Part of BushCo's "It's all good in Iraq" propaganda push was bragging about restoring the marshes that Saddam drained to catch elusive "marsh Arabs." See how environmentally friendly we are (at least abroad)? Well, the flip side of that particular coin is our Sharon-esque bulldozing of fruit trees further north. I guess some environments are just better than others.
US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz [?!]* blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops. (The rest is over at CounterPunch)
That makes me sick--I mean, we invaded their country, shouldn't they be fighting back?--as does the following statement by Joshua "Conventional Wisdom" Marshall:
I certainly donít think we should pull out of Iraq. More importantly, I donít know many of what Iíd call mainstream foreign policy voices who think we should pull out of Iraq any time in the near future. (No, Dennis Kucinich doesnít count.)
Ha ha ha. So funny. Marshall's blog is well written and researched and all, but utterly conventional in adhering to the inside-the-Beltway zeitgeist of defense contractors, right wing think tanks, & scary Likudniks. It's too bad Kucinich isn't a stronger presence (some commentators describe him as creepy), because we need a real peace candidate, especially now that Dean has endorsed Sharon's attack on Syria. Stop the Middle East madness (or at least, our part of it)! I noticed Kucinich is co-sponsoring a bill with Houston libertarian Ron Paul to roll back portions of the USA Patriot Act. Good! That's where I find myself, at least on the subject of US imperialism and domestic spying--over where the far left meets the far right. The tiny, antiwar minority. Hey, we've been right so far.

*Cecil Taylor? Ornette Coleman? Nah, probably "smooth jazz."

- tom moody 10-16-2003 9:31 pm

As a jazz fan, I'm deeply insulted. Let's hope it was Kenny G. or something and not Coltrane or Jaco or something classy...that's an aesthetic war crime if ever there was one...
- Philip Shropshire 10-16-2003 10:29 pm

I'm glad to see someone else say that Josh Marshall makes them sick. I even managed to make Salon after writing in about one of his stupid Iraq comments:

I don't understand this "liberal pro-war" crowd at all.

- barry (guest) 10-20-2003 9:28 pm

I remember that letter, and his unconvincing response. I re-read his article that provoked your letter, and what a bunch of scaremongering. We have some liberal hawk sentiment here at the Tree (a minority, I'd say, but very persuasive) and there were some lively arguments in the run-up to the disaster, I mean, war. For the most part the hawkish element has been gracious--without actually conceding much territory--after the Pollack/Marshall Bush apologia turned out to be factually unsupported, and I'm trying to be civilized. With that said, it's kind of fun to quote Marshall's article, which was scolding the Dems for not being sufficiently frightened of Saddam:

On substance, moreover, it's really not clear that congressional Democrats ever seriously confronted the Iraq question. The truth is that Iraq is a very grave danger to the security of the United States -- not in the wing-nut sense of Saddam Hussein setting off nuclear warheads in American cities or dousing us with anthrax the first chance he gets, but a very serious danger nonetheless. Like it or not, the United States is the guarantor of the peace, security and free flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf, the jugular vein of the world economy. For 30 years Saddam has demonstrated a desire to dominate the region. And he's launched a series of reckless and destructive wars -- most notably against Iran and Kuwait -- to secure those ends. [The last of which was twelve years before Marshall's 2002 article. And a traitor might suggest that those wars weren't to "dominate the region" but to secure the Iraqi southern oil fields from slant drilling and to deal with the Shiite problem on the eastern border, which is now, er, our problem.]

So long as Saddam remains on the other side of the nuclear threshold, we can keep him in check with occasional bursts of cruise missiles or whack him back into line with our massive conventional forces if he ever really gets out of line. But once he acquires nuclear weapons [aluminum tubes, yellowcake from Niger] he becomes almost infinitely more difficult to control. Rather than our nukes deterring him, Saddam is likely to think -- and not without good reason -- that his nukes will provide deterrence against us and an umbrella under which he can go back to his old ways.

If Saddam starts muscling Kuwait or Jordan or Saudi Arabia [None of whom asked for our intervention], we'll be very hard-pressed to deal with the situation. It's easy enough to say that we'll nuke him if he nukes the Kuwaitis. But if he calls our bluff, are we going to nuke Baghdad? Do we really want to face that choice? Deterrence really only works -- or works well -- if you're dealing with an essentially conservative, rationally acting regime. But, as Kenneth Pollack notes in his recent book, "The Threatening Storm," that hasn't really been our experience with Saddam.

Dick Cheney could have written that!

- tom moody 10-20-2003 10:55 pm

Much of the public conveniently forgets that Reagan and Bush 1 supported Saddam during his war with Iran, seeing him as a potential "moderate" against the radicals of Iran. And that Bush 1 green-lit the invasions of Kuwait with the resolute declaration that "we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait." If these were "reckless and destructive wars", perhaps the sponsors and appeasers should be held to account.

Regime change begins at home.
- mark 10-21-2003 12:05 am

Those arguments seemed to carry little weight with the regime-changers, who say "that was then, this is now." It's one thing to be pragmatic and switch sides as the national interest dictates (I guess), as opposed to being stymied by the original sin of our previous positions, but it's another to take advantage of people's trust and make shit up. BushCo did it deliberately and I think the liberal hawks allowed themselves to be convinced (as long as it was by Clintonite analysts like Pollack) for a variety of different reasons: to continue the world-saving, world-remaking program of the Kosovo era, a misplaced desire to help Israel, and to talk tough by proclaiming the "United States [as] the guarantor of the peace, security and free flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf."
If the latter was the real reason for all this, it should have been publicly debated.
- tom moody 10-21-2003 1:45 am

Good news for Iraq and bad news for Jr. Turkey backs off on troop deployment
- mark 10-21-2003 3:00 am

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