Victory in Iraq Day

It’s Victory in Iraq day today. The good guys – Western civilization, the Coalition of the Willing, the United States, and the people of Iraq – won this war. The bad guys – Saddam Hussein’s regime, al-Qaeda’s jihadis, all their allies and enablers – lost it. The entire world will be a better place because of this victory. And that is a proper thing to celebrate.

136 thoughts on “Victory in Iraq Day

  1. I don’t know if the innocent Iraqis being massacred by the “Good guys” and their proxies will be able to take time out from their busy schedules of dying and having their lives destroyed to agree with you.

  2. If by “world is a better place” you mean to say “Haliburton is richer”, then yes, you’re absolutely correct.

  3. Dear Eric,

    1984 was 2.5 decades ago. The time for double-speak is long since past.

    In any case, Bush declared the war over May 1, 2003. Since then we have been “occupying” Iraq in order to
    effect an “orderly transition”. The US Military handed over control of the Anbar province to the Iraqi government on September 1, making 11 of 18 Iraqi provinces that have been turned over to the (new) Iraqi government.

    Everyone in the “coalition” but the US is bugging out before the UN status of forces agreement ends on Dec 31. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/09/AR2008090903043.html?hpid=topnews

    A more truthful statement than anything you made above is that the US is being forced out of Iraq, even with the agreed-to (but not ratified) status of forces agreement. Note that if its not ratified by Dec 31, then any remaining forces will have no legal authority to operate, and will need to remain confined to their bases in Iraq until they can be extracted.

    I’m not sure how you classify that as “victory”.

    Meanwhile, Iraq accounts for over 1/3 of US weapon sales for foreign states in 2008.

  4. A more truthful statement than anything you made above is that the US is being forced out of Iraq, even with the agreed-to (but not ratified) status of forces agreement.

    Jim, I read the links you posted, and it looks to me like U.S. troops will still be in Iraq after December 31, 2008… Unless I misread, the the next “deadline” would be December 31, 2011.

    What do you suppose are the odds that this “deadline” will be extended in that time?

    It looks like these agreements are signed by the Iraqi government. That would be the new one, which owes its existence to U.S. troops, and which is likely to make further arrangements to keep at least a few thousand U.S. troops around for a long time.

    U.S. troops are still stationed in Iraq. Their enemies are either dead or retreating. To me that looks like victory.

  5. The agreement has yet to be ratified by the Iraqi parliament. It is far from certain that they will. So no, its not ‘signed’.

    Total defeat does not make ‘victory’.

  6. Hi esr,

    i’ll begin by saying that i like you a lot, considering what you did for open source. So don’t take this personnally.

    Actually, the world is a worse place than before :
    american money has been used for futility, and now that the crisis is clear you see what you could have done with it instead.
    A new war dynamics has been created near israel. In some years Irak and Iran will make friends, as the majority of the population is chiit. There is no more laicity in the neighbouring states. Bush will have created what was at the time was just a really bad excuse for war !

    Moreover, victory isn’t awarded by tv news, it is awarded by history, some decades after. Do you think America will being seen as a victor in, say, 20 years ?

    (Concerning the iraqi gov, i wouldn’t give him 2 years of life after the big part of american troops have retreated.)

    Finally, on a moral ground (and let it be said than I use the moral word in the same sense as you use open source vis-à-vis free software : no ideology, only the way to reduce frictions and use the path of least problem) :
    No war of aggression is justified. Preemptive aggression is another word for evil hypocrisy, just more precise.
    _Nobody in the world is lying to himself on this subject._
    (Well, nobody with a constructed thought, that is. I wouldn’t count on alcoholics. Tss, what was the pb of Bush, remind me ?)

  7. >U.S. troops are still stationed in Iraq. Their enemies are either dead or retreating. To me that looks like victory.

    I differ with you only in that I don’t think U.S. troops still being stationed there is necessarily evidence of victory. The important facts are that (a) Hussein’s totalitarian regime was defeated and destroyed, (b) Al-Qaeda spent huge amounts of effort against U.S. troops to essentially no effect other than to kill off its own cadre, and (c) Iraq has a functioning democracy that doesn’t even rank particularly low on the corruption and cronyism scale for that part of the world.

  8. > he important facts are that (a) Hussein’s totalitarian regime was defeated and destroyed, (b) Al-Qaeda spent huge amounts of effort
    > against U.S. troops to essentially no effect other than to kill off its own cadre, and (c) Iraq has a functioning democracy that doesn’t even
    > rank particularly low on the corruption and cronyism scale for that part of the world.

    I agree with this viewpoint, though I think it’s too soon to judge about definite victory ….

  9. Eric said: “(c) Iraq has a functioning democracy that doesn’t even rank particularly low on the corruption and cronyism scale for that part of the world.”

    Iraq has accepted sharia in it’s constitution (and so did Afghanistan):

    Article 2
    A. No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.

    It also adds:
    B. No law that contradicts the principles of democracy may be established.

    That reminds me of something: our former communist constitution. It also declared that we are democratic country, and then gave provision to Communist Party to be the leading force in society. See the problem? What paragraph do you think will have upper hand in traditionaly islamic society? A or B? Given the amount of Christians and other religious minorities fleeing the country my impression is that B was added to please USA, but the notion of democracy will be about the same as it was in my country, e.g. it has certain propaganda value both for Iraqis and outsiders, and that’s about it.

    And if you thing (like Bush) that democracy == voting, that think again: we had elections every four years and even three parliamentary parties. Still it had nothing to do with democracy (I am puting away my impression that democracy is disfunctional system).

  10. The entire world will be a better place because of this victory.

    Except the ones who are dead.

    But there’s no sense crying over every mistake;
    You just keep on trying till you run out of cake…

  11. Please note that there were three UN resolutions that Hussein was in violation of prior to the invasion, any one of which was ample justification for removing the then-extant Iraqi government.

    There are also fascinating leaks coming out of Syria about the weapons program that Hussein had shipped to them in January of 2003.

    If someone accepts a ceasefire agreement, and abrogates it, should there be repercussions to doing so?

    Was this war waged well? Fuck no. I hold less regard for Donald Rumsfeld than ESR does for SCO’s patent fight.

    As to what happens next, the drawdown probably starts in 2010. Obama gets mauled by the KosKids when he doesn’t try to get all the troops out by the summer of 2009. The media quietly stops reporting on this, the KosKids get tossed under the bus.

    The Surge should’ve happened in 2004, not 2007.

  12. It is right and it is good that we celebrate Victory in Iraq day.

    The media was never going to point this out.

    And to all you lisping leftists who are naysaying in this post: screw you. We are the good guys in this, we have won, and our soldiers are not going around murdering innocent Iraqis. We shut downs Saddam’s torture and rape rooms, where things far worse than waterboarding went on.

    Speaking of lisping leftists: have you ever noticed that a lot of leftists talk like they are Truman Capote? Have you heard Barney Frank speak? Or listened to NPR?
    Maybe being a leftist has a feminizing effect on the voice. They should man up.

  13. Crimethink, Eric. Noticing that internal violence in Iraq has all but disappeared, that most U.S. troops there haven’t fired their weapons in their current deployment, or that the “insurgents” are either dead, hiding, or defected is prohibited. That is not the correct narrative. It is impossible that U.S. military power could ever accomplish anything against the invincible guerrillas-of-the-month.

    Certainly there has been no such heresy from The One or his staff. They are no longer talking about the war being lost, as that would be embarassingly obvious. But they area not saying anything else, either. Their agenda for Iraq is underground. I doubt if there is anyone among his team who was not privately hostile to the war from the beginning, or has any belief or interest in victory in Iraq. The most they want is to avoid blame for obvious defeat. The Al-Qaeda description of The One as a house nigger may reflect disappointment that The One did not immediately run up a white flag; or it may be to provide cover for him while he cuts an equivalent but less obvious deal.

    The inclusion of hard-core Zionist Rahm Emanuel in The One’s top staff suggests that he prefers conventional political advantage to genuinely embracing the Left/Islamist program in the Middle East; a disappointment to his former Left/Islamist cronies like Khalidi. Emanuel is a cunning and loyal political operator, and explicit hostility to Israel would be expensive. However, The One was always rather vague on principles and strong on personal ambition. What this says to me is that he is willing to sell out his Left principles for a big political payoff – not that he recognizes that any other principles have any actual merit whatever.

  14. From the linked page: “Although our governments have chosen to not name any official day marking the end of this war, we the people [...]”

    Well duh, the government may be incompetent, but even they can see that ‘I told you so’ coming. People have still not stopped harping about ‘mission accomplished’.

    Reminds me of a comedian playing Henry Kissinger. He was asked what was the best day of his life and the answer was “when I won the Nobel peace prize for the peace negotiations with Vietnam”. Then he was asked about the worst day and he answered “when there was peace in Vietnam”.

    esr: “(b) Al-Qaeda spent huge amounts of effort against U.S. troops to essentially no effect other than to kill off its own cadre,”

    The violence among Iraqis (the group labeled ‘al-Qaeda’ and lots of others) have also lead to a relatively effective ethnic cleansing and segregation. This has pretty radically reduced the freedom of movement for a lot of Iraqis and expelled some smaller minorities almost entirely (e.g. Christians).

  15. And for the most part, the reason why the al-Maliki government wants the US troops out sometime in the 2010-2011 timeframe is because by then, the retraining and rebuilding of the Iraqi army will be mostly complete. It’ll be trained up to the point where it’s comparable to everything but the Jordanian army in the region…and then he wants the Americans out so that he can go and finish doing the anti-Sunni ethnic cleansing without us meddling.

    There’s an old joke that’s appropos.

    A Polish sniper has a German and Russian target available, and only one bullet. Which one does he kill?

    The German – business before pleasure.

    It’s almost impossible for Americans (or, indeed, most Western Europeans under the age of 60) to understand JUST how deep those currents run. We see ethnicide and genocide around the world, and are baffled by it and appalled by it and ashamed that it happens, because we Learned Our Lesson with Nazi Germany, and thought that lesson writ in large enough type to be a warning for Future Generations.

    Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. Current events show that plenty of people in the world are not only ignorant of history, but are willfully blind to it.

  16. Eric,

    Suppose there are criminals in your town. (This won’t take much imagination for most of us.) Now suppose that a bunch of cops with machine-guns are barging into one house after another, at random, looking for the crooks.

    Would it be okay with you when they showed up at your house? Well, that sort of thing wasn’t okay with the people who wrote the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment in particular stated that law enforcement has no right to come into your house without your permission, unless they have probable cause (more than a suspicion or wild guess) to think that a crime is happening, or that evidence of a crime is there.

    Of course, a cop’s job would be a lot easier if he didn’t have to respect individual rights. He could barge in where ever he wanted and rummage through everyone’s stuff (contrary to the Fourth Amendment), randomly stop people and forcibly interrogate them (contrary to the Fifth Amendment), take peoples’ stuff or punish people on a whim, lock people up without charging them with anything (contrary to the Fifth and Sixth Amendments), and so on. Of course, he’d be an evil fascist, but his job would be a lot easier.

    Now watch some footage of U.S. troops on Iraq. What are they doing? Barging where ever they want, with guns drawn no less, randomly stopping people and forcibly interrogating them, detaining people without charges, taking property and punishing people without a warrant or even probable cause, and so on.

    Um, why is that stuff good over there if it’s bad over here? The sad but accurate answer, for most Americans, is that the victims are not Americans, so their rights don’t really matter. From the perspective of the regular folk in Iraq, there is a foreign military occupying their country. Ever wonder how that would feel? Wouldn’t it be swell if China, for our own good, decided to send Chinese troops to drive tanks around our cities and towns, setting up random road blocks and check points, questioning people at random, searching where ever they wanted, and so on? Would you feel good about that? How about if they said, “Well this is WAR, so we HAVE to do this!”. Would that make it okay?

    The American troops in Iraq are not good guys. They are invaders, whose job it is to violate individual rights on a daily basis. Of course, the excuse is that they’re going after really nasty people, and they NEED to be able to do that stuff. Right. And that’s what every tyrant in history has used as an excuse for depriving individuals of their rights. It’s been the default excuse for theft, torture and murder since the beginning of recorded history.

    Committing evil in the name of combatting evil is both hypocritical and patently stupid.

    http://www.populistamerica.com/on_supporting_the_troops

  17. >Um, why is that stuff good over there if it’s bad over here? The sad but accurate answer, for most Americans, is that the victims are not Americans, so their rights don’t really matter.

    Not only is that an accurate answer, it’s almost an ethically correct one. The Iraqis are not entitled to the rights of American citizens because they do not accept the duties and responsibilities of American citizens – they don’t even accept the duties and responsibilities an anarchist like myself affirms, let alone the much larger set insisted on by Americans who think that citizenship in this country requires loyalty to its government.

    Note carefully that I am not claiming the Iraqis have no rights we are required to recognize; most of them are decent human beings and entitled to be treated in accordance with civilized norms. If you wish to argue that the behavior of U.S. troops is outside civilized norms, then you might have at least a contingently sound case; but analogies to U.S. troops barging through your door, or mine, are completely specious.

  18. Note carefully that I am not claiming the Iraqis have no rights we are required to recognize; most of them are decent human beings and entitled to be treated in accordance with civilized norms.

    Some of those norms, explicitly stated after Nuremberg, stipulate that a war of aggression is the highest of crimes. And this is, no doubt about it, a war of aggression.

  19. >And this is, no doubt about it, a war of aggression.

    No amount of repetitions of that falsehood will make it true.

  20. ESR, why do people insist on seeing the glass as half empty (and full of urine) when it comes to Iraq?

    As you are trying to explain, this wasn’t a war of aggression by the US against poor innocent Saddam Hussein. He had invaded two neighboring countries and was a menace. He violated the agreements he had made to the UN after the first gulf war. And he did have yellow cake uranium and it was not for peaceful purposes. He committed acts of genocide as well, particularly against the Kurds.

    America is far more respectful of the human rights of Iraqis than Saddam ever was. We should recognize and celebrate this, and the left should too ff they truly supported liberty in the classical sense.
    Rad Hitchens on Iraq if you don’t agree. Iraq is going to work out over there, you watch. And Obama will not immediately pull out over there.

  21. esr, you seem to forget that the inalienable rights apply to all men.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”
    (among these, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

    and that the first 10 amendments were specific in limiting government power, not in granting rights. Further,
    the Bill of Rights protects the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory.

    It is not specific to those who are citizens of the US.

    Go ahead, ask your wife. She’s been to law school.

  22. No amount of repetitions of that falsehood will make it true.

    Then perhaps you would like to tell me the imminent threat to the United States that Saddam Hussein posed. Bonus points if you can identify a documented threat to U.S. soil, not just U.S. oil.

  23. Ethically, I’ve been kind of split on the invasion of Iraq. On the plus side, Iraq is now a free(r) country, and that’s always a good thing. On the minus side, we (the USA) invaded a country with no actual threat against us.

  24. >He had invaded two neighboring countries and was a menace.

    You left out the best part. After about 1998 every intelligence service in the world was sounding alarms about Hussein’s nuclear- and chemical-weapons program, and he was issuing weekly threats against the U.S. I remember being amazed that even the left’s most reliable proxies in the U.S. media agreed that this warmongering fascist had to go, because it seemed so bizarre to hear them advocating a course of action that was not directly opposed to U.S. interests. I should have known that wouldn’t last.

  25. After about 1998 every intelligence service in the world was sounding alarms about Hussein’s nuclear- and chemical-weapons program

    On what evidence?! Ever since the mid-nineties, all of the major sources of info — from the UN weapons inspectors to the ISG findings and captured documents post-invasion, have suggested that Saddam hadn’t had a working nuclear program since 1991. Sabre-rattling and hearsay from the spy networks do not constitute sufficient evidence of a threat to the lives of ordinary Americans to justify invasion.

  26. Jeff’s the type to wait until after a psychopath has resumed a murder spree to do anything about it. Why bother to hunt the guy down and take him out. He’s stopped killing for the moment, right?

    Hussein was a threat to humanity in general. Allowing him to continue to be in power was not in anyone’s interest. The very best we could have hoped for, had we done as the French and Russians wanted and ended the sanctions and no-fly zones, would have been mass ethnic slaughter, and a renewed war for regional hegemony.

    Can you convincingly argue that a renewed middle east war like the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s would not be harmful?

    Or are you one of the purists that demand that U.S. territory actually be attacked before deciding to do something about it?

  27. By deleting other people’s comments esr can’t cover his stupidity

    ESR says: I reserve the right to delete comments that are content-free flamage. I’ve been driven to the conclusion that this is necessary in order not to drive away commenters who, unlike you, might actually have something to contribute.

  28. ESR! Don’t be evil!

    That mantra hasn’t even worked for Google, I don’t think it will work in the realpolitik calculus of neocons and their supporters.

  29. You first changed and then completely deleted my comments.But man what you did doesn’t make killing innocent people in Iraq a decent job nor makes your false reasoning correct.Do some research and read a little bit of history.You yourself said it once in this page : repetition of a falsehood doesn’t makes it right.
    I guess your reasoning lacks depth.
    As I said before Saddam himself was a puppet controlled by U.S . Ba’th Party in Iraq was enabled by U.S first.During Iran-Iraq war U.S sold artillery and provided financial support for Saddam (a man who had attacked his neighbor and used chemical weapons against Iranians and Iraqi Kurds ) Only after he attacked KUWAIT his relations with America got nasty. Iran and Iraq in the past 10 years have been a subject U.S has used to frighten other neighboring countries just to sell her guns to.

    I said what I said,You should have capacity, don’t you.

  30. >You first changed and then completely deleted my comments.

    That is false; I have not altered any comments whatsoever on this thread. I will, however, delete any further comments that consist of name-calling devoid of fact or argument. You have been warned.

  31. >Jeff’s the type to wait until after a psychopath has resumed a murder spree to do anything about it.

    I think he’s worse than that. As long as the psychopath is only murdering the right sorts of people (Americans, especially anyone who ever bought an SUV or voted Republican), Jeff and people like him will provide the psychopath with rhetorical and political cover. All in the service of the glorious people’s revolution, don’t you know.

  32. brian: “The very best we could have hoped for, had we done as the French and Russians wanted and ended the sanctions and no-fly zones, would have been mass ethnic slaughter, and a renewed war for regional hegemony.”

    Instead, we got… er… oh wait…

  33. (re:comments about Jeff Read) Man, talka bout name-calling devoid of fact or argument…

    For f’s sake, if you’re so right about it, answer his questions, post the bloody list of links you use to cite where Jeff is rong, and let’s be done with it. All I remember from news sources is that most charges against Saddam were either fabricated or exaggerated. Starting with the yellowcake, about which we had a nice discussion right here.

    Or, you know, you can keep on saying he boils little children for dinner or manure, like Berlusconi did.

  34. >(re:comments about Jeff Read) Man, talka bout name-calling devoid of fact or argument…

    It’s my blog. I get privileges you don’t.

    >For f’s sake, if you’re so right about it, answer his questions, post the bloody list of links you use to cite where Jeff is rong, and let’s be done with it.

    As usual, when Jeff is wrong he changes the subject. It’s not a “war of aggression” when the supposed aggressors are acting on a genuine belief that they are under imminent threat. And before they returned to left-liberal normal, even the New York Times editorial page was describing Hussein as a threat to the U.S. Has everyone but me forgotten that Hussein tried to arrange the assassination of a sitting U.S. president?

    >All I remember from news sources is that most charges against Saddam were either fabricated or exaggerated.

    Yeah, I remember that too. It was version two of the MSM narrative, after they’d returned to form and decided bashing Republicans was their most important mission and that apologists for any murderous fascist with an anti-American hard-on should therefore be presented as more credible than the U.S. Government. They’ve stuck to that mission with determination ever since.

  35. The ‘he’ in the last sentence of my last post was Jeff Read, not Saddam. Berlusconi was talking of communists in China.

  36. >Go ahead, ask your wife. She’s been to law school.

    You’re wrong. The protections of the Bill of Rights have never been held to apply even to Americans in a state of armed insurrection, let alone non-citizens outside U.S. territory, nationals of a government at war with the U.S.

  37. “It’s my blog. I get privileges you don’t.”

    It would reflect better on you if you didn’t use those privileges, but as you wish.

    Only nit: The sources I could find (wikipedia, the new yorker and the washington post) indicated that Bush sr. was not the president anymore at the time the assassination would have been attempted. They talk about april 1993 (and retaliation on June 1993 by Clinton).

  38. >>Go ahead, ask your wife. She’s been to law school.

    > You’re wrong. The protections of the Bill of Rights have never been held to apply even to Americans > in a state of armed insurrection, let alone non-citizens, nationals of a government at war with the
    > U.S., or combatants deemed terrorists under the terms of the Geneva Convention.

    First, I have to ask… did you get help (from her) with that answer?

    Note that you’ve completely twisted what I wrote. What I wrote is that the Constitution proclaims, all men are created equal, and as a fact of their creation have certain right. Further, the “bill of rights” is constructed to limit the power of the (US) government, and does not “grant” any additional rights. As such, the rights expressed in the Bill of Rights are also “God given” (which you can take in a non-religious sense if it makes you more comfortable.)

    As for your specific points:

    > The protections of the Bill of Rights have never been held to apply even to Americans
    > in a state of armed insurrection, let alone non-citizens, nationals of a government at war with the
    > U.S., or combatants deemed terrorists under the terms of the Geneva Convention.

    Are the citizens of Iraq, “nationals of a government at war with the US”?

    No, they are not.

    As for non-citizens and their rights (even when held outside the US by US forces), one need look no further back in history than 2003′s Rasul vs. Bush (No. 03-334)/Al Odah v. United States (No. 03-343). As such, it is trivial to refuse your statement.

    I’ll let you look it up.

  39. > It’s my blog. I get privileges you don’t.

    Which does not mean you’re in the right, or that your statement(s) is(are) correct.

    Your continued hiding behind the skirts of playing editor does not convince.

  40. What I wrote is that the Constitution proclaims, all men are created equal, and as a fact of their creation have certain right. Further, the “bill of rights” is constructed to limit the power of the (US) government, and does not “grant” any additional rights. As such, the rights expressed in the Bill of Rights are also “God given” (which you can take in a non-religious sense if it makes you more comfortable.)

    Actually, all the stuff about all men being created equal with inalienable rights endowed by the Creator, is part of the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

    The most religion that the Constitution contains, is to ensure your right to practice whatever religion you want.

  41. >From the risks-of-thinking-you’re-a-badass-because-you’ve-been-to-swordcamp-department:

    Any fool who thinks he can go up against a gun with a sword is a Darwin Awards candidate for sure. My swordmaster would refrain from slapping such a fantasist silly only because he thinks scornful laughter is just as effective in this particular situation.

  42. >Rasul vs. Bush (No. 03-334)/Al Odah v. United States (No. 03-343).

    I was expecting you to bring up the Guantanamo cases, including that one. They don’t demonstrate what you want them to, since one of the major points at issue was whether U.S. civil courts operating under the U.S. Constitution have jurisdiction in Guantanamo. This is not a good parallel to Iraq, where nobody claims the U.S. Constitution either has or should have controlling authority.

  43. > I was expecting you to bring up the Guantanamo cases, including that one

    Yet you made no preemptive argument.

    Of course, lets just quote:
    Held: United States courts have jurisdiction to consider challenges to the legality of the detention of foreign nationals captured abroad in connection with hostilities and incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. Pp. 4—17.
    and
    United States courts have traditionally been open to nonresident aliens. Cf. Disconto Gesellschaft v. Umbreit, 208 U.S. 570, 578. And indeed, §1350 explicitly confers the privilege of suing for an actionable “tort … committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States” on aliens alone. The fact that petitioners are being held in military custody is immaterial.

    therefore, these non-resident aliens, accused of being enemy combatants, had the right to petition the courts, aka habeas corpus.

    This is in direct opposition to your statement above.

    PAUL CLEMENT, lawyer for the Bush administration: “Over 10,000 United States troops remain on the field of battle in Afghanistan. No principle of law or logic requires the United States to release an individual from detention so that he can rejoin the battle against the United States.”

    JENNIFER MARTINEZ, lawyer for detainee Jose Padilla: “The government asks in this case for basically limitless power and however grave the circumstances of the war on terror may be, this nation has faced other grave threats. We’ve had war on our soil before and never before in the nation’s history has this court granted the president blank check to do what ever he wants to American citizens. So the fact that we’re at war does not mean that our constitutional rules do not apply even in war time, especially in wartime.”

    You’re not an anarchist, you’re an armchair libertarian with delusions of insurrection.

  44. A few of those bits and pieces are mine. I’m the school’s only guest instructor; in previous years I’ve taught units on escrima (Philippine stick-fighting) and board-breaking, and this year I’m doing one on “Japanese Sword For Western Swordsmen”. That should be fun.

    Everyone is praying the weather holds. Michigan is extremely hot and wet in the summer; last year’s camp came perilously close to being shut down by brutal humidity, but we might get a break this year; it’s only supposed to hit the eighties Fahrenheit.

    Yes, you are bad-ass, until it gets hot and stuffy, then you quit and go home. (??)

    ref

    What happened in Holland, stays in Holland, eh?

  45. Jim, What The Fuck? I won’t ask for a NSFW, but why did you have to post that crap?

  46. >Jim, What The Fuck? I won’t ask for a NSFW, but why did you have to post that crap?

    That’s what he does when he doesn’t have an argument. Yes, it’s contemptible. Also predictable.

  47. >therefore, these non-resident aliens, accused of being enemy combatants, had the right to petition the courts, aka habeas corpus.

    Yes, because the alleged crimes against them were committed on soil where U.S. civil courts can reasonably claim jurisdiction, as opposed to leaving them under military jurisdiction. That case does not obtain in Iraq, any more than it did in Germany during World War II or the the period of occupation afterwards. It would obtain only if the U.S. had formally annexed those countries.

    The key point that gives U.S. civil courts a look-in is not “captured abroad” but “incarcerated at Guantanamo”. Really, this isn’t complicated. It’s not even controversial.

  48. Oh, he has an argument alright. Try and answer to his other post, please. Still, this doesn’t justify the post.

  49. Alllllllrighty, I just learned much more about Jim’s fantasies than I ever wanted to.

    As a regular reader (i.e. with no authority but to humbly ask) I say:
    Jim, please remember that some kinds of pornography, while exciting for you, don’t work for everyone.

  50. To be clear, its just something I happened across, and doesn’t represent what turns me on. And to be more clear, I didn’t write the original.

    I offered it because this (people who write crap) is what happens when you polarize people with BS, as Eric seems want to do.

    here ya go, I apologize, to Eric and everyone else here. It was a low blow. Too low, and I was wrong to inflict it.

  51. There is frankly no way this post could have avoided a comment thread like this. Maybe we ought to update Godwin’s law: “the chance that any online discussion about the US — in any shape or form — will degenerate either into a misinformed discussion about the legality of the US invasion of Iraq or truther claims that ’9/11 was an inside job’ is and will always be well above 100%.”

    Getting back to the original point of the post: is anybody out there actually disappointed that violence in Iraq is virtually nonexistent, or that for the forseeable future Iraq won’t fall into the category of “failed state”?

    I am personally happy to be able to answer all those people who asked “but what will victory look like?” with “like this.” And a tangible answer to “how do you fight a movement” with, “apparently by showing the populace that they have more to gain from modern civilization than from violent religious extremists.”

  52. Jim – here’s all you need to know about Iraq:

    1) A state of war existed between the United States and Iraq pending compliance with the 1991 cease-fire. The no-fly zones were imposed by the United Nations and enforced by the United States to stop Saddam from gassing any more of his own people.

    2) The United Nations had given up trying to get Saddam to comply with their demands that he disarm AND PROVE THAT HE HAD DONE SO. That second part is important. He never proved to the UN’s satisfaction that he had disarmed. We have the word of one compromised inspector (Ritter) that he was in compliance, but no official notice from the UN. The UN was content to keep arguing with Hussein while he violated the spirit and letter of “Oil-for-food” to build himself palaces.

    3) Pretty much every intelligence agency in the world in 1998 believed that Hussein either had, or was preparing to restart his chemical weapons programs. There was no new intel between then and 2003 that changed this belief.

    4) Given the nature of the 9/11 attacks (Islamists), and the places from which they derive their money and funding (Islamic countries, particularly in the Middle East), it was considered imperative to defang the entire region. I happen to agree with that assessment. Iraq was the weakest link, and it was one of a handful of countries with a populace educated enough to attempt self-governance. I would have preferred a constitutional process more like what was used for Occupied Japan post WWII (here’s your Constitution, now sign it!) but we got what we got.

    And this is for Mike: absent the U.S. Invasion, Saddam would have killed three to five times as many civilians in Iraq as we have been accused of killing. I say “accused” because the Lancet numbers do not match anything that remotely maps to reality. Which means that even with 100,000 civilian casualties from a U.S. invasion and occupation, they’re doing better than they would have been without.

  53. Maybe it’s time for some statistics. Here’s the list of reported terrorist attacs in Iraq during this month. First number is number of dead, second number of injured (as compiled by http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ ):

    Iskandariya 10 0 Two women are among ten people found executed in a mass grave in a Sunni stronghold.
    Baghdad 3 15 Mujahideen take out three Iraqis with a roadside bomb.
    Kut 5 0 Sunni extremists invade a home and kill five residents, including children.
    Mosul 5 0 Two women are among five people murdered by terrorists while sitting in their vehicle.
    Baghdad 15 0 Fifteen bodies are found beneath a house controlled by the militia of a Shiite cleric.
    Jalawla 15 20 A Fedayeen detonates himself in a crowd, sending fifteen innocent souls to Allah.
    Baghdad 3 6 Jihadis manage to kill three Iraqis with a roadside bomb.
    Tal Afar 9 40 Mujahideen plant a car bomb at a car dealership, killing nine employees and customers.
    Baghdad 3 25 Three people are killed when terrorists detonate a bomb near a theatre.
    Ramadi 4 3 A Fedayeen suicide bomber murders four people.
    Mosul 2 0 Two Christian sisters are shot to death inside their home by Muslim militants.
    Baghdad 21 87 Nearly two dozen Iraqis are successfully killed by Mujahideen bombers in three attacks.
    Baghdad 3 15 Mujahideen target newpaper vendors with bombs, killing at least three.
    Baqubah 7 12 al-Qaeda sends a 13-year-old female suicide bomber to a gathering where seven people are killed.
    Baghdad 30 68 Two Sunni suicide bombers massacre thirty Shia civilians outside a fine arts school.
    Fallujah 3 5 Two woman and a 10-year-old girl are blown to bits by a Fedayeen suicide bomber.
    Ramadi 8 12 A double suicide bombing by Fedayeen leave eight Iraqis dead.
    Baghdad 6 12 Two Jihad bombings leave six civilians dead.
    Mosul 1 0 A young woman is shot to death by suspected fundamentalists over immoral activity.
    Baghdad 6 12 Six people are blown to bits by a suicide bomber at an airport.
    Baghdad 18 47 Eighteen Iraqis are killed in at least four Jihad bombings.
    Madaen 3 0 A woman and two children are killed when terrorists lob a mortar into their home.
    Buhriz 6 0 Four children are among six members of a family taken out in a brutal al-Qaeda bomb attack.
    Baghdad 6 20 Jihadis manage to kill six Iraqis with a double bombing.
    Saadiya 2 0 Two women are kidnapped and murdered by suspected Sunni extremists.
    Kirkuk 2 1 Two children are taken out by Jihadi roadside bombers.
    Basra 1 1 Jihadis take out a young child with a landmine.

    Which gives me 197 dead and 411 injured. We are not at the end of the month yet, so we can expect it to be 246 dead and 513 injured (simple linear extrapolation). I already had older data in the database (for another purposes then proving the war in Iraq is wrong ;) so we can do some comparition:

    2003-11 131 196
    2004-11 193 344
    2005-11 474 556
    2006-11 1709 1236
    2007-11 526 541
    2008-11 246 513

    and just for the fun of it:

    2001-11 2 2
    2002-11 0 0

    Does not look exactly like a victory to me (and much less non-existence of violence, it just looks that the media stopped reporting it as they can not use it against Bush anymore, plus nobody is really interested anymore), not to mention the problems with constitutionalised sharia I talked about in my first comment, and with Kurds vs. Shia vs. Sunnites etc., just to mention the most serious threats to the new “peaceful democracy” in Iraq. My prediction: after Americans leave, the country will revert to totalitarian regime, or split into two or three countries. I am quite sure Iran will be more than willing to offer some solution to the chaos, even though it’s unlikely it will actually happen, as Arabs will not accept Persian rule. And of course religious minorities will continue to suffer as much as they do now, but fortunately there are not many of them left.

  54. Nice how everyone is ignoring the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq are barely a stones throw away from theocracies. If I remember correctly, a few years ago an Afghan apostate had to flee the country because he was given a death sentence, a few months ago an Afghan student was charged with insulting Islam. Wonderful. We’re fighting for democracy, of course!

  55. More statistics: number of casualties from 911 to December 2007

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pLEVbNG9XtlrTTKUc4qyqIw

    Statistics for last two months:
    October: 310 dead, 384 injured, 45 incidents
    November (extrapolated): 246 dead, 513 injured

    So definitely down from 2006-2007 levels, but still above or within 2003-2005 levels. Not a victory. And sharia definitely != democracy. Religious persecution != religious freedom. Etc.

  56. Also please note that above statistics account only for terrorist attacs, not casualties of US or Iraqi military actions – but I guess that was my point.

  57. There are generally two arguments used against the Iraq war (I will get to jc in a minute). The first is that the claim that the invasion itself was “illegal.” The second is that no matter how morally-justified the original invasion was, later mistakes — such as Abu Ghraib — made it immoral.

    I might have a little easier time swallowing the first claim if it were supported by stronger legal authorities than Ramsey Clark and Dennis Kucinich. But for fun, please place the following military actions in order from most legally defensible to least legally defensible from an international law point of view (please note we are talking about the legal justification used, not the motives given to the public; that is, the US invasion of South Korea was in response to violations of UN agreements, but was sold as part of the domino theory of Communism):

    * US invasion of South Korea, 1950
    * North Korean Invasion of South Korea, 1950
    * US invasion of Afghanistan, 2001
    * Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, 1978
    * Iraqi invasion of Iran, 1980
    * Russian invasion of South Ossetia, 2008
    * US invasion of Bosnia, 1992
    * Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, 1990
    * US invasion of Kuwait, 1990
    * US invasion of Iraq, 2003
    * Falklands War, 1982

    Bonus points if you write a short explanation of the various legal theories used to justify each incursion. Super bonus points if you write a second list, placing these actions in order according to domestic law.

    ——

    As for the “well, it may have been moral once, but not after there were mistakes” argument: please write a short essay how *any* war in the history of the world could possibly be considered moral under this intellectually dishonest argument. Bonus points if you can show how the (insert home country here) revolution was moral. Super bonus points if you can (1) somehow implicate Bush in your argument, and (2) ignore the fact that the US military in Iraq has spent millions investigating claims of abuse, and has prosecuted, jailed, fired, and otherwise punished personnel who have been found to have acted illegally (Abu Ghraib, for instance).

  58. Now for jc.

    Taking the numbers presented at face value, the US policy has long been that the US will withdraw when Iraq is able to handle whatever violence remains. Which is why the US actually trained an Iraqi military, even though doing so poses some threat to Israel and neighboring countries. This is also why the US has handed over control to the Iraqi security forces as they’ve been able to take responsibility for many areas of the country. It’s the source of the “as they step up, we’ll step down” phrase Bush used to say all the time.

    Looking deeper than the numbers: the Iraqi security forces have been removing several several physical barriers that had been needed for the physical security of the population. They are removing these barriers because the population demands it. It’s hard to square this behavior with a belief of rampant violence.

  59. “Now for jc”

    Well, actually not for me ;) You are arguing with something I did not said and obviously you don’t need me for such discussion, but let me restate my arguments anyway to make them clear to you.

    1) There were voices arguing in this discussion that there is no violence in Iraq anymore – I have used actual statistics to show that what has changed is lack of reporting (media can not use it against Bush anymore and they want to support Obama with withdrawal).

    2) There were voices arguing that the current regime is democracy – well, maybe it is by name, but not in reality, and as somebody who has actually lived under totalitarian regime I can see it very clearly, and I have provided some arguments to support my position (also I have spent considerable part of my life by studying islam, both the theology and in situ, so I now what I am talking about even from this point of view).

    3) I have raised some arguments about why the current “democratic” regime will not survive the withdrawal for long.

    Please note that I am not at all interested in moral aspects of this war. I can certainly provide some arguments, both pro-war and anti-war, but such discussion would quickly degrade into irrational one, because you are certainly not going to judge my arguments by my moral standars, and I am not going to judge yours by your moral standards as well, and we can go on and on forever. I am not interested in having such conversation. Using objectivly observable results, even if they are unintended ones, makes much better sense to me.

    You see? Your argument was not “Now for jc” at all. We are both talking about something else and you are not arguing with me, but with somebody else ;)

    Hope I made it clear enough.

  60. I think the only justification for any war that sits well with me is whether the world became a better place as a result. If the survival of Western civilization is at stake (and this is one of the few things I agree with Eric), then a war is a good one if it advances Western values and interests. I think we’re still unable to judge if that is the case with Iraq. I’m pessimistic. As JC has said, we have Sharia becoming a part of Iraq constitution, we also have Russia and Iran becoming more aggressive and entitled, US economics becoming weaker, Osama bin Laden still free, and violence still rampant in Iraq. I think we’d be better served if Bush had concentrated on Afghanistan and Iran. But possibly we’ll only be able to tell in a few decades.

  61. I think the only justification for any war that sits well with me is whether the world became a better place as a result. … As JC has said, we have Sharia becoming a part of Iraq constitution,

    From a pragmatic point of view, wouldn’t this be the case without the invasion? As far as Iraq could have been said to have a constitution under Saddam, Uday and Qusay.

    we also have Russia and Iran becoming more aggressive and entitled, US economics becoming weaker, Osama bin Laden still free,

    Frankly, I don’t think any of these are directly related to the invasion of Iraq. Russia and Iran have been aggressive for all of living memory. The US economy fell because the 200 government regulators watching Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t think it was in their best interests to actually regulate them. And I seriously doubt that sending more troops to Afghanistan in 2003 would have captured Osama bin Laden himself.

    and violence still rampant in Iraq.

    True. But comparing Iraq today to Iraq as it would have been (what was the number being bandied around back then? 50,000 civilian deaths per year due to economic sanctions on Iraq?), I would argue that Iraqis are better off today than they would have been otherwise.

    I think we’d be better served if Bush had concentrated on Afghanistan and Iran. But possibly we’ll only be able to tell in a few decades.

    That’s a valid opinion. And, yes, we will know more in the coming years and decades. Most experts realized that pulling out of Somalia in 1993 would “embolden terrorists,” but nobody predicted it would essentially create al Qaida and the resulting casualties. That only became clear in hindsight.

  62. Well, actually not for me ;) You are arguing with something I did not said

    I appologize for misundertanding your argument. I’ll take your words verbatim this time.

    1) There were voices arguing in this discussion that there is no violence in Iraq anymore

    I don’t know of anybody saying “no violence.”

    I have used actual statistics to show that what has changed is lack of reporting

    Well, your statistics also show there has been a dramatic drop in terrorist violence in Iraq. So while there is a lack of reporting, there is also a significant drop in violence. Your statistics did not cover a few other changes, including how the US has handed over security responsibility of nearly all the country to Iraqi security forces, or how those same security forces have been removing walls, fences, checkpoints, roadblocks and other physical security barriers because they do more to impede regular Iraqis now than they help with security. Because, well, terrorist violence is down in Iraq. There are actually US soldiers coming home from tours in the country without ever being involved in armed conflict.

    2) There were voices arguing that the current regime is democracy – well, maybe it is by name,

    I’ll concede that there are several “levels” of democracy; from the ancient Athenian democracy that executed Socrates to more enlightened societies.

    but not in reality, and as somebody who has actually lived under totalitarian regime I can see it very clearly, and I have provided some arguments to support my position

    Let’s find those arguments. Ah, here they are:

    And if you thing (like Bush) that democracy == voting, that think again: we had elections every four years and even three parliamentary parties. Still it had nothing to do with democracy

    Yes, I’m familiar with several countries that go through a charade of holding elections. Saddam Hussein himself routinely won 99%+ of the vote. Strangely, Iraq’s elections haven’t been that one-sided. Ahmed Chalabi, for instance, was peacefully voted out of office. Ibrahim al-Jaafari is no longer prime minister. Nouri al-Maliki did everything he could to endorse Obama a few months ago, even though that undermined the sitting US President. The current parliament routinely snubs Maliki by not approving his treaties and by dragging its feet on several laws demanded by the Democrats in the US Congress. The fact that things aren’t one-sided and are, in fact, somewhat chaotic looks to me like the elections aren’t “fixed.”

    If you would like to give me some arguments aside from “some countries are corrupt, Iraq is a country, therefore Iraq is corrupt” I would be very interested.

    3) I have raised some arguments about why the current “democratic” regime will not survive the withdrawal for long.

    Hmm, where are those arguments. Ahh, found them:

    not to mention the problems with constitutionalised sharia I talked about in my first comment, and with Kurds vs. Shia vs. Sunnites etc., just to mention the most serious threats to the new “peaceful democracy” in Iraq. My prediction: after Americans leave, the country will revert to totalitarian regime, or split into two or three countries.

    This isn’t really an argument. It’s more of a prediction. Either way, Bush has routinely said that the US would not withdraw until Iraq could stand on its own. He even said the US could withdraw before all violence was quelled if Iraq could handle the residual violence. Interestingly President-elect Obama argued that the US had to withdraw when Iraq could not handle the levels of violence at the time, and Vice President-elect Biden suggested partitioning Iraq, that is splitting it into three weak countries and hoping for the best. Biden’s plan was particularly stupid because he wanted to do this while violence was at a peak.

    So, Bush said the US wouldn’t withdraw until Iraq could handle the violence on its own. The US has been giving security responsibility to the Iraqi security forces. The US has also begun withdrawing. The Iraqi security forces are currently handling the terrorist violence in something like 80% of the country, and if the Iraqi parliament agrees, the US plans to continue policing things for another three years. Why, exactly, are you positive that Iraq will revert to a totalitarian regime or split into two or three countries? The prediction that it will happen is a prediction. The why part is the argument. For instance, my argument is that the US won’t leave until the chance that Iraq becomes a failed state falls to statitistical noise, therefore when the US withdraws Iraq will be very unlikely to become a failed state (yes, that’s a tautology). Your argument appears to be “but it will fail anyway.” Why?

  63. And as for Sharia law causing Iraq’s demise: the constitutionalization of Judaism hasn’t led to Israel’s demise, even after considering the large number of non-Jewish residents. Sharia law has not caused the demise of about a dozen countries around the world — some even falling into a category of “decent democracy.” Iraqis will probably do OK as a country under Sharia law.

  64. Max –

    I never liked George W. Bush. I am honest and I admit that is because I have profound differences with him and his party regarding religion and sexual politics, and that is the core of my dislike for him, much more than his decisions in foreign politics. I find it a bit unwise to judge his decisions with much certainty, one way or another. I can’t applaud any supposed victory in Iraq like Eric did, but I think I’ll not condemn the Iraq war out of hand either.

    That was more or less my position when it was still cool to support the war. I’m afraid that the Iraq War may have left the US unable to curb Russia and also emboldened Iran. Russia’s actions in Georgia seemed to be predicated on the fact that America was too weakened and too demoralized to do something. But I’m not certain.

    Everything boils down to: was it worth it to spend economic, military, and political resources to remove Saddam Hussein? Was he a real threat? Did his removal enhance American power and influence in the Middle East?

  65. Everything boils down to: was it worth it to spend economic, military, and political resources to remove Saddam Hussein?

    I agree. And I agree that we can’t truly answer that today.

  66. Max: “I don’t know of anybody saying “no violence.””

    For example: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=651#comment-229568

    “Noticing that internal violence in Iraq has all but disappeared …”

    I can dissect your answer this way, but responding to sophistry is a waste of time. For example I never said sharia ever caused demise of any country, or that “some countries are corrupt, Iraq is a country, therefore Iraq is corrupt” (that was incredibly stupid attempt at putting something into my mouth) etc. and you are even suggesting for some reason that judaism and sharia are the same beast? OK, it was entertaining, but no point in continuing this way.

    Funny remark about different levels of democracy, by the way. Maybe you should try to live in one of them for some time to get some clue. About one million of Iraqi Christians have already voted by their feets.

  67. No better place to put this, and yes, its link-jacking (of a sort), but I’m really interested in esr’s response to:

    http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2008/11/24/What-Sun-Should-Do

    In which Tim says that Sun should “let go” of Java (the JCP) and concentrate on running web services (including Java based ones) the best of any vendor (MSFT, AAPL) or non-vendor (Ubuntu), should capitulate on a GNU userland (though MacOS X runs the freebsd userland, and people love that), and that finally, Sun should abandon the desktop space (since “the web” won).

    There may be things for “the linux community” (such as it is) to consider here. Maybe you can get another CATB out of it.

    Dunno.

  68. Eric, do you really think that you couldn’t draw your sword and cut somebody’s tendons before they were able to draw and aim their weapon, even from a couple of dozen feet away? To be unfair, you might have trouble closing that distance in time, but I expect that I could. It’s not something I’d do casually, but I’d expect to prevail if it were necessary.

  69. >Eric, do you really think that you couldn’t draw your sword and cut somebody’s tendons before they were able to draw and aim their weapon, even from a couple of dozen feet away?

    From ten feet I could manage it, probably; hell with cutting tendons, with a properly sharpened sword I could probably take a limb or the neck. The issue is getting to that ten-foot mark without getting plugged. It’s not like the shooter’s vision stops at ten feet!

    Which is why, if I were really going to try a dumb stunt like this, I’d prefer a concealable dagger or just my bare hands. That way I might manage to get into engagement range without alerting the shooter.

  70. So a sword extends your range, but has the overhead of drawing (let’s avoid the issue of ‘carrying a sword in public’, which is actually illegal some places, not to mention, as you do, that it’s visible). Where’s the tipping point?

  71. The principal advantage of a sword isn’t the reach. It’s not much more reach than bare hands.

    It’s that it provides offense, defense and moment arm that does not diminish with lateral motion.

    Accuracy with a handgun drops asymptotically when the shooter moves, and shortly after he moves, as adrenaline and after effects make his hands and arms tremble.

    So, going against someone who’s got a gun and prepared? Your best defense is to talk. If the shooter isn’t willing to talk, you’ll find out soon enough. (And if they were prepared and wanted you dead…well, the fact that you aren’t, yet, indicates a mitigating circumstance or two.)

    Going against someone who isn’t prepared, and I’ve got the sword/melee weapon out? Too many situational variables to give a categorical solution…but I’d want to move laterally to their sight axis and make them turn to keep situational awareness of me while I closed the range for the reasons cited above. And talk.

    And if I see them draw and aim their weapons from a couple dozen feet away, I take cover and concealment.

    I have precious little faith in anyone’s ability to reliably hit targets past about 30 feet with a handgun…

    I’ve faced Eric with a sword in hand; I do well when this happens. This is a list of the advantages I have.

    1) More experience. I’ve faced more styles of swordsmanship than he has, and consequently have a deeper bag of tricks. In particular, Eric has next to no knowledge of how to feint effectively. I’ve faced off against his style before, he only faces off against what I do when I’m out to visit.
    2) Faster reflexes. Eric has below average reflex speed from CP, I have somewhat above average. I have longer legs and arms, more flexibility, and better mobility. Eric has better upper body strength, which he uses as a crutch.
    3) More economical style. My parries are tighter and faster and biomechanically more sound. They use considerably less energy and have faster recoveries. Trying to teach them to Eric is…interesting. He can pick up the patterns decently well, but he doesn’t grok the synthesis of how they fit into the whole.
    4) Better engineered toys. Belgian pistol grips for fencing blades are remarkable pieces of ergonomical engineering. They need considerable modification to work in heavier blades.
    5) I cheat; I’m mildly synesthetic and see vector arrows coming out of people’s shoulders/hips/arms/knees when I’m in the right mental state.

    Both of us, in our respective groups that we fence in, qualify as “advanced intermediates”. I’m not the best swordsman in the world. I’m trained, know how to use my advantages, and systematic about this. I’ve met people with worse form than mine and much better reflexes. I’ve met people who try to power through blocks.

  72. >I’ve faced Eric with a sword in hand; I do well when this happens.

    Ken is a tricky opponent; for the reasons he describes, I score on him less often than I do against my schoolmates. His technique is more advanced than mine within its scope, but also narrower; he’s a fencer, I’m a fighter who can use blades of any length or go empty-hand if need be. At fencing range, he tends to win; at dagger, empty-hand or grappling range the odds would shift in my favor, and if neither of us had weapons he’d have little chance unless I actively screwed up. Part of this is our physical differences, but more of it is training; our know-what-to-do is tuned for different circumstances.

  73. For example I never said sharia ever caused demise of any country, or that “some countries are corrupt, Iraq is a country, therefore Iraq is corrupt” (that was incredibly stupid attempt at putting something into my mouth) etc. and you are even suggesting for some reason that judaism and sharia are the same beast? OK, it was entertaining, but no point in continuing this way.

    You never said those words, true. But as far as I can see your argument boils down to “I used to live in a corrupt country, so Iraq will fail.” I’m not trying to be flippant, and I’m not trying to put words in your mouth. What I *am* trying to do is have you develop your statement a little more. Instead of saying, “Iraq will fail because I know these kinds of things” I would prefer you say “Iraq is corrupt. You can tell it is corrupt because … Iraq will fail because of this widespread corruption.” It’s the “…” part that I’m not seeing in your previous comments.

    You did mention living in a country with “fixed elections.” You never said Iraq had fixed elections, and given the results of Iraq’s recent elections, they don’t look all that fixed. Hussein routinely got 99%+ of the vote. That’s “fixed.” Maliki, al Jafari, etc. haven’t come anywhere close to that kind of showing.

    Likewise you have said the simple fact that Iraq and Afghanistan have constitutionalized Sharia law will lead to both states failing. You have never explained *why* this would lead to both states failing. My point was that other countries have constitutionalized Sharia law — and some are even decent democracies — so Sharia law by itself will not necessarily lead to Iraq’s demise. Your response was “I never said it would.”

    I honestly would be interested in hearing what’s wrong with Iraq’s decision to constitutionalize Sharia law — aside from the fact that civilized people generally revolt at the concepts of Sharia law. So far you’ve said it’s bad, but you haven’t said *why*.

  74. Jim,

    Here’s my unsolicited opinion on What Sun Should Do:

    Web applications are a flash in the pan. Building your business around them is a quick route to bankruptcy and seeking federal handouts. Not even Google does this; they are an advertising company.

  75. ESR,

    would you like to write again about cultural anthropology, which are your most interesting posts?

    What I’d be really interested in is an analysis about what cultural elements make societies successful. OK, freedom – but on one hand, pretty much every political ideology is about some definition of freedom as freedom means “to be free FROM something”, and the important question is to be free from exactly what; and on the other hand, there are probably other important cultural elements other than freedom, and they are, in general, more interesting. I mean, thanks, we’ve all read Nozick and Hayek and there aren’t really any new ideas unexplored in this topic. But probably there are some interesting questions more or less unexplored regarding the other elements.

    To make the question more specific: what cultural elements made North America work much better than South America, given that both were built by immigrants arriving penniless and usually not too well educated?

    To make it more specific, to avoid the all-too-familiar left-wing anti-US counter-arguments, you could just focus on Canada who are generally considered good guys even by the left, and attempt to answer the question this more troll-safe way: what cultural elements made Canada work better than Mexico or Argentina?

    Yes, it is something sort of a challenge – I hope you’ll see it as one :-)

    To paint it as something at least a little bit on-topic: then the second question is what values should Iraqis adopt to make the whole thing work, and avoid another 200 years of mess like Latin America.

  76. At fencing range, he tends to win; at dagger, empty-hand or grappling range the odds would shift in my favor, and if neither of us had weapons he’d have little chance unless I actively screwed up. Part of this is our physical differences, but more of it is training; our know-what-to-do is tuned for different circumstances.

    When it came to dagger work, the two times we tried it, it skewed in Eric’s favor, but not as much as either one of us was expecting. I expected to get pwned, badly. I merely got schooled. I figured out the “attack the wrist with the knife” without being told about it, but execution ended up with both of us going to off hand, with Eric in too close and on my blind (left) side.

    Unarmed, my reach doesn’t match Eric’s strength, and Eric is much more willing to trade hits to get in close than I am, and knows more tricks about what to do inside of arms reach than I do.

    One thing I noticed is that Eric doesn’t really throw patterns of shots and blocks; he’s still picking out pieces one at a time and stringing them together rather than running out a kata or the equivalent of a batch file. When it comes to unarmed or daggers, all of his muscle memory comes into play, and he’s doing patterns with expected responses and outcomes.

  77. IMHO, attacking a secular Fascist country in the name of fighting Sharia-following terrorists and then observing said country constitutionalize Sharia would kinda defeat the whole purpose, so I hope it’s not happening or something can be done about it.

    I think the devil is, as usually, in the details. Which elements of Sharia? I kinda tend to like, for example, those parts, that treating guests well, and not harming them, is a sacred duty. Islamic banking, for example, I consider silly but if it’s what they want, then why not *shrug*. Amputating a hand for thieving? Sort of cruel and barbaric, but even that’s something I could put up with as justice means crime must be punished and we can consider it an acceptable cultural difference how brutally it must be punished.

    The parts about the women and about the unfaithful are the parts I’m really, really worried about.

  78. > I have precious little faith in anyone’s ability to reliably hit targets past about 30 feet with a
    > handgun…

    I not only ‘hit’, I score well, but I’m not confused about the difference between being at the range (even in a ‘tactical’ range (several Gunsight sessions) and a situation where the hostilities are real and the outcome more … final.

    Firearms (even handguns) are, with rare exception, not good close-quarters weapons. In these situations, a short blade or even well-trained hand combat technique will normally win the day.

    Which is why they teach ya to maintain range in exactly the situation you describe. If you advance on me with a sword drawn, I will maintain range while I can until either your intent is clear (at which point you’ll take at least 2 rounds to center of mass) or I will continue to maintain range until same is no longer possible.

    Ken, perhaps you know this, but there is a difference between cover and concealment. Cover stops bullets, whereas concealment may not. Cover is what you want during a gunfight. Once the situation demands that you draw down, your very next step is to seek cover. If none is available, concealment will have to do.

  79. > When it comes to unarmed or daggers, all of his muscle memory comes into play, and he’s doing
    > patterns with expected responses and outcomes.

    An axium worth remembering is that you fight the way you train.

    I don’t know much about sword fighting, but I admire the few I know who have found motivation in SCA activities to sufficient become a real force with swords and in hand-to-hand combat. Note that SCA involves ‘training’ in actual combat situations, not a once/year sojourn into the woods.

    It has been my observation that most excersizes in IDPA and IPSC have you moving forward toward the problem. This is the exact opposite of what you should be doing when the situation has real (fatal) consequence.

    I know it’s a safely thing at these drills. IF you can find a place to train that you can do drills backing out of trouble, do it. even if is a dry fire drill. If you train to go toward your foe it’s likely that is what you will do when the the little brown torpedos hit the rotating machinery.

    The absolute best way to win a fight is to not be there when the fight starts. If it looks like things are not right, bug out, leave, be elsewhere. A corollary to this is it always happens when you least expect it.

    Every time I step out my door is a training session. My radar is always on scan looking for problems. At the first sign of trouble I’m looking for escape routes. If my alert status goes from yellow to orange, I’m taking that escape route. There is nothing out there worth getting into a gun fight over if it can be avoided. Pride goeth before a fall.

    Some over excited person want’s my parking space? OK sir, it’s yours let me back out.
    Some random on the Internet threatens to beat me near to death? I’ll avoid him. Same
    commences a surprise attack? One of us is unlikely to survive.

    It’s not worth spending the next ten years in court or jail, even if you live.

  80. >Eric is much more willing to trade hits to get in close than I am

    And that right there is the difference between someone who’s thinking hand-to-hand and someone who’s thinking sword. With sword, if you take a hit while closing, you’re seriously wounded and (all too often) dead. Hand-to-hand, your odds of being killed or incapacitated coming in are much lower, so if you can out-power your opponent rushing him is a good strategy.

    It helps that I’m physically tough — that is, have dense muscles and bones and a high pain tolerance. That makes little difference with long blades, but means that when fighting empty-hand I can afford to take an empty-hand hit going in because it’s unlikely to reduce my effectiveness much. Usually my opponents are less tough, even when they’re taller and larger, so a trade of first strikes will favor me.

  81. IMHO, attacking a secular Fascist country in the name of fighting Sharia-following terrorists and then observing said country constitutionalize Sharia would kinda defeat the whole purpose,

    Remember, “Islam is a religion of peace.” Or, at least, there are people and countries following Sharia law that are not terrorists and that do not sponsor terrorism. Likewise, there are people and countries who are terrorists or sponsor terrorism that follow Sharia law, Buddhist teachings, or other codes of conduct.

  82. > Hand-to-hand, your odds of being killed or incapacitated coming in are much lower, so if you can
    > out- power your opponent rushing him is a good strategy.
    >
    > It helps that I’m physically tough — that is, have dense muscles and bones and a high pain
    > tolerance.

    yet even these can be used against you by a worthy foe, and the last of them isn’t good for your long-term survival.

    In martial arts, smaller students are taught to assume an even lower size (or alignment), forcing their opponent9s) to either reach down to attack them (which effects the attackers body alignment and balance) or to use their legs to kick them.

    A small, nimble person can drop down and get inside the guard of a larger attacker quickly and use their height to attack knees, groin, solar plexus, etc.

    These kind of techniques are hard to describe in a few paragraphs but you likely get the general idea.

    Perhaps the larger target of opportunity with you is your mindset. Your body image can be used (quite effectively) against you in a real combat situation against a better-trained opponent.

  83. Max,
    I am again feeling that you are reading in my statements something I did not said, but I will skip that, as your argument that I did not elaborate more on why I claim Iraq will fail is fair and deserves explanation. The same for why sharia is poison for Iraqi regime and even for states which are relatively free (like Malaysia, Indonesia or Turkey, of course if you define the word “free” somewhat loosely, e.g. as in “relatively free for Muslims and screw the non-muslim minorities”).

    I will answer that (and I will even tell you what the solution for Iraq could have been and what I expected from Americans to do when the war was starting and I was still supporting it, before I realised that Bush and his generals really do not have clue about what they are doing and what the situation really is) tomorrow or later (it’s late night here and I have some work to do for tomorrow, but don’t worry, I will provide the answer).

    For a starter you can think about these about 1 000 000 Christian refugees living in less then democratic Syria and Jordan and why they fled from Iraq and why they feel safer in these countries. It’s not very difficult to find some and ask them (as I did).

    Good night or whatever you have where you are living.

  84. JIm – I’m quite aware of the difference between cover and concealment. Cover is vastly preferable. Most cover should be assumed to be concealment only unless you KNOW it’s bulletproof.

    I also scored well on the pistol range, but I do not trust that scoring at all as a combat indicator, or source of readiness. My synesthesia makes some things (hitting a target, move, aim, shoot) easy. But only if I’m in that non-verbal thinking mode…and I’m blind in one eye, very nearly so in the other, and that makes me seriously distrust my situational awareness.

    If I were going to recommend any school or regular form of practice for swordwork, it would be ARMA. Hands down the best swordwork training I’ve ever done. I know the guy who founded it, and was there for some of the beginnings of what eventually became his Renaissance fighting techniques class. I taught him some techniques, he taught me some more, we compared notes and figured things out.

    ARMA teaches from period manuals with lots of biomechanical training, and when ARMA groups practice, they practice hard – and they practice weekly, in the round, and in broken field conditions.

    A case in point – ARMA teaches you where to hit, with precision. In an ARMA drill, if you get hit, and the instructor is watching, he starts a stop watch. If it’s an outside of the thigh or a calf shot, the watch chimes at 2 minutes. If it’s an interior leg shot, it chimes at 1, and if it’s an upper inner leg shot, it chimes in 20 seconds.

    When it chimes, you’re down, completely. Blood loss. Same thing applies to lower abdominal shots (20 second chime). Arm shots are treated as outer leg. Anything upper torso to the top of the head is considered one-shot-incapacitation.

    Most SCA fighting turns into the equivalent of sport-boxing. It’s done in an enclosed space, and most SCA fighters don’t know how to calibrate hits.

    ARMA schools used to have the “Practice on Dinner” drill as well – hang a whole pig (wrapped in boiled leather on one side, boiled leather and chainmail on the other) on tethers like a punching bag. The pig isn’t mobile, it isn’t dodging, and its muscles aren’t tensing – which means it is, if anything, going to be overstating how lethal a hit is. Everyone takes a rapier or sword that’s live steel, cleared as safe, and tries to run the pig through, hack at it, kill it, etc. After everyone’s had their turn, it’s stripped, cleaned, dressed out, cut up and roasted.

    It’s harder than it looks. You also get to see just how ineffective chopping motions are with a sword against ANY sort of armor, and it’s nearly futile with chainmail, unless you’re doing full body, from-the-hip strikes. You see exactly how dangerous point work is…and why hitting directly en point is critical.

    You get a good feel for how much work it takes to break a bone through armor and meat.

    (This got stopped because of food safety regulations and liability insurance)

  85. I am a liberal, but I never subscribed to multiculturalism. Particularly, I think this stuff of Islam as a religion of peace is a big crock of shit. Both Islam and Christianity are still too full of crusading spirit, and even their followers that aren’t physically violent fall too easily into an intolerant mindset of wanting to remake the world into their own image, disbelievers be damned. When righteousness is almost omnipresent, the difference between the violent and non-violent followers is one of degree, not kind. This tragedy in India will not be the last.

    But I also have no strong faith in Bush’s policies. Concentrating all your resources in only one country, and one that had a secular power structure to boot? Not wanting to talk to your enemies? Even some Conservative tacticians deplore Bush’s choices as being based more on wishful thinking and hardheaded morality than in realpolitiks, It isn’t that liberals hate America and have no love for Western Civilization, it’s just that some of us don’t think Bush and the Republicans are the more qualified to defend Western Civilization. And I love Western Civilization very much.

  86. > ARMA schools used to have the “Practice on Dinner” drill as well

    Here in Hawaii, we pig hunt with dogs, and dispatch them with knives. First you cut the tendon going to the back foot, then finish them off by thrusting the knife through the forward ‘arm’ pit.

  87. I guess everyone saw what has happened in India here in the past few days.

    India went down the path favored by the liberals: be nice to them and they will be nice to us. Don’t go after them, don’t make them mad at us. And look what it got them.

    Do not think with Bush leaving office that the terrorists are going to start liking us: they hate America, not George W. Bush. Bush’s approach was absolutely the correct one, and with the passage of time his reputation will be in much better shape than it is currently.

    I hope everyone had a nice turkey day.

  88. The one thing you might not ‘get’ is that cover (even body armor) gives you a superior position, a tactical advantage over your adversary. “High ground”, if you will.

    Same thing applies with body armor in melee schools; someone with a rapier is going to have a difficult time hurting an opponent in mail and plate. But yes, nothing you hide behind, short of a wall or the full body of a car, should be treated as cover until you’ve seen it stop bullets.

    Many years ago, I helped dress out dear and moose carcasses. The “hack at dinner” results in some odd cuts of pork, but it’s educational about how well cour boulle and chainmail are at stopping shots delivered by a someone with a sword.

    Similar demos with plate armor have been done, and they bear out a lot of the late period fighting manuals (including “half-swording” to get a sword to go through plate armor, the rise of heavily weighted axes and maces for similar reasons.)

    One of the reasons why I chose fencing as an art form is that I can make the movements work with nearly anything sharp and pointy in my hand, it teaches me that the hand holding the weapon is the dangerous part of the opponent, and that I’m vanishingly unlikely to face any sort of body armor beyond a leather jacket if I need the skill set.

    One of the reasons why I mistrust the SCA’s fighting techniques is the difference between how the SCA teaches making a shot and the period methods of doing so.

    In martial arts terms, the SCA shot is taught to “strike the surface”, period methods are taught “strike for a point 6″ behind the target.”

    Most SCA shots are taught to do a “snap” technique or a “rap shot”, which gets a lot of movement on the last third of the blade (and makes for a rapid recovery), but short circuits the follow through that’s needed to get through armor. ARMA teaches “follow through, follow through, and by the way, follow through.”.

    An ARMA fighter does poorly in SCA hardsuit competitions, because his flurry of shots take longer to execute. ARMA fighters are also to calibrate incoming blows differently (as hinted to above).

    An ARMA trained fighter will “rest” after taking someone’s leg, waiting for blood loss to kill them; they’ll also get accused of rhino hiding by SCA fighters, because there’s a real difference between how getting slapped with the tip of a blade and how getting hit feel, and they’re taught that a slap is going to leave a bruise, but not penetrate. SCA fighters are taught to guess what that shot would do to them if they were wearing chainmail – but have no objective metric (like Hack at Dinner) to work from…and about 60-70% of the way SCA fighters are taught to fight results in “tip slaps” with rattan bats, which are fast, and sting when they hit, even through SCA armor.

  89. > An ARMA trained fighter will “rest” after taking someone’s leg, waiting for blood loss to kill them; they’ll also get
    > accused of rhino hiding by SCA fighters

    While I accept that its fun, this is worthless on the street. ESR stressed that he was deadly in a fight because of his training. I suggest (again); “You fight the way you train.”, and that this “I’ve dealt a blow, now I wait for the bleed-out” style of practice is going to cause *real* trouble when someone finds themselves in a defensive position.

    Jim
    btw, s/dear/deer/ above

  90. Hi Max,
    let me answer the first part – about why I think the regime in Iraq will fail.

    First the situation: there are four different groups of people living in Iraq that does not go very well with each other; Kurds, Sunnis, Shia and non-muslim (like Christians, Jews, Azeris etc.). Kurds are also distinctive ethnics (there are some others but they are not big so lets ignore this fact). There is lots of hatred between these groups, partly for historical resons, or for religious reasons (Sunnis vs. Shia, muslims vs. non-muslims). Some of this hatred has recent roots, e.g. massacres of Kurds by Saddam, rule of Sunnis above Shiites, current hostilities perpetrated by muslims (especially by Kurds) on non-muslims etc, some is deeply rooted in history.

    It’s easy to compare this “multicultural” situation with other places and try to find out what is the propability that such mix will work under democratical regime, e.g. without some dictator keeping the different groups on short leash while giving one favorised group free pass on violence against rebels.

    I will provide only few examples of countries with similar situation (and in fact usually much simpler and less heated) where living together does or did not work. I will also provide two examples of countries where it does work.

    Europe:
    - former Yugoslavia – does not need a comment
    - former Soviet Union – felt apart right after the regime fall
    - Nothern Ireland
    - Gypsy minorities in some countries – recently we had a violent clash in my country, people are simply pissed off by their behaviour
    - Muslim minorities in “multicultural” western European countries – does not need a comment

    That was more or less civilized world. Lets go to

    Africa (only very few examples one can find there):
    - Sudan – Arab muslims commiting slow genocide against black Sufi Muslims, Christians and animists
    - Egypt – Coptic Christian minority living in oppression, small violent clashes happen often, bigger ones few times per year
    - Rwanda – does not need a comment
    - Algeria – radical Muslims fighting for power against more moderate ones, Christians living in oppression
    - Nigeria – Muslims attacking Christians on almost daily basis
    - and I can go on and on

    Middle East
    - Lebanon – Shia vs. Sunnis vs. Christians vs. Druze (I think Lebanon scenario is the most likely one for future Iraq)
    - Iran – ruling Shia majority vs. Sunnites, Kurds and non-muslim minorities
    - Turkey – Christians and Kurds oppressed by Muslims – this regime is more or less stable because the Christian minority is small and Kurds face military actions if they try to get more freedom.
    - Gulf countries – clashes between ruling Sunnites and Shia minorities
    - Israel – needs no comment
    - and others

    Far East:
    - China – Chinesse vs. muslim Uyghur minority, not to mention Tibet
    - India – Hindus vs. Muslims in nothern parts of country
    - Thailand – daily violent attacs of Muslims against Buddhists in southern parts of the country

    Please note that some sort stability in these countries is usually maintained through dictatorship, military force and oppression – once you allow democracy and rights for oppressed, the country tends to fall appart, usually in a violent way. Alternative is one group gaining upper hand and reestablishing dictatorship and oppression once again.

    This is what I think will happen after Americans leave: Kurds will try to get Kurdistan and live there on their own, maybe still formally under Iraq, but it’s unlikely they will respect Iraqi government in practice (Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey are not going to like that, but only Iraq is relevant to us right now). It’s a big question if this will work, e.g. if Iraqi regime will be strong, they will to force them into submission again, otherwise Kurds may just get lucky.

    Sunnites and Shia will clash: Shia were oppressed under Saddam and sunni rule and they are not going to give Sunnis another chance. They may want revenge too. Remember – most of the violent clashes in Iraq are not al-Qaeda terrorist attacs – it’s Sunnites attacking Shiites and vice versa. From Sunni point of view: Sunnites are minority so the only chance to avoid reprisal and opression is to gain power – but I think it’s unlikely to happen. Shiites are supported from Iran and while Sunnites may get support from sunni countries, I don’t think it’s going to work. Iran already got Syria and Lebanon, and their ultimate goal is Mecca, so they can get some legitimity for the first time in history – Iraq, or at least the shiite part, would be very nice to have.

    So what I expect is Shiites getting the power after clashes with Sunnites, with non-muslim minorities being attacked from both sides in the meantime (and from Kurds too). After that they are going to attack Kurdistan, as long as it has not been recognized internationaly as an independent country, wich is very unlikely, because that would require recognition from USA, and they are not going to do that to avoid pissing off their friends Turks.

    And of course there is always chance that Iraqis will just live peacefully together ever after, but given the history and present I just can’t see it comming.

    And a note on what I expected from USA to do when the war was starting, but it should be pretty obvious by now: to split the country to three (lets call them Kurdistan, Shiistan and Sunnistan) and evacuate Christians, but it was easy enough to realize how naive I was when Bush started to defend Islam as a religion of peace, and while doing so he was quoting from one specific quranic passage where prophet Muhammad threatens Jews by massacre if they do not submit to him (they did not and he massacred them).

    Finally two countries where “multiculturalismus” does work – Switzerland and USA before mass illegal imigration. You may propably find some other examples. Figure out for yourself why you can not use them as counter-argument in case of Iraq.

    Sorry, it was a bit too long, but I hope it answers your objection. I will skip the sharia part, because I have got to much work and writing mini-esseys like this in English takes too much time.

    Apologies to Eric for turning comments section into my own blog ;) I will stop right here.

  91. There is something terribly funny about reading the verb “hack” here used in the _original_ sense… :-)

  92. “The Iraqis are not entitled to the rights of American citizens because they do not accept the duties and responsibilities of American citizens”

    Come on, you should really reconsider that. If that was all Iraqis had to do to get rights as American citizens (including the right to vote for president, and the right to not be attacked or surveilled by the US government, and the right to collect US welfare), they would do it in a heartbeat. So would Afghans. So would Mexicans, Vietnamese and Venezuelans. So would many French and Australian citizens, for that matter.

    Citizenship is not a moral test of which duties and responsibilities you are willing to accept. It’s an institution, dating back to the French revolution, which has always been a way of keeping the wrong people – foreigners and criminals – from having any kind of rights or power.

  93. (and as I predicted), Android on the iPhone can’t be far behind. Yes, there are some issues getting the baseband working, but once those are solved, I predict a long slide for the iPhone using the MacOS-derived OS.

    You’re sorely mistaken. You can run Linux on a Mac, too, but that kind of undermines the whole point of a Mac. The iPhone became the must-have gadget because it incorporates Apple’s legendary ease-of-use and because it looks cool. Android is still fraught enough with technical and usability difficulties to make reflashing a perfectly good iPhone with Android a complete no-go for most cellphone consumers.

  94. “India went down the path favored by the liberals: be nice to them and they will be nice to us. Don’t go after them, don’t make them mad at us. And look what it got them. ”

    Says who?

    I am a Liberal, and I think we should go after them.

    It’s just that I want to go after the right “them”. Not waging war against one Muslim country for attacks perpetrated by nationals of a different Muslim country, and then tying up your military power and spending your political capital in the wrong war.

  95. > An ARMA trained fighter will “rest” after taking someone’s leg, waiting for blood loss to kill them; they’ll also get
    > accused of rhino hiding by SCA fighters

    While I accept that its fun, this is worthless on the street. ESR stressed that he was deadly in a fight because of his training. I suggest (again); “You fight the way you train.”, and that this “I’ve dealt a blow, now I wait for the bleed-out” style of practice is going to cause *real* trouble when someone finds themselves in a defensive position.

    Kind of. What you’re missing is that an ARMA trained fighter has a better idea of what can kill him than an SCA-fighter does, and has a better idea of how much force is necessary to penetrate armor than an SCA fighter does.

    The “rest for bleed-out” is not “stop fighting and stand around” – it’s “get the hit, do the follow on combo, step back and assume the defensive posture, and make him step towards you.”. Because each step on the leg with the severed artery is going to speed up the clock.

    SCA fighters train as if they’re the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. An SCA fighter that’s lost both legs to upper thigh shots will turtle up behind his knees, pivot to face you as you circle behind him and otherwise act as if he’s got all day to sit there.

  96. Rene says:
    > It’s just that I want to go after the right “them”. Not waging war against
    > one Muslim country for attacks perpetrated by nationals of a different
    > Muslim country, and then tying up your military power and spending
    > your political capital in the wrong war.

    Personally, I think that is an overly simplistic analysis of the situation. The “them” are not necessarily accesible to go after (and of course, we should use all our might to go after “them”), but the “them” are more than the specific individuals up the chain who perpetrated one specific event. There is a broader community involved. Some, or most of them, are not necessarily directly involved in the specific bad act that we are trying to avenge, but you need to go deeper than just the immediate cause in a situation like this. Killing bad guys (and gals) who are part of a very broad conspiracy to undermine the very fundametals of our way of life and civilization is completely justified.

    Feel free to argue with the particular tactical approach, but the broad strategy of undermining the whole “radical” Islamic “destroy the west” community is sound. Fact is that Iraq is the nexus, if not the matrix, of that community.

  97. I was against the war in Iraq initially. But over time I have changed my opinion. By invading Iraq it force the fundamentalist to concentrate their resources in one place where we could find them and destroy them. They were really nasty with their own people so turned them also against themselves. All that was needed was the feeling that they were losing so people could fell safe turning against them. Also the average Muslim on the street could see two buildings destroy in American and two conquered countries in the middle east. As the lot of the Iraq and Afghanistan people improve it made it obvious that it is better to accommodate the West and not try to terrorize or conquer us. I think that history will judge Bush quite well on this move even though he is most unpopular right now. But the same was true of Abraham Lincoln and his war too.

  98. I didn’t say killing bad guys wasn’t justified, I just don’t believe Iraq was an important or particularly effective component of radical Islamism (on top of not being really tied to 9/11 to boot). Additionaly, Iraq used to be a foil to Iran and vice-versa. Not anymore. I also disagree with Max Lybbert, when he says Iraq adopting Sharia isn’t worrying. It is. I disagree with Liberals that support the idea that the roots of the conflict are economical. I think there really is a clash of cultures, and collectivist, death-obsessed, woman-hating radical Islamism is a poisonous meme and powerful motivator for the hatred those people have for us.

    400 people have been killed in the last two days in Nigeria, in conflicts between Muslims and Christians. Removing a bloodthirsty-but-secular dictator in Iraq and allowing a theocracy to be installed in his place doesn’t sound like good for us in the long-term. Are we undermining them or taking part in the creation of a future hotbed for conflicts like this?

  99. The “rest for bleed-out” is not “stop fighting and stand around” – it’s “get the hit, do the follow on combo, step back and assume the defensive posture, and make him step towards you.”. Because each step on the leg with the severed artery is going to speed up the clock.

    Heh. Just to be clear, I don’t have any problem with your spending time re-creating a historically accurate scenario, or a set of rules to re-create same. I think its a fine way to spend your spare time.

    I think we both understand that its going to be of minimal use in any street encounter. If anything, you’re more aware of just how fatal a given wound could be, and it makes you less “superman” in your approach to being jumped on a dark street.

    Others still think themselves bad-ass.

  100. Eric, I am an Indian and I am really concerned about the rise of these barbarians in our country and the lack of political will in addressing the problem at its roots. I truly believe that unless America recognizes the magnitude of the problem in the Asian subcontinent, the War on Terror will never really be won.

    The Mumbai terror attacks of recent times show how chillingly easily the Islamic fundamentalists can strike at the root of civilization and culture. I am of the opinion that India is the United States’ last ally in the Asian subcontinent and it is increasingly obvious that unless we wipe out the last trace of , the world will never be safe.

    There are terrorists everywhere, but only the Islamic militants strike so savagely and randomly kill innocent civilians with sub-machine guns and grenades, butchering them in cold blood in the lunacy of their faith. No other kind of terrorist organization attacks elsewhere civilians in this manner in a peaceful city. There is a clear distinction that gives Islamic terror its own trademark.

  101. These “my penis and testicles are so huge”/”no they aren’t” type of discussions can only be resolved one way: on the field of battle.

    Much as I’d like to see Eric and Jim fight it out on the Stage of History, either way we’d probably lose one of our esteemed commentators and that’s no good. As an alternative topic of discussion I propose Obama’s selection of Hillary as Secretary of State. Oddly enough, I think it’s a pretty decent choice; as a Clinton she has plenty of experience splitting the difference between opposing viewpoints.

  102. “Solve a man’s problems with violence, and you help him for a day.”
    “Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, and you help him until he bites off more than he can chew!”
    – Belkar Bitterleaf, Order of the Stick.

  103. Oddly enough, I think it’s a pretty decent choice; as a Clinton she has plenty of experience splitting the difference between opposing viewpoints.

    Were this all it took for make success as SecOfState…

    I think this appointment, above all others, is an example of, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” while simultaneously leveraging the Clinton name abroad.

    Then again, perhaps this time she’ll actually get to experience landing at an airfield during hostilities.

  104. Well, jc, thank you for your most recent response. At this point I think it’s smartest to (1) say you have a very compelling argument, and (2) say that we will have to see how things shake out. I’m more optimistic than you, but I have to admit that I don’t have an argument backing that optimism at this time.

    My optimism stems from aside than the last few years of seeing Iraqis actually work hard to give this democracy thing a try (purple thumbs, actually peaceful transfers of power, and political reconciliation) and the fact that former UK colonies have better track records than former French colonies ( http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2004/10/french_vs_anglo.html ) and that many of your examples are former French colonies. However, (1) those don’t constitute “real arguments” and (2) former UK colonies have their share of failures as well.

  105. Oops. Last edit didn’t get rid of an out of place “aside than.”

  106. Rene says:
    > I didn’t say killing bad guys wasn’t justified, I just don’t believe Iraq
    > was an important or particularly effective component of radical
    > Islamism (on top of not being really tied to 9/11 to boot).

    No doubt, WMD was the real reason why the Iraqi invasion took place (along we a few other reasons, but WMD was the core of the argument.) Oops, no WMD. However, given that one finds onesself in this embarassing position, one had better make the best of it.

    In this case, the best of it has turned out OK (aside from the spectacular tactical errors.) We have built a honeypot for terrorists, a convenient killbox. Which seems pretty useful to me.

    > Additionaly, Iraq used to be a foil to Iran and vice-versa.

    I have heard this argment before, but frankly I think it is “clever” in the old sense of the word. Only a government agency could come up with a strategy of “use these crazy loons to keep these crazy loons in check.” Two of the essential attributes of crazy loons is that they are crazy and loony. Meaning you can’t depend on them. That seems like a pretty unreliable thing for your self defense. If I remember right, Iran also used to be “one of our bastards” too. I think the USA has to take care of its own defense and not outsource it to the nut jobs all around the world.

    > Not anymore. I also disagree with Max Lybbert, when he says
    > Iraq adopting Sharia isn’t worrying. It is.

    I’m with you on that one. The PC thing in this war is going to get us all killed.

    > I disagree with Liberals that support the idea that the roots
    > of the conflict are economical.

    Yes, real poor people are too busy scabbling a living to get involved in such nonsense. I don’t think anyone could say UBL came from a poor background: same with most of the leadership. Of course, the alphas will recruit the betas to do their low level grunt work, but this is not a disease of the poor. On the contrary, most of these religious crusades are diseases of the idle rich (whether they be Pope Urban or UBL.)

    > I think there really is a clash of cultures, and collectivist,
    > death-obsessed, woman-hating radical Islamism is a
    > poisonous meme and powerful motivator for the hatred
    > those people have for us.

    Right. The real solution is to engage with the people of these countries, both in terms of exchange of ideas, but most with trade. You don’t kill the infidel if he also happens to be your best customer.

  107. > “We have built a honeypot for terrorists, a convenient killbox. Which seems pretty useful to me.”

    Yea. Who cares about civilians dying in terrorist attacks? They’re just foreigners.
    Seriously, this is a flamebait of the highest order.

  108. We were always going to pull out the minute GWB left. I’m only surprised that the neocons using the “we won” canard now. I thought they’d only bring that out if by some miracle McCain had won, and used the “cut and run” canard for when Obama pulled it out. Just like how they’re against “timetables” right up until they’re not.

    We’re pulling out because “the surge” was never sustainable, and there’s just no will to stay. So we’re literally declaring victory and going home.

  109. > Yea. Who cares about civilians dying in terrorist attacks? They’re just foreigners.

    The whackjobs are going to kill civilians somewhere. Given the choice, I’d rather it was there than here.

  110. Regarding the Christians who have fled Iraq,

    Christians fleeing Iraq have done so primarily becuase in 2006 and 2007, Sunni Arab terrorists began specifically targeting large numbers Christian communities in an attempt to shore up support among their dissillusioned followers who believed too many Muslims were being killed. I’ve haven’t read or heard any reliable evidence indicating Christians are fleeing Iraq because they fear state sanctioned persecution under some kind of strict Sharia Law.

    The secular factions in Iraq are significantly stronger than the highly religious ones and the stipulation that “No legislation shall contridict Sharia law” was probably more of a bone thrown to the religious factions in order to obtain consensus than a mandate that will be vigorously pursued. Remember, for a Muslim nation, Iraq is way on secular side culturally speaking (much more like the Turks then the Saudis), and it’s difficult more me to believe that Sharia law, which is already in almost universal violation throughout the country (at least in its strict interpretations) will suddenly be strictly enforced.

  111. > Just like how they’re against “timetables” right up until they’re not.

    No, they’re against “timetables” when meeting those timetables necessarily requires declaring defeat and going home.

    Imagine if the Continental Congress had included a timetable in the Declaration of Independence. “We declare ourselves independent of Great Britain so long as any ensuing war ends before July 4, 1778.”

    But a little later, like after the British had signaled a decision to sign a peace treaty, a “timetable” made sense (“all Continental soldiers will be released from duty on XXX”).

  112. > John Lennon was right. War really is over if you want it!

    Yes, you are right, if you want it, and EVERYONE else wants it too. However your imagination is the only place that will ever happen.

    In case you hadn’t notice, some people actually like war. Some people kill other people for really dumb reasons, like, say, reading “Catcher in the Rye”, or, having the hots for Jodie Foster. (Or in the case of the nutjobs in the middle east, killing a young girl because she had been gang raped by a bunch of her family.)

    Frankly, I think there are some things worth starting a war over too. (For example, protecting John Lennon’s right to say many of the really dumb things he said.)

  113. Some people kill other people for really dumb reasons, like, say, reading “Catcher in the Rye”, or, having the hots for Jodie Foster. (Or in the case of the nutjobs in the middle east, killing a young girl because she had been gang raped by a bunch of her family.)

    Keep on peddling those structured narratives about broken, dysfunctional Ay-rabs, Ms. Boxer. The facts on the ground tell a different story:

    Robert Pape in “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism,” found that most suicide bombers are members of communities that feel humiliated by genuine or perceived occupation. Almost every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent—carried out attacks to drive out an occupying power. This was true in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Chechnya and Kashmir, as well as Israel and the Palestinian territories. The large number of Saudis among the 9/11 hijackers appears to support this finding.

    A militant who phoned an Indian TV station from the Jewish center in Mumbai during the recent siege offered to talk with the government for the release of hostages. He complained about army abuses in Kashmir, where ruthless violence has been used to crush a Muslim insurgency. “Ask the government to talk to us and we will release the hostages,” he said, speaking in Urdu with what sounded like a Kashmiri accent.

    “Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir? Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims? Are you aware how many of them have been killed in Kashmir this week?” he asked.

    Terrorists, many of whom come from the middle class, support acts of indiscriminate violence not because of direct, personal affronts to their dignity, but more often for lofty, abstract ideas of national, ethnic or religious pride and the establishment of a utopian, harmonious world purged of evil. The longer the United States occupies Afghanistan and Iraq, the more these feelings of collective humiliation are aggravated and the greater the number of jihadists willing to attack American targets.

    Occupation.

    What we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is not freedom-fighting, it is not just warfare, it is occupation.

    We are breeding more terrorists by continuing the cycle of violence. But then again, that’s not news if you look what else the War on Terra has sown. We invade Afghanistan, and the opium trade returns. We invade Iraq, and ethnic infighting returns. We send proxy-warriors to invade Somalia, and piracy returns. Of course the piracy problem was really our fault to begin with.

    And so this is Christmas, and what have we done?

  114. > Keep on peddling those structured narratives about
    > broken, dysfunctional Ay-rabs, Ms. Boxer. The facts
    > on the ground tell a different story:

    Which ones would that be? The post you referenced discussed the judicial execution of a young woman for adultery. Are you questioning whether that happens in lands dominated by Sharia law?

    > Robert Pape in “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of
    > Suicide Terrorism,” found that most suicide bombers
    > are members of communities that feel humiliated by
    > genuine or perceived occupation. [etc...]

    This might be a justification for killing members of the occupying force. However, I don’t see any moral compass that allows for the mass murder of entirely innocent civilians from your own population.

    Regardless, it is very high minded to say that you are fighting against an occupying force. In fact what you are doing is trying to replace one hegemony with a different one. The fact that you share a common ancestry with the population you want to tyrannize does not justify your tyranny.

    > What we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is
    > not freedom-fighting, it is not just warfare, it is
    > occupation.

    I think this is a common misconception because people look at it from a foreign policy perspective of other countries. America is not an empire builder. We don’t occupy and stay. We occupy and leave. (Check with France, Belgium, Bosnia, Mexico, Cuba, Genada, Panama and so forth.) On the occasions we stay, we do so by invitation and to protect, not to control. That is why the USA does not control the German or Japanese government. Most countries don’t do that, they have to be forcibly ejected. That makes America, dare I say it, special.

    > We are breeding more terrorists by continuing
    > the cycle of violence.

    Really? Are we responsible for the Muslim terrorists in Nigeria? Are we responsible for the Muslim terrorists in Chechnya? Are we responsible for the Muslim terrorists in India or Bali or Pakistan or Lebanon or Israel or Iran or Somalia? AFAIK we have not occupied any of their territories. The common theme is “Muslim”, not “America”.

    I’d say rather the problem is that by allowing ourselves to be defeated, we are giving the whackjobs a sliver of hope that they can actually prevail, and that is the worst thing we can do for everyone (including those seventy poor dark eyed virgins.)

  115. Jeff – I have many problems with the article you link to.

    First, the guy (and you) seem to have that attitude that I find as deplorable as the jingoism that Eric and other conservatives sometimes engage in. While they believe America can do no wrong, Chris Hedges’ long tirade of injustices suffered by the Muslim people seem to indicate that Muslim terrorists are not moral agents. EVERYTHING they do is to blamed on others (Americans, most like). I refuse to accept that, as I believe every person has individual responsibility for their actions.

    Osama is evil. Muslim terrorists are evil. No matter what evils certain American individuals have perpetrated themselves. If you and this guy refuse to accept that, then I can’t respect you. It’s truly a sign of the moral degeneracy of certain elements in the left, as decried by conservatives, when religious fanatics blowing civilians cannot to be considered evil.

    Second – When the guy say many modern attrocities were inspired by Western philosophies (such as Nazism and Communism), I do not dispute that. I merely point that Nazism, Communism, and Radical Islamism have one big thing in common: the subjugation of the individual and the triumph of the Collective.

    Third – When the guy says many of the elements in our own culture were derived from Eastern roots, I agree with him. And then I say: “That is why we’re so screwed-up too!” That Christianism has common roots with Islamism isn’t reason for us to see Islamism as noble. It’s reason for us to look more carefully at Christianism and recognize the poisonous elements lurking there.

    For the record, I’m not a Conservative. I am gay and proud of it, I hate Bush, I hate the Republicans. But I also hate the elements in the left that apologize for the behaviour of barbarians.

  116. >…Eric and other conservatives sometimes engage in. While they believe America can do no wrong…

    There are two errors here. First, I am not and have never been a conservative. I’m a libertarian radical.

    Second, I certainly do recognize that America can do wrong. What I refuse to do is grossly overmagnify the things my country does wrong for the express purpose of dismissing everything it has done — and continues to do — right.

  117. Something important have just happened today. I’d dare to say, something historical, which will change the perspective on the whole thing.

    I could not yet find an English-language source for this news, but you can expect it to be in the news within 24 hours: Al-Queda members were arrested who planned something nasty on the EU-summit in Belgium.

    Now, as a Hungarian in the UK I don’t like to admit it, but I have to: generally and by large, the EU is nothing but the CoDominium of Germany and France. The EU as an organization does pretty much what these two governments decide.

    Despite that many EU-members made symbolic contributions in the War on Terror and War in Iraq, and the UK and Poland made quite tangible, important contributions, generally and by large the EU as an organization tried to keep out of the whole thing, stay passive, use “soft power”, diplomacy and generally trying not to upset terrorists or would-be terrorists very much.

    This appeasement-approach, in the light of these news, looks like quite an EPIC FAIL, and in the debate between “they hate America because of it’s freedom/lifestyle” vs. “they hate American because of it’s empire” it seems the first option is right. They simply have no practical reason to hate the EU as the EU always tried to avoid being hard on them.

    Which means it now sounds more plausible than ever that what they hate is actually Western lifestyle.

  118. > This appeasement-approach, in the light of these news,
    > looks like quite an EPIC FAIL, and in the debate
    > between “they hate America because of it’s freedom/lifestyle”
    > vs. “they hate American because of it’s empire” it seems the
    > first option is right.

    Of course appeasement failed — it always fails against a culture that respects only strength.

    However, the main point I wanted to make is that I really don’t believe the situation is do they hate our lifestyle or do they hate our empire (here I am using “we” to mean western powers.) I think the truth is neither. I think hatred of the west is really a pretext more than anything else. I think the Great Satan is a distraction. What it is really about is both shame over the inadequacies of their civilization, and a wet dream fantasy of the hegemony of the Caliphate (backed up, no doubt, by cryptic hard to interpret prophecies from their holy book.) Unfortunately, our self obsessed press and punditry think it is all about us. It isn’t, it is all about them, and we are a convenient scapegoat to help them achieve their own ends.

  119. I would say they hate both, Shempen.

    It’s quite obvious from everything these maniacs say that they despise our way of life, and that they’d love to see Sharia established everywhere by any means necessary. I don’t think this sort of religious fanaticism can be really “appeased”.

  120. >I think the Great Satan is a distraction. What it is really about is both shame over >the inadequacies of their civilization, and a wet dream fantasy of the hegemony of >the Caliphate

    I agree with you Jessica.

    That is why I think the best long-term plan is to engage in a propaganda war with Fundamentalist Islam, and show them that our culture is better than theirs, and to convert most moderate Muslims to our way of life. Now, the problem is that Western Civilization nowadays lacks appropriate champions in the propaganda arena.

    The Liberals are just too enamorated of moral relativism and multiculturalism to defend our way of life. They’re too eager to defend foreign cultures, even if said cultures include practices that they would condemn if the folks back home did them.

    The Conservatives are worse. They have too many points in common with Islamists to mount strong propaganda attacks. Many of them believe in subjugation to God, the evils of hedonism, the “traditional” roles of the genders, and many other ideas that Al-Qaeda and Hamas love. Some speeches by Hamas about an ideal Palestinian societies could be cut and pasted into a Southern US Preacher.

    So we find ourselves without defenders in a propaganda battle that should have been easy.

  121. Rene,

    you are confusing Conservatives with their worst subset. Here is a good introduction that explains the differences between different kinds of Conservative thought:

    http://www.deepleafproductions.com/utopialibrary/text/kekes-conservatism.html

    Within that classification I’m a Skeptical/Pluralist Conservative and have pretty much nothing in common with the Fundie types. It comes in many flavours, you know.

    In fact, I think that Fundie crap isn’t a something against Englightenment Rationalism, but is rather a very typical subset of it.

    Because Rationalism isn’t always empirical, it’s main characteristic is not the reliance upon facts, but reliance upon Reason, and Reason isn’t always grounded in facts, it’s a method whose outcome depends largely on it’s inputs. Rationalism in my understanding is nothing but taking texts very seriously, and when it’s too serious then it becomes the classical map vs. territory fallacy.

    When the texts are grounded in fact, it’s OK because in this case the texts are basically models, but when not it can be a very crazy thing to do.

    And this is exactly what the Fundies do – they take the text of the Bible and try to apply it to the life in a literal way, without taking into account the map – territory gap. This is classical Englightenment Rationalism, this is exactly what the Marxists do or what the Liberals do with texts describing human and civil rights or what the more extremely rationalist (f.e. Rothbardian) Libertarians do with natural rights – a rigid application of texts that are not grounded in facts, or just grounded in a limited subset of facts, to life on the whole, as a general principle.

    What I consider Pre-Enlightenment, Anti-Enlightenment and therefore reasonable, sensible way of thinking is having a good classical education. When you study the Greek philosophers for example basically the most important thing you learn is that they disagree with each other in pretty much everything, and yet, each of them makes his case quite logically and rationally.

    So what you take out of it is to never take texts too seriously – when they are not grounded in facts then you don’t take them seriously at all, and when they are grounded in facts you accept them as explaining those facts but everything else that sounds roughly similar. To never forget the map-territory gap, to always be practical, cautious and expect things to be more complicated to be able to explain them with a small set of abstract principles, that’s the Pre-Enlightenment, and thus, the true Conservative view. Take Thomas Aquinas, for example. His most famous saying is “Beware of the man of only one book!”. That’s Pre-Enlightenment or real Conservatism for you: more flexible, larger-minded, and more sensible than any kind of narrow, rigid Enlightenment Rationalist kinds text-worshipping, be them religious, secular or both.

  122. Osama is evil. Muslim terrorists are evil. No matter what evils certain American individuals have perpetrated themselves. If you and this guy refuse to accept that, then I can’t respect you. It’s truly a sign of the moral degeneracy of certain elements in the left, as decried by conservatives, when religious fanatics blowing civilians cannot to be considered evil.

    Osama is an evil mofo, but isn’t focusing on his evil sort of pointing out the mote in your neighbor’s eye without first casting out the beam from your own?

  123. Osama is an evil mofo, but isn’t focusing on his evil sort of pointing out the mote in your neighbor’s eye without first casting out the beam from your own?

    I’d say it’s more like pointing out the beam in your neighbor’s eye even though doing so scares your other neighbors and their motes.

  124. Eric,

    I think you aren’t aware of reality. A bad news for you:

    “Iraqi journalist throws shoes at Bush in Baghdad.” http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/14/bush.iraq/index.html

    Many people around the world support this journalist. So, you should learn that, US fighting with Iraqian public, not Al-Qaida. Nobody want US in Iraq. Do you know about 1 million people died after US? And we (all world public) are still waiting for an explaination about nuclear guns. Where are them?

    I think you are saying “victory day” because of you won petroleum, you occupied another country and you can attack to another country from Iraq. It may be true for you but not for humanity and rest of the world.

    If you think, you can see US is a modern colonist country. It is MUST, since you consume more than your production. How you can fill depot of your car always? But, i see US is felling down because of immoral politics. I mean the economic crisis.

    I dont think US public thinks as you mostly. Obama was proved that. This is democracy, and we always say “bye bye” for the bad guys -as you and your president Bush- in democracy. If you want to say victory day, we can say it for Obama. This election is a real victory of US.

    regards,

  125. >I think you aren’t aware of reality. A bad news for you:
    >“Iraqi journalist throws shoes at Bush in Baghdad.” [...]
    > Many people around the world support this journalist.

    I haven’t read this thread for a while, but, FWIW, let me just point out that were it not for President Bush and the US Military, there would be no such thing as a “journalist” in Iraq.

    Had this “journalist” thrown a shoe at the previous leader of Iraq he and his family would currently be hanging from a rope, if they were lucky.

    There is an expression that springs to mind: “biting the hand that feeds you.”

    If you seriously think that the election of Barak Obama is going to improve things for the people of Iraq, then I would have to say you are nuts. But, lets see what happens.

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