What do we do about Iraq?
Do we “get big and go long or get small and go home,” as those who want to simplify the conflict suggest? Do we increase troop levels to decrease the violence or do we decrease troop levels in a sort of “sink or swim” signal to the Iraqi people with an impending full-withdrawal in the near-future? Let’s take a look at both suggestions, as I attempt to analyze:
Increasing our presence in Iraq is said to be the solution to mounting violence between Sunni and Shiite groups, and their foreign instigators. With more troops, the commanders there will have more flexibility to protect the borders, and patrol hot-spots in areas surrounding Baghdad. Arguments against this include the notion that Iraqis will become dependent on our services and entrap themselves in a sort of welfare-subject state. In the meantime, our soldiers will continue to fall victim to sporadic ambushes and roadside bombs in their attempts to secure the public order.
The “sink or swim” measure would present the Iraqi people with two options: fight or falter. This notion assumes that Iraqis are in the driver’s seat at the helm of their own future, and have not been displaced by ambitious Iranian and Syrian powers fighting to expand their spheres of influence. Ahmadinejad has already called for a “weekend summit” between the Syrian, Iranian, and Iraqi presidents, an offer which Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has since accepted. This comes amidst rumors in Washington that the responsibility of sustaining the Iraqi republic does not only burden the United States, but must include Syria and Iran as well.
It is well known that Syria has done little to curb the influx of foreign combatants via its border with Iraq, and sophisticated Iranian-made bombs have been found among foreign insurgents in Iraqi neighborhoods. Both countries abhor the American presence in Iraq, but have recently seen the Sunni-Shiite conflict grow to dominate the violence there, with Americans taking a back-step to a budding civil war. Neither Iranians nor Syrians really want to see an all-out war against Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq. It is quite clear, however, that the neighboring despot in Syria and the “Guardian Council” in Iran also have no interest in seeing a vibrant, liberal democracy growing in their own backyard. In their eyes, a civil war could actually be preferable to a stable American-backed government, even if the conflict threatens regional stability.
Regional instability, after all, is what has given people like Ahmadinejad opportunity to move aggressively as Iran dominates Middle Eastern politics. But with a Democratic victory in America, whispers are that the American presence is coming to an end, which must make the Iranian President grin deviously. With the Americans gone, the powers that be in the Middle East, namely the Iranians, can stop encouraging a civil war and begin moves to become the puppeteer of Iraqi regimes for years to come, hence the “weekend summit.”
Unfortunately, the current Iraqi government has set itself up for failure, and a civil war that not even Iran may be able to stop once an American withdrawal comes. The Iraqi police and military forces are divided near-exclusively down ethnic divides, with all-Sunni and all-Shiite police units patrolling the streets and all-Shiite and all-Sunni military brigades manning the heavy machinery. With this sort of division, how could we have ever hoped for a united Iraqi military or police force? This goes without mentioning the armed militias on both sides, some of which are already funded by Iranian resources, which are precipitating further violence by running death squads in ethnic cleansing campaigns. How can the Americans, much less the Iranians, tackle such a ridiculous arrangement, especially with the Iraqi president unwilling to disarm the offending militias?
If the Americans withdraw, an Iranian-backed (or controlled) Iraqi government will move to quash the Sunni insurgency through means deplorable to the Western world, through any means necessary, and all animosity over the barbarism will inevitably be directed towards Americans, who started it all by invading Iraq in the first place. Our near-autonomous and prosperous Kurdish friends will inevitably fall victim in similar ways, in their effort to maintain their newfound freedom, which they have embraced with a stability unseen in the rest of Iraq.
This sweeping Iranian storm of influence will combine to ignite the Muslim world in new fury against the “Zionist occupiers” of Israel, and their American friends, who were responsible for the brutal civil war in Iraq. All of this together will present to the world a Middle East dominated by Iran which will inevitably showdown against its rival Israel, and who knows at what consequence?
As you see, we have very difficult decisions to make in our near-future which will have reverberating repercussions for years to come. If what we want to do is combat Islamic extremism, then the full withdrawal “sink or swim” measure is out of the question. But increasing our troop levels doesn’t seem to be any solution either. What we set out to do was to establish a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. If that isn’t still our goal, then what is? Do we even care if the Iraqi government, which the people of Iraq elected, survives at all? Do we care that the ensuing civil war after our exit may kill hundreds of thousands? Is there any concern that the consequences of a full withdrawal could ignite further anti-American extremism, and not curb it? Are we, quite simply, “damned if we do and damned if we don’t”?
Our goals now must include regional context. Iran is a threat, not only because of its nuclear ambitions, but because it’s government is the largest sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world. This is a threat not only to the United States, but to Israel, the West, and the stability of most of this planet. Our attitude should not be, “how can we get out?” but rather, “how can we win?” Naturally, winning is the best way to get out, and by winning I mean establishing a stable, secular elected government in Iraq, something that would be unprecedented in the Islamic world. To do this, we must first dismantle the militias independent of the government authority and diversify the police and military units. We hand them the responsibility of patrolling the streets, while the American forces pursue those wishing to bring instability to the government relentlessly. Also, some effort must be made to contain the passage of foreign fighters and their weapons crossing the borders. This is a simplified strategy, and would of course require many smaller-scale but not insignificant moves. Ultimately, it would yield more stability, but it would require more American lives to be sacrificed. Yet, it will pale in comparison to the lives which will be sacrificed if we must return to right our wrongs years from now, when a new Persia dominates the map, and becomes so confident that it believes it can destroy Israel once and for all. In the mean time, would we have all that we have sacrificed till this point to be wasted in terrible vanity?
posted by Henry Emerson @ 11:28 AM, ,
The Savagery of so-called "Realism"
As I've made clear in the past, this site is dedicated to the exposure and ridicule of deemed savages and I intend to give you no less through my attempts at thoughtful analysis of world events transpiring before our eyes. Talk radio hosts like Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, and their media clones have their own measure of power and impact on our society, but despite their influence, they are not the policy makers in Washington. And it is for this reason that we must sometime, or often, visit examples of foolery outside the realm of the extension of the entertainment industry we call the news media.
I was among those cheering the sack of Donald Rumsfeld, and I am still somewhat optimistic that his replacement Robert Gates will bring a fresh perspective that can yield victory in Iraq. But as I look at Gates' history, I find myself worrying that Bush's appointment of Gates is a sign that he has given up on the dream of democracy in Iraq.
Gates is seen as a 'realist,' the type of person who is more willing to establish a dialogue with dictators who threaten America with their support for Islamic extremists rather than start wars with them. I have mixed opinions on this, as a glance seeking historical perspective reveals the ghosts of people like Neville Chamberlain, whose appeasement of Adolf Hitler led to the most terrible war in history. I recall the realist approach to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, in which we supported a certain Saddam Hussein who invaded Iran and, when beaten back, used chemical and biological weapons. Realpolitik yielded a United States arming Osama bin Laden against the Soviets, a man who would oversee the murder of 3,000 Americans two decades later. Realists fear that idealists will change the world, and seek to maintain the status quo by all means possible, but often are bitten by the unintended consequences of aiding the enemy of our enemy.
I want to make clear that I do not believe idealistic crusades like Iraq should continue to be United States policy, but neither do I believe that it is in our interest to bail and leave a project, once started, unfinished. Time magazine moans 'Civil war' in Iraq, and CNN reports of mortar exchanges between Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods, but the reason for these growing tensions is not the American military presence. Iraq has wandered down the road to madness through a series of blunders by the Bush administration following the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime, and not necessarily because of our continued military presence. Remember the stories of children being named for our President after the initial invasion, and the masses cheering in the streets as the statue of their once untouchable dictator toppled? It was a great risk to invade Iraq, and perhaps President Bush could have used some 'realists' on his staff as the nation prepared for war, but not for the aftermath of rebuilding a broken Iraq. But even under the right direction, Iraq today would not be a stable country capable of operating independently. New nations need to be nursed to heatlh before they can spread their wings, and the Iraqi republic is no different.
It is unfortunate that so many of our soldiers have died during the Iraq experiment, but the Vietnam comparisons are erroneous and border-line disgraceful to the hell our men went through in the jungles of Asia. Barbara Boxer warbles on NPR that a few soldiers a week are dying in Iraq, comparing the conflict to Vietnam, where 300-400 American soldiers were killed in action during a typical 7-day period. Iraq is not Vietnam, and doesn't even appear close to being Vietnam, but could approach the path towards no return if we continue in our current direction of inaction and eventual withdrawal. Has anyone stopped to wonder what the consequences of leaving Iraq too soon would be? Is anyone taking notice of the looming power next door in Iran, who already considers Iraq to be its backyard?
After the American invasion of Iraq, many said that we were responsible for the further destabilization of the region, but leaving Iraq could mean near-satellite state status for its people to the Iranian regime, which is the biggest supporter of international Islamic terror in the world, and would likely turn its newfound power on Israel. How's that for destabilization?
So, if we would really like to be realists, let's first be real with ourselves. Are we content with cutting our losses and leaving, even if what grows out of what remains could turn out to be far less favorable to our interests than staying? As for the conscience of the American left, which I consider myself a member of, can we stomach the sight of an all-out civil war for the vacuum of power left in our wake? Will our friends in Kurdistan, after all their progress, see their work wasted by our unwillingness to persevere? Will Iran listen to our threats over its nuclear program after we withdraw from Iraq, or will our perceived weakness embolden the radicals within the regime?
We are engaged in a clash of civilizations, with modern Western values pitted against an ultra-conservative strain of Islam, which is sweeping the world. Will we be a Chamberlain or a Churchill? Will we fight the battles now or years from now, when the influence of an anti-semetic, anti-women, anti-freedom of religion and speech strain of Islam has become much more dangerous? The time to fight is now, and our battle can be won by ensuring that a stable, secular democracy emerges in Iraq. It will be several years before anything of the sort takes place, and the process may require more lives lost. But let's be honest with ourselves. There is no comparison between Iraq and Vietnam. The Democrats were trying to win an election rather than trying to win the war. Now, they've been handed the reins, and America waits to see what will happen.
Let's be realists after all and understand that Iraq will be a long, hard fought battle, but it is a battle that must be fought.
posted by Henry Emerson @ 11:13 AM, ,
After the election: What's next?
And so, the baton is passed. The Democrats have taken control of the House and are poised to take the Senate as well, empowering Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid with majority leader status. All of the things I've said about Reid aside, I am optimistic that both he and his counterparts can morph from 'election mode' and actually work with the President to try and solve problems. The Iraq war is at the head of the list, but also we have immigration, economic issues, and stem cell research. What I am most confident in is that the Democrats will be a breath of fresh air for those of us who do not want to handicap scientific research to protect a mass of cells that, in a very different situation, could become a human being. Immigration legislation will also get done, but at what consequence to public opinion? Americans already have voiced their displeasure for illegal immigrants and President Bush's worker program, but with a few tweaks, the bill could work if it is in fact enforced. And, of course, the Iraq issue looms larger than life over us all. I believe the tone will change among Democrats, now that they've won the election, to a more pragmatic "solving problems" orientation, rather than the "bring the troops home now" rhetoric we've heard from some. The American people have given Democrats a great opportunity, and if they blow it, it may well be 12 more years before they ever see power again.
I'm no expert on war, but I believe that a more aggressive approach in Iraq could not only make our troops safer, but also bring them home more quickly. Instead of acting as policemen, our troops need to do what they do best, and that's root out terrorists in near-constant operations throughout the country, so that no would-be terrorists ever have a safe haven for any period of time. But the bigger problem may in fact be the elected Iraqi government, whose President is undermining our abilities to be effective, and may even be encouraging a civil war. For one, he ended the curfew and ordered American checkpoints to be withdrawn from some hot-spots, which have allowed Shiite death squads free reign once more. He has also refused to disarm or even challenge the authority of people like Al-Sadr, who commands an armed militia behind many of the attacks against Sunni Muslims. The President of Iraq's motive behind these moves are fairly obvious in that he doesn't want to be seen as pro-Sunni, or pro-American, but it is more ridiculous that he isn't able to see the bigger picture and endure a hit in public opinion for the sake of the order of his country. For Iraq to truly be safe, we have to start with the terrorists, and then we go on to Al-Sadr's militia, which seems to prefer a civil war over national unity. I believe most Iraqis want to live peacefully and free, but this is impossible as long as terrorists are blowing themselves up in busy marketplaces, and as long as armed men affiliated with independent militias undermine the authority of the Iraqi government. Once we accomplish these two objectives, and once we engage the enemy in offensive rather than defensive action, we could begin to see order returned to Iraq, and then the people can begin enjoying the freedoms they've voted for in relatively recent elections. Afterwards, troop withdrawal can begin.
I am optimistic that Rumsfeld's replacement will bring a fresh mind to the Iraq debate, and perhaps institute a more aggressive and effective approach in restoring order to an ailing Iraq. This experiment may well be the pride or the embarrassment of America for years to come, and I hope all of us would aim for it to be the former rather than the latter.
posted by Henry Emerson @ 10:39 AM, ,
Savage labels Halloween as "anti-Christian"
Apparently, if you dress up your little girl or boy and go trick-or-treating this Halloween, you are promoting the values of the left. Straight from the mouth of Michael Savage, everyone's favorite radio talk show host. According to Savage, the celebration of Halloween stems from ancient pagan practices and is anti-Christian in nature. It is in fact true that Halloween was originally a pagan holiday, but then again, so was Christmas. I'm sure Savage would be baffled to find out how many aspects of Christianity are pagan in nature, especially when examining the Catholic church. In short, Savage declares that Halloween is simply a time when we "dress up our little girls like whores" and is, simply put, contrary to what a good God-fearing Christian should be partaking in.
I wonder how Savage justifies his hardline positions on homosexuality and immigration, if he champions the values of Christ.
posted by Henry Emerson @ 11:41 AM, ,
Michael Savage the Homophobic
There are those that loathe homosexuals, and understandably so, because their acceptance will change various aspects of education, health care, and marriage forever. Always, there are those that fear change, and every generation they label a new problem as a threat to the very foundations of civilization. There will always be those that will condemn those who are different as threatening and, of course, hell-bound. Then there are those that have accepted homosexuality, but cannot yet stomach the idea of them getting married, like any common heterosexual. Michael Savage belongs in the former category, and makes that known nightly around the country when he broadcasts his popular conservative radio show. What is most unfortunate is that a man with a Doctorate, a trained scientist, refuses to acknowledge any possible link between biology and homosexuality.
There is no discussion of the studied differences between hetero and homosexual brains of the same sex. There is no admission that homosexuality may be genetic. This is actually surprising, since homosexuality could be portrayed by opponents as a disease that inflicts. But that would be contrary to Savage's nature, I suppose. According to him, most brain diseases, i.e. depression, ADD, autism, are simply the result of laziness. Its no surprise then to find that Savage believes that gay men are the way they are because they reject what is expected of them, i.e. get married and have kids. They are gay because they want to have constant, nightly sex with multiple partners, and know that this wouldn't be possible in traditional monogamous marriage.
I'm not making this up. People are gay because they are irresponsible, according to Savage. They don't want to "be a man," in the traditional sense. Savage is a bit softer on gay women, hypothesizing that perhaps they have rejected men because they "are liars." No where in his ramblings is there any semblence of admission that being gay may in fact be more than just a "lifestyle choice." He doesn't even entertain the possibility. He doesn't mention that gays claim that this is their reality, that they were born this way, and they are just accepting who they really are. And what is most shocking is that Savage, a trained scientist, uses such ludicrous reasoning rather than studying the empirical data that has been collected to try and explain homoesexuality.
But to understand why this is, you have to study Savage himself, who believes all of academia, along with most of the scientific community, is dominated by liberals with connections to some invisible "communist party." I can agree that most professors are liberal, and unfortunately allow it to influence their lectures significantly, but the very nature of science is based on collecting data that can be observed with the five senses and forming a logical conclusion. His condemnations of homosexuality through his attempts at rational musing, or through personal experiences with individual homosexuals, is not only unreasonable, but contrary to the very laws of science that Savage was trained to uphold.
For your own consideration, I present to you exhibits 1, 2, and 3. And I found all of those in one archive. I imagine Savage himself would be afraid to even look for evidence against his own beliefs, which is why I've named this site after him.
posted by Henry Emerson @ 8:08 PM, ,
More on Reid
It turns out Harry Reid wasn't done yet in terms of scandal. This time, it regards him giving Christmas bonuses to his staff out of campaign donations, which is against federal law. Once again, fire this man!
posted by Henry Emerson @ 8:48 AM, ,
On Harry Reid and Israel
Fire this man! After slamming Republicans for months, and following up on scandal after scandal, it turns out Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has been victimized by a scandal of his own. Though, perhaps it's safe to say that anyone who makes a one million dollar profit off a questionable land deal can hardly be referred to as a 'victim.' Here's hoping the cat is out of the bag for Reid, who is perhaps the weakest Democratic leader in recent memory. His softball demeanor reflects badly on the entire Democratic party, whose members are often characterized as 'spineless.' This man is the epitome of such comparisons. He has the charisma of a groundhog frightened of his shadow, a gazelle among lion-like politicians, who have eaten him alive for two long years. I say: replace this weak leader with someone more capable while we have the chance. It amazes me that such people as Kerry, Leiberman, and Obama serve the Democratic party, and people like Reid and Pelosi get to be the leaders. Regardless of whether the Democrats win the elections, these weak leaders must be replaced, or they will face a 'one and done' type stint in their control of Congress.
Why does America prefer Israel over the Islamic world? This is why. Accountability, among other things.
I offer you the words of Victor Davis Hanson in his essay titled, 'Why Support Israel?' (dated April 23rd, 2002)
"The answer is found in values, not in brainwashing or because of innate affinity for a particular race or creed. Israel is a democracy. Its opponents are not. Much misinformation abounds on this issue. Libya, Syria, and Iraq are dictatorships, far more brutal than even those in Egypt or Pakistan. But even "parliaments" in Iran, Morocco, Jordan, and on the West Bank are not truly and freely democratic. In all of them, candidates are either screened, preselected, or under coercion. Daily television and newspapers are subject to restrictions and censorship; "elected" leaders are not open to public audit or censure."
For all of Israel's problems and mistakes, it still remains our best and most reliable ally in the Middle East. Olmert is being criticized by his own countrymen for his actions during the "war" with Hezbollah. This fact alone illustrates the difference between Israel, the United States, and the forces we are fighting.
posted by Henry Emerson @ 3:07 PM, ,
What is this site all about anyway?
First and foremost, I think I owe it to everyone to come out and say it: I'm a liberal. Yes, I admit it. But I like to think that I'm a different kind of liberal. The old term classical comes to mind, but I'll spare you. No, I'm not a conservative in denial. I am, however, very aware of the problems of my party, as well as the problems within the ideology of liberalism itself. This is something I feel is unique, and I think you can agree, though you're probably skeptical of my claimed awareness.
We are a people that become more interested in politics each year, perhaps due to the efforts of those fighting apathy, or the entertainers masquerading as journalists on CNN and FOXNEWS. Despite the growing interest, we remain more divided than ever on cultural and social issues such as abortion, gay rights, and so-called family values, which has prevented us from making strides towards accomplishing important goals abroad and improving our quality of life here at home. We have real problems that must be addressed on the homefront, namely our dependence on foreign oil and illegal immigration. Instead, we are bickering about who should and shouldn't marry, and whether or not the ten commandments should be displayed on public buildings.
I think talk radio is partially to blame for this, with their 'enemy within' philosophy, espousing nightly that those on the other side of the aisle are completely insane. The politicians in Washington do nothing to help matters, being that they are as divided as we are. The nature of politics in Washington are as dirty as they've ever been, but our representatives should be able to wade through the swamp of partisanship from time to time to actually get something done. Unfortunately, all they can do is pander for votes or cause scandal, and thus despite their greater social status and education, they prove no more useful than the common people. This site has been created to expose and ridicule these politicians, as well as the entertainers and radio hosts who provoke and encourage division for their own profit.
posted by Henry Emerson @ 6:07 PM, ,
Instead of simply informing, they give you their opinions. Instead of analyzing, they give you one view. Instead of fulfilling their responsibility to report the news to American people, they seek to entertain, in effort to increase ratings.
What they've created, perhaps unintentionally, is a media complex that is a threat to this nation's well being. And what was the reactionary spawn that worsened our position further? Talk radio. Dominated by conservative viewpoints, this medium has replaced and is preferable to objective journalism in the hearts and homes of many Americans. This may be a consequence of Vietnam-era journalism, persisting even today, which espouses leftist viewpoints almost exclusively, and often alienates parts of its audience. So, they've flocked to greener acres, where their own viewpoints can be better reinforced, and they can live happier knowing that they are in no small company.
It may be impossible to report without interjecting a bit of oneself, but the media has a responsibility to inform nonetheless, and should consider taking a side contrary to their mission. Yet, retaliating against the rising popularity of talk radio, rather than scaling back the degree of bias in the news media, they elected to hire actors to play the parts of conservative and liberal, pitting them together in a debate of righteousness. This has become the manner in which the media reports the news, and has done more to divide the country than all the politicians on Capital Hill combined, who have undoubtedly been influenced by this themselves.
posted by Henry Emerson @ 11:12 AM, ,