February 24th, 2006

Neocons at war, and at war with neocons

Yesterday’s post about the mosque bombing and the general topic of making political decisions drew forth a host of interesting comments. I gave a very brief response here, but I think a few more words are in order because the issues raised are quite important and the answers are not intuitively obvious.

First, let me say that anyone who wonders what “neocon” actually means, and why I had the temerity (or the stupidity) to name my blog thusly, should look here for a brief discussion and a good link to further information. It has become clear to me that the name “neocon” functions at times as a sort of red flag waving in front of the bulls who’ve decided–for whatever reasons–that neocons are the scourge of the world. As I put it in that linked “Why neo-neocon?” post:

Neocon” is used by critics as a code word for a lot of things, among them: imperialist, unrealistic dreamer, and scheming puppeteer (along with its subset, scheming evil Jewish puppeteer).

The comments on the thread about the mosque bombing display the three charges to a greater or lesser extent. I think, however, that the accent there was on the “unrealistic naive and stupid dreamer” part.

The question raised in the comments that especially interested me (and the one that I plan to try to answer in this post) is this:

Purely as an exercise. If 9/11 was the trigger event to “make you a neo-con”. What kind of event would make you give up this credo?

Is there an outcome in Iraq that would suffice for this event?

The questioner is probably a new reader here, and therefore may have missed my previous statements about how 9/11 was the trigger for my change only in the sense of starting a process that took several years to complete. I tried to make that clear in my “About me” section, and I took several thousand words to explain it, here. Please read them.

But suffice to say it actually wasn’t a single event that changed anything for me. And I doubt a single event would change me back.

What would? The brief and quick answer I offered last night was this one:

What would it take for me to stop believing that, as Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”? Perhaps nothing, short of seeing another form of government that is superior, in action. I have yet to see that. What would it take to get me to believe that someone like Saddam shouldn’t have been overthrown? Perhaps nothing, short of a demonstration that leaving him in would have been better (and I can’t quite imagine how that would be demonstrated).

If the neocon agenda were to guide foreign policy for the next couple of decades (highly unlikely, by the way), and if in that time the world erupts in an enormous conflagration of some sort, it will be clear that the neocon agenda did not prevent very very bad things from happening. I always knew that was a distinct possibility. But if I managed to survive such a conflagration, I still would never know what the alternatives might have brought–the same, worse, or better?

All I can do–all anyone can ever do–is evaluate the situation on the basis of my reading, my thoughts, and my observations. I do quite a bit of all three, and I have seen no other policy that seems as though it would have been a better way to have handled the world we have faced during the last four and a half years. I’m not talking about the details–clearly, there’s room for improvement there–but about the big picture.

I’d like to expand a bit on that answer of mine. To do so, I want to refer to another comment from the previous thread (boy, that thread is the gift that keeps on giving). This comment contains the heart of one of the main serious criticisms of the Iraq war and the hand that the neocons had in it: the writer calls the war an “elective military adventure” that “aggravat[ed]…existing problems.”

I think that the quoted commenter, and many others who would state something similar, are quite sincere in their belief that the Iraq war was elective. Part of that belief system is based on the “no WMD” argument, the one that’s been repeated ad infinitum and ad nauseum on this and other blogs, so I’m not going to rehash that part of it.

The idea that this war was elective has some possible corollaries. The first is that it was waged for dark and nefarious purposes by an evil administration (oil, racism, love of slaughter). I think these arguments have been disposed of so many times that I’m not going to address them further here; those who believe them at this point are beyond the reach of any argument I could muster. The second is the “neocons are naive fools” contention, which is the one that’s relevant to today’s topic. The idea behind this assertion is that those who started us on this “adventure” (note the word choice: they are silly boys who had no idea that war is not a scouting trip) were stupid and shortsighted, having no notion and taking no thought of possible and/or probable consequences before they blundered in to break a lot of eggs.

So, in summary, the criticism goes as follows: neocons naively and stupidly, and for no good reason, electively embarked on a war they saw as an easy (“slam dunk”) adventure. Now we all reap the consequences, including the long-suffering people of Iraq.

I’ve previously written a post that deals with the issue of whether neocons, or Bush, or Rumsfeld, actually thought the postwar reconstruction would be a “cakewalk”, here.
The short answer: they did not. The longer answer: they underestimated the problem of the aftermath, and made some mistakes in going about the reconstruction.

But this in no way invalidates the decision, in my opinion. And this is not a simple failure to admit error on my part–I think this entire blog has proven that I can admit making mistakes, and that I can change my mind. But I’ve seen no reason to do so in this case. Why? One reason is that I did not consider (and still do not consider) this war to have been elective.

Oh, it was elective in the sense that the land mass of the continental US hadn’t been invaded by an enemy force of millions of soldiers bent on our destruction. It was elective in that no country had vaporized our cities with nuclear weapons, or the like. But it was not elective in the following ways:

The evidence or lack thereof of actual WMDs aside, there was (and still is) strong and incontrovertible evidence that Saddam was planning to reconstitute his WMD program as soon as possible. And, combined with the postwar evidence of French and Russian collaboration with Saddam to lift sanctions, that “as soon as possible” would have come sooner rather than later. Nothing would have stopped it short of war, and the UN was complicit in the whole thing. Saddams’s defiance of the UN and weapons inspectors set a terrible precedent that had to be stopped, and the UN was completely uninterested in doing so.

This is not just neocon rhetoric. It is the conclusion of the Duelfer report (not a neocon document). The new Saddam tapes only solidify the idea, and the Oil for Food scandal is part of the picture. The humanitarian plusses in deposing Saddam are also clear; and, although these benefits were most assuredly not the main reason the war was waged, they are a strong side benefit.

And what of the negatives, which are very real and quite serious? The fact that this endeavor was not perfectly executed–well, that was simply inevitable, I’m afraid. I take issue with some of the decisions that were made, but that does not mean I think the whole thing should not have been attempted.

How is it that I can still say this? Well, for one thing, we have no idea whether civil war will actually occur or not; the jury is still out on that. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say it does. What then?

My answer is that it was always a possibility, a risk inherent in the toppling of Saddam. If you remove one threat it does not mean another less-than-desirable outcome will not take its place, not in the real world vs. the world of wishful thinking. And those who accuse the neocons of the latter are guilty of it themselves, I’m afraid, if they ignore the dangers inherent in all the possible choices we faced, including that of inaction.

Because the truth is that the forces leading to unrest in the Middle East are not necessarily stoppable, but the creation of a functioning democracy, if successful, would constitute a counterforce of some magnitude.

If the democracy/human rights experiment in Iraq falls into civil war and chaos, does that mean that doing nothing would have been better? Allowing Saddam to laugh at the sanctions and the UN inspections, and later to rearm himself with WMDs? Would this have been a good outcome? I don’t think so; just a different bad one.

The forces of hatred and destruction have been building up all over the Middle East and Iran for quite some time now. It is very possible they cannot be stopped; that is Wretchard’s Three Conjectures, required reading for all who might desire to understand some of the deeper reasons behind the launching of the Iraq war, and what it hoped to possibly avert.

In fact, civil war in Iraq is not an artifact of American intervention via the invasion of Iraq. It is a manifestation of forces that have been brewing for centuries and especially since the division of the Ottomon Empire after WWI. Saddam controlled and manipulated these forces in his own way, which was to orchestrate his own Sunni-dominated war against the Shi’ites, a type of civil war waged by dictator. Taking Saddam away does not create the problem; it simply changes it in a way that at least gives the Iraqi people a chance of ending up with a better result.

Because the truth is that Moslem-on-Moslem violence is hardly a new thing, or a small thing, or a US-generated thing, much as the anti-neocon faction would like to pretend it is. As Wretchard writes in Three Conjectures:

Revenge bombings between rival groups and wars between different Islamic factions are the recurring theme of history. Long before 3,000 New Yorkers died on September 11, Iraq and Iran killed 500,000 Muslims between them. The greatest threat to Muslims is radical Islam; and the greatest threat of all is a radical Islam armed with weapons of mass destruction.

And Saddam, who did not directly represent radical Islam, was more than willing to arm himself with WMDs and to use them against his own enemies, and/or to support factions of radical Islam with WMDs and use them to revenge himself against his enemies. Does anyone honestly doubt that, had Saddam re-developed his weapons program as he planned, he would have hesitated to use nuclear-armed terrorists to get back at his arch-enemy the US, or his other enemies, both internal and external?

The Iraq war always was a gamble, and it still is. But doing nothing (as well as all the other proposed alternatives) was at least as great a gamble. Perhaps greater. And I believe that those who fail to see that are the naive ones.

88 Responses to “Neocons at war, and at war with neocons”

  1. douglas Says:

    Wait, lets do the math:
    “$107.2 million for “balanced food boxes” for 525,000 mostly elderly citizens”
    Are you sure you quoted correctly? I think that works out to a little over $200,000 per person aided. YIKES! We should just hand them the cash…
    Did I key the calculator wrong…

  2. douglas Says:

    Erasmus-”And if you want something serious to think about, consider the elimination of the Supplemental Food Program (USDA) in Bush’s proposed 2007 budget. $107.2 million for “balanced food boxes” for 525,000 mostly elderly citizens, cut. See how it effects some of them, people like James Barone, 70, who is left with $90 to live on monthly after paying for rent and medicine.”
    Your implying that Bush wants elderly men to starve in the streets. Perhaps Bush feels that rather than running the money through the great federal benefit shrinking machine, direct help to citizens in need should come from state governments, or better still, local governments, or even better still, private charities. They’d get a lot more help to people per buck than the feds ever could hope to.

  3. grackle Says:

    Erasmus, I guess you will be surprised that I do not favor the cuts to the program you mentioned. I agree with few of Bush’s economic policies, his plans for Social Security & the tax cuts being two prominent examples. I am also pro-choice. In fact I have mainly a liberal viewpoint on most things. You’re confusing me with a Republican or conservative – I’m neither. I backed Bush for one reason: because he’s trying to fight the new totalitarianism, & the Democrats, judging by their behavior, apparently would not.

    This point in history is too crucial to be left to appeasers & apologists for the terrorists. You anti-warriors, mainly on the left, have let your fecklessness toward the enemy & eagerness to get Bush lose all of us some hard earned ground, especially on domestic programs. That’s just more reason to be annoyed about the stance of the left on the war.

    On the “implication”: The CNN story was all implication, from headline to text & nothing else. I can do little about CNN(except watch Fox) but E’s posts are quite a different matter.

    As for the “gotcha jokes,” E writes a lot about & evidently cares a lot about “class,” “taste” & likes to titillate about sexual affairs. He must at least be concerned about these issues – or else why write about them? It’s his pathology, not mine – I merely observe & attempt to diagnose. None of it has any bearing on the issue of the war but if he’s going to toss non sequitur into the mix we have a perfect right to respond.

    As for the rest of your admonishment, is it really “cranky” to respond to E’s posts with spirit & passion? I marshal & present my opposition as best as I can & will continue to do so.

  4. erasmus Says:

    grackle

    Wish you had a sense of humor. You treat a few cracks about Bush Sr. and the “implications” of a journalists’s revelation with dead earnestness. And then you put them together for an imagined “gotcha.”Jokes about old WASPy “class” are just Tom Wolfe-like “social notes,” surface observatins that, put together with many others, give you some understanding of where these people came from and what forces (family, wealth, schools, connections) shaped them. There’s no “anxiety” attached to these little notes.
    But I’m wasting words and time here. I was also being tongue-in-cheek about a “conspiracy” between W and Osama. I leave that sort of fantasy to right-wing and left-wing blogs.
    You’re bored. I’m sorry about that. Read a book.
    And if you want something serious to think about, consider the elimination of the Supplemental Food Program (USDA) in Bush’s proposed 2007 budget. $107.2 million for “balanced food boxes” for 525,000 mostly elderly citizens, cut. See how it effects some of them, people like James Barone, 70, who is left with $90 to live on monthly after paying for rent and medicine.
    Read the story, “Food Bank challenges program cut” in the Reno Gazette Journal, publ. on Feb 21.
    Serious food for thought.
    Well, I leave you to your warrior dreams and hope you get over your crankiness.

  5. grackle Says:

    Eleutherius speaks:

    Naw, the Bush Sr. “relationship” with a State Dept. woman is known in DC. He did it smoothly, not in the Clinton lack of class manner.

    Eleutherius loves to gossip about affairs & yet we are put on notice from the beginning of Eleutherius’s anxiety over issues of “taste” & “class.” I guess it doesn’t occur to Eleutherius that engaging in the one could signal a lack of the other.

    Haven’t you seen the story on CNN: “Bush: Bin Laden helped me, book says?”
    “I thought it (the Bin Laden tape just before 2004 election) was going to help,” Bush is quoted. If I were conspiracy-minded, why…

    IF? Hmmm … Hey, I know! Why doesn’t Eleutherius pretend he is conspiratorial, just for the fun of it & flesh out the implication for the readers. I’m guessing that Eleutherius is all implication & no real theory on this one but one can always hope.

    On the CNN story, here’s my favorite quote. Apparently the bin Laden tape was a subject of concern among some Bush campaigners, who thought it might work against Bush. When recalling the discussion back then, Bush related to the interviewer that he had argued the opposite:

    I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn’t want Bush to be the president, something must be right with Bush.

    Exactly. It couldn’t be said any better.

    Releasing a tape just before the election that attempted to influence the election was a mistake & calls into question OBL’s utter lack of judgement concerning the reaction by Americans to certain stimuli.

  6. eleutherius Says:

    GRACKLE
    1. Naw, the Bush Sr. “relationship” with a State Dept. woman is known in DC. He did it smoothly, not in the Clinton lack of class manner.
    2. Haven’t you seen the story on CNN: “Bush: Bin Laden helped me, book says?”
    “I thought it (the Bin Laden tape just before 2004 election) was going to help,” Bush is quoted.
    If I were conspiracy-minded, why…

  7. grackle Says:

    Eleutherius, you & your buddies giggling silly just over affairs of state? And not one teensy weensy little Presidential extramarital affair to titter about? I guess the earlier crack about Bush senior was an anomaly, huh? But I do approve of the Glenn Miller & the old fatigues. Keep it up.

    Me battling in the Middle East? No, those much better than I are doing that quite well. And I’m trying to save the teeth I have left, so opening C rations with them is out of the question. My dentist would be really annoyed if he found out.

    The fact is I’m just not needed over there, where our soldiers are doing a great job. I think me & others who think as I do are needed more in the battle over here, where the anti-warriors give talking points to bin Laden in their desperate & vain attempts to get Bush. I wouldn’t be surprised if bin Laden came out for impeachment a la Richard Dreyfuss the next time he feeds al Jazeera some video; he’s certainly been quick to pick up on other anti-warrior talking points. In one of his missives he even recommended a book written by a leading anti-warrior. The up to then obscure book went to number 12 on Amazon’s top sellers.

  8. eleutherius Says:

    You bet, GRACKLE. My buddies and I sit around, over French cheeses and wines, and giggle ourselves silly over the latest affairs of state. And then, just to make fun of warriors like you, we slip into our old fatigues and dance to Glenn Miller tunes, all while you’re out there in the sands of the ME, battling the enemies of state and opening C rations with your teeth.
    Carry on and show ‘em no mercy.

  9. Robert Schwartz Says:

    “I found the Father of NeoConservatism. He’s Leo Strauss”

    The article you linked was junk. Strauss was a scholar who was interested in close and disciplined readings of the great classics of philosophy; Plato, Aristotle, Maimonides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke and so on. His disciples, who could fit in the back room of the elks club without crowding the place, are teachers who carry on his work of teaching and scholarship.

    They are neither interested in contemporary politics nor foreign policy.

    When I was an undergraduate, I took courses from real died-in-the-wool Straussians. It was the late 1960s, an even more politicized age than this one. Contemporary politics never made it into their classrooms.

    There may have been one real Straussian at the Pentagon a couple of years ago, but he was a third or fourth tier guy. He is gone now. The idea that the liberal ivy league snobs who run the CIA harbor Straussians in their midsts is risible.

  10. grackle Says:

    Oh, I don’t know. I’ll take a little bad taste in a Prez, as long as he or she will try to do something about the terrorists. And I’ve found that people who talk a lot about taste are usually tasteless snobs themselves.

    Myself, I almost donated to the Clinton fund, but I started seeing reports of the money he was getting from Hollywood fundraisers & decided my small contribution wouldn’t make any real difference. I liked ol’ Bill a lot. I voted for him twice & was unhappy to have the Executive branch hampered by the Monicagate farce. That was pre-9/11, of course.

    I guess the Demos think its pay back time. Problem is, all their shenanigans to get the administration could hinder the WOT. Well, it already has, hasn’t it? We don’t have to worry too much anymore about listening to terrorists, now that the terrorist know all about the NSA program. Too bad, that could prove fatal to a bunch of Americans one of these days but we’ll never really know, will we? Harm can be done with impunity if the culprit is reckless & clever. Us Neocons have to do our best to see that the anti-warriors don’t succeed in their dangerous mischief or we’ll never forgive ourselves.

    Oh, & I sure didn’t know about the Bush senior affair – teehee, snicker, snicker. Do you & your buddies get all giggly talking about Presidential extramarital affairs or is it more of a somber conversation with vigorous nods of approval & grunts of agreement at favorite gossip-points?

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    Some people didn’t like Clinton cause of his behavior, most Republicans didn’t like Clinton cause he made the country less safer. Interesting dichotomy.

  12. eleutherius Says:

    Not a penny.
    Bill’s problem wasn’t defense, it was offense. Bad taste, although not a criminal offense, is not what you hope for in a president. At least the sr. Bush kept his extramarital relationship discreet. Old Yale vs New Yale, I guess.

  13. grackle Says:

    Contribute to a Libby legal fund? Not a bad idea, actually. My hope is that Libby goes to trial instead of copping a plea. I relish the thought of certain folks connected to the case having to answer a sharp defense lawyer’s cross examination under oath, especially the Special Prosecutor & his team. They had a few leaks of their own. Yep, legal expenses can be a real drain on income. I guess the Clintons found that out. Did you contribute to ol’ Bill’s fund?

  14. eleutherius Says:

    Gosh, cackle, I don’t hate them. I don’t think they are devils. I do think they are incompetent and dishonest, but that could be said of a vast number of human beings.
    But warriors must stick together. I assume you are doing your best, as many of us are, to contribute to the Libby Legal Defense Fund over at scooterlibby.com
    Old Eli Warriors must look out for each other in tough times.
    Carry on, you magnificient warrior, you.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    I found the Father of NeoConservatism.

    He’s Leo Strauss

    “We believe the dimensions of national heartbeats are greater than village impulses, greater than city demands, greater than state dreams or ambitions. Therefore, we believe a nation’s memorial should, like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, have a serenity, a nobility, a power that reflects the gods who inspired them and suggests the gods they have become.”

    Neoconservatives believe we all can be Gods!!! This must be why Islamic Jihad hates America so much.

    There is only the One True God, Allah, inshallah.

  16. grackle Says:

    Fifty ways to spot an anti-warrior – number 34 is that they hate all the main actors in the administration. Not dislike, not disagree with – no – they HATE Rummy & the rest. Why? To listen to them you would think it’s BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL DEVILS, DEVILS I TELL YOU!

    The real reason is that Rummy, Cheney & the rest mostly ignore anti-warriors. There’s nothing worse than being ignored when you are a sputtering, futile anti-warrior. In fact I should ignore eleutherius but I’m bored & want to see what eleutherius has under the hood. So far, the performance is a bit disappointing.

    Number 35 is that they swallow terrorist lies like gumdrops but are always ready to impugn the Bush Administration.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    When it comes down to one man telling them what they want to hear, and another telling them what they need to hear, the public will inevitably flock to those that tell them what they want to hear. Whether that happens to be the truth, or not, is immaterial as far as the mob is concerned… but it matters the day after, when they have to live with the cosequences of their actions.

  18. eleutherius Says:

    But Rumsfeld is a great comic!

    “Although the enemy is increasingly skillful at manipulating the media and using the tools of communications to its advantage, it should be noted that we have an advantage as well. And that is, quite simply, that the truth is on our side.”

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
    Belongs on a Letterman List.

    How about that “quite simply?”
    Beautiful. Ha, ha, ha. Funny, funny, funny.

  19. grackle Says:

    Fifty ways to spot an anti-warrior – number 28 is that they are always impressed by NYT hatchet jobs on Halliburton. It’s part of their Cheney is a Demon Syndrome.

  20. eleutherius Says:

    “In answer to written questions, a spokesman for the DCAA, Lt. Col. Brian Maka said the settlement of the disputed charges was based on ‘broader business case considerations’ beyond just Pentagon audits.”

    I bet. Wink, wink, nod, nod.

  21. grackle Says:

    “Once all the facts were fully examined, it is clear, and now confirmed, that KBR performed this work appropriately per the client’s direction and within the contract terms,” said Cathy Mann, a company spokeswoman, in a written statement on the decision. The company’s charges, she said, “were deemed properly incurred.”

  22. eleutherius Says:

    “The Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs oin a $2.41 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq, even though the Pentagon’s own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive and unjustified.”
    NYT, 2/26/06. p.1

  23. grackle Says:

    Nice guys never win. They’re too nice.

  24. Bezuhov Says:

    “Everything in the USA happens for one reason.
    Follow the money.”

    This is what happens when children play with Occam’s razor…

  25. Eleutherius Says:

    Everything in the USA happens for one reason.
    Follow the money.

  26. Ymarsakar Says:

    Marshall needs to learn logistics and what is known as a “two front war”.

    You can’t have an invasion of Iran without the logistic support bases in Afganistan, Kuwait, and Iraq.

    For one thing, Tehran is real close to Iraq. As with Iraq, if you don’t seal off the borders, the enemy is just going to slip away and plot destruction anew. Which is why the insurgency happened a couple of months later, rather than immediately. They got away to Iran and Syria. Mostly Syria.

    Why? First, we always rely immensely on our aircraft carrier forces to provide close air support to our ground troops abroad.

    Any military amateur knows that close air support is accomplished through 3 primary aircraft systems. The A-10 Warthog. The Apache Helicopter. And the Spectre gunship. New age systems like the JDAM dropped from fighter/bombers and the Hellfire Predator drone system, are innovations relatively new.

    Marine Regiments actually have in-built air support, they are self-sufficient and do not depend upon the Army or the Navy or the Air Force for air support (Unless they need a lot of JDAMs). The Army has their own helicopter bases.

    Without carriers, which doesn’t fly A-10 Warthogs the last time I checked, you don’t miss out much except probably a CAP and more pilots.

    One of the reasons to take Iraq is to get access to their airfields, which allows the Air Force to strike deeper and harder into Iran. Marshall doesn’t want to say this fact, because it contradicts his theme. Air support is most effective when it has short distances to traverse, and close air support requires even shorter distances and faster communications.

    Link

    People need to understand that an untested military is a useless military. Nobody is afraid of an untested military. The idea that Iran was afraid of us before, but now isn’t given the kind of battle experience we are racking up in Iraq, shows a decided lack of military expertise and human diplomacy.

    It is the belief that technology is what makes someone afraid of your army, rather than the experience and training of your soldiers. I don’t believe anti-Americans are afraid of our technology, since their media technology and savvy offsets our advantages.

    Stop telling lies, our main basing and logistics were in Kuwait. Osama was using our forces in Saudi Arabia as a propaganda prop, it was about time we took that away from him.

    We don’t need the Saudis for anything, they needed us. Get that straight before talking about logistics.

    Funny how that hasn’t really happened yet, isn’t it?

    Marshall seems to think we get 100% of our supplies from Kuwait. If we invaded Iran like Marshall wanted, how would we get any logistics through Afghanistan, when they didn’t have any highways?

    Marshall needs to talk about how multilateralism people like him wanted us to go to the UN, and when we did, it just allowed Saddam to cook up an insurgency which is now killing Americans and Iraqi children. But he won’t.

    Civilians are SUPPOSED to run the military in a democracy so that you don’t have a military state…

    Didn’t you get the memo? Some people want a military state, it is the only way they can acquire power.

    If it weren’t for multilateralists and UN wannabes, the insurgency in Iraq would be a lot less powerful.

    As I said when the Democrats were yelling that Bush was unilateralist, they were totally lying, Bush is too multilateralist, not too unilateralist.

  27. grackle Says:

    Marshall writes:

    By the time the carriers came back on line, we were up to our ears in an Iraqi insurgency, which, from that point forward, has demanded virtually the entire rotation of our combat ground troops to even forestall, let alone defeat.

    Marshall seems to believe that lack of US aircraft carrier capacity had something to do with the Iraqi terrorists, as in: If only the US had been able to keep those carriers afloat those pesky terrorists wouldn’t have come to Iraq. Am I the only reader to find this assertion incredible? It seems to me that US aircraft carriers & terrorists sneaking into Iraq have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

    Second, our main staging and logistical bases in the region were in Saudi. They were how we kept “stability” [meaning the potential for us to go to war, and, more importantly, to be able to threaten it] in the region. We were welcome in Saudi only as long as the threat of Saddam Hussein to the Saudis had to be managed. The moment we “declared victory” over Saddam, our welcome in Saudi vanished.

    For me this is a new wrinkle in the US-Causes-Problems-BY-Fighting-Terrorism Meme. Paraphrase: By fighting terrorism the US lost its military base in Saudi Arabia, which decreased US military strength in the ME region. I’ll admit the basic truth of this particular meme but have a different viewpoint on it’s significance.

    I’ve noticed that anti-warriors & indeed many others are quick to criticize this particular Middle Eastern ally, I think with some justification. The Saudi rulers find themselves harassed by a monster of their own creation born out the hatred of the West they’ve instigated & encouraged. But Marshall & the others need to keep in mind some cultural & diplomatic realities.

    Saudi Arabia is a bit like Europe during the Inquisition. There were the nominal rulers, the royalty & attendant security forces & bureaucracies. But there was also the Church, which had power to rival the royalty or any other secular elite.

    Now try to imagine Inquisition-era Europe with a Church even more powerful. To me that type of society in some respects would look like today’s Saudi Arabia.

    The alternative to the ruling Saudi royals? Probably a jihadist regime, perhaps even headed by none other than bin Ladin himself. Far-fetched? Bin Ladin is a Yemeni & Yemeni-led Jihadists are responsible for the current spate of terrorist attacks taking place now in Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia is one of America’s main trading partners. The US gets 20% of its oil from the Saudis. The oil is vital to the American economy. I can’t see that any US administration has had any practical choice other than to attempt to support & keep a friendly, cooperative relationship. Rather than bow to these diplomatic & foreign policy realities the anti-warriors & other critics affect a tone of outrage & become incensed.

    … we spent all our time spinning our wheels looking for phantom WMDs, while the Iraqi insurgency not only put itself together, but also armed itself directly out of Saddam’s old supplies of military small arms. And they did this right under our noses.

    I think Marshall exaggerates the amount of effort the US made to find WMD in Iraq. From what I’ve read the administration’s efforts were minimal – perhaps because they did not realize that the question of WMD would become so central to the current debate. After all, WMD was only one among many reasons to topple Saddam.

    At any rate, Marshall sets up a false dichotomy by implying the US could either have stopped the terrorists in Iraq or looked for WMD in Iraq, but not both. I hold that one does not at all preclude the other. But more than that, I think that no amount of effort could prevent the sniping, car bombing & suicide bombing that represents the sum total of the terrorists’ activity in Iraq to date. As we have seen for years in Israel, that sort of low-grade, irritating-but-not-debilitating warfare is impossible to completely prevent.

    Marshall’s basic stance is that US wars in Afghanistan & Iraq have lowered America’s ‘threat index,’ which has emboldened Iran to go nuclear. I disagree. I think Iran would be trying for a nuclear WMD irregardless of Iraq & Afghanistan. Iranian attempts at nuclear development goes back to at least the 80s, long before Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait & the first Gulf War, long before 9/11 & the Afghan war, long before the present war in Iraq:

    After Islamic radicals overthrew the Shah of Iran and seized the U.S. embassy in 1979, Washington slapped an arms embargo on Iran. Undaunted, Iran conducted an international campaign of assassinations and terrorism, pursued a clandestine nuclear-weapons program and waged a bitter war with neighboring Iraq (1980-88).

    http://www.jinsa.org/articles/articles.html/function/view/categoryid/140/documentid/420/history/3,2359,2167,645,140,420

    The moment our troops stepped across the Iraqi border any credible threat to make war on Iran vanished. Period. Because of this, we have all but solicited the Iranians to successfully achieve a nuclear weapons capacity.

    I think Marshall & perhaps the Iranians may be misjudging the seriousness of the administration’s intentions. Iran’s nuclear program can be set back another 10 years if Bush decides to do it. Personally, I hope Bush uses any means necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran, or Syria, or Libya.

    On the other hand, if a Democrat wins the next Presidential election, I think Marshall is probably correct that nothing of substance would be done about Iran or other hostile states that might try to go nuclear. It would be back to diplomacy & hoping for the best – a pre-9/11 strategy – a strategy that 9/11 proved wrong.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    “The only leverage we had on Iran was the threat to go to war. Our fine President–and all his cheerleaders–simply fail to undertand even yet why it is more important in foreign relations to have available the threat to go to war than it is to actually go to war.”

    Problem is, we didn’t have available the threat to go to war. Every leader in the world – even our allies – believed our threats of war were empty. That’s the reason our enemies felt they could fund Al-Qaeda and remain immune to any retaliation, even after they launched a terrorist attack on US soil. That’s also the reason many of our former allies are so alienated… we proved that our threats of war are not as empty as theirs are, and it terrifies them.

    Simple fact is, we had to fight someone, if the threat of war was ever to mean anything at all. Another simple fact – no matter who we went to war with, the news organizations would declare it the wrong war. Before Iraq, Afghanistan was the wrong war to be involved in. I still remember the cries of “quagmire” that rose when we did that.

    The leaders of the media are quite proud of the fact that no matter what Bush does – even if he does nothing – they can still condemn him. They truly think that means they have him checkmated, and thus have won the game.

    But in real life, when you punish a man for everything he does, you end up actually freeing him to do anything.

  29. douglas Says:

    Anon-
    “Cheney, Clinton et al: I don’t respect those who avoid the horrors of war but push others into them.
    If it walks and talks like a chickenhawk…(No matter what party colors it wears.)”

    You mean like, oh, FDR? Lincoln? They had legitimate medical outs, you say? So you advocate that we should only have Presidents that HAVE gone to war? Otherwise we would be unprotected to agressors, with a President who by your standards cannot go to war. And how would a potential President get that experience if we don’t go to war?
    Civilians are SUPPOSED to run the military in a democracy so that you don’t have a military state…

    Steve-
    “There is no culture of individualism or autonomy in a clan society. Sure these things can develop OVER TIME.”

    You mean like Japan in 1945? Talk about the ultimate clan society, not to mention “over-taxing the natural resources” of their little islands. Somehow, even with the precedence of the group over the individual, they have embraced democracy and have become a reliable ally; even though we WROTE THEIR CONSTITUTION. Every word. Go figure.

    Steve-
    “This may end up costing 100,000 Iraqi and American deaths (even without a civil war), not to mention the wounded and traumatized.”

    Later:
    “In terms of casualties, that is, killed and all wounded, I would expect that 100 K would be conservative at this point, 3 years later. There must be 30 K American killed and wounded already. To say that we are inflicting casualties at a 3:1 ratio is not at all extreme.”
    It’s not good to attempt to reframe something that you’ve left a written record of thinking no one would notice. Folks, you can skip over Steve’s comments from now on.

    Anon-
    “If the aim of the WOT is to control bad guys — like Osama — from getting nukes, then that has to be accomplished with the military equivalent of giant SWAT teams. In this area, police states are our friends. They can do a lot of surveillance for us.

    The only thing we can do is prophylaxis. In this respect, Afghanistan was perfectly justified, Iraq, in my opinion, much less so. “

    In the first part, you’re absolutely correct (Pakistan comes to mind). Then there’s that following line that implies that leaving Saddam’s police state in place would somehow HELP us… You can’t be serious.

    Steve quoting Flenser, then addressing it-
    “We have have been attacked, repeatedly, by nations in the Middle East.

    Name the sovereign states that have attacked us since, say, 1995. Iraq is not among them.”
    Really? I bet the pilots that got shot at in the no-fly zone imposed on Iraq in the cease-fire agreement they signed would beg to differ. That alone is Casus Bellum. I’m not sure that attempting to assasinate the President doesn’t count either.

    Joseph Marshall-
    “Before we invaded Iraq we had a nation state whose capacity and intention to go nuclear was known, who had actual reactors and yellowcake in place, and who was implacably hostile to us.

    That nation was Iran.

    The only leverage we had on Iran was the threat to go to war.”
    And somehow, moving upwards of 150,000 troops next door on both sides, and establishing that we ARE willing to go to war isn’t leverage? You might want to check with the Iranians about that.

    “Our fine President–and all his cheerleaders–simply fail to undertand even yet why it is more important in foreign relations to have available the threat to go to war than it is to actually go to war.
    I’m not sure, but this may be the silliest thing I have ever read. It is more important to have the threat of war, but it’s not so important if you go to war…Hmmm, you’ll have to explain that one to me, I guess since I’m not a diplomat.

  30. Goesh Says:

    We rebuilt the immense devastation of the Civil War and integrated God knows how many Blacks out of slavery into civilization. Roughly half a million soliders were killed back then and who knows how many civilians, and who knows how much property was destroyed. When Sherman marched to Atlanta, he pretty much burned a swath 100 miles wide all the way. For Christ’s sake, we overcame all of that yet we sit clucking our tongues and shaking our heads and wringing our hands because we don’t think Iraqis can overcome 4 days of murder,costing what? 400-500 lives maybe? 700? A thousand? 50,000+ of our finest young men were killed at Gettysburg alone in one battle. Oh the horror! 60-70-80 mosques have been destroyed in Iraq! Oh God! how could life ever go on after some buildings used for prayer are destroyed!? The babies are starving because mosques were burned! Mothers aren’t nursing!There is no commerce! Nobody is going to school! People aren’t eating! No Iraqi is sleeping and making love and watching TV! Nobody is bathing and shopping and reading and visiting! Everyone is killing each other! Nobody is eating any food! Soon all the Iraqis will be dead! Oh god in 2 weeks they will all be gone – even babies are burning and shooting! The elderly and infirm are rising up from wheelchairs and slaughtering tens of thousands of people! Shia grandmothers have organized a homicide tank brigade and are using tanks to crash into Sunni orphanages crushing tiny, already-crippled orphans! Ain’t we a bunch of arrogant bastards – no wonder so much of the 3rd world hates us.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Excellent post, Neo. I wonder, if there is a coming internecine war growing out of the shrine and mosque bombings (I don’t buy that this is a certainty) what we should do? Rather than withdraw and leave the Sunnis and Shi’ites to brutally settle it, should we undertake a long term secularization, modernization, and education of the country until it is something less primitive than, say, Turkey today?

  32. Bezuhov Says:

    I think what happened was that Bush picked too many fights at once, or rather that too many picked him. He could have taken on the media or the terrorists, but it turns out, not both, as the former is needed to beat the latter, though in their (ironically) jingoistic arrogance, they don’t know it.

    Jingoistic in that they imagine the US so strong that next to it, militant Islam is merely a criminal nuisance to be shooed away or an oppressed minority to be understood. Therefore, they were free to focus their attention on every perceived slight from the White House, blind to the extent to which they’ve been played like a violin by militant Islam, adding great flame to several fires, most notably the various insurgencies in Iraq.

    It is rather rich to be getting “I told you so’s” from those who feed the hopes of the enemy at every turn. Thanks.

  33. Joseph Marshall Says:

    The idea behind this assertion is that those who started us on this “adventure” (note the word choice: they are silly boys who had no idea that war is not a scouting trip) were stupid and shortsighted, having no notion and taking no thought of possible and/or probable consequences before they blundered in to break a lot of eggs.

    Precisely. And you still don’t even know where the real eggs were broken. This is because you and your confreres consistently refuse to look at the context for the Iraqi invasion.

    Before we invaded Iraq we had a nation state whose capacity and intention to go nuclear was known, who had actual reactors and yellowcake in place, and who was implacably hostile to us.

    That nation was Iran.

    The only leverage we had on Iran was the threat to go to war. Our fine President–and all his cheerleaders–simply fail to undertand even yet why it is more important in foreign relations to have available the threat to go to war than it is to actually go to war.

    And this is precisely why they are “silly boys”.

    The moment our troops stepped across the Iraqi border any credible threat to make war on Iran vanished. Period. Because of this, we have all but solicited the Iranians to successfully achieve a nuclear weapons capacity.

    Why? First, we always rely immensely on our aircraft carrier forces to provide close air support to our ground troops abroad. Fighting two wars in so close a succession as Afghanistan and Iraq all but exhausted those resources.

    For thirteen months after the “mission accomplished” grandstanding, there was only one U.S. aircraft carrier on the entire high seas. All the rest were in for repairs. Consequently, you didn’t hear anybody in the Bush Administration even mention the word Iran during those 13 months.

    By the time the carriers came back on line, we were up to our ears in an Iraqi insurgency, which, from that point forward, has demanded virtually the entire rotation of our combat ground troops to even forstall, let alone defeat.

    So from that point forward we have never been a credible military threat to the Iranians.

    My best guess is that we probably won’t be so again until 2010. We will need somebody in the Oval Office who is responsible, and not clueless. And it will take that person at least a year to reorient the policy. So 2010 is optomistic.

    That will be seven years that we will have given the Iranians a free pass to work on nukes, because of the boneheaded decision to invade Iraq.

    Second, our main staging and logistical bases in the region were in Saudi. They were how we kept “stability” [meaning the potential for us to go to war, and, more importantly, to be able to threaten it] in the region.

    We were welcome in Saudi only as long as the threat of Saddam Hussein to the Saudis had to be managed. The moment we “declared victory” over Saddam, our welcome in Saudi vanished.

    Our fine neo-con thinkers, both in and out of government, didn’t think this was a real military problem, because we would soon be re-establishing those stabilizing bases in Iraq.

    Funny how that hasn’t really happened yet, isn’t it?

    Why? Because, for six full months after the “mission” was “accompished” we spent all our time spinning our wheels looking for phantom WMDs, while the Iraqi insurgency not only put itself together, but also armed itself directly out of Saddam’s old supplies of military small arms. And they did this right under our noses.

    Now you might ask why I seem to be so down on the President’s current “multilateral” approach to the Iranian problem. After all, that’s what fellows like me wanted him to do with Saddam, right?

    “Multilateralism” is impotent without the threat of war behind it. If you are forced, as the President has been by his own blunders, to proceed multilaterally by default, you have already lost the diplomatic game. Because he cannot make yet a third war in the region while still tangled up in the other two, George Bush has already lost on Iran.

    There will be a nuclear armed Iran. George Bush destroyed our best chance to prevent it. That will be his lasting Presidential legacy.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    First half goes for the comments after mine, last half is direct response to Steve’s questions of victory and defeat.

    It is divided by the line, “To Steve”.

    That it just magically occured independant of OIF?

    Of course, only a fool or a patriot would believe his country was responsible for removing the premier evil in the world. The Berlin Wall collapsed without US help as well, dontcha know.

    I told you guys that whenever anything bad happens in the world, it is the US’s fault; the US made an earthquake generator and caused the tsunami, the US did bad things and got hit by 5 hurricanes, and the US went into a sovereign nation and got their ass kicked and helped terrorism. And whenever anything good happens it is because of the socialists and the anti-American patriots.

    where, precisely did you get that?

    He got it from the MSM propaganda after the fall of Baghdad.

    I’m telling ya, these people are easy to convince, just needs a good propaganda and psych ops.

    Two things – where is such a thing written in law?

    It’s called Real Politek. And everyone that practices real politeks also practices criticism of America.

    I bet Kuwaiti’s would disagree

    How many divisions does Kuwait have? With so few armed forces, the real politek guys are not going to waste time listening to their problems. They just don’t care.

    The Kurds are even more of an underdog than Kuwait, and that means they are even less important to the world oligarchs.

    No evidence? Have you ever even bothered to pay attention to what Saddam has done in the past? I think the hundreds of thousands dead at his hands that stopped only where we forced him to are “evidence”.

    Do you remember when Stalin said, one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic?

    Or is your draft avoid/evade rule absolute?

    Well, see, they believe that if we were invaded then it would be a people’s war, like the one in WWII with Russia. Since it would be a people’s war, it doesn’t matter if 20 million Russians die.

    But when they say it is an “elective” war by Bush, then 2,000 is too much.

    It all depends. Steve has a different argument of course, so I’m not refering to him.

    Anti-warriors have a kind of childlike beatitude in that they can blandly gaze upon one of the Middle East’s worst murderers & mildly state that they see “a threat to no one.”

    A threat to no one that matters, to them. I said it before, they just don’t give a damn. It ain’t their family, they don’t care, let them die.

    It’s a bright contrast, in comparison to how American soldiers have performed when at their best.

    Ymarsakar, I believe that if you punish bad actions, they will sometimes stop.

    The percentage of the chance of it stopping or even being prevented is based upon the ratio of risk vs rewards, but more importantly, it is based upon the absolute punishment.

    By increasing the punishment, you go from “sometimes” to “always”.

    If your actions only stop people sometimes, then your problem is in your punitive actions, not with the principle itself.

    UN has as much chance of punishing the bad actions of someone like Saddam or a rabid Iran as I have of turning into a pumpkin.

    The theory that you can stop bad things by going punitive and pro-active, does not really require the UN. It just requires some organization that can act on a world ranged basis. Like all pragmatic people, I don’t care what you call it, I only care if it works.

    Oh, sure. And Bill Clinton never had sex with that woman.

    It’s always fun talking to people that wouldn’t know a mortar from a sex toy.

    You see the logic, it is obvious. When confronted with things of war and peace, they go directly to the sex. Sex specialists make very poor warriors and soldiers. To win a war, you need those specialized in military science and the Art of War.

    neo-con
    As much as I understand your journey from a conformist, stifling liberal environment, isn’t it just possible the neo-con one is just as conformist and stifling?

    People like me will always make sure that Neo won’t become conformist. Some people actually change their rhetoric and belief depending upon the audience, I think they used to call that Rhetoric Skill.

    Our political system is as much dominated by corporate thinking

    These people have a lot of nerve. They don’t give a pock about UN corruption and then upchucks to us, getting in our faces and telling us about corporate thinking. They should know, they are the ones cheering the corrupt oligarchs on in this world.

    But you project. And that is your problem.

    Don’t make the same mistake Erasmus made. The first guy that yells projection has a 50% chance of being the projector. Go look it up at wikipedia if you don’t believe. But I don’t think you would understand the logic, though you can try, even if you would fail.

    You suggest—what? We’re waiting.

    They suggest you take a stake and ram it up the… badonadunk?

    To me, continuing a conversation at this point while refusing to simply check the “other” button and choose a consistent name is quite–well, this is the operative word again: annoying.

    I just go with semi-literate to illiterate.

    I don’t care about the people who correct their mistakes, but it is fun to rag on the ones that like making them.

    As for America being a shell…that is stupid.

    All fantasies are in the end, stupid in one form or another.

    The United States is the still the hope of the world.

    We are humanity’s last and best hope for maintaining civilization. If we fall, we’re taking everyone else with us into the Dark Age, so they’d better pray we stay alive and kicking.

    To Steve,

    Japan was never like this,

    People need to think twice before suggesting, even if only in their heads, that Japan did not use suicide bombers, kamikaze attacks, bonzai charges, and totally fanatical fighting tactics.

    You need to recognize the fact that everyone has a weakness, even the most fanatical enemy.

    The point is that once you have turned the corner, you must keep the pressure on. Because people are chasing you and they are turning corners as well. If your rate of turning corners in the war is exceeded by the enemy’s, then you’re dead. If you aren’t ahead of the curve, you’re under the tires.

    Until Saddam dies *the more gruesome the sooner the insurgency stops*, Syria is intimidated into backing off, and Iran is neutralized, the insurgency is not going to stop.

    Do those 3 things, while maintaining the status quo strategy in Iraq, and victory will be in 5 years to 10.

    Steve said…

    In general I think too many people have some kind of absurd notion that, because 19 guys hijacked some planes and killed three thousand Americans, that we have the right to invade any country at any time and install any kind of government we want.

    I don’t think we have the right to invade a nation because of 9/11, I think we have the right to invade a nation because we’re more powerful than that nation is or their allies are.

    The US has to live in the rest of the world.

    Tell that to the Arabs rioting, intimidating, and killing Danish and Dutch people that they have to live in the rest of the world.

    Power is security, bar nothing.

    The role of any sovereign government is to produce and harness enough power to protect the nation and the citizens. If you get invaded, that’s your problem to fix. There is no world policeman or court system to take your side and arbitrate the issues. Rights exist only so long as you have enough power to charge and maintain them.

    We are 5% of the world’s population.

    Do you know how many runner up (next largest) Navies combined would equal the tonnage of the US Navy?

    We cannot rule the world by nuclear deterrence.

    I don’t think Iran got the memo.

    You can’t rule the world through nuclear deterence if you aren’t willing to use nukes, that would be obvious.

    Nor can we even rule the world by force of conventional arms.

    There is always unconventional arms, propaganda and psychology. The US is not ruled by the police. People obey laws because it is their laws and because they want to obey the laws.

    You don’t need conventional arms or force to sustain a unity over a large group of people, but you do need it to create that security and unity.

    Well flenser, in WWII we went to war against the guys who ACTUALLY bombed us.

    I wasn’t aware that the French forces in Africa had anything to do with Pearl harbor… amazing what you can learn from the fake liberals, eh?

    Name the sovereign states that have attacked us since, say, 1995. Iraq is not among them.

    Don’t compare apples to oranges. Guerrila wars are not regular wars. For someone that doesn’t like the comparison between WWII reconstruction and iraq reconstruction, it is surprising that you are so inconsistent on this matter.

    I wouldn’t say that sovereign nations have attacked us, I would only say that sovereign nations are in a state of undeclared war against the United States.
    They didn’t sign up for 2-3 tours in Iraq. Sorry.

    I don’t think McCain signed up for a tour of duty in a Viet POW camp either. War is cruelty, the crueler it is, the sooner it will end.

    The rest of us, all we do is pay taxes.

    Some Americans support Fischer House projects that house for free/low cost wounded and maimed soldiers. Some Americans send soldiers care packages, that the soldiers use to raise their own morale and the morale of Iraqi children. Others modify the basic care package and turn it into a propaganda machine, in order to help Iraqi children and schools. Others, go on USO tours to entertain the US troops. Some fight for veteran’s benefits.

    We’re not being asked to do anything, outside of preparing CARE packages for the troops.

    The time that an American needs to be told to help his nation and his family, is the time when that America deserves tyranny.

    America functions best when left with free will, as with individuals.

    The desire for strong man leadership is of course understandable, but there are disadvantages to the government telling the people exactly what they need to do and when they need to do it.

    Look up Britain and how they sacked Churchill to get the unity of war, in peacetime through socialism. Look up Germany and Prusia.

    Look up the mistakes made in WWII because Roosevelt didn’t get criticized.

    The rest of us, all we do is pay taxes.

    While it may be true that you only pay taxes and send care packages, it doesn’t mean you can speak for the 300 million other Americans.

  35. terrye Says:

    Steve:

    I bet you did not know that General Pershing fought the Muslims in the Phillipines either. Because the Filipinos needed the help. They actually built a statue for Pershing.

    And as for the Chinese, well one reason Truman fired MacArthur was because he said that the Chinese would not attack. He miscalculated.

    The Communists killed tens of thousands of our men in Korea. We fought back. Something the anti war movement does not approve of anymore.

    My point is Saddam violated a cease fire. He was implicated in the 1993 attack on the WTC. And he tried to kill a president. To think for one minute that Truman and FDR would have overlooked any of that that is just dumb. The Russians may have been mean, but they never openly tried to kill a president. But they did push it during the Berlin Airlift and we damn near went to war with them right there. Why? Because the US felt the Germans had suffered enough.

    So fine, we give Iraq back to Saddam. We tell him that the laws do not apply to him. He can kill whoever he wants, he can lie, he can renig on his agreements, he can build wmd, he can train and arm terrorists, he can bring more people like his friend Zarqawi into the country, he can attack our allies, he can do whatever he wants and just so long as he does a half way decednt job of coverying his butt, we will kiss his behind. Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt would be so proud.

  36. grackle Says:

    Anon holds forth: You haven’t got the slightest idea, after a US “setback,” what’s deep in my tummy or on my face, do you now?

    Anti-warriors always criticize America, never the enemy. They never seem to acknowledge the absolute perfidy of the enemy but are always eager to highlight any imagined or real shortcoming of America. It’s not that the US doesn’t have criticism coming, constructive criticism is healthy, but anti-warriors lose all judgement. It’s a matter of degree: Almost always critical of the US & almost always easy on the enemy.

    Any situation is stretched & distorted in order to fit it into a certain anti-US/Bush-bashing Template. Bush didn’t say the US needed to depose Saddam before Saddam became an imminent threat; oh no, the anti-warrior will claim(sometimes through sheer ignorance) that Bush said Saddam was already an imminent threat, because that type of distortion fits the template.

    This tendency sometimes reaches bizarre proportions, such as the common anti-warrior meme that by fighting terrorism the US causes problems or that the US created various nefarious actors, such as bin Ladin or Saddam – fallacies that could be used as examples in a logic course.

    When it’s not bizarre it’s artificial & insulting – such as the absurd “chickenhawk” meme – a non sequitur made up to fit the prime actors in the administration.

    It’s true that I have no idea of what Anon’s actual feelings are; I can only go by what he writes:

    You do care about those deaths. Accepted. Then, have those deaths (and all the other “consequences” in Iraq and in the USA)brought us closer to: Improving the relationship between the West and Islam? Or, did our invasion fuel the already flammable mood?

    And, was the price paid so far, in lives, in pain and sorrow, in destruction, in human and societal costs, worth getting to where we are today?

    The fact the war was “elective” is important, if anyone wishes to complain about conditions there. We created those conditions by invading.

    These are variations on the US-Causes-Problems-By-Fighting-Terrorism Meme, much beloved by the anti-warriors.

    We were supposed to go into Iraq, have a bloodless “regime change”, have a brief and flower-strewn occupation, and then we’d leave.

    Reality is thrown to the dogs & hyperbole is elevated in order to force it into the Template. Anon/Steve/whoever may have read this so many times in anti-warrior venues that he now believes it but it doesn’t change the fact that none of it is true.

    And what are we doing about Darfur?

    To the dedicated anti-warrior any misery in the world is (1)somehow the fault of the US or (2)soon will be because the US is not “doing” anything about it.

    Our political system is as much dominated by corporate thinking, in part via the flickering myths on TV (which Americans watch one third of their waking lives!) as cultures in the past were by kings or warlords.

    Ersatz, pseudo-“Brave New World/1984” inanities. They must think they sound ‘intellectual’ when they spout this nonsense.

    Oh, sure, we have elections but the Federal Government and the Supreme Court make all kinds of decisions for us. Haven’t you noticed?

    More hyperbole & contempt. Anti-warriors never seem to miss a chance to toss in a non sequitur, especially one that expresses disgust with the systems of democracy in the US.
    We learn from such prattle that the writer has no idea of one of the definitions of non sequitur: a seemingly disconnected or random comment that is not particularly relevant to the discussion.

    I haven’t met anyone who debates the invasion of Afghanistan (it has done a lot for heroin production, after all), that was a slam dunk after 9/11.

    I call this the “Yes, But Tactic.” The NYT does this all the time, albeit usually a bit subtler.
    Paraphrase: Yes, of course the US had to go into Afghanistan, but the US made things worse by doing so. Implication: The US had a ‘dark motive’ for going into Afghanistan – to do “a lot for heroin production.” It is also yet another variation of the US-Causes-Problems-By-Fighting-Terrorism Meme.

    Yes, we should be concerned about how our actions are viewed and/or imitated by the rest of the world.

    Anti-warriors can be spotted by their overweening worry that our enemies ‘like’ us. The implication is that the US has been bad, bad, bad & that nice folks like Saddam, bin Laden & the current Iranian figurehead would be more than willing to cut the crap if only the US was ‘nicer.’ The US forces these assholes to do what they do, because after all, they are only ‘imitating’ the US.

  37. Robert Schwartz Says:

    “History has a long way to go before it even comes close to the Omega Point. Read Robert Schwartz’s comment and you’ll see why.”

    I was talking about the short run. As for the long run:

    “Rav said that all the calculated dates of redemption have passed, and the matter now depends upon repentance and good deeds.”
    Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 97B

    Abraham Lincoln.
    2nd Annual Message to Congress.
    December 1, 1862.

    Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free–honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.

  38. MeTooThen Says:

    Muslim-on-Muslim violence and mass murder are certainly neither new nor cared much about.

    The historical correctness of this incontrovertible.

    More to the point, for those in Iran and elsewhere who work toward obliterating the Jews in Israel vis a vis nuclear murder must ask themselves one question, “How many Israeli-Arabs and so-called Palestinians will be killed along with the Jews to satisfy their genocidal fantasy?”

    Something tells me that when the missles have been launched toward Tel Aviv and Haifa the residents of Gaza, Hebron, Jenin and elsewhere might start asking themselves, “What if the blasts extend to us?” Or worse yet “Hey, what if they miss and hit us?”

    The same applies to the mass graves in Iraq.

    I mean really, who cares that some 300,000 Iraqis were murdered by Iraqis for the sake of Saddam?

    What are the chances of seeing a Free Tibet bumpersticker on a Volvo that also has one that reads No Blood for Oil?

    Liberalism is dead.

    In its place lies only Narcissistic rage and folly.

  39. Steve Says:

    We have have been attacked, repeatedly, by nations in the Middle East.

    Name the sovereign states that have attacked us since, say, 1995. Iraq is not among them.

    We could have simply abandoned the Middle East to the radical strains of Islamism.

    Iraq was run by a secular fascist dictatorship. If anything, we have heightened the likelihood of Iraq becoming a theocracy.

    We even had elections on the matter, where people who feel as you do had their say. You lost that debate then and continue to lose it now.

    On what grounds do we “lose” the debate? The war was an elective war. But I am not really debating that. That’s obvious. I am asking for some signposts for when we have won, if we have won, when we can drawn down, and how to get there.

    Thats a bit like saying that just because “some guys” happened to bomb some American ships in Pearl Harbor and killed a couple of thousand Americans, there was no good reason for us to go around invading North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany.

    That’s a complete non sequitur. We were bombed at Pearl Harbor — and then attacked in the Philippines — by the armed forces of Japan. Ergo, we declared war on Japan. Then Germany declared war on us.

    Any fool who believes that Truman or FDR would have let 9/11 go by or for that matter who believe either of them would have messed around with some tyrant like Saddam for years and years while he shot at our plans and tried to kill a President of the United States knows absolutely nothing about this country.

    You don’t know much about this country either, if you forget about our failure to confront or go to war with either communist China or the Soviet Union (or North Korea after the Pueblo incident — a casus belli if ever there was one) from 1945 on. A guy named Truman fired a guy named MacCarthur. Remember?

    but they do not want to do the hard, long, risky dirty work of actually changing the world.

    I’m just curious to know, first, exactly what kind of hard, long, riskly dirty work is going to change the world. I’d also like to know frankly just what any of us is doing about it. A lot of my son’s friends are in the service. They didn’t sign up for 2-3 tours in Iraq. Sorry. That’s the truth. The rest of us, all we do is pay taxes. We’re not being asked to do anything, outside of preparing CARE packages for the troops. Best!

  40. terrye Says:

    aqualung:

    The Italians and Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

    Hitler could not make it across the English Channel much less the Atlantic.

    But FDR felt that Hitler was our enemy, he was a threat to our allies and he should not be ignored.

    As for the Japanese, they just wanted us to let them buy steel and gas. We could easily have come to an accomadation with them without war.

  41. aqualung Says:

    Well flenser, in WWII we went to war against the guys who ACTUALLY bombed us. Enjoy your stay in cloudcuckooland…

  42. Tommy V Says:

    My definition of Neo-Con:

    A neo-con believes that the spread of classical liberalism will save the world from humanity, and therefore should be spread by any and all practical means.

  43. terrye Says:

    The Civil war was elective. Lincoln did not have to respond to the attack on Fort Sumter, he could have let the south go. There were a lot of folks in the north who called him a tyrant, a hick and a hayseed and said he should do just that.

    For decades jihadis have been killing Americans, there was a time when we would not have even discuessed what to do. There would have been no public debate. Any fool who believes that Truman or FDR would have let 9/11 go by or for that matter who believe either of them would have messed around with some tyrant like Saddam for years and years while he shot at our plans and tried to kill a President of the United States knows absolutely nothing about this country. The self loathing of the modern anti war movement together with their desire for defeat is disgusting.

    You say America is shell? My ass. The truth is once upon a time we would have gone in there and defeated the enemy and that would have been that. The only debate would have been about whether to pick up the pieces. I know some conservatives who support taking out Saddam, they just don’t believe that there is any hope of bringing democracy to the region. But these folks are not about to care about Darfur.

    The left on the other hand wants to bitch and moan about the oppressed of the world but they do not want to do the hard, long, risky dirty work of actually changing the world. They just prefer posturing.

  44. flenser Says:

    Steve

    I think too many people have some kind of absurd notion that, because 19 guys hijacked some planes and killed three thousand Americans, that we have the right to invade any country at any time and install any kind of government we want.

    Thats a bit like saying that just because “some guys” happened to bomb some American ships in Pearl Harbor and killed a couple of thousand Americans, there was no good reason for us to go around invading North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany.

    That would have been cloudcuckoo land stuff.

  45. flenser Says:

    Steve

    World War One was elective in one sense, in that we didn’t have to get involved in it, but the Germans were sinking our ships which in those days was considered sufficient casus belli..

    So what are you saying here? That you would not consider such actions as sufficient casus belli today?

    We have have been attacked, repeatedly, by nations in the Middle East. The invasion of our embassy in Tehran and the taking of our people as hostages was a classic casus belli. The repeated attacks on our ships and emabssies over the years are also sufficient justification for war, as justification has been understood historically.

    We did not have to get involved in WWII. Yes, we were attacked. We could have simply made peace with Japan and agreed to cede control of the Eastern Pacific to them. There was no requirement that we had to proceed as we did.

    Again, we were attacked on 9/11, and many times before. It is true, but irrelevant, that we did not have to respond as we did. We could have simply abandoned the Middle East to the radical strains of Islamism. We decided that this was not the appropriate course of action to take. We even had elections on the matter, where people who feel as you do had their say. You lost that debate then and continue to lose it now.

  46. Steve Says:

    In general I think too many people have some kind of absurd notion that, because 19 guys hijacked some planes and killed three thousand Americans, that we have the right to invade any country at any time and install any kind of government we want. And if there are any problems, hey, no one is to blame, and we will just invade someone else.

    This is cloudcuckooland stuff. The US has to live in the rest of the world. The US has to compete against the rest of the world. We are 5% of the world’s population. Yes, we should be concerned about how our actions are viewed and/or imitated by the rest of the world. We cannot rule the world by nuclear deterrence.

    Nor can we even rule the world by force of conventional arms. We do not have the people to do that.

    So let’s be real in what we project and plan to do.

    Best to all.

  47. Steve Says:

    The fact the war was “elective” is important, if anyone wishes to complain about conditions there. We created those conditions by invading.

    To use other wars by way of example, Vietnam was elective but at least we WERE THERE, in other words, we didn’t invade a country and overthrow the government. The first Gulf War was elective, but Saddam had given us a casus belli by invading Kuwait, and we not only did not fight alone we had a real coalition.

    Korea was not elective — but then it was never declared either — because we were there, and literally surrounded in Pusan when we struck back.

    World War Two was not elective because the Japanese attacked us, and then the Germans declared war on us.

    World War One was elective in one sense, in that we didn’t have to get involved in it, but the Germans were sinking our ships which in those days was considered sufficient casus belli (the Zimmerman Telegram less so, but it worked.)

    Civil War was not elective because of Fort Sumter.

    The Mexican War was elective and also a disgrace, not only Thoreau but even US Grant thought it was a joke.

    The closest thing to this WOT in electivity is the Spanish American War, the centennial of which in 1998 passed with I presume embarrassed non comment.

    I don’t think there’s any point about going round and round and round about the invasion of Iraq in terms of WOT. I haven’t met anyone who debates the invasion of Afghanistan (it has done a lot for heroin production, after all), that was a slam dunk after 9/11.

    The problem with Iraq is that the American people were not prepared for this kind of slog.

    You can cherry pick the statements pre-war but clearly there were many failures, in terms of intelligence, in terms of expectations, in terms of what was presented to the American people, and so on. We don’t have to assign blame right now but eventually someone will. Those who still believe in the democratizing project should at least concede the pre-invasion, and post-invasion, errors that were made for their own credibility.

    In terms of casualties, that is, killed and all wounded, I would expect that 100 K would be conservative at this point, 3 years later. There must be 30 K American killed and wounded already. To say that we are inflicting casualties at a 3:1 ratio is not at all extreme.

    OK, we’re there. So now what?

    Remember we picked this fight.

    Remember we didn’t get any really significant coalition support from anyone except Britain and they are fading.

    Remember that we basically want law and order in Iraq, and an end to US casualties.

    I remember when Saddam’s sons were killed and when Saddam was captured. That was over 2 years ago. I remember the elections, the constitutions, etc. etc. Every time something like that happened, there was rejoicing that we had “turned the corner.”

    So, is it now “good” in Iraq? When will it be over? When can we draw down? When will there be stability there, and how are we going to achieve it?

    Again comparing this to Germany and Japan is utterly fatuous. Japan was never like this, neither was Germany by the Fall of 45 (plus, we had three major allies there helping to control and administer this country which had a democratic tradition.)

    I don’t think we need to wait for anyone to say, “I’ve seen the light, we were wrong to invade.” In the first place, that doesn’t address the problem. The only question at this point is, when will we be able to minimize our presence, when will stability be restored, and how do we get to that point?

    Sorry to be annoying, I didn’t know how to do this name bit.

  48. terrye Says:

    flenser:

    I think part of it is about isolationism [and that can either be left or right] and another part of it is partisanship. Bush and Reagan are both Republicans.

    I think that we are dealing with an enumy here that will not allow the US to be isolationist. If we ignore them they will show up in places like NYC, PA, and VA.

  49. terrye Says:

    One of the things I find interesting is the growing nexus of isolationists or paleo conservatives and the Chomsky left. It is harder and harder to tell Buchanan and Moore apart.

    As soon as I see the old argument about Bush and the National Guard I know I am dealing with someone of limited imagination. BTW the Guard is the military and hanging out at Oxford while ignoring your draft board is not. And as far as that is concerned it will come as a shock to the folks in Kosovo that Clinton did not believe in war. For that matter I remember him standing in front of the country saying that not only did Saddam have weapons he would use them. I guess the Iraqi Liberation Act was just propaganda and not national policy.

    Saddam tried to kill a president and while there is no evidence that he was involved in 9/11 there is ample evidence that there was involvement by Iraqis in the 1993 attack on the WTC.

    how soon they forget.

    As for elective wars…The US Revolution was elective. The war with Mexico was elective. The Civil War was elective. The Spanish American War was elective. WW1 was elective. WW2 was elective as well as was the war in Korea. If honor or freedom or liberty are meaningless to Americans then all those conflicts were elective.

    As for America being a shell…that is stupid. As is the reference to Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

    The United States is the still the hope of the world. If far right isolationists and left leaning liberals want to abandon oppressed people of the world…they can do, but if so they should refrain from moralizing.

    Note the reference to Darfur…that is my point. Is Darfur a threat to the US? If we intervene and people die will that not only be evidence of our own failure? Oh no, better to chose the wise course set by Clinton in Rwanda and sit back, do nothing and watch hundreds of thousands die. After all we are but a shell and everything we touch turns to crap…Right? Isn’t this the conventional wisdom of all those folks out there that think Saddam was no threat to anyone and should have been left alone?

  50. flenser Says:

    All wars are elective. Nobody ever HAS to fight. So I cannot understand what the people who speak of “elective wars” feel they are getting at.

    In the 1980′s the US policy was to support non-communist dictatorships and try to overthrow communist ones. This policy was described at the time as ” neoconservative”.

    Today US policy is to try to move many of those non-communist dictatorships towards democracy. This policy is also called “neoconservative”.

    I have no idea what exactly US foreign policy will look like twenty years from now, but whatever it is, I imagine people will be labeling it as “neoconservative”. The term seems to mean “acting in Americas best interests”.

    One would think that those who were bitterly opposed to ’80′s style neoconservatism would be supporters of the modern variant, but for some reason they are equally against both. Perhaps it’s that whole “Americas best interests” business that has them so exercised.

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    I’m getting tired of trying to differentiate all the anonymii from one another (or perhaps they are all the same person). To me, continuing a conversation at this point while refusing to simply check the “other” button and choose a consistent name is quite–well, this is the operative word again: annoying.

    But I did want to answer the question voiced by a recent anon: As much as I understand your journey from a conformist, stifling liberal environment, isn’t it just possible the neo-con one is just as conformist and stifling?

    Of course, like any ideology that’s adopted through slavish adherence rather than through informed and critical thinking, it can be, for some people. Since that’s not the way I ever operated (I used to operate through laziness and lack of information; now I’ve tried to remedy both, and I’ve always used critical thinking), I feel there’s no real danger of that for me now.

    You may indeed disagree. But if you’ve actually read my blog and my post on the subject, I’ve said I adopted the “neocon” moniker as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reference. Here’s the quote:

    …when I started this blog, I chose the name [neo-neocon] without too much deep reflection. But I know what I had in mind. “Neocon” is usually used as a pejorative, unfortunately, and I wanted to try to rescue it from this fate and wear it proudly (although somewhat tongue-in-cheek).

    And, by the way, the reason I chose the name without much deep reflection is that when I set up the blog I actually had no plans to do much blogging. That changed some months later, when I found myself drawn to the genre. And now, of course, the name is set, and I have no intention of changing it (except it has occurred to me that, if I go on with this for a long time, I’ll no longer be so “neo” a neocon).

    Any position is conformist and limiting if it’s adopted by someone in a conformist and limiting way. And of course there’s no reason on earth why neocons should be an exception to that rule. I think that should be obvious.

  52. armchair pessimist Says:

    Ok,Ok….Bush bad.Cheny bad. Rumsfeld bad. Neocons bad. Neo-neocon bad. War bad. US bad. Bad. Bad. Bad.
    You suggest—what? We’re waiting.

  53. Anonymous Says:

    According to a report by Lawrence Kaplan in TNR from Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Jaafari likes the works of, gasp! Noam Chomsky and is reported to have asked why Chomsky won’t come to Iraq.

    Life gets Adler and Adler.

  54. Human Says:

    “The evidence or lack thereof of actual WMDs aside,”…

    Yeah, you wish. BTW The “new” Saddam tapes prove just the opposite. It is really time for you and other Bushusefools to pull your head out of your Patriotic Bowels and Smell the Fresh Air of Reality.

  55. Anonymous Says:

    grackle

    “…a warm glow deep in their tummies & a wide grin on their faces…”

    You haven’t got the slightest idea, after a US “setback,” what’s deep in my tummy or on my face, do you now?

    But you project. And that is your problem.

  56. grackle Says:

    Neo, Anon is at it again: “We no longer have a country – just the hollow shell of one, a global corporation masquerading electronically and digitally as a nation called the United States.”

    Some anti-warriors like to wallow in the “hollow shell” meme. It’s similar to the “helpless giant” meme. They wish devoutly that it were so & will not put up with any behavior by the US that contradicts this cherished longing for US foreign policy impotence. If the US topples a dangerous despot they declare that he “was a threat to no one” & that the toppling was either illegal/based on lies/unnecessary/unnecessarily bloodthirsty or done for ‘base’ motives(oil, Haliburton, because Cheney is the devil incarnate, because Rove eats Muslim infants for breakfast, blah, blah, etc.), thereby causing the Middle East ‘street’ to riot/get mad/go out of their minds/beat their ‘wives’, burn embassies & blow up customers in Israeli coffee shops.

    Some of them also fancy the strange idea that the US shouldn’t fight terrorists because fighting terrorists only creates more terrorists. DAMMIT, THE US IS A HOLLOW SHELL, A HOLLOW SHELL I TELL YOU & THAT’S THAT! Huge turnouts in democratic elections, captured despots, adopted constitutions or any sign of progress gives them severe heartburn, causes them to wrinkle their brows in confusion & their faces to become grim & angry. Not if they have anything to say about it!

    On the other hand, perceived US set-backs cause a warm glow deep in their tummies & a wide grin on their faces.

    And that, neo, is truly sad.

  57. Anonymous Says:

    In a stunningly long, illiterate and illogical essay, there was one laugh line:
    “Public opinion and only public opinion decides when and where a democracy goes to war.”
    Oh, sure. And Bill Clinton never had sex with that woman.

    neo-con
    As much as I understand your journey from a conformist, stifling liberal environment, isn’t it just possible the neo-con one is just as conformist and stifling?

    After looking at posts on this blog, here’s my theme song for it:

    “Liberals/lefties, intellectuals,
    and MSM:
    bash, bash, bash.

    Liberals/lefties,intellectuals
    and MSM:
    bash, bash, bash.”

    Change the subjects being bashed, and you could easily make up a song for the lefty blogs.

    You are trying to evaluate or re-evaluate your position. That is unusual, and deserves respect.

    Perhaps it doesn’t matter by now. Our political system is as much dominated by corporate thinking,in part via the flickering myths on TV (which Americans watch one third of their waking lives!) as cultures in the past were by kings or warlords.

    As one old and crusty writer put it recently: “We no longer have a country – just the hollow shell of one, a global corporation masquerading electronically and digitally as a nation called the United States.”

    And that, neo, is truly sad.

    \

  58. grackle Says:

    Anon, I’m just curious but what if a President was elected that had avoided the draft & some country or another invaded the US? Should this draft-avoid President send soldiers to fight the invaders? Or is your draft avoid/evade rule absolute?

    We were supposed to go into Iraq, have a bloodless “regime change”, have a brief and flower-strewn occupation, and then we’d leave. = typical anti-warrior attempt at irony married to hyperbole. They never seem to realize that irony is only effective if it’s understated – the heavy-handed treatment only succeeds in making the writer look sophomoric. Of course none of it is true but it’s mainly thrown in for the insult value anyway, rather than in any spirit of debate.

    Basic rule of diplomacy: You do not create chaos where there is order, regardless of what kind of order it is, as long as it is not threatening anyone. Saddam was a threat to no one.

    Hey, another nifty rule! I kind of like this one – it’s straight out of the old TV series, “Kung Fu.” Grasshopper, does not the sage say: Do not create chaos where there is order, regardless of what kind of order it is, as long as it is not threatening anyone. Ersatz wisdom. And Saddam was a threat to no one. Not even a threat, I suppose, to those he murdered, like the Kurds. Anti-warriors have a kind of childlike beatitude in that they can blandly gaze upon one of the Middle East’s worst murderers & mildly state that they see “a threat to no one.”

    Basic rule of war-making: If the country you are invading is not a clear and present danger to you, then you are engaging in an elective war.

    Deep Sigh. Here he goes again with still another rule. The anti-warriors wanted Saddam to be able to stall & screw around with the pitiable & corrupt UN for as long as it took to get the sanctions relaxed & UN inspectors out so he could get back to his WMD development. Anti-warriors are never bothered by Saddam’s 13 years of non-compliance, lies & arrogance. It doesn’t worry them that Saddam never accounted for the WMD stockpiles & WMD facilities he was known to have possessed before & after the first Gulf War.

    Unlike the glorious democracies in Pakistan, North Korea. Here’s the cockeyed logic: Anon would have been fine with a nuclear Iraq. Why? Because a couple of other nations which Anon doesn’t like were able to ‘go nuclear.’ Therefore, Saddam should’ve been allowed to reconstitute his WMD programs. Yeah, I know – it doesn’t make much sense, but there it is.

    Ymarsakar: It isn’t that Tom puts too much faith in the UN, it is just that Tom seems to believe that if you punish bad actions, they will stop. Most people might agree with that. Ymarsakar, I believe that if you punish bad actions, they will sometimes stop. But if you don’t punish bad actions they will probably never stop. But my real point is that the UN has as much chance of punishing the bad actions of someone like Saddam or a rabid Iran as I have of turning into a pumpkin.

  59. strcpy Says:

    “- I am anonymous because I don’t normally do this stuff. My name is Steve. How are you.”

    Your still anonymous. If you normally go by steve on the itnernet click the “other” button and type “steve” into the name box. That way we know when it is you. Just writing “I’m steve” allows people to keep track of a single post – we can’t read minds through your post.

    “I am not wrong about the Enlightenment, I have laissez-faire, The Invisible Hand, The Fable of the Bees, and the Spirit of the Laws on my side.”

    Those are powerful things, however we have history on our side.

    “- The basic element of a successful democracy is devolution of power, and devolution of political power is meaningless without a devolution of economic power. Most of the countries in that region are considered overpopulated in the sense that they are over-taxing the natural resources needed to survive. Most of the wealth in Iraq come from the oil. You are never going to be able to devolve that kind of wealth to 20 million farmers and shopkeepers. Millions of Iraqis are on the dole. Social relations are fundamentally tribal, not nation-oriented. You can’t change those relationships overnight. There is no culture of individualism or autonomy in a clan society. Sure these things can develop OVER TIME. The question is how brutal the change, and how effective and long term the change.”

    You certain you got that whole “laissez-faire” thingy on your side? Last time I read Adam Smith this wasn’t part of it – in fact it reads a whole more like command economy type thinking with a touch of capitolism thrown in.

    “Briefly, Iraq will eventually sort out. At least, I hope so. But just if it ends good doesn’t mean we get credit. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc is a fallacy.”

    Yes, correlation does not imply causation, however it doesn’t rule it out. Do you think that when Iraq stabilises that we were *not* responsable? That it just magically occured independant of OIF?

    “We were supposed to go into Iraq, have a bloodless “regime change”, have a brief and flower-strewn occupation, and then we’d leave. It didn’t happen that way. No amount of mental gymnastics is going to make it happen. That part is over and done.”

    where, precisely did you get that? May I suggest you go read administration speeches on the subject instead of pundits who preach what you want to hear. It was told many many times that it will be a long battle.

    “Basic rule of diplomacy: You do not create chaos where there is order, regardless of what kind of order it is, as long as it is not threatening anyone. Saddam was a threat to no one.”

    Two things – where is such a thing written in law? Everywhere Hitler went he brought stability, by invading we brought TONS of chaos. Let alon to the Japanese islands. Since order is to preserved at all costs (no matter what kind).

    Secondly I have a sneaking suspicion that several hundred thousand Iraqi’s would disagree that he was no threat, I bet Kuwaiti’s would disagree, and I bet there are quite a few kurds that would disagree. Though most of those are dead and have no voice.

    “Basic rule of warmaking: If the country you are invading is not a clear and _present_ danger to you, then you are engaging in an elective war. This is just obvious.”

    Yep, it’s worked so well in the past when we have done that. See WWII.

    “Unlike the glorious democracies in Pakistan, North Korea ….”

    Uh? Do you not really make her point right there? Drop the sanctions and evil people will do as they please. I wouldn’t hold those up NK as a great example of dropping sanction *not* creating a brutal crazy dictator with access to weapons.

    “No evidence that this was going to happen. And what are we doing about Darfur?”

    No evidence? Have you ever even bothered to pay attention to what Saddam has done in the past? I think the hundreds of thousands dead at his hands that stopped only where we forced him to are “evidence”.

    “This has already happened.”

    Cite please. The highest estimate that has any credibility that I can find is around 40,000 as an upper limit (which, incidentally, is a lower rate than were killed while Saddam was in power). The only one that shows anything *near* that high is the Lancet publication, and if you buy that one you’ve pretty much lost any and all credibility you had at any point (even in thier article they say it’s not anywhere close to reliable and a non-scientific study – it’s so full of errors it is laughable).

  60. strcpy Says:

    “(not to mention the same writing style, quoting style, same talking points, same everything. After you read pages and pages of someone you get to reconise thier writing)

    What if someone’s writing style is to reflect the weaknesses inherent in their opponent?”

    Eh? I was talking about identifying someone. You could, for instance, have posted your above thing and I would have thought it sounded and looked an awful lot like you. Long post, specific grammer, bolding for qouting, use of certain unusual terms frequently. I can’t really mimic it, I doubt many here can. I meant mroe in a mechanical way than anything (which tends to be internalised with how you were taught to write and the area you are from).

    I, personally, us a lot of “asides”. Parenthetical and comma seperated ideas. It’s just the way I think and these types of posts tend to reflect that. I’m dyslexic and tend to mispell certain words in specific ways (in typing I swap a’s and e’s often). I also tend to write mostly in passive voice.

    I probably do not post enough for someone to really get the feel for my writing (but then again, maybe I do), but on some places people make 20-40 posts a day and you get real familiar with their writing style.

  61. Ymarsakar Says:

    Here’s a joke about Fukuyama.

    Fukuyama’s theory was put forward following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakdown of the bipolar world order. The demise of the bastion of world communism appeared to signal the end of an era when ideology was the frame of reference for the management of conflict. After communism suffered a fate similar to the one suffered by fascism after World War II, there remained only one prevailing ideology, namely, liberalism. Fukuyama’s theory consecrated the victory of liberalism: what he meant by the end of history was not that history itself had come to an end but that conflicts over how to interpret the course of events had come to an end with the unchallenged victory of one specific ideology, liberalism.

    Link

    The veterans of the War to End all Wars (WWI) should maybe have sent Old Fukie a note here, saying “don’t count your victories until you die”.

    When critics of the war trot out old Fukie and say that we need to debate with him over liberty vs Islamic terror… I keep thinking it is a joke. Not a particularly good one, but still.

    History has a long way to go before it even comes close to the Omega Point. Read Robert Schwartz’s comment and you’ll see why.

  62. Ymarsakar Says:

    Mega comment writ in word pad, references to Tom, Neo, Grackle, Stryp and a bunch of others[...] Okay, sue me, it’s a suite.

    The thing about the phraseology is just that Republicans are honest, they say what they mean and they mean what they say. So when they saw a new conservative, they mean just that, a new conservative. While liberals tend to redefine words, leading to their inability to say neo-liberal. As in pseudo-liberal. Rather than a conservative of the old school, this is of the new school. As opposed to liberals, who still wonder why liberal is a bad word and can’t understand that when you become something that a word doesn’t describe, then that word becomes a bad word.

    There’s this secrecy about the philosophy of socialism and Democrats. In Europe, they call it democratic socialism, a new name for an old game, in an environment that likes socialism. Here in the US, the Democrats can hold the language in stasis, in the hopes that nobody reads the history texts and finds out the inconsistencies in the liberal of today’s world and the liberal of 2 centuries ago. They have to hold language hostage, otherwise the truth would get out, and people would be able to think through the fog of unclear definitions and purposefully obscure ideologies.

    Is there an outcome in Iraq that would suffice for this event?

    People need to stop asking non-helpful questions and get a clue.

    Here’s a clue, what kind of an event would suffice for you to committ suicide?

    What kind of event would suffice for you to betray all that you have known, will ever know, and always held dear to your heart?

    What event would suffice for you to turn on your family and have them murdered?

    What kind of event would suffice for you to kill a million people just for the kick of it?

    I can just see it now, “what kind of event would make you give up the belief that your life is important”.

    These are un-helpful questions because the responses do not solve the problem. It’s all relative. Each person decides for himself what he will believe and to what limits his actions and conscience will carry him. They tell more about the questioner than the answerer.

    The longer answer: they underestimated the problem of the aftermath, and made some mistakes in going about the reconstruction.

    When you don’t play the Empire game, then it’s kind of hard to be prepared to occupy and take over a country from top to bottom. The inconsistency is that people think this is an adventure, yet quote the very exact details as criticism, that actually supports more of the same actions. Many criticize actions after the invasion as proof that the choice to invade was wrong, but the fact is that the only thing that that proves is that the US needs more experience occupying and rebuilding nations, which can only be fullfilled by more of these “adventures” people seem to talk about.

    People really can’t have it both ways. Either they don’t want go anywhere or do anything, in which they should see failures in security and reconstruction as supporting their position. Or they think the neo-cons want to empire build, and therefore they should cut the neo-cons some slack in beginning the process of learning.

    As I said before, if people don’t like the policies of this nation, they can either offer alternatives or they can wait for Bush to die/get out of office. Anything else is a childish temper tantrum.

    They didn’t get what they want and they feel helpless in the process, oh boohoo, tell it to the mirror. The rest of us don’t want to be dragged into the misery of others.

    The only way to effectively convince most Americans that going to Iraq was a good thing, requires Bush to turn on and destroy the United Nations. The propaganda apparatus and human psychology of Americans, would demand nothing less. Without the destruction of the United Nations, Bush cannot justify Iraq in light of the many criticisms he gets. 50% will still disagree. 22% is hopeless, and 40% is strongly in the President’s camp. The 36% left, would easily be convinced, if Bush was willing to sacrifice the UN. But he never was, and so we have people attacking neo-cons instead of defending their own distorted reality and predictions.

    the writer calls the war an “elective military adventure” that “aggravat[ed]…existing problems.”

    If some guy got shot by an arrow, I really don’t want to see people saying that breaking off the arrow and taking it out would “aggravate existing problems”. You can’t solve current ones, if you afraid all the time of new ones cropping up. This fear is not only ridiculous, it is inherently cowardly. The inability to make decisive decisions and to take the consequences, good or bad, after the fact.

    Because the truth is that the forces leading to unrest in the Middle East are not necessarily stoppable, but the creation of a functioning democracy, if successful, would constitute a counterforce of some magnitude.

    The issue can be framed in different ways, democracy is only one variation on the advertisement. The other variation is really psychological, and that is almost never raised. It should be however. Cause a lot of Americans feel democracy is too weak to make the right decisions, a lot of Americans want to go on the offensive, they want a strong heirarchy, a strong leader, to do what needs to be done. Democracy, does not sell that point to many Jacksonians. It is a selling point for Wilsonians and perhaps Jeffersonians, but not Jacksonians. But then again, most Jacksonians don’t care what it is called, so long as we win.

    Finally, I’m perpetually amused by the “you only have complaints — offer some suggestions” argument; it’s as if military conflict is something that should be avoided only of something else is proposed.

    This is a good look into the warped stupidities people tend to believe is called “thought”.

    It is as if military conflict is something that should be avoided only if something else is proposed, it is as if WWII could have been avoided if someone suggested Munich or giving the Rhineland to the Germans.

    There are too many dumb ideologies around, because I cannot believe even someone thinking that war is the last option, can believe that war does not become the first option if nothing is ahead of war in the line.

    Score one for liberal reeducation. When people can’t think, I can get them to believe anything, regardless of the logic.

    I thought it should be clear that I was referring to a certain subset of war-opposers, a group that I think I described rather well.

    One of the ways propaganda works is that it shortcuts logic, and basically makes people see what they want to see… in a way that makes them see what I want them to see. Someone with a clear head and thinking logically, would obviously see Neo’s point and agree in the context of the sentence she was refering to. But, that does not mean other things don’t happen. Other things, in which people see what they want to see. Those kind of people, are grist for the propaganda mill. It would be much better if Bush would just crank up the propaganda machine, cause these people are annoying. It’s like Al-Qaeda, if you don’t bother them, it just means they are going to bother you faster and harder.

    Get on the offensive, and everything solves itself in the end.

    Fukuyama is not only not worth debating, he can be reduced to ridiculousness inside of a few paragraphs. It is simply that his arguments are both old and obsolete, it’s already been countered.

    After all, it’s not like it’s difficult; one doesn’t even have to register with Blogger.

    Yes, but you do have to be literate. I think some anon’s have a problem with that.

    (not to mention the same writing style, quoting style, same talking points, same everything. After you read pages and pages of someone you get to reconise thier writing)

    What if someone’s writing style is to reflect the weaknesses inherent in their opponent?

    Well, in light of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, maybe all war supporters should ask themselves what the war has done to the USA.

    I got them. The rule of law is not what the judges, the lawyers, and the ACLU says. We didn’t fight a Revolutionary War so you fake liberals in the Democratic party can get rich, powerful, and become an aristocracy over the rest of us. Don’t even try it. Your “KELO Act” victories are simply failures to win in a fair fight, and will become failures soon enough.

    Winston Churchill, Nov. 21, 1943

    Churchill also told you guys to stop being pacifists, isolationists, Communists, and Socialists. Since when did you guys start listening to WC? Whenever you feel like it, I’d thought so.

    I think the war has shown that the US is a country of justice meted out.

    You don’t mete out justice by treating criminals as if they benefit from the laws they broke. You don’t mete out justice by showing compassion to rapists, murderers, and people who would run over a woman just for the kicks of it. You don’t mete out justice by treating terroists as soldiers or soldiers as terroists.

    Don’t confuse justice with the arbitrariness of George W. Bush.

    There is a simmering rage beneath the veneer of civilization, and Bush seeks to keep the lid on it. It has nothing to do with justice.

    Tom has some good points but puts too much faith in the UN for my taste.

    It isn’t that Tom puts too much faith in the UN, it is just that Tom seems to believe that if you punish bad actions, they will stop. Most people might agree with that.

    The US should be in the UN because it is a gathering of nations & the US needs to attend to US interests & goals that such a gathering may consider, so the US can’t afford to totally ignore this discredited & corrupt body.

    We can’t ignore it, but we can destroy it to fuel our war machine. How many Americans would protest the destruction of the UN, leading the way to the salvation of America and the saving of American soldiers? Not many at all. More people care about the Dubai port deal than they do about the UN going kaput.

    If the US can get the member nations to go along with what must be done, fine, but a hard & fast 3 resolution rule, given the make-up of the organization, could be used against the US.

    The US is like the primary stock holder in a company, that always gets shouted down and told to shut up. We’re the ones that made the company what it is today, yet everyone else is stealing shit off of our successes, and it is getting annoying. We might have to liquidate the company and start all over again.


    America has never been perfect but is way better than those that America is fighting.

    America should never be perfect, so saying America isn’t perfect isn’t really telling much. Good thing, wohoo, lack of perfection, I like that.

    Americans are constantly defended while Americans are always trashed by the anti-warriors.

    If a judge can say that a guy being executed by lethal injection would feel pain, and that this is a cruel and unusual punishment, why would it be surprising that people defend terrorism but not Americanism? After the guy scheduled for execution raped a woman and ran her over with a car just for the kick of it, putting him to sleep and having him “pass away” is a cruel and unusual punishment. GIven that logic, the terroists are freedom fighters. Some people prefer the rule of judges, I prefer the rule of law, and hence the rule of justice.

    They’ll never convince me that their brand of “aristocracy” is justice. They’ll have to kill me first. Which tends to be their strategy if you think about it.

    There was never much post-War analysis done because of their faith in democracy.

    When people don’t know how to fiight an insurgency or what an insurgency is, it is kind of hard for them to plan anything about it. When your primary military advisor is an Air Force guy specializing in Star Wars and SDI and Nuclear Technology, you might have a tinny little problem dealing with a Special Forces kind of war.

    Sadly, the neocon position was overly optimistic and faith-based.

    It wasn’t the over-optimism of neocons that had the mainstream media showing pictures of statues falling and shit like that. Get your propaganda straight.

    Neocons are not foreigners in America, they are Americans, as hard as that seems to be to believe, and all America was fooled by the glorious victory dances in the street that the media showed to us on purpose.

    It’s not neocon’s fault they believed the media was truthful and honest.

    We are at the whim of the vagueries of a religiously-charged culture.

    And they are at the whim of our nuclear weapons, nuclear subs, air craft carriers, stealth bombers, Marine warriors, Special Forces assassins and saboteurs, Navy and Army counter-terroist hit squads. The side that can get there the firstest with the mostest, and lasts the longest, usually wins.

    Just because the Muslims are willing to do what needs to do for them to win, and we aren’t, doesn’t mean that this will always be so.

    As for future heads of Iraq, whatever stripe they may be, they need to know that they are doomed if they try to screw the US like Saddam did.

    But They are trying to screw us like Vietnam did, and that is something else entirely.

    “I am obliged to write it (this book)because I have, except for a few comic moments, always been pleased to be a Jew. The gift deserves to be defended.”
    Anti-Semitism?

    Do you realize that you can be an American and an anti-American at the same time, or does this simple logic escape you?

    Is Dick (Five Deferments) Cheney reaping any consequences?

    Aren’t his enemies dieing in droves? So yes, he is reaping the consequences.

    terrye

    Cheney, Clinton et al: I don’t respect those who avoid the horrors of war but push others into them.
    If it walks and talks like a chickenhawk…(No matter what party colors it wears.)
    Your father is another story.

    An ignorant dude is an ignorant dude, regardless of how he walks. Public opinion and only public opinion decides when and where a democracy goes to war. Unlike the oligarchs and those for aristocracy, Cheney, Bush, Clinton doesn’t decide if they will war or not war.

    Reading comprehension 101:

    I don’t understand, what is reading comprehension and why do you have a number after it?

    Hypocrisy is where you want to look for it.

    How right that is, hypocrisy, like propaganda, is whatever you want it to be.

    He just returned from Iraq and he is a democrat, yet somewhat conservative.

    A Democrat? That’s pretty hilarious. VDH is a classical liberal, and that’s it.

    But I stand corrected; it seems you are determined to “misunderstand” me.

    Wait, wait, the last time the United States got misunderestimated, 2 cities got nuked. Are we going for round 2 here?

    Do you really think my response to you means I don’t regret those deaths?

    I think he’s talking about me, in that I don’t regret the deaths of Iraq insurgents or Al-Qaeda terroists killed in iraq, one single iota.

    I’ve seen too much of that sort of thing, and it’s starting to really, really annoy me.

    Bad propaganda always annoys me. So does dumb arguments and stupid logic, but that’s just the trick of the trade.

    The real world can be big and scary and sometimes hard decisions have to be made. maybe you should let the big boys handle this while you go do pottery, or whatever sensitive type thing you guys do with your day.

    Metrosexuals usually do their hair, their nails, their face, their skin, and their lips in a salon.

    1. Democratizing Iraq, and perhaps via a domino theory, other countries in the neighborhood?

    Maybe if people all used Google Earth, they might just know where Lebanon was. Maybe not.

    3. Ending terror and bloodshed in Iraq? Or, did our intervention merely exchange one reign of bloodshed for another kind?

    Of course it did. We exchanged stupidity for ignorance, and a good trade it was too. Just like back in American history in which the neocon Founding Fathers traded a war for taxation without representation.

    4. Improving the relationship between the West and Islam?

    The more they fear Americans, the more the relationship is improved.

    Or, did our invasion fuel the already flammable mood?

    You can’t burn wood after the tears of fear have made it wet.

    Saddam was a threat to no one.

    That’s like saying Hitler was a threat to no one. After the US removed him from power with tanks and grunts.

    And if someone does nuke us, what exactly are we going to do? We can’t just start dropping nukes indiscriminately all over the Muslim world. That’s ridiculous.

    No, it isn’t ridiculous at all. Because even if you don’t kill anyone with a nuclear weapon, just dropping it on a nation produces intense psychological impact, it shows a lot of will on your part, and it warns people not to piss us off.

    It’s not ridiculous at all. You just have to think outside the box. Not every weapon of war is best used to kill people. Anyone studying Napoleonic war tactics and weaponry would understand that perfectly, others might not.

    It is a matter of Life or Death for the West.

    What is East of the Moon and West of the Sun?

  63. Robert Schwartz Says:

    I agree with our esteemed hostess’ essay. I should only like to add two perspectives that have carried me through the last few years.

    The first one was that all of our approaches to the middle east were not working. Isolationism was not an option, we couldn’t quarantine the problem, it decided to bring itself to America. The only thing we could do was to disrupt the status quo.

    Afghanistan was first because it was the most immediate problem in the fall of 2001, but Iraq had to be second for a large variety of reasons. Perhaps the most important is that it put us in a position where we had Iran flanked, and extensive borders on Syria and Saudi Arabia.

    Invading Iraq was the best move we could make to destabilize a corrupt and explosive status quo, so that we could have some hope of creating a stable and prosperous Middle East. I am therefor utterly calm about the actions we have taken to-date.

    My other perspective is that history is long. Nothing is accomplished in four years or even eight.

    We need to build an Iraqi Army. How long will that take. Knowledgeable observers say that the soul, the heart of an Army is its Non-commissioned officers, in US Army parlance — sergeants. How long does it take to groom a truly good NCO? They say 15 to 20 years. How long will it be before we are done creating the Iraqi Army?

    We have to defeat an insurgency. How long will that take? History suggests 10 to 15 years. The US in the Philippines and the British in Malaysia took that kind of time. the US pulled the plug on Vietnam after 11 years. That was not long enough.

    Our great successes were the restructuring of Germany and Japan after WWII and South Korea after the Korean War. We have large numbers of troops in each of those countries to this very day, 60 years after WWII ended and 50 years after the end of the Korean war. Could we have pulled our troops out of those countries earlier and left them as viable democracies? A bit, but Korea was not a stable republic until the 90s and until the cold war ended leaving Germany would have been very dicey.

    What does history teach us about Iraq. We will need to be closely involved (i.e. joint military operations) for another 5 to 10 years, we will need to be substantially involved (i.e. troop training, air support, scaring off the Iranians) for another 10 to 20 years after that, and we will leave Iraq in two generations.

  64. blepein Says:

    I just found your blog a few days ago and I must say I agree with you completely with your take on the War in Iraq. Some bad decisions have been made but overall I think it was necessary to take Saddam Hussein out. The spread of democracy is a noble one and comes with a cost of lives and money. Militant Islam is intimidating the secular Western nations curtailing freedom of speech and the Press. I believe we are seeing a war of civilizations take place slowly but surely. The remnant of the Judeo-Christian culture in the West has been almost totally eclipsed by a militant Secularism and an even more militant Islam. As an evangelical Christian, I believe God is Sovereign over the nations of the World and History. His Gospel will go forth and change mens hearts and minds according to His Sovereign Will. Political Change is good but it is temporary. Mankind needs a change of heart and soul. Our Judeo-Christian Heritage has become only a memory. We seem to be entering into a another dark age. I do think the Messiah is coming soon, but He will not be a political ruler that the nations hope for but a Spiritual one who will come to rule the Nations with a rod of Iron. The Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6,7;Psalm 2:1-12). Christ the Lord.
    In the meantime, I think the Neo Con agenda is the best for the West. The Democrats have been hijacked by the far left that hates America and Western values. Many people have come to the Neo Con position after 9/11 such as yourself, because sooner or later reality hits us in the face. It is a matter of Life or Death for the West. I would not want to place my trust for America in the hands of the Michael Moore crowd.
    Maranatha-The Lord is Coming!

  65. Anonymous Says:

    I just read the conjectures. Brother.

    I live in the NYC metro and I saw the 93 bombing and I also witnessed 9/11, in both cases, just by driving by and/or looking out my office window. I have been worried about a Sidney Lumet flash of light since 93. I knew people who were involved in both.

    However, let’s get real. I’m paranoid. If the US is so irresponsible in its surveillance of the world that it cannot stop terrorists from obtaining and moving around a nuke, then we’re gonna get nuked and it doesn’t matter how many countries we invade.

    If the aim of the WOT is to control bad guys — like Osama — from getting nukes, then that has to be accomplished with the military equivalent of giant SWAT teams. In this area, police states are our friends. They can do a lot of surveillance for us.

    And if someone does nuke us, what exactly are we going to do? We can’t just start dropping nukes indiscriminately all over the Muslim world. That’s ridiculous.

    The only thing we can do is prophylaxis. In this respect, Afghanistan was perfectly justified, Iraq, in my opinion, much less so.

  66. Anonymous Says:

    A few comments carried over from the previous thread.

    - I am anonymous because I don’t normally do this stuff. My name is Steve. How are you.

    - I am not wrong about the Enlightenment, I have laissez-faire, The Invisible Hand, The Fable of the Bees, and the Spirit of the Laws on my side.

    - I use “neocon” because it’s the term everyone uses. I will use
    whatever anyone wants me to use.

    - I got here following links from NRO via Roger Simon. I kinda like the lady, and the crowd, so I am visiting. Not trying to be mean, but I do state my ops strongly sometimes. I consider myself conservative. I would describe Neocons as Liberals who like guns. :-)

    - I take Neoconservatism to mean “planting democracy” — I think that is a very naive way of looking at the world. “Democracy” as we understand it in the US is really about choices — personal choices, economic choices, things like that. Oh, sure, we have elections but the Federal Government and the Supreme Court make all kinds of decisions for us. Haven’t you noticed?

    - The basic element of a successful democracy is devolution of power, and devolution of political power is meaningless without a devolution of economic power. Most of the countries in that region are considered overpopulated in the sense that they are over-taxing the natural resources needed to survive. Most of the wealth in Iraq come from the oil. You are never going to be able to devolve that kind of wealth to 20 million farmers and shopkeepers. Millions of Iraqis are on the dole. Social relations are fundamentally tribal, not nation-oriented. You can’t change those relationships overnight. There is no culture of individualism or autonomy in a clan society. Sure these things can develop OVER TIME. The question is how brutal the change, and how effective and long term the change.

    Briefly, Iraq will eventually sort out. At least, I hope so. But just if it ends good doesn’t mean we get credit. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc is a fallacy.

    We were supposed to go into Iraq, have a bloodless “regime change”, have a brief and flower-strewn occupation, and then we’d leave. It didn’t happen that way. No amount of mental gymnastics is going to make it happen. That part is over and done.

    This is so easy:

    The evidence or lack thereof of actual WMDs aside, there was (and still is) strong and incontrovertible evidence that Saddam was planning to reconstitute his WMD program as soon as possible.

    Basic rule of diplomacy: You do not create chaos where there is order, regardless of what kind of order it is, as long as it is not threatening anyone. Saddam was a threat to no one.

    Basic rule of warmaking: If the country you are invading is not a clear and _present_ danger to you, then you are engaging in an elective war. This is just obvious.

    Drop the sanctions against Iraq. With no sanctions we would have a dictator armed with WMD’s and he or his idiot son’s would have eventually started another war.

    Unlike the glorious democracies in Pakistan, North Korea ….

    Maybe only a couple hundred thousand people would die at the hands of the regime or in the next couple wars they started.

    No evidence that this was going to happen. And what are we doing about Darfur?

    Regime change. This may end up costing 100,000 Iraqi and American deaths (even without a civil war), not to mention the wounded and traumatized.

    This has already happened.

  67. Anonymous Says:

    neo-con

    You do care about those deaths. Accepted. Then, have those deaths (and all the other “consequences” in Iraq and in the USA)brought us closer to:
    1. Democratizing Iraq, and perhaps via a domino theory, other countries in the neighborhood?
    2. Stabilizing the ME? (and what kind of stability–benign, stagnant or malignant?)
    3. Ending terror and bloodshed in Iraq? Or, did our intervention merely exchange one reign of bloodshed for another kind?
    4. Improving the relationship between the West and Islam? Or, did our invasion fuel the already flammable mood?

    Let’s grant the neo-con agenda these aims (which many do not). Even if we do, was the invasion of Iraq, given what we knew then (or: what we wanted to know and didn’t want to know) bring us any closer to achieving such goals? And, was the price paid so far, in lives, in pain and sorrow, in destruction,in human and societal costs, worth getting to where we are today?
    If you can answer with even a qualified “yes,” or “I still think so,” I might disagree but will respect the reasons, evidence, expectations you present.

  68. Harry Mallory Says:

    Anon 7:29:
    “And now McCain is hugging Vietnam evading W and courting his rich contributors in prep for ’08. Hypocrisy is where you want to look for it.”

    George Sorros aint rich? Leftist politicians dont court him?

    Also seems you have this 19th Century view of America with fat wealthy robber barons laughing it up while the poor down-trodden soldier fights for their conquests.

    As you liberals would say; this concept is “out-moded” and loser-centrist as well as sophist and naive.

    The real world can be big and scary and sometimes hard decisions have to be made. maybe you should let the big boys handle this while you go do pottery, or whatever sensitive type thing you guys do with your day.

  69. Bezuhov Says:

    “I’ve seen too much of that sort of thing, and it’s starting to really, really annoy me.”

    Just “starting”?

    The patience of Job, this woman!

    ;-)

  70. neo-neocon Says:

    Anonymous 7:11: I assumed before that you meant well and simply didn’t understand what I was saying.

    But I stand corrected; it seems you are determined to “misunderstand” me.

    Do you really think my response to you means I don’t regret those deaths? Almost every time I’ve written about the Iraq war it is with explicit and implicit recognition that there has been grave suffering–and that includes this post (“And what of the negatives, which are very real and quite serious?”).

    I was simply explaining that, in that particular paragraph, I wasn’t explicitly stating my own thoughts, so to ask me what was meant by those thoughts didn’t make sense.

    To go from there to the idea that I don’t care about deaths is sheer sophistry. I’ve seen too much of that sort of thing, and it’s starting to really, really annoy me.

  71. Bezuhov Says:

    “People need a little perspective here.”

    That’s exactly it. Thank you, terrye, for providing some.

    I think what we’re witnessing here is a manifestation of the information revolution of the latter part of the last century. The open firehose of information has blown away the common understanding of the world, including basic history, that provides the perspective necessary for productive dialogue.

    Those who have faked their way through it, like Oz in the last thread, are at a loss when confronted by a situation like the war in Iraq, where such common understanding is not yet possible.

  72. Anonymous Says:

    Anon 6:57 I urge you to go to VictorHanson.com and read his last piece. He just returned from Iraq and he is a democrat, yet somewhat conservative.

    -Mike

  73. Anonymous Says:

    grackle

    Hillary avoided/evaded the draft?
    And now McCain is hugging Vietnam evading W and courting his rich contributors in prep for ’08. Hypocrisy is where you want to look for it.

  74. grackle Says:

    Anon 6:39 pipes up: Cheney, Clinton et al: I don’t respect those who avoid the horrors of war but push others into them. If it walks and talks like a chickenhawk…(No matter what party colors it wears.)

    Anon – does this mean you’ll vote for McCain over Hillary in ‘08? I doubt it. O the hypocrisy!

  75. Anonymous Says:

    neo-con

    I understood that you were telling us that the critics speak of “reaping the consequences,” (30,000 or far more Iraqis dead, 3,000 Americans, horrid destruction etc etc. billions lost for Americans at home…)
    I assumed, but never should have, that you at least shared acknowledgment of these consequences with Bush’s critics, if not in placing some of the responsibility for them.
    But I was wrong.
    The defense of Bush/Cheney no matter what is just about as bad as the BDS you complain about.
    But that’s where we are today. Ann Coulter vs Al Franken. The blogs line up on either side.

  76. Anonymous Says:

    And how hard a reconstruction is it vs. how much of ‘it is going terribly’ is exaggeration?

    It is no cakewalk, but the opponents of the war have an interest in trying to create a self fulfilling prophecy. re: It is a disaster because they keep framing it as one….

  77. Anonymous Says:

    I urge you all to read:

    “It Didn’t Work,” by William F. Buckley Jr. on NRO.

    A conservative, if not neo.

  78. neo-neocon Says:

    To 4:27 anonymous–

    Reading comprehension 101:

    So, in summary, the criticism goes as follows: neocons naively and stupidly, and for no good reason, electively embarked on a war they saw as an easy (“slam dunk”) adventure. Now we all reap the consequences, including the long-suffering people of Iraq.

    In other words, I am summarizing the point of view of Bush’s critics, the neocons’ critics, and my critics, not my own words or my own viewpoint.

  79. Danny Lemieux Says:

    Wonderful post, Neo-con. What GW Bush is trying to prevent is a 4th World War between the Islamofascists and the rest of the world by demonstrating to the failed states of the Middle East that an alternative exists whereby Islam can coexist with the rest of the world. He alluded to such in his speeches right after 9/11. As you pointed out, this is a war that has been brewing for centuries. If the Islamofascists win in Iraq, it’s a safe bet that the other Middle Eastern regimes will fall. While this administration has been working assiduously to prevent this from happening, the Copperheads on the Liberal/Left seems hell-bent on making this happen, if only to vindicate their sheer moonbat hatred of GW Bush.This has happened before, as when the Democrats in Congress cut off all funding to the South Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians. I have always been convinced they did it out of sheer malice toward Richard Nixon, to deny him any historical legacy whatsoever. Millions of SE Asians paid the price. I would be hard pressed to find the words to express my utter contempt for the Liberal/Left.

  80. Anonymous Says:

    terrye

    Cheney, Clinton et al: I don’t respect those who avoid the horrors of war but push others into them.
    If it walks and talks like a chickenhawk…(No matter what party colors it wears.)
    Your father is another story.

  81. terrye Says:

    Anonymous:

    Attacking Cheney is stupid, especially considering the fact that Howard Dean and Bill Clinton evaded the draft.

    My father served in the US Navy in WW2. He was prepared to be in the first assault on Japan. Instead, Truman made the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Daddy was in Nagasaki within days of the attack and he had nightmares about it for the rest of his life. My Dad felt that it ended the war and that was a good thing, but the bomb itself was horrible beyond his power to describe. Horror was the word he used.

    I wonder what Americans who think a hundred people killed in Iraq in one day is chaos would think of what people like my Dad had to do and see? He died of cancer 35 years to the day of the bomb attack on Nagasaki. The doctors said that kind of cancer was usually radium induced and took decades to manifest.

    We will never know if my father was a victim of the radiation like so many other people… but if Japan could survive and thrive after that then I think Iraq still has a chance.

    People need a little perspective here.

  82. Anonymous Says:

    I have been wondering for a few years why so many people think the main problem was Bush and not Saddam. We had four options:

    1. Drop the sanctions against Iraq. With no sanctions we would have a dictator armed with WMD’s and he or his idiot son’s would have eventually started another war. Maybe only a couple hundred thousand people would die at the hands of the regime or in the next couple wars they started. Leftwingers would complain that Bush doesn’t care about human rights in Iraq and he is only interested in profits because republicans are greedy. Then leftwingers would claim that the next few wars saddam started were at the behest of the CIA. Iraq becomes a failed state.

    2. Saddam stays in power with sanctions. Millions of Iraqi’s die, their economy is destroyed and the country eventually breaks apart. Saddam may or may not develope WMD’s and has a hard time in the next war he starts. Leftwingers dance in the streets and bang drums while they scream about U.S. imperialism starving Iraqi’s even though they voted for Clinton. Iraq probably falls apart in the end creating a failed state in the middle of the middle east.

    3. Regime change. This may end up costing 100,000 Iraqi and American deaths (even without a civil war), not to mention the wounded and traumatized. It is just as likely that Iraq splits apart as it is to form into a modern democracy. Some people hope federalism might work but most people don’t have a clue. The major Shi’ite leader supports democratic reforms within Iraq (as well as Iran BTW) and the Kurds are already on their way to joining the modern world. I don’t need to point out how leftwingers act because we already know.

    4. Pretend there is no problem in Iraq, and if there is that the U.N. can and should solve it. Blame everything bad that happens on George Bush. This is a great option because it involves no actual commitment to anything. (think boycotting Chilean wine in protest of the Pinnocet regime. It is totally useless behavior that allows the boycotter to act as if they are on moral and intellectual high ground while not actually doing anything.)

    -Mike

  83. Anonymous Says:

    You write:

    “Now we all reap the consequences, including the long-suffering people of Iraq.”

    Who’s the “we all?” Is Dick (Five Deferments) Cheney reaping any consequences? Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz? The Sr. Vice Presidents of GE, GD, or Goldman Sachs? The marketing directors at Anheuser-Busch?
    Bonuses are up on Wall Street. K Street in Washington is doing well, thank you. Life in the most exclusive club in the world, our dear Senate, remains “mighty fine.”
    Who’s reaping? Other than the “brave men and women in uniform” our twaddling legislators prattle on about between meetings with lobbyists and those long-suffering Iraqis?

  84. gcotharn Says:

    First, I reiterate that civil war – if it happens, and I hope it doesn’t – could positively settle the region into a workable form. Civil War settled America into a cohesive society, and civil war shaped other nations also. Iraq may be no different.

    Second, to Callimachus, one must remember political reality. Some things America accepts today, as necessary difficulties, America did not and would not have accepted four years ago. We today forget that Gen. Shinseki’s estimate of a need for 250,000 troops was trumpeted as a political hindrance for OIF; and as something up with which America would not put. The 250,000 troop estimate, rather than being a sign that Bush was not neocon enough, is an example of the political minefield Bush was navigating. I believe, if 250,000 troops were needed, Bush would’ve sent them. However, he would’ve sent them knowing that he was now closer to becoming a one-term President. Political realities! We must try and remember a couple of years ago, when four dead Marines in a helo crash(God rest their souls) absolutely meant that America would not stand behind OIF. What is politically possible can be equated to a law of physics. A couple of years ago, Bush could no more have done certain things than he could’ve walked on water. Congress would’ve stopped him just as surely as gravity would’ve sunk him.

    Third, moving away from current belief/opinion is an interesting question. Changing political /philosophical /economic /religious opinion must be a sort of gradual evolution. Changing opinion about OIF is sort of a moot question at this point. We will know from the results, and only from the results. When results occur, we will argue about what the results actually are, and will accuse each other of being blind to the truth. We will argue – and do now argue – about what the underlying conditions actually were in February of 2003. We disagree about this, just disagreed in 2004 about whether the American economy was the worst economy since Hoover, or the best economy since the Post WWII boom.

    I desire that our argument/discussions may be more of a mutual search for truth, and less of a defense of entrenched positions. Also – those who disagree with me are clearly blind and entrenched!

  85. colagirl Says:

    Great post, neoneocon. You’ve expressed a lot of my thoughts on the subject, more clearly and eloquently than I could have.

  86. terrye Says:

    I think the idea that something like this can be “planned out” is a fallacy in and of itself. This will take time, maybe a generation. Sad but true.

    It could well be that if all the contingencies we have seen had been anticipated that others would simply have risen to take the place.

  87. Callimachus Says:

    Another great walk through the garden. Don’t let other people write your history for you.

    It’s emerging as true that the administration had no real thought-out plans for governing Iraq after the fall of Saddam, and that probably will earn them a lot of blame when the books are written.

    But I wonder how many of the people screeching “I told you so” now can point to the exact place where they wrote, before the war, “the administration has no post-war plan”? It seems I heard a lot about plans from the anti-war side then: plans to steal oil, etc.

    And if you ever get a chance, go read up on the U.S. occupation of Germany after World War II. What do you know? No plan there, either. Made it up as we went along, and made a mess of it generally, with conflicting directives and competing agencies.

    The difference between Germany and Iraq, perhaps, was a thoroughly smashed nation occupied by a huge military force.

    Or a MacArthur, to take another example.

    Still, I’d be happier about our work in Iraq if it had been better prepared for, and more eagerly done, by the administration. I’ve come to believe that the problem isn’t that the neo-cons run the Bush White House, but rather that they don’t. The real heads in charge took just so much of the neo-con ideas as suited them, and ignored the rest. The result is a half-done mission that fails everyone’s expectation.

    Finally, something we always knew, but we let our hopes and our liberal faith in humanity trump it at times, is that you can’t really give people freedom and self-respect. If you’re strong enough, you can chase off their predators and give them time and space to take it for themselves. But they have to take it.

  88. terrye Says:

    I agree with everything you just said.

    And if the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in mass graves do not represesnt inherent strife within Iraq independent of the invasion I do not know what does.

    Saddam had to be dealt with. We could reward his blatant violations of the cease fire and his criminal use of Un humanitarian progrem…but then what? What if there was a coup? What if his sadistic sons were more dangerous than he was? Pretending we could ignore all that was like pretending we could ignore the mad mullahs for decades or pretending we could ignore AlQaida’s declaration of war.

    Status quo politics in the Muslim world was not safe for them or for us.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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