[ExI] The Death Toll Imbalance in the Mideast War

John Grigg possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 12 10:08:46 UTC 2009

On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 3:25 AM, Emlyn <emlynoregan at gmail.com> wrote:

> 2009/6/11 John Grigg
> > We sadly cannot invade everyone, everywhere.  ;  )
> Do you really hold this opinion??

As Dave pointed out, I included a winking happy face to show I was kidding.
Got it?  : )

> > An extremely disturbing scenario would be where a Bush/Nixon type
> > administration results in the president using executive orders to make
> > himself a de facto dictator ("until the emergency is over").  And then if
> > the military supports him he gets to stay in office indefinitely as he
> runs
> > over American civil rights and carries out a supercharged neocon-style
> > agenda.
> I think that already happened. Note your country's current debate
> about what to do with the poor bastards stuck in that torture house in
> Cuba. How did the US end up in this place?

America entered the gray area of my nightmare scenario.  But what I
fitfully envision is where journalists and other citizens are rounded up and
imprisoned/shot by the hundreds / thousands and the general public is cowed
into submission.  A much smarter/less ethical man than Bush becomes an
American Caesar, or at least the equivalent of a really nasty third world
dictator.  A terrorist nuke strike, terrible natural disaster, etc., could
give a U.S. president the opportunity to seize such power.

> > As an Australian, you live in a comfortable, but relatively minor first
> > world power.  You do not bear the huge burden of having to dominate the
> > world (I mean be the world's policeman!) for both our and *your* own
> good.
> Well you are right, we Aussies have definitely ridden the US's coat
> tail, much to our embarrassment in recent fiascos.

We have been good friends (due to so much common cultural heritage and
common threats) and I regret America not being a better world leader and

> > Be grateful.  As empire's go, The United States is the best one the world
> > has ever seen.  And I mean that in terms of our constitution, our
> > principles, the good we have done in the world, and a capacity/potential
> to
> > at least at times live up to our high ideals.  Russia and China don't
> even
> > come close...
> Well, the US has done good and bad things around the world. What is
> well understood by those on the outside is that it will always act in
> its own interests. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but don't
> mistake it for the moral high ground.

But I believe America can behave ethically (and that can be a challenge) and
still look out for itself.  You and I look out for ourselves everyday and
that does not mean we have to automatically give up the moral high ground in
doing so.  Intelligent self-interest works at the individual and national

I do dislike how foreign aid often is warped into being a bribe (but
certainly many nations do this).  And the U.S. has  the habit of galloping
to intervene in strife torn nations that just happen to have oil or at least
a key geographical  location.

The bestselling book "Portrait of an Economic Hitman" showed the dark side
of the U.S. and how we use money/loans to gain control over third world
nations in a drug dealer/loan shark-like manner.  I applaud Jeffrey
Steinberg for having the courage to write the book.

 I feel we should have sent forces to Sudan a long time ago, to put an end
to the rapes and massacres.  But from what I've read China wants access to
the oil there and demanded that we stay out.

> American exceptionalism aside, the US is one country among hundreds.
> To take your rightness as axiomatic is a dangerous thing.

I do not have a "my nation right or wrong" or "my nation is always right"
approach to life.

Stathis wrote:
But what if people wanted regime change, but not at the cost of being
invaded? What if Saddam had held an election just before the US
invasion and, as sometimes happens in times of national emergency, had
received endorsement even from people who normally hated him?

Regime change can be done by covertly supporting rebel groups, or by
economic sanctions (though often sanctions only really punish the poor and
middle class).  Landing military forces and totally cleaning out the former
government leaders is sometimes the best or only way.  As it was with

Mirco wrote:
> But Saddam was never a US supported dictator.

Fred Moulton replied:

Sadly, so.  We used Iraq as our proxy to battle the Iranians during a very
long and bloody war.  A major reason the Iranians dislike us so is due to
this.  But then we were very sore about the Shah being overthrown (someone
else we supported) and our embassy staff being held hostage.  Some experts
say the irony about the Shah is that had he been even more ruthless than he
had been (he did torture and execute people, but he tried to limit it,
unlike Saddam), the insurrection against him and his government would have
been put down.

Stefano wrote:
Since ad rem arguments are always difficult and/or rhetorical, let me
put it this simpler way: how many US citizens would be prepared to
hear from a foreign power "hey, you voted for the wrong candidate
and/or are too lazy or confused to take the necessary revolutionary
measures; as a result some American feel oppressed, and you legal
system is a mess anyway and need to be fixed by us and the traitors
amongst you, so that you can be 'free' at last"?
Especially is this were a propaganda argument curiously convenient to
its own economic, national and political interest?

I think a militarily and economically weak United States would be frightened
by such a statement and especially serious intent.  But the details of the
situation would be so important.  Who has the moral high ground?  Does the
U.S. really deserve such treatment?  And can war be averted and the U.S.
stopped from it's possibly wrong course?  And if the other nation is really
doing this out of wrongful self-interest, than that further complicates

I sometimes wonder what it will be like when the United States is no longer
a great power.  And I realize we will not be the lone superpower for all
that much longer, with China gaining strength quickly.  India, Russia and
especially the European Commonwealth will come into their own, over time.

you write:
Nobody says that the US are the only country, or government, or
political regime, not entitled to pursue their own views or interests.
What is disturbing is that they are not inclined to return the
courtesy to the rest of the world, e.g., by recognising that an
insurgent against an American occupation army may well be an active,
harsh enemy, but is not especially different from an American patriot
during the independence war or the Mexican invasion, and is not a
common criminal or a madman.

I consider those fighting American troops in the Middle East as
very misguided, but generally not evil.  And I am bothered by those that
call all insurgents over there "terrorists."

I wrote:
> Be grateful.  As empire's go, The United States is the best one the world
> has ever seen.

Stathis replied:
When have we ever hear anything different from any other empire?

But we have a much much better track record than the other empires that have
dominated large sections of the globe.  Yes, we had slavery, but then we
corrected course and had the civil rights era.  Terrible things were done to
the American Indian, but in the end they got at least some restitution and
civil rights.

We stopped tyranny from overtaking Europe in two world wars, and we stood up
to the threat of world communism (and remember, they killed many millions of
their own people and would not have stopped there).  We have provided
massive amounts of food and medicine to the third world and our scientific
research and applied technology have transformed the world.

Our guiding light is an enforced constitution and an enlightened government
with separation of powers, that has stopped us from falling into utter
tyranny.  These strengths have been role models for so many struggling new
nations over the past several centuries.

We Americans have made some serious mistakes, but are generally good people
with various cultural and governmental mechanisms for self-correction.  As I
have said before, the world would be a very dark place if China or Russia
possessed the position in the world that America now has.

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