Advice Goddess Blog
« Previous | Home | Next »

Sacrificing, Not Supporting, Our Troops
That's what the Iraq war is all about. For any newcomers here, let me restate that I'm not a dove, and I was all for going after bin Laden, and pretty much flattening the mountains of Afghanistan. But, while Saddam was a bad guy, that had nothing to do with us. But, Bush was so desperate to get him, there were made-up lies about WMDs, and a push to take all the people who volunteered to go after bin Laden to fight some weird war -- and for what? To avenge Bush senior? I'm not a blithering idiot, and after all this time, I still have no idea why we're in Iraq. All we seem to have accomplished there is getting a lot of our people maimed and killed and fomenting terrorism where there was none before. Accordingly, I got this press release this morning, by Elan Journo, a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute:

Study of Troops’ Mental Health, Ethics Indicts Bush’s Selfless War

A recently disclosed Pentagon study on the impact of the Iraq war on U.S. combat troops suggests that many are stressed and hold views at odds with official ethics standards. Critics view this as evidence that more must be done to ensure troops comply with those standards. But in fact the study provides evidence for a searing indictment of Washington’s immoral battlefield policies--policies that entail the sacrifice of American troops for the sake of the enemy.

The study reports, for example, that less than half of the soldiers and Marines surveyed would report a team member for unethical behavior. It also finds that “soldiers that have high levels of anger, experienced high levels of combat or screened positive for a mental health problem were nearly twice as likely to mistreat non-combatants” as those feeling less anger and screening negative for a mental health problem.

Although many military personnel may support the Iraq war, and although war is inherently distressing, Washington’s immoral policies necessitate putting our troops in an impossible situation. The reported attitudes of combat troops in Iraq can be understood as the natural reaction of individuals thrust into that situation.

U.S. troops were sent, not to defend America against whatever threat Hussein’s hostile regime posed to us, as a first step toward defeating our enemies in the region; but instead the troops were sent (as Bush explained) to “sacrifice for the liberty of strangers,” putting the lives of Iraqis above their own. Bush sent our troops to lift Iraq out of poverty, open new schools, fix up hospitals, feed the hungry, unclog sewers--a Peace Corps, not an army corps, mission. Consistent with that immoral goal, Washington enforced self-sacrificial rules of engagement that prevent our brave and capable forces from using all necessary force to win, or even to protect themselves: they are ordered not to bomb key targets such as power plants, and to avoid firing into mosques (where insurgents hide) lest we offend Muslim sensibilities.

According to the report: "More than one-third of all Soldiers and Marines continue to report being in threatening situations where they were unable to respond due to the Rules of Engagement (ROE). In interviews, Soldiers reported that Iraqis would throw gasoline-filled bottles (i.e., Molotov cocktails) at their vehicles, yet they were prohibited from responding with force for nearly a month until the ROE were changed. Soldiers also reported they are still not allowed to respond with force when Iraqis drop large chunks of concrete blocks from second story buildings or overpasses on them when they drive by. Every group of Soldiers and Marines interviewed reported that they felt the existing ROE tied their hands, preventing them from doing what needed to be done to win the war."

When being ethical on Washington’s terms means martyring oneself and one’s comrades, it is understandable that troops are disinclined to report "unethical" behavior. When they are in effect commanded to lay down their lives for hostile Iraqis, it is understandable that troops should feel anger and anxiety. Anger is a response to perceived injustice--and it is perversely unjust for the world’s most powerful military to send its personnel into combat, prevent them from doing their job--and expect them to die for the sake of the enemy. Our troops are put in the line of fire as sacrificial offerings--and it would be natural for an individual thrust into that position to rebel with indignation at such a fate.

The study not only indicts the self-crippling rules of engagement that liberals and conservatives endorse; it brings to light the perversity of the moral code of self-sacrifice on which those rules of engagement are based.

Posted by aalkon at May 16, 2007 11:13 AM


Amy, if you would like to know how we got into the ME, and subsequently Iraq, you have to back up to the beginning of the 20th century to Winston Churchill's decision to power the English navy with oil, not coal. Britain did not have a drop of oil at the time.

The best source in one place is William Engdahl's A Century Of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order.

You can find it at: .

Read the book, believe it or not, but never again say you don't understand why we're there.

Posted by: Machida at May 16, 2007 6:42 AM

Thanks, Machida...I'll order it now from LA Public Library. But, perhaps you can paraphrase what the book has to say.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 16, 2007 6:53 AM

Machida - we've (the United States) been fighting Islam since 1796.

If you want to know how we wound up in the middle east, you need to go back at least that far.

Amy - I've said before that you're wrong on Iraq. The public was sold a bill of goods, yes. But that's because the true nature of our mission (invading Iran) was not something that could be used publicly. I still believe that Iran is the ultimate goal here.

Terrorist financing and teaching is coming from two places - Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government is at least making a token attempt to reign in the fundamentalists (while still funding the building of mosques worldwide, but I digress). Iran's government is dedicated to the violent expansion of the Sharia state.

So the question becomes "do we take down the theocracies in the middle east now, or do we wait until New York or London or Paris is a smoking pile of debris?"

Once Iran has a nuclear warhead, Paris is in danger of precisely that.

You may think that Ron Paul is right, and that 9/11 was all about U.S. foreign policy. It wasn't. It is all about the fact that we were offered the opportunity to become muslims and we told Bin Laden to go fuck himself.

First you get the da'wa. Then you get the jihad.

Posted by: brian at May 16, 2007 7:03 AM

But, going after Iran - not as a U.S. mission, but as a U.N. mission (even if that takes reworking the U.N.) makes sense. Of course, we can't do too much about Iran -- a real potential threat -- because we're already spread too thin in Iraq. And what happens if there's some other conflict where our military is legitimately needed?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 16, 2007 7:21 AM

Amy, here's the best I can do and keep it short.

Engdahl states that there were three pillars of English empire, dominance of the seas, strenth of the pound sterling, and control of minerals from South Africa to the ME. This included control of petroleum. WW 1 solidified English control of petroleum, but left England on the verge of bankruptcy, and international bankers, including the JP Morgan/Rockefeller interests financed England in exchange for the English government acting in the financial cartel's interests.

The book will detail how America took Britain's role in empire including the post WW 1 events that led to WW 2 and the Bretton Woods agreement, and Nixon's allowing the dollar to float in the 1970s.

In summary, the basis of American empire are American military strenth, which is dependent on controlling the world supply of oil, and the dollar as international currency. The dollar is the only currency that is acceptable payment for oil. Iraq is the last large source of easy oil in the world, and made the mistake of considering accepting the Euro as payment. The US was not going to permit this, and wanted a pre-text for invading and controlling the oil.

Bush's mistake was not coming up with a competent lie for a pre-text. The war has nothing to do with the Iraqi people, nation building, freedom, Bush the elder's honor, or anything other than maintaining American oil hegemony. The Bush administration has tied up, militarily, all the world supply of oil. That's why we're building the permanent military bases in the ME bases; it won't matter who the government is or if they are U.S. friendly.

Incidentally, as much as I loath the Shrub and the neocons, it was not they who instituted the policy that we would go to war in the ME to control oil. It was that paragon of Christian virtue, Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: Machida at May 16, 2007 7:34 AM


It has nothing to do with Islam either. Muslims are to Bush what the Jews were to Hitler; a convenient scapegoat to distract the masses.

Apparently it works.

Also, I have heard all the blather about Islam elsewhere, and don't care to respond to the Islam issue. Others may if they wish.

Posted by: Machida at May 16, 2007 7:46 AM

Bush's case for Iraq was given in his speech at Whitehall in November of 2003. Just go to and search for Whitehall and a link to the text and video should be easy to find. I won't paraphrase it since it's already concise, and as the judge I had the last time I was on jury duty liked to say, "the document speaks for itself". I found it rather convincing in 2003, but with the advent of torture and secret prisons as instruments of U.S. policy it would probably be more heartbreaking on this misty 2007 morn. Anyway, if you want something to shoot at, that's your target. Pull!

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at May 16, 2007 8:07 AM

Perhaps you're rushing, but if you suggest a link, try to post it (and only one link per comment, or my spam software will eat your post). If you have two links, please post two individual comments -- one with each link.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 16, 2007 8:27 AM


I agree, it's a nice speech. He even said there were three pillars (he likes that word-so does Engdahl), and then came up with three. However, the speech was given after the fact of the Iraq invasion.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I interpreted the lady's question as asking why are we in Iraq, not why the Shrub tells us we're there. He doesn't lack for publicly stated reasons. He apparently has a whole data base of reasons,programmed to generate randomly on any given day.

Posted by: Machida at May 16, 2007 8:35 AM

Posted by: Machida at May 16, 2007 8:40 AM

Brian is one of many online war nerds who possess a simple understanding of the Middle East and Islam. At first glances, they seem to be intelligent, organizing coherent thoughts, producing sentences to support their simple minded claims. But we've seen this movie before? Can anyone guess what the ending will be with The Road to Mesopotamia will be? I've provided numerous realistic scenarious in the past.

No one takes the ramblings of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seriously. Even in Iran among the ruling clerics, party newspapers, students and the professional classes. Ahamadinejad has bigger problems to deal with within the ruling clerics, Majlis and upheavals within his own party. The failure of passing laws in the Majlis on forcibly relocating large urban populations into the various rural areas to stem the lowest child birthrate in any of the M.E. nations has caused cabinet ministers to resign in disgrace. Its not a good sign of proper legislation if a bunch of powerful rigid religious clerics view the ’relocation’ laws as too extreme. Would you all agree???

The real foreign problem Iran has is Russia and especially over the latest diplomatic row:

Anything done diplomatically with Egypt is in effect of doing it with the blessing of Washington DC. Iran's biggest fear is an US-Israeli-Egyptian-Saudi backed Sunni Alliance against the spread of heretical Shia Islam. Try to do the math: 90% of the Islamic world is Sunni and 10% is Shia. If simple math doesn't do it for you, Brian... try this simple image of the Islamic World:

Notice the sea of pea soup green nations versus the puddles of dark green nations? Now do you understand Iran's sudden change in diplomacy? Pissing off the Russians doesn't help matters in Tehran either, especially with Putin's public credibility at stake. Also, the public rebukes by various Iranian clerics towards Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq through various fatwas and religious-political newspapers in Baghdad.

Let's have some reality, folks. It will clear the cobwebs of bad FNC reporting, the lame rhetoric of anti-war protesters and the ramblings of think tank junkies who have never stepped foot in the M.E.

Posted by: Joe at May 16, 2007 9:05 AM

Ooops, sorry. Here is the second link:

Posted by: Joe at May 16, 2007 9:08 AM

Sorry about that, I was indeed rushing. Machida's got the right link.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at May 16, 2007 9:55 AM

The only reason Bush needed to go into Iraq was Saddam's noncompliance with the terms of the truce that ended the Gulf War of 1990-91, and the passage of other U.N. resolutions that authorized "any member state" to enforce the terms of such resolutions. All other reasons made up by the administration were spurious and necessary only to try to rally American public support to the intial effort.

This is why I pay no attention to all that is made about the assertion that Bush "lied us into war". That said, I have real problems with the execution of the intervention since "major military operations" ended. Originally unconditionally pro-intervention, I now seriously question whether we should have gone in in the first place, given we obviously didn't plan to do what it took to win, including all necessary death and destruction of the enemy and his enablers in the shortest possible time.

It is now my position that, after this whole sad affair is ended (in whichever way), we should never enter any conflict where the objective is less than total victory, at whatever the cost or consequences. Which probably means that, judging from Vietnam and Iraq, we should never go to war with anyone unless our very existence is immediately threatened in a very tangible way. That's the only way to be sure the media, the pacifists, the irrational Bush haters and their progeny, and seemingly 50% or more of everyone else can be trusted to see such conflict through to the end.

Posted by: cpabroker at May 16, 2007 10:23 AM

Thanks, Joe...excellent and insightful, as always.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 16, 2007 10:26 AM

I completely agree with the article. The rules of engagement for our troops are absurd. Telling them to be babysitters and nation builders among a vicious and barbaric people is worse than immoral.
It is indeed the idea that sacrifice and altruism is virtuous that is so destructive. This is hard to ignore because the case here is so stark. We are sacrificing our best and bravest for a zero.

Posted by: newjonny at May 16, 2007 10:28 AM

Machida - I keep hearing the claim that the war is over the dominance of the US Dollar from various far-right cranks that want to standardize currency.

Here's why it's a straw-man argument.

Money, like oil, is fungible. U.S. currency has no actual value. Nor does oil. The idea that the US currency is somehow standardized to oil is simply an argument of those who need to find some kind of financial conspiracy to tie everything to. Currency is simply another number to be bought and sold for other numbers.

You might argue that we need to keep oil sold in dollars in order to prop up our debt. Bull. We sell our national debt just like GM does. Oil being cheap is far better for our currency than it being traded in dollars. The US dollar is not backed by gold, or oil, or even military might. It is backed by the productivity of the American people.

So if you were looking for some kind of financial conspiracy about the value of the dollar, you might want to talk to Bush about his strategy to circumvent minimum wage laws to increase apparent productivity.

Posted by: brian at May 16, 2007 12:52 PM



Posted by: Machida at May 16, 2007 1:10 PM

Machida -

I'm not reading it for one simple reason.

The premise is absurd.

Please tell me what it would mean for the US economy if oil was traded in Euros instead of Dollars.

Absolutely Nothing.

Unless the people in charge are so bloody stupid that they actually BELIEVE that a fiat currency has an intrinsic value.

Your premise (war to keep people from selling oil in euros) is absurd. How have we tied up, militarily or otherwise, the world supply of oil? Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, Russia - combined they produce far more oil than the middle east. And yet we don't wield any military control over them. If we did, do you think that Chavez would still be breathing?

The entire "petrodollar" argument requires so many things to be assumed as fact that are not evident from any sane reading of reality as to be laughable. Reading a book about American Oil Hegemony is as likely to convince me of the truth of the matter as reading the Bible is going to convince me that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after having his heart cut from his body.

Posted by: brian at May 16, 2007 1:52 PM

Joe - Thanks for the gratuitous insults, but I've already reached my quota for the year. One does not need to give birth to know it is painful.

Fact 1: The Majlis is irrelevant. So is Ahmadinejad. Everyone that runs for office is cleared by the Grand Council. Every law the Majlis passes is evaluated by the council to ensure that it is in keeping with Islamic law -- AS INTERPRETED BY THE COUNCIL. Therefore, what the people, the Majlis, even the President of Iran want is meaningless. Watch the council, and you know what Iran is up to.

And the minority status of the Shia is largely irrelevant as well. Think nationality, not sect. Iran (Persians) versus everyone else (Arabs). The 1980 war was fought for regional hegemony. That's why it was in both the US and USSR interest for there to be no clear winner. One country in charge of that much oil would be bad.

Bush's mistake in invading Iraq was not concluding that Iran would make a power-play for control after the collapse of the Ba'ath. The so-called "civil war" and "sectarian strife" are nothing more than Iranian proxies carrying out Tehran's will -- much like Hizb'allah in Lebanon.

You can talk about how much the Iranian people love the west all you want. In the end, their desire is meaningless. So long as the Council does not think there is any threat of reprisal for their meddling, they will continue to meddle. Bush's unwillingness to persuade Iran to butt out is telling them the same thing our failure to respond to Khobar, Cole and Mogadishu told Bin Laden.

Posted by: brian at May 16, 2007 2:05 PM

Amy - about 10% of our total military force is in play in Iraq.

And if you think the UN is going to do anything about Iran you're sadly mistaken. They won't do anything about Darfur, and there's no real reason to think that UN troops would even get shot at there. Why should they go somewhere that they might get shot?

Posted by: brian at May 16, 2007 2:12 PM

Nobody does anything about Darfur because there are no real resources at play there. The ME can't be ignored, because the world's economy runs on oil. Brian is right, however, that the UN won't/can't do anything serious w/r/t/ Iran unless they take overt, aggressive action against one of their neighbors. But we can all sit back, watch the toothless sanction theater and feel like something is being done.

about 10% of our total military force is in play in Iraq.

Does this mean we've got a bunch of troops somewhere available that we're not using to pacify the colossal mess that is Iraq? If I recall, they struggled to produce the meager increase in troops for the flaccid "surge," and are once again extending tours, pulling up National Guard for more tours, etc. Now if we've got enough troops to deal with Iran, too, why not get a two-fer by 1) sending the lot of them to Iraq to wipe out the insurgency, and 2) have them on Iran's doorstep in case it becomes necessary to go there?

Posted by: justin case at May 16, 2007 2:28 PM


Let's review. Amy asked about the reason(s) for the Iraq war; I made a recommendation to her which she may accept or reject.

I not only am not trying to convince you of anything, I honestly don't care about your achieving any degree of being informed. You don't care about being informed; I certainly would not assume that responsibility for you.

Posted by: Machida at May 16, 2007 2:40 PM

Justin: 50,000 in Korea, 50-100,000 in Europe (not including Kosovo). Repeat for about 20 other nations. Last I knew (I could be wrong) we had over 1.2 million in active and reserve members.

And a good amount of our military is Navy, and they're all over the damn planet. Sailors aren't exactly boots-on-the-ground types.

Machida - Yes, you were offering Amy a "reason" for the Iraq war. I was ridiculing the reason you offer as being based upon lunacy.

Or are you really going to try to get me to believe that the pyramid on the back of the dollar bill is a Masonic plot?

Posted by: brian at May 16, 2007 3:09 PM

One more thing Justin -

I have long advocated a complete pullout from Europe. Now that the USSR is no longer an issue, I see no reason for the US to continue to subsidize the welfare states in Europe by providing free military support for them.

Posted by: brian at May 16, 2007 3:14 PM


Now I get it! Amy doesn't need to read the book, you've already figured it out for her!

Never mind, Amy, you don't have to worry your pretty little head about it.

Posted by: Machida at May 16, 2007 3:56 PM

I see your points, but in short, there aren't spare troops available now to send to an additional ME conflict (at least not in a boots-on-the-ground sense). Hence, what we're doing in Iraq will continue to be undermanned and unsuccessful, and Iran is right off the table.

Posted by: justin case at May 16, 2007 4:54 PM

Well, Justin - do you agree with the article? Basically it is saying we can multiply the troop count by ten and it would make no difference. The point is that bad philosophy is wrecking the action before it gets started.

But if you think Iran should be attacked I agree completly. We should drop the failure in Iraq and hit the terror masters, Iran. I don't care about sunni shia blah blah blah. Not because I haven't looked at it - I just consider it a minor non-issue in relation to the fact that they are the primary sponsors of terrorism.

If Iran falls, we can tell Syria to fuck off Lebanon, tell the KSA to quit funding their wahabi fundamentalists around the world including the US, etc. All we need a a real leader that will not compromise US self interest for multi-culti bullshit or Christian altruism.

Posted by: newjonny at May 16, 2007 5:37 PM

Its all about the oil,
1 British interests once ran Iranian oil feilds
2 Irainians asked for an audit - thought they were being cheated

3 Brithih oil company refused
4 Iran kicked Brits out and went communist becuase America refused to give Iran aid against the Brtish

5 US and Britian stage a coup of Iran's govenment
6 Iraninas take US embassy hostge in order to get THEIR country back - (what would you do if the chinees overthrew the US govenment and put Charles Manson in the White House?)

7 US supplys Iraq with muntions for its fight with Iran - proxy war with Iraq as a PR sheild

8 Meanwhile in order to fund terrorists in central america memebrs of the US armed sevice illegally sell weapons to Iran - unfortunatly this prevent Iraqs easy victory and leaves Iran even more pissed of at the US, it was no secret we were supplying Saddam

9 Iraq fails to defet Iran, they turn to Kuwait - with tacit US approval

10 US places troops in Saudi Arabia for build up if Kuwaiti invasion - we leave a couple of bases there

11 US drive saddam back to Iraq, Kuwaitis wave flags for imbedded reporters - where did those thousands of litle plastic flags come from?

12 In order to maintain a no fly no US miantains bases in Saudi Arabia

13 US oil companies approch taliban government about a pipeline crosing their contry - told no

14 9/11 - even though none of the hijackers are Iraqi US officals plan for invasion of Iraq

15 Taliban ousted, Bin laden - a one time CIA operative escpes, an executive of oil company that proprosed pipleline across afganistanis made a high ranking offical in the embassy to the new afgani government

16 Bush lies about UN weapons inspectors finding and access, anounces invasion, warn iraqis not to damage oil feilds

17 Bases in Saudi Arabia closed, this incedently was one of Bin Ladens long standing demands, so much for not giving itno terrorist demands

18 Plans for long term occupation of Iraq, dozens of bases planned

19 Saddam tried on lurder charges and summarilly executed - no investigation into WMD uses or human rights attrocites


it is my belif that many oil rich countries are willing to deal with american oil interests, those that arrent were effectivly contined - much as saddam was - but Iran has not been willing to play along since the 50's when they started questioning the revenuse the Brithish were paying them, I belive Saddam was killed becuase he was a key player in trying to break Iran and knew too much about US involvment from the 70's on up

It is my contention that US oil interests have been trying for the last 50yrs to lock down one of the last countries in the world with such large oil reserves.

They thought that Saudi Arabi would be a good staging ground for an air war, but they needed a much closer peice of real estae for a ground invasion

Now it is possible I'm seeing things that are totaly unrelated, but its one hell of a coincidence if I am mistaken.

In addition, read spme articles by PNAC, and look to see how many of their members are in the current administraion - also a navy admiral was place in command of the ME theater and naval ships are on there way to the coast of Iran

Its all about the oil, and this is just the latest incarnation of America's MANIFES DESTINY

Posted by: lujlp at May 17, 2007 1:12 PM

No blood for oil wahhhhh
US is evil booooooo

Nationalization is good for countries - look at all the successful examples.

Posted by: newjonny at May 17, 2007 1:37 PM

And yet you couldnt name one off the top of your head?

And its not 'no blood for oil you moron', its damn near eveyone assumtion that the whole world and all its resorces belong only belong to 'me and my country'

Also your falling back and a bumper sticker mentality - only 4 words? and you obvious inability to even try to refute on thing I wrote is very telling

Posted by: lujlp at May 18, 2007 12:27 AM

Leave a comment