Wrong War, Wrong Method Wrongly Applied?

Since the beginning of “Iraq,” this writer had been expressing his muted critique regarding that project. Just in case that you think that this is a retroactive analysis followed by a verbal flight from a difficult situation: it is not. Entering Iraq under the then prevailing assumptions, overthrowing Saddam Hussein and then giving the locals a chance to control their lives, is not questioned. Doubts concerning US policy arose after Baghdad fell. Not wanting to chime in with the quire condemning the US for liquidating a dictatorship that intended to harm it, the appraisal had to be restrained. Basically it asserted that the aid to, and the presence in Iraq, should not be more extensive than what the locals’ behavior warranted.

Hussein’s deposition was defensible by the need to protect the national interest. Beyond that America acted on altruistic grounds. Regarding this “national interest” an observation must be made. It is for the USA – but also for her friends abroad – a self-inflicted handicap that the national interest appears to be under-rated in policy making. This is the case in public diplomacy – what America tells the world – but also on the government level. It is folly to assume that acting unselfishly brings rewards. By acting regardless of her interests the US is difficult to predict. Rather bad for a country with an interest in a stable, therefore predictable world. Ignoring the bare-bones national interest, self-imposed obligations emerge that are, originating from shaky premises, hard to fulfill. Take the Iraq case: the Iraqi were alleged to crave liberty. Actually a divided country’s hostile fractions only wanted a dictator acting in their behalf by harming others.

The US’ doctrinal objectives became fictional in the light of evidence that emerged early on. Indications of what the indigenous really wanted were not sufficient to bring about a revision of the engagement’s purpose. The mutual hatred of the local communities soon made it clear that Iraq is just another artificial construct of the disastrous post-WWI “Paris peace treaties.” Since the “nations” making up the country thrown at them did not seek a framework for co-operation but for domination, a democratic and united Iraq is not makeable. If the rule of a flexible ad hoc majority is presupposed by democracy then only a Shiite, Sunny and Kurdish state replacing Iraq can be democratic. In today’s Iraq the Shiite majority will, regardless of the merits of the issue, vote as a block to nullify the desires of other groups. Thereby these ethnic/religious minorities are condemned to be a permanent minority. Functioning democracy presupposes a constant shifting of voters resulting in new – case-related – majorities. Therefore, conflicts inherent in the terms of “unity” and “majority rule” were a bad omen to realize the American goal of a stable democracy in an independent state.

Now, to the major point to be made by someone, who indulged in silence demanded by a loyalty ending in self-censure. In terms of the writer’s experience as an armed rebel there was something wrong with the US’ military policy toward the “insurgency.” It goes against the writer’s grain, but: as an occupying power the US might not have been resolute enough. Given Haditha this is the wrong time to raise the wrong issue. Even so, a point’s merits are independent of the moment’s sensation.

Allow me to backtrack. Fresh in the US – and new in ROTC – it shocked me to be told to aim not to kill but to wound. I wanted to know “why?”. It saps the enemy’s means as he will attend to the wounded. So transport is disrupted, logistics are hindered and manpower will be diverted. Burying the dead is, by this calculation, less harmful to the foe. Based on my contacts with the Red Army (when I was inducted in the Hungarian army we were told that we are there to “paint the While House red”) this sounded awfully naïve. Nevertheless, my instincts told me not to press the point. So, once I knew more I chalked down the lesson as evidence that the US expects its adversaries to behave like it would and not the way they are. Accordingly, America fights by rules and under assumptions that get shipwrecked on the boulders of the cultural barrier.

Scenes of crowds dancing on smoldering American APC’s come to mind. Letting it happen instead of opening fire on those engaged in an hostile act is not going to convince anyone of US generosity toward unarmed(?) civilian bystanders(?). Such inaction suggests the kind of weakness that calls for a repeat performance. From the pictures it is obvious that bombs aimed at Americans were often planted with those housed close bye witnessing it. Warning the victims was more dangerous than aiding the assassins by “neutrality.” Assume now that in Haditha there was a conscious attempt to kill civilians who tacitly contributed to a marine’s death. In this case the corpsmen only did what most armies would have, namely to annihilate the source of an assault. Earlier signals telling that civilians who let themselves be used as a camouflage for irregulars are in danger, would have had consequences. One is less connivance with sneak attacks. The other is respect for a force that retaliates decisively by pounding the source from which it takes blows. The Geneva Convention protects soldiers as POWs and civilian non combatants – but not civilians that act as military auxiliaries. Regardless of the treaty’s paragraphs, rules that ask soldiers to serve as targets for whoever does not care to play by them, will cause the abused to snap and trash the origin of their peril.

A foreign policy deprived of the appropriate means for the eventuality that it fails is hazardous. Some countries in Europe live well without heeding this: it is because there is an external power to be summoned in case the project of bicycling with one pedal fails when needing to go up hill. (The case validates the not-too-original thesis.) In several instances – Somalia, the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, … – America has given evidence that her fielded power is trimmed by her internal system and the scruples that are its derivate. Not to fight a real war unless there is a will to win seems to be a properly applied conclusion drawn from Viet Nam. Now, given the asymmetric war against terror, one has to cope with two new types of discernible military-political challenges.

These add up to issues to be answered by the public, the political class and the government. During the remaining tenure of the Bush administration and its successor, a response must be found. Not doing anything and continuing to stumble along (regardless of perhaps lucking out in Iraq) according to the current pattern, amount to inadequate responses. Someone – here you are being spared a hard-to-spell-name – before his execution has said that his nation must learn a crucial lesson. It is that the “safe” course dictated by cowardice ultimately turns out to be the most dangerous one of them all. This can be amended that there are times when doing nothing means indulging in the most hazardous of all possible scenarios.

What are the new challenges demanding a response? Whether or not future asymmetric conflicts will be entered must be determined. Unless the national interest is sacrificed by giving a negative answer, an adjustment of military tactics and its political strategy (especially in the PR realm) to the demands of such confrontations must be made. Limiting oneself to methods in the service of principles calculatingly abused by the foe is wrong. Such restraint will not only fail to bring results commensurate to the hightened price of the involvement but is also likely to inflict damage. The free world, chiefly represented by America, needs to ask itself who the foe is, what he wants and how he will go about asserting himself. Any response that ignores the answers is inadequate. Alas, reacting in terms of the challenge implies that long revered traditions of comportment will have to be regarded as shadows to be jumped over or crawled under. Managing, if only temporarily, to make us suspend some of our principles for the defense of the core-interest of prevailing, is a success for the adversary. He will be able to say before his annihilation that he had made us stoop to the standards he set. Even so, we shall not forget that rising from lows is the real test of fortitude and that adaptation is a pre-condition of survival. Making moral judgments and asserting them is a privilege of those who prevail. Losers might be right: effective they will not be. Therefore, reacting at the right time, employing the right strategy and striking the real enemy is the task facing the free world “after Iraq” that will not be “the last struggle.”

Parroting propagandist

'European muslim' continues with his parroting of propaganda.  Still no sign of any reasoning, nor of any willigness to engage in serious 'argument'.  His onesidedness, bias, and dishonesty are astonishing, to say the least.

What was "Abu Ghraib"?  Some minor, almost infantile, 'abuse' of a few 'prisoners' in the midst of a dirty (in the sense of 'asymmetric') war?  For which the culprits have been punished, including the general who was in charge of the prison at that time.  Not at all comparable to the mass graves of Saddam's baathists, the beheadings by Zarkawi-followers and other nutty jihadis, the incredible cruelty of the internal Algerian civil war, or other contemporary 'muslim' atrocities.   'European muslim' is not interested in such matters.  He prefers to keep parroting and shouting "Abu Ghraib!".   What an incredible INability to keep perspective!  And yet, this muslim calls himself "European".  What a sad indication of Europe's future? 

In the behavior of 'European muslim' one can see that the 'useful idiot'-behavior of a big part of the western media is not cost-free.  Their ideologically-biased perverse western self-hatred becomes very useful, indeed, for people like 'European muslim' who seem to be incapable of 'self-criticism' or of criticism of 'their own'. 

As to his presentation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, how could one even contemplate debating such a serious and complex issue whith such a mindless-parroting individual?  

Abu-Gharib to Occupied Palestine – Teaching the Arabs/Muslims

Recently, one of the Israeli cabinet ministers, Avigdor Lieberman, has called for the expulsion of all the Arabs from occupied Palestine; similar to what Hitler was doing to the Jews, Gypsies and Slavs. I am being cautious here, as I do not want to offend those upright moral people in the West by sounding like an anti-Semitic person! The torture, sexual abuse, humiliation and even execution of the Arabs may generate an eventual ‘apology’, but not the kind of outrage that anti-Semitism generates. As Europe demonstrated by holding a recent conference to discuss how to contain the rise of anti-Semitism but never mind the culture of! hate being constantly broadcasted by the mass media, which definitely contributed towards the actions committed by the US soldiers in the Abu Gharib prison.

read the article:


questions and answers

@European Muslim

Sensible answers can only be given to sensible questions.  And, if you formulate a series of questions in ways that reveal internal contradictions between them, then it is virtually impossible to choose between these questions and to provide sensible answers.   You should, therefore, clarify your own thinking first, and especially avoid mixing-up different issues, before formulating questions that could receive serious answers.

A simple answer about why the troops are still there runs as follows.  They are still there for two reasons: 

-- (1) First, because the official goal of a true 'democracy' in the heart of the Middle East is still far from realised.  And the 'true' goal (not to be confused with the official one) of obtaining an 'enligthened' authoritarian regime that behaves 'responsibly' on the international scene, is also not yet realised, and may indeed be unrealisable in the current state of the broader arab culture.

--  (2) Second, because the elected government wants them to stay until it is able to stand up to the ex-baathists who are trying to shoot themselves back into power (assisted in this effort by nutty foreign jihadists).  There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Irakis wants them to stay until their own government will be able to take care of the baathist fascists and the jihadis.  The fact that Irakis want the troops to stay does not mean that they 'like' it, given that arab culture wallows today in envy and shame.  But most Irakis can make the distinction between what they like and what is still necessary or unavoidable.

Somehow, I am not surprised that you are 'rooting' for the return of a sunni dictatorship over the shiite majority and over the Kurds. 

Three points


1) Indeed, Europe-bashing is increasing in the US, but it is a long way from reaching the level that America-bashing has reached in Europe. Especially in the major traditional media, there is no real comparison between the two on both continents.   And, it should also be clear, which preceded the other. 

2) Of course, there is a real threat to freedom and democracy in the world.  There always has, and there always will.  Among serious people there cannot be any debate about the existence of the threat, only a debate about its changing nature (or forms) over time and about practical ways to confront it.  The threat of the Saddam Baath regime did not rest on a piece of paper, nor on the state of his WMD, but on its concrete actions (both the covert and the open actions).  And, of course, this requires the making of difficult judgements and provides easy room for disagreement among 'free people'.

3) I doubt that George Handlery finds acting on altruistic grounds "despicable".  Rather, he finds it 'naive', I think.  He argues for principles of traditional 'conservative realism', as opposed to neocon- and lefty-idealism.  In my view that 'realism' rests on the knowledge that true democrats in the world regard freedom and democracy elsewhere as in their self-interest, and that nondemocrats (the great majority in the world) do not.  They have a realistic perception of the true freedom-undermining intentions of most regimes in the world. Hence conservative 'realists' are convinced that, in geopolitics, it would be folly "to assume that acting unselfishly would bring rewards".     


what are the Terrorists need from Iraq ?

What is the mission the U. S.is committed to in Iraq asks an editorial on Lewrockwell.com .Is it the repeatedly mentioned claim that the U.S. came to the country to liberate Iraqis from the hands of their oppressor leader and rid the world of his threat?
Well, if this is the reason, then what is the U.S. still doing in Iraq? Saddam is no more the Iraqi leader, he’s in prison awaiting word on his fate from the court the occupation set up to conduct a theatre trial to convince the world that after the age of injustice and brutality, democracy is back once again in Iraq.
Is it to plant the flag of “democracy” and “freedom”? Again-  if we considered December elections in Iraq credible and ignored the systematic bias against Sunni Arab regions, then this means that the U.S. mission is accomplished and its military presence in Iraq is no more justified.
Is it the fear of weapons of mass destruction which President Bush alleged in the run up to Iraq war that Saddam possessed? Numerous inspections before and after the war failed to find any of these weapons in Iraq.
simply to install a “democratic” government? Even if that was the reason? What are the American invading troops still doing in the country? A government, selected by the Bush administration rather than the Iraqi people, had already been elected.
Why would the U.S. spend half a billion dollars to build the world's largest embassy if it wasn’t planning for a long stay in Iraq.
Anyone can answer.

Heimlich Maneuver

peter vanderheyden:


Impossible to know as they have not all been translated.


My question to you is what would you consider to be valid evidence?  And if that very evidence you sought for was provided, would it be enough to change your opinion? 


What if, say, we find out that Saddam help to finance a terrorist operation here or abroad against the US?   Would that be enough to justify the US action?


What if we found out Saddam's WMD are sitting across the border in Siria?  Would that be enough?


Personally, I think not. 


The UN and most of Europe has already deemed that the death and torture of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis was not enough for their action, somehow I think WMD and the death of a few Americans would not be worthy enough either.


Europe reminds me of a TV commercial currently on television.   The scene opens up in a restaurant.  At one table is a group of well groomed business men.  At the other table is a man who has just swallowed something that is causing him to choke.  At the first table the businessmen see this but no one get up to help the man.  One man, however, sees this as an opportunity to impress the others by lecturing on how to properly apply the Heimlich Maneuver.  Fortunately, one of the businessmen sitting at the table looks over at the choking man, then around the table.  He realizes that something must be done and he will have to do it.  He gets up and goes over and applys the manuver to save him.


It's sad to see that Europe bashing has become as much a habit in the US as America bashing in Europe. But sticks and bones….

I think you’re changing the subject. The question was: Is there a “national interest” translated in “a threat for the US?” Y point was that obviously there is none, because if there were something tangible the Bush administration would make big publicity about it. The suggestion that the mainstream press is keeping silence about this is absurd. No newspaper can ignore the press conferences of the white house.
Regime change on moral grounds is a valid reason. But then America would have acted on altruistic grounds. Something that George Handlery would find despicable.
What Marcfrans says, makes sense though. We should stop looking at the past, and try to find together a way to reach the goal of a peacefull Irac


@ Truth Serum & pvdh

The deposition of the Baath tyranny of Saddam could (and was!) defended on grounds of (1) morality, of (2) security (national interest), and of (3) legality.  Many of the arguments and counter-arguments that have been advanced come onder one of these three categories.  It is reasonable to expect that people can disagree when simultaneously weighing the wide variety of applicable arguments under these categories.   It is NOT reasonable, however, to fail to recognise that other reasonable people can disagree with one's position, or to constantly demonise the 'other side'. 

The official policy goal of 'regime change in Irak' was decided on in 1998 under the Clinton administration, and parliamentary approval for Saddam's removal was given in November 2002 under the Bush administration, in both cases with a large majority in the American Congress.  While the specific implementation of policy decisions should not be beyond reasonable (domestic) criticism, actually rooting for failure to reach the stated goal of a 'democratic order in Irak' can only be designated as immoral.   It is not wise for anyone to let policy disagreements in the past cloud one's vision about what should be done in the present.

Call me stubborn1

peter vanderheyden


The only evidence you have is what the anti-american European media serves up to you.  This is not intended as an insult, but hopefully to enlighten you that in order for person to get the real truth any longer one must search for it.   Even in America sometimes, big stories go unheard because it does not always fit the media's political stance.


The internet is playing more and more an important role in gathering the truth because people sense that they are not quite getting the whole story.  For instance, Fox News recently featured this story:


Documenting Saddam's Link to Terror

The U.S. government seized thousands of classified Iraqi government papers when Saddam's regime was toppled, and Washington recently released a trove of these documents



Ray Robison, a translator that has been asked to take up the task of translating much of this material, has been hard at work for a long time.


Terror Links to Saddam's Inner Circle

This particular document mentions two men with similar names, each with ties to Pakistani religious schools known as madrassas, Jihad training camps, the Taliban and Al Qaeda



@truth serum

Bush is under constant attack of, for him, malicious people accusing him of going to war under false presumptions. People damaging his image and his ratings by telling everybody who wants to listen that there are and have never have been any WMD or links to terror groups. Yet the administration has captured a tremendous number of documents that contains definite proofs of the opposite. Why on earth would "the U.S. government decide to leave to others to dig out its secrets"?
If the transcription in that article is the best they can get out of the huge pile of documents, that doesn’t seem very promising, isn’t it? Don’t you think the administration isn’t digging for them selves because they know the harvest will be very poor?

Call me stubborn 2

Translated Iraqi document from Ray Robison:

Iraqi Intelligence Memo dated 23 Mar 1997

Taking away of forbidden and dual purpose materials, systems and equipments along with documents, catalogues and related books from the technical sections and libraries. And ensure the purification of laboratories, storage places (warehouses) and work sites from traces of any chemical, biological or radioactive material that has been previously used or stored.


Hopefully, we will hear more of this in the future, but it will only be heard by those who want truth.

For those who hate America, Bush, or the Iraq War, the truth will never be enough.

What people want to believe

"Hussein’s deposition was defensible by the need to protect the national interest. "

What national interest? The link with Muslim terrorism? The WMD? they are nonexistent. As a matter of fact, the president and his staff probably knew it before the war. The only "national interest" I can find is the fact that the shock of toppling Saddam, could have changed the Middle East for the better. An outcome that was very speculative at the time they started the war and that seems very doubtful now. The stubbornness of people that keep on claiming that Saddam was a danger for the US, against all evidence of the contrary, is astonishing. It proves the fact that evidence is far less important then what people want to believe.

Still waiting...

...for 'European Muslim' to present an argument of his own.  Is not likely to happen soon.  He continues to prefer to parrot what he reads elsewhere.  That is so much easier, and does not require any thinking from himself. 

That americans instinctively will sympathise with people who manage to organise themselves in democratic ways with respect for individual rights, that is something that he does not want to face.  Thus, he prefers to parrot the myth of a  "Jewish-zionist grip" in a large northamerican continent where there are, incidentally, more muslims than jews. 

And the notion that the Irak war was "unprovoked" is laughable on its face.  The list of radical islam's depredations against America over the last quarter century is a very long one, indeed, and the same can be said w.r.t. the behavior of Arab tirants like Saddam.   No doubt, 'European Muslim' prefers the dhimmi-behavior of the European (and a significant part of the American) left.  And, no doubt, he would prefer to decide where the batlefields of the ongoing 'long war' should be, and he doesn't like it that the war is coming 'home' to Arabia.

'Truth Serum' s imagination is right on the mark.  'European muslim' is not interested in mass graves in Arabia, unless he could blame nonmuslims for them.  And the notion that he would be for "liberating" muslims anywhere is a fantasy.  Presumably, for him the concept of  "liberation" has nothing to do with individual self-determination (for all individuals), and probably more with coercing conformity with 'sharia' as interpreted by tirannical men.   Someone should explain to him that Allah's rule in practice will always mean 'rule of (specific) men', and about the distinction between the "Rule of Law" and the "Rule of Men" .

Iraq: A War For Israel

For many years now, American presidents of both parties have been staunchly committed to Israel and its security. This entrenched policy is an expression of the Jewish-Zionist grip on America’s political and cultural life. It was fervent support for Israel shared by President Bush, high-ranking administration officials and nearly the entire US Congress -- that proved crucial in the decision to invade and subdue one of Israel’s greatest regional enemies. While the unprovoked invasion of Iraq Israel, just as those who wanted and planned for the war had hoped,

to read the whole article:


Right War

European Muslim

I imagine you to be someone like this....

A well written and insightful commentary about a Right War, Right Method Rightly Applied.

"300,000 Iraqi bodies in mass graves in Iraq are not our problem? The US population is about twelve times that of Iraq, so let's multiply 300,000 by twelve. What would you think if there were 3,600,000 American bodies in mass graves in America because of George Bush? Would you hope for another country to help liberate America?"



Does this guy have a point to make?  He has rambled all over the place.  Nearly put me to sleep.



united and disunited



You are too 'categorical' in your assertion.  "One sparrow does not make a spring", so goes a Flemish saying (I think).  Yugoslavia is a clear example that supports your thesis.  But, there are also counter examples (e.g. Canada, India, etc...). It all depends on the 'circumstances' (particularly the broader surrounding civilisation), and I would certainly agree that in order to hold a nation of different peoples together there needs to be a minimum common civic 'culture'.  

In any case, I did not argue for keeping a united Irak.  My point was simply that (some semblance of) 'democracy'  has a better chance in a united Irak (requiring 'compromises') than in separate Sunni and Shia entities.  On that single point I disagreed with the author, whereas on most other points I largely agreed with him.

Too early to tell

I agree with the broad tenor and with most points the author makes.  At the same time, I have also some disagreements.

-- Perhaps a "democratic and united Irak" is not makeable, but I think that democracy is more likely to be possible in a 'united' Irak than in three separate parts, because the different factions would neutralise each other to some extent and force minimum 'common' (national) 'freedoms'.   A separate Shiite entity would quickly turn into an unfree 'Islamic Republic' like neighboring Iran, and a separate Sunni entity would very quickly revert to a typical Arab tiranny.  The Kurdish entity would have a better - but still questionable - chance at democracy.   However,  there surely must be a limit to the willingness of Americans to sacrifice further for 'democracy' in Irak, and if Irak finally were to break up into three different parts that would still be a big improvement on the previous united Baath tiranny of Saddam (at least from a 'western' freedom-loving perspective).

-- The author is right about the need to find answers to the challenges posed by "asymmetrical conflicts".  But the greatest challenge for the survival of freedom in the world remains an internal political one in the west itself.  To help win that battle against appeasement tendencies and against ideological illusions about the nature of the world, it will be necessary to revert to more 'realism' and less 'idealism' in 'western' foreign policy.  That 'reversion' is already underway in America and is largely a matter of some personnel changes.  In most of Europe the road to be travelled to foreign policy realism will be much longer, because the will itself to actually fight for the survival of freedom is largely absent today. 

united Iraq

You cannot hold together a nation consisting of different people, and then expect 'freedom'. See Yugoslavia.