U.S. Back Into Iraq?


The Obama administration has finally set a date for withdrawing U.S. troops for Iraq. If ethnic strife returns there, raising again the specter of civil war, should the U.S. send troops back in?

Posted by David Ignatius on March 2, 2009 11:49 AM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (94)

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Blund, Tom, et al:

The power elite with the cooperation of most think tanks, DoD and certain odd segment of USA [and world] society did not wake up to the enormity of the present economic crises.

Wall Street and their backers think that a few more helping of taxpayer funds, and they can go back to 2006 - especially as the accounting standard does not force themn to acknowledge the off-balance sheet items for another year [or longer if they can help it].

No one wants to take the loss which has to be taken ere there is a turnabout - though never to the level of 2006. With the present blow-up in the "wealth effect" the previous three four years of GDP growth were shown to be chimerae. Propably the last year of REAL growth was in 2000, with an uptic in 2004, partially cased by WAR WASTE accounting and by major deficits spending. [The last time Keynesian theory worked].

For the foreseeable future the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE will try to cash out as much as possible, trusting that Justice and SEC will keep up the good work of the past and keep absolutely quiet! With the neo-cans Red Dog Dems and friends in Senate, it will be difficult to enact any legislation to claw back the phony bonuses [and much might be hidden by then]

IT is time for the President to lay out reality:

USA is on verge off bankrupcy, we can not afford wars, we can not afford DoD in its present financial desire, and we can not afford 40+ million uninsured in Healthcare, with other millions to join soon, as companies lay off, or cut benefits to evade bankrupcy.
If we have a recovery it will be below the past, we all face lowering standards of living.

GL USA

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I know that if my firm received government funds I would have called all the managers together to explain to them the way we operate until we've paid back the government. That would include no raises, bonuses or retention payments. No conferences at 5 star resorts, etc., etc., etc.

It's just basic common sense. Which leads me to understand Liddy has none. I thought the auto CEO's were lacking in this area as well. If one needs the feds to bail them out they ought to be greatful. They ought to have enough common decency to act accordingly. Needing a bailout should make one humble. Apparently not. Apparently, it just makes CEO's even more stupid. No wonder we're in such a mess with idiots like this running corporate America.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

"Perpetual incompetents' like Liddy have earned the right to fail and we should be able to grant them their wish."

Now you're talking some sense. Call it survival of the fittest.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

blund, you say: "You can't put one hand in the public coffer and in the other hand dole that money out for bonuses."

They have been doing this legally since 1 century in the USA, and since 20-30 years here in Europe. Through the private creation of public money, where they charge interest on.

The difference now is that this could go unnoticed, before, only because the "real" economy still grew, so we, the people, had it growing also. But now that the "real" economy for the "real" people can't grow anymore for external reasons (climate-change, scarcity of resources, pollutions, demography...), they still grab from the public coffers. Except that this time, it's so big and obvious, we see it. They have become either desperate - and we smell the blood - or so blatantly corrupt that they don't care. And we see how much they have stolen over all that time, and we get angry. The more we get to see of it, the more we realize for how long it has been going.

Prepare for a summer of rage:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/02/charlie-brooker-politicians

One solution: take randomly sorted citisens and make them participate in politics, in some way or other:

http://www.front-plan-c.eu/

blund Author Profile Page :

Zolko,

Microsoft is a different animal. Nobody, except Microsoft stock holders and employees, cares if Microsoft were to go bankrupt. They produce operating systems and software. If they were to cease business operations tomorrow it would only provide opportunity for other groups to fill the void.

This is very different then AIG or a Citigroup. By letting either one of them go under the shock waves thoughout the global financial system would take years to recover from. Shiela Barr recently gave an interview where she was talking about this. She noted by allowing financial institutions to get so large that allowing them to fail wasn't an option that we are doing a disservice to our economy and financial health.

This in essence creates a new class of company. Companies that aren't really guilty of creating a monopoly, but are too large to fail. Something needs to be done to address this in the future.

I understand the bonuses AIG are talking about comprise less then 1% of the money the taxpayers have put up to keep AIG afloat. However, that's 1% too much. You can't put one hand in the public coffer and in the other hand dole that money out for bonuses. It assaults the senses. If a by-product of being too large or too important to fail results in this type of thinking then we need to make sure in the future we don't have companies too large to fail.

AIG has become nothing more then the poster child for corporations gone bad. They lost 62 billion last quarter alone, took 170 billion from the taxpayers and still want to pay out bonuses. I'm not a violent person by nature, but I'm not sure I would be upset if you lined up these morons at AIG and introduced them to a firing squad.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

blund:

"I understand a handful of companies (...) are too large to be allowed to fail. This is something we need to take a very close look at in the future. (...) We should seriously start looking at breaking AIG up into pieces that can be allowed to fail individually."

No need to re-invent the wheel: all necessary legislation already exists, namely anti-trust and anti-competition laws. They could very well apply. But when a government's solution to companies being too big to fail is to join them with other big companies - thus making them even bigger - one realises that the problem are not the banks, but the political institutions that let this happen.

Why didn't the US government break Microsoft up, even though it has been proven guilty of monopolistic abuse ?

blund Author Profile Page :

To say I'm incensed over the AIG bonuses would be an understatement.

This is nothing more then using taxpayer dollars to reward poor performance. This can not and should not be allowed to stand. Any CEO (Liddy) dumb enough to even make an argument for "retention" bonuses in a failed company needs to find another line of work. Garbage collector comes to mind.

500,000 people a month are losing their jobs in this country and AIG wants to pay out 165 million dollars to people who are already averaging over $100,000 per year in salary with taxpayer dollars. Only someone who was terminally stupid could come up with a plan like this and then try to sell it.

I understand a handful of companies, AIG being one, are too large to be allowed to fail. This is something we need to take a very close look at in the future. It appears once a company becomes too large to be allowed to fail bad behavior follows. We should seriously start looking at breaking AIG up into pieces that can be allowed to fail individually. Perpetual incompetents' like Liddy have earned the right to fail and we should be able to grant them their wish.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Blund:

interesting take on possible regulation: "Setting the agenda for monetary reform" use google my mouse does not work to copy URL-s

Tom:

It is unimportant if that guy errs regarding conspiration nonsense. Lot of people do that. I saw many articles by engineers etc on that subject - do not have opinion on it.

Another site you may wish to peruse is "information clearing house", similar to counterpunch.

Another is agonist.org - his economic ideas are good and you can also follow his travels in Asia - 5000 + pictures. and do not forget Tomdispatch.com

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

But the more important question is: should the US government bailout the hot dog cart if it goes under?

(Yes, if everyone in the US receives one German brot)

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

Occasionally, I read from a website called Counterpunch which has some good articles, and is similar to Global Research. I stumbled across Globalresearch.com awhile back when I read the article I referenced (“The Eurasian Corridor: Pipeline Geopolitics and the New Cold War”). Its a good article. I was disappointed to see that the same author suggested Bush was involved in 911 (credibility?).

Since a trip to the doctor is "free" in Canada, he should take advantage of the opportunity to see a shrink.

blund Author Profile Page :

Zolko, YEOLDS, TOM,

In case anyone thinks the US economy isn't broken the article in the post on AIG bonuses should put that argument to rest.

Here's a firm that is only in business today by the taxpayers coughing up 170 billion dollars to keep them afloat. The only reason anyone in that company is still employed is because of the taxpayer. Now they want to bonus out people to the tune of a couple hundred million? On what planet do these morons live on?

This is one of my least favorite arguments of all time,

"In a letter to Geithner yesterday, Liddy agreed to restructure some of the payments. But Liddy said he had "grave concerns" about the impact on the firm's ability to retain talented staff "if employees believe that their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury."

Let me see if I have this right. These same "talented" staff bankrupted AIG. So now let's make a case as to why we should be using taxpayer dollars to give these very same people bonuses for running the business into the ground? Only in America.

Liddy should be fired yesterday. Any AIG employee who believes they have a contractual legal right to a bonus should be awarded the bonus and dismissed the moment the check is handed to them. Retain them? Retain what? Retain a bunch of losers? Let these "talented" people join the ranks of the unemployed and see if unemployment benefits pay huge bonuses.

Worried about retention? Where are these "talented" people going to go today? Nobody is hiring. They can work for AIG or join the soup lines once they have spent their bonuses.

How could they possibly be upset that the Feds are seen as interferring in their pay structure? Hmmm....maybe a bailout of 170 billion so far, there's more on the way, gives the tax payers the right to expect them to act in a responsible way? Of course not! Let's just let AIG bleed taxpayer money and keep bonusing out these morons? Maybe in an alternative universe, but this is just too stupid for words.

Fire Liddy. Fire him yesterday. Nobody that stupid deserves to running a hot dog cart.

blund Author Profile Page :

YEOLDS,

Thanks for the web site.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Ah, and what's more, Mexico has oil.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Daniel, there was a guy called Adolph H. over here in Europe some 1/2 century ago who professed ideas like yours. It didn't turn out very good for him, so you might want to revise your opinions.

As for the financial crisis, I'm afraid the USA is heading for hyperinflation (1000% over a couple of years). That's the easiest way for the ruling elite to absorb the enormous (10x) financial bubble. Of course, it will be rather painful for the rest 90% of the population, who might need some external motivation like a good war against a really evil opponent. May-be you should vote on that: would you prefer China or Pakistan ? Iran was quite good, pity the Saudis don't want another war in their neighborhood, and pity they have so much of your dollars in their reserves. Venezuela was a good try, but I'd recommend not to choose them, or any other South-American country, they are quite united now and would be furious.

Actually, Mexico would offer some interesting perspectives: they are in North-America so world-wide outrage would be weak, except for Canada who might have some objections because they'd fear they're next. You could deport the illegal immigrants (gazing them is too messy, please refrain from that) which would occupy a big portion of the population and would be easy to justify, they are completely under-armed, economic drawback would be minimal.

The rest of the dictatorial tools have been already implemented in the Patriot Act, so you're all set there.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I'm not letting the Feds off the hook by any means. They are guilty of the sin of omission. There was mounting evidence this was going to happen and they sat around like a bunch of dumb dumbs and stuck their heads in the sand. They (Greenspan's Fed) should have intervened and they did not. That's their guilt.

The other part of this that fries my behind is once they knew they had a problem and they knew what the scope of the problem was they took ZERO action to soften the blow of this recession. They still sat back and waited for the market to correct itself. For this every stinking one of them should be fired. (Does that sound like I'm letting them off the hook?)

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:

My interest in globalesearch.ca is stricktly economics.

I do not know about any conspiracy theories [except the one leading to the Iraq invasion] in recent past, for I do not know enough on the subjects. I do not read conspiracy theories! [though it is fairly certain that Tolkin Bay was not as described at that time]

Having lived in socialist system [Hungary], having daughter living in social democratic system [Spain]I can see some benefits of the left. Conversely having lived under neo-con Harper, and being immersed in USA world economics, I do have lot of reservations about predatory capitalism.

As I mentioned earlier, my wish that the USA pull out of this DEPRESSION without having to suffer the RUSSIAN CONSEQUENCES of Collapse. The more time goes by with Paulson, then Geitner, and listening to the Republican side's speeches, position papers, the more I become discouraged that the USA governing elite has any notion of the problems. and any willingness to take some pain today [ôr yesterday during 2007] before the ship of state sinks into obllivion.

If you want to have some interesting views on possible outcome of collapse, read cluborlov.blogspot.com a Russian living in USA since shildhood, who saw Russia in the 90-s -- it is scary, represents somewhat how our family lived in hungary 1953-5 area.

The greatest example of the elite's misconception is the insistence on larger priming by Europe, indicating that the elite does not understand that the social democratic system has built in defenses, defenses that do not have USA counterparts. The USA Government does not have the financial ability too instill all these social democratic measures, so they disregard same and follow the proven SPIN. I am sorry that Mr. Obama has either uneducated advisors, or advisors who still do not take REALITY SERIOUSLY.

On Hamas, Hazballah the notion that any state has a right to exist is an oximoron -= read history, the nation state is a recent development before that there was a ruler who brought fidelity of the landed/moneyed claas and rule at their pleasure [from Rome to middle ages, also applies to China for 3-4000 years]. Do recall Magna Carta, forced on the King by French Nobility.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Daniel

Thank goodness Obama has finally arrived to "change" the foreign policy of the US to a more "hopeful" dialogue with our enemies.

Obama is letting me down somewhat, however. He chided the British for conversing with the peace seeking "resistance" organization, Hezbollah, but he supports talking with Iran. Everyone knows that Hezbollah is a “tentacle” of Iran (as is Hamas). Of course, maybe Obama is just new on the job and didn’t realize that.

At any rate, to have the “right” to sit down with the US and dialogue (talk), Obama laid down certain pre conditions for Hezbollah - who firmly believe in the "one rocket propelled grenade, one vote" democratic principle as applied in Lebanon. Recognize Israel's right to exist. To that, Nasrallah answered on TV, so no one could mistake what he said, not "even in 1,000 years“.

I fully agree with the UK. Its really unfair to place pre conditions on Hezbollah (and Hamas).

PS: one question per week (minimum)


TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

Michel Chossudovsky is a Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa, and editor for the Centre for Research on Globalization, which operates a website at Globalreserch.ca. - the one with the article on the Federal Reserve you referred Bob to. This website is an anti globalization, anti war, US obsessed site. Its an interesting site, however, with some interesting articles (“The Eurasian Corridor: Pipeline Geopolitics and the New Cold War”). Its slightly to the “left” of mainstream. One article from Professor Chossudovsky below:

“Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration [911]?”

“…Whether this amounts to the complicity of the Bush Administration remains to be firmly established. The least one can expect at this stage is an inquiry. What is crystal clear, however, is that this war is not a "campaign against international terrorism". It is a war of conquest with devastating consequences for the future of humanity. And the American people have been consciously and deliberately misled by their government. Whether this amounts to the complicity of the Bush Administration remains to be firmly established…”

The Gulf of Tonkin has given cover to conspiracy advocates, but my favorite is that Bush - simpleton Bush - conspired to attack the World Trade Center Towers (for world conquest). Since apparently, he got away with it, then surely even Bob must admit (now) that George Walker Bush is, in fact, brilliant. And Obama? If his goal is the Europeanization of America, well, pretty good so far, but not in Bush’s class yet. We’ll just have to wait and see how this drama unfolds…

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

Maybe we need a new question. How long has the present question stayed up on site?

A thought from a couple essays of Bertrand Russell. Worldwide peace will be unachievable without the most powerful nations allying and laying down worldwide law and order with troops.

If the most powerful nations do not do so there will be chaos and disaster from everything from pollution to drugs to WMD.

Not caring and just letting things run their course is as bad as being optimistic and thinking if everyone just talks to one another there will be peace. In other words the concept of the U.N. is ridiculous (all nations having a voice and being allowed to all speak up at once and essentially talk themselves into ever downward spiraling circles).

Why do I say these outrageous things?

The answer is simple--and pretty much for the reason Russell lays out. As far as we humans know, tribes never were able to come together by families uniting without force, the laying down of law and order over the families (presumably by the strongest families or family).

Now take ever increasing in size human gatherings--from tribe to city state to ethnic group to nation. Force in all instances was required to enable cohesion. The only refutations of this fact are when people are similar enough to allow a peaceful coming together.

Now look at the world today. All nations and all peoples brought on collision course by modern communications, transportation, etc.

Explain how all these nations are just going to come together without force when the entire historical record argues for the opposite.

Probably people today will just ignore these facts. Probably it will take another nuclear event (Japan of course the first) before people wake up. And then the more powerful nations will cohere and all other nations will be forced under the umbrella whether they like it or not.

Typical pattern of history and nothing more.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Blund:

http://www.GlobalResearch.ca
might interest you
GL

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

“The Fed had nothing to do with creating this group of 15 million new borrowers to compete in our market place for housing thus driving up prices. What the Fed did do is by keeping interest rates low they accelerated the speed in which the rise and fall took place. However, that rise and fall would have taken place anyway.”

Your way to quick to let government off the hook. I’m not, but anyway, we’ll revisit this issue again in the future sometime (just like Iraq!).

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

The answer to your question, "Would the housing bubble have occurred if the Fed didn’t intervene at all in the money supply, i e., expand money supply into the economy (cut discount rate)?" is yes.

The Fed had nothing to do with creating this group of 15 million new borrowers to compete in our market place for housing thus driving up prices. What the Fed did do is by keeping interest rates low they accelerated the speed in which the rise and fall took place. However, that rise and fall would have taken place anyway. The process of eliminating underwriting guidelines was between Wall Street and the SubPrime industry. Once this was accomplished the dye was cast as to what would happen.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:

I do most anxciously hope that the USA does not have a Russian type contraction. Were it to happen, the world will be safe from recurring USA attempt at hegemony, for the simple reason that the world' oil and gas supplies will be too short to allow the USA NavY and Air force to threaten anybody. This applies to all nations who are net oil/gas importers atttempt to make war.

This is the same reason that I noted earlier that Israel has only 5-10 years to settle the Palestinina Problem, for Uncle Sam will not waste very limited hudrocarbons to defend the status quo in Israel. It is not guns by arabs or Palestinians which will defeat Israel but the shortage of energy for war making.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Zolko

The Federal Reserve is a quasi public entity. When I say that the Fed injects capital into the system, I mean “prints money out of thin air” I.e., fiat money system.

If the US system collapses, then, much like the former Soviet Union, we’ll just pull out of the fifteen countries which we rule now with our military (like Canada, Mexico and Iceland). We’ll then return in the future and instead of offering everyone a nuclear umbrella, we’ll force a system of entitlements on the world’s masses (yes, larger than Europe’s) and rule the world again.

Yea, economics is probably closer to astrology than science, Zolko. You’re right.

You are probably familiar with the Austrian school of economics . It originated near you, right? At any rate, they believe that the Federal Reserve should be abolished, and that the Fed is responsible for economic bubbles such as the dot com and housing bubbles. They just might be right.

Anyway, thanks for the post.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:

Read basic economies. The Fed can not create wealth, it can only print money, printing money without having concurrent rise in value of physical good production leads to mess - whether done by the Reserve Bank, or by various other institutions under the premise of fractional reserve : observe the effect of MR. Greenspan and the major banks: 50 trillion dollar nominal value [3 times the world's GDP] - the Fed, the Treasury can not save the system.

Keynesian thinking refers to saving in boom to spend in bust. USA spent in boom bust, will have to borrow more to spend in bust, this will lead to depreciation of the $. Possibly, if keeps up, to Hyperinflation.

Keeping 700 bases offshore costs money, money which is not available to the USA internal economy. You want longer recession, spend oodles of TAXPAYERS' money offshore.

Re Afganistan: if you want troops there, and you do, then yhou have to supply them, the choices are:
1., Pakistan - does not work, you can not afford to externd the war to that country as you did at Vietnam to Laos and Cambodia.
2., Estonia, Russia and Uzbekistan and or Tadjmanistan - transmission is very expensive, very long, and depends on the goodwill of Mr. Putin and Co. YOU WILL HAVE TO SACRIFICE US IDIOTIC NOTIOS
3., IRAN - shortest after Pakistan, YOU WILL HAVE TO GIVE UP SOME IDIOTIC NOTIONS, and lots of Money.
4., the only other alternative ; a la Berlin airlift only through Pakistan, they might object [the masses not the govenrment] whoich leads to more instabiolity.
5., India - wish you luck
6., Get out of Afganistan, the best for the USA internal economy.

with respect to Bahrain, All of ME, some parts of Asia, all of Africa is a political mess, due to the way the borders were drawn by the GREAT POWERS in the xix-th and xx Century. I do not have solutions for those problems excluding the utopian drea of WORLD GOVBERNMENT.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Tom,

The Federal Reserve is a private company. It is not federal, and it has no reserves. It's a lie.

The US financial system, in it's current form, is a giant pyramidal Ponzi scheme that is collapsing. Think 50 trillion $ (U$ 50 000 000 000 000). There is absolutely nothing that can be done about it. What can be done is about the "real" economy, the jobs, houses, carmakers... But it will go with a HUGE reduction of standard of living for US-Americans. And the end to the US Empire, of the hundreds of military bases around the world, of the petro-dollar wars. The alternative is joblessness on large scale, revolts and looting, in the US !

The problem didn't start after the collapse of the dot.com bubble, but after the black Thursday of 1987 when Alan Greenspan (of the FED !) decided to save the failing financial system by flooding it with cheap money. At the same time, Reagan abolished the control mechanisms for financial institutions, and it all lasted 20 years of the "new economy". Which gives you an insight to the scale of the problems to come.

Oh, and BTW, "economy" is not a science. It's closer to "astrology" or "wishful thinking" or "self-fulfilling predictions".

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

The importance and power of the Federal Reserve is unquestioned. For example, it has the power to revive the largest economy in the world when its sputtering just by injecting capital into the system as in 2001.

The Fed basically just tinkers with the economy - trying to keep a balance between inflation and stimulation. But the economy is complex with many variables. It IS rocket science. Look at how the governments of Bush and Obama have responded to the failure of the banks - and this with some of the best economist in the world as advisors. Nobody really has an answer on the best course of action at this moment.

The injection of capital into the economy to counter the dot com bust may have thrown the economy out of whack. Just like in the Mel Brooks comedy from the seventies, Greenspan wanted to create life, but he created “Frankenstein” instead .

Liiiiiife, liiiiiife, GIVE ME LIIIIIFE!!!!!!. Remember?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

No, I’m not advocating WW III to revive the US economy. In the Keynes world of economic theory, the government needs to stimulate the economy in a recession. Nobody in their right mind would argue for war as a government stimulus plan, none the less, we have two in progress that should - theoretically - help us out of the recession. I don’t agree with it. Public works programs will not get us out of the recession, and that’s why I brought up the Japanese example. Certainly, an ideologically driven social agenda won’t either. Apparently you agree since you stated previously that we can’t spend our way out of this recession.

I can understand the rational of government intervention in the financial crisis to steady the ship. I supported the Bush $700 billion bailout, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that they were clueless about what to do. They still are. Obama has had plenty of time to devise the next step, but they’re not exactly wowing the public (or stock market) with their response to the problem which has been, essentially, no response so far.

The US world view was shaped by WW II, and the cold war. The size of our military expenditures naturally followed to that end.

I support keeping our military spread out around the world. I really don’t pay much attention to this “negotiate with everyone” mentality sweeping the world (and led by the useless Europeans) to the benefit of terrorist organizations, dictators and one party rulers (Iran and China). The strategy of appeasement won’t get the world closer to the peaceful coexistence that everyone desires, but it will embolden regimes such as North Korea and Iran to continue to threaten the world with nuclear weapons, and blackmail the West into more concessions.

A couple of weeks ago, Iran claimed Bahrain belonged to Iran. Morocco cut off relations as a result. The Iranians will not stop their nuclear weapons program which liberals misinterpret as a defense against US imperialism and fears of regime change. Do you notice that almost all solutions proposed by the West involve bringing Iran under some kind of security blanket? The nuclear program is meant to assert Iran regional hegemony through intimidation and threats. The Arabs understand this. Hezbollah and Hamas are just expressions of this policy, and Israel as well as Lebanon are the beneficiaries.

Reported last week by the Middle Eastern Times was that the US is mulling using Iran to supply Afghanistan. This is complete and total capitulation. If we are forced to kiss the backside of the Ayatollah, then just pull the hell out of Afghanistan. The Israelis must believe they are watching a grade B horror flick. Does anyone believe that “all options are still on the table”?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Well, I’ve learned more about mortgage companies than I care to. I’m confident that I could go down and apply for a job at a mortgage company and impress them with what I know (now).

My point is simply this whether you agree or disagree (and some economist do and some don’t). Investopedia (Forbes) has a good explanation (of course, I have no idea how credible this site is).

 “…Rewind back to late 2001, when fear of global terror attacks after Sept. 11 roiled an already-struggling economy, one that was just beginning to come out of the recession induced by the tech bubble of the late 1990s.

In response, during 2001, the Federal Reserve began cutting rates dramatically, and the fed funds rate arrived at 1% in 2003, which in central banking parlance is essentially zero. The goal of a low federal funds rate is to expand the money supply and encourage borrowing, which should spur spending and investing. The idea that spending was "patriotic" was widely propagated and everyone - from the White House down to the local parent-teacher association - encouraged us to buy, buy, buy. 

It worked, and the economy began to steadily expand in 2002.…”

This same site goes on to explain all the factors you mention (plus some).

The Federal Reserve is a very powerful arm of the government as it controls the money supply into the US banking system. The Fed expanded the supply of money. The cheap money (interest rates for mortgages reached a forty year low) and liquidity in the market seems to have played a significant, if not major, role in the housing bubble (I found an article by Greenspan in the Wall Street Journal - today(3/11) - which argues that the cutting of the Fed rates did not cause the Housing bubble).

So here is a question for you, Bob:

Would the housing bubble have occurred if the Fed didn’t intervene at all in the money supply, i e., expand money supply into the economy (cut discount rate)?

Again, you laid out a good explanation of the causes of the financial crisis. Thanks.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Blund:

Without doubt propably a million house would have to razed [prefereably old ones and Mc Masons, for with the coming oil/gas crunch these houses are not going yo be livable, except for major modifications, for which there is no money.

I know that razing houses is destruction of wealth, but many are deterioting as they are aqbandoned for foreclosure anyway.

The other possibility is bringing all troops home [excluding Marines guarding Embassies] thereby needing housing for over a million people, and as a reward for defending the national interest [however mismanaged by the p[political elite], these houses can be allocated at a nominal price [say -20-25% of current valuation - as that is the probable loss for the next year or so] thereby reducing the overhang - which I think is over one years sales amount based on past experience.

What you think?

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

The serious problem with reporting when it comes to this mess is there is no good way to do it in 800 words or less.

Let me if I can explain this a little better.

First, you are right about banks lending money. That's what they do. However, this isn't really true when it came to the majority of mortgages on the books today. Banks sold off the bulk of the home mortgages they originated within the first 180 days of the date of the loan and retained the servicing. I know what you're thinking. Why do banks have all of these bad loans. Two reasons. First, when the market started to crash many most banks that were into home mortgages banks found out very quickly the price they could sell these loans for was dropping faster then they could securitize them. They ended up holding about 6 to 8 months worth of new loans. The second reason is banks/mortgage companies have buy back agreements. If a loan goes bad in a certain period of time they are forced to repurchase it. In these buy back clauses it also states if the end user isn't happy with the product they can force repurchase. Banks ended up buying a bunch of it back. Let's look at what these numbers come out to be. There were 14 million loans that turned over every 24 months. 8 months worth of production equates into 4.66 million loans at about $300K per loan for a total exposure of 1.4 trillion dollars. This 1.4 trillion was spread out throughout the banking industry and the mortgage industry. Add to this number another 300-400 billion in buybacks and we're at 1.7 trillion or so. This seems like a tremendous liability and it is. However, this gets alot worse.

The banks weren't using depositor money to do this for the most part. They were using lines of credit. Banks money typically goes to fund auto loans, home equity lines, consumer purchases and commerical paper. They didn't need depositors money for mortgages so they didn't use it. However, banks loved by mortgage backed securities themselves. Either an entire tranch or a good piece of several tranches was fairly normal for most medium sized banks. They are holding just over 3 trillion in these decreasing assets as well. Banks are having to write down the values of these mortgage backed security interests they are holding quarterly as the book value drops.

In order for you premise to be true that low interest caused this we need to go back and take a look at what interest rates were. For most of the Bush presidency interest rates on home mortgages hovered between 6% and 6.5% for well qualified borrowers with sub prime and Alt-A going from a low of 7.99% to around 11.99% on a two year adjustable loan. As you will see the Feds actions had little to no effect on what the average consumer paid for a home mortgage. It wasn't like 1-3.5% Fed rate was being passed on to the consumer.

Where Fannie and Freddie got burnt was in purchasing sub prime product in the open market place. The vast majority of the loans that we call Fannie or Freddie loans are all full doc qualified people. They did venture into lesser quality borrowers in their Level1-IV product line, but they did it so poorly no one would use it. Hence, what ended up happening was a Countrywide Mortgage would originate sub prime loans underwritten to Countrywides non-existant guidelines and sell pools of these loans to Fannie. Fannie would then securitze the pool and it would go on their books as an asset. Fannie loved the yields as it made it a lot easier for the top management to bonus out. It was very stupid for Fannie to get in this game as it was never their core business. They ventured into an area they knew very little about and the results show. I've read several internal Fannie and Freddit memos questioning the wisdom of entering the subprime market and upper management should have listened.

Obviously, the fall out from the subprime debacle has infected most areas of our economy. Construction and development has come to a grinding halt. No one wants to buy a car and even large law firms are laying off lawyers as their client bases aren't utilizing their services due to money concerns.

All of this happened because Wall Street and the Subprime industry made an unholy alliance and threw away underwriting guidelines. The banks jumped in the game late only because they were sitting back and watching subprime mortgage companies make billions during the boom cycle. They wanted a piece of the easy money. Most standard mortgage companies have gone out of business as a result of what has happened. All the subprime lenders have folded tent. The only thing left of the subprime industry is some servicing divisions remain open in hopes of recouping some dollars at some point.

I have been very upset over the lack of knowledgable reporting over this issue. In order to have any national debate on fixing the problem it would seem explaining the problem would be the first start. I'm still waiting for that to happen. Obama certainly hasn't done it. His rhetoric over the housing crisis is nothing new. His plan is basically designed to give homeowners who really don't need, but would like, a break. I'm guessing the logic is if they can refinance or modify 9 million loans (I'll be shocked if it's more then 2 million with the restrictions that are in place) the difference in monthly payments will end up going into the general economy. I hope he's right, but I'll wait to see the numbers.

I argued vehemently 2 1/2 years ago this was coming. We could see the writing on walls. I said at the time if we don't manage the down turn that is inevitable we're headed for a really nasty recession. In order to manage the down turn we had to keep housing afloat and ease into the numbers we allowed to either go into foreclosure or end up on the market for sale. Incentives to mortgage companies/banks not to list their foreclosures, but to rent them out would have been a good start. Modifying notes would have been a good start and the combination of both was a necessary step.

All we have now is a market we're dumping housing on. Simply put we have too few buyers chasing too much product. Our real estate market can not assimiliate 2.5 million foreclosures a year. It just causes prices to continue to decline. If we want to stop prices from dropping we need to stabilize the market. The only way to do that is to get rid of the glut of housing for sale. This is the first step towards stabilizing the economy as well. Without doing this everything else we're doing is just bandaids. (See, as much as I like Obama, he's dead wrong about this issue)

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:

I trust you not proposing WWIII? as a way out of this Wall Street Legacy?

To have a economy for the people by the people you have to produce goods and services for the people. As my previous post indicated the average Joe and Jane has very little benefit from the military industrial production aside from killed and maimed relatives and a few jobs.

The jobs can be replaced by jobs that produce the goods/services for the people, the dead can not be revived, the child is still motherless/fatherless and the injured just cost oodles of money and is unemployable in far too many cases as reported by MSM.

So please come up for a rational answer why the USA needs a trillion dollar Defence Budget, when inclluding DoD, D of Energy re atomic weapons, D of Vet affairs for treating the injured from IRaq, Afganistan etc, the interest the government has spent in the last 8 years for defence related debt, etc.

It is certain that the USA does not want a war with China - they have enough missiles/ nuclear bombs to make such effort suicidical [a la if IRan had it and attacked Israel], neither does the USA want war with Russia [even worse than China] and has no reason to attack W Europe [but they have A boms also]. This leaves only defencelss countries [usual modus operandi of USA: Grenada, Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba etc] but as we learned in Lebqanon [Israel] Iraq and Afganistan {USA, the coalition of the willing and NATO] these are expensive propositions in blood and money with no clearcut win - except to treat the area a la Dresden, then there is no oil source -=- suicidal also.

You are bright, you ar able to present your view point, so a rational reply please.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

With respect to spending our way out of the financial crisis, military spending creates jobs just like a public works program. Krugman (NYT) believes that WWII got us out of the depression. As far as what good is it to anyone? It would be nice if no one needed a military, but they are a fact of life - basically since the beginning of time.

Do I want to sit at home and live the rest of my life in government paid (taxes from the rich) leisure? When I do, I'll move to Europe.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

I’m not arguing that changing the underwriting guidelines was not a factor in this crisis (more on that in a minute). There were lots of factors. But where did this large pool of money come from to make these loans in the first place? In the normal banking operation, banks convert money from savings into loans for mortgages etc. A large amount of savings will naturally result in lower interest rates, but in 2000, Americans were in debt (as we are today). The Fed decided to stimulate the economy to counter the dot com bust, i.e. the recession of 2000 (and the affects of 911 on our economy). They did that by injecting capital into the economic system for banks to use for lending (low discount rates)., however, lending to a debt-ridden society makes no sense (at least to me). The Fed created an artificial boom - a bubble.

Bless Greenspan’s heart, but he is hardly a credible source (in my opinion) since he, of course, will defend what he did as the Federal Reserve chairman i.e., intervene in the economy on behalf of the government - and blame the result on someone else. People like Peter Schiff (who blames the Fed) were able to predict the financial crisis, whereas Greenspan did not. Would there be a financial crisis if the Fed had not intervened? Not in my opinion (maybe you have some ideas on that).

You say (and you were in the thick of it) that the lenders changed the underwriting guidelines, in affect, creating a pool of 15 million unqualified homeowners.

The New York Times in 1999 stated (and I posted this before):

“…In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.
The action-- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans… Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits…”

The Fannie Mae corporation has certain government(God)-given advantages that it doesn’t want to lose so, in affect, the changing of the underwriting guidelines was “required” by the government (lest the government take those advantages away). That, in itself, is government intervention into the markets. Needless to say, Fannie is a major player in this crisis. The perks that Fannie and Freddie enjoy are also government intervention in the markets.

The Community Reinvestment Act, ACORN and a complicit government pressured banks to make loans to people who were not qualified to own a home. Yes, Bush, Clinton and Congress all share the blame. The Democrats, in particular, protected Fannie Mae from regulators. All this played a role in the crisis.

What do banks do with their money? They lend. The Fed, in affect, gave them cheap money to stimulate the economy. It worked. The banks had every incentive to relax their lending standards (backed of course by the government which encouraged making these loans) to “unload” the capital. Was it a brilliant idea? No. Was profit the motive? Absolutely. Greed? Its Wall Street!!

“Saying that the financial crisis has been caused by greed is like saying that a plane crash was caused by gravity“.

Just to keep this going, “the too big to fail” syndrome also gives companies the incentive for risky behavior - one reason to allow companies to fail (without interference). Said another way, risky corporate behavior is a byproduct of the bailout mentality.

Yes, I agree with Salamon. Yours is a very good explanation of the financial crisis. My only problem is that you should look at the Federal Reserve role which I think created the conditions for the Wall Street "greed".

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Blund :
your explanation of the mortage mess is excellent! there are three points I wish to add to the cause of this mess:
1., While it is true that there are aapprox 80 million owner occupied houses, there is however anothre 20-30 million residences [some 2nds, empty apartments etc] whose existence also depresses the market for the simple reason of demographics: 300+ million residents into 100-110 million residences indicates that there are to many buildings.
2., Concurrent to the housing boom the banks also pressed credit card issues with teaser rates, constantly raised credit limits - which greatly strains the present financial institutions now that housing - jobs collapsed.
3., to service the new instant subdivision the commercial space was greatly extended again on unreasonable cash flow basis [we in Canada seen this in the 1980=s where some developers' debt surpasswed sovereign debt of many nations - then came the bust, bye-bye pension funds]

TOM:
Please elucidate in what respect and through what goods the militaruy industrial does create anything of use to the average Joe or Jane who can not cover their child's medical expense, popst secondary, baby-sitting etc NEEDS.

Yes, the military industrial complex has created wonderously expensive items, which are absolutely useless for DEFENCE - only useful for OFFENCE, thus ending up as garbage which has wasted precisious natural resources with no perceptible benefit for anyone, especially not the 4200+ dead USA Soldiers, or the 300 000 + injured, soliders who need medical/psychological help. This does not cover the million or so Iraqi, Somali, Afgan, Palestinian and Lebanese colletoral damage, the destrction of schools, hospitals, UN building etc.

I remind you that In my last post I compared the USA and German efforts to revicve the economy. You say the USA must spend to balance the Wall Street mes. Good!! It should match Germany, for they claim that the USA is doing a better job. The Steps to be taken:

1., Free medical to all cost for the presently uncovered - 40 million times $12 000 [per capita mediocal bill in USA] half of that if you run efficient system like France, or Germany or Canada. THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY WOULD SCREAM BOOLDY MURDER - citizens would benefit.

2., establishment of almost free post secondary education [my second daughter's cost two years ago was approx $1000 for university in engeneering school in Germany]. USA comparable cost is astronomical even in so-called cheap STATE Universities. BANKS STUDENT LOAN COMPAMIES WOULD SCREAM BLOODY MURDER - the youth who is the beneficiary of all government debts and unfunded liabilities would rejoice.

3., Free day care

4., Subsidy for cut back hours of production to wage earners -as in Spain [my Son inlaw with 2 engeneering degrees unfortunately in the car part manufacturing business] as in Germany as in Canada [at times]. EVEN INDUSTRY WOULD REJOICE [aside from workers] for they would be able to keep their trained workforce - hopefully til recovery.\

5., etc.

you see there is ways to spend money to help the citizens [the government payment would free up income or future debt obligation to spend on goods] without causing pollution with armament manufacturing, no more problems of Nuclear Bomb rehabilitation, no problem of storing all the plutonium [one of the most poisonous elements in the periodic table], would allow the USA to devote funds to pressing ecologicval problems, perhaps allowing export of technology or technological goods re CO2, re water purification systems - needed world wide [potable water problems are in all heavily populated areas of the worls, plus areas always too dry], including most of CALIFORNIA and other areas of USA suffering from long term drought.

The proiblem with Keynesian kick star in many countries is that during the boon there was very little saving to help at the time of bust. the savers were SE Asia [necessaary defence after the finacial collapse earlier], Germany. The big spender was the USA - 5 trillion dollar hole in 8 years - nothing left for the rainy day, EXCEPT DEBT.

Give up on wars and military industrial complex for the USA citizens can not afford either - it deprives them of too much NEEDED services.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

You wrote:

"The primary cause of the financial crisis is government intrusion into the free market (of course, its not really a free market). The Federal Reserve injected money into the banking system (created money) which lowered the discount rates to a ridiculous 1%. The idea was to counter the affects of the dot com recession at the end of 2000. Cheap money and liquidity in the markets created the financial crisis. Of course there were other factors, but this ill-advised action taken by the Fed was the most important one."

This statement is not factual and in no way explains our economic downturn. You assume low interest rates by the Fed and liquidity from home and aboard caused this mess and nothing could be further from the truth.

This recession was caused by the virtual elimination of underwriting guidelines in the United States. Let me repeat this so there is zero misunderstanding. This recession was caused by the virtual elimination of underwriting guidelines in the United States. If you really want to understand what we're going through today you will have to come to this conclusion to move on and talk about fixing what we broke.

The elimination of credit guidelines in the Sub Prime and Alt-A sectors of the markets created a pool of over 15 million people who could now buy a house. Those 15 million people flooded the housing market and by themselves drove prices up. It is true low interest rates hastened the popping of the balloon, but the balloon would have popped anyway.

Contrary to what you stated, "The primary cause of the financial crisis is government intrusion into the free market," the exact opposite is true. It was the governments inaction in the face of a mounting problem that allowed this to happen. There were plenty of warning signs and plenty of government officals seriously questioning what we were doing. They did not act on their misgivings. At least Greenspan was man enough to go in front of congress and aplogize for this. He specifically stated he operated under the premise private industry was better equipped to act in their best interests then the government was. He apologized and admitted he was wrong.

We (the US) created a pool of approximately 15 million people who had little to no credit, little to no assets and little to no income. We then turned around and lent these same people hundreds of thousands of dollars each to buy property using alternative financing schemes (Sub Prime and Alt-A products). Once we realized the errors of our ways we eliminated all of these products. The effect of this elimination meant well over 75% of these people would either end up in default or their mortgages would need to be modified in order for them not to be foreclosed on. The financial products we used were good for only 2-3 years before they adjusted to levels that made them to toxic for the average person to live with.

I'm very annoyed when I hear both D's and R's talk about saving the people that played by the rules. (Obama's new plan is one such program designed for people who played by the rules) I could buy this logic if someone could define what playing by the rules means. We eliminated the rules. The only rule was there were no rules. How can anyone be accused to breaking non-existant rules?

Anyway Tom, here are the numbers. There are 80 million owner occupied residences in the US. 30% of this number is owned free and clear. That leaves 56 million properties with mortgages. Of this 56 million slightly over 25% are either SubPrime or Alt-A loans. That's 14 million today. Without intervention of some sort a minimum of 75% of those 14 million will be foreclosed on.

In a relatively stable market we foreclose on between 600-800K mortgages a year. The reasons for these foreclosures in terms numbers are divorce (number 1), loss of job (2), Medical (3). Actual losses to the mortgage companies for these foreclosures ran between $10,000-$15,000 per foreclosure.

Now, let's look at today. We know we have this large pool of over 10 million homes from the sub prime/Alt-A world that are serious candidates of foreclosure. Add to this number the normal foreclosures and what I term fall out foreclosures. Fall out foreclosures are A paper (people who fully qualified) who are losing their jobs today or who are so far underwater on their mortgage they are willing to walk away. (Underwater = They bought the house for 500K and took out a 400K mortgage. Today the house is only worth 300K so in order for them to sell they have to come up with 100K plus another 30K in sales costs to sell and they don't have it).

The only silver lining in this mess is the mortgage industry is only capable of foreclosing on around 2.5 million properties per year based on their current staffing levels. In essence we have a lot of properties that qualify for foreclosure today that won't be foreclosed on for another year at this point. We're pushing more and more of the problem into the future. Mortgage companies are hoping every minute of every day the government steps in and shuts down the foreclosures. Why? Here's why. Today, the average foreclosure is costing a mortgage company $200,000. Remember from above what it used to cost? Yup, it's up almost 10 times what it used to be as values continue to decline. Mortgage companies don't want to foreclose today unless they have no other option.

This mess has now seriously spilled over into other areas of the economy. I'm not going to spend a lot of time here as we witness the layoffs and bleak sales reports daily. Banks with mortgage assets (most banks) are hording cash for the continued losses and write downs they will be forced to take. Yup, the liquidity crisis is what we're calling it.

All of this has come about as a direct result of creating this pool of 15 million bad loans. These loans were created with no government interference. That's the problem we're looking at today. We still have this massive pool of bad loans floating around that either need to be fixed or foreclosed on. Until we work through this mess housing prices will continue to drop and the economy will continue to suffer. We can't keep dumping 2.2-2.5M houses on the market each year through foreclosure and expect the housing market can assimilate that number without serious price reductions as a direct result of these numbers.

PS: Bush did it.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Good question Salamon

The idea is to spend our way out of the financial crisis (Keynes economics). The wars in Afghanistan and the (winding down) war in Iraq theoretically will HELP get us out of the recession. In theory, we need to spend MORE on the military industrial complex. More government spending in general.

The Japanese “lost decade” included 10 stimulus packages, bank bailouts, nationalization etc. which included much of what we are doing today with our economy, and ultimately, about 100 trillion yen was spent in stimulus to pull their economy out of recession. All that it did was prolong the agony. Paul Krugman (I believe a Keynes economist) at the New York Times suggested that the Japanese didn’t spend enough. The Japanese economy is a near perfect laboratory for a failed plan, yet we are following the exact same plan as if it was a grand success story.

Just bailing Fannie Mae out could ultimately cost about a trillion dollars (I hope I remember that number right) - more than what we have spent on Iraq and Afghanistan to date. In terms of cost, the wars are really fairly cheap compared to the stimulus and spending bill (2010), and the stimulus package(s) to come. All will prolong the recession. The CBO said that doing NOTHING would be better in the long run for our economy. That makes sense.

Hidden in all this is the cap and trade tax on carbon (environmentalist love this one) which will surly drive more manufacturing overseas as well as cost consumers more (as the tax will be passed along to the public). A cost that no one needs now or in the short term future. And trillion dollar entitlement programs? Well, many people feel like they are entitled to “free” health care or a “free” education - especially people who pay no federal income tax which could approach 50% of the population in the future.

Its interesting to me that we are injecting more money into the banks to stimulate lending (lower interest rates) - and mirroring what got us into this mess in the first place. As you like to say - good luck with this one.

To answer your question, government spending including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will continue to burden the economy (in addition to entitlements, bailouts, stimulus packages etc.).

“…all promote balancing the economic/financial mess mostly created by the Anglo-Saxon predatory capitalism…”

The primary cause of the financial crisis is government intrusion into the free market (of course, its not really a free market). The Federal Reserve injected money into the banking system (created money) which lowered the discount rates to a ridiculous 1%. The idea was to counter the affects of the dot com recession at the end of 2000. Cheap money and liquidity in the markets created the financial crisis. Of course there were other factors, but this ill-advised action taken by the Fed was the most important one.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Blund:

Your position is clear, and I concur. With respect to Tom, while I value his input, i decry that he is completely enclosed in the Zionist/neocon talking points in trying to justify that which is not reality.

Moreoever, it is not only his disregard of the reality with respect to the war [or Gaza or West Bank or Iran] which is disturing, but his lack of explanation how to pay for the past, present aand future costs of his dream - everlassting war in defence of any ideas springing forth from the extrteme right of Israel/AIPAC.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

We're going to have to agree to disagree on the merits of invading Iraq. We only agree on two points. First, we agree Saddam was a bad man. However, we disagree this is a cause for invading Iraq. Second, the UN did pass just shy of one billion Iraq resolutions. However, we disagree on what that really means. The members of the Security Council didn't come to Bush and ask if he would back military action against Iraq. Quite the contrary. We went to the UN and put on a dog and pony show. Even that show didn't matter much as Bush had already said he was going to invade whether the UN gave him a resolution or not.

In terms of outcomes you seem to believe a good outcome is possible. I hope one is, but I don't believe one is. The cost of the war in terms of money and human life has been staggering. The cost to American prestige around the world has been horrendous. The shift in our foreign policy allowing the US to start a war without an act of war being committed on us I'm not sure we'll ever recover from in my life time.

Where you see the Surge as working I see two sides bidding their time until we leave. This happens to be the easiest of the questions we'll deal with as it will become very clear, very quickly, as we pull out whether a civil war breaks out again. I hope I'm wrong on this issue and hope you are right. There has been enough violence. However, if I was heading to Vegas I'd put my money on renewed violence as we pull down our troop levels.

Nope, we're just going to have to agree to disagree on Iraq. We're looking at the same set of circumstances and have diametrically opposed interputations.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Some more on language and culture as it reflects in USA official statements and its correlation to public perception. This is also related to the question of this blog [see below].

Let us try first to analyse the present financial mess in international perspective vis a vis USA and Germany [though applicable in many ways to China, Uk, OECD in General, Turkey etc].

Politicians and talking heads [MSM] constantly berate Germany for not doing enough in stimulus spending, where they base their judgement on the 60+ billion Euro versus the 700+ billion in USA land - presuming that The USA is Good and does all things better

Aside from population differences and tax rebates it appears that the USA stimulus is approx 200 billon $ or 160 billion Euros in actual proposed spending/ per year - considering population size, the USA comes out second.

The USA language does not have description within the commons [though it is clear to many]of the Social Democrat way of ruling a country, where welfare, generous unemployment insurance, totally free medicare, almost totally free post secondary education and state subsidized working hour cut-back all promote balancing the economic/financial mess mostly created by the Anglo-Saxon predatory capitalism [this is not to say that some of Germany's financial problems did not stem from German action]. Aside from the above Germany has ample foreign exchange and personal saving - which is a major difference to the USA.

The language and the culture of the USA based on educating the public [for over two generation] that socialism [not necessarily true] and communismm [true] is horrible prevents any reasonable discussion on nationalising the failed MAJOR BANKS - notwithstanding that FDIC intervention is nationalisation of smaller banks - even if it is for overnight. True, nationalising one of the TOO BIG TO FAIL BANKS would take months/years to resolve - the small time depositors would not loose there either. IT is ridiculous and destructive to society to follow the present course of action, where the taxpayer in the latest move re City managed to loose 90% of their TARP FUNDS as the preferred shares were transformed into voting shares [at a disadvantegeous price to the market value]. in fact, no one knows what % of the 11 trillion dollar insurance, bail, guarantee out, etc finanaced by the taxpayer is actually "SAFE" as the bond holders, overpaid executives and shareholders are allowed to keep most of their "investment" [a.k.a. as casino play].

Now to get back to the question at this blog: please inform me how the present generation will pay for this excess of WAR OF CHOICE, and how under the present financial parameters can the USA keep 100 000+ soliders and 100 000+ contractors in IRaq, nevermind Afganistan [more expensive, longer supply line, larger more brocken country] and the 700 military forward bases? - I will accept any reply to this question, even those based on the american culture as reflected by the use the English prevalent in USA.


GL

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

What separated Iraq from the other countries you listed was that Saddam USED weapons of mass destruction. The seventeen resolutions passed by the UN were meant to force Saddam to dismantle his WMD program. His gamesmanship with the UN inspectors cost him - dearly.

“…We still invaded and that action has resulted in Muslim countries believing we will invade for no other reason then we deemed it in our best interests…”

If taking out a dictator who surly was a threat to develop nuclear weapons is considered in our best interest, then so be it, but remember also, Saddam invaded two other Middle Eastern countries, and in Kuwait, we had the support of the Arabs to remove Saddam - as well as the UN. Taking out Saddam is in the best interest of the Middle East in the long run - especially if Iraq is peaceful.

Start looking at the results of the invasion instead of the invasion itself. We can't undo the invasion. We (Obama) can only undo the positive aspects of the invasion (democratic, peaceful, little Iranian influence).

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Thank you. At leat we agree the invasion of Iraq was a Bush intiative.

I apologize but I can't let, "but the reason for the war falls squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Hussein." go by without comment. Are you saying Saddam started the war so he could depose himself? I sincerely doubt that is what you meant. I'm guessing you meant Mr. Hussein's actions left the US no choice, but to invade. If that's the case then I don't buy it. Like it or not being a bad head of a soverign state is not a reason for a US invasion. I could list the countries as bad or worse then Iraq that we haven't invaded. If being a bad leader who abused his/her own people was the criteria Saddam might have been the 20th or 25th country on our on list to invade. Under this logic we should have invaded Somalia, North Korea, the Congo etc., etc. etc.. Just becuase Bush was a terrible president does that give other countries the right to invade the US? Of course not. So where do we get off saying Saddam was a terrible president so we have the right to invade and occupy? Nothing changes the fact Iraq had not committed an act of war against the US or was there any evidence they were about to commit an act of war against us. We still invaded and that action has resulted in Muslim countries believing we will invade for no other reason then we deemed it in our best interests.

I'm sorry but you don't have the right to tie Obama into parallels with Bush or the republicans. Since Obama took office all we have seen from the conservatives is how EVERYTHING Obama has done has been wrong. You can't have it both ways and any attempt to tie the two together makes you look hypocritical. Go back a little over 8 years. Bush won the White House. The republicans controlled the house and the senate. Legislation was passed that made the democrat's a non-entity for 6 years. Politically, truly the 6 worst years of my life and there was nothing I could do about it. We (liberals) were inconsequential and we knew it. It is a terrible feeling. On top of being inconsequential we were told we were treasonous nut jobs by Bush/Cheney at every opportunity if we dared to dissent. That history left a really bad taste in our mouths. We haven't got over it today. Now the tables are turned. As much as you may hate it after having a number of years to being able to push an ideological agenda on all Americans whether they agreed with it or not those days, for the time being, are over. Your party today is inconsequential at this point in time. You simply don't have the votes to prevent the changes our society needs and deserves today. With or without republican input this administration and congress will press forward.

mmm1110 Author Profile Page :

Our troops should only go back in if Iraq exploded and threatened to disrupt the flow of oil from the Middle East. Other than oil, the U.S. needs nothing from the Middle East.

Mibrooks27---I agree with you that the global economy will destroy the world. I never believed it would work out. I would not be surprised if we ended up with WWIII, which could go nuclear.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:
Thanks for the compliment...

aside from that you should READ the interview transcript in GUEST VOICE COLUMN [TO THE RIGHT OF THIS DISCUSSION]

Mr Huntington made the comment [page 6 thereof]:

"in coming decades, questions of identity, meaning cultural heritage, language and religion will play central role in politics."

I read this column after posting my opinion below.

GL

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

Beautifully put. A good summary of what you have been saying for the past two years.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

A Call to Greatness - the Parallels of Obama and Bush

Presidents Obama and Bush chose politically ideological avenues to respond to a crisis. I also find it interesting that both Presidents faced catastrophic events either shortly before they became President, or shortly after their Presidencies began. Both took unnecessary and highly partisan approaches in their responses. Both believe they will be vindicated by history. Ironically, Presidents Obama and Bush responded in a similar manner as Franklin Delano Roosevelt who faced two crisis’s - the Great Depression and Pearl Harbor.

Bush was relentlessly criticized for the war in Iraq, and although the Democrats reluctantly supported the invasion of Iraq, the failure of the military to contain a civil war quickly made the invasion into a partisan issue. Until the economy recovers, Obama will be criticized for the “domestic spending” (ideological agenda) in the stimulus package and the huge increase in the national debt (quadrupling?). President Obama has received no support from Congressional Republicans who are leery of a trend toward European-style social market capitalism (“Eurowelfare state“).

After the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, Americans unified and supported the invasion of Afghanistan. I don’t know what Bush’s philosophy was before 911, but clearly he supported the neoconservative worldview after 911 - and invaded Iraq. Bush considered himself a wartime President and attacked the heartland of world terrorism - the Middle East - and chose Iraq because of the despotic leadership of Saddam Hussein who had used chemical weapons on the Kurds and Iranians, and invaded two countries. Saddam refused to cooperate with UN inspectors sent to confirm the dismantling of Iraq’s WMD program. Bush invaded Iraq to remove what he thought was a burgeoning weapons of mass destruction program - and sold the war on that premise. Americans, angered by the events of 911, were easily sold on the invasion.

For a foreign policy President, Bush’s call to Presidential greatness was his response to the attacks of 911, but by invading Iraq, the unity of Americans eventually disintegrated. The Bush agenda lost popularity with Americans when a civil war erupted in Iraq, and Americans saw little hope for democratic change. Additionally, Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 911, and had no weapons of mass destruction in his possession. Through Bush perseverance, the “surge” finally turned the war around in Iraq. Today, Iraq is closer to a democracy than most countries in the greater Middle East, and, unlike pre invasion Iraq, is a peaceful country - at least with her neighbors (if not internally yet). A successful, peaceful democracy in Iraq, or the unlikely spread of democracy throughout the Middle East would seal his legacy.

In the same respect, for a community organizer by trade, Obama’s call to greatness revolved around the financial crisis in 2008 - some believe a near collapse of the financial system - and the “opportunity” to enact an ideologically-driven domestic agenda in American by way of a highly partisan stimulus package and spending bill. Obama is driven by his desire for social change, and all aspects of his background are consistent with the development of the social spending in the stimulus. Obama views health care, education and social programs as entitlements to be paid by the wealthy. The “Europeanization of America” could be the title of his future biography. “Obamanomics” is a bottom up economic philosophy. Redistribution of wealth from the rich to those with less opportunity drives his program because redistribution will bring “justice” for the downtrodden in our society - those left behind by the capitalist system. In addition, Obama’s program calls for the US economy to support a cap and trade carbon tax to fight global warming - pleasing environmentalist throughout the world, but burdening the economy (further) during a financial crisis that Obama has called the worst since the Great Depression.

Obama sold the stimulus package (and spending bill) on the greed of Wall Street and an increasing belief in entitlement programs as a fundamental “right” in America. Many Americans, fed up with corporate greed, golden parachutes that promise millions to incompetent CEOs and the skyrocketing cost of health care, cheered the Obama plan.

Obama could have unified the country by producing a bipartisan bill which included some elements of Republican ideas (tax cuts for Americans and businesses) as well as “New Deal” type work programs that Democrats support, but Obama chose an ideological path - a social spending program - that he clearly hopes will produce the same benefits as the “New Deal” which was enacted under Roosevelt’s stewardship. Some, like Nicolas Kristof of the New York Times, already compare President Obama to President Roosevelt (March 1, 2009, “Franklin Delano Obama“). In my opinion, Obama never considered a bipartisan approach to the stimulus bill. He has repeatedly invoked that he “won” the election to dissenting Republicans. A future prosperous America with his new and successful entitlement programs (and a reduction in carbon in the atmosphere) will seal his legacy.

Both Presidents, instead of unifying Americans, divided the nation with ideological agendas and risky ventures. Interestingly enough, both could be viewed historically as successful Presidents - or as total failures. Both chose a more difficult paths politically, and staked their presidencies on ideological responses to catastrophic events early in their first term.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

It is notable that the cultural history of the USA greatly influences and influenced the present and near past discourse on foreign policy.

The history of the USA is expansionalist, imperilaistic without exception, from the start of taking the natives' land, to phony wars with Mexico [thus California et al], with Spain [thus Puerto Rico, Philippines et al], continuous [for 50 years] versus Cuba, and minor 20 odd efforts from Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, Venezuela etc].

The culture difuses into the minds of citizens that naked power is useful to attin one's desire, on one hand, and on the other hand only USA residents have the right to bear arms [aside from law enforcement /armed forces].

So we come to pass that Blund can claim that attackling Afganistan is right, based on the FALSE opinion that Afganistan commited an act of war against the USA. Bin Laden [ a one time tool of CIA against the Soviets, a Saudi national whose agents were almost all saudi, no afgan]offered to the USA for prosecution in a third country by the Government of Afganistan [not any worse than many dictatorships supported by the USA], which offer was ignored in a rush to another use of NAKED one sided Military power, for it is the culture of 200+ years to assert USA national opinion [as per the decision of the politicians and thair symboites, MSN].

Similar actions are examples in international trade and commerce, where predatory practices against others is ok, as long as the provoker is USA, but God help if the provoker is someone else, such as China and Unical or Maytag, or who knows what comes next.

Tom constantly blames all things on Iraquis and Palestinians [or sometimes on general Muslims] for it is the culture of the USA to be imperialistic [thus we forgive our friend's imperilism by Israel, but condemn the same by China re Tibet] - for they are the ENEMY [by definition of USA political & MSN symboite class], thus evil, thus the source of all bane to human history. Tom convinently forgets that USA and Nato members provided the WDM to Hussain for use against IRan, and internal opponents. She similarly forgets the USA and UK continuous bombing and thier actions in UNSC to continue the trade sanctions(ŵhile their own citzens were smuggling Iraqui oil) caused 500 000 children poor peoples early death due to lack of medicines.
Similarly, Tom and others, bring up the eventual regime change êxecution of Sadam Hussein¨) as the exuse for invasion, when the plans for Iraq's invasion by the EVENTUAL BUSH CABAL were MADE before 2000. the Spin doctors came up with a rewrite of the Tolkin Bay incident, to justify another ILLEGAL war, depending on the cultural heritage of the USA to eliminate any outright opposition, and depending on the cultural history of the State to assure that there will be no accountability for WAR CRIMES at the expense of Politicians and their media friends.

Of course, Iraq, Afganistan, Panama, Grenada, etc are just a cultural outgrowth of such things as the Monroe Doctorine of Ŝ. America, Clinton Doctorine of the Persian Gulf area, Bush/Mrs Clinton/Obama doctorine re Hamas [ a creature of Israel/USA to undermine Arafat].

The converse, talking to Iran, Hamas, Hezbullah etc is evil according to the students of USA culture, for the USA is the source of all that is good, others are stupid [such as France with free day care, free education including post secondary, Germans for not getting on to NEW ECONOMY -finance; but sticking to old MANUFACTURING

Perusing the many blogs [when I am not busy at work] it strikes me how inflexible the mind set of American citizens are with a few exceptions. The number of references to SUPERPOWER [while the President goes begging to King Abdullah to produce more oil] the greatest economy [while Mr. Paulson and Mrs Clington goes begging to China to buy more treasuries] is striking in its satire.

The crowning example of the cultural effect of the USA's history is the difficulty the USA has to find people who talk the foreign ;language the USA needs to reach her [unreasonable] political ends. From the CIA, Department of State to FBI, trade representatives etc there is shortage, and the shortage indicates that the powers to be can not understand the other cultures, thus the fiascos: they will greet us with flowers in BAgdad -some flowers, 4200+ dead 30.000 wounded, 300 000 concussion etc mental injury.

The ideal solution for these woes would be that the USA adapt to the 21-st century by demanding that all schools from grade 1 [preferably, thopugh no later than grade four due to educational psychology reasons] should have to learn one foreign language - rather than beefing against those who speqak spanish. in 20 years or so, the USa would be in far superior position to understand foreigners, for they woud understand their languages, the first step to see a foreigner as a person with his own culture.

As an aside all three of our children speak foreign languages, one 2, one 3 and one 4 languages.

GL

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Yeolds (GL)

Thanks for the supporting thought. Internet is revolutionizing our communication skills. More and more people will understand different languages.

alan_howe Author Profile Page :

Since the U.S. did not send troops into, for example, Darfur after President Bush called the events there a "genocide" or into Somalia after we, along with the Ethiopians, overthrew the Islamic Courts Union in late 2006, plunging that country back into extreme violence, I find it tough to imagine a "return" to Iraq. Support for the current President's withdrawal plan is near 80%, indicating that those who recently supported staying were, in fact, supporting President Bush. Absent his presence in the White House, they now agree that we need to leave. The costs are too high to stay, so they will be too high to contemplate a return or a "re-surge."

That said, the Iraqis and their neighbors will have to deal with the consequences of our departure. Earlier calls for withdrawal were defeated in the U.S. Senate when Bush supporters cried that "Chaos!" would follow our exit. A reasonable debate on U.S. interests regarding Iraq and Afghanistan and our defense capabilities was thereby thwarted repeatedly. To overcome this block in the Senate, I crafted and described a stabilization plan for Iraq, the Iraq Transitional Assistance Group, with aid from professors at American University and Wayne State University. I further addressed this blockage in an essay on my Occasional Dissident page (see "Chaos and Chaos.") The ITAG plan helps coordinate and control the regional response to a U.S. withdrawal. It aims to build Iraqi confidence in their government and security forces.

Last December, Dr. Ali Dabbagh, spokesman for the Iraqi government, described a new Iraqi initiative that includes many of the same actions and arguments for the ITAG. I do not want to be overconfident, but if the Iraqis continue on this path, then I think they have reason to hope they will do as well or better than they are now following a U.S. departure. I hope that they will more closely follow the ITAG framework and that we will do more to insist on it, but the key element--direct and open involvement with the immediate neighbors--is part of the Iraqi plan. It seems clear from our history in Iraq that we cannot do better for them.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

No, Bush will more than happy to take credit for the Iraq war, but the reason for the war falls squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Hussein. Today, Iraq is about as close to a democracy as there is in the Middle East and a brutal dictator is history - something most liberals should be happy about. In addition, they are peaceful and are not sponsoring terror around the world. The Shiites are rightfully ruling the country. In my opinion, Bush believes history will be his vindication. It just might be. What does the left hate most about Iraq? We just might be successful.

Lets review the statistics:

Saddam was responsible for the deaths of 1,500,000 of his own people because he failed to cooperate with the UN (sanctions). Credit Saddam for an additional 1,000,000 casualties in the Iraq-Iraq war. Lets add on 250,000-500,000 more unlucky people in his own country that Saddam made sure will never see the light of day. He also used WMDs. In my opinion, he is right in the same league as al-Bashir who was recently indicted by the ICC.

In my opinion, the invasion of Iraq was morally right, but there have been some foreign policy repercussions from the failed occupation. A nuclear Iran, in the long run, could negate the benefits of even a peaceful and democratic Iraq (democratic in no way means a western liberal democracy). A nuclear Iran is the worst possible scenario for peace in the Middle East. Strategically, the invasion of Iraq could be a failure just from the perspective that it probably negated some options, but time will tell.

My point, and its applicable to many if not most wars, is that a failure of diplomacy leads to war. Bill Clinton just flat out blew it because it never occurred to him that a 911 might happen, and inspections were critical (of course, that’s why Clinton bombed him to begin with). That's the only way that the US could keep track of Saddam’s WMD program - something, as I pointed out, Saddam had used on the Iranians and the Kurds. Likewise, he could have killed Bin Laden, but he turned down the opportunity (strangely enough, you never mention that). He blew that also, but at the time, how could he predict 911? You said that Hillary was trying to undo Bush’s legacy (as Secretary of State), but she had a vote and she authorized Bush to use force in Iraq as did the Democrats, in general. That’s just a fact. You have to live with it. They fell all over themselves apologizing for their vote. Remember?

We did miss Bin Laden at Tora Bora, but after that he went to Pakistan. Nothing we could have done about that - and this was well before the invasion of Iraq. If we would have attacked Pakistan, the repercussions could have been 100 times greater than the invasion of Iraq. With a safe haven in Pakistan, the Taliban will not go away, now or if we never invaded Iraq.

No, I didn’t pull the “P” word on you. Its kind of funny that you would take what I said as anything to do with patriotism. It was more like the liberal world view that the West screwed up the rest of the planet from colonialism, etc. That’s all.

But the war in Iraq is now history, Bob, and Bush is no longer President. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to let it go (I know, he‘ll go down in history as the worst President ever). Time to focus on the policies of President Obama...

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

PAW

Got it, thanks.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I know the defense of the invasion of Iraq is something near and dear to the heart of Republicans. Trust me when I say it's not near and dear to the hearts of liberals.

My statement was, "Whether we like it or not, whether we want to justify it legally, nothing can change the fact we invaded Iraq and effected regime change with NO ACT OF WAR either being committed on us or about to be committed on us." I think it's fair to stand by this statement. One of my premises is based on this invasion and subsequent occupation as it showed the Arab nations we were willing to start a war simply because we deemed it in our best interests and not because any act of war (which used to be a good benchmark for starting a war) happened against us. You can go back through anything I've written over the past few years on this site and see how consistent I've been on this point. I opposed the war from day one and still oppose it today.

The concept of neutrality isn't difficult to understand. When you look at a situation between competing groups and make a decision no matter whose side you take the negative consequences will out weigh the probable gains it's smart to stay neutral. Also, it should be specifically noted I haven't advocated placing the US in a neutrality position like Switzerland or Sweden. I stated in the ME neutrality for the US makes more sense then supporting Israel and invading Muslim countries does. This has nothing to do with WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam or placing a man on the moon. It only has to do with ME policy.

I don't think there's a night that passes that my last thought before I fall asleep is a curse on Bill Clinton for starting the Iraq War and being responsible for it. I concur 100%. It was Bill who stormed the UN and demanded immediate military action against Saddam and when they wouldn't do it he borrowed Monica's car and drove over to Iraq and personally started the invasion. Too bad BushII was such a whimp and fought so hard for diplomatic solutions. I give Bush tons of credit for exhausting every possible avenue of keeping the peace before that nasty Rumsfield finally told Bush the American people considered Bill's invasion of Iraq more relevant then Bush's presidency. It was Rummy that finally got Bush to sign the orders to send troops to Iraq to back up Bill Clinton's invasion.

In a parallel universe maybe, but not in this one. I know everything from the fall of Rome to the rise of Hitler to the Vietnam war has been the democrats fault, but get real. This was, it has been and it will go down in history as Bush's war. Bush went to great lengths to sell this war and thus has earned credit for it. Good or bad, it's one of his legacies. Trying to decorate the Iraq cake with democrats, the UN and NATO simply isn't giving Bush the credit he deserves for this war.

Ah, you remember I wasn't opposed to military action in Afghanistan. Not bad. My reasoning hasn't changed here either. Afghanistan committed an act of war against the US by aiding and abetting ElQaeda. I was all for declaring war on Afghanistan and going in there and leveling a good percentage of the country. Taking out as many Taliban as possible and inflicting massive damage to the country's infrastructure and at the same time going after BinLaden with enough troops to have had a reasonable chance of killing or capturing him. This isn't what we did. We took the bulk of our useable resources and went after Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. Go figure. Must be another Democratic failure there, but I'll leave it to you to blame it on Clinton, Kennedy or Pelosi. Anyway, I feel we really blew our opportunity in Afghanistan and we should leave. I disagree with Obama on this issue. I think Obama is wrong to continue a military campaign that can't succeed over the long run.

The bad west? Interesting way to put it. I assume you are trying to infer that I believe the west is bad? If that is so nothing could be further from the truth. On a whole I love the west. This doesn't mean I have a blanket love of all things, just most of them. Since I don't agree with our positions and policies in the ME I guess according to the republicans I must be a treasonous American. I must be one of those people Bush and Cheney talked about who emboldened our enemies. If that's where this was meant to go I'm probably guilty according to their moronic definition of love of country. Personally, I believe you can love your country and lobby for changes to make it better without being ridiculed for it. Some of us actually believe in the role of dissent in a democracy as a fundamentally valuable prinicple that should be cherished. Others, obviously not so much.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

TomW2, the information you require can be found on page 2 of 2 at:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/24073/AntiMuslim-Sentiments-Fairly-Commonplace.aspx

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

Sorry, I never found where 39% of Americans believe that Muslims should wear a special ID (actual poll), but I found quite a few references to it. Maybe you know where its at. I did find where 39% of Americans admit to having some prejudice against Muslims. It would be interesting to see a poll on the prejudice against the Christian right.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

First of all, Bob, the Democrats aren’t trying to undo anything…they supported the war. Remember? Hillary voted to authorize force. Obama was a state Senator at the time, and had he been a US Senator, his vote could easily have been affirmative (especially with his ambitions). John Kerry switched his vote (from the first Gulf War) so that he would be on the right side of history.

The Iraq war was above all else a failure of diplomacy. Sanctions killed a million and a half people to begin with, Bob (500,000 children) according to the UN. Clinton bombed the crap out of Iraq, but failed to enforce inspections for the last three years of his presidency (which could have prevented the war). The Europeans were a big part of the oil for food scandal. In addition, Saddam was responsible for two million deaths and invaded two countries. The Arabs supported and encouraged removing Saddam from Kuwait or was that a slap in the face of one billion Muslims? Seventeen resolutions were passed by the UN because Saddam failed to cooperate.

Most important, Bob, Saddam used WMD’s on his own people and the Iranians. Just for humanitarian reasons alone, we should have removed Saddam from office. The official US policy at the time of the invasion was “regime change“. He tried to develop nuclear weapons but, thankfully, the Israelis slapped a billion Muslims in the face and destroyed the nuclear plant. Unfortunately, the intelligence was faulty, but everyone knows that Saddam would have been in the market to develop nukes. No question about that.

“…I HAVE BEEN AND WILL REMAIN NEUTRAL WHEN IT COMES TO ISRAEL FOR THIS EXACT REASON. This fight is between the Israeli's and the Muslims. This should never have been a fight in which we were interested in or supported one side over the other…”

The concept of neutrality has always interested me. Just what do you mean by neutral? Certainly, if the Muslims had won in the 1948 war of independence, would neutrality be OK if a second holocaust was in progress? How about today? OK with you?

We claimed neutrality in WWII while millions of Jews were being killed. Should we have fought in WWII if we could have avoid it (and we could have)? Was the genocide in Rwanda “just” between warring tribes? Neutrality OK? Should we just be neutral in the Congo? Should we have been just neutral in Bosnia, South Africa, Kosovo? Neutral on Taiwan?

Isn’t that China’s policy? Non interference in the politics of a country they do business with? That’s basically neutrality. Their policy OK in Sudan? Miramar? Charges of genocide against al-Bashir of Sudan OK (or is that a slap in the face of one billion Muslims?). Notice that the Arab League generally doesn’t support the ICC decision. I wonder why.

Did we slap one billion Muslims in the face by our interference in Bosnia? Kosovo? Did we slap one billion Muslims in the face by supporting Kosovo independence? Slap in the face for setting aside a new country for Muslims in Pakistan (British)?

Do you ever get tired of Arabs crying “victimology”? Do you believe the “bad” west has screwed up everything for the Muslim world - especially the Middle East?

What about Afghanistan? The Taliban never attacked us, Bob. In effect, you support the idea of attacking those that harbor terrorist responsible for attacking us (like Pakistan). We killed thousands of innocent Afghanis, Bob, to attempt to capture or kill Bin Laden. You have to explain to me why that’s OK with you since many believe that with patience (and with the help of the UN or Pakistan) we could have convinced the Taliban to turn over Bin Laden.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

In many ways Shiveh is right. To know two cultures intimately gives you an edge over mono culturalists in many ways, but most especially having a wider background for opinions, and also a wider experience to recognize spin [a.k.a. propaganda].

A famous Germen, Goethe mentioned that those who speak at least two languages are the only ones who can understand what they say [with respect to human conditions]. Each language puts you into a solitary cell focused on your own culture, thus limiting your freedom of thought.

GL

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I did add the URLs to the original post (as I always do) but PG dropped them! Here they are again:

http://www.amperspective.com/html/gallup_poll_2008.html

http://jdallen.org/politics/2-out-of-5-americans-believe-muslims-should-carry-special-id/

If they were omitted again, I’ll find another way of posting them.

Regarding your second question (assumption) I should explain that I am an American by choice. I believe in the American system and American Ideals. I’m proud of what America has achieved and I prefer to be around people I characteristically feel closest to. Unlike borne Americans, I have a history. I was born and raised in Iran. I’ve never stopped to love my birth country, never lost interest in what happens there or cut my communication ties to her people. When we talk about the Middle East, my history gives me a unique perspective in this forum. I know both sides of our arguments and am familiar with some delicate sensitivities more than most others.

A while ago I wrote couple of paragraphs to explain the positions I take in this forum but decided it was too mushy even for my naïve idealism and did not post it. I think it’ll explain why I looked for polls to balance yours, so here it is:

There is enough misinformation, misunderstanding, dislike and even bigotry in the world to keep humanity divided and stagnant behind imaginary lines of distrust and hatred. Many have used this ignorance and fear to unit like-minded people behind their own often fascist ideologies. Among them are many religious leaders and also many so called nationalists with a warped and divisive form of nationalism. Their belief in their absolute righteousness is the characteristic common among them and their insistence that everybody except them must be wrong is what makes them dangerous.

Throughout my posts in this forum I’ve pushed one central idea; that no one is always right and no one will always be wrong. I’ve tried to focus on the vast gray space between each black and white; the space that believers of the absolute right and wrong so often miss. I’ve tried to see the other side of every argument, show the cause for each effect and emphasize what brings us together while minimizing what tends to separate us. All because I believe in a single humanity, one people, one planet and a shared destiny for all….

After that it gets really mushy. So I stop here. Wife and kid are back from b-party so the rest has to wait till Monday!!

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

I wish to bring to the attention of readers that as far as I can see, one cannot have access anymore to the article I gave as a reference, in my last post, even through Google. I have already brought that to the attention of the editors at the IHT.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Oh, I beg to differ on the most damaging aspect of Iraq. You are right about our failure has led to being unable to negotiate effectively with the Iranians, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

That we were willing to go to war, kill or be responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, effect regime change and occupy the country militarily for what will be at least 7 years without an act of war or imminent act of war being committed against us has cemented the concept of the US willingness to engage in unprovoked interventions. This is by far the most damaging aspect of our Iraq legacy. Every Muslim country now firmly believes the US can and will invade them without cause. This is the foreign policy legacy Obama and Clinton are trying to undo today.

In many ways you summed up your views in your closing statement,

"If self determination means the destruction of Israel, then obviously, I’m against it. Lets face reality, to many Muslims, western civilization is a threat “to their way of life”."

Israel is your first point and you state you are in favor of Israel which is seen as hostile to the Muslim countries. Nobody on the face of this planet (the US included) gets to slap a billion plus people in the face on a daily basis and has any right to squeak when they slap back. I HAVE BEEN AND WILL REMAIN NEUTRAL WHEN IT COMES TO ISRAEL FOR THIS EXACT REASON. This fight is between the Israeli's and the Muslims. This should never have been a fight in which we were interested in or supported one side over the other.

Given the 4 events I previously listed, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan & oil Muslim societies aren't being paranoid when they view the US as hostile to their way of life. I can't say this is true of all western civilization, but it is true of the US and at least Britian. The Muslims seem to have reason to consider us more of a threat today then pre 9/11. This isn't because of religion, but it is directly related to our politics.

CITIZENOFTHEPOST:

My point exactly. You said it much better then I did. Why is the operative word. In order to engage in any type critical analysis this question must be answered to start with.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Read the PDF file as it explains much better (than I ever could) Muslim attitudes toward current US policy.

You can’t convince me, however, that Muslims would have supported the invasion of Afghanistan if the occupation had gone better. A majority of Muslims polled do not believe ( or don’t know) that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the twin towers. Heck, even a third of Americans believe our government knew about the attack in advance. Our support of Israel is obviously viewed detrimentally by Muslims. Oil, of course, is the driving factor behind anyone’s interest in the Middle East or we (as well as the rest of the world) would view the area like the Congo.

On Iraq, the most damaging aspect of the failed occupation of Iraq is that it prevents us from dealing with Iran in the only fashion (regime change) that will keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon - the most ominous development in the history of the Middle East. This is in support of Daniel’s world view. We’ll see what happens, but - thus far - Obama’s willingness to bring Iran in on discussions on Afghanistan, and face to face negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program seems just like appeasement to me. I like his outreach to moderate Taliban (a surge strategy), but he will have to commit many more troops for that to succeed in my opinion.


“…In essence, we are rapidly becoming viewed as a threat to their way of life and self-determination…”

If self determination means the destruction of Israel, then obviously, I’m against it. Lets face reality, to many Muslims, western civilization is a threat “to their way of life”.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Shiveh, Blund and Tom:

I agree with Blund's 4 reasons for anti-Anericanism in ME /Muslim lands.

Uncle Sam will not have easy time with oil/gas imports in a short while, especially if muslim lands get more upset - pipelines, ports are all vulnerable.

Bush and co's miscalculation in ME land [seem to be followed, unfortunately, to a limited extent by Obama] was that he and his oil buddies could not see that age of oil / cheap concentrated energy is coming to a close.

To understand the above, it would behoove all three of you to listen to the 32 min video which was presented in Houston jan 29 2009, by the Australian American Chamber of Commerce.

you will find a copy: "Matt Simon's video on oil and gas market" at http://www.theoildrum.com under the heading of March 8 2009.

Enjoy and weep!!!!!!!!!

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

I support Blund wholeheartedly. That we dare ask the question "WHY?" is all that matters here.

WHY?

I find our refusal, for years now, to ask "WHY?" openly and candidly, let alone to get to the bottom of those reasons WHY, more telling as to WHY so many people all over the world feel the way they do towards us, than any poll results, however we choose to interpret them.

To refuse to ask WHY is the basic way for us to be in denial. To simply assume the answer to that question is whatever crosses one's mind ("it's because of their religion", "it's because they are jealous", "it's because they do not value life", etc...), those assumption arising most of the time from our common prejudices, is another way for us to remain in denial. In addition, for us to emphatically deny that e.g. the war in Iraq, unconditional support for Israel (even when condemned overwhelmingly by the community of nations), etc. have anything to do with WHY they hate us so deeply is another way that we remain (comfortably?) in denial. All that psychological posturing on our part only points to our stubborn refusal to take responsibility for how we act collectively, internationally. Specifically, it goes to show how much we simply refuse to think, to talk with others, to try and understand their point of view, to analyse the causes of most significant recent social phenomena, and to then try and deal with the very causes that are legitimate sources of human grievances all over the world.

I myself have been repeatedly to North Africa and to the Middle East. Once upon a time, I remember being most welcome everywhere, and by people more civilized than most. Not anymore. In recent years, gangs of young people, even of children, for instance, have begun to attack tourists in large numbers there. Now whenever, in public places, I watched what your common folks did see happen to their brothers and sisters, on a daily basis, because of us... I did not wonder for long why one could feel so much hostility toward us, even behind the smile of young children. Too many incidents have taught me, by now, that I was right: countless people have since experienced that repressed hostility as the time bomb it has become.

Sceptical readers who are still prepared to ask themselves the question: WHY? are invited to refer to today's online edition of the International Herald Tribune. The article "Psychological toll of war extensive, Iraq studies find", is well worth reading, as it may help one begin to answer that fundamental question: "WHY?"

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/03/08/mideast/iraq.php

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Of all the people you know I am the last that needs to be reminded the targeting of civilians is illegal and immoral. I don’t find this practice acceptable from anyone and have a broader definition of “targeting” than most.

On one hand I find it extremely disturbing 80-100M people of a class or group would find it acceptable to target the civilians of another class or group. On the other hand I do not find this number startling. I thought given the size of the class in question and the country in question the number would have been larger.

This just begs the question as to why so many people feel that illegal and immoral acts of violence are acceptable. I don’t purport to have an answer to this question, but I’ll be willing to share some of my ideas with you. First, the US involvement in the setting up of Israel, financial support for the State of Israel and arms/munitions/training packages for Israel has been viewed as a hostile act. Second, the US invasion of Iraq has been seen as a hostile act. Third, the botched invasion/occupation of Afghanistan has been seen as a hostile act. Fourth, the US’s craving of ME oil leads most Muslims to believe the US will continue to commit hostile acts and interfere with their cultures whenever the US deems it in their best interest to do so. In essence, we are rapidly becoming viewed as a threat to their way of life and self-determination.

A problem we are facing and will continue to face in the ME is our Iraq legacy. Whether we like it or not, whether we want to justify it legally, nothing can change the fact we invaded Iraq and effected regime change with NO ACT OF WAR either being committed on us or about to be committed on us.

It’s worth pondering….

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

Where did you get your numbers?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

First of all, Bob - just as a reminder - its illegal and immoral to target civilians under the Geneva Convention.

You need to read the extensive poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org (“Public Opinion in the Islamic World on Terrorism, al Qaeda, and US Policies”, February 25, 2009, a PDF file) to get a feel for Muslim attitudes toward the US (from many different Islamic countries). There are many interesting results to ponder.

The opinions reflect current US policies, not historical (such as the US backing General Suharto).

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Without getting into polling methodology and interpetation let's look at you basic premise. You find it objectionable that 60 million Indonesians consider attacking American civilians as acceptable a bad thing. Hard to argue that one.

Why do you think 60 million Muslims in just one state would think it acceptable to attack American civilians? I think we both think this is a staggering number. We're not talking about a few isolated nut jobs here.

I know you see where I'm going here, but stay with me for a second. People don't hate enough to kill or not care if others are killed without strong negative feelings. If this was a case of purely religious bigotry it would be easier to understand, but I sincerely doubt that's the case here. Hence, why? Why do they want to do us harm in such numbers? Maybe if we can come to understand the answer to this we can work on rectifying their wanting harm done to us.

blund Author Profile Page :

Shiveh,

Concur.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

Generally, polls are a good gage of whatever you are polling for - if done right. There is absolutely nothing wrong with polls. The interpretation of the poll (from the MET) is what is really remarkable to me. Spinning a positive from a very bad set of numbers is what I find objectionable (at least looking at the results through rose colored glasses). The editor of the MET should have been shocked at such a high number. Maybe he expected a much higher number.

You interpreted that -

“…Almost four in ten, 39%, advocate that Muslims here should carry special I.D. That same number admit that they do hold some “prejudice” against Muslims.”…”

You interpret that number as very high. If you spin this and say over six in ten Americans hold no prejudice against Muslims, then would you think that this is a positive result? After all, over 180,000,000 Americans apparently hold no prejudice against Muslims. I agree that that’s a lot of Americans that are prejudiced against Muslims. What Muslims are you talking about ? Americans?

Sorry, but I can't find anything defensible about the MET numbers. Maybe you find it OK that if you visit Indonesia, 60,000,000 Muslims consider you a legitimate target (assuming you are an American).

Finally, killing is different than ID cards.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Good thing about polls Tom, there are enough to cater to any desire.

The Gallup World Poll analyzed a series of polls taken between 2005 and 2007 that covered about 90 percent of the Muslim world. It found that just 7 percent of those surveyed said the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were morally justified.

That's despite strong anti-Americanism in many Muslim nations. In one of them, Indonesia, no one who supported the attacks did so for religious reasons — instead, they cited mostly secular issues like U.S. foreign policy. In fact, many of those who didn't support the attacks gave humanitarian or religious reasons.

According to a new Gallup poll , 39% of Americans believe that the government should force Muslims to carry a special form of I.D.
Almost four in ten, 39%, advocate that Muslims here should carry special I.D. That same number admit that they do hold some “prejudice” against Muslims.

Don’t put it in our tourism brochures

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

From an editorial in the Middle Eastern Times, February 27, 2009, “Majority of Muslims Oppose Attacking Civilians”.

"The first is that large majorities in predominantly Muslim counties firmly reject attacks on American civilians for political goals. Over 80 percent in Egypt and Azerbaijan and over 70 percent in Turkey and Indonesia say they disapprove."

Between those four countries, 80,000,000-100,000,000 Muslims approve of attacks against US civilians. That’s reassuring. Now, even for a Middle Eastern publication, that’s putting a positive “spin” on some grim numbers. My recommendation? Don’t put it in their Ministry of Tourism brochures.

Indonesia Muslim population 200,000,000 * .30 = 60,000,000
Egypt Muslim Population 70,000,000 * .20 = 14,000,000
Azerbaijan 7,000,000 * .20 = 1,500,000
Turkey 70,000,000 * .30 = 21,000,000

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Salamon,

Wealth needs protection. United States with quarter of the world’s wealth and largest economy on the planet needs a military to keep it safe. Your question is about the size of this military and its mission. My short answer is that US military is much larger than it needs to be (hence the waste) and it casts a larger shadow that is required by its core mission (hence the empire.)

US military did not grow to this size overnight. From the independence war to WWII the military grew in accordance with our security needs and it performed bravely as a cornerstone of our freedom and prosperity. After WWII the military industrial complex has become a power hub that influences US foreign policy. People involved in the business of defense became rich and protective of their source of income and power. During the cold war because we were in an existential race with the Russians we needed our military industries to be innovating and growing, so we gave them all the money and power they wanted. When the cold war ended and the enemy was defeated, we did not need them as much. Like any animal that is most vicious when sensing mortal danger, people in the business of defense, powerful enough to make our foreign policy began to invent enemies and make wars in order to stay relevant and important as before. It is important to make the distinction between our people in uniform that do the actual fighting and people who profit from it. Today, the interest of companies like Halliburton, Lockheed, General Dynamics, KBR . . . run contrary to our national interests. We need to divert the money and attention from them to our 21st century priorities; but we gave them their power, good lock in getting it back!

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Shiveh:

The politicians' interest is playing the GREAT GAME: Hegemony, if not possible, at least control - that was the point of Iraq War.

The interst of the average USA citizen is the fixing of USA economy, jobs, one source health care,

These two aims are in contradiction to one another - Iraq Afganistan, Pakistan, Somalia is $200 billion + veteran medical treatment - would pay for a large part of universal health care for the poorest.

Aside fom the above war is destructive of scarce resources - especially far from home: oil for transport, steel, tungsten, rare metals for armaments - all wasted, non add to the USA's [or the woprld's economy - for they are self-destrructive - aside from destructing other things.

I would love to hear from you what, in your opinion, is the USA's national interest re further military action in Iraq [or Afganistan, Pakistan, Somalia etc] at a time of limited natural resources, and inability to get the oil for exon, chevron etc from Iraq?

hope to hear from you

Daho Author Profile Page :

After the billions of dollars spent for the war and after the war, the billions of dollars for
'reconstruction', and the death of thousands of GI's and Iraqui civilians, the US and the world should let the Iraquis take responsibility of their future to create a stable, democratic and peaceful country. Consequently, the US should not go back to Iraq militarily in case of ethnic strife or civil war, once they leave the country.

mohammad_allam Author Profile Page :

Hi,
I think What The president Obama is saying that is deviation from his election speech.In two month if there is such changing.Wait and see how much changing will come from the rule of 18 months.
Other hand American has entered into Iraq with two puposes-to secure the energy and to provide the security to Israel.This was American presence that Israel wouldnot involve with syria,and Iran when it confronted with Hizbullah.The withdrawl of American forces will not be determine by the president but the political situation in middle east and Israel policy.The Iran adventure is still to come.The withdrawl of America will a secret understanding with Shia regime of Iraq and Iran to gaurantee the security of Israel and American interest.What Iran talked loudly about Israel and Palestine are all a diplomacy to fool the Arab nations in that reason.Otherwise all knows that on mere suspection of weapon of mass destruction,American led forces could destroy Iran but why silent on the question of Iran?
The decision of American withdrawl cannot be in start on the president order,but on the advice of field commanders and CIA game plan of middle east reason.
The major settlement plan of Israel in west Bank around the Jerusalem is another boon of contention in coming days.The Hamas adventure broadened the reach of this party to rest of palestine and neihbouring countries.In such situation of looming war,can America exit from Iraq?.The question of permanant base on British East India company policies of Subsidiary Allaince in middle east will not allow to vacate the reason.
Let see what is going to happen.I only have wish to see all people to live peacefully to march the humanity on road of progress,not the politics.

Roism007 Author Profile Page :

Just like the politicans look to get re elected, I do not answer speculative questions and "if and or but" questions along with "would have, should have, could have" questions since they do more harm then good

yeolds Author Profile Page :

ZOLKO:

there is no question that Zakarias and Ignatius are part of the problem regarding foreign adventurism, by the USA/Israel cabal.

Look at today's posting by Ignatius: his reference to the question of Iran is a past {???] head of Israel's Mossad's BS.

Zakarias is still under the impression that Uncle Sam has money for wars and other similar police work???

I think their problem is that they are too close to the ruling elite [Congress a.k.a. as the millioner's last bastion with state supported health care, oodles of money for staff, beneficiaries of Wall Street etc via election finance], and both are too well paid to experience any hardship born by large segments of society.

They are both absolutely quiet on the consequences for the taxpayer of the 9.4 trillion [as per Bloomberg's citation], bail out/ insurancee/payoff to Wall Street to be at the expense of the working or unemployed stiff and their offsprings for generations.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Consider the source. If there ever was an equal opportunity hater it's Dowd. She doesn't like anyone. I doubt she even likes herself.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

From Maureen Dowd’s column, “Spock at the Bridge”, February, 28, 2009:

“…Mr. Obama may not be able to exit Iraq expeditiously; as Tom Ricks, the respected military correspondent and author of “The Gamble,” points out, this is the sixth plan he has covered that attempts to get U.S. forces out of Iraq…”

So President Spock is basically following the Bush plan in Iraq. No surprise there. And what about Habeas Corpus for detainees in prison in Afghanistan? Nope. Again following the Bush Administration. How about surveillance? Dang - following Bush on that issue as well. Attending Durban II? Not this year, Obama’s goodwill trip to change the focus of the conference was rejected, so he decided to boycott the conference (just like Bush walked out of Durban I). The “good war” in Afghanistan? Any neoconservative would be proud to support Obama’s policy of counter terrorism, nation building and the spread of democracy. Face to face negotiations with Iran on their nuclear weapons program? Yep, but he will realize the futility of that soon enough….

Change we can believe in.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

When politicians are confronted with such questions, they tell you that they would not respond to hypotheticals. It usually means there is not enough information to make a final decision now or to base policy on.

We have agreed to leave Iraq completely in about 2 years. That is the plan we should stay with. If situation changes, we have enough forces in the area to act on our interests. Remember that there was a civil war going on in Afghanistan before we got involved. With our air cover, the weaker party swept the Taliban off the land in about 2 weeks. With the institutions we have already established in Iraq, we do not need to keep 50,000 or even 5000 soldiers there to enforce our will; we will be an influential player for years to come. It is better for everybody to give the Iraqis a chance to sort out their own problems.

blund Author Profile Page :

CitizenofthePost,

One of my favorite Russell quotes,

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand."

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

daniel12 writes: "...Bertrand Russell... may have been liberal but he... in fact believed that the world had to be brought under something of a single and worldwide government and not only would this have to be done by the more powerful nations, it would require force as much as talk. In other words, Russell subscribed to the now notorious neoconservative position on foreign affairs... I pretty much believe what Russell believes."

Daniel, before you conclude that Bertrand Russell ever subscribed to anything like the US neoconservative position and agenda on foreign affairs, I would suggest you pursue your readings of the man a bit further and peruse, after "Has Man a Future?", his remarkable "War Crimes in Vietnam" as well as what he wrote in "Against the Crime of Silence: Proceedings of the Russell International War Crimes Tribunal".

In the US, Bertrand Russell was not particularly welcome and was by no means celebrated as the exceptional humanist he was. On the contrary, as was to be expected, he was censored, boycotted, ostracized and vilified, including as ""morally unfit" to teach" (by court judgement!) . At the time, that was neither an accomplishment of the left nor of liberals, I might add...

Russell's friends included Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Linus Pauling, Albert Einstein and many of the most prominent scientists and intellectuals of the time, most of them anti-imperialists who advocated nuclear disarmament as a matter of human survival.

Russell's views on world government are therefore more akin to what has come to be considered a necessity, i.e. a new, long overdue, sustainable world order (altogether post-American and post-Western), designed and implemented by all and for all ("por todos y para todos", as they rightly demand each and every day, in the Third World).

Mind you, I am not attempting to convince you of anything. I just wish to suggest here that if one wishes to honour Bertrand Russell's memory, one should first consider it in its proper perspective. After all did Russell not write:

"I appeal to you as a human being to human beings. Remember your humanity and forget the rest. If you can do this, you will perform a courageous service to mankind." ("War Crimes in Vietnam")

I sincerely wish you do "pretty much believe what Russell believed", Daniel.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Yeolds and everyone, I really have no replies to the criticism of my post because I would probably just repeat myself so feel free to criticize at will. Oh, just one thing to Yeolds: you asked if I am a born again Christian. No, I am not. I was raised Catholic somewhat--went to a Catholic school once for two years--but my family is not particularly religious, or political for that matter. I was not really raised into much of any view except it be something of the privileged American with a house, school to go to, vacations to look forward to. An average American existence I guess. But I would have to say my parents are more easygoing than I am. I have more definite opinions--and for better and worse. That is it for now....

Zolko Author Profile Page :

This question looks awfully like the USA being the world police. It confirms the Empire-ish feeling of the WaPo. "If another ethnic strife erupts in Los Angeles, should Mexico send troops in ?" would sound very strange, wouldn't it ?

Don't the US citizens have much more troubling and imminent problems to worry about than making more wars in far-away countries ? One could even go as far as to wonder if the 2 are not linked: the troubles at home and the wars far away! One could also wonder how come the "establishment" tries to make the case for a smokescreen of more wars - of course due to some villain islamofashist or commie or eurowhinie where the good USA saves the day - when the news at home go from bad to worse.

In other words, aren't David Ignatius and Fareed Zakaria part of the problem, even if they pretend to be "only" journalists ? Aren't they part of a wider scale propaganda ? I have grown up in communist Hungary and I can recognize state propaganda when I see one.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Daniel:

The most conservative thoughts were given up by the conservative parties, except the notion that econmy must be run in the manner of predators [how apt the name for USA's most famous weapon]. Presently most Europe [sans UK and NEW Europe] and the Belle Provance [Quebec in Canada] are not socialist, but social democrats, where the ancient teachings of Aristotle, Conficius, Jesus, etc is put into practice to the best ability of the politicians [do unto others as you would them do to you]/.
This notion is reflected in Welfare, Nationalized Medicare, pursuit of good education to children, as much equal in curiculum content as possible with respect to the child's intelligence, interest and persevarence. Most of these social democrat states have free or almost free post secondary education, of course paid by the nation.

If you compare the social democrat taxation and services, you would find that the USA is contrary to the welfare of most of her citizens, for your LOW taxation takes over 4+% on [mostly] offensive weapons, thus lacks the funds to look after healthcare [most families are one major health issue away from bankrupcy], cjildcare is mostly free as opposewd to USA your education system K-12 is pitiful in comparison [except the high cost private schools output] and your post secondary education is restricted to the well to do or those willing to get into the bottomless pit of debt [at a time that your economy is collapsing]. If you add up the private costs and taxation per unit family, you would find that the social democrat citizen is ahead of the low taxed USA citizen.

However your nation is proud of its low tax-rate - where the political and moneyed elite is well served [the Congress members have nation paid healthcare, while the poor has only some emergency healthcare] - where no one actually worries about the well being of the poorer 80%. State financed healthcare was presented numerous times since Independence in the USA, but always killed by the predatory economic system.

Russel, as I read him did not succeed in his attmpt to unify mathematics, nor did he subscribe to world government as based on military power [contrary to the USA's attempt at hegemony based on 11 battleship groups and thousands of attack airplanes].

The first step of revewal of the world will be taken at the 20 state economic conference, where either there is an agreement to establish international standards of finance regulations, or the USA, UK and most of the world will be bankrupt in 5-10 years].

You have constantly argues for some to take any action due to superiority of IQ [without education but only schooling the IQ geniuses of Wall Street managed to wreck the world economy] or use of force [Iraq, Iran, Israel issues] without regard to the culture and welfare of those whomn you adjudge to be inferiors. I do not know where your philosophy came from, but I believe that you have based it on some kind of born-again Christianity - this is based on various comments you made to me and the bloggers here when I called Bush the GREAT DECEIVER - based on analysis of his behavoir, when you presumed that I was calling hin the Fallen Archangel - a.k.a. Satan.

No the USA ahs no business in Iraq, never had and never will [short of being attacked] nor has it business in Afganistan, Taiwan, Somalia, and anywhere else wher eit has aither fired on foreign citizens or where it has major military bases [non opf which it can afford]

So relax, laissez fair capitalism is over, USA hegemony attempt is over, USA might attack some other major powers as Panama, Granada, disarmed Iraq, but it will never attack any strong nations -for the USA does not wish to commit national suicide.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

Recently I have been reading Bertrand Russell, atheist, liberal, Nobel prize winner and in one of his essays ("the future of mankind") he says that either the human race will destroy itself totally by WMD or be reduced to barbarism by such and will have to climb up to civilization once again--or the most powerful nation or nations can create some sort of alliance by which the rest of the world can be brought under law and order.

In other words, Russell may have been liberal but he was not like liberals today who believe that merely talk and more talk will bring the world to peace. He in fact believed that the world had to be brought under something of a single and worldwide government and not only would this have to be done by the more powerful nations, it would require force as much as talk. In other words, Russell subscribed to the now notorious neoconservative position on foreign affairs.

I pretty much believe what Russell believes. And what this has to do with Iraq is simple: it can be argued all day and night whether troops should stay or return home or whether troops should have even been there in the first place, but eventually the truth will be seen that troops will have to frequently be dispersed across the globe by the more powerful nations to establish worldwide law and order.


I believe with Russell--for Russell believed something of this as well--that the more advanced nations should not take their success at liberalism within themselves as a sign that liberalism is spreading worldwide let alone should they take it as a sign to believe that force will no longer be necessary to bring the world to law and order and that all we need to do is to talk to people.

I find modern liberalism--the type prevalent in Europe and America--as the most disastrous of foreign policy errors, precisely because--as said somewhat above--it is born of the economic success of the more advanced nations and is a sign of complacency within and ridiculous optimism without. To put it more clearly, the modern liberal not only feels all right wing trends within his nation should be put to rest (for why do we need a core of conservatism at all?), we should approach the world as if with just a bit of goodwill we can put to rest all right wing trends within other nations and have them just rise up to the liberalism within the more advanced nations.

In short, one way or another Iraq would have needed to be dealt with--and many other nations fit this description as well. The sad truth is that as WMD continue to become more powerful and insidious (biological weapons) many nations will not be considered as being off limits, that their sovereignty should not be breached. On the contrary the more powerful nations will find it necessary to somehow get along and will unite against the lesser and typically more primitive and dangerous nations.

Probably it will not be long before the U.S., Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan and Brazil will come together in some sort of organization by which law and order becomes established worldwide far more than today. So many problems--from WMD to drug trafficking to climate change--can be solved only by the more powerful nations getting together and although preserving much sovereignty with respect to each other will encroach upon the sovereignty of other nations.--And this will be necessary because the other nations are more permeable and unstable--as if although we have powerful and stable nations within the world most nations are more like the world's waters than land.

So really I believe one way or another we would have to have dealt with Iraq. A pity other powerful nations are not willing to help the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. They do not realize how much their own wellbeing depends on the creation of alliances and the establishing of worldwide law and order. But that day will come. I find it a fantasy that the world will just peacefully rise up to having WMD under control, that the environment will just be healed, that crimes such as drug trafficking will just stop.

We humans still simply do not know how to bring a nation to cohesiveness without force let alone the entire world without force. The neoconservative position will be the dominant one over the rest of the 21st century. Or if you prefer, Bertrand Russell will have some of his opinions proven. May he be proven not too correct.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

I don't mean to be facetious but in his "The Veil Vs. The Suicide Belt", moderator Fareed Zakaria seems to be quoting approvingly Fawaz Gerges who (among innumerable others) is said to have stated that "We won the war in Iraq...".

It being so, is it not reasonable to ask why the above question is still being considered?

If not, what then has the verb "to win" come to mean, lately?

yousufhashmi1 Author Profile Page :

Leaving Iraq is one way ticket and this is sure that US will not be able to send the forces easily again.

But before leaving Iraq this is natural that the suitable candidates will be planted at crucial positions which can look after the interest of US after with drawl.

So even the situation goes worse then US will have a strong leverage to pull the strings from another part of the world.

And considering US overall strategy all stake holders shouting slogans either for or against will be taking dictations from Washington.

So why to worry !

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

PG

If the government pulls ALL of our troops out of Iraq, then the answer is “no”, we shouldn’t return except in the role of mediation - and only if asked - but if we view the importance of a peaceful and stable Iraq, then we will not pull completely out of Iraq to begin with - but will leave a residual force in place for several more years:

1. To counter Iranian and Syrian meddling in the affairs of Iraq with the intent to undermine the government. Syria and Iran have peddled their influence in Lebanon through assassinations, and through armed intimidation by their proxy terrorist organization, Hezbollah. Anyone who believes that Hezbollah will disband once Israel returns the Sheba Farms to Lebanon is living in the land of Oz. Clearly, Iran and Syria will follow the same model in Iraq.

2. To serve as a peacemaker between the different factions in Iraq (basically, our role today), and to protect the Sunni minority from the majority Shiite government and armed forces. The Sunni minority is slowly buying (being bought) into a majority Shiite government, but the situation is still tenuous and a deterioration in the relatively peaceful conditions is quite possible. Political reconciliation is not complete, and some of the benchmarks have not been fully met. Some important and destabilizing issues remain with the Iraqi Kurds as well.

A peaceful Iraq is of paramount importance to the dysfunctional Middle East. A democratic Iraq remains an attainable goal, and secular political organizations performed well in the recent elections.

Rami Khouri, a strong critic of US policy in the Middle East, writes in the Daily Star (Lebanon), Feb. 4, 2009 (“Three demons plague the Arab world”):

“…This situation [Arab countries] can only change through homegrown evolution into more democratic, pluralistic governance systems, working with likeminded partners worldwide. Foreign armies cannot do the job for us. Iraq's transformation remains a fascinating ongoing process whose ultimate outcome remains to be seen. It was probably a one-time phenomenon that reflected a unique post-9/11 moment in America that will not be repeated (and should not be)…”

In the long term, Iraq can be a transformational event in the Middle East, but in the short term, the US must influence the development of a state free of terrorism (and does not support terrorism), a state that does not develop weapons of mass destruction and a state that limits Iranian influence and hegemony.

Irresponsibly walking away from Iraq could put the entire region at greater risk (not to mention the local population).

drees1956 Author Profile Page :

No country will ever climb out of the dark ages as long as the words "Tribal", "Sect", or "Faction" are mentioned.

VicVanMeter Author Profile Page :

Some days, I wish this board would have a few more intelligent voices. Why is everyone such an alarmist these days?

With the end of the Iraq war coming (finally) one must take a look at the progress and the setbacks. Since the "surge", it appears that political movements have made the situation less violent than it was before. The specter of violence lingers, but the threat of violence has been toned down to something tolerable. I remember reading about massive suicidal destruction every day, now Iraqi violence hardly makes Al-Jazeera's front page (at least in English, maybe they're hiding things from me in that Arabic section). Most of the news is political, about deadlocking, factionalist political maneuvers, and random security blunders.

In short, it doesn't sound like much anymore. Even the commentary here isn't focused much on the current situation beyond the political.

That said, though the American army shouldn't have invaded Iraq (considering that the oppression of a population and a strangling, incestuous regime are passably normal in the Middle East, if not the entire world at this point). And at this point, America just can't carry the Iraqi government anymore. All the American occupation is providing is dead weight and rigor where Iraq's government needs to breathe and assert itself. I'd say that, after the blunder of invading Iraq and deposing everything that kept the region from imploding, that America cannot possibly do any more as a police force.

That said, America's withdrawal militarily doesn't end our diplomatic responsibility. At this point, I would say it is time to finally begin talking to Iraq's close neighbor and fellow Shiite government Iran. One would think that, considering our vast similarities (uncanny similarities, really), we would have been able to come to some sort of agreement. Alas, Iranian insistence on opaque nuclear research and American cold-shoulders in the absence of complete diplomatic submission has left both governments at odds. This is unfortunate, considering the substantial regional power Iran has gained. Hopefully, one of the legacies of the Obama administration is a warming of relations between the two nations.

Iraq must assert itself and handle its own internal disputes. Should it implode, America cannot rescue it. There is nothing more the military can do. Hopefully, given peaceful relations with its neighbors and a robust internal dialogue, it should not be necessary.

JerryOlek Author Profile Page :

It is in nobody's interest to send our troops back into Iraq under almost any circumstances. The Iraqi leadership has had their training wheels on long enough and hopefully making clear to them we are not coming back will force them to act more responsibly and in the interests of their citizens. Furthermore, the argument that a failed Iraq will become a safe haven for Al Quaeda is ludicrous. A failed Iraq is irrelevant to our interests. Terrorists can plan from anywhere, e.g. Pakistan , Germany, Spain, and we must rid ourselves of the notion that we can stop any nation state from harboring them by invading or occupying them. We need to go after international terrorists using police and intelligence resources versus military power!!!

demtse Author Profile Page :

The definition of "fuster cluck insanity" is, to keep doing the same fuster cluck over and over again and expecting a different fuster cluck...

mibrooks27 Author Profile Page :

Look, our economy is completely collapsing. Sometime this spring, banks and other financial institutions are going to fall like dominos, taking out much of this nations infrastructure and likely making central government control OF THIS COUNTRY problematic. It is extremely likely that we will witness the failure of government, not just elected officials, but the core, underlying institutions, in Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, Iceland, France, Germany, the U.K.,the Balkans, Middle Eastern oil states. The "global economy" has created a global failure that will explode in violence, starvation, disease, death, and destruction on a level unheard of in human history. And you think we can even keep troops on Iraq and Afghanistan beyond the end of THIS year? Dream on! Those troops will be right here, attempting to pick up the pieces... or even find them.

blund Author Profile Page :

No, our troops shouldn't have been there in the first place. The quicker we're out of there the sooner the Iraqis will have to build their own sustainable government. We did break their government, but we are incapable of fixing it. That is something they have to do themselves.

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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.