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January 30, 2007

The Price of Muscle-Flexing

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

We're now spending money on the Iraq war faster than we ever spent money in Vietnam. The final cost of the debacle might well come to $700 billion; if I remember right, the Pentagon guesstimated early on that we'd get away with spending $50 billion. Off by a mere 1000% -- oopsie! Too bad about all those deaths too. Can anyone even remember any longer what our purpose in Iraq was meant to be? Who are the bad guys? Who are we fighting for? As far as I can tell, the only goal we're clinging to now is to continue pretending that we have a goal.

Nonpartisan question (let's not forget that LBJ was to Vietnam what GWB is to Iraq): Why do we keep getting ourselves into these messes?



posted by Michael at January 30, 2007


Because everyone wants to be Philip Dru.

Hominids crave power, and they rationalize it as responsibility. No one ever achieved power by promising to enslave his followers. It is always about improving the world, at least from the perspective of prospective supporters. And it is (almost) always sincere. Insincere leaders are very rare, because hominids are very good at detecting insincerity. It is much easier to delude others if at the same time you delude yourself.

When you hear someone talking about "creating social change" or the like, they are scheming for power. The fact that if they obtain this power, it may not have the good effects promised, and (in the modern world) it may not even increase their reproductive success, is quite irrelevant to the genes that instruct them to behave in this way.

Democracy is to power as a lottery is to money. It is a social mechanism that allows a large number of hominids to feel as if their individual views affect the world, even when the chance of such an effect is negligible.

If you look at US foreign policy in the last 150 years, two facts stand out. One is that all US wars after the Mexican War, including World War II, were counterproductive from the perspective of American interests. Two is that all these wars happened because they attracted a broad base of support from people who thought they were improving the world.

Lately there is a new trend, which is that the foreign factions backed by US military strength are only backed by one of the two US political factions. Wars like Iraq are effectively civil wars by proxy. As al-Zawahiri told us, the victory of the Democrats was due to the efforts of the mujahedeen. Any shared interest defines an alliance, whether or not the allies intend it.

So the war in Iraq will end when the US military, handcuffed by the restrictions imposed by its political enemies, is defeated by the various Islamic factions opposed to it, and the Democrats seize complete control of Washington.

However, this is hardly an end to Houseism, because the left - which is of course the original party of Wilson - has foreign clients of its own, such as the Palestinians, the Darfuris, etc. Nor will the Democrats find it easy to abandon unwinnable wars, such as the Afghan war, which are perceived as bipartisan. And they cannot stay in power forever.

In my opinion, these wars will only end when the bond market rebalances and the US suffers the financial consequences of its irresponsibility. Ideally this will lead to the end of democracy and a period of military rule, during which the purpose and structure of the organization in Washington can be reevaluated from first principles.

If this happens, I am confident that the new rulers will realize that "foreign policy" does not serve the interests of anyone but those to whom it provides, and the budget for this project can simply be zeroed.

Posted by: Mencius on January 30, 2007 2:27 PM

We're staying the course, Michael.

As to why these things happen, the military asked that question after Vietnam and the result was Colonel Harry Summers' brilliant little book On Strategy: A Critical Analysis Of The Vietnam War. You can tell the military brass have read and studied the book because they've been following it precisely, page by page, line by line, remaking each mistake in exactly the same way one by one. Nice going guys!

Posted by: Brian on January 30, 2007 2:33 PM

Halliburton. A bi-partisan employer: LBJ and Cheney. There's your reason. That's the only reason - we have been lied into this war from the beginning, and the lie changed as the previous lie was found out. It's really just horrible. I've never seen anything like this - not even Vietnam. It's only about the money and was never about 911. Never ever about 911. If the press will somehow keep the Valerie Plame story alive people will see the beginning of this debacle and how this administration has stopped at literally nothing to keep this war alive, their friends rich (while no one's looking) and everyone else afraid of being watched. "Don't look at Abu Garaib - there'a blonde girl missing in Aruba", "Don't look at the $8billion gone missing, Ronald Reagan died", "There's a perfectly good reason the person heading up FEMA has experienced nothing more disastrous than shoeing time at the ranch, but watch Rome elect another pontiff instead, won't you? Who do you believe - us or your lying eyes?" We have no habeus corpus. We have warrantless searches. Michael, I know too many Republicans and know this administration is not representative of them. It gets worse I think it's an obligation of the people of the U.S. and their representatives to get Bush, Cheney and Gonzales out of there. As Republicans have been slow to ask the exact question you posted Michael, I have faith that more and more will.

Posted by: bridget on January 30, 2007 3:21 PM

I think that $700 billion is a serious understatement, Michael. That doesn't take into account the billions that will be needed to refurbish/rebuild/replace military equipment or a lifetime of medical care for tens of thousands of injured/maimed soldiers, to name two things off the top of my head. Most estimates I've read place final costs at well above a trillion.

As for a possible answer to your nonpartisan question, check out this article:

Posted by: Steve on January 30, 2007 3:43 PM

Well, that's what they used to call the $64,000 question.

While we can't entirely rule out shadowy, behind-the-scenes machinations, it's usually a mistake to find a conspiracy in what is actually run-of-the-mill incompetence.

To try to boil a complex situation down to its most basic elements:

George W. Bush. George W. Bush. George W. Bush.

There is an expression in the theater: "overparted." Meaning, an actor has taken on a role for which he or she just doesn't have what it takes. Somebody who might be adequate in a small walk-on, walk-off role trying to play Lear, for instance.

Bush is overparted in his role. He is probably not, strictly speaking, unintelligent; he might function decently in a position where he didn't have to make big policy decisions. What he conspicuously lacks are other qualities that a genuine world leader needs: previous interaction with all kinds of people, not just one political class; some understanding of history and psychology; a healthy distrust of words and concepts; a talent for self-questioning; and maybe above all, flexibility based on a continuous feedback loop to inform his actions.

I have at times (not recently) respected him for sticking to his principles when subjected to extreme and sometimes vile criticism. But while that can be a virtue up to a point, it is a fault, and a very costly one in this case, when a man can't acknowledge that something isn't working and there's no reason to believe that more of the same will make a difference.

Bush can't seem to step outside his own head, full of half-baked utopian notions and slogans; won't, apparently, listen to opposing views; has trouble changing tactics and would sooner pull the temple down on himself and the country than revise a strategy.

You can analyze the Iraq debacle in fine detail, but ultimately it's down to him.

Posted by: Rick Darby on January 30, 2007 4:08 PM

MB, let me express my sincerest gratitude for providing a space (some my call it a provocation) where various lunatics afflicted with BDS can ramble to their heart content.

Communication with normal people sometimes has its disadvantages: you tend to forget what ZOO is actually out there.

Posted by: Tat on January 30, 2007 4:22 PM

Well, all I know is that we haven't been attacked here at home since 9/11. Did it ever occur to you Bush bashers that maybe, just maybe, battling jihadists in Iraq has something to do with that? Think about it.

Posted by: ricpic on January 30, 2007 4:31 PM

Eisenhower called the military industrial complex. The Pentagon gets more than 50 percent of the total discretionary budget of the US.

That's a huge solution seeking for a problem.

Posted by: ijsbrand on January 30, 2007 4:54 PM

The psychoneurotic cruftiness that drives someone to hunger to be President should suddenly take the day off after the office is won? As if.

Posted by: Don McArthur on January 30, 2007 5:27 PM

Maybe it's just my naiveté, but I'm willing to always cut people some slack, even this Administration. I believe Bush thought he was doing the right thing in taking down Saddam. In doing so, however, he did not anticipate a civil war. He believed the Sunnis, Shi'a, and other factions were universally opposed to Saddam and would unite behind the United States once the country was liberated. He was woefully wrong and now it's a mess. So to answer your question, Michael, about what we're fighting for? To prevent a bigger mess from forming from the vacuum created by a U.S. withdrawal. If this mess is bad, that mess will be unimaginable and one, unfortunately, where we will be required to return and fight again.

Posted by: RonaldS on January 30, 2007 5:31 PM

ijsbrand, thanks to this solution your country and the rest of the Europe haven't had a problem for decades.

I guess we should leave you to solve your problems your own peaceful way, sort of like outlined by this neighbor of yours:

Jens Orback, former Democracy Minister in the Social Democratic Swedish government, said during a radio debate that: “We must be open and tolerant towards Islam and Muslims because when we become a minority, they will be so towards us.

I can't wait for that excellent spectacle.

Posted by: Tatyana on January 30, 2007 5:33 PM

Ricpic: "Well, all I know is that we haven't been attacked here at home since 9/11. Did it ever occur to you Bush bashers that maybe, just maybe, battling jihadists in Iraq has something to do with that? Think about it."

No, it hasn't occured to me, because your conclusion doesn't flow from the facts. You seem to forget the London subway bombing and train bombings in Spain and Mumbai, all of which happened after we invaded Iraq.

Your argument is not only contravened by the facts, but your premise is too. The "jihadists" aren't all located in Iraq, so we can't have them all pinned down there.

Terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology, and can be employed by anyone, anywhere, like Timothy McVeigh or the Unabomber. I suppose that makes them jihadists too.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 30, 2007 5:43 PM

"Why do we keep getting ourselves into these messes?"

Because somebody has to and everybody else is too gutless. Fortunately, we have the Democrats to betray our putative allies for us, so there's that, anyway.

Posted by: DougS on January 30, 2007 6:18 PM

Can anyone even remember any longer what our purpose in Iraq was meant to be?

To defeat, once and for all, a persistent enemy. To apply a giant enema to the Middle Eastern geopolitical sewer that produces anti-American jihadist crazies who attack us, and eventually will attack us at home with WMD if they are not destroyed. To make an example of a dictator pour encourager les autres. To put us in a favorable position to block Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

Who are the bad guys?

Islamic fundamentalist imperialists. Dictatorships that breed anti-western terrorism. Gangsters with nerve gas and nuclear bombs. People who hate us and say that they will kill us unless we convert to Islam.

Who are we fighting for? As far as I can tell, the only goal we're clinging to now is to continue pretending that we have a goal.

Speak for yourself. We are fighting to prevent our eventual conquest by jihadists who will certainly continue to try to conquer us if we stop fighting them. We are also fighting to deter gangster regimes from using terrorist proxies to attack us with WMD.

Nonpartisan question (let's not forget that LBJ was to Vietnam what GWB is to Iraq): Why do we keep getting ourselves into these messes?

Because we fool ourselves into thinking that we are too big and powerful to have to win when we are attacked. So we abandoned Vietnam, and now we are attacked by Islamists who noticed that we have no stomach for war and abandon our allies when the going gets tough, and who think that all they have to do to defeat us is to hold out for another couple of electoral cycles while we demoralize ourselves and talk ourselves into retreating. And with Americans who think like the lot of you the Islamists may be right.

Posted by: Jonathan on January 30, 2007 6:36 PM

It boggles the mind that there are still people who defend our disastrous involvement in Iraq, or who think that continuing or increasing our military involvement in the Middle East will somehow improve our security. They must be utterly impervious to real world evidence.

Anyway, as your post points out, there are no longer any good answers to the most basic questions about this war -- who are we fighting, and why? (Jonathan's post above me provides a fine demonstration of this).

There are lots of things that led us into this mess. But I do think one thing is that the ideological hostility of many right-wingers to the left blinded them to the fact that the next great threat to sane, responsible government was going to come from the authoritarian forces in the Republican party. Too many on the right were still living in the 60s, still shocked and horrified by the overreaching of a small group of leftist radicals during that period, and unable to see the dangers on what they thought was their own side. Authoritarian, big-government conservatives are at least as great a danger as their counterparts on the left, and I would argue more so because they are more likely to attain absolute power in a conservative country like the U.S.

Responsible conservatives and populists (like Jim Webb) are sloowly waking up to the real dangers facing this country. The question now is whether we can turn this into a broad, bi-partisan movement to end our imperialist, interventionist and militaristic ambitions around the world.

I am a Democrat, but I would vote for a conservative anti-war candidate like Chuck Hagel over a more "liberal" candidate like Hilary Clinton who has not been forthright about opposing this war.

Posted by: MQ on January 30, 2007 9:04 PM

The US mobilized in 1941 and has never demobilized. (There was a little dip around 1945-1948, and an even littler dip around 1975-80). There is no peace party, though the Democrats sometimes are thought to be one. Both parties are committed to militaristic internationalism, though they differ about details, and their international relations experts are all buddies and all are chosen from the same pool. Same for the media people.

Very few at high levels believe that public opinion should have any influence at all on policy. Most political people think of public opinion as putty to be molded, and have no respect at all for the the average man.

Right now I'm a lesser-evil Democrat and a Bush-hater, but I'd be a Green if I thought they weren't totally futile. I disagree with (equally-futile) Libertarians about many important things, but peace libertarians like Jim Henley understand military affairs better than the major-party people.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 30, 2007 9:34 PM

We are fighting to prevent our eventual conquest by jihadists who will certainly continue to try to conquer us if we stop fighting them.

I don't know what your civility standards are here, but that's just hysterical-bitch bedwetting looniness. They can't even conquer Israel, and they've been trying for almost 40 years.

When people think like that, though, war has a constituency.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 30, 2007 9:41 PM

Emerson once again outdid himself. Every time I naively think it is impossible, it's a record - but he proves me wrong without skipping a bit. Dumb and dumber, with every passing comment.

And to think our troops are dying for cowardly idiots like him.

Posted by: Tatyana on January 30, 2007 10:28 PM

They can't even conquer Israel, and they've been trying for almost 40 years.

Then why don't they give up? It's obvious that they think they can win. They can't defeat us in combat, and they know it; yet so many of us are full of cultural self-doubt, or with stupid hubris about our own supposed undefeatability, that our country is unable to muster the resolve to use enough force to defeat them decisively. Every half-measure, every Congressional resolution against the war effort, every abandonment of an ally or withdrawal by us encourages our enemies to keep fighting.

These people think that they are right. They think in terms of decades and centuries. They think that they defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. They think that nuclear weapons will soon be available to them. They see us weakening in resolve after a few short years and very modest casualties in historical terms. Why should they give up now? They are not going to stop trying to conquer us until we use enough force against them to devastate and humiliate them, and we have not yet done that.

Posted by: Jonathan on January 30, 2007 10:43 PM

My dear friend Tatyana, what did you object to in my posts (besides the usual "everything")?

Do you really believe that We are fighting to prevent our eventual conquest by jihadists?

Posted by: John Emerson on January 30, 2007 10:45 PM

Well, Vietnam fell to the Communists, but the world didn't end and the domino theory was proven to be bullshit spun by the military industrial complex. Same shit, different decade.

How did it happen again? Dunno. Stupidity maybe?

Posted by: leftie dipshit on January 30, 2007 11:37 PM

Leaders want to conquer. People don't argue with leaders who make them scared. People support the tribe when at war.

Without a Congress that stands up to presidents, war is almost inevitable.

Posted by: JewishAtheist on January 31, 2007 12:42 AM

The world didn't end for for us, you mean. But it did end for about 2-3million Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Loatians. Ahhh, that famous liberal compassion shows its true face again! True compassion isn't evidenced by improving others lot, but by saying lofty things and feeling superior! All talk and no walk. How exactly utopia is to be achieved with such nasty people in the world is a true puzzler, yes it is! Even the marxists knew they would need violence to improve the world. I guess the new path of the left is hidiing under a pillow and looking at porn. Better trade in that yoga mat for a prayer rug, pronto! You'll need it to truly empathize with your new neighbors. Who really thinks that the islamists are coming here? Maybe the wardens who run our prisons.

But its probably easier to deny reality and reach for the next sticky magazine. Modern liberalism, the death cult.

Posted by: BIOH on January 31, 2007 12:51 AM

"And to think our troops are dying for cowardly idiots like him."

No, our troops are dying so certain vain politicians won't have to admit they made a mistake.

"They are not going to stop trying to conquer us..."

These "jihadists" that you live in fear of aren't trying to conquer us, they are trying to drive us out of the Middle East. There is much to be said about the geopolitics of that, but it is helpful to remember that the Middle East is not, in fact, America.

Posted by: MQ on January 31, 2007 1:03 AM

Michael – A provocative post and a potential political and rhetorical minefield.

The Bush Administration might best be compared to the Kennedy Administration’s “best and brightest.” JFK and his crew foolishly believed that they could discount history and intelligence and impose their will upon the Vietnamese and other regimes. Also, they had previously given too much credence to Cuban exiles that everyone in Cuba was anti-Castro and disastrously bumbled into the Bay of Pigs. Most recently the Bush Administration was bamboozled by Ahmed Chalabi into believing that once Saddam Hussein was deposed, the rest of the country would swoon with delight and set up a secular democracy and be our best-friend-for-life. This delusion sadly dovetailed with the neo-conservative fantasies of Bill Kristol and others that the U.S. could use Iraq as the initial leg of a reverse-domino policy in which democracy would magically bloom throughout the Islamic world.

Instead, this is what we have:

There is no war on terror being waged in Iraq. Instead, various native factions are vying for territorial, political, ethnic or religious domination. The U.S. presence is a sad irrelevancy, and we are nothing more than midwives to chaos.

Iraqi moderates are either being killed or run out of the country as extremists engage in ruthless ethnic cleansing meant to eliminate any reasonable efforts at a multi-ethnic consensus.

The Kurdish areas are relatively stable. However, neither Iran nor Turkey would ever allow an independent Kurdish state to come into existence, so pundits suggesting a three-way partition of Sunni, Shia and Kurdish nations have their heads up their butts. Neither Bush nor any subsequent US president will ever back an independent Kurdish state, any more than an American president would back the formation of an independent Basque nation in Spain and France. However, as an aside, I note that if Scotland formally makes itself independent of the UK, then all manner of European schisms may be encouraged. Sometimes, history is a bitch.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan continue to double-deal, supporting our adversaries while pretending to be our allies. Oh, yes, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons and a military that is stronger than it would otherwise be because previous US administrations (both Republican and Democratic Party) insisted on backing Pakistan over India. The Taleban in Afghanistan could never have become resurgent without Saudi and Pakistan aid. It is sad here that Bush plays games blaming Syria and Iran while deliberately ignoring other power players at the table. It is sadder still that many Americans continue to fall for this nonsense.

Democratic Party hacks and so-called peace activists are delusional if they think that either an immediate or a phased pull-out will restore the status-quo. Now that we have been sucked into the maelstrom of Middle Eastern politics, Islamic fundamentalists and extremists will continue to view us as Israel’s bitch, and concoct a stream of inane fantasies to justify hating us.

Bush’s “plus-up” strategy only confirms that he is a stubborn, ignorant fool, along with all the other people who think that we just have to be tough and strong in order to prevail.

We continue to get ourselves into these messes whenever a president believes that only our national interest matters, and when that president under-estimates or ignores the separate and independent interests of both our allies and our adversaries.

Posted by: Alec on January 31, 2007 5:06 AM

Because you elect people like JFK/LBJ and Clinton/W. Stick to Eisenhowers and Reagans. And maybe Trumans.

Posted by: dearieme on January 31, 2007 6:51 AM

Rick Darby, there's a similar idea in the corporate world, it's called "The Peter Principle". Simply, that a person will always be promoted to their level of incompetence.

As to Michael's original question: I think it's safe to say you've got your answer in the posts above. It's because no one in this country can agree on anything. Every question, big or small, has wildly different answers from every single person you ask it of and the concept of trying to see another person's point of view is not only dead and buried, they even forgot where the cemetery is. It's the fundamental flaw with representative democracy: you get a government that's representative of the democracy. Garbage in, garbage out.

Posted by: Upstate Guy on January 31, 2007 9:26 AM

I think it happened in part because Wolfowitz & Co. thought it would be "easy." The initial request for war powers to the Congress was very broad by the Bush Administration, including the whole region, not just Iraq, and was, believe it or not, actually trimmed back by the Senate to just Iraq before they approved it. The original Pentagon crew thought they could knock off Iraq pretty quickly and cheaply and then use it as a base to continue their change-making though several other countries---Syria, Iran. They probably honestly believed--in the beginning--it was the only way to really change the course of the world and the middle east.

My frustration is that exactly what has happened in Iraq--the sunnis and shia really do hate each other, they really don't want to work together, that democracy is a learned skill that they do not have--was emininently predicted in Time Magazine and other places 15 years ago in Gulf War One, when it was noted that the three factions in Iraq were centuries-old tribes with unbridgable animosity, and that perhaps the only way it could be governed as one country was through an iron-fisted tyrant like Hussein, as bad as that was. The reason Papa Bush and Advisors didn't "go for it" then---because they asked the question "and then what?" And got a more accurate answer than Wolfowitz.

Now, I think we are there due to the nauseating answer that the only thing worse than they way it currently is is what it would become if we leave.

Posted by: annette on January 31, 2007 10:30 AM

These "jihadists" that you live in fear of aren't trying to conquer us, they are trying to drive us out of the Middle East. There is much to be said about the geopolitics of that, but it is helpful to remember that the Middle East is not, in fact, America.

That's simply not true. The jihadists (not "jihadists" -- or do you also think we fought the "Nazis" in WW2?) have a well-developed ideology and repeatedly make clear that they want to convert us to Islam or kill us if we resist. For example, when an Al Qaeda spokesman who is an ex-American issued a public warning to us a few months ago, that is what he said. And that message is contained in most of Al Qaeda's broadcasts directed at us. They don't want us in the ME, but they also don't hide their view that western civilization generally, and the USA and Israel in particular, are their enemies by virtue of what they see as our inherent wickedness and refusal to submit to Islam. Look at how the Iranian regime has been (literally) demonizing and attacking the USA for nearly thirty years, and how that regime makes genocidal threats against Israel and implicitly us. Look at the large scale of Saudi- and Iranian-backed Islamic-fundamentalist proselytizing in Europe, the USA and the ME over the past couple of decades. Do you seriously think that these people are going to leave us alone if we withdraw from the ME and avoid them?

And to the people who criticize the USA for having made mistakes, I say: So what? We would have been in something like the situation we are in, maybe better, maybe worse, no matter what we did. That's because we really do have enemies, they have been attacking us for decades, and they will continue to attack us even if we all decide to blame Bush for everything that's wrong with the world.

The Islamists are militarily weak, but we are spiritually weak because too many of us doubt ourselves and doubt the value of our own country and civilization. What's it going to take for those of you who are obsessed with blame to realize that we really are at war with radical Islam and have no choice but to win? Do we have to wait until our enemies pull off more 9/11s or something worse? How is blaming Bush, or US withdrawal from the ME, going to prevent it?

Posted by: Jonathan on January 31, 2007 12:09 PM

Well, thank you for that outpouring of bile, BIOH. Certainly an excellent method of swaying opinion.
I guess you're one of those compassionate conservatives that sees us as a caped crusader saving the world from itself. True heroes, we.

And I think you make a fine example of the simplistic thinking that sees all "enemies" as monolithic -- communists, Islamists, whatever, that cannot engage in any sophisticated thinking around threats to our security and that ultimatly gets us into these quagmires.

You make an example of deaths in South East Asia after we were defeated in Vietnam. The bulk of what you are talking about (and likely your number is high, but estimates vary) occurred in Cambodia from 75 through 79 -- perhaps 1 million people. I'm not a big expert on this stuff, but I don't think these deaths resulted from the expansion of a monolithic Sino Soviet communist bloc into South East Asia a la the Domino Theory. As I understand it, the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime came to power by overthrowing the Vietnamese backed client state led by Sihanouk. They were not supported by either the Soviets or the Vietnamese. In fact it was only after the Khmer advanced into Vietnam that the Vietnamese captured Pnomh Penh and overthrew them. They were insurgents and radicals, with popular support bolstered by anti-foreigner sentiment, that had been held in check by a regime we didn't like (sound familiar?). But through our ideologically driven misadventure we contributed to regional instability which likely facilitated the rise to power of radicals with bad ideas and murderous intent.

Anyway, the point I was getting at was that the imposition of a communist regime in South East Asia didn't result in the scourge of communism threatening OUR way of life. Which was the scaremongering subtext of the domino theory -- global cultural clash, fight for world domination, good (us) v. evil (godless communists) (sound familiar?). When in reality it was a failed colonial venture, much the same our current blunder in the Middle East is an incipient failed colonial venture.

I do consider failed states, genocide, fanaticalism etc. etc. to be threats to global security. No question. However. I don't think our unilaterally invading places from time to time does anything to solve those problems, and in fact makes things worse. Particularly as we blunder around idologically blinkered and unwilling to even consider regional geopolitics and as we do so.

"Stupidity" was simply my shorthand version.

Posted by: leftie dipshit on January 31, 2007 12:42 PM

A big problem with the Bush war is that our current immirgation policies make a joke of his pretense to be defending our civilization.

We're fighting them there while they're streaming in here.

Posted by: PA on January 31, 2007 2:22 PM

Yep, that's me, the simplistic thinker. If I were smarter, I'd see all the shades and nuances that make cowardice and appeasement such pleasant, rational policies.

A million here, a million there--pretty soon you're talking about real people! Yeah, I somehow knew you would eventually put the blame for the atrocities of southeast asian communism on the Washington D.C. doorstep. It's so unlike communists to slaughter their own people. It never happened anywhere else but there. It must be our fault. Sure.

Let me ask you, has America ever done anything to improve the world with its military might? Perhaps defeating the National socialists in Italy, Germany, and Japan, and imposing democracy on those countries, or winning a massive Cold War with relatively few casualties, given the firepower involved, might be considered good. For liberals, nothing good ever came out of violence. Its too bad that you can't see that sometimes violence is necessary.

I'm also sorry to admit to you that, yes, the United States has made mistakes, it being an imperfect world. But what would the world look like without us? Its really horrible to contemplate, isn't it? Self-loathing, unrealistic demands of perfection--it sounds like a perpetual state of teenagerdom writ large as a philosophy and national policy. I'm sorry that the adult world is so unsatisfactory to the left. But we have to operate in it--we have no choice.

You may not see how fighting communism in southeast asia affected us, but fighting communism worldwide did mean that we needed to confront it there (asia being part of the world, you see). I find it funny that you think that since we withdrew our military from that region, that you think we also gave up fighting communism through other channels as well, such as economic isolation, funding democratic movements in neighboring countries, espionage, etc. What planet do you live on? Are you really that naive?

The only reason that I posted has nothing to do with Iraq or Afghanistan. It was to correct the horrid misrepresentation of the Vietnam war and the consequnces to those peoples when we withdrew our forces. It is part of a misrepresentation of the most successful war ever fought, the Cold War, by the left. It sickens me to that anyone could even pass it off as plausible, but given the leftward, America-hating slant of our educational system, and the turning of our popular media into an advertising revenue-jackpot moral sewer, it doesn't surprise me.

Porn and pillows--the ploughshare and the sword of the left.

Posted by: BIOH on January 31, 2007 4:40 PM

BIOH, Roosevelt and Truman were liberals.

The jihadists (not "jihadists" -- or do you also think we fought the "Nazis" in WW2?) have a well-developed ideology and repeatedly make clear that they want to convert us to Islam or kill us if we resist.

They probably "want" to fly to the moon on magic carpets too, but that can't do either one. Let's get some reality. I don't care what they "want" to do.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 31, 2007 5:13 PM

They probably "want" to fly to the moon on magic carpets too, but that can't do either one. Let's get some reality. I don't care what they "want" to do.

If the people in the next town are suffering from an epidemic, should I not care, because the people in my town aren't sick yet?

The Islamists want to nuke us. They've said so. They lack only the means. Nuclear-bomb technology is spreading. How long do you think it will be before someone who wants to nuke us gets nukes? Do you want to find out what happens then? I don't. The only way to prevent it, as far as I can see, is for us to punish the states that sponsor terrorism, and to encourage them to democratize.

Posted by: Jonathan on January 31, 2007 6:25 PM

"Its too bad that you can't see that sometimes violence is necessary."

From the apoplectic artery popping tone, it sounds like this is something you put into personal practice regularly. Do you find folks you have conversations with wiping flecks of your saliva off themselves? Or is this level of shrillness reserved for the anonymity of the blogosphere?

Did I say communists never killed anyone? Did I say the Khmer Rouge were the direct fault of the US (I did say that perhaps with a different balance of power in the region without our presence the Khmer may have been held in check by the Vietnamese -- my point being there are often unintended consequences to war, particularly when one is tone deaf to local power struggles)? Did I -- holy hooba-- say it was wrong to be involved in WWII (note that there were ...ah... other nations were involved too)? Did I say there was never a reason to go to war? No. But because you see everyone who opposes the war as some wooly headed spineless milquetoast liberal that couldn't possibly have a real reason for opposing the misadventure in Iraq, you won't even debate or justify your position. You're just right and everyone else is an idiot.

At the risk of giving you a coronary, can you answer me a few questions?

Can you tell me where in the premise to go to war, opposing a civilization that wants to see our destruction was provided as a cause for war? I thought it was WMDs we were after. Which weren't there. Which is what the inspectors were telling us. But we kicked them out before they were done. What was the rush? And can you tell me what Iraq had to do with jihadists again? And where that was provided as a justification for war? Saddam's link to al Qaida is negligble if nonexistent. Saddam was no jihadist. The jihadists loathe secular regimes like Saddam's.

Saddam was a bad dude, a thug of historical proportions, but a regional threat at best. But he certainly was not the thin edge of the wedge in some colossal clash of civilizations.

Posted by: leftie dipshit on January 31, 2007 6:29 PM

BTW, Roosevelt and Truman were not "liberals" the way today's Democrats are. They believed in strong national defense and in not appeasing enemies. Today's "liberals" believe in talk as a substitute for defense. The national Democrat who has taken a strong pro-defense position in the Roosevelt/Truman mold is Joe Lieberman, and today's "liberals" vilify him.

Posted by: Jonathan on January 31, 2007 6:29 PM

BIOH wrote: "Perhaps defeating the National socialists in Italy, Germany, and Japan, and imposing democracy on those countries..."

Germany, Italy and Japan had parliamentary governments that were supplanted by authoritarian leaders before WWII. The U.S. didn't impose democracy on them, we restored them to their pre-authoritarian positions.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 31, 2007 6:35 PM

BIOH, unfortunately the main one displaying adolescent thinking here is you. In the real world, the United States is not an idealized comic book "good guy" who is always on the side of the angels. Our actions have consequences, sometimes very negative ones. We need to think about the impact of what we do, and measure the costs of our actions agains the benefits. This is a basic lesson of adulthood.

Also, the cold war is over, and trying to refight some version of it in the Middle East by inflating the a few so-called "jihadists" into a world-spanning force of global conquest just shows you have some psychological problems.

P.S. you might want to visit Vietnam someday. It's a quite successful country, no thanks to us.

Posted by: MQ on January 31, 2007 6:38 PM

"the most successful war ever fought, the Cold War"

Really, we simply (or not so simply) outlasted the Soviet economy, which collapsed under its own weight. And we were successful in maintaining the stalemate and hastening the Soviet collapse through proxy wars and leveraging interests, not through direct conflict with the "evil empire". In hindsight Vietnam was really the only major risk factor to that, as the only major military intervention, which involved tremendous direct financial outlay and unpopular human cost. Recall that direct intervention in Afghanistan was a big straw that helped break the Soviet's back too.

And in terms of your slag against Democrats, I seem to recall most Democrats voting for the war in Iraq, on the premise that Saddam had WMDs. So they were willing to go to war for that reason, which turned out to be bullsh*t. But most wouldn't go near Roosevelt's economic policies with a 10 foot pole -- they're too far to the right for that kind of liberal government intervention.

Posted by: leftie dipshit on January 31, 2007 7:43 PM

Jonathan, who are the hell are "Islamists"? I only know of Muslims. Who, by the way, are trying to push us (the West) out of not only the Middle East, but also out of Paris, London, Malmo, etc.

I won't buy any of Bush's moronic talk of "war against terror" until we stop admitting Muslims to our country.

Posted by: hugh on January 31, 2007 8:09 PM

Peter--Okay, we re-imposed it. So what?

MQ--Liberals would have us thinking and not acting forever. Because they don't want to fight for anything. If you read my post, you would see that I admitted to some bad things done by our government. But you are completely overlooking any good. You are the ones casting the US in a simplistic role, not me. US military, all bad, non-violent appeasement of thugs, good.

Yeah buddy, the jihadists aren't everywhere-they're in America in sleeper cells (911), all over Europe, in the Middle East, Africa (Darfur, Kenya, Nigeria), in Pakistan, the Caucasus, Australia, Indonesia, India, and China. But in your opinion, all five of them could meet for lunch at Pizza Hut. Sure. Since I actually read the papers and don't agree with you, I have a mental problem. Wow, are you insightful! Don't like losing an argument, eh? As far as visiting Vietnam, what does that have to do with whether or not fighting communism, which killed 100 million of its own citizens, was a good thing? You'd probably say the same thing about Cuba or China. Its the embrace of the free market which has made that country tolerable. They lived the nightmare of socialism. They know better.

Leftie dipshit, your first paragraph just proves my point. I'm glad we agree. The Cold War win was the greatest victory by any nation in all of history. Democrats would have voted for war against Iraq after 911 even if Saddam Hussein were only guilty of driving without wearing a seat belt. Such is the cowardice and lack of moral fiber they display. Now, since they see unhappiness with the war, they are capitalizing on it by endlessly criticizing the president, military, and (yes) the troops. The ultimate backstabbers and cowards, trying to lead our military to defeat. Pathetic.

Posted by: BIOH on January 31, 2007 8:23 PM

"Yeah buddy, the jihadists aren't everywhere-"

Well, they weren't in Iraq -- until recently, that is.

And I don't think we agree on the Cold War. You seem to be using it as a justification for overt military action, well, everywhere Muslims live, I guess. My point was overt military action was the biggest foreign policy blunder and waste of resources of the latter half of the century. Completely unnecessary to "win" the cold war -- in fact, counterproductive. Doing it once was a mistake. Doing it again (so soon!) seems downright pathological, and worthy of asking the question in the post. What the hell is it with us anyway?

And really, if you're advocating exterminating or subjugating about a billion people in order to make it more amenable to our sort of people, well, there is precedent for that sort of activity. We fought AGAINST it 60 years ago.

And what kind of cowardice does it take to lie to the nation, to Congress, to our troops about the rationale for war? Soldiers are being asked to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend their nation and the administration bullshits them about the cause they may end up laying down their lives for.

Posted by: leftie dipshit on February 1, 2007 12:44 AM

Why, you ask?
1. The U.S. still believes it's the only superpower and that this someone obligates them to fix the world's problems. There's a kind of flattery going on.
2. Most Americans have little idea how vociferously the rest of the world (even its allies) object to an interventionist policies.
3. Mainstream news is 24 hour news, which focuses on "live breaking stories" (usually some general or secretary of defense making some pro forma announcement) instead of critical perspectives. The 24 hour format (and the need for ratings) makes it necessary to prettify the reporting with "soft news." On CNN, news segments are repeated ad infinitum; War reporting would not sell advertising; that makes it hard to cover the war accurately without seeming to be dwelling on it.
4. GWB is a particularly gullible and ineffectual leader.
5. The US govt has very few institutional checks on its global application of powers.
6 (With regard to the Middle East specifically): the U.S. has generally declined to rebuke Israel for some of its most heinous policies, thus letting itself turn into a lightning rod for Arab criticism and enmity.
7. The DOD has lots its focus, changing from defending the US to righting the world's problems. (this, i happy predict, is going to change). The focus will now be on homeland security and border protection rather than nabbing international terrorists and conquering dictators.

Posted by: Robert Nagle on February 1, 2007 9:25 AM


I used the example fo the Cold War not to justify any sort of war today, but to point out that not all military action or deterrence by the US is bad. Communism killed 100 million of its own citizens. Please try to wrap your head around that.

Nobody is talking about exterminating or sugjugating 1 billion people. They are talking about ending dictatorships which are hostile to the United States and which covertly fund terrorist organizations hostile to the US and its allies, and then trying to create democratic institutions whereby power is transferred without violence. It might not work, but its a lot better than sucking up to the regimes that kill and subjugate their own people, and who are hostile to us and our allies.

As far as the motives for US invasion, rest assured there are more than you are or I are being told and also rest assured that those motives serve the interests of the elites and the citizens of this country. All the soldiers are volunteers. None have been hoodwinked. They knew they would or could be asked to fight and they didn't back down.

Its really hard to have an intelligent debate with people who constantly shift the topic and are given to ridiculous hyperbole. I don't mind a few personal jabs here and there, but please stay on topic. My point was that US military intervention in Vietnam was indeed justified, given the results to those citizens that occurred when we withdrew and that the US has done a lot of good in the world with its military. And yes, the world does indeed depend on us to be the leader of the free world. I'm sorry that leadership is seen with such jaundice, but most people would be proud of the title. That's why I say that those who dislike it and dismiss all ths good things we have done are filled with a sense of groundless self-loathing.

Robert Nagle's post is just a re-hash of what he read in left-wing opinion pieces. Blame the military, blame Israel, we are arrogant, we are thoughtless and rude. Obviously we have no legitimate reasons to defend ourselves from Middle eastern states which sponsor extreme islamic terrorist organiztions which blow up innocent civilians in Israel, the US, Europe, Africa, and Asia. It truly boggles the mind. I'm sorry that the war is not playing out like a Hollywood movie, where all of the problems are resolved in a couple of hours and the characters are clear-cut. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, we live in a real one, which obviously many are incapable of dealing with, having been so successfully protected from the real one by US military (that they hate and are so quick to criticize) for so long.

Posted by: BIOH on February 1, 2007 11:38 AM

"not all military action or deterrence by the US is bad. Communism killed 100 million of its own citizens."

I'm not sure I see the connection. Communism is bad, bad, bad, so American military intervention is good?

"They are talking about ending dictatorships which are hostile to the United States and which covertly fund terrorist organizations hostile to the US and its allies"

Which wasn't Saddam. Hostile, yes, for the purposes of enhancing regional power and prestige, but funding terrorist organizations? Not so much.

"its a lot better than sucking up to the regimes that kill and subjugate their own people, and who are hostile to us and our allies."

Not what I'm suggesting at all. You seem to see things as binary opposites. Either we use the military, or we suck up. It's a false dichotomy.

"rest assured there are more than you are or I are being told and also rest assured that those motives serve the interests of the elites and the citizens of this country."

Well, I feel better already. Clearly the current administration has a clear view of obtainable goals and works off of robust and solid intelligence which is impartially evaluated. Just trust'em. Okeefine. How's that working so far?

"None have been hoodwinked."

Well, the war in Iraq was supposed to be about WMD's and Saddam posing a direct threat to us. Which was bullshit. Then it's some vague link to the war on terra. Which is bullshit. Now it's spreading democracy in the Middle East. Lofty indeed, but why is that our job? How realistic is that?

"Its really hard to have an intelligent debate with people who constantly shift the topic and are given to ridiculous hyperbole."

Sorry, I'll put down my pillow and porn and get off my yoga mat and try to be more civil.

"Robert Nagle's post is just a re-hash of what he read in left-wing opinion pieces."

And is wrong how? Because some other liberal said it? And liberals are bleeding heart adolescent minded self hating commies? Argue the points, if you disagree.

"we have no legitimate reasons to defend ourselves from Middle eastern states which sponsor extreme islamic terrorist organiztions which blow up innocent civilians"

Hey, remember Afghanistan? See, there WAS a link to Al Qaida. State supported terror. Unapologetic. Little claim to legitimacy. So, a coalition of nations (gasp - multilateralism and international cooperation! There's a concept!) toppled the Taliban and are currently still there trying to create civil society and support a workable government. Though we seem to have abandoned that project and left other nations to the hard work there so that we could gallivant off to do whatever the hell it is we think we're doing for whatever reason we think we're doing it in Iraq.

It's not a critique of the military. The military is unbelievably good at what it does. It is just not the only tool in the foreign policy drawer.

Posted by: leftie dipshit on February 1, 2007 12:43 PM

Allow another to jump into the fray.

On the original topic, we can go back to that article in Foreign Affairs about "Why Hawks Win." Between 9/11 and the commencement military action in Iraq the Bush Administration and their supporters presented a case for Operation Iraqi Freedom that went something like this.

Saddam has various WMD arsenals, definitely chemical/biological and very soon nuclear. He will, if he hasn't already, turn these over to Al Quaida terrorists who will use them to directly attack the United States. The U.N. inspection teams' inability to confirm the existence of these WMD (definitely established by U.S. intelligence) demonstrated either the incompetence or corruption of the U.N. itself. Saddam, being a cruel and venal despot, had little to no actual support among the people of Iraq, thus his regime would quickly collapse once the most fanatic loyalist troops were disposed of.

Following military victory the people of Iraq, supplemented by the return of highly trained and well-educated Iraqis who had fled the country during Saddam's rule, would express their gratitude at being liberated. Soon, a democratically elected government would emerge. The Iraqis would then be able to freely re-enter the global oil market. Oil revenues would fund the rapid rebuilding of Iraq and they might even be able to repay the U.S. and U.K. some of what we were going to spend on OIF. A democratic (not to mention free market) Iraq would provide both a moral and political example for other Arab, oil rich, nations in the Middle East and a strategic base for military operations in the region as well.

All of this would furthermore enable us to "bring the fight to the enemy" in what would, in all likelihood, be a generation or more long War on Terror. Terror here defined as the province of "Islamic Fundamentalists."

Relations grew testy and cold between most of our European allies and the U.S.; the French especially were derided as cowardly, out of touch, obstructionists. Domestic critics were accused of, at best stupidity and cowardice, at worst self-hatred or treason.

I remember being very circumspect when expressing my dismay about what I thought would prove to be a dangerous mistake that would fuel, rather than weaken, the position of the terrorists. It seemed logical to conclude that, even if everything went exactly as we were being told it would, the result would be a Shia majority in Iraq. Their strongest ties were with the religious fundamentalist regime in Iran and with the Taliban. The Kurds, with whom the U.S. had the strongest ties, were the smallest minority and were problematic in terms of their perpetual independence struggle with both Turkey and Iran. If Saddam DID have WMD wasn't he likely to use them in some last ditch effort? Would he nuke Israel? Would he release toxins to keep everyone from the oil fields for fifty years?

Oh, I was such a brie-eating surrender monkey!

So, how did things play out again?

And, as this thread took on a life of its own and expanded the scope of discussion, I've been trying to wrap my mind around the implications in several of the postings by BIOH et al. Let me see if I've understood the ideal U.S. and our place in the world as you'd like to see in the (near) future.

Immigration is halted, except for a very small number of educated, Christian, white English speakers who might be allowed in annually. Once the borders have been sealed all illegal immigrants would be rounded up. Those from the Western Hemisphere and others who came for "economic" reasons would be deported. Those from most of the rest of the world would be detained, perhaps indefinitely, to determine whether they pose a terrorist threat. All Arabs and followers of Islam would, by definition, pose a threat and either be imprisoned or executed.

We'd revise and improve upon our own governance by moving beyond the archaic ideas set forth in the Constitution of being a republic, with state sovereignty, individual rights, and a system of checks and balances between three separate branches of government. A pure democracy would elect an administration with vastly expanded powers. They would be better able to "do what has to be done" ... "stay the course" ... "make the tough decisions" ... in our global struggle with Islamofacists without interference.

Journalists, hippies, gays, secular humanists, atheists, feminists, Greens, People of Color, New Englanders and most Democrats (I'm sure more categories will be added) will be constrained from expressing opposing opinions by the threat of being detained themselves on the Cheney (or One Percent) Doctrine. [If there is one percent chance this individual could be, or in some way assist or encourage, a terrorist, then our security concerns allow them to be indefinitely detained.] Any interrogation techniques that the government thinks might work, regardless of legalistic niceties, will be used at will on anyone detained under the expanded (yet again) PATRIOT Act.

We will (re-)emerge as the penultimate white, Christian, English speaking nation and use our military might, from conventional forces to nuclear arsenal, to expunge from the planet all communists, socialists, and believers in Islam. The jury is still out on the Chinese, Hindus and Buddhists. Of course, all this will be to expand the Ultimate Greater Good, the triumph of Free Market Corporate Capitalism.

Well, count me among the G** D***, self-loathing, race-traitorous, modernist brainwashed, New England hippie scum for saying that I don't share this vision.

Posted by: Chris White on February 1, 2007 3:00 PM

To get back to the query outlined in the original post, I think BIOH’s comments, in particular his (or her! I’ll be inclusive!) statement:

“Liberals would have us thinking and not acting forever”

provides a bit of an insight into the problem here. As do the responses to his general views on things.

There is a very large anti-intellectual streak in this country. Always has been. Our nation has been founded on relentless, radical and rapid progress and incredible dynamism. Sitting around thinkin and talkin didn’t get tea into Boston Harbour, the British defeated, the prairie settled and the frontier tamed.

One of the themes of this anti-intellectualism is this false dichotomy between thinking and doing that BIOH’s quote there encapsulates. Thinking isn’t accomplishing anything, it isn’t work, it doesn’t produce anything. Talk is worse. It wastes time and is the very antithesis to acting, the very antithesis to progress. this anti-intellectualism rejects complexity as being some needless trick being played, sophistry and befuddling illusion which can be overcome through simple action. Id conquers superego every time. We think from our gut (which has more nerve endings than our brain – I heard that somewhere), and that’s enough. You don't need to talk to achieve concensus when you are just objectively right.

We were also founded on the capacity for relentless expansion. Up to a hundred years or so ago, we could just keep pushing west and plant our society on the empty (except for the native inhabitants) spaces in the middle of the continent. A little blood was shed, a few natives (who weren’t doing anything with the land anyway) were killed or displaced, but nothing good ever came without violence (right BIOH?). It’s been the key to our growth and success. We’ve never been inward looking because it’s not been necessary or productive. We could sustain an isolationist approach to international relations, simply because there was so much scope for expansion and growth within our own borders.

As the 20th century progressed, that was less and less possible. Resources, products and markets that we rely on for prosperity and growth are international. Threats or disruptions internationally to these elements of our propserity become domestic concerns. And they are befuddling, as these disruptions often result from others exercising choices that we would never make, because they don’t make sense within our political or cultural frame of reference, and we've never been ones to puzzle out why folks would do things differently than we would. (You nationalised your pineapple production? Why? You’ll lose money and won’t grow and prosper like we will! And now my can of fruit cocktail costs more! It makes no sense!). The tendency is to intervene (Here, we’ll get rid of that crummy government and show you the right way to run an economy.), and to push back the frontier of our way of life into the pockets of the world that haven’t figured it out yet, and are fucking things up for everyone else by not doing things our way.

We are a nation of paradoxes. We love freedom so much we’ll become a police state to protect it. We were founded by those seeking religious freedom, but became one nation under God. We cherish the freedom to choose, but loathe those that do not conform. We hate rules, but idealise those that enforce them. We’re libertarians that want to tell everybody else what to do. We want peace and security and will keep killing until we get it.

Posted by: myron on February 1, 2007 6:59 PM

My last post on the topic:

There are two facts which all of the left-wingers who oppose the war do not understand properly.

1) Terrorism and terrorist organizations are third party armies who fight for their sponsors without carrying their banner. They seem to be independent, but they are not. Radical muslim terrorism is sponsored by all of the major arab governments of the middle east or from factions within those governments, including Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Egypt. Their goals are to destroy Israel and weaken the west to the point of driving them out of the middle east. They control about 2/3 of the known oil reserves on the planet, which is vital to the world economy. Many nations, including Europe, know this, and are happy that US is fighting this, but make a show of oppostion to gain favor with their liberal and declining populations back home. Since the people of the US and the media really are confused, they really think our enemy is al-Queda, or Hamas, or Hezbollah, and not the states which fund this. The US walks a tightrope of trying to fight against this while keeping the oil flowing and appealling to the western friendly factions in these states, while trying to run a politically correct war, fight a hostile propagandizing leftist media, and not kill any civilians, which the terrorists melt into and out of on a moments notice. As has been played up time and again, the region is powderkeg not only of the clash between western and muslim, but also between jew and muslim, sunni and shia, kurd and turk, etc. But what are we to do when they are blowing up american citizens and buildings? What are we to do when we know that Hussein is funding these terrorist organizations, pursuing WMD (whether he had them or not), and shaking his fist in our face? It would be nice to get a solution to all this from the left. Retreat into America is not an option. We have already been attacked here. Appeasment and talk do not work with these people--they see it as a sign of weakeness. Just look at the Israeli experience for that one. We don't have much of a choice, the way I see it.

2) All peace throughout history, whether on our own streets or others around the world, is bought through violence or the threat of violence. Anyone too ignorant of history or of the human nature they see on display around them to understand this is siimply a fool. I'm sorry that I don't take the non-violent approach seriously, but its an idiotic fantasy. Believe it if you like, but don't expect the rest of us to buy into it. Power goes to the ones who win the violence game. Its either us or them, take your pick. And this time, it really is and either/or argument.

I have no idea what Chris White is talking about. I think he has problems with the idea that freedom has limits, something you might only have difficulty understanding if you live in a world of absolutes and idealism and not the real one. Good luck with that.

Posted by: BIOH on February 1, 2007 9:53 PM

Some of the conservative commenters on this thread have been essentially making stuff up in order to have an excuse to kill more people. They apparently killing, regardless of the justification or lack of justification, as a positive good and a demonstration of national toughness.

Posted by: MQ on February 2, 2007 4:08 PM

At the risk of looking like I"m trying to get the last word in, I'll add the following.

First, thanks for the lucid insult-free post, which sums up your position better than the previous nastiness.

Second, I have said that I agree that fanaticalism, rogue or failed states, thugocracies, etc. are a problem. Where we differ is that I just don't see how invading Iraq could ever have been viewed as a means of getting progress on that front. It merely played into the fanatics' hands. Saddam, villain that he was, was a bulwark against Iran and Shia territorial ambitions. A threat to Israel, yes, provided the means. But much less so than many others. As the now old joke goes, it's as if following Pearl Harbor we attacked Argentina.

Third, I don't expect you to take the non-violent approach seriously. I don't either. But viewing Iraq as a colossal blunder doesn't necessarily mean that one is an unwavering pacifist.

And I think your assessment of the international approach to these problems is off. There was multilateral cooperation around Iraq 1. Military incursions that violate state soveriengty are something widely agreed upon to be worth fighting about. There was multilateral cooperation around Afghanistan -- that was about state supported terror. There was undisputed evidence that the Taliban condoned and supported Al Qaida. And the international community together toppled that regime, as it presented a threat to global security. Why not continue along those lines? Get solid evidence of state support of terror, and get multilateral support for action? Perhaps by getting a broader approach to what is undoubtedly an issue for the security of a number of nations, not just us, we'd be less of a lightning rod. We could also get others to do the work we are less inclined to do -- policing (as opposed to attacking, which we rock at), institution building etc. Of course the answer is that we're to impatient and arrogant to play with others, and are inclined to simply tilt off as we see fit. Problem is, we've started to look like the rogue nations we so despise. We squandered the international goodwill from 9/11, and missed the opportunity to really do something about these problems. We've alienated allies and validated the fanatic's rhetoric about us. Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: leftie dipshit on February 2, 2007 6:37 PM

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