I'm an AMERICAN and...

If it's news, but not politics, then it goes here.

(choose best response) I'm an AMERICAN and...

My life and the life of any American is worth more than an Iraqi life
1
3%
My safety should not be endangered by terrorists who hate me for my freedom
8
21%
I feel some guilt about the deaths of others, but as long as it's only on TV, I can remain somewhat detached
0
No votes
I feel significant guilt and often wonder about the integrity of my government
25
66%
We pretty much ARE the GREAT SATAN as terrorists claim
4
11%
 
Total votes: 38

pjbogart
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I'm an AMERICAN and...

Postby pjbogart » Fri Apr 30, 2004 10:23 pm

We only hit military targets and when a non-military target is hit, we say it was being used to house legitimate military targets. Was it? How do you know? If the government says its so, does that make it so? Do you believe the President everytime he speaks? I'm not so sure.

We treat our prisoners humanely... not like those monstrous torturers that we overthrew. Hmmm. Maybe this isn't as uncommon as we'd like to believe. I wonder what goes on down in Guantanamo Bay.

Terrorists have no regard for life... they take great pleasure in killing innocent people and they hate us for our freedom. Wow... that's pretty strong language... is it just rhetoric designed to get us to support our military actions?

Just how many Americans have Muslim extremists killed in the last two decades? Is it over 5,000? I doubt it. Whatever the number, the vast majority were killed in a single attack on September 11th, 2001. I've seen some pretty harrowing estimates on Iraqi dead since the first gulf war. Some would claim that the number approaches one million if you take into account effects from sanctions. Let's just say its a hell of a lot more than 5,000. Is an American life worth an infinite number of Iraqi lives? Why? If you were an Iraqi fighter would you think of yourself as a terrorist and the US military as "good guys?"

Eye for an eye, boys and girls... and I think an Iraqi is owed at least one of YOUR eyes to help even things up.

We aren't the good guys. We're the Americans and you can consider that good OR shameful... it really depends on perspective.

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Postby roguequijote » Sat May 01, 2004 8:32 am

The invasion and occupation of Iraq were intended to show our military might and they have served that purpose. Our tactics are somewhat constrained by the difficulties that arise when we violate or appear to violate international treaties and norms. Guerrillas are difficult enough to fight; suicide terrorists fighting alongside native insurgents add considerably to the challenges of determining with sufficient certainty which targets are military and which are not. I am not sure we always do our best to avoid hitting civilians. When civilians (or combatants without an identifiable army and home base) are hitting us and absconding into civilian areas, our responses will never be 100% accurate.

Democracy and human rights were not primary goals in initiating this war. I wonder if our main goal was to reinforce the message that we will improve life for people who cooperate with us and we will make life and death more unpleasant for people who get in our way (including innocent civilians amongst whom our attackers may sometimes hide). Have our attackers shown much more regard for innocent civilians whom they call collaborators? I often question statements from the government or the western press, but I have even less faith in the even-more religious even-more extreme messages from some of the people attacking U.S. troops.

Yes, the "they hate us for our freedom" rhetoric whips up frantic, flag-waving support that would be healthier if it included (or at least allowed) more citical dialog. By the same token, pj, you know better than to wave the anti-war flag and expect unconditional support. Many Shiite muslims believe that a secular government violates the Koran's dictate because men should be obedient to god alone, not to other men. If the only people allowed to make or enforce laws are those who speak for god, and any other source of authority or power is herecy, it becomes nearly impossible to establish a secular civil society that can keep Iraq from falling under a regime that resembles the Taliban, Iranian mullahs, or any number of repressive European regimes from the middle ages. Saudi Arabia has taught us that oil wealth and religious extremism are an inherently dangerous combination. I think we invated Iraq rather than Saudi Arabia because Iraq was easier to get away with, not because Iraq was a more justifiable invasion.

Now that we're there, I have to swallow the fact that I don't think we should have gone in. (I will remember it when I vote against Bush.) The question now is whether Iraq would be better off under U.S. occupation or under the influence of the people attacking U.S. troops. A destablizing power vaccum would not help ordinary Iraqis in the short run. pj makes a good point when he shines light on the fact that the U.S. seems much more willing to accept Iraqi civilian casualties than U.S. military casualties. Our grief for the atrocities of the twin towers is vastly greater than guilt over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Unfortunately, pj dodges the really tough questions. Assume we're in Iraq and you cannot prevent the president from making this mistake. Once we're there, how do we engage an enemy that uses suicide bombers, guerrilla warriers, civilian clothes and civilian homes? Abiding by all the rules of war and human rights conventions probably means a U.S. casualty rate that the commander in chief will not tolerate in an election year. Backing down in any way means failing the central mission of showing that you have to decisively beat militants in military terms before you can start winning hearts and minds. (Personally I think a Middle East Marshall Plan would have done a lot more good than an invasion, but the administration thinks otherwise.) If you were a general in Iraq, and neither withdrawal nor losing are options, would you eventually start blaming the people attacking you for forcing you to protect yourself by going after them in civilian areas or suffer continued attacks?

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Postby pjbogart » Sat May 01, 2004 8:57 am

My previous posts have always stated that we have no choice but stay in Iraq until it's stabilized... we shouldn't have gone in the first place, but allowing groups like Al Qaeda to take over an oil rich country would spell disaster for the whole world... without a doubt.

I put this post up after witnessing the pictures of tortured detainees. Maybe I should have slept on it, but I think it gives a pretty accurate slice of time and emotions. There are a lot of reasons our government hated Sadaam Hussein, but the one that really tugged at middle America's heartstrings was the notion that he was a murderer and a torturer, so to see our own troops behaving like this really makes you pause.

I see the President has expressed "disgust" at the news, but I also see that the soldiers are not under arrest, they're under reassignment while the incidents are investigated. Huh? Well, we beat this man to a bloody pulp and then attached electrified wires to him and tortured him awhile, but we have to get the whole story... perhaps it was justified. Maybe in Texas. The President has the power to order that these soldiers are immediately arrested and held, but has not done so.

I don't just believe that the President is a liar or an oil mongering moron, I believe he is an EVIL, EVIL man... not much better than Sadaam or even Osama bin Laden. He has little regard for the lives of our soldiers and even less regard for the lives of anyone who doesn't happen to hail from the good ole U S of A. Perhaps if he had served in Vietnam he would understand that shooting people and being shot is not something we go about lightly.

People are dying... some of them are "enemy combatants" but many of them aren't. The US government and our allies (Israel, mainly) have killed tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of Muslims over the last two decades. And Americans sit and say "why do these people hate us?" "They hate us because we're free." It's a mindnumbingly stupid proposition. I'm not defending terrorists... they're fucking animals... but then again, I'm not so sure that we aren't.

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Postby blunt » Sat May 01, 2004 9:56 am

Your poll didn't offer me enough choices.
Like I'm an American and....I just don't want any stupid State of the Union address interrupting my favorite TV show---interrupt the ads, goddammit, and for God's sake don't show me any more bodies! I don't want to know how many or who are dying over there! I'm scared enough of my own death! And if a foreign enemy or our own Homeland Security breaks down my door, I'm blowing their heads off!!!

Or, I'm an American and..... I don't understand how any of this socio-polito-relgio bullshit ever got to this level of brutality and hate.
But talking about it is like staple-gunning a lake.
So what exactly am I supposed to do?

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Postby pjbogart » Sat May 01, 2004 11:34 pm

I thought I effectively crossed the spectrum from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal... I think you're the "detached" option... reading this option (sober), it seems a bit like a loaded question, but I think it's actually a pretty accurate description for people's feelings. Yeah, the war sucks... yeah, people are dying... but I can't help but feel some detachment because it all seems like some talking heads on television and a few disturbing images here and there... eh.

This torture story has legs and I think it could be the worst news we've seen yet (how appropriate that it breaks at the end of the worst month of fighting yet). Let me pretend to be rational for a moment... there are 150k troops in Iraq, some of them are going to behave badly. Now imagine that you're a "fence sitting" Middle Eastern denizen... HOLY FUCK!!! I'M GONNA BOMB SOMETHING! And as if our shit sandwich wasn't thick enough, the military doesn't arrest the soldiers, but rather "reassigns" them pending investigation and "mentions" that the soldiers were never briefed on the Geneva Convention. OUCH! How do you think that story is playing with Iranians, or Saudis or Syrians, etc? The United States just created about 20 million terrorists in a 24 hour period... 10 million with the torture story and another 10 million when we appeared to be sweeping it under the rug.

This President has to go... not only does our country need it desperately, the WORLD needs it desperately.

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Postby Wesmon » Sun May 02, 2004 11:37 am

pjbogart wrote:My previous posts have always stated that we have no choice but stay in Iraq until it's stabilized... we shouldn't have gone in the first place, but allowing groups like Al Qaeda to take over an oil rich country would spell disaster for the whole world... without a doubt.

.


Iraq will never be stable as long as we occupy it. We have to leave ASAP and let the U.N. keep the peace there until legitimate elections set up by the U.N. can take place.

Where did you hear that Al-Qaeda is involved in Iraq or even has the capability to take over in Iraq? Sounds like another fantasy made up by Bush.

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Postby pjbogart » Sun May 02, 2004 6:06 pm

The UN does not WANT our mess... they've already said so.

As far as groups "like" Al Qaeda moving into Iraq... just leaving a power vacuum is bound to attract them, if they aren't already migrating there to fight the "Holy War."

We ARE stuck. Thank Bush.

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Postby Wesmon » Sun May 02, 2004 9:51 pm

The U.N. already has someone working on guidelines for setting up the future Iraqi government. What the U.N. will not agree to is being involved in a bigger way while the U.S. maintains control of the situation.

The U.N. most likely would agree to an actual handover of power to the U.N. with U.S. troops and control being phased out. Of course there is no chance of the Bush administration doing this.

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Postby TAsunder » Mon May 03, 2004 9:26 am

blunt, if they add your choice i would be torn between two of them. i might feel strongly about politics, but i feel even more strongly about lame-assed news teams interrupting my show to tell me something i can see by going on the internet or flipping the channel. it's not much different than those religious specials that take place during prime time hours or the "in the locker room" post-packer game coverage we have to sit through, where they interview 400 people and they all say the same thing.

anyway, no, we aren't treating people just as badly as the iraqi government did. yes, we are treating them badly. there is a difference. pink and red are not both red.

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Postby roguequijote » Mon May 03, 2004 12:22 pm

pjbogart wrote:There are a lot of reasons our government hated Sadaam Hussein, but the one that really tugged at middle America's heartstrings was the notion that he was a murderer and a torturer, so to see our own troops behaving like this really makes you pause.


I really think the trumped-up WMD threat and disingenuous overtures about links to terrorism tugged at a lot more heartstrings than violations of human rights or democratic principles. If you�re really worried about human rights and democracy, you find non-military approaches to address the situation. The military may be dramatically expanding its civil affairs budgets, but it is fundamentally designed to address issues through the use of force, not diplomacy or negotiation. That�s what war is all about. I have a difficult time imagining any military administering civil affairs without a significant number of abuse incidents like the ones pj refers to. It becomes all the more difficult to imagine when the military in question is under active attack by groups who would gladly annihilate it entirely if they could. People and institutions become much less interested in human rights when basic safety and security are not established. In war, this outcome seems as inevitable as it is despicable. I can only hope that the president realized this long before ordering the invasion. Otherwise, why wouldn�t he win easy brownie points with U.S. voters, Arab government and Muslims worldwide by coming down hard on the offenders?

pjbogart wrote:I don't just believe that the President is a liar or an oil mongering moron, I believe he is an EVIL, EVIL man... not much better than Sadaam or even Osama bin Laden.


You give him too much credit. Sadaam and Osama fought harder to build their regimes and they have internally consistent ideology. Their transgressions against humanity carry a certain level of accomplishment. Bush won an election because he started with grotesque financial backing and a soft target for an opponent. Before I called him evil, I would have to be more convinced of his awareness of and ability to comprehend the massive consequences of his actions. I would rather imagine that he is an evil man bent on his personal jihad than merely a bumbling dolt who is dangerously damaging relations between the U.S. and the Arab/Muslim world for generations to come. I just have not seen evidence to support the conclusion I would prefer.

pjbogart wrote:"They hate us because we're free." It's a mindnumbingly stupid proposition. I'm not defending terrorists... they're fucking animals... but then again, I'm not so sure that we aren't.


I guess I'm defending a mind numbingly stupid proposition then. Some Muslims do believe that secular, civil government (especially democracy) violates the principle that man should obey god, not other men. They hate the idea that laws could come from source other than the Koran or a mullah claiming to interpret the Koran.

How can you defend yourself against suicide terrorists and militants masquerading as civilians without becoming an animal? If we have to choose between behaving like animals (sometimes) and losing ground in Iraq, I have no doubt we will choose the former over the latter. The decision to invade Iraq virtually guaranteed that we would lose the hearts and minds of millions of Arabs, Muslims and others who might otherwise have backed some elements of democracy, capitalism or westernization.

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Postby snoqueen » Mon May 03, 2004 7:07 pm

roguequijote wrote: The decision to invade Iraq virtually guaranteed that we would lose the hearts and minds of millions of Arabs, Muslims and others who might otherwise have backed some elements of democracy, capitalism or westernization.


An interviewee on today's Democracy Now commented the US invasion of Iraq was going to go down as one of the most spectacular military defeats in history. It's a little too early for me to go THAT far, but if things keep going the way they are . . . yep.

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Postby pjbogart » Mon May 03, 2004 11:08 pm

I don't make it a habit of complimenting people on their clever posts, but snoqueen gets some sort of award on this one... blunt (I think it was) owes me a box of rice-a-roni... I transfer my future property interests in said box of rice-a-roni to one snoqueen.

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Postby Dennis » Tue May 04, 2004 9:01 am

snoqueen wrote:
roguequijote wrote: The decision to invade Iraq virtually guaranteed that we would lose the hearts and minds of millions of Arabs, Muslims and others who might otherwise have backed some elements of democracy, capitalism or westernization.


An interviewee on today's Democracy Now commented the US invasion of Iraq was going to go down as one of the most spectacular military defeats in history. It's a little too early for me to go THAT far, but if things keep going the way they are . . . yep.
Most spectacular stalemate maybe, but defeat? No way. Largest reprecussions maybe, but still not a "spectacular military defeat". The Arabs suffered that distinction at the hands of the Israelis in 1967.

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Postby Cotter » Tue May 04, 2004 9:09 am

snoqueen wrote:
roguequijote wrote: The decision to invade Iraq virtually guaranteed that we would lose the hearts and minds of millions of Arabs, Muslims and others who might otherwise have backed some elements of democracy, capitalism or westernization.


An interviewee on today's Democracy Now commented the US invasion of Iraq was going to go down as one of the most spectacular military defeats in history.


He's kinda right....how many days did it take to destroy the iraqi army?

That is pretty spectacular.

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Postby blunt » Tue May 04, 2004 11:06 am

snoqueen wrote:
roguequijote wrote: The decision to invade Iraq virtually guaranteed that we would lose the hearts and minds of millions of Arabs, Muslims and others who might otherwise have backed some elements of democracy, capitalism or westernization.


An interviewee on today's Democracy Now commented the US invasion of Iraq was going to go down as one of the most spectacular military defeats in history. It's a little too early for me to go THAT far, but if things keep going the way they are . . . yep.


Don't you see what's happening?
The only way America could win a war against anyone smaller than us right now would be TO LOSE IT.
If you haven't noticed, the world seems to think we're big bad bullies and assholes etc. and are ready to kick our ass.
We need this loss, coupled with intelligent propaganda, to secure a more comfortable andequitable, and ultimately, more powerful position.
The terrorists will eventually defeated themselves for exactly the same reason: the more they kill innocents and spout divisive murky rhetoric, the more the world is disgusted and will turn against them.


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