Saturday, April 07, 2007

Stop Genocide in Rwanda and Sudan, but not Iraq

Intervention in Rwanda. Yes. Intervention in Sudan. Yes.

Intervention in Iraq. No. We must pull out now.

On March 25th, 1998, former President Bill Clinton told Rwandans that "the international community had failed to act to prevent the country's genocide in 1994." He continued:

"All over the world there were people like me sitting in offices who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror," Clinton told the audience of several hundred assembled, including many survivors of the genocide.

"Genocide can occur anywhere. It is not an African phenomenon. We must have global vigilance. And never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence," Clinton said.

Samantha Power wrote in Bystanders to Genocide: a series in The New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch recounted in horrific detail the story of the genocide and the world's failure to stop it. President Bill Clinton, a famously avid reader, expressed shock. He sent copies of Gourevitch's articles to his second-term national-security adviser, Sandy Berger. The articles bore confused, angry, searching queries in the margins. "Is what he's saying true?" Clinton wrote with a thick black felt-tip pen beside heavily underlined paragraphs. "How did this happen?" he asked, adding, "I want to get to the bottom of this." The President's urgency and outrage were oddly timed. As the terror in Rwanda had unfolded, Clinton had shown virtually no interest in stopping the genocide, and his Administration had stood by as the death toll rose into the hundreds of thousands.

It gets worse. Power continues:

In reality the United States did much more than fail to send troops. It led a successful effort to remove most of the UN peacekeepers who were already in Rwanda. It aggressively worked to block the subsequent authorization of UN reinforcements. It refused to use its technology to jam radio broadcasts that were a crucial instrument in the coordination and perpetuation of the genocide. And even as, on average, 8,000 Rwandans were being butchered each day, U.S. officials shunned the term "genocide," for fear of being obliged to act. The United States in fact did virtually nothing "to try to limit what occurred." Indeed, staying out of Rwanda was an explicit U.S. policy objective.

Does this sound familiar? Troop pullouts? Cutting funds? Wait, there are more parallels:

The signs of militarization in Rwanda were so widespread that even without much of an intelligence-gathering capacity, Dallaire was able to learn of the extremists' sinister intentions. In January of 1994 an anonymous Hutu informant, said to be high up in the inner circles of the Rwandan government, had come forward to describe the rapid arming and training of local militias.

Rapid arming and training of local militias? The name Moqtada al Sadr comes to mind. Power continues, invoking the U.S. retreat from Somalia after the death of eighteen Americans:

On receiving word of these events, President Clinton cut short a trip to California and convened an urgent crisis-management meeting at the White House. When an aide began recapping the situation, an angry President interrupted him. "Cut the bullshit," Clinton snapped. "Let's work this out." "Work it out" meant walk out. Republican Congressional pressure was intense. Clinton appeared on American television the next day, called off the manhunt for Aideed, temporarily reinforced the troop presence, and announced that all U.S. forces would be home within six months. The Pentagon leadership concluded that peacekeeping in Africa meant trouble and that neither the White House nor Congress would stand by it when the chips were down.

Power goes on to outline the series of American efforts to evacuate and avoid the conflict through ignorance, willful dismissal, or carelessness in the ensuing weeks and months. Upon the evacuation of U.S. personnel from Rwanda, Bill Clinton had this response:

In the three days during which some 4,000 foreigners were evacuated, about 20,000 Rwandans were killed. After the American evacuees were safely out and the U.S. embassy had been closed, Bill and Hillary Clinton visited the people who had manned the emergency-operations room at the State Department and offered congratulations on a "job well done."

As for when the U.S. knew there was genocide:

both the testimony of U.S. officials who worked the issue day to day and the declassified documents indicate that plenty was known about the killers' intentions.

From April 8 onward media coverage featured eyewitness accounts describing the widespread targeting of Tutsi and the corpses piling up on Kigali's streets. American reporters relayed stories of missionaries and embassy officials who had been unable to save their Rwandan friends and neighbors from death.

The UN General on the ground, Romeo Dallaire, begged for more troops:

When the killing began, Romeo Dallaire expected and appealed for reinforcements. Within hours of the plane crash he had cabled UN headquarters in New York: "Give me the means and I can do more."

Despite the small numbers, some UN peacekeepers exemplified incredible courage:

Although some soldiers hunkered down, terrified, others scoured Kigali, rescuing Tutsi, and later established defensive positions in the city, opening their doors to the fortunate Tutsi who made it through roadblocks to reach them. One Senegalese captain saved a hundred or so lives single-handedly. Some 25,000 Rwandans eventually assembled at positions manned by UNAMIR personnel.

However, at UN headquarters, nothing but cowardice:

By coincidence Rwanda held one of the rotating seats on the Security Council at the time of the genocide. Neither the United States nor any other UN member state ever suggested that the representative of the genocidal government be expelled from the council. Nor did any Security Council country offer to provide safe haven to Rwandan refugees who escaped the carnage.

Rwanda was a Civil War. Is not Iraq?

Whatever the inevitable imperfections of U.S. intelligence early on, the reports from Rwanda were severe enough to distinguish Hutu killers from ordinary combatants in civil war.

France to the rescue. France!

It is not hard to conceive of how the United States might have done things differently. Ahead of the plane crash, as violence escalated, it could have agreed to Belgian pleas for UN reinforcements. Once the killing of thousands of Rwandans a day had begun, the President could have deployed U.S. troops to Rwanda. The United States could have joined Dallaire's beleaguered UNAMIR forces or, if it feared associating with shoddy UN peacekeeping, it could have intervened unilaterally with the Security Council's backing, as France eventually did in late June. The United States could also have acted without the UN's blessing, as it did five years later in Kosovo.

For his part, Bush has said:

"I don't like genocide," Bush said in January of 2000. "But I would not commit our troops."
In comparison to Bill Clinton's post-Rwanda contrition, Barack Obama has spoken out on Sudan. In the Los Angeles Times, Niall Ferguson wrote this past February of "Obama's muddled stance on foreign intervention. On one hand, he wants troops out of Iraq by next year. On the other, he believes the U.S. should ensure the world's security."

Ferguson continued to lay out an excellent case for Obama's Hypocrisy:

Take a look at Obama's arguments for a speedy U.S. withdrawal. Last month, he asserted that "redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to achieve … political settlement between its warring factions." The key is "to give Iraqis their country back" because "no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war."

But Obama's claim that a U.S. withdrawal would somehow "pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace" is a fraud. Withdrawal is much more likely to lead to an escalation of the internecine conflict that is tearing Iraq apart. In a devastating 2006 paper for the Brookings Institution, Daniel L. Byman and Kenneth M. Pollack pointed out that "the only thing standing between Iraq and a descent into a Lebanon- or Bosnia-like maelstrom is 135,000 American troops."

In fact, Iraq has already matched the level of violence witnessed in the Lebanese and Bosnian civil wars. And it could get much worse. If the U.S. pulls out, as Obama recommends, Byman and Pollack predict "a humanitarian nightmare" in which we should expect "hundreds of thousands (conceivably even millions) of people to die."

Obama's call for rapid withdrawal from Iraq would make some sense if he were an isolationist. But he's not. His memoir-cum-manifesto, "The Audacity of Hope," insists that, out of both self-interest and altruism, the U.S. has no alternative but to "help make the world more secure." Looking back on the Rwandan genocide, he reflects that "an international show of force … might have stopped the slaughter."

Obama also has accused the Bush administration of doing too little to stop the murderous policies of the Sudanese government toward the people of Darfur. In an article in December 2005, he went so far as to urge the deployment of "a U.N.- or NATO-led force."

Wait a second. Here are two civil wars, each likely to spiral out of control. But in one (Sudan), Obama recommends intervention, while in the other (Iraq), he recommends military withdrawal. Am I missing something?

Hollywood & Obama on Darfur: Clooney, senators urge action on Darfur

The three urged more attention across the board -- by the United States, other nations and world institutions.

"What we cannot do is turn our heads and look away and hope that this will somehow disappear," Clooney said.
Are tens of thousands not dead in Iraq at the hands of vile Islamic extremists?

The crisis in western Sudan's Darfur region has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of nearly 2 million people since February 2003, when people there began to rebel against state authority.

Amidst this backdrop - A history of world negligience in Rwanda and Sudan, that many American politicians and activists strive for the U.S. pullout of Iraq. To this, Christoper Hitchens responds: Rushing for the Exit

To say that "exit strategies" from Iraq have become the flavor of the month would be to exaggerate the situation to the point of absurdity. Exit strategies are not even the fall fashion. They are the regnant topic of conversation all across the political establishment and have been for some time.

By "some time," one need not ponder for very long what Hitchens implies. As stated, Rwanda and Sudan are clear examples of the consequences of inaction by countries that have the power to act. Hitchens then outlines the numerous Iraqi victories and successes:
I am glad that all previous demands for withdrawal or disengagement from Iraq were unheeded, because otherwise we would not be able to celebrate the arrest and trial of Saddam Hussein; the removal from the planet of his two sadistic kids and putative successors; the certified disarmament of a former WMD- and gangster-sponsoring rogue state; the recuperation of the marshes and their ecology and society; the introduction of a convertible currency; the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan (currently advertising for investors and tourists on American television); the killing of al-Qaida's most dangerous and wicked leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and many of his associates; the opening of dozens of newspapers and radio and TV stations; the holding of elections for an assembly and to approve a constitution; and the introduction of the idea of federal democracy as the only solution for Iraq short of outright partition and/or civil war. If this cause is now to be considered defeated, by the sheer staggering persistence in murder and sabotage of the clerico-fascist forces and the sectarian militias, then it will always count as a noble one.

Thousand of Iraqis have perished since the start of the Iraq war. The estimates range from 60,000 to the outlandish 300,000+ of many now discredited studies. On the face of it, the Sunni/Shi'ite Civil War and al Qaeda insurgency taking place in Iraq may not necessarily constitute genocide to some, although as Samantha Power noted, there is a fine line between diplomatic casuistry and the realities on the ground, which mere labels cannot transcend.

If we should have acted in Rwanda, as former President Bill Clinton has regrettably stated, then why not Iraq?

If we should now act in Sudan, as Senator Obama, George Clooney, and countless others have fervently demanded, then why not Iraq?

There can be only one answer to that question in my mind: Spite and Politics. Spite for the Bush administration's bold (and despised, ridiculed, criticized) lead into war, and Politics for the Democratic opportunists now pandering to their base on the backs of now and future dead Iraqi civilians.

If the U.S. were to withdraw from Iraq, would not genocide ensue, if that is not what is taking place already? Does any logical, reasonable person honestly believe that Iraq's problems will disappear along with American troops?

That is fallacious reasoning at best. That is politics. That is spite.

And that is what is going on right now.


Bernie O'Hare said...

Well said. I call it the politics of Pontius Pilate.

dm said...

RWANDA WAS NOT A CIVIL WAR! While I can see your point, I beg you to do some further research on this issue. Rwanda -as well as Darfur, to a slightly lesser extent, if one uses the legal definition of genocide- exist as examples of an entirely singular type of human crime. While Rwanda has suffered through civil war in the past, the genocide was an entirely different situation. In the genocide one ethnic group was almost wiped off the face of the earth through an organised, planned system of killing. The man recognised to be the instigator and leader of the slaughter used Mein Kampf as his guide. The radio was used to spout hate language calling for a complete extermination of all Tutsis. The killers had lists of Tutsi names, Tutsi addresses, Tutsi villages, and used these to make sure they had "wiped out" and "cleaned" each area they went through. The violence was so extreme that it was the most "efficient" mass killing since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 1,000,000 people were hacked to death with farm implements in approximately 10 weeks. Millions more were raped, tortured, or wounded with machetes. Children were beheaded. Pregnant women were sliced open and babies thrown against trees. Girls as young as 5 were tied to beds and gang raped for weeks without end. The killing was so intense that the rivers clogged with bodies. In many cases it would take the killers days to finish hacking to death all the civilians trapped inside a school or church. Stacks of corpses outside the hospital in Kigali reached over six feet high. People sold the severed heads of Tutsis in the market for 30 cents a piece. Rwanda lost the equivalent of the World Trade Center attacks EVERY DAY FOR THREE MONTHS. This violence had one purpose- to remove an ethnic group from the face of the earth.

As for Sudan, it is arguably genocide as well. There has been a civil war in Sudan for over three decades, but the current situation in Darfur specifically has turned into a slow-motion Rwanda. It is less organised and better concealed, but the signs are there. Only Black Darfurian civilians are targeted- a particular sub-set of tribal groups from the southern regions. Raping, village burning, looting, and murder are perpetrated in an organised, planned manner to ensure a maximum number of casualties. Women and children are regularly targeted. And the government is complicit. Recently it was discovered that Khartoum is painting military helicopters and planes with the UN logo so that the Janjaweed can confuse civilians and attack villages more easily. Still we do nothing. If you question the legal argument toward proving genocide in Sudan, see this:
There is also a very good paper on the history of conflict in Sudan and the legal proof of genocide in Darfur in the Journal of Genocide Research (Vol 8, Issue 1, pages 51-82, by Mika Vehnamaki, entitled Darfur Scorched: looming genocide in Western Sudan). This paper also illuminates the various classifications used to describe genocide, politicide, ethnic cleansing, and mass murder. Such descriptions should show that Rwanda and Sudan are very different from Iraq.

The government in Iraq has not and likely will not suddenly act on a secret plan that has been created to annihilate one sector of the Iraqi population. If that were to happen, it would be genocide- and then I would say we should intervene, just as we should have done in Rwanda. However, if there is a rise in sectarian killings in Iraq upon our departure, it cannot be called genocide. Looking at the situation carefully, it could be argued that such killing is first degree mass murder, potentially ethnic cleansing. Should such killing escalate upon our departure, it would be tragic and we should do everything we can to ensure that this does not happen- I am destroyed by the fact that innocent civilians ANYWHERE are suffering. But the crime of genocide is SO specific and so egregious that it simply must be recognised as a singular category. Iraq does not, and likely will not, fit into that category. This should not justify ignorance of the tragedy. But the distinction must be made.

While I can understand your concern about genocide possibly occurring or potentially occurring in Iraq, our actions in Iraq thus far and/or in the future cannot possibly be compared to our inaction in Rwanda. The US is in Iraq now. It may be there for some time. Hopefully we will attempt to prevent any further escalation of mass atrocities. However, in contrast, the US never went anywhere near Rwanda. We simply didn't give two craps about the fact that the gutters in Kigali were literally running red from the blood. We didn't set foot in Rwanda until after the genocide had ended. In fact, Rwanda had to end their own genocide without any real help from the West. Rwanda had to stop the killing on their own. In contrast, US troops have been in Iraq for four years attempting to bring peace and stability to the country. While 8000 troops would have likely been enough to quell the killing in Rwanda, we have over 130,000 troops in Iraq and seem unable to get things under control. This is because it is not an organised, planned, state-sponsored genocide purposed to wipe out the entirety of one particular civilian group in Iraq- it is a civil war and a religious war, complicated by terrorism, foreign fighters, and an intense hatred of American intervention, that has been escalated by hideous acts of revenge and rising religious hatred. By contrast, the genocide in Rwanda was planned and executed by the Rwandan "government" in a systematic, intentional manner, and was implemented with the singular goal of wiping out all Tutsi human beings in existence. The two could not be less similar.

I hope you will also note that in Samantha Power's book, she has an entire chapter on the genocide of the Kurds perpetrated by Saddam Hussein. So this discussion is not just about Africa. It is also about the Middle East, and anywhere else that the very particular horror of genocide has or might occur.

Genocide is not civil war, it is not tribal fighting, it is not random massacres. It is the systematic annihilation of one group of civilians with the complicity or sponsorship of government. That is not occurring in Iraq. Iraqi civilians are targeted, and the reasons for the killings- while somewhat confused- are based in large part on religious divisions. If anything this is the start of ethnic cleansing, but I hesitate to go that far, as it is not appear to be an organised, planned-in-advance set of acts aimed at removing one religious sect from Iraq. It could evolve in that direction, and in that case I would advocate action. But at this point, our presence is not helping stem this violence. Staying there or leaving - neither choice can guarantee safety for civilians.

All life is precious. I pray for the end of violence everywhere each day. But we must make certain that we do not belittle the horror of genocide by comparing it to other types of atrocity or conflict. It stands alone and must be dealt with in a specific manner befitting its egregiousness.

And PS- don't credit the French with anything. They gave shelter to the genocide perpetrators and supplied them with arms and money during the entirety of the genocide. Many of the murderous guilty still live under French protection. The French were only inspired to act months later in an attempt to cover up their own complicity in the earlier annihilation.

Nick Brunetti-Lihach said...


You obviously feel very strongly about this issue. I do not belittle the atrocities in Rwanda or Sudan - on the contrary: I have pointed out the hypocrisy espoused by many politicians and Hollywood types.

However, I think it is interesting that you feel very sure that the government of Iraq will not act on a 'secret plan' of genocide. How much control, exactly, does the government of Iraq exercise?

How much control will be exercised by the departure of US troops?

We can argue whether or not the mass slaughter in Iraq is genocide (are US troops the only thing preventing full-scale slaughter?), but that point is moot.

As you said, we are in Iraq, and as I've said - we have a commitment to up-hold.

We should have acted in Rwanda, and we should be more assertive in Sudan - but that should not detract from our present fight in Iraq.

Again, the point of this post was to highlight the blatant hypocrisy of Iraq war critics - no more, no less.

The documented and factual 'genocide' as you have defined it in the case of Rwanda should not undermine or diminish our present actions in Iraq in any way.

dm said...

Points well taken. And you are correct- I am extremely passionate on this issue.

My main gist was to underline the differences between these situations from a crisis intervention perspective and from the basis of international law as currently on the books, in an effort to illustrate how our actions would have to differ in each case.

On that, one must keep in mind a very fundamental difference:

We had evidence of a coming genocide in Rwanda months before it happened. Yet we never set foot in Rwanda. We never actually did much of anything. And to this day we are not involved in helping to prevent any future violence in that country.

In comparison, we also had evidence of a genocide in Iraq. We got that evidence 20 years ago. Now we have set foot in Iraq, 20 years too late for the Kurds. Sadly, our presence has actually created conditions under which further atrocities are now taking place, in large part due to the fact that no one bothered to plan our efforts there more carefully.

And as of yet, in a major departure from Rwanda, no one has produced any clear evidence that a genocide has been planned, especially not a genocide that might take place upon our departure from Iraq.

Should such evidence be produced, an argument could be made, with some significant tweaking, to equate our withdrawal from Iraq with our reprehensible ignorance of Rwanda.

However, without such evidence, I find it morally reprehensible to say that ignoring the possibility of genocide is the same as ignoring the actuality of genocide.

The ringleaders in Rwanda boasted that they were going to recreate the "apocalypse" months before the killing started, and we remained deaf. Then we sat by and watched as a million people died by machete. As they were hacked to pieces, we received report after report after report after report, ad infinitum, that a genocide was IN PROGRESS, aka HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, aka not something that MIGHT happen. We decided to do nothing, and to, in fact, prevent everyone else from stopping it as well.

In the case of Iraq, we are discussing a potentiality, a possibility, a spectre. We have not received any warnings or evidence of genocidal plans, and we have yet to see the beginnings of a genocide occurring. What is occurring now is awful in every way, but it is not a genocide. It does not in any way fall into the legal definition of what a genocide is.

This is not to say that prevention and prediction are not important. They are essential. Therefore a genocide that "might happen" deserves concern of the most serious degree. However, consideration of a possibility cannot be equated with what was arguably the vilest criminal atrocity to occur on earth in the last 60 years.

However, disregarding these egregious comparisons to Rwanda, let us discuss the violence that is currently occurring in Iraq, as that is the reason for this argument. Apparently we are not able to control these atrocities by staying in Iraq. It is also true that they may worsen upon our departure. Can we not say then that a third option is the only hope of ending mass killings? This is where the hard work of serious diplomacy, frank back-channel discussions, trust-building and ceasefire-brokering must occur.

What other options exist? Stay, get out, or start talking- that's all we have to choose from at this point. And talking- the serious kind, not this beat-around-the-bush BS that Condi pawns off as actual diplomatic work- is the only thing we have left as an option.

Yet not a single person in this administration has pushed for such action in earnest. They ratchet up troop levels and tell the Iraqi parliament not to take vacation, but they are unwilling to broker serious multi-party talks or to engage in round-the-clock discussions with religious leaders and local Iraqi politicians.

Therefore, can we not say that this administration is already directly responsible for Iraqi atrocities? What difference will it make if we leave? Why is 100 dead each day any less horrible than 1000? Does anyone seem to care now about civilian casualties? Who among us will take the Administration to task for this? Is there anyone- Democrat or Republican- willing to stand up and tell the Administration that our government is directly responsible for the civilian atrocities in Iraq? And by that standard, that they are guilty of mass murder? Or of genocide, if one insists on using the incorrect terminology? Are you really convinced that they are doing everything they can to make this violence stop? Unless they are working night and day on that issue, aren't they just as responsible for these deaths? Aren't they the first to downplay any quantitative analyses of Iraqi casualty numbers? If they actually wanted to prevent these deaths, wouldn't they be publicly horrified and concerned by these studies?

I am more concerned than most people about what might happen to Iraqi civilians once the US leaves. Yet I imagine you would count me among the "Hollywood types" or hypocritical "Iraq war critics" were we to get into a more detailed debate on this issue. In an effort to keep that to a minimum, I will only say this in discussing the reasons for the war: If the prevention of genocide was our main and true mission in Iraq, then I would understand such hysteria a little more. However that was not our goal or mission, and to say so is to insult every single Kurd who lives today.

Rather, we should have acted immediately after the Kurdish genocide in the 1980s. Had we done so at the time, this discussion would not be necessary now.

Obviously, the current disaster unfolding in Iraq proves that we should always invade a country 20 years after a genocide has occurred and then claim that we are intervening on behalf of the people. It has been a flawless and very effective model. By following that logic, I hope we are all prepared to invade Rwanda in 2014. Speaking of genocides we should have prevented, the 30-year anniversary of the Cambodian Killing Fields was in 2005. Too bad Pol Pot already died peacefully of old age. I imagine you get my point.

On that, perhaps we can agree that our leaders are hypocritical. Their actions and inactions are almost always the opposite of what they should be, and almost always too late or too early. They refuse to see the big picture, and they will not do the difficult, grimy, labour-intensive work that is often required to prevent international or humanitarian crises because they simply can't be bothered. In many cases, their sketchy back-room deals are actually the cause behind these humanitarian crises. We can agree on this much, I hope.

However, I will not stand by and endorse this ridiculous occupation of Iraq on the grounds that we went there to prevent genocide. That is the most absurd assertion I have ever heard.

Similarly I will not stand by and endorse the continuous use of our uniformed sons and daughters as buffers between warring religious factions to prevent what might in some future time "become" genocide while this Administration coughs and snickers at the idea that perhaps they need to use some diplomatic elbow-grease for once in their lives, G-d forbid they lift a finger. That anyone in civilian clothing has the gall to sit back and say that this war is "hard work" when they have ensured that our soldiers are the only ones actually DOING any of that "hard work" ought to be stripped of all authority and jailed.

It may be very easy and comfortable to say that the "Hollywood types" and the hypocritical "Iraq war critics", by pressing for withdrawal, are further endangering Iraqi civilians with the spectre of future genocidal atrocities. Yet many of these same "critics" are also calling for some active and complex diplomacy- the very thing the war proponents patently refuse to engage in, and the very thing that might actually help to reduce civilian deaths.

So might I suggest that those crafting and prolonging this war are actually the guiltiest in this arena? By not listening to their critics, by failing to alter their strategies, by continuing to ignore any diplomatic options, by proclaiming that the only solution is a military one, by sitting on their haunches and pretending that there is literally not a thing they can do to make this outcome any better- other than throwing more troops into an already boiling pot- by doing all of these things have they themselves not ensured that the Iraqi people face a very disturbing future?

What is truly a worse offence?

a. Some powerless Congress(wo)men threatening the lazy armchair generals in this Administration with a withdrawal timetable on the vague hope that maybe they'll actually get off their asses and try to stop the bloodshed by engaging in some real diplomatic intervention?


b. The armchair generals who never bothered to plan the war well enough in the first place, who could have prevented some of this mess from occurring if they had conceived of an actual strategy beforehand, and who still can't bother to lift a finger to try and reign in what is now a mass-production death factory for civilians and soldiers both?

I have not yet seen any evidence that there are entities within the Iraqi government that have clear or pre-conceived plans to annihilate sectors of the populace in a systematic fashion, aka as a genocide. Perhaps al-Sadr has some leanings in that direction, though he does not appear to be organising in such a fashion. However, even if there was such evidence, are you really convinced that this Administration would care?

Staying in Iraq without any concrete plans to work on preventing further civilian atrocities does not demonstrate that anyone in the White House gives a flying crap about this issue. So how is withdrawing any worse? If there is such concern regarding current or potential civilian deaths, why don't we ask our President about why he can't be bothered to attempt brokering a ceasefire between the warring religious sects? When was the last time he hauled his butt over there? What did Cheney do there besides tell the Iraqi parliament to cancel vacation? Why isn't Condi there 24 hours a damn day trying in desperation to get some of these people to talk to each other? It's not as if she's that busy. I'm sorry, but we've gotten other people who hate each other way more than this to talk and to sign ceasefires and treaties and a whole mess of other stuff, so I'm not sure what the flipping problem is here.

Perhaps hardcore diplomacy is too much "hard work". I'd like to see Bush go to Iraq and tell that to the troops face to face.

In conclusion, anyone can feel free to complain about suggestions to withdraw when I have been convinced that those who wish to stay are actually dedicating some time and effort to some diplomatic and political efforts aimed at ending civilian atrocities.

If they can't be bothered doing that, then I will feel free to equate our soldiers with the civilian dead lying in Kigali and Baghdad- victims of lazy, morally bankrupt politicians.

And I will feel free to continue to support those threatening this President with a timetable for withdrawal, because staying in Iraq isn't going to make the President care any more or any less about dead Iraqi children, and its not going to prevent huge numbers of Iraqi civilians from dying.

War without words produces nothing but blood. Is our President truly content with that outcome?

Nick Brunetti-Lihach said...


You're obviously very knowledgeable on the subject of Rwanda - which is why your partisan attacks and swipes regarding U.S. efforts toward a diplomatic effort in Iraq perplexes me.

You wrote:

"And talking- the serious kind, not this beat-around-the-bush BS that Condi pawns off as actual diplomatic work- is the only thing we have left as an option."

and also "Yet not a single person in this administration has pushed for such action in earnest."

Although the Bush Administration's diplomatic efforts on many fronts have left much to be desired (generally speaking), you are making a gross error by characterizing the Bush administration as doing little on the diplomatic front to help Iraq.

There have been multiple regional conferences, Bush has held numerous talks with the Maliki government, we've set benchmarks, worked closely with Iraqi MP's... the U.S. is building its largest embassy in the world in Iraq, for Chrissakes!

And this recent news:

"The Bush administration has been pushing al-Maliki for months to reach out more to the once-dominant Sunni Arab minority, giving them a genuine role in the running of the country as part of a wider drive toward national unity that officials hope will reduce the country's rampant violence."

How can you read this and say there is no pressure, no effort?

I've written a number of posts in the pages of this blog about the political and military progress that has been made in Iraq.

What would you call the American military's enormous military and PR efforts in Anbar province? More than half that battle was won by talking to tribal Sheiks.

What would you call Bush and Congress' calls for the Iraqi government to evenly split the oil wealth?

What about peaceful Kurdistan?

The list goes on and on, and I would encourage you to conduct more thorough research on the progress in Iraq, diplomatic and military, before casting stones.

And let's not forget, a diplomatic solution may be the final answer, but there can be no peace without security first.

Furthermore, your characterization of the Administration's guilt - accusing Bush, et. al of "genocide" is extreme hyperbole. In fact, reading it, I thought of Rosie O'Donnell's fanatical claims.

I've written about her as well, and I've written about many of the exaggerated claims that 600,000+ Iraqi's have been killed. The numbers are just plain wrong. They've been assailed by dozens of critics.

But I have a question: Why not blame the terrorists first? The suicide bombers? The former Baath party members who kidnap innocents, torture them with power tools, and then dump their bodies?

Why is your vitriol reserved solely for your President?

And this: "Unless they are working night and day on that issue, aren't they just as responsible for these deaths?"

We have 100,000+ troops in Iraq working day and night, not to mention thousands from the State Department, Pentagon, etc. Are you suggesting all business here at home should be ground to a halt to address Iraq? Should we mobilize every single bureaucrat in the government to work on Iraq?

If you believe that, then I can only shake my head.

You say: "I will not stand by and endorse this ridiculous occupation of Iraq on the grounds that we went there to prevent genocide. That is the most absurd assertion I have ever heard."

This is a specious interpretation of my words. I did not, and have not suggested that we entered Iraq for humanitarian reasons. In fact, I was opposed to the invasion.

What I AM saying is this:

If terrible violence is underway in Iraq, and if, as most experts believe, it is a near certainty that even more large-scale sectarian violence would ensue; pogroms, slaughter, unbridled, unchecked genocide, and if hollywood liberals and Democrats want to go into Sudan... then why argue to leave Iraq?

You, yourself are a hypocrite - You're saying the U.S. refuses "to see the big picture, and they will not do the difficult, grimy, labour-intensive work that is often required to prevent international or humanitarian crises"

Now, if we leave Iraq, and genocide ensues (as it most certainly will), wouldn't staying there prevent large scale genocide, as you are complaining about?

Arm Chair generals...

What does that mean? How few of our Presidents have been generals? Would it only logically follow that only a general can critique a war, or decide to get into or out of a war?

Doesn't that nullify every single comment you or I have made? So you're saying we are wasting our breath here because we are not generals?

Lastly, your excessive focus on diplomacy, or lack of diplomacy, obscures the issue and ignores the facts. It's really catchy to proclaim that Condoleeza Rice should spend 24 Hours a day, etc. in Iraq... but if you think about it, how hollow and innocuous does that statement really sound?

She should hole up there for months on end, exposing herself as a target for assassination?

I am not arguing with you about the mistakes we made going in, or the lack of serious political progress in the Iraqi parliament in recent months.

However, your solution is tantamount to defeat. You decry genocide and murder, yet simultaneously seem willing to turn a blind eye to the Iraqi people, encouraging an American withdrawal, and emboldening the terrorist fanatics. They are not Rwandan Hutu's or Tutsi's - they will follow us home.

You shamefully pillory American peace-keeping efforts, castigating our inaction while ignoring our presence and nation-building in Haiti, Kosovo, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Afghanistan, and countless other countries.

You are cherry-picking the mistakes of an admnistration to suit your calumny. Your righteous, contradictory calumny.

That's really a shame.