inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #51 of 146: David Kline (dkline) Sun 16 Nov 03 08:32
The obvious lack of sufficient human intelligence in Iraq spotlights the 
problems inherent with "imposing" regime change on a population that was 
clearly nowhere near being able to effect it themselves.

The kind of human intelligence needed to create and maintain an orderly
civil society against insurgent or terror attacks can only come from a
motivated people who feel they have a direct stake in the outcome of
events and are willing and able to be the masters of their own fates.

In Afghanistan, for example, we worked with an anti-Taliban political and
military force with deep roots among the people. In fact, the so-called
"Northern Alliance" was the legal UN-recognized government of Afghanistan.
They had solid human intelligence and broad support among an armed
population seething under Taliban rule. And once they were supplied with
sufficient arms and technology, they vanquished the Taliban in weeks.

The Loya Jirga (grand popular council) that created the provisional Afghan
government a few months later onlyspotlighted the relatively high degree
of readiness of the population to embark on a democratic process.

Nothing like this exists in Iraq, except among the isolated Kurds in the 
north and perhaps to some degree among the Shiite militias (although the 
latter's commitment to a democratic process is still uncertain). 

We've discussed this question before -- can one effectively impose from
outside democratic change on a people who are largely unorganized
politically and militarily to carry out their own democratic revolution?

First, we should remember that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was NEVER about
kick-starting democracy in Iraq. This was an excuse cooked up after our
initial cries of weapons of mass destruction were exposed as fraudulent.

Still, some now say that whether intended or not, at least the U.S. 
presence in Iraq is now facilitating a working democratic process.

I have my doubts as to how effectively this can be imposed from without.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #52 of 146: Berliner (captward) Sun 16 Nov 03 08:47
Excellent point: it'd be like converting them to your religion. You
can maybe make them go to church, but you can't make them deep-down
*believe* in it. If the inclination and the structures weren't there
before, you can't very well impose them, can you? 
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #53 of 146: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 16 Nov 03 09:11
The Sunday talk shows are talking about us putting in a government and
then walking away, and whether the infrastructure is in place for the
country to be run at that point. What happens if we do and it's not?
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #54 of 146: Berliner (captward) Sun 16 Nov 03 09:17
Is it too much to expect that a sort of organic sorting-out might
occur? In other words, we do that, split, retreat back into our little
shell or else go try to disastrously invade another country (although I
doubt the US public would sit still for that), Iraq slides into chaos,
civil war, and theocracy, but, like Iran, after 30 years, that's not
working, the world is shunning Iraq because of its government, and a
*true* democratic movement comes from the grass roots. 

Of course, given the experience of secularism already in their
history, albeit under Saddam, this might not take as long as it has in
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #55 of 146: John Zuill (klauposius) Sun 16 Nov 03 09:20
>What happens if we do and it's not?

I think Civil War. What do you think Christian?
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #56 of 146: tambourine verde (barb-albq) Sun 16 Nov 03 10:24
How can Bush use the situation to show that they've won? How can they
explain that it's ok to leave all those undiscovered WMD sitting there
while terrorists infiltrate and civil war or at least factional
fighting occurs? If the US military can't win the peace over there, how
can military personnel under UN control do it? And how can the
political shell game being planned by Chalabi actually create any
semblance of a functioning provisional government by June? Won't the
insurgents expand and increase their violence if and when the US beings
to pull out? How will Bush explain all this?

And a note of thanks to <echodog> for supplying his usual excellent
information about the military side of things.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #57 of 146: John Zuill (klauposius) Sun 16 Nov 03 11:03
Good point about the WMD. We will simply drop one strain of improbable
logic for a more convienient strain of improbable logic. And what
about the discarded real weapons lieing about in desert? Can you leave
three angry groups of people in one country with a grocery store of
light arms?
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #58 of 146: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 16 Nov 03 11:24
(Just a note to folks who are reading this conversation but are not 
members of the WELL. You, too, can participate by emailing your comments 
and questions to we'll post them here, usually 
pretty quickly after we get the email.)
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #59 of 146: Ron Levin (eclectic2) Sun 16 Nov 03 12:29
<First, we should remember that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was NEVER
about kick-starting democracy in Iraq.>

Well, yes it was.  It certainly wasn't the main rationale given for
the invasion, but that was always mentioned as part of the post-war
plan for influencing political change in the region.  WMD was always
just an excuse for a much larger neo-con agenda.  

I agree, however, that the best hope for bringing democracy to a
country is through international efforts, not by unilateral invasions,
which the neo-cons of course favor.  
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #60 of 146: Ron Levin (eclectic2) Sun 16 Nov 03 12:31
We Don't Know How to Build Democracy
By Stephen D. Krasner, Stephen D. Krasner is a professor of political
science and director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the
Rule of Law at the Stanford Institute for International Studies.

STANFORD — In a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy this
month, President Bush outlined the country's commitment to promoting
democracy throughout the world, saying that "the advance of freedom" is
both "the calling of our time" and "the calling of our country." 

The president articulated clearly where we would like to end up: in a
world composed of functioning, sovereign, democratic states. The
advantages of such a world are obvious. In mature democracies, domestic
institutions are stable and leaders accountable. The rule of law
prevails and corruption is limited. Economic policy is constructive and
incomes and opportunities increase. The appeal of terrorism lessens. 

But with all our determination to promote democracy, the truth is, we
don't have a very good idea of how to do it. Neither the United States
nor anyone else has much experience in creating democracy where there
was none.

The accepted international practices to promote democracy — such
things as United Nations peacekeeping operations, foreign assistance to
support better governance, and transitional administrations like those
set up in Kosovo and East Timor — haven't proved to be all that
satisfactory. Even our governmental institutions reflect our
unpreparedness for the task: We have a Department of Defense, but we
don't have a Department of Regime Building.

What we do know — or should know — is that getting from here to there
will be hard. The states we're most interested in helping to transform
today generally have low per-capita incomes, limited experience with
democracy and long histories of autocratic and sometimes brutal rule.
These are not conditions that tend to foster democracy. 

Among the surprisingly few things we know about creating democracies
is this: While it doesn't necessarily take higher per-capita income to
establish a democracy, it certainly helps in sustaining it. No
democratic country with per-capita income above $6,000 has ever
reverted to autocracy.

inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #61 of 146: Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Sun 16 Nov 03 13:34
I don't think anyone ever said that democracy came from the barrel of a gun,
but to some extent that's what we're attempting to do. Kind of tricky.

The US Army is always short of linguists when the balloon goes up--somehow
the Army has never quite learned to properly appreciate linguistic
capability and support linguistic training. Those soldiers at DLI work very
hard to learn their target languages (I should know, I'm an alum myself) but
frankly, even if the training is top-notch, the sustainment isn't.

There are basically two types of Army linguists. The 98G series is trained
to intercept enemy radio communications and derive intelligence from it. The
97E series is trained to interrogate people and derive intelligence that
way. In a HUMINT situation, obviously, the 97E is best suited to gathering
intelligence. Trouble is, while language testing is done yearly on all
linguists, speaking ability is tested exactly ONCE in a linguist's career-
when he or she grduates from DLI. This is because in order to test speaking,
obviously, you have to be one-on-one with someone else who speaks the
language, the the Army just doesn't have the teaching personnel spread out
at the various units worldwide to conduct speaking tests. The situation is
about to become worse--recently the idea was raised to remove linguistic
training from 97E all together, and just have them interrogate through
contracted interpreters in theater. The rational given was that too many
linguist 97E were leaving the Army after the first enlistment, so linguistic
training should be reserved as a re-enlistment bonus. If you're thinking
this is a pretty stupid idea, I'm right there with you. In fact, the US
military relies very heavily on contracted interpreters these days, and one
has to wonder about the reliability and loyalty of someone you hire in

You might wonder why the military does not have trained interpreters. In
fact, we do--98L. However, the 98L MOS only exists in a reserve unit from
Utah, mostly made up of nice Mormon soldiers who have learned foreign
languages for the purpose of their religious missions. In other words, they
receive linguistic training and support from a source outside the military.
They're pretty darn good, but there's only so many of them to go around.

You might also wonder why we don't specifically enlist soldiers who already
speak the language as military linguists. We do that too--it's called the
Stripes for Skills program. Basically it provides a soldier with an
automatic promotion to sergeant after AIT if they qualify as linguists.
(They still have to go to PLDC, the sergeant's school, at some point later
in their career.) Some of these soldiers are excellent linguists, but
frankly, they may not be excellent NCOs because they are limited in the kind
of experience it makes to be an NCO. (I'm lucky, myself--I've had four
stripes for skills NCOs in my platoon and they've all worked their asses off
to be good leaders.)

In general, however, the Army seems to have difficulty holding on to good
linguists. In fact, the re-enlistment bonuses for linguists are not that
impressive, compared to the Air Force and Navy linguists--and Army linguists
have some of the highest bonuses in the Army. Many linguists simply get fed
up with not getting proper language training and go where they can make good
money using this skill that the Army spent hundreds of thousands of dollars
teaching them.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #62 of 146: David Kline (dkline) Sun 16 Nov 03 14:00
Interesting NY Times article today on Arabic language training:


For Americans, Arabic is a difficult language. It has some unfamiliar
throaty sounds, a vast and ancient vocabulary, script that reads from
right to left and dialects so distinct that native speakers from Morocco,
Yemen and Iraq often cannot understand one another.

Nevertheless, the United States, with much of its military, intelligence 
and diplomatic energy focused on the Mideast crisis, needs more Arabic 
speakers, and it is getting them. Scores of colleges and universities have 
added or expanded Arabic course offerings, and a new study has provided 
the first broad statistical evidence that more students than ever are 
enrolling in Arabic classes.

But whether the boom will last is another matter. The number of Arabic 
students remains small. America's new generation of would-be Arabic 
speakers must show that they can muster the discipline necessary for the 
long march to fluency. And questions have been raised about the quality of 
the teaching.


The M.L.A. survey collected data on foreign language enrollment from fall 
2002 from 780 colleges and universities. It showed that 1.4 million 
students are studying at least one foreign language, more than in any year 
since 1972.

The survey found that 10,596 students were studying Arabic, compared with 
5,505 in 1998, the last time the association collected such figures.

Still, Arabic remains outside the mainstream of language study. Fewer than 
1 percent of all students enrolled in a foreign language course are 
studying Arabic. Nine of 10 colleges and universities do not offer a 
Arabic course, the survey found.

Even an arcane language like ancient Greek is taught at more than twice as 
many colleges as Arabic, the survey found, although that is changing. In 
1998, only 157 colleges and universities offered Arabic. By 2002, an 
additional 77 did. Opportunities to learn it are opening faster than for 
any other language except Spanish.


The Foreign Service Institute at the State Department puts Arabic in its 
"super-hard" category, along with Chinese, Japanese and Korean, said James 
E. Bernhardt, chairman of the institute's department of Arabic and Asian 
languages. The institute estimates that bright students need at least 88 
weeks of full-time training to reach entry-level professional proficiency, 
he said. By comparison, to achieve the same proficiency in Hebrew, which 
the institute rates as "hard," requires 44 weeks, Mr. Bernhardt said.

So far, however, recent statistics from the National Middle East Language 
Resource Center show that attrition among Arabic learners appears to be 
lower than Lambert's law would predict.

At nine universities with long-established Arabic programs ... 61 percent
of students who completed first year Arabic in June 2002 enrolled in
second-year courses in the fall, and 63 percent who completed second-year
courses enrolled for the third year.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #63 of 146: Ron Levin (eclectic2) Sun 16 Nov 03 15:44
From a WP article on European feelings about Iraq:

<Some hope that Iraq will prove to be a learning process for -- if not
a fatal blow to -- American neo-conservatives, whom many Europeans
hold responsible for the war. "Iraq is proving that even for the U.S.
it is not easy to go it alone," said Eberhard Sandschneider of the
German Council on Foreign Relations. 
He added, however, that Europe does not want the lesson to be too
severe. "It cannot be a sensible policy to humiliate the U.S," he said.

Josef Joffe, co-editor of Die Zeit, a German weekly newspaper,
recently returned from a trip to Iraq that left him pessimistic about
the prospects for American success. 

"There's a sinking feeling that if the U.S. screws up, we're all going
to suffer," he said. 

"The idea of excessive U.S. weakness, if the U.S. goes into retreat or
isolationism, is now exercising the same people who were obsessed with
excessive U.S. power," Joffe said. "There are a lot of bad guys out
there and the Europeans know that the Middle East is a very dangerous
place from which a lot of bad stuff can emanate. The Europeans want the
U.S. attack dog safely leashed, but they don't want the attack dog put

Blair agreed. "The thing I fear is not American unilateralism, it is
actually American isolationism, were it ever to go down that path," he

Looking back on the deep divisions earlier this year when the United
States and Britain gave up trying to win a U.N. Security Council
resolution endorsing military action after France threatened to veto
it, many Europeans contend both sides were to blame. Some -- including
British officials who ended up supporting the war -- believe the United
States should have waited for U.N. weapons inspectors to complete
their work before launching its campaign. 

But many also believe that France, Germany and Russia could have
adopted a less confrontational approach toward the United States and
other European nations and could have worked harder to produce
international consensus. 

"There certainly should be a lesson to learn on both sides," said
Rummel. "For the Europeans among themselves it was as painful as it was
for transatlantic relations. But things just escalated. No one wants
that to happen again.">

inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #64 of 146: Jacques Delaguerre (jax) Sun 16 Nov 03 17:10
>In fact, the US military relies very heavily on contracted
>interpreters these days, and one has to wonder about the reliability
>and loyalty of someone you hire in country.

I seem to remember that Crassus had some trouble on that score when
he marched his army through Mesopotamia some 2060 years ago ...
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #65 of 146: David Kline (dkline) Mon 17 Nov 03 08:32
Interesting article, Ron. Thanks.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #66 of 146: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:13
David, I just came back here from this story, which includes some 
interesting and candid dismay from conservatives of various 
stripes and degrees of intelligence. Interesting how some people can 
hold on to the idea that being against the war before it started was 
wrong, even if the war looks like a bad move, or the excuses are no
longer believed in retrospect.  Any idea on how to reach some of these
folks who are losing heart from another perspective? 
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #67 of 146: I'm on the Chet Atkins Diet. Pass the BBQ, please. (rik) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:28
>But since the days when our
 species lived in caves, we have followed a solid trend line towards
 greater individual freedom and a more humanistic world order."

I disagree with this entirely.    The 20th century saw genocide on an
industrial scale, the invention and deployment and use of the most
destructive weapons in history, and the spectacle of the richest societies
in history turning away while disease, famine, and war consumed large
sections of Africa.   If there has been any solid line, it has
in our ability to snow ourselves with the thought that human nature is
changing.    As the follies in Bosnia and Kosovo have shown, modern human
beings are every bit as capable of turning on their fellow humans and acting
like the animals we think we're better than.

Human nature doesn't change, and if there is to be any progress in how
humans treat each other, it will be the result of intelligently designed
social systems that protect the weak and less powerful.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #68 of 146: David Kline (dkline) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:44
My only suggestion is to unite left & right discontents under a pragmatic
message: we're waging the wrong war -- a losing war -- in Iraq, while the
right war in Afghanistan and Pakistan is begging for our attention.

Liberals have to show that we're not against national security, or a 
resolute fight against Islamic fundamentalist terror. We're all for it -- 
we just want it to be fought in a way that leads to victory not defeat.
Furthermore, conservatives LOVE the memory of our successful struggle
against Soviet communism. We should promote the key lessons we learned in
that half-century-long effort: that while the judicious use of force is at
times very important, the main effort in our war on terror must be a
political & ideological battle for the hearts and minds of all Muslims.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #69 of 146: David Kline (dkline) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:53
slip from <rik>, to whom I would only point out that while modern society
is rife with contradictions -- technologically-enabled genocide vs.  
substantially increased life expectancy for MOST people -- it is only in
the last few hundred years that the idea of protected individual rights,
democracy for the "common man," freedom of thought and worship, and mass
literacy & public health have become even partially-attained human goals.

500 years ago few would have known what those words meant. Now they are
slowly but surely becoming realities in many areas of the globe (china, se
asia, latin America, Europe and north america). This is no small thing,
and to me indicates a solid historical trend line for the better.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #70 of 146: John Zuill (klauposius) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:57
To Gail William's post and

Willful moral prevaracators and oppurtunists. And it has nothing to do
with the Right. I have an uncle who was in the Royal Navy who would
make Bush look like a hippy. He and his pals think the Iraq war is
absolute lunacy.  The republicans have gone wonky. And where the hell
are the democrats? 

Yes I supported this war but only once Bush stated he was going. Once
he said "We're going" he couldn't possibly back out without empowering
Saddam immensely. Now George has announced he will definitely leave,
giving his enemies a time table for the the civil war. Set your clock
Ahmed and pass the ammo. He made the same mistake twice! He is an
absolutly impossible person!
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #71 of 146: John Zuill (klauposius) Tue 18 Nov 03 11:08
So what'll it be? Civil war crushed by a three way split, Turkey takes
the north, chases the Kurds into Iran where they will be welcomed like
rotten fish; Syria and Jordan quibble over the the center and Bagdad,
and fight the occasional turf war with Turkey for the oil. The Iranians
take the south and glare over the border at the Saudis. We all sit
around for the House of Saud to fall and the real fireworks to start.
Sound familiar? Africa but with real weapons?
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #72 of 146: Ron Levin (eclectic2) Tue 18 Nov 03 11:31
<Human nature doesn't change>

What is "human nature?"  When was it carved in stone?  A million years
ago?  Ten thousand?  A thousand?  Or maybe when Adam & Eve were
banished from Eden?  

I don't know if there is such a thing as a single "human nature," but
I think human beings are constantly evolving towards a more peaceful,
enlightened civilization.  There's obviously been a tremendous amount
of conflict along the way, as populations expand & various ideological
forces come in to contact, but I think that conflict is the very means
through which cultures inevitably advance.  

<if there is to be any progress in how humans treat each other, it
will be the result of intelligently designed social systems that
protect the weak and less powerful.>

I agree.  But the fact that people are capable of creating &
sustaining such systems illustrates that our civilization is indeed
evolving.  Eventually, as individual consciousness grows, we may not
need such systems, but for now I think they're like training wheels for
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #73 of 146: John Zuill (klauposius) Tue 18 Nov 03 11:37
On the issue of human nature I agree with "I'm on the Chet Atkins
Diet. Pass the BBQ, please. (rik) "   We don't go forward to a more
humane (sic) society unless

a) we are lucky
b) We are vigilant

It is not a natural progression.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #74 of 146: David Kline (dkline) Tue 18 Nov 03 12:36
Well, we have been vigilant. And smart (overall). We no longer practice
human sacrifice, serfdom or slavery (generally speaking). Public health
for the masses has greatly extended life expectancies. And already in
about 1/3 of the globe, we have embarked on the liberation of the
spiritual, intellectual, and productive potential of half our population
-- women -- which was something wholly inconceivable barely 100 years ago.
Something more than half the world is also now literate -- again,
something that would have been considered impossible a century or two ago.

Rape and pillage are no longer considered worthy avocations, although
these are still sometimes practiced. Genocide is now outlawed, if
imperfectly prevented. Even the practice of war has been constrained by
moral codes and by universally-accepted international laws.

Here at home, slavery no longer exists nor does the Jim Crow segregation
which prevailedat the time I was born. If you think that just because
racism still exists that therefore the abolition of widespread lynching
and Jim Crow and the subsequent enforcement of Black voting rights was no
big thing, I urge you to talk to African-Americans over the age of 50.
Women, children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, and racial and
sexual minorities also now enjoy legal and moral protections that were --
quite literally -- unthinkable even fifty years ago.

Anyone who thinks human society isn't progressing should also talk to
their grandparents or great-grandparents about what life was like in their
youth. Just thinking about my grandfather (whose entire family was locked
in a barn and burned to death during a Ukrainian pogram in 1921) and my
grandmother (whose husband and all but one of her children were shot in
that same pogram) -- they both escaped to the U.S., where they married and
started a new (albeit shell-shocked) family -- makes me realize that my
life is really rather sweet by comparison.
inkwell.vue.200 : The Wrong War?
permalink #75 of 146: David Kline (dkline) Tue 18 Nov 03 12:41
Jeez, talk about drift!


Members: Enter the conference to participate. All posts made in this conference are world-readable.

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

   Join Us
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook