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[Government] Rumsfeld: Democracy Not Such a Great Thing For Iraq

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Cohete Rojo, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. Cohete Rojo

    Cohete Rojo Contributing Member

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    There's a paywall to the Times of London article, would be great if someone could post it.

    As for his statements, 'democracy' was the only acceptable choice after toppling such a 'dictator' - even if it was unrealistic. It would have been totally inappropriate to install a monarchy or caliphate or anything like that, or perhaps to even split Iraq into separate states. I'm not entirely familiar with Iraq's government, which I assume is a quasi-constitutional republic, but there are three big divides in Iraq: Sunni, Shiite and Kurd.

    I think both Bush and Cheney were knowledgeable about the different religous and ethnic divides in Iraq, but had the hubris to not care or deal with the situation (they'd be gone in a certain number of years due to term limits). That perhaps is why Iran is now becoming the US's biggest ally against ISIS and for holding onto a united Iraq.

    Democracy really hasn't failed Iraq, it has only shown it for what it is: a divided state.

     
    #1 Cohete Rojo, Jun 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
  2. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

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    How could such a group of bumbling, stumbling, stooges be put in charge of sending people to war? It really defies explanation. Twenty years from now kids will ask WTF and I'll have no real answer for it because I'll still be asking WTF.
     
  3. mc mark

    mc mark Contributing Member

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    Sorry Rumny no, you don't get to explain away your war crimes like that.
     
  4. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    strictly CYA backpeddling, he's the lobster of responsibility

    I know because I had the same delusions, that people inherently want democratic compromise instead of civil war. Turns out that assumption is not true when people are divided by religious conflict, and not true where there is no sense of national unity or galvanizing leadership.
     
  5. robbie380

    robbie380 ლ(▀̿Ĺ̯▀̿ ̿ლ)
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    Rumsfeld is trash
     
  6. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    Rumsfeld a pathetic creature desperately attempting to paint himself as a human being, instead of what he is, a monster possessing at least partial responsibility for the death and maiming of countless human beings.
     
  7. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    I don't think he was evil by intent, he was just wrong and his ego won't let him accept it. Everybody rationalizes their failures, but catastrophic failures require overt hubris. He is probably compensating for soul crushing guilt. It would be hard to live with.
     
  8. HillBoy

    HillBoy Contributing Member

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    Here's an excellent take on what's going on in the Middle East and why American efforts won't make much difference in the outcome:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/america-not-to-blame-for-middle-east-falling-apart-118611.html#.VXiop89VhBc

    The full article is three pages long - too much to post here so I'll just post the first page:

    The Middle East Is Falling Apart
    America isn’t to blame. There's no easy fix.
    By PHILIP GORDON June 04, 2015

    As news out of the Middle East goes from bad to worse—the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, Libya’s disintegration, the fall of Ramadi to ISIL, take your pick—the inevitable American tendency, especially in the political season, is to attribute all these developments to U.S. policy choices. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in May the United States has “no Middle East Strategy at all,” the Washington Post editorial page explains the fall of Ramadi not as the result of an Iraqi dynamic but as a consequence of U.S. strategy and Republican candidates are of course tripping over each other to attribute the region’s unraveling to the “weakness” and lack of resolve of the Obama administration.

    Negative outcomes certainly require critical examination of policy choices, and no one in their right mind would suggest the outcomes in the Middle East today are anything but negative. That said, what most of the current critiques have in common are an assumption that U.S. policy is the most relevant variable in explaining what is going on—it’s not—and an utter failure to present an alternative approach that would work.

    The harsh reality is that the Middle East today is going through a period of tectonic and destructive change. If I took away anything from two years as the White House’s coordinator for Middle East policy, it’s that U.S. policy is not the main source of this change and the U.S. has no good options for dealing with it. Some of the proposed remedies for the region’s woes, such as U.S. military intervention in an effort to “transform” or “remake” the region or simply to impress our foes, would likely make things worse. This should be clear from the U.S. effort to do so in Iraq just over a decade ago. The lessons of that war seem to have been bizarrely forgotten by many today (though almost all the Republican presidential candidates seem to want to disown the results of the Iraq war while embracing the policy approach that produced it).

    Whereas in other fields of human endeavor—take medicine, for example—we seem to accept that there are certain problems and challenges that we did not create and cannot entirely resolve (and that trying to do so sometimes makes things worse), the U.S. policy debate about the Middle East suffers from the fallacy that there is an external, American solution to every problem—even when decades of experience, including recent experience, suggest that this is not the case.

    Accepting that the United States is not to blame for, and cannot resolve, every problem in the Middle East is not a prescription for inaction or resignation. The United States remains the world’s most important power and has unique capabilities that give it an unmatched ability and responsibility to play a key role in a region where critical US interests are at stake. Unfortunately, we cannot master the historical forces that probably mean the region will be plagued by instability for years or even decades to come. But we can and should manage this instability as best we can and protect our core interests, which include defending our allies, preventing regional war, keeping sea lanes open, avoiding nuclear proliferation and preventing a terrorist safe haven from which the United States or its allies could be attacked. Such an approach might not sound like a path to presidential glory and it does not make for much of a campaign bumper sticker. But it’s both the least and the most we can do. We should know by now that trying to do much more would likely come at great human and financial cost, produce unintended consequences and fail to work.

    The Great Unraveling

    What explains the historic disorder we’re seeing in the Middle East today? Four interrelated trends are most relevant. What we should understand is that the United States is not primarily responsible for any of them and can do little to reverse their course.

    The collapse of state authority and erosion of borders. For nearly 100 years, the modern Middle East has been organized around a state system put in place by the Western powers after the Ottoman Empire collapsed. The borders of new states like Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon made little sense, but they were internationally recognized, and—for all the new states’ internal tensions—for many decades they remained intact. These states were relatively stable; they had agreed upon territories (save for some border disputes), flags, anthems, and authoritarian leaders, some of whom (Mubarak, Assad, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Ben Ali, Saleh, etc.) stayed around for a very long time.

    That post-Ottoman order is now falling apart—largely due to the consequences of the Arab Spring, when Arab publics finally rose up in protest against this artificial division. The United States embraced the Arab Spring, but it certainly did not create it, and it had little to do with the democratic trends, rise in political awareness or frustration with the failed governance that led to the revolt. In that sense I always found it strange when some critics complained about our “throwing Mubarak under the bus,” as if the United States just one day decided to change Egypt’s leadership, or could have prevented it when the Egyptian public decided to do so.

    In any case, the result of this revolution has not been the increased freedoms many hoped to see but rather the collapse of state authority and the unraveling of national borders. The state called “Syria” no longer corresponds to its official borders and likely never will again. A real map of Syria today—like the ones produced on a regular basis for policymakers—would show something more like “Assadistan,” “ISISstan,” “Nusrahstan,” “Kurdistan,” etc., but not a political entity called “Syria.” The state of Iraq has also essentially broken apart, and Baghdad has little sway in the Kurdish region or in the Sunni-majority Anbar or Ninewa provinces. The state structures of Libya and Yemen no longer exist and may not ever be put back together again. This particular trend is captured well in an only slightly exaggerated recent headline in The Onion: “Everyone in Middle East Given Own Country in 317,000,000-state solution.” We’re not there yet. But as much as we can and should try to avoid it, it’s now more likely that other states will collapse than it is that the now-broken states will be put back together again.

    The Sunni-Shia split. The Sunni-Shia split is hardly a new trend—it’s been going on since the 7th century, when the Prophet Mohammad’s followers failed to agree on his rightful successor. Nor it is necessarily worse than ever—the tensions today still fall short of periods like the late 18th century, when Wahhabi tribes from the Arabian Peninsula were sacking Shia cities like Kerbala and Najaf in today’s Iraq. But there is no question that this historic phenomenon that has risen and fallen in intensity over the years has entered a new and particularly dangerous phase. The latest escalation started with the 1979 revolution in Iran and the subsequent Iran-Iraq war, but it was given its real near-term emphasis by the 2003 Iraq war, which put the majority Shia back in charge in Baghdad and thus tipped the sectarian balance in the region. (Ironically, this was one of the few major trends we did have a major role in producing.) By doing so, it both spurred and allowed the development of extremist *Sunni groups like al-Qaeda in Iraq and its successor ISIL, whose attacks on Shia only reinforce this literally vicious circle.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/st...-east-falling-apart-118611.html#ixzz3chEaox6O
     
  9. pirc1

    pirc1 Contributing Member

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    Rumsfeld might be wrong on many things, but he might be right on this. Unconditioned democracy may not be best in all situations.
     
  10. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
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    Problem is that for democracy to work you need more than free elections.

    You need a very strong constitution, court system that is beyond the political and religious structure, and a strong military that is loyal to the constitution not just the gov't. Most of all you need a political system that prevents any one side from gaining too much power.

    With Egypt the issue was that they needed a way to share power so no one side could put it's radical and destructive agenda in place.

    In Iraq, you need a way for the Kurds, the Shia, and the Sunnis to share party that would give each side enough influence to prevent the other from dominating them. That wasn't done and the Shia had too much power.

    Why does our democracy work? Because you have both sides never in complete control. Even we try to manipulate power and hold onto it (gerrymandering for instance). Balance is key to democracy. That was never done in the key middle east countries.
     
  11. HillBoy

    HillBoy Contributing Member

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    You also need a citizenry that is committed to the concept of democracy. That, I believe, is the difference between ourselves and the Middle East. In the US, all citizens believe in and are committed to the concept of democratic government no matter what their religious, ethnic or cultural divisions. So what you have here is the US externally seeking to impose the concept of democracy to a populace that is divided along religious, tribal, ethnic and cultural lines. There is simply no basis for a democracy to survive much less flourish in such an environment. This is exactly the same mistake that was made in Vietnam. Like it or not, the warhawks need to understand that there are distinct limits to American military power especially when it comes to imposing our sense of democracy on other nations. Looks like Rumsfeld found this out a little too late.
     
  12. robbie380

    robbie380 ლ(▀̿Ĺ̯▀̿ ̿ლ)
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    We've done a lot to destroy any democratic "green shoots" that disagreed with our goals in the Middle East.
     
  13. HillBoy

    HillBoy Contributing Member

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    Well, don't forget that well before the neo-conservatives hopped onto the democracy bandwagon, they were fully committed to supporting dictators and repressive regimes in the Middle East - Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in Iran, Hafez al-Assad is Syria, Saddam Hussein in Iraq (before he crossed the Bushes) and (my favorite) the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia. We don't support democracy in the Middle East - we pay lip service to the concept of democracy in the Middle East.
     
  14. Remii

    Remii Member

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    You can't compare America to the Middle-East. This is a new world where people came to create a new society. That's an old world over there with old world issues. One group will have to conquer and control the other groups and make them bow down.

    "Biblically speaking" they are being punished.
     
  15. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

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    What a **** up.
     
  16. HillBoy

    HillBoy Contributing Member

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    EXACTLY! You need to explain that to John McClain, the Bushes and the rest of the politicians who find it conveniently easy to send our young men over there to get killed for BS political reasons.
     
    1 person likes this.
  17. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Except that many were telling Rumsfeld and the other people pushing for this war back in 2002 that you can't just impose democracy in Iraq. Rumsfeld coming out now 13 years later saying he knew this all along isn't just hypocritical but it is insulting to those who fought in and continue to pay the price for what was an unnecessary war.

    Rumsfeld no doubt wants people to believe that he was a voice of conscience but that is very hard to swallow when compared to what he was saying then. At least Powell was willing to state his views forcefully that this was a bad idea at the time and pretty much admit that he made a mistake.
     
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  18. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    It's not just believing in the concept of democracy but also believing in the concept of a country in the first place. I think it's pretty clear that the many Iraqis don't believe in the idea of a single country. Not surprising since it was an artificial creation of the British Empire rather than something organically created by the people there.

    All of this was known well before the start of the war. Instead people like Rumsfeld either bought into, or just went along with, the naive idea that taking out Saddam would be the lynchpin towards US safety by some democratic domino effect. If anyone had studied the history of the region would see how ham handed of an idea that was to begin with.

    That Rumsfeld now admits that he never believed it just makes it worse. Him knowing that this Neocon/ Neo Wilsonian, vision of a democratic Middle East through applied military force wasn't going to happen makes him callous, venal, or most likely both. Let's also not forget too that this is also the same Secretary of Defense who opposed the advice of his own generals about a cautious approach to the invasion and occupation and instead sent in an army that was ill equipped to deal with the chaos and insurgency that followed the fall of the Saddam. He dismissed those concerns with "You go to war with the army you have.

    Here's a few other quotes from Rumsfeld then that show how wrong he was an how galling it is for him to say what he is saying now.
    [rquoter]
    Be yourself. Follow your instincts. Success depends, at least in part, on the ability to 'carry it off.'
    ...
    Arguments of convenience lack integrity and inevitably trip you up.
    ...
    Think ahead. Don't let day-to-day operations drive out planning.
    ...
    I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that.
    ...
    I don't do quagmires.
    ...
    There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
    [/rquoter]

    Reading things like that and what he is saying now make me sick to my stomach about how horribly we were led into this war. Whether they will ever admit it to themselves they do have blood on their hands.
     
  19. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
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    Not necessarily. Citizenry just wants to have a decent life. That's true in America and everywhere on earth. The Middle east needs a system where power is shared amongst the different groups in a way that forces compromise.
     
  20. Cohete Rojo

    Cohete Rojo Contributing Member

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    Allegedly Rumsfeld told Paul O'Neill to not provide information for a book that gave a reavling look at how the W administration worked. Now Rumsfeld has come out with further evidence of how poor a manager W was. This just reinforces what O'Neill has said.

    <iframe width="854" height="510" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ETqX3DRtZtU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     

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