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Author Topic: Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity  (Read 4078 times)

Dominus Nox

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #30 on: December 04, 2006, 07:59:59 pm »
Quote from: Mystery Man
Yeah, it's time to go. Shit, leave and let Iran try to take the place over and deal with the same shit the US is dealing with now. You'll see suicide bombers in Iran blowing the shit out of people there eventually. Concentrate on propping up Afghanistan and prepare it for the chaos that will ensue in both Irag and Iran to be the major power in the region. Crazy idea I know.


Iran would have less problems dealing with resistance in Iraq, they'd simply round up anyone suspected of being in disagreement with their decrees and either kill them or torture them into submission. iran has officially and openly admitted it uses torture for various reasons, mostly to "purify" people of sin and non-muslim beliefs.

Suicide bombers would likely have their whole families killed in reprisal, that would pout an end to it in a hurry.
RPGPundit is a fucking fascist asshole and a hypocritial megadouche.

RPGObjects_chuck

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #31 on: December 04, 2006, 10:15:13 pm »
Quote from: Spike
Winning a war is both simple and incredibly difficult.  To be blunt, the US military won an extended battle, and fiat ended the war without winning it.

Von Clauswitz discusses Total War, and why it can't/shouldn't exist. This leads to a psychological understanding of the mechanism for winning a war, any war.

Remove the enemies ability and will to fight.

Will to fight is largely what we are addressing in Iraq.  We can, having failed to properly win during the conventional military phase, still turn around and win by one simple expedient.

You/we have to crush them utterly. Respond to any military action with excessive force. Level villages, destroy infrastructures without allowing chances to rebuild, slaughter anyone who even looks like they are holding a gun, take entire families prisoner for interrogation techniques that would make Torquemada weep.

It is easy to do.


If you need me to explain why it is also very hard to do, then I weep for your lack of understanding, if not your humanity.    

War becomes the balancing of atrocities. Do you commit your atrocities early and openly, shortening the war, or do you keep your hands clean and allow the ongoing atrocity of war to perpetuate for generations?

The worst atrocity would win fastest: Eliminate all human life in the region other than your own.


Which of course we won't do, in accordance with Clauswitz- the types of tactics you're describing would do MORE harm to the political will to continue the fight.

Consult further the Tet Offensive.

American polticians often talk about our people as if they have a lack of will. Totally untrue. Americans made great sacrifices (as did the peoples of many, many nations) in WWII, not just because they were convinced our country was in danger, that explains the war against Japan, but also because we were convinced our fellow nations were in trouble, especially Britain and France and that the enemy we were fighting was a threat to the entire world.

This current conflict has already lasted longer than American involvement in WWII. But if we believed it was a conflict that threatened our security, or that our continued involvement would save others, we WOULD support it.

In short, the American people's will is based on a few of things totally lacked by the current leadership: insight, compassion and rational thinking.

Nothing happening in the Middle East right now compels us to remain in Iraq. It is not WWII, it is not the Cold War, it is not the existential threat of our times.

Chuck

fonkaygarry

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #32 on: December 04, 2006, 11:52:51 pm »
Quote from: RPGObjects_chuck
...it is not the Cold War, it is not the existential threat of our times.

Not for you.  For others, yes.
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Dominus Nox

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #33 on: December 05, 2006, 01:29:42 am »
At times I think the best thing for the west to do would be to get the sunnis and shites to go to all out war, arm them both and let them kill each other.


Of course that's too neat and easy a solution to be realistically practical.

I will say this: the more sunnis and shites fight, the safer the west is. As long as they're killing each other they're not plotting a holy war against us.
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RPGObjects_chuck

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #34 on: December 05, 2006, 03:08:45 am »
Quote from: fonkaygarry
Not for you.  For others, yes.


So you're saying the threat faced by our country right now compares, in any way, to the threat we faced during the Cold War?

Akrasia

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #35 on: December 05, 2006, 06:35:29 am »
Quote from: RPGObjects_chuck
See, we went in to "spread democracy". We figured that would work because, as Georgie keeps telling us, the people of the world want to be free.

Right there we were fucked.

WESTERN people want to be free. They value it more than anything else.

MIDDLE EASTERN people don't give a fuck about freedom. Their central societal ethos is based around justice and equality (equality does NOT equal freedom either- if everyone is oppressed equally- that's perfectly ok).

See we keep expecting them to be happy that we freed them from an oppressive dictator.

Ummm... do you think the Kurds live in the Middle-East?

Despite being grotesquely under-reported, Kurdish Iraq is doing just fine.  It is stable, properous, and democratic.  And for the first time in history, they  actually control (some of) their historical lands.  Needless to say, thay are quite grateful to be rid of Hussein.

But sadly, most people in the West don't seem to give a shit about the Kurds, or the fact that their part of Iraq is actually succeeding.

In any case, your claim about people in the Middle-East is certainly not true of everyone who lives there.

Also, it is not clear to me how you can have 'justice' without 'freedom'.  I just don't buy that kind of cultural relativism.  ("Let's continue our traditional practice of propping up Middle-East despots because that's 'part of their way of life'.")

That philosophical point aside, the simple fact is that there are significant numbers of Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq who really hate each other, and have for centuries.  The removal of the Baathist regime has given the Shiites the first opportunity to make a serious play for power in recent history, and the Sunnis are doing what they can to retain their former positions of authority.  Hence the increasing cycle of bloodshed.

This kind of conflict was inevitable once the Baathist regime toppled.  Having the U.S. withdraw right now would not change this one whit -- except perhaps to make the Kurds more vulnerable to aggression from the south.

The U.S. invasion was the catalyst for this civil war.  But one the iron fist of Hussein's despotism was lifted, a Sunni-Shiite bloodbath was inevitable.
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RPGObjects_chuck

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #36 on: December 05, 2006, 02:19:18 pm »
Quote from: Akrasia
Ummm... do you think the Kurds live in the Middle-East?

Despite being grotesquely under-reported, Kurdish Iraq is doing just fine.  It is stable, properous, and democratic.  And for the first time in history, they  actually control (some of) their historical lands.  Needless to say, thay are quite grateful to be rid of Hussein.

But sadly, most people in the West don't seem to give a shit about the Kurds, or the fact that their part of Iraq is actually succeeding.

In any case, your claim about people in the Middle-East is certainly not true of everyone who lives there.


Uhhuh.

Ask people in Turkey how they feel about their wonderful, enlightened, Kurdish neighbors sometime.

You do realize the Kurds are the most violent group in the region, have the strongest ties to al-qaeda and a dream of an autonomous "kurdish homeland" made up of pieces of Turkey and Iraq right?

So yeah, I guess, the Kurds are "free".

The fact that they're actually bloodier than the Sunni or Shiia seems to be something you missed.

Quote
Also, it is not clear to me how you can have 'justice' without 'freedom'.  I just don't buy that kind of cultural relativism.  ("Let's continue our traditional practice of propping up Middle-East despots because that's 'part of their way of life'.")


Because you don't worry about "justice" or "equality" on an individual level, or a national level.

You have once again made the mistake of trying to put yourself in the shoes of a very different, very old culture.

Also, nice job picking out ONE of the four cultural pillars and trying to make it stand alone.

Justice, tradition, religion and equality.

In other words, all four of those factor into their decisions. So cutting off someone's hand for simple shoplifting, which we would consider a horrible act, meets their standards because it appeals to their sense of justice, tradition and religion.

And of course if you apply that sort of punishment unflinchingly to every shoplifter, no matter how hungry, then everyone is equal.

It's interesting to me that my summation of Arab culture has been pooh pooh'd here. Among actual experts of the culture of the region, it isn't in any debate.

The 1st infantry handbook I used as my reference was compiled by cultural experts from the military and CIA, and then was APPROVED by the autonomous Iraqi nationals we worked with prior to the invasion.

In other words, actual Arabs don't have a problem with it.

Quote
In an Arabian family, gender and age plays a big role in specifying responsibilities. The father is usually the head of the family and the provider for its needs, while the mother plays a major role in raising children and taking care of the house. This structure is not always the norm; in recent years, both the father and the mother provide for family needs, while household chores are taken care of by maids and servants.

In the past, most major family decisions were made by the father, but recently some of these decisions are made jointly by both the father and the mother. Sons and daughters are taught to follow the inherited traditions and are given responsibilities that correspond with their age and gender. Sons are usually taught to be protectors of their sisters and to help the father with his duties inside and outside the house, while daughters are taught to be the source of love and emotional support in the family, as well as helping their mother to take care of household chores.

Winds of change do not spare any culture; the changes that entered the structure of some Arabian houses is not due to economical needs, but education for both men and women that is mandated by law in the Arabian countries. Education from kindergarten up to university degrees is free to nationals and sometimes residents of these Arabian countries.  Although culture, traditions, and Islam strongly stress the importance of women's roles in taking care of the house and raising children, it is a mistake to think that Arabian women are confined to this role.

Before Islam there were many successful Arabian businesswomen and they still exist throughout the Arabian region, but because of cultural reasons, they conduct business in an inconspicuous way.  A daughter lives at her family house as long as she is not married; once she is married she moves to her husband's home. Sons might move to their own houses when they get married, but at least one son will still live at the family house even if he is married in order to take care of the parents. When a woman gets married there are no changes made to any part of her name.


Here's an excerpt from a book on doing business in Saudi Arabia.

How many times is culture, tradition and family mentioned in this innocuous passage? It's their culture.

It's a mistake to go into radically different cultures and assume you understand them without doing some research. But hey, we continue to make that mistake in Japan, so why the fuck would I expect any American to be able to wrap their minds around the fact that an Arab might be different than them.

For example, the book I quoted above, one of its purposes is to help businessmen in Arab countries, and I quote from the book jacket here "avoid culture shock".

But hey... if businessmen have problems, an invasion and change of government should work just fine without real cultural awareness right?

RPGObjects_chuck

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #37 on: December 05, 2006, 02:27:09 pm »
And since I've referred to it a few times, here's what the military told our soldiers going in about Arab culture, which jives real closely from what I heard from a father who spent a lot of time in that part of the world on business (my father was a British Commando in WWII who traveled a lot on business after the war):

Quote
ARAB WORLD VIEW
An Arab worldview is based upon six concepts: atomism, faith, wish versus reality, justice and equality, paranoia and the importance of family over self.
Atomism.

Arabs tend to see the world and events as isolated incidents, snapshots, and
particular moments in time. This is a key psychological feature of Arab culture. Westerners look for unifying concepts whereas Arabs focus on parts, rather than on the whole. It also means the Western concept of cause and effect is rarely accepted by Arabs who may not necessarily see a unifying link between events. They do, however, maintain a long-term memory over actions and events. It is important to point out that it is memory, not necessarily history that is important.

Deep belief in God.

Arabs usually believe that many, if not all, things in life are controlled by the will of God (fate) rather than by human beings. What might appear as fatalism at first, is more deeply a belief in God's power, sovereignty, active participation in the life of the believer, and authority over all things (business transactions, relationships, world events, etc.).

Wish versus reality.
Arabs, much more so than Westerners, express emotion in a forceful, animated and exaggerated fashion. Their desire for modernity is contradicted by a desire for tradition (especially Islamic tradition, since Islam is the one area free of Western identification and influence). Desiring democracy and modernization immediately is a good example of what a Westerner might view as an Arabs “wish vs. reality.”

Importance of justice and equality.

Arabs value justice and equality more than anything else. All actions taken by US forces will constantly be weighed in comparison to tradition and religious standards.


Paranioa.

Arabs may seem to be paranoid by Western standards. Suspicion of US intent in their land and a cautious approach to American forces are a primary example. Some Arabs view all Westerners as agents of the government that may be “spies.” Especially in the ethnically diverse areas, mistrust runs deep amongst these various groups.

Family versus self.

Arabic communities are tight-knit groups made up of even tighter family
groups and most often, apart of tribes. Most Westerners pride themselves on personal accomplishments instead of the typical Arab whose focus is on family pride and honor.


The emphasis in one part is mine. That reflects the real crux of the problem here.

Divine Hammer

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #38 on: December 05, 2006, 02:34:44 pm »
Quote from: Mystery Man
Yeah, it's time to go. Shit, leave and let Iran try to take the place over and deal with the same shit the US is dealing with now. You'll see suicide bombers in Iran blowing the shit out of people there eventually. Concentrate on propping up Afghanistan and prepare it for the chaos that will ensue in both Irag and Iran to be the major power in the region. Crazy idea I know.


Only about 8% of the Iraq insurgency is composed of Iraqis.  A fair amount of it is already Iranian.
 

fonkaygarry

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #39 on: December 05, 2006, 03:30:43 pm »
Quote from: RPGObjects_chuck
So you're saying the threat faced by our country right now compares, in any way, to the threat we faced during the Cold War?

Going by JimBob's arguments, one might say greater.  Mutually Assured Destruction went a long way towards preventing nuclear war.

The Turks have little to fear from an established Kurd population.  The Kurds have done nothing to show themselves as either psychotic or suicidal, both of which they'd have to be to get into a shooting war with a larger, richer neighbor.  Any Kurdish use of terror would leave them without any support the State and they have no Arab or Persian allies to call upon.  It would be suicide on a national scale.

The Kurds have nothing to gain and everything to lose with regards to Turkey.
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Akrasia

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #40 on: December 05, 2006, 03:48:20 pm »
Quote from: RPGObjects_chuck
Uhhuh.

Ask people in Turkey how they feel about their wonderful, enlightened, Kurdish neighbors sometime...


The Turks oppose Kurdish statehood because they fear the possibility of secession within their own country.  This is why they've carried out so many humans rights violations against their own Kurdish minority over the decades since the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Also, there is a huge difference -- of which you seem completely ignorant -- between the radical Kurdish insurgent group in eastern Turkey (the PLK) and the Kurds who peacefully, democratically managing their affairs in northern Iraq.  (Analogously, in Ireland where I live, an overwhelming majority of Irish reject the IRA and their tactics.  Your statement about the Kurds all being 'violent' is about as accurate as claiming all Irish are 'terrorist bombers'.)

Quote from: RPGObjects_chuck

You do realize the Kurds are the most violent group in the region, have the strongest ties to al-qaeda and a dream of an autonomous "kurdish homeland" made up of pieces of Turkey and Iraq right?

So yeah, I guess, the Kurds are "free".

The fact that they're actually bloodier than the Sunni or Shiia seems to be something you missed.


Wow, you've just demonstrated that you don't know shit about what you're talking about here.

Please -- I dare you -- bring to my attention any legitimate news article that documents any tie between the Kurds and Al Qaida.  Or even any news article documenting anti-U.S. violence/unrest in the Kurdish part of Iraq.  Good luck.

If you want to educate yourself about how the Kurdish part of Iraq is doing, this interview with the current Kurdish president Massoud Barzani might be a good place to start:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009165

Yes, it is true that the 'Kurdish homeland' (historically understood) includes parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.  But that has nothing to do with how the Kurds in Iraq are managing there own affairs.  They've achieved a high degree of stability and representative government.

I realize that this upsets the simplistic picture of Iraq that you seem to be attached to, but, alas, reality is often more complicated than black-and-white.

Quote from: RPGObjects_chuck

In other words, all four of those factor into their decisions. So cutting off someone's hand for simple shoplifting, which we would consider a horrible act, meets their standards because it appeals to their sense of justice, tradition and religion.
...
It's interesting to me that my summation of Arab culture has been pooh pooh'd here. Among actual experts of the culture of the region, it isn't in any debate.
...
How many times is culture, tradition and family mentioned in this innocuous passage? It's their culture...


Yeah, whatever.  You're making the classical undergraduate fallacious inference of going from the observation of 'cultural diversity' to the truth of 'cultural relativism'.  

I don't deny that many Arabs might believe in highly inegalitarian, undemocratic forms of government.  That is what they believe justice to be.  That doesn't mean that that is what justice is.  And nothing about a culture's existing beliefs prevents them from changing.

Both India and Japan used to have deeply illiberal, undemocratic cultures.  But guess what?  Now they are two of the world's largest democracies (India the largest).

Of course, the costs of trying to change a country's political culture -- like Iraq's -- may be too great.  And, more significantly, the strategy for doing so may be deeply flawed, as the current U.S. strategy in southern Iraq obviously is.

But my point was that your analysis is too simplistic to be taken seriously.

(Note: none of what I state here should be interpreted as an endorsement of the U.S. strategy in Iraq!)
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droog

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #41 on: December 05, 2006, 04:26:17 pm »
Take up the White Man's burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.
The past lives on in your front room
The poor still weak the rich still rule
History lives in the books at home
The books at home

Gang of Four
[/size]

Zalmoxis

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #42 on: December 05, 2006, 04:29:09 pm »
Quote from: droog
Take up the White Man's burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.


You know I was reading about that the other day, and the fact that no one knows whether he was being sarcastic or not. I choose to think he was.

Akrasia

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #43 on: December 05, 2006, 05:25:52 pm »
Quote from: Zalmoxis
You know I was reading about that the other day, and the fact that no one knows whether he was being sarcastic or not. I choose to think he was.


I can't imagine how anyone could think that Rudyard Kipling was being 'sarcastic' in writing that.  There can be no doubt that he was completely serious.

That aside, I think it is a fallacy of the grossest magnitude to conflate a concern with universal human rights and colonial imperialism.

It is a complicated matter how to promote universal human rights.  While some countries that were once colonial possessions are now legitimate liberal democracies (e.g. India), many are not.  

As an empirical matter, strategies other than invasion and occupation are to be preferred.  The moral costs are war are invariably great.
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Zalmoxis

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Iraq: We should close our hearts to pity
« Reply #44 on: December 05, 2006, 05:36:40 pm »
Quote from: Akrasia
I can't imagine how anyone could think that Rudyard Kipling was being 'sarcastic' in writing that.  There can be no doubt that he was completely serious.


That is incorect. Shortly after writing it he wrote several letters and comments to the contrary. However there is some debate over whether or not he was backpedaling.