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The Expansionist
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
 
"I Don't Know." Robert Gates, the U.S. Secretary of Defense who took over from Donald Rumsfeld, was asked by New York Times reporter David Brooks if he believed that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Gates said, if he knew then what he knows now, his answer would (still) have to be "I don't know." How could anyone not know that it was the WRONG thing to do?
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Knowing what we know now — and I knew by simple observation and reasoning, before the U.S. attack — that there were no WMDs and no nuclear-weapons program, I would have no trouble saying plainly that we should not have invaded Iraq, nor even bombed it, at all. What we should have done is to try to co-opt Saddam, tell him we know how difficult a place Iraq is to govern, and influence him to change his ways, with our help. We might well have been able to bring him along, as consistent, decades-long pressure and persuasion eventually converted the bulk of Latin America from dictatorship to democracy.
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Saddam was a modernizer and secularist. There was no sectarian violence worth talking about, no international terrorism, no car bombs and beheadings and snipers killing civilians under Saddam. He played no role in the 9/11 attacks and had no aspirations to attack the United States. His support for "terrorism" was mainly rhetorical, for attacks upon Israel, not the United States. Actually, I should say "counterattacks" against Israel. If Saddam's Iraq supplied materiel and training to Arabs in their war against Zionists, that is exactly comparable, if in reverse, to U.S. support of the Israeli government in its endless state terrorism against Arabs.
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Saddam openly advocated unity among Arabs, and a united front against Israel. He stated that (counter-)violence against the violent Jews of Occupied Palestine was morally defensible and plainly necessary to oust an international conspiracy from the land that Zionist Jews stole by force, with U.S. support. Zionists here won't let people think about that, but endlessly tell us that Israel is virtuous and pure, nearly angelic, but the Arabs are evil, subhuman monsters, practically Satan's own army; all justice is on the side of the poor, oppressed Jews, and any violence they commit against Arabs is "self-defense". All lies, of course, lies that Saddam and 310 million other Arabs understood but some 250 million of this Nation's 300 million people seem to accept.
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Is it possible to wean dictators away from dictatorship? tyrants away from brutality? Depends on the despot. History is replete with violent people who turned more moderate after the goals they pursued thru violence were achieved, be it by that violence or some other way. Let's consider three such figures: Menachem Begin, Nelson Mandela, and George Washington. Tho I hesitate to put Begin in any group with George Washington, for this purpose I will put aside, for the moment, my distaste for everything Begin stood for.
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Menachem Begin (italicized here to distinguish from the ordinary English word "begin") was born in Eastern Europe, so was one of those foreign invaders the Palestinians have so hideously suffered from. Begin headed Irgun, a Jewish organization active in guerrilla warfare and urban terrorism for Zionism in Palestine in the 1940s. On July 22, 1946, Irgun terrorists, DRESSED AS ARABS, bombed the King David Hotel, headquarters for some operations of their erstwhile benefactors, the British, in an attack of promiscuous brutality that slautered 91 people: "28 British, 41 Arab, 17 Jewish, and 5 other". Nice, huh? Mind you, the British had started the ball rolling on Zionism, which until the British Empire's Balfour Declaration of 1917 was just a nutso, off-the-wall, pie-in-the-sky fantasy of a few, delusional East European Jews. (There's a lesson here for Americans: Israel is not our friend, and if ever we turn away from Zionism, there will be people at the highest levels of the Israeli Government willing to launch attacks upon the United States. Israel has both nuclear weapons and a space program — that is, missiles capable of carrying a warhead into space, then down onto the United States. So of course we are worried about Iran.)
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The British eventually withdrew from their Palestine Mandate, saving their own ass at the tiny, inconsequential cost (to them) of leaving the Arabs to the Jews' nonexistent mercy. Begin then entered mainstream Israeli politics, which of course welcomed 'former' terrorists, because Israel is a terrorist state. But when, after decades of effort, he finally became Prime Minister of Israel, Begin made peace with Egypt's Anwar Sadat at Camp David. For that, he and Sadat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978, 32 years after Begin's murderous attack on the King David Hotel.
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In 1961, Nelson Mandela co-founded "Spear of the Nation", the military wing of South Africa's African National Congress, which carried out sabotage and started planning for a guerrilla war. He was arrested in 1962, before those plans got very far, but they proceeded without him. He spent 27 years in prison, but on his release astonished the world with his changed demeanor. Instead of wreaking vengeance on his former jailers, he launched the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which brought out atrocities on both sides of South Africa's low-grade civil war and thus ended the threat of full-scale race war that could have had very serious repercussions outside South Africa more than just within. For leading his people to multi-party democratic government and working to heal South Africa's national wounds, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
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George Washington was a military man who came out of his military retirement as a planter in tidewater Virginia to lead the Continental Army in its rebellion against Britain during the American Revolution. He was ultimately responsible for overall strategy and keeping the military together during what was at the time a very grave war, with, as in South Africa, atrocities on both sides (but mostly from the British side, it really must be said; we won't go into British atrocities in detail, but suffice it to say that British prison ships were the 18th Century equivalent of Andersonville in the 19th Century).
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At the end of the war, Washington laid down his sword and returned to his plantation, only to return to national life later as the indispensable, first President of the United States. He set the Nation upon a nonmilitarist, noninterventionist course of avoiding foreign entanglements and seeking evenhanded and amicable relations with all nations. There was no Nobel Peace Prize in Washington's time, but it is reasonable to believe that had there been, Washington would have been awarded one.
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Would Saddam Hussein have moderated his behavior if the United States had helped in developing Iraq and promoting intercommunal tolerance and cooperation? Would Iraq have become a democracy, at least as far as offices lower than President were concerned? Stranger things have happened.
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Tho Saddam's moving from tyrant to Nobel Peace Prize recipient may seem preposterous to people poisoned against him by ceaseless propaganda, one thing is clear: Saddam did a far better job of maintaining internal peace and good order than the United States and its creation, the Al-Maliki Government, has been able to do. It's not even close. He also did an amazing job of rebuilding Iraq after the (first) Gulf War, without foreign aid, unlike the Al-Maliki government, which has been unable even to restore electricity to Baghdad despite an infusion of billions and billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
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The bulk of Iraqis may not have wanted the old Saddam back, but all Iraqis except his most bitter enemies concede that life in Iraq was vastly better under Saddam than under U.S. occupation. Indeed, it may well be that Saddam had to be killed rather than given life imprisonment expressly to prevent a popular groundswell demanding he be restored to power within the confines of a democratic constitution. In like fashion, the entire family of Czar Nicholas II of Russia was slautered to preempt any popular revolt to oust the Bolsheviks and restore the monarchy.
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Can any tyrant yield arbitrary powers yet remain in control? King John of England signed Magna Carta, yet remained on his throne until death.
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If the object of American foreign policy were really to bring democracy to Iraq and then outward across the Middle East, winning Saddam to the cause of gradual reform would surely have been far the wiser course. That that course was not chosen is yet another proof that the object of the war was not to save Iraq and promote democracy but to protect Israel by destroying its only credible enemy at that time. Now Israel has another credible enemy, Iran. And again the neocons and Radical Zionists are working hard to make the United States do Israel's dirty work and invade another Moslem country, produce catastrophic destruction there, kill hundreds of thousands, and save Israel again — until the NEXT threat pops up, at which time the United States will be expected to destroy that threat too. It's like the penny arcade game (which has an electronic version) in which a player stands in front of a bunch of holes in a floor, from any of which a 'gopher' may pop up at any time, and the player has to whack it before it disappears back down its hole. All the countries of the Middle East are gopher holes. Any uppity Moslem is a gopher, and it is our job, assigned by Israel, to smash it over the head before it can attack Israel. I don't like this game. Neither do Moslems. But Israelis love it. To death.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 3,791 — for Israel.)

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