March 31, 2004

9 Americans, including 4 civilians, killed in Iraq. Contractors' bodies mutilated, dragged through Fallujah's streets.

"In one of the bloodiest and most horrifying days since the end of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, five U.S. troops and four American civilian contractors were killed in separate attacks in the Sunni Triangle west of Baghdad. After an ambush on two vehicles carrying the civilian contractors in Fallujah, jubilant Iraqis burned and mutilated the dead, then dragged two corpses through the streets and hung them from a bridge spanning the Euphrates River."

  • I hope the deaths of all involved were itself quick and (relatively) painless.
  • did you know you get 36,100 hits when you google corpse dragged through street? *ponders*
  • I read about this earlier and my immediate response was that someone should put a picture of the kids running around with their fists in the air next to a pic of Bush with the "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him. /useless emotional reaction
  • It's certainly both revoltng and reprehensible, but it seems likely to generate more heat, less light. To me this might be a more useful post if you'd dug up some background about how contracts are being let, employment policies, and similar material to provide background.
  • SideDish, the mainstream media censors those images, but people still have a visceral impulse to see. Just apply supply->spread->demand->spread->demand->spr...
  • I don't understand why anyone gives a shit about what happens to a body after it's dead. Maybe i'm a heartless asshole, or maybe i've seen too much rotten.com but those images don't move me one inch. Fucking social conditioning creating such silly knee jerk reactions. Yeah, what savage arabs, not nearly as savage as mr. kissinger.
  • Well. Perhaps you "don't give a shit" but I think it does give a good indication of the mindset of those particular Iraqis (this is a very simple observation). I mean, where must a 10 year old boy be mentally, to tear apart a charred corpse into hunks of meat, jump on the dead's head, etc. I'm not sure if you're supposed to be moved or not, but it is an expression of contempt, designed to send a message. Social conditioning isn't why people find it disturbing. Gore is supposed to cause revulsion. It's a biological response, given to us by evolution, not society.
  • P.S., If images like those don't move you, then I think something may have happened to you and not the rest of us, as you would suggest. It's possible to respond compassionately to violence, without approving or disapproving of the politics behind it.
  • sorry, i didn't mean to offend anyone here. I just read the fark message boards on this topic. Enough to drive a man crazy. The event is obviously newsworthy, that isn't the question. I'm just not that appalled by post-mortem violence. I'm just uncomfortable with the fact that so much emphasis is placed on lives lost in Iraq. I mean, we lost 400,000 people to fatness this year, and slightly more to smoking. I think that the body count isn't all that alarming. The psychological toll on the armed forces there may be a different story however. If there's a humanitarian disaster it's probably there. Calculating who deserves sympathy when / where is really futile. The prison system in this country (rape esp. see www.spr.org ) accounts for a humanitarian chrisis that in my mind pales in comparison to American lives lost in Iraq. I just can't get enraged over the relatively small quantity of lives lost in Iraq. There are people dying for so many useless causes, it seems nothing more than nationalistic, and callous and disrespectful of others, to give American soldiers in Iraq anymore due. Let's not forget about the countless Iraqi soldiers who died as their commanders forced them to confront Americans or be shot on the spot. I was also amazed at the outpouring of sympathy we got for 9/11. From every corner of the world, to a country that barely raises an eyebrow to most humanitarian chrises.
  • errr reverse prison and iraq in my second paragraph. The prison system has harmed far too many lives.
  • I heard about this on NPR on my way home, followed by Some White House Guy™ talking about how the Marines feel pleased that the security situation in Fallujah is 'under control.' America is thigh-deep in manure over in Iraq but we are the ones who jumped in. Now we have to live with the stink.
  • *inhales deeply* Mission accomplished! Let's get the hell out of here!
  • I recall six months to a year ago there was an article about the civilian contractors in the former Yugoslavia starting up what amounted to a slave-sex trade using locals, for some extra pocket money. I wonder if anything similar was/is happening in Iraq.
  • sorry, i didn't mean to offend anyone here. Sure you did. That's why you said what you did. But, no worries. We can still be friends. I don't see your point about millions of other people dying in other situations though. People who die of obesity and lung cancer are facing the consequences of their choices (there are other factors, of course, but ultimately they must accept a certain level of personal responsibility for their actions). Soldiers take an oath to serve their country, and in Iraq they're dying because of someone else's choices--policy makers and leaders in Washington who don't have to face the direct consequences of their actions. These soldiers are willing to give their lives, and a lot of us find it dishonorable that they're being asked to sacrifice themselves for what we consider dubious reasons. Just because there are plenty of other terrible things happening in the world doesn't make this particular one any less meaningful. But what does the average American see in their heads when they think about Iraq? Do they see these images? Or do they see "Mission Accomplished" ?
  • Actually I didn't mean to offend anyone here. I just needed somewhere to vent (after reading the fark boards as I noted). I didn't say that the events in Iraq were not meaningful. I only pointed out that events that are far more horrific are usually casually glanced at as we drink our morning coffee. The prison system is my favorite example as I said. The question can be turned around. If we know that there is far more violence going on in other areas, violence that is the result of our government, then why are we not equally appalled by it? The answer of course lies in psychology not philosophy. The emotional attachment of us Americans to our soldiers breeds this. Unfortunately our emotional disconnect with other elements of society (prisoners, sweatshops, patent protected AIDS drugs too expensive for africa, etc.) makes our attention to things like military deaths on such a relatively small a scale absurd. The application of emotion to selective individuals is not based on any amount of 'fairness' I suppose. Zimmer wrote an article on the psychology of this. I believe I posted it a few days ago on mofi. On the other hand, if dead soldiers on tv is what it takes to get the wheels of democracy turning then so be it............doesn't mean it won't the hell out of me ;)
  • This is the person the neocons in the Bush administration get their ideas on Saddam Hussein. According to Laurie Mylroie, Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the Olkahoma City bombing. The accusations just get more bizarre.
  • I was wondering where you'd gotten to, Sullivan. Good to see you.
  • Work, Tracicle. I've been busy. On a related note:Thanks to Goetter for the message in my comments.
  • Dancing and celebrating when people die exhibits the worst of the human psyche. Dancing and celebrating over the people you've killed is repugnant. And no, it doesn't matter who's doing it, them or us. But I know a great many people who support the war - soldiers and civilians - and never once have I heard any of them, including men who have personally killed people during the course of the Iraqi invasion, exhibit the least bit of celebration. What I've seen is regret. Deep, deep regret. So my gut says? Release Hussein. Remove all American government personnel from the entire middle east. Cut every dollar of aid to any middle eastern country. Cancel all petroleum contracts with any Arab state. Cancel ALL contracts with any Arab state. Eject the funds from any Arab state from our banking system. Prohibit the entry of any middle-eastern native from entering the United States. Recall all diplomatic missions to all middle eastern states, and eject their diplomatic missions from the United States. Sever all diplomatic ties. Prohibit all aircraft and watercraft of middle eastern origin entry to our airspace and ports. Deport all current aliens of middle eastern origin from the country. And let them do what they will.
  • If arab soldiers had taken over our country would our children celebrate in the streets when we killed some of the invaders?
  • Cancel all petroleum contracts with any Arab state.
    Ummm, OPEC has us by the balls. Look up the 1973 energy crisis to see why. We'll need a bit of time, and more research before we move to a hydrogen economy. Until then, we're stuck with middle eastern oil, no two ways about it. Now, maybe if we didn't have a president beholden to oil interests we could get to a hydrogen economy faster but we'll have to hold off on that too.
  • oh crap IHBT (i have been trolled).
  • We would survive. Venezuela would help to meet demand; we could expand American fields; we could approach Russia with cold-drilling technology to aid in the extraction of Siberian oil. Gas prices would skyrocket; everyone would have to conserve; it would be a colossal bitch. But in the end, we could live without OPEC. And once weaned off their tit, we'd be immeasurably better for it. I didn't troll you, and I resent the implication. I am rapidly coming to believe that Islamic culture and western culture are utterly incompatible. Rather than continue on the path that we are on, would it not make more sense to simply disengage?
  • CellarFloor - it really isn't the resulting gore, it's the message that's being delivered. We know that the victims couldn't have been any more injured by the post mortem abuse than they were by their deaths, but the message is that the perpetraters want us to be sure of the extent of their hatred for the US. It's a theatening message, and, though I'm not sure that those who did the deed are capable of bringing that kind of violence to the world outside of Iraq, it does stike me that there is a threat implicit in their actions. And, yes, there are zillions of other risks in our lives, but most of those you mentioned depend on ourselves to avoid. In other words, we have some control over the direct threats of obesity, smoking, driving, skiing, drinking booze, eating beef when there may be a mad cow problem, taking drugs, getting diseases by not thoroughly cleaning up kitchen counters where chicken has been cut up, having unsafe sex and on and on. And. I would propose that the real cause of death is being born, but how do any of those really relate to what is happening in our lives right now and in the lives of people who want think that killing you and me is a holy thing because we think differently than they do? Tell me, did you have this same reaction to the events of 9-11, or to the outrages perpetrated by both sides of the Israel/Palestine conflict? If not, has it occurred to you that we could be subject to a similar conflicts in which you and I are at least as at risk as the people who died recently in Iraq, or Spain? What just happened in Fallujah encompasses more that the death of a few people. You seem to take this event as something really removed from you, and I hope that that's true, but doesn't the anger they expressed give you at least a little quiver of fear?
  • Whoa Fess, I guess if you take it to it's logical extreme. I can understand the reaction. With this video it seems people, in general, are waking up to these short intense battles that are taking place pretty much every day. I think with such compelling images like these, it's hard not to put yourself in our peoples place. For me, when this line of thinking comes up, I can't help but wonder about the daily struggles in Iraq that are never reported on and for which no clear images will ever exist. I do not want to downplay anything, in any respect, ever. Rather I try to put into perspective the daily struggle that is hidden from us. Every day soldiers and "contractors" alike are being blown apart, shanked in the marketplace, and ducking rpg's. The sad thing is that this shit is an acceptable level of violence. A violen death is, by it's nature, the ultimate desecration of any body, Looking at the whole picture: We are still in control of a manic, violent, chaotic, disturbing situation.
  • Spoken like a true St. Louisan, Fes. And my mom wonders why I won't come back.
  • Fes, as I said, read up on the 1973 oil crisis. Painful is not a word to describe the effect of removing the middle east as a supply of oil, catastrophic would be more apt. Venezuela can't satisfy all of America's oil needs. Without oil every sector of our economy grinds to an excruciatingly, devestatingly, low pace. In fact, as the link says, if it weren't for the treaty a possibility would have been to invade say, saudi arabia to access its oil supplies. There is no disengaging in short to mid term. We're stuck. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis for a decent overview.
  • My friends and I were talking at dinner about the executions of heretics (Catholic or Protestant, depending on the year) in England, and the ritual dismembering of the bodies. (what? This isn't normal?) Dismemberment of bodies is ancient and will not stop just because we are disturbed by it. We are suposed to be disturbed by it. It is suposed to be the fate worse than death, the way of extracting revenge when death has snatched the chance from you. It can also been the expression of the crowd's rage. Actually, one case I read about was not the crowd's rage, but their love - A Catholic martyr whose body was torn to shreds by relic seekers. For a minute today, I thought that the victims were Iraqi and this might have happenned.
  • path - The number of children born with AIDS in africa easily outpaces american casualties. These children are the least culpable and most innocent. It gives me as much pause to think of how callous we are in the face of the violence perpetrated by this country, through trade pacts (the myth of free trade, Non Tariff Barriers among many other things spoil it all), covert ops (iran contra?), and the massive failure that is our prison industrial complex (compare our incarceration and recidivism rate with Europe's sometime) I ask how moral and righteous my acquiescience via silence is. We complain about our govt. being short on charity, yet we give little (percentage wise) out of our actual income. I'm just at that point right now where I'm exploring the nature of good and evil. There are no easy answers.
  • Fes: It's not "Western" and "Islamic" cultures that are incompatible, it's "Pre-Enlightenment" and "Post-Englightenment" (or, as a friend of mine puts it, "Pre-rational" and "Post-rational". There is a large chunk of Christian America (for example) who are just as vile and hate filled, and would like nothing more than the opportunity to round up and exterminate their enemies. Hell, go have a look at the atrocities of the American Civil War, the Hundred Years war... you get the picture. The same groups exist in pretty much every country, although Christian extremists aren't as prominent in New Zealand, for example (although this is changing as US groups pump money and advice over here). Lebanon used to be a pretty functional multi-ethnic, democratic, Arab state until that whole nasty invasion business (first the terrorists, then the Israelis). The Islamic Arab world used to be light-years ahead of the West when we ditched Socrates and Aristotle in favour of the socio-intellectual slavery of Aristotle and Paul. Islam's just another religion. There's nothing especially bad about it that isn't bad about any other monotheiistic faith.
  • Fes, you are a troll. Of your own self perhaps. I understand your emotions, but what you suggest is an argument that is as well thought out as one I would expect to hear from a high school student who's pissed off at the world. You've met soldiers that have regrets, I've met the ones that can't wait to bring back photos of all the Iraqis they've killed to show their friends. I've talked to the ones in the bars that say they "can't wait to kill them towelheads, and I hope their wives are watching when we shoot them."
  • Fes is no more a troll than anyone else here. Less than most, quite possibly. I think Fes as always is saying what he believes. I don't agree with him, but what Fes said was no more outrageous than: I don't understand why anyone gives a shit about what happens to a body after it's dead. or You've met soldiers that have regrets, I've met the ones that can't wait to bring back photos of all the Iraqis they've killed to show their friends. I've talked to the ones in the bars that say they "can't wait to kill them towelheads, and I hope their wives are watching when we shoot them."
  • I like Fes!
  • I don't think anyone is trolling here. Sounds to me like a relatively rational discussion that's on the verge of becoming namecalling. My advice is to ease up on the troll accusations.
  • Yes, please! Ad hominem accusations to the minimum! Fes: As rodgerd put it very well, Islam is not incompatible with Western civilisation. The laws and precepts laid down in the Quran are quite reasonable. The problem is in the application. I know many Muslim friends who blindly mouth the Arabic scriptures, with no idea of what they are saying - they learned to read the Quran, but not to understand the language. I was so shocked when I found this out from my friends. Many blindly follow the orders of their spiritual leaders. If the leader is a good man, there's no worry; but there are so many deluded, misogynic, short-sighted and egotistical men out there who are telling their followers that the Quran commands them to kill and pillage and commit other atrocities. I have a Quran at home, and have read several passages of it. My father spent over a decade poring through it. We both feel it is a compassionate religion, and a reasonable one - far more reasonable than the Bible actually. But not enough Muslims understand it to enforce the correct adherence to this religion. /rant
  • although Christian extremists aren't as prominent in New Zealand, for example (although this is changing as US groups pump money and advice over here). Huh? What's up with this shit?
  • The children of Islam also like Fes!
  • I will admit to hyperbole in the face of frustration here. Please accept my apologies. I am a war supporter - a dying breed, and an opinion who voice is increasingly and vituperatively marginalized. I support the war because I believe that America has a noblesse oblige of sorts to help the people of the rest of the world attain as much freedom and democracy as they can, because I believe that freedom and democracy, along with the rule of law, are the cornerstones of society. I still believe that. But I find it very difficult to support bringing freedom and democracy to a people who so viciously and violently say they don't want it. Even this morning's NPR poll, the Iraqi respondants fell into two camps: those who support the guerillas who did this (and other attacks) and those who hate America but feel that dancing atop the bodies of Americans was, perhaps, against Koranic teachings. And my thought is, one should not be where one is neither wanted nor respected. Taken further, one can see that the entire middle east - even as we try to help, in Egypt, in Israel and Palestine, in Kuwait, in Saudi Arabia, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan - none desires our help nor has anything but contempt for our culture's precepts. Certainly, there are individuals who do not feel this way; but they, time and again, are of such a minority as to be virtually discounted. So I cannot, in good conscience, advocate the continuation of wasting time, money, and blood trying to aid a culture that neither wants nor respects the effort, and actively seeks to foil it in the most denigrating, most shocking manners open to them. Path is right - those people wanted to send a message not to the American military but to the American people, and the western peoples of the world. I can only speak for myself, but: message received. I cannot any longer support this war, any more than I can (or will, as I have in the past) support humanitarian efforts, or trade, or even dialogue, with Iraq. Again, I can speak only for myself, but for what it's worth, I wash my hands of it. Anyone politician who advocates anything but immediate and total withdrawal from Iraq loses my vote. One man doesn't have much of a voice in this world, but there's mine.
  • Spoken like a true St. Louisan, Fes. And my mom wonders why I won't come back. We hold grudges, it's true. Slap the face of a St. Louisian enough times, and eventually they'll stop putting up with it. Fes, as I said, read up on the 1973 oil crisis. I lived through it and remember it. And no, it was not a pleasant time, not in the least. But the hooks of our engagement in the middle east are rooted in oil, and today's OPEC declarations prove their willingness to exercise pressure on our economy to their whim, and that must end. If, as I am comign to believe, disengagement from all things middle-eastern is the wisest course of action for the US, we must be necessity begin with cutting the black cords that bind us to that region. As soon as is possible - not convenient, but possible. It's not "Western" and "Islamic" cultures that are incompatible, it's "Pre-Enlightenment" and "Post-Englightenment" (or, as a friend of mine puts it, "Pre-rational" and "Post-rational". There is a large chunk of Christian America (for example) who are just as vile and hate filled, and would like nothing more than the opportunity to round up and exterminate their enemies. Agreed. Yet it is difficult to name one Islamic country with whom we have cordial relations. Turkey? The visceral anti-Western attitude of its Parliament was easily felt during the run-up to Iraq. Saudi Arabia? Nearly all the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. The fact is, the precept of our individual cultures, so far as I can tell, are nearly diametric. I've met the ones that can't wait to bring back photos of all the Iraqis they've killed to show their friends. I've talked to the ones in the bars that say they "can't wait to kill them towelheads, and I hope their wives are watching when we shoot them." I suppose it's true. But whereas those (I would hope) represent the ravings of a few, the ones on my television represent, according to NPR, the feelings of the majority. I have a Quran at home, and have read several passages of it. My father spent over a decade poring through it. We both feel it is a compassionate religion, and a reasonable one - far more reasonable than the Bible actually. But not enough Muslims understand it to enforce the correct adherence to this religion. I have one and have read it as well, and in some ways must agree with you, in that it is not nearly as violent a document as, say, the latter half of the Old Testament. So perhaps "Islamic" culture is a misnomer, though it seems incontrovertible that the religion is a large part of their worldview; and, in the practice of it, this is how I feel the middle east would see themselves - as an Islamic culture. But in the end, unless we plan to conquer them fully and utterly, I have come to the conclusion that we simply cannot win them over to our way of thinking. In the light that I am unwilling to give up secular humanism (and hope the rest of the west is with me), and seeing the deep-rooted antagonism with which the middle-eastern culture views the west, I can think of no other solution that disengagement. And to work, it must be necessity be total - not irrevocable, perhaps, but total. I don't believe that another American should die in service to a people who neither want him or his way of thinking, actively seek to kill him, celebrate his death publicly, and display their work for all the world to see. *sigh* I apologize for causing such a ruckus, and for the hyperbole. I am typically less quick to anger. I will trouble this thread no more.
  • Anyone politician who advocates anything but immediate and total withdrawal from Iraq loses my vote. And therein lies an oddity, I suppose. A supporter of the war wants total withdrawal. I was opposed to the war, but think we (Britain and America) should stay.
  • I didn't use troll as an ad hominem attack. I just didn't think that anyone could seriously propose cutting off our oil supply. This is not a question of will, but bare necessity. Our society would crumble.
  • America also has enough reserves to last for at least 5 years (it might be quite a bit higher that that, though) with no imports, if I remember correctly. They have huge stockpiles of the stuff around somewhere.
  • Fes - the oil imports table is astonishing! Almost 10 million barrels per DAY?
  • Iraq (0.578 million barrels per day)
  • fes - perhaps they hate us because our government has made it abundantly clear, on so many occasions, that we don't give a shit about anything except their oil. read anything on the mass looting that took place in baghdad after the invasion? the only buildings guarded by US soldiers were the oil-related ones. not the banks, not the museums, not the water/electricity infrastructure buildings, not private businesses. the ministry of oil. that's it. we continually endorse peace in the middle east, and we continuously send massive financial aid packages to countries in the region that have been at the heart of most of the problems. when we wanted to keep iran off-balance, saddam was our friend. we tell the palestinians we want to help, then we send money to israel, who tell the palestinians to pack up and leave, or else. we are two-faced, because we only consider the immediate gain and the next election cycle. we never think more than 4 years ahead. you can't piss on a people and then expect them to support you. we went into iraq with full knowledge of what to expect, and carefully constructed contingency plans to deal with problems in an appropriate manner. none of these plans were prepared by or endorsed by the bush administration or the military-industrial complex, the were prepared by the state department. the bush adminisitration did not like the implications, and thus ignored the advice of the single largest group of people who actually had the knowledge and foresight to realize what would happen when we kicked the anthill. it didn't make for good press, so it was ignored. when US troops are attacked (as predicted), we get a leader who says "go ahead, kill 'em, we got more where that came from. bring it on." then, when it get brought on, the same administration blames TERRORISTS. jeesus f'n christ, terrorists? when everyone in the entire local population is screaming "death to america" we write them off as terrorists, and say that the average citizen likes us there? the average citizen is tearing apart dead bodies in the street. how badly do they want us there again? when mr. bush says "bring it on" or blames it on terrorists or lies to us about how bad it is there, he's not putting anyone in his family in danger. he's putting MY family in danger. my brother is in a civilian affairs unit attached to the 1st infantry division, based somewhere near tikrit. his job is to go into these communities and talk to the people, find out what they need, and help them - distribute food, get water / power up and running again, and so on. i haven't heard from my brother in a few days; correspondence is spotty. for all i know one of those bodies is his. every time i hear a report of US soldiers killed i have to look at a map and check the division and brigade numbers against his last known address. i hate that. i hate not knowing, and i hate worrying that he won't come home or that he'll come home horribly disfigured or psychologically damaged. this shit is going to continue to happen until we give the people there what they want. they want self-rule. they would rather be ruled by an evil dictator from their own country than by a benevolent government of outsiders. we do not understand their culture, and we do not listen to the people who do understand it. all we care about is oil. our government keeps making it clear that the monetary or human cost of the oil is insignificant, as long as we can drive our humvees and expeditions and live in our disposable, throw-away society in peace. WE need to make it clear to our government that this type of behavior WILL NOT be endorsed by the american people. they work for us, not the other way around, and it's about damn time we reminded them. i absolutely cannot believe that people still buy the bullshit spouted by the "liberal" media and the "compassionate conservative" government. sorry to go on like this. for me it's personal. take it as you will.
  • Fes - Then why are we cringing right now as OPEC just decided to slow production? Saudi Arabia has something like 30% of the world's known supply of oil. In addition to this, we'll need middle east oil if we ever want to transition to a different energy source. Current reserves aren't predicted to last all that much longer. The rate of discovery for new oil sources ended in the 60s, and we're hitting a peak in production soon. How many barels we get currently has no bearing on 1.) Long term planning, 2.) How those numbers can change and with what consequences when one of them changes. Quite simply, we can't move off of oil fast enough, and we don't have enough oil worldwide to do without the mideast. The production capacities of the countries you mention don't fill the place of opec at all. This is why gas prices are rising.
  • I also apologize for being antagonistic... I absolutely wasn't trying to insult you by calling you a troll, Fes. I just thought your argument was motivated wholly by anger and not actually what you sincerely believed. But what I wrote about the soldiers was true, not an exaggeration in any form, and it shocked me. The photo guys were from St. Louis coincidentally. The towelheads-and wife-watching-while-we-kill-them guys were from Virginia. I also hope that the majority of our people over there are not of this kind.
  • from the glutton for punishment department... Frogs: I sympathize with your feelings, and no one likes to think of their family being put in harm's way for no good reason. While my family is safe, I have several friends in the Marines who were there once and are likely to go back. In this, I agree: give them what they want. But if the charge can be made that we don't understand their culture and act precipitously because of it, cannot the same charge be levelled agains them? Do they understand, or even care to, our culture? Have they tried any alternatives to hatred and bloodshed? We have been cavalier in the past, with our favoritism and our aid, it's true. And I will concede that oil has been our primary motivation. But has even a single Middle Eastern state stepped up and said, ok, we need the west as much as they need us - why not work together, peacefully, despite our differences and, when conflict occurs, take it not to the streets of Nablus or the World Trade Center or the alleys of Fajullah, but to the UN, the Hague, even the court of world opinion? We take, it's true - but we also give back. http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/9190.pdf Does this purchase us nothing? Not even a pause before pulling the trigger or setting a bomb? Regarding oil: CellarFloor, you make a good case, although I feel mine is good, too. 25% of our daily imports come from the mideast. And the mideast does have the largest reserves, Saudi Arabia and Iraq the largest http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0872964.html and yet, I can't believe that we are without alternatives here! Russia has large reserves, and the largest natural gas reserves in the world, nearly twice that of Iran and several times that of the Saudis; new fields haven't been found because they haven't been looked for; alternative fuels sources languish because they haven't been needed badly enough. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I think that, had we the political will to do so, the American fuel industry would rise to the task of finding new resources outside the mideast. The case you make, though, deals with both hands - on one hand, you decry (rightly) our rapaciousness in acquiring mideast oil, and on the other, you imply (less rightly, imo, but still) that the situation is irreversible, that we are inextricably tied to the mideast oil reserves. How do we reconcile these points? I contend that our cultures are so different, so antagonistic, that simple PR is insufficient, even as trying to bring democracy and freedom by force continues to prove insufficient. I'm begging for a middle road, here, some sort of pragmatic solution to all this. I don't want to live a life with a target on my back that says "american: kill me" on it; I don't want my sons to have to say, we cannot go abroad and learn of the world, because we are hated outside our borders. I don't want to continue to see what I still believe to be, though mucked with realpolitik, an altruistic venture turned into a crimson nightmare. When altruism, cloaked in khaki though it may be, is violently rebuffed? The days for altruism are over. Daniel: sorry about the oversensitivity and short temper. Been a long, hard several weeks for me lately, and getting worse. Shouldn't affect my posting, but it did, and for that I apologize. I also must apologize for returning here when I promised I'd trouble this thread no more. But I felt that my points needed some clarifying, and others deserved a response. I hope I haven't disappointed.
  • Merely wanted to say that I appreciate the way everyone involved with this thread handled it. It shows the most blatant difference between the two weblogs that I love. This was an interesting read and I admire the well thought out comments from everyone. You all have my utmost respect and appreciation.
  • thanks darshon for not reading my post as an angry attack on the right. and thanks fes for making the conversation interesting. although i'm not so sure that the mideast needs us as much as we need them - there are lots of places besides the US that buy oil (europe? russia? japan?) and it is us, after all, who have invaded there, not the other way around. sure, they may not understand our culture, but unlike them we have people who took the time to learn about their culture, tell our leaders what to expect, and then were promptly ignored. the average iraqi only knows what they see - that it wasn't worth pursuing saddam for 10 years, but it was worth letting them suffer. then after removing him, it wasn't a priority to establish speedy, self-elected leaders; rather, the priority was to secure the oil. if that happened here, there would be riots in the streets. we've seen riots in this country over much less important matters, in the grand scheme of things. not being allowed to run our own country would definitely incite some rebellion. that's how the US got here in the first place, right?
  • Fes -
    I can't believe that we are without alternatives here!...new fields haven't been found because they haven't been looked for; alternative fuels sources languish because they haven't been needed badly enough.
    What? Are you making a case based on wishful thinking? The oil companies have tons of people scouring the globe looking for oil to pump. They always are and the number of new fields are falling by all accounts. Alternative energy is something that would benefit greatly from government funding as it may be too long term for large scale investment from the private sector. Unfortunately our government is beholden to oil interests. Did you even read the links I gave you? No one expects significant new oil prospects to be found. Natural gas has a 50 year projected supply according to the gaurdian, far less if we use it to replace oil. Necessity is the mother of invention. Necessity is also the condition of severe pain which we are trying to avoid. Sometimes there are no easy solutions and sometimes there are no solutions. In this case, the system is failing to plan for the long term. Luck be with us.
  • This isn't the first incident Iraqi civilians used human remains like their own personal trophies. This isn't the first time the White House has downplayed an incident like this and told journalists to report the "good stories." Here's my question: does anyone believe Iraq is going to become a democracy? I don't think Bush and Kerry have talked about that at all at length.
  • I have seen the light! It is our duty to save the world. Us white folks have to go out and save these poor folks out there who don't know what they are doing. We will save them by invading their countries, and giving them democracy. And if they don't thank us with a smile, then we should pack up our bags and leave. lt's that simple. We are an alturistic type of people, aren't we. We keep giving and giving, and they just take from us and spit. Who are they to do this, do they not know we are right, and that god is on our -------- april fools.
  • Did you even read the links I gave you? Yes indeed. The Guardian, however, tends toward the hysterical rather than the factual, and I can't determine where that pdf actually came from. But let's assume they are correct, and that you are, in that oil companies are always looking for new fields, scouring the globe, etc, despite the high cost of doing so, and in defiance of past years low cost of oil. Oil *is* going away. And your solution is... "luck be with us." I have to wonder which one of us is doing the most wishing. I *know* there are no easy solutions - are there ever? But I yet contend that the price of buying mideastern oil is far greater than the dollar amount paid, and the surcharge is one that I feel we can - and should - do without. Even at the cost of "severe pain." Severing our dependence on mideast oil forces us to conserve your diminishing reserves, while at the same time providing impetus toward the twin gains of conservation and new resources. And it's not like we'd hae to start from scratch - 50 years of natural gas is a long time; fuel cells already work, and are being improved all the time; hydrogen is coming along; there are other ideas in the hopper, I'm certain. We're closer than you think, I think, to being able to do what I suggest. zenon: fine. But keep in mind that we have stolen nothing from the middle east - every barrel, bought and paid for. And aid on top of that, and envoys, and food, and yes, more than occasionally guns. And in the last few years, quite a bit of blood. What should we do, then? Being long on diatribe and short of solution helps no one. Like a great many, you damn us for intervening, then damn me for suggesting that intervention isn't worth it. Well, which is it?
  • [via boing boing] These "Civilians" seem to be just more then reconstruction workers. I was a little suspicious when they were only referred to as "contractors". According to this lady's research these are the same dudes who do Paul Bremers security detail. Hired guns.
  • Fes - The situation is more dire than you think. If the middle east were to suddenly vanish in a black hole today, along with its oil, economic chaos would ensue. Most of society would simply be unable to function. The statistics in the PDF are from the USGS. Maybe the usgs.gov in the URL could have tipped you off as to the source? I'm not wishing for luck, I'm saying we'll need it in the absence of any decent plan. The only tractable plan is a heavy investment in alternative energy. Pure and simple. I *thought* this was evident in the evidence I presented. Your refutation of the gaurdian included no facts or outside sources while the gaurdian has quotes and references. You have none. You cannot just brush the facts aside, they are to be confronted. American oil production capacity is NOT enough to keep us afloat for any transitional period. If I remember correctly the crude we keep on hand (in storage) lasts about 6 months. OPEC's oil price changes are enough to truly mess up our economy plain and simple. It won't be painful, it will be a catastrophe. There is no path without opec that doesn't involve alternative energy. Until that point there is little to bargain with. Your concept of sacrifice for the right thing is noble but unrealistic. I've said it before and I'll say it again, disengagement from OPEC is not an option.
  • oop, just ran across this on the BBC. Basically a recap of what I mentioned before... Outsourcing the War
  • Yea, I think the thing about the guys being mercenaries isn't really being covered up by anyone. It was at least hinted at by most of the stories I saw yesterday. I mean, if you look at the company the guys were working for it's pretty obvious they weren't there to do pluming work for the local schools. That the guys were mercenaries doesn't detract from the story about their bodies being mutilated, though.
  • The Gaurdian, based in Britian, doesn't like Isreal...
  • Pfft, amatuer.
  • This thread is the last one that displays as current content on my page. I won't be sorry to see it slip off.
  • last post: If the middle east were to suddenly vanish in a black hole today, along with its oil, economic chaos would ensue. Most of society would simply be unable to function. I still respectfully disagree. There would be a period of chaos, then adjustment, likely painful. But society would continue to function. The middle east has a lot of oil - but it doesn't have all of it. Your refutation of the gaurdian included no facts or outside sources while the gaurdian has quotes and references. You have none. You cannot just brush the facts aside, they are to be confronted. I neither refuted the Guardian article or the USGS pdf - in fact, I assumed, for the sake of argument, that both were absolutely true. I concede the USGS - so, we're running out of oil. If anything, that (again) reinforces my case - we need to start looking to reduce oil consumption. I think cutting purchases from the middle east would be a very good way to do it. The only tractable plan is a heavy investment in alternative energy. I, again, must disagree, to the point that I think that, if the ultimate goal is the wean ourselves off middle eastern oil, investment in alternative energy is only part of the plan - conservation, switching from oil to gas for energy (reserving petrouem more for the more valuable manufacture of plastics) and imo increasing our oil purchases from our two largest suppliers, Mexico and Canada, as well as seeking out gas supplies from Russia. American oil production capacity is NOT enough to keep us afloat for any transitional period. Oh, I agree there - we import 10M bbls a day. 2.5M of that comes from the middle east; according to this http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/reserves/spr/ we have around 700M bbls in the strategic reserve: "On November 13, 2001, President George W. Bush ordered the SPR to be filled to its maximum capacity, approximately 700 million barrels, by continuing to use the Royalty-in-Kind program carried out jointly between the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior." That's enough for 280 days, or 40 weeks - enough for 40 weeks, that is, if our demand cannot be reduced, and our american and European supplies cannot be persuaded to sell us more, both of which I think we can manage. Now, I agree with you: I don't think someone's going to perfect cold fusion in 40 weeks. But that 40 weeks can buy us a lot of diplomatic and economic time with oil suppliers that don't actively hate us and seek to kill us, don't you think? Time for dealmaking, time for expanding production, time for people to get used to higher gas prices, time for those same people to find workarounds to the problems that will occur. I've said it before and I'll say it again, disengagement from OPEC is not an option. And I think that it HAS to be an option, if we are going to ever be able to remove ourselves from middle eastern politics. Because it seems like the alternative is either (a) going on as before, with increasing hatred, murders, destabilization, and terror, or (b) pacification. With all that implies. I'd love to hear a third course. Investing in alternative energy is good, but it does nothing to keep American mercenaries from being killed and dragged through the streets of Fallujah. if you'd care to continue when this falls off, my emailer is in my profile.
  • Kos made a controversial post about the subject of this. Personally, I thought his blog was nothing more than DNC talking points.
  • The Kerry campaign blog slams Kos.
  • The Lesson of Mogadishu: America must answer last week's barbarity in Fallujah. By Mark Bowden, the author of "Black Hawk Down."
  • I have complete confidence that our President will find a comprehensive solution for a peaceful outcome. Of course not, but I wanted the experience of typing that out - it was indeed a pleasant sensation while I lied to myself
  • Pete, now you know how it feels to write this blog everyday.
  • But he really believes, Sullivan. That doesn't count.
  • If Bush told the Instapundit that Sata Claus existed he would believe also. Hell, he still believes the WMDs are in Iraq. It counts. I'm just not sure for what.
  • Via billmon: "Marine engineers patrolling near Ramadi on Wednesday reported coming across a mass grave containing up to 350 bodies of Iraqis who appeared to have been killed in the fighting. It wasn't clear whether the bodies belonged to combatants, civilians or both." WTF?!
  • This isn't the first incident Iraqi civilians used human remains like their own personal trophies. Does anyone remember Vietnam, and all the GIs who had strings of VC ears and other body parts around their necks? People get uncivilized under conditions of stress and violence. That's not a reason to declare Clash of Civilizations or draw drastic conclusions about disengaging.
  • You're right languagehat. Put people in monstrous conditions, and one can only expect at least some of them become monsters to adapt. I think everyone's been so intent on looking at political and religious differences that they forget how malleable human nature is under extreme conditions.