End of the Year

As we bid farewell to 2014 and tell it not to let the door hit it in the ass, I’ll post some year-end summaries, polls and articles for your reading pleasure. 2014 was a year with a lot of dumbassery — missing airliners, Obama’s foreign policy, zero tolerance idiocy, Obama’s economic policy, runaway Ebola nurses, Obama’s budget policy, etc.. But here’s an important reminder that, over the long term, things are pretty damn good:

Take war, for example – our lives now are more peaceful than at any time known to the human species. Archaeologists believe that 15 per cent of early mankind met a violent death, a ratio not even matched by the last two world wars. Since they ended, wars have become rarer and less deadly. More British soldiers died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme than in every post-1945 conflict put together.

We have recently been celebrating a quarter-century since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which kicked off a period of global calm. The Canadian academic Steven Pinker has called this era the “New Peace”, noting that conflicts of all kinds – genocide, autocracy and even terrorism – went on to decline sharply the world over. Pinker came up with the phrase four years ago, but only now can we see the full extent of its dividends.

I would call it the Pax Americana myself, but whatevs.

With peace comes trade and, ergo, prosperity. Global capitalism has transferred wealth faster than foreign aid ever could.

A study in the current issue of The Lancet shows what all of this means. Global life expectancy now stands at a new high of 71.5 years, up six years since 1990. In India, life expectancy is up seven years for men, and 10 for women. It’s rising faster in the impoverished east of Africa than anywhere else on the planet. In Rwanda and Ethiopia, life expectancy has risen by 15 years.

….

The Ebola crisis has led to 7,000 deaths, each one a tragedy. But far more lives have been saved by the progress against malaria, HIV and diarrhoea. The World Bank’s rate of extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day) has more than halved since 1990, mainly thanks to China – where economic growth and the assault on poverty are being unwittingly supported by any parent who put a plastic toy under the tree yesterday.

But surely we are destroying the planet with all this prosperity. Nope. Carbon dioxide emissions have fallen in most of the Western world along with every other pollutant imaginable. We are feeding more people on less land these days and genetic engineering is bringing us miracles like the golden rice which could prevent millions of cases of blindness.

There has been no better time to be human than right now. And, if we don’t get too stupid, we’ll be able to keep saying that for a long time.

Happy New Year.

Other Articles:

Be sure to read Dave Barry’s Year in Review:

In politics, the big story is the looming midterm elections, which have President Obama crisscrossing the nation at a hectic pace in a last-ditch effort to find a Democratic candidate willing to appear in public with him.

Be sure to vote for Popehat’s Censorious Asshat of the Year.

A good year-end post at Reason summarizes the Year in Neo-Victorianism. What’s striking is that the push for prudery and censorship is coming from the Left, not the Right. The Left’s illiberalism is one of the defining traits of modern politics.

Update: Radley Balko summarizes the year in civil liberties. This is an area where things are getting worse each year. All of our rights are being slowly chipped away by the government.

Comments are closed.

  1. Xetrov

    But here’s an important reminder that, over the long term, things are pretty damn good

    How “long term” are you thinking?

    The debt hit $18 Trillion, an increase of $8 trillion in 6 years. Definitely a “long term” problem.

    Social Security is running in the red for the first time in history, and shows no signs of stopping. Only a “long term” problem if you think 2033 when it’s estimated to run out of money as being a “long term” away.

    China officially passed us in GDP. How do you say “bow to your new masters” in Chinese?

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  2. richtaylor365

    Have to agree with Xetrov, a more accurate title for your post would be “Whistling Past The Graveyard”.

    The rosy scenario you and your links allude do ignores the obvious, to wit;

    Our wealth is illusory at best. Eventually the out of control national debt (and individual state unfunded pension liabilities) will have to addressed and there are only two solutions; massive and onerous taxation, or print more money and erode the value of existing dollars, either way wealth and prosperity will diminish.

    The world, as it is, is a chaotic mess. I would feel a bit more sanguine with a strong USA actively pursuing democratic principles internationally (Pax Americana has been a model blue print for a safer world) we have just the opposite working. The progressive policies of Obama, leading from behind, reducing America’s footprint, retreating from leadership, has only created a vacuum that is being filled by the likes of ISIL and an ever emboldened Putin.

    Jihadist insurgencies, the scimitar of the ever growing radical Islamist states, is growing worldwide. Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, radical islamists grabbing territory, establishing Sharia, and the body count grows. Safer world, indeed.

    And then we have a soon to be nuclear Iran, does anyone in his right mind think this will enhance ME or world stability in any way?

    An op ed in the WSJ this morning describes the next two years as the most dangerous since the Cold War ended, the 2 year window bracketing the existing wussified progressive policy in place that has already contributed to the growing world disorder. But this assumes a Reagan like figure taking the reins and righting the ship in 2016, I just don’t see it.

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    1) yes, the debt is a problem. On the other hand, it is a lot less of a problem than it was just two years ago. Long-term projections of debt have fallen to the tune of tens of trillions of dollars. This is a crisis that has to be addressed. But is it more important than a billion people rising out of poverty over the last decade?

    2) China’s GDP exceeds our but that’s only because their population is four times bigger. They are reaching the limit of their economic expansion. All the low-hanging fruit has been picked. They still have massive gigantic rural poverty that is difficult if not impossible to address. They have amazing problems with corruption and pollution. Moreover, because of their one-child policy, China is about to get older faster than any other nation in history. The hysteria over “bowing to our Chinese masters” is overblown. These are the same people who, twenty years ago, were saying the Japanese were going to take over the country. They were wrong then and they’re wrong now.

    3) The unfunded pensions are a problem. However, those are already being addressed. Some states have been shoving those debts onto cities, which have been declaring bankruptcy where the pension stakeholders are taking big haircuts on their benefits. Other states, like Wisconsin, have been addressing the problem more directly. It’s a huge problem, yes, but there are solutions other than massive taxation or inflation. We know this because several cities and states have already implemented them.

    4) Whatever mess the world is in, the fact is that we are experiencing an era of unprecedented peace. When I was born, 2/3 of the world was under Communist control and we were perpetually thirty minutes away from a global nuclear war. There were several times as many civil wars going on around the world and they were far bloodier. A decade ago, Africa was experiencing a horrific series of wars and genocides that killed millions. Three decades ago, every government in central America was in danger of being toppled by Communist thugs. Look beyond the headlines. The danger of Islamism is far more manageable than the problem of Communism was.

    I agree that we have problems that we need to deal with. We will always have problems we need to deal with. There are problems you didn’t mention that I worry about such as the rise of anti-biotic resistant disease, global warming, the Eurozone, sub-replacement fertility levels in first world countries, etc. That’s why I said “if we don’t get too stupid”. That’s why I blog. Progress doesn’t just happen. You have to actually do stuff.

    But these problems are not insurmountable. And if you gave me a choice of any era in history to live in, I would pick the era we have right now which has the fewest wars, the longest lifespans, the best health and the least poverty in history and it’s not even close. If you look at the Four Horsemen — Pestilence, War, Famine and Death — we may not have stopped them but at least we’ve forced them to ride on ponies.

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  4. Xetrov

    What does our vastly accelerated increase in the national debt have to do with a billion people rising out of poverty? We had to go much deeper into debt to make that happen? That makes about as much sense as taking out a lone on a million dollar home when you earn $32k a year because it helped the people on the other side of the city use the left-over cardboard from your home’s construction materials to build a shanty.

    You missed the biggest problem of all that has the very real potential to bring everything crashing down – Career Politicians, and Lobbyists in Washington.

    Politicians that care more about being re-elected than actually doing what is beneficial for the country will continue to destroy this nation one piece at a time. And the low-information apathetic voter base that continues to grow only exacerbates the problem. Politicians want to be reelected, so they will continue to ignore things like the debt, Social Security, etc. because fixing the problems will be painful for voters, and they can’t have that because they might not get reelected. Look at Obamacare as an example. It has for all intents and purposes failed utterly at reducing healthcare costs as was promised. But no politician is seriously considering repealing it no matter what the GOP talking points say because once it’s repealed, the top headline on just about every MSM source would be about John Doe losing his newly acquired health insurance because it was repealed, and how that’s so-and-so’s fault in Washington.

    CM talks about income inequality and how big of a problem that is becoming as less people have more money. But the real problem is political inequality. Power in Washington being condensed and concentrated by fewer and fewer individuals who are really answerable to no one because of apathetic voters. One example? John McCain. This move – http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2014/12/31/report-john-mccain-leading-purge-of-az-conservatives/ should get McCain removed from office. But instead, it’s looking like his senile “straight talk (bullshit) express” will be re-elected in 2016 again. Congress as a whole has an approval rating in the teens, and has for years, yet they have a 90+% reelection rate. How? There are people who want Clinton to run in 2016. They are excited about it. About a woman who for all intents and purposes as Secretary of State let one of her ambassadors get murdered, and then helped the administration lie about it for weeks to try to prevent a political disaster during an election. They’re excited for this woman to be President. I have no words to express the dismay I feel at that thought.

    So yes, the world may be in a better situation at this very moment. But tomorrow, we’re all fucked if the current course continues.

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  5. richtaylor365

    We seem to keep having the same argument over and over, it does not matter that we are spending less than before, we are STILL spending more than we take in, the yearly deficits are still there, the national debt is STILL increasing year over year, not decreasing, why you can’t see this as a recipe for disaster totally boggles the mind. And don’t count on bankruptcies to miraculously wipe away the unfunded liability problem, courts are backing the unions and not allowing municipalities to re negotiate, and states will ultimately ask the feds for rescue, no doubt they will comply, further eroding their fiscal sovereignty.

    You bring up the Cold War, at least back then we had the luxury of dealing with rational adversaries, those that understood the validity of mutually assured destruction, that weren’t blowing themselves up at every opportunity, were not lopping off heads like it was fashionable, and never never declared a religious jihad terminating our existence. Now, you have an ever growing group of lunatics who welcome their own destruction, do not value their own lives or that of their children, and expect some mythical reward in the afterlife for the small price of turning into homicidal maniacs. I would take the Russians any day.

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  6. Hal_10000 *

    why you can’t see this as a recipe for disaster totally boggles the mind

    I do see it as a recipe for disaster. I also see it as a solvable problem, as demonstrated by the halving of the deficit over the last few years, something the doomsayers told us would never happen.

    You bring up the Cold War, at least back then we had the luxury of dealing with rational adversaries

    This is a standard conservative trope and one I am unconvinced of. Are you staying Stalin — who murdered millions of people and turned on anyone who looked at him wrong — was rational? Or Mao? The closest we ever got to nuclear war was with Khrushchev, who was an insane drunken murderer. The leaders of Iran, while happy to fling Islamist rhetoric around, have shown a tendency toward self-preservation. They may spout the extremist lines, but it’s not clear that they believe it or that they are willing to risk *their* lives. The Islamist are happy to send young stupid people to blow themselves up but they won’t risk themselves.

    The worst case scenario is that Iran may have a few nuclear weapons, far fewer than Israel, India or Pakistan have. They also face off against Israel, which has anti-missile capabilities. Something to be worried about? Of course. But to compare that to thousands of nuclear warheads under the direct control of a genocidal lunatic who openly spoke of his pending world conquest is a stretch, to say the least.

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  7. Hal_10000 *

    Look, I understand where you’re coming from. I too get worried that things are going to hell and the world is coming apart. But that’s the point of this post: it’s a good idea to take a step back and consider how far we’ve come. I don’t think there’s much question about whether things are better now than they were fifty years ago, thirty years ago or ten years ago. Are the problems we face bigger than we faced thirty years ago when most of the world was in poverty, the West was stagnating, billions were close to starving and an evil empire controlled by maniacs and possessing thousands of nukes controlled 2/3 of the globe? That problem looked insurmountable but it wasn’t.

    The need to think that things are bad is strong. Polls show that Americans think crime is worse than ever (it’s at 50 year lows) that teen pregnancy is worse than ever (it’s lower than since we began measuring) that the deficit is growing (it’s been cut and half and is now below 3% of GDP), that drug use is rising (it’s flat and smoking has plunged).

    I’ve been hearing the doomsayers ever since I became aware of politics. Like most people, I sometimes think they’re right; that the world is going to hell. But they’ve been wrong over and over and over again.

    When I first became aware of politics in the late 70’s, the doomsayers were saying that malaise was going to last forever, that the American economy would never recover, that the Soviet Union was unbeatable, that pollution of our rivers and air would only get worse, that the world be turned into a giant desert, that overpopulation was out of control. All of these … ever single one … turned out to be bullshit.

    In 1987, after the stock market crash, one kid’s dad talked to our econ class and said we were entering another depression. His opinion was not unusual. It was also bullshit.

    Some years later, I heard that the S&L crisis was going to bankrupt the country. It was bullshit.

    In the early 90’s, we were told that the collapse of the Soviet Union would cause world-wide chaos. That was the biggest piece of bullshit ever. When the Soviet Union collapsed, two-thirds of the civil wars ended and the world turned capitalist and began one of the greatest economic eras in history.

    After 9/11, I heard that we would get more and more attacks, nuclear strikes, dirty bombs, chemical weapons. None of that turned out to be true (so far).

    Just a few years ago, we were being told the deficit was spiraling out of control, that hyperinflation was coming, that we should be buying gold and ammo. That turned out to be bullshit.

    The doomsayers may be right one day. There’s a story Bill James tells about a kid he knew in school who drank like a fish and drove like a maniac. Everyone was convinced he would be dead by the time he was twenty. “Boy were we wrong,” he says, “He didn’t die in a car accident until he was almost thirty”. The problems above didn’t just magically go away. They were solved by people making smart decisions and working hard.

    But given the innumerable predictions of doom and disaster that have turned out not only to be wrong, but the exact opposite of true, I think cautious optimism is not insane. And I think the burden of proof is on the doomsayers.

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  8. richtaylor365

    I also see it as a solvable problem, as demonstrated by the halving of the deficit over the last few years, something the doomsayers told us would never happen.

    Any idiot can halve a 1 trillion dollar deficit, it is still deficit spending, for the umpteenth time. And no, the doom sayers (What a convenient way to marginalize those concerned with piss poor fiscal policy) were always focused on the cumulative effect of deficit spending, the national debt, you know that thing that will reach 20 trillion dollars once Obama jumps ship, that is the thing those doomsayers are worried about.

    it’s a good idea to take a step back and consider how far we’ve come

    No one is denying that. It’s great that the free markets and capitalism has lifted so many boats and allowed countless millions to prosper and throw off the shackles of poverty. It’s great that medical technology and scientific advancement in food production (2 areas BTW that I heavily invest in) has allowed people to live longer and feed their families. And it’s great that even in America, where poverty levels continue to rise, what we consider “poor” is laughable to other countries, in that our poor don’t starve, have color TV’s and cable, dishwashers, cars and air conditioning, more creature comforts than at any time in history.

    But when you label those genuinely concerned about the current state of affairs as “doomsayers”, and check off your litany of past false premonitions of doom, you risk the counter charge, those of a Pollyanna, an ostrich, or that of just having your head up your ass.

    You are an American, and have kids that will grow up to be Americans, what kind of a country do you want them to inherit? One diverse in wealth and opportunity (that shinning beacon on the hill) or another third world country mired in debt and taxing their citizens beyond what is reasonable?

    You know how important it is for a Strong America to take the lead internationally, Pax Americana (at least today) is dead, and bad things around the world are happening because of it. You dismiss a nuclear Iran (just like our president) as nothing to be concerned about. Tell me, once Iran gets the bomb, how soon before other ME countries like Saudi Arabia decide it is in their best interest to follow suit? How soon before an actual shooting war (hopefully before the mushroom clouds) exists between an Arab state(s) and Israel? How soon before other nations around the world decide that remaining under the nuclear umbrella of the US is a fool’s errand?

    A least the soviets could be counted on to value their own skin enough to not risk world war 3, the Islamic States have no such notions.

    No Chicken Littles here, but I do prefer to go in with my eyes (and options) open. Prosperity and peace can not be taken for granted.

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  9. Hal_10000 *

    No Chicken Littles here, but I do prefer to go in with my eyes (and options) open. Prosperity and peace can not be taken for granted.

    I agree. As I said above, problems don’t just solve themselves. And there is a great danger in Washington of thinking problems can be solved without doing anything.

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  10. West Virginia Rebel

    Technology. We can do things now that would have sounded like science fiction twenty or thirty years ago, and we take it for granted. That’s real progress.

    The triumph of the Invisible Hand. Communism has been discredited. The Chinese are crony capitalists now. Cuba and North Korea have become worldwide examples of how Communism can only survive through dictatorship. Most former Eastern European countries are now in NATO and/or the EU. Tinpot maroons who wear tinfoil hats and try to imitate Castro are finding, once again, that it doesn’t work.

    At any rate, hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year. Also RIP Mario Cuomo.

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  11. AlexInCT

    I agree. As I said above, problems don’t just solve themselves. And there is a great danger in Washington of thinking problems can be solved without doing anything.

    I see the problem, Hal: you mistakenly think these people want to solve problems instead of just growing their own power an personal wealth. If they really wanted to start solving problems, they would stop passing all these laws that serve to help them help themselves by helping those connected to them in return for big payoffs.

    The first thing this country needs to do is to not spend more than it takes in, and the most important step to take to make that possible is to fundamentally change the social contract to help those that help themselves while changing the laws that have choked the economic landscape so politicians can garner big payoffs from those that want to protect their own monopolies. We are running out of other people’s money at a time that more people need to be sucking on the government’s teat because they have crippled our economy with ludicrous anti-capitalist bullshit over regulation. We could cut all military spending today, and it wouldn’t make a bit of a difference if we stay the course we are on. The socialist experiment has failed, and we need to admit that we can’t take care of the people that won’t do most of it for themselves.

    The commies in this country should take a closer look at Europe where the gravy train has finally reached the end of the line. While the taxes remain at the same super high level, they social output has steadily been rolling back to the point where it is all but vanishing. They no longer have the free healthcare, education, or social systems the left here pines for. I hazard the point they never really did either, and the only countries that have tried it have failed miserably (USSR, Chicomms, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela come to mind). The only sustainable and functional system is one where the social network takes care of the productive when they face hard times and those that truly can’t work, and the non productive quickly learn that they are going to have to give up that dream of leaching from the productive. Of course it will also require a robust and growing economy to provide jobs, which means we are going to have to stop politicians from pushing their fucked up unproductive and wasteful agenda (like the green movement has been doing). Let the market decide whom wins and whom loses: not the political class and their masters. And this reality doesn’t only apply to the US: it applies to the global economy we now have at large.

    The fact of the mater is that if we stay the course we are on, the non productive people are going to collapse the system and then we will all go back to the dog-eats-dog days with most of these criminal progressives being the ones wearing the milk bone underwear.

    Oh yeah, and Happy New Year to all of you bastages!

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  12. Hal_10000 *

    Tell me, once Iran gets the bomb, how soon before other ME countries like Saudi Arabia decide it is in their best interest to follow suit? How soon before an actual shooting war (hopefully before the mushroom clouds) exists between an Arab state(s) and Israel? How soon before other nations around the world decide that remaining under the nuclear umbrella of the US is a fool’s errand?

    I don’t dismiss the danger of an Iranian nuke. I dismiss the idea that this a fundamental world-changer and more dangerous than a crazed Nikita Khrushchev having thousands of them. In fact, I’m far more worried about Russia right now than anything Iran might do in the near future.

    But now we’ve moved on from the “Iran be crazy” argument to nuclear proliferation one. Because clearly Iran developing a nuclear weapon is more likely to scare ME nations than Israel having many? Iran has been working on nuclear weapons for a couple of decades now and are perpetually six months away from one. The idea that 1) they will finally get one; 2) this will provoke the ME nations in a way that Israel’s possession of a nuke doesn’t; 3) that the other ME nations will develop nuclear weapons; 4) that this will provoke a shooting war; 5) that all of the above will happen on a timescale of anything than 20 years or more is the plot of a good episode of 24 but not reflective of what is likely to unfold in the middle east.

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  13. AlexInCT

    I don’t dismiss the danger of an Iranian nuke. I dismiss the idea that this a fundamental world-changer and more dangerous than a crazed Nikita Khrushchev having thousands of them. In fact, I’m far more worried about Russia right now than anything Iran might do in the near future.

    That tells me you lack understanding how bad things have gotten. Hal. Obama’s foreign policy (or lack there off) has not made Russia more dangerous. What it has done is shown everybody – from tin pot dictators to top men like Putin – that Obama is a fucking idiot and the US, with him at the helm, is nothing but a paper tiger. That is a recipe for disaster. The Russians will not become an issue because the coward pro-communism bitches running the country now would never dare actually stand up to Putin. These morons however would stand up to someone they perceived as weak, or worse, to our allies (Israel will act if they believe Iran will get a bomb otherwise, because they are not insane kumbaya dreamers like the rest of the world) and that’s where things will go out of control.

    If the shit hits the fan it will not be because of someone else: it will be because of the weakness and moral vacuum of the leftards. You can’t pretend the world would be a better place without a strong US willing to wield the club like these idiots do, and that’s why we are going to get a painful reckoning sooner than later.

    But now we’ve moved on from the “Iran be crazy” argument to nuclear proliferation one. Because clearly Iran developing a nuclear weapon is more likely to scare ME nations than Israel having many?

    Track record matters. I don’t recall anyone running Israel claiming they had the holy duty of wiping out infidels and forcing the Jewish religion on the world by the sword. Nobody took Hitler’s final solution commentary seriously either because that was just considered crazy talk, and the people affected by that lack of perspective can be forgiven for not wanting to take that chance again with someone that wants nuclear weapons to implement their final solution.

    BTW, you can answer your question very quickly by looking at how the neighbors of the only ME countries that have tried to get the bomb reacted. When Israel got it the Arabs all postured and cried foul, but they lived fine with it. When Iraq was putting its program together and Tel Aviv send in the planes to bomb Saddam’s French built reactor, the whole world breathed a sigh of relief, despite the fact they claimed otherwise. In hindsight Israel did us all a major service. Now Iran is working hard to get it and the Arabs have made it very clear that if that happens they will all seek a bomb. That’s telling. They seem to be far less concerned with a Israeli bomb than they are with an Iranian bomb, and that’s because they know why Iran wants it.

    We ignore that at our own peril.

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  14. richtaylor365

    Typical liberal trope, ridiculing legitimate safety concerns with derisive tired old 24 comparisons, nothing ever changes. Although some would look at what happened in Crimea, or the massive territorial gains of ISIL and wonder how those fantasy backward thinking 24 writers missed those.

    But i’m sure you are right, nothing to worry about wrt Iran and their nuclear ambitions, those rational sane humanitarian thinking Islamists have always stepped up to the right thing in the past. More right wing hysteria, no doubt, easily dismissed. Move along, nothing to see here.

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  15. Hal_10000 *

    Typical neocon trope, dismissing any doubt about whether the dangers we face are apocalyptic and ascribing any hesitation to thinking Islamists are wonderful humanitarians who we don’t need to be concerned about them. Why don’t you throw in a Neville Chamberlain comparison while you’re at it?

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  16. Poosh

    “Whatever mess the world is in, the fact is that we are experiencing an era of unprecedented peace.”

    And? We deserve better. Things SHOULD be better. It’s 2014.

    Things are pretty damn good healthwisde … should I not be bothered about cancer which kills people on apocalyptic levels and ruins entire families on a daily basis? We deserve better.

    “Why don’t you throw in a Neville Chamberlain comparison while you’re at it?”

    But that would actually be apt, so maybe you have, yourself, wondered about that issue? It’s that those awful “neocons” and austrian types etc etc predicted that 2014, 2013 etc would contain historical events which would LEAD to catastrophe down the road – much like many predicted the same when Hitler rolled up, like a boss, into the Rhineland.

    Keep in mind the same DOOMSAYERS or whatever warned about the recent recessions. They were ignored. And they were right.

    Our civilization really is a turning point. The sky is falling. Slowly.

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  17. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  18. Section8

    What has New Zealand done lately? What’s the status of their peace brokering with the ISIS using that diplomatic prowess? How about the child raping UN? How come they aren’t making progress? It would be nice to see your country make itself useful for a change. Let us know when you have something of value to report.

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  19. CM

    What has New Zealand done lately? What’s the status of their peace brokering with the ISIS using that diplomatic prowess? How about the child raping UN? How come they aren’t making progress? It would be nice to see your country make itself useful for a change. Let us know when you have something of value to report.

    Last Thursday we took our seat on the UNSC after a successful two year campaign to get elected. Our most recent Prime Minister is the head of the UN Development Programme and apparently will be on the shortlist to be the next Secretary General. Since the formation of the UN NZ has been actively engaged. Probably because you’re American you might not know this but we are small and geographically isolated, therefore we have very little control over much larger countries or significant events. The UN system is the way we can punch above our weight (other than by contributing troops in wars – of all Commonwealth countries we lost the greatest proportion of our population in WW1. WIth respect to ISIS in addition to humanitarian aid we’re actively involved in training Iraqi troops to fight them and we’re also assisting with respect to intelligence (as part of the Five Eyes Network).
    Let us know when you can report how this is in any way relevant to Obama’s foreign policy.

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  20. Section8

    Last Thursday we took our seat on the UNSC after a successful two year campaign to get elected. Our most recent Prime Minister is the head of the UN Development Programme and apparently will be on the shortlist to be the next Secretary General. Since the formation of the UN NZ has been actively engaged.

    Not really interested in your moving up the ranks of bureaucracy. Congrats though. Keep in mind all those child rapes and harassment in the name of peacekeeping are in “your name” being you’re such a big supporter of the UN. It’s only gone on for decades. Guess it doesn’t matter though, not when we can go on and on about poor KSM.

    Probably because you’re American you might not know this but we are small and geographically isolated, therefore we have very little control over much larger countries or significant events.

    Very well aware, and also irrelevant. It should be about your nation’s skill in handling things diplomatically, not your ability to throw your weight around remember? Nice cop-out though.

    The UN system is the way we can punch above our weight (other than by contributing troops in wars – of all Commonwealth countries we lost the greatest proportion of our population in WW1.

    Nothing stopping you from brokering peace deals with anyone. Use your diplomatic prowess.

    Let us know when you can report how this is in any way relevant to Obama’s foreign policy.

    Never said it was relevant. Of course this thread wasn’t exclusive to Obama’s foreign policy. I guess you didn’t read all of it, probably because you’re from New Zealand.

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  21. Iconoclast

    Obviously any (genuine) assessment of what Obama has done has to be seen in the context of what he was left with.

    Of course. Still gotta blame Bush…

    More importantly, it showed “tin pot dictators to top men like Putin” that America couldn’t ‘win’ in either Afghanistan or Iraq…

    The surge in Iraq was proving successful, in spite of the liberal taking points that claim otherwise. Obama pulled defeat from the jaws of victory on that one, just as many predicted he would.

    That’s not to say that I think Obama’s foreign policy has been an overall success.

    Nobody with a smidgeon of intelligence would make such a claim with a straight face, yet here you are, defending it nonetheless. And blaming Bush, right on cue.

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  22. Iconoclast

    More importantly, it showed “tin pot dictators to top men like Putin” that America couldn’t ‘win’ in either Afghanistan or Iraq, even with such disparities in military power.

    Interesting how Putin didn’t start making any moves until after Bush was out of office and Obama was in. But it’s still Bush’s fault somehow. And it’s funny how Romney was trashed by CM for lacking foreign policy experience, even though Romney did indeed see Putin as a potential threat. Obama mocked Romney for making that assessment. Can’t blame that on Bush…

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  23. CM

    Use your diplomatic prowess.

    Yes, well that’s kinda the main point of getting a seat at the UNSC table.

    BTW the “probably because you’re American” thing was a jibe.

    Of course. Still gotta blame Bush…

    Very obviously the context of what ANY President is left with will play a big part of how they handle foreign policy. But you go right on ignoring all context by sticking your finger in your ears and repeating that lame partisan talking point. The differences between you Alex decrease all the time.

    The surge in Iraq was proving successful, in spite of the liberal taking points that claim otherwise.

    The whole thing was a fuck-up from start to finish. It still is. For example a large number of the professional class in Iraq left and haven’t returned. The surge didn’t reverse that.

    Obama pulled defeat from the jaws of victory on that one, just as many predicted he would.

    Of course. Gotta blame Obama.
    Victory? Ye gods you are deluded if you think that’s what any sort of victory looks like. How on earth was it going to be victory?

    Nobody with a smidgeon of intelligence would make such a claim with a straight face, yet here you are, defending it nonetheless. And blaming Bush, right on cue.

    I’m doing neither. Anyone with a smidgeon of intelligence would realise that.

    Interesting how Putin didn’t start making any moves until after Bush was out of office and Obama was in. But it’s still Bush’s fault somehow.

    All I’m saying is that context is important. Never said everything was Bush’s fault. That’s you telling me what I mean (something you’re banging on about hopelessly elsewhere).

    And it’s funny how Romney was trashed by CM for lacking foreign policy experience, even though Romney did indeed see Putin as a potential threat. Obama mocked Romney for making that assessment. Can’t blame that on Bush…

    You’ll need to be more specific – that is quite a long thread and almost all my posts have been cowardly and childishly hidden. And I’ve never blamed everything on Bush – you should probably stop simply reciting bumper sticker slogans posted to you by the Tea Party.

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  24. CM

    Interesting how Putin didn’t start making any moves until after Bush was out of office and Obama was in.

    In late February 2014, Russia began to send unmarked troops and military equipment into Ukraine in what has been termed a stealth invasion,[54][55][56] following the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution and Euromaidan movement, including the contentious ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014%E2%80%9315_Russian_military_intervention_in_Ukraine

    But obviously Obama was singlehandedly to blame for the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which Bush had kept from happening for 8 years by invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

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  25. AlexInCT

    But obviously Obama was singlehandedly to blame for the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which Bush had kept from happening for 8 years by invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Boosh was singlehandedly to blame for the intelligence communities of the world getting it wrong for decades, for a democrat controlled congress voting to approve the wars, for the UN going along with all that until they realized they were going to lose their lucrative criminal deals with Hussein, and for the majority of democrats actually not just hoping all military actions would lead to failure and tons of soldiers would die, but actually doing things to make these outcomes more plausible, so you will pardon me for having zero sympathy for your bullshit CM.

    Let me remind you that Reagan inherited far worse from Carter, but he fixed that, in a few short years, while having to work with a democrat controlled congress that resented the fact he trounced them not once, but twice.. Obama has just complained about Boosh and then out-Booshed Boosh in every conceivable way. But he had to do it because Boosh did it first. I have a feeling that if a republican won the presidency next and blamed Obama for how bad shit was while doing only destructive shit – like Obama and the left have been doing – that you wouldn’t accept his excuses with such aplomb.

    And you must live in one major bubble to not admit that in every conceivable way Obama and the left’s policies during their tenure have overwhelmingly hurt the middle class at the expense of growing their dependent voter base and enriching their friends. Fucking retards the lot of you collectivists.

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  26. CM

    I never claimed that Bush was responsible for any of those Alex. Unfortunately you’re again forced to just make shit up to support your nonsense.

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  27. Iconoclast

    Very obviously the context of what ANY President is left with will play a big part of how they handle foreign policy.

    This is meangless; a “policy” is simply a strategy for dealing with whatever contingencies arise. But a given Administration is fully responsible for whatever strategy they develop. Trying to pin any of that on the preceding Administration is nuts. Two different Administrations could have completely different strategies for dealing with the same inherited situation.

    Victory? Ye gods you are deluded if you think that’s what any sort of victory looks like. How on earth was it going to be victory?

    We could debate what victory looks like, but you appear to have your mind already made up that absolutely nothing could qualify. What is certain is that Obama basically informed our enemies exactly when we would bail out of Iraq, so they simply bided their time.

    You’ll need to be more specific – that is quite a long thread and almost all my posts have been cowardly and childishly hidden.

    Oh you poor baby. The specific post was from October 23, 2012 6:29 PM:

    Obama has the benefit of 4 years of briefings and intelligence. Romney has nothing, and it shows.

    In spite of this, Romney was right about Russia and Obama was wrong to dismiss it they way he did. That “benefit of 4 years of briefings and intelligence” certainly didn’t seem to help Obama, and it shows.

    But obviously Obama was singlehandedly to blame for the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which Bush had kept from happening for 8 years by invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Not at all sure what you’re trying to prove, here. You are the one who brought up the Bush Admninistration in the first place, and I am the one saying that the Bush Administration is irrelevant. And your snark above seems to agree, given that it admits that Putin was making moves in 2014, solidly in the Obama Administration era and quite removed from the Bush era, although I doubt that such was your intent.

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  28. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  29. Iconoclast

    For someone on a ‘thanks-for-telling-me-what-i-meant’ jag you sure do love to tell me what i mean.

    You appear to have difficulty comprehending the phrase, “you appear to have”. You invoked deities in which you presumably do not believe, and suggested that I was delusional to think that we had achieved victory in Iraq, which is not something I claimed. My implicit claim was that victory was a possible outcome, but that Obama’s efforts made that outcome unreachable. I didn’t claim that victory had been obtained. The overall tone of your remarks was that the very idea of victory was preposterous, but sure, I may have misunderstood.

    Acknowledging that Obama has had the BENEFIT of all the briefings and intelligence information (and Romney has nothing) is hardly trashing Romney.

    Saying, “Romney has nothing, and it shows”, certainly does come across as trashing Romney, denials notwithstanding.

    It’s the opposite, if anything.

    Wow…

    What would Romney have done which would have prevented Putin from reacting to the Ukraine situation like he did?

    I have no idea if he would have done anything, but the issue is that Romney correctly assessed Putin as a potential threat and was mocked for it, even though it turns out he was correct. Any other “blunders” that Romney may have committed on the foreign policy front are just a diversion from that point, as is asking about what Romney would have specifically done.

    It’s far too simplistic to suggest that taking a hawkish approach means that a geopolitical foe will simply acquiesce as a result.

    Where, exactly, did I make that suggestion?

    You are the one who brought up the Bush Administration and Putin…

    In reality the Russia/Crimea situation has very little, if anything, to do with the US.

    …so why bring it up at all, then? If Putin is irrelevant, then he’s irrelevant.

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  30. CM

    My implicit claim was that victory was a possible outcome, but that Obama’s efforts made that outcome unreachable.

    Ok so what would that victory look like in your opinion, and what specifically did Obama do to make it unreachable? You are correct though – I did not see how any victory could be achieved from the start, or any way through the mess. It was all fantasy-land nonsense.

    Saying, “Romney has nothing, and it shows”, certainly does come across as trashing Romney, denials notwithstanding.

    Hardly “trashing”. He did not have the benefit of those briefings and none of that intelligence (that’s fact), and did and said things that seemed to demonstrate this (as demonstrated by that example).

    Wow…

    Your denials and statements of wonder notwithstanding.

    I have no idea if he would have done anything, but the issue is that Romney correctly assessed Putin as a potential threat and was mocked for it, even though it turns out he was correct.

    Well he did later soften his view from “”without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe” to “No. 1 adversary” in terms of UN votes and emphasized it’s not an enemy of the kind launching missiles at American shores. Election campaigning rhetoric and zinger-seeking aside, is there evidence that Obama’s actual approach dismissed the threats that Romney was talking about? After all, working alongside someone doesn’t necessarily mean that threats have been ignored or dismissed, it may just reflect a difference in approach in dealing with them.

    In 2008, Romney called for more collaboration with China and Russia. In a debate four months ago, he put Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the same category — among the “world’s worst actors” — as Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He labeled Russia the United States’ “No. 1 geopolitical foe,” in a March interview on CNN. The latter statement drew widespread scorn as a throwback to Cold War-era politics.

    Yet Russia represents another instance in which Romney and Obama don’t differ much, despite the rhetoric. Romney has assailed Obama as trying to appease the Russians by scrapping a George W. Bush-era plan to build a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe, and replacing it with a different plan to be completed by 2020. Yet Romney says he is willing to commit to the same timeline.

    Somehow in 4 years he had decided on a 180 degree change in approach (similar to his reversals on other issues). Possibly to try and differentiate himself from Obama and attract a particularly voting block (as I noted in my post).

    Where, exactly, did I make that suggestion?

    Not you, but that certainly seems to be a common assumption (Alex’s ‘paper tiger’ post above).

    You are the one who brought up the Bush Administration and Putin…

    Who/what else do we use as a relative real-life comparison? Can’t use Romney as we have little idea what he would have actually done. Prior to GWB we’re talking about the previous century.

    …so why bring it up at all, then? If Putin is irrelevant, then he’s irrelevant.

    Alex brought him up. I don’t think he’s irrelevant. My point was that Bush did much more to show the limitations of US power than Obama has, and Putin reacting to the Ukraine situation is unlikely to be relevant to the US position on Russia at the time (which had already hardened).

    The US public and the Western World in general had no appetite for any interventions or hawkish sabre-rattling after Bush. That’s the important context. Alex is mocking Obama but seems happy to ignore that context. You’re even mocking that context (jumping on the “Blame Boosh” bandwagon).

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  31. Iconoclast

    Ok so what would that victory look like in your opinion, and what specifically did Obama do to make it unreachable?

    I’ll let Charles Krauthammer answer those questions, although I am quite confident you won’t find the answers at all satisfactory.

    You are correct though – I did not see how any victory could be achieved from the start, or any way through the mess. It was all fantasy-land nonsense.

    So, when I “told-you-what-you-meant”, I was correct. But the real point is that I never tell you what you meant. Ever. I tell you how your words come across, which is not the same thing. I acknowledge that you could have meant something else entirely. It was you who started this whole “thanks-for-telling-me-what-I-mean” idiocy. I’m just pointing out when you’re guilty of that which you whined about.

    In that other thread, you state explicitly (emphasis added):

    Bullshit, your quote was meant to suggest

    If that ain’t telling me what I meant, then nothing qualifies and the concept has no meaning.

    I, on the other hand, say things like (emphasis added):

    We could debate what victory looks like, but you appear to have your mind already made up that absolutely nothing could qualify.

    And:

    Saying, “Romney has nothing, and it shows”, certainly does come across as trashing Romney, denials notwithstanding.

    I try to qualify what I say. I recall having to spank you a few months ago over this, when you thought you caught me with my pants down. I even fell for it, until I reviewed what I actually said. Turns out I didn’t have my pants down at all, but I had to bust a two-by-four over your head to get you to see that.

    Somehow in 4 years [Romney] had decided on a 180 degree change in approach (similar to his reversals on other issues).

    Assuming this is correct, assuming the LA Times is actually guilty of accurate reporting this time, it’s still beside the point. In truth, we may never know what specific steps Romney would have taken because he wasn’t elected. And I can post link after link stating that Obama’s approach is one of weakness:

    Obama’s Weakness Encourages Putin

    Score: Putin 6, Obama 0…And Counting

    GOP skewers Obama’s ‘weak’ response in Ukraine

    Ukraine Reveals to Us How Vladimir Putin Sees the Middle East

    As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way; In Putin’s View, Obama Is Doing Just Fine!

    But then I suppose you could just as easily post link after link stating that Obama’s approach is the only one that could possibly work…

    But the bottom line is that Romney’s assessment was valid, regardless of his alleged “180 change in approach” after the fact.

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  32. Iconoclast

    In 2008 George W. Bush signed the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement which included a deadline of 31 December 2011, before which “all the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory”. The last U.S. troops left Iraq on 18 December 2011, in accordance with this agreement.

    The 2008 SOFA was meant to be renegotiated. Team Obama, in fact, did enter negotiations, but only half-heartedly, and the talks ultimately failed. I personally believe Obama wanted all the troops out of Iraq, and simply used the 2008 SOFA as an excuse. So, Iraq did indeed turn into another Vietnam, where we likewise abandoned an ally in an unpopular war for political expedience.

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  33. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  34. Iconoclast

    Says Krauthammer (being a key Iraq war snake-oil saleman), because that’s the narrative required by his political stance on the war and on Obama. People who know better say otherwise, for good reason (mainly because the political situation in Iraq was quite different).

    You mean “people” like the editors of the New York Times, that well-known Right-Wing propaganda rag for the neocons?

    Despite Difficult Talks, U.S. and Iraq Had Expected Some American Troops to Stay

    And for the negotiators who labored all year to avoid that outcome, it represented the triumph of politics over the reality of Iraq’s fragile security’s requiring some troops to stay, a fact everyone had assumed would prevail.

    At the end of the Bush administration, when the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, was negotiated, setting 2011 as the end of the United States’ military role, officials had said the deadline was set for political reasons, to put a symbolic end to the occupation and establish Iraq’s sovereignty. But there was an understanding, a senior official here said, that a sizable American force would stay in Iraq beyond that date.

    In June, diplomats and Iraqi officials said that Mr. Obama had told Mr. Maliki that he was prepared to leave up to 10,000 soldiers to continue training and equipping the Iraqi security forces. Mr. Maliki agreed, but said he needed time to line up political allies.

    Or that other conservative rag, the New Yorker?

    What We Left Behind

    The consequences became clear when negotiations began over the crucial question of withdrawing American troops after 2011. The leaders of all the major Iraqi parties had privately told American commanders that they wanted several thousand military personnel to remain, to train Iraqi forces and to help track down insurgents. The commanders told me that Maliki, too, said that he wanted to keep troops in Iraq. But he argued that the long-standing agreement that gave American soldiers immunity from Iraqi courts was increasingly unpopular; parliament would forbid the troops to stay unless they were subject to local law.

    President Obama, too, was ambivalent about retaining even a small force in Iraq. For several months, American officials told me, they were unable to answer basic questions in meetings with Iraqis—like how many troops they wanted to leave behind—because the Administration had not decided. “We got no guidance from the White House,” Jeffrey told me. “We didn’t know where the President was. Maliki kept saying, ‘I don’t know what I have to sell.’ ” At one meeting, Maliki said that he was willing to sign an executive agreement granting the soldiers permission to stay, if he didn’t have to persuade the parliament to accept immunity. The Obama Administration quickly rejected the idea. “The American attitude was: Let’s get out of here as quickly as possible,” Sami al-Askari, the Iraqi member of parliament, said.

    Hot! Thumb up 7

  35. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  36. Iconoclast

    That supports what I wrote.

    A single, cherry-picked statement “supports” what you wrote? Well, maybe, but when you include everything I quoted, including Obama’s ambivalence “about retaining even a small force in Iraq”, and so forth, it supports what Krauthammer said. Krauthammer didn’t use the phrase, “half-hearted”, by the way. What he explicitly said was:

    Obama was left with but a single task: Negotiate a new status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) to reinforce these gains and create a strategic partnership with the Arab world’s only democracy.

    He blew it. Negotiations, such as they were, finally collapsed last month. There is no agreement, no partnership. As of Dec. 31, the U.S. military presence in Iraq will be liquidated.

    And it’s not as if that deadline snuck up on Obama. He had three years to prepare for it. Everyone involved, Iraqi and American, knew that the 2008 SOFA calling for full U.S. withdrawal was meant to be renegotiated. And all major parties but one (the Sadr faction) had an interest in some residual stabilizing U.S. force, like the postwar deployments in Japan, Germany and Korea

    That last bit is supported by what I quoted from the New York Times:

    At the end of the Bush administration, when the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, was negotiated, setting 2011 as the end of the United States’ military role, officials had said the deadline was set for political reasons, to put a symbolic end to the occupation and establish Iraq’s sovereignty. But there was an understanding, a senior official here said, that a sizable American force would stay in Iraq beyond that date.

    And the New Yorker:

    The leaders of all the major Iraqi parties had privately told American commanders that they wanted several thousand military personnel to remain, to train Iraqi forces and to help track down insurgents. The commanders told me that Maliki, too, said that he wanted to keep troops in Iraq.

    That supports what Krauthammer said, like it or lump it.

    As far as Obama’s being “half-hearted”:

    President Obama, too, was ambivalent about retaining even a small force in Iraq. For several months, American officials told me, they were unable to answer basic questions in meetings with Iraqis—like how many troops they wanted to leave behind—because the Administration had not decided. “We got no guidance from the White House,” Jeffrey told me. “We didn’t know where the President was. Maliki kept saying, ‘I don’t know what I have to sell.’ ” At one meeting, Maliki said that he was willing to sign an executive agreement granting the soldiers permission to stay, if he didn’t have to persuade the parliament to accept immunity. The Obama Administration quickly rejected the idea. “The American attitude was: Let’s get out of here as quickly as possible,” Sami al-Askari, the Iraqi member of parliament, said.

    That supports the contention that Obama was “half-hearted”, like it or lump it.

    Do you have anything which describes what victory looks like that isn’t based on a complete fiction?

    The only “complete fiction” is in your fertile imagination. Like I said, these left-wing sources support what Krauthammer said, your foot-stamping whines to the contrary notwithstanding.

    In the very next paragraph after your quotes:

    And immediately after that (emphasis added):

    Many Iraqi and American officials are convinced that even a modest force would have been able to prevent chaos—not by fighting but by providing training, signals intelligence, and a symbolic presence. “If you had a few hundred here, not even a few thousand, they would be coöperating with you, and they would become your partners,” Askari told me. “But, when they left, all of them left. There’s no one to talk to about anything.”

    And:

    Barbero was angry at the White House for not pushing harder for an agreement. “You just had this policy vacuum and this apathy,” he said. “Now we have no leverage in Iraq. Without any troops there, we’re just another group of guys.” There is no longer anyone who can serve as a referee, he said, adding, “Everything that has happened there was not just predictable—we predicted it.”

    Indeed, months before the election, American diplomats in Iraq sent a rare dissenting cable to Washington, complaining that the U.S., with its combination of support and indifference, was encouraging Maliki’s authoritarian tendencies. “We thought we were creating a dictator,” one person who signed the memo told me.

    And finally:

    After nine years of brokering agreements, the Americans had made themselves indispensable. “We were hardwired into the Iraqi political system,” Crocker told me. “From the very first days, they were all deeply suspicious of each other. Concession and compromise meant betrayal and death. What we could do is make them listen to us. It required constant engagement: we’d go to Maliki and explain our views, and ask him if he’d consider something. Maybe we would finally get him to say that he would, provided the Sunni leadership would do a series of things first. So we’d go back to the Sunnis. That’s the way it had to work.

    “We are not doing that anymore,” Crocker said, “and the system is still too underdeveloped, and there’s too much suspicion, for their leaders to do it on their own. That trusted middleman is still us. And we are not there.”

    The point is that, with a longer term military presence to provide stability and support for the diplomats, Iraq’s government could possibly have been made stable, but it would have required time and effort, neither of which Obama was interested in investing. Maybe Krauthammer simplified and spun it too much for your personal liking, but what I quoted supports the notion that, in spite of the difficulties, if a military presence could have been maintained, a stable Iraq could have resulted, but by yanking all troops after a half-hearted attempt at negotiating new SOFA, Obama pretty much guaranteed failure. I suspect failure is what he wanted, given that he opposed the war from day one.

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  37. Iconoclast

    Regarding immunity:

    What Happened to Immunity for U.S. Troops in Iraq?

    [T]here is another disturbing question left hanging by the current immunity situation. How much of the original rationale for giving up on a stay-behind force was driven by the immunity issue and how much was driven by political considerations related to Obama’s reelection campaign? As things played out in 2011, it fit a convenient presidential narrative that Obama would end our wars and bring our troops home. Campaign strategists could spin this “Obama-ended-the-war” story to help the president win re-election. Well, the war in Iraq has not ended (actually, it never did for the Iraqis) and our troops are back in the country — but without the immunity protections Obama claimed were essential.

    So the question remains: Why have President Obama and his advisors changed their minds on the necessity of having immunity for our troops?

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  38. Iconoclast

    I have no doubt that Obama would have copped a tremendous amount shit if he’d agreed something which meant US troops didn’t get immunity. But Krauthammer would like to ignore that and pretend that it wasn’t an issue at all.

    What Krauthammer actually said on the subject:

    The excuse is Iraqi refusal to grant legal immunity to U.S. forces. But the Bush administration encountered the same problem and overcame it. Obama had little desire to. Indeed, he portrays the evacuation as a success, the fulfillment of a campaign promise.

    So no, Krauthammer didn’t ignore it, nor “pretend that it wasn’t an issue at all”.

    That’s the beauty of having no standards.

    Yeah, you ought to know…

    And, according to my prior post, Obama did send troops back into Iraq without that immunity he would allegedly “cop a tremendous amount shit” over. I guess it’s okay to send in troops without immunity, as long as you don’t agree to do so up front. Or something.

    Indeed, he portrays the evacuation as a success, the fulfillment of a campaign promise.

    That statement includes a link to Obama’s October 21, 2011 speech on our pullout from Iraq, posted on whitehous.gov, wherein he does indeed couch the pullout as a fulfilled campaign promise. Some of his remarks:

    After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.

    Funny how he’s trying to take credit for what you yourself said was an agreement signed by Bush in 2008.

    So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.

    “As promised”. This tells me Obama had little incentive to negotiate the SOFA to keep troops in Iraq after 2011. He had a campaign promise to fulfil, thereby (presumably) strengthening his case for his eventual re-election. Sure, immunity was an issue, but it didn’t have to be a deal-breaker, unless, of course, Obama needed a deal-breaker…

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  39. CM

    CM’s dismissal of all that as “fictitious fantasy shite” in 5… 4… 3… 2…

    Wow, you’re really stooping to this level in order to kill off the discussion?

    A single, cherry-picked statement “supports” what you wrote?

    Not sure what you’re referring to there. I quoted the article title so you knew what I was talking about.

    None of what you’re quoting/linking to gets you around the fact that the political situation (and public sentiment) in Iraq was quite different by that point. It’s very convenient to just always blame Obama for everything, but often it does require ignoring reality.
    There is no evidence that Obama “blew it” – how do you blow it if the other side cannot find a way to agree. That is what Krauthammer and others hope, and therefore they just say it as if it were true, and their fans just lap it up. If Obama bent over backwards to keep a force then he’d be accused of deliberately setting up US troops to be prosecuted (you know, because he hates them all so much), and for being a hypocrite of saying he was against the war/occupation etc etc but keeping it going.

    That last bit is supported by what I quoted from the New York Times:

    That there WAS an understanding doesn’t make any difference to the fact that if the political and public sentiment situation changed, then that ‘understanding’ naturally must change (with you and K’hammer like it or not).

    Some Iraqi politicians, such as Sheikh Abbas al-Muhammadawi of the Brave Sons of Iraq Coalition, are already questioning whether the US military will really withdraw, and insisting that it must do so. McCain’s statements will only roil Iraq further.
    Let’s see. The Sadr II Bloc of Shiite clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr has 40 seats. Muqtada is die hard set against US troops being in Iraq, and has threatened violence over the issue. His bloc is key to the parliamentary majority of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, so if he got angry over this issue and pulled his support, the Iraqi government could fall.
    Then you have the Da’wa Islamiya [Islamic Mission] Party, headed by PM al-Maliki, which leads a coalition that has 89 seats in parliament. The Da’wa is a Shiite fundamentalist party that follows the ideas of Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (d. 1980) on the Islamic economy and Islamic law as a basis for society. Does McCain really think the Da’wa would vote for foreign military occupation?
    Then you have the Iraqiya list, 80% of which is now Sunni Arab. US troops have fought a lot of battles with Sunni Arabs, and it seems highly unlikely that they would vote for US troops in Iraq. They have 91 seats.
    There are 320 seats, and we’ve already come up with 220 “no” votes. Game over.

    http://www.juancole.com/2011/11/mccain-plays-politics-with-obamas-iraq-withdrawal.html

    And the New Yorker:

    And yet it would have been a huge political risk for al-Maliki to have extended the agreement (even if he was able to). The U.S. military presence in the country was none too popular with the Shi’ite majority, which was the primary base of is government (Al-Maliki was only able to beat out Allawi for the top job by aligning with al-Sadr, who has long made the withdrawal of all foreign troops a top demand).

    Asked by the Wall Street Journal in an interview shortly before the New Year about the possibility of U.S. troops staying on beyond 2011, al-Maliki was blunt: “The withdrawal of forces agreement expires on Dec. 31, 2011. The last American soldier will leave Iraq.” He said the agreement could not be extended or amended unless his government had the parliament’s backing to seek a new agreement. So, if there’s to be any U.S. military presence beyond New Year’s Eve 2011, it will have to be democratically agreed to by the Iraqi parliament. And that’s a decision in which al-Sadr will have a major say.

    http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2041026,00.html

    As far as Obama’s being “half-hearted”:

    Ultimately Obama’s degree of heart was a moot point given the political situation in Iraq and the fact that the Iraqi Parliament wasn’t going to agree.

    The only “complete fiction” is in your fertile imagination. Like I said, these left-wing sources support what Krauthammer said, your foot-stamping whines to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Cherry-picking avoids the wider picture. Easier to simply blame Bad Obama (there’s plenty of people looking to lap that up and look no further).

    The point is that, with a longer term military presence to provide stability and support for the diplomats, Iraq’s government could possibly have been made stable, but it would have required time and effort, neither of which Obama was interested in investing.

    Very dubious. You not likely to get stability when the population (and by reflection the politicians) increasingly resent the presence of foreign troops. And how do you insist on a longer term presence if you’re not wanted?

    Maybe Krauthammer simplified and spun it too much for your personal liking,

    He’ s not spinning, he’s talking complete shite (as per). It’s misinformation. Just another political hit-piece against Obama. I.e. what he gets paid to do.

    But ending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq was an overwhelmingly popular demand among Iraqis, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appears to have been unwilling to take the political risk of extending it. While he was inclined to see a small number of American soldiers stay behind to continue mentoring Iraqi forces, the likes of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, on whose support Maliki’s ruling coalition depends, were having none of it. Even the Obama Administration’s plan to keep some 3,000 trainers behind failed because the Iraqis were unwilling to grant them the legal immunity from local prosecution that is common to SOF agreements in most countries where U.S. forces are based.

    So, while U.S. commanders would have liked to have kept a division or more behind in Iraq to face any contingencies — and, increasingly, Administration figures had begun citing the challenge of Iran, next door — it was Iraqi democracy that put the kibosh on that goal. The Bush Administration had agreed in 2004 to restore Iraqi sovereignty, and in 2005 put the country’s elected government in charge of shaping its destiny. But President Bush hadn’t anticipated that Iraqi democracy would see pro-U.S. parties sidelined and would, instead, consistently return governments closer to Tehran than they are to Washington. Contra expectations, a democratic Iraq has turned out to be at odds with much of U.S. regional strategy — first and foremost its campaign to isolate Iran.

    http://world.time.com/2011/10/21/iraq-not-obama-called-time-on-the-u-s-troop-presence/

    but what I quoted supports the notion that, in spite of the difficulties, if a military presence could have been maintained, a stable Iraq could have resulted, but by yanking all troops after a half-hearted attempt at negotiating new SOFA, Obama pretty much guaranteed failure.

    Not if the Iraqi Parliament was never going to agree. It’s basing a fantasy outcome on a hypothetical that wasn’t going to happen. You might as well say that Bush lost Iraq at the beginning because he failed to reach an agreement with Saddam.

    I suspect failure is what he wanted, given that he opposed the war from day one.

    Of course. Because he hates America etc etc etc.

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  40. Iconoclast

    I suppose we could go ’round and ’round on this forever…
    How the Obama administration bungled the Iraq withdrawal negotiations

    As recently as August, Maliki’s office was discussing allowing 8,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops to remain until next year, Iraqi Ambassador Samir Sumaida’ie said in an interview with The Cable. He told us that there was widespread support in Iraq for such an extension, but the Obama administration was demanding that immunity for U.S. troops be endorsed by the Iraqi Council of Representatives, which was never really possible.

    Administration sources and Hill staffers also tell The Cable that the demand that the troop immunity go through the Council of Representatives was a decision made by the State Department lawyers and there were other options available to the administration, such as putting the remaining troops on the embassy’s diplomatic rolls, which would automatically give them immunity.

    But the bottom line is that I am supporting my original claims, your incessant balking notwithstanding. You have always been opposed to the was in Iraq, since day one, you will always only see it as a “clusterfuck” (which ALL wars are at some level), and, by your own admission, you will never, ever see anything remotely resembling victory from the situation, so you have little incentive to see things any other way.

    You have provided other insights, but you have not proven me wrong. Since your stance is that the Iraq situation is an absolutely clusterfuck where “victory” of any kind is a “fantasy”, there really is no point in continuing the discussion.

    Wow, you’re really stooping to this level in order to kill off the discussion?

    Well, you did come in right on cue to wield your “fantasy shite” nonsense, just as I suspected you would. No need to “stoop” when observing the blatantly obvious.

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  41. CM

    So no, Krauthammer didn’t ignore it, nor “pretend that it wasn’t an issue at all”.

    He DID pretend that it wasn’t an issue – by dismissing it as an ‘excuse’.
    He ignored the fact that Bush only just managed to get agreement, and things had altered in Iraq since that time. It’s all so very simplistic in Krauthammerland though. Bush Good, Obama Bad.
    Your denials notwithstanding (do we just write this under every post now?).

    Yeah, you ought to know…

    Wow, it burns it burns.

    And, according to my prior post, Obama did send troops back into Iraq without that immunity he would allegedly “cop a tremendous amount shit” over. I guess it’s okay to send in troops without immunity, as long as you don’t agree to do so up front. Or something.

    Brilliant. K’hammer’s whole piece is based on the concept of ‘or something’ (because it’s all pure speculation based on cherry-picking information) and yet here you are trying to throw that back at me.
    I’ll need to do some reading/research on the current issue. But 2 seconds of research provides this:
    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/04/us-troops-in-iraq-will-get-immunity

    Funny how he’s trying to take credit for what you yourself said was an agreement signed by Bush in 2008.

    But you’ve been arguing that there was an understanding that a residual would stay – which is it? Because obviously a complete withdrawal is different from an understanding that some would stay.
    Are you disputing the agreement signed by Bush (I ask because you seem to suggest it’s just me saying it)?

    “As promised”. This tells me Obama had little incentive to negotiate the SOFA to keep troops in Iraq after 2011. He had a campaign promise to fulfil, thereby (presumably) strengthening his case for his eventual re-election. Sure, immunity was an issue, but it didn’t have to be a deal-breaker, unless, of course, Obama needed a deal-breaker…

    So you’re suggesting that immunity WAS an issue now? If it was, how was it anything else but a MAJOR issue, if the Iraqi parliament was clearly not going to allow it?
    I have no doubt that Obama sought to make the best of the situation, but I fail to see how the immunity disagreement issue (which understandably killed off the deal) was part of his strategy. And they are two very different things.

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  42. Iconoclast

    …the fact that the Iraqi Parliament wasn’t going to agree.

    It wasn’t going to agree to immunity, but as my previous post suggests, there were ways around that. But the Obama Admninistration didn’t utilize them.

    But none of that seems to matter to you. You just cannot bear to see Obamam blamed, it appears, even when evidence to support blame is provided. You seem to think that providing counter-examples somehow nullifies the evidence. Maybe in your world, it does. And of course, it’s easy to be a naysayer. “It’ll never work!” “It’s hopeless!” “It’s a clusterfuuuuuuck!”

    Well, maybe, but you have yet to convince me that the situation is/was as utterly hopeless as you seem to revel in seeing it. If Obama wanted to keep troops in Iraq bad enough, he would have found a way to make it happen. He just didn’t want it bad enough. Nor should he have, based on the political realities. But that’s the point. Obama does what’s politically expedient.

    Of course. Because he hates America etc etc etc.

    Well, he certainly seems to hate certain aspects of it, whether real or imagined. He keeps insinuating that we’re a nation of racists, in spite of the fact that we have a black POTUS. And so on. He certainly seems to have had problems with the previous Administration. I wouldn’t consider it much of a stretch to believe he would want that previous Administration’s efforts to ultimately fail.

    For me personally, Obama has zero credibility. It’s a matter of historical record that he lied through his teeth to the American people to get Obamacare passed. He lied through his teeth about Benghazi. There’s no telling what else he lied through his teeth about. His IRS did target Conservative groups.

    Maybe Obama doesn’t necessarily hate America, but he certainly seems to have a lot of utter contempt for Americans.

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  43. CM

    Administration sources and Hill staffers also tell The Cable that the demand that the troop immunity go through the Council of Representatives was a decision made by the State Department lawyers and there were other options available to the administration, such as putting the remaining troops on the embassy’s diplomatic rolls, which would automatically give them immunity.

    I’m certainly going to spend some time looking into this issue/claim (if possible), as it seems very important to all this.

    You have provided other insights, but you have not proven me wrong.

    I cannot prove an opinion wrong which is based entirely on speculation. However I can certainly point out what K’hammer’s piece is misinformation.

    Since your stance is that the Iraq situation is an absolutely clusterfuck where “victory” of any kind is a “fantasy”, there really is no point in continuing the discussion.

    I was certainly interested to see how anyone could see any sort of victory coming from it all that wasn’t just based on speculative fantasy.

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  44. CM

    Maliki would not accept any wiggle room in the deadline or the completeness of the withdrawal. He knew how unpopular the U.S. military presence had become among his constituents, particularly Shiite Arab Iraqis. Kurds and some Sunni Arabs might have felt differently, but Maliki knew his voters. He held up the agreement as one of the signal achievements of his rule when he ran to retain the prime ministry in the Iraqi elections of 2010.

    It was the results of that election that sealed the fate of any U.S. effort to re-open the case for a continued U.S. military presence. Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiyya coalition won two seats more than Maliki’s State of Law group in the election, but neither achieved a majority. Had they been able to set their personal differences aside (their platforms were not that far apart), and had Maliki been willing to take the junior role in a partnership (as required of the smaller party), they might have been able to form a strong majority government. But that was not to be. Allawi flubbed his chance to put a parliamentary majority together without Maliki. Maliki stubbornly held on to his office. In the end, Maliki accepted a political deal brokered in Tehran that returned him to the prime ministry with the support of Shiite political groups closely aligned with Iran, like Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

    Once that coalition was formed, no U.S. diplomatic effort, no matter how skillful and concerted, was going to convince Maliki to alter the original withdrawal agreement and allow a substantial U.S. force to stay. Maliki was not so inclined anyway, but with the backing of Iran so central to his return to power, there was no conceivable set of inducements Washington could offer Maliki to move him off his position. Doing so would have jeopardized his hold on the prime ministry. One might criticize the Obama administration for not being more active in trying to broker an Allawi and Maliki coalition in the first place. But once Maliki’s ruling bargain was set in Tehran, the game was up. The United States gave Iraq the democracy it has. Now it has to live with it.

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/10/22/arab-politics-is-not-all-about-us/

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  45. Iconoclast

    I was certainly interested to see how anyone could see any sort of victory coming from it all that wasn’t just based on speculative fantasy.

    Not gonna happen when you dismiss all evidence as “speculative fantasy”.

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  46. CM

    It wasn’t going to agree to immunity, but as my previous post suggests, there were ways around that. But the Obama Admninistration didn’t utilize them.

    Certainly not according to al-Maliki:

    Asked by the Wall Street Journal in an interview shortly before the New Year about the possibility of U.S. troops staying on beyond 2011, al-Maliki was blunt: “The withdrawal of forces agreement expires on Dec. 31, 2011. The last American soldier will leave Iraq.” He said the agreement could not be extended or amended unless his government had the parliament’s backing to seek a new agreement. So, if there’s to be any U.S. military presence beyond New Year’s Eve 2011, it will have to be democratically agreed to by the Iraqi parliament.

    http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2041026,00.html

    But none of that seems to matter to you.

    Well I just said that claim seems to be important (and did not suggest it wasn’t anywhere else).

    You just cannot bear to see Obamam blamed, it appears, even when evidence to support blame is provided.

    Then I could just as easily say that you cannot bear to see blame go anywhere but to Obama (I can’t ever recall you ever posting anything positive about Obama before…..).
    But if that’s what you think then it’s no wonder you love the simple easy ‘explanation’ Krauthammer provides.
    We’re talking about K’hammers claim that it was Obama (solely) who was to blame for the failure to keep some troops, which would then transform Iraq into a stable flourishing democracy. He casually dismisses the immunity issue (on the basis that Bush overcame it) and never comes close to mentioning how things had changed politically in Iraq by the time it came to re-negotiate.
    I’ve also said “That’s not to say that I think Obama’s foreign policy has been an overall success.” and that no doubt he made the best of the situation (personally in terms of how he described it all in public).

    You seem to think that providing counter-examples somehow nullifies the evidence. Maybe in your world, it does.

    You’re the one who substituted your own opinion for K’hammers definitive opinion that Obama was to blame for the full withdrawal of troops. There is more than enough evidence to demonstrate that that is not the case at all (and it seems that if it was impossible to get an agreement reached based on the Iraqi Parliaments unaccceptable requirements then he’s not to blame at all. Although just showing that he’s not 100% to blame is sufficient to debunk the whole point of his piece (which is summarised in the title), not that he’s 0% to blame.

    And of course, it’s easy to be a naysayer. “It’ll never work!” “It’s hopeless!” “It’s a clusterfuuuuuuck!”

    My opinion was based on extensive reading and discussion and assessment (as evidenced by the thousands of posts at Moorewatch). I didn’t find any of it ‘easy’.

    Well, maybe, but you have yet to convince me that the situation is/was as utterly hopeless as you seem to revel in seeing it.

    Suggesting that I revel in seeing Iraq in a terrible state really is a very weak thing to write. In my experience it’s usually sign of giving up or desperation.
    Trying to tick off all the bottom-of-the-barrel claims are we? How long before I’m sucking Saddam’s cock?

    If Obama wanted to keep troops in Iraq bad enough, he would have found a way to make it happen. He just didn’t want it bad enough.

    Right, he could have just agreed to whatever terms the Iraqi parliament (and therefore essentially Tehran) wanted. For example no immunity from prosecution. But as you well know, there is no way he could have agreed to that. So the claim is empty and meaningless.

    Nor should he have, based on the political realities. But that’s the point. Obama does what’s politically expedient.

    Again, this makes no sense with regard to the immunity issue. What was politically expedient was irrelevant to the reason why the agreement couldn’t be reached. THEN you can say it was politically expedient for Obama to tie the outcome back to his original overall promise.

    Well, he certainly seems to hate certain aspects of it, whether real or imagined.

    You all seem to hate part of it too. Who in the world hates nothing about their own country? Only those blinded by patriotism surely? Why is the POTUS required to love everything about the US?

    He keeps insinuating that we’re a nation of racists, in spite of the fact that we have a black POTUS.

    Not sure that his election proves that wrong, even if it IS what he thinks.

    He certainly seems to have had problems with the previous Administration. I wouldn’t consider it much of a stretch to believe he would want that previous Administration’s efforts to ultimately fail.

    That is truly surreal given how much of a fuck-up the Iraq War was, from before the start.
    The Bush Administration’s ‘efforts’ (interesting term)…….given the lives and money thrown into the adventure, it was very much America’s ‘efforts’. But your opinion is what he’d deliberately sacrifice the country in order to make the Bush Administration look bad (even though they’d done so much of that already by themselves)?

    For me personally, Obama has zero credibility.

    And yet:

    You have always been opposed to the was in Iraq, since day one, you will always only see it as a “clusterfuck” (which ALL wars are at some level), and, by your own admission, you will never, ever see anything remotely resembling victory from the situation, so you have little incentive to see things any other way.

    If Obama has ‘zero credibility’ then how is that any different? You’re always going to be inclined to agree with whatever is negative about Obama.

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  47. CM

    Not gonna happen when you dismiss all evidence as “speculative fantasy”.

    You’re confusing opinion and misinformation with evidence.

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  48. Iconoclast

    You’re confusing opinion and misinformation with evidence.

    And you’re assuming all the evidence is “opinion and misinformation”…

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  49. CM

    Fact is – there is clear evidence that the inability to agree a SOFA with Iraq was not down to Obama just not wanting one or fucking it all up, which is the central claim in K’hammer’s piece. That’s all that is required to demonstrate that his central claim is wrong. And if there was no way that troops could stay, then your victory (in the way you describe, irrespective of whether it was Obama’s fault or not, and irresepctive of whether I think it was ever possible) was simply not possible.

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  50. Iconoclast

    Certainly not according to al-Maliki:

    All that proves is that al-Maliki’s mindset changed between “as recently as August” and “shortly before the New Year”. It doesn’t prove that al-Maliki was always against keeping troops after 2011. The point is that there was a window of oppoprtunuty. And it doesn’t prove that alternative methods of achieving immunity weren’t available or viable.

    Then I could just as easily say that you cannot bear to see blame go anywhere but to Obama…

    Well, I see no reason not to blame him when the buck allegedly stops at the Oval Office. At least, it always seemed to stop there before he started occupying it. But you seem to be frantically deflecting all blame from him. It wasn’t his fault that he inherited the Iraq clusterfuck that never ever ever in a trillion years had any smidgeon of hope for anything remotely resembling “victory”. It wasn’t his fault that the majority of Iraqis wanted the US troops out, that al-Maliki himself weanted them out (even though al-Maliki seem to be of a different opinion a few months earlier, and the existence of widespread support for the troops remaining is nothing but “opinion” or “misinformation”). And so on.

    He casually dismisses the immunity issue (on the basis that Bush overcame it) and never comes close to mentioning how things had changed politically in Iraq by the time it came to re-negotiate.

    Like I said, he (over)simplified and spun. Calling it “misinformation” is a matter of personal opinion. You have yet to point out where he stated anything that was factually incorrect. And when I elaborate and post further links and evidence in support of some of the things he said, you dismiss that as well.

    Right, he could have just agreed to whatever terms the Iraqi parliament (and therefore essentially Tehran) wanted. For example no immunity from prosecution. But as you well know, there is no way he could have agreed to that. So the claim is empty and meaningless.

    Or he could have explored other methods of obtaining immunity, so no, my claim is not “empty and meaningless”. But there you go again, trying to dismiss evidence and stick to your “it’s a hopeless clusterfuck” narrative.

    Again, this makes no sense with regard to the immunity issue. What was politically expedient was irrelevant to the reason why the agreement couldn’t be reached. THEN you can say it was politically expedient for Obama to tie the outcome back to his original overall promise.

    Unless and until you can definitively rule out the other possibilities of obtaining immunity, this is just hot air. Or “empty and mainingless” drivel, if you prefer.

    You all seem to hate part of it too. Who in the world hates nothing about their own country? Only those blinded by patriotism surely? Why is the POTUS required to love everything about the US?

    Nice goal post moving, there.

    Not sure that his election proves that wrong, even if it IS what he thinks.

    Well, yeah, the racism could just be going the other direction. But that’s not what he insinuates. And his election certainly doesn’t support his insinuations.

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  51. Iconoclast

    Fact is — there was little real incentive for Obama to keep troops in Iraq. He did promise to get us out, after all. And any obstacles could serve as the perfect foil. It isn’t as if we hadn’t already had years of experiencing Obama blaming others whenever things when wrong. Having blame being deflected from Obama is just SOP. Why should this be any different?

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  52. CM

    All that proves is that al-Maliki’s mindset changed between “as recently as August” and “shortly before the New Year”. It doesn’t prove that al-Maliki was always against keeping troops after 2011. The point is that there was a window of oppoprtunuty.

    A possible window with just al-Maliki.

    And it doesn’t prove that alternative methods of achieving immunity weren’t available or viable.

    Even if they were technically, is that really going to lead to stability, deliberately going directly against the wishes of the people and the will of the Parliament. How does that lead to stability?
    I guess it would be consistent with how the US dealt with the UN to invade though, that deception and “fuck you then, we’ll just do it anyway” attitude was an awesome way to make everything nice and stable.

    Well, I see no reason not to blame him when the buck allegedly stops at the Oval Office.

    Evidently, even if other factors are much more important (and are the determining factors).

    But you seem to be frantically deflecting all blame from him.

    If the Iraqis were not going to accept an extension, then on what planet would he have been able to get an extension? How is it ‘deflecting’ if it was not possible because of the Iraqi parliament?

    It wasn’t his fault that he inherited the Iraq clusterfuck that never ever ever in a trillion years had any smidgeon of hope for anything remotely resembling “victory”.

    The first is true, the second is my opinion based on a whole number of things and over a period of time. Even ‘relative stability’ is a rather low qualification for ‘victory’ – however given the damage (in so many ways) and death over the previous 8 years I can see why it might seem like a high that could warrant another Mission Accomplished banner.

    It wasn’t his fault that the majority of Iraqis wanted the US troops out, that al-Maliki himself weanted them out (even though al-Maliki seem to be of a different opinion a few months earlier,

    Don’t forget the rest of the Parliament – al-Maliki’s job was to take the agreement to the Parliament but in the end he didn’t even get that far because he knew it wasn’t going to fly. Look at the specific count in an earlier post (via J Cole).
    But it’s unarguable that it’s not Obama’s fault that the majority of Iraqi’s wanted the troops out. By that point the public sentiment and political sentiment in Iraq was driven far more by non-US factors.

    and the existence of widespread support for the troops remaining is nothing but “opinion” or “misinformation”). And so on.

    Comments about widespread support do seem to be opinions yes, as opposed to attributed quotes. It’s also possible that there are timeline issues.

    Like I said, he (over)simplified and spun.

    Only “too much for your personal liking” according to you. Talk about spin.

    Calling it “misinformation” is a matter of personal opinion.

    If other information changes the whole point, then it’s substantially more than a matter of personal opinion.

    You have yet to point out where he stated anything that was factually incorrect.

    My God. Really? You’re going to make me fisk it?
    The huge omission changes the whole thing. But you’re prepared to argue that it doesn’t matter what WASN’T in it, only what WAS in it?
    Notwithstanding that, I did respond to some claims in my initial response.

    And when I elaborate and post further links and evidence in support of some of the things he said, you dismiss that as well.

    Which things specifically? Your argument seems to have come down to his one central point – that Obama was blame for the lack of a new SOFA. You claim that his meant Obama had pulled defeat from the jaws of victory. Even though (a) any sort of victory was highly dubious and entirely speculative (unless you have the benefit of access to a parallel uniservse) and (b) the inability to get a new SOFA agreement very clearly wasn’t just because Obama didn’t want one and so “blew it”.

    Or he could have explored other methods of obtaining immunity

    Do you have evidence that he didn’t (and didn’t rule it out because it would have been counter-productive to have troops there against the will of the people and parliament on a technicality – as McGurk outlines in my earlier post).

    But there you go again, trying to dismiss evidence and stick to your “it’s a hopeless clusterfuck” narrative.

    What evidence? You do have evidence that he ruled out other methods?

    Unless and until you can definitively rule out the other possibilities of obtaining immunity, this is just hot air. Or “empty and mainingless” drivel, if you prefer.

    Weak. Assuming it was even possible (we cannot say for sure) please explain how it wouldn’t have been counter-productive?

    Brett McGurk, who worked on Iraq policy for nearly eight years under both the Bush and Obama administrations (and helped negotiate the 2008 withdrawal agreement with the Iraqi government):

    The decision to complete our withdrawal was not the result of a failed negotiation but rather the byproduct of an independent Iraq that has an open political system and a 325-member parliament, whose proceedings are televised daily. U.S. and Iraqi legal experts determined that any new accord required parliamentary approval to ensure U.S. troops would be immune from Iraqi laws. No bloc in parliament other than the Kurds supported that requirement.

    Consequently, our trying to force an agreement through the Iraqi parliament would have been self-destructive. That had nothing to do with Iran and everything to do with Iraqi pride, history and nationalism. Even the most staunchly anti-Iranian Iraqi officials refused to publicly back a residual U.S. force — and in the end, they supported our withdrawal.

    But you’re suggesting that they should have gone around the Iraqi parliament entirely and that would have been LESS self-destructive?! Even though the Iraqi parliament could then use that to stoke up anti-US feelings?

    Nice goal post moving, there.

    WTF? How on earth is that goal post moving?

    And his election certainly doesn’t support his insinuations.

    It doesn’t disprove it, which is what you suggested.

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  53. CM

    Fact is — there was little real incentive for Obama to keep troops in Iraq. He did promise to get us out, after all. And any obstacles could serve as the perfect foil. It isn’t as if we hadn’t already had years of experiencing Obama blaming others whenever things when wrong. Having blame being deflected from Obama is just SOP. Why should this be any different?

    Um because in this case there is a very good reason why the new SOFA wasn’t able to be agreed, as clearly outlined in a number of places (just not, funnily enough, in the piece you substituted for your own opinion).
    The incentive for him to keep troops in Iraq was to follow the best potential course of action for the US. But of course your narrative is that he doesn’t care about what is best for the US, and it doesn’t matter what the Iraqi’s thought (hell, just fuck them over by going around their own wishes on a technicality) and ultimately he was much more interested in having the previous Administration’s efforts fail.
    Which is all just weird. And the whole ‘this is just how he generally operates so we can just apply it to anything’ argument is terrible.

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  54. Iconoclast

    From the Atlantic, another bastion of unprincipled and unbridled conservatism…

    Obama’s Disastrous Iraq Policy: An Autopsy (Emphasis added)

    But sooner or later, honest liberals will have to admit that Obama’s Iraq policy has been a disaster. Since the president took office, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has grown ever more tyrannical and ever more sectarian, driving his country’s Sunnis toward revolt. Since Obama took office, Iraq watchers — including those within his own ad ministration — have warned that unless the United States pushed hard for inclusive government, the country would slide back into civil war. Yet the White House has been so eager to put Iraq in America’s rearview mirror that, publicly at least, it has given Maliki an almost-free pass.

    Obama inherited an Iraq where better security had created an opportunity for better government. The Bush administration’s troop “surge” did not solve the country’s underlying divisions. But by retaking Sunni areas from insurgents, it gave Iraq’s politicians the chance to forge a government inclusive enough to keep the country together.

    For the Obama administration, however, tangling with Maliki meant investing time and energy in Iraq, a country it desperately wanted to pivot away from.

    Under pressure from Maliki, however, an Iraqi judge allowed the prime minister’s Dawa Party — which had finished a close second — to form a government instead. According to Emma Sky, chief political adviser to General Raymond Odierno, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq, American officials knew this violated Iraq’s constitution. But they never publicly challenged Maliki’s power grab, which was backed by Iran, perhaps because they believed his claim that Iraq’s Shiites would never accept a Sunni-aligned government. “The message” that America’s acquiescence “sent to Iraq’s people and politicians alike,” wrote the Brookings Institution’s Kenneth Pollack, “was that the United States under the new Obama administration was no longer going to enforce the rules of the democratic road… [This] undermined the reform of Iraqi politics and resurrected the specter of the failed state and the civil war.” According to Filkins, one American diplomat in Iraq resigned in disgust.

    Obama now claims that maintaining any residual force was impossible because Iraq’s parliament would not give U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution. Given how unpopular America’s military presence was among ordinary Iraqis, that may well be true. But we can’t fully know because Obama — eager to tout a full withdrawal from Iraq in his reelection campaign — didn’t push hard to keep troops in the country. As a former senior White House official told Peter Baker of The New York Times, “We really didn’t want to be there and [Maliki] really didn’t want us there… [Y]ou had a president who was going to be running for re-election, and getting out of Iraq was going to be a big statement.”

    The decline of U.S. leverage in Iraq simply reinforced the attitude Obama had held since 2009: Let Maliki do whatever he wants so long as he keeps Iraq off the front page.

    In recent days, many liberals have rushed to Obama’s defense simply because they are so galled to hear people like Dick Cheney and Bill Kristol lecturing anyone on Iraq. That’s a mistake. While far less egregious than George W. Bush’s errors, Obama’s have been egregious enough. By ignoring Iraq, and refusing to defend democratic principles there, he has helped spawn the disaster we see today.

    It’s time people who aren’t Republican operatives began saying so.

    A victory in the form of a stable government was possible. Obama’s indifference and his focus on getting the hell out of Iraq undermined any possibility of success. So I will amend my original statement, “Obama pulled defeat from the jaws of possible victory on that one, just as many predicted he would.”

    But it doen’t matter. You’re still gonna insist that nothing remotely resembling victory was possible, period, hallelujah, amen. And you’re still gonna let Obama off the hook.

    And you’re gonna dismiss all of the above as “opinion”…

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  55. Iconoclast

    Even if they were technically, is that really going to lead to stability, deliberately going directly against the wishes of the people and the will of the Parliament. How does that lead to stability?

    If the Iraqis were not going to accept an extension, then on what planet would he have been able to get an extension?

    But it’s unarguable that it’s not Obama’s fault that the majority of Iraqi’s wanted the troops out.

    All of this begs the question of why Iraqi opinion had pivoted away from the US. And your last statement above is simply wrong — it is arguable as to whether Obama should receive blame for that pivot. The Atlantic article I cited above clearly suggests that he should receive some blame due to his indifference, and due to his allowing al-Maliki to run rampant to the point of violating Iraq’s constitution. Of course, you can always dismiss that article as “opinion” since it doesn’t fit your narrative, where Obama receives no blame whatsoever because everything was beyond his control, including Iraqi opinion. Obama’s sending a message to the Iraqi people that the USA just doesn’t give a damn anymore doesn’t matter. It’s just “opinion”. How convenient.

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  56. Iconoclast

    Brett McGurk’s piece was published on November 3, 2011, prior to the US pullout. As such, it has a rather optimistic view of the future, perhaps too optimistic as it turns out. The Atlantic article was published on June 23, 2014, some 31 months later, with the full benefit of seeing the outcome of that pullout. Again, the optimism of McGurk’s article seems rather premature in hindsight.

    And again, McGurk’s article simply begs the question of why Iraqi sentiment was against a maintained US troop presence.

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  57. CM

    Obama’s Disastrous Iraq Policy: An Autopsy (Emphasis added)

    That actually looks reasonable with valid/reasonable criticisms, particularly in comparison that to the K’hammer piece.

    Brett McGurk’s piece was published on November 3, 2011, prior to the US pullout. As such, it has a rather optimistic view of the future, perhaps too optimistic as it turns out. The Atlantic article was published on June 23, 2014, some 31 months later, with the full benefit of seeing the outcome of that pullout. Again, the optimism of McGurk’s article seems rather premature in hindsight.

    Right, but K’hammer’s piece was also from Nov 3, 2011. I’ve been pointing out how misleading it is. McGurk, who was actually part of the action and would have significantly better knowledge than K’hammer, illustrates clearly why K’hammer’s central argument was and is wrong. What happened subsequently doesn’t change what is fundamentally wrong with K’hammer’s piece.

    If you want to now substitute your opinion for the Beinart piece rather than the K’hammer piece, that would sort much of this out. There is still the issue of all the internal politics in Iraq that was not relevant to what Obama was saying or not saying to al-Maliki. Ultimately the make-up of the Iraqi Parliament was determined by the their election, and there was not the support to retain US troops. I’m not sure what Obama could have done to change the make-up of the Iraqi Parliament.

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  58. Iconoclast

    I’m not sure what Obama could have done to change the make-up of the Iraqi Parliament.

    When Malik got the Iraqi judge to allow the Dawa party to form the government instead of the Iraqiya List (whom the people of Iraq elected in 2010), the Obama Administration should have objected on constitutional grounds, but the Administration remained silent, at least publicly. There is no telling what the Iraqi Parliament would have looked like, had the Iraqiya been in charge. And it would have sent the signal that the US was still interested in due process and rule of law in Iraq, rather than signaling apathy on the part of the US.

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  59. CM

    And again, McGurk’s article simply begs the question of why Iraqi sentiment was against a maintained US troop presence.

    As the political structures took shape it seems logical that they wanted greater independence and less reliance on foreign troops. And let’s not forget that the Iraqi parliament asked the US to withdraw by the end of 2011 and Bush signed that treaty. All the contrasting non-specific quotes aside, retaining a presence required a 180 degree turn on that.

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  60. Iconoclast

    Not sure where you got that quote — I couldn’t find it in the McGurk article. I specifically searched for “180”, and got 1 match — a reference to the number of security incidents per day, four years prior to the article’s publication.

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  61. CM

    In 2010, however, the largest party was the Iraqiya, led by Ayad Alawi, with 91 seats, for whom some 80% of Sunni Arabs had voted. Alawi, however, could not put together a coalition with 51% of the seats in parliament. Theoretically he could have been appointed as a minority prime minister, but his government would have been vulnerable to a vote of no confidence. Al-Maliki argued that he should be allowed to put together a post-election majority coalition, which he did, with Iran’s help. Al-Maliki really did have over 165 parliamentarians willing to vote for him in late 2010.
    Those who argue that President Barack Obama should have forced al-Maliki out in 2010 either cannot count to 165 or believe the US should have staged a coup. Most US-backed coups have been disasters, so I don’t know why they would argue for one in fragile Iraq.

    http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/campaign-maliki-refuses.html

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  62. Iconoclast

    I have provided two left-wing articles which admit that the Iraqi constitution was violated by allowing Maliki to form the government. Your article makes no mention of the constitutionality aspect, and seems to be focused on political expediency. The point is that the people of Iraq elected the Iraqiya List, and the Iraqiya List should have been allowed to form the government, if we are interested in due process and rule of law. What the Obama Administration signaled to the people of Iraq was that politics is more important than Iraq’s constitution, and more important than the rule of law.

    I’m sure you can always find articles sympathetic to Obama. Let me know when you find such an article that refutes what my article say about violating the constitution of Iraq. Articles focused on political expediency mean nothing if they don’t address this issue.

    The bottom line is that Obama inherited a situation where victory was possible, but, whether through ineptitude or apathy, Obama let that opportunity slip away, and essentially guaranteed failure. I have provided ample support for that claim. Your unwillingness to budge from your position (“victory” of any kind was never possible, period, end of story, Obama did the best he could but things were beyond his control) is ultimately inconsequential.

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  63. Iconoclast

    Those who argue that President Barack Obama should have forced al-Maliki out in 2010 either cannot count to 165 or believe the US should have staged a coup.

    This is disingenuous, and utterly ignores the fact that Iraq’s constitution was violated by allowing al-Maliki to form the government. Counting to 165 is just a dodge, as is the absurd notion of “staging a coup”. If anything, it was al-Maliki who staged the coup by grabbing power that should have rightfully gone to the Iraqiya.

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  64. AlexInCT

    Maybe Obama doesn’t necessarily hate America, but he certainly seems to have a lot of utter contempt for Americans.

    At this point I am fairly certain one can conclude from the actions and facts that he does hate the America most of us believe in and really meant it when he said he was fundamentally going to change it. Some idiots thought he meant for the better, some knew what he meant. Now we are all seeing the fruits of that change, and we know better.

    BTW, if you need details start with how Obama’s wife, preacher (Wright), Attorney General (Holder), puppet master (Jarret), and several others have all told us how much they hate evil, racist, greedy America. I am sure Obama has said it himself, but the media is covering for him. Then look at his policies. He is actively undermining the sovereignty of the country by trying to reward his party and 11 million law breaking fence jumping illegals with not just citizenship, but largesse at the expense of the productive. America became a great nation because we asked the world’s poor, oppressed, and unwanted to come here and work hard. We kept out the diseased and those we knew were coming with their own agendas. We demanded and enforced integration and for our immigrants to become Americans first, and hardworking Americans, if they wanted to make the American dream true. The new plan is to buy the votes of people that jumped the fence with money stolen from the productive by a sham government which has a party that is full of race and grievance hucksters, expressely to destroy the old model that made America successful and great.

    We can go on about the economic damage his policies have done. Or how he finds more in common with our common enemies than our allies. We can look at how this WH has abused our civil liberties and pissed all over the constitution (for real, unlike all that noise you liberals were making when Boosh was doing far, far less). And let’s not forget Obamacare, which is designed to collapse the healthcare system so these evil fucks can have even more leverage to step on the throat of the average American when they can deny them healthcare for not conforming or complying under the single payer system they pine for. These are the people that voiced how they would like America to be more like China so they could come down even harder than they have been doing on their political enemies. From the IRS scandal to their abuse of the media, to their prosecution of anyone and everyone they felt was a threat to their hold on power, these people are a fucking crime syndicate hiding behind the veneer of a government.

    From these facts I would say anyone that concludes that Obama hates America is right, and anyone still disputing that, has an agenda.

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  65. CM

    I have provided two left-wing articles which admit that the Iraqi constitution was violated by allowing Maliki to form the government.

    I’ve been trying to find the detail. Have you? If not, why not?

    The point is that the people of Iraq elected the Iraqiya List, and the Iraqiya List should have been allowed to form the government, if we are interested in due process and rule of law.

    Is that what the law says?
    From what I’ve read Iraqiya couldn’t form a government as they didn’t have 50% and didn’t have sufficient support. After 9 months al-Maliki (for better or for worse) DID manage to cobble together a coalition large enough to form a government. The argument appears to have been about interpretation – whether the ‘bloc’ described in the constitution could include alliances formed post-election, rather than only those registered pre-election. So the conflict essentially revolved around who exactly headed the “largest bloc”.
    http://historiae.org/uncertified.asp

    What the Obama Administration signaled to the people of Iraq was that politics is more important than Iraq’s constitution, and more important than the rule of law.

    What signal would have been sent by interfering in the formation of a government (to suit what the US wanted), when the disagreement was over interpretation and the Court had to make a precedent ruling one way or the other? The whole point was to decrease control and interference, and increase Iraqi sorting it out for themselves. Why on earth would the US Govt want to be seen involving itself in determining disagreement over interpretation? Again, that sure seems counter-productive.

    Let me know when you find such an article that refutes what my article say about violating the constitution of Iraq.

    As dictated by the Iraqi constitution, following parliamentary elections, the president is obliged to task the leader of the largest bloc in parliament to form a new government. Once the government is formed, parliament must vote for or against it. In the event a new government is not approved by parliament, the president must nominate another candidate as prime minister.

    Determining the largest bloc in parliament is often a very political process, and has little to do with the popular vote. In 2010, for example, after Ayad Allawi’s bloc won the popular election, controversy over which parliamentary bloc was the biggest delayed the formation of a new government. The rivalry between Allawi and Maliki, who led opposing parts of the political spectrum, was at the root of the dispute. To prevent Allawi from becoming prime minister, Maliki’s largely Shiite SoL bloc allied with other, mostly Shiite Islamist parties to form the National Alliance. As a result of this move, the NA held the largest number of seats in parliament.

    Before the election results were certified in June 2010, Maliki’s SoL bloc asked the Federal Supreme Court for a ruling on how the biggest bloc would be distinguished. The court ruled that the largest bloc should be determined during the first session of parliament, rather than immediately after elections. With this decision in hand, Maliki brought the NA to life. In this way, he outmanoeuvred his political rival. After lengthy negotiations, Maliki became prime minster for a second term.

    Even though the Federal Supreme Court reaffirmed its 2010 decree (on July 23 and August 11), there is still no legal or parliamentary procedure laying out how to definitively establish the largest political bloc. Technically, both SoL and the NA can claim to be the largest faction, since both have made statements to this effect. The issue is not resolved by counting MPs since SoL has already affirmed it is part of the NA and has not renounced its membership.

    http://muftah.org/malikis-search-legitimacy/#.VLQuH9KUdvA

    See also:
    http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/08/does-maliki-have-a-valid-constitutional-argument-and-should-we-care/

    The bottom line is that Obama inherited a situation where victory was possible

    That is highly debatable and is seemingly dependent on drawing a line (as Blair loved to say) under everything that had already happened.

    but, whether through ineptitude or apathy, Obama let that opportunity slip away, and essentially guaranteed failure.

    Yes I know that is the narrative that you are sticking with. I’m far less convinced because there is plenty of evidence at every turn which clearly doesn’t fit your narrative.

    I have provided ample support for that claim.

    Nothing substantial or clear (even though you like to pretend so in each case). Like K’hammer, it’s all a series of incidents/aspects that firmly takes the anti-Obama approach each and every time.

    Your unwillingness to budge from your position (“victory” of any kind was never possible, period, end of story, Obama did the best he could but things were beyond his control) is ultimately inconsequential.

    I don’t think Obama is very relevant to whether any sort of ‘victory’ could have been achieved – too much long-lasting damage in so many different areas/aspects had been done.
    Your anti-everything-Obama makes your unwillingness to see a lack of ‘victory’ as anything other than Obama’s fault is inconsequential. And quite surreal.

    This is disingenuous, and utterly ignores the fact that Iraq’s constitution was violated by allowing al-Maliki to form the government. Counting to 165 is just a dodge, as is the absurd notion of “staging a coup”. If anything, it was al-Maliki who staged the coup by grabbing power that should have rightfully gone to the Iraqiya.

    Please elaborate and explain how it should have gone to Iraqiya. Where did the court get it constitutionally wrong? And how would the US stepping in and over-ruling the decision assist the constitution and rule of law in Iraq?

    It’s interesting how this is what you’re arguing now, even though you seemingly didn’t know anything about it for most of the discussion. It reinforces the impression that you’ll just take anything to make Obama look bad.

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  66. Iconoclast

    Archive for the “Iraq’s 2010 parliamentary election” Category

    There are of course numerous indications that the Iraqi judiciary is under severe political pressure from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Over the past year or so it has produced a string of quixotic rulings and constitutional interpretations that leave doubts about its impartiality. Perhaps most noteworthy are the ruling on the independent commissions from January 2011 and the recent ruling on the right of parliament to question ministers (which, symptomatically perhaps, has yet to receive the mainstream media scrutiny it so badly deserves). Maliki’s own refusal to deal in a legal fashion with the various request for federalism referendums over the past year or so is in itself a flagrant constitutional violation – as is his consistent failure to present senior security officials for parliamentary approval.

    It should be added that the international contribution to this anti-constitutional trend in Iraq is generally shameful. The frantic attempts by the United States to get a government seated in 2010 brought about the unhelpful marriage between Iraqiyya and the extra-constitutional strategic policy council scheme, a key ingredient of the Arbil agreement. Similarly, the United Nations agency in Iraq recently issued an unhelpful and naive message of optimism in Iraq, narrowly focusing on security indicators while conveniently brushing obvious political problems under the carpet. Of course, the leverage of both the US and the UN is declining in Iraq as regional players are strongarming their way to fill the vacuum, but the very least they should do after having played such a dominant role since 2003 is to try to emphasize constitutional consistency as a guiding principle for handling political conflict in the country.

    Allawi: Maliki monopolies authority, neglects partnership, violates constitution

    “The State of Law Coalition headed by Maliki violated the constitution by preventing the IS from practicing its democratic right after winning the elections in 2010,” he added.

    “The exclusion process after the elections of 2010 led to dividing Iraq and forming sectarian blocs,” he mentioned.

    Can Iraq Be Saved?

    Despite the increase in violence, and with U.S. commitment and help, the Iraqis came together and replaced Prime Minister Jaffari with Nouri al-Maliki and formed a national unity government. Supported by increased U.S. troops during the surge, the tide was turned. The improvement in security following the surge and the successful election in 2010 offered Iraq the security space to consolidate democracy and advance toward stability. The chance, alas, was squandered.

    Iraq could have capitalized on that progress at the time and avoided this fate if it had implemented the roadmap that was prescribed in the constitution.

    Instead, a number of mistakes were made. Contrary to the constitution, the party that won the largest number of seats in the 2010 election—the secular and cross-sectarian Iraqiya led by Ayad Allawi—was not allowed to form the government. Instead, in a deal backed by the United States and Iran, Prime Minister Maliki remained the country’s prime minister. Instead of implementing a power-sharing agreement, which was the basis for Maliki remaining in office, he began to eliminate political rivals (especially among the Sunni Arabs), politicize the military and security services, and monopolize (rather than share) power. He also undermined the implementation of the federal system that was clearly stipulated in the country’s constitution. The consequences were twofold.

    First, large segments of the Sunni community lost trust in the government, and more dangerously, lost hope that they would be treated with dignity and fairness as partners in governing the country.

    Second, relations between the central government and the Kurdistan region also deteriorated to the extent that Kurdish leaders became convinced that Iraq’s federal structure had failed because the Maliki government repeatedly ignored or violated the political compact enshrined in the constitution, which was the basis of Kurdish assent to remain in a new Iraqi federal state.

    The United States could have played a vital role in helping Iraq stay on the right path. Instead of a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and consequent political disengagement from Iraq’s affairs, the United States should have sought to maintain a residual security presence in the country, coupled with robust diplomatic engagement, to provide the core security support necessary for the democratic political process to resolve the country’s problems peacefully.

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  67. Iconoclast

    It sounds like you’re saying the US should essentially abandon Iraq and let the political chips fall where they may. Well, that has resulted in the mess we now see. Abandoning a potential ally regardless of the political fallout is a recipe for disaster. I’m not at all surprised that you recommend it.

    What signal would have been sent by interfering in the formation of a government (to suit what the US wanted), when the disagreement was over interpretation and the Court had to make a precedent ruling one way or the other?

    Calling for the adherence to the constitution is “interference”? It isn’t about “to suit what the US wanted”, but to stress the importance of adhering to a constitution. The court was under pressure from Maliki, so of course it would rule in his favor.

    The whole point was to decrease control and interference, and increase Iraqi sorting it out for themselves.

    Not if it meant Iraq’s sinking back into sectarian violence and corruption. Not if it meant simply replacing Hussein with another dictator.

    And quite surreal.

    I don’t give a tinker’s damn how “surreal” it is to you. Like I’ve said before, I have to live under his polices, and you don’t. His whole Administration has been surreal. I have never experienced a POTUS who so merrily lies through his teeth as this one does. And so many parties persist in carrying his water for him.

    Including you. Talk about “surreal”…

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  68. CM

    al-Maliki certainly appears to be a pretty bad dude and I wonder if under different circumstances he might have been another Saddam (edit: written before I read your similar comment). It’s also pretty clear to me that a lot of decisions ‘strangely’ went in his favour around that period. However the ‘largest bloc’ one doesn’t seem to have been a very controversial one and I think suggesting that it “violated the constitution” as your sources claim is drawing a long bow. It appears to have been a genuine argument about the interpretation of the constitution at that point (and provided a judgement for the future). This is of course aside from the argument that it would have been counter-productive for the US to start immediately meddling again in who is the new government.

    It sounds like you’re saying the US should essentially abandon Iraq and let the political chips fall where they may.

    I’m not sure how you get that. I don’t think there were ANY easy decisions to be made by that point. I just don’t agree with the argument you’re putting forward that Obama fucked it up by “allowing” the constitution to be violated so that al-Maliki could again be PM. And I certainly don’t agree with the black-and-white politically expedient narrative put together by people like K’hammer (his “Al-Qaeda had been kicked out of Iraq” is just hilarious, but very reflective and is a good summary of the whole piece).
    But yeah if you’re going to invest in a strategy to slowly but consistently pull out of Iraq (including via the power you wield) then sticking your oar in on a constitutional interpretation argument doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.

    Well, that has resulted in the mess we now see.

    This is surreal. In my view the unlawful and illegitimate invasion of Iraq and ongoing fuck-up after fuck-up was MUCH more of a factor behind the mess we see now. Much of what has happened under Obama is about what happened during the whole process, not JUST as a result of Obama’s actions or in-actions.

    Abandoning a potential ally regardless of the political fallout is a recipe for disaster. I’m not at all surprised that you recommend it.

    Wow, good one. I suck Saddam and Obama’s cock etc etc. I hate Iraqis and I wish more died to make Bush look bad. Just like I accept the science on climate change because I hate my kids and any descendants beyond them.
    Way to demonstrate that you don’t comprehend that I’m arguing that it would potentially do more damage to get involved in a constitutional dispute, which the highest Court in Iraq was determining.

    Calling for the adherence to the constitution is “interference”? It isn’t about “to suit what the US wanted”, but to stress the importance of adhering to a constitution. The court was under pressure from Maliki, so of course it would rule in his favor.

    Have you read what I posted or linked to? At all? It doesn’t seem like it.
    Just because he was on the winning end of a rather alarming number of decisions, and because some of them were very questionable, it doesn’t mean that the ‘largest bloc’ issue didn’t have merit, and wasn’t a legitimate question of interpreting something for the first time.
    The sources that seem to talk about ‘violation’ don’t seem to go behind stating that as though it were fact. The ones that do go into the actual detail don’t consider it as a ‘violation’, Why is that?

    Not if it meant Iraq’s sinking back into sectarian violence and corruption. Not if it meant simply replacing Hussein with another dictator.

    You’re suggesting that it was clear that:
    (a) it was a clear violation of the Constitution, rather than a legitimate dispute (as outlined)
    AND
    (b) the US knew to a high degree of probability that al-Maliki re-gaining power would lead to “Iraq sinking back into sectarian violence and corruption”, to the point where the counter-productive nature of significant and public interference in the real outcome of the national election (being the formation of the next Government) would still be worth it.

    I don’t give a tinker’s damn how “surreal” it is to you.

    I don’t give a tinker’s damn that you don’t give a tinker’s damn.

    Like I’ve said before, I have to live under his polices, and you don’t.

    Still makes it surreal.

    Including you.

    How so – what unreasonable arguments have I made? All I’m doing is disputing that it was so black and white, and I’ve provided plenty of evidence to suggest that. Which is the opposite of what you are doing. I also said your Atlantic piece looked reasonable and had what I would considered to be valid/reasonable criticisms. But no, easier to throw out lame and desperate claims like that.

    Fortunately for you, ODS is curable. Once Obama is out of office and assuming a GOP candidate takes his place, I’m 100% sure it’ll automatically be ok to bring up the past as important and reasonable context.

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  69. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  70. Section8

    Hmm so did Bush blow up the train? Was the reaction to target civilians because of Bush? How about they did it hoping Britain would react on their own Muslim populace and al Qaeda could have more recruits from GB? No? That was a good enough reason a couple of days ago. Blaming Bush is better in this case though right? I mean why lash out at the people who deliberately targeted civilians regardless of what their grievance is which in the London attack apparently also included our involvement in Afghanistan (I suppose we should have let that one go and not have done anything right)? Why putting any responsibility on these attackers who target civilians with their jihad praise Mohammed nonsense (every time) would make you an Islamophobe or something. Did Bush draw those cartoons too?

    Anyhow you keep aiming for everything OTHER than the terrorists themselves because that’s what you do, and chase after people you know won’t attack you. People like us. That way you can pretend you’re fighting a battle without actually fighting one. Whether you like it or not America will still be here, and I’m afraid so will the people you keep apologizing or sidestepping for. The difference is we won’t be waiting for you when you catch the next train. Happy riding.

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  71. Xetrov

    Fortunately for you, ODS is curable. Once Obama is out of office and assuming a GOP candidate takes his place, I’m 100% sure it’ll automatically be ok to bring up the past as important and reasonable context.

    I doubt it. Your BDS still flares up from time to time.

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  72. CM

    Above all else I’m absolutely stunned that not one but two other people have suffered thus far into the thread. You sad sad bastards.

    Section8, terrorists are to blame for terrorism. No question. It should go without saying. Of course Bush didn’t blow up the train and I never suggested that he did . Doesn’t mean our governments play no part in making the situation worse or better. There’s no need to be obtuse. My point was that of course decisions made by your President affect others.

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  73. Iconoclast

    In my view the unlawful and illegitimate invasion of Iraq…

    Your view is wrong. Hussein’s flagrant disregard for UNRs 687 and 689 gave the US every right to resume hostilities at the US’ convenience, your forthcoming protestations notwithstanding.

    That said, yes, the Bush Administration did make major mistakes in Iraq, most notably, not adequately planning for a post-Hussein Iraq. But I have cited a number of sources which state that the surge was effective enough to allow an inclusive government to be formed. Your dismissals are inconsequential.

    Way to demonstrate that you don’t comprehend that I’m arguing that it would potentially do more damage to get involved in a constitutional dispute…

    I comprehend it just fine. I just don’t buy it. It’s just an opinion.

    I don’t give a tinker’s damn that you don’t give a tinker’s damn.

    Oooh, clever. Or, “oooh it buuurns!”, if you prefer…

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  74. Iconoclast

    This whole long,, meandering thread started because CM opined:

    More importantly, it showed “tin pot dictators to top men like Putin” that America couldn’t ‘win’ in either Afghanistan or Iraq, even with such disparities in military power.

    CM, January 4, 2015 4:32 PM

    CM proclaimed that the US couldn’t win in Iraq, period, end of discussion, hallelujah, amen. My argument is that winning in Iraq was possible, CM’s hand-wave dismissals of my substantiation notwithstanding. If CM want’s to go to his grave firmly believing that anything remotely resembling victory in Iraq was always an abject impossibility, that’s his business. But it’s only an opinion, not an objective fact.

    If anything, the quote above does indeed suggest BDS.

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  75. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  76. Iconoclast

    JUSTIFICATIONS FOR THE WAR

    The United States went to war with Saddam Hussein in 1991 to force his invading armies out of Kuwait. At the end of the Gulf War, a truce was signed leaving Saddam in power. The truce was sealed by UN Resolutions 687 and 689, which established the conditions by which America — still technically at war with Saddam since there had been no peace treaty — would allow him to retain his position as Iraq’s President.

    Ultimately, the chief reason why the U.S. invaded Iraq was not, as critics later claimed, to find and dismantle Saddam’s stockpiles of WMD. The “Authorization for the Use of Force in Iraq” that President Bush obtained in October 2002 was a resolution passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, with Democratic as well as Republican majorities. It contained a total of 23 clauses that spelled out the rationale for the war. Of those 23 clauses, only 2 mentioned WMD. What the Authorization did stress — in 12 separate clauses — were 16 UN Security Council Resolutions that Saddam had ignored or defied since 1991. These Resolutions were more than mere expressions of UN opinion. The first two — Resolutions 687 and 689 — constituted the terms of the truce negotiated in the first Gulf War, a truce whose violation was a legal justification for renewed combat. The other 14 Resolutions were failed attempts to enforce those first two. In sum, the major reason why the U.S. was preparing for war, was to enforce the UN Resolutions and international law.

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  77. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  78. CM

    Your mistake is thinking that anything the UN does has significance…

    Iconoclast’s argument involves it having significance, and that’s what I was responding to.
    That you believe UN has no significance is insignificant to whether it actually does.

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  79. CM

    Section8 I think Daniel Hannan (the Conservative Member of the European Parliament) nails it pretty much spot on in his piece:
    http://www.capx.co/the-best-antidote-to-terrorism-is-ridicule/

    Most of these guys carrying out attacks are just dumb-fucks and I’m sure they don’t give a shit about the actual religion. They’re just looking to make a name for themselves. So let’s treat them/it accordingly.Let’s concentrate far more on them being ignorant dumb morons and not evil religious believers carrying out Allah’s plan.

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  80. Iconoclast

    Again, this all went through the UN. This was not the UN authorising/allowing the US to take unilateral action. If the truce was violated then it went back to the UN to determine what should happen next. Which was what UNSCR 1441 was about.

    The UNSC was corrupt. Hussein essentially had Russia and France in his pocket via sweetheart oil deals. The language of the resolutions is clear, but the UNSC, under Hussein’s implicit control, had absolutely no intention of enforcing the resolutions with military action. The UN itself was arguably violating international law by refusing to enforce its own resolutions.

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  81. AlexInCT

    CM thinks the invasion of Iraq was illegal because a corrupt UN, with a record of abuses, criminal behavior, and all manner of other dispicable actions on its record, that at that time was making side deals with an evil dictator of the very country they had spent a decade or more telling us needed a smack down for disobeying them, is so.

    See, what I believe people that think like CM that this war was illegal really are about is that the US, especially under the control of a non collectivist US president, will not submit itself to the will of an evil leftists global government entity like the UN. I have no doubt that if this action was taken by someone on the left, Bill Clinton or Obama for example, CM would be fine with it, or even if not so, find a way to ignore or justify the action.

    With these people it is about the agenda, first and foremost, and always. To them the US run by a republlican, and thus not under the control of the global entity they see as legitimate, as corrupt and evil as that entity may be, is always the issue.

    Fuck the lot of them.

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  82. AlexInCT

    The UNSC was corrupt. Hussein essentially had Russia and France in his pocket via sweetheart oil deals.

    People like CM and anyone of the usual pack of collectivist hyenas will never admit this is precisely the reason why we ended up with an invasion of Iraq. What these scumbags always forget or deliberately ignore is that France and Russia had been hard at work – and real hard too – to remove the sanctions from Saddam, all so they could make billions selling him new weapons and reconstituting his dormant WMD programs and get cheap oil as well as control of that oil, before 9/11 happened. Their objection to any action in Iraq had everything to do with that, and the fact that as two of the more corrupt countries when it comes to global affairs that involve their pocketbooks, especially in the case of lawless Russia, they clearly wanted to make sure no president was set for action to be taken against them someday in the future for being involved or doing some of the same shit as Saddam was doing. Both believed firmly in the right of the sovereign nations to do what it pleased when it was convenient to them and their interests, but definitely not for the US, which often stood in the way of their political and monetary ambitions. The US has not been a saint, but when it comes to doing real evil shit it can’t hold a candle to the old USSR, and not even to France. Them is the facts bitchez.

    Anyway, Saddam was not just violating UN sanctions will-nilly all along because he was just a fucking crazy dude, but because he understood the corrupt UN wanted the ability to speak out of both sides of their mouth. By him doing the shit he was doing, the UN got to pretend that they were doing what they were doing to protect the world from a bad guy. In the meantime the big bosses at the UN got to make oodles of money letting Saddam sell oil under a program that was supposed to give him money to feed his kids, while leaving the door open for the more nefarious members amongst that gang of thieves and their willing idiot lackeys in the western world to make accusations against the US of starving children. He would act crazy and do the shit the UN needed to keep the program going, then when it looked like a line was about to be crossed, usually after an ineffective scumbag leftist like Clinton wasted millions of US tax payer dollars firing cruise missiles at empty buildings in a show of stupidity, he would back down and play nice. For a while at least. He knew that sooner than later things would go back to normal, because the French and Russians, which he understood well, eventually would tire of the UN’s games, and then he could lay lo, have the sanctions pulled, make deals with them, rearm, restart his WMD programs, and then, someday do it all over again, but with the benefit of the lessons learned. Because he was not going to play nice. Ever.

    When France and the Russians told Saddam they had his back, even after he was warned to open up for full inspections or else, they set the stage. What these corrupt fucks failed to understand was that after 9/11 with someone other than a Clinton or other ballless donkey scumbag in charge, the rules had changed. They all but guaranteed the invasion of Iraq would happen by letting Saddam think it was still the same old game. Saddam saw no need to take the threat seriously, and acted accordingly. We got more bluster and posturing and promises of “Mother of all battles” and “thousands of dead US troops”, and then all because he figured the UN and the political left in the US would cock block Boosh, the US would waste a few millions in tax payer dollars dropping some bombs and firing some missiles that would cause him no harm at all. And then things would be back to normal, with France and Russian then helping get him back on track. The rest is history.

    If anyone is to blame for Iraq it is the UN, the French and Russians, spineless leftards, evil Jihandist Mooslems, and of course, Saddam. But people like CM will forever push the narrative that it was Boosh and it was illegal. I say tell them to fuck off.

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  83. CM

    The UNSC was corrupt. Hussein essentially had Russia and France in his pocket via sweetheart oil deals. The language of the resolutions is clear, but the UNSC, under Hussein’s implicit control, had absolutely no intention of enforcing the resolutions with military action. The UN itself was arguably violating international law by refusing to enforce its own resolutions.

    I thought it was that Resolutions 687 and 689 essentially allowed the US to restart hostilities? Are you arguing this instead now?

    Specifically which resolution was not being enforced (to the point where the UN itself could be considered to be violating international law)?

    The US were well short of the numbers so didn’t even take it to a vote. It’s wasn’t just Russia and France that didn’t want to vote for an invasion. The inspectors were getting unfettered access, more than they’d ever had before. The pressure had worked. That’s a perfectly reasonable reason for a member state to not authorise war (the most serious of all actions, the last resort given the ramifications).

    I am having some serious déjà vu.

    Same ;-)
    Bring back DrGonzo!

    Oh, yeah, I’ve lived this argument already 9 flipping years ago.
    http://moorewatch.right-thinking.com/index.php/forums/viewthread/1579/P30/

    My guess is that it will end much the same way with no minds being changed.

    Indeed.
    Hey, how about that climate change for a thing huh?!

    CM thinks the invasion of Iraq was illegal because a corrupt UN, with a record of abuses, criminal behavior, and all manner of other dispicable actions on its record, that at that time was making side deals with an evil dictator of the very country they had spent a decade or more telling us needed a smack down for disobeying them, is so.

    I assume you mean to write “says so” instead of “is so”?
    If so, no, that’s not why. I’ve explained why, and there much more at Xetrov’s link.
    Very clearly it was not authorised by the only body that has the lawful authorisation. Presumably you’d agree that US law is still law despite every level of US Govt being corrupt etc etc.

    To them the US run by a republlican, and thus not under the control of the global entity they see as legitimate, as corrupt and evil as that entity may be, is always the issue.

    Yes yes just keeping yelling with your fingers in your ears. It’s working brilliantly.

    People like CM and anyone of the usual pack of collectivist hyenas will never admit this is precisely the reason why we ended up with an invasion of Iraq.

    You’re right, and that’s because it’s nonsense. The reason you ended up with an invasion is that Bush decided it was a good idea, and Blair agreed. There was no good evidence that Iraq was an imminent threat to anyone, and inspectors got better and better access as the pressure went on. Prior to the invasion it was as good as unfettered access. Which is why the US couldn’t obtain sufficient support to get the votes. Your whole argument ignores the fact that it wasn’t just the beneficiaries of a corrupt oil-for-food program that didn’t see the justification of an invasion. And let’s not play dumb and pretend that the US didn’t know what was going on during all that, particularly as the bulk of the illicit oil revenues came from the open sale of Iraqi oil to Jordan and to Turkey.
    http://www.utsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050424/news_1n24annan.html

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  84. Xetrov

    Poor article, CM. The guy argues himself in circles. First Russia is a regional power not worthy of global consideration and Romney’s a fool for thinking they pose a threat to US’ global interests. Then suddenly he switches gears to praising the Obama Administration for working with Russia in regards to global issues like Iran. He alludes to Russia invading Crimea because their economy is in the tank due of the collapse of oil, when the reality is that Russia invaded in February 2014 when oil was still over $100 per barrel, and nobody saw the collapse of Oil coming. He’s all over the place, all in an effort to bash Romney. He worked as a strategist for the Arizona Democrat Party for heaven’s sake – Not exactly subtle in his bias.

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  85. Poosh

    2014 was a horrible year. The rise of Islamic Imperialism took a turn for the worse, against expectations. Despite 6+ years of knowing Obama was a clusterf*ck, as well as our own leaders, i couldn’t have expected them to have f*cked that up.

    14 Years after 9/11 – if you haven’t worked out Islam is intricately linked to imperialism and violence (because it was DESIGNED to be so, and in contrast to all other religions ever) by now, you’re basically part of the problem.

    What 2014 year marked was the rise in the dumb dumb home grown moron Islamist. For over a decade we’ve be fighting, on our turf, rare resources, educated.The investment was high when it came to Islamist terrorists on western soil, the targets were often made for spectacle.

    Now any moron who wants to take his religion a little too far can hold up a chocolate shop or run you over on Christmas day, this was never the norm.

    But the worse thing is the 10,000s of mostly innocent Muslims who have been slaughtered by devout Muslims. Every week car bombs go off in Iraq, a school is shot up in Africa. Those lives matter, and they are so many. In Dec 2014 alone Islamists kicked in at 2497 kills across 30 countries via terrorist strikes, and we honestly have no idea how bad it is in Syria and Iraq. Endless cycle of death, all because of a kid-fucker in a cave and his made up convos. We live in worrying times in the west but it pales in comparison to what 100,000s of actually innocent Muslims experience in Pakistan, Iraq, and parts of Africa. Its the same thing – we’ve only got a very small taste of it in recent years: they’ve blown up on a weekly basis by Jihadists.

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  86. CM

    The guy argues himself in circles. First Russia is a regional power not worthy of global consideration and Romney’s a fool for thinking they pose a threat to US’ global interests. Then suddenly he switches gears to praising the Obama Administration for working with Russia in regards to global issues like Iran.

    I read it as saying that they’re not a global threat, but it’s important to engage them (rather than going into cowboy mode) because as they can assist in world affairs and are on-side on some important global issues.Which makes sense.

    He alludes to Russia invading Crimea because their economy is in the tank due of the collapse of oil, when the reality is that Russia invaded in February 2014 when oil was still over $100 per barrel, and nobody saw the collapse of Oil coming.

    Where does he allude to that? He says the fall in oil prices has EXPOSED their weakness (i.e. they were already weak, their economy was already dismal).

    He worked as a strategist for the Arizona Democrat Party for heaven’s sake – Not exactly subtle in his bias.

    I wasn’t aware of that and it’s certainly important to note it and take it into account. Obviously if his argument is wrong then it’s wrong regardless of his connections. But it certainly can explain his motivation.

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  87. CM

    14 Years after 9/11 – if you haven’t worked out Islam is intricately linked to imperialism and violence (because it was DESIGNED to be so, and in contrast to all other religions ever) by now, you’re basically part of the problem.

    Except that you’re got no evidence that the overwhelming majority of Muslims follow your extremist interpretation of Islam.

    What 2014 year marked was the rise in the dumb dumb home grown moron Islamist.

    Nonsense – Chris Morris was brilliantly mocking them five years ago in ‘Four Lions’.

    But the worse thing is the 10,000s of mostly innocent Muslims who have been slaughtered by devout Muslims.

    But if they’re Muslim then they’ve decided to follow a religion “intricately linked to imperialism and violence” and so surely they’re “part of the problem”?

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  88. Poosh

    “Except that you’re got no evidence that the overwhelming majority of Muslims follow your extremist interpretation of Islam”

    Except I have no personal extremist interpretation of Islam (nice sophism btw) ((I can read though, unlike you)) and no one is claiming an “overwhelming majority” of Muslims are even bad people (nice CMing i.e. lying btw).

    Two dumb comments. Two lies. End.

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  89. CM

    Islam is intricately linked to imperialism and violence (because it was DESIGNED to be so, and in contrast to all other religions ever

    No sophism, that is plainly what you said. That is your personal extremist interpretation of Islam. Furious hand-waving isn’t going to assist.

    and no one is claiming an “overwhelming majority” of Muslims are even bad people

    Not what I said. But for the problem to be Islam (which is what you have consistently said), rather than those few that carry out terrorism in the name of Islam, you’d need to demonstrate that your personal extremist interpretation of Islam is widely shared.

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  90. Poosh

    I take it back, not sophism, just the usual stupidity. One gives you too intellectual credit to accuse you of sophism.

    If you think I have a personal interpretation of Islam (you’ve tried to pull this sort of stupidity before) that’s your problem and you’re issues, and I’m deeply sorry for you.

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  91. CM

    Use whatever alternative words you like, the point remains the same. If the vast majority of the world’s Muslims don’t agree with your version of their religion, then your claims are wrong. Who are you to determine how they practice their religion? There are hundreds of millions of devout Muslims who are not involved in terrorist plots. Otherwise there would be considerably more attacks and they would be constant.

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  92. Poosh

    “Use whatever alternative words” = use whatever words you like, I’m just gonna imagine what you and everyone else says and thinks and reply to that instead.

    “If the vast majority of the world’s Muslims don’t agree with your version of their religion, then your claims are wrong”

    So if the Pope was correctly quoted the other day and, let’s say, he did actually say it’s ok to hit someone who hit your mother….. I can’t say he’s practicing Christianity wrong eh? Even though I am right and even if a billion Catholics said I was wrong, I’d be right and they’d all be wrong. Eh?

    Didn’t read whatever garbage you wrote after that, you’ve made the same stupid arguments devoid of rationality or reading skills before, you simply don’t seem to be able to read, so why bother? Happy to answer other questions from people who actually are not oxygen thieves. I’m just wasting my time here as it’s just repeating the same arguments that you can’t seem to understand. You’re probably not even thinking for yourself, just repeating the silly arguments you read of Huff post and whatever, Idiotic statements like “oh, look, here are some Muslims who don’t support terrorism” as if that is evidence of.. anything at all relevant.” It only becomes relevant if your false claims about what others think is true, which – of course – it isn’t.

    *Apply this to every. single. thing. you. wright. ever. on. any. given. topic. to. any. poster. here.

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  93. Iconoclast

    I thought it was that Resolutions 687 and 689 essentially allowed the US to restart hostilities? Are you arguing this instead now?

    Why do you presume they’re mutually exclusive?

    International Law and the War in Iraq

    But do U.S. actions show a disregard for international law? The answer here is clearly no. Both the United States and the international community had a firm basis for using preemptive force in the face of the past actions by Iraq and the threat that it posed, as seen over a protracted period of time. Preemptive use of force is certainly lawful where, as here, it represents an episode in an ongoing broader conflict initiated — without question — by the opponent and where, as here, it is consistent with the resolutions of the Security Council.

    Despite these actions, other leading nations (primarily France, Germany, and Russia) and many international scholars have argued that international law did notjustify the war in Iraq. The first part of this paper will explain why their view failed to properly read existing Security Council resolutions to authorize the use of force. Even putting the United Nations to one side, the war was furtherjustified as an exercise of self-defense. Under basic notions of customary international law, properly understood, the United States could have attacked Iraq even without Security Council authorization.

    In light of this background, two independent sources of law provided the United States and its allies with authority to use force in Iraq: UN Security Council resolutions and the right to self-defense. Resolution 678 authorized member states “to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.”[24] One of the most significant “subsequent relevant resolutions” was Resolution 687. Pursuant to Resolution 678, the United States could use force not only to enforce Resolution 687’s cease-fire, but also to restore “international peace and security” to the region. In Resolution 1441, the Security Council unanimously found that Iraq was in material breach of these earlier resolutions and that its continuing development of WMD programs, its support for terrorism, and its repression of the civilian population presented an ongoing threat to international peace and security.

    These findings triggered Resolution 678’s authorization to use force in Iraq. Suspending the cease-fire and resuming hostilities with Iraq was an appropriate response to Iraq’s material breaches of Resolution 687. Over the years, Iraq repeatedly refused to respond to diplomatic overtures and other nonmilitary attempts to force compliance with its obligations to disarm and to permit full UN inspections of its WMD program. Military force was necessary to obtain Iraqi compliance with the terms of the cease-fire and to restore international peace and security to the region.

    Some have argued, however, that, Resolution 678’s authorization had expired. Representatives from France, Germany, and Russia, for example, seemed to take the position that because the current members of the Security Council would not agree to the use of force in the spring of 2003, the 1991 resolution’s broad authorization was somehow extinguished. That view is simply wrong as a matter of UN practice and as a matter of law.

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  94. Iconoclast

    Why Obama Got Russia Wrong (and Romney Got It Right)

    Romney was right. Why was Obama wrong? Because, I think, he was willfully blurring the distinction between “geopolitical” and other sorts of threats. He was playing to the cheap seats. Voters do not fear Russia, or particularly care about its movements in its sad, cold sphere of influence. They do care a lot about terrorism. And Obama would use any chance he had, in 2012, to remind voters that he was president when Osama Bin Laden was killed.

    So you see the politics — they reveal Obama as the player of a cheap trick. Of course al-Qaida isn’t a “geopolitical threat” to the United States. It’s a terrorist organization, untethered to states or geography. Obama himself (like George W. Bush before him) repeatedly claimed that the organization was on the run. How could al-Qaida be the greatest threat to America and a pathetic coalition of losers? It couldn’t. Obama was spinning, hopefully faster than Romney could un-spin.

    Liberal mag admits: Romney was right about Russia

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  95. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  96. AlexInCT

    Yeah CM, that’s the nonsense haters like you believe. Me, as a US citizen, believes that the US government should never, ever allow anything to do with its sovereignty to be decided by anyone but the citizens of the US, and certainly never to allow a corrupt entity like the UN any say in it. Doubly so when we are the ones paying for that shithole to then fuck us over at its leisure. What irks you, as was already pointed out, is that the US will not abdicate its sovereignty to a den of collectivist loving criminals and monsters. Your bias shows even though you try hard to hide it behind procedural bullshit. You can keep believing your bullshit, we will keep telling you to stuff it.

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  97. Iconoclast

    That you need to resort to Yoo legal opinions literally says it all. I cannot top that.

    Oh, you just did, by engaging in another classic CM hand-wave dismissal. Assuming Yoo was wrong about torture, it doesn’t follow that he must be wrong about everything. This is just a fallacious argument, similar to guilt by association. Either you can refute the argument or you can’t. Saying that the guy making the argument is a poopy-head is not refutation.

    Resolution 678 (1990) Adopted by the Security Council at its 2963rd meeting, on 29 November 1990 (Emphasis added)

    2. Authorizes Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 fully implements, as set forth in paragraph 1 above, the foregoing resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area;

    So there’s your authorization.

    Just because you have personal problems with Yoo, it doesn’t mean he’s automatically wrong.

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  98. Iconoclast

    This is what Romney said in the interview referenced by the Sam Kleiner article:

    Well, I’m saying in terms of a geopolitical opponent, the nation that lines up with the world’s worst actors. Of course, the greatest threat that the world faces is a nuclear Iran. A nuclear North Korea is already troubling enough.

    But when these — these terrible actors pursue their course in the world and we go to the United Nations looking for ways to stop them, when — when Assad, for instance, is murdering his own people, we go — we go to the United Nations, and who is it that always stands up for the world’s worst actors? It is always Russia, typically with China alongside.

    And — and so in terms of a geopolitical foe, a nation that’s on the Security Council, that has the heft of the Security Council and is, of course, a — a massive nuclear power, Russia is the — the geopolitical foe.

    This should clarify things, and should deflate the Sam Kleiner article aa well.

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  99. CM

    It certainly goes to Yoo’s credibility that he just served up whatever legal opinions were required of him. It speaks volumes that you used him. Whether you like it or not, etc etc etc ad nauseum.

    660 was specifically and only concerned with pulling troops from Kuwait and starting “intensive negotiations for the resolution of their differences”. All subsequent resolutions would need to be specifically relevant to those two aspects.
    Alternatively any action under 678 would need to be to “restore international peace and security in the area” However no states believed that 678 meant that any state could decide to take action at any time at their own discretion. Subsequent resolutions and discussions prove this. All were operating on that basis for good reason. This goes through what Yoo ignores.http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au/files/dmfile/downloadd4651.pdf

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  100. CM

    Goldsmith admitted that he just relied upon the American view. And that ultimately that he made a political judgement.

    “In an extraordinary admission, he said his position ultimately boiled down to which political objective he preferred”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1246419/Chilcot-Inquiry-Iraq-war-Lord-Goldsmith-pressured-yes-answer-conflicts-legality.html

    Neither Yoo nor Goldsmith had any independence on thus issue. The argument in favor of legality relies entirely on massive cherry-picking.

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  101. CM

    How does it “deflate the Sam Kleiner article”? The US and Russia have worked together on the same side on many global issues. Romney’s assessment ignores that entirely.

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  102. CM

    “There was an argument that Resolution 678 allowed for the use of force beyond the liberation of Kuwait with reference to ‘all subsequent relevant resolutions’ allowing for further authority.[42] However, this reference

    ‘concerned the collective security dimension of authorisation, placing it within the framework of UN Charter, Chapter VII action. The reference was included in the Resolution in deference to the Korean precedent, which had used a similar formula’.”

    http://www.e-ir.info/2014/08/21/material-breach-a-valid-justification-for-military-intervention-in-iraq/

    Yoo and Goldsmith appear to ignore the Korean precedent, even though it explains the wording used.

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  103. Iconoclast

    The US and Russia have worked together on the same side on many global issues.

    So? How does that make them not a geopolitical threat?

    Russia’s credit rating has just been downgraded to ‘junk’.

    So? How does that make them not a geopolitical threat?

    If Russia consistently “lines up with the world’s worst actors”, “typically with China alongside”, is “on the Security Council, that has the heft of the Security Council” and is “a massive nuclear power”, the fact that they and we “have worked together on the same side on many global issues” doesn’t really mitigate that. Just because you can “work together” with your enemy on certain “global issues”, it doesn’t mean they’ve stopped being your enemy.

    No it wasn’t an opinion.

    Okay then, if the UNSC is a corrupt body, essentially in Hussein’s pocket via oil deals, if the UN therefore has absolutely no intention of ever enforcing the umpteen resolutions already in place, what then? More resolutions? Without the credible threat of military force, it’s all rather meaningless.

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  104. AlexInCT

    The US and Russia have worked together on the same side on many global issues.

    Typical liberal confused thinking. We were working on the same side with the USSR during WWII. Right after that ended, the pussies in the west decided they could trust the Russians because they had been on the same side, and ignored the warnings from those that knew better. Eastern Europe spent 5 decades behind a prison wall being raped by the Soviets because of that mistake and many others that followed. And the scumbag collectivists were not content to stop with the abuse of their own people and those they conquered during these wars, so they spread that evil bile they throw up across the globe causing the death of over 100 million people and leaving billions under the evil yoke of marxist delusional thinking. In fact, a lot of todays problems can be directly traced to the old USSR whom we were so cozy with for a while and you suggest we be friends with again. Putin pines for the good old days for a reason.

    Russia is not our ally or friend. Not with someone like Putin in charge over there and a cock sucking coward like Obama in charge over here.

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  105. CM

    So? How does that make them not a geopolitical threat?

    It’s simply untrue that Russia is always on the wrong side of issues, including at the Security Council. Which is what Romney was saying.

    So? How does that make them not a geopolitical threat?

    It’s more weight to the argument that they’re at most a regional power, and that the actions taken that people are using to suggest that Romney was right actually suggest the opposite (that’s it’s a sign of weakness, not strength).

    Without the credible threat of military force, it’s all rather meaningless.

    That’s one of the most significant issues. Significant progress WAS finally being made BECAUSE of that threat. To the point where it was only going to be a few months more until the inspectors would have been able to complete their work. But very clearly the decision had already been made, irrespective of what previous resolutions required.
    As mentioned earlier, France agreed to 1441, which provided an up-to-date stepping stone to military action.

    The UNSC absolutely needs reform. Not sure how it will happen, but I’m certainly not one who wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Typical liberal confused thinking.

    Except that it’s not what I said or think. As usual you don’t listen, read or care. Can’t let anything like that get in the way of hatin’ liberals.

    Russia is not our ally or friend.

    Not what I said. I’m just pointing out the arguments for why Romney wasn’t right, and isn’t now, when he claimed that Russia was your No.1 geopolitical foe.
    Putin is a complete scumbag, no doubt about it.

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  106. Iconoclast

    Yet you don’t buy the potential negative effects of interference in what seems like a genuine constitutional dispute?

    Part of being a leader is doing things that are for the greater good even if they are unpopular. Leaving troops in Iraq was necessary to maintain security and stability, and allowing them to leave was a recipe for disaster. Obama opted for the disaster recipe, plain and simple.

    After we nuked the fuck out of Japan to end WWII, we stationed troops there. Do you think that made the Japanese happy?

    After we fire-bombed the fuck out of Dresden, burning women and children in the process, we stationed troops in Germany. Do you think that made the Germans happy?

    I don’t give a fuck about “potential negative effects”, especially when, with the magic of hindsight, we can easily see the actual negative effects of Obama’s utter lack of leadership, namely, ISIS or ISIL or IS-whateverthefuck, performing acts of utter barbarism throughout the Middle East.

    You’re always going to be inclined to agree with whatever is negative about Obama.

    I have yet to see any real reason why I should do otherwise.

    Because [Obama] hates America etc etc etc.

    Yes, he does, your sarcasm notwithstanding. His rhetoric and actions plainly reveal as much. He certainly hates the Constitution. You don’t seek to fundamentally change something you love. You seek to fundamentally change something because you hate its current incarnation.

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