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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Showing Us The Big Picture

At around 1:30pm today I saw that Iraqi voters had passed the draft constitution with about 80% voting in favour of it's passage. Naturally I wanted to check out the reports and the following screenshots are what I saw...

The Globe And Mail

Considering that all of these media outlets claim that they provide their viewers with the "big picture" it seems odd that this story isn't given the prominance it deserves. Don't these same media outlets give prominance to nearly every negative event that occurs in Iraq?

Sadly even if Iraq turns out to be a successful democracy, most people will never know how sad and pathetic the coverage of events there have been.

crossposted to canadiancomment

Posted by Dana on October 25, 2005 in Media | Permalink


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It's called corporate responsibility in an honest business.

Posted by: AsISeeIt | 2005-10-25 11:55:53 AM

National Post, Oct. 25, "One war, two plans", by David Frum


'Last week, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Colonel Larry Wilkerson, delivered a blistering attack on the Iraq war and the Bush administration. To strengthen his case against the President, Wilkerson cited a new book, The Assassins' Gate by George Packer.

You have to give Wilkerson credit for acute literary judgment. The Assassins' Gate, published this very month, is the most vivid and sensitive account to date of the war and its aftermath. Packer, a college classmate of mine, spent months traveling and reporting in Iraq between 2003 and 2005. He kept traveling and reporting even after the insurgents began kidnapping and murdering Western journalists. He has much to say about what went wrong, and he harshly condemns the leading Iraq policymakers from the President on down.

Some of his criticisms seem clearly right in retrospect; others less so. Leave that aside for now. What I think will most surprise readers is the book's conclusion: As fiercely critical as he is of the Bush administration, Packer was and remains a supporter of George Bush's war.

"I came to believe that those in positions of highest responsibility for Iraq showed a carelessness about human life that amounted to criminal negligence," he writes. "Swaddled in abstract ideas, convinced of their own righteousness, incapable of self-criticism, indifferent to accountability, they turned a difficult undertaking into a needlessly deadly one. When things went wrong, they found other people to blame."

Searing words. Now listen to what comes next: "The Iraq war was always winnable; it still is." ..

...Why did things go so wrong? Why weren't there enough troops, why not enough planning, why so many mistakes?

Let me suggest an answer, based on my knowledge of the people involved. Many of them are my friends and colleagues, and I can attest that they are brilliant and deeply experienced people, seriously committed to American security.

It's often said that America lacked a policy for postwar Iraq. The truth is worse: America had two policies for postwar Iraq.

One policy, advocated by the Pentagon and other war-planners, called for U.S. forces to install an Iraqi provisional government immediately. American forces would keep a low profile -- and rapidly draw down their numbers -- as the provisional government took control of the civil service and army. The Pentagon rebuffed attempts by other branches of government to engage in more detailed reconstruction planning: The last thing the Pentagon planners wanted was a prolonged American occupation, with all the risk of triggering Iraqi nationalism and Muslim resentment.

The other policy, advocated by the State Department and civilian agencies, argued against going to war at all -- but insisted that if the President went ahead, he should plan for a lengthy and costly occupation. This view reflected the very genuine convictions of State Department and CIA experts. It was, however, also influenced by the loathing felt by many at the civilian agencies for Ahmed Chalabi, the exile Iraqi politician whom the Pentagon had in mind as the leader of a provisional government.

Instead of choosing between the two policies, the Bush administration tried to fuse them both together. There would be a light, fast invasion -- followed by a heavy, prolonged occupation. The result ... well, we can all see the result...'

And Washington Post column, "It Wasn't Just Miller's Story", Oct. 25, by Robert Kagan

makes a very important point. Under Clinton the threat from Saddam's WMD programs was considered a fact, and major US media were constantly pressing that something be done.

A reality that almost everyone now seems conveniently to have forgotten.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-25 12:05:41 PM

Except Scott Ritter has a new book out?

But wasn't the west's belief in those very weapons why we made Iraq submit to the most onereous inspection regime ever instituted? Which found nothing besides some old blueprints. But then the US went to war anyway.

Makes one think they had other reasons for invading (so?), like the ones Frum mentions in his article.

That Saddam Hussien would have wanted nuclear weapons is undeniable. His every neighbour was an enemy. Iran, for example, was extremely hostile and much more powerful. Nuclear weapons made strategic sense. But, so what? Was it really enough to risk so much because Saddam wanted weapons? What tyrant persiding over a crumbling state wouldn't want super-powerful weapons? I would.

The weapons charge was always, in the words of Paul Wolfwitz, a bureacratic convienence. No less a personality than Condi Rice wrote in 2000 (Foriegn Affaries) that, as a threat, Saddam's Iraq had been effectively contained.

Anyone who believes Saddam had somehow been able to magically transform himself from minor irritant into major threat is invited over to my house for some Texas Hold'em, as you are obviously gullible and easily tricked.

The bottom line is the Bush Administration didn't feel the average American would support the invasion unless they believed the country was under threat. So they played up the threat.

This is the same criticism Christopher Hitchens has laid at Team Bush, seeing them as having been less than honest about the reasons to invade and, therefore, playing to the country's fears.

The invasion of Iraq was a gamble. Frum is generally right about his scenarios. The State Department volumes all assumed Iraq would turn out something like Bosnia and the ex-Yugoslavia. Thus, a lengthy occupation would be necessary, if only to keep the different groups seperate. Obviously this was unacceptable. That left the other scenario: being greeted by hordes of grateful, flower-throwing children. Obviously, this didn't happen. Unfortunately that is what they planned for, if anything. Frum is wrong on this point.

One scenario was prudent, the other represents wishful thinking to the point where responsibily for the invasion's potential aftermath was evaded.

The real question that should be asked is, did any of the scenarios have a chance? Or were they both flawed. And so, in the future, when presented with similiar problems, what lessons can we learn.

Posted by: Herstory Dude | 2005-10-25 12:51:51 PM

Saddam Hussein's WMD might have been contained or not - but it wasn't the WMD that were the issue; it was the TMD, the terrorists of mass destruction.

These TMD operate like computer viruses. They spread and destroy all and any, and are indifferent to culpability. The only way to deal with them, is not by destruction of one virus-cell, for another will quickly emerge. The only way - is to change the 'chemical host'. Change from medieval tribalism to democracy; give power to the people. There is no other way.

It's messy; after all, democracy is messy. And it's even messier - changing a tribal dictatorship to a democracy. But - what are the options?

By the way - Herstory Dude - I'm wondering. Surely you aren't giving a 'feminist' version to the word 'History'???? After all, 'history' as a word, doesn't mean - His Story (as so many feminists assert). It's from the Greek: the full word is "historia" - and it means 'story, fable, tale'. Nothing to do with 'his' and 'story'.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-25 1:14:20 PM

Herstory Dude: The inspection regime ceased when the UNSCOM inspector's were withdrawn in December 1998 just before Clinton's and the UK's large scale cruise missile and aircraft attacks on Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq ("Operation Desert Fox").

'"Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors with nuclear weapons, poison gas or biological weapons," Clinton said from the Oval Office. Clinton said he decided weeks ago to give Hussein one last chance to cooperate. But he said U.N. chief weapons inspector Richard Butler reported that Iraq had failed to cooperate -- and had in fact placed new restrictions on weapons inspectors.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the attack, named Operation Desert Fox, was necessary because Hussein never intended to abide by his pledge to give unconditional access to U.N. inspectors trying to determine if Iraq has dismantled its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs.

"He is a serial breaker of promises," Blair said of the Iraqi president.'

Sound familiar?


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-25 1:37:53 PM

The mdeai outlets cited are still big, it's just their pictures that got small....

Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-10-25 1:48:19 PM

There was a symposium at the neo-con friendly Hudson Institute last summer.

From it Lt. Gen. William Odom (ret.) has been much quoted.

Iraq's effect on the War on Terrorism.

“the invasion of Iraq alienated America’s Middle East allies, making it harder to prosecute a war against terrorists. The U.S. should withdraw from Iraq … reposition its military forces along the Afghan-Pakistani border to capture Osama bin Laden and crush al Qaeda cells. The invasion of Iraq I believe will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.”

He's also written a book on how Liberal Democracy's establish themselves. The risk is that we'll get, instead, an illiberal democracy.

History is not a straight Fukyamian path from opression to liberal democratic freedom. Liberal democracy is not inevitable. It takes the establishment of certain conditions. Odom writes that the Bush administration has not even tried to establish these conditions and that there is little chance of a liberal democracy establishing itself in Iraq, which would make everything worth it:

“How do liberal democracies come about? The answer is key to understanding the strategic disaster confronting the United States in Iraq unless it changes course soon … Electoral democracies are easy to create, but they can turn out to be illiberal regimes, like the one in Iran and in many states in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They never become “liberal”, that is, truly constitutional regimes. Of the nearly fifty new democracies established since World War II, about ten are mature constitutional regimes, and they all had highly favorable preconditions to their establishment that are missing in the Arab world.

The challenge is not “creating democracy.” It is installing “constitutional order.” And once “illiberal” democracy is installed, it has precluded, almost without exception, evolution to liberal democracy. In other words, establishing electoral democracies is a sure way to prevent the establishment of constitutional democracies. Liberal regimes inexorably resort to democratic procedures, but illiberal democratic regimes do not become liberal. Yet it is precisely an illiberal democracy that is being constructed in Iraq, given the schedule for elections in the next six months or a year.”

Democracy is much more than voting.

Posted by: Herstory Dude | 2005-10-25 1:53:19 PM

Wilkerson pointed out that even the perfidious French assumed Saddam had weapons. However, they along with Clinton and Blair were wrong ... as the immediately pre-invasion inspection regime discovered.

That's why the Blixers were called in, and, to everyone's surprise, when it looked like there was nothing, the invasion went ahead anyway.

One thing doesn't negate the other.

Posted by: Herstory Dude | 2005-10-25 1:58:16 PM

Herstory: The fact the Blixers found nothing really is not significant, given the Iraqis' history of and skill at concealement. The only inspections that could be relied on were the post-war Iraqi Survey Group.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-25 2:18:14 PM

Herstory Dude - what's an 'illiberal democracy'? It sounds, from your words, like a political system based only on voting?? That's not a democracy. So- there can't be any such thing as an 'illiberal democracy'. Iran is not a democracy!

A democracy operates by rule of law; a law which operates according to a constitution. That draft constitution was just passed, as I'm sure you know, by referendum vote, in Iraq. Don't you know this?? They wrote it; they voted on it; now, they are going to discuss it, and vote again on it. It's an enormous achievement of the Iraqi people and I'm surprised why you don't acknowledge their achievement.

You state that 'certain conditions' are required for democracy. What are they?

Who were 'America's Middle East Allies'? Surely you don't mean France, and Germany etc- who were busy selling arms to the Iraqis. So- who do you mean?

How has it been harder to 'prosecute a war against terrorists?" After all - the terrorists have been attacking the UK, Spain, Italy, Indonesia, the Netherlands. Germany has been quite busy finding and charging terrorist cells. So- exactly how has it been harder?

Capturing Bin Laden (if he's even alive) wouldn't stop terrorism. It's not operated by one man.

Some people differ from Odum - and think that the invasion of Iraq will free the ME from tribal dictatorships and open their territories to democracy. I consider it a strategic triumph.

I think that Odum's differentiation of democracies into 'electoral' and 'constitutional' is trivial. A democracy, by definition, requires a constitution. That's exactly what the Iraqi people have just developed. Therefore - I'm puzzled - how can you state that the Iraqis are creating an 'illiberal democracy' - when they are creating a constitution?????

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-25 2:23:53 PM

And the Iraqi Survey Group found nothing.

So Blixer was right. Which also demonstrates the pre-war claims that Saddam was a master of deceit and, apparently, disguise, to be over-blown.

In fact one could suspect these claims were intentionally overblown in order to justify the invasion no matter what the magnificent Blixer found. Because, as Wolfowitz said, the WMD file was a bureacratic convienence.

The only thing the pre-war hoopla surrounding supposed Iraqi WMD demonstrates is how phenomenally crappy the intelligence was on Iraq. A country which had been on the bad guy list for over 10 years.

That's the significant piont about how they choose to spin the invasion. Not what Blair or Clinton said they believed.

The incompetence with which it was carried out can probably be explained partly via 'political pressures'.

From the Washington Post:

"A top State Department official involved in Iraq policy, former ambassador Robin Raphel, said the administration was "not prepared" when it invaded Iraq, but did so anyway in part because of "clear political pressure, election driven and calendar driven," according to an oral history interview posted on the Web site of the congressionally funded U.S. Institute of Peace."

Posted by: HERstory Dude | 2005-10-25 2:37:21 PM

Herstory Dude (again - are you confusing the etymology of the word 'history'? It doesn't mean 'his story'.)

Cut and pastes from various sources - and you have chosen sources that support your ideology of anti-Bush and pro-Saddam - don't prove anything. They are just rhetorical conclusions without evidence to support them.

You haven't answered any questions.

- what's an illiberal democracy/
-What are the conditions for democracy?
- If a constitution is a condition for democracy, then, why aren't you acknowledging the Iraqi people's work on this constitution?
-Who were America's Middle East allies that you refer to?
-How has it been harder to prosecute a war against terrorists?
- How would capturing Bin Laden stop the terrorists?
-What do you mean by 'incompetence with which it (the invasion) was carried out'? What incompetence?
-What political election and calendar pressure? Do you mean that the American people demonstrated that they wanted an Iraq war?

You know, assertions are just that - assertions. They don't provide proof; they aren't necessarily logical; they aren't necessarily based on evidence. They have to stand up to questions. I'm sure that you would be the first one to demand proof, for example, of Hussein's WMD. Proof that the war is justified and so on.

So- when you make statements - and are asked to justify them and provide proof - why don't you?

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-25 2:59:07 PM

You write how has the war against terrorists gotten harder? Odum is pretty clear on why. Do you not read very well? Do you prefer to opine?

The Soviet Union also had a great constitution.

Iran is clearly a type of democracy, though obviously one that isn't acceptable to the west.

Odom's fear is that we will get some variation of the Iran model. If you had taken the time to at least read the pdf you would know he writes extensively about how hard it is to reverse course from the illiberal democracic path once it has been set upon. And without the rule of law, among other things, a constitution is meaningless.

If you have trouble understanding the concept of illiberal democracy you could make a good start by reading his pdf. Then hit the library.

Ditto with the distinction between electoral and constitutional democracies. It's not enough to write something is trival. He knows more about this field than some crank on an internet comment page.

Prove the distinction is trival. He makes a compelling case that it is not.

But to answer your question, Odum doesn't feel the rule of law is being weakened. Furthermore, he feels the process by which the constitution was created combined with the present electoral schedule will lead Iraq to disaster. (I personally don't think the constitution is as bad as he makes out, but focuses more on the process which led to the document and its perception rather than the final product). he is pretty clear on all this. He gives his reasons. Maybe you should read them?

You'll hate it though.

He uses fact and history in a responsible manner.

What he doesn't do is make broad generalizations and support them with bogus abstractions and theories which bear little resemblence to reality. His analysis is empherically based, as a conservative intellectual's should be. Unlike the whimsical fantasies you spout about the grand Middle Eastern transition we are witnessing.

In short, he takes what he does and his opinions seriously. Seriously enough to work hard at how to support them.

Posted by: History Dude's Ugly Kid Brother | 2005-10-25 3:04:13 PM

It's unwise to cite Blix in such debates:

Jan 27, 2003 - mere weeks before the US invasion of Iraq:


has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tonnes and
that the quality was poor and the product unstable.  Consequently, it was said, that the agent was never weaponised.  Iraq said that the small quantity of agent
remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.
however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are
indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and
that more had been achieved than has been declared.  Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that
the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than
are also indications that the agent was weaponised.  In addition, there are questions to be answered concerning the
fate of the VX precursor chemicals, which Iraq states were lost during bombing
in the Gulf War or were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq."

Tha'ts just a tiny portion of his publicly delivered unanswered questions on Iraq's WMD program.

How conveniently they forget...

You might check this out as well - another UN document.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-10-25 3:12:59 PM

I'm not anti-Bush nor am I pro-Saddam. What I am is anti-incompetence and anti-Bullshit. The latter seems dominent here.

If you can remember back that far you wrote about the terrorist threat. Odum wrote what a failure the invasion of Iraq has proven in dealing with it. He also wrote about Iraq's slim chance of establishing a liberal democracy. I supplied the link so his arguments could be persued. I happen to agree with him on somethings, but disagree with him on others. (Like the constitution as a document). He expresses his ideas much better than I can. You might also find it interesting to examine his personal histroy.

How come you never prove your assertions?

Posted by: HERSTORY | 2005-10-25 3:16:27 PM

Luckily we have the Iraqi Survey Group.

Learn to read.

Posted by: ARRGG!!!!! | 2005-10-25 3:18:42 PM

HERstory Dude: When Blix went in four years had elapsed since UNSCOM left. More than enough time to hide things so they would certainly almost never be found. And remember when UNSCOM left in 1998 there probably no WMDs left even then. Yet Iraq's obstructive behaviour--as in the case of Blix--gave good reason to believe the contrary.

Whatever the real motivation for invading, and however incompetent the post-war planning (see the Frum piece I posted above), the fact remains that before Bush decided to take action it was getting close to impossible to keep sanctions on Iraq--France and Russia leading the charge to end them (these were Iraq's leading arms suppliers, along with China, during the Iraq/Iran war, and both had major oil interest there, neither thing true of the US).

Had sanctions been lifted, or even flouted to a considerable degree--increasingly likely--do you really doubt Saddam would almost immediately been back in the WMD game, and without inspections?

I believe the invasion was for that reason justified. Whether the US has bungled hopelessly the post-war is another issue, something which may indeed end very badly indeed. And for which Bush et al. are culpable. One can but hope.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-25 3:25:41 PM

Why is it that every time I point out media bias or some other anti-Iraq was stupidity some fool has to post so dimwitted reply which is totally off topic.

More often than not it has to do with WMD but the person always seems to ignore that no one disputed the WMD claim until after the invasion was complete.

"I'm not anti-Bush nor am I pro-Saddam. What I am is anti-incompetence and anti-Bullshit."... get real.

If that was the case why was it necessary to bring up such foolishness here on a totally unrelated post.

I especially love how some folks bring up quotes and all kinds of foolishness when not one of these people were making the "there are no WMD" claims in public before the war.


Posted by: Dana | 2005-10-25 3:32:30 PM

Herstory- don't get into personal insults; that's a common tactic of someone who is asserting something without evidence. So, don't call me a 'crank', don't insult me - and stick to the issues.

You are relying on Odum. There is no reason why I should read him, for, presumably, his theories are based on evidence and logic and can stand without his book-assertions. Therefore, you shouldn't be saying that 'Something IS, because Odum says so". You ought to be able to provide the evidence and logic on its own merits.

No, Iran is not a democracy. It has nothing to do with whether/not it is acceptable to the West. You now seem to be supporting Iran. Before, it seemed that you were not supporting it because it is an 'illiberal democracy'. So- what's your final position?

Iran is not a democracy because its 'elections' are not relevant to its policies; the people are not offered options of political parties and the representatives are not free-to-dissent. Dissent is one of the most important requirements for a democracy.

Again- how has the war on terror gotten harder? Why don't YOU explain it. Don't tell me to go 'read a book'. YOU are the one asserting this. So- state the reasons. Don't simply state conclusions on this blog - and when challenged - tell us to 'go read a book'. A lot of us are professionals..and read a lot of books - and just might not have the time to go read your particular source. Okay? So- you made the assertions. You provide the proof.

Before, you were making a constitution a requirement for a functional democracy. I reminded you that the Iraqi people had just developed one. You ignore this. Now, you are adding the 'rule of law' -. Are you now waying that there is no rule of law in Iraq???

What's wrong with the process that led to the Iraqi constitution? It was the Iraqi people working on it. So- what's wrong with the process?

Again, don't insult people. Stick to the issues.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-25 3:39:41 PM

I agree that Saddam did himself no good by pretending to be tougher than he was. He seemed to believe his power rested on the projection of strength. It probably did. The question posed, however, was whether Saddam's alleged systems warrent an invasion?

While inspectors were in country I say no.

As Mark Steyn wrote I think it's obvious that the WMD file was a McGuffin. The US didn't want to justify their invasion on humanitarean reasons, nor on a smallish UN voilation, effectively going to war because Saddam hadn't filled out UN paperwork properly.

If you disagree, you disagree.

Unless one can know the secret thoughts of the players involved you cannot really 'prove' what exactly they were thinking. I don't think the evidence demonstrates WMD were anything other than a justification. But, ultimately, that's my opinion. Saddam certaintly wasn't a threat.

That said, we in the west do have a just war tradition to fall back on. I'm not a lawyer, nor am I a theologian, (damnit Jim!) but I haven't come accross a credible claim where the invasion of Iraq fits the criteria.

Humanitarean reasons would have been enough, but they weren't offered at the time. And would have been a bit late anyway.

The US didn't support Saddam during the Iran Iraq war? Hmm ...

Saddam's genius (maybe the only time it has been on display) was to convince both sides of the Cold War rooting for him.

Posted by: Herstory Duuuude | 2005-10-25 3:55:00 PM

Don't lecture me if you're not at least going to familiarize yourself with the debate. I can precis his arguments but he makes a much better case than I can. I had thought someone who loves so to lecture others would be familiar with the literature in the field. I guess not.

Click the link if you're interested.

Or don't.

I don't care.

Or we can do this.

You claim a grand process of transformation has begun in the Middle East (an assertion based on nothing, I might add, except that self-interested parties claim this to be so).

I say maybe, that would be nice, but that the stated goal of this grand transformation, liberal democracy, doesn't have much chance of happening. Given present conditions I doubt it ever could have.

There are lots of paths history can take and Iraq doesn't appear to be headed down a very good one. Furthermore, the Bush Administion in retrospect, doesn't seem to have been very serious about creating the conditions which would have led to a liberal democracy establishing myself.

Let's see:

the Bushies invaded without a serious rebuilding plan;

they used an undermanned army, untrained for peacekeeping to keep the peace;

who then cut generous deals with extremists and separatists (SCIRI, the Kurdish parties)

then dissolved the major multiethnic institution (the Army)

gutted what remained of civil society by overaggressive de-Baathification;

and then took the Shiite and Kurdish side against the Sunnis in inter-ethnic feuding,

as if all the rest wasn't boneheaded enough they have forced Iraq down a speeded up electoral process, speeded up so it helps the Republican Party, with a constitution that has worsened ethnic and regional tensions, not calmed them.

On a further note the Guardian journalist who was kidnapped and then released claimed his kidnappers were the police.

That's the rule of law in action.

Oh. The idea of a democracy being illiberal isn't exactly a contentious concept. Look it up.

Posted by: Worst Strategic Blunder of our Time | 2005-10-25 4:25:32 PM

I absolutely love this.

The constitution passes with 80% support and we still have people posting here about how it is a total failure, that democracy can't work in the region, and that the country is worse off than it was before the invasion.

Just keep repeating to yourself that it is a total failure. At least you will have convinced yourself that it is and always has been a lost cause.

To bad that 80% of Iraqi's have just proven you're wrong and that they want desperately that which you so carelessly deride... democracy and the chance to choose their own fate.

I just find it sad that you would deny them such things.

Posted by: Dana | 2005-10-25 5:19:31 PM

Herstory Duuuude: Concerning U.S. support of Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war:

It is true that the U.S. provided Saddam with important satellite intelligence information, as well as other assistance of much less military importance. Given that Iran had held sixty-six Americans hostage in their embassy in Teheran for 444 days until January 20, 1981--several months after Saddam had invaded Iran, and given that Iran at that time appeared to be a major Islamic revolutionary threat to Western, not just U.S., interests, it would have been odd indeed if the U.S had not tried to prevent an overwhelming Iranian defeat of Iraq. Such a defeat seemed possible at a number of points during the war.

Meanwhile Iraq received the greatest part of its weapons imports from Russia, China and France. Large imports of war-related equipment and other materiel (including that relevant to chemical weapons), came from those same countries plus West Germany, Italy, the UK, Brazil and many other countries. Not from the U.S.

Which countries then should be blamed for supporting Saddam? Lets start, as you do not, with Russia, China and France all of whom are still owed huge amounts by Iraq. And Russia and France have major oil interests in the country. Any wonder why all three at the UNSC opposed war in 2003?


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-25 5:41:11 PM

Check out the Iraq Survey Group's report and Addendum at this site: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/report/2004/isg-final-report/
You'll notice that in the Addendum they say that it is likely that weapons were moved across the border to Syria, but no paper trail was left and officials aren't talking. Second, in the section on biological and chemical weapons, you'll notice that though they found some bio/chem in small amounts, there was a whole lot missing from the inventories. In addition, the ISG only managed to survey something like 17 of 47 suspected manufacturing sites before they left because they felt under threat. Finally, there is some indication that the WMD rationale was inserted at the request of the UK, because they thought it would convince the extreme lefties in the Labour party and the UK public to support the war.

HerStory (and your other pseudonyms), are you saying that the Iraqi people and others in the middle east are incapable of handling a democracy (constitutional or otherwise) because they are inveterate liars, cheaters, and manipulators? You might not be stating this directly, but it sure seems to be your subtext.....

Posted by: CanRev | 2005-10-26 4:06:53 AM

Dana: to be accurate, it was 80% of those who voted, and the turnout was about 60%. That means the total recorded support was 48% of eligible voters.

Not bad, especially when you consider we've got a government in power that recorded support of barely 25% of eligible voters, and we don't have terrorists threatening to blow us up at the ballot boxes.

Posted by: Ian in NS | 2005-10-26 6:40:11 AM

That's the ticket. Offer a critical opinion and get accused of racism. Only if you were actively looking to find, buried deeply in my lines, a subtext implying Iraqis cannot handle democracy would you find it. I wrote and think no such thing. I'm sure that for you this is a good way to distract attention from your intellectual poverty and lack of argument.

"What, you are critical! Racist!!"

You are like some liberal desperately trying to defend a broken affirmative action program.

In fact, where did I write the US shouldn't have supported Saddam in the eighties. Elsewhere on this blog I have written the opposite, that the ascendency of the mullahs to power in Iran demanded a response which united both sides of the cold war. Good work erecting that strawman though Mark.

The argument I'm advancing is that Liberal Democracy is a fragile thing. (though there is no good reason why it cannot be established everywhere). It is in no way inevitable.

It looks like what is being established in Iraq is what is known as an illiberal democracy.

Posted by: Herstory Dude | 2005-10-26 9:30:02 AM

Whether it was 80% turnout or 80% support, it sure beats the results of the vote on Canada's constitution.

It must be nice to get a say in how things will be done.

Posted by: Kathryn | 2005-10-26 10:48:16 AM

Especially considering one of the country's principle ethnic groups the Sunni, the ones presently fighting a violent insurgency, overwhelmingly rejected the constitution.

Not only that but they perceive the result as illegitimate. Seeing the document as as having been pushed through by fraudulant means. And the referendum as undeniably tainted and corrupt.

They apparently share this feeling with the poor shi'ites who make up Sadr's support base.

Things are going swimmingly.

Posted by: Head hurting... | 2005-10-26 11:26:52 AM

Herstory Dude

You still haven't answered basic questions. You make many assertions but don't provide evidence. Other than 'It's in the book'.

For example -why will it be harder to prosecute a war against terrorism'; who were America's Middle East allies; I'm sure you realize that 'times change' and the global infrastructure of one and two decades ago, is not the same as it is now. You can't expect national policies to remain the same. After all, at one time, peasants weren't allowed to leave their farms. At one time, black people weren't allowed to mix with whites..and so on. Therefore, we cannot conclude that the national policies of 1980 should never change and that policies in 2000 should be the same!

Above all, you still haven't defined what is an 'illiberal democracy'.

No- don't tell us to 'go read a book'. YOU are the one who is using these terms.

Again - what is an illiberal democracy. And why is Iraq heading in that direction?

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-26 11:34:31 AM

Actually, Herstory Dude/BlahBlahBlah and headHurting - (I think these are some of your 'names' )- your assertions are quite puzzling.

The Sunni in two provinces did not approve the constitution; in one - they did. I'm sure you know that the Sunni are now actually going to participate in the forthcoming elections - rather than refuse to participate. They are forming a political party. That's what democracy is all about.

The fact that you state that they perceive the result as illegitimate does not make the result illegitimate. Reality exists outside of perception.

Would you explain 'the document was pushed through by fraudulent means'??? Please explain how it was pushed through and how this was fraudulent.

Also- please provide your evidence that the 'referendum is undeniably (??!!) tainted and corrupt'.

Also, please provide evidence that they share 'this feeling' with the 'poor Shiites'.

Thank you in advance for the evidence. I'm sure you don't want to just provide empty statements.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-26 11:58:44 AM

That's rich. Coming from the Queen of empty statements, vacous assertions and the blindingly obvious. Thank you for reminding me reality exists outside of its perception.

Can I go to Philosphy 102 now?

What's next: up doesn't equal down. A detailed analyis of what's in your stomach?

You want evidence. Read the pdf. Do a google search -- is that biased to. Maybe even read a couple newspapers. Or don't. But I'm not collecting a bunch of sources and cutting and pasting endlessly for some lady who has repeatedly demonstrated she is too lazy to read a simple article. If it's too hard say so. You want to go on living in your fantasy world, go ahead, doesn't bother me.

Oh, if something such as an election result is percieved as illegitimate than it might as well be. It's not a science experiment. Hence the problem in Iraq.

Posted by: JFCETISADB | 2005-10-26 12:41:45 PM

No, Herstory and your various names. You cannot make claims without proof. YOU are the one who makes the claims.

Whether you got them from elsewhere or not - and I presume you are not just a sponge and soak up everything and then, squeeze it out here- You must do some thinking on your own..and that's why YOU make those assertions. So- prove your points. Or- is it that your claims are empty - and you can't prove them??

[Why do you keep changing your name - why don't you stick with one, and also, stop posting anonymously?]

YOU are the one who is making assertions:

- YOU state that the election is 'perceived as illegitimate'. So-, YOU have to provide the proof. Just because some people 'say so' - doesn't make it so. After all, some people have perceived that the earth is flat. That doesn't make it so. And because some have perceived it, doesn't mean that 'it might as well be'.

YOU stated that the document was 'pushed through by fraudulent means'. So- YOU provide the proof.

YOU stated that the referendum is UNDENIABLY tainted and corrupt. So- provide the proof.

And again - YOU keep talking about an 'illiberal democracy'. You've been asked, repeatedly, to define what this means. Why do you refuse to do so???

Telling someone to 'go read a book' is arrogant. YOU use these terms, so YOU provide their meanings. Is it that you don't understand them and just use them because they appeal to you?

So - why won't you answer any questions?

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-26 1:07:33 PM

Herwhatever: In the 1997 election the Liberals got 38.5 % of the vote yet formed a majority government with 155 seats. Surely an "ilLiberal democracy"? If I "perceive" that result as illegitimate does that give me the right to start killing innocent civilians in Ontario where the Liberals took 101 of 103 seats?


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-26 1:57:37 PM

If either of you were at all familiar with the literally thousands of works written on democracy you would realise Odum is referring to the 'democracies' in Eastern Europe, Latin America and, yes, Iran.

Mark: Good work on the Liberal-bashing. Got no argument, start screaming the liberals suck. But go ahead: murder as many people as you want. I doubt anybody would consider it a legitimate political protest. You should start in Ottawa. I'll send you cookies in jail.

However, to suggest Canada is in any way equivilant to, say, Kenya or Zimbabwae is an insult to those suffering in those countries.

Posted by: YourStory Dude | 2005-10-26 3:20:10 PM

Incredible - We still can't get a definition of what is an 'illiberal democracy'.

What is the matter with Her/His/Dude/BlahWhatever?

We get insults. We get assertions. We get specious examples (who said anything about Kenya or Zimbabwe?). We get arrogant - Go Read The Book statements.

Hey - this isn't Your Class. We aren't your students and the Book isn't Assigned.

So- why don't You Who Asserts - why don't you answer the questions? Any of them? Including -

What is an 'illiberal democracy'? Define it. No - pointing to Eastern Europe, Latin America, Iran - won't answer the question. What's wrong with the Polish democracy, for example?

YOU have to define what is an 'illiberal democracy'. YOU used the terms. And WE are not your students. So, don't tell us to 'go read the book'.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-26 3:42:00 PM

An 'illiberal democracy' is a People's Democracy. Only four remain: North Korea, China, Vietnam and Cuba. Two of them have state-monopoly health care systems based on the same ideological approach as Canada's (guess which two don't and are having economic success).


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-26 5:59:04 PM

Man I'm loving this. Better than the World Series - cept no barn burners here since Herstory and Blahblahblah have WIPED the floor with the others.

If Bush riped off a mask to reveal that he's actually some kind of Evil Alien Overlord many of you would demand to know what's so wrong with an Evil Alien Overlord and would protest against the media's bias against Evil Alien Overlords.

Face it - most of you can NEVER be objective about the actions of a Bush lead America. Oh well I'm glad to see that even Stephen Harper (who neve met an American ass he wouldn't sniff) is finally talking tough about US bullying tactics. Now if he can learn, what's the problem with all you other old dogs?

Posted by: Justin | 2005-10-26 6:05:00 PM


Read Micheal Shannon's post, on this blog. Might be true might not. Has the wiff of truth about it. Of course there is no way to tell.

I don't have students. It's you who is the government funded academic, ET. And this isn't your classroom, so you don't get to make the rules. Just because you upper-case 'YOU' doesn't mean I have to do shit.

Why this resistence to reading? As an academic you should know the value of educating yourself, or restrict yourself to subjects you know something about.

Anyway it's a pretty common term, well-understood - though not entirely unproblematic - by those who study developing political process, which I would have thought you'd know since you love to lecture about how the Middle East will unfold into democratic paradise on earth.

But I surely won't define anything for you now. It's too amusing watching you get your knickers into such a twist.

Why is it rude to ask you to read Odom's book? I'm under no responsiblity to educate you. If you're out of your league then too bad. If you'd read it though you'd have some idea, hopefully, of what you're talking about.

Posted by: Hist-roy Dude | 2005-10-26 6:13:08 PM

Well-his/her/whatever dude - the reason that you should define your terms is because you, YOU, are the one who is using them. Therefore, when asked - you should not arrogantly say: Go Read A Book. You should define them. This is basic courtesy in any blog discussion and has nothing to do with classrooms.

Don't insult people. Grow up.

Don't move into hyperbole. Please tell me - when have I ever written that the ME will be a 'democratic paradise on earth'.

Yes, I do know quite a lot of what I am talking about. But, I define my terms. I don't tell people, when asked - to 'go read a book'.

You were asked to define your terms. You were also asked to provide evidence of various conclusions that you asserted. You refused to answer any questions, you refused to provide evidence, you refused to define your terms. It ought to be easy to define; yet you refuse. Why?

Therefore, I can only conclude that you, yourself, don't understand the terms well enough to tell us. And you refused to answer questions about your assertions because you don't have any evidence for them.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-26 6:59:29 PM

I'll save your head a bit of the banging on that brick wall, ET. I perused His/Hers/Whatever-story's link. The term "illiberal democracy" is no more defined in that paper than whats-his-name has defined it here. It goes on about "electoral democracy" can not become "liberal democracy" because there is no constitutional foundation -- but that clearly does not apply to Iraq, since they have just approved their constitution!

It also says that of the mature constitutional democracies that exist in the world, they all had favourable preconditions to their formation -- then never defines what those preconditions are, so there's no way to discuss whether those preconditions exist in or even apply to Iraq. It continues to say, and this is truly the disingenuous part of the so-called "argument", that another dozen or so arguments *could* be made on why Iraq will not become a liberal democracy, but since no good counter-arguments to those (undiscussed!) arguments have been made in the author's opinion, he feels no need to make them.

Basically, "Here's what I think, I could say why, but nobody's said why I'd be wrong, so I'm right."

I'd say it's time to call BS and be done with this troll.

Posted by: Ian in NS | 2005-10-26 7:14:12 PM

By the way - I'm not going to define 'illiberal democracy' - since YOU (whatever your name of the moment is) are the one using it - but -
despite its being a 'buzz term' since it was introduced by Zakaria in 1997 - I think it's a ridiculous term.

The fear of democracy being 'illiberal' (what a term!) which is to say, being defined only within 'majority rule' has been around for thousands of years. Plato rejected democracy because of that, but Aristotle rejected Plato's 'communism' - and insisted on private property - a basic tenet of a responsible, i.e., constitutional democracy. Majority rule (mob rule) has been discussed for centuries...Nothing new.

I know of no serious analyst who is silly enough to consider that democracy means just a 'majority vote'. The Iraqi people certainly aren't making that mistake - therefore, your claim, What's Your Name, that they ARE making that mistake, is in error. What do you think all their work about a constitution is about?

By the way, Zakaria's 2003 book felt that a liberated Iraq could become a model of genuine democracy for the region. Hmmm.

Oh - my profession is none of your business. I never mention it. You keep yours private (as well as your real name and contact). Therefore, since private property is important to you, you ought to respect it in others. All that is at issue on blogs, is what people write and discuss.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-26 7:31:42 PM

Thanks, Ian in NS.

That explains why the troll couldn't answer any questions. The original article was empty.

What's His Name is actually what one might call a Sponge Troll. That's someone who slurps up statements made by others, particularly if they suit his current prejudices, without any critical filtering on his own..and then..slurps them back out onto some blog. And insists that this drivel is Truth. But, a Sponge Troll can't substantiate anything. All he can do, is - sponge.

The term, as I said, isn't due to 'Odum' or whoever; I'd heard of it as Zakaria's - but, it's a ridiculous term. Especially since the whole nature of democracy has been argued about for centuries and centuries. And the 'founding fathers' of the US were certainly very aware of the problems.

Again - thanks. Enough.

Posted by: ET | 2005-10-26 8:20:31 PM

Let's look closely at how ET argues.

She hacks on Odom for claiming to have originated the term. But nobody ever claimed he did, least of all Odom. He was only refered to as a source. Then she claims she read it in Zakaria. Which only proves how she hasn't been following the debate since at least the 1970s. Zakaria did not invent the term. In fact who cares who invented it?

It resonates. It is a useful term.

Of course ET doesn't think so. Because the next thing she writes is it's ridiculous. (Zakaria is ridiculous?)

Why is it ridiculous?

Because, as ET writes, many throughout history, including the US's 'founding fathers', were wary of democracy's problematic nature. According to ET, because the problems associated with democracy have been argued for millenium, to label a state an Illiberal Democracy is ridiculous.

In what way does this make sense?

Do we have to use only Burke's terminology to discuss conservatism? No. Luckily we don't.

And what were these dangers they were wary of? A good contemporary example would be the danger of a populous tyrant, a la Ceasar Chavez, seizing power. To give a non-exclusive example: An authoritarian, or otherwise tyranical character of rule which would maintain a superficially democratic veneer: an illiberal democracy.

(I would have thought Chavez's regime supplied the dictionary definition for an illiberal democracy. I guess that is ridiculous).

Ian from NS.

Footnote 1, page 34. (2 of the pdf)

"1William E. Odom and Robert Dujarric, America’s
Inadvertent Empire (Yale University Press,
2004), Chapter 1. Hundreds of scholarly books
and articles have been written on this question—
too many to list here—but one only needs to take the list of conditions conducive to liberal democracy in Robert Dahl’s Polyarchy (Yale University Press, 1970) and match it to the conditions extant in Iraq to see how improbable the creation of a popularly supported constitutional order is in that country."

In case you're wondering about who this Odom is. That's Lt. General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a visiting professor at Georgetown University, ex-director of the US National Security Agency.

Here is his bio (I'm sure you'll find much to fault): http://www.hudson.org/learn/index.cfm?fuseaction=staff_bio&eid=OdomWill

The paper I quoted from was from a speech he gave at the Hudson Institute, reprinted in the National Interest. As stated in the pfd.

ET: To use another's ideas is not sponging, it's called being aware of the intellectual debate. It's called enlarging the scope of your ideas. And to not refer to other people's ideas when you use them is stealing.

And no Mark, North Korea, China, Cuba and Vietnam are not Illiberal Democracies, they are dictatorships.

Posted by: Phone Home | 2005-10-26 10:10:05 PM

Phone Home: Ah hah! You got that right. Now what about health care systems?


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-27 9:04:59 AM

What do health care system have to do with anything? Considering the available options, Canada has a good one.

Posted by: Herstory Dude | 2005-10-27 12:32:40 PM

I really don't have time to get any further into this, but His/Hers/whatever-dude-dudette-home-not -- even with the footnote, none of the terms of the discussion have been defined yet, either by you or the original author. We're no closer to knowing what "illiberal democracy" is than when we started, or what the preconditions for a mature democracy are, so that we can discuss them.

I think your entire "argument" comes down to something like, "Here's something I read, I agree with it (not gonna tell you why), you haven't read it so you can't tell me I'm wrong."

Posted by: Ian in NS | 2005-10-27 3:12:19 PM

Justin: Regarding Bush always being right, read the first post on this thread.

Herstory Dude: Health care options: what about all the western European systems that are a mix of public and private and generally give better results than Canada (e.g. France)? What Ralph Klein wants to learn from.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-27 3:27:02 PM

France provides a bad model for Canada. Not being a gateway system it allows anyone to visit any patient to visit any doctor whenever they feel like it. Thus it is too expensive. For example, Germany is attempting to change its system to be a gateway one, in order to save costs.

Visiting a specialist costs money.

France does have the best system. But it's expensive. They won't be able to pay for it much longer unless they free up their labout markets. It would be foolish for Canada to try and emulate France. It would end up costing us much more than we, as a society, could afford to pay. Maybe the US could, as that country would accrue savings from nationalizing large swaths of the health care system to reach French levels. But it would be politically impossible.

That said. Private Care could help. We just have to be careful not to allow things into the system which would cause costs to escalate. Private insurance has, in other juristictions, had a habit of causing this to happen.

The best thing, some would argue the only thing, advantageous about our single payer system is it makes it easy to cap costs.

And rising costs coupled with an aging population is, as everybody involved in this issue knows, the primary challenge faced by ever western health care system. Regardless of the mix between public and private. This is less an ideological argument than an argument about what works.

Is that the answer you wanted?

Posted by: Doctor Doom | 2005-10-27 3:41:13 PM

Doctor Doom: Close enough, as long as the current system is deep-sixed.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-27 5:41:02 PM

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