Torn on Iraq

I have been opposed to the war in Iraq since day one, but unlike some who are against the war, I do believe that the threat posed by Islamic extremists is one we should take seriously. There is a religious war taking place, but it’s not about one religion versus another: it’s a war against religious extremism. This is a war that demands – and deserves – our sacrifice.

But the war against extremism should’ve been fought without the unrealistic goal of a democratic Iraq. Taking the battle to Iraq was a colossal blunder, made worse by the deception used to justify it. Thinking we could execute this war without the world’s support showed a level of arrogance matched only by the arrogance of an administration that now thinks it can expand the war without the support of the American people.

As much as I believe the war in Iraq was unjustified, I fear that if we leave now, we risk seeing the country turn into a more dangerous foe than it was under Saddam Hussein’s rule (especially with Iran and Syria added to the mix). Yet nothing I heard in last night’s deer-in-the-headlights presidential address gave me any hope of a solution. I find it hard to believe that sending 20,000 additional troops – most of them to Baghdad – would significantly change the situation.

So I find myself torn over what our country should do now. I’m not pessimistic by nature, but I see no acceptable way out of the intolerable mess we’re in.

27 thoughts on “Torn on Iraq

  1. Well well all I have to say is that I agree with you and I think most of the US does as well;. You are honest and thoughtful. The usual dribble when geeks( said affectionatelly) speak on these matters is either Bush Bashing or Dem hating either way missing the point. This is not about Reps vrs Dem, Lovers vrs Haters, Hawk vr Doves; Macho Dudes vrs P……ies ,Smart People vrs Dumb People…it is much more complex…it is about OUR collective future
    So while I want Iraq to be free it is not our job, yet if we pull out or stay now what is the future for my young son? What mess is he left to clean up? I am torn as well…and see no way out that is acceptable to us the US or the world at large

  2. I agree, the US created a big mess over there and its going to get messier. Now that the insurgency knows there will be a “surge”, they are going to dig in and fight even harder. I have a feeling the “surge” is going to end up being more than a “surge” and those troops will be there awhile. I feel the worse for the Iraqi people and the fledgling government, who didn’t actually invite us in there, and now we are telling them our commitment is not open-ended and they better step up and do a better job. We created the mess and want them to fix it. Those people have been under an repressive regime for decades and now we are telling them to setup a government and rule a country, all in the middle of a civil war.

  3. Part of the problem is the problem is not clearly defined. When people are steered, by either or any side, and not given information, the issues and options are clouded.
    And there are principles, such as principles of peace and respecting fellow man, that if given their full weight, would guide behavior, when in doubt. Safety is important, but the tactics and strategy for it, can either contribute to it, or degrade it.
    But I am with you, yes, this is complicated. But somehow the political process needs to solve this for the better of our country and all well intentioned people.

  4. The biggest problem is that both parties are selling us down the river. As far as I’m concerned, both sides are corrupt. Both sides are bunch of empty suits and skirts.
    The bottomline is that if we’re going to fight a war. We go in full force and get the job done. Air power, ground troops to clean up. We have too many ‘leaders’ trying to please everyone. Too many ‘leaders worried about what everyone thinks and their feelings.
    To quote a radio talk show host… ‘we need more Patton and less Patton leather’

  5. Very thoughtful post, Nick. It’s very sad that we find ourselves in this situation when it was all so unnecessary in the first place.
    Hopefully, you will not get beaten on too much by the few remaining fervent Bush supporters…

  6. “This is a war that demands – and deserves – our sacrifice”
    Speak for yourself and go for it – He was asking for people to join up.

  7. But the ‘mess’ in Iraq is no worse than the mess in Darfur, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and various other places around the globe.
    In my opinion we bring the troops home. We still have people needing help in New Orleans for goodness sake. How can we fix the world if we can’t even take care of our own people? Just saw in the news yesterday – 3/4 a million homeless in the US. That’s really sad.

  8. Yes, it’s a mess. The hard part is, we started it. In almost every way (oil production, infrustucture, quality of life) the country is in worse shape now then when we went in. A dictator is gone and the country is a shambles. Hmmmm…..intersting choice. Now suddenly 57% of Americans think it was a mistake to have gone there in the first place. Where were they when many of us were marching to stop us from going in there? So what do we do, stay there and hope we can straighten it out when trying this same tactic several times already hasn’t worked? Or figure out a way to leave gracefully and give the government ongoing support? As that great philosopher Kenny Rogers once said, “Ya gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em….” The only problem is he didn’t tell us how to figure out when those moments are.

  9. Nick, it’s your blog and all… just thought I’d say, I love your software, but don’t care for your politics. ;)

  10. What you say is quite right Nick, only I woud not have put the word Islamic in the first par… “the threat posed by….extremists is one we should take seriously.”
    Extremism in any form is dangerous be it religious, political or whatever. The fundamentalist Christian extremism being seen in the US and in other parts of the world is potentially just as dangerous.

  11. So for a war that was to find and rid the world of Weapons of Mass Destruction, when did people forget that and start to buy the propaganda about terrorist. Is that when they did not find the weapons and had to find another reason to be there . So our great leaders did was demonise those people who oppose their country being invaded by a foreign force (led by the USA) and call them terrorist. If the USA was invaded by a foreign government had a foreign governments version of democracy thrust upon them would those that fought and oppose be terrorist or people protecting their country.
    It is a war that can not be won. No amount of troops (20 000, maybe another 100,000),guns, violence and death… will change peoples mind, they will resist and rightly so. Why do politicians keep selling this crap and more importantly why do people keep buying and think that the justifications have a moral value that must be pursued.

  12. Biggest terrorist on the world is USA which terrorize everywhere as they like. They didn’t listen UN decisions and this was the big an terrible mistake for the world peace which USA doesn’t care too much. Stupid Bush thinks like he is still in Texas.
    The only solution is the public power. People must request self rights to be more civilized. Then there will be real solutions for them.

  13. Iraq is so much worse off now compared to Saddam — who didn’t have WMD, bio-labs, rockets, nukes, etc. — that nothing we can do by staying will prevent the inevitable. Let’s just get out, and ask that the conservatives admit that Bush is a complete idiot. He wants to rebuild Iraq, but he refuses to rebuild New Orleans or even the World Trade Center! He’s fighting a war that trashes our good name, with our money and our blood. Enough madness is enough.
    The Protestants and the Catholics spent 400+ years slashing and bombing each other until they just built fences between the neighborhoods. Sunnis and Shia have been at each other for more than 13 centuries. Whether we stay the media-broken-record of “six more months and we’ll know” or another 25 years, those groups will reignite their blood feud the day we leave. (Actually, they didn’t even wait for that event.)
    If we don’t, then make sure you’re ready to send your son to war in a few years, Nick. If Bush and the Neocons had their way, we’ll need bodies for Iraq occupation, and then wars with Iran, and then Syria. (But no republican or Bush family member will ever go near a recruiting station!) Which leads me to ask: where are all the young republicans when their country so desperately needs their service in arms? Are they doing the Cheney/Bush/Limbaugh/Gingrinch/Romney AWOL-“I-have-other-priorities” thing or what?

  14. America loves democracy. That is why they are in Iraq. Next, you guys should go to China or Korea. There is no democracy in those countries. But what a coincidence! All of the countries USA fucking up to ‘install democrazy’ are around Israel!

  15. You have some pretty mean commenters — your post was non-political and thoughtful, yet you got some silly comments. It’s a no win situation in Iraq, but leaving is like throwing the people there to the wolves. You hit the nail on the head.
    Iraq has two warring Islamic extremist factions that make up a small small portion of the population, yet the entire city of Baghdad is being torn apart by them. If we can get the government of Iraq to fully commit to fighting them, they will be able to win.

  16. I also tend to prefer Nick’s software development posts over his politics/foreign affairs posts, but it’s his blog, he can post what he wants to it.
    Not to pretend that I have all the answers, but the the bit about being mislead seems misleading to me. :-)
    There were multiples reasons that we went into Iraq, the concerns over WMDs were amongst them, but it wasn’t the sole reason. You can read the Joint Resolution from Oct 2, 2002 right here:
    I also recall that the US Policy of Regime Change was not one created by the Bush Administration, but one that was carried over from the Clinton administration. My understanding was that Clinton was advised to bow to the UN and let sanctions have more time to work. Meanwhile the UN had peaked in terms of corruption and it was clearly not in the interest of Kofi Annan and others to actually hold Iraq responsible and to punish them. Kofi and friends were making way too much money from the Oil for Food program (see and just keep reading)
    People keep talking about how we went to war on a “lie” and talk about how we were deceived. Funny thing is, I never felt deceived. Probably because I wasn’t listening to the mainstream media who is notorious for using “fear” to gain viewers. The media couldn’t only talk about WMDs. Meanwhile I was understanding that there was a bigger picture than just 9/11 or just Saddam’s WMDs. So what was it that the Democrats were saying back then?
    I’m not saying I support Bush. I’m not standing up for the poor way that much of this was conducted, but I don’t like the revisionist history that I hear from so many people who can’t look back past more than the current administrations actions.
    To the turkeys that equate our administration and soldiers with terrorists, you make the valid point that our educational system in this country needs work as well.
    We have problems in the world, and we need effective leaders to deal with those problems. I hope our leadership improves, because, like Nick, I think there is a threat that needs to be dealt with.

  17. In response to Tom:
    I fully agree with you that Nick’s posts are non-political and thoughtful. I love his style and ideas. And that is why I’m here, no quarreling over that matter!
    That said, yeah, I posted that comment because I was too angry as much as you are too hungry for the dead bodies of the boys and girls who are fighting and dying not for USA but for a rough in Middle-East. I find no reason for dying for a country which has been doing whatever it could, against the USA, at the same time receiving it’s tax-payer’s money.
    >> Iraq has two warring Islamic extremist factions that make up a small small portion of the population, yet the entire city of Baghdad is being torn apart by them. If we can get the government of Iraq to fully commit to fighting them, they will be able to win.
    Saddam Hossain successfully controlled these two groups when he was in charge. He mercilessly killed those extremists from both sides. Keep in mind, Iraq was one of the most developed countries in the whole world until USA fu*ed that country up helping the terrorist state in Middle-East. That is a fact. He was successful in keeping stability in Iraq. Really, there must be a Saddam Hossain to rule such a country. But what to do! He did such a grave crime that he didn’t like that rough in Middle-East.
    Now for the events in Iraq, more and more people hate America. There is no one out there to say these people that America is only a victim. First, America has to get it’s freedom.
    Note: I’m very sorry Nick! I shouldn’t have written these kind of skin-head, anti-smite comments in your respectful blog.

  18. Eloquently put, sir. I don’t agree with a small part of what you said, but your overall statement, and your conclusions, are excellent.

  19. It is laughable that the Bush administration calls this the greatest ideological war of our generation while simultaneously cutting taxes and having reservists and guard troops do four or more tours back to back. If it is truly important to America, then make some sacrifices like addressing our dependency on oil from the Middle East and enlisting other civilians into the armed services. Life goes on as normal here in the states because 99% of the people can go to Starbucks every morning and read about it in the paper from a safe and comfortable distance. Telling people it is the greatest challenge the country faces while fighting it with a small slice of predominantly young, low income kids is patronizing. America deserves to get shafted if we keep this up.

  20. Kris: “Telling people it is the greatest challenge the country faces while fighting it with a small slice of predominantly young, low income kids is patronizing.”
    From “Who Bears the Burden? Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Recruits Before and After 9/11”:
    The household income of recruits generally matches the income distribution
    of the American population. There are slightly higher proportions of recruits
    from the middle class and slightly lower proportions from low-income brackets.
    However, the proportion of high-income recruits rose to a disproportionately
    high level after the war on ter­rorism began, as did the proportion of highly
    edu­cated enlistees.

  21. I believe the main failure in Iraq is that the people making the big decisions seems to have learned little from history…
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967…
    “Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.” (MLK quoting someone else here)”
    “The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”
    “A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
    “This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations”
    (as an aside, I recommend watching the recent film “Why we fight”. Not as good as MLK, but still worth watching)

  22. The single biggest mistake was to believe that democracy is no more than voting once every 4 years and that it could be installed at the barrel of a gun.
    Iraq does have voting now but it has nothing like democracy. When the Americans leave I believe the country will split into three and at least one of the three will be a religious state. None of my business of course – but I doubt that was what was intended originally.

  23. Mark, thanks for the link to the Heritage Foundation, a true beacon of unbiased information these days. If you have any information from Fox News I’ll take that as well. Please stop dispensing propaganda.

  24. Kris, I simply provided the link and quote from it, as I recall seeing the “study” a while back. Maybe you can enlighten us as to why the data the study is flawed, or the statistics presented within it are inaccurate, rather than simply be dismissive of it. Do you have some information to back up your statement, or is it your “gut feel”?
    So where are you getting your information from these days? Why not share with us your favorite sources of unbiased information. Is there even such a thing as an unbiased news source?
    I happen to know a mid level manager who left a job making somewhere in the vicinity of $70-80k in Software QA to join the Army in 2003. Not poor. Not a minority. Not preyed on by exploitative military recruiters. Go figure. Service is voluntary and we live in a country with low unemployment. I have relatives who are upper/middle class who joined the Air Force, or went to school via ROTC. I believe that you calling them “low income kids” is what’s really patronizing.

  25. Mark Sicignano: You are one of the fools they were trying to fool. Thats why you never felt deceived.
    This mess in Iraq only proves that you can’t understand a nation and how its people exists from the other side of the pond. Saddam was a ‘bad guy’, but he was what Iraq needed to keep a roaring civil war at bay. This is just the beginning. Bush has screwed up Iraq for next few decades, if not longer.

  26. Sam: Interesting point you make. That I’m a fool, while you advocate the notion that Saddam is the best answer to preventing a civil war in Iraq. Maybe we should find equally despotic dictators — who don’t have any qualms about mass executions of their own citizens, and don’t mind lobbing chemical weapons at men, women and children — and put them in charge of all of the other places in the world where there is civil strife.

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