throwing my hat in the Iraq conversation…

Does anyone still think that Bush and the vast majority of his team did not lie about Iraq? I hope not. And should he be impeached, yes. Should he and a few members of his staff be prosecuted in some way, yes. They lied in order to gain support and funding for a military campaign that has cost countless suffering. But, I do not think that we can conflate those issues with the painful fact that the people of Iraq are now, by our hands, in an extremely delicate position.

We have a responsibility to see this thing through, to mitigate the damage that we have caused to their country. And guess what, America, we did it. We did it when we re-elected that ignorant frat boy Bush. I remember reading the exit polls in 2004 and thinking, that’s it – I am moving to Greece. I’m a dual citizen. Fuck you, America. And here is why, The vast majority of the people who VOTED FOR Bush were not confident that he could handle foreign or economic policy. But, they were in agreement with his stance on abortion, prayer in schools and religious issues. Well guess what morons, you got what you wanted. You elected a man based on his religious beliefs. You elected a man who you thought could not handle foreign affairs; and guess what, he totally fucked it up. You are surprised, why?

Now we all, all of us, have to pay the price for your insistence that the best political leaders are the ones who pray to the same God as you. You want to blame someone for Iraq, look in the the mirror. You want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Here’s a novel idea, let’s try to elect government leaders who we think can actually…oh…I don’t know… GOVERN. Christ. And that goes for those of you who do not like Bush but did not vote. You cannot expect to make a change in the pathetic way that our society elects its leaders unless you vote.

And let’s not screw things up by completely pulling out of Iraq. I know it sucks, our citizens are dying. But, you know what, so are theirs. And we did it to them. Let’s, all of us, take some responsibility for our decisions and make sure that we do the right thing by the country that we decided to invade. And again, we decided to do it. We chose to elect a leader who is incompetent. We bought into the fear and decided to believe his lies. The Iraqi citizens are the innocents, not us.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Naive realism leads to physics, and physics if true, shows that naive realism is false. Therefore naive realism, if true, is false; therefore it is false.

Advertisements

~ by aikaterine on July 19, 2007.

17 Responses to “throwing my hat in the Iraq conversation…”

  1. Oh please. The people of Iraq have been in a delicate position since the British decided to meld together three separate bits of the former Ottoman empire. The US/UK invasion is only the latest in a long line of crises. Iraq won’t work as a state because it never really has. The real damage was done long ago; the invasion only hastened the most recent cycle of chaos. That’s not to say the invasion wasn’t spectacularly dumb, though it does imply that there may not be any decent resolution for anyone involved.

    Perhaps the question you should be asking about domestic politics is why you have a system that invests such power in the executive. Who does that benefit? Will changing the person with the power result in any significant change to the systems that allow such things to occur?

  2. okay… never mind, apparently you and ExChimp have already met. Iraq was the geographic creation of the 1919 Treaty, but the ideology comes from the occupation by Nazi Germany of the Middle East during the 1940’s.

    Every step America has taken in Iraq since the invasion has been the wrong one. In fact you can pinpoint the exact moment this was exposed, it was when the looting started. It was the looting proved the American government had no plan. Everything after that was just one fuck up after another… Bremmer’s decision to fire all of the Baath Party members, even though he was warned it would put 50,000 Sunni’s out of work and into the insurgency, was absolute lunacy. The US Government’s decision to only allow people (re: Americans) to work on reconstruction if they passed a test which included questions about their stance on abortion and how they voted in past Presidential elections was borderline Orwellian.

    It’s really easy to kick Bush in the balls for everything that happened, but Chirac and Schroeder shouldn’t get off the hook… there were a lot of things going on between Europe and Iraq before the war started that people have forgotten about. People now seem to think that sanctions would have fixed Iraq, but the sanctions weren’t only failing, France and Germany were signing Billion Dollar deals with Iraq on the assumption that the sanctions would be gone in a few years. In the year leading up to the war Iraq had signed $40Billion in oil contracts with Russia, Germany and France… including a massive deal with a consortium headed by our then Prime Ministers son-in-law, Andre Desmarais, who is the chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Power Corp and the largest shareholder and director of France’s TotalFinalElf. TotalFinalElf, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, was one of the largest benefactors of Oil-for-Food contracts… remember those? Where “food” ended up meaning “cash in Saddam’s pocket”?

    Now, if oil is supposed to be the reason for the war, shouldn’t oil also be the reason why Germany, Russia and France wanted Hussein and all of his insanity to remain in power?

  3. Ex-Chimp-
    Thanks for visiting. While I agree that there are historical problems in Iraq (name a country that does not have some sort of historical in-fighting); I do not agree that there is nothing to be done for them. There are plenty of examples of countries that have survived civil wars and long term social confrontations and are prosperous. There is no reason why Iraq cannot be one of them. And America now has the responsibility to ensure that the country is stable before we leave it. We invaded it, we overthrew the government. It’s on us.

    The source and scope of Presidential power is debatable. But the person in office; and more importantly, the staff that the person appoints can make a difference in the system, absolutely. Not only that, but the American people make an important statement to their local representatives when they elect a President, and vice versa. We are laying bare what is important to us (or at least to those of us who vote). And what we have been telling our government is that we care more about a candidates religious ideals than their foreign and economic policy. It is time to change that.

    FYI – I just read your blog, fabulous. Especially the whole Human Givens stuff. One of my undergraduate majors was theoretical physics so I particularly enjoyed watching you guys debate the proper usage of ‘Science’. I laughed so hard that I lost my breath.

    And, I do keep forgetting that you guys were over there (Iraq) with us. What do you think is the best course of action from here on out?

  4. feartheseeds –

    First, I could not agree with you more that we are really screwing things up over there. Which is why I hope that we elect someone a hell of a lot smarter in 2008. Probably not going to be difficult to accomplish.

    Second, you are touching on something that has always annoyed me. The power of corporations in American style democratic capitalism is absurd. And as more countries adopt our particular style of democracy, I cannot help but wonder if things will only get worse.

    It is not an easy thing for me to say that we need to stay in Iraq. America has no right to be the spreader of democracy. It is not our place. I do think we have an obligation to stop human rights violations, that is a different deal. Iraq had more to do with business. But now it is a human rights issue. We have turned the entire country upside down.

    It is a conundrum or a cluster-fuck (whichever you prefer).

  5. I agree that many states go through some level of internal strife. But I think you overestimate the general stability of states. Australia hasn’t experienced much, but it’s only been around (as a state) for just over 100 years. Canada’s been around for about a hundred and fifty. The US has managed to hold together without any truly major infighting for about the same amount of time. The UK’s been fairly stable internally since Ireland gained independence in the 1920s, though the resulting violence has continued until recent years.

    The picture of the world as something stable and unchanging seems to me to be mostly a product of Cold War politics. The tension between the superpowers stabilised some parts of the world to the extent that it’s difficult to think outside that particular situation. The end of the Cold War was associated with the fragmentation of a number of countries (Yugoslavia is the obvious example). It’s not at all clear whether unstable states can be held together in other circumstances, though some fragmentations can occur less violently than others.

    So I think there’s definitely a question about whether it’s possible to stabilise Iraq in its present form, and how to do so is completely unclear. The more important questions might be how we can minimise the violence while Iraq breaks up and what to do with the resulting mess. There’s certainly a responsibility to do that. Fitting Iraq into state system economically benefits large, rich, Western nations; it may not benefit most of the people who have to live there.

    I agree that the people in power can make a difference within the system. What I find questionable is the system itself. Why, for example, should the American people need to make a statament to their representatives by choosing who gets the big parade? Shouldn’t the job of the representatives be to – and I realise this is a radical idea – represent the people? If your most effective mode of communication between yourself and the people who you employ to decide things is to shout once every four years, doesn’t that suggest things aren’t working particularly in your interests?

  6. experimental chimp –

    I am going to respond to your comment. But I want to say this first.

    You mentioned Kuhn in one of the comments during the Human Givens debate on your blog. And for that alone I now adore not only your blog; but also my imaginary version of you.

    I assume you meant the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which was brilliant.

  7. “I agree that many states go through some level of internal strife. But I think you overestimate the general stability of states….”

    You make a valid point. When I use the term ‘stable’ I mean for it to denote an internal peace that is inline with the UK, Australia, Canada, the US. I am comfortable saying that these countries are stable.

    “The tension between the superpowers stabilised some parts of the world to the extent that it’s difficult to think outside that particular situation.”

    This is a very powerful statement, and I could write a dissertation surrounding it. Certainly as people become aware of new possibilities, stability in any society can be threatened. However, it does not necessarily follow that we should not try to stabilize a given unstable society. Again, ‘stable’ by definition is relative to existing concepts, not future possibilities.

    “The more important questions might be how we can minimise the violence while Iraq breaks up and what to do with the resulting mess.”

    For me, this is stabilizing the current country. I am using the word country and society interchangeably in these posts. So, even if the future country is broken into smaller ones, the collective society is stabilized.

    “Fitting Iraq into state system economically benefits large, rich, Western nations; it may not benefit most of the people who have to live there.”

    I am going to totally impress my philosophy professors here. You are Abso-fucking-lutely correct on this point. And it ties into my response to feartheseeds. There is a very real and scary possibility that trying to fit Iraqi society into the democratic capitalist state system would fail miserably.

    It appears as though we are arguing language more than concepts on the Iraq issue.

    “If your most effective mode of communication between yourself and the people who you employ to decide things is to shout once every four years, doesn’t that suggest things aren’t working particularly in your interests?”

    Well, it is not quite that simple. The president does not have as much power as your questions imply. There are Congressional and State elections that run between the Presidential elections. And states have huge amounts of power. For instance, although Bush has effectively put a halt to stem cell research, California has contracted with Canadian research facilities to continue research currently banned in the US. There are states who choose to loose federal funding on certain projects rather than follow federal mandates. It’s not so much that the only effective means of communication happens once every four years. It is happening constantly via voting in all of the elections.

    My problem is that our representatives do represent the people. The people of this country are, generally, ignorant of politically relevant issues. We spend the majority of our time working in order to maintain the lifestyle that the media tells us is necessary to be a ‘good citizen’. And when we sit down to watch the news, we find it filled with sensational subject matter which steers us away from important policy debates.

    The complex interaction between state, local and federal governments works – in that it does represent the collective will of the voting public.

  8. You should both be in bed…

    Don’t underestimate the quarrels that go on inside democracies. Democracies are least likely to go “boom” but the American Civil War came after several years of peaceful democracy and just ten years ago Quebec came within a few thousand votes (0.40%) of breaking away from Canada. The Canadian government actually, a few days before the vote, moved most of our Quebec-based military assets out of the province — including some to the United States… just in case..

    Aside: Canada is a “Federation” of mini-states. Newfoundland, for example, was its own country until 1949 when it joined with Canada. Under the Canadian system the federal government is in charge of very little: military, tax redistribution, there is the legal system of course, but many laws that apply in Ontario don’t apply in Quebec which has a Civil Law based more on the France model. In fact Quebec has never signed on to the Canadian Constiution, which was only brought in around 1982. Our “Birth Day” is a hard thing to pin down.

    The thing about the American system is it’s designed to leave people alone… the federal government has very little immediate impact on the individual. America is designed to work, politically, on the local level. When the dudes made up The Rules way back when they wrote in checks and balances… so the President can’t declare war without Congress agreeing to pay for it, but the Senate can override the whole endeaver with a “super majority” and the Courts can decide the Senate is out of line. It’s designed, like most democracies, to protect America against radical or even moderately quick change. The President is not an absolute authority. The constant inactivity by Congress and the Senate is actually part of the original plan.

    Iraq could have been stabilized if the people planning the whole thing had had brains. The majority of Sunni’s wanted and expected to help the Americans after the invasion, but nobody asked. In fact, right now with the surge, the Americans are finally getting around to asking for the help from the Sunni’s… and guess what? They’re getting it.

    Political Representitives have never directly served the people… it’s the most rare thing in any democracy to have someone elected with a specific mandate and actually get those issues passed in their entirety. Which is really, really good, otherwise Canada would have 308 people mandated to do 308 different and often clashing things. Democracy is all about negotiation and compromise. There are a lot of different interests in every country. Just as an example… if we listened to the majority, at least in Canada, there would be strict limits on abortions, while in 1999 a Poll showed the majority of Americans believe abortion is manslaughter. If our politicians were voted in with specific mandates and the power to get things ‘done now, right away and immediately’, the changes would be done at an insane, breakneck speed and would cause constant conflict within the population.

  9. I should be doing a lot of things right now. But I like this conversation. By the way, can someone tell me what a ‘tosser’ (used as an insult) is?

  10. The fact that feartheseeds, who is Canadian, was able to explain the relationships between state, local and federal government more eloquently than I, a well-educated American, highlights my original concern in this post.

    Americans are just collectively ignorant. It does not mean that we are stupid, we are inundated with crap for news. We do not discuss the theory behind our governmental structure in school – unless you are a political science major at a university. And we do not seem to care about our level of ignorance. Which really bothers me.

    And I am afraid that the American public, who are now inundated with pictures of fallen soldiers, crying mothers and fatherless children will miss the larger question of our ethical responsibilities to Iraq now that we have invaded it. We will pull out too soon – under the guise of wanting to protect our citizens serving in Iraq – and we will fail to fully appreciate the damage we have caused the citizens there.

    We do not talk enough about that. We talk about whether Bush and/or his staff lied, whether invading Iraq was the right thing to do, and how many Americans are dying.

    A side note – I find it odd that we never hear how many British died. Shouldn’t we consider the total loss of life, not just the American loss?

    I want for the American’s to finally finish something. To stick this out until Iraq realizes some level of satisfactory stability. We can argue what constitutes ‘some level of satisfactory stability’ . But that is not the debate going on in the American public right now. The American public is talking about a withdrawal from Iraq because we went in under false pretenses. But that does not matter. What matters is that we are there now. Why are we (the American public) not discussing this?

  11. aikaterine: Thanks. The thing about Kuhn is that most people who cite his work haven’t read it. It’s the philosophy of science equivalent to people who people who think that Shroedinger liked torturing cats.

    “Certainly as people become aware of new possibilities, stability in any society can be threatened. However, it does not necessarily follow that we should not try to stabilize a given unstable society. Again, ’stable’ by definition is relative to existing concepts, not future possibilities.”

    It’s not so much new possibilities I’m talking about. The end of the Cold War didn’t destabilise states, it was the end of a period of unusual stability. Because it lasted so long it became the default perspective. My point is, the world hasn’t always been like that (indeed, it’s often been much more violent and chaotic) and that our ideas of what constitutes stability are rooted in situations that aren’t really so. In other words, stability is ephemeral.

    “My problem is that our representatives do represent the people. The people of this country are, generally, ignorant of politically relevant issues. We spend the majority of our time working in order to maintain the lifestyle that the media tells us is necessary to be a ‘good citizen’. And when we sit down to watch the news, we find it filled with sensational subject matter which steers us away from important policy debates.”

    So, essentially then, what you’re saying is that the way that US politics is structured limits the political discourse. How can individuals be represented in a system in which such distortion is inherent?

    “The complex interaction between state, local and federal governments works – in that it does represent the collective will of the voting public.”

    Do you actually believe that people have a single collective will? From the observable evidence, this does not seem to be the case. Surely the idea of a collective will is a fiction that people agree to in exchange for a guarantee that such a transaction will benefit them? Who is this system benefiting currently?

    Oh, and ‘tosser’ is equivalent to ‘wanker’, literally ‘masturbator’. It’s a fairly mild insult, though.

    fts: In a beautiful piece of irony, I have to stay awake until I see my sleep specialist later today.

    “Political Representitives have never directly served the people… it’s the most rare thing in any democracy to have someone elected with a specific mandate and actually get those issues passed in their entirety. Which is really, really good, otherwise Canada would have 308 people mandated to do 308 different and often clashing things.”

    This is true of political representatives in specific kinds of democracies (first past the post systems). With proportional representation systems this tends to be less true. PR systems have their faults, but centralising power in political parties has fairly significant negative effects, which PR solves to a large extent.

  12. *having a gang of noisy pixies charging around in my head day*
    lalalalalalalaaa all of this sounds very interesting but I can’t possibly understand any of it at the moment.

    You all sound jolly clever though. I’m sure whatever solution you come up with, I will be happy with ;)

  13. “The fact that feartheseeds, who is Canadian, was able to explain the relationships between state, local and federal government more eloquently than I, a well-educated American, highlights my original concern in this post.”

    We get PBS.

    “PR systems have their faults…”

    Yes, yes they do… problems that can be seen in countries like Itay, Taiwan and Japan.

    As an aside: It’s interesting having this discussion now. Our Prime Minister just spent a week touring around South America and gave an extremely well-received speech in Chile (which was attended by most of Chile’s government leadership) where he said:
    “Latin America is sometimes depicted as at a crossroads between two unpalatable choices, the hard capitalism of the United States and the authoritarianism and class warfare of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
    “This is, of course, utter nonsense, Canada’s very existence demonstrates that the choice is a false one. Canada’s political structures differ substantially from those in the United States. Our cultural and social models have been shaped by unique forces, and we’ve made our own policy choices to meet our own needs.”

    According to a newspaper report “He said the Canadian model promotes freedom, democracy, human rights and open markets. Where Canada differs is in its policies of “social cohesion,” such as universal health care, equalization and other progressive institutions.”

    He’s an interesting guy, our Prime Minister.

  14. Experimental Chimp –

    I have found that many people quote philosophers without having read them. And it is annoying, largely because the practice of philosophy is more of a lifestyle than a job. It is impossible to fully appreciate what a philosopher means without reading, at a minimum, the entire text in which the original quote appeared. People love to do it with Derrida, who I spend a lot of time studying. But I am rambling. To your points…

    “My point is, the world hasn’t always been like that (indeed, it’s often been much more violent and chaotic) and that our ideas of what constitutes stability are rooted in situations that aren’t really so. In other words, stability is ephemeral.”

    I can agree that stability is ephemeral, while also maintaining that we should try our best to attain a reasonable level of stability – based on current conceptions of the term. I do not think we are in disagreement here. Am I wrong?

    “Do you actually believe that people have a single collective will? From the observable evidence, this does not seem to be the case. Surely the idea of a collective will is a fiction that people agree to in exchange for a guarantee that such a transaction will benefit them? Who is this system benefiting currently?”

    The concept of collective will is tricky. I can appreciate the difficulties your question alludes to. Express or implied will? How much of a majority constitutes a collective will? To what extent does that majority ‘want’ the thing in question? In my discussion, I have used the term to denote statistical majority agreement on specific issues – abortion, prayer and religious issues. And I am asserting that our political leaders have been elected based on their stance in relation to those issues. In that sense, they represent the collective will.

    I do not think there is a universal collective will. For the collective will must always be subject to the individual will. The minority, if standing on firm moral ground against an unjust majority, should always be able to turn the tides of public opinion; and indeed they have. Collective will, at best, has only relative validity.

    Your question does lend itself to a different discussion, and it might be the one you are intending to have. That is the question of whether the collective will can be expressed in public policy; and, if so, how effectively? In this context I would have to say that the collective will is fiction and that the system does not accurately reflect the majority opinion of the people at the current time.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that there is majority agreement on some issue and that this agreement can be referred to as ‘collective will’. I think we can all agree that the vast majority of public policy in the US, given that it is based on judicial decisions, cannot be said to represent the collective will. It only represents the will of the judges. Which leaves referendum, and this is were my problem with the American public lies. Too many referendums are incorporated into policy, not by the will of the majority, but by the apathy of our citizens. We are apathetic to economic and foreign policy, until we are in crisis – which is far too late.

    “So, essentially then, what you’re saying is that the way that US politics is structured limits the political discourse. How can individuals be represented in a system in which such distortion is inherent?”

    In order to answer your question, I need to decide if I can reasonably separate our economic system from our electoral system. It is not the structure of our local, state and federal governments which limit political discourse. It is the priorities and lifestyle imposed by our brand of democratic capitalism. Or at least that is the stance I want to take.

  15. feartheseeds,

    I do have to say that I envy Canada’s “policies of social cohesion”. I am utterly astonished and appalled that health care has not been socialized in the US. After all, what is more important? I pay taxes to support a government that should make my life more stable than it would be without them. Things such as food, housing and medical care are essential to my sense of well-being and stability. By my logic, taxes should provide, at a minimum, those three things to all citizens. Everything else is secondary.

  16. I hesitate a bit to comment on the original post when there are so many comments already – but I wanted to say how good it is to discover that at least *someone* is talking about taking responsibility for the leader we elect in a democracy.

    There are very, very few who do that, and for that, among other reasons, I salute your post.

  17. Thank you for the compliment. And please do not hesitate to post anything you want, anywhere. I like to hear people’s thoughts on things, gain a new perspective.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: