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Old 08-17-2005, 06:35 PM   #16
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Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


Exactly. That's the thing that's bothered me for a while with this whole Iraq thing. If they want a democracy, great! All for that. But I'd want to be sure it's what they want, and not what we want them to have. I mean, the way things have been sounding, it seems like we just assumed they wanted a democracy and are "mentoring" them through the process-and we didn't even get their input on what government they wanted. And I think they and they alone should fully work on building up their government-if they ask for our help, we can help them, but until then, let's not hold their hands. They're intelligent people, I would imagine they can figure this out on their own.

Angela
American style democracy ~ I think not. Right now it is the Iraqi's writing the constitution, they are the ones going out and voting (not at the barrell of a gun but by their own volition) ~ issues like Islam are at play, there has not been imposition of American values, if there was then there wouldn't be the current dilemma of having mandated Sharia law.
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Old 08-17-2005, 06:36 PM   #17
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Originally posted by verte76
They are indeed having difficulties. Additionally, the Turks are nervous about autonomy because they don't want an autonomous Kurdistan on their borders. This could do crazy things with our relationship with Turkey. There are all sorts of little messes being created. The whole thing is pretty messy.
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Old 08-17-2005, 06:55 PM   #18
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
American style democracy ~ I think not. Right now it is the Iraqi's writing the constitution, they are the ones going out and voting (not at the barrell of a gun but by their own volition) ~ issues like Islam are at play, there has not been imposition of American values, if there was then there wouldn't be the current dilemma of having mandated Sharia law.
You believe the US(and coalition) are absolutely playing no part? Please.
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Old 08-17-2005, 07:47 PM   #19
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I'm sure we don't need to describe this in the extremes.

A reading of the drafts give clues as to what concepts were included from a Western (US) style of government.
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Old 08-18-2005, 04:43 PM   #20
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I agree about the hand-holding thing I suppose, but I think the sheer number of people who turned out to vote suggests they do *want* a democracy. I think most people in this world would like to live in a democracy. Assuming they would like to be ruled and oppressed like sheep is really a greater insult to their intelligence than "hand-holding."
There's other government options besides a democracy or a dictatorship, though. They could've chosen from one of those, too, is what I'm saying. I would imagine they don't want a dictatorship, that seemed pretty clear from their rejoicing when Saddam was overthrown.

Again, if they do want a democracy, that's fine. It just seemed that America just assumed they wanted a democracy and didn't even let them consider any other forms of government aside from a dictatorship. And like BVS said, from what I've heard, I'd understood that America is playing a part in this setup. And from what I've read in history class, anytime one country takes any part in trying to set up a government for another, generally, bad things start to happen. I'd just like to avoid that ahead of time and let the Iraqis take care of setting up their government themselves.

Angela
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Old 08-18-2005, 04:54 PM   #21
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Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


There's other government options besides a democracy or a dictatorship, though. They could've chosen from one of those, too, is what I'm saying. I would imagine they don't want a dictatorship, that seemed pretty clear from their rejoicing when Saddam was overthrown.

Again, if they do want a democracy, that's fine. It just seemed that America just assumed they wanted a democracy and didn't even let them consider any other forms of government aside from a dictatorship. And like BVS said, from what I've heard, I'd understood that America is playing a part in this setup. And from what I've read in history class, anytime one country takes any part in trying to set up a government for another, generally, bad things start to happen. I'd just like to avoid that ahead of time and let the Iraqis take care of setting up their government themselves.

Angela
So what bad things have happened from the United States set up or development of the German and Japanese governments after World War II?
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Old 08-18-2005, 05:50 PM   #22
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Yes, Deadsox, it was Burgoyne..... And I didn't mean that as a dis to Plymouth Rock! I KNOW it makes a lot of money....BUT....considering what happened there, I was more generally thinking about the way we clean up and sterilize places here a lot of messy historical things happened,we sanitize them, and they lose their mystique. Like the way many people have commented on the way Gettysburg has been turned into a sort of historical theme park, it's the most "touristy" of the Civil War battlefields, when I think it's the one that should have been left to look like Max Yasgur's farm, pre-Woodstock...you see the rolling green fields and the Round Tops, etc, and think, "yeah, that's fine", but then you tour the site and see all the other commercial crap that's been thrown in. When you live in a place like Albany and can still have a glass of wine in a place like Pauly's Hotel, built circa 1796, and sit in the room and see how the fireplace has been redone and modernized, or walk down streets where the potholes reveal worn down cobblestones, or pass by a lawyer's office located in a building where the upper story still has faded white paint saying "Liquor, Feed, Hay and Straw." in faded but clearly recognizable 19th century script, these buildings may not be tourist attractions but somehow, for all their benign neglect, they evoke and make real the past in a way the most polished up major historical site does not. They're untouched, and put you closer to the Beginning. Sorry if this sounds spoiled..but if you ever came to Albany, you'd see what I mean.

As for democracy....STING 2, I suppose these arguments can come later, after we see the draft of the Constitution. I still think this line of talk can be saved for next week, or the Impeachment Tour thread; I'll reply there. No offense, but I was really hoping to do was pursue the historical aspect of the Democracy question.

As Dreadsox is the self-awoved expert on the American Revolution, and me on the French Revolution and Middle East politics, let's begin this little adventure by getting in the mood. We need some visual stimulation. I'm going to recommend this to people in the other thread too.

So, I'm assigning everyone some homework I was going to start this discussion by assuming a lot of people were going to pop up in here who were not sufficiently familar with all the seperate factions hashing it out in Iraq. I can't claim to know everything..hey, I wish I could but I've read far more on Middle East Politics than is really healty for me. Some of it is personal....if wasn't for the Turkish response to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, and France's response to Turkey's response, I wouldn't be sitting here typing this. I'd probably be hauling cabbages up a mountain side in central Turkey, speaking Turkish and bowing to Mecca 5 times a day...I won't elaborate, Armenian hisotry is too depressing for y'all. (My dad's side is Irish, and I look like my dad, but I was riased with Mom's family.)

But last night, after I joked that I was going to pop "Lawrence of Arabia" into my DVD player, I actually did it. I am a film buff and have a big DVD collection. Hadn't seen it in a LONG time. MY GOD. The film is a visual sermon right out of today's headlines. The conversations between characters, the clandestine glances, the things spoken and unsiad, the attitudes of the Brit commanders in Cairo....the links between politicians and the miltary....I saw this when I was a kid, cried flood buckets over the "Nothing is written" scene, and went out and reads both the "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", Lawrence's Tolkien-like missive AND the Koran as a result. How astonished to find out just how closely film follows book, and how very little is made up or tinkered with, in Hollywood fashion. Of course, Lawrence was a controversial figure and his attitudes smack of British colonial attitudes, sometimes, but sometimes he's on the mark.

If you have an old VHS copy lying around the house, DON"T watch that, it has to be the restored version on the DVD, with all the crucial deleted scenes..... The metaphor of a gun, Lawrence's pistol, that passes from hand to hand thougout the film, meaning different things....""You're going to have a democracy in this country? You're going to have a Parliament?!?!" " I will tell you that when I HAVE a country." "Spoken like a true politican . YOu learn fast..too fast." ......... "Mr Lawrence, what do you think these people hope to gain from all this?" "They hope to gain their freedom." "'They hope to gain their freedom. Ha. There's one born every minute."

THE crucial starting point to this thread..then we can introduce people to the warring factions..then, when the Constitution hits next week, we can begin the right and wrong.

I was going to start on this tonight, but this movie has thrown me for a loop. I'd forgotten most of it. David Lean was,indeed, the quintessinal genius.

Nightly night, kiddies, and on Monday, there'll be a quiz!

PS. If anyone wants to go the whole hog and read the Koran (those of you who haven't), be prepared to start and stop several times. For a Christian, used to the historically chronological Bible, it's anightmare, and the Suras kind of repeat themselves....
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Old 08-18-2005, 06:12 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel


There's other government options besides a democracy or a dictatorship, though. They could've chosen from one of those, too, is what I'm saying. I would imagine they don't want a dictatorship, that seemed pretty clear from their rejoicing when Saddam was overthrown.

Again, if they do want a democracy, that's fine. It just seemed that America just assumed they wanted a democracy and didn't even let them consider any other forms of government aside from a dictatorship. And like BVS said, from what I've heard, I'd understood that America is playing a part in this setup. And from what I've read in history class, anytime one country takes any part in trying to set up a government for another, generally, bad things start to happen. I'd just like to avoid that ahead of time and let the Iraqis take care of setting up their government themselves.

Angela
Of course there are other types of government than a dictatorship or a true democracy...The countries in the so-called free world are not true democracies. However, I think it's fair to say that there is a difference between a government where citizens have a say in the political process, and one where they don't. And I think it's pretty clear that Iraqis would prefer the former. Never did I say anything about American style-democracy, or that the Iraqis would prefer it. The impression I'm getting is that the Constitution is largely being written by Iraqis, although I'm sure there are American interests involved to some extent. But if it were the case that the Americans were basically writing it for them, do you think the role of Islam in government would even be an issue?
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Old 08-18-2005, 06:35 PM   #24
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Maybe the Americans are just practicing the drafting of a theocratic constitution. (only kidding--sort of. )
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Old 08-18-2005, 06:57 PM   #25
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good one.
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Old 08-20-2005, 03:45 PM   #26
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HOLY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guts, since I am not a hacker, I must ask a REALLY stupid question.....how do you cut and paste article from another website into this thread? I could simply give the links but I want EVERYONE to be sure they're read these. One is an article which already has the makings of a classic, by Henry the K himself, *basso voice* Henry Kissinger, from the New York Times 2 days ago....the other is an article from a site called Slate.com which (HOLY CRAP) seems to be word for word the concerns of my first post in this trhead. It's almost like he read my post!! He compares Iraq with America in 1787.....

Here are the the 2 links but could you guys PLEASE print these out too?

KIssinger's "Lessons For An Exit Strategy".
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Old 08-20-2005, 03:49 PM   #27
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Problems with links....let's try this again....

For Kissinger: "Lessons For An Exit Strategy"
http://washingtonpost.com/wp_dyn/con...5081101756html

For Slate: "Baghdad 2005 vs Philadelphia 1789"

www.Slate.com/id/2124691?nav=wp
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Old 08-20-2005, 03:59 PM   #28
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Arrghhh! The Washingtom Post one doesn't work..I advise everyone to register at the WP..(it's quick and free, you don't have to fill in a lot of boxes) and you'll find it under "Most emailed articles"

Fri-Sun is a bad time for me to post..I'll be back On MOnday, and then we can really get talking...Dreadsox, you'll find the Slate article SCARY....this is EXACTLY what I am trying to bring up in this thread....
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Old 08-20-2005, 05:29 PM   #29
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A_Wanderer posted this in War a week ago, but here it is again.


Quote:
Lessons for an Exit Strategy
By Henry A. Kissinger
Friday, August 12, 2005
washingtonpost.com


There have been conflicting reports about the timing of American troop withdrawals from Iraq. Gen. George Casey, commander of U.S. forces there, has announced that the United States intends to begin a "fairly substantial" withdrawal of U.S. forces after the projected December elections establish a constitutional government. Other sources have indicated that this will involve 30,000 troops, or some 22 percent of U.S. forces in Iraq. Some high-level statements from Baghdad have indicated that the beginning of withdrawals may be delayed until next summer. On either schedule, progress is dependent upon improvements in the security situation and in the training of Iraqi forces.

A review of withdrawal strategy therefore seems in order. For one thing, how are the terms "progress" and "improvement" to be defined? In a war without front lines, does a lull indicate success or a strategic decision by the adversary? Is a decline in enemy attacks due to attrition or to a deliberate enemy strategy of conserving forces to encourage American withdrawal? Or are we in a phase similar to the aftermath of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in 1968, which at the time was widely perceived as an American setback but is now understood as a major defeat for Hanoi?

For someone like me, who observed firsthand the anguish of the original involvement in Vietnam during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and who later participated in the decisions to withdraw during the Nixon administration, Casey's announcement revived poignant memories. For a decision to withdraw substantial U.S. forces while the war continues is a potentially fateful event. It affects the calculations of insurgents and government forces alike, so that the definition of progress becomes nearly as much a psychological as a military judgment. Every soldier withdrawn represents a larger percentage of the remaining total. The capacity for offensive action of the remaining forces shrinks. Once the process is started, it runs the risk of operating by momentum rather than by strategic analysis, and that process is increasingly difficult to reverse.

Despite such handicaps, the decision to replace U.S. forces with local armies during the Vietnam War -- labeled "Vietnamization" -- was, from the security viewpoint, successful on the whole. Between 1969 and the end of 1972, more than 500,000 U.S. troops were withdrawn. American involvement in ground combat ended in early 1971. U.S. casualties were reduced from an average of 400 a week in 1968 and early 1969 to an average of 20 a week in 1972.

These measures were possible because, after the failure of Hanoi's Tet Offensive, the guerrilla threat was substantially eliminated. Saigon and all other urban centers were far safer than major cities in Iraq are today. Saigon controlled perhaps 80 percent of the country with relatively well-established front lines. Vietnamese army units were increasingly able to repel offensives from the regular forces of Hanoi.

When the Vietnamese army, with substantial U.S. air support, broke the back of the North Vietnamese all-out offensive in 1972, Vietnamization could be judged a success. Shortly afterward the North Vietnamese accepted terms that they had rejected for four years. (That they did, however, does not settle the debate over whether a different withdrawal rate -- slower, faster or none at all until after a settlement -- could have speeded that day.) Three years later, these results were reversed, not because of internal violence but because of an external attack by Hanoi's conventional military force, in violation of every provision of the Paris agreement.

America's emotional exhaustion with the war and the domestic travail of Watergate had reduced economic and military aid to Vietnam by two-thirds, and Congress prohibited military support, even via airpower, to the besieged ally. None of the countries that had served as guarantors of the agreement was prepared to lift a diplomatic finger.

All this demonstrated two principles applicable to Iraq: Military success is difficult to sustain unless buttressed by domestic support. And an international framework within which the new Iraq can find its place needs to be fostered.

History, of course, never repeats itself precisely. Vietnam was a battle of the Cold War; Iraq is an episode in the struggle against radical Islam. The stake in the Cold War was perceived to be the political survival of independent nation-states allied with the United States around the Soviet periphery. The war in Iraq is less about geopolitics than about the clash of ideologies, cultures and religious beliefs. Because of the long reach of the Islamist challenge, the outcome in Iraq will have an even deeper significance than that in Vietnam. If a Taliban-type government or a fundamentalist radical state were to emerge in Baghdad or any part of Iraq, shock waves would ripple through the Islamic world. Radical forces in Islamic countries or Islamic minorities in non-Islamic states would be emboldened in their attacks on existing governments. The safety and internal stability of all societies within reach of militant Islam would be imperiled.

This is why many opponents of the decision to start the war agree with the proposition that a catastrophic outcome would have grave global consequences -- a fundamental difference from the Vietnam debate. On the other hand, the military challenge in Iraq is more elusive. Local Iraqi forces are being trained for a form of combat entirely different from the traditional land battles of the last phase of the Vietnam War. There are no front lines; the battlefield is everywhere. We face a shadowy enemy pursuing four principal objectives: (1) to expel foreigners from Iraq; (2) to penalize Iraqis cooperating with the occupation; (3) to create a chaos out of which a government of their Islamist persuasion will emerge as a model for other Islamic states; and (4) to turn Iraq into a training base for the next round of fighting, probably in moderate Arab states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

North Vietnamese forces possessed heavy weapons, had sanctuaries in adjoining countries and numbered at least a half-million trained troops. Iraqi insurgents number in the tens of thousands and are lightly armed. Their most effective weapon is a homemade explosive, their most effective delivery system the suicide bomber and their most frequent targets unarmed civilians.

The Iraqi population has shown extraordinary equanimity in the face of this deliberate and systematic slaughter. In the end, its perception will determine the outcome as much as the military situation does. It will know how secure it is; it will determine the sacrifices it is prepared to make.

In essence, the Iraq war is a contest over which side's assessment turns out to be correct. The insurgents are betting that by exacting a toll among supporters of the government and collaborators with America, they can frighten an increasing number of civilians into, at a minimum, staying on the sidelines, thereby undermining the government and helping the insurgents by default. The Iraqi government and the United States are counting on a different kind of attrition: that possibly the insurgents' concentration on civilian carnage is due to the relatively small number of insurgents, which obliges them to conserve manpower and to shrink from attacking hard targets; hence, the insurgency can gradually be worn down.

Because of the axiom that guerrillas win if they do not lose, stalemate is unacceptable. American strategy, including a withdrawal process, will stand or fall not on whether it maintains the existing security situation but on whether the capacity to improve it is enhanced. Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy.

The quality of intelligence will be crucial. Specifically, these issues require attention: How do we assess the fighting capacity of the insurgents and their strategy? To what level must attacks on civilians be reduced, and over what period, before a province can be described as pacified? What is the real combat effectiveness of Iraqi security forces, and against what kind of dangers? To what extent are the Iraqi forces penetrated by insurgents? How will Iraqi forces react to insurgent blackmail -- for example, if a general's son is kidnapped? What is the role of infiltration from neighboring countries? How can it be defeated?

Experience in Vietnam suggests that the effectiveness of local forces is profoundly affected by the political framework. South Vietnam had about 11 divisions, two in each of the four corps areas and three others constituting a reserve. In practice, only the reserve forces could be used throughout the country. The divisions defending the provinces in which they were stationed and from which they were recruited were often quite effective. They helped defeat the North Vietnamese offensive in 1972. When moved into a different and unfamiliar corps area, however, they proved far less steady. This was one of the reasons for the disasters of 1975.

The Iraqi equivalent may well be the ethnic and religious antagonisms between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. In Vietnam, the effectiveness of forces depended on geographic ties, but the provinces did not perceive themselves in conflict with each other. In Iraq, each of the various ethnic and religious groupings sees itself in an irreconcilable, perhaps mortal, confrontation with the others. Each group has what amounts to its own geographically concentrated militia. In the Kurdish area, for example, internal security is maintained by Kurdish forces, and the presence of the national army is kept to a minimum, if not totally prevented. The same holds true to a substantial extent in the Shiite region.

Is it then possible to speak of a national army at all? Today the Iraqi forces are in their majority composed of Shiites, and the insurrection is mostly in traditional Sunni areas. It thus foreshadows a return to the traditional Sunni-Shiite conflict, only with reversed capabilities. These forces may cooperate in quelling the Sunni insurrection. But will they, even when adequately trained, be willing to quell Shiite militias in the name of the nation? Do they obey the ayatollahs, especially Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, or the national government in Baghdad?

And if these two entities are functionally the same, can the national army make its writ run in non-Shiite areas except as an instrument of repression? And is it then still possible to maintain a democratic state?

The ultimate test of progress will therefore be the extent to which the Iraqi armed forces reflect -- at least to some degree -- the ethnic diversity of the country and are accepted by the population at large as an expression of the nation. Drawing Sunni leaders into the political process is an important part of an anti-insurgent strategy. Failing that, the process of building security forces may become the prelude to a civil war.

Can a genuine nation emerge in Iraq through constitutional means?

The answer to that question will determine whether Iraq becomes a signpost for a reformed Middle East or the pit of an ever-spreading conflict. For these reasons, a withdrawal schedule should be accompanied by some political initiative inviting an international framework for Iraq's future. Some of our allies may prefer to act as bystanders, but reality will not permit this for their own safety. Their cooperation is needed, not so much for the military as for the political task, which will test, above all, the West's statesmanship in shaping a global system relevant to its necessities.

The writer, a former secretary of state, is chairman of Kissinger Associates.
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Old 08-20-2005, 05:41 PM   #30
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Thnaks Yolland..Could you do me a HUGE favor and post the Slate article? I linked it in the Impeachment Tour thread too.

Perhaps the most interesting comment for me is his saying "This is why people who were against the invasion from Day one believe that choas must be avoided" or whatever. What he doesn't dare to explore is the issue of whether he thinks we "anti" people must now have some kind of moral obligation to support the war now that it is a fact, or whether we think staying or withdrawing won't make any difference, the die was cast when the first American shot was fired, and all roads now lead to disaster....you may think he implies it but he doesn't say one way of the other. Not that it makes any diffeerence to me. Kissinger was a morally dubious man himself in his heyday. But at least he appears to have learned his lesson, if not repented of it.
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