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Our intrepid war correspondents


[UPDATE: Christopher Hitchens and Victor Hansen critique Michael Ware.]

Two years ago, some dumb sex therapist in California triggered at least one huge suicide bombing simply by posting an essay on the internet, for US consumption, in which she used rape as a metaphor for the US invasion of Iraq. Rumors flew all over the Middle East that thousands of US troops were raping Iraqi women.

Friday night, Time Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware got drunk on camera for Bill Maher, live from a city where alcohol is frowned upon (to put it mildly), in front of a cheering laughing studio audience, made vague allegations about US soldiers "manhandling" Iraqi women (while Maher made sarcastic asides about "good news from Iraq"), and explained how hopeless everything is. You could almost see the insurgent's hand up his butt making his little arms wave.

Seixon explains that words have consequences:

Mr. Ware, if you were trying to demonize the United States in a country where you were having massive problems with public support, what do you think the implications of demanding the release of female prisoners who do not exist are? Do they include the public believing that there are female prisoners? OHHHH! You didn't think that far did you?! Nope, you were too busy propping up the terrorists that have beheaded dozens of people, and slandering the US troops:
WARE: We've also seen insurgents criticize other insurgent groups, 'cause you're not doing enough to get the chicks out! I mean, that's how important it can be, this is a matter of great honor, and it's a spark.
Yes, insurgents groups are trying to out-propagandize each other in order to get most public support by demanding the release of non-existent female prisoners. A matter of great honor, indeed! A spark? You're kidding. I never realized that propaganda would be used as a spark, you must be joking:
WARE: So, let's hope we never see that lit.
If that spark gets lit, I doubt Mr Ware will think he had anything to do with it.

This guy should be fired for his unprofessional behavior. If he has evidence of sexual abuse by US troops he should report it carefully and soberly; that's part of his job. But drunken sneering and bellyaching on live TV isn't.


Maher is always going to be a cheer leader for the "far left". He loves to bash our armed forces. Makes me sick everytime I watch him. Guy is such a scumbag. The man from Time is a fool for playing into this propaganda machine. Guy should be fired.

Yes, words do have consequences. No one know this better than journalists and other writers.

But of even more consequence is the illegal invasion of another country, the destruction of its civil society and infrastructure, the torture of its citizens and the killing of its innocent civilian polulation by the occupying force. It would be nice if conservatives would learn this lesson and stop blaming people using the pen for the crimes they caused to happen by the use of violence.

It is said, people tell the truth when they are drunk.

Words certainly have consequences, but action is a far bigger motivator than the alien words of an alien reporter.

I understand about certain troops behaving in a certain way when the stress factor is out of bounds, all armies of the world go through that. But frankly I find it nothing wrong in reporting it. If someone thought that things don't happen in a war zone, then either he was born yesterday, or thinks that others were.

The conservatives' defense of each and everything that goes on in Iraq is itself playing into the hands of anti-war groups. Instead of dealing with it in a logical way, the sometimes artificial rhetoric can be made out esily.

Another note. This kind of scum would not exist if the Administration had followed established conservative doctrine when it went to war, instead of this new Democratic Nation Building Neocon nonesense. As it stands, our guys are targets because the objective, as it is defined, is the support of radical fundamentalist ideology and law in the form of a Muslim Democracy. Whatever happened to using the armed forces of the united states to project power and protect our interests?
Creatures such as Moore and Maher will continue to thrive in this climate, created by the negligence and incompetence of the "New" Republicans. So will our other competators, China, Russia, Iran, Syria etc etc etc. Sucks big time.

I agree, people should probably watch what they say.

However, no one was saying this when people on this site said we should bomb mecca.

I think there's a big difference between those who would Nuke Mecca just because - or better, because there be Muslims - and those who see it as part of a winning strategy.

I think the latter are wrong as well (at least as a matter of degree; there is no magic bullet in this fight), but different from the former.

"...But of even more consequence is the illegal invasion of another country, the destruction of its civil society and infrastructure, the torture of its citizens and the killing of its innocent civilian polulation by the occupying force..."

I thought the pen was mightier than the sword? I guess not here?

Mahler is a disgrace to this country. I am happy he has the right to act the way he does and I would die for that right, but the trash that comes from this guy's show is hurtful. There is a difference between criticising a war and playing propaganda for the enemy. There is a difference between being the loyal opposition and being the enemy. There is a difference between satire and sabotage.

This war is being fought in the media. Iraq is a done deal -- all folks have to do is to bash each other about the heads with rhetoric now about whether we 'won' or 'lost' (as if the world works like some kind of gigantic football game.) But the larger GWOT is still very young. It would be nice to have some people grow up to help us.

It also makes me very sad to see conservatives and liberals switch completely from ten years ago. What is wrong with liberals wanting democracy in the world? Good god, man, that is the definition of liberalism. And conservatives act as if we're at some giant democratic Billy Graham crusade. Shoot for the moon, guys, of course, but Afghan democracy is not going to be like San Francisco democracy for many, many years.

Ken -- are you referring to:

Saddam invading Iran? Saddam invading Kuwait? Ugandan and PF Tutsi/Hutu troops invading Rwanda to stop the Interahamwe militia's genocide? Vietnam invading Cambodia to stop Pol Pot? China invading Vietnam to aid Pol Pot? Perhaps Bill Clinton bombing Serbia to stop such things as the Srebenica massacre?

You have this quaint, deluded, utopian notion that in an era when the UN is a useless, bribed, talk-forum for tinpot tyrants to wash their dirty money, there is any alternative to unilateral force. Yes I know the Left loathes and hates America as the positive change agent it is, preferring instead every total dictator from Castro (President for Life on over 45 years now, Lil Kim, Saddam, Slobo, etc).

The rest of us merely accept the world as it is and debate if an action is effective and wise, leave the PC moralizing out of it.

Ware is cut from the same mold as Ken. The jihadis are good because they oppose the United States, which haltingly attempts to empower union organizers, women's rights groups, political organization, and end to total rule by a dictator, etc. Trying to wrench Iraq and Afghanistan by force into the 17th Century at least.

The Left, as shown by Ken and Ware, prefers an absolute autocrat. Since the US is generally opposed to autocracy and absolute rule by one man it is no accident that men like Ware, Ken, or Fisk hate us and wish us defeated and destroyed. The same rhetoric applied to US forces trying to stop Slobo and Ratko Miladec.

"Nuke Mecca?" Absent moral considerations it has a certain utility in the event of mass casualty attacks on the US by nuclear weapons by Muslim groups IF you accept base assumptions. It demonstrates in unmistakable terms that the US is more powerful than Allah. Because the US can remove Allah's most holy site, and Allah can do nothing about it. WHERE will Muslims pray five times a day if Mecca no longer exists? The US has effectively "killed Allah" and thus there is no more reason to fight for most Muslims.

If you accept Huntington's thesis of civilizational conflict, this is just the same as bombing Tokyo in Doolittle's Raid, or bombing Berlin. It is a direct political statement to the people that the civilization cannot protect it's most sacred ground and thus what they believe is false, stop fighting.

If you don't accept Huntington's thesis and accept GWB's thesis that "moderate muslims" should be empowered by the lever of US force to break the structures that keep them marginalized (as in Iraq and Afghanistan) then obviously this reaction to a mass casualty nuclear attack on the US (nuking Mecca) is something you should never talk about. Much less DO.

[I'll note that Muslims themselves have no problem discussing, from Iran's Ahamdinejad to bin Laden to Muslims in the UK on trial for "dirty bomb plots", mass casualty nuclear attacks on the US and the UK and Israel. Nor do I believe they would hesitate to do so given the opportunity.]

This war is being fought in the media.

Which war? The War in Iraq? No, it is not being fought in the media. That misconception is one reason the war is going so badly: the insurgents were not listening to the American media when it was announcing Mission Accomplished, nor the discovery of WMD, nor that they were in their last throes. Nor have they paid the slightest attention to the happy-face PR stories we paid to run in the Iraq media. Media do not construct reality. Did you see the latest admission that our occupation of Iraq has been both feckless and corrupt? Or does such defeatism, even out of the mouths of Republicans, discolor your rose-colored glasses too much? To my mind, that explains the beginnings and success of the anti-American forces much better than whinging about TV comics.

Now, the war against American liberals, that is being played out in the media, and has been since the day Rush Limbaugh got his first microphone.

Let me remind you of just one credo of liberalism that has not changed one bit in the last ten years, and much longer: the rule of law. Think what a mockery the Bush Administration has made of that: casus belli, torture, habeas corpus, Geneva Conventions, Fourth Amendment, FISA, nothing is sacred to these crew of clowns.

the illegal invasion of another country, the destruction of its civil society and infrastructure, the torture of its citizens and the killing of its innocent civilian polulation by the occupying force.

1. What illegal invasion? The use of force was approved by the UN's Security Council AND the Administration had Congress's approval.

2. Could you explain exactly what civil society and infrastracture was destroyed by the Americans? The civil society had Saddam winning in its last election with a 100% vote, and the infrastructure was not providing electricity nor potable water to a majority of the country.

3. What citizens have Americans tortured? If you're thinking of pictures out of Abu Ghraib, were those citizens or terrorists, and are you seriously expecting us to agree that putting nylon panties on someone's head constitutes torture? The guy the NY Times trotted out as their pinup torture boy has been proven to be lying. Could you pretty please find me one tortured Iraq who lost his (or her) tongue, hand, head at the hands of the Americans or who lost them AFTER we went into Baghdad?

4. Re: killing of civilian population, last I saw, the number is about 35,000 dead Iraqi civilians since we went in three years ago. That would have been one single afternoon's workout under Saddam's regime. Saddam was in power for years and decades and murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's, Kurds, Kuwaiti's, and Iranians. And I'm supposed to feel bad about 35,000 dead Iraqi civilians?

Well, Ken -- all that you've done in this particular post is to prove that you're lamentably behind the times in your arguments, factually inaccurate, and a doubtless a bleeding heart liberal moonbat who makes your living as a teacher where no one is adult enough to hold your feet to the fire when you make Stoopid Statements like the ones you made here.

Winds used to be a much nicer place when people replied upon facts rather than guilt-trips from the past to make their case.

#9 --"Which war? The War in Iraq? No, it is not being fought in the media. That misconception is one reason the war is going so badly"

Any war. Let's look at facts and stop, just for a minute, the endless litany of how bad the current administration is. The United States of America sits on something like a $40 Trillion (swag) economy. We have close to, what, 300 million people here? In addition, we have spent trillions on defense over the last 40 years. Our military and economy and unparalelled in the world.

I am not saying that to brag -- far from it. I think being the big dog in the tent has a lot of drawbacks. But this reality means that we will only lose a war in which we give up. As a democracy "giving up" means something very particular. It means swaying public opinion, supporting the opposition party (when that party is against the war), and playing to the media.

In marketing I think it's called "viral marketing". A video of a hostage being beheaded is loaded up on a server in the mideast, then millions of people all over the world download and talk about it. As long as the "buzz" is that we're losing the war, guess what? We are, in fact, losing the war. Facts on the ground are completely meaningless. Assuming that some war like Iraq were going badly, the nation has plenty of capability to fix it. But once again, these are political decisions based on public opinion.

I know with the election coming up it will be imppossible to talk about this without the anti/pro Bush crowd running amok. But my opinion holds for Dem administrations as well as Pubs. Once American boots are on the ground, I really think the rest of us have obligations as citizens to support the cause. And if we can't support the cause, we can at least support the system that made the decision to go -- even if we hate the current idiots at 1600 PA Avenue.

That's a tall order, I know. In some ways, Bush has been one of the most liberal presidents we've had in a long while. This makes domestic politics fairly unstable, in my opinion. But the kids over there aren't republicans or democrats, they're just Americans. Mahler hurts us. He physically hurts people and causes their deaths by progandizing for the enemy.

How to continue the open and honest discussion? I guess keep going the way we are. But I'll certainly speak up about it.

You went on to the current situation and your view of the lack of legality. This charge is really too easy to counter, and it has nothing to do with what I was saying. I'll leave that to others.

Guys, stop trying to defend the indefensible.

We know that Bush lied to us in order to get our support for his war. We know that it is against interantional law to start a war against another country without their being an imminant threat. We know that Bush changed American policy to allow for torture.

Most uf us have accepted these facts and we do not blame ourselves for any of them. We blame Bush and his conservative administration for them.

History will judge them likewise. You make yourselves out to be fools the longer you try to defend what all of us know are lies.

Ken, We know all that do we? And how, pray tell, do we know it? In other words, name-calling is not equal to argument. Where is your evidence?

Fred, there is no excuse for ignorance in this day and age. You obviously have an internet connection. Do some homework. Make like you are a historian and are trying to figure out why Americans supported the invasion of a country that never posed a threat to them.

When you find the answer you will know why we are so pissed at Bush and his conservative administration for misleading us, lying to us to attack another country. We know just how sick that is cause we have seen other dispicable leaders do that to their populations.

"...Make like you are a historian and are trying to figure out why Americans supported the invasion of a country that never posed a threat to them..."

I could recommend about 6 books for you, including "The Coming Storm", which outlines the reasons for invading Iraq prior to the invasion. WMD, while an issue, was never the only thing. One of the major myths is that the status quo could be maintained. There are many more. Pick it up. You might learn something.

"...for misleading us, lying to us to attack another country..."

I do not feel misled, or lied to. Perhaps you do. I am not a republican, and I do not consdier myself a conservative.

I'm not asking you to agree with me -- I know that cause is probably hopeless. I would simply ask you to consider that reasonable people, Ken, might disagree on some of the issues you consider "obvious". Bush did not lie. He told the truth as he knew it. We were already in a de facto state of war with Iraq, like it or not. Saddam managed to put himself in the position of not being trusted by any of the world's intelligence agencies, who all thought he had WMD and was intent on developing nukes. There were over 20 binding UN Security Council resolutions, a breaking of the armstice of the 91 war, and an attempted assassination of a former US President.

You guys can argue all the war (which has long been over) all you want. But certainly reasonable people can see this issue in several ways, right Ken?

"You obviously have an internet connection. Do some homework. . . . why we are so pissed at Bush and his conservative administration for misleading us, lying to us to attack another country."

I have an internet connection, so I can read government documents to find out that Bush's speeches from 2002 on, promote the same policy as Clinton's Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. I can read translations of documents from Saddam's files that prove out the fears of Clinton and Bush about Saddam's collusion with terrorists and plans to rebuild his WMD programs. I can read what Bush and Powell actually said to the UN, rather than how they were misquoted in the press. I can find out that the same nations which voted against us in the UNSC are the same ones who sold Saddam most of his weapons and engaged in the most illegal trade with him. I can read thorough debunkings of Fahrenheit 911. I can read Iraqi bloggers and BBC and UN polls on Iraqi attitudes. I can read milbloggers on the ground talking about strategy and equipment and interactions with Iraqis. I can read examples of European anti-Americanism that predate 9-11. I can read eyewitness accounts of the rebuilding of Germany and Japan after WWII and compare them to our rebuilding of Iraq. I can watch videos of Saddam's thugs torturing Iraqis and jihadis beheading hostages . . .

Shall I go on?

You can find anything on the internet. The trick is in what you consider a credible source and how you interpret the information.

Sorry Daniel, reasonable people have a responsibility to accept the truth, however difficult that may be in light of their ideology.

If you and the other conservatives here want to continue to spin lies in defense of the war, go for it. It only makes you look like a fool.

Ken, high-sounding words, and clearly you're mind's made up.

The rest of us will keep trying to figure out what the hell is actually going on without you no-doubt-valuable namecalling and conclusion-reiterating.

"Have a nice day.

...Somewhere else."

Come'on- like they need a reason to commit their perverse acts against us. That's like blaming rape on the length of a girl's skirt. Besides, which is more powerful- some nut job sex therapist or our own government using sex as a torture method in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib?

Please someone hurry and find a way to make a Clinton partially responsible for this too!

I would like to assure everyone that I had nothing to do with NahnCee, even though it reads like a setup. Specifically:
  1. three years of expensive reconstruction, and Iraq's electricity, fresh water, and sewage utilities are all in worse shape than before the war. So let's hold those infrastructure remarks, eh?
  2. We've been doing a lot more than panties in our torture chambers (borrowed from Saddam). We've pretty much become inured to the idea that torture is a valid part of the War on Terra. Thanks, George.
  3. The current Iraqi death rate—dozens dead every day in political violence—is actually higher than Saddam's at the end of his regime. Sad but true.
Now, to get back to the main topic. Japan and Germany had total control of their domestic press and they lost WW2 anyway. Heck, the USSR had control of its press, and lost the Cold War. The thesis that the American media is having a serious impact on the insurgency is driven more by a recognition that the compulsory unification of opinion is the only contribution many people can make in a war effort that allegedly needs no increase in the size of our armed forces (remember, GWB now promises years' more occupation: think how many troops or civilian administrators we could have trained over that period of time) nor even a tax increase.

It's alleged that Daily Kos is some wild-eyed bunch of nuts. It might be useful to compare their main post from yesterday on journalists in Iraq, 86 of whom have died, with WoC.

"...Japan and Germany had total control of their domestic press and they lost WW2 anyway..."

Japan and Germany were nowhere near in the same situation as we are. Yet they accomplished a lot starting with very little. I think your example actually disproves your point.

"...driven more by a recognition that the compulsory unification of opinion is the only contribution many people can make in a war effort.." -- your thesis, not mine. As someone who has been in the military, I think there is something to be said for Espirit De Corps, motivation, and positive-thinking. Unified thinking is not required, but neither is negative gamesmanship. There is a way to identify and overcome obstacles in a wartime that does not involve wholesale destruction of belief in the government. Getting drunk and talking about how horrible things are might be a great personal habit to relieve stress (or not), but when it's done publicly it causes damage. People, especially young people, look up to those Comedy Central morons. The kids over there (and here) deserve better. There are reasons to fight, and teaching a population to sit on their fat behinds and bemoan anything that requires sacrifice is going to slowly kill the state. I can guarantee you that our enemy is not sitting around talking about what a losing war it is.

"...The current Iraqi death rate—dozens dead every day in political violence—is actually higher than Saddam's at the end of his regime..." -- I would challenge you to prove this. As I remember, the CIA was estimating over 20K killed a year under Saddam. This comes out to around a hundred a day, not dozens. I noticed you qualified it with "at the end of his regime". Is this during the last weeks or months? Or is it significant, like the last year or two? I find this charge interesting. It also supposes that leaving Saddam in power would somehow be preferable to the Iraqi people working out their violence issues, which I find patently absurd. But that's just me.

Why is it that the anti-war crowd sounds so pro-Saddam? I know they are not, but these arguments sometimes sound like TV commercials for electing Saddam back into power. "Life in Iraq got you down? Elect Saddam! The lights are on, the water flows, and the trains run on time. Saddam: It's evening again in Iraq."

In World War I, all the major powers censored the press and disbursed propaganda to avoid divisions and demoralization. (Although Britain's gentlemanly order allowed the government to rely a lot on media self-censorship)

Towards the end of the war, Russia ended censorship, which legitimized anti-war sentiment, leading the Bolsheviks to power and the loss of the war. Austria also eased censorship toward the end.

If anything Britain and France intensified government censorship programs and incarceration of dissidents. In the U.S., do I need to mention Eugene Debs?

Morale was very important in determining the outcome of WWI, a largely preventive war, that required lengthy, painful sacrifices with very little in tangible gains.

Amazing that so many don't get it, this is a war with Islam that is going to go on for quite some time. They (Isalm) want to destroy us, we have not seen anything yet. They must be stopped!

You can find anything on the internet. The trick is in what you consider a credible source and how you interpret the information.

Indeed. For instance, Healing Iraq used to be a credible source of information.

But it's safe to say he's seen his last link from WOC or Instaidiot.

Just gotta keep switching to new credible sources right?

And when Ralph Peters is killed by projectile daisies I'm sure you'll find even more credible sources out there.

The "average" death toll under Saddam includes big spikes for the Iran-Iraq War and well-defined internal atrocities. The average for the other periods, for example, his last few years in power, must therefore be much lower. Let's see what Iraq Body Count and AI say on the subject (7th Nov 2004 release, my emphasis)
Finally, we reject any attempt, by pro-war governments and others, to minimise the seriousness of deaths so far recorded by comparing them to higher figures, be they of deaths under Saddam's regime, or in other much larger-scale wars. Amnesty International, which criticized and drew attention to the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime long before the governments which launched the 2003 attack on Iraq, estimated that violent deaths attributable to Saddam's government numbered at most in the hundreds during the years immediately leading up to 2003. Those wishing to make the "more lives ultimately saved" argument will need to make their comparisons with the number of civilians likely to have been killed had Saddam Hussein's reign continued into 2003-2004, not in comparison to the number of deaths for which he was responsible in the 1980s and early 1990s, or to casualty figures during WWII.
Certainly many Iraqis are better off than under Saddam, although in the case of Moqtada al-Sadr and his ilk, this is somewhat like noting how much better off the villanous Eastern European Communist leaders were under Stalin's protection than Hitler's persecution. But in the aggregate, we have not brought electricity, water, sewage, oil revenue, personal security, and infant mortality back to Saddamite levels. Notwithstanding billions of dollars spent, or were they all siphoned off? The reconstruction effort appears to make Saddam's Oil-for-Food an exemplar of cleanliness and efficiency.

The problem with the media is not that they are defeatist, indeed in the early stages of the Iraq Adventure they were triumphalist and fully cooperative with the Administration, printing all sorts of fairy tales about WMD precursors, the Jessica Lynch rescue, the totally-staged statue pull-down, etc. The problem with the media is that the failure of Bush's program for Iraq subsequent to military victory over the ragtag Iraqi Army simply can not be hidden, not when our own Ambassador is sounding the tocsin.

If we are considering "average" death tolls, then might I humbly suggest we revisit this issue in about twenty years?

First, AI is not a credible source. I'm sorry, I know people at AI and I think they mean well, but I've lost confidence in them. My opinion only.

Secondly, as the lurker points out, this is the long war and numbers such as these need to be looked at in the long context. I read your post carefully two times, and I'm still very comfortable with my utilitarian morality that led to my decision to support the war. In 20 years, maybe I'm wrong. It's happened before.

"...we have not brought electricity, water, sewage, oil revenue, personal security, and infant mortality back to Saddamite levels..." -- we have also not brought a chicken to every Iraqi pot, institutionalized a social medicine system for Iraq, or painted all the houses. It would be great if we could do more, but let's not let mission creep take over, shall we? Saddam is gone, Iraqis have elected a government and formed a constitution, and we're keeping the lights on until they can do whatever they please with their new country.

I know it's fun to talk about the Iraq war as if somehow tanks might still roll through the streets, but those days really appear over to me after Fallujah. (sp?) Nobody is going to let the crazy people take another city, and so there will never be a civil war in Iraq.

All of this, the lists of Bush mistakes, the list of bad reporting, the quotes from self interested parties -- does not change the point I was making. In a real war, words matter. Mahler causes physical harm and even death by his antics, which is not funny. Teaching a generation to mistrust and question the government is a great thing. Teaching a generation to sit on their comfy chairs and never take a responsible role is quite another. Having the right to question and protest presupposes a duty to defend those rights (and the system that grants it).

"..the failure of Bush's program..."

It really tickles me that we are in a multi-decade war with people who are most likely going to do us serious harm one day -- and all folks want to talk about is whether their guys got elected or not. How many times do we have to be attacked when your guy is in office for you to own the war? I'm afraid the future will hold an answer to that question for all of us. And as the answer plays out, you can bet Mahler and his ilk will be making fun of those who are doing all the dirty work.

The point is: whatever the situation in Iraq, how can anyone watch that clip and still consider Michael Ware an impartial or reliable source - or a serious man at all. Is this a grown man representing a major news magazine? Or an irresponsible kid playing theatre?

Michael Ware: "Baghdad. Shit! I'm still only in Baghdad. Every time I think I'm gonna wake up back in the desert, ducking explosions. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker. And every minute Mohammad squats in the desert, he gets stronger. Each time I looked around, the walls moved in a little tighter. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, TIME gave me one. They brought it up to me like room service...It was a real choice mission..."

Coppola: "That wasn´t bad, Michael, but you got to wipe that smug expression from your face...I can´t feel your despair! (Aside) Someone get Michael a full bottle, ok."

Might I humbly suggest that if you believe that AI is off by two orders of magnitude, which is what is necessary for your claim that Iraq is more dangerous now than in the last few years under Saddam, you present some links of your own. We're looking for any estimate that breaks out Saddam's killings by year. Be my guest. Until then, why don't we consider your claim that the number of killings is less now as retracted, since it is my allegedly inaccurate AI number against your wishful thinking.

The American people have given up on the Bush Administration's conduct of the war because, whatever long twilit struggle the War on Terror was supposed to be, the War in Iraq was supposed to be a romp-in-the-park Mission Accomplished joyride ending in a few months. Don't forget, the Administration was leaking stories about most of the troops home by Xmas 2003, a number that is now revised—without any dismissal of Rumsfeld or the other architects of the catastrophe—into something more like Xmas 2013. But three years in, our accomplishments in Iraq are somewhere between transitory and ephemeral, reducing the pro-war crowd to completely unsupported claims that the same policies and the same practitioners will be more successful with another three, ten, or thousand years to bollix it up. No wonder the media is the new target.

Speaking of which, more on the media conspiracy
It's also interesting how journalists seem anxious to help the administration out with reporting on "good" news — working the ref is a successful strategy — but conditions simply won't allow reporters to help Bush out. ABC was going to do a feature on a new Iraqi sitcom, until they arrived and learned that the producer had been assassinated. NBC was filming the opening of a new school when a bomb went off.
Might I humbly suggest that if you believe that AI is off by two orders of magnitude, which is what is necessary for your claim that Iraq is more dangerous now than in the last few years under Saddam, you present some links of your own.
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by this. If you want to use an average death toll over Saddam's entire reign to show how he wasn't that bad, shouldn't we war supporters be allowed the same courtesy?

Do we need to agree on the size of the rolling-average window or something? Is it going to be 30 years, 20 years, 3 years, 1 year, or what? Or do you just get to pick the one that suits your needs at the moment?

Many people feel that the reports by the US news media create the wrong impression about the war in Iraq. Media reports give the impression that the entire country is in complete chaos while in fact large areas of the country are not seeing much violence, US casualties are declining, the economy is growing, the development of the Iraq military is making US involvement less and less necesary, and there have been very successful elections.

Many people feel that the US media is unpatriotic because of this difference between the news reports and the reality in Iraq. However appealing to patriotism to convince the media to change they way they report is the wrong approach because it will be misconstrued as a request for them to falsify reports to make the US look good.

In fact, the underlying issue is not patriotism, it is a question of providing good quality journalism. Everyone's primary concern should be that media reports give an accurate impression of the actual situation in Iraq. Since no one would ask the media to report falsely out of patriotism and the media would have to admit that they desire to provide high quality journalism, the grounds for disucssion should be the facts in Iraq and how the current style of reporting is not creating an accurate representation of those facts and is therefore not very good journalism.

You can't win the debate with out winning the quality argument, and once you win the quality argument you don't need to discuss patriotism.

The "average" death toll under Saddam includes big spikes for the Iran-Iraq War and well-defined internal atrocities. The average for the other periods, for example, his last few years in power, must therefore be much lower.

You have yet to show why we should restrict our metrics to the last two years of Sadaam's reign when comparing body counts and making moral judgements. Does the fact that he "only" killed a few hundred towards the end suddenly erase the previous hundreds of thousands? Are you sincerely postulating that the trend line of murders--which you admitted had a couple of conspicuous spikes--would remain negative forever, if we just left him alone?

Using your logic, I could say "well the average of Iraqi deaths under American invasion includes some unique spikes--like the battle of Fallujah--as well as some spikes from non-American causes, such as the recent sectarian violence, or every time a car bomber blows up a group of children." If you're going to simply discount Sadaam's outliers, I can do the same for post-OIF Iraq; if you're going to only focus on the 2 years of Sadaam's reign out of 20 that support your point, then I can choose my own favorable window during post-Sadaam Iraq for comparison. (I'll take, lessee, 10 years from now. By that time, either Bush was right and Iraq will have settled down, or we'll be hailing Wretchard's 3rd conjecture as psychic and this little dispute won't matter anyways.)

In deciding whether more Iraqis are dead from violence now than would have been under Saddam, it makes much more sense to look at his marginal rate of massacre. You probably know that, too, it just doesn't provide a number you want to see. Right now, people are not dying just on one unlucky day, but day in and day out.

I think I'll let disillusioned conservative Greg Djerejian handle another part of the argument: "[T]his is a bit like, during the Balkan wars, exclaiming that the islands of Brac and Hvar off the Dalmatian Coast are a great place for a dreamy Adriatic honeymoon, but shit, things in Zenica, Tuzla, Bihac, Srebrenica, Zepa, Gorazde and Sarajevo aren't quite as grand[.]"

It's a good question, Andrew.

So I popped up Google, typed "Saddam deaths" and clicked on the link at the top of the page. Hardly rocket science, but you asked, so I answered. Here it is.

Here's a quote that caught my eye:

"Along with other human rights organizations, The Documental Centre for Human Rights in Iraq has compiled documentation on over 600,000 civilian executions in Iraq. Human Rights Watch reports that in one operation alone, the Anfal, Saddam killed 100,000 Kurdish Iraqis. Another 500,000 are estimated to have died in Saddam's needless war with Iran. Coldly taken as a daily average for the 24 years of Saddam's reign, these numbers give us a horrifying picture of between 70 and 125 civilian deaths per day for every one of Saddam's 8,000-odd days in power."

I think time scales and sample sizes are important, but as others pointed out, you can pick and choose whatever you like. I made a personal decision that over the next 20-40 years we would end up going into Iraq with nukes, which would mean the loss of hundreds of thousands, if not millions. So my time frame is in the 20-40 year area. Personally I would not be comfortable with thinking only in terms of years or even 5-7 years. But that's me.

I think if it looked like we might kill millions in that area (which it still does) we have a moral obligation to let those folks choose their own governments, no matter what those choices turn out to be. Saddam was not Iraq. He was just some brutal thug who took that territory. Now that Iraqis are choosing, they may choose poorly. If that is the case, then I am still pleased that we did the right thing. I don't think you need a rosy scenario or statistical games to make the case at all.

"...Right now, people are not dying just on one unlucky day, but day in and day out.."

LOL. Having Saddam gas your village is definitely the definition of "unlucky day"

What a crazy way of arguing. The mean daily death rate is unacceptable. First -- unacceptable to whom? I don't like the minimum wage, but I'm not looking to France (who helped us in our war of independence) for help with it. Second -- it sounds like some sort of continuous improvement way of looking at doing the right thing. I can just see some factory quality expert standing in front of a large screen.

"Here we have this graph of current deaths by day. As you can see by the second deritivate, if we take a moving average with the bands set at...."

ROTFL. We should definitely debate sample sizes. I don't think the war makes much sense unless we talk about sample sizes and average distribution. I had specific variance numbers in mind, and we're just not meeting those currently.

> We know that it is against interantional law to start a war against another country without their being an imminant threat.

Really? Who are the international police? Who is responsible for AND capable of enforcing said law?

And, given the state of the "international community", why should any decent person give what they say any weight at all?

" You probably know that, too, it just doesn't provide a number you want to see. Right now, people are not dying just on one unlucky day, but day in and day out."

Er, so the Iraqi people are better off dying by the tens of thousands every few years than a few each day for a lower total? Maybe, but its a strange argument to make. By that logic maybe we should offer to off a couple hundred thousand Sunni and hit the road, then 'peace' could reign for another decade or so. By your logic that would be the right thing to do.

I find it strange that this Sexion character calls women prisoners "non-existent".

In fact CENTCOM and the interior ministry have just gone out of their way to insist that some women are still being held. They said so so that no-one would think the demands of Jill Carrol's kidnappers had been met.

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