Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Why the French Revolution, you might ask?

I think of it like this. Things in France before the Revolution were a mess. The Bourbon monarchy was basically too ignorant/short-sighted to notice that the people who did all the work were too poor to feed, shelter and clothe themselves. Or if able to do so, barely able while living in and among those who had excess to excess and consumed it conspicuously. Unfortunately, even ignorant and uneducated people can see what is front of their faces. Hence, The Revolution and Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite. When the leaders who came to power abused that power, the people could see who was not helping and eventually turned on the Terror. The goons out of the way, the people could see who was winning battles for La Patrie and who wasn't and hence Napoleon. (Kellerman the elder probably could have done it, too, but I doubt he could have run out the string like Napoleon, which might have been better for France) Overwhelmed by the combined power of Europe and with the Bourbons restored to power, the people could see that Bourbon rule was still not in their best interests, hence the Hundred Days. And even though Napoleon lost at Waterloo, that was still the end of Bourbon rule, because the people can see what's in front of their faces.

What's that got to do with the War in Iraq? Well, in the face of determined propaganda effort, the People have figured out a) THEY have no compelling interest in Iraq, b) we are not fighting terrorists in Iraq and therefor c) a substantial majority (hasn't fallen below 65% since 2006) are of the opinion that we should get out of Iraq. Facing a determined propaganda effort to get us into a fight in Iran, nobody is believing that the Iranians are arming a Sunni Al Qaeda, so if all the violence is from Al Qaeda in Iraq, then Iran is not the problem.... We can see what is in front of our faces, and we are not stupid.

If you want to get us into a war, truth is the only thing that will work, 'cause if you have to lie to get us to go, we are going to quit when we find out and we can see what's in front of our faces.



David said...


I enjoy reading your blog, and I hope that my comments will help with the discussion.

I have a small quibble with your quote. According to one of the economic classes that I took the original motto of the Revolution was, "“Liberté, Égalité Propriété" (Liberty, Equality, and Property) implying that the revolution was in no small way about allowing those who had nothing be able to achieve some prosperity. I have found a Wikipedia entry seems to bear that out, but I haven't been able to find an original source on this so I'm willing to be wrong.

I would also disagree with your statement that we (meaning ordinary Americans) don't have any interest in Iraq. We obviously have an interest because for at least the foreseeable future that area of the world is where our energy needs are being met. Don't get me wrong I think that the war is/was a HUGE mistake which has cost over 3000 of my fellow citizens their lives (and quite frankly I have no idea how the President sleeps at night). However, at this point we have to adopt the Pottery Barn mentality we broke it and now we have a moral obligation to fix it. To me the analogy is if you burn someone's home down, and then say, "Opps my bad...I thought there was a burglar in there and I wanted to smoke him out. Good luck rebuilding your home."

I would agree that we need to adopt a new strategy and QUICK, but the idea that we can simply bring all the troops home and leave the Iraqi's to their own outcomes is fairly morally irresponsible.

kimalanus said...

Thank you for furthering the discussion. Thank you very much. And thank you also to Frank...

I have always remembered Liberty, Equality, Fraternity as the motto of the French Revolution. I could be wrong....

Yes, we broke it. We broke it because we were lied to and convinced it would be a good idea to break it. There was surely a moment in time where, had we begun a withdrawal, things could have been better. Now, we are the first enemy on the ground and everyone on all sides attacks us. (except the Kurds. That's a different can of worms.) To stand up with the US is to join the side that everyone is against. So the Iraqis cannot forge a political solution while the US is on the ground in the country. In their minds, they are as much an occupied country as the Colonies in 1776. When we leave, things will get worse for Iraqis because they will have to settle their differences and they are already set on a violent resolution. All that we have accomplished is to arm both sides. All that we can do about it now is to be remorseful. But what we must do first is get the troops out.

I said we have no compelling interest in Iraq, not no interest. We certainly have an interest in access to their oil, production of which has declined since the invasion and continues to decline under the occupation. So how is that improved by the unsuccessful (and I guarentee it will continue to be unsuccessful) pacification? It is patently obvious that our presence in Iraq is a highly motivating recruiting tool for jihadists in general and Al Qaeda in particular, so how is that situation helped? Such interest we have is vastly outweighed by the damage we do to our own interests by remaining and would likely be no worse after a withdrawal. A true change in policy to engagement and diplomacy would even likely bring great improvements after the troops at least begin a withdrawal.

The Iraqis are just like any other people. They have dumb ones who follow and dumb ones who don't and the have smart ones who lead and smart ones who don't. Leave them alone and they will figure it out because they have to. Stay there and we are the problem for them to figure out. They seem to be succeeding....


kimalanus said...

Oh, in re: motto, it should probably be noted that most of my reading about the France is military history and it is at least possible that the army had a different take than the people at large....


David said...

In RE: Motto, Yes I suspect that the French military had a very different agenda than the ordinary people.

Don't get me wrong I want our troops to come home. I get angry every time I hear a story on the radio about how some new young kid (and I'm finally old enough to be able to call some of these guys that) has been killed for no good reason.

The President (and the Vice-President) lied. There should be political, civil and possibly criminal outcomes for him and all of those responsible. For me that is a separate issue because as much as I wish that we were not in Iraq we don't seem to have a time machine so we're there now.

On that I think that we on the left waste too much time and energy getting angry about that fact that Mr. Bush has gotten us into this war. I think that we should focus on what are we going to do now?

I'm not for stay the course. I heard this great interview with President Clinton who said, "The best thing that you can do when you are in a hole is stop digging."

I think that we need to find a new strategy, and I think that a political solution must be at the heart of that. I agree that at this point we are hated by everyone and so are the first target. I would also agree that having foreign troops stationed in your country does not breed a lot of goodwill.

However, look at what happened when the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan in the 1980's, and Afghanistan had no resources to fight over. Do we really want that area of the world to be that unstable?

kimalanus said...

Yes, the best way to get out of a hole is to stop digging. Continued US presence in Iraq is continued digging....

We are stuck with a choice of bad alternatives. That being the case, we should choose the alternative which is in our best interest.

In my opinion, it is in our best interest to stop anything which provides incentive to jihadists. Our mere presence in Iraq is their most potent propaganda.

It is certainly not in the best interest of the Iraqi people to remove the only disinterested security force in the region, but that security force is not perceived as disinterested. It is this perceived bias that prevents any political solution. Our existing policies exacerbate the perception because Iraqis keep getting killed. We cannot stop that with 130,000 men. We couldn't stop it with 200,000 men. The Army Chief of staff in 2002 said it would take 500,000 men to make the invasion work. He was fired. He was probably right. We can't do that without a draft. No draft. I say again, no draft. So pullout is the only available alternative.

When we are gone, many things will be different. I wrote a letter to the editor to the TCH a long time ago where I said "as the US troops stand down, the Iraqi troops can and must stand up." While we are there they can't stand up without making targets of themselves. When we leave, it is in their onw best interests to fight the violence with a bit more enthusiasm. The Iraqis as a people are as intelligent and competent as we are. Best solution is for us to leave.

Conditions in Iraq are very much different than in Afghanistan. For starters, there are less than 2000 miles of paved road in one of the most mountainous countries in the world. Small warlords can carve out small pockets and then expand slowly. There are no such geographic barriers in Iraq to a central government exerting control.

I think it will be ugly for a period of time. But I think in the end, the higher level of experienced and professional military in the Sunni side will balance the larger number of Shi'a.
A compromise is inevitable if for no other reason than to stop an Iranian incursion. There is more bad blood there than you realize.... I think the Kurds remain at least semi-independent and gain at least the resources of Kirkuk if not possession of the region. I think an actual Iranian invasion is improbable. They have essentially disarmed since the Iran-Iraq war.

In all, I think our best move considering all things is to pack up our marbles and go home. Really. It's a lot better than staying....