Saturday, February 2, 2008

Something slightly different (and long)

Let's take a look at the people who read and enjoy Megan's work, and their comments to her most recent post about the Iraqi death count, which Nutella covered down below. My point isn't to try to hang Megan with the specific stupid things they say, but to note their general lack of... intelligence. There are some who fight the good fight to be found in Megan's threads, such as liberalrob and rickm and our own Nutella, but we're going to focus on the mouthbreathers in her supporting chorus.
We begin with an important note about how few Iraqis are being killed by Americans, as opposed to other Muslims. (Offer not open to residents of Fallujah and Anbar province.)

It is important to get the numbers right but it is perhaps even more important to attribute the deaths properly. A very large proportion of the Iraqi civilians that everyone runs around referring to as having been "killed in The Iraq War" or (slightly more neutrally) "casualties in Iraq" were, in fact, killed either by other Iraqis or by foreign Muslims who travelled to Iraq to murder them. This is not a trivial point (at least, it shouldn't be!) yet peoples' continued refusal to acknowledge it leads to a surreal and infuriating public debate in which only the U.S. is seen as an autonomous actor. It is almost as if the six million Jewish holocaust victims were never referred to as anything other than "casualties of the U.S. war against Germany".

So I'd be happy to provisionally accept a larger estimate of the number of people who have been killed in Iraq since 2003 if a certain self-styled 'war critic' faction would be willing to wake up and actually acknowledge by whom many of them were killed, which to this point they have not.

Posted by Sonic Charmer | January 31, 2008 11:04 PM
Yes, indeedy, let's not forget that Al Qaeda in Iraq, a small group that every other faction in Iraq loathes, and only formed there after we invaded, has killed a bunch of Iraqis, too, between claims by the US that they've been decimated. In fact, let's use the general uncertainty about the death toll to make unfounded claims about Al Qaeda in Iraq's impact. Furthermore, despite Iraq having been relatively untroubled by Shia-Sunni violence prior to the invasion, and even in the first year or so after, it's their fault we allowed the country to degenerate into its current state. Who would have thought that warlords, thugs, and religious zealots would use chaos and instability to further their own aims?
Charmer goes on to say
Seems to me one should blame 'fellow Muslims' precisely if and when those 'fellow Muslims' actually committed the murders - nothing more and nothing less. To do anything else is morally retarded, it displaces blame from where it belongs and sets up a perverse incentive structure according to which people who hate the U.S. see that they can stick-it to us, and Bush, by going to Iraq and murdering some Iraqi.
It's almost like choosing to invade and destabilize a country, effectively undoing the rule of law in it, has negative consequences. Let's not blame the folk who made that choice for those consequences, tho.
The saddest thing about Charmer is s/he (tho let's face it, it's a guy) is relatively high minded, and couches their "let's blame the Iraqis" message in an argument that would be logical if its premises were true. Don't get used to this kind of quality.
I'm flabbergasted by its bizarre omissions. I don't think that any credible person who has spent any time on the debate would be satisfied with this particular attempt to deal with it.[Note for clarity, this is a quote from Megan's post.]

You're flabbergasted because you're treating an article in the MSM as if were meant to be part of a credible debate among informed people rather than meant to be a piece of propaganda aimed at those who aren't paying close attention.

Posted by Ralph Phelan | February 1, 2008 9:08 AM
Nevermind that Megan is a part of the MSM, tho. That slur only applies to big media types conservatives disagree with, either because a journalist has a hint of integrity and/or is an ideological opponent. Ralph, while angry at the MSM for pricking his vestigial conscience again and again, is clearly glad Megan shares his unwillingness to accept the full consequences of an invasion they both cheered wildly.
And then come the WMDs.
> Is there no appreciation of the role the USA and UK have played in destablising Iraq? Tens of thousands of civilians have died as a direct result of US bombs, hundreds of thousands of innocents due to a decade of sanctions.

Right... the Iran-Iraq war was benign in comparison. And in the 90's, we should've waited to see what other invasions Saddam might've attempted. Had we not stopped the growth of his military development (including nuclear weapons research) and checked his desire for acquiring nearby sovereign-state oil assets, the region could be more stable now and less of a threat to global policy.

Posted by solarlux | February 1, 2008 10:11 AM
< Jeff Foxworthy voice >If you're a pundit whose supporters cite WMDs as justification for the Iraq War, you might be a conservative. < /Jeff Foxworthy voice >
Oops, Ralph has something he'd like to add
That's not how news works. [Said a sane commenter.]
Yeah, the way "news" works is that when a liberal or leftist organization publishes a tendentious study Reuters and the New York Times reprint their press release above a reporter's byline.

I don't think she's being to harsh on Reuters - I don't think that's physically possible. I do think she's being way too naive about them.

Posted by Ralph Phelan | February 1, 2008 10:12 AM
If only Megan would read Michelle Malkin more often, she'd learn. Or just listen to Ralph, he knows the score. As he says later on
When I say that Reuters is biased and lazy, it doesn't mean that biased will trump lazy 100% of the time. Sometimes lazy wins.
I think Ralph confused Megan and Reuters there, but he's clearly having difficulty with reality, so let's move on.
After a commenter makes the questionable analogy of comparing Iraq to an insane asylum, albeit with respectable intentions, another takes that idea further.
Actually, I kind of like Donald's theory that Arabs are, essentially, insane and need to be kept locked up, and the various dictatorial regimes that the U.S. cozies up to are the asylum keepers, and that instituting "democratic" reforms in an Arab country would be like letting asylum inmates elect the guards.

And the World Court ordering Israel to tear down its fence would be the equivalent of some federal judge ordering deinstitutionalization. Although no one ever suggests that someone in that position should be held responsible for the resulting homicides.

Posted by y81 | February 1, 2008 2:20 PM
And thus we learn what the racists think. Steve Sailer isn't around because there's no talk of The Bell Curve, I guess.
Then comes a doozy of a comment. It's long, but it's too full of crap to let pass.
How many excess deaths were caused by the US invasion of Europe during WWII? I suspect that a lot more people died in WWII than would have died under Hitler if we'd left them alone. Same goes for the Civil War. Wars kill lots of people.

The UN is responsible for a lot of the problems in the Middle East. The UN enabled the Oil for Food scam and the UN culture of corruption made it easy for Saddam to game the system. The UN is also responsible for keeping Palestinians locked up in barely livable camps and for turning a blind eye to UN refugee camps being used as bases for terrorism.

During the 1970's we were focused on a much more dangerous enemy... Iraq and the Middle East were a proxy battlefield of the Cold War against the USSR. What we did then may not have been the best thing, but our leaders were not trying to build a stable, peaceful Middle East, they were trying to contain the USSR. It's pointless to criticise our Middle Eastern foreign policy out of the context of the Cold War.

I do find it hard to believe that the death rate in Iraq was so low before the war. We keep finding mass graves in Iraq. And we know that Saddam killed whole villages just to test chemical weapons. Actually, it doesn't matter... even if the death rate were low, much of it would have been directly a result of Saddam's murderous actions. And his sons were worse, from what I heard.

Saddam may not have had WMDs, but he had programs that could have been restarted at a moment's notice. Making chemical weapons doesn't take very long if you have a chemical plant. Making biological weapons probably wouldn't take very long if you have the resources of s government. His nuclear weapons program may not have been very far along, but he would have started it back up as soon as he could.

We defeated Iraq in the Kuwait war but he never quit fighting. Continuing the sanctions and letting them continue to fire on our planes wasn't helping. If Iraq had accepted the terms of surrendor and actually cooperated, none of this would have happened. As it was, we had a choice between continuing the status quo (corrupt oil for food, sanctions, continued low-level fighting) or invade and end it.

And Saddam DID have contact with Al Qaida and other terrorist groups. They made no effort to hide the fact that Iraq paid $25,000 dollars to the families of suicide bombers in Israel. They allowed terrorists to use their land for safey and training.

If we'd done a WWII style invasion with carpet bombing and all, a lot more Iraqis would have died. Our soldiers try not to kill civilians, but it's hard when the enemy hides among them. It sucks that so many innocent Iraqis have died. I wish we could have managed to only kill bad guys. But war isn't nice like that.

And part of the problem is that we screwed up. The invasion wasn't handled very well. Our strategy wasn't what it should have been. We've learned and changed. That happens in war as well as every other human endeavor.

I still find it very hard to believe that an average of 500 Iraqis died by violence every day since the invasion over and above the "normal" death rate. Though I'd like to deduct dead terrorists from that number...

Posted by Earnest Iconoclast | February 1, 2008 5:33 PM
There are hints of rationality in there, but they're perverted into service to the idea that invading Iraq remains a noble thing to have done, and that we can't possibly have made the country as bloody as.... this commenter and Megan want to believe.
Besides, we ain't to blame. Not our fault, we came in with nothing but good intentions and those damned Iraqis fucked it up, or so sez Sonic Charmer
Should we really ignore the responsibility of creating the conditions?

I reject this notion that we "created the conditions". What "conditions" did we create which somehow forced terrorists to travel to Iraq to blow up marketplaces and mosques? What about the mentally-retarded female bombers used today by terrorists: did we somehow "create" "you-can-use-female-mentally-retarded bomber" conditions? No we did not.

Nothing in the laws of physics somehow compels terrorists to attack Iraqis as a consequence of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. They are doing this of their own accord, because they want to. There are no objective "conditions" one can point to which force or make them do it. To say otherwise - again - displaces blame from where it properly belongs, on people who plot mass murder. As Sigivald points out, when you speak this way you deny the people doing these things status as autonomous actors. You are treating the rest of the world - all non-Americans - as, in effect, automatons who only react mechanically to what we do or don't to.

Did Bill Clinton "create the conditions" which allowed Timothy McVeigh to murder 150+ people in Oklahoma, therefore deserving some of the blame? Can you answer this question decently and be consistent?
Bill Clinton invaded Oklahoma? Wow, the MSM really has been lying to me.
We're almost done, but there's two more comments to look at. First, the final word in the thread
To me, a telling point is the reluctance of al-Reuters and the NY Times to let go of the badly flawed Lancet Studies, simply because they fit the anti-Bush, anti-American narrative too well to let them be discarded.

They crop up again and again, and even after being academically discredited against peer-reviewed rival studies as being off by a factor of ten - are now seen EMBEDDED as base ASSUMPTIONS - in reporters articles.

Whereas studies that are favorable to US interests, like the early electric generation capacity study of 2003 and the study that charted police brigades "stood up" in 2004 -were dead and properly buried by media within weeks.

The conclusion I have is that the authors of the Lancet studies (one who later ran as a liberal antiwar Democrat for Congress) and the MSM were complicit in making supposedly objective science and statistical analysis into a political weapon in the 1st study...then ignoring all objective criticism of the 1st study and creating the 2nd study primarily for it's political impact on the American and EuroLeft.

Posted by chris ford | February 2, 2008 1:40 PM
Heh, Al-Reuters, indeed. That witticism definitely makes up for actual factual underpinnings to the argument.
In the end, the best summary comes in a form which might be tongue in cheek, but is a damn good parody if it is.
A million dead Iraqis? Please. That does not even pass the smell test. This idiot study no more requires exhaustive research to debunk than would a claim that 10,000 people were murdered in Boston last year. Those numbers are just way the fuck off.

Posted by American War Correspondent | February 1, 2008 4:06 AM
Megan did not write these words, they cannot be held against her. However, these are the people who read her and nod in agreement. This is her target market; the slightly more literate and informed section of Michelle Malkin's fan base.
The Atlantic is truly dead. I wonder how long it will take for its sale figures to dip to cancellation levels.


NutellaonToast said...

I applaud your bravery. I'd been thinking of tackling a project like that, but my tolerance for pain is way below what would be necessary to focus that much attention on those dipshits.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout out.

For bringing up the fact that Megan, in a previous post on Iraq fatalities, wrote in a headline that only 150,000 Iraqi's died after the invasion, my humanity was questioned and I was called a 'hateful little troll.' All because the commenter thought Megan was expressing genuine grief. Which I found implausible, because she was off by a factor or 4 in her estimation on the number of Iraqi's dead and did not change her estimate even after Daniel Davies brought it to her attention.

Anonymous said...

The first sentence in the post is the giveaway:

Well, I haven't done an exhaustive study.

If Ms. McArdle and Teh Pantload made a baby, that poor thing would be the. laziest. piece-of-crap. "pundit". ever.