Friday, April 14, 2006

Iraq - influences of the Thirty Years War

My last post uncovered how polarized is American public opinion. I suppose that such invective and vigorous argument is a symptom of a healthy democracy. However, I am reminded of one of my favorite books which is entitled "The Great Virtues". The author states that the first and fundamental virtue is politeness, for without politeness there can be no discussion. I would also remind readers of my plea not to post anonymous comments unless there is a real reason to do so. Since so many of my readers are patients, it is quite reasonable for them to keep their personal details confidential, but political opinions ought to be owned by their authors, and if not they assume the status of the anonymous letter written in green ink, which I have always, whether they praised or abused me, crumpled up and filed in the round filing cabinet beneath my desk.

My purpose in writing about Iraq was not to stir up a hornet's nest nor to apportion blame, but to explore the basis of what some have called a 21st Century conflict played by 20th Century rules. The following link leads to an important contibution to this debate made by the British Defence Secretary, John Reid.
http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/DefencePolicyAndBusiness/
ReidAddressesRusiOn20thcenturyRules21stcenturyConflict.htm

If we think that the current war is unpleasant a return to the time of the Thirty Year War in Europe is terrifying. This was one of the few wars in history that England managed to keep out of. It was within this period, 1618-1648, that we had our own civil war, which had similar origins - the conflict betwen Catholics and Protestants.

My knowledge of this period of European history it is very minimal, and mainly garnered from a fascinating book called "Q" written under the pseudonym of "Luther Blisset" by four Italian anarchists, Fredrico Guglielmi, Lucia Di Meo, Giovanni Cattabriga and Fabrizio Belletati. http://mostlyfiction.com/history/blissett.htm Luther Blisset was one of the first black footballers to have a successful career in England. He played for Watford, the football team owned by singer Elton John, but was transferred to AC Milan where he was certainly a character, though not an outstanding success. He finished his playing career here in Bournemouth, where under their successful manager, Harry Redknapp, his career had a late flowering. He owned a sports equipment shop just round the corner from my house. Harry's children were at school with my oldest boy.

The book is about the Peasants War (one hundred years earlier than the Thirty Years War) written from the point of view of the anabaptists (anarchists like the authors). However, the reasons behind the Thirty Years War were similar, revolving around the relationship between religion and statehood, and the conditions of the protagonists were similar. It is a good read to reveal the brutality of war in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Thirty Years War was in part a religious war. Although in Germany the various Principalities had achieved self rule and established Lutherism for 75 years, and had reached a Truce with Rome at the Peace of Ausberg in 1555, the consequences of the Reformation were certainly not settled. The Protestants had split between Lutherans and Calvinists, and Calvinists were not included in the truce. Anabaptists were as much enemies of Luther as they were of Rome. The Jesuit counter-reformation had taken hold, so that there was a powder keg in Germany waiting for a match to set it alight.

The Spanish Netherlands had become Protestant and thrown off the Spanish yoke and were allied with France. Although France was Catholic, its long standing rivalry with Spain had meant that my enemy's enemy is my friend. Spain in seeking to re-establish its authority over the Netherlands could not sail there (since the defeat of the Armada in 1588, England held the Channel), but must take an overland route via Northern Italy, the Alps and Southern Germany. The Holy Roman Empire and Spain were both ruled by Hapsburgs. France felt at risk from a Hapsburg encirclement. Only the assasination of Henry IV in 1610 averted war then.

Denmark and Sweden were also at odds. Scandinavia had once all been ruled by the King of Denmark, but Sweden had broken away. In an attempt to restore its authority Denmark unsuccessfully attacked Sweden in 1611. There was a dynastic struggle in Sweden as the King of Poland had a better claim to the throne than Gustavus Adolphus. But Sweden was Protestant and Poland Catholic - the Spain of the North. To put pressure on Poland, Sweden allied herself with the Russian Tsar, Boris Gudunov. Boris was overthrown and Sweden then allied herself with both Holland and the Evangelical Union in Germany.

Bohemia (the modern Czech Republic) provided the spark for war. The region was a mixture of Calvinists, Catholics, Lutherans and Anabaptists who lived in harmony. In 1617 Archduke Ferdinand of Styria became Holy Roman Emperor and determined to reimpose Catholicism on Bohemia. In protest two Catholic deputies (Martiniz and Slavata) were defenestrated in Prague. This was a classical Czech habit of chucking people out of windows. They were not hurt; they landed in a dung heap (unlike Jan Masaryk who was murdered this way by the Communists in 1948). This was an insult to Ferdinand (who was to become Holy Roman Emperor) and following a dispute over the succession to the Kingdom of Bohemia he defeated the army of Frederick, Elector of Palantine at the Battle of White Mountain, and expelled the Protestants from Bohemia. This laid down the gauntlet and the Protestant countries picked it up. War raged for 30 years.

After early victories by the Catholic generals Tilly and Wallenstein, Gustavus Adolphus entered the conflict and took control of Germany. A restored Wallenstein hindered Gustavus and though defeated at Lutzen so that he had to retreat to Bohemia, Wallenstein inflicted important damage on the Protestants; Gustavus was killed. Swedish power was now at its zenith. Wallenstein exceeded his authority and began making peace treaties. He was murdered by his own officers. In 1634 a major battle at Nordlingen saw the Protestant army defeated and the Peace of Prague ensued. This provoked France into re-entering the war and allied herself with Sweden, the low countries and some Northern Italian states. Cardinal Richelieu (yes we're in Three Musketeers' territory) had several setbacks at first, but managed to repel the Spanish invsion. Spain suffered naval defeats by the Dutch and the French and even at home there were embarrassed by a Catalan rebellion. Defeats for the Empire at Nordilgen (again) by the French and at Jankau by the Swedes meant that it could no longer carry on, but neither France nor Sweden could push home their advantage. By 1645 military exhaustion had set in throughout Europe. Millions had been killed, plague had ravaged populations, agriculture had failed and nations were bankrupt. It was estimated that urban areas in Europe had suffered a 33% population loss and rural areas a 40% loss.

The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ended the Thirty Years War. It is considered by historians to mark the beginning of the modern era. As a result of the Peace Accord the Netherlands finally gained independance from Spain, ending 80 years of conflict. Sweden gained some teritory in Northern Germany. The power of the Holy Roman Emperor was finally broken, but Germany remained a group of 360 independent and seperate principalities. Calvinists were given legal recognition. France was the overall victor; it acquired Alsace and Lorraine and a vote in the German Reichstag. Switzerland was recognised as a fully independent nation.

The most important consequence was that it ended for all time the idea that the Holy Roman Empire having secular dominion over the entire Christian world. The nation-state would be the highest level of government subservient to no other. No state had any right to determine how another state undertook its business.

In Mein Kampf Hitler states that the Treaty of Westphalia cemented Germany's internal divisions for over 200 years and prevented Germany acquiring an Empire like Britain's or France's. Communism predicted the demise of the Westphalian system seeing it replaced by an International Workers' Union. In 2004 in the aftermath of the Madrid attacks, Lewis 'Atiyyatullah, an al-Qaeda spokesman, predicted that the Westphalian system would collapse and be replaced by a system under the leadership of a mighty Islamic state. In 2000 Joshka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, predicted that the Westphalian system of nation states would be replaced by a supranational European Institution.

What can we learn from the Thirty Years War? First, that to assume that a decisive battle imposes your will on another nation state by force is to deceive yourself. War must either be prosecuted to ultimate and complete victory or else it sows the seeds for the next conflict. Second, in the end you have to negotiate a settlement that satisfies all parties. Third, you cannot change men's minds on religion by force. Fourth, people of different religions can live in harmony with one another when they accept conclusion 3.

We need to reconsider whether the sovereign nation-state is subservient to no other. Is it right for a national leader to attack a section of his own people because of the color of thei skin, their religion, their politics or what they write or say? Who is to defend their human rights?

22 comments:

David Arenson said...

I think the United Nations is an attempt to guarantee that sovereign nation states cannot create their own inner hell without some consequences. Alas, it doesn't work effectively very much of the time.

Iraq is not about liberating the downtrodden. In the 20th century, the US often supported despotic regimes -- including Saddam's Iraq! -- for geopolitical purposes. Iraq is a geopolitical gamble, partly naive and partly as calculating as they come.

It is also clear that if the American people knew three years ago what they know now about the prewar "intelligence," they never would have signed on to this. No one would have.

I think Bush believed what he wanted to believe -- ignored those facts that didn't support his case, used those that did. This is the height of irresponsibility and an extreme dereliction of duty.

Bush still has this attitude. He is an accident of history (the evidence is pretty clear that Al Gore won the election of 2000) who has led the United States down the road to ruin ever since. This is what happens when a powerful nation is led by a small-minded man. He's not stupid, as some say. He is ignorant, and deliberately so.

A better man (or woman!) would have turned that international goodwill after September 11 into a powerful force for rooting out terrorism. A better tactician would have gotten Bin Laden. Bush is simply, in the long run, creating more terrorists. He is quite possibly the worst president since James Buchanan, who sat by and let the country collapse into Civil War. If we had a parliamentary system, he would have been booted out by now.

Anonymous said...

David is as sadly misinformed as they come.

The UN uses American funding to bash America. That is its only reason for being. It's a joke.

The UN will do nothing to stop genocide. Haven't you ever heard of Darfur or Rwanda? What did the UN do there? Nothing?

We invaded Iraq because we believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, including the poisonous gas used on the Kurds in his own country. We know he did have WMDs because of that fact.

It may be that our intelligence was wrong. If it was, so was France's, Britian's and Russian's.

Why is it so hard for you left-wingers to believe that Saddam either bluffed, or he moved his weapons out of the area.

And be honest. If we had found the weapons, you would have accused Bush of planting them there, right? Of course.

So believing your own CIA who said WMD were a 'slam dunk' is dereliction of duty? Do you deny that is what the CIA told the president?

You and your defeatest ilk would never support America. If the Chinese army invaded America, you all would run like frighten chickens, and leave the fighting to real men.

Get over the fact that Gore lost! Too bad for you!!! Thank God for America!

There is no 'divining the mind of the voter'. Screw hanging chads and all of that.

If this country wanted to elect a democrat, why didn't it elect Kerry? Why didn't Congress switch Democrat after the 2002 elections?

Did those questions ever enter your mind? No, because you only want to think what your closed mind wants to think.

Clinton had Bin Liden, and said, 'no, we don't want him'. So it's your guys fault, dude.

I fear for my country because of the fifth column here that believes America is always wrong, that the dead white males who formed this country were racists, and so should be disregarded, that open borders are wonderful, never mind that their wages suffer as do their tax burden.

America doesn't have the stomach to fight for itself anymore because of the liberal losers in this country. The blame America first crowd.

America is at a tipping point. One side is me, and the other side is you. For my country, and the world, I hope my side wins. If your side does, all is lost, and forever.

Bob Schalow said...

So Anonymous,

I guess if Bin Laden said that he bombed the World Trade Center because he had faulty intellegence about the USA, you would readily forgive him then, right??

And, if the administration was correct when they said "Saddam has WMDs and we know where they are", are we now better off when we DON'T know where they are????

Anonymous said...

"America doesn't have the stomach to fight for itself anymore because of the liberal losers in this country. The blame America first crowd."


America has been in more wars in the last century than any other country in history. This has not changed and doesnt look to change soon. This statement is akin to "working the refs". It is obviously false and misleading and uses popular right-wing jargon - jargon is simply put - marketing. Marketing is selling and selling is about someone buying. The poster has bought and he thinks if we dont buy we're stupid. If we all buy, he feels better becauses it justifies his worldview. A worldview that certain rich and powerful interests hope beyond measure that they can sell at least to someone. And they do by putting out jargon that people who are too lazy to think for themselves can use when they get on their soapbox!

I dont play that game. I dont play the election game. And I dont play the racist game. Its all a game of win/lose for simple-minded fools. OK man you won. Woohoo - you won.

Smug fool.

Anonymous said...

"You and your defeatest ilk would never support America. If the Chinese army invaded America, you all would run like frighten chickens, and leave the fighting to real men."

You mean we would have other priorities like Cheney.

Or conveniently fail to report for duty like Bush.

You are a poor excuse for an apologist even - you are as wishy washy as Kerry. Oh yeah - he showed up...what am I saying?

Anonymous said...

"Did those questions ever enter your mind? No, because you only want to think what your closed mind wants to think."

To what question are you referring? That maybe the Ohio election was "delivered" to Bush as the CEO of Diebold promised.

Or are we asking about the reason why in 2004 for the first time since the institution of modern exit polling, we had 4 states that did not statiscally match the elective outcome - all in favor of Bush. The odds of which are similar to hitting the lottery.

A closed mind might ask such questions - an open mind would never consider such things.

Anonymous said...

"We invaded Iraq because we believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, including the poisonous gas used on the Kurds in his own country. We know he did have WMDs because of that fact."

We know he had gas because he was sold the gas. Guess where he bought it...from that bastion of uprightness and fortitude Ronny Reagan.

This is fun - like shooting fish in a barrel.

Anonymous said...

"America is at a tipping point. One side is me, and the other side is you. For my country, and the world, I hope my side wins. If your side does, all is lost, and forever."

The dark side never wins. Havent you ever seen Star Wars...? Seriously now...

The world is so much better off when a small percentage of its population is looking out for itself at the expense of everyone else. I mean how can we not see that - it IS SO OBVIOUS!!!

Anonymous said...

So many inaccuracies, it's hard to know where to start.

First of all Bush fulfilled in National Guard obligation. There is no doubt about that.

Kerry, on the other hand, did not. He was supposed to complete his duty after he skedaddled out of Vietnam before his obligation was fulfilled. He became a congressional aide instead.

Bin Laden is not a state, had no intelligence apparatus, and no standing to attack anyone. It was an extra-legal act. By attacking the US, he guaranteed that the US would attack him back.

I suppose you would say Japan's attack at Pearl Harbor was 'OK' too.

You have a fundamental misunderstanding of international law.

I stand by my statement. America is rotting from within because of liberal losers such as yourself.

Let's be honest. You would throw down your weapon and run from the enemy, if you even could stomach having a weapon in the first place.

I like having Republicans win, because it makes liberal losers such as you whine and moan. I'm waitng for your head to explode.

And you, my loser friend, are the epitome of the dark side. Cashed your Al Qaeda check yet?

John Wagner said...

Well, so much for the virtue of politeness and anonymous postings. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Here liberals - choke on this (from Iraqi intelligence files, this from the head of the Iraqi air force):

"The top secret letter 2205 of the Military Branch of Al Qadisya on 4/3/2001 announced by the top secret letter 246 from the Command of the military sector of Zi Kar on 8/3/2001 announced to us by the top secret letter 154 from the Command of Ali Military Division on 10/3/2001 we ask to provide that Division with the names of those who desire to volunteer for Suicide Mission to liberate Palestine and to strike American Interests and according what is shown below to please review and inform us."

Saddam was planning attacks on America BEFORE September 11.

Go ahead, keep your head in the sand.

Anonymous said...

"First of all Bush fulfilled in National Guard obligation. There is no doubt about that."

As soon as drug testing was instituted for pilots, Bush failed to report for duty and subsequently was never tested the rest of his supposed military career. Not a single man in his unit testified as seeing him report. One can only speculate why he chose not to show but the fact is he is the only president that has ever had a driving under the influence conviction. Furthermore, the only reason Bush was jumped ahead of thousands of others to get in the Nat'l Guard to begin with was because his Senator daddy pulled some strings. And if his preferential treatment wasnt bad enough at that point, his daddy arranged for his honorable discharge.

"Kerry, on the other hand, did not. He was supposed to complete his duty after he skedaddled out of Vietnam before his obligation was fulfilled. He became a congressional aide instead."

Kerry actually went to Vietnam regardless of whatever spin you choose to put on his service. He stood in the line of fire and saved some lives doing it. Only a real asshole would denigrate that type of service for his country.

"Let's be honest. You would throw down your weapon and run from the enemy, if you even could stomach having a weapon in the first place."

I wont say what I am tempted to say here. Here is what I will say - you dont know me. Your attempt to insult me wont work. And since I dont know you, you had better pray that you arent the one standing in my line of fire.


"I like having Republicans win, because it makes liberal losers such as you whine and moan. I'm waitng for your head to explode."

Pointing out your faulty logic and uneducated opinion is not whining and moaning - it is fun. Like I said earlier, just like shooting fish in a barrel! If my head explodes, it will only be because you are proving to the rest of the world just how poorly educated the American right truly is.

"Go ahead, keep your head in the sand."

About what? That Saddam hated America? That he would be interested in attacking the interests of the country attacking him? This is somehow news to you? You just insinuated above that liberals would sit on their hands while being attacked. Was Saddam a liberal too? Did you expect him to welcome us? If he were meddling in our backyard, we'd have similar memos - but they would be OUR memos so that would be OK I suppose.

Not only are most of your arguments based on faulty premise, stereotype and prejudice, you consistently apply a double standard. You are in dire need of introspection not just education. Go read a book or something.

David Arenson said...

If Terry had announced a cure for CLL it probably wouldn't have led to this many comments.

At any rate, I want to say to the anonymous who replied to me first, and who obviously lives in a parallel universe:

FYI, I supported the invasion of Afghanistan. I supported the action in the former Yugoslavia. I supported the first Gulf War under the first President Bush. I support our troops, misused as they may be by our commander in chief. I am not a pacifist, and neither is the Democratic Party a pacifist party.

I like to think I'm sensible. Many conservatives, from Brent Snowcroft to Pat Buchanan, also oppose the war. We're all real men, and women, and real men and women are dying for Bush's mistake. We renamed a freeway in Phoenix for Laurie Piestewa, the first Navajo woman to die in combat.

And for what?

Anonymous said...

'Don't stand in my line of fire'. So now you are threatening someone because they disagree with your pig-headed stand. Typical liberal loser. Sad and pathetic.

Kerry was in Cambodia, 'seared in my memory', though it turns out he wasn't. Dan Rather pushing obvious fakes of Bush National Guard papers. He gets fired for it.

Clinton convicted of perjury, 'I never had sex with that woman'.

Sterling examples of Democrat manhood.

Pathetic losers, all.

Dave says Democrats aren't the pacifist party. Ha Ha. The only injury a Democrat will suffer is elbowing each other in a hurry to blame America, to claim that Saddam was a wonderful, if a bit misunderstood, guy, that torture never happened in Iraq, that Al Qaida is just a bunch of fun-loving frat boys, that they don't know what they would do different in Iraq, just that they would have done it better.

Their party is led by a guy (look it up on Google) who wants to pull out our troops yesterday, who said that maybe getting rid of Saddam was a good thing, and then there's the infamous scream.

You've got loose cannon Nancy Pelosi representing the party, a woman who loathes the military, as does San Francisco. And there is Ted Kennedy.

You are a party of pacifists, like it or not, steeling in the 'success' of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where Chicago's finest spent a lot of time busting the soft heads of the Demo hippies smoking pot and burning American flags.

Pat Buchanan is not a conservative. He is a reactionary with ideas that most conservatives do not agree with.

You all say, 'no blood for oil', and we invaded Iraq for cheap oil. Well, where's my cheap oil.

And, by the way, why is it wrong to fight for the nation's lifeblood oil anyway, not that that is the reason we went over there.

You all wilt like a Chinese crayon in the hot sun when the going gets tough. You whine, 'it isn't FAIR, it isn't FAIR!'

The attitude of you and your lazy ilk are what is making it tough to do anything about Korea, Iran, and other trouble spots in the world. I suppose you think the guy in Iran is just a sweet, innocent fellow who can't possibly mean it when he says he wants to wipe Israel off the map.

Life is tough, and it ain't fair.

I'm glad you weren't around in 1944, when we lost more men at D-Day in one day than we lost in three years of war in Iraq.

Let's face facts. If the Chinese communists were to invade Marin county or wherever it is that you live, you'd run like a scared little girl. You'd just hope and pray the big mean men in uniform would come save you.

"All for what?" "All for what?"

Gesh, I can hear your whining all the way out here.

Be a man. Suck it up.

pancheaux said...

kubrick had this guy nailed 30yrs ago. It's the flouride they added to the water. r.i.p. stanley. spring has sprung and your garden sounds beautiful. thank you doc.

Anonymous said...

"'Don't stand in my line of fire'. So now you are threatening someone because they disagree with your pig-headed stand. Typical liberal loser. Sad and pathetic."

It wasnt a threat but a very simple reply to a very simple-minded statement on your part. I dont know you and if you threatened my existence you are damn straight I'd shoot. You seem to have trouble with subtlety - your anger is getting the best of you.

You toss around epithets like candy at a parade. What's wrong? What are you scared of? Cant seem to answer my logic head-on. You are actually avoiding it choosing instead to ridicule somebody else's editorial.

What is pathetic is the person who is unaware of his ignorance of history, politics and society. You have not offered us any factual information - just diatribes from the far right. As if your dismissal of Pat Buchanan somehow masks your radical opinions.

For instance, you equate Dan Rather's demise as being the equivalent to Bushes serving honorably. I never referred to Rather. I said Bush was never drug tested - a requirement of every corpman. Where are his test results? They dont exist because he didnt report for duty.

And you are still equating blaming Bush with blaming America first. I'll say it again - Bush does not equal America. He is one out of 300 million citizens. Your universal "Blame America first" motto only works for people of small intellect who need slogans in order to know what to think.

Calling me names just proves my point and that is you are ill-informed, opinionated, and to borrow your language, pathetic.

Go lob some more borrowed opinions at your local junior high school debate class. You cant run with the big dogs.

Ever heard of the "Philosophy of Futility"? You should - you are a victim of it.

Terry Hamblin said...

All very interesting, but the question posed by the original post was, "Should we still regard what goes on within the borders of a nation-state as nobody's business but its own?"

Anonymous said...

Sorry Terry, I have to answer one more of the right-wing criticisms of the left:

"You all say, 'no blood for oil', and we invaded Iraq for cheap oil. Well, where's my cheap oil."

Yes we say no blood for oil because it isnt an equitable trade - our young men and women for oil that we will never see but the very rich will profit handsomely from. Why wont we see it? Because the goal of the oil companies is to control the tap not turn it on.

I know many center-left people and not a single one says we invaded Iraq for "cheap" oil. We invaded to drive the price up. It is what Bush and his friends want. The proof is in the obscene oil company profits. What do the right-wing sycophants think was discussed in Cheney's secret energy talks? Who was coming over for cocktails and dessert?

Come up with a reply that makes some sense for a change or just go away and read a book as was earlier suggested.

Anonymous said...

"Bring Saddam back!" That's what the liberal whiners must be muttering over their granola every morning.

That would be the effect of non-intervention.

Name called will get you nowhere, Bub.

As far as interfering with the internal affairs of another country, I'll ask this question:

Would you interfer if you saw your neighbor badly beating his son? I would hope so. Yet, what gives you the right to do so? The greater good. It is a greater good to save a child than it is to violate the neighbor's privacy and his personal property.

Same thing with countries. The Brits, the United States and other countries 'interfered with the internal affairs' of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

And a good thing they did!

Anonymous said...

One of the hypocrisies of the sycophantic American right's belief that it is OK to "interfere" in another country's internal affairs during times of crises presupposes that there was no previous meddling by American economic interests that led up to the crisis to begin with.

There are so many instances of prior interference that have led foreign governments into a backlash against American interests. To deny this is simply not paying close enough attention to world politics. I am not apologizing for anyone - just stating the facts.

Iran is a case in point. In 1958, Mossedeq nationalized the Iranian oil industry (those basterds! Wanting to benefit from their own natural resources!) and kicked the British petroleum industry out. America intervened on behalf of British & American business interests and used the CIA to foment a coup. W/o going thru the whole history, America doesnt topple governments only to let the local population install someone democratically who may not do America's bidding (the same reasons why Iraqi elections are a farce) so they back (militarily and economically) a usually unpopular leader (like the Shah.) This has the predictable two effects - it gives urgency to the local anti-American interests (usually violent since the Americans use their military might to back the unpopular leader) and it removes any semblance of America's moral credibility since we can not claim to support freedom and democracy while propping up a puppet (our gov't claims it anyway to sway public opinion but the locals who are living under the boot know better.)

Ultimately, America can not control the local population - they rise up and install a more radicalized, anti-American version of government than was originally overthrown. Thus we get to the present day Iran. One could argue that if America's gov't had not interfered on behalf of America's corporate interests in 1958, Iran would not have the radical gov't it has today.

I already understand the right wing's response to this - we are spreading freedom and democracy and they just dont appreciate that, we are overthrowing some very bad men who maim and murder, we are civilizing an otherwise uncivilized society. The right-wing poster on this blog will go so far as to say that it is the liberal experiment that allows these radical elements a foothold to begin with. He is confusing the left's efforts to understand the situation with backing for otherwise unsavory people.

The right-wing can not agree with the facts because only by denying them can they continue with the lie that America does not act in its own interests but in the interests of the foreign population (sound familiar?). This is an easy lie to sell because the majority of the American PEOPLE are caring and compassionate and dont want to see anyone suffering. To admit that people are suffering due to the actions of our supposedly representative gov't is just too much to bear. And it doesnt fit the worldview that we are being sold by the corporate media.

So my answer, dear Dr Hamblin, is an emphatic "NO". Even if there are good intentions (which there arent based on the history of geopolitics), there will be much resentment and hatred generated by the interference. Even with all her might, America can not maintain ultimate control indefinately.

As long as the five major weapons manufacturers and exporters are equivalent to the UN security council, there is no trustworthy source of intervention. Big business is about profit not altruism. Wars are profitable.

The last thing I would say is in answer to the right-wing poster whose quaint diatribes are often off subject, questioning America's motives for going into Iraq is not the equivalent of backing Saddam and wishing he were still in power. Reagan backed Saddam by selling him weapons and WMD. That is not a left-leaning position. It is the purview of the right to back dictators and later vilify them for reasons of profit and political expedience. The left does not want to keep playing this game. Condi Rice's greeting of Equatorial Guinea's brutal dictator yesterday in a Whitehouse ceremony is evidence of this. She called him a good friend. The crusted-over eyelids of the right-wing poster are in fact evidence that dangerous economic forces are formidable and continually prey upon the vulnerable American psyche. It is hard work to understand these forces. The easy road is to give in to these elements rather than work to understand them. It is the fervent hope of global business interests that no one does the hard work.

Terry Hamblin said...

This quote from Anatole Kaletsky
in today's Times throws light on the debate:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2142276,00.html


For those who believe that invading a sovereign country is wrong in principle and under all conditions, accountability for the Iraq debacle is easy to establish: the blame lies with Mr Bush and Mr Blair and they should be made to pay the price. But voters in America and Britain rejected such an absolutist view of the Iraq invasion. Clear majorities in both countries believed at the time of the invasion that it was justified. All efforts to defeat, impeach or even seriously embarrass Mr Bush and Mr Blair were doomed to failure because most voters recall that this decision seemed to be justifiable at the time, in both moral and pragmatic terms.

The real crime committed by Mr Bush and Mr Blair lay not in starting the war, but in failing to plan for and manage the consequences — failing to provide enough soldiers to restore order, failing to protect electricity and water supplies, failing to rebuild schools and hospitals, failing to discipline the occupation forces, failing to understand the rivalries and cultural sensitivities of the different ethnic groups and failing to spend the mindboggling sums of money devoted to Iraq in ways that clearly benefited the people.

Anonymous said...

After reading the article, I understand the author's point but I disagree with his leap of faith that the war was justified in the beginning. Bush & Blair had this war planned long before they could justify it. If the truth were known then there would have been fewer people backing the war. Even I played devil's advocate at the time supposing that Saddam was in possession of WMD and what he might do. However, the IAEA and the UN Inspectors hit the nail on the head. We need to give credit where credit is due.

The folly of toppling governments with the hope of generating a more congenial (to western business interests) form of government is that it never works. There is not a single instance of success in this endeavor and we have plenty of data points.

The right-wing poster mentioned WW2 but that war was not fought by America as a war of conquest in the classic sense. We have had many of the classic type since: Korea, Iraq1, Iran, Vietnam, Guatemala, Cuba, Grenada, Nicaragua, and Honduras to name just a few. It is not necessary for the war to go full-scale to meet the classic mold as long as the end result is an assasinated leader and toppled government. The CIA has been effective enough on its own in more than a few of these places.

Saddam was contained. He was only a threat to his own citizens. His neighbors did not fear him but the strongest, mightiest country half a world away felt threatened?! It is amazing the rest of the Middle East hasnt died laughing!

The author is correct in that Rumsfeld is to blame and should go. I underestimated Bushes stupidity years ago by predicting Rumsfeld's demise after the torture scandal broke. I am now surprised that Bush hasnt awarded Rummy the Medal of Freedom for doin' a heckuva job!

If, as the author suggests, America has the strongest leading economy what with record deficits, huge trade gaps, high unemployment (many people have given up or traded down), record levels of poverty and uninsured and a growing economic divide between the haves & have-nots what must the rest of world be experiencing? Is the global economy really that bad? If so, what does that say about globalization and free-trade....