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Defending the Bad Guys?:
If I can put just a toe in the water on the debate as to whether there are a susbtantial number of Western critics who "support the insurgents," or, as the WSJ put it, "side with the Iraqi resistance," I have two quick comments. Or rather, one quick comment and one longer comment. The quick comment is that at least on the question of identifying American (as opposed to Western) critics who have voiced such views, my sense is that the search doesn't seem to be finding much. Based on the evidence so far, at least, there seem to be only a handful of critics in the U.S. who have clearly and unambiguously expressed such views.

  Second, I wonder if the question doesn't generate more heat than light given the different ways that people might perceive what it means to "support the insurgents" or "side with the resistance." In particular, I wonder if our different best guesses of the likely outcomes in the war are exerting too much of an influence on our perceptions of what "side" people are on.

  Here's my thinking. To simplify things, let's assume that we can break down the possible futures in Iraq into four basic possibilities:
  1) The U.S. beats back the insurgency and democracy flowers in Iraq (call this the "optimistic stay" scenario),
  2) The U.S. digs in its heels, spends years fighting the insurgency, loses lots of troops, and years later withdraws, leading to a bloody and disastrous civil war (the "pessimistic stay" scenario);
   3) The U.S. decides that it's no longer worth it to stay in Iraq, pulls out relatively soon, and things in Iraq are about as best as you could hope for, perhaps leading to a decent amount of democracy (optimistic leave), and
  4) The U.S. decides that it's no longer worth it to stay in Iraq, pulls out soon, and plunges Iraq into a bloody and disastrous civil war with the bad guys assuming control eventually (pessimistic leave).
  Let's assume that all of us want the best for the United States and democracy in Iraq, but that we are also deeply divided on wisdom of the war in Iraq. Because we all want the best for the U.S. and the prospects of democracy in Iraq, we will all rank options (1) or (3) over options (2) or (4). But because we are divided on the war in Iraq, and therefore are divided on whether U.S. troops are likely to help or hurt things, we will likely split on our perceptions of the likelihood of the different scenarios coming true. If you were for the war, you are likely to see the realistic choice set as between scenarios (1) and (4), and to prefer (1); if you were against the war, you are likely to see the realistic choice set as between scenarios (2) and (3) and to prefer (3).

  The insurgents, on the other hand, seem to want something more like option (4). (At least as far as I can tell — others are much more expert on this than I am.) The problem with claims that one side "supports the insurgents" or "sides with the resistance" then, is that it doesn't clearly distinguish between those who want option (4) over (1) and those who want option (3) over (2). For example, imagine a commentator announces that he wants the U.S. to leave Iraq immediately, but doesn't explain why. Those who are against the war are likely to construe it as advocacy for (3) over (2), as they see those as the two basic options. Those who are for the war may see it as advocacy for (4) over (1), as they see those as the two basic options. And if you're against against the war and favor (3) over (2), you're like to be pretty ticked — and reasonably so — by the suggestion that you're actually in favor of (4) over (1).

  Anyway, all of this is pretty oversimplified. There's a lot more to it that this. But in the end, my sense is that the question may end up generating more heat than light.
Chris Brody:
Well broken down, Orin; as a war opponent I appreciate this.
8.13.2005 3:05pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"my sense is that the search doesn't seem to be finding much."

No kidding.

Perhaps you'll inform Mr. Volkh.
8.13.2005 3:15pm
Cory (mail):
One reason that there are few mainstream people that support the insurgency is that it is a socially stigmatized position. It is comparable to racism, in that few public people profess it and those do are quickely censured. It may be that people are reluctant to admit to both of those positions even on anonymous surveys. As such, most instances of support for the insurgency would probably come from groups dedicated to that purpose, and to private people. For instance, there are several signs at this rally and this rally that clearly support the terrorists. But you won't find many who explicitly do so among mainsteam liberal groups, because mainstream liberals disassociate themselves from those types, just like mainstream conservatives disassociate themselves from open racists.

N.B. I am not saying anything about the relative evilness of supporting the insurgency versus racism, nor am I saying anything about their respective frequency on the left or right. I am just noting that they are similar in that they are both stigmatized positions.
8.13.2005 3:27pm
Tom952 (mail):
If I may, allow me to suggest possibility 5). The recent calls for factionalism in Iraq may provide the U.S. with a means to "stabilize" Iraq and get out. At this point possibility 1) above does not look very likely. Possibility 2) and 4) both result in a U.S. pullout without a stable government in Iraq, which would allow the most ruthless thug in Iraq to elbow his way to the top and take over. Under possibility 3) the Iraqi government tries to hold it together, but if it falls the chief thug wins again. However, if the constitutional referendum fails, Iraq could be divided into three somewhat autonomous regions promptly - Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish. This has several advantages. a) There is strong potential for cohesion within each region. b) There is no large group to oppose the division. c) The three would have to focus on one another and neighbors Iran, Syria, and Turkey, and create alliances for self preservation.
8.13.2005 3:27pm
Chris W (mail):
There is another possibility for us anti-war folks. There is a large segment of the anti-war left (based on my anecdotal experience) that sees the choice as between 2 and 4. By this argument the situation in Iraq is so screwed up (and, admittedly, in the more anti-administration variations, the leadership is so incompetent) that nothing we do will be likely to improve the outcome. These people argue that in the choice between 100,000 dead Iraqis and an Islamic dictatorship a year from now vs. 100,000 dead Iraqis and an Islamic dictatorship three or four years from now, plus 2-3,000 dead Americans and the expenditure of another trillion dollars, the marginal benefit of delaying civil war another couple years is nowhere near the cost in lives and dollars.
8.13.2005 3:37pm
Chris W (mail):
Sorry for the double post but another thought just occured to me. In reference to those who see the choice as between 2 and 4: I think these are the people who really get pro-war people angry, because they do prefer the outcome that the insurgents prefer to all of the other outcomes they see as possible. Hence the accusations that they support the insurgents. In defense of my fellow doves, though, I would argue that they aren't in favor of an Iraq dominated by the insurgents any more than Harry Truman was in favor of an Eastern Europe dominated by the Soviet Union, they just don't think there's any realistic alternative.
8.13.2005 3:44pm
Steve:
Years later, there are people who believe the choice in Vietnam was between 2 and 4, and some who believe it was between 1 and 4. Whatever ends up happening in Iraq, it's questionable if we will ever agree on what the counterfactual outcome would have been.
8.13.2005 3:56pm
boonelsj (mail):
Chris W -

I think you're right that the anti-war people who see 2 or 4 as the realistic outcomes are the ones who get under the pro-war people's skin. I suspect that a lot of that comes from a perception on the pro-war part that equates expecting 2 or 4 with preferring 2 or 4. I get the sense that the pro-war side is effectively rigging the debate by trying to set up a false dichotomy between pro-war/pro-america/anti-insurgent and anti-war/anti-america/pro-insurgent. I think the more realistic dichotomy is pro-america/optimistic about war/anti-insurgent versus pro-america/pessimistic about war/anti-insurgent. Very few anti-war people actually want us to fail, we merely expect it.
8.13.2005 4:02pm
bill-10k (mail) (www):
In 1998 the policy of the U.S. was set on regime change in Iraq, unanimous approval. Of course no one actually thought Clinton was going to do anything, did they? In 2002 a resolution was passed, Bush went to the U.N., nothing happened, regime change in Iraq took place in 2003.

Now people are yelling for a do over. OK, as soon as all those that voted for the last position taken, resign their Congressional jobs, admit they were wrong and go home.

. . .

Through all the carnage we never hear the Iraqis are still pressing on. They are still training troops, training police, they are picking up the pieces after each bomb blast, they are capturing terrorists daily, they are writing their Constitution, forming their governemnt and pressing on. It would be unconscionable to abandon them now . . . I say it's the Iraqis who decide now. Today's Iraq news is they move a step forward tomorrow with their new Constituion draft. We'll see.

But if we want to cut and run, I want the resignations of all Congress critters involved first. It was the people's representatives that demanded that final debate and vote, they should answer to the people. It is interesting to consider that a lot of those that voted in the affirmative, including the President just got re-elected ... we bought the ticket to the dance, so why not just shutup and let the Iraqis get on with it.
8.13.2005 4:11pm
Public_Defender:
Nicely said.

The more I read, the more I credit (rather than criticize) professor Volokh for starting this dicussion.
8.13.2005 4:11pm
Charles Iragui:
Orwell's famous and, I believe later repudiated, comment, that Pacifism objectively supports Fascism, seems like an apt explanation for conservative reaction to liberal skepticism. Conservatives equate opposition to the policy with support for the government's (and civilization's) enemies. Given that liberals are currently largely powerless, these suspicions are exagerrations: the sometimes overheated rhetoric of liberals is partly the voice of those who feal no responsibility and great frustration. More calmly, the rhetoric springs from principled opposition to the policy.

British PM Galloway has come much closer than any American that I'm aware of (including Michael Moore) to actually siding with the Islamists. If anyone can point to words and actions such as those of Galloway made by an American, I would agree that such an individual favors the Islamists. Otherwise, the accusation seems to obscure and hinder reasoned debate on a difficult threat to our security.

(Disclosure: I am a strong supporter of Bush's policies)
8.13.2005 4:37pm
NR:
Thanks to Professor Kerr for turning on the lights and turning down the heat.

The insight that our best guesses as to the most likely outcome of the war probably color other perceptions of the war is a useful one. But what I really appreciate is this very reasonable and charitable assumption, which Professor Kerr takes as an axiom, not a false empirical claim to be refuted: "Let's assume that all of us want the best for the United States and democracy in Iraq . . . ."

Let's, shall we?

As for what it means to "support the insurgents" or "side with the Iraqi resistance," it seems clear to me that Professor Volokh thinks ascribing motives to the insurgents that aren't completely morally blameworthy fits the bill. In other words, to state that insurgent violence is in many ways an understandable reaction to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, the horrors of Abu Ghraib, the accidental killing of thousands of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops, a largely botched reconstruction, etc., is to "defend" or at least "justify" car-bombings, assassinations, and attacks on American soldiers.

(If I completely misread Prof. Volokh, I wish he would clarify his thoughts. It seems many of his readers share this understanding.)

It's hard to carry on a reasoned discussion about the war when placing any blame for the extraordinary violence that has engulfed Iraq at the feet of this administration brands you as an apologist for car-bombers, if not a traitor. We should all be interested in how to reduce insurgent violence and stabilize the country. To that end, if for no other reason, we should be willing to take an unblinking look at the true motives behind the insurgents' actions, even if that means turning a critical eye on our own choices and conduct.
8.13.2005 5:34pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
I think Professor Volokh's response to criticism is quite telling. We saw the same thing after his post on how he favors torture of child-killers. He has a knee jerk reaction and makes even more outrageous statements . . . . I think he is so used to being doted on by others about how he is the smartest person ever that he does not have any idea what it is like to face reasoned criticism so he acts like a baby when he gets criticized. . . .
8.13.2005 5:37pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Its sad Mr. Kopel didn't offer comments because his post sure deserves someone to pick it apart.

In the first link the professor, if he qualifies under the "Stick with journalists, officials, or at least famous people; avoid comments by unknown people on others' blogs" says "And the Western intellectuals? Since the resistance began a year ago…not a single US intellectual, of the dozens of progressive, critical thinkers ("Not in My Name") has dared to declare their solidarity with the anti-colonial struggle."

The link to Janeane Garafolo is really damn odd because I followed the link and her name doesn't even appear on the page.


I don't think any of the other people even qualify, especially linking to DU of all places.
8.13.2005 6:23pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
I should have added, to at least make it relevant, that it's sad to see such a poor post from David Kopel following a very good thoughtful one by Orin Kerr on this page.
8.13.2005 6:38pm
JoeSlater (mail):
I join the kudos for Orin Kerr's description of the issue and where we are so far.

In response to Cory's point, which Dave Kopel picked up on, the idea that this position is "stigmatized" so maybe people *believe* the insurgents should win, but don't say so ...

If the position is so strongly stigmatized among most of the left and liberals, doesn't that suggest that in fact most of the left and liberals truly don't want the insurgents to win? Not to be a broken record on this point, but there was little stigma to rooting for the Sandinistas among the left and liberals, no matter how much the right called them communists and compared the contras to our founding fathers; and during Vietnam, there was less stigma on the left from embracing the cause of the North Vietnamese communists than there is today of embracing the Islamic theocrats and terrorists.

That's because in those older situations, many on the left really DID sympathize strongly with "the other side" -- but that's just not true today. And again, the reason for this is obvious: the politics of the Islamic militants are incredibly illiberal. In addition to the tactic of terror, the substantive positions on women's rights, say, or theocracy in general, is unlikely to appeal to liberals and leftists today. Does anybody seriously think that even Michael Moore or J. Garafaolo (sp?), the two most high-profile U.S. examples of supposed sympathizers, whatever dumb or infelicitous things they may have said, would really like to see a Taliban-style government in power in Iraq? Contrast that with folks who (rightly or wrongly) really thought the Sadinistas would do lots of good things for the poor in Nicaragua and were rooting for them for that reason.

In short, as with explicit, overt racism, the fact that something is stigmatized within a group may not mean it's been completely eliminated, but it probably does mean it's not a "significant" force within a group.
8.13.2005 6:47pm
=0=:
1) All told, this has been a useful conversation. We've established that the wingnut left (to use shorthand) is a vanishingly small community, and the wingnut right (painting the wingnut left's brand on the rest of the reasonable left) is commonplace in today's discourse.

2) Hopefully, this means that we can get on with a discussion about what is actually happening on the fucking ground (exuse me), and put politics aside for a minute. People are dying, and we're parsing statements for implied loyalty. Does anyone else find that at least unfortunate?

So, Kopel's blather aside, who else would like to talk about the options? I will state that 2 and 4 are what I see on the menu. I don't see how a strained military can win a growing insurrection - military doctrine and history shows that the locals usually win that one, absent a deus ex-machina (which is why I think the wingnut right is talking about nukes). I'd love to be convinced, however, that 1 or 3 is an option. So, the question becomes, how do we get there? That "staying the course" is a bad answer, I hope, most will agree - look where that has gotten us. So, morality aside, do we escalate? back down? Increase intelligence? Train locals better? Torture more people? Dump cash on them? Attack Iran? I wonder what Phil Carter would say, if he were watching this thread.
8.13.2005 8:02pm
frank cross (mail):
Does anyone else find irony in the fact that the Petras quotation directly refutes the point for which it is being offered as evidence?
8.13.2005 8:11pm
Jerry L. Liberman (mail):
Orin's post shows that he is little different from the posters at Democratic Underground. We must get rid of liberals like Orin who hate America and even think that it is legitimate to question what our commander-in-chief is doing. We are at war with Islamofascists this drivel posted by a moonbat like Orin only helps them. I hope Volokh will clear this up soon and get rid of this traitor from his blog.
8.13.2005 8:13pm
Jerry L. Liberman (mail):
And kudos to Kopel, whose post I just saw. Good thing that there are still some sane people on this blog, who are not objectively pro-terrorist like Orin. Kopel's point re "as one of Orin's commenters points out, some people who hold the position may not articulate it in polite company" is a good one -- we must not forget that point. We all know that those who question our leader during wartime in fact silently hope that the Islamofascists win. Thus, perhaps we should treat those who are honest enough to admit it better than those silent subversives who claim to just be "criticizing" our commander-in-chief.
8.13.2005 8:21pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
The problem I see with 3)US pulls out relatively soon is that no matter what happens in Iraq afterwards, this will be labeled a US defeat and establish that the US lacks the stomach for an extended conflict and future opponents will act accordingly.

Unless we decide on the Swiss Option and fort up, we'll have to be doing a lot of these engagements in the future and it won't be easier if we leave early. Good training oportunity in any case. The opposition lacks the ability to kill very many of us.

What happens when Iran nukes Jerusalem (as they've promised to do)?

It's hard to argue that 3) is optimal. If NK and C think we're psycho, they'll be more likely to tread lightly.
8.13.2005 10:55pm
NR:
Nice work by David Kopel, eh?

After all this time no one could come up with much of anything, but then Mr. Kopel cleverly "ran 'support the Iraqi resistance' through Yahoo" and--pop!--out jumped five examples of "respectable people who support the Iraqi resistance." (Maybe the mistake the rest of us were making was that we were googling, rather than *running things through Yahoo.*)

Let's review what Mr. Kopel found:

(1) James Petras (an emeritus professor at the State University of NY), an apparent nutjob who does indeed appear to support the insurgents but complains loud and long about how not a single prominent American intellectual is with him because of their qualms about "'about supporting Arab fundamentalists, terrorists, anti-Semites etc…'."

(2) the Indian novelist Arundhati Roy (who hopes that the insurgents will be successful in driving the U.S. out of Iraq but, contrary to Kopel's post, categorically does not advocate that "people should engage in violence against multinational forces," at least according to the Al-Jazeera article Kopel links to.

(3) A blog post by someone called "Abel A.H. Simmons" on the "Guerilla News Network," who says that "all basic tenets of international law support a people's right to resist an invading and occupying army" and in support cites a conversation he allegedly had on the radio with Janeane Garofalo in which they agreed that if the Chinese and Russians invaded the U.S. they'd take up arms, "Red Dawn" style. (This link is apparently offered as evidence that Janeane Garofalo, a famous comedian, supports the Iraqi insurgents.)

(4) Virginia Rudino (or, as I call her, Virginia Who?), a teacher from Washington D.C. who, according to the Free Republic thread Kopel links to, was also a Green Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004. Yes, it does appear that Ms. Rudino stated that she "stand[s] with the courageous Iraqi resistance." And no, she is not someone of consequence. (That Free Republic thread is just lovely, by the way.)

and finally

(5) a thread on the Democratic Underground which Kopel says reflects "substantial diversity of opinion" on the subject but which I refuse to even read, because really -- who cares what a bunch of nobodies say on D.U.? I imagine quite a few idiots post there, just as they do on Free Republic, Daily Kos, Little Green Footballs, etc. etc. etc.

(Is it fair to say that there's a "diversity of opinion" as to whether "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity"? If you run that sentence through Yahoo, I'm sure you'll find some very interesting comments from the Virginia Rudino's of the far right. Maybe we should start collecting them. This could be "a useful resource for people who want to respond to questions about whether such people actually exist.")

Sorry to post this here, but Kopel (as per usual) did not enable comments. Can we go back to "Let's assume that all of us want the best for the United States and democracy in Iraq" now? Please?
8.13.2005 11:10pm
Neil Reinhardt (mail):

They are NOT insurgents, NOR is it a resistance.

They are criminals who are paid to commit acts of terror and they are TERRORISTS.

Who says?

Aside from knowledgable Americans and others, it is Iraqis living in Iraq who say so.
8.14.2005 12:20am
=0=:
Duncan: The problem I see with 3)US pulls out relatively soon is that no matter what happens in Iraq afterwards, this will be labeled a US defeat and establish that the US lacks the stomach for an extended conflict and future opponents will act accordingly.

Duncan is correct, or course. (BTW: hi! we talked, and somethings sparred, on Cypherpunks.) 3 &4 are both issues for primacy. I do wish the folks that have gotten us into this had thought this through a bit more, but that's neither here nor there.

So we need to ask, who could stomach a protracted conflict? Iran certainly isn't the answer. China, maybe? Anyone? If we're having paranoid dreams, at least we could be accurate.

Honestly, if I were having neocon world wet dreams, I'd smack china down, colonize both TW and JP, and worry about controlling demand. India would fall in to line, and we'd only have to deal with the contintental types. Of course, that would be disruptive, and we can't have that.

In the mean time, people die every day in Iraq, directly because of the US actions there. (Note: look at the statement.) What should be done?
8.14.2005 12:34am
grahamc (mail):
Neil Reinhardt

It is easy to find some in Iraq who brand the insurgents as criminals, but the unsubstantiated assertion is meaningless because it is just as easy to find some who brand them as heroes. The more important questions are: is this a generally held view in Iraq? What is your evidence supporting this claim?
8.14.2005 12:44am
Tom952 (mail):
Another observation in support of dividing Iraq is the example of the old Yugoslavia. Broken up, it is stable (relatively speaking). Who thinks we could ever force the pieces of the old Yugoslavia together and stabilize it under a democratic government?
8.14.2005 1:11am
neo-libertarian (mail) (www):
I don't think I've heard many people believably advance the idea that 3) is a likely outcome. The real debate is between anti-war people, who rank pessimistic leaving over pessimistic staying, and pro-war people, who rank optimistic staying over pessimistic leaving.

Although personally the aspect of the war more interesting to me is whether the Iraqis are seen as irrelevant or valuable. Most pro-war people, genuinely or not, characterize the Iraqis as valuable to defend. Most anti-war people characterize the Iraqis as irrelevant (not worth American dollars or soldiers). The opposite would be pro-war people unmoved by any Iraqi hardships before or after Saddam, and anti-war people who claim the Iraqis would benefit from withdrawing US intervention.

It's easy for somebody pro-war to claim to care about the Iraqis, since it costs nothing (except ethical consistency, if the beliefs are not sincere) to use it as one of many arguments for the war. It's very difficult for somebody anti-war to claim to care about the Iraqis, since in all likelihood the Iraqis would be all kinds of screwed-over if we left too soon (echoes of 1991 and the hundreds of thousands of Shi'a murdered when the US let Saddam put down the uprisings).

THe combination of my four-choice-set and your three-choice-set (if 3 is excused as too improbable to be genuinely believed) is that the pro-war side has all the idealism. Since most of the leave-now arguments rely on pessimism about the war and not idealism about leaving, the pro-war arguments about fighting for freedom and democracy win the idealism award in that match-up. And since it's so difficult to claim to be motivated by love of humanity or liberty by consigning Iraqis to chaos, theocracy and terrorism, the pro-war people can easily continue to tout the benefits to regular Iraqis and again win the idealism contest.

Of course, simply being idealistic doesn't make you right, but the opposite (a stunning lack of ideals or idealism) suggests that baser interests like partisanship or amoral self-interest are at play.
8.14.2005 1:33am
Alex:
You forgot one plausible outcome:
5) The US leaves quickly after the Constitution is put in place, out of hope that the lack of troops will calm the insurgency and help Republicans in Nov 2006. Although the final constitution contains some protections of minority rights, the ruling SCIRI and their Shia allies slowly push Iraq into a Shia-dominated Islamic Republic, which naturally aligns with Iran in the long term.

This is MUCH worse than even civil war, at least from the perspective of the safety of American citizens. It will be interesting to read the opinions of the warbloggers if it turns out that the war they championed ends up as a net loss for everybody but the Ayatollas...
8.14.2005 7:10am
RS (mail) (www):
How about George Galloway? A British MP recently touring the Middle East and speaking on Arab TV/radio saying things like: Two of your daughters--Baghdad and Jerusalem--are enslaved (paraphrasing). As an MP, he's respectable, though personally I find him beyond the pale.
8.14.2005 8:25am
Public_Defender:
Galloway is an exception that proves the rule. He was pushed out of a Labour government precisely because of his views on the war.
8.14.2005 9:28am
Al Maviva (mail):
Go cruise Indymedia if you want to find people who directly support "the resistance."

I think the Journal makes the leap because there are a lot of people who are anti-U.S., and who leap to poke at the U.S. in the context of the Iraq war, Afghanistan, etc. Maybe the "objectively pro-resistance" label is a bit unfair, but it is hard sometimes to separate nasty anti-U.S. statements made in the war context, from pro-AQ/Baathist attacks on the U.S.

Here's a great example from Barbara Olshansky in The Village Voice. She works with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and delights in gumming up the Gitmo works, and making wild accusations about how the U.S. is treating detainees:

"It's great to be able to poke Uncle Sam in the eye once in a while."
8.14.2005 9:38am
=0=:
"It's great to be able to poke Uncle Sam in the eye once in a while."

Well, yeah. And what's wrong with that?

The minute your government takes itself so seriously that a citizen can't question it is the minute you're no longer living in a civil order. You know, that whole by the people, for the people thing.

This is why I'm increasingly becoming a Democrat libertarian. Laugh all you want, but when is the last time you heard a prominent elected Republican call for limited government? Strip the partisan baggage, and compare Dean with Delay. Which do you prefer? Warts aplenty, to be sure. But which one has more ethics violations? I identified with Republicans when it seemed they cared about that ethics thing. (I have no illusions about the Demos - this is totally a punish the wicked reaction. Volokh, I'm lead to understand, favors this approach.)
8.14.2005 12:15pm
cfw (mail):
If the Iraqis cannot be idealistic about creating a country, we cannot provide that idealism for them. That is the lesson (a lesson) from Vietnam. If they fail to create a constitution, promptly, for the country as a whole, US can and should look to smaller entities that have the necessary cohesion and idealism (Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis). The fairly small losses (1800 killed) compared to Vietnam and Korea suggests we can be patient. We would look back with regret, I suspect, if we did not support a three-entity solution (assuming the one-country solution looks unviable). It looks now more like a diplomacy issue as opposed to a traditional military issue. This explains the new idea of GSAVE in place of GWOT. Hence, it is not traitorous or even unsupportive to argue for pulling back the military in favor of a GSAVE (diplomatic) approach. EV mistakes what we have in front of us as a traditional war, as opposed to something less hot.
8.14.2005 12:20pm
=0=:
It looks now more like a diplomacy issue as opposed to a traditional military issue. This explains the new idea of GSAVE in place of GWOT.

Quick, someone tell the boss.
8.14.2005 12:43pm
Public_Defender:
Barbara Olshansky was talking about poking the US government in the eye with litigation, not bombs. And given some of the stuff we've done to the detainees, a poke in the eye with legal briefs seems appropriate.

To be fair, everything I've read about the military lawyers assigned to represent detainees indicates that the lawyers are fighting hard for their clients. We in the legal profession (especially those of us on the defense side) should be proud of the work that our military colleagues are doing.

I think the process Bush has imposed is seriously flawed, but it says something good about this country that we give these guys decent lawyers.
8.14.2005 1:15pm
Salaryman (mail):
Most of the heat generated in these strings arises from the natural human inclination to view our own substantive choices as inevitable and any different choices as necessarily malign. For many on the left, proponents of welfare reform MUST be racist. So must opponents of affirmative action and stricter immigration laws. The notion that opponents of affirmative action could be motivated by a sincere (if mistaken) belief in the overriding importance and ultimate superiority of a color-blind legal system, or in the likelihood that racial preferences will prolong and ossify racial disharmony and division is too infrequently taken seriously by the left.

Obviously, the right -- or at least the non-isolationist segments of it -- acts similarly with respect to military issues, thus: Think things are going poorly in Iraq and that the whole endeavor was a mistake? Well, maybe if you extracted your nose from Osama's butt cheeks, you'd see things more clearly. You can come up with similar examples respecting gay marriage (Favor it? You must REALLY hate families!), criminal law, etc.

Galloway and a few others excepted, Professor Volokh was wrong about the motives of those against the war, just as many on the left are wrong about the motives of some THEY disagree with on issues such as preferences, etc. Most of the time he (like me and presumably most of the rest of us on this string) tries, and manages, to avoid unfairly impugning the motives of intellectual and political adversaries. Sometimes he (like me and presumably the rest of you) blows it. I don't think he does it with any great frequency (maybe I missed some examples of it, but I'm a pretty frequent visitor to the VC).

So Volokh should admit he was wrong and the rest of us should cut him some slack, except for those who simply can't resist postings along the lines of "See! I've always said Volokh was a despicable McCarthyite, and now I have proof! PROOF, do you hear me?!? And anyone who disagrees with me is despicable too! And a racist! And what's more, a wingnut! That's right, you heard me! WINGNUT!!!"

You wingnuts know who you are.
8.14.2005 2:16pm
Salaryman (mail):
Most of the heat generated in these strings arises from the natural human inclination to view our own substantive choices as inevitable and any different choices as necessarily malign. For many on the left, proponents of welfare reform MUST be racist. So must opponents of affirmative action and stricter immigration laws. The notion that opponents of affirmative action could be motivated by a sincere (if mistaken) belief in the overriding importance and ultimate superiority of a color-blind legal system, or in the likelihood that racial preferences will prolong and ossify racial disharmony and division is too infrequently taken seriously by the left.

Obviously, the right -- or at least the non-isolationist segments of it -- acts similarly with respect to military issues, thus: Think things are going poorly in Iraq and that the whole endeavor was a mistake? Well, maybe if you extracted your nose from Osama's butt cheeks, you'd see things more clearly. You can come up with similar examples respecting gay marriage (Favor it? You must REALLY hate families!), criminal law, etc.

Galloway and a few others excepted, Professor Volokh was wrong about the motives of those against the war, just as many on the left are wrong about the motives of some THEY disagree with on issues such as preferences, etc. Most of the time he (like me and presumably most of the rest of us on this string) tries, and manages, to avoid unfairly impugning the motives of intellectual and political adversaries. Sometimes he (like me and presumably the rest of you) blows it. I don't think he does it with any great frequency (maybe I missed some examples of it, but I'm a pretty frequent visitor to the VC).

So Volokh should admit he was wrong and the rest of us should cut him some slack, except for those who simply can't resist postings along the lines of "See! I've always said Volokh was a despicable McCarthyite, and now I have proof! PROOF, do you hear me?!? And anyone who disagrees with me is despicable too! And a racist! And what's more, a wingnut! That's right, you heard me! WINGNUT!!!"

You wingnuts know who you are.
8.14.2005 2:16pm
bodgerbrown (mail):
Here is what I think is being missed. I hope I am wrong, but I don't think I am, that the primary motivation of the anti-war types is simply the humiliation of Bush and the validation of their worldview. I don't doubt that they dislike the insurgency and wish for the best for American troops and the people of Iraq, but those concerns are a bit abstract. They REALLY want to see Bush ground in the mud, and that requires 2 or 4. 1 or 3 is bad news for the anti-war folk. (Remember John Stewart after the Iraqi elections and Lebanese protests in January?)

When Bush made is infamous "you are either with us or against us" statement, many people saw it is a normative threat; I think it was just a simple description of reality: in war, you must choose sides, and the anti-war left is on whatever side Bush isn't.

Note: I hate getting into other's motivations, but this seems blindingly obvious and also important to understand.
8.14.2005 2:29pm
=0=:
Here is what I think is being missed. I hope I am wrong, but I don't think I am, that the primary motivation of the anti-war types is simply the humiliation of Bush and the validation of their worldview.

I cannot speak for "the anti-war types", I can only speak for me, as someone who feels the war in Iraq was a bad idea (there's a subtle difference there).

While I admit I would be pleased to see Bush humiliated, that does not inform my worldview on the war. Apparently, many on both the left and the right can only view war as a partisan issue, and I find this deeply disturbing. I am of the opinion that going to war should be a last-ditch effort - something you do when you have no other option. In such a situation, even if you think you haven't hit that last ditch, you support the people fighting and dying.

I support our troups, and hope for them to come home soon, because they're fighting for a cause the president is apparently not willing to articulate.
8.14.2005 5:59pm
jayann (mail) (www):
PD,

Galloway is an exception that proves the rule. He was pushed out of a Labour government precisely because of his views on the war.


He proves the rule even better; he was never in the Government (and never could have been, I'd say). He was kicked out of the Labour Party so, out of his parliamentary seat; not for his opposition to the war but because he -- apparently -- encouraged troops not to fight. I cast my anti-war vote not for his party but for the Lib Dems.
8.14.2005 9:01pm
SG:
=0=,

War in Iraq certainly may have been a bad idea, but once Congress voted to approve the use of force, it ceased being Bush's bad idea and became America's bad idea. And make no mistake, a defeat (however it happens) would be an American defeat, not simply a defeat of Bush. It would be nice if everyone realized that. Much of the anti-war rhetoric seems not to.

Going to war is a sunk cost. So are the 2 years of anti-war protests. The only (interesting) debate is over the best course of action going forward.

BTW, it's really nice to see a forum where people on both
sides of this issue are able to discuss things in good faith.
8.15.2005 9:43am
Public_Defender:
SG,

It's fair to discuss whether it was a mistake to enter the war. Most of the people involved in making the decision will face re-election. It's perfectly fair for voters to refuse to support someone who showed bad judgment. It's also perfectly fair for Bush critics to say, "Look how bad his judgment was on Iraq; we shouldn't trust his judgment on [fill in policy]."

I say this reluctantly because I was a cautious supporter of the war early on. I still hope that events prove me (and Bush) right.

Of course, if a stable democracy grows in Iraq, Bush should also be able to crow about how right he was.
8.15.2005 12:15pm
Crane:
It's interesting that nobody has yet mentioned Gwynne Dyer on any of these threads, seeing as how he recently wrote a book arguing that the best outcome for the world is for America to lose in Iraq, and soon. But then, he's not in favor of terrorists; his argument is based on the view that having a body like the UN, which has at least some power to dissuade war even if the more powerful members can afford to ignore it, is good for the world, and that the current American (neoconservative) attempt to dominate the world is going to destroy the UN and lead other countries to ally against us.

Will, for example, China and India really accept a world where the US does exactly whatever it wants and all other countries have to fall into step or be punished? Somehow, I doubt it. Creating such a world seems to be the main goal of the neoconservatives, and one of the original reasons for invading Iraq was to provide an example of what we'd do to others who oppose America.

So, does hoping America loses in Iraq for the above reasons count as defending evildoers?
8.15.2005 12:24pm