Reality Check

When I was reading a column by Thomas Friedman yesterday about the war in Iraq, what to do next, etc., I could not help but notice that Friedman did not pay any attention to how the world would respond to a US withdrawal with genocide/mass slaughter as a result. When Americans talk about the war in Iraq, they strictly seem to think in domestic (political) terms, not in terms of how the world will respond. Therefore, I decided to publish a post today called “Reality Check.” You can read that post here. From it:

I thought, let me talk with some Dutch people about this. I asked 8 people: only one of them supported the war in Iraq, the other opposed it from the get-go. I asked them what they thought would happen in Iraq when the US withdraws. The unanimous answer: genocide. Who, I asked, would you blame? America or Iraq? The answer: America. So, I also asked them what they thought Arabs, Muslims and everyone else would think of it. The, again, unanimous answer: everybody will blame America, and it will greatly hurt America’s image.

Now – eight people is not exactly a representative poll, but I want to make something clear to all of you: I strongly believe that this is how most people will look at it. Mass genocide will be blamed on the US. Why? If the US would not have attacked, Iraq would still be stable. Yes, Saddam would still be in power, but most people do not look at that (besides, they will also argue that life under Saddam was probably not worse that it is today) – most people simply look at the result.

Now, many Americans argue “we have to bring our troops home: they should not die in a far away country, if we cannot win / bring stability any time soon.” To Americans, this sounds logical. To 5.5 billion other people, this sounds extremely egotistical. The other citizens of the world say “3500?? are you kidding me? Tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, and if you withdraw prematurely, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions more will die, and you complain about 3500??? You started this war in the first place.”

I seem to have hit a nerve; quite some people responded so I posted a follow-up, which can be read here. I sincerely hope all of you will read both posts, because there is something missing from the American debate that should not be missing.

P.S.
I will be going on vacation for four weeks. When I am back, I will continue to contribute here. I enjoy it here so much, that I do not want to say farewell to all of you.

Have a great summer!

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13 Responses to Reality Check

  1. battlebob says:

    Should we leave or should we go? Either choice leads to a horrible outcome!
    What are the reasons for staying?
    1 – Genocide will occur after we leave?
    We are the catalysts for violence. If we leave, the reason for violence may go away?
    2 – How do we know it will be worse then it is now?
    There is no evidence the surge is making things better. Where we move in, the bombers move elsewhere; after killing a few of us and their fellow Iraqis.
    3 – The surge gives the Iraq government time to work out deals with the other players.
    This would be great exceptit is not being done.
    4 – The surge gives the US time to talk to the neighboring countries.
    This is being done very weakly. Rice and the State Department should be blitzing the neighbors with proposals to end this thing in ways that everyone can live with. She must be out buying shoes again.

    What are the reasons for leaving? By leaving I mean we head for Afgan and get bin Laden and his henchmen once and for all. Which is interesting since he relies on Pakistan for support and we need Pakistan more then ever.
    1 – We are doing nothing to protect the people from violence. If we can’t stop the killing then we are not helping out.
    2 – The longer we stay, the worse it will be after we leave.
    3 – The Iraq people have suffered enough. We leave the oil, bases, and MasterCards for all to rebuild their lives.

  2. Darrell Prows says:

    Michael: The reason why it was insane for us to invade Iraq is that there was never any way for us to offer anything to those people. The world knew that, and the world told us that they would be against us if we went ahead, and we did it anyway. Iraqi’s kill our soldiers indiscriminantly because they feel we have drawn first blood. U.S. troops continue to draw innocent Iraqi blood because they feel, not unreasonably, that the place is simply to dangerous to approach it as carefully as their training and their orders dictate. And then the Iraqi’s kill our soldiers indiscriminantly.

    I guess that the only answer we can make to our critics around the planet for why we are leaving is because the Iraqi people are saying that they want us out. And we’ll still have to be responsible for the consequences that follow. If that means an outpouring of negative sentiment, we will have earned it.

  3. Have a wonderful vacation, Michael. It’s been a pleasure reading your posts and having you here. We look forward to your return.

  4. ironxl84 says:

    I also wish you a great vacation Michael.

    However, if I may, I would like to interject another opinion here.

    To paint the situation as purely “America” is overly simplistic IMO, and it underestimates the intelligence of the world community.

    I believe that much of the world community understands that the USA is a dichotomy, a perpetual tug-of-war between truly good people versus ignorant warmongers.

    Unfortunately, the latter held their sway in the last election much to the dissappointment of most of us here.

    However, with BushCo lined up at the exit doors, I believe that there is a new swing of the pendulum approaching.

    John McCains campaign hit the skids. Well, that was easy enough to predict given his myopic vision.

    Now Giuliani is under fire and rightfully so, as he is an opportunist bastard seeking to further exploit 9/11 for his own political advantage. Despicable.

    I can’t say much about Mitt, other than he is the apparant Prom Queen of the Republican Party, but seriously…does this guy represent the American future? I can’t see it.

    Then we have Fred Thompsom who can only split up the Republican vote and act similarly as a spoiler to their side as Ralph Nader did to ours a few elections back.

    Thus Ron Paul will arise as a popular centrist libertarian under the cloak of the Republican Party.

    All in all, in all probability, any Republican will be un-electable in 2008.

    On the Democratic side, with Al Gore not willing to partake of the process, leaving Hillary and Obama as glistening participants, but also un-electable in the overall scheme of things…

    The only rational conclusion must be the re-entry of John Kerry into the race to serve as the rational next extension of the American Political Arena.

    Understand that I know that this is a Kerry dominated blog, yet I only offer my opinion as a realistic individual.

    I also think the Earth will breath a sigh of relief if John Kerry were elected, as opposed to the boneheaded Neo-Con crap of the last 7 YEARS.

    America isn’t the problem. Bush is.

    Go for it John! Take back what was taken from you!

    Seize the moment and Godspeed!

    It is the only rational conclusion at this point.

    Tom

  5. Tom

    Works for me. I’m all for JK taking back what was taken from him.

  6. alrudder says:

    Michaelvdg,
    Thanks for writing that. All American politicians have to look themselves in the mirror and ask if the impending regional war is worse than what we have now. America will have a lot of blood on its hands, and the next president (who will be a Democrat) will be accountable for it come 1/20/09.

    As for Kerry…I knew it, I knew it. Events over the course of 2007 would turn so chaotic such that he would be the most viable candidate for president in EITHER party. He should not have dropped out. But he still has the stature to go around the country and make grand speeches. We must assist in getting his message out.

  7. Ginny Cotts says:

    This is an interesting piece on the violence in Iraq. It does make me think that what I have read from Iraqis; that it will get violent, it is not preventable, postponing it is not going to accomplish it, is probably the most realistic view. Bush opened Pandora’s Box. We can do as much as possible to promote negotiations and diplomacy to bring about the resolutions. It will still take time. Perhaps the best thing we could do is help develop and support peace groups in Iraq.

    Military spokesman absolutely wrong about al Qaeda in Iraq

  8. Michaelvdg says:

    I completed the first stage of my travel / vacation.

    Thanks for the great comments. I have to say – again – that I find it remarkable that at a ‘liberal’ blog as TDD, the ‘liberals’ are not angry with me for writing what I wrote, while at certain other places I was truly bashed. I was talking to another European about that yesterday (for hours). We were both surprised how angry some Americans got – note, in my post I am not saying “do this or do that in Iraq” or “do what Europe say,” I only say “America should pay attention to what Europe says – you don’t have to agree, but you do have to let it be a factor.” That’s – as I see it – quite normal: common sense, but I was attacked, it’s unbelievable.

    Again – this proves my point about TDD again and why I want to continue contributing here. You’re a great bunch here.

  9. battlebob says:

    I dunno know Ginny. We are the catalyst for violence and now it may be self-sustaining.
    The neighbors and the UN are sitting this one out.
    There is no good option and we cannot impose anything on the people.

    If I were king for a day I would move the White House to the middle of Sadr City so Bush and the rest of his criminal cabal can get an up close and personel look at all the misery they have caused.

    Right now, our troops go into an area. There are a few firefights…a few folks die…we move to another area and start all over again…the bombers move back after we leave. The cycle ends when we leave; unless the Iraq poeple come up with something.

  10. Darrell Prows says:

    My local newspaper carried an article this morning about a vicious firefight between a U.S. Army unit, and Iraqi police, with at least 6 police deaths. What kind of “peacekeeping” is this? One minute our troops are shooting women and children because zealots spring ambushes while mixing with the population. (And this is actually one of their most effrective strategies.) The next minute “security forces” are shooting at our soldiers because a huge portion of the security forces in Iraq are simply not what they pretend to be.

    There is an article on MSN.com right now quoting Al Maliki as saying that the Iraqi government is ready, able, and willing to maintain security in Iraq even if the U.S. withdraws immediately.

    There has to be a list of Iraqi’s that was compiled for voting. We could offer every name on that list an AK-47 and 100 filled clips on our way out of the country. Then no one who was left in that mess would have to feel completely defenseless.

  11. battlebob says:

    Darrel,
    I belevie every Iraq houseold is allowed one gun for self defense. What would the NRA say if we banned guns in Iraq?

  12. Darrell Prows says:

    I heard a long time ago that Khadaffi provided open access to personal firearms also. If true, then, whatever else he is, he’s certainly not unwanted by the Libyans.

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