Monday, November 20, 2006

Carrying Coals to Contratimes

Bill Gnade is a blogger who ably presides over at Contratimes. As a writer Bill has demonstrated to his readers great versatility, wide curiosities, and unexpected profundities. One of his self-disclosed traits is that he is a fast typist. I think he may not agree with me when I say that can be a problem for him (and his readers) in that his writing may occasionally outpace his mind.

In any event, he is given to making rather long comments on The Vigil. Long comments can be objectionable as they are conversation stoppers, kind of like any one you can recall monopolizing a conversation at a cocktail party. In Bill's case I'm always - usually - willing to make an exception because he always has something to say.

He did so on Sunday. But in this instance I felt the major thrust of his comment not as responsive - entirely - as it could have been had he broken up his overlong essay and parsed portions out to a number of different threads.

So, in order to discourage him in this verbose pattern and yet to encourage his continued participation, I have decided to dedicate a post to his last comment. I trust he will find this agreeable.

The balance of Gnade's comment is flowery and no doubt purposive in his own mind; in my mind a portion of it wanders off on a tangent I cannot endeavor to follow with the limited time I can spare. I'm sure what I have neglected to comment on does not constitute the mutterings of an idiot, of course, because Bill is a smart enough fellow. Bill Gnade is, above all - an accomplished artist in photography and poetry. He is just giving us the pleasure of reading through some incomplete thoughts of his, works-in-progress. (Isn't that what blogging is all about?) Curious readers can find his complete statement here.

Bill Gnade, of Contratimes, begins with:
It is good to grieve over the loss of life, for any reason. It is even good to be reminded -- daily -- of the human costs of war. This is a sad war, as are all wars.

I am disappointed, however, by several things here. First, I am disappointed that you should refer to these dead -- all of them volunteer enlistees -- as casualties of Bush's war, which you've dubbed, reductionistically, the UULUIUOI.
When Bill points out that these are volunteers, is his point that they asked for it? In fact many - not all - post 911 enlistees thought they were volunteering to fight the people who bombed us on September 11th, 2001. Of those who have been in service prior, I would submit that many of them never would have guessed they would be sent to fight and die in an elective war - a war of choice - not one unnecessary to our national security.
How can you possibly believe that the Iraq conflict is solely George Bush's doing?
It was the Bush administration that sought the "Iraq Resolution" or the "Iraq War Resolution" which were popular names for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public law 107-243, 116 Stat. 1497-1502). This was passed by the United States Congress authorizing what was soon to become the un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI). If Bill wants to argue that Congress has complicity in this UULUIUOI, he should go right ahead. He should point out that, in the Senate, all but 22 Democrats and one Republican were gullible and culpable; in the House all but 126 Democrats and 6 Republicans were gullible and culpable.
We have, sort of, had this conversation before. But I ask again: At what point between 1991 and 2006 was the US NOT IN CONFLICT with Iraq? At what point was there a moment's peace between Iraq and, let's just say, the Clinton administration? Wikipedia's (among many other sources) entry for the Gulf War I (scroll down to "Consequences"), says that Iraq was nearly bombed EVERY OTHER DAY during the Clinton administration: the two major Iraq conflicts, in 1996 and 1998, brought more bombs to fall on Iraq than Gulf War I (or something to that effect). So why pretend that this war began in 2003? It did not.
Obviously, during this period of bombing sortees to which Bill alludes, there was never any authorization to invade or occupy Iraq. Otherwise, Bush would not have gone to the effort to get his above-mentioned UULUIUOI authorized on 10-Oct-02, would he have?
I have no problem decrying war. But I want to decry it for the right reasons; I want to decry it for reasons based in truth, in reality, and without the rewriting or denying of history.

What also bothers me here is the inference, almost laden with surprise, that this war is uniquely damaging to our soldiers. There has not been a moment when any war, even those fought for the noblest of reasons, has not damaged soldiers' bodies or psyches. While some soldiers DO return damaged from Iraq (my best friend and college roommate is one of them), how do we explain that soldiers are REENLISTING at rates above the Army's target goals (especially when the Army has seen the most deaths)?
That the employment rates for Iraqi vets are reportedly high I attribute to unprecedented large re-upping bonuses, and the comradery of fighting young men and women for whom the salient code is no one gets left behind. But even 'the solidarity of the foxhole' doesn't affect the way they feel about the occupation.
Why is it that the vast majority of soldiers appear to disagree with the critics of the conflict?
Bill's rhetorical question raises a cluster of other questions:
  • Do the vast majority of soldiers disagree with the critics of the occupation?
  • Why are our troops in Iraq and Kuwait bombarded with radio druggy Rush Limbaugh but not allowed access to Air America?
  • Why is Internet access for troops in Iraq and Kuwait restricted to Rumsfeld-approved sites?
I could go on. Obviously, in the Pentagon there is a concern about the volatility of troop opinion about the occupation; otherwise there wouldn't be such a concerted effort to control access to information.
I believe you (unintentionally) sully the meaning of the deaths of thousands of Americans by your reductionistic acronym, and by blaming this all on Bush.
It is Bush. Bush is the president. The Buck stops on his desk.
But these are just my opinions, I know. I don't think you mean to "sully" the sufferings of others; perhaps I have overstated it. But I think one could be given that impression. In fact, one has been given that impression - me. Not that you are cold or crass or unfeeling or even reckless. I am sure you've thought about this all rather seriously. But I am wondering if you've thought long enough about how your acronym might make those folks feel who have lost a limb, or a loved one, for a cause they deem just, noble, and for the good of the common man.
My acronym does not sully our Armed Services which are exemplary, honorable, notable, patriotic, and courageous; it's the mission of the UULUIUOI which has betrayed their trust. Those to my left may call it reductionist of me to say this, but prior to Bush, it was not our American custom for our presidents to direct, nor for Congress to authorize, the sending of our armed forces abroad to invade and occupy nations which had not attacked us or our allies. (Even in the case of Vietnam, there was an effort to make a case for fighting international aggression.)

It is Bush's invasion
and subsequent occupation of Iraq that is demeaning to our honorable military service men and women and to our military traditions which all Americans hold in the highest esteem.


  1. I looked at Contra`s stuff very hard at first and tried to figure it out. Then , after he admitted that he was not an open minded person I closed the book shut , and walked off in the other direction.
    All the peace be with your , brother make this the crowning day of your life stuff got on my nerves also when I figured out that he, in my opinion, doesn`t have a very humane attitude.
    Slippery devil that he is to read , I suggest he be enlisted into the psyic/corps , to develop mind tortures for our enemy`s

  2. Vigil, it doesn't please me to see that you have devoted so much space and time to tutor this poet through his freshman class of History 101.

    It does please me that you correctly use the word "occupation" where others would use the word "war", to describe the present duties of our military deployments in Iraq.

  3. Its not a war or an occupation , just a scam to make money.

    British petroleum and Saudi oil , and Russian oil and American oil interests have done just fine thank you.

    They don`t give a damn about the loss of life on either or any sides.

    They just want to make money, and boy did they ever. ~!~! Wow.

    American forces are mercenary forces to enforce the will of the oil company`s and others that desire Iraqi oil to be off the market.

    Are we leaving any time soon .? No.

    Both so called sides of the political spectrum here are controled by these corporate controllers with money.

  4. Vigilante, shining a light on some of the responsible parties here, thank you. This guy (love his photos) strikes me as traditionally religious and extremely judgemental (me too on that last point, unfortunately), and places the blame for social problems squarely on the shoulders of women--whilst living in the state of Eutopia.

  5. Like one of my long-term (a month or<) friends, Skippy, says, Contra has a quality to squeeze the balls of one's mind like no one else.

    There is no doubt, that Contra is able to make a rude swearing sound like a gentle poem. He serves his sizzling stake without the meat, though.

    Of course, there is no doubt that what comes to actual facts, making analysis, think logically and present summations clearly and precisely, you beat his flowery prose by a huge marigin. I already wondered about his strange, disjointed way of reasoning at Mad Mike's and quite frankly haven't gathered strenght enough to go and visit his blog.

  6. Dear Urbanpink,

    Are you suggesting that I am something of misogynist? Really! I beg you, for all good readers here, cite one example that would lead us to such an understanding. But, of course, there is one small rule: You can't take my words out of context. Not that I can think of any context that might lead you to think such thoughts.

    I have been libeled before. Trust me. But this one is entirely new. I am sure my wife, with her advanced degrees, brilliant mind and singular career, would like to know what sort of man she has married. Alas, I would like to know what sort of man she has married!

    Oh, and as for the traditionally religious part. What does that even mean? Is there a non-traditional religion out there of which I am unaware? Is the fact that I have not attended church in three years at all an indication that I am, perhaps, not one whit traditional, and maybe not at all religious? Do let me know: what are my religious beliefs, and what relevance does my being "traditionally religious" have in this, or any discussion? Have I injected religion in any thread here?

    Let me see. "Extremely judgmental." Hmm. That's a good one. Perhaps you can find a place where I have hurled damnation on some poor guest at my blog. Please, just look at every comment I've posted in my conversations with Mr. Sievert (they're a quite a few)! Judgmental? Yikes! One wonders what that would even look like. I readily admit that I do have fun with folks; I do like to play. But I take NO PLEASURE IN JUDGING ANYONE. I do, however, find myself fighting the urge to take pleasure in judging myself. There is no one I judge more sternly than myself. If this fact proves me judgmental, then you are right.

    What I do like doing is to judge ideas. That's it! Throw up an idea and I will judge it. Throw up a good idea and I will praise it. Throw up a bad one and I will damn it. But I will NEVER damn the person who throws up a bad idea (unless it is Al Gore), or believes something I believe false, or does something I believe immoral.

    How's this? When I close my eyes and meditate on the worst sinner on this planet, the worst sinner I have ever heard about, the worst sinner in history, I am relieved to discover that I am that sinner. For that way my focus is on what I actually know: I am the only sinner I know anything about.

    I am free to spend my days damning myself or forgiving myself. It is amazing how easy it is to damn.

    Watch out for the veiled ad hominems! They stink. I am sure you are a decent soul. (Thanks for liking my photographs.)



  7. Dear Contra, forgive me but I must jump in here! When you say that the West would not have tolerated the Saddam's regime much longer, you are dead wrong.

    The whole Europe was fully aware that to move Saddam by invading Iraq would have the concequenses that are there now and years to come. Everywhere, it was recognized that to keep Iran in some kind of check necessitates united Iraq. Everybody also realized that Saddam was sufficiently weakned and his military capabilities were such that he was very well contained and barely any treath to his neighbours and certainly not to the U.S..

    There propably could have not been anybody else in the political upper echelon anywhere that would have taken this reckless step that Dubya and his incredible flock of hawks, against any common sense, chose to take. Please, stop spreading the guilt and, once and for all, direct it to this sad administration that bears the totall responsibility!

  8. Thanks to everyone for a spirited conversation.

    Pekka, as usual, is spot-on. Were he as dependent as I on the words of others, he would have cited Brent Scowcroft. But Pekka can think on his own feet, thank you. Myself, I need to rely on the words of others - in this instance, Bill Gnade:

    "It was CLINTON who called for regime change in Iraq, not Bush; a fact which is undeniable; and it is obscene not to accept that the protracted Iraq conflict was going to inevitably lead to invasion because of the failures of Bush 1 and, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, because of the failures of Clinton 1. I am even of the temperament to believe that if Bush 2 had chosen NOT to invade Iraq in 2003; had he chosen NOT to invade it at all during his presidency, the West would NONETHELESS someday invade that country, irrespective of which political party held the House, Senate, White House, or even Parliament. This is, I admit, a faith-based assertion on my part."

    Yes, it is a faith-based assumption on your part, Bill. Clinton's goal of regime change never rose to the threshold of crossing the threshold of invasion and occupation. (Don't dodge this by citing any Pentagon plans - there always plans for everything.) Invasion was not inevitable; continued deterrence was a probable course of action; not satisfactory as measured against the demands of your faith, but prudent by statecraft standards.

    The word that appears in your following sentence is almost laughable:

    "But I do not think that the West would have tolerated much longer a tyrant in the Middle East . . . ."

    Tolerated? That seems at this juncture to be the mother of all oxymorons, doesn't it? I think in this area of the world we are already much past what the West will tolerate: Secretary Rice's birthing pains of the New Middle East. According to the words of Richard Haass, we have passed into a period where we will be looking around for what we can marginally accept.

    The judgment of history will be harsh.

  9. Urban Pink, because (a) I agree with you on the merits of Bill Gnade's photography, and (b) I have come to rely on your judgments in other things, I am tempted to sample some of Bill's essays and poetry as the Thanksgiving holidays allow me time. You certainly have piqued my curiosity as to how his work might be viewed by women who have not married him.

  10. Dear Pekka,

    I simply disagree with you. You have not addressed the fact -- AND THIS IS A FACT -- that Iraq was being militarily assaulted NEARLY EVERY DAY by the Clinton administration. That this led to a fatwa in which OBL came to defend Islamic holy sites in that fair country, a fatwa that led DIRECTLY to 9/11, proves that Hussein's containment -- perhaps real -- did not CONTAIN OTHER THREATS that arose in response to that containment.

    The United States has taken the lead -- backed (not opposed) by Bill Clinton, and innumberable Democrats and Republicans -- in dealing with Iraq largely because the impact on Europe, particularly Germany and France, would be devastating.(I am even willing to consider that European leaders gave tacit approval to the invasion but would not publicly back it for fear of domestic retaliation from radical elements within their countries' borders.) Most of western Europe is far more threatened -- from within -- by radical Islam than is America (at this point). What is sad is that, because the world -- full of fear about reprisals -- finds the Bush program unnerving and deems it unpopular, many Democrats (and even some Republicans) have rewritten their own support of the war, blaming Bush for cherry-picking intelligence, being unduly bellicose, and so on. The most strident defender of the invasion of Iraq was a Democrat, Jay Rockefeller, who co-chaired the Senate intelligence committee. He now claims to have been misled. He is currently one of the more vocal critics of the war, and yet he remains on the intelligence committee. How is it that a man who could be so easily duped remains on such an important committee?

    Most of what I read about the "war" or "occupation" is entirely born of malice, not truth. It is even born of ressentiment. I am not arguing that WE SHOULD have invaded Iraq. I have never argued that. I am arguing two things: that the arguments about the genesis of the invasion are false, deceptive and based on cherry-picked evidence, and that the conflict with Iraq did not even remotely begin with George W. Bush but extends through the entirety of the Clinton administration, and on into the first Bush administration. I am even willing to consider that it extends right on through the 1980's and 1970's. This makes me a very honest and accurate thinker: I am willing to the look at the totality of the issues, and not merely the ones that make Bush the anti-Christ and the Democrats some sort of saviors. (In fact, as I predicted before the election, I do not believe the Democrats are going to do a thing about Iraq -- and here I agree with Mr. Sievert -- at least in substance: they need Iraq to be a mess so as to secure the White House. How can it be that the mid-term election success of the Democrats is a "referendum on Iraq" when the FIRST THING the Democrats are going to do in Congress is raise the minimum wage? You get the picture, and it ain't very encouraging.) I mean, the logic of it all is simple: whatever makes Bush look bad is good, whatever makes Bush look good is very, very bad. But the reality of it all is this: everybody is really, really bad.

    This "rush to criticism of Bush", this "blame-Bush-for-everything" psychology, is all because Bush is an easy target: he's done what every body (most likely) feels should have been done in 1991, and that makes him easy to decry.

    Peace to you, dear Pekka,


  11. You are not "a very honest and accurate thinker". You are the biggest bird-tracking bull-shitter on the web. The drugs you are on may assist and advance your poetry and photography, but when you try to think logically, the results are transparently hallucinatory for all of the rest of us.

    You are a legend in your own mind.

  12. Dear Vigilante,

    I apologize for not responding sooner. I had to rush out to the longest orthodontist appointment I've ever had.

    Well, I agree with your rebuttal of me, but only to a point. You are completely correct when you say that Bill Clinton's call for regime change in Iraq did not rise to the level of invasion of that poor country. But what do you think the radical Islamic factions throughout the Muslim world HEARD when Clinton not only spoke about regime change, but when he signed the Iraq Liberation Act into law? Do you think they took it as mere political speak, mere bluster and policy? It does not matter what Clinton's INTENT was, what matters is the effect of his policies and rhetoric. And the effect was that militant Islam, observing that Clinton's regime-change rhetoric included bombing the hell out of Iraq, was inspired to take up arms and attack us for such sins. Remember, Clinton was not just TALKING: the Clinton administration was continuing the military "occupation" of Iraq, particularly its airspace. OK. So US forces were not based INSIDE Iraq. The effect, nevertheless, was the same as if US forces were in Baghdad: we occupied Iraq from a distance, enforcing no fly-zones and decimating anti-aircraft defenses and communications facilities; and they pre-occupied us (since 1991). That strategy did not contain outside threats from arising, which they did, successfully.

    I AM NOT HERE TO BLAME EVERYTHING ON BILL CLINTON. What I am trying to do is to broaden the debate, and our analysis. To fixate on Bush is not only truncated, it is foolish, and it ignores history. I am not interested in bashing Bush, and I am not interested in bashing Clinton. I am interested in what is true. And the truth is that this whole thing is much more complex than what Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush have or have not done.

    Yes, you are right. We tolerate a lot in the Israel-Palestine conflict, don't we? Or is that not your point? But I have never really opined about that conflict. But one cannot point to an Israeli dictator defying the world, so it is reasonable to point out the differences between a defiant Hussein and a tiny nation that feels under siege. That whole issue, surely related to this discussion, is also much more complex than people will allow.

    Anyhow, thank you for being a gentleman among men.

    Peace, always.


  13. Everyone else,

    I would like to point out the difference between the way Vigilante responds to me, and nearly everyone else. Vigilante responds to what I have said, the words I've left on this screen. He does not -- mostly -- respond to what he thinks of my character, my cognitive functions, my bald head, or my religious convictions. In short, he debates me. He engages with ideas. He attempts to be a thinker, a reasoner, a scholar. But discussing who are what a person is or is not is not debate, nor is it intellectual. It is largely gossip. It is, sadly, devilish, and it is always fallacious. And I have never once speculated about the integrity of Mr. Vigilante. Not once.

    The informal fallacies of logic are worth knowing. We all fall into them; some of us don't fall into them all that often because we understand their trappings. They should be avoided at all cost.

    Dear Messenger,

    I am going to give you a picture of what sort of legend I think I am: I am nearly convinced -- a priori -- that every person here is more successful in their careers than I am. Truly, I am a flounderer. There is no one on this planet who would want to be me. I am utterly unenviable. My skills -- such as they are -- are merely a veneer for a whole world of difficulty. If this makes me a legend in my own mind, then you are very astute to make that observation here.

    But, for you to attack me, once again; to just dismiss my soul, my mind, my value, my personhood; to damn me without once engaging in a single thought I've posited here, makes me feel utterly sad. You don't know me. You have no idea what I am like; you've no idea about my life. Search this thread, or any thread nearby. Find where I have abused any one of you. If you do find someone I've merely abused, I will gladly apologize to that person. Yes, I have stood firm when in dialogue with Mr. Sievert (elsewhere), but there is no malice, no hate, no damnation. I actually find him charming. You're probably charming. I do not approach you, or anyone here, with guile or deception. I am far more friend than foe. And I do what I do, not because I like to smack someone down, but because, if we are going to have a debate, I believe it might as well be entertaining.

    Be well.


    PS. May I gloat for a moment in the news that someone finds me to be the "biggest bird-tracking bull-shitter on the web"? That's a keeper!

  14. Vigilante,

    Loved the "discourses" and "counter discourses" here between Contratimes and the others.

    They were a fun read. Contratimes, I believe sorted things out in the end. On that score, not much to add 'xcept perhaps, on Clinton - being the brighter of the two presidents, didn't invade Iraq committed the US to a physical war on Iraq because he knew full well that it would be a lose-lose proposition while Bush, ever the pumpkin head, was not capable of rationalizing beyond what his ego could fathom i.e, the tip of his nose - hence the invasion and the murderous rampage in Iraq.

    The following is not the ideal analogy but it's the first thing that came to my mind: if at all comparable from a legal/criminal standpoint, Clinton's act concerning regime change in Iraq could be likened to killing a person in a road accident - manslaughter - while Bush's is pre-meditated, willful, cold-blooded murder.

  15. Ugh, okay I'll try to keep my defense of my opinion short since this takes me away from my home life. Please correct me if I've made any assumptions.

    My summation of how I see Mr. G. as blaming women for society's woes is based on his assessment of abortion and men and women's sexuality. First, feminism is not defined by women wanting to be men, it is women wanting human rights (they are distinctly different from men's rights). It urks me that Carol Gilligan's voice is not often represented in views on "popular" dittohead views of feminism. It is our materialistic culture, not feminism, that puts pressure on women to be tells us to work, compete, provide money. I read a poll once that men overwhelmingly prefer to marry women earning in their own tax bracket. That terrified me when I was single, divorced, and an artist at 33. Luckily, I found a man who didn't judge me for my sexual past and preferences and who had the means and will to support my stay-at-home mothering wish.

    My point being, I find Mr. G's assessment of men and women as traditionally religious in the Augustinian et. al. sense of only accepting a certain role of moral purity for women and harshly judging our inability to keep that standard. Mr. G. simultaneously assigns women the responsibility for bringing men over to the holier path by withholding sexual desire.

    Mr. G's analysis of the biology of our species completely misses the history of women's mortality in childbirth and multiple births--only a recent improvement has occurred on that score. So when I envision a world in which every sexual encounter could lead to pregnancy, I shudder. If it hadn’t been for men (and women) surgeons with drugs and antibiotics, I or my child almost certainly would have died during childbirth (I wanted a natural childbirth). Is it not a social improvement that we can love each other AND control the rate of births in our families?

    Isn't the fact that men and women abuse each other sexually another symptom of how we have such little understanding of emotional intelligence and our human value? Why must women bear the brunt of moral judgement for sexual promiscuity in the least? We pay the price in every physical way if we mess up that negotiation--do men? Morally judge us, but morally judge him, too.

    And if you're going to make it difficult for us to have an abortion, a social requirement to continue a pregnancy, mothers need total financial and psychological support to raise that child alone for the first year (minimum). Do we legally make this the DNA-proved Dad’s responsibility, or do we all share it? I would have a moral problem telling a woman she must carry a pregnancy to term. The emotionally healthiest children are with their mothers most of the time for the first 5 years. How many lucky moms and kids get this situation in our economy, in our Christian culture? If we outlaw abortion today, and we have more children without fathers, then we have more girls growing into women with no shining model of how they should expect men to treat them. And how many have that example today? Mothers model too, but not like that.

    Maybe we can come together on universal ways of teaching our children emotional intelligence, a sense of community, and healthy life choices, but expecting moral purity and a suppressed sexuality has not worked in thousands of years, for either sex.

  16. Vigilante, an excellent and thorough analysis and review of contratimes actual writings point by point. As usual, you've made your points brilliantly.

    Some others here are "reading things into" contratimes writings that I do not see...

    Plus, I find much of what conratimes has written here in the comments section very compelling. I have previously mentioned that, while I agree with vigilante's overall view of the UULUIUOI, I think he (and others) tend to place too much of the blame on Bush. It certainly isn't that Bush deserves a great deal of blame and condemnation, but such a narrow view actually diminishes the overall scope and tragedy of the Iraq occupation.

    In this regard, contratime's larger view of history actually helps define the conflict and the tragedy.

    Finally, messenger, what in the world is the purpose of personal and very nasty attacks?

    Why would anyone carry on any conversation with an individual who writes "You are the biggest bird-tracking bull-shitter on the web?"

    the Wizard......

  17. Fatwas have been declared for centuries and the one by binLaden was just one of many.

    These peripheral, extremist, jihadist groups come and go (without much notice) but this time something unexpected and great happened to Osama's rag tag followers; they got legimitized by the blunderous occupation of Iraq. So many wannabes reched the status they scaresly could have dreamed about.

    Ossama wakes up every morning praising Allah for the gift, that was handed to him and any other islamist hot head, from G.W.Bush. If there were recruiting offices in the cities of the world, line ups would literally go around the blocks. Compare that to efforts by the U.S. or the Nato, and one begins to understand the enermous costs that have to be paid by all of us. This can be laid on the lap of the less than capable Commander in Chief. No ifs, buts, or maybes.

    I find myself unable to "debate" about the issue any longer. Massive amount of information, pointing to the fiasco that was solely created by the neocons, is so convincing that to seriously argue about it is like debating about the harmful effects of smoking or whether the earth is more than 5,000 years old.

    To go back to Adam and Eve, to judge the innocence or even shared responsibility what's taking place now, is to avoid a real desire to get to the bottom of things. This fiasco is not an extension to anything what happened before. It was hatched out by the incredibly ignorant ideologs that couldn't take differing views into a consideration and fianally sold it like an used car to rest of us. Just like a stereotypical car salesman they knowingly sold us the lemon.

  18. pekka, You and I disagree (mildly) for, perhaps the first time ever.

    Osama didn't get "legimitized by the blunderous occupation of Iraq."

    Osama's claim to fame was his terribly successful assault on 9/11. Others had long wanted to successfully punish the west for our many (real and imagined) evils. Osama succeeded!

    9/11, in turn, provided Bush with the political cover for his horrific misadventures in Iraq.

    The UULUIUOI, in turn, did give Osama the great recruiting tool you correctly discuss.

    The problem I have with this entire discussion is that we aren't merely rearranging the chairs on the Titanic, we're debating the original configuration of those chairs.

    You say Bush and the neocons.... contratimes says there was context, there was something more....

    I say people are dying. People are suffering. People's lives and homes, their hopes and dreams, their safety and security, their freedom and future are being destroyed.

    I realize that there IS much to gained through the analysis of history. BUT, I want to concentrate on determining the best possible outcomes and solutions. Not for Bush, not for the neocons, not for the progressives, but for the people.

    the Wizard......

  19. To Mr. ContraTimes:

    I'll be brief: The first and foremost reason that America's sons and daughters invaded and are now occupying Iraq was, and is, so that Dubya could stand for election in 2004 as a "War President", (per Rove's machinations).

  20. Wrong Emily , It was done to capture the oil , and control its distribution or in this case now , keep it off the market.
    Remember all the Billions made.?

    It`s all about that money.

  21. Wizard, yes you are right or almost right with Osama and 9/11.

    When I wrote my piece, I was cognizant of that 9/11 brought to him the total condemnation with the Americans and the vast majority of the Europeans. He also strenghtened his stature among the radical elements of Islam that, comparing today's numbers, were still relatively small.

    It took this nonsensical occupation, by the Bush Administration, to turn the tide and give those scattered and bitterly rival extremists groups a common cause. It helped single handedly to radicalize countless of millions of Muslims everywhere, Muslims that without this occcupation would have never considered these terrorist acts or binLaden as legimate.

    Where this particular group of men in the White House differ the most from the previous ones is, that their decision making has been done alone in the ideological isolation. Your presidents usually have been smart enough to have several points of view presented to them by close advisors. It is very clear, that this time there were only those left to "advice" of whom were sensitive enough to what the president and his side-kick, Cheney, wanted to hear. When this modus operadi was extended also to intelligence, it comes as a no suprise that things are as chaotic and dangerous as they are.

    To even suggest that this would be inevitable under any administration (Clinton) is absolute hogwash. The same goes with the suggestion that any previous policies inevitably lead Bush to take the road he took. The most of us know now that the map was all wrong and luckily it's under the revision. Unfortunate fact still remains; the guy holding it doesn't know how to read it. Hopefully somebody else will take the steering wheel before you hit the edge of a cliff!

  22. Dear Pekka,

    I hate to disagree with you. But, alas, I must.

    The United States has been occupying Iraq since it first supported sanctions against that country after the first Gulf War. Western nations controlled much of the Iraqi economy, commerce, and, yes, even its ability to move about, build infrastructure, and conduct its own affairs unimpeded. In other words the United States (and others) was occupying Iraq FROM A DISTANCE. All George W. Bush did was make that occupation official and, believe it or not, slightly more humane; for now, in INVADING Iraq, at least the "occupiers" were A) face-to-face with the Iraqis; B) able to begin rebuilding infrastructure; C) able to assist Iraq in rebuilding its government; and D) able to distribute money and food.

    You are acting as if George W. Bush's actions were surprising, unwarranted, ad hoc, arbitrary, thoughtless. But Bill Clinton was preventing Iraq from being autonomous for 8 whole years. Where was your outrage then? And how did Clinton conduct his affairs with that nation any differently than his successors: where was his diverse set of advisors? You must remember that in 1998 there were WAR PROTESTS in America; I know, because I attended them. What did Mr. Clinton do that told his successors that Iraq was not a threat; that it was not worth controlling? What did Mr. Clinton do to convince us all that Hussein was not an imminent problem (why bomb the guy, sanction him, and demand to inspect his country if you don't think him threatening)?

    Which is worse, occupying a country boldly and in person, or bombing it (nearly) every other day for 8 years while deploying hidden sanctions from a distance that did indeed lead to horrific domestic sorrows in Babylon?

    I am not defending occupation. I am destroying a myth that the Iraq conflict -- and "occupation" -- began in 2003. It began in 1991 and never stopped.

    May it all end soon with justice and honor, in truth and in peace.


  23. Dear Emily,

    George W. Bush barely won 2004 as the "war president." To decide in 2002 that being the "war president" was a smart idea in an unpopular war would have been a ridiculously risky strategy. And his being the "war president" did nothing to help the Republicans in the midterm elections in 2006. You may be right, but I think your case is unconvincing. Perhaps you could enlarge upon your thesis. You should.



  24. Contratimes reminds me of Rush and Hanity.

  25. Oh, come on. That was below the belt. Messenger was at least trying to be complimentary.

  26. Sorry 4food I just wanted to boil it down to a statement. I don't have time right now to be poetic about this gentleman’s twisted sense of reality. I do however look forward to dissembling some of his ranting at a later point in time.

    Vigilante love the site, love the comments, love the writing and love the action. Linked you and can’t wait to jump in with both feet.

  27. Iraq became a war target not because of Saddam, or Terrorists but to serve the interests of British petroleum and Saudi oil interests among others, the U.S. and Russian oil interests , and Opec in general.

    If Iraq oil was on the world market today the price of crude would be about $26 a Bbl. If Iraq was to pump 50% of its capacity and put it on the world market , oil prices today would be in the $12 to $14 dollar range per.Bbl.

    That is why we are in Iraq , because of the crooked business interests that run this country and most of the world.

    Please understand this.

    Money Money and Money is the key here. In this type of system based on this type of Price System, people are rewarded with money for doing things like killing lots and lots of people in a war , in an effort to make money.

    The only way the war will stop would be if this is the actual issue and people understand that and finally put their foot down.

    We are there to prevent their oil from reaching market. Then control it afterwards, for their so called reconstruction.

    Get it.?

    In other words we are not leaving Iraq , any time soon.

    To make this a partisan issue is to play into the hands of these power possessors who operate by the theory at home here to divide and conquer.

    Nothing does that better than to turn this into political bickering about Bush or Clinton.
    Both of those , and indeed all politicians are part of the problem.

    Its the system we have folks that rewards the worst type of behavior.

    It is possible to create a different system.

    First people have to figure out that this is not working, is not going to work , and indeed it is the system that is the problem .

  28. I agree with Blogger4Food: Based upon Bill Gnade's last response to Pekka, I have to say Messenger was doing his level best to give Contratimes a compliment. It's gratifying that Bill took it as such, because deep down I believe he knows it contains more than a grain of truth. Therefore, I believe Messenger does not disserve the patronizing scolding dished out by the haughty Wizard.

    In his latest statement, Gnade strains, stretches, and contorts the definition of occupation I have already taken pains to lay out:

    "The United States has been occupying Iraq since it first supported sanctions against that country after the first Gulf War. Western nations controlled much of the Iraqi economy, commerce, and, yes, even its ability to move about, build infrastructure, and conduct its own affairs unimpeded. In other words the United States (and others) was occupying Iraq from a distance. All George W. Bush did was make that occupation official and, believe it or not, slightly more humane; for now, in invading Iraq, at least the "occupiers" were A) face-to-face with the Iraqis; B) able to begin rebuilding infrastructure; C) able to assist Iraq in rebuilding its government; and D) able to distribute money and food."

    Never have I read more of a stinking and staggering pile of excrement, at least in my pages; clearly it has cracked the crock containing it.

    And what was that crock? I'm certainly glad Bill has turned over his trump card labeled MYTH. Actually, such are Pekka's gifts that he knew about this card before now.

    Because Readers, in addition to all of his other callings, Bill Gnade is a self-described Mythologist. In MadMike's blog (refer to the blogroll), Gnade recently fessed up:

    "If Pekka and Mr. Sievert are at all interested in my penchant for myths (Pekka's term) then perhaps they would like to read my essay The Existence of God: A Letter to Christopher Hitchens as a primer describing my love of mythology. I am pleased that Pekka has spent so much time reading my rather voluminous blog to divine that I am a mythomaniac..."

    It's not history Bill Gnade is trafficking in, but myths. Messenger's critique is validated.

  29. Good grief! The man is entitled to his opinion, regardless of its "verbosity" or lack thereof. I thoroughly enjoy reading Bill's meanderings. He is a skillful writer who uses his pen as he would use a sword. In this case, perhaps the former IS mightier than the latter. Now, this is not to say that I agree with everything he says, but then again I don't agree with everything Vigilante or Skip (especially Skip) says, but I still like to read what they say, without trying to divine, by some pseudo-intellectual means, what they "really" meant.

    In closing I find that some of these forums seem to get carried away with themselves. I have learned that taking life too seriously is, like cigarettes, dangerous to one's health. Secondly, I find sarcasm to truly be the lowest form of wit.

    Oh! One more thing: It is a war not an occupation! What? Are you all idiots? :-) :-) Happy Thanksgiving!! In pace requiescat....

  30. You must be a tolerant guy, Mike. Overly so. Even if everyone is entitled to his opinions does that mean they are entitled to their own FACTS?

  31. Hey everyone! I hope this note finds you all well. And for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, may you have a blessed day indeed! May we all overflow with thankfulness!

    I am thankful that so many of you have taken such a keen interest in me. Unfortunately, too few of you have taken any interest in what I've said. The ad hominem fallacy tossed about here is so common, one would think it was attached to the oxygen molecule.

    I am thrilled, and I mean THRILLED, that my argument that the United States was occupying Iraq -- FROM A DISTANCE -- from 1991 to 2003, should have given you all such a charge. Of course, I have not read a single contradiction of my thesis anywhere, and surely not here. Vigilante might call my opinion a "pile of excrement" (phew!), but he has not contradicted it. In fact, he can't, precisely because A) it is true, and B) I am not using his definition of occupation. "At a distance" instantly moves the analysis to a different level: there is no way to contradict the fact that the EFFECTS of the Clinton policies on Iraq not only amounted to an occupier's sins, but it also led to Osama bin Laden's fatwa against us. Not a single person can contradict this, not because I am a mythomaniac, but because the myth is that I am wrong.

    As for Vigilante's unbelievably mistaken quoting of my Christopher Hitchens-essay remarks, I can only say that this is the first time I've ever seen Vigilante miss the point. He either could not have read my Hitchens essay, or he did not understand it (which is my fault, since I failed to make myself clear). The essay is a tidy primer in epistemology: it is a discussion of faith and reason. I had recommended it to several readers at Mad Mike's to invite them to flex their muscles (I hear lots of boasting) in what they considered my penchant for mythology. Unfortunately, those readers must have found my argument so infantile that they chose not to bother enlightening me. I have no doubt I am a child in philosophical matters, but you'd think at least one adult would help me find my way.

    What Vigilante fails to acknowledge (or realize) is that my remarks were meant to posit the rather bland notion that there is NOT A SINGLE PERSON who does NOT hold to some basal, foundational, fundamentalistic mythology (and by this I mean axioms based in faith).

    I would invite you all to go right now to my letter to Christopher Hitchens and set it against what Mr. Vigilante has said here. I know that Vigilante has not meant to do me harm; I realize that no one can be careful all the time. But I thought I should at least set the record straight. Besides, it would be fun if you would all gang up on me at my place, so that I could treat you decently there too.

    Cyberotter: So, you actually listen to Rush and Hannity? Man, I do not deserve to be placed in such transcendent company. I am but a mere peon to those gods of the pantheon (though you will not read any paean in their honor penned by me).

    Peace to you all, and don't forget to laugh!


    PS. Anyone want to know one of the funniest lines ever uttered? It comes from Steven Wright: "Every person in the world is completely unique, except for this one guy I know."

    See? You can laugh.

  32. "My sole aim in my series of essays was A) for men to stop being cads; and B) for women to stop letting men -- and certain women -- define women's bodies in distinctly male categories. I implore all women to see their bodies, not as playthings for men, not bonus points for men who have impressive credentials or big credit cards, but as temples, as cathedrals, as HOLY PLACES."

    I'm going to confine my response to this last comment because I think it illustrates my point about how you are making women RESPONSIBLE for society's ills.

    How do we stop "letting" men define us however they choose? I've wanted to do that for years! I have never been able to control that, and if men CHOOSE to define women based on commercial images of us, that's their foul. Women foul if they define other women or themselves that way, too. Men use women, women use men, neither benefits in the long run. Every individual is responsible for their own actions.

    Augustinian told women we would lose our ability to bear children in Paradise (in "purity" we become like men), in 2006 we are being told we become men when we are sinful. Ugh--can we give up these extremist analogies? I'll work on it. I'm begging society to let us (women) bear our own successes and sins, as individual women. We can take it, we have, we will.

    And I for one can not tolerate being a holy place, nor can I teach my son that women are distinctly holy and he is, I guess, profane. You're asking me to exchange one set of male defnitions for another. I am sinful and good, as we all are, I seek to find G_d within myself, and others, but I am not G-d. I do not expect others to bear the sacrifices of Christ and if he was G-d, we are not that pure. If he wasn't G-d, well then we could talk about living up to his example.

    BTW, I've never been a single mother.

  33. Update, oops, I meant Thomas Aquinas, not Augustinian (have to check what he believed).

  34. ContreTemps' swan song:

    "it would be fun if you would all gang up on me at my place, so that I could treat you decently there too."

    Carrying coals to the mythology-based community? what would be the point in that?

  35. Hi those who are interested, and Mr. G, I have responded to your last post and request for an apology here, thank you Vigilante: