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August 29, 2006

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LAK

Well you were right. Imagine that. That is what reasoning will do for you - increase your probability of prediciting the future accurately and precisely. What a tragic yet foreseeable state the world is in now because of poor decision making at the highest levels. That is what we get when we let a bunch of frightened, sexually and spiritually repressed white men run our country.

Larry

Right? He sure seems wrong to me. One major problem is we don't get to replay history and see how things would have been if we hadn't attacked. Of course, people always feel more strongly about what's actually happening than what might have happened.

ctw

I'm with larry. prof Stone's predictions were way, way off:

"many times more [will be killed] than were killed in the World Trade Center."

actually, fewer (surely you don't count iraqis)

"an attack could provoke Saddam to:

- use WMD against Israel etc"

didn't happen (none available)

- "blow up the Iraqi oil fields."

ditto (protected 'em. not so baghdad, but so what. nothing there but old stuff in basements)

"An attack on Iraq could further destabilize the Middle East"

ditto again (no earthquakes since the invasion that I recall.)

just what you'd expect from a pointy-headed ivory tower academic with no understanding of the real world.

-charles

LAK

Are you guys kidding? What blinerder do you have on? Let's deal with his claims in their totality rather than cherry pick:

"1) It is likely that many innocent people will die, probably many times more than were killed in the World Trade Center."

True! More innocent people have died by a powers of ten. The number of innocent Americans dead is alos greater than the number who were killed in the WTC.

So you guys are wrong there, without possibility of dipute.

(2) It is not clear what would follow such an attack. Presumably, the goal would either to kill or oust Saddam. One or the other of these is a likely, but not certain, consequence of a military attack.

True! We have ousted him and will likely kill him after some dog an pony show of a trial. And we clearly, and the Bush administration admits this, had no idea what would follow once we deposed Saddam. I could quote Rummy and Bush about all teh unexpected happenings after we invaded, but I trust I don't have to. Needless to say the open arms, rose petals, and cheering in the streets vision that the Bush administration proffered at the time did not happen.

(3) Such an attack could provoke Saddam to do many evil things, including using weapons of mass destruction against Israel, immediately turning such weapons over to terrorists, using such weapons against his own people and blaming the Americans, and blowing up the Iraqi oil fields.

Tough one. Saddam didn't have WMD, that was a lie or at least a misrepresentation by the Bush administration. However, he did arm a Sunni insurgency quite well, but with what looks like only converntial weapons, and I guess we do call those insurgents terrorists over hear for continutity of story. They do kill many Sunni Iraqis, and Americans are left holding the blame.

And yes, the insurgents did successfully attak not just oil fields:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/08/08/iraq/main634639.shtml
but pipelines as well, or have you guys had your heads in teh sand so long that you have not read about how little oil there is to go around in Iraq, and how expensive it is, and how Iraq is not being funded by Oil sales, as Cheney once claimed, but rather American tax dollars.

So I'm going to give Stone hear a "mostly true, but for the lies about WMDs"

(4) All of these are more likely (at least in the short-run) if we attack Iraq than if we do not attack Iraq.

Commons sense, public opinion and factual retrospect say: True!.

(5) An attack on Iraq could further destabilize the Middle East incite further terrorist attacks against the United States. (Inflammatory news clips of maimed and dead Muslim children as a result of American bombs are hardly likely to soothe the hatred of the United States in that part of the world.)

True!

Charles says:
"no earthquakes since the invasion that I recall"

Charles, we Earthlings welcome you to Earth from Planet Imbecile!!!

I'll give you some earthquakes you ignorant fool. Try Haifa and Southern Beruit a few weeks ago. Try Baghdad everywhere. You'll wish that shaking was earthquakes you soft stupid insensate dimwit. You've got your deposed Suni ruling class waging a guerilla war with the money and weapons they had when they ruled against Americans, Iraqi soldiers and Shia, and then you've got an Iran sponsored radical Shia insurgency killing Sunnis and Americans and Iraqi soldiers. Sweet. You have a nervous and angry and fundamentalist Iranian regime surrounded by American occupied countries on both sides starting proxy wars with Israel to distract from the fact that they are building a nuclear bomb, likely to use on Israel. And now you have no standing in the international community to do anything about it cause you've wasted your goodwill on invading a country for personal and financial reasons rather than for legitimate strategic or foreign policy reasons.

Honestly, your inability to look objectively at the situation and at Stone's claims makes me ill.

LAK

my apolgies for typos, but not for my disgust.

LAK

And yes Charles, Stone and you and everyone else must count innocent people equally. What kind of person are you? Up to 45,000 innocent Iraqis have been killed, and the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined outnumbers the dead at the WTC. The number of American and coalition troops killed in Iraq outnumbers the WTC dead as well. We are at 2639 American soldiers killed in Iraq, so what, we need to get to 2749? Give it a couple months, and Stone will have been proven correct yet again.

Stone may be a "pointy-headed ivory tower academic," - actually he isn't; he is damn sociable and charming and engaged and non-academic as far as it goes in the shady groves of Academe, and certainly knows a hell of a lot more than you do about the "real world."

Charles, you aren't worthy of eating the corn out of my shit, if you say things like "(surely you don't count iraqis)" when you are considering innocent lives lost.

You should be ashamed of yourself and of your parents who clearly did an awful job of raising you. Shame.

LAK

Oh, and I believe that the Pentagon does not count soldiers as having died in Iraq if they are wounded in Iraq but die later in or en route to a hospital in Germany or the US from their wounds. I'm still trying to verify this, but that would put the number of American soldiers dead from Iraq easily over the number of American killed in the WTC. And I think we are over that number if we consider the number of Americans dead including civilians and contractors.

So, suck it.

ctw

LAK:

take a deep breath; recall our earlier thoughtful exchanges re prof stone's post on bush's veto; read my comment very, very carefully while thinking, not emoting.

having done all that, apology accepted since I fully understand the reaction. mea culpa, though I really thought I had done all I could to make my intent obvious.

-charles

LAK

AH, didn't read sarcasm into your comments. My bad. They did piss me off.

ctw

well, my main reaction is that it's a terrible commentary on the state of discourse in this country when anything as extreme as "surely you don't count iraqis" and as stupid as "ME instability=earthquakes" can be taken seriously.

-c

Frederick Hamilton

What state of discourse? If your position differs with those opposed to the Iraqi war you are an idiot, and a bomb dropping neanderthal. Well, the end of the Iraq war/regime change/democratization/stabilization effort isn't here yet. When the acute phase end is here, I believe and yes hope that the Iraq endeavor will parallel North Korea and not Vietnam.

I know the hard left wants to paint Iraq as a quagmire and smells Vietnam blood in the water, but I don't think that is an accurate view of the world today.

Bush's epitath certainly will depend on the outcome in Iraq and to some extent the status of the Middle East 10 - 15 years from now.

I will go out on that proverbial limb (with a clear head and a rational view of the world) and predict a stable, free Iraq in the Middle East and a much less lethal jihad against the West. Could I be wrong. Of course.

It is a little too soon for Professor Stone to crow about his prescient writing of 3 1/2 years ago. The denouement isn't here yet.

And yeah, jump on now with the epithets, I expect them.

LAK

I'm really the only epithet slinger around here. Blogs serve the function that video games once did for me. Better than prozac or analysis, I suppose.

Frederick, there is discourse and then there is having your head in the sand and a refusal to be logical and truthful. War is the most terrible thing humanity does, and it should not be entered into based on misrepresntations and scare tactics. It should be avoided unless totally necessary. In retrospect, going into Iraq based on misrepresentation about terroist ties and WMD programs was a lie and should never have happened. There is simply no way knowing what we do now that Congress would have granted Bush such war powers. And that is a fact, and that alone should disturb you deeply.

The truth is just too apparent to deny in this case. Full scale civil war is a possiblility in Iraq. Iran is behaving as a scared animal would when surrounded from all sides by a threat. Israel, the only truly western style democracy in the middle east is under increased threat due to our bellicose ways.

Perhaps the Middle East will be stable one day, but as far as I'm concerned there were a number of paths that could have arrived at such stability without the needless slaughter of tens of thousands of human beings, and destabilization in the interim, and that may be speculative but no less obvious and imperviosu to debate.

I just know that if you saw someone you loved blown apart in front of your eyes, you might not be so casual about your support for incredibly expensive full scale military operations that kill innocent people.
I'm with you on terrorism, I just KNOW without any possibility otherwise, we'd be safer right now, in better standing with the international community, the middle east would be more stable, and the world more just, if we had used the billions and billions of dollars we've spent prosecuting this bogus full scale military war in Iraq on intelligence, foreign policy, and foreign devlopment. hell we might have some money left over to cut the deficit or even spend on solving some of the myriad domestic problems we have, especially teh fact that our educational system is in shambles where the majority of people can't even point to Iraq on the map.

Phil

I will go out on that proverbial limb (with a clear head and a rational view of the world) and predict a stable, free Iraq in the Middle East and a much less lethal jihad against the West. Could I be wrong. Of course.

Could be, Fredrick. Of course, you could also be kidding yourself. Just don't think you're kidding me.

The best we can hope for at this point is an Iranian client state surrounded by large pockets of Afghan-like or Lebanon-like instability. The best, hort of permanent occupation, that is; and occupation cannot really be permanent unless we intend to become an outright colonial power.

For LAK, I suggest decaf. Or maybe alternating between videogames and blogs. EVE On-Line, for example, is hawt.

Erasmussimo

I don't think we have any basis to believe that the situation in Iraq will stabilize. Things have been getting worse, not better, and the Administration has no plan to change our approach (other than 'stay the course'), which means that the situation will continue its downward slide into chaos. The American people will get fed up with this disaster and force a pullout. Iraq will have a nasty civil war, the Shiites will win, and the Iranians will get a client regime. And conservatives will blame it all on those namby-pamby liberals who forced a pullout.

JohnLopresti

I thought the administration in the US in part was relying on the well educated people in Iraq somehow making a more modern nation than was going to be the case if the US left the same nation of Iraq as it was in Iran's region. I believe it was Rusmfeld who described the unknowables of the domino effect before the plunge of US invasion into Iraq; there are other secularized modes of governance in small countries in the middle east though some kind of theocracy tends to appeal to peoples in the region.

The understanding of the goals of invading, as well as the consequences likely resided elsewhere than the oval office at the time; and especially, the alternatives were more researched outside the OO. Cheney having been part of the government in WA-DC for so many prior years, he naturally took the fore, I would imagine, in providing to the President the most influential counsel.

Much of the time-dated material from the 2003 writing by GS, above, however, is difficult to fit with our understandings now; especially a lot of the political reasons and events which precipitate them. The only election since then was the 2004 election and we are into the warmup for 2006 elections now in September 2006. I think the public will make its statement with ballots.

However, looking at the Texasness of this administration's politics, I would expect decisionmaking in the White House to continue to opt for large scale gestures, even though this is a president who has learned a modicum about world affairs and our effect upon them while in office.

Frederick Hamilton

Guys,
You know, the Iraqi government has only been in power and administering their new nation for three months or so. Do you think maybe we should cut them a little slack.

Oppose the Iraq war if you want. That's fine. Time will prove you wrong. But it does take time. North Korea is more apt than Vietnam (I know you want the Vietnam quagmire to apply, it doesn't). How many troops do we still have in North Korea, 30,000? How many in Germany? WW II ended 61 years ago. Eastern Europe is now free again. How long did the cold war last?

Don't be so quick to claim defeat. You'll end up looking funny with all that egg all over your faces. Yeah, yeah, I know you are all correct and I am crazy. That's OK, I can deal with that.

It would be easty to agree with all of you. Let's just end the effort. Quit the spying, intervention, detention, prevention. Get the hell out of Iraq. Why are you just focusing on Iraq? Shouldn't we get the hell out of North Korea, Germany and Japan?

While we are at it, yes, it is all our fault with the terrorists. It clearly started with 9/11 and had we not over-reacted the Middle East by now would be calm. Israel would be livving in peace with its neighbors.

Oh and as to Israel, effectively, the only Jews in the world since European extermination are in Israel and the United States. We could assimilate the 8 million Jews in Israel easily. Lets not be anti-semitic like the Europeans (they already got rid of their Jews), lets bring them to America and let their neighbors have Israel. Why not? Not worth the lives, wars, death and destruction. I mean look what happened to poor Lebanon whose only crime was sleeping with Hezbollah when Hezbollah attacked the despicable Jews. No, it is time to jettison Israel with Iraq also and simply be done with the Middle East mess.

And as for oil. The hell with Middle Eastern oil. Let them drink it or barbeque with it. Get on with the Manhattan project for oil independence now and within 10 years not one more drop of imported oil. Easily done if we have the will.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, I'd like to address your assertions that the government of Iraq will eventually stabilize. I agree that it will stabilize, but not in any form that we would call democratic.

You seem to rely on optimism and hope for your assertions, rather than any historical analysis. I base my pessimistic assessment on the history and sociology of the culture of the Iraqi area. Democracy is not the natural state of human organization and in fact is quite difficult to establish. Indeed, even American democracy falls well short of our ideals. The fundamental requirement for any democracy to function is broad public confidence in the rule of law. If everybody believes in the rule of law, and is confident that everybody else honors the rule of law, then democracy can work. But when people doubt each others' commitment to the rule of law, they fall back on patronage (sometimes called 'feudal') organizational structures. In these systems, society is organized like a pyramid, with the main strongman at the top and lesser strongmen underneath, cascading down to the lowest level of society. Loyalty flows up from below and benefices flow down from above. Law counts for nothing in this system and loyalty counts for everything.

This is how Iraqi society is organized. Such a society cannot simply jump to democracy -- it has NEVER been done in all of human history. Transforming a patronage-based society to a democratic society would require strong external control, lots of money, and at least a generation. The American attempt to establish a democracy in Iraq was naive and foolish in the extreme and is certain to fail. Iraq will revert to a patronage-based system.

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,
Agree. Never said it would be easy, but 12,000,000 Iraqi's voted for it. Will their democracy be a carbon copy of ours? No. But they deserve a chance. Japan was feudal before their democracy. Korea was feudal before theirs. Yes there must be the rule of law.

It is not only optimism that keeps me going with Iraq. It is events. The Iraqi government and leaders are stepping up. The Iraqi military and police are becomming better and better.

No, I am glad Bush will be here until Jan 09. The Iraqi's will have at least that long before a new American government can pull the rug out from under them.

To an extent I share your pessimism about freedom and liberty in the Middle East. But, and a big but, they have never tasted it before. If they get to really chew on it, I believe they'll stay with it. They are human and I believe they long for freedom and liberty. The Iraqi's are a fairly well educated country.

Iran someday will overthrow the Mullahs. That day will come also. Hopefully before Iran gets nukes and permanently destabilizes the Middle East. Oh yeah before ending, I am sorry, it is America that has caused all the despots, dictators, Kings, and Mullahs to control the Middle East. We, the infidels.

Eras, what about Israel and the Jews? What do we do with them? Let the Middle East exterminate their problem just like the anti-semitic Europeans did with their Jewry?

Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, I believe you misunderstand the political structure of both Japan and Korea prior to WWII. Neither nation used a patronage-based system. That is, loyalty to the Emperor did not buy you anything in Japan. It was not just expected, it was required. Everybody was loyal to the Emperor. The factions operating within the Japanese government were not self-interested factions, but rather principled ones. Thus, there was already in place an absolute confidence in the rule of law -- in the form of the Emperor. If the Emperor said, "Thou shalt have democracy" (which he did), then every last Japanese knew in his bones that every other Japanese would honor the rule of democracy. It was that simple.

The situation in Korea was more complicated due to the Japanese occupation, but they retained much of the Confucian value system that they picked up from China, and that system did include a strong respect for authority, not the rule of law. However, the authority is required by the Confucian code to operate with some consideration for those he rules. In any case, they certainly did not operate under anything like the patronage system so common elsewhere -- and in Iraq.

Americans have this naive notion that democracy is superior to all other political systems in all social environments. That simply isn't true. It's rather like claiming that eagles are better than penguins. Sure, in the right environment, an eagle can do all sorts of things that penguins can't do. But put an eagle in the Antarctic and he just freezes. Eagles need a certain kind of physical environment in order to flourish, and democracy needs a certain kind of social environment in order to flourish. If the social environment isn't the right one, then democracy will fail just as surely as an eagle in Antarctica.

The social environment in which the Iraqi people have lived since time immemorial is not supportive of democracy. If we want to give them a chance at building a democracy, then we'll need at least half a million American soldiers posted there for at least ten years, another half million foreign social workers for twenty years, and expenditures of several hundred billion dollars every year for at least twenty years. And even this isn't guaranteed to work; it will give them a chance. Anything less will surely fail.

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,
Sorry, I said North Korea when I obviously meant South Korea but you got it straight anyway.

I am not a knowledgeable re: Iraq as you and you may be right regarding the inability of Muslim/Islamic nations from living within the ocntext of freedom and liberty. Obviously your numbers regarding the number of troops in Iraq won't approach a half a million, and there won't be another half a million social workers. Your view of their capabilty with democracy is pessimistic indeed. I don't share it and their recent elections x3 don't support your thinking. In the end you may be right. The Middle East may be permanently mired in the dark ages forever. That would be sad.

If you are correct, the Middle East nations so cursed will still need the world's attention as their mindset and violent desires regarding the West are intolerable.

If they succeed in nuclear weapons developement then with their present talk and thinking, a nuclear exchange with the obliteration of much of the Middle East may become necessary. I would hope not. Things don't look good.

You haven't addressed Israel. Do we allow their destruction and the extermination of Middle East Jewry?

Erasmussimo

I agree that the long-term outlook for the Middle East is poor. The nations there are simply not prepared to participate in 21st century global society. So long as their only participation was supplying oil and enjoying the money, there was no problem. But now that radical Islam is advancing, they are becoming a threat to the West. I believe that there is some basis for hope if we can demonstrate the effectiveness of democracy. This allows me a neat segue into answering your question about Israel. In the long run, Israel's best hope of survival is the establishment of a stable Palestinian state with close economic ties with Israel. I think that this is an achievable goal, but I do not believe that either the Israelis or the Palestinians have the political willpower to make it happen. I therefore conclude that Israel's only hope of survival lies on an imposed peace based on the 1967 borders and a massive Western effort to build a stable democracy in Palestine. Given that there are one-tenth as many Palestinians as Iraqis, this could be accomplished for one-tenth the cost of a program to democratize Iraq. In the long run, this will be cheaper for the West than a confrontation with Islam.

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,
The Israeli's have the will and wish to see a "democratic" Palestine. But how can the Palestinians achieve such a government if Muslin/Arab/Islam peoples are incapable of living within the context of democratic freedom and liberty. The Israeli's have no power to force anything on Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank). Right now, they just want to have a wall to keep the terrorists from blowing up pizza parlors and buses.

It is not a matter of cost. Our confrontation with Islam is in full flower. How is progress's is partly up to us.

I must say that Israel doesn't probably view a Palestinian state as a threat. If that were their only threat, they would be very happy indeed. No, the threat to Israel comes from: Iran. Syria. Hamas. Hezbollah. European anti-semitism (the real wish to see all Jews exterminated, France may be the most anti-semitic country outside the Middle East and in Germany the neo-nazis are making a nice comeback). Those are the threats to Israel that really count. What are you going to do about them? Israel's only true friend is America and if we ever walk away from them, then a nuclear war in the Middle East is almost certain. Israel has nuclear weapons and would never use them, unless their survival required it. They do mean it when THEY say, NEVER AGAIN.

Erasmussimo

I disagree about the Israeli body politic's will to have a Palestinian state. The majority of Israelis are unwilling to give up the settlements on the West Bank, and they adamantly refuse to negotiate any compromise on Jerusalem. They failed to sieze the opportunity offered in the aftermath of Mr. Arafat's death; instead, they destroyed Mr. Abbas' credibility by refusing to negotiate issues of substance with him. Israel desires peace but is unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to obtain it.

I also disagree about European anti-semitism. I suggest that you might be making the common mistake of confusing objections to the policies of the state of Israel with anti-semitism. This mistake is a slander against good people and trivializes true anti-semitism.

curtisstrong

Frederick,

The world is always so white and black with you. Israel isn´t the wonderful, sweet country that only wants to live in peace and love their neighbors that you make them out to be. Do a bit of research on Ariel Sharon´s rise to power and his military background. Do a bit of research on Jewish terrorism. Do a bit of research on Jewish murders of Palestineans...etc.

But, then again, you´d probably disbelieve it all because, of course, it must have been invented by those damn Muslims whose deaths mean fairly little to you.

Again, you show your colors with the "confrontation with Islam" comment. Are we living in the time of the crusades? As far as I thought, this war was with "terrorists." Every Muslim is not a terrorist, although that seems to be news to you. Conversely, there are quite a few terrorists that are not Muslims (christian in Ireland, Spain, Russia, and many places in S. America; presumably atheist in England; Jewish in Israel...see the movie "Munich;" Buddhist or Atheist in Japan and Korea). I´m sorry that I can´t join you in your 11th century crusade against Islam.

The idea that the U.S. and Israel would never use nuclear weapons "unless they need to" is a bit puzzling and disturbing. Under what circumstances would the "need" be present to to kill thousands upon thousands of innocent people and destroy the environment through a nuclear blast and years of subsequent nuclear fallout? Well, I suppose a "need" could be present if you believed that all Muslims within a certain (large) radius were either worthy of death, or unimportant enough to worry about.


That said, I´ve been reading about the deific decree and the insanity defense. I haven´t actually studied it yet in a classroom setting; I´ve just been getting familiar with it through an old criminal law book that I found a while ago at a used book store. Given President Bush´s declarations (e.g. his "other father" comment + his disputed comment about God having told him to go to war with Iraq), I think it´s just a little bit interesting that it seems to put him in a class along with insane people. Of course Frederick is going to say that God actually DID tell Bush to invade Iraq and destroy the Muslims, so it can´t be insanity, but I found the connection intriguing.

Frederick Hamilton

Sorry guys, Europe is rife with anti-semitism. Israel would love to live in peace. They have pulled their settlements out of Gaza and pulled out of south Lebanon six years ago. The problem in the Middle East is Israel. Free. Democratic. Prosperous. Surrounded by backward, subjugated populations of people taught to hate Jews. What are your answers? U.S.'s fault to be sure.

Curtis, you are dead nuts wrong to blame Israel for their perpetual state of war and terrorist attacks. Just plain wrong. Fits nicely with Hamas and Hezbollah though.

Cute. Bush with an insanity defence. Man, you Bush haters are a muddled lot. Have some patience, he will be gone in a little over two years. Then what? Peace in the Middle East. Terroism gone? Iraq back where they belong, a dictatorial hell hole. Please.

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