John Paul II begged President Bush not to invade, but one can understand why he did after 9/11.

        • TFRX

          One can? Plenty can’t.

        • Renee Engine-Bangger

          Actually no, one can’t understand. It was a war based on pure neocon ideology and lies. Hundreds of thousands dead. Millions of lives ruined. Trillions of dollars.

        • jefe68

          Sorry, but this that’s not why Bush invaded. It was used as an excuse, but that was not the reason.

          • Ray in VT

            According to his ghost writer:

            “He was thinking
            about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey
            Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to
            being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And
            he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he
            drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a
            chance to invade�.if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it.
            I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m
            going to have a successful presidency.”
            Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an
            underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive
            military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father’s
            shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September
            11 attacks. “Suddenly, he’s at 91 percent in the polls, and he’d barely
            crawled out of the bunker.”

            http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1028-01.htm

            from Peter Baker’s Days of Fire:

            “As one senior official who came to rue his involvement in Iraq put it,
            “The only reason we went into Iraq, I tell people now, is we were
            looking for somebody’s ass to kick. Afghanistan was too easy.””

            http://www.politico.com/playbook/1013/playbook11964.html

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT – from your first link, an even more chilling passage:

            “According to Herskowitz, … Bush and his advisers were sold on the idea that it was difficult for a president to accomplish an electoral agenda without the record-high approval numbers that accompany successful if modest wars.”

            IOW, in order to get the bulk of their agenda enacted, a military victory, and subsequent high public approval, was required.

            That speaks volumes, not only about “Bush and his advisers,” but also about the American public.

          • HonestDebate1

            Clinton sure did a lot of saber rattling before 1999. Why would Bush ignore his predecessor. Feel free to ignore the question while you cling to propaganda about the tail wagging the dog for ratings but it makes no sense… unless you safe an ideologue.

            http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT890MGrw0dOVcbUu6mj_YVoez_dPOySFUMuPiZG19GtgRCmi9C

          • TELew

            So, you are suggesting that Bush II simply adopted Clinton’s foreign policy?

            That’s news to me.

          • HonestDebate1

            Not really, to be honest I thought Clinton’s bombing of Iraq on the night before Monica Lewinski testified was highly suspect but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

            But the fact remains it was Clinton who signed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. It was Clinton who threatened military force. By the time the rubber met the road there were yet more disregarded UN resolutions, more of our jets being shot at, the complete backfiring of the “Oil for Food” sanctions and no inspections to verify compliance, all in a post 9/11 world.

            That was after Clinton but the policy was in place.

          • Ray in VT

            Clinton’s policy wasn’t military invasion, and we might have saved ourselves a lot of trouble if Bush had allowed the inspectors the time to show how far off the claims that were being made regarding WMDs were when they were there in late 2002 and early 2003, but he’d been hankering for war for at least 4 years, and the invasion policy had been set by at least mid 2002, so such a move would just have undercut the narrative, the sales pitch and the justification.

          • HonestDebate1

            The inspectors were not given the access Hussein agreed to. There was no verification. Clinton certainly made clear military action was a real possibility and in fact took military action including bombing and a no-fly zone. Tyrants don’t step down voluntarily.

            Ask Mr. Clinton:

            “The credible threat to use force, and when necessary, the actual use of force, is the surest way to contain Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction program, curtail his aggression and prevent another Gulf War.”

            “That is why, on the unanimous recommendation of my national security team — including the vice president, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the secretary of state and the national security adviser — I have ordered a strong, sustained series of air strikes against Iraq.”

            (Skip to 2:00):

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=457jp8VGhEE

          • Ray in VT

            Better hurry up and get them out then, before they have a chance to derail the war. Blix said that they were getting reluctant cooperation, and perhaps some time would have seen them open up further, but, considering that Iraq Survey Group couldn’t find all of that stuff that we claimed was there, then even reluctant cooperation could have ultimately proved that.

            Airstrikes are a lot different than occupying a whole country and trying to remake it in a manner inconsistent with its own history and traditions.

            Given the state of Iraq in 2002 and 2003, it wasn’t much of a threat to its neighbors.

          • HonestDebate1

            You are under the mistaken impression the war was about WMD and nothing else. How much longer should Hussein been allowed to stick his finger in the eye of the UN?

            I’ll tell you what, next time the police show up at your door with a search warrant, tell them they can’t come in. Then reluctantly cooperate and let them search as long as they stay out of the basement. See if they go home or take a battering ram to your basement door.

          • Ray in VT

            The war was sold on WMDs. Without those or the lies regarding Saddam and Al Qaeda we had a war based upon Saddam is a bad guy, and I don’t think that the would have played well with the public.

            Except police have authority. The U.N. didn’t authorize any invasion. Georgie and Co. took that one upon themselves. Let me tell you what. The next time that some overzealous deputy shows up at your place without the go ahead from any sort of body and totally tears your place apart and doesn’t find a bunch of illegal stuff that some disgruntled former employees of yours say that you had, then let me know how that works out.

          • TELew

            I wasn’t aware that Clinton bombed Iraq. I thought it was Somalia.

            At any rate, the cry to finish off Sadam began as soon as the first Iraq war ended, before Clinton entered office. Although I could be wrong, I would think that the Iraq Liberation Act was the brainchild of Newt Gingrich and friends.

            Pretty much everyone assumed that G.W. Bush was going to invade Iraq, even before 9-11. He had too many friends who had advocated that for years.

          • HonestDebate1

            I do think Bush 41 could have saved a lot of bloodshed had he finished the job but the dynamics were far different and the resulting umpteen UN resolutions that followed had yet to be violated. However, it is the President’s job to lead the debate and the nation’s collective psyche. Bush 41 failed at that.

            I sincerely feel if the situations in Iran, Syria and elsewhere would have been addressed earlier the circumstances would not be as complicated or dire. The decisions only get tougher, the stakes get higher and the options become more limited as time passes.

          • HonestDebate1

            Algore would have gone to Iraq if elected. It was a no brainer.

          • J__o__h__n

            No he wouldn’t. And 9/11 would likely not have happened. I can’t imagine Al Gore’s National Security Adviser ignoring the “Bin Laden Determined to Attack US” report.

          • HonestDebate1

            Everybody on the planet knew Bin Laden was determined to attack. He tried to blow up the WTC in 1993 for Pete’s sake. Algore was veep when the Saudis offered him up and we declined.

            Do you think Bush should have outlawed box cutters or indefinitely grounded all the airlines?

            “Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.” — Al Gore, 2002

          • Fredlinskip

            “Organizing a coalition to eliminate access” is a far different statement then, “organizing a coalition to attack Iraq”.

          • jefe68

            Not Al Gore again…
            It’s funny how you criticize people for posting about GW Bush yet you and the others in the right wing meme brigade constantly use Gore and Clinton to back up whatever absurdity you are hawking on any given day.

          • Ray in VT

            You got some kind of magic mirror that lets you peer into other dimensions, or are you just a mind reader?

          • HonestDebate1

            It’s an opinion.

          • Fredlinskip

            And a totally bazaar one at that.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — in all fairness, the idea that invading Iraq was a “no brainer” has validity, just not in the way the Omniscient Mindreading One seems to believe.

          • Fredlinskip

            Al Gore would have organized a coalition in America to reduce our dependence on foreign oil-
            of that we can be assured.

          • HonestDebate1

            The best way todo that is to frack. I doubt Algore would have played.

    • alsordi

      The Christians are obviously expendable to the now hidden neoconservative zionists. Its all about destabilization and getting Sunnis to fight Shiites.

      Unfortunately the Evangelical “Christians” have had their heads up their behinds, wondering whats for desert at Applebees after Sunday meeting, being so worried about the zionists to see what is happening to the Christians. .

  • creaker

    US leaders would do well to watch more Star Trek – particularly episodes dealing with the Prime Directive. It seems like all we’ve done is take a bad situation and made it worse. Saddam was bad – but it looks like we’ve created something in Iraq that is brewing into something much worse.

  • alsordi

    What is it that Americans don’t understand ?

    The neoconservative mission was always to DESTABILIZE the region to make it safe for Israel to grab more land, US oil interests, hence preserve the US petrol dollar.

    Al CIAda is a major asset in this destabilization strategy, as both bogey man and surrogate.

    But the listeners have to continue to endure superficial conversations like todays on what is supposed to be intellectual radio like NPR and BBC.

    • creaker

      I’ve wondered about that – the previous administration was driven by big oil, interesting we were poised to reassess ourselves as a major oil producer, and US strategy has done much to destabilize a major competitor.

      • alsordi

        You see… maybe it true as they say.
        The Israel lobby is evidently more powerful than the oil lobby.

    • William

      But Israel has given up land and the USA has encouraged more Democratic rule rather than the failed Islamic rule.

      • alsordi

        Are you delusional? Israel is a fascist apartheid state that keeps stealing more land every day.

        • William

          Israel is one of the few sane countries in the Middle East.

  • Ed75

    The problem it seems to me is not so much the boundaries, it’s Al Queda. They are like the Nazis, a destructive, evil force, and powerful.

    • hennorama

      Wow. Kinda early for a Godwin award, but congrats ed75!

    • tbphkm33

      Except for the fact that the Nazis were a conservative political movement whereas al-Qaeda is a conservative religious movement.

      About the only thing they have in common is both being “conservative” – which brings up the point, that the Tea Baggers are also a destructive and evil conservative force. No wonder the conservative pundits seem to have a special understanding of both the Nazis and al-Qaeda – all cut of the same cloth.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        Conservative? How were they for Constitutional Rule of Law and Self Governance? Nice try.

        Little essay by a Nobel Prize Winning Economist:

        http://lamar.colostate.edu/~grjan/hayeknaziism.html

        • Ray in VT

          Yeah, conservative, and spare us the libertarian nonsense.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            Seriously, can you respond to Hayek’s essay based on his living in the actual time and places?

            We are supposed to bow to Nobel Krugman, but we toss out Nobel Hayek, because it goes against our narrative? Seriously. Point out the nonsense.

          • Ray in VT

            Seriously, look at pretty much any other historian, having lived through the time or not. Look at their social policies. Look at how they viewed the role of women. Look at their reaction against things like modern art and their appeals towards traditional, which their propaganda was full of.

            I say toss out Hayek on this because it is utter bunk that is not supported by the history. For instance, there is a passage where he states something like how the government did not oppose the rise of the NAZI party because the two were basically the same. That is the sort of nonsense of which I am speaking.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            They were masters of propaganda, that’s for sure, whatever was effective. That’s the whole problem with getting comfortable with charismatic leaders, centralized power, and lack of respect for Constitutional type Rule of Law in the first place.

          • Ray in VT

            You’re also imposing your own view of what constitutes conservative and then not putting them into that bubble. Ever consider that your definition isn’t one by which most play? That seems to be a great deal of the problem. You just can’t make up your own definition and expect everyone else to play along. No one is arguing that they were small government types. The argument is that they were social/cultural conservatives, which is what they were.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            What is my definition? As I’ve said, I’m not a big defender of todays conservatives except where they are consistent with the more libertarian angle.

            Sure you can say the Nazis were social/cultural conservatives if you want, but they were most importantly totalitarian fascist dictator maniac types.

            I have no sympathies for theocratic leaning social conservatives here or anywhere, but as long as there personal beliefs are held in check by constitutional protection of my liberty, i’m not going to suggest they be “forcibly removed”, as much as I disagree with them.

            When you identify the Tea Party fascists or totalitarians, let me know, and I’ll be glad to chip in to helping contain them.

          • Ray in VT

            I took this statement as being a part of your definition: “Conservative? How were they for Constitutional Rule of Law and Self Governance? Nice try.” Totalitarianism can be left or right. Fascism has been the right wing expression of totalitarianism, as opposed to socialism on the left. They used the political tool of fascism to push a socially conservative agenda. That’s just the way that they were. No modern/avant garde art. Put the ladies back in the kitchen and have them pop out kids. Hate on the traditional cultural scapegoats like the Jews.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            “Conservative? How were they for Constitutional Rule of Law and Self Governance? Nice try.”

            I will grant you guys that that was a poor definition, as I often do try to point out that todays neocons or theocons are no bastion of libertarian ideals…

            so, points taken, but I did have to chime in when Tea Partiers were being lumped in with Nazis, when a good chunk of them appear to be liberty types. We waste so much time with the broad brushes here.

          • Ray in VT

            The problem may be that throughout history there may not have been many bastions of libertarian ideals. They certainly didn’t exist in many, if any, European states historically. Even here even though, in many ways, far less structure existed to hold people into social classes or legally tied to the land, those things did exist to some degree, and there were certainly laws in many colonies and early states regulating activities, both personal and economic.

            I think that it is a poor decision to lump much of anyone in with the Nazis. The Obama Hitler is my favorite ironic image, given how disgusted real Nazis would be, given the president’s ancestry. I do have a problem with some aspects of the statement identifying Tea Partiers as “liberty types”, given that one the one hand there seem to be many who are at least somewhat connected to that movement who are social conservatives who don’t seem to have much of a problem with certain types of regulations that a more social libertarian might dislike, while others seem to be arguing for the sort of liberty from government regulation that might be great if I’m a corporation looking to get the government off of my back because pollution is easier and cheaper, but not so great if I’m in favor of a cleaner environment or safer products.

        • TFRX

          You’ve got a bajillion needles to thread backwards for eight decades until you can even get then. Your patented fakery of “conservative means RuleOfLawAndSelfGovernance” is a fight you need to have with conservatives.

          When you come out of the proverbial locked room having won that proverbial fistfight, let us know.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            I’m not here to defend today’s conservatives. But you guys are so quick to throw out Classically Liberal ideas with the modern Conservative bathwater, and so when people are calling Tea Partiers, whatever there leaning, Nazis, it needs to be put in context.

            While we are at it:

            FA Hayek: Why I am not a Conservative

            http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/articles/hayek-why-i-am-not-conservative.pdf

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        The more I read that the more sick it is. Talk about need for a Moderator. You are calling Tea Party folks Nazis. The only real life Tea Party folks I have knowingly met directly are contractor type folks.

        You guys are really nuts, and I do fear what you would do given enough cover to go after people with differing socio-politial views.

        • TFRX

          The only real life Tea Party folks I have knowingly met directly

          Wow, that covers it all.

          I could say personally that “some of my longtime acquaintances are Tea Party sorts”, but it sounds too much like some racist Tea Party guy saying “some of my best friends are black”.

          And when it comes to “fear what (we lefties) would do”, remember who’s making a big fuggin show about brandishing guns everywhere. But not to scare anybody, nosiree.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            Who’s making the show, and why do they want them? You think its to sit on the porch and pick off lefties? I know that’s the picture you would love to believe, but give us a break, or show us the cases.

            It is for sport, constitutional principle or, futile as it would be, the final line against a tyrannical government.

            You may think folks are nuts for thinking there could be a tyrannical government, or that the people could stop one anyway, but that doesn’t give us the right to say they can’t try.

          • TELew

            My friend, the problem is that followers of the Tea Party do not present a consistent picture here. There are plenty of accusations that the current presidential administration is a “tyrannical government,” and an awful lot of talk about shooting “lefties.”

            I have real problems with what the Tea Party means by “tyrannical.” As much as anything it often seems to be “anything that they don’t agree with.”

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            I think basically tyranny would be forcible coercion of things that are well-arguably unconstitutional, and that flout the classical notions of Rule of Law not Men.

            Between the Crony-Creation of the Financial Crisis, the Bailouts, the Iraq War, the NSA, possibly the IRS etc etc, there is plenty of reason for people who care about Constitutional, Rule of Law Self-Government, vs. Discretionary, Cronyistic, Technocratic, unaccountable, Rule of Men, to be concerned today about where we are, and, where the slippery slope the apologists maintain, will take us.

            That is not a very radical thesis, given history.

          • TELew

            Thanks for sharing.

            But I don’t think what you think changes the unfortunate tendency of Tea Party people to charge the Obama administration with “tyranny.”

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            I only say what I think, because I think a lot of people think that, with more or less clarity, and feel in their gut something along those lines is not right. Just because they may also have religious or social conservative or country or whatever values that you or I may or may not share doesn’t mean they aren’t tapping into something legitimate.

            The snobby arrogance aimed at the Tea Party, whether shrewd political establishment posturing, or overgeneralized disdain based on bad apples, is just counterproductive baby with the bathwater stuff with regards to trying to challenge the corrupt status quo.

      • Ed75

        Interesting perspective. I only meant that both the Nazis and Al Queda are killers: there is no negotation, either you kill them or they kill you. Even the Sunnis and Shiia are open to negotiation.

        • tbphkm33

          I do see what you were saying. Although, al-Qaeda is becoming more diffuse. Much like the Nazi’s were in fact not one uniform force. The initial German military that invaded say Norway was composed of true soldiers. The problems started after the soldiers were rotated out and replaced by common criminals and Nazi idealist.

          There is a similar process with al-Qaeda. As the movement has spread, it is getting diffused. Factions are joining for pragmatic reasons, which also means they might switch easily also. For example, there is evidence that local populations say in north Africa are in fact uniting in opposition to al-Qaeda.

          The religious fundamentalism and “bastardization” of religion that al-Qaeda represents is a complex social issue. Here in the West, the media and politicians paint it as largely a military operation. Reality is that real alternatives to al-Queda has to be presented before the local population will turn their backs on the militants.

          A lot of that change has to come from within Islam and has to be tied to new social opportunities. As long as the establishment can only offer grinding poverty, the fields that al-Queda thrives on will only continue to be fertile.

          • Ed75

            There’s some hope in that: in the MIddle Ages one reason the Mulsims didn’t do even more damage was that they fought among themselves, sometimes for centuries. We can only hope.

    • J__o__h__n

      I think the boundaries are the cause for a lot of it. After WWI the West carved up the region and tribes, ethnicities, and sects/religions were stuck in nations where they had no common identity. The English would often prop up a minority to rule over the majority to keep them dependent on their support. Usually the only avenue for dissent was through religious groups which become radical and as they are religious can rapidly spiral out of control with delusions of following god’s will.

      • Ed75

        Interesting, that could explain some of the dynamic.

    • Fredlinskip

      And the great benefit we provided their cause when we invaded Iraq-
      Not an insignificant fact- there were no Al Qaeda in Iraq before our occupation.

      • HonestDebate1

        It is indeed an insignificant fact.

        • Ray in VT

          Then I wonder why the President and his administration lied to the American public about it. I’m sure that it wasn’t to build support of the plan of action that had been sought since before Bush was even elected.

  • hennorama

    Pray tell exactly how many US troops would have been required to keep the factions in Iraq from fighting and killing each other?

    Looking at Afghanistan, there are over 40,000 members of the US military there at present, and after 13 years, there is still no stability.

    Pray tell also exactly how US involvement in Syria’s internal conflict would have easily and quickly resolved it, as many claim.

    Given all of the political, tribal, sectarian, religious, economic and geopolitical dynamics of this region, and that the US is widely seen as an interloper, invader and occupier, exactly which magic wand does the US possess to make all the conflict disappear?

    • HonestDebate1

      “Pray tell exactly how many US troops would have been required to keep the factions in Iraq from fighting and killing each other?”

      That’s a question for the joint chiefs but my guess is more than zero and less than the 28,500 in S. Korea or 50K in Japan.

      There is no magic wand and I have seen no claims Syria would be easy.

  • HonestDebate1

    But we did put something in it’s place and Iraq didn’t fragment. It was Biden’s proposal to split up Iraq.

    The pertinent question became, years later in a post 9/11 world, what happens if we don’t take out Hussein? Bill Clinton made regime change in Iraq American policy in 1998 and inspectors were thwarted after that.

    • TELew

      I think that Iraq “split up” into its three basic factions–Kurd (Sunnis), Arab Sunnis, and Arab Shiites–without much assistance from Biden.

    • jefe68

      Iraq didn’t fragment? What do call the mess that’s be going on there for over a year?

      It’s interesting for someone who goes on and on about our debt and deficit you sure are ready to poor billions of not trillions into a quagmire.

  • HonestDebate1

    The Anbar awakening was the turning point in Iraq. It was slow to come to fruition because of a deep distrust. I remember Ayaan Hirsi Ali being interviewed years ago and the interviewer was teeing it up for her to criticize Bush. She said it’s very easy to criticize Bush and then added (paraphrasing), because he won’t send his henchmen to kill you and rape your children. That is why there was so much reluctance. It took incredible fortitude for the Iraqis to put their trust in us but it worked. It worked. Obama gave them the finger.

    • tbphkm33

      Lets not criticize the Village Idiot GW Bush – lets just look at the reality that most Iraqis themselves question if the 11+ years of bloodshed was worth it.

      If you are going to “liberate” a nation from a dictatorship, you could not fail much more than the United States and GW Bush failed the Iraqi people – nor The People in the homeland.

      Estimates are of a 184,000 total violent deaths – if you count in associated deaths, from say lack of adequate healthcare, estimates quickly go over 350,000.

      But of course, GW Bush, the Neocons and Nopublican’s have no blood on their hands.

      … for their sake, lets just hope they are not right about Saint Peter, because there will only be a descending staircase for them to walk in the afterlife.

      • HonestDebate1

        I’ll tell you what, poll the Kurds at Halabja in 1988; then poll the Kuwaitis in 1990; then poll the Iraqis as they were starving while Hussein built palaces with the oil for food sanctions, had a wood chipper in the basement of Abu Graib (the lucky ones went in head first), gouged out eyes, ripped out tongues, raped wives in front of children and held public executions on the soccer fields; then poll the iraqis with the purple fingers in 2008.

        After that, get back with me and we’ll talk about what they think now after 4 years of Obama and America turning their back.

        • Ray in VT

          Are you also going to poll all of the Iraqis who have died in the violence since we invaded?

          • HonestDebate1

            Sure as long as we poll the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis Hussein had killed before the invasion…. and the Kuwaitis too.

          • Ray in VT

            How about the Iranians that we helped him gas? Do they get to vote? And can we make sure to fully inform all of the voting ghosts as to the ways in which we helped to facilitate Hussein’s crimes?

          • HonestDebate1

            Absolutely, let’s dig up our ally Stalin’s victims too. I can do this all day.

            Maybe you would prefer to fall back to the bumper-sticker mentality: “Bush lied, people died”. In that way thought is not required.

          • Ray in VT

            Stalin was less of a threat than Hitler. The murderous thugs that we propped up or ran guns to in Latin America under Reagan killed tens of thousands. We’ve been very happy to support terror and repression at the expense of freedom and democracy when we think that it has suited our needs, even when it actually may have worked against our interests.

            That is one bumped sticker that is accurate. Defending Bush’s lies that killed thousands is actually the non-thinking route, but it is the more comfortable one is one is looking to defend the true conservatives at any cost.

          • HonestDebate1

            And Hussein was less of a threat than Iran, no? Geo-politics is an evolving mess.

            Bush didn’t lie so your premise is whacked.

          • Ray in VT

            That is your opinion. Given his treatment of his people and his pursuit of banned weapons, which we facilitated, one could very easily conclude something contrary to your opinion. We were also in the position of having to deal with the Islamic Republic because there, once again, we favored dictators to democracy. We played a hand in creating that beast when we helped put the Shah in power.

            Your premise that Bush didn’t lie is contingent upon lying to cover Bush’s lies. Facts are against you, but when have you let that be a problem?

          • jefe68

            I guess all those comments about WMD’s before the invasion mean nothing to you.
            The man lied, period.

          • HonestDebate1

            What about the gazillion Democrats or other world leaders who said the same thing? Did they lie too? I say no. It is impossible to lie if you don’t know thou are lying. They were just wrong about the stockpiles, that’s all.

          • Ray in VT

            “What about the gazillion Democrats or other world leaders who said the same thing?” Did they have access to the evidence to the contrary that the Bush administration did? In my book if they did not, then they have less to answer for

            “It is impossible to lie if you don’t know thou are lying.” That is a lie according to the dictionary. Why do you insist upon lying to jefe68?

          • HonestDebate1

            Alrighty then.

        • tbphkm33

          So, by that rationalized justification of the U.S. invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq, based upon the deaths inflicted previously by others; you could formulate a justification for the invasion and occupation of the United States, squarely based on the hundreds of thousands to millions of deaths the U.S. has inflicted around the globe.

          Does the U.S. have a moral carte blanche when it comes to blood the Empire has spilled around the world? Is a death at the hands of the U.S. somehow more compassionate than a death at the hands of others?

          By your reasoning, a foreign power would be justified to invade the U.S. and kill hundreds of thousands if not millions in an effort to hunt down the leadership (aka. GW Bush, et. al.) and to bring an end to the military threat the U.S. poses to the rest of the world.

          Are not the U.S. “American” tax payer not morally responsible for having paid for those bullets and bombs that have been used to kill around the world?

          It is not worth getting on your high horse when the reality is that your hands are as blood soaked as those you claim to be aggressors and terrorists.

          • HonestDebate1

            You are entitled to your opinion but please don’t tell me what I think.

            I was respond to your statement: “… lets just look at the reality that most Iraqis themselves question if the 11+ years of bloodshed was worth it.”

            I don’t believe we ought to “just” look at that, I take a broader view.

      • Zenplatypus

        Well, if it isn’t Mr. Furrowed Brow, with a generous dollop of Bush Derangement twaddle. This is just spectacularly stupid, even for you. “Nopublican’s[sic]“? Really?

        • jefe68

          Troll alert.

          • tbphkm33

            Is it “Troll alert” as much as “feeble mind alert”? We have to remind ourselves that there are many who were never introduced to, or are incapable of, critical thinking. By the nature of the equation, this afflicts conservatives more than liberals.

            My suspicion is that “Zenplatypus” is sitting in a college dorm room somewhere trying to flame discussion boards. Or, never grew out of such a mindset. Basically needs some social interaction and broadening of experiences – at least enough to make an informed argument on either side of the discussion.

    • jimino

      When “Obama” left Iraq on the schedule created by “Bush”, all we heard was that the former shouldn’t be given credit for the success of the latter represented by our troops leaving.

      Apparently the script changed sometime between now and then.

      • HonestDebate1

        Are you suggesting Bush did not set the timetable or that Obama didn’t want to leave a residual force?

        • jimino

          I’m simply saying that “the finger” you complain about was given just as planned by the Bush administration.

          • HonestDebate1

            I disagree but so what if it was?

  • andic_epipedon

    Sorry Tom, After 15 minutes I am too disgusted to finish this show. My faith in our government broke the day Congress decided to go to war in Iraq several years ago. Thank you for bringing this important news to us.

  • hennorama

    TFRX — that gets an Up vote simply for your droll “merdery.”

  • Fredlinskip

    What happens when you enter into an unjustified foreign occupation as was case in Iraq?
    You end up pissing off a lot of people who do not take kindly to occupation- therefore potentially creating a never -ending supply of “terrorists”.

    But then again if our country was to be occupied by a foreign country “for our own good”, we would likely as Cheney says, “throw flowers at their feet”.

    • HonestDebate1

      There are a lot of adjectives to describe the liberation of Iraq. Many of the negative ones are completely valid. Unjustified is not one of them.

      • Fredlinskip

        Adjectives don’t matter much to the deceased liberated in the conflict

        • HonestDebate1

          Are you saying there would have been less death and destruction if we didn’t liberate Iraq? That’s quite a leap.

          • Fredlinskip

            I am saying the American people were deliberately mislead into an unnecessary war that cost our nation dearly in myriad of ways-
            This is fairly self-evident to all those not living in a cave with nothing but Fox “news” on their TV for 15 years.

          • HonestDebate1

            And who are theses people in a cave with nothing but Fox news? By default they sure wouldn’t be here at NPR.

  • HonestDebate1

    I don’t know if Bob Gates will be regarded as a hero, whistle blower, racist or Republican hack but this is devastating. Maybe Bob Woodward will be vilified. It’s not anything most of us didn’t know but it’s still devastating…or it should be. On this very board some were pushing the ridiculous theory that Bush went to Iraq for political reasons. Now we learn Obama had no intention of winning. This is awful.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/robert-gates-former-defense-secretary-offers-harsh-critique-of-obamas-leadership-in-duty/2014/01/07/6a6915b2-77cb-11e3-b1c5-739e63e9c9a7_print.html

    My view is Gates is a gutless coward who should have resigned rather that play along with the charade.

    • Don_B1

      The first thing to remember is that Robert Gates was and is a military hardliner, as pointer out here:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/01/07/robert-gates-was-wrong-on-the-most-important-issue-he-ever-faced/

      Then remember how the DoD Generals did “play President Obama” in 2009 on leaking to the press trumped up complaints that worked to force the adoption of a “troop surge” in Afghanistan, where it has not worked out too well. When a more complete analysis of the “surge” adopted by President Bush in Iraq showed that it was much more the “Sunni Awakening” than the increase in American troops that resulted in the decreased violence over the 2007-2009 period:

      http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/iraqs-tribal-sahwa-its-rise-and-fall

      Robert Gates has clearly decided to get his decidedly partisan views out early to influence how the rest of the war advisors’ treatises will be viewed. And also look at how inconsistent his views are expressed over time, even in his book.

      But the troll and President Obama criticism generator [Dis]HonestDebate1 can only emphasize the mischaracterizations of President Obama here.

      • HonestDebate1

        As I said, I don’t know if Bob Gates will be regarded as a hero, whistle blower, racist or Republican hack but this is devastating.

        I’ll put you down for Republican hack.

        Regarding the awakening, I don’t think it’s possible to separate the surge from it. They didn’t just wake up, they trusted we would be there for them first.

  • Ed75

    Mary told the children at Fatima: “War is a punishment for sin.” (WWI at that time.) As the West turns away from God, and continues to institutionalize sin, especially abortion, and tries to export it worldwide, we see the result. One thing, if the Islamic factions make peace, they will then turn on Israel.

  • Roy-in-Boise

    One hundred years later and we are still suffering from the effects of Sykes-Picot.

  • http://muslimmediareview.blogspot.com AymanFadel

    I’m not sure what the purpose of this panel was. If it was simply voyeurism into others’ suffering, then purpose served. If it was for policy recommendations, then the panelists’ recommendations to remain neutral in the conflict between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran and to attempt to restrain via diplomacy extremists on both sides of that divide from igniting sectarian conflict are reasonable. If the purpose of the panel was to educate the USA public about the USA’s role in contributing to these disasters, it failed miserably. These kinds of discussions should always begin with acknowledgment of intense USA interventions: unlimited support for Israel since 1967, including its 1981 and 2006 invasions of Lebanon; its joined-at-the-hip relationship to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the other petrol monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula; its general support for Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980; its military intervention to preserve the Kuwaiti monarchy in 1991; its cruel sanctions regime on Iraq in the 1990s; its support for Sunni extremists to fight against communists in Afghanistan in the 1980s; its provocations against Iran such as its downing of a civilian airliner, support of assassination against its scientists and its sanctions for its legal nuclear program; and, its coup de grace, the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Only callers brought up the role the US played which has contributed greatly to the sectarianism now flourishing in Iraq. It is hard to exaggerate how much the USA occupation of Iraq, particularly in its first year under Bremer, created the sectarianism that average On Point listeners might believe to be hundreds of years old. Mr. Cohen bemoans the USA public’s reluctance to involve itself in further colonial adventures. On Point would serve its listeners better if it simply replaced Beltway pundits with the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers all over our country who instinctively understand that violence, whether it be “boots on the ground” or drones or military advisors or weapons sales, don’t solve problems. Moreover, if we asked most Iraqis or Syrians or Iranians, I’m sure the vast majority would request the same thing, regardless of their religion or sect.

  • HonestDebate1

    Iraq’a ambassador:

    “The administration has to have a better understanding of any adverse impact of any delay in provision of support to Iraq,” Ambassador Lukman Faily told The Washington Times in an interview Wednesday. “It cannot afford a whole town or province of Iraq falling to al Qaeda and becoming a safe haven. It’s against the U.S. strategic interest. It’s against the U.S. national security to do that.”

    Asked whether the White House could do more to facilitate a tighter relationship with Iraq, Mr. Faily said, “to a certain extent they can. But we are no longer in a period in which we had President Bush, who took ownership of that relationship.”

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/8/iraqi-diplomat-wants-obama-engagement-in-al-qaeda-/#ixzz2puCZEllF
    Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

    • jimino

      “You break it, you own it”. It’s true, no matter how many times and how many ways you try to dump it on someone else.

  • hourly_PA

    $2 trillion US to crater out a power vacuum.
    And then the democratically selected puppet doesn’t cut it.

    So what worked out over there? The white phosphorous in Fallujah worked out. It really does sear the flesh.
    And the depleted uranium [ tons of it ] that was left to sink and settle. That worked out. It really does make weird babies.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/iraq-war-anniversary-birth-defects-cancer_n_2917701.html

ONPOINT
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