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March 18, 2006

Welcome to the War, Year Four
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:19 AM * 14 comments

Today is the third anniversary of our invasion of Iraq.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say on the subject of war (paragraph 2309):

The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

How does the War On Terror stack up?

the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

In contrast, the damage inflicted by terrorists is temporary, minor, and random.

all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

In contrast, other means (international police effort such as is used against the Mafia or drug cartels, for example) have not even been considered.

there must be serious prospects of success;

The prospect for success is nil. If Osama bin Laden himself came down from the hills of Pakistan (or up off the beach at Aruba, or wherever he is) to sign the surrender document in the War On Terror, the Basque nationalists of ETA would be unimpressed and the Tamil Tigers would ignore it. This is a “war” on a tactic and the tactic will outlive us all, and outlast all the governments of earth currently extant. It can be, and has been, argued that the current prosecution of the War On Terror has resulted in the production of yet more terrorists.

the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

Shall we talk of the civilians in their thousands already dead by bullets and bombs, and the civilians in their thousands more made miserable or sickened and killed by liberating Baghdad from electricity and running water? The power of modern means of destruction has been unleashed on urban areas, with predictable results.

It may be that the War On Terror is a metaphor, like the War on Crime, the War on Poverty, and the War on Want. But the Specter gunships and Squad Automatic Weapons are, I assure you, entirely concrete.

The prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good has not been properly and morally exercised.

Comments on Welcome to the War, Year Four:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 10:30 AM:

Now, with the war entering its third year, with the cost of the war hitting $200 million a day, with the Senate voting to move one trillion dollars from Social Security over to paying for the war, now might be a good time to revisit the predictions by the neocons and their chickenhawk minions of how easily affordable this war would be.

Here's a list of good quotes from the administration talking about the cost of the war and reconstruction of Iraq:

http://www.house.gov/schakowsky/iraqquotes_web.htm

Budget Director Mitch Daniels


Ø On September 15th 2002, White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsay estimated the high limit on the cost to be 1-2% of GNP, or about $100-$200 billion. Mitch Daniels, Director of the Office of Management and Budget subsequently discounted this estimate as “very, very high” and stated that the costs would be between $50-$60 billion [Source: WSJ, “Bush Economic Aide Says Cost Of Iraq War May Top $100 Billion,” Davis 09/16/02; NYT, “Estimated Cost of Iraq War Reduced, Bumiller, 12/31/02; Reuters News, “Daniels sees U.S. Iraq war cost below $200 billion,” 09/18/02]

Ø “When a reporter asked Daniels yesterday whether the administration was preparing to ask other countries to help defray possible Iraq war costs, as the United States did for the 1991 war, the budget director said he knew of no such plans. Other countries are having economic downturns of their own, he said.” [Source: Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, “Byrd attacks cost of possible Iraq War, McFeatters, 9/25/02]


Ø “There’s just no reason that this can’t be an affordable endeavor.” [Source: Reuters, “U.S. Officials Play Down Iraq Reconstruction Needs,” Entous, 4/11/03]


Ø “The United States is committed to helping Iraq recover from the conflict, but Iraq will not require sustained aid.” [Source: Washington Post, 4/21/03]


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld


Ø “Well, the Office of Management and Budget, has come up come up with a number that's something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the U.S. burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question.” [Source: Media Stakeout, 1/19/03]


Ø “I don’t know that there is much reconstruction to do.” [Source: Reuters, “U.S. Officials Play Down Iraq Reconstruction Needs,” Entous, 4/11/03]


Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz

Ø “I think it's necessary to preserve some ambiguity of exactly where the numbers are.” [Source: House Budget Committee, 2/27/03]


Top Economist Adviser Glen Hubbard


Ø “Costs of any such intervention would be very small.” [Source: CNBC, 10/4/02]


Budget Director Josh Bolten


Ø “We don't anticipate requesting anything additional for the balance of this year.” [Source: Congressional Testimony , 7/29/03]

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 10:47 AM:

Riverbend greets the third anniversary of the war:

It has been three years since the beginning of the war that marked the end of Iraq’s independence. Three years of occupation and bloodshed.

Spring should be about renewal and rebirth. For Iraqis, spring has been about reliving painful memories and preparing for future disasters. In many ways, this year is like 2003 prior to the war when we were stocking up on fuel, water, food and first aid supplies and medications. We're doing it again this year but now we don't discuss what we're stocking up for. Bombs and B-52's are so much easier to face than other possibilities.

I don’t think anyone imagined three years ago that things could be quite this bad today. The last few weeks have been ridden with tension. I’m so tired of it all- we’re all tired.

Three years and the electricity is worse than ever. The security situation has gone from bad to worse. The country feels like it’s on the brink of chaos once more- but a pre-planned, pre-fabricated chaos being led by religious militias and zealots.

School, college and work have been on again, off again affairs. It seems for every two days of work/school, there are five days of sitting at home waiting for the situation to improve. Right now college and school are on hold because the “arba3eeniya” or the “40th Day” is coming up- more black and green flags, mobs of men in black and latmiyas. We were told the children should try going back to school next Wednesday. I say “try” because prior to the much-awaited parliamentary meeting a couple of days ago, schools were out. After the Samarra mosque bombing, schools were out. The children have been at home this year more than they’ve been in school.

#3 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 11:18 AM:

I am reading Losing Iraq by David Phillips. The prose is a bit clunky but it's worth reading. Among other topics, Phillips describes how thoroughly the Bush administration was scammed by Chalabi, and how totally ignorant most of the people making decisions were of the actual situation in Iraq. He makes it pretty clear that in his opinion, this is Cheney's war.

The scariest bit in it, for me, was a throwaway paragraph in which he tells how Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi exile, a Chalabi supporter and one of the founders of the Iraqi National Congress, was invited to the White House at the end of January 2003 to watch the Super Bowl. During the visit, Makiya explains to the President of the United States "the differences between Arab Shi'a, Arab Sunnis, and Kurds." (Pg 101.) A month and a half before the war, and George Bush is ignorant of one of the basic facts of the country he is about to invade and occupy, and nobody has bothered to tell him.

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 11:44 AM:

Let's call it what it really is, the third anniversary of the United States government putting Halliburton on the sugar-teat.

#5 ::: KristianB ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 04:30 PM:

Dunno if you've seen this already, a list of... well, let it speak for itself.
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2842

#6 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 08:57 PM:

The prospect for success is nil. If Osama bin Laden himself came down from the hills of Pakistan (or up off the beach at Aruba, or wherever he is) to sign the surrender document in the War On Terror, the Basque nationalists of ETA would be unimpressed and the Tamil Tigers would ignore it.

Ironically, ETA are currently engaged in negotiations about having negotiations with the Spanish authorities, in large part because of the Madrid bombings. ETA do not wish to be associated with OBL, and in a way, the existence of OBL dissuades ETA from acts of violence.

#7 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 11:44 PM:

During the visit, Makiya explains to the President of the United States "the differences between Arab Shi'a, Arab Sunnis, and Kurds." (Pg 101.)

Well, it appears that whatever Makiya told him went in one ear and out the other, because when the mosque bombing happened a couple weeks ago, Bush was on tv saying something about "These weren't religious people, they were evil people."

Aside from "religious" and "evil" not being mutually exclusive, I'm pretty certain Bush couldn't explain the difference between Sunni and Shia if you sat him down and gave him a pop quiz.

#8 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 12:11 AM:

I'm pretty certain Bush couldn't explain the difference between Sunni and Shia if you sat him down and gave him a pop quiz.

There're days when I feel that you could replace 'Sunni' and 'Shia' in that sentence with any two words, related or not, and still have it evaluate to true...

"I'm pretty certain Bush couldn't explain the difference between x and y if you sat down and gave him a pop quiz."

Iran and Iraq; arseholes and elbows; day and night; ferrets and eggplant...

Shit and shinola... Bread and butter... Milk and cookies... pi and cake... pie and c...

#9 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 12:54 AM:

I feel like I have to share the below.

Background: Because my AOL email address is very simple, I get a lot of mis-sent email. Mail that should have gone to sej123 or sej555 ends up in my inbox.

As a result, I see an interesting cross-section of the email zeitgeist.

Yesterday, I got two mis-sends from the same address. One was a piece of feel-good inspirational "glurge" about not judging on first appearances. The other was this bit of crap:

[Begin stupid crank chain-letter]

WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS?

"Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001? Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from our nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania?

Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was "desecrated" when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet? Well, I don't. I don't care at all.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11.

I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere possession of which is a crime in Saudi Arabia.

I'll care when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi tells the world he is sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg screamed through his gurgling, slashed throat.

I'll care when the cowardly so-called "insurgents" in Iraq come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques.

I'll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs.

I'll care when the American media stops pretending that their First Amendment liberties are somehow derived from international law instead of the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights.

In the meantime, when I hear a story about a brave marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain information, know this: I don't care.

When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college hazing incident, rest assured that I don't care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank that I don't care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran! and a prayer mat, and fed "special" food that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being "mishandled," because his handlers hand ....had touched a Bible......you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts that I don't care.

If you agree with this view point, pass this on to all your e-mail friends. Sooner or later, it'll get to the people responsible for this ridiculous behavior! If you don't agree, then by all means hit the delete button.

Should you choose not to pass this on, please don't complain when more atrocities committed by radical Muslims happen here in our great country.AND NOW WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE CONCERNED IF IRAN HAS NUCLEAR WEAPONS? WAKE UP AMERICA! WE WERE FOOLISH TO NOT RESPOND SOONER!

[End stupid crank chain-letter]

I feel dirty living in the same country as people who come up with ignorant, arrogant, jingoistic bile like the above.

I apologize for posting it, but I think we should know what we're up against.

#10 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 01:47 AM:

That letter is a classic example of the "This or That" mentality some people are into and no discernment of underlying similarities: US government agents peeing on Korans, and Saudi official banning bibles are both symptoms of the same problem. Governments should not be in the business of approving or disapproving of any book or religion. That should be reserved for private individuals.

There's very little point in exporting democracy, American values or for that matter Western values if you forget what they are.

#11 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 02:26 AM:

I got the same email back over a month ago, Stefan. I wrote up a response, too, that's been hanging in the Draft queue here since 14FEB06.

I've just re-dated it and released it.

#12 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 10:07 AM:

According to Iyad Allawi, Iraq is now in a state of civil war, and it is going to get worse.

Have a nice day.

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 11:38 AM:

(sarcasm)Clearly Iyad Allawi is an ignorant Western liberal who is being misled by the liberal mainstream media and is ignoring the fact that there is no insurgency going on in most of Iraq (all those places in the desert with no people in them).(/sarcasm)

#14 ::: Julianne ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2006, 05:17 AM:

Thank you, Jim, from an ex-VPer. For a related Australian perspective, here's Peter FitzSimons writing in the Sydney Sun-Herald on Feb 26th:

WHAT now for Iraq? As most of us watch appalled as that tragic country sinks further into the total catastrophe that so many have feared, I ask again of those who were so loud in championing the war - where are you now, you bastards? At least have the honour to hang your heads and note the bleeding obvious - this war, launched on false premises, fought on false promises, has been a catastrophe from first to last, and grows worse. The death toll of the troops of occupation rises by the day, Sunnis and the Shiites kill each other in record numbers and blow up each other's mosques, the death toll of civilians is incalculable. Somewhere, no doubt, Osama Bin Laden can scarcely believe just how extraordinarily well the whole thing has gone for him, with America and its allies demonised in the Middle East as never before. You who were so loud in trumpeting success because a third-rate, Third World army had been defeated, where are you now? All of us who marched and protested against the war wished for nothing more than to be proved totally wrong, as democracy flowered in the Middle East and Iraq stood out as a beacon of moderation. Tragically, no such thing has occurred. Has this stopped some of the same people now calling for a strike on Iran? It beggars belief, but no. Our only hope can be that those who listened to you last time, will not listen to you this time.
FitzSimons is a rugby player turned journalist. You (JM) might like his book on the battles of the Kokoda Track in WWII - terrific description, medical details. Anyway, thank you.

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