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November 9, 2003 Mail

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I do send out some odd email, and receive equally odd email in return.  Here I will print some of it, with, now and then, my responses.  
Iraq.  Getting things right in an occupation not going so well.  "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens."  Really?  Readers discuss this and offer alternatives.

So what email went back and forth this week?  We discussed Iraq.  Everyone is discussing Iraq.  The news this week was bad.  People talk about what can be done, what cannot be done, what should be done, would should certainly not be done.

Trent Lott - everyone's favorite Republican - offered advice on Iraq.  Just kill them all.  "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens." 

There does not seem to be a lot of diplomatic nuance in this suggestion.  But it is one way to fix things in Baghdad and Tikrit and all those other places.

The source for that statement?

From The Hill, October 29, 2003
GOP unity is strained by attacks
Geoff Earle  URL: http://www.thehill.com/news/102903/gopunity.aspx


Asked whether he favored any policy changes in Iraq, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) responded: "We need to have a different mix of troops, is the key. We may need to move some troops around."

Lott suggested moving more troops from the relatively stable south closer to the region around Tikrit, where attacks on U.S. forces have been common. He said there was a need for more trained military police, adding that his comments were not a criticism.

"Honestly, its a little tougher than I thought it was going to be," Lott said. In a sign of frustration, he offered an unorthodox military solution: "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You're dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out."

From Martin in New York -

Ah yes.  This is the sort of thinking that makes this a truly great country.   Query - when is the next flight to Canada?

From Nico in Montreal -

What was the point to invading to Iraq again?  Take out Saddam, check there aren't any WMD, wasn't it?  Seems to me those objectives have been achieved.

Sticking around to bully the people and be angry when they attack occupiers is pretty damn stupid.  Their work is done, send the troops home and hand out some medals.

Wouldn't such an insurgency be glorified in any country?

From Just Above Sunset in Hollywood -

Sometimes I'm tempted to have my conservative, pro-war friends speculate what it would be like in Plano if France had invaded and occupied Texas and had troops busting down doors in the middle of the night and taking people away for having the wrong kind of cheese in their refrigerators.  Would there not be a popular uprising - an armed resistance? 

But why would France do that?  Because they could and it seemed like a good idea at the time?  Seems unlikely of course.  France is not a world power.

Well, the United States did something like that.  Because we could and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Actually, my conservative, pro-war friends are pretty clear about this.  Of course they agree that no one likes being invaded and occupied by a foreign power.  It's a bummer.   Makes you feel powerless, emasculated, humiliated and all that sort of thing.  They agree, but don't understand why the Iraqi folks resist the Untied States guys policing their streets.  We're not, after all, like any other conquering power - we're the good guys and everyone wants to be an American.  What's WRONG with the Iraqi people?  This is different.

Yeah, right.

From Phillip in Georgia -

Every one is so critical.  If we loaded up our troops and all their stuff and hauled ass right now there would be a flood of Op-Eds about how the military made a huge mess and left it for some one else (the French for example) to clean up after us.  The kind of guys who would rather work late at the office than come home to help their kids with homework would be emasculated at not being able to see the job through.  These guys (oh let's just call them officers for the sake of brevity) would petition the boss (oh let's just call him a commander) to allow the staff to try to tinker on things so that the general wind created from our departure won't blow away the house of cards we have left teetering on the edge of the metaphorical table.  We could leave a stack of new twenties to help pay for the clean up, but it would disappear from graft.  Now we stuck our hand in this mess and now we have to make a better effort to clean it up or we are criticized as lacking stick-to-it-tiveness.  My worry is soldiers acting as reconstruction police.  They are trained to assault, not keep the peace.  Summary judgment on the citizenry is a tragic flaw of soldiering since Roman troops marched all over Europe.  Reminds me of a Song entitled "Who Gave the Monkey a Gun."

At a wedding I played Saturday night there was a pile of chocolate shot glasses filled with various kinds of whiskey.  When the drummer and I found them we thought they were a great idea and we drank a bunch of them and then ate the little chocolate shot cups.  Made me feel great for the rest of the night.  The next day I felt not so great, having consumed more sugar in a night than I usually eat in a month, mixed with a bunch of whiskey.  Just didn't think through the consequences very well.   Somehow the story relates to the Iraq saga, and here we are as a nation wondering if it was such a good idea in the first place.  I think this hangover of "liberation" is far from over.

Nico in Montreal -

Not being critical, just offering a thought, you know, something that may 'seem a good idea at the time'.   If America wants to see Iraq as a success, it needs to remember the lesson with Germany.  Liberate and let the people rebuild.  The Iraqis need to control the reconstitution of their society, mostly.  Especially not the French.  Saddam would still have some millions on his head, so he'll be quiet, and caught eventually.  No need to galvanize the country against Americans.  No one is served by that, except Iraqi dignity, which ought be allowed to re-establish itself without the 'common' hate of occupiers.

America's advisory role in Iraq is assured and would best benefit by fewer contact points.  Send the kids home to college and make the 'old guys' stay late at the office worrying about reparations distribution; hell, send them overseas.  Isn't that the concept with the World Bank and IMF?   Such monies are expected, and will pay for America's hand in the game.  Not the soldiers.

And George, if he were an American patriot, would ensure that those troops came home glorified, and better sooner than later.  Op-Ed be damned.  The military machine has fulfilled their promise to go in to Iraq and check it out for themselves.  They kicked butt, up to May anyway.  Iraq knows America has come for them twice, so watch out.  Wheres the embarrassment?  Better heroes than coffins.  More Americans alive to re-elect him.

This isnt a pregnancy.  Its never too late to pull out.

Even mowing them down would take a withdrawal.

From Just Above Sunset in Hollywood -

All this "cut and run" talk can't disguise the facts - something has to be done.  We broke it, and we've got to work out some way to fix it.  Get everyone together - the French, Germans, Russians, Chinese - and openly admit we made a mess of things, and that we kind of exaggerated the need for all this, and actually give into a joint effort to clean up this mess?  Allow the UN to administer the budgets and oversee the reconstruction, in spite of Halliburton and Bechtel?  Involve the World Bank and the IMF folks?  Well, that's not going to happen.  We're too proud for that.  And the administration does owe those Halliburton and Bechtel corporations for all the campaign contributions - can't piss off those guys.  Not prudent. 

And do we give up our dreams of a friendly seat on the OPEC board and a permanent base in Iraq for our military folks to keep all the evil assholes in the area in line?  We're going to keep that dream.  We can't let that part of the world get all out of control and unfriendly.  Or is that "even more out of control and all unfriendly" than it is now? 

Can we establish our own pro-American puppet state with a secular, but "sort of Islamic" government that gives full recognition to Israel and has Sharon over for dinner every Tuesday night?  Seems unlikely, but I think that is the idea, or was.  I don't see how we get there.  I have no ideas.

Metaphors, metaphors...  If you participate in the gang rape of a twelve-year-old girl and she ends up pregnant and all battered, well maybe you do have some responsibilities.  It actually is kind of like a pregnancy.

As for our efforts to provide the Iraqi people with some modicum of dignity, well, we're working on that, except we get to define what dignity means, not them.  That is not going well.

As for our troops coming home "glorified" - well, Bush has yet to go to even one funeral and thank the guys and stand up for them.  He does not visit he wounded.  Hell, even his father did that.  And we have a new policy of closing Dover Air Force Base in Delaware so no one sees the coffins being unloaded, ever.  Out of sight, out of mind.  The administration keeps cutting veteran benefits, and I see in the Army Times that there have been big cuts in the budgets of the schools on all the Army bases in North America - and the guys at that magazine are really pissed off.  While they're away, putting their lives on the line, their kids get screwed over.  Not nice.

Oh well.  We'll see next November if any of this matters at all.

Well, we aren't the decision makers.  But we vote.