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I changed my mind and support the invasion of Iraq...

Socio-political rants.

Lately I have been having a change of mind about the American occupation in Iraq. With the assassination of the Izzedin Salim . It reminded me how those who used to be in power would always use force, assassination and fear to keep themselves in power. And as I watch China approach and see their tactics, I understand living under a totalitarian regime is a painful endeavor. And to be honest, my feelings of the tortured prisoners were one of “So who are they torturing? Any leaders of the death camps in Iraq in tow? I wouldn’t have minded seeing a few Nazis gassed in a concentration camp in their time as punishment rather than hanging a few and letting a lot of them go into exile. I am not supporting the torture of prisoners, that would get my Amnesty membership revoked, but I do wonder who all those “Arab” countries ranting on about how incense they are, is kidding? Those guys don’t court marshal their state torturers, they give them bigger houses and BMWs. In turn the people in their country doesn’t demand resignations, the torturing is there to cement the power of the elite.

And lately, as I turned 30 and had a look around at some of the people around me, I realized exactly how oppressive and repressive Chinese culture is to the individual and I live in Hong Kong, about as western a place in Asia you get. And it just clicked on that how fundamentalists of every kind and their thinking still rules such a large part of this planet, and losing one or two governments allowing women to vote, to go back to school, to get medical treatment, isn’t such a bad thing. If Iraq is successful and it becomes modernized, then it their world view will filter out into the middle east which although was never in the forefront of the modern world in the last century, was not a fundamentalist ruled region until the 70s. I don’t support the “real” reasons behind their attack, (Come on Colin Power, there was no WMD in the first place), but the fall-out will be a more open and free society, which is what we all should be aiming for everywhere, well, at least that’s what I would like to see as I age -a less repressive and fundamentalist world.

Maybe Christopher Hitchens is right when he wrote that article supporting the war in Vanity Fair saying that people not only in Iraq but all of the Middle East deserves freedoms and that the US led war will bring more to them.


Just my additional thoughts after reading all the comments:

You are right but Nevin is having your thoughts controlled by fear, your body not free by religion, your family not safe out of greed not violence in itself? Those to me are the every day violence of Saddam's regime on his people.

As for everyone else, from Jessica to Jay to Matt to Smedley. You are all correct, but I keep thinking of the women Ma Anlin who was tortured by Chinese Government for posting subversive thoughts on the Internet. Will our government ever allow those photos published? Will my government ever court marshall those people NO. NEVER. Would Saddam's government allow that, NO. NEVER. Will the Bush adminstration have to suffer the consequences and do the people in American have enough power to ask questions of them. YES. Well, given the choice, right or wrong, although I understand and agree with your ideas. Really what would you choose? The power who has no right to be there, and have economic gains, that may allow your countrymen one day to ask it questions, or to live under a place of no thought and fear forever.


David Grenier

You're right, totalitarian regimes suck. And thats why we need to organize and fight against them. But replacing one fucked up power structure with another is not progress.

Also, Iraq had the best women's rights record in the Middle East. Women went to school, worked in the trades and in the professions, etc. To start talking about Iraq as if this were not the case shows a profound ignorance of the subject that pretty much nullifies any conclusions you might make from false premises.

On top of that, estimates are that anywhere from 70-90% of the prisoners in Iraq had done nothing wrong aside from be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were tortured for having lived near someone accused of being an insurgent, or driven up to a checkpoint where the soldiers were feeling particularly paranoid. Is this the kind of "freedome" and "democracy" you want to bring to the world, cuz it sounds like most of the world already has it.


Fascinating post. While I don't support the invasion, I have a hard time disagreeing with your points. I, too, would love it if my country's ill-conceived war led to a more open and free society in Iraq. But I fear that the long occupation and the torture and mistreatment of Iraqi citizens will make them dislike the U.S. and everything this country stands for, thus driving them further toward fundamentalism.

I suppose this is the worst case scenario and your post is about the best case scenario. Also, living in the U.S. I have to worry about how hated my country is...from that standpoint alone, I wish we hadn't invaded Iraq. Of course, if in five or ten years, Iraqis are living in a free society, I will be glad we invaded but right now, in the middle of it all. I wish we had not.

P.S. I really enjoy your blog...



The US isn't seeking to establish "one fucked up power regime with another." Suggesting it is is rediculous.

I also think there are massive qualitative differences in "torture." For example, under Hussein:

Beatings, rape, breaking of limbs, and denial of food and water are commonplace in Iraqi detention centers. Saddam Hussein's regime has also invented unique and horrific methods of torture including electric shocks to a male's genitals, pulling out fingernails, suspending individuals from rotating ceiling fans, dripping acid on a victim's skin, gouging out eyes, and burning victims with a hot iron or blowtorch.


Equating the nonsense that happened at Abu Ghraib to gouging out eyes and so forth is absolute bullshit. What happened to prisoners was unconscionable, surely, but it being bona fide "Torture" is a media invention.

And your statement that

"They were tortured for having lived near someone accused of being an insurgent, or driven up to a checkpoint where the soldiers were feeling particularly paranoid."

is your hunch. A dogmatic hunch. You're believe what your writing, clearly, but it's not very persuasive.


>Iraq had the best women's rights record in the Middle East.

Oh, that's great. China has the best free press record in regards to communist countries in Asia too, ranking below Vietman and Laos. Shall I rejoice that article 23 isn't as brutal as the anti-free speech laws in China itself?


Amnesty International has documented the brutal executions of Iraqi women accused of prostitution. For example, Najat Mohammad Haydar, an obstetrician in Baghdad, was beheaded in October 2000 after criticizing corruption within local health services. According to another report, in October 2000 "a group of men led by Saddam Hussein's son Uday, beheaded with knives 50 young women in Baghdad. The heads of these women were hung on the doors of their houses for a few days."

The Iraq Foundation joins Amnesty International in chronicling human rights violations, such as the methods of torture in prison, which include rape and "bringing in a female relative, especially the wife or the mother, and raping her in front of the detainee."

I am not sure who you are calling "Profoundly ignorant."

Iraqi Women Brutalized by Saddam

It's about how feminists are afraid to document and fight against the women rights issues in Iraq under Saddam because they would then be on the side of Bush. I agree with the premise of the article completely.


I think it would be nice to have a third way, I completely agree with you, except for now I don't know what it is. When we find out, or if I find out, I will be the first one to let everyone know.. It's true, I am not even being sarcastic here.


Also for the 10% of prisoners (or actually much much less) who have been tortured by the US, may NOT be those who got pulled in for all the wrong reasons because they have no information on the government. Honestly, start telling me WHO they humilated, and I will then start telling you maybe they did (or didn't) deserve it. Why are suddenly these totally evil people being treated as "victims." I NOT condoning the torture of prisoners, but honestly, I have a hard time feeling sympathy for a bunch of despotic government workers who did untold horrors to their own people.

Of course once upon a time I felt sorry for Saddam, mainly I didn't like the way the press broke the Geneva conventions and showed him being humilated to the world. Different times different thoughts. (Tom can attest, as that's how he started reading the blog, telling me how wrong I was.. hahaha)

I am ready to change my mind and am allowed to change my mind anytime I want. Unless those who don't like what I think start their own totalitarian regimes and force me to be under it, I suggest nobody mud slings on this blog. It's never been allowed and it's not going to be allowed.



Yan, well said.

Jay Smooth

1. Yeah the "Iraq treated women well" angle is weak, as is any other "Saddam wasn't really so bad" rationalization. Saddam Hussein's regime clearly had to go. But I think the question is was this the best way to go about it.

If we hadn't been so anxious to rush in headlong under false pretenses, if we had taken the time to figure out how to do it right, and with a cogent plan for what happens after we "win, we may have been able to accomplish what are unquestionably worthy goals without the amount of bloodshed and destruction that we've seen, and without ultimately finding ourselves and the iraqi people in this ever-worsening quagmire.

So I'd say it is possible I would have supported an invasion, but I can't say I supported or currently support this invasion.

2. I might share, as an emotional reaction, your feeling that the Iraqis arrested may have "deserved" the abuse, depending on what they were guilty of. But that's just the thing, we don't know, and I don't think maybe is good enough in a situation like this.. I'd find it outlandish to hope that the troops were only abusing the ones that were *really really guilty* however you'd define that -in fact I don't see how it would be possible for them to ensure this was the case.. which is why you generally don't dole out punishment until after there's been some sort of trial type thing. Any law that doesn't protect the worst of us as much as it does the best will effectively protect nobody. Once we start using any sort of subjective sliding scale, saying the rules should apply to some people but not the really evil ones, ultimately nobody will be safe.

And our treatment of prisoners has ramifications far beyond what happens to these particular prisoners, it can have profound and long lasting effects on how enemy combatants treat us in the future, both in combat and when our own troops are captured. As has been said in a few places, during WW2 german soldiers would usually fight to the death when faced with russian troops, but were much quicker to give themselves over peacefully to Americans, because we were known for treating our prisoners better. Thus America's proper treatment of the enemy saved many of our own lives.

I'm thinking out loud.. I appreciate your post, you are brave to put it up lol.


I'm thinking that David was calling the position "profoundly ignorant" and not a person. Just a thought.

Jay Smooth

I'm not sure that's much of a meaningful distinction.. seems to me rather like "I'm not calling *you* ugly, I'm just saying your face is ugly.."

But either way, he failed to show exactly how anything in glutter's post constituted "profound ignorance" or "false premises," so whether it was aimed at the person or the position it appears to be baseless.


The prisoner abuse in Iraq was torture, and it was not supposed to happen. The Bush administration confirmed this, because we (Americans) say we don't do things like this, but it happened, and it was wrong. We don't compare ourselves to Saddam Hussein and say that what he did was worse, so therefore what we're doing is okay. If we did do that, then the torture could spread to other prisons (if it's not already occurring in them) and that would further sully our image as "liberators".

I don't think we seek to replace Saddam's regime with another dictator, but we have put dictators in place before. Mobutu of the Congo-DRC is the one I'm most familiar with. It's a possiblity (high) that another dictator could emerge...

If you have access to a fast connection, take a look at this video . It's 50mb but it's worth a look because this hasn't been seen much in North America and it gives more info on the other war...


Hallo Yan,
I just stop by every once in a while to check things out, and you know that your post on the war made me stop my 2am wanderings and say Whoa! I know that you know that the world is full of totalitarian regimes that have repressive and violent means of controlling their citizenry (Saudia Arabia, Sudan, North Korea, etc. etc.), but I trust you dont want the US to be the ones deciding who can stay, who can go, and who gets the sword. You also understand that this administration is making Orwellian doublespeak look tame, which should make every thinking person closely examine the situation. Because now, in the Bush administrations conception of the world, waging war brings peace, increased deficits bring fiscal responsibility, liberty and freedom may involve a suspension of the Geneva conventions,a liberal democracy is possible in a tribal, Islamic society with no experience with our style of government, etc. So while a despot is removed, and who can argue against that, what truly are the costs (and who is really benefiting)? In a country with rampant poverty, skyrocketing health care costs, imploding schools overburdened with a dumb-ass testing scheme, we are spending first $87 billion (in supplemental funds on top of defense budget)plus now an additional $25 billion and who knows how much more?
This war was ill-conceived, ill-planned, ideologically driven by people with clear links to the huge profits now being reaped, with a rapidly deteriorating situation that is a direct result of such ill-planning and arrogant unilateral approach of the Bushies. I may have supported a war that was a direct response to a clear threat, that was multi-lateral, that was planned well (like with the State Dept's assistance!), and had a clear plan of transition and exit, but now we've got one hell of a nasty situation. And still the leaders here can and do tell the world, "war is peace", "I didn't know", and other such frighteningly transparent doublespeak that is swallowed whole by many people. I live in DC and work closely with many people in the govt and related agencies, and many people are really frightened by the radical ideology that currently governs the country's social and foreign policy. That's all, I really do miss your conversations! Be well, Matt

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953


I was somewhat surprised to read of your possible change of heart on this issue, but I found the manner of your post refreshing. I know a lot of people here (U.S.) who have differing views on the war, and far too many of them are incapable of logically defining their positions, regardless of whether they are for or against the invasion. I grow impatient with people who have unreasoned, dogmatic views on these issues. I found your post quite refreshing, in that you have apparently thought it out.
While I have my reservations about the way this war is being carried out, I agree that there is great potential for positive change to result.


I just rattled through Yan’s post and would like to remind you that bucking sucking regime doesn't mean that you have to make war.

WAR IS HOMICIDE. War could kill more people and bereave them of their loved ones than you save lives. And in the long-run, yes, in the long-run, the people MAY get the government that they want. I really have not an example at hand to illustrate just that. But surely for those who lost their beloved, arms, legs, visions, war is simply a long shot to be paid for by them. Sadly enough, most killed in a war are innocents rather than soldiers fighting for or against despots and rarely the despots themselves.

WAR IS VIOLENCE. And violence – especially when organised by the state for both external purposes (war) and internal purposes (oppression) – has a momentum and also an insidious attraction of its own, against which Reason, anyhow as ordinarily conceived, is completely powerless. Without Reason, nothing is infeasible. Nothing is immoral. That is the why and wherefore that war doesn’t not necessarily take a full-fledged form of warfare but also the form of suicide bombing in public transport, killing of pregnant women with her children and the killings taking place day in and day out in the Israel and the Palestine lands. That is the why and wherefore behind airplanes crashing into skyscrapers. Armchair warfare may encompass Reason but in operation war to people in the warred countries is the synonym of raping, rooting, killing, separation, deportation and the list goes on and on.

My friends, Reason is as much the source of all practical, as of all theoretical, principles. Just as Reason requires that men shall form states and obey their laws – since only under the protection of effectively enforced laws can men live and develop together as free, rational and moral equals – so it demands that states shall desist from using their enforcement powers (their armies) to damage and destroy each other, under the pretence of obtaining justice from or punishing each other. That is the lesson told by Kant.

WAR IS A PRETEXT. Wars are in all possibility fought to advance or defend the interests of the governments and governing classes of the states concerned. The war on Iraq is a case in point.

WAR IS NOT A CHOICE. If war is a choice for whatever purpose the gauntlet-throwers have in mind, it can be justified only when it takes the form of an ultimate, extreme deterrent of those seemingly minor and tolerable wars which, in fact, always involve outrageous injustice and suffering on either side; or, to speak more paradoxically but more tellingly, only when it is known that war take a form so terrible that the mere prospect of it suffices to inhibit all traditional inclinations or excuses for lapsing into war, a.k.a. ‘massive deterrence’ or, simply put, terrorism.

WAR IS A BLOODY CRIME. I distaste people committing exactly that crime, taking high stakes paid for by the victims, and trying to achieve what he or she hopes to achieve as he or she thinks the best way forward to the quagmare those victims are in.

There should be more alternatives we can resort to without victimising as much innocent people as in a war. If any war is right, Yan, you are not.

Hear him:
Check out the pictures:
Civilians death toll:


You are right but Nevin is having your thoughts controlled by fear, your body not free by religion, your family not safe out of greed not violence in itself? Those to me are the every day violence of Saddam's regime on his people.

As for everyone else, from Jessica to Jay to Matt to Smedley. You are all correct, but I keep thinking of the women Ma Anlin who was tortured by Chinese Government for posting subversive thoughts on the Internet. Will our government ever allow those photos published? Will my government ever court marshall those people NO. NEVER. Would Saddam's government allow that, NO. NEVER. Will the Bush adminstration have to suffer the consequences and do the people in American have enough power to ask questions of them. YES. Well, given the choice, right or wrong, although I understand and agree with your ideas. Really what would you choose? The power who has not right to be there, and have economic gains, that may allow your countrymen one day to ask it questions, or to live under a place of no thought and fear forever.



Hey Yan, interesting thoughts on what will always be a highly contraversial subject. I hope you don't mind me offering mine. I was someone who wasn't sure about the war before it began. I was well aware of the abuses the Iraqi people suffered under Saddam's regime, which could only be described as evil. Equally I was aware of the abuses the Iraqi people suffered under the UN sanctions, which effectively punished a population for failing to overthrow a despotic government as it was clear Saddam Hussein was unlikely to change his regime under international pressure.

I wasn't sure whether to believe what the British and US governments were saying about WMDs, the justification for an impending war that is all but forgotten now. But I was prepared to believe it; after all if they were right then it was justification to invade.

But, as we all know, there were none. The reasons for waging war pushed so hard by the two governments were false, if not blatant lies.
But still I was prepared to accept an invasion to rid Iraq of a despotic regime and lift the sanctions and bring stability.
The war was quick and unpredictability; the peace shakey.
But the heavy handed manner of the US military which, in contrast to the more conciliatory British patrols, humvees around heavily armoured and trigger-fingered like a conquering army, means they do not come across as liberators anymore, but as oppressors. Every victim killed, every prisoner tortured and humiliated, only serves to confirm that in the eyes of the Iraqis and the Arab world.

I can't see how what occured in Abu Ghraib prison can be justified in ANY WAY. The failure of the US military (and by extension the administration) to prepare for the aftermath of the invasion is completely unforgivable. They disbanded the Iraqi army, but had nothing to replace it with except their own very stretched and juvenile resources (if you consider the average age of a US marine). They arrest tens of thousands of Iraqis, but don't have experienced people to run the prisons. Instead they use one of the symbols of the former regime, Abu Ghraib prison, to house prisoners, then fail to regulate what goes on inside. 21 year old female clerks in charge of hundreds of imprisoned men!

But at the same time, the US govt admitted that they supported various prisoner abuses so as to make them more susceptible to interrogation.

The photos showed Iraqis being treated as animals, as subhuman, as stripped of any dignity. Whether they had committed crimes or not we don't know, and probably neither did their gaolers.

But by invading and failing to treat Iraqis with respect, the US has lost all sympathy in the world, and hardened the hearts and resolve of a lot of people who might have once seen the US as a positive force, but now see it as an aggressor. Which is idiotic of the US, because I don't think what they tried to do was necessarily wrong. It's the way they're doing it that is, and all they've done is worsen the situation and endanger the lives of more people in an already desperate country.


incidentally, I wrote this as a spoof news piece in February last year, before the invasion in March...


New York (PUMP) - Iraq after regime change will be a bitter, broken country. Rival factions and corporations will squabble for control over a fractured land shadowed by the smoke pouring acridly from its only real asset - its burning oilfields. Its very earth will be scorched with the wars of its recent history, the air thick with the exhortations of competing religions and beliefs.

In other words, it's time for a serious makeover.

The US government has hired renowned global advertising agency Ogle, Yu & Slather to transform Iraq's international image following the successful overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime -- into a vibrant and innovative country concept, one that attracts investors and quietens outspoken critics with a big 'Shhhh'.

"Something big, something great, something wonderful is about to happen to Iraq and its people," enthused Ogle chief executive Gary S Slather. "What we're in effect going to do is create a new nation brand that is alive with vitality and promise. We're going to leverage it internationally by combining local know-how and our global network, carrying out powerful campaigns that not only address local market needs but also focus on the demands of the worldwide marketplace."

Brand identity is vital, Mr Slather told The Pump, and so one of the first of the 'Potent RedesigNations' Ogle will target is a new name for the country of Iraq.

"Let's face it, the name 'Iraq' has really been dragged through the dirt in the past few decades. It has negative connotations of war, of dictatorship, of poverty - ultimately of defeat," the CEO said, ticking the faults off on his fingers. "It also sounds too much like Iran, which can confuse the brand destination in the mind of the investor."

"We need to reposition the country in the global imagination - rebuild its image as others rebuild the infrastructure," said the head of Ogle, which is famous for such eye-catching campaigns as the 'Give Your Tongue Some Fun!' for designer underwear firm Svelte Felt and the simple 'I Choose Vodkalite Chews' that has hooked a whole new generation of sweet-loving adolescents.

And so to the big question. What IS the country going to be called?

"I know you were going to ask me that," Mr Slather replied with a wry smile. He walks to the window, and stares down at the hazy 80-storey view, his arms outstretched, fingertips against the glass - the famous 'Poised Eagle' position.

When he speaks again, his voice has a deeper timbre. He hovers on a current of gravitas. "You know, there's been a lot of controversy over this war. A lot. I'm not ignorant of this. We're talking real people here, real beliefs, passions. Passions to die for. A whole nation is at stake. Maybe the world. And that is why I take this project so seriously. I want this country to work. When the Brits put this country together they tried okay but they made mistakes. Terrible mistakes. This is our chance - maybe our only chance - to right the wrongs of history."

He turns back suddenly, sunlight sliding over the crown of his coiffeured hair. His voice begins to soar.

"I'm no Douglas MacArthur. I'm no Tommy Franks. But I do have a vision. This vision is a country blessed with abundant oil reserves, a country enriched by an ancient and proud heritage but liberated from the ouch-ouch shackles of despotism, a country with a democratic government and a strong legal system, a country that offers unparalled redevelopment potential and a dynamic retail market. It is the gateway between the East and West, it is the forum for Christian and Islamic reconciliation. It is the future. It is the solution."

His hands make little clutching gestures, his eyes shine. "This country is Kromalan!"

"OK so it doesn't actually mean anything. But it suggests. It suggests burnished metal, uncorruptable purity, a mythical colourful land set firmly in the 21st century and gleaming with oil refineries and grinning with happy but industrious people. Just saying it you have to smile. Kro-ma-lan. KRO-MAL-AN.

"OK, so it will take some aggressive marketing. Heavy media exposure. A few favours. Whatever. But gone with be the portraits of Saddam, which are so 20th century, and the old flag, which come on no one could draw from memory. Gone the old hatreds. In their place will be a new brightness. And a new slogan: 'Don't Imagine The Possibilities. Live Them. Kromalan. Where Anything Could Happen.'"


No fear! And not by fear but Reason that the thoughts of mine are controlled, I'd say. BTW, at least my religion sets people free. Probably not in your sense of freedom.

I was talking about wars in general. As for the violence of Saddam, I don't think it is better to live under the violence of the coalition force than Saddam's regime.

Just beacuse you can ask Bushnits questions doesn't mean that war is a choice. War is NOT a choice because it brings more harm than good at the cost of NOT you but somebody else in the warred conuntries. While you thought of Ma Anlin I thought of the boy of no name being blown up in his head jsut because he was an Iraqi in a coalition-controlled Iraq. Yes, we are between a rock and a hard place. But sorry madam I have no right to shot you down because Ma Anli is suffering. And chances are that I cannot save her after killing you.

Now look into my eyes and see that I am not unfeeling at the evils of despots around the world. It is just that war is not a choice, let alone a solution. And war can easily be transmogrified in a sleight of hands by the government into a self-serving end no matter how many questions you can the Bushnits after a war.

If there are better ways to save Ma Anli than to kill you, there must be better ways to get rid of despots than by taking away innocents' lives.

PS: Have we watched too much movies cranked out by Hollywood to believe that war fixes problems? (This is an intended smear :)


Yan said: "Really what would you choose? The power who has no right to be there, and have economic gains, that may allow your countrymen one day to ask it questions, or to live under a place of no thought and fear forever."

You sort of gloss over the probable mounting death tolls (than under Saddam's regime) in between the choice and the certainty (uncertainty) that the "place of no thought and fear forever" is a logical outcome. It is actually an easy choice if we don't factor them in. That's not fair.

Frostie said: "I don't think what they tried to do was necessarily wrong. It's the way they're doing it that is,"

You sort of gloss over the lives lost on innocents in a war too. That is exactly part and parcel of a war no matter how they do it. Just as it would be stupid to drop a bomb to kill a homicide bastard, it would be stupid to wage a war to get rid of his despotic counterpart.



You're making a case against war itself, as I assume you are a pacifist. Many of your arguments are normative. Unfortunately, we're not all pacifists.

I am not a pacifist; what if, for example, allied forces had not pushed back and overcome the National Socialists during World War Two?

It is agreed that Saddam was a tyrant who murdered and tortured and terrified at will. His equally sadistic sons were postured to take over when Saddam died. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis under Hussein disappeared or were killed by the regime. They lived lives of daily fear. Fear of being accused of a thought crime; or of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Iraq under Saddam's regime has become a land of hopelessness, sadness, and fear. A country where people are ethnically cleansed; prisoners are tortured...

[real torture, like Medical experimentation; Beatings; Crucifixion; Hammering nails into the fingers and hands; Amputating the penis or breasts with an electric carving knife; Spraying insecticides into a victim's eyes; Branding with a hot iron; Committing rape while the victim's spouse is forced to watch; Pouring boiling water into a rectum; Nailing the tongue to a wooden board; Extracting teeth with pliers; and using bees and scorpions to sting naked children in front of their parents. Not piling them naked on top of eachother and taking pictures.] more than 300 prisons in Iraq. Rape is systematic...congenital malformation, birth defects, infertility, cancer, and various disorders are the results of Saddam's gassing of his own people...the killing and torturing of husbands in front of their wives and children...Iraq under Saddam has become a hell and a museum of crimes."

— Safia Al Souhail, Iraqi citizen, Advocacy Director,
International Alliance for Justice (

Those sorts of problems don't fix themselves. Moreover, it was shown that Saddam Hussein personally was party to a terror plot to kill Bush One. He had delusions of taking over the whole of the middle east (part of the reason he invaded Kuwait in the early 1990s). Also, Iraq did at one time have WMDs - it used them on the Kurds in Halabja on the Kurds in 1988, killing 5,000 in one attack. And I also believe that, given the information available at the time, that it was more probable than not that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs. Time appears to be proving this probability wrong, but that doesn't affect the analysis at the time the decision was made, and the decision's context.

Lovely Lillith

One question:

If torture, abuse, etc. of ANY kind is bad, then why would it be acceptable for ANYONE to repay evil with evil?

No matter how bad Saddam's methods may have been, and how relatively lightweight the US jailers' methods may be, ANY torture or maltreatment is still in violation of the Geneva convention. And Geneva convention or no, simple human morality should be enough to say "we are not going to lower ourselves to the level of an oppressive dictator and mistreat people who may or may not be guilty". Much as one may want to torture Saddam or deserving others with their own methods, that idea just feeds itself in saying vengeance is acceptable. Negatives only escalate, and never lead to good - and I'd like to think that as a US citizen, we try to hold ourselves to a higher standard than petty tit for tat.

I have been against this war from the start because of the noble pretense masking the drive for oil. (Did you know that Afghanistan is even now having an oil pipeline being built through it so we can have access to resources in the area? It wouldn't have been started without our conflict there.) If our country was so concerned about saving people's lives and ending abusive regimes, we would be doing something about the genocidal ones in Africa and South America, and if we were truly concerned about a "war on terror" we would sever ties or do battle with Israel and Ireland as they are consistently using terrorist tactics. Our hypocritical administration picks its battles for how it can profit from them, not how it can help the citizens. I wish this was not the case, and I too truly hope that some good can come out of this situation and outweigh the price that has been paid by many, citizen and soldier both.


Sorry to take Yan to illustrate my point again. But, tom, tell me the logic in killing Yan to save Ma Anli, and I may change my conviction against war.

The problems do not solve themselves but war brings more other problems than it supposedly solves those you mentioned.


Will he change your mind about war. Hope you really do hear what he has to say:


Q: What changed you?

A: The civilian casualties taking place. That was what made the difference. That was when I changed.

Q: Did the revelations that the government fabricated the evidence for war affect the troops?

A: Yes. I killed innocent people for our government. For what? What did I do? Where is the good coming out of it? I feel like I've had a hand in some sort of evil lie at the hands of our government. I just feel embarrassed, ashamed about it.

Q: I understand that all the incidents - killing civilians at checkpoints, itchy fingers at the rally - weigh on you. What happened with your commanding officers? How did you deal with them?

A: There was an incident. It was right after the fall of Baghdad, when we went back down south. On the outskirts of Karbala, we had a morning meeting on the battle plan. I was not in a good mindset. All these things were going through my head - about what we were doing over there. About some of the things my troops were asking. I was holding it all inside. My lieutenant and I got into a conversation. The conversation was striking me wrong. And I lashed out. I looked at him and told him: "You know, I honestly feel that what we're doing is wrong over here. We're committing genocide."

... continue reading
(I did this twice here and that's all)


if the usa hadn't had gone to war on such flimsy evidence (re: WMD, a iraqi nuclear program and attempts to tie in Osama with Hussein and 9/11) and justification, people would feel probably differently about the usa and how it's conducted itself. this issue could easily fill a book. i don't look at the current situation. i look at the future situation and i see it as being problematic for all parties. here's how i see it. iraq is meant to be a democracy, but that doesn't matter as long as a pro-western leadership calls the shots. us troops will stay there for longer than you think, while they keep an eye on saudi arabia and iran. syria and jordan are conduits for fighters to enter iraq. israel and the usa are happy to maintain a low-level conflict as it suits both their short-term political purposes (attack to defend). iraq will be a battleground for years to come. us forces will be increasingly under pressure to 'win', unless enough bad guys of sufficient weight are taken out. the people of iraq don't matter. this is a game of geo-political chess, with trillions of dollars at stake.

i'm not even going to bother going into the failures of the us administration :)

as a closing point, torture and murder is common amongst special forces and their covert ops. only idiots fight fair. only idiots get caught fighting unfair. read your military history books, people. the usa has been caught out and reports point to serious disagreements between rumsfeld and the military hierarchy who recognise that occupation, conversion to democracy and maintaining a long-term expeditionary force in a foriegn culture with many opposing forces is not the ideal way to utilize the us military.

honestly, using reservists from us jails to deal with pows (some of whom could be really hard bastards) is just asking for trouble.

like it or not, saddam held power from his opponents because he was brutal. now he's gone, every power-hungry bastard (as well as usa-haterz) has come to fill the void. the challenge the usa faces is not stooping to some of hussein's tactics. so far, it's not doing a very good job of convincing the world that it's bringing freedom, peace, safety and hope. all i can see is collateral damage, young grunts out of their depth in specialised roles and rule via weaponry.

it's good that saddam is gone, but i really have doubts that the honchos in the whitehouse have figured out how to resolve the conflict. all they've done is incite another one.

ever considered that it was the intention all along?


Finn, I agree with quite a bit of what you've said. Resoundingly agree that the use of untrained reservists (McDonalds employees from Appalachia, and the like) to run a prison was stupid, asking for trouble. Also that the administration has fucked up quite a few times. (Colin Powell's apparent omission from the decision-making chain is infuriating, as he's one of the most moderate in the administration and more representative of American popular opinion, even though he tows the admin's official line. He's also a goddamn general; why omit him from war decisions in favor of Condi Rice??)

Nevin, I don't know who Ma Anli is. Is she an activist who was seized or killed advocating HK/Chinese democracy? (I ran a cursory internet search which yielded nada. Is her name spelled correctly?)

"But, tom, tell me the logic in killing Yan to save Ma Anli, and I may change my conviction against war."

>> I think the equation is far more complicated than killing one person to save another. But perhaps it could be viewed as such: collateral deaths (meaning unintentional deaths that are extraneous to the military effort) occur in any actual exercise of military force. The purpose of liberating a people from despotic rule is not a quid pro quo taking of one life for another, but to remove the boot from their necks, if you will. To permit more fundamental freedoms - of speech, association, free press, to life, to pursue happiness, etc. - for present Iraqis and posterity. For this generation and following generations. The freedoms intended to convey are for the benefit of present and future generations. I suspect US leaders continue the war on two bases: (1) innocent lives are being lost, but such losses are unintended and the benefits to be had by establishing a democratic Iraq outweigh the tragic deaths of a few innocents in war (innocent lives would be lost, and quality of lives would be shit anyway under Saddam, so I think US leaders view this as a wash); and the issue that appears to be dwarfing the first is (2) the catch 22 consequences of withdrawing from Iraq or staying in. To stay in means more civilian lives lost, damages reputation to the US, etc. To withdraw is to embolden militants the world over, to give them the sense that they've won, to encourage more attacks on the US, etc.

I can't help but analogize the situation to Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Israel invaded intending the offensive to last less than a week, striking in order to smash terrorist threats. 18 years later they withdrew, despised and dejected. (There's an interesting piece on this, and the mid-east land grab in the 1920s by Britain, etc., in the International Herald Tribune:

Lillith, I don't think realpolitik (best tool of analysis today), and especially conduct during war can hashed out by separating "good" from "evil". While there are cases falling into one category or the other (gouging out a child's eyeballs in front of a parent as a torture method, and curing cancer, as respective examples), most everything else falls in between, and can only be analyzed within proper context. I compared the actions at Abu Ghraib to torture under Saddam only to discredit unfair equations of US military "torture" with the clear horrors of "torture" under Hussein. B/c there is a massive difference, despite sensationalist media. I strongly suspect that such nonsense is mild compared more clandestine goings-on during wartime, past and present.

Finn's remark at the end about US admin not having an exit strategy is the the most important issue in my mind, lately. I like this quote from Joseph Heller's Catch 22 (sorry for sponging up discussion thread space, Yan):

Yossarian looked at him soberly and tried another approach. "Is Orr crazy?"
"He sure is," Doc Daneeka said.

"Can you ground him?"

"I sure can but first he has to ask me to. That's part of the rule."

"Then why doesn't he ask you to?"

"Because he's crazy," Doc Daneeka said. "He has to be crazy to keep flying combat missions after all the close calls he's had. Sure I can ground Orr. But first he has to ask me to."

"That's all he has to do to be grounded?"

"That's all. Let him ask me."

"And then you can ground him?" Yossarian asked.

"No, then I can't ground him."

"You mean there's a catch?"

"Sure there is a catch," Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy."


I seem to be a bit late to this, so I'll just point out a few things I've noticed (here and elsewhere)

1) The argument that "Saddam was worse". This would imply that everything up to that level is ok. I'm sure everyone has learned at one point in their life that two wrongs don't make a right?

2) People keep talking about ideals, about the ideal situation of Iraq becoming a nice open democracy which respects human rights and all that. Forget it. It's not gonna happen. That's not the reality on the ground. That scenario is is one of the least likely to happen. What's most likely is civil war. People are saying 'but if we learn from this and change things we'll do better'. No. The damage has been done. There was a time when the Iraqis were pro-American. When there was still enough goodwill to work with. That time is over. You can't win that back. Don't look at the polls asking Americans "whose side do you think the Iraqis are on" and such. It's not about Americans. It's about Iraqis and their destiny. And a clear majority of the Iraqis wants the Americans out (

3) The Democratic domino-effect. As pointed out,Iraq will not be a shining example of democracy. Furthermore, like all other domino-effects, it's a fallacy. It's called a slippery slope argument. The occupation has only done damage to the democratic movements in the Middle East(through the hate for everything Western it has caused).

4) The court martial. Yes, the US is putting people on trial. But is it a fair trial? The only person to appear so far has only blamed himself, though there's much evidence coming out of people involved at higher levels. Furthermore, this should be done by an independent court, like the ICC in The Hague. But Bush is boycotting that. And then there's the 'outrage about the outrage' as a US senator called it. Many people are more outraged about the fact that these photo's came out than about what actually happened there. This is typical of the mentality that caused this kind of thing in the first place. Looks very much like people will be punished for the carelessness of letting this leak, not for what they've done.

5) The photos. People keep talking about the photos and that what's seen there isn't so bad (the Rush Limbaugh argument). But there is much more than just those photos. People getting killed for example (

btw - Yan, you're not the only one who has changed their mind (

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