Monday, August 07, 2006

Bush Opposes "Nation Building"? Apparently So.

During a debate with then-Vice President Al Gore on Oct. 11, 2000, in Winston-Salem, N.C., Bush said: "I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation-building. . . .”

It seems like “regime change” might fall under the category of “nation building”. On the other hand, the approach that the administration has taken does reveal that they didn’t expect to have to “build” much of anything. We were told that Iraq could fund its own reconstruction, that we would be welcomed as liberators and that the democracy that flourished in Iraq would begin the transformation of the entire Middle East into a peaceful and stable region.

We have found that this was inflated rhetoric based on arrogant assumptions and manipulative communication. Now we have an Iraq in the chaos of sectarian violence and increasingly resentful of our occupying presence.

Hasn’t our misguided, self-delusional “nation building” actually become “nation wasting”?


Anonymous ShawnM said...

August 11th...the sign has been removed...has someone become afraid again and stolen it?

12:52 PM  
Blogger mike said...

We should all be afraid. Not of sineman. Not of his signs. How about a Europe dominated by Islamic Fascists? Don't give me mumbo jumbo about 'talking points' and 'what does that mean'. Think for yourself. What is it like to live in Iran? What was it like to live in Afghanistan under the Taliban? How does that compare to what life was like Nazi Germany?

Think for yourself. Be honest. What do "Islamified" countries look like? Make lists. Compare points.

There's no doubt that aspects of the Iraqi recovery have been badly mishandled. We (liberal democracies) must remain engaged and resist further infiltration and the subversion of legitimate political processes in that region. Cutting and running would be a terrible mistake. A sign of weakness. An admission of a lack of resolve. It would only serve to embolden those criminals who seek our (liberal democracies) destruction.

If you have other ideas, let's hear them. Enough deconstruction you say? Where are your ideas? run and hide is not an idea. History proves it. Let's hear an idea and skip the vitriol.

12:06 PM  
Blogger mike said...

To further my point, and to illustrate, with utter clarity, what type of world islamic fascists would have us live in, please look at this:

remember, these are the same people inciting violence in Lebanon today and harboring the terrorists of tomorrow.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jesus mike, how old are you? it scares me that you are likely an adult but have such an incredible sense of selective perception.

What is it like to live in Iran? Well, it was roughly finding its way towards democracy when good ol Operation Ajax was started and the US put that ruthless dictator in power because of our oil interests.

What was it like to live in Afghanistan under the Taliban? An excellent was terrible...brutal and unforgiving, with religious persecution, beatings and rapes everywhere, hell on earth for so many innocent people. So why the hell were we supporting the Taliban during this time? Why did we give them $43 million in 2001 for what everyone knew was a completely bs attempt at ending the opium trade there? We couldn't care less about their atrocities at the time? Nor do we now.

The Taliban is once again strong in Afghanistan, and the drug trade, a major source of terrorism funding, is bigger than ever. But you don't hear a word about Afghanistan anymore. Too painful for this government to remember they lost Bin Laden there perhaps.

At what point do we accept that meddling in the affairs of other countries based on priorities of power and profit will only make us less safe in the long run. This administration, and all those before it, have played political games with the lives of Americans and everyone else throughout the world. Cut and Run...sign of weakness. Those ARE talking points. They are jokes at this point in history...pathetic taglines fearmongers use to prolong military adventures where other people's children are left to fight and die while the upper one percent basks in the profits.

Eventually we will JUST pull out. Eventually, there WILL be a deadline set that could "embolden the enemy and show our weakness". We all know this...and it is now, as always before, just a game of when these politicians have made enough money and when their time in office comes to an end.

Don't you dare try to use selective facts about US interventionism to try to paint us as some benevolent crusader fighting against the evils of the world with just a couple of mistseps along the way. To the overwhelming majority of the world, we are that main evil. So what, are they just all stupid? Do they just not know history or understand our intentions? Or is it Americans...that's right us...the group that knows more Simpsons characters than amendments, the group that continues to know less and less about actual history as time goes by, the country with citizens unbelievably ignorant of world affairs and shielded from real news by biased cookie cutter news outlets that paint the world they want the public to see. Is it possible this ignornat spolied sheltered group is the one that doesnt understand?

5:18 PM  
Blogger mike said...


I'm old enough to not feel the need to personally attack other people because of their opinions.

You deflected my question about living in Iran quite well. In fact, you've deflect all of it. Turning it around, blaming the entirety of the world's problems on us.

No doubt we give aid to most countries in the world. Many we probably shouldn't. Only when things threaten our interests do we focus our attention and question what we're doing. Pakistan is an excellent example of that.

You seem to be advocating isolationism. An approach to policy that was thrown out the window early in the twentieth century. For good reason. Afterall, it killed millions.

If this is all a political game, why haven't we pulled out already? The elections are mere months away. Shouldn't we have pulled out months ago and declared victory? Afterall, it's clear the right is going to suffer at the polls. Good thing we're a democracy eh??

Selective facts?? You should read my blog my friend ( You would see that, in fact, I am far from shielded from "real news" by biased cookie cutter news outlets. Nor am I morally crippled by liberal guilt.

As evil as you think our country is, we don't seek to kill innocent people on a daily basis as they travel to and from work. First of all, if we did, it would have been done a long time ago. Second of all, our form of government (democracy) would not stand for it. read: our people would not stand for it.

I say it again, let's hear an idea. I still haven't. I plan to write about some...why don't you? Write something constructive. Don't attack me. Don't blame everything on our goverment. That's pretty simplicstic as well you know.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is only so much time one has on this planet my friend. so i ask you, where should i focus my anger and energy. sure, every one of these issues involves complex arrangements of people, politics, businesses, and governments. to try to take it all on at the same time would be futile and overwhelming. i chose to spend my time and energy on the actions of my own country, which, as a citizen, i am in part, however, small, responsible for, whether by action or inaction. my life and time will be best spent and i will be most effective analyzing and trying to influence the country from which i have the most information and most hope of making a difference in. that would be the US, which, when one does analyze, turns out to be the country that plays a major role in many of the atrocities that occur in the world. that is why i focus on the US. i can do blame this country for those mistakes it has made. that does not mean i do not love this country, or that i could not go off on a similarly passionate tirade about how amazing this place is for all the things it stands for and gives to its people.

as for this paragraph:
" As evil as you think our country is, we don't seek to kill innocent people on a daily basis as they travel to and from work. First of all, if we did, it would have been done a long time ago. Second of all, our form of government (democracy) would not stand for it. read: our people would not stand for it."

im sorry but that just is factually wrong. we have in the past and continue to slaughter innocent people. we have in every war. sometimes we label them collateral damage. sometimes we justify it by claims that the greater good was served by the one or two terrorists/insurgents that were also taken out by the ombs or bullets. but lets be real here. we absolutely kill plenty of people going to and from work, sleeping in their beds, holding their children, etc.

as for being a democracy that wouldnt stand for it, i dont know what youve been seeing but every survey done shows that americans are amazingly shielded from reality...the reality of their country and its governments history, as well as millions of people who simply do not understand anything about international affairs...or believe factually incorrect information about current affairs. in a real democracy, many more poeple would vote, many more people would understand the policies and history of their government...and i agree, many more people would not stand for what our government has and continues to do.

11:02 AM  
Blogger mike said...

I still say we do not seek to kill innocent civilians. Plainly, it is not in our interests. It can not be rationalized.

And again, I'm not reading any ideas in your comments. Only criticism. Criticism can be valid and has its place but, it only gets you so far.

here's an idea:

It's based on some assumptions. Which may or may not be true. One such assumption is that the violence in Iraq in indeed sectarian in nature and not the work of outside influence. That'll have to be another post.

Now, I want to read YOUR idea too. Let's have it.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well let's see. we could start by acknowledging that our actions in Iraq are some of the clearest examples of war crimes in our nations history. this includes, but is not limited to, the overall invasion of a country that posed no threat based on manipulated evidence, government approved torture, which at nuremburg we were bold enough to state that it is not the few bad apples but the leaders who must always be held accountable, specifically the attack on Fallujah....and many more...all of these are war crimes. more importantly, whether or not any type of trial will ever be held on this issue, which we would never let happen, the rest of the world sees our actions as war crimes. they actually care about the laws, and do not find things like the Geneva COnventions "quaint", to quote our current administration.

if we are to regain any credibility whatsoever, if you are looking for some idea of how to get things moving in the right direction, nothing can be taken seriously until the rest of the world, who we MUST work with to ensure our safety, sees that we will no longer be a hypocritical superpower that boasts about our great nation of laws and democracy while we ignore both our own laws and international laws. the idea that we can move past this absolute disaster, that people will simply forget the horrors of these mistakes without us holding anyone accountable, is simply unrealistic. many analysts have already stated that our actions have dramatically increased current terrorist actions, as well as the ability of fundamentalist groups to recruit more terrorists. this will be impossible to counteract if we do not take drastic actions to show our dedication to addressing our recent mistakes. by the way, this would also include halting the creation of permanent military bases in Iraq and throughout the middle east.

once this is done, if we are to continue down this path of honesty, we will need to provide an incredible amount of reparations to Iraq, and lead a global effort of rebuilding. however, if you check the ny times today you will see that in July alone, over 3400 civilians were killed in Iraq. for comparison, this is more than the total americans lost in 9-11, the main trigger of this recent "war on terror".for some reason we do not consider the deaths of 3400 Iraqi's IN ONE MONTH as atrocious as 3000 americans.

and so the fighting must stop before the rebuilding begins. this would require us to rebuild those relationships with the countries we destroyed relationships with because they would not blindly follow us into this highly illegal war. an example of this would be those countries that Rumsfeld and the rest of the wack pack defined as Old Europe, also known as those countries who actually followed the will of their people and stayed out of this mess. "Old Europe" was said over and over again as an inslult by the neocons...well...three years later it looks like with age comes wisdom!

we would need these countries to supply assistance in working with the iraqis to find a way out of this mess..and this is where it gets really complicated. contrary to what Bush and many presidents before him believed, you cannot export and force democracy just anywhere, especially with a gun. as many of the war protesters said when they marched against this war, you cannot have a country that's had larger groups persecuted and tortured for so long by a minority group, and then just step in and turn it into a democracy? what was to be expected except the retaliation and retribution that has plagued iraq ever since, with the shia and sunnis in a civil war.

i could try to lay out some clear cut plan, but i hope you will not chastise me for admitting that there is no simple answer since the previously stated response of honesty and reparations on behalf of an invading country has never occured before in history. neither has an honest attempt to address the serious political issues that arise from the forced democratization of a country that is simply not ready for it.

what i do know is that our govt's mistakes must be addressed as much as possible, since they are so horriffic we will need all the help we can get to convince the world we are not all monsters here. and contrary to all the cut and run nonsense, we will need to get many of the troops home as soon as possible, as their presence is causing more harm than good...for iraqis and americans.

i have many friends in iraq. one who is a First Lieutenant just dropped by ithaca for a bit. he told us many stories of his and other platoons. stories of an army so demoralized they are losing their minds, of troops so incredibly bored because a lot of work is outsourced to private contractors. so while many of our soldiers are still fighting and going on dangerous missions, thousands more are going crazy looking for things to do, hence they had to start up a basketball league and other sports around saddams palaces. we heard about troops going out on meaningless missions and losing their lives and limbs, with no idea why the had to be out there. we heard about the countless times they tear apart villages, and theyll bust into peoples homes to capture a man they are told to capture, with no reason given why. theyll break in his door, scare the hell out of his wife and kids, and then, since this is policy, leave the traumatized child with a bottle of gatorade and a pack of skittles. there are plenty more stories of atrocious casualities, of soldiers losing their minds, of iraqi children forced to sweep up body parts. THAT is the reality on the ground. if you can find a way to argue that this should continue, by all means, let me hear your ideas. as for me....troops homes, trials for war crimes and reparations. massive international effort to restabilize iraq politically. and no more wars based on lies and manipulations. that to me would be a good start.

8:33 PM  
Blogger mike said...

I'm glad you took the time to write what you did. I share belief in much of what you claim as fact. Honestly.

It's true that the Geneva Conventions are important. I wrote about them here: and studied the trials in post-war Germany (beyond Nuremberg), and Japan more heavily than most. Even some in South America and later in Europe involving Milosevic. If a legal case can be established against American Soldiers (as I believe you are indicating) then by all means, prosecute them. I personally believe that in the majority of cases there is no legal basis for prosecution.

It's true that over 3000 innocent Iraqi's died in July. In truth, probably more. Did U.S. Troops kill them?

There are many other people that should be subject to trial. Many of them Iraqi, probably Iranian, maybe Syrian, who knows. You'll see, I also wrote about the purpose of such trials as well at the same time I wrote about the Geneva Convention. It was in connection to Israel/Lebanon but, could easily be applied to Iraq.

Simply blaming our actions and our policy is a short-cut. It side steps the larger issue which you rightly identify as very difficult indeed. Fixing it.

There are precedents in history. I wrote about how I thought it might be used today.

By no means do I suggest we simply "press on" and "hope for the best". That's foolish. It's clear the government failed in it's post-war planning. I'm saddened that they've been so inflexible.

Like I said, I'm glad you wrote what you did. I have a different view of a few of them but, I'd be willing to let them play out (trials for example). As far as reparations go. We can say we're sorry. I guess e can give them a bunch of money and let them waste it. Or, we can help them rebuild things. I think we should help them rebuild things.

If people could get past the language of politics, get past the preconceptions of right and left (fostered lovingly by media), in favor of, right, wrong, and common sense, maybe more could get accomplished.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a few things...

first, i actually do not want the soldiers on trial. i believe in the chain of command, in the influence and accountability of the policy makers, the men who officially declared that things like the Geneva Conventions are quaint, and that torture on captured citizens and insurgents is allowed (strange that this was approved by a large group of men who mostly have never been involved in combat and had the risk of being captured themselves).

i am a researcher of organizational cultures, and whether it is governments, military organizations, or corproations, it is clear as day to prove how the actions of those at the top can set the norms and values of all those below them. Enron is one of the best examples of this. the actions, or actually the inaction of Ken Lay and other executives, back in the 80's when a few employees were caught in a scam and Lay let them off the hook since they were making so much money, permeated the culture and sent the message of what the focus of emplyees should be. simple example, but gets my point across. as corny as it sounds, i do firmly believe that with power, comes resposnibility, and with that responsibility comes accountability.

as for the 3000 iraqis killed from the fighting, i personally find it inappropriate to even divide them into how many were killed by our troops and those directly by insurgents. first, everyone knows these counts are extremely low. the infrastructure we've destroyed, and by that i mean our troops no one else, water, power, etc., has made that place worse off than it was before, no matter how bad it was under Saddam. diseases are more difficult to handle, child malnutrition has jumped, and as my previously mentioned friend who returned from iraq mentioned, almost as if it should be common sense, there is no effort to get any legitimate count of the people that are killed. anyone that sees the fallout from the bombing we do knows that this would be a gruesome and almost impossible task.

any attempts to work around these obstacles and get a legitimate count of civilian casualities (i.e. through surveys of neighborhoods and other methods) have been cast aside by our government. they have usually yielded results far higher than the 30,000 our govt has admitted to. the specific one im thinking of estimated around 100,000, and that was 2 years ago. the Bush admin. threw that study aside saying its methods were not trustworthy, even though in the past theyve used studies which had the exact same methods in order to bolster their case for public policies.

it seems we may have similar views on some aspects of this war and government, but perhaps different priorities. my most severe anger, and therefore the focus of my efforts, is in getting the american public to have the complete truth before making a decision. putting aside the whole debate of what is truh and that garbage, what i specifically mean is that people need to have as many facts as possible before forming their opinions. all research done on our fellow citizens shows they are incredibly ignorant of many important issues, both foreign and domestic. i bring thse up often becuase i believe they connected. now, this may not refer to you, and there plenty of educated people out there, but again, when i read things like the majority of americans can barely name 3 of their first amendment rights (i.e. they don't know fundamental facts about their own country and rights), and then i read and hear about these top US military leaders during vietnam who now say, boy, we really didnt know what the hell we were doing, we jumped in their not knowing a damn thing about that country, its people, and its history....well, isee these things a connected. just as we now are hearing reports that at Bush, at an early meetings, kind of shocked some people from iraq when he didnt seem to know that there were sunni and shia muslims. just like another friend who lives right here in ithaca now who said during his army training a few years back, they told him and many others who asked to study languages/cultures to be more prepared for when they invaded so they could communicate, but were flat out told no. they did not want the troops to further humanize the people theyd be dealing with lest it be more difficult to kill them. only a select few already trained would accompany them as translators. how pervasive this is i do not know, but it happened, and it shocked the hell out of him.

so, perhaps that is truly step 1, at least in my book. i agree that if we are a democracy, it should all begin with the people. and that means that if the majority of the american people are to guide their government, if they are to carefully, intellgently provide input into how the cultural challenges of iraq will best be met with our need to protect our own safety and that of our troops, all while leaving some sort of democracy behind, first might be good if the majority of american people could find Iraq on a map.

step 2, which I believe would occur if Americans were well informed, would be the removal of most of the current administration, or at the very least a major shakeup in most major military posts. i love Einstein's quote “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
similarly, military disasters cannot be solved by the same group of men who, if we are being generous, were misguided by false evidence, showed no understanding of the country and or the inevitable fallout predicted by many military and civilian leaders who were ignored, and now continue to make one mistake after another. these same people cannot solve this problem. the sad thing is, they never really seemed to want to. Bush has already said this is a problem for the next president, and that scares the hell out of me. again, zero accountability.

if there is one thing im certain of, the only way to save the credibility of our country as a whole is if the democrats regain some power in the midterm elections, and Bush gets impeached for one of the 20 impeachable crimes he has performed thus far. it is almost a direct quote from every international friend i have that if we are unable to hold Bush accountable for his crimes, yet we appeared obsessed and sought impeachment for Clinton lying about his blowjob, we will continue to be seen as a joke of a nation, regardless of how much power we might yield.

4:57 AM  
Blogger mike said...

"if there is one thing im certain of, the only way to save the credibility of our country as a whole is if the democrats regain some power in the midterm elections, and Bush gets impeached for one of the 20 impeachable crimes he has performed thus far."

Speaking of credibility. This kind of language destroys what might otherwise be a perfectly credible argument.

"it is almost a direct quote from every international friend i have..."

umm, most of those international friends have a set of problems all their own. do they recognize them? do the french? the germans? the british? the dutch? the swedes? Do they see the seething muslim populations in their urban centers? Their faltering economies? Dwindling incomes? How will they support their welfare states under those circumstances? How will that seething population respond to loosing those benefits??? Your shouldn't worry so much about what they think. Instead, worry about how we can work with your friends to integrate that muslim culture into theirs.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im sorry, im kind of confused by your recent comments. while my comment on regaining credibility may take the extreme view of accountability going so far as impeachment, i do not think that is much of a stretch. for the first four years of the disasterous Bush administration, many studies showed that international opinion of America clearly divided the American government from the American people. i.e. there was a great deal of distaste, fear, and hatred of US government, but views towards the American public were much more favorable.

this shifted drastically after the '04 election, when many people wondered how the public could be so blind to how terrible this Administration is. after that, the distaste and anger towards the American people began to mimic that of the anger towards our government. since things have gotten exponentially worse since the 04 elections, and much of the world is hoping a stronger Democratic role in govt would lead to accountability, if this does not happen at all, it is not a stretch to say the views towards the American public could take another major hit which it would be very difficult, though obviously not impossible, to recover from.

as for your next comment about what my friends priorities should be, i must say im particularly surprised by this, as it has little to do with my point. they have their own problems, and they are very aware of them and are struggling with them quite a bit. but that has nothing to do with their very legitimate argument that our country has lost the moral high ground on almost every issue, from the claims of our great free open society, to our perfect democracy worthy of being exported by guns and bombs, hell, even our claim of a free market system gets crushed pretty easily...but that's a separate discussion.

the point is, regardless of whatever issues they are dealing with and however more direct ways they may help us fight the battle for peace, their views towards our country absolutely matter a great deal. our opinions and our efforts are all related and can affect eachother. and more importantly, they are absolutely right about the specific comment about Clinton. our government and media turned into a circus for years with endless Clinton bullshit, from whitewater to lewinsky. my international friends, many of whom were here for some of those years, saw first hand the endless speeches about the importance of honesty and integrity in government, about the US being a land of laws, not of men, and the rest of the endless barage of soap box preaching done by congressmen and senators during that time. now they see one illegal action after another at the cost of lives and a fortune in our country's future, and they saw a president who technically received less votes in his first election turn the country upside down with lies and bullshit, and physically destroy a couple other countries, and then he gets elected AGAIN, and many of the people couldnt seem to care less....hence the growing international animosity towards the public. so yes, I believe they have an excellent point about what we the people let happen in our country and what we allow our government to get away with. they have a right to be very upset with us.

4:45 PM  
Blogger mike said...

I was critical of your language (not your meaning, as ever, I get your meaning) as it related to your credibility...not in defense of any of Pres. Bush's actions. But, because of the implication that the democrats will somehow make it all OK. Or, impeaching Bush will somehow make it all OK. *I think* the phrase you used merely reveals an agenda...opposed to criticizing a policy, proposing an alternative, etc, etc.

That might make me think, well, he just wants HIS crony if office instead of somebody elses.

My point regarding Europe's problem...really builds on some things I've already said. If we could get past the language of politics, the pre-conceptions of right and left, the idea that anybody with a conservative-minded opinion is somehow stupid, and recognize that Europe is essentially a canary in the coal mine, we might get somewhere. If we (Europe & the US)...with all our academics, cultural experts, and politicians, could identify our common problems we might be able to prevent thoudands of deaths and distinctly Orwellian future.

I admit I did a bad job of voicing that. I did a bit of what I'm busting on you about (the language of politics).

6:15 PM  
Blogger mike said...

no post regarding your current sign?

10:05 AM  

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