Rebirth of Reason

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Post 20

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - 11:57pmSanction this postReply
I read in one of your profiles that "police statism" is one of your pet peeves. So you believe that Iraq was better off under police statism? You believe that Iraqi women were better off under Saddams rule? You believe that the hundreds of thousands buried in mass graves and the living who constantly lived with that threat were better off? You believe that governement censorship with brutal consequences was a better society?"

Jody, Saddam is a mass-murderer for whom I have absolutely no sympathy.

But under Saddam, women could much more freely wear pants and makeup and skirts, attend university, learn English, and practice Christianity or no religion at all. Guns, alcohol and incomes were far less regulated, taxed and controlled by the state. Saddam's regime was brutal to its enemies, but simply did not have the inclinations or resources to micro-manage or impose theocratic authoritarianism in the way we can now expect.

Those hundreds of thousands of mass graves — which ones do you mean? The Iraqis who died in wars with America, or the Iraqis and Kurds whom Saddam either sacrificed in the war with Iran or murdered outright, while he was getting financing, assistance and intelligence from the Pentagon and CIA? I'm honestly skeptical of the claims that he killed one million Arabs, as he's often accused. They said during the first Gulf War that the Iraqi government was ripping babies out of incubators and positioning itself to invade Saudi Arabia — these were lies. I have yet to see solid evidence of Saddam's democide beyond war deaths for which U.S. presidents such as Reagan, the Bushes and Clinton deserve quite some blame as well.

And I think the thousands who have lost loved ones to the U.S. invasion, bombing and occupation, are also individuals who can't simply be brushed aside under the theory that Saddam would have killed more Iraqis in the same amount of time. I doubt that theory seriously, but don't consider a utilitarian calculus of that kind very appropriate for guiding U.S. foreign policy.

The country has sewage in the streets. Electricity isn't up and running. Saddam was brutal, but Iraq was still one of the most liberal regimes in the region. No more.

And guess what? The new Iraq will have plenty of censorship.

Post 21

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 3:50amSanction this postReply
Nephew Jody -

Let us think about this for a moment. Why would George choose Iraq to sort out? To finish off what father wouldn't/ couldn't/ didn't? Perhaps (I can imagine that he would be able to muster that much vanity). And after 9/11, the muscle and semi blind will would be there to do it. There are a number of Islamic terrorist groups operating out of North & East Africa and I fail to see the stars and stripes stacking them up like cordwood there. Could this be that they lack the black gold? Me thinks it is. From here may I refer you to the brief, but thorough, history lesson from my close, personal friend, Pete (post 19).

As for my vandalism, it was always good humoured and polite - pure white mischief sans any vulgarity or malice. Think about it, it was pretty twee of you to post that up for all to view when it was intended for the "Lucky 34" (and lucky I'm sure they are). And I promise you that I will take the web address with me to my grave and will not post it in a few places which, I'm certain, would invite a broad mass to inscribe various thoughts and comments regarding (and sometimes not) your big day. It would be funny though...
(Edited by Daniel Maurer
on 8/25, 4:03am)

Post 22

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 6:13amSanction this postReply
Idle speculation about an Arab super-power aside, you still have offered no evidence that this is a war for oil.  It's just another variant of the "Look they have oil: ergo we went to war over the oil." 

As for Haliburton, can you name one instance where they were awarded a no-bid contract when there were other companies capable of doing the same job? 

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Post 23

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 1:14pmSanction this postReply
Enlighten me please Jody - Why did we go to war? And what of Haliburton? Coincidence?

Post 24

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 6:05pmSanction this postReply

I would characterize Iraq as but one battle in the context of a broader war.  I tend to agree with Stratfor's analysis that there were two primary reasons behind the Iraq invasion:

1. Credibility.  There is sentiment rampant among Islamic militants that America is a "paper tiger", and if you hit her hard enough eventually she will back out foreign lands if the cost is too much to bear.  They would point to Vietnam and Somalia as examples.  In the wake of 9-11, a proactive strike by America -- not just a few surgical cruise missile lobs, but a full out invasion and regime change operation -- would seek to transform the psychology of the Arab world in their view of Americans as weak.  It was demonstration of resolve and a message to other governments in the region that we're there to stay.

2.  Strategic Location.  Deposing Saddam would open up Iraq as a permanent American military base in the region, the proximity of which would give American more negotiating leverage and applied pressure to regimes like Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and others.

But the question still comes down to: what were we doing there to begin with?  What strategic interests are in it for the United States to make us want to maintain control and influence in the region?  What policies were being supported back during Gulf War I and why?  If you don't think oil was an integral part of any this, then what has driven American policy in the region for the last 15 years? (and don't say "pragmatism" - I'm referring to ends not means).  So while I believe that Iraq was a battle over strategic position and credibility, it was and is a part of a broader war to maintain control of Middle East oil flows. 

As for Halliburton, I want to be on record that I don't believe this war to be a Halliburton conspiracy. Nevertheless,
there's at least one example I can think of where a no-bid contract may not have been the best use of taxpayer dollars.  Here's an an excerpt from a CBS News report that detailed GSM Consulting of Amarillo, Texas, a firm that had fought oil well fires around the world, including in Kuwait after Gulf War I:

But not everyone thought {no bid contracts}were prudent. Bob Grace is president of GSM Consulting, a small company in Amarillo, Texas, that has fought oil well fires all over the world. Grace worked for the Kuwait government after the first Gulf War and was in charge of firefighting strategy for the huge Bergan Oil Field, which had more than 300 fires. Last September, when it looked like there might be another Gulf war and more oil well fires, he and a lot of his friends in the industry began contacting the Pentagon and their congressmen.

“All we were trying to find out was, who do we present our credentials to,” says Grace. “We just want to be able to go to somebody and say, ‘Hey, here's who we are, and here's what we've done, and here's what we do.’”

“They basically told us that there wasn't going to be any oil well fires.”
Grace showed 60 Minutes a letter from the Department of Defense saying: "The department is aware of a broad range of well firefighting capabilities and techniques available. However, we believe it is too early to speculate what might happen in the event that war breaks out in the region."

It was dated Dec. 30, 2002, more than a month after the Army Corps of Engineers began talking to Halliburton about putting out oil well fires in Iraq.

“You just feel like you're beating your head against the wall,” says Grace.
However, Andersen says the Pentagon had a very good reason for putting out that message.

“The mission at that time was classified, and what we were doing to assess the possible damage and to prepare for it was classified,” says Andersen. “Communications with the public had to be made with that in mind.”

“I can accept confidentiality in terms of war plans and all that. But to have secrecy about Saddam Hussein blowing up oil wells, to me, is stupid,” says Grace. “I mean the guy's blown up a thousand of them. So why would that be a revelation to anybody?”

But Grace says the whole point of competitive bidding is to save the taxpayers money. He believes they are getting a raw deal. “From what I’ve read in the papers, they're charging $50,000 a day for a five-man team. I know there are guys that are equally as well-qualified as the guys that are over there that'll do it for half that.”

Even if Halliburton was/is the best team for the job, it is still prudent to at least call into question the conflict of interest inherent with Dick Cheney, don't you think? 

Post 25

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 7:21pmSanction this postReply
Thanks for taking the time to back up what you say.  Though we disagree it is appreciated and a refreshing change from those who merely try to avoid the question.  I'd like to address the oil in more detail later.  I dont have the time at the moment to do so.  I do want to quickly point out though that (1) Cheney did not put one penny in his pocket from Halliburton and (2) the specific 'no-bid' contract we are now talking about was an extension of an extant contract to support military efforts that had been awarded to Halliburton through open bidding.

Also, points one and two are well stated and I have no contention with you on those.


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