The Iraq Status of Forces Negotiations: Exposing the Republican Lie

For five years now, Republicans high and low have scoffed at the Iraq War skeptics. They’ve routinely protested any suggestion that the conquest had anything to do with oil or empire. This is a war of liberation, an act of benevolence to free an oppressed people, a noble act to spread Democracy. The regrettable use of military force was necessary, but was merely temporary. Our forces will be removed as soon as the legitimate government of Iraq no longer needed or wanted our services.

Variously naive and duplicitous, these assurances have been proven wrong. We now know that the Bush administration has been in negotiations for a new Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, one which would permit U.S. forces to maintain dozens of indefinite-term military bases, control of Iraqi airspace, carte blanche to pursue military operations, and immunity from Iraqi law for not only members of the U.S. military, but U.S. contractors.

That is not a mutual aid agreement between sovereign nations. That is a pact turning Iraq into a client state of the U.S.

Yes, the conservatives insist that the bases are intended to be temporary. The bases in Saudi Arabia established during Gulf War I were supposedly temporary as well. So was Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, but the idea that this sprawling, expensive base will be dismantled anytime soon is rather absurd. As Chalmers Johnson pointed out in his book The Sorrows of Empire, its network of military bases is a primary means by which the U.S. stretches its influence and exerts political pressure on nations throughout the world. This is nothing more than the neo-imperialism practiced by the U.S. for the better part of a century.

You don’t think the war had anything to do with petroleum? I have a hard time believing that the administration didn’t see potential of leveraging the influence of long-term military bases to help assure the pipeline to the U.S.

And what of the desires of the legitimate government in Iraq? They find the U.S. demands to be unacceptable.

We have reached an impasse, because when we opened these negotiations we did not realise that the US demands would so deeply affect Iraqi sovereignty and this is something we can never accept (Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki, from “Impasse in US-Iraqi forces talks,” BBC)

It reminds me a great deal of the agreement between the U.S. and Cuba after the Spanish-American War. Cuba, now “liberated” from Spain, was required to grant the U.S. military bases (of which Guantanamo is a remnant), exempt U.S. entities from Cuban law, and even permit the U.S. government a veto over the Cuban legislature. Some liberation.

It is worth considering that the hubris of the U.S. and their insistence that Cuba become a vassal played a very key role in the resentment which ultimately enabled a meglomaniacal dictator to lead an uprising and defy the U.S. for almost half a century now.

Time for the conservatives to face facts and or own up to the lies. There are clearly ulterior motives at play—motives which must be terminated. The Middle-East is explosive enough right now without pouring more gasoline on the fire.

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21 Responses to “The Iraq Status of Forces Negotiations: Exposing the Republican Lie”

  1. Jenni Says:

    Everything that has “come to pass” in this Iraq mess was foretold in the obscure liberal media years ago. All mainstream media sources, and especially those with strong conservative ties have missed these stories time and again until they became too big NOT to report them any more.

    I’d wholeheartedly recommend “DemocracyNow!” to any American who really wants to know what’s going on before it happens:

  2. djinn Says:

    We did something similar in Vietnam–aaaargh.

  3. Aaron Orgill Says:

    So you’re suggesting that the U.S. is partially to blame for Fidel Castro. Is there any misery in the world we didn’t cause? I think you sometimes actively look for the most negative spin you can on things. Of course the U.S. is guilty of wanting to extend its influence. And sometimes we overstep our bounds. Any other country on earth would do the same. I’ll take that so-called “neo-imperialism” over the other kind any day.

  4. djinn Says:

    The US supported the anti-democratic vicious dictator Bastista

    Everyone agrees. Deal.

  5. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I’m not denying that. If you want to get into history, I can hold my own and then some with just about anyone. I’m just saying in international politics, there is just no way you come out looking like a rose. You get in bed with bad people, someone in a position of high authority does the wrong thing, blah blah blah. In WWII we fought against the most evil dictator of the time with the second-most evil dictator of the time. In the 80s we supported Saddam Hussein against Iran. And the list goes on. But in all of those extremely sensitive situations, better alternatives are not always apparent. So I stick with what I said before, why do liberals feel like they have to take the most negative spin they can on things? Just because we haven’t handled our messes perfectly doesn’t mean we have to flagellate ourselves about every foreign problem that comes up.

  6. Derek Staffanson Says:

    vAaron, I’m a bit confused. I’m proposing that our nation can and should operate in a moral fashion, that we should avoid the immoral plague of colonialism (neo or traditional), and that we recognize the times we have erred so that we can be more vigilant and prevent such actions in the future–including right now. You are suggesting that “overstepping our bounds”–such as the oppression of freedom and human rights in Cuba–is inevitable, and that such offenses are of no great concern. Which of us is being negative?

    As I pointed out in my post on moral responsibility, it doesn’t make a bit of difference whether any or every other nation would do the same thing. Moral relativism is not a very positive approach to foreign policy.

    You bring up an interesting point with the analogy of WWII and our alliance with Stalin. I’m a bit hazy on my history here, so perhaps you can help me: Exactly what noble cause was our nation pursuing which justified the denial of sovereignty to the Cuban people for several decades and then the support of an oppressive dictator who just happened to be very acquiescent to the desires of U.S. corporations, and for which no better option may have been readily apparent?

    I know that you believe that our personal actions have consequences. Are you suggesting that this same principle does not hold true for nations? Do you believe that the repression of the Cuban people by the U.S–both directly and then by proxy through Batista–had absolutely nothing to do with their willingness to listen to and follow men who wanted to destroy all government connection to the U.S? There are conflicts going on throughout the planet based on centuries-old events, but Cuban motivation is so isolated that it was not influenced by the injuries which had been inflicted upon their nation well within their lifetimes?

  7. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I’m not suggesting any of those things. I’m saying that it’s incredibly obnoxious to preach taking personal responsibility, while making excuses for everybody else and holding the U.S. to an impossibly high standard. And it is an impossible standard with the undependable hearts of men. In foreign affairs, the choice is not always between good and bad. Sometimes it is between bad and worse. Hitler or Stalin? Saddam or the Ayatullah? Take Cuba, for instance. Why were we supporting Batista? Well, there was a dirtbag named Machado who violently suppressed all critics, and Batista offered some improvement, and even allied Cuba with us during WWII.

    Often we find out as time goes on (as we did with the Iran-Iraq conflict) that we didn’t choose wisely. Nobody is going to have a perfect track record, but you with your perfect hindsight are very skilled at pointing the finger, and you take every opportunity to do so. From the tone of many of your writings, you revel in it. As the world’s #1 superpower, there are going to be things we aren’t proud of, maybe even things we are ashamed of. Slavery, our treatment of the Native Americans, the internment camps for Japanese-Americans; there is plenty to be ashamed of. But I accept it as part of the human experience, and believe that the larger and wiser perspective is that all will be well. If God is willing to suffer the pride and ambition and foolishness of men, we should probably follow suit. None of the world’s problems are unique to us, and we don’t need to flagellate ourselves about what is done, nor claim that terrorist attacks are just our own chickens coming home to roost, as you have brazenly asserted (or at least defended others’ assertions of). The reality is that we live in the most favorable circumstances there have ever been. I choose to focus on that rather than look for how America is to blame for Chechnya, or South African apartheid, or starving kittens in Laos. I find that often you choose to focus on the gutter, which is why I find you negative, and I intend to draw your attention to it every time you post something like this.

  8. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Aaron you still seem to have trouble distinguishing between making excuses for other people and understanding that we are responsible for our own government. Period.

    Regarding Batista and his superiority to Machado: Regarding WWII, note that client states such as Cuba do not chose whether or not they ally with their patron states. And I wonder why you seem to assume our choices are binary. Muchada or Batista? Khomeini or Hussein? Why not “neither?”

    But let us assume you’re right about Muchado and Batista. You completely neglected to address the U.S’s inclusion of a right to intervene in Cuban affairs in the Cuban constitution. Yes, I’m sure they claimed they were maintaining order so that a new civil government could grow. I wonder how our own revolutionary generation would have taken such actions from the French after Britain gave the U.S. its independence?

    Yes, I am very much saying that terrorism and other actions are the chickens coming home to roost. I’m told that as we sow, so shall we reap. What do you think that means?

    Curious you would think I reveled in this. If I reveled in the suffering inflicted upon our nation and others, wouldn’t I try to keep people ignorant about those crimes, rationalize them away, so that they would continue to occur? No, I believe it is better to recognize the gutter for what it is than to wallow in it and pretend its a pool.

    What I find most obnoxious is when our nation continues to follow the same scripts which history has repeatedly shown to lead to tragic consequences both home and abroad. If we could keep quiet about those events, try to ignore them or downplay them, how then can we possibly learn from the past to try to prevent it from repeating? I do not seem to recall God bidding us to complacently or apathetically suffer the crimes and tragedies which accompany the pride, ambition, and foolishness of men. I seem to recall him asking us to stand for righteousness and humanity. Exposing these “oversteps” and avoiding them now and in the future would seem to be a very big part of that.

    You can repeatedly insist that I accept the muck of the world as it is if you like. I will leave you to do so in peace, and will nonetheless continue to promote a moral and ethical standard in the way our nation deals with our brothers and sisters.

  9. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Why not “neither”? Well, let’s see. You spend your entire time talking about how we do not have the right to impose things on others, nor make another country into a puppet state. Yet you’re suggesting that we just throw in someone of our own choosing? We don’t get a choice. I repeat, sometimes the choice is between bad and worse. How is it that you don’t acknowledge this?

    Our so-called “client states” don’t choose to side with us? Okay, that goes against everything you say about responsibility, but that’s still preferable to having someone who is openly hostile to the U.S. and takes sides with the Nazis, is it not?

    Last and most important, I didn’t say you should accept the muck of the world as it is. I said you shouldn’t focus on it, and recognize that it is going to take some long-suffering and incredible patience. Certainly we need to recognize and eliminate our own hypocrisy, but that is all you do. You never speak a kind word about your country unless it is to praise a belligerent jackass like Rocky Anderson. In particular, that any American would call terrorism our own chickens coming home to roost is maddening and sickening. No action, American or otherwise, merits something like that.

    I’m not holding my breath for you to change your writing style or way of thinking. I think there are numerous places where we agree, but we have very different approaches that are incompatible. I have told you a thousand times that if you changed your language you would be much more effective. And I’ll tell you a thousand more if I need to.

  10. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Let me add that the exemptions we demanded in Cuba and in other places were wrong. Obviously there is an interest in making sure we don’t end up back where we started, and we’re going to want to have some influence after expending so much time and money, but it should not be done by arrogantly making ourselves above the law.

  11. Non-Arab Arab Says:

    Forget kittens in Laos, we turned it into the most heavily bombed country in human history:

    But then caring about the human repercussions of our foreign policy has never been a high point, and Aaron’s point is clearly that we shouldn’t have to. That other peoples’ rights are secondary to American politicians perceptions of “American interests”. If we need “influence” in a country, then we can kill 3 million Vietnamese or 1 million Iraqis or whatever we need to, and anything less is just naieve or self-flagellating anti-Americanism. We stand for truth and freedom, unless interests get in the way, in which case immoral behavior is just normal and how dare you criticize us more than the Soviets or Saddam or whoever because clearly even though we declare ourselves morally superior, when it comes time to get what we really really want to take then we shouldn’t be held to a higher standard just because we declare we are on a higher standard.

    American exceptionalism-realists (a contradiction in terms, but an oh so common category as we see in Aaron who is by no means alone) want it both ways and get really, really pissed if you point that out to them.

  12. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Oh Arab, knock off the self-righteousness, and stop twisting my words. I am not a fan of the war or Bush, never have been, and Derek can back that up. I am just tired of all the negativity, and am able to recognize the amazing blessing of living in this country, warts and all. Honest to God, I don’t know how you get up in the morning when you’re so focused on everything that’s wrong. There’s a reason people are coming here in droves. But when you’re on top, everybody takes a crack at and second-guesses everything you do, even some of your own ingrate citizens saying that terrorism attacks are what we rightly deserve.

    I’m finished with this post. You go ahead and continue to do what you do, which is point out every problem we have and how rotten we are. Good luck getting anywhere with that.

  13. Non-Arab Arab Says:

    What I am talking about is acknowledgement of the problem as the first step towards healing it. Those who refuse to acknowledge it, become trapped in it. Oh, and I would suggest you read an old poem called Recessional written at the then-presumed peak of the British empire. American power has past its peak, undone mostly by our own selves and inability to acknowledge and heal our flaws. Had we done so, those good things you and I both love about this country might have been able to go on much longer. But drowning in a pile of debt, governed by a system controlled more by money than votes, living in a world who knows us increasingly only from the other end of a bomb-sight and resents us for the callousness, and having lost our innovative and educational edge, and facing the outside world through a prism of fear more than optimism, our children are all but certain to face a tougher, less prosperous, and less free life than ours. Can that process be halted, even reversed? Yes. But only if we first acknowledge that is where we are at. If we do as the priests of King Noah did and call those who point out our problems doom and gloom false prophets and say all is well in Zion, then we may well end up like the priests of King Noah (whose fate was more complex and tragic in myriad ways than we perhaps realize in a cursory reading of those books).

    Step 1 of our national day of our accountability is arriving, we have a gigantic pile of debt with no ability to repay it, and we are using more and more credit just to stay afloat, while the price of food, fuel, water, and most goods rises and is unlikely to abate. The financial system is in crisis as the British and French systems were at the end of their empires 50 or so years ago. Our military is not just overstretched, it has become a financially unsustainable burden, and if we go into a deep recession (or quite possibly a great depression) in the face of $5 or $50 gasoline, that will spell the end of our overseas empire just as certainly as the financial burdens ended the European colonialists empires. And when we are forced to step away from the Persian Gulf, the Chinese and Indians and Russians will be right there to fill as much of the power vacuum as they can, as will the Gulf states themselves.

    It didn’t have to evolve this way, but the “America is the greatest country in the world BOO-YA!” attitude got us to this point.

    If we want to salvage our position in the world as one great power among many rather than as a has-been power, we need to return to the things that really are our sources of potential greatness. First, stop building our economy on debt, get the government and the populace to be savers, and invest the savings in education and innovation – i.e., don’t just consume on debt and neither save nor invest. Second, get back to democracy instead of our current state of oligarchy and reduce the influence of money in politics severely. Third give up on empire, be a leader by example not by gun, and only use the gun in situations of genuine self-defense and/or cooperative peacekeeping/making under a larger umbrella of agreed upon international law which we should return to trying to create with most others instead of subverting with a handful of lackeys. Do these things and you can right the course and America will be seen as a real force for good in the world again.

  14. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Okay, I lied, I will write one more comment. Believe it or not, I share in your pain. We have some real problems. But don’t fool yourself that they are anything new. You are being rather dramatic, and even presumptuous to equate us with King Noah. I lived in Europe for a couple of years and was turned off by some American tourists’ arrogance (the BOO-YA attitude you described). But I still see overwhelmingly that there are mostly good people here. We are not nearly as ripe for destruction as you think. Come on, people are still flocking here from all corners. You mentioned China, India, Russia, and the Middle East as areas which will all take a chunk of our power after our presumed downfall is complete. If that happens, we will have earned it, but I don’t think the end is near. And I could break down each one of those areas one by one and show you problems far beyond what we have to deal with here. C’mon, Putin is more dictatorial than Bush will ever be. India has some little-exposed but HUGE problems with Islamic terrorism that makes the violence in our country look like a stroll in the park. China is still making gross human rights violations, and the Middle East, well, is the Middle East. I decry the far right that has allowed consumerism to overrun what used to be core Christian values of loving one’s brother and compassion for the poor of this world. But nor do I accept the far left that worships thugs like Che Guevara and wants to strip us of a number of liberties of our own. I wish we could just disband all political parties that blind us to what is really right. I think you have some points well taken, but I reject your doom and gloom as, yes, doom and gloom.

  15. Non-Arab Arab Says:

    See now you’ve just gone again and conflated some totally disconnected phenomena that have nothing to do with the issue of the relative rise or fall of America. You see lots of good people here in the US? Great, me too. You could go to North Korea or Iran or Zimbabwe or Saudi Arabia or any country on earth and find good people. There’s good and bad people everywhere, that has nothing to do with the power and vitality of a nation as a whole other than being the raw material upon which a system (any system, good or bad) may draw and then either develop or denude.

    Second, you are conflating current position with current trajectory. Yes, right now the United States is momentarily still the wealthiest and freest of the major powers. But where is it heading? Russia it is fair to argue is not heading towards more freedom, but it is absolutely headed towards more wealth and power as Putin restructures, centralizes, and increases the efficiency of the state and the economy fed by a massive transfer of wealth from Europe and the world in the form of oil and gas payments (and maybe even carbon credits?). Yeltsin’s pathetic Russia has picked itself up a bit, and will do more so in the years to come. While issues of the heavy repressive hand of the state are unlikely to be answered in the near term, that is the cycle of Russian history – seeking true modernization and global power through a strong state first, usually never quite getting there and falling apart only to try again. Will this round be different? Depends how the oil and gas rents are invested both financially and politically, but with those rents not going down any time soon (and you can take that from a guy who makes a living watching those markets), they clearly have a long ways up to go before down. As for achieving personal freedoms and a less intrusive state, Putin’s goal is clearly an efficient system first that can then evolve into a freer one (likely long after his death). Pooh-pooh that concept if you will, but you deny the history of every western and most eastern and southern functioning democracies in the world (and trust me, India is a bizarre example that doesn’t fit neatly into that category) if you think they’re marching down a unique path. Russian power and influence is only rising as their wealth, overseas investment, and military power and influence expand.

    China is headed towards more wealth and freedom as the system is painfully opened up in a chaotic but clearly trending trajectory. Again, development is paramount, and we would be wise to remember that despite the very real and wrong human rights abuses in Chinese history and the present, they have accomplished a truly stunning feat unparalleled in the annals of human history: they have pulled over 300 million people out of poverty. No other nation on earth (very much including the US) has ever done anything even remotely comparable and tens of millions who likely would have starved to death in Colonial, Imperial, Nationalist, and Maoist China have had their lives not only spared but prospered as a result. And have done so while simultaneously expanding personal freedoms from a level which is night and day from Mao’s China of 50 years ago and expanding. Perfect, not by a long shot and it doesn’t excuse the abuses that continue. But vastly improving and still improving in both involving more people in decision making and economic prosperity and productivity? Absolutely. And all built on an economic power base that is now strong enough to be the world’s factory and increasingly one of the world’s greatest international investors, and slowly becoming an international military powe (slowly now indeed, but these things tend to bubble for a long time beneath the surface before a step change occurs and surprises those not paying attention to the underlying factors). China is increasingly displacing the US as an ally and investor in countries tired of US bullying and searching for an alternative partner with financial and diplomatic (if not yet military) resources. I have no doubt many of those countries will come to regret Chinese bullying (indeed, such sentiment is already rising in Sub-Saharan Africa), but the Chinese are only seeing their influence increase while the US’ diminishes (note we are not talking of a far distant future, we are talking about something already happening). China is rising.

    India is stunted by numerous factors that make it as one Indian Economist friend of mine calls it “the most violent society on earth”. And despite your and most Americans’ oddball fetish with Islamist violence, in India the vast majority of that violence is actually related to caste, economic inequality stemming from crushing poverty, local politics, and sectarianism spurred on by Hindu nationalism more than Islamist, with growing local Maoist Communist insurgencies threatening the existing system heavily. There’s a reason voters didn’t buy the BJP’s “India Shining” rhetoric – most Indians continue to literally live in sh** (and I do mean literally). Anyhow, despite all that and a bureaucracy so byzantine we should start calling byzantine bureaucracies Indian bureaucracies, India is continuing a messy but steady advance in power as their increasingly large educated workforce is filling the gap in not only the US, but Europe and especially the Gulf (where I can”t seemingly go to a single bank or hedge fund without finding an Indian or Pakistani CFO or head of research). This is being matched by the rise of Indian mega-conglomerates such as Reliance Industries whose owners will soon likely be the wealthiest billionaires on earth (despite the family split that diluted their individual fortunes) with their fingers in everything from gasoline to movies. Others like Mittal and even state corporations like IOC are making their presence felt around the world and offering countries seeking investment a better deal than western firms. Increasingly the Indians don’t even compete with American or European firms but with the Chinese for business oppoertunities. A few nukes, the beginnings of a blue water navy, and even Hinglish complete the package of a growing power. India is rising.

    Then there is the Gulf itself, which despite being tied to an increasingly worthless dollar (that peg will break soon enough, however painfully) is witnessing not just one of the greates transfers of wealth in human history, but the sustainable investment of that wealth and its growth as a global center not just of energy but of trade (really an old Middle Eastern economic base being restored), finance, education, and I believe soon in scientific innovation as many of those investments in education and finance will start to pay off and expand in the region’s dynamic multicultural atmosphere. You go the Gulf and while there is plenty of proflagate (did I mis-spell that?) waste and too much inequality and abuse of foreign workers, there is also an incredible dynamism and can-do attitude among people of really varied backgrounds. Your rather silly and ignorant comment about how the Middle East is just well the Middle East, shows just how massively you are missing what is going on there. But the huge numbers of immigrants to the Gulf from all around the Middle East and the world haven’t missed it. Indeed, for most Arabs, the notion of an American or European immigration dream has been displaced by a Gulf dream. Arabs long to go the Gulf where they can make a good living, educate their kids in world class schools, not be treated like terrorist suspects for speaking the wrong language, and generally know they can build a secure future. Things they no longer trust as much they can do in the US (and that’s without them even inderstanding America’s debt crisis, and despite having believed in the old American immigration dream for nearly a century before our behavior dragged that hope out of them kicking and screaming against their will). The Gulf is rising.

    We could look elsewhere around the world to countries large and small (Brazil and Vietnam come immediately to mind), but I think the point is clear enough. All these countries have a sustainable economic base for growth, and for the most part (Russia a possible exception), personal freedoms are expanding. Compare that to the US trajectory. Here in the name of 24-induced fear of foreigners (ok, there’s a lot more than one bad Fox show too it, but it’s a good symbol of our fear-driven stupidity the past few years), an old strain of xenophobia common to almost every society is being allowed to take over. Instead of welcoming immigrants, we fingerprint them if we haven’t already thrown them in a secret Thai CIA black site for torture. Meanwhile our government spies on us with blatant disregard for the law, the spineless judiciary let’s the lawbreakers in power get away with it, and then the supposed opposition in the legislative branch retroactively approves and structurally embeds all the abuses. We may still have some of the greatest freedoms on earth, but we are allowing them to be structurally and inexorably eroded. And in fact, the deeper part of the problem there is something Eisenhowe himself warned us against 50 years ago in his farewell address, the takeover of the military industrial complex of our system of government which is now complete (a rare point in which I agree with what I have heard John McCain go on the record saying). I would add that the problem is even bigger. The military-industrial-thinktank complex is one piece of the larger takeover of our political system by ever more concentrated holders of wealth, who in turn control ever-more-concentrated media (who get deliberately dumber and more propaganda driven by the year), lobbying, campaign funding, and ultimately political powe control than ever in our nation’s history.

    But underlying all of that is the core debt problem. We have become a consumption nation. Our economy functions by consuming and spending, not by saving, producing, or innovating. Rome had all the problems of corruption and immoal concentration of power we have and more but survived for centuries because of the combination of cheap slave labor and imperial expansion and theft of resources that kept the empire wealthy (for a small crust of elites anyhow) and economically sustainable. We have thankfully no longer have slavery and our imperial expansion has now reached its peak, and we find ourselves like Rome near its end with no real self-sustaining economic engine for the bloated imperial behemoth we greedily and blithely acquired. Such a shame as well that we almost learned the proper lessons and adjusted right in the post-Vietnam era (and give Reagan’s man Voelker a lot of credit for that), but we flubbed it as the intellectual children of the men who gave us the Vietnam and Watergate disasters brought us a repeat of imperial over-reach and domestic corruption.

    Bottom line: we can no longer pay for the goodies we’ve acquired. It’s simple, we spend more than we earn, we have a pile of debt six times the size of our income, we lack an innovative edge among competitors. Unless we turn that around (and the head in the sand attitude you have outlined above is what would prevent us from doing so, and is sadly the majority attitude in our country), we are going into another economic depression (starting now, this is no ordinary recession we are entering) which will leave us unable to pay for our military adventures abroad just as the British couldn’t keep India, the French Indochine and the Dutch Indonesia post-WWII. The other rising powers who do have sutainable economies will by default fill the vacuums we leave around the world. And at home what will we become? With fewer jobs available, anti-immigrant xenophobia will rise, fear of foreigners and “terrorism” will paralyze us more as the now powerful government contracting sector (hang out around Washington DC suburbs and notice the incredible number of new utterly economically non-productive government contracting millionaires the region has produced) fights to keep their jobs and McMansions by pointing out Arab boogeymen in Peoria and Wichita that only they can save us from, and only either mega-inflation or economic contraction and national debt default (either way destroying the value of our currency at home and globally) will restore our ability to live within our means only at that point facing schools, highways, and a healthcare system that are badly deteriorated and will need decades to rebuild to even the state we’re in now.

    Oh, and the priests of King Noah analogy is far more complex and appropriate than you realize. Take a closer look at Mosiah, those men had a lot of ups and downs, not a straight trajectory. Their descendants last we hear from them ended up doing ok, but they suffered a lot before they got there.

  16. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Nice novel. I am familiar with Recessional. I don’t believe our country is immortal, but don’t you see how dramatic you are being? “Had we done so, those good things you and I both love about this country might have been able to go on much longer.” You sound like you’re delivering a eulogy. I would have laughed out loud if I didn’t know you were completely serious. Yet you call my comment about the Middle East silly and ignorant. Let’s see, how long has this eternal war been going on? I don’t claim to be an expert on Middle East politics, but my comment is completely valid. It’s a problematic region and has been since practically the dawn of time.

    The global economy is going to divide power more than we’ve ever seen before. I think that’s a good thing, and should go a long way toward stopping the people you are railing against. I think it’s you who is ignorant if you really believe that we are at a point that we’re not going to be a major part of that. This debt has existed for a long time, and it has to stop because there will be a breaking point, but I’m not convinced, as you seem to be, that doomsday is at hand.

    I will defer to you on the King Noah question, since you seem to enjoy acting like a college professor teaching some dumb kid. I don’t want to be rude and insulting, and there is a great deal I don’t know about you; maybe you have an IQ of 180 and are a leading authority on world history and LDS scripture, but you sure come off as pompous. Just consider that life IS a bunch of ups and downs and not a straight trajectory. Read any literature, scriptural or otherwise, and you’ll find the same thing.

  17. Non-Arab Arab Says:

    Life may be cyclical, but it also involves step-changes. You are claiming this is all cyclical, I am claiming we are near a step-change. Our debt is a classic example of that, look up a chart of US government, commercial, and private debt levels over the past century. You will see we are not talking about anything remotely cyclical, we are talking about something very different which unless drastically reversed is leading to a major dangerous tipping point. With all the consequences for America’s strategic position (domestically and internationally) that entails.

    Glad you acknowledge you don’t know much about the Middle East, but following it up with a misleading, uninformed conclusion makes it hard to believe that you believe your own statement.

  18. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I didn’t say I didn’t know much about the Middle East, I said I am not an expert. I assume from your blogname that you have some kind of connection and are probably more knowledgeable than I am. I don’t mean to be condescending from people who are from that region, but I don’t see how anything I’ve said is misleading or uninformed. It’s a very troubled region and has been throughout all known history. Where am I wrong about that?

    We’ve beaten this issue about to death. I still disagree that we are anywhere near the end of being a major superpower (although it stands to reason that we are not going to be the one and only superpower anymore, and I am okay with that). My whole point through this entire thread is that you and Derek could be much more effective by saying what you have to say in a more positive way. The language of despair does not reach and inspire people and never has. I take my cue from President Hinckley and President Monson of the LDS Church (which, given your knowledge of the Priests of Noah, assume you are also a member of). I didn’t see Pres. Hinckley despondent, and I don’t see it now with Pres. Monson or any of our General Authorities. They know better than anyone the troubles of the world and our own country, but they say everything that needs to be said without the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. Just consider that that is what reaches people, and do with it what you will. Good chat. Thanks.

  19. Non-Arab Arab Says:

    Aaron, I feel strongly about many of these issues, but you were right to call me to task. I need to remember to disagree without being so disagreeable. For the hundredth time. Thanks for the reminder.

    And BTW, when one gets going, it’s easy to label events I consider highly probable as if absolutes. Maybe my call is right directionally but totally wrong on timing, who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. I lay it out as my base case reading of how I see the world based on the evidence.

    As for my background, I prefer to just discuss the issues, my background is of little relevance if we can stick to the facts and their intepretation.

  20. Aaron Orgill Says:

    No worries. I hope I haven’t hammered my own points in too hard. I can be just as intense as anyone. I took a look at your blog, and will have to check up on it.

    I don’t mean to pry when I ask about your personal background, but with virtually everything being spin these days, it’s helpful to know qualifications and life experience when you are deciding how much heed to give any one person. I am not blind to Israel’s sins, but I admit I have a strong knee-jerk reaction to anyone claiming that Palestine are the good guys and that it all stems from Israel’s wrongdoing.

  21. Non-Arab Arab Says:

    Well, as far as background, suffice it to say, I have spent a lot of time in the Middle East and experience has evolved my views as much or more than the extensive education I have also received. As for good and bad guys, I am of the view that reading things in terms of power imbalances is critical, and when those imbalances are at the extreme, victim-victimizer relationships are what come to the fore. If the power balances change, those relationships may change, but I am a big believer in calling a spade a spade in looking at the present just as I am a big believer in trying to consider and prepare for the range of future possibilities. In the Israel-Palestine case, it’s not that there is any squeaky-clean side, but there is a clear powerful side and a clear weak side. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and we see it very much in this example.

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