Thursday, September 16, 2004

Someone pointed out to me today that we have 24,000 injured soldiers and 1,000 killed in Iraq,

We had 50,000 injured and 3,000 killed in one day here in America. The choice is between war and something worse.

It's not a coincidence there have been no attacks here while we've been on the offensive in Iraq; the war is sucking terrorists into a kill-hole. Many go home maimed or having lost their taste for jihad.

The only way to end the threat permanently is to democratize the Middle East. You can bitch about the neocons if you want, but the fact is no one else even has a plan to end terrorism.

4 Comments:

Blogger EdoRiver said...

It is interesting how we, have our own assumed definitions of the words we use, which we expect are shared assumptions. And to maintain the logic of our communication, we generously forgive ourselves of our mistakes while holding others to a much stricter standard.(by the way nothing original here, a crude paraphrasing of A.N. Whitehead, "Process and Reality",p6 the paragraph, he is defining the concept of coherence, begins " The requirement of coherence is the great preservative of rationalistic sanity."

Your posting is a case in making my point.
The "only way" to "end" the "threat" "permanently" is to "democratize" the "Middle East." As you can count here are 6 concept words which you string together. Any one of these concepts by itself would be the subject of a lengthy discussion. there are a number of cultural, and probably personal assumptions you have made that you probably are not aware of. I am somewhat awed by this kind of conclusion of a thinking process about such a complex situation as the one in Iraq. I have difficulty imagining this kind of English communication outside of your "world". You may think I am being sarcastic or arrogant, etc. but that isn't the case. We, people who live outside the US, are spectators while people with probably similar assumptions, using the same English language, studied since the days of the British Empire, are helpless against the physical and economic force behind the assumptions you have made here.
We are powerless because the assumptions are between the lines! They don't appear in the text of your message! (only in your head) AND the neat advantage for "you" (you plural) is that no one can claim to know what is in your head! You can either tell the truth or lie. No one knows for sure.
Your communication with people outside your world the world that shares your hidden assumptions, is built on "trust".

And how much "trust", generally speaking, do you think we can find evidence of in, for example, Iraq, a place of conflicting political strategies, and cultural values, and social expressions. remember this place isn't only US vs "terrorists", but it is Sunni vs Shia, and Kurd vs Shia, and the haves within the tribe of Hussein's country area vs other Sunni areas, and Bagdad vs south Iraq, and minorities vs Shia & Sunni, and outside influences vs internal nationalists, and ??? please tell me if I have left anyone out. What sort of currency that isn't from the barrel of a gun is the US able to provide? YOu may say, "there is $12 billion dollars of free money that would make Iraq a paradice for everyone only if......" But you know what the activists say to answer this, they say, "We don't want your filthy money, we prefer to do it ourselves, etc." So what should the US do? What is the natural reaction to such "taunts". It is to bash the MF over the head a few times, isn't it? And what, from your knowledge of history has that accomplished when the agent is the US? Again go back to Vietnam. Cultural insensitivity and trying to reduce complex situations down to US vs "them" because we don't have enough manpower to go into these complex situations and intervene with a message in their language expressed in their value system, etc. You know about this shortage from the news about translators having to stay in the Colonel's house to translate the interaction with the maids rather than helping in the local area commander's meetings with tribal council meetings, and belive me, one translator isn't enough....why,,,,,again that little word "trust". The Arabs have a proverb, to paraphrase because I'm not going to stop and research this, "You may wear my brother's clothes, and smell like my brother, but if I can't close my eyes and touch your face...Who are you?" You can have a translator speaking the language but if the words coming out of the the translator's mouth carry so many hidden assumptions...what is the eventual outcome of it all? It will probably be reduced to who is stronger, tougher meaner..... Just like our days on the school playground. In this, the Arabs and the Americans understand each other...this is the meeting point.. When we both think the other person is lying, the proof is in who has more physical/mental determination.

"PHYSICAL and Mental determination". Are you familiar with Bushido? I realize this isn't American culture, but so many Americans come "here" because they are attracted to Bushido. Have you read much of it? I would guess that you think it has a similar American mirror in some aspects of America's history. And finally you might say that ultimately the culture that relied on it was defeated...well Bushido can't teach a man to flap his arms and fly like a bird...however the Japanese came "awfully awfully" close. I put the words "awfull" in quotes because a society built on bushido as it was practiced in Japan, rather than as it reads from a library book is a really different critter.
So what I gather is that "our" president is relying on Bushy-do (I couldn't resist that. In other words success is simply a question of who has the tougher mental/physical determination...again go back to Vietnam and read the similar kinds of assumptions to what Johnson, Kissinger, (BUT NOT McNanamara!) Nixon were saying.... Well, in this case, I'm certainly glad I don't have a son or daughter to send to Iraq. How many people will it take to kill on both sides before the bushido will retreat...everyone has his line in the sand where he or she has absorbed enough harm to finally come to the negotiation table....let7s use Northern Ireland and GB if you don't like the comparions with Vietnam. ...or the Basque and Spanish, or Israel and Palestine....I did like one comment from Michael Moore's movie, Fahrenheit 911, where he interviewed members of congress to ask if they would seriously consider sending their son or daughter to Iraq. the minorites and the probably "poor" have a disproportionate representation in the people who have died ON BOTH SIDES. But you never know, the National guards that have to go over and serve probably help bring the grief home to the middle class... that helped end the Vietnam War. I don't think it was until those members of congress heard from their voters, the American Middle Class, that bringing a conclusion of the war had any muscle. Giving the credit to the Hippies of the 60s was always a misinterpretation of the way "democracy" works.
And this gets on to your use of the word "democracy". what do you mean by that. You are aware of the Greek interpretation of who could vote and who couldn't vote,aren't you. And please, before we begin this discussion on the meaning of democracy, I don't mean the dictionary or legal meaning, I mean the sociological meaning of what actually happens in US recent elections of the past...10 years lets say, that is who actually votes, why they vote and what they are motivated by to believe when they vote. FROM THIS DEFINITION of what is happening in American politics lets talk about "democratization" of Iraq.

From my following of the news there are a few feel-good stories, but they are few and far between.

I don't have to tell you can see it in the English language press on the Web, of the people, the common people all over the world who are standing and watching the US send the neighborhoods of "terrorists" back to the stone age. Against such terrible brute force, the ones who value their lives will not stand. Only those who have lost all individual value will sacrifice themselves. In those clashes...if the US were confident of winning, why worry about creating the Iraqi security forces? And this comment gets back to the Vietnam war thing...So we are repeating a communication cycle. there are studies on the Web about the similarities of the comments made by the Nixon and Johnson administrations over the Vietnam War and what has been posted in links provided by Drudge Report. Very similar stuff.
regards,

2:39 AM  
Blogger TallDave said...

>>>It is interesting how we, have our own assumed definitions of the words we use, which we expect are shared assumptions.
Shared truths, my friend, not shared assumptions. Truth is not always universally agreed upon, but they are universal truths regardless of whether people believe them. For instance, E=mc squared was true for billions of years before Einstein made us aware.

>>>The "only way" to "end" the "threat" "permanently" is to "democratize" the "Middle East." As you can count here are 6 concept words which you string together. Any one of these concepts by itself would be the subject of a lengthy discussion. there are a number of cultural, and probably personal assumptions you have made that you probably are not aware of.
I don’t know which of those you consider debatable. “ Only way?” Has anyone even suggested another? “Ending” the “threat?” I think we can all agree there is a threat and it needs to end. “Democratize the Middle East?” Democracy has proven time and again to be the best way to end these enmities; again, if someone has a better idea I’m listening.


>>>I am somewhat awed by this kind of conclusion of a thinking process about such a complex situation as the one in Iraq.
I am somewhat amused by the constant need for intellectuals to add complexity to analysis where simplicity serves best. Remember Occam’s point.

>>>And how much "trust", generally speaking, do you think we can find evidence of in, for example, Iraq, a place of conflicting political strategies, and cultural values, and social expressions.
You could be describing New York.


>>>but it is Sunni vs Shia, and Kurd vs Shia, and the haves within the tribe of Hussein's country area vs other Sunni areas, and Bagdad vs south Iraq, and minorities vs Shia & Sunni, and outside influences vs internal nationalists, and ???
They aren’t fighting, and they won’t need to in the future. Those struggles are always a zero-sum struggle over who has absolute power. The great thing about democracy is that it alleviates the need for such conflict by sharing power and creates a positive-sum result.


>>>YOu may say, "there is $12 billion dollars of free money that would make Iraq a paradice for everyone only if......" But you know what the activists say to answer this, they say, "We don't want your filthy money, we prefer to do it ourselves, etc."
LOL The “activists” have only one goal: to seize power.

>>>And what, from your knowledge of history has that accomplished when the agent is the US? Again go back to Vietnam.
Japan. Germany. S Korea.

But let’s talk about Vietnam. We abandoned Vietnam and SE Asia to your “activists” because people like you insisted it was a intrinsic struggle between moral equivalents that we had no right to take sides in. The result? Millions slaughtered by the “activists.” Re-education camps. Mass slavery. We surrendered to EVIL.

You were wrong then, you’re wrong today. Had we defended our S Vietnam allies instead of cowardly abandoning them to slaughter, it might well be another beacon of hope like S Korea instead or a talking point for American defeatists.


>>>if the US were confident of winning, why worry about creating the Iraqi security forces?
Well, obviously merely “winning” is not enough. The goal is to create a free and democratic Iraq governed and enforced by Iraqis, similar to what has happened in S Korea, Japan, Germany, etc. Iraqi forces are needed for this.

10:14 AM  
Blogger EdoRiver said...

TALLDAVE"I think this is worth addressing, because it precisely illustrates the larger point I was making: all of those struggles are ostensibly about the right of self-determination of a smaller group vs. territorial integrity of a larger whole " and later "We have no territorial interest in Iraq, and we are bringing the only true manifestation of self-determination (democracy) to people who have never had it."

This is really wierd, talldave, because I and my kind, in those days, before (etc. etc. etc.. when I lived on campus across from the park) were accused of being "Idealists, "fuzzy-brained", not to mention fuzzy headed, etc. Now when I read someone saying the words you have written as I interpret them, seem to be the most idealistic clouds of illusion... On one level your arguement, if insincere is clever because it is like arguing aginst Apple Pie, for an American who has grown up in the US surrounded by other white middle-class Americans until he went to university. and if you are sincere re, what in international law gives us the right "to bring the only true manifestation of self-determination (democracy) to people who have never had it."? esp. under the conditions defined by the present Admin. when the war began. tell me the International law that we used. I want to go and read it. I have more but if I include them in this post you might not reply.

5:43 AM  
Blogger TallDave said...

>>>"Idealists, "fuzzy-brained", not to mention fuzzy headed, etc.
Well, circumstances in SE Asia after the the US withdrawal certainly proved those criticisms accurate. You guys were estimating no more than 5000 people would be killed, and the Communist "agrarian reformers" would be a fair and representative gov't. I don't see how you could have been more wrong if you'd been TRYING to be wrong.

>>> seem to be the most idealistic clouds of illusion...On one level your arguement, if insincere is clever<<<
My arguments are neither insincere nor clever, nor are they idealistic or illusory. They are based in practical philosphies proven to work by the historical record.

>>>tell me the International law that we used.<<<
Well, if you want legal justification, Resolution 1441 and the 16 that preceded it are more than sufficient.

International legalities are mostly irrelevant anyway, because law exists to serve morality, not the other way around, and thus an obviously moral action such as the war to liberate Iraq supersedes legal considerations. For instance, in totalitarian regimes like Saddam's Iraq, criticizing Saddam was illegal and punishment ranged from execution to having your hands or tongue cut out. Those laws were immoral. Enforcing them was immoral. Disobeying them was not. Let's also note that interntaional is basically a joke anyway, because the only nations that follow it are those that embrace morality; immoral nations constatntly flaunt it and rarely suffer any serious sanction for their actions.

If international law were moral, it would REQUIRE democracy, freedom, and respect for basic human rights and not allow brutal totalitarian regimes like Saddam's to legally exist. The law fails that morality test, and thus invalidates itself to speak on such questions.

10:51 AM  

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