Sunday, October 29, 2006

Midnight Epiphany

Never Ignore a Barking Dog at Night.

I begin with a couple of definitions:
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1) - Cite This Source
war Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[wawr]
noun, verb, warred, war-ring, adjective
–noun
  1. a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation; warfare, as by land, sea, or air.
  2. a state or period of armed hostility or active military operations: The two nations were at war with each other.
  3. a contest carried on by force of arms, as in a series of battles or campaigns: the War of 1812.
  4. armed fighting, as a science, profession, activity, or art; methods or principles of waging armed conflict: War is the soldier's business.
  5. Archaic. a battle.
–verb (used without object)
  1. to make or carry on war; fight: to war with a neighboring nation.
American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source
oc·cu·pa·tion (ky-pshn) Pronunciation Key Audio pronunciation of "Occupation" [P]
noun:
  1. The act or process of holding or possessing a place.
  2. The state of being held or possessed.
  3. Invasion, conquest, and control of a nation or territory by foreign armed forces.
  4. The military government exercising control over an occupied nation or territory.
In Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI), there was very little "war". As a matter of fact, when Bush claimed victory, he characterized it as a mere "battle":
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
Whether the invasion was a battle or war, it only lasted 42 days, out of the 1,314 total days (to date) we've been there. In other words, we've been engaged in occupation 97% of the duration of Iraquagmire.

Now some people object to the characterization of occupation. Most of the warmongering clique want to elevate Iraquagmire to the "central front in the global war against terror." In fact, it is an occupation.

Even a close blogging friend of mine, whom I hold in high esteem, and with whom I agree 95% of the time, said this:
It is still a war Vigilante. While I agree in a sense, calling it an occupation dishonors the soldiers fighting there . . . . I am nit-picking, but for some reason it is a sore point. An occupation means the occupiers are the government and although we wield a great deal of influence we are not the government.
To which I responded,
Calling it for what it is . . . is not what dishonors our soldiers. Asking our soldiers to maintain an occupation is what is dishonoring and demeaning - of us as a nation.
I hope my friend will not think I am exploiting his words as a foil in a trivial distinction. In fact. this war vs. occupation is not a trivial distinction: it is the central front in the psycholinguistic battle of our time, fought out daily and nightly in our American the media, using language, memes, archetypes, psy-ops, etc.

Take but one example. Two nights ago, Redoct warred with a racoon in my back yard, and I felt compelled to maintain a vigil with (for) him during which I distracted myself by watching CSPAN on my kitchen T.V.

During my first vigil, Karl Rove was speaking at a campaign fund raising party for embattled Tom Reynolds (R-NY). I was immediately struck by what a robust and articulate speaker Rove is - not at all resembling a shadowy, pasty-doughboy image that is often inferred from his treatment in the liberal press. But that impression paled in comparison with the substance of his speech (at least the segment which I watched): it was all WAR. "global war"; "central front in the global war"; "new kind of war", "post 9-11 war"; and most prominently, 'war in Iraq is the most critical issue of this election'. Everything I heard from him was an attempt to elevate the UULUIUOI to the status to WW II's Battle of the Bulge and anoint Bush's global war against "Islamofascism" with some trappings of Churchillian or Rooseveltian gravitas which rightly belongs to The Greatest Generation.

During my second vigil, CSPAN offered up a dialogue with author Mark Steyn, spotlighting his "America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It” on why European and Islamic anti-Americanism threatens to leave America alone. He also writes a column called “Happy Warrior” for the National Review. Steyn also turned out to be big on "Islamofascism" but not at all happy with the new moderate 'strategizing on Iraq' emanating from the White House. It turned out that he was his biggest on the infamous 'flypaper role' for the UULUIUOI. This role is most authoritatively stated by General Ricardo Sanchez,
This is what I would call a terrorist magnet, where America, being present here in Iraq, creates a target of opportunity... But this is exactly where we want to fight them. ...This will prevent the American people from having to go through their attacks back in the United States.
Steyn did not use the term (at least while I was tuned in), but he did boast that during the duration of Iraquagmire,'there had not been a single terrorist attack on American military installations anywhere in the world'.

The main reason why my friend and I find Bush's mission of occupation of Iraq assigned to our military to be ignoble, demeaning, and 'dishonorable' is that our men and women in uniform are not flypaper, but flesh and blood. Secondly, it's counterproductive, producing jihadists at a faster rate than we can kill them. Thirdly, it promises to be endless. Finally, it is criminal and immoral: as the Ramblings of a Lexington Parrothead pointed out months ago, Iraqis never volunteered to serve as hosts to our flypaper picnic.

My point is that in the central psycholinguistic battle of our time, Bush has established and intends to maintain an uninvited, unwanted and interminable occupation in Iraq, not a war. Occupations are not 'won' or 'lost'; they are ended.
Originally published 24-Oct-06

55 comments:

  1. You are exactly correct, Vigilante, it is an occupation, not a war. Frankly, I think Bush and Rumsfeld could actually wage a pretty good war.

    But, from the earliest days of pre-planning it is obvious they haven't a clue what to do in an "occupation." Virtually no post-war planning was done. And it takes tremendously more troops to "occupy" a country.

    And, I also agree, there is no shame for the troops. They have (for the most part) acted with virtue and honor, following orders that can't possibly succeed, let alone lead to a victory.

    As I said elsewhere there can be no victory. We can only measure our degrees of loss.

    the Wizard....

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  2. I think you need to reschedule your timetable Vigilante, once the Midterms are over, the troops will be coming home, the Iraqis are are a tough bunch of Nationalists and they are already negotiating with each, for when we all pack up and go home, the Bush/Blair axis of incompetance needs both of our countries to commence impeachment proceedings. Blair may not get that far as he is to be interviewed this week in the Cash for Peerages scandal by the British Police, all of his senior colleagues have been arrested and questioned under caution. After this week I think he will be given the bottle of whisky and the revolver in the library and do the honourable thing and stand aside.

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  3. The American occupation of Iraq has become a political quagmire itself.

    What is gobsmacking is until today, Bush has no clue as to how to bring an end to this "war".

    He has the slimmest of chances of bringing it to a 'dignified' end, well, even for himself, if only he could stop and consider the only option left for the US, more importantly, to listen to Baker and perhaps to stop his grandstanding for a minute so he can finally resolve to prevent another Vietnam.

    Sack Rumsfeld now is what I say and see if that doesn't reverberate around the world, Islamic world included, as "credit" to the genius and humanity of Bush...

    (OMG, what am I saying?)

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  4. Gee, I always thought of Iraq as a Colonial War. It was a war until the USA rolled into Baghdad. Then it was an occupation that quickly turned into a Colonial War when the Iraqis started fighting back big time. In fact there's evidence this was Saddam's plan all along, to engage in guerilla warfare until the Americans left and then emerge from his hole, victorious. The later part of his plan didn't work out, the former is getting stronger every day.

    JMO
    Doug

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  5. Hi Vigil, That entry of mine was on May 31, 2006. Sorry I did not get back to you before you posted.
    I agree with Doug in that Operation Iraqi Freedom has turned into a colonial war far to close in appearance to European colonial empires of the 19th century.
    As for what guthrum wrote about Blair and his final disposition I'm afraid Bush would screw that up as well.

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  6. Very interesting post, Viglante

    I am very bothered by the popularly required phrase "I support our
    troops". Particularly as a veteran of WWII, I feel great compassion for our troops, but I'm mad as hell that so many of them are finding out that they were duped by the same man who duped the rest of us.

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  7. That's MadMike that's saying

    "An occupation means the occupiers are the government and although we wield a great deal of influence we are not the government."

    In Iraq, the de facto government is the American-maintained Green Zone. The American occupation authority is the go-to people for the Sunnis who wish to negotiate.

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  8. Karl Rove is representative of the post-2008 Republican vitality. He and his kind will return and attempt to reinfect and corrupt American politics for decades to come, just as we are now seeing the last of the Iran-Contra generation in the Bush administration. The promise of their enduring presence is the greatest argument for Congressional investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and incarcerations.

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  9. Lil' Bill, The White House is calling it change in strategy, but it only amounts to a new flavor of cool-aid. Dick Cheney's flavor is their newest addition to the menu, but assuredly not their last.

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  10. Finally, I learn where ululate comes from . . . and, surprise, surprise in a political post. The wonders of a good education never cease to amaze me.

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  11. Great post.

    I wonder how the majority of Iraqi citizens would reply if asked what they think they have on their hands, a war or an occupation? I'm betting "occupation".

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  12. Well what a "coincidence"! I have a basic idea of its meaning so I won't provide a definition :-)

    Curiously, I just researched, wrote and posted a piece about "occupation or war", and I dedicated it to you Vigilante. I had not visited your site before I wrote it. Do I hear that Twilight Zone refrain....??

    Wizard, with all respect, the fact that the "war" was waged poorly does not an occupation make. Also, as you say, it takes "tremendously more troops to 'occupy' a country.

    Hillblogger et al you are writing of common sense, i.e. the firing of Rummy and the Bushmaster listening to Baker. A reasonable man would have already done both of those things, but then again if a reasonable man were the head of state we wouldn't be there to begin with and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

    Finally, Indicted Plagiarist (I love that name)a de facto government is not the government. Iraq has its own government, regardless of who is pulling the strings. Clearly, given its remarkable dysfunction it is entertaining to believe that the puppetmaster would be Bush et al.

    Thanks Vigil and you can use my words anytime. :-)

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  13. I.P.:

    Mad Mike (I love the name - it's so descriptive, (in the clinical sense)) must be talking about the de jure government of Iraq, Maliki and his entourage. Nouri al-Maliki is currently whining that Americans don't consult him when they make a move against his prime constituency: The Shi'ites and the Mahdi Army militia. It could be said that is his only constituency. Look at photographs of him anytime he ventures out of the Green Zone (unless it's into Sadr city he goes): he's always close enough to an armed-to-the-teeth European-looking mercenary that they could be handcuffed together. (And he's European-looking contractor for a reason.) Such is the sway, swagger and strut of this so-called government. It's not I-R-A-Q that Maliki governs over. He's probably only a place-holder, anyways.

    I.P., You're right. The Iraqis know they're occupied, just as they know the "elected" parliament is the human veneer of the occupation.

    All power resides with us, Americans, ensconced in the Green Zone.

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  14. Well, my friend MadMike finally showed up, didn't he? But he chose to cut and run for his home field advantage. Frankly, I was a little disappointed in his column which expresses his preference (but not his explanation) for "war" to "occupation" as the best descriptive term for what Bush is having the rest of us do to and in Iraq. There is very little there, there, to sink one's teeth in. But MadMike did alert me to the fact that George Lakoff has written about 'occupation' as the best frame for thinking about Bush's UULUIUOI. A ten minute Google led me to a Lakoff article, which I have posted in my Files. I encourage more inquisitive readers to follow the link and continue the discussion of this pivotal issue.

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  15. Vigilante, Thanks for the link to the Lakoff article.

    "Our troops were trained to fight a war, not to occupy a country where they don't know the language and culture; where they lack enough troops, where they face an anti-occupation insurgency by the Iraqis themselves; where most of the population wants them out; where they are being shot at and killed by the very Iraqis they are training; and where the U.S. has given up on reconstruction and can't do much positive good there."

    A light of reason in the darkness of meaningless political debate.

    the WIZARD.....

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  16. I would also like to offer an observation and possible defense of madmike's blog entry.

    There really are two different "military conflicts" going on at one time. The first conflict is the "War on Terrorism" which is exactly what Mike and NPR describe so clearly in madmikesamerica blog entry.

    If you agree with President Bush and many others that Iraq is the "front line" in the "war on terrorism," then Mike's analysis is quite correct.

    However, the military situation in Iraq is an OCCUPATION!! And a piss poor one, at that.

    The best you can say is that the "occupation" of Iraq is part of the overall "war on terrorism."

    Was the "occupation" necessary? Is it helping win the "war on terrorism?" Would leaving Iraq actually help win the "war on terrorism?"

    These are the real questions we need to ask and ANSWER. MSNBC just announced 14 Iraqi's were just killed by a roadside bomb.

    the Wizard.....

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  17. Thank you Wizard. It was very astute of you to pick up that subtle message and I thank you for mentioning it.

    Messenger: It is not an occupation. It does not fit the parameters of an occupation. It is a war. I would hope history does not refer to those killed in this senseless fight as "Casualties of the Iraq Occupation." Remember the "Police Action" of Vietnam? There were 58,000 Americans killed in that WAR......

    As to you Vigilante, I am pleased that you read the Lakoff article. I had intended to link it but completely forgot in the heat of battle. I had no doubt that you would buy Lakoff's theory. I also buy it, in part. I am fortunate in that I can usually find compromise in everything. As to being disappointed it is I who am disappointed. I am hopeful I will be able to convince you of the way the truth and the light:-) Until then this will be part of the 5%! Peace........:-)

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  18. Mad Mike:

    You " would hope history does not refer to those killed in this senseless fight as 'Casualties of the Iraq Occupation.'
    That's exactly how history will record it: as Bush's folly. The problem will be that many self-anointed pundits will blame UULUIUOI on the opposition for either not having been more determined at its inception or as being too critical as it dragged on, forgetting democracies should always be reluctant in taking on stuff they cannot discuss openly. So, the rancor over Iraq-Nam will continue for another generation, a booster-shot of the Vietnam syndrome.

    As for your other comment, your memory may be better than mine, but I believe "police action" actually referred to the U.N.'s sponsorship of American action in Korean WAR, which was a war, of course.

    Finally, historians as well as this American will regard service and sacrifice of those in our country's uniform as unassailably honorable, no matter dishonorable their civilian command.

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  19. One more thing, Mike. You have correctly identified the sphere of our 5% disagreement: You look for "compromise in everything".

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  20. No one has mentioned an irony which overwhelms me about this occupation. Oil and AIPAC Brought Bush and Cheney to Mesopotania, 9-11 being only the flimsiest of alibis. Instead of separating Saddam from 'our' oil the capitalist way (through purchase), they tried it through the good ol' fashioned colonial way (taking it), hiding behind the skirts of the U.N.

    The irony is that our alliance and identity with Israel is now complete (or compleat) and fixed in concrete, because Bush-Cheney have left us now with the mother-of-all Gaza Strips.

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  21. Messenger, If you count the Green Zone and our new walled city/compound under construction, we will have our own West Bank.

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  22. "...separating Saddam from 'our' oil the capitalist way (through purchase)..."

    What a novel idea!

    On the historical legacy of 'IRAQ-NAM":

    I think that is what this anti-war frenzy is all about: how to insure that historians get it right, so we never again get our troops sent off like Beetle Baily's LOST PLATOON or the FOREIGN LEGION in an ignoble and imprecisely stated cause.

    If my children ask me what I did, where I was, what I thought during the first frightful decade of the 21st century, I will be able to show them that I was hip to the happenings, and that I was on their side, speaking up for their future and standing up against the retro-agents of the dark side.

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  23. Dear everybody:

    May I join in, belatedly?

    It is neither a war nor an occupation. It is the complete execution of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, signed into law by President Clinton, though subsequently amended by the Iraq Act. It is the execution of regime change, the very change Mr. Clinton called for in 1998.

    I hope everyone sees that it surely is not a war. If it was a mere war, it would be over in days, even hours: America could send Iraq back to Babylon, if it wanted: In not doing this, it is attempting to look like a helper, not a bully. America could even end this tomorrow if it so chose. But the strategy has never been a war with Iraq; it was a struggle, a 16-year-old one, with a single regime.

    And changing a regime is a lot like removing only the oak trees from a forest: it is dangerous and time-consuming. It is always easier to cut down all the trees of a forest (like leveling a nation with nuclear bombs); but removing only one species of many is always a slow and arduous process. Just imagine how difficult it all becomes when the pines and birches dress up like oaks, or even like lumberjacks, and the trees themselves use chainsaws, or blow themselves (and their neighbors) up with C-4. The effort to limit damage to the forest as a whole by selectively cutting certain trees is a noble one, but every forester knows that it is extremely dangerous.

    Quagmire? What quagmire? American and allied forces control virtually every square inch of Iraq; there are problematic pockets, of course. But where is the Iraq navy, the Iraq airforce; where is the Republican Guard and what stronghold does Saddam Hussein control? Who controls the airwaves, the highways, the ports, the power grid? Does anyone here think American soldiers could not retreat or move forward at will? A quagmire means paralysis, really. If the American military is paralyzed, then what are Democrats going to change if, in fact, Iraq is a quagmire? Or do Democrats know the answer to liberate Iraq and America from this stand-off? If so, what is it, and why would they keep it to themselves until they are elected in November? (It sort of reminds me of Gen. Clark promising in '04 that he was the only candidate who could catch Osama bin Laden -- but only if he was elected president. Curiously, he has not deployed his skills or offered his assistance for one second in the last two years to hunt down that man.)

    Iraq is central on the war on terror because Osama bin Laden, who attacked us on 9/11, made Iraq central in his 1998 fatwa against America. That is the causal link between OBL/Iraq and 9/11; as the 9/11 Commission reported, there was no COLLABORATIVE link between OBL and Iraq. But there was, indeed, a link, or else OBL's 1998 fatwa is to be dismissed as so many vapors. The only elected leader on record (as far as I can tell) who called Iraq "an imminent threat" before voting for invasion was Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller: he is the one who most eloquently called for us to remove Hussein from power. Why would he, the co-chair of the Senate Intel Committee, call Hussein an imminent threat when no Republican leaders used that language?

    It is fair to debate whether invasion and regime change were proper responses to the OBL fatwa and Hussein's defiance of world law; but it is utterly vacuous to argue that Iraq is irrelevant or superfluous to the broader "war on terror", or that it is a "distraction."

    If the Democrats regain control of the House and Senate, what do they plan to do with Saddam Hussein? Let him go, contain him? They want to impeach Bush, that is clear, and clearly childish and shallow. What is not clear is what they want to do with Hussein and others like him. Bush, after all, is the real menace. Perhaps Hussein will be restored to power by the Democrats' new vision?

    Well, anyway, just my crazy thoughts.

    Peace to you all, always.

    BG

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  24. I was there Vigilante, in Vietnam, and it was officially called a "police action" for many years. I don't remember when it became a "war." Maybe when they ran out of body bags the second or third time.

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  25. BG your evaluation of the war in Mesopotamia was one of the most articulate I have ever read. Your distinction between causal and collaborative, albeit a fine distinction, makes great sense and I had heretofore never considered it in those terms. Thanks so much for your contribution. You gave me much to ponder.

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  26. It appears that someone has sent in Jose Canseco as a defensive replacement in right field for the Detroit Tigers in the 9th inning. What could possibly be more off the wall?

    Do we still have to reiterate the differences between the establish Bush (41) and the Clinton (42) administrations???

    The language of the The Iraq Liberation Act signed 8 years ago (this coming Tuesday) by Clinton does not talk about invasion and occupation.

    Excerpts:

    "This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.

    The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member.

    The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.

    My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

    United States continues to look to the Security Council's efforts to keep the current regime's behavior in check, we look forward to new leadership in Iraq that has the support of the Iraqi people. The United States is providing support to opposition groups from all sectors of the Iraqi community that could lead to a popularly supported government.

    $8 million available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition. This assistance is intended to help the democratic opposition unify, work together more effectively, and articulate the aspirations of the Iraqi people for a pluralistic, participatory political system that will include all of Iraq's diverse ethnic and religious groups.

    . . . . additional, discretionary authorities under which my Administration can act to further the objectives I outlined above. There are, of course, other important elements of U.S. policy. These include the maintenance of U.N. Security Council support efforts to eliminate Iraq's weapons and missile programs and economic sanctions that continue to deny the regime the means to reconstitute those threats to international peace and security.
    "

    Those discretionary authorities presumably referred to episodic and spot bombing which Clinton directed.

    The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld policy of blind retaliation against the first target-rich Arab country they could think of (to DIVERT Americans' attention away their catastrophic lapse in leaving the national security barn door unlocked) was a drastic and reckless departure from the successful Bush-Scowcroft-Clinton policy of deterrence.

    We knew when we elected them, Bush and Cheney were oil-can cowboys. After 9-11, they became leaders of a crazed lynch-mob.

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  27. Webster's 3rd International Dictionary:
    quagmire
    1 a: soft wet miry land that shakes or yields under the foot
    1 b: a usually dry area of land converted into an expanse of soft wet ground by heavy rain or flooding of mud under the never ceasing downpour
    2: something flabby soft or yielding
    3: a complex or precarious position where disengagement is difficult
    Webster also permits this usage as a verb, as in
    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith have quagmired our treasury, armed services, and national honor into a useless, unnecessary, and seemingly endless bloodbath in Iraq.

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  28. "...American and allied forces control virtually every square inch of Iraq..."

    is a ludicrous statement; We can't even nail down Baghdad.

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  29. My patience has expired.

    Welcome to The Vigil, B.G.

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  30. Contretemps Says:

    Iraq is central on the war on terror because Osama bin Laden, who attacked us on 9/11, made Iraq central in his 1998 fatwa against America. That is the causal link between OBL/Iraq and 9/11; as the 9/11 Commission reported, there was no COLLABORATIVE link between OBL and Iraq. But there was, indeed, a link, or else OBL's 1998 fatwa is to be dismissed as so many vapors.

    Read it, Bloke! Read it and you will see it mentions Palestine as much as Iraq (which we were bombing at the time). Read OBL's statement of Oct 2001, too. Palestine!

    FTW, why didn't GWB take care of that problem? That festoring, metastasizing tumor known WORLD WIDE as the West Bank - as long as he was rolling the dice to see what irritant he could bomb after he obliterated Afghanistan.

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  31. God knows what the Democrats are going to do with what Bush and Cheney have left us: our own mother-of-all Gaza Strip for years to come, decades to come.

    The first thing that has to be done is to put these guys off to the Hague, then hopefully some of their mess can be attended to

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  32. Dear Recidivist,

    Are your responding to me? (I am not sure.)

    Yes, yes. Israel is also important, and I do not know a single soul who doesn't think it is. Clearly Osama bin Laden did, as I show in the clip from his fatwa in my post above.

    But I am unsure of your argument. Are you suggesting that OBL was not attacking us on 9/11 because of Bill Clinton's abuse of Iraq during his two terms? I think the 1998 fatwa contradicts that view: OBL was very much attacking America because of Clinton's aggressions in the Arabian Peninsula (and GHWB's Gulf War).

    I think we should put in the Hague all those folks who repeatedly suggest that Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11. Or is that over the top? It probably is. Just like a lot of the things well-meaning people say.

    Of course, I am joking about the Hague.

    Peace to you always, with years of bliss,

    BG

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  33. Mr. B.G., How can you say with one breath that

    Iraq "is neither a war nor an occupation", and with the next breath say "American and allied forces control virtually every square inch of Iraq"?

    Would not the latter circumstance, if true, constitute "occupation"?

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  34. To sum up, Contretemps:

    1. Bill Clinton pissed off OBL by 'wagging the dog' on Saddam.
    2. OBL declared war on the USA.
    3. GWB paid no attention to the warnings of the Clintonistas as they left office, and concentrated on Star Wars for the first 9 months on 2001, instead of the suitcase threat.
    4. OBL struck on 9-11.
    5. It's Bill Clinton's fault.


    Congratulations! That is the least circuitous argument I have heard in a long history of listening to ABC arguments.

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  35. Dear Recidivist,

    You are absolutely right, it is the least circuitous argument, but I cannot take credit for it, since the argument you present is utterly unfamiliar to me. Did someone you know make that argument? For surely I did not make it: I never mentioned anything about "Wag the Dog" or anything else. I DID quote OBL's actual fatwa in which he SLAMMED the Clinton administration as brutal and oppressive. But there was not a hint, not even a whiff, of anything about a dog, or a tail wagging, or any similar canine reference.

    If I have said anything here, I have said this: the struggle in Iraq is one that is over 16 years old, and it has involved lots of blunders along the way, from three separate administrations. The fact, though, is this: critics want us all to believe that only two administrations have failed regarding Iraq, the two Bush administrations. But Bill Clinton does not get a pass from me, nor should he get one from anyone paying attention: The OBL fatwa was issued under CLINTON's watch because of Clinton policies (inherited, no doubt, from GHWB); Clinton and Co. did not take this seriously enough; his party and his props are rewriting history for mere political gain.

    We are all to blame.

    Peace and mirth,

    BG

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  36. On RECIDIVIST's point #3 (above), one of my favorite questions (tandem) is (are):

    What was the major topic of Condi Rice's speech (never presented) scheduled for 9-11-01?

    And,

    Why has its text STILL not been released?

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  37. Dear Soros' Proxy (and others),

    I must say that Vigilante has attracted to his site a very formidable set of readers. I am impressed how some of you are keeping my feet to the fire, and how quickly.

    If the context of this discussion is George Lakoff's effort to dispense with the word "war" and replace it with "occupation," then my comments make sense. For Lakoff's intimation is that the "war" is really about something other than war, and thus, naming it an occupation gets us all closer to the truth: we are occupying a land for an indefinite period for political and economic reasons that are hidden from us, buried beneath so much bravado and pugnacious rhetoric. Or so goes the argument.

    My comments are really two-pronged. On the one hand, I am saying that the only viable construct that makes sense (and is the only one the Bush Administration actually acted on), is the idea of regime change. Regime change, as a matter of strategy, is neither traditional war, nor is it mere occupation. It is a difficult and painstaking strategy with a built in end: the strategy ceases when the regime is changed (change implies replacement). Hence, it is not open-ended, which "occupation" suggests. There is a terminus, at least in theory.

    On the other hand, my statement that we control most if not all of Iraq was not to be confused with occupation; I was merely showing that allied forces are not REALLY in a quagmire, nor are they "losing". A doctor, during major surgery, can control all sorts of things; in fact, he really can control everything (in a perfect operating room), from a patient's heart rate, to his blood pressure, his respiration, his hydration, his amount of consciousness. All this the doctor can do without occupying his patient; he need not set up an occupation in order to do this. But, to push the analogy back toward regime change, a surgeon can control many of these things while nonetheless struggling against surprises. Imagine how difficult his task if he sets out, not to remove the liver, but only the bad liver cells; and then imagine some of the cells -- even the good ones -- exploding with C-4 in his face. It would be easier, under such circumstances, to cut out the whole liver or blow up the whole body; but he has set for himself a goal which is wildly difficult (and perhaps impossible). He could indeed cut and run; but that act is only open if he sees his difficult task as a quagmire. If he sees it as it is -- a surgery that, with great care and fortitude, can succeed -- then he remains hopeful and driven.

    I am willing to accept that invading Iraq was a bad idea. I am willing to accept that removing a liver's bad cells is foolish; and I am willing to accept that finding a viable and healthly NEW liver to transplant in Baghdad is impossible. What I am not willing to accept is that Iraq is irrelevant to 9/11 or the war on terror. It is completely central to both. How we deal with that centrality is debatable. But what is horrific is the tendency by far too many people to deny Iraq's centrality. That, to me, is unconscionable and indefensible. Again, this is not to say that bombing Baghdad was EVER a good thing. It is merely to point out the obvious: Osama bin Laden made Iraq central. Let us, at least, not back away from that fact.

    Peace, always.

    BG

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  38. To Push back against your inventive mythologies, is my choice, B.G..

    The content of Osama's fatwas against us did not make and does not make Iraq the central front in the GWOT any more than it makes Israeli ethnic cleansing in the West Bank the central front.

    It's the facts -- Osama's fatwas and his self-admitted attacks of 9-11 -- that make him and his location the central front in the GWOT.

    The preponderance of evidence shows, especially Paul O'Neill's, that upon assuming office, Iraq was for Bush -- if not for Cheney -- a solution looking for a problem. So much so that Bush let Osama escape to into Tora Bora and beyond because he was in such a hurry to spotlight Baghdad as the bulls-eye for his personal oneupmanship grudge-match with his father (the terrestrial one). [I'm speculating here - who's to say what he was thinking of?]

    In any event, Bush Jr. outsourced the GWOT's central front - OBL - to a bunch of mercenary war lords who shall forever go nameless in history.

    The result, as we all know by now, is that GWB has hurt the USA more than OBL.

    Peace be with you, B.G.

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  39. EDITORIAL COMMENT:

    Because this thread has suddenly become a target-rich environment, I am post-dating it to the head of the pack.

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  40. This artful dodger is trying to run the tables in here with his fantasies because he can't face his guilt for voting for the worse president in history.

    Personally think, he's not worth his column inches allotted.

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  41. It was Herman Goering at the Nuremburg Trials, when asked how they the Nazis persuaded the German people to go to war, and stay at war for six years- sounds familiar ?

    All the Best Guthrum

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  42. Dear Vigilante,

    You have replied with a very fair analysis.

    I have read the OBL 1998 fatwa many times; there is hardly a mention of Israel, or Palestine. The central point of defense (and offense), at least to OBL, is clearly Iraq. Anyone holding that fatwa in his hand while standing on the corner of Church and Liberty on September 11, would understand, instantly, that what he was witnessing was retaliation for perceived injustices against Iraq. Many, if not most, of those injustices occurred from 1992 to 1998 (that is why OBL says "First, for over seven years ...").

    We can certainly disagree about whether there are two central fronts or one: Iraq is central and, perhaps, Palestine. But we cannot deny that if we must choose one -- as drawn from OBL's 1998 fatwa and his more recent calls for continued jihad in Iraq -- then Iraq is the one central front to choose. Just because Israel/Palestine is a hot-zone, it does not follow that there can only be one key front, or that I am ignoring one over the other. I am merely defending the thesis that Iraq is not a vain, silly distraction. It is a vital key in this whole struggle (again, I am not saying that invasion was right).

    You are absolutely right about the preponderance of evidence tilting attentive people toward dealing with Hussein, and this well before 9/11. The UN surely understood that something needed to be done, but was too cowardly, too obsequious, or too complacent to effectively do so. Clinton, obviously, believed that something had to be done, or he would not have said what I quoted above. So Bush's interest in Iraq is not at all unique to him. What is unique in all of this is the idea that it was unique to him. That is the oddity. How did anyone ever come to think that Iraq was only a preoccupation (interesting word) for Bush?

    Anyhow, there is bliss outside, and we should all be looking for it.

    Peace,

    BG

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  43. Dear Messenger,

    I am not sure if your comments are directed at me. Am I the Artful Dodger? If so, what is it that I have dodged? If there is anything, let me know, and I promise not to dodge it. I'll even take one right in the nose.

    But if you are indeed directing comments my way, then let me bite. Here is what you said:

    This artful dodger is trying to run the tables in here with his fantasies because he can't face his guilt for voting for the worse president in history.

    Personally think, he's not worth his column inches allotted.


    OK. Let me admit it. I am guilty, very guilty. I did vote for the worst president in history. Didn't anyone else? You mean, I am the only person here who voted for Bill Clinton? I don't believe that for a second.

    Peace to you, and may you find much to laugh at,

    Gnade

    (Most people think of me as something of a Scrooge or Fagin, or perhaps a Uriah Heep.)

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  44. On Vigilante's main point, BG, you are unresponsive.

    Bush had one mission forced upon him: Osama bin Laden Dead or Alive. Remember that one?

    Bush chose another mission, "regime change" in Baghdad at the point of a gun.

    He has yet to complete either. He won't be able to. He hasn't acknowledged or apologized for his mistakes nor for their unbelievable costs.

    But you could do both for yours. Now. Here.

    And then we could have bliss in here, too.

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  45. Contra times,
    I find your basic way of looking at the world to be bigoted and hate-mongering.
    Also you are a cog ,as to your participation of thinking you are somehow rational with these posts of yours.
    The war was made to steal resources and control the political/religious template of the area of Iraq.

    I don`t much use my own blog site as anything other than a bill board to direct people to other places so please no longer respond there.

    I do not value your opinion.

    I did make some suggestions to you there that I hope you take.
    I find your attitude of a brainwashed Christian to be repugnant , and your way of looking at the war to be also repugnant.

    The very core of hate mongering born again values that many express seems to be your standard operating procedure.
    Honestly I really hate pretentious uneducated , hate-mongering religious flunkies like yourself.

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  46. Vigil, I am sure you know an adage - If you fall off the horse, climb back up again - or something like that? I fell off the horse, that is your blog, and since not immediatelly climbing back, it became a phobia, a sort of impossibility untill now. Let me explain.

    The first time, when I decided comment on what you wrote, I got uneasy feeling about you. You told about your distaste (not your word) in foreigners that come and tell you, the Americans, what to do. This sort of a sentiment betrays some traits in a person that I am very uneasy with. This really is a form of (latent?) racisism, elitism or xenophobia, depending on who the person in the receiving end might be. Just because of an accidents of birth, you chose to categorize people to those whom are good enough to give an advice and those whom are not. When such a determination is solely based on an individual and on his/her qualities, I have no problem but there is no way of me accepting these artificial restrictions based, as I sated before, on the accident of birth.

    Mainly because I found your blog relevant and raising issues that were also in my mind, I stayed on. Little by little, I lost my uneasyness with you and replaced it with respect and with a very rare sort of comradery. Just before our last encounter of the horrible kind, I considered you as my brother. This might not sound that earth shattering but considering that we Finns go to our graves without saying "I love yous" to our wives, it certainly is. No amount of "fuck yous" from you to me would be enough to make me pout, but you went back to this foreigner business again and I just flipped.

    All my life, I have been mad at myself about not being able to stay angry but in your case all the previous records have been broken a long, long time ago. It must be, that I build our relationship up to be something it could never truly be and thus I was not able to graceously accept the lesser reality. However, I wish you all the best!

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  47. Pekka you were the reason I hung out here in the first place. Are you sure you are a Finn.?
    The Finns that came to Minnesota moved up north where the climate is terrible and then on top of that worked underground in the mines.~!~
    You seem so light hearted and well balanced , I would never of guessed you to be a Finn.
    We all like the Finns here in Minnesota.
    I was so disappointed that you were not here after I arrived that almost left.
    When I found you at Mikes America I was happy.~!~
    Now that Vigilante has made nice with you for all the right reasons , and really humbled himself , as he should have, I am really happy to see your post here. Please stay.

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  48. May God bless you Pekka.

    Again.... you speak to me. I am blessed that you have returned to speak to me. I am overcome. No one have I met, so closely understands me, so understands my blindnesses. There's no one whose cautions restrain me. There's no one whom I have met on the 'Net whose understanding and agreement I sought as fervently as I have sought yours. I am so happy happy happy you have returned here. I so hope it's for good.

    If so, you know I will quarrel with you again, but you should know I will never be trivial with you again. And I know you will fight with me, and when and if we exchange blows, we can always stop in the middle and ask, "How did that feel?" Because, for myself, I will always be seeking you out the next morning for your opinion on this or that.

    Please forgive my past transgressions and trespass?

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  49. Dear Mr. Sievert,

    Hmmm. Hate-mongering? Irrational? Bigoted? Really?

    If you can find an ad hominem attack anywhere in these posts, or in my one simple post at your site, then I will submit to your critique that I am irrational. Alas, I think I can find one ad hominem attack: it sticks out like a sore thumb. But can you find it?

    If you want to deem me hateful, that is fine. It is untrue, of course, but you are entitled to believe any sort of thing you wish, even if it is thoroughly outlandish. My only wish is that you would demonstrate, using an argument or even a simple syllogism, how it is that I am any of the things you so easily (too easily, really) accuse me of. Do you remember in writing class your teacher saying this: Show me, don't tell me? You make some bold assertions without offering a single shred of evidence. No doubt you could search the web for some stray phrase of mine that you deem offensive; but we are not talking about the great web of comments out THERE; we are talking about what is going on right HERE, and at your site.

    If my simple approach offends you; if you find my reasoning so readily dismissable and irrational; if it is so easy for you to damn me and cast me down to the fiery pit, perhaps, just perhaps, you could produce something that bolsters your case that I should be sentenced to perdition.

    Of course, it is interesting that you can call me "hatemongering" when you conclude your damnation of me with this:

    "Honestly I really hate pretentious uneducated , hate-mongering religious flunkies like yourself."

    I am sorry, but did you just say you hate me?

    Anyhow, since you do not know me at all, I can only tell you that I am sincere when I bid you well, that I am more friend than foe, and that I am hoping that you have a better day, even a better life, than I. Moreover, I sincerely apologize if, in my almost too fastidious attempt to make my points clear throughout this thread, I have somehow offended you.

    Peace, and, of course, many good laughs,

    Bill Gnade

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  50. Dear Messenger,

    If I have evaded Vigilante's main point, I did not mean to do so. I probably am very willing to accept that GW Bush fell asleep at the wheel in the first 8 months of his administration. Is that what you want me to acknowledge? Well, for our purposes here, I acknowledge it. But where does that get us? What do we gain from this? I have already posited facts that no one here will concede; I am tempted to think that they have not been conceded because everyone knows they are irrefutable: The 1998 fatwa against the United States did not mention George W. Bush, but it did mention the first 6 years of the Clinton administration. It was this fatwa that led to 9/11; George Bush II presiding in the Oval Office in 2001 had nothing to do with the attack. The only viable argument one can make is that GW Bush did not work more assiduously to protect America from that attack. But it is futile to discuss who failed to protect us from that infamous attack when we are much more interested in what CAUSED the attack in the first place. It's a bit like yelling about the filter of a cigarette failing to protect a smoker from lung cancer. The filter is not the cause of that cancer, something else is.

    In the context of this discussion, I am suggesting that the cancer of 9/11 was caused by the brief failures of the first Bush regime and the lengthy failures of the Clinton regime in dealing with Iraq -- at least in the opinion of Osama bin Laden.

    As for your other assertion -- namely, that Bush had only one mission, which was to kill or capture bin Laden -- well, I have not heard this from Vigilante, so I do not think I dodged this point. But it is not much of a point, really, and this for two reasons. One, there are many left-leaning critics of Bush and the "war" who believe (and you all know I am not making this up) that OBL is NOT responsible for anything, even 9/11. So it stands to reason that Bush would not look for him if OBL is really an ally (I don't believe this for a second, of course). Two, OBL was not the only charge on Bush's plate: Bush inherited the Clinton Iraq Liberation Act calling for regime change in that country. This is no sleight-of-hand syllogism I am creating, it is just the reportage of plain history.

    I believe all of us here agree that any regime that garners 17 UN resolutions against it is not a mere distraction; surely we all agree that a dictator who gives the middle finger to world law for 16 years is a threat to world stability, and even world peace. Again, this is not to justify the invasion of Iraq. It is merely to point out that Bush had every reason under the sun to have Saddam Hussein atop his foreign policy list as a priority. After all, America has been at "war" with Iraq since 1991: not for one second had that war stopped during the Clinton years.

    Anyhow, just more mad ramblings from a jovial heart,

    Peace, at least for a day,

    Bill Gnade

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  51. Here is a simple syllogism contra.

    Religious people are bigots.

    You are a religious person.

    Therefore you are,,,,

    I left a longer example on Mikes site buried down a ways.
    I don`t care to debate you.

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  52. You know, Bill, my advice is to construe this deafening silence in here as indicative that you have won 1-15 % agreement on all issues. Tops. I may be presuming too much here, but I'm thinking that many of the participants here are searching their blogging mission statements for any parts where they may have inadvertently committed themselves to tutoring you through completing history 101.

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  53. My dear Mr. Sievert,

    You have told me nothing new here: of course you are not interested in debating me. (But I do love how you like to remind me about your opinions voiced elsewhere.)

    My dear Messenger,

    What message, pray tell, do you bring?

    As for that "deafening silence", perhaps you should look again. You have contributed a fair share to the din; this whole thread has been reposted to the top; I have won -- though with a great deal of sarcasm -- high marks in Vigilante's ratings. Not that he agrees with me, or even likes me. But surely you have been napping if you think there has been anything suggestive of silence.

    The deaf part, though, is something you are probably right about. (Hear the silence roar!)

    Peace, laughter, and a great deal of hope,

    Gnade

    P.S. As for that 1-15% you think I won. You are way, way off. I won nothing. In fact, mark me up with a deficit. Let's call it, You Guys, plus 115%; Bill Gnade, minus 75%. That seems just about right (though probably a little generous in my column. It's more like a negative 98.6). And it is easy for me to concede these points, since I do not care about winning what is not a game. Searching for the truth, even if I have to scrape for it (and I do), is all that matters. I may blunder about; I may make bonehead mistakes. But at least I think, and I think alone. (Notice I did not say "I drink alone." I'll leave that to George Thorogood.)

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  54. Under the thin and ineffective veneer of the Anglo-American OCCUPATION, rages a real civil WAR, within which strategic moves are being made, even now.

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