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Thread: Do we require a victory or a Triumph?

  1. #41
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    Rob

    I would have been here earlier, but my wife gave birth to our first child late Wednesday night, and I've been just about as drained as I can be...or as a buddy of mine said, "Dude, the first few weeks are like Ranger School without the fun of jumping out of planes or carrying weapons."

    Back to the topic - I'd offer that global economics is inhernetly more unstable, simply because of the complexities involved. There are limits built in to economic systems that can reduce the possibilities of downturns or loss, but none the less, the sheer complexity and size of the global economy means that a small problem can ripple into a larger problem.

    Think back to 9/11, and the problems the airline industry had. What happens if the Federal Government doesn't bail out the airline industry? How often can the Federal Government actually do this - I've seen it twice in the past two Presidencies - the airline and steel industries bailout under Bush, and the bailout of the Mexican economy under Clinton. At some point, there are going to be diminishing returns, and all of that money is coming out of our taxpayers pockets.

  2. #42
    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ski View Post
    Who are we to become the arbitrator of violence in the world? This is Wilsonian at best and Jacobin at worst.

    This is a tranistional period for the world. In the last 100 years, we've seen the death of two major politcal factions in the world - Communism and Imperialism/Colonialism - that have had huge geo-political impacts upon the planet. The map lines are literally being redrawn on an annual basis, and it's because of the deaths of Marxism and Imperialism that we are involved in most of the failed states in one form or another.
    Outstanding post, Ski.

    If a Kurd in the North or Shi'ite in the South gets at the head of a mass movement to create their own country as a response to the chaos there, what should be our response? What we call a failed state needing democracy to become healed, he might call an illegitimate artificial state imposed on them after the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire by British imperialists. It never had any legitimacy and was only maintained by Saddam's Sunni dominated dictatorship.

    If he is really clever he would write a document that echoed our own Declaration of Independence. It would take some nerve to try to tell them they couldn't do it. I can just see him selectively quoting our Founding Fathers in response to justify their bid for independence.

    Unlikely as it seems, a George Washington might emerge to unify the country. He'll have no credibility if we appoint him, or arrange for his selection, that's for sure.

    Or they just might really need to go their separate ways. If so, I do not see what moral authority we would have to deny them that course. We are just going to have to get used to the idea that the waxing of states has ended and the waning of states is in motion. Sending a bunch of troops around the world to prop up disintegrating unions is just a losing proposition, whether they are sitting on petroleum or not.

    I have no idea what the future holds, but it just seems like we are hoping to preserve an old order in the Middle East and elsewhere, that is disappearing due to forces beyond our control. Better to stand aside, set the best example we can as a nation, and deal with whoever is sitting across the poker table from us than try to engineer who the new poker players will be. It just isn't our bailiwick.
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  3. #43
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Ski- Congrats

    I would have been here earlier, but my wife gave birth to our first child late Wednesday night, and I've been just about as drained as I can be...or as a buddy of mine said, "Dude, the first few weeks are like Ranger School without the fun of jumping out of planes or carrying weapons."
    We've got 4 now - I'd like to tell you it gets easier, but its just a different set of problems However, I will tell you they are worth every ounce of effort, and then some - Congratulations

  4. #44
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hey Tacitus,

    I have no idea what the future holds, but it just seems like we are hoping to preserve an old order in the Middle East and elsewhere, that is disappearing due to forces beyond our control. Better to stand aside, set the best example we can as a nation, and deal with whoever is sitting across the poker table from us than try to engineer who the new poker players will be. It just isn't our bailiwick.
    So are saying just take a step back, figure out who the winner is going to be and when the dust settles deal with them. I'm not trying to be flippant about your response, only that I'm not sure where you are going with it. When you say setting the best example we can as a nation - what do you mean? However, "dealing with whoever is sitting across the table" is pretty explanatory. How far do you go though? If Hugo Chavez decides he really likes selling us oil so he can buy more weapons - what does that do to us - why should we care? Aside from the fact that his geography puts him in a unique position? Maybe we deal with some and not others - the standard is set the old way - based on how much media coverage it will get?

    Unlikely as it seems, a George Washington might emerge to unify the country. He'll have no credibility if we appoint him, or arrange for his selection, that's for sure.

    Or they just might really need to go their separate ways. If so, I do not see what moral authority we would have to deny them that course. We are just going to have to get used to the idea that the waxing of states has ended and the waning of states is in motion. Sending a bunch of troops around the world to prop up disintegrating unions is just a losing proposition, whether they are sitting on petroleum or not.
    I do agree here to an extent. A george Washington might emerge, and we could not appoint him without possibly sacrificing his credibility. But what does it take to build a Washington? How would he best get his hands on parts of a political philosophy that he could build on and make work based on his culture? How do strong leaders and emerge and take root? How many potential candidates never quite make it? How can we help without hand selecting somebody that we like because he looks most like us? The founding fathers were not average - they were all educated and articulate - they were also experienced and had qualities that our own professional politicians lack.

    I also agree that some states probably will not make it - but what happens after that, and why did they not make it? Is it a sort of natural selection? We were fairly close to not making it a couple of times. Would the world be better off without us? What is worth fighting for then? What is worth saving? Without some form of government I think we'd devolve into anarchy - chaos. I think that is what Osama is after - a plowed field upon which to build his caliphate. The thought of weathering the storm without trying to do something - be it humanitarian aid, economic assistance, or security goes against what I signed up for - its too much like a PMC - a business transaction.

    This is a tough question. It has allot of us looking both ways. Its why I thought it important to raise it. Personally I see more of the same strife and suffering we've seen , but there would be much more were we to sit back and wait it out. Politically (in the big broad world sense) who would trust us? Why should they anyway? We may not be perfect, but would you rather be Putin? What did the English PM Tony Blair say about a year ago - something like "you can judge the greatness of a country by the number of people wishing to come to it." The United States is great not because of its ability to conserve resources for ourselves, but for our generosity and compassion. These are national values. They may be a tragic flaw, but the are also a strength in that they unify and call for self sacrifice of the individual for something better - where would we be wthout them -individually richer, but collectively poore I guess. A nation of individuals - I'd argue that before we go and change our values with regard to those outside of the U.S. - we take a look at how it would change ourselves.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tacitus View Post

    If he is really clever he would write a document that echoed our own Declaration of Independence. It would take some nerve to try to tell them they couldn't do it. I can just see him selectively quoting our Founding Fathers in response to justify their bid for independence.

    Unlikely as it seems, a George Washington might emerge to unify the country. He'll have no credibility if we appoint him, or arrange for his selection, that's for sure.


    Iraq doesn't need a Ho Chi Minh.

    Ho Chi Minh's Speech, Ba Dinh Square, September 2, 1945



    "All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

    This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.

    The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the citizen also states: "All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights."

    These are undeniable truths.

    Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow citizens. They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice.

    In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every democratic liberty.

    They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct political regimes in the North, the Center, and the South of Viet-Nam in order to wreck our national unity and prevent our people from being united.

    They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood.

    They have fettered public opinion; they have practiced obscurantism against our people.

    To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium and alcohol.

    In the field of economics, they have fleeced us to the backbone, impoverished our people and devastated our land.

    They have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, and our raw materials. They have monopolized the issuing of bank notes and the export trade.

    They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people, especially our peasantry, to a state of extreme poverty.

    They have hampered the prospering of our national bourgeoisie; they have mercilessly exploited our workers.

    In the autumn of 1940, when the Japanese fascists violated Indochina's territory to establish new bases in their fight against the Allies, the French imperialists went down on their bended knees and handed over our country to them.

    Thus, from that date, our people were subjected to the double yoke of the French and the Japanese. Their sufferings and miseries increased. The result was that, from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, from Quang Tri Province to the North of Viet-Nam, more than two million of our fellow citizens died from starvation. On March 9 [1945], the French troops were disarmed by the Japanese. The French colonialists either fled or surrendered, showing that not only were they incapable of "protecting" us, but that, in the span of five years, they had twice sold our country to the Japanese.

    On several occasions before March 9, the Viet Minh League urged the French to ally themselves with it against the Japanese. Instead of agreeing to this proposal, the French colonialists so intensified their terrorist activities against the Viet Minh members, that before fleeing they massacred a great number of our political prisoners detained at Yen Bay and Cao Bang.

    Notwithstanding all this, our fellow citizens have always manifested toward the French a tolerant and humane attitude. Even after the Japanese Putsch of March, 1945, the Viet Minh League helped many Frenchmen to cross the frontier, rescued some of them from Japanese jails, and protected French lives and property.

    From the autumn of 1940, our country had in fact ceased to be a French colony and had become a Japanese possession.

    After the Japanese had surrendered to the Allies, our whole people rose to regain our national sovereignty and to found the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam.

    The truth is that we have wrested our independence from the Japanese and not from the French.

    The French have fled, the Japanese have capitulated, Emperor Bao Dai has abdicated. Our people have broken the chains which for nearly a century have fettered them and have won independence for the Fatherland. Our people at the same time have overthrown the monarchic regime that has reigned supreme for dozens of centuries. In its place has been established the present Democratic Republic.

    For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government, representing the whole Vietnamese people, declare that from now on we break off all relations of a colonial character with France; we repeal all the international obligations that France has so far subscribed to on behalf of Viet-Nam, and we abolish all the special rights the French have unlawfully acquired in our Fatherland.

    The whole Vietnamese people, animated by a common purpose, are determined to fight to the bitter end against any attempt by the French colonialists to reconquer their country.

    We are convinced that the Allied nations, which at Teheran and San Francisco have acknowledged the principles of self-determination and equality of nations, will not refuse to acknowledge the independence of Viet-Nam.

    A people who have courageously opposed French domination for more than eighty years, a people who have fought side by side with the Allies against the fascists during these last years, such a people must be free and independent.

    For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam, solemnly declare to the world that Viet-Nam has the right to be a free and independent country - and in fact it is so already. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safe guard their independence and liberty.

  6. #46
    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
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    Greetings Mr. Thornton,

    First of all, you write interesting posts. And lots of them. Just how many words a minute can you type, anyway?

    So are saying just take a step back, figure out who the winner is going to be and when the dust settles deal with them. I'm not trying to be flippant about your response, only that I'm not sure where you are going with it.


    Other choices offered being overthrowing foreign governments, assassination of heads of state, and invasion by American armed forces to facilitate "regime change", if they haven't committed an act of war against us, then yes. I suggest making the best of a less than ideal situation and trying to wait them out.

    If they are willingly hosting Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda gang, like The Taleban, then they (like Carthage) must be destroyed.

    When you say setting the best example we can as a nation - what do you mean? How far do you go though? If Hugo Chavez...


    I've sensed a return by some of the nations of South and Latin America to left-wing policies, Hugo Chavez being merely the most publicized. Now I am not the most informed man on this forum about that part of the world, I'll concede right off the bat. Although today's headlines wouldn't indicate it, there was a time when we had pretty good relations with South America and Latin America. What do our allies down there, such as they are, think about it? Do they consider Hugo just a publicity hound, full of sound and fury signifying nothing beyond his borders, or not? I don't get the impression that they see him yet as a threat to the region. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    By setting an example, I guess I just mean updating what was once called "The Good Neighbor Policy" by FDR. At the Conference for the Maintenance of Peace in Buenos Aires in 1936, the American nations agreed to mutual consultation if there was a security threat to any of the nations within the hemisphere. At the Eighth Pan-American Conference, held in Lima, Peru, Cordell Hull managed to obtain a resolution reasserting a united front against possible Axis aggression against American nations during the war, even though most Latin American countries at the time were ruled by generals who admired European facism. Pretty good job there by Hull. So it is possible to have good relations with these countries.

    If Hugo Chavez is dangerous enough that his neighbors in the region want to voluntarily work with us to build a regional coalition to deter him, then they eventually will out of self-preservation, won't they?

    The absence of an Iraqi George Washington (heck, I'm not greedy, we'd be thrilled to get a John Adams or a James Madison) merely points to the unique nature of the founding of our own country. You might even date the beginning of our march to democracy to the Magna Carta in 1215. I have no idea how to transplant this system of government to Iraq. Actually, I don't even think it is possible given the kind of current divisions in the society in that land. Perhaps they could benefit from some kind of South African styled Truth and Reconciliation Commission to get going on the road? But given the religious nature of this Sunni vs. Shi'ite conflict, I wouldn't count on it.

    Firestaller: Thanks for retrieving that Ho Chi Minh speech. I'd forgotten about it. I hadn't read that in 20 years, and certainly didn't know where to find it. Yeah, that's exactly what I could see being thrown back at us eventually--our founding father's own stirring rhetoric!
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  7. #47
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hello to all,
    First I wanted to say thanks to everyone who participated in the thread - it shows how many diverse, and well articulated thoughts there are on a relevant and complex subject. I have greatly benefitted from the discussion - of course I always say that is what is great about the site. I'm not saying the discussion should end here, but I have to swap over to the review of the John Robb book thread - I suspect some of the themes mentioned here will come up there as well, but mainly we'll discuss the book. I wish I had time for both - but between trying to balance Army and family and get my arms around the new job, I just can't. However, that should not stop anybody from still talking about this - I feel like the discussion helps to show that there is more to this then meets the eye, and folks should investigate this to see where they stand.

    Best Regards, and many Thanks to all,
    Rob

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    On the issue of who is 'we' in Iraq. I presume it is only the Coalition of the Willing (COW).

    The remainder of the world remain mere bystanders because they feel that the cause was trumped up to serve self interests and I am not talking about Oil alone!

    While Afghanistan was totally justified since it was incumbent of ObL to stand trial for 9/11, the then Afghan govt failed to hand over the terrorist on the flimsy ground of his being a guest! Therefore, one had to get the fugitive and US was doing so.

    Given the US history of cozying up with tyrants, despots, illegal govts, military dictatorships, repressive govts, this sudden moral rearmament in the the form of bringing Freedom and Democracy to the oppressed appeared too much of a sham and totally hollow.

    The unholy haste in which the US rough rode the UN and entered Iraq left one aghast especially not allowing the UN inspectors their time to inspect. The fact that it was later discovered that Iraq had no WMD and the fact that the US took longer to discover that there was no WMD than the time the UN inspectors wanted convinced all that it was but a ploy for US to make its presence in Iraq for whatever be the reason. Some said Oil, but then that is debatable, though if indeed the Oil come under the US directions, the back of the OPEC can be broken so that they cannot manipulate the production and price which was proving detrimental to US interests apart from the rumblings that some were contemplating of changing the payment mode from the Dollar to the Euro. Iraq and Iran had done so.

    The US must have got an indication of how the Middle East was shaping up as we see what is current. Therefore, it must have been imperative on the US to put into place the Cheney Defence Policy Guidelines which called for ready and quick US response to trouble areas of the world by having a base in such areas. Iraq was ideal since it sat squat in the middle of the troubled Middle East!

    It is worth wondering as to if the US would be so muddle headed as to prop up the Shias in Iraq when it is hostile towards the Shias of Iran and knowing fully well of the natural affinity of both! Or that promoting an independent Kurdistan would mean losing Turkey and the control of the strategic Bosporus!

    It is unbelievable that the US, a country which has the best brains in the world, could repeatedly pursue policies that ties itself in knots and makes the withdrawal from Iraq an impossibility.

    Therefore, it is a cynical manner in which Cheney is implementing his Defence Policy that he wrote when he was the Defence Secretary?

    Could be.

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