Monday, November 19, 2007

Defining Evil

Part of the problem is definitional...part of it is perspective. From my point of view, the decision to invade Iraq showed an indifference to the sanctity of life so high, that it crossed over my definitional divide and reached a level that can only be called 'evil'. This would be more generally acknowledged if the war had not been sold as an absolutely necessary measure needed to prevent even larger loss of life. We now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction and no operational cooperation between the government of Iraq and al-Qaeda. If we are honest, we'll admit that Saddam Hussein kept religious radicals under surveillance and allowed them little freedom of training camps, no access to weapons, no access to loose nuclear materials. There is no sense in which it can be accurately argued that the invasion of Iraq saved lives. It has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. And honest intelligence officers predicted as much before the invasion.

Once the Pandora's Box was opened, a whole lot of evil boiled to the surface in Iraq. It was easy to blame Saddam Hussein for his oppression. Few considered the types of evil that his oppression suppressed. It's true that the situation in Iraq has left us vulnerable to retaliation. There are a lot of angry people that want revenge. We already knew prior to the invasion, through 9/11, that we had made enemies. But now, whether we stay in Iraq or go, we have a higher level of threat. Who's fault is that?'s not our fault that there are bad people in the world, but who else are you going to blame for this situation?

Yet, even if our country has made some very bad mistakes, we don't forfeit our right to defend ourselves. We just need to be clear-headed. We've invited attacks. Goodwin seems to miss this:

Consider that what was once called a generational war against an existential threat is now by unanimous consent of the candidates only a misguided Republican war in Iraq that must be ended immediately. What was once a bipartisan concern about the new phenomenon of lethal nonstate actors such as Al Qaeda has been reduced to denunciations of waterboarding and attacks on the Patriot Act.

Bush and Rummy and Cheney called it a 'generational war against an existential threat' but it wasn't anything of the kind. They then went about doing everything they could to make sure that it was a 'generational war against an existential threat'. Namely, they lied to the world about the intelligence and invaded a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and which could have actually been counted on to be a passive ally in crushing jihadists. They then added to the problem by making the decision to dismantle the only organization (the Iraqi army) that could keep law and order and then setting up shop as an occupation force. Even war architects like Richard Perle have expressed astonishment at those decisions.

The war in Iraq has really become nothing more than a 'Republican war in Iraq that must be ended immediately'. It might have been that from its inception. After all, as early as the spring of 2002 Karl Rove was advising the Republicans to use warmongering as a wedge device in the midterm elections. The Democrats were never given a good faith opportunity to be equal partners in a national project of urgent national security. In part, this is because the argument for war was notably dishonest and unsupportable. That doesn't mean that it wasn't supported. It has been said that Howard Dean was the only Democrat to get it right on the war because he was the only Democrat that never received a CIA briefing on the intelligence. The Bush administration had their hands full stovepiping forged Italian documents...they didn't have time to reach out to the Democrats. They owned the war before it started and they still own it. They own it more than ever, because they have prevented Congress from passing any laws that might actually convert the mission to something that has bipartisan support.

'What was once a bipartisan concern about the new phenomenon of lethal nonstate actors such as Al Qaeda has been reduced to denunciations of waterboarding and attacks on the Patriot Act' because Iraq had nothing to do with nonstate actors, and because foreign policy has not been conducted in a bipartisan manner.

Many Democrats tried to be bipartisan. Some of them are now in the private sector. Others are members of the party 'Connecticut for Lieberman'. The rest are no longer viable candidates for higher office (see Joe Biden).

None of which means that Democrats can't recognize evil, or that Democrats are not aware that we have a threat of terrorism. In fact, most Democrats recognize that the situation in Pakistan represents a real threat. Pakistan is everything that Iraq was not. They harbor terrorists, they have nuclear weapons, they have proliferated nuclear technology, they have an ongoing relationship with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and the country is unstable. If events unfold the wrong way a nuclear war with India could become a reality. Or...jihadists could steal some nuclear materials. Or...jihadists could take over the government. And we have all our soldiers bogged down in Iraq.

If you needed a reason to get out of Iraq, you could hardly ask for a better one. What could be more evil than nuclear war?

Here is what conservatives did wrong. They bought into the idea that 19 hijackers and some co-conspirators represented an existential threat. They didn't. They represented a threat. A big threat. The only way they could elevate themselves to the level of an existential threat was through Pakistan and their weapons.

Now we are faced with that dilemma and we are not situated to deal with it.
The war in Iraq was wrong, because it created a big imbalance.
Sadam Hussein (how I do not care) kept a certain balance between two parts of Islamism.
Killing Saddam Hussein was like giving to one part (Iran) the control of the place.
The Americans will go away (because there is no other choice)and the Iranians will take Saddam Hussein's place (thanks to them).
This imbalance will create a greater war. May be this was planed by the actor of 9/11.

Defining Evil There are two things conservatives need to internalize.
by BooMan

First, our president is an idiot and his national security team is filled with delusional ideologues. Virtually nothing they say is true or accurate.

Second, the reason we were attacked on 9/11 was because our our policies towards Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt. It was not about Islam. And people want to attack us now even more than before...for basically the same reasons.

We must reconsider our foreign policy because it is too expensive and it makes our citizens unsafe.

Ron Paul can explain the basics to you. He has the basics right.
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